Got My Plastic Cup

April 8, 2014

adam_die_et

Fifty or so years from now, when rapturous books and articles are written about skateboarding’s free-wheeling early decades, televised contest series mounted by deep-pocketed energy drink merchants likely will be fingered among the culprits pushing for ever-greater institutionalization. But hopefully there will be footnotes and appendixes nodding to the occasionally unhinged goings-on at contests such as notorious “runs” performed by Neil Blender and Sean Sheffey, the Tampa moat, and the legend of Tom Penny supposedly blowing the whole of a contest purse in one night whilst celebrating on the European club circuit.

Jenkem comes this week with one such morsel via SPoT brain trust Jason Rothmeyer:

It’s no secret that people rage out at contests, has that ever affected anyone’s “performance” judging?
The very first year we did the AmsterDamnAM contest, someone had the bright idea to use Adam Dyet as a judge. I think Dyet really wanted to judge and thought he was up for it. My other judges were P-Stone and Berard (when he was really piled out). The Skatepark of Amsterdam has beer at the concession stand. And they continue to bring beer after beer to everyone running the event all day long. About one heat into a full six heat day of qualifying, Dyet looked at me and said, “I’m not gonna make it bro” because he was jet lagged, smoked silly and drunk off his ass. He looked like he was on heroin.

So he just passed out asleep. We put sunglasses on him, propped his clipboard up on his leg and put a pen in his hand full Weekend at Bernie’s style. It was awesome. Berard and P-Stone weren’t much help either, as P-Stone was beet red from being 400 beers deep and Berard couldn’t talk. I pretty much judged that one solo.

Reality Rap f. Galactic Magnetar (Prod. by DJ Cattywampus)

April 5, 2014

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In a testament to the reliable if rickety supply chain logistics tenuously connecting video-makers with skateshops, “Cherry” hardcopies now are safely installed upon brick and mortar shelves and therefore the real sport concerning Supreme’s not-quite-so-long-awaited inaugural offering can begin: guessing and tabulating what will ultimately become the video’s most-copped moves. Bucket hats, wrist casts and tucked-in beaters all are obvious contenders, as these must be. But of head-to-toe zoom-pans, Baker2G/Screw-mo interludes and the amorphous front-to-back montage-collage edit, a tantalizing prospect for aging pros who may wring more mileage from 38 seconds of footage by sprinkling it intermittently throughout a lengthier production, and potentially pulling another five seconds of screen time by tacking on a bailed flatground trick to the end of a line?

It is a dense movie. Toward the end of the video there is a clip that encapsulates the whole deal pretty well, wherein Tyshawn Jones and Nakel Smith, two amongst the new vanguard offered here by Supreme, chitchat briefly before Tyshawn Jones slides down his pants and bends over a Citi bike in pursuit of a clandestine whiz, while Nakel Smith runs, jumps on his board and gaps out to a beefy feeble grind, thereafter cheered from nearby benches by among others a pigtailed Alex Olson, apparently mid-cell phone call. Elsewhere the vid meanders through apartmentsful of idle kids, a fistfight, adolescent come-ons, an irate vagrant shouting and slapping himself repeatedly in the face and again Alex Olson, heated and manhandling an oldster who ignores a plea to scoot himself off a prized spot.

Alex Olson, who maintains one of industry’s more transparent pro regimes, recently broke down the episode and expressed some remorse, in what’s probably a reasonable manner for a subculture that is currently fumbling its way toward a place that has room for gay and transgender participants and even former rollerbladers. In some ways Olson’s Tumblr mea culpa was a far cry from the comparatively more sterilized walking-back statement that Nyjah Huston disseminated after his remarks that girls shouldn’t skate courted a certain amount of PC backlash. One could argue that for Alex Olson, who maintains his own sponsorship ties to international corporate concerns, the stakes were similar to whatever Nyjah Huston may have believed he faced, given that Alex Olson’s former Nike coworker Peter Hewitt was reportedly booted from his position for recounting a graphic and similarly un-PC poop scenario in an interview.

Dylan Rieder, who shares billing with Alex Olson to open the third act of ‘Cherry,’ ponders the conventional-wisdom concern with regard to ‘big’ companies’ intentions in skateboarding in an interview in this month’s TSM, namely, that said big companies may be fairweather profiteers that duck out the back door at the first sign of an early-90s style collapse:

”I appreciate everything Adidas and Nike do for skateboarding, and they pay some of these dudes really good money where they’ll be retiring off it, but how long is that going to last? They’re going to be in skateboarding until skateboarding is not cool anymore and then what is it?”

Alex Olson and “Cherry” impresario Bill Strobeck can speak from some experience here, given how Quiksilver’s abrupt exit from the skateboard-threads program freed both up to work on Supreme’s vid. The track record though suggests that the recent economic typhoon engulfing the industry has sunk more skateboarder-run ships, ranging from DVS’ bankruptcy, Es shoes’ apparent hibernation, the diminished status of players such as Adio, Ipath, Elwood, Vox, Circa, etc. (It can be debated elsewhere whether Gravis, whose skateboard footwear effort also is defunct, counts as an “independent” shoe outfit.)

Dylan Rieder’s shoe boss Keith Hufnagel, in a separate recent interview, ponders a more interesting question: Rather than exiting when times get tight, what if the big ones instead remain and consolidate their position, strengthening their hands for when economic sunrays again deign to shine on the biz and expanding their status as content/cultural gatekeepers?

“Yes, there are some pros these days that are able to make a great living off skateboarding, which is amazing, but it’s a sad day for skateboarding when skateboard footwear and the industry in general is becoming more and more controlled by these big corporate companies. The more accepted these big corporations become in skateboarding, the harder it is for the smaller, independent brands to compete and maintain a voice, which unfortunately results in the corporations having a large influence on the direction and shape of skateboarding.

…When skateboarders get kicked off teams for smoking weed, getting too drunk or just doing one stupid thing, then things have changed. With skateboarding becoming so commercialized, there are sacrifices to be made on both ends. The big companies have to realize what subculture they have gotten involved with and deal with everything that comes along with it. But skateboarding has also changed as it has become more mainstream. For better or for worse it’s just not what it was before. This discussion is for the older crew and maybe some of the young guys, but I don’t think most people care anymore or even understand.”

One could ponder whether Supreme, wielding its renowned reputation as a vibe-heavy tastemaker, played a meaningful part in Nike’s third and successful attempt to develop a “skate footprint,” paving the way for various of its multinational rivals to follow suit and wage blistering combat for shoe-wall real eatate and market shares? It’s debatable, similar in fashion to the true origin of time itself, but it’s interesting to look at the unvarnished street scenes afoot in “Cherry” from this perspective, especially since it isn’t like Supreme had to do a video, much less what will for sure be one of the great ones of the year that lingers over the raw and illegal, same as “Sabotage3,” the House video and so on.

Will “Cherry” inspire a shop-video dynasty in the pattern of the hallowed FTC vids? Has Bill Strobeck achieved the to-date pinnacle of HD skate videomaking? What cards may Anthony Pappalardo have yet up his sleeve? Who will be the first to lampoon the inset image with something like a grinning Fred Gall in place of Camille Row? Is Fucking Awesome off the hook as far as videos go for a minimum of four or five years?

‘Doomsday’ For 1990s Creeps One Step Closer As Ronnie Creager Exits Blind, Experts Fear

March 13, 2014

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The 1990s Doomsday Clock moved one minute closer to the much-feared ‘midnight’ mark Thursday following an announcement that Ronnie Creager had departed Blind.

The surprise move marked the exit from his company of the last remaining featuree of the 1996 World Industries production ‘Trilogy,’ ballyhooed by several messageboard commentators as one of the two seminal documents of 1990s` schoolyard skating, next to ‘Mouse.’

“We cant thank Ronnie enough for all his contributions,memories and fun times over the years,” Blind officials wrote in a press statement shortchanged of apostrophes. “We wish Ronnie nothing but the best and look forward to seeing more amazing skating from him in the future.”

Ronnie Creager was not immediately available to post to his Instagram account. The move caught some observers off guard, abruptly capping a 20-year tenure on a company originally founded by Mark Gonzales under the World umbrella, where Ronnie Creager was the longest-serving team-member several times over.

Overseers of the 1990s Doomsday Clock, including an international assortment of blogmasters and aging skateshop employees, in response moved the clock’s minute hand one increment closer to ‘midnight,’ which would signal the effective end of the 1990s’ influence over kids and industry players alike. The setting currently stands at 11:51, following the Ronnie Creager announcement.

Clock officials previously had moved the minute hand closer to midnight at various times over the past 14 years, including after Steve Rocco divested Dwindle Distribution, when Joey Suriel and Richard Mulder became licensed to sell real estate and when Rick Howard did not contribute footage to ‘Pretty Sweet.’ The minute hand was moved farther away from midnight in 2006 when Daewon Song earned Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ award, in 2011 when Patrick O’Dell released the Menace ‘Epicly Later’d’ and also following DGK’s disclosure of the lost Fabian Alomar video part.

Guy Mariano’s comeback for the Lakai video set the clock back by a full ten minutes, the largest increment on record, igniting controversy among some pundits who claimed the trick selection in fact merited moving the minute hand closer to midnight and others who argued for setting it back by as much as an hour on general principal.

The clock has proven a magnet for criticism over the years, with some arguing that the 1990s are destined to live on forever in the hearts of those who truly believe, and others who maintain that the 1990s ended at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, an event knowed to some as ‘Y2K.’

High Anxiety

March 10, 2014

Nightmare_20k_ft

Clint Walker’s flubbed nollie heelflip and subsequent board tumble in the Ambiguous vid ranked as the most vertigo-inducing video clip of 2013. Fellow Birdhauser Ben Raybourn in his new Nike shoes video part further challenges vestibular systems at around 2:00 with his mindbending run through the big old waterslide. Glad to see the horse pool again.

Bobby Worrest’s Phenomenal Pulaski Part Offers A Glimpse Of The Great Skate Recession

March 9, 2014

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While recent ‘one-spot’ video sections have generally revolved around transition of one type or another, be it DIY concrete (Chet Childress, ‘God Save the Label’), mega-scope wood scaffolding (Bob Burnquist, ‘Dreamland’) or backyard dipping bowl (Lance Mountain’s still-amazing part from ‘Xtremely Sorry’), Eastern coast action-sport action hero Bobby Worrest this week released via the Internet a for-concentrate edition of his grimy, technical stylings filmed entirely at DC’s famed Pulaski Park. It’s easy to formulate arguments around why this is probably the ideal setting for Bobby Worrest’s brand of unvarnished ledge gnawing, the white and brownish blocks serving themselves up for any number of switch backside kickflips and noseslides, that seat-of-the-pants 180 nosegrind revert and a rarely observed backside noseblunt shove-it, peppered with various over-the-shoulder traffic checks, nose stalling and an abrupt half-cab end-runner.

It had been speculated that Bobby Worrest taped these tricks during the 2012 government shutdown, though various media accounts of the time period thoroughly debunk this era as some free-bust, sovereign credit rating-imperiling Shangri-la. Something far simpler and more grim may be at work here, that is, a shadowy economic strangler that seems to be marauding amongst the smaller, more independent industry members and choking them out in various financial ways.

Hark, ye: Erotica author and shop owner Chris Nieratko speaks on the slow death of the demo, wherein the ‘sad state of our economy has halted almost all domestic skate tours if they aren’t within a short van ride from Southern California.’ Elsewhere, Jamie Thomas posts an update on Black Box Distribution’s restructuring efforts, while Baker trimmed long-timers Braydon Szafranski, Kevin Long and Jeff Lenoce in what’s described as a survival tactic. Months-long jaunts to Barcelona seem to have been traded for weeks-long China visits or more common, domestic road-trips that increasingly appear pasted together by bros as opposed to cos.

A hometown-centric skate part of Bobby Worrest, himself a refugee of the Sole-Tech slim down, could reflect any number of other factors, such as a preference not to go anywhere or an abundance of stacked footage with an easy packaging hook. Would though such a futuristic vision of more-budget parts such as this be so dire? Brian Panebianco and Ryan Higgins delivered one of the best videos of the past 14 months centered on the resurgent Philly front that is doing what scenes used to do; that is, draw people to it rather than inspiring Orbitz email alerts for vacation destinations. Lucas Puig’s drip-drab of French foundation-spot footage over the past year regularly topped certain others’ polished video offerings, and the punctuation-marked Gravis clip that revived the Dylan Rieder movement years back earned Internet plaudits for deeply mining a close cluster of LA spots.

Will coming years more deeply segment have-not pros from those lifted on tides of multinational sport apparel largesse, capable of securing weekend skate-spot permits for the pedigreed few that can command widespread online sales powers? Would this be a bad thing? Will the Great Recession and regulatory ‘uncertainty’ continue to hover long enough over landlords and property owners so as to give locale-bound professionals a reasonable buffer zone before having to expand their legal/ticket budgets? Have certain Barceloniyean bartenders begun to feel the financial pinch of fewer moneyed American professionals wetting their moneyed, professional whistles after long days of nude sunbathing, or did moneyed American professionals become/stay that way by judiciously regulating their tipping behaviours?

Alex Olson’s Braids Go Hard Dudes

March 6, 2014

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Time was, a young man headed west to probe the frontier, seek fortune and treasure, and just maybe discover a small piece of the American Dream along the way. This was the inspiring tale behind such 1980s computer game franchises such as ‘Tha Oregon Trail’ and 1990s escapades in skateboard distributorship involving chiefly American Dream Unit, but the ensuing years have seen several stars realign and scripts flipped such that Alex Olson, heir to a Dagger dynasty and budding entrepreneur, leaves the Southern California desert basin that raised him in search of a more-inspired industry pathway to be had in New York City, known to some as the City of Lights.

Of a piece with the ‘classic era’ tricks and sensibility that helped land a young Alex Parker Olson on the cover of that now de-funked Skateboarder mag, the breakaway Crailtapper’s brand vision involves pushing skating outside its corporate and cultural comfort zone. However, a couple decades removed from the racially/sexually/violently charged graphics of the World heyday, Alex Olson’s personal vision quest seems to revolve in large part around some of the few remaining industry taboos to be had: the Italian tongue, rave music and a more malleable view of sexual orientations that earned him a ‘Skate or Bi-Curious’ T-Eddy award. Is he or isn’t he? What’s up with the phone number? Will the market continue to bear premium prices for fancy t-shirts? Is Bianca Chandon what’s hot in the streets?

Alex Olson recently divulged some of the venture’s spiritual touchstones when crafting the company with raw mindpower.

AO: I think I had mentioned to Brian (Anderson) before 3D was thought up that it would be really cool to name a company after a boat.

Belying Alex Olson’s beguiling cat-and-mouse branding game is a quiet assertion of aggression via his recent hairstyle, as captured within some Thrasher photos. The embrace of pigtail braids not only pushes the grand Alex Olson envelope that much further, it also harkens back to 1990s rap hairstyles sported by game-related legends ranging from Snoop Doggy Dogg to Wish Bone, Ice T and that other redheaded stranger, Willie Nelson. Alex Olson is challenging the industry to keep pace with his assertive moves, even as he challenges up and comers to match his vertically oriented wallrides, absorb his rave sounds and sport spotless white linens on tough city streets.

AO: I wonder if pigtails will come in as the new style.

TWS: You launched it bro.

AO: It would be funny if everyone had pigtails (Laughs.)

Is the onetime APO nonchalantly carving out his own lane or risking a multi-car pileup by shifting gears on fickle hard- and softgoods consumers one too many times? Will the Supreme vid answer all or just unspool further questions, like an unhelpful Cheshire Cat that is also bearing coveted Scott Johnston clips? Will Bianca Chandon’s party line grow in stature to one day rival They Might Be Giants’ ‘Dial-a-Song’ service for domestic phoneholders? 

The Incredible Shrinking Alien Workshop

February 23, 2014

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Singular as it was to see the Dill/AVE ‘Dear John’ letter pop up on AWS’s site last spring, it is wild to look upon the ‘Team’ page in recent weeks and count just four working professionals and two amateurs, half the year-ago number, and relegating 30-years-young 2006 Sect inductee Omar Salazar to de-facto elder statesman status. Setting aside Heath Kirchart’s retired jersey and the mercurial standing of Rob Dyrdek the absentee landlord, if you were to trim now-departed ridership from the ‘Cinematographer’ section (and keep the between-clip clips) you’d get about a three-minute vignette; just three parts from ‘Mind Field’ would survive.

The narrative seems to go like this: aging bones and the lack of any equity stake in the company that employed them for some 15 years, Van Engelen and Dill dipped after seeing the title to DNA’s corporate UFO change hands multiple times in recent years, in the most recent case supposedly finding out only after the fact that Dyrdek had abruptly flipped the company to sunglass investor and Street League licensor Pacific Vector Holdings. (‘Despicable Me’ teaches us that a vector possesses direction and magnitude, while Pacific refers to the ocean that abuts California.) Sans these sometime-roomies and industry spirit-guides, Ohio-rooted bean-planter Kevin Terpening quietly exited, followed by the long-anticipated departure of Mikey Taylor, Grant Taylor’s seemingly preordained leap to Anti-Hero and most recently that of onetime franchise fakie 360-flipper and recent DKNY booster Dylan Rieder*.

The slow ebb of branded professional talent from the AWS roster over the past three quarters probably does not rise to the level of the World Industries ship-jumping of the mid-1990s or the nearly absolute Toy Machine team abscondiment that left Ed Templeton and Austin Stephens to rebuild by themselves the house of the Transmissionator. The steady grabbing of coats leaves open the question though as to whether the exodus has yet run its course. The curb-carving hair-greaser known to fans as Donovon Piscopo is seen to remain close with the DAVE contingent; hardly a fortnight can pass without wallride impresario Jake Johnson being instagrammed in close proximity to Polar hardgoods and he has really started to do a lot of no-complies these past 18 months.

Are the quartet of Jake Johnson, Omar Salazar, a recently reinvigorated and spectacleless Tyler Bledsoe, and Gilbert Crockett — who for one has voiced on the record his commitment to remaining aboard the grand Alien trip — strong enough to sustain and refresh this hallowed and murky well of Midwestern weirdness? Did recent “collaborations” with the estates of Warhol and Haring* signal a grasping at creative straws for a company with one of the strongest track records of art still going? To what extent are DNA’s new owners vexed by the exits, versus what their financial models may have divined prior to agreeing the purchase? Will the excellently disjointed TOUROHIO clip from late last year come to be seen as bridge or a bookend? Are the personnel moves to be interpreted as some right-sizing of DNA’s pro-level staffing, given Josh Kalis’ recent comments to the effect that even the MTV-moneyed boardroom chessboxer Dyrdek struggled to keep the company financially viable?

*Noting the Dill and Ave note, as the industry becomes increasingly press-release driven it seems more and more strange when companies keep silent on the departure of marquee names, especially those of years-long riders, instead quietly deleting them from their websites and re-screening their boards.
**does the world need a Radiohead album of Beatles covers?

Retired 1990s Professionals Present To You: A Tale of Two Brand Visions

January 11, 2014

gavin_newsome1

Why did you decide to launch a footwear company at this time? What opportunities do you see in this market?
Tim Gavin: Right now we see a huge opportunity for a footwear brand with a different mind set when it comes to product. I decided it was the right time for a concept that I’ve always wanted to do for so long. I wanted to think different with our product as that is our primary focus. We are brand-driven and product-focused as we feel product prevails and a lot of what is out in the market simply looks very similar in terms of overall product mix. Our mix of product is very different as a total collection with no vulcanized soles in the first season. I always thought about how skateboarding, art, and music have such a deep connection. The catalyst for the footwear direction really came about in the discussion and belief that skateboarding is not only an art form, but a modern day individual sport. So, we used that as the basis to create a footwear collection that delivers great functionality and style. There is a quote from Mies van der Rohe that we use as a brand guideline: “Create form out of the nature of our tasks with the methods of our time.” That really says it all.

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati…

You recently started Hela Cool Skateboards. What’s the vision for the brand?
James Kelch: HELLA COOL SKATEBOARD CLUB is a little company I started on my front porch. It’s a cartoon me and my girl Lee Ann were working on. It’s about a princess who skates and has pets who skate. And a plant also. Each character is a version of a modern skater. Hella cat is the maniac rager skater. The princess is the skater who thinks they deserve everything. The bunny is the skater who can ollie but has no tricks. The squirrel is the skater who spins in circles running his mouth and won’t shut up. The potted plant named Potty is the stoned skater who you drop off at the park, and when you come to pick him up, he is sitting in the same place. He has no feet. They all live in a haunted house. I started it in May 2013. The vision is to just maintain and sustain a positive attitude in such a weird high-profile business-owned skateboard world. No pros at the moment. Maybe never. I have no plan. I let the universe decide what happens. I just go with the flow. Since I ain’t trying to get rich—I’m a vagrant—I won’t waste the money living like a movie star. It’s all for the club! And you’re all invited to join #HELLACOOLSKATEBOARDCLUB. And one more thing—the club isn’t about me or my past. It’s about enjoying skateboarding for what it’s worth. And the only thing it’s really worth is your own peace of mind.

Gino Iannucci’s Most-Productive 14 Months Ever, And Other Assorted Notes On 2013

January 5, 2014

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2013 fucked around and turned out to be a banner year footage-wise for Long Islander and long weekender Gino Iannucci, doing a mini-Beyonce with a quick minute of mostly-park footage uploaded without warning Christmas Eve by hardworking Brick Harbour elves. Pinning down Gino when he’s on his board doesn’t seem to have gotten much easier over the years, despite his willingness to wax nostalgic on video about train station parking lots, but if you put this footage together with his tricks from ‘Pretty Sweet’ plus the inexplicably trimmed extra footage you’d have a nearly three-minute section that would readily accommodate a Mathematics instrumental.

10 Other Video Parts

-Derm – ‘In Crust We Trust’
One of the oblique thrills of marking time via local scene videos jockeying for YouTube chart positioning is that you may or may not ever see any of the dudes again, or, you might. It’s an open question as to whether Eric Dermond desires or will have any type of ‘career’ in the industry but his section in the enjoyably grimy “In Crust We Trust” felt like watching “Subzero” era Fred Gall skating “Inhabitants” era Fred Gall spots, topped with a nicely bone-crushing slam.
-Kyle Walker – ‘In Color’
-Mark Suciu – ‘Philadelphia’
-Jordan Trahan – ‘Boros to Bayous’
-Matt Nordness – ‘Hurry Up & Try’
The intro with the blocks is almost enough all by itself.
-Jake Donnelly – ‘Jake’s VX Mix’
-Evan Smith – ‘The Evan Smith Experience’
This one seems to have come and gone pretty quick, but Evan Smith loosened up his trucks and floored it and recorded a bunch of fairly heavy tricks for this.
-Lucas Puig – ‘Bon Voyage’
-Ben Raybourn – ‘New Ground’
“Horse pool”
-Cole Middleton – ‘Video X’

phelpsslam

Thrasher: Have you ever exercised in your life?
Fred Gall: I started lifting weights a little bit to try to buff up when I thought I was going to jail.

-Thrasher Jan. 2014

The Rise of Coloured Pants
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Increased embrace of shorter/smaller videos from the likes of Emerica, Nike and Habitat harkened back to certain early-90s practices that make current economic sense — the trend toward ever-larger teams and vague desires to recoup travel expenses via blockbuster video projects remain at odds with the general public’s tendency toward watching individual parts on Youtube and skipping back to watch specific tricks rather than whole parts. Meanwhile some of the wealthiest professionals, including Theotis Beasley, Ishod Wair and Nyjah Huston, participated in their own early-1990s style revival by sporting loudly coloured pants and in certain instances what appear to be swimming trunks, signaling a potential new front in the swag wars.

1. Brandon Westgate – ‘Made’

December 31, 2013

Beyond upping the previous bro’s ante with another couple stairs or a kickflip onto the rail, or stringing out lines to Stevie Williams-level length, Brandon Westgate in Emerica’s ‘Made’ video stayed stretching the boundaries of what seems plausible on a board with one of the more open minds working today. The SF hills keep luring him back with risky promises of driveways and front walks over which to blast tricks and suffer spills, just some crew-cutted kid in a sweater and jeans who these days happens to be carrying the Zoo legacy on his back. Brandon Westgate steps to chest-high rails and conducts thruster ollies over poles using legs infused with magnesium cores to help him grasp ultimate power, and increasingly it seems like he’s perfected his flip tricks also. If you were going to sit down and draw up a list of the craziest clips all year and had to pick one from this section, the strongest case could be made for the family-friendly tow job to the nation’s stoutest loading dock, one of those feats that grows gnarlier still as he cruises away and the thing towers over him.


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