By Syd Smith
Not to be confused with Simon Fellow’s 2004 campy horror movie with the same title, though equally as entertaining, Supreme’s BLESSED is in short Bill Strobeck’s magnum opus skate film dedicated to the recently deceased pro-skater Dylan Rieder.
The grainy footage of a skaters flying down hills into busy streets and busting the back of their buzzed heads on the pavement; the slow motion jaw-dropping smile from skaters like Na-Kel Smith (starred in Jonah Hill’s Mid90s) whenever a fellow Sk8er Boi such as Tyshawn Jones lands a trick are a few reasons why BLESSED can be viewed time and time again without losing a second of charm.
And just like Strobeck’s last project for Supreme, Cherry, BLESSED’s soundtrack rules and is in perfect sync with the skater flick. Here are just a few tracks that take the cake:
“Requiem In D Minor, K.626: 3. Sequentia: Lacrimosa” by Mozart. This is the intro track to the film and let me just say Mozart can write a banger of a song that I would’ve never in my life thought of even putting in a skate video. It works well with the dramatic footage that is sped up during the trick and then slowed down after completion- the reverse of what you’d typically see in your everyday skate video.
The track “Birthday Boy” is like waking up to a ray of sunshine on your face and realizing you don’t have to go to work, you can smell bacon sizzling in the kitchen and you can feel the morning breeze running down your back as you cruise on your board down the block. Also, it’s practically a sin not to play Ween or Iggy Pop in a skate video.
“Walking The Cow” by Daniel Johnston. The NYC skate session of the film features Texas icon Daniel Johnston whose soft voice balances well with the seemingly effortless tricks and comes across as a cheerful tune as kids and strangers applaud the skaters for showing off their talent in a local park.
“Child’s Play” by Modern Eon. This has to be my favorite track off of BLESSED, coming off of Modern Eon’s one and only 1981 New Wave, Post-Punk release Fiction Tales. It plays over some of the Paris footage featuring the Blobys skate crew running up marble steps in slow motion to the childish vocals which are drowned behind a wave of noisy analogue production as they take turns sliding down the smooth staircase side-ramps to a guitar riff that sounds like it could’ve been done by U2’s the Edge. This leads into skater Vincent Touzery from the Blobys doing tricks over Madonna’s “Dress You Up” only to land into trouble with French security guards.
“Wede Harer Guzo” by Hailu Mergia, Dahlak Band. Hailu Mergia creates some great easy listening, funky jazz music that reminds me of John Swihart’s “Bus Rider” from Napoleon Dynamite. In an ideal world, Mergia’s music would be playing in elevators everywhere 24/7.
“A Fall Thru The Ground” by John Frusciante. The slick and sexy street rat skater Sean Pablo is introduced carving up the neighborhood while Depeche Mode and CRIM3S follow a track by the talented high school dropout Frusciante, who used to jam with The Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the day.
BLESSED’s soundtrack mixes jazz, funk, and soul with punk and shoegaze giving homage to classic ’90s skate video soundtracks like Spike Jonze’s Video Days. Each shot was created with an intended song and skater in mind- the late Dylan Rieder’s song being Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. For two and a half years Strobeck was out filming BLESSED. Two and a half years dedicated to making Dylan Rieder proud. That’s the type of friendship that can be seen on screen between the misfit Supreme skate crew. The type of friendship that leaves you feeling, for lack of a better word, blessed.
Featured illustration by Syd Smith.