Astronaut Dave Scott, transmitted this message after landing on the moon as commander of the Apollo 15 crew: “Houston, as I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown…I sort of realize there’s a fundamental truth to our nature. Man must explore.” Pretty awesome statement from one of the few people to have actually walked on the moon’s surface. Too bad he didn’t have a pair Pampa boots on up there when he said it.
Luckily, the vbs.tv crew finds themselves in no such predicament as they bring us their “Exploration” web series / Palladium Boots commercial. The series is part ad campaign for Palladium Boots and part travel adventure that, in typical VBS style, explores the “hidden, underground and forgotten corners of the world’s leading metropolises.” The shoe company, owned by K-Swiss, is trying to brand itself as the maker of “hipster” boots for cool kids. Never having been a hipster or a cool kid, one could easily imagine my skepticism upon exploring this series. But you know what? It actually kind of works.
In The Ruins of New York, we follow newly minted urban explorer, Brooklyn-based designer and all-round “curious fellow” (their term not mine – you guys will have to decide which side of curious he lands on for yourselves) Shawn Joswick. Herein he explores some pretty spectacular areas of New York that have long since been forgotten by the city’s less adventurous residents.
Centralia, PA is hosted by New York city artist Daniel Jackson. Centralia, while not exactly a world leading metropolis, is a pretty amazing and mostly unheard of place. As of 2007 it hosted a vibrant and mind numbing population of 9 and on hearing the nature and history of the town you’ll quickly scratch your head wondering how it could possibly be such a high number.
In 1962 a fire broke out in the coal mine directly under Centralia and that same fire has been burning steadily ever since. One author wrote, “This was a world where no human could live, hotter than the planet Mercury, its atmosphere as poisonous as Saturn’s. At the heart of the fire, temperatures easily exceeded 1,000 degrees. Lethal clouds of carbon monoxide and other gases swirled through the rock chambers.” Make sure you’ve got your boots on for this one.
Missile Silo Homes is by far my favorite. Veronica Velazquez, who wears her boots so well, lets us come along as she explores several of the 72 decommissioned and abandoned missile silos that are scattered throughout the U.S. countryside. These things are huge, these things are awesome, and these things are for sale. How sweet would it be to live in one of these? Answer: pretty sweet. Along the way we meet Ed, missile silo real estate agent, drum circle enthusiast and 2012 doomsdayer. His converted silo home is incredible, but I have this sinking feeling that Ed’s cheese might be slipping off the cracker just a bit. He spends a lot of his time channeling the spirits of peace into this massive hole of yesteryear destruction.
And in Oil of LA, we explore the oilfields of Los Angeles, California. “Twenty billion barrels of oil sit beneath Los Angeles. Hidden in plain sight, thousands of wells pump day and night all over the city covered by hollow office buildings, camouflaged next to high schools, and concealed behind shopping malls.” Who knew?!
Ok, so there are lots of gratuitous and somewhat cheesy money shots of the Palladium boots in action here, but hey, its an ad campaign. This isn’t as in-depth or edgy as many of the other gonzo journalist travel logs that VBS has done in the past, but the content is still unique and engaging. I think VBS and Palladium Boots have struck a nice balance between interesting and informative documentary and ad campaign. Put your hip boots on and walk the uneven terrain over to vbs.tv now to see for yourself, you wannabe urban explorer, cool kid, you.