Archive for July, 2008

Hard knock life

July 30, 2008


Snuff

P-Rod and PLG went home rich with Maloof money earlier this month, but the enduring champion of the Money Cup weekend seems to be switch firecrackering, afro-puffed Baker filmer Beagle. Motives remain hazy and there seem to be as many accounts of the Beagle/Duffel brawl as there are bizarre wallride variations up Richie Jackson’s paisley sleeves, but in the ensuing weeks Beagle has become this month’s skateboarding folk hero. Clyde Singleton says what everyone* is thinking:

Beagle. i usually take this day to do my Throwback Thursdays. But being a man of honor. as well as a fellow modern day Spartan, myself. i must give you the hghest honor in Gullyness, as well as “ass kickedgry” known to man. the only person who i’d be happier to see gettin the beats like this is.. well. nobody. you’ve done more for Blacks, than Jesse Jackson punk ass. this, my friend- is one of THE greatest days i’ve come to see in my 20yrs of skateboarding. All i can really say, is THANK YOU brotha.. you EVER need ANYTHING, you holla at a G. and thas my word.

Maybe BA will get ahold of the Duffman next.

*Everyone who skated prior to the year 2001, that is…

Vicious cycle

July 29, 2008


He’s probably not too excited about Diamond either

There’s nothing like a good Jason Dill interview really. He’s frequently semi-coherent, names names and talks shit freely, and he seems to have a really good memory in spite of how much drugs he’s supposed to have done. I was thinking the other day actually how it’s been a while since Dill shot his mouth off and lo and behold, Don Pendleton talked to him for a feature at Black Lodges, a webzine/online artist collective of sorts that features a blog by Eric Stricker, presumably moonlighting from TWS message board supervision.

Most of the interview involves Dill waxing Dillish on Polaroids, his grandma’s photo albums and being vaguely heartbroken, but at one point Pendleton gets him going on the topic of streetwear and his own streetwear company Fucking Awesome. Then the cantankerous Dill materializes, nursing a serious case of seller’s remorse:

Yes, I am a cynical fuck. I can’t stand the brands that are out here. That’s why I killed my brand for a while. But every time I try to kill Fucking Awesome, I end up bringing it back and people are asking for more. I can’t stand these fucking brands. I can’t stand any of that streetwear horse shit anymore. I can’t believe I ever got into it. It is what it is, you know.

Like, I made a clothing company and I’ve got fucking skateboard rappers wearing it. And I’ve got Paris Hilton’s latest boyfriend wearing it on the E! Channel or whatever. I don’t want that. And people wearing it on the covers of their fucking lame albums. Fucking dumb. I hate everything.

Yeah, when I first did Fucking Awesome, it took off like a rocket. One day it was just our funny little thing and it was fun….we were selling it through Supreme and they helped me launch it and get it out there. I remember the guys at Supreme were like, ‘Enjoy yourself now because it’s going to suck eventually.’ And I was like, ‘It’s not gonna suck.’ But yeah, it really sucks now.

Certain of us could be like “well, what did you think would happen,” but we all know that accomplishes little besides maybe chalking up a couple internet snark points. But it reminded me of a similar hard-learned lesson learned about a decade ago by one of Dill’s bosses, Mike Hill, about not being able to choose your audience and seeing your baby co-opted by retards. From Sean Cliver’s “Disposable”:

The success of the alien graphics came gradually. It started out as a cult following but then developed into a trendy nightmare. People would tell me how our shirts were really popular with ravers. This was the last thing the Alien Workshop was about–a bunch of overly social people dancing to techno while dressed for year-round trick-or-treating–and it was quite devastating.

One day a shop account called and said Madonna had just been in their store and bought one of our shirts. He was all excited and thought we should be, too. I remember going berserk and screaming about why would they sell it to her, that they should have denied her. But you can’t control these things. It happens to bands all the time: the people who drove you away to the point of marking something yourself out of frustration end up your customers.

Addendum: the illustrious Police Informer also was on the Jason Dill wavelength this week.

Where you been

July 28, 2008


File under: Sucks, skateboarding

Some people* get pretty bitter about the reconstituted Plan B of the 00′s, but this takes things to World Industries levels of silliness. Is Sims snowboards following Burton’s lead in a bid to get juicy slice of that oh-so-profitable skate hardgoods pie? It’s just crazy enough to work.

On a related note, check this shit out. Inventor of the McTwist or no, McGill better be banking like crazy off all these Wal-Mart ready products, or else dredging the gutter as part of the “downward spiral” portion of his eventual “True Hollywood Story.” Tony Hawk just turned 40 and McGill may be making a play at attaining the status of richest Bones Brigadier before the decade’s out. Watch your back, Birdman…

*including me sometimes

Breakin 2 – Electric Boogaloo

July 26, 2008

Mike Mo channels Guy, Louie and Ozone to twirl his own personal zulu spin. TKO…

Five signposts en route to the grave of 411VM

July 25, 2008

This week brought the long-anticipated but no less vaguely sad news that 411 Video Magazine’s life support was finally pulled by the core bros over at Wasserman Media Group. (Commentary by another recent Wasserman acquisition: “I’m still creatively in control of the site.” Live and learn…)

411 has existed on the fringes now for a good while, and it’s been like a decade since new issues were met with any kind of anticipation. So in a way it’s impressive they made it this far, but wonders never cease when it comes to beating dollars out of dead horses in the skateboard industry. Look at NSS. Shit, look at Duffs.

These days, though, it would probably come as a surprise to your average New Era’ed hardflipper that people used to pay for 411s, much less subscribe to get it in the mail. And among those who do recall 411′s glory days, you’re hard pressed to find anybody wax nostalgic about any issue past 30, with the exception of the Gino/Keenan/Pupecki “Roomies” in 38. I’ll go as high as 39 myself, but you know I stay having low standards.

The point is, 411′s demise has been written on the wall for some time now. A few of the telltale signs along the way:

Es Menikmati released

Fred Mortagne’s biopic/skate epic ushered in an age of blockbuster videos, washed down with a generous helping of slow motion, fancy graphics and generators. For better or worse the Es super team helped raise the bar as far as tricks, lengthy parts and production value, and in a matter of years poor 411 would find it more difficult to source footage of high-profile dudes to sprinkle between the up-and-comers and washed-ups in the Chaos sections.

411 decides to put dudes’ faces on the cover

The Skateboard Mag tried this one too, with the fairly impressive result of making Dave Carnie somehow feel like more of a pervert than he already is. The Stance approach didn’t work for TWS, and even in this age of rock star pro skaters, what self-respecting 14-year-old really wants to look into Muska’s stoned bedroom eyes every time he puts on the Cliche chaos? Note to all those still considering a portrait cover: use artwork.

Lance Mountain stops hosting

The little things, you know? I appreciate Mikey Taylor and his undying devotion to Roc-a-Fella as much as the next guy, but it just ain’t the same. Like when they tried remixing the theme song.

411 911

You know you’re running out of ideas when you start taking cues from ESPN and MTV. At this point it was pretty clear they were getting hard up for money. Speaking of, didn’t 411 also put out that video of Mike Vallely’s fights?

Youtube

Podcasts and Field Logs and Wednesday Woes too. Free, quick-downloading video in tolerable quality has skateboarding on a 24-hour footage cycle now, and whatever scraps Company X might have thrown to a 411 in the past now go to the website, the Youtube channel or the “Special Edition” DVD*. Videographers like Josh Stewart will happily tell you at great length how difficult it is to sell even hotly anticipated DVD releases in this day and age, and although Weiss somehow keeps pumping out Digitals, 411 a couple years ago gave up trying to charge American money for their videos, and in the process turned each new edition into a branding vehicle for this company or that. They’ve made some effort at orienting their site around new clips, as well as something bizarre called 411VS that appears to be some kind of fantasy skateboarding league, but there’s a lot of footage out there now, and only so many minutes in the average skateboarder’s Internet day, in between checking the Slap board, cleansing the browser history of porn links and reloading the bong.

Today 411′s website offers you a look at a flyer for a Krux kickflip challenge. Meanwhile the Berrics has new footage of Sean Malto, Eric Koston, Mike Barker and Erik Ellington. You see where I’m going with this. So long 411.

Out of pocket

July 23, 2008


When keeping it real goes wrong

Skate magazines these days catch a lot of flack from world-weary oldsters on the internet who view modern interviews in the long shadow of the mid-90s rags, in which certain pro skaters vowed to, for instance, infect every other pro skater they could with the HIV virus. Or simply murder one another. What can I say, it was a different time.

What’s funny, in a not-so-funny way, is that as social standards continue their gentle downward slide, interviews in skateboard magazines have generally gotten less interesting*. Now, there are any number of explanations for this. For one thing, there’s more skateboarders in general, and thanks to the law of averages and the forum provided by the likes of ESPN and the Dew, skateboarding has attracted a greater number of less-interesting individuals than it used to.

Then there’s the general corporatization of the skateboard industry, another slow process, since a lot of reputable corporations are way too uptight when it comes to the type of lackadaisical shipping schedules and haphazard bookkeeping practices that fly at skateboard outfits (shoutout to Ipath). Magazines were one of the first juicy morsels of the industry gobbled up by corporate concerns, since the magazine business is a known commodity. Cue ads for the Army and Ford Trucks, font size limits for the word “fuck,” and the sudden appearance of kiddie graphics over top of previously entertaining nudity (from Larry Flynt, of all people).

So yeah, the Time Warners of the world definitely bear some blame for the watering-down of skate magazine content. But what’s becoming more and more clear is that skateboard magazines themselves seem to be doing their damndest to sanitize their own shit.

About a year ago there was that industry-wide panties-bunching over blank boards. You may remember how they destroyed skateboarding forevermore and took food from the mouth of Andrew Reynolds’ baby. Anyway, the IASC printed up a little pamphlet for the winter ASR that featured a load of prominent pros going off on blank decks and espousing the virtues of branded hardgoods concerns, real warm and fuzzy stuff. Part of the deal was that said pros posed for a big group photo in some LA ditch… and around the same time, TWS ran the same photos under the guise of “a bunch of pros getting together for no reason except just to skate, man.” Slap messageboard maven Neal Boyd broke it down nicely here. Kind of slimy altogether.

There’s loads of other political stuff that goes on, photoshopping of shoes and clothing logos of course, and during his recent debate with Jamie Thomas, Clyde Singleton alleged that the Zero chief is notified whenever his name or likeness appears in any magazine, and presumably he gets the final sign-off on it. Which may or may not be true.

Anyway, all of this of course is a longwinded buildup to me calling Arto Saari a total pussy.

Apparently about four months ago Arto spoke with Big Brother/Vice alum Chris Nieratko (who knows from journalism, at least to some degree) for what was, by all accounts, a pretty straightforward interview: what have you been up to, what’s up with injuries, what went on with the big sponsor changes, and the now apparently obligatory questions about his mobile sauna, which I find a total snoozer. But after hanging up the phone, Arto apparently came down with the old 120-day itch and called up the boys at TSM, ordering them to pull the interview… which apparently they did.

Let’s all take a moment now to revel in the sad irony of TSM, a magazine supposedly started by the TWS staffers fed up with corporate bullshit, cowtowing to the corporate concerns of Arto, a fully owned subsidiary of Burton snowboards.

Now, I like Arto. He’s a bona fide legend, though I’m fairly certain the best of his skating is behind him at this point. I like DNA, though I’ve aired concerns that they’re losing their identity with this whole Burton takeover. I don’t even hate Burton. I mean fuck, they’re not K2 or Salomon.

But how this doesn’t make all parties involved look like boardroom image-management assholes totally escapes me. Contrary to what a lot of people have said, I don’t have a real hard time seeing why Burton suits would want this axed: Arto said in no uncertain terms how difficult it was to leave Flip, sort of agreed when Nieratko made fund of Burton and Gravis, and tugged back the curtain on how dead serious Burton is about their riders’ contractual obligations. With all the work the company does to promote Jake Burton as this “jus’ folks” granola-munching dude who’d rather be hiking the backcountry than sit on a conference call, it’s not a good look. And Arto of all people should have known better.

The problem of course is Nieratko. He dipped out of the skate magazine scene when Big Brother was still drawing breath and just recently checked back in, which shows in the way he interviews people and is probably one of the reasons why he’s still one of the best dudes doing this kind of thing. He calls bullshit on stuff—i.e. the sad state of Gravis’s past footwear designs—and probably used his silver-tongued powers to lull Arto into forgetting his Burton loyalty oaths.

The mistake Nieratko made was assuming that his editors at TSM would have his back on the whole deal. With Gravis just rolling out and Alien gearing up for a video release, Burton probably has got a good amount invested in TSM real estate, and at a time when belts are tightening at magazines in general and skate magazines in particular, I’m sure the threat to pull that dough probably was heard loud and clear. You have to wonder though, if magazines keep pulling this type of shit and running interviews bland as a late-period 411 (RIP), who’s even going to read them anymore.

*There are exceptions. Tony Tave’s interview in Thrasher last year, when he was fucked up on salvia, was pretty entertaining, for instance.

Get a clu

July 22, 2008

This commercial would have resonated a lot more with me personally if it had been Danny Way instead of Jonathan Nafarrete:

Ladies and gentlemen…

July 17, 2008


Please welcome back the high-top fade Chris Cole.

The night Michael Seiben wore his wolf suit

July 17, 2008


Let the wild rumpus start

The brothers Warner may or may not have pulled the plug on Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” which sucks, because hearing about little kids running out of the theater in abject fear only makes me want to see it more. And it could make for a great viral marketing campaign. Security camera footage of wailing children fleeing, their mumu-clad moms huffing and puffing after them. “What scarred little Jimmy for life? Find out in theaters Summer 2009.” Eh, maybe not.

But until then, Adidas has up a truly strange and fantastic Michael Seiben commercial that ends up being somewhat close to the Maurice Sendak classic, at least in spirit. (Click on “Seiben” and then “video” in the lower right.) I was a big fan of Seiben’s Thrasher column, though it seemed like he got bored with it pretty quick, and he appears way less overweight and hairy than I imagined, for some reason. Hopefully his new Roger endeavor works out better than the ill-fated Bueno.

Off topic, Sidewalk and others are reporting that London’s Southbank spot won’t be redeveloped, good news for anybody who enjoys skateboarding, tipping beers and waving at the cops as they pass by.

Transmissionator

July 16, 2008


Remember this dude

Although I’m sure it says “photographer” on whatever passes for Michael Burnett’s resume, he’s been my favorite working skate magazine writer for several years now, evidenced mostly by his ability to make the nth Toy Machine road trip interesting and often hilarious. Which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that other magazines have given up entirely on pounding out any copy whatsoever to accompany Company X’s most recent batch of Barcelona photos. I’m not sure how much of the material he makes up (he was pretty candid about King of the Road rule-bending practices a couple years back) but stories like the one about the bizarro Russian hotel generally are more worth the time than Josh Harmony’s latest nosegrind.

For example, Burnett’s musings on foreign-born moms, from the intro of the Russia article:
Joseph’s mom was from Nicaragua and wore absurdly low-cut flower-print blouses that elicited an equal amount of curiosity and shame among those of us who were unable to fight the urge to stare at her sagging, sun-damaged bosom. She seemed to have learned English primarily from her children, Joseph and his nine-year-old sister, and the deficiencies in this source were revealed by her ready use of the term “dooky,” and more fantastically, whenever she’d lose her temper when we happened to be over at the house.

“You are faggot when you leave your jacket on the floor!” she’d yell. “Why you have to be such retard, dork face?!”

Joseph, to his credit, seemed largely unembarrassed by his mother and of the foreign moms; she was the most well adjusted of the lot. She worked part-time and had actual friends, other ladies of international origin who would drop by to smoke Capri’s and chug Slim-Fast shakes over episodes of Oprah.

“See, Joseph!” she’d holler from the breakfast nook. “That’s why I have to do for me! Like Oprah say! I can’t always do for you guys all the time! You father no want to validate my feelings!”

Burnett has a new book coming out called The Outskirts of Awesome, which looks like it could maybe be a companion piece of the last Hold Steady record, and I’m assuming that it’s probably a somewhat more whimsical take on Ed Templeton-style Midwestern teensploitation stuff. I was intrigued to see he’s also got a couple short stories published, so I might have to thumb through one of these if it shows up in the skate shop, at least until Google wins their battle against the librarians to let people pirate books over the internet. In the meantime he also launched a website that’s got a load of photos, all his Thrasher covers and a link to the Burnout blog which I should maybe put on the sidebar thing over there. It has supremely entertaining shit such as the last sequence in this entry.

One more Burnett story, from KOTR 2006:
We’d decided that, even though Griffin had ollied a six-stair naked in Atlanta, we’d be better off trying to get a harder trick to win the Sherm’s Revenge points. Ed has impossible spine variations on lock so he warmed up with some, while Billy quickly kickflip lipped the nearby 12-stair rail. When that was over it was almost dark, but the park was still pretty crowded and there were several children present, including an eight-year-old girl on rollerblades.

California’s a weird place, so we didn’t want Ed to get charged with a sex crime or something just for skating a skatepark naked. We waited until everyone left and then lit the spine up with the generator. This turned out to be a very prudent decision as Ed, concerned with issues of shrinkage, could soon be seen trying to jack it up over in the corner.

“Which man showed you his penis?” I imagined the police officer asking the little girl.

“The big one,” she’d reply, “and he was pulling on it, too.”

Naked skating, when done with a quick dropping of the pants followed by a spectacular maneuver, is one thing. Naked skating, where the man takes 15 minutes to land his trick, meanwhile standing around nude in front of a bunch of teenage girls who happened to wander by a few minutes into it, is quite another. Ed definitely took it for the team on this one, and I can’t help but think the experience may have been humbling for an artist so quick to display the peckers of his peers.


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