Archive for November, 2008

Heart of the Streets

November 30, 2008

En route to the City website today I was waylaid by this awesome photo of new resident Josh Matthews executing that most serious of ledge tricks, the switch backside lipslide, in front of some possibly at-risk youth who appear generally nonplussed about the whole situation. Appropriately grimy spot and classic form from the SBN associate, and it’s an interesting thing to be able to look at this photo and weigh the likelihood of a future SOTY title for this dude. Anything’s possible, right?

He can switch flip into them too.

Working For the Weekend

November 28, 2008


Ain’t trickin if you got it

If I had a nickel for every skateboarder done wrong by the industry I could probably save deck merchants from the scourge of blank boards, bail out PacSun and have enough left over to take Dave Duncan and Fred Gall out for buffalo wings (not even on 5 cent night). However, on rare instances I get to wondering what’s lost when the industry effectively closes the door on some former hot shoe’s career, for what are usually pretty subjective reasons. The fickle tides of footwear choice and waistlines, etc.

I got thinking on this recently when two Wisco boys, Brian Emmers and Aaron Snyder, popped up in various media via The Skateboard Mag – Emmers with the pic above in the photo issue and Snyder with this “Mag Minute” video feature a couple weeks ago. While as far as I know neither one’s got any kind of major-league sponsors backing them right now (or anytime since the turn of the century if you don’t count S-One [which maybe I should]), both clearly remain ready and willing to skate up to and possibly beyond current standards. Which is cool from a soul-brah-pure-love-of-skateboarding perspective of course and interesting as far as their willingness to continue pushing their personal trick envelopes.

I’m still a fan of Brian Emmers’ part in Plan B’s “Revolution” and remember being blown away by the nollie cab backside lipslide shove-it out, which still isn’t a trick you see done much at all today. Aside from some style quibbles the part holds up pretty well, as does his contribution to the rag-tag group of misfits Evol video, which anticipates the rise of Brian Wenning minus the Yosiris ender. The question on my mind: in an age where camera-ready park pros wax poetic on their frontside feeble grinds, would Emmers’ “respect the skills” transgression still get him drummed out of the industry?

Likewise, when dudes up to and including a skater of the year can get away with fudging a sequence and Photoshopping is par for the course, you wonder whether Aaron Snyder’s fiasco with the Big Brother sequence would be such a big deal. Spilled milk aside, the dude hasn’t lost many steps with the TSM clip, arm-flappiness on the manual pads aside. His last two tricks are genuinely insane.

Whether these dudes belong back in regular circulation is a question best left to industry dark men and the free market. But I wonder if it bums out pros on the slide or come-up kids, seeing dudes like Snyder and Emmers busting legit stuff on current spots like that. I imagine it’s probably the same way strippers feel when somebody’s drunk girlfriend leaps out of her chair, onto a pole and starts working it for free. Those bags of blow don’t pay for themselves, after all.

Hail to the Chief

November 26, 2008


If Boil the Ocean had an art budget (and an artist) the photo above would be some combo of this and this with the letters “SOTY” underneath, but, yeah. Budgetless art courtesy of Erik; thanks also to YWS Eeen for his offer.

Much like the U.S. o’ A, Thrasher done fucked around and put a fresh-faced, left-leaning young buck in the number one spot, largely untested and with a rather unlikely three-name combo. Perhaps a sign of change, elevating young breakout types with similarly thin resumes – five years ago Barack Obama’s a state senator, and Silas Baxter-Neal was Powell flow trash. Perhaps an indication of no better candidates. But as far as reaching the top of the heap early on in their careers, SBN and BHO are in there with JFK, TR, BA and, er, Cardiel.

Like the big O, Baxter-Neal is well-suited to his term for the reason that he seems to capture the current zeitgeist: open to new ideas (noseslide to switch nosegrind transfer), respect for classic form (Thrasher Th13rteen cover) and shaking up established schools of though (frontside flip wallride revert). Also both have smoked weed.

But unlike the Pres-elect SBN comes to SOTY with a noticeable absence of flash, lacking the superhuman skill set of a Chris Cole, Daewon Song or Marc Johnson, and the hellbent-for-leather risk appetite of a Danny Way or Geoff Rowley. He’s definitely no slouch on the board but to me it seems Baxter-Neal succeeded via elbow grease, a workhorse attitude and probably a lack of serious injury. It’s hard to imagine a harder-toiling skateboarder in the last couple years, with the obvious exception of Wade Speyer.

It’s possible that Obama, too, has picked up on his inner Baxter-Nealness, with the politisphere ablaze with news that he plans to name Tim Geithner, NY Fed honcho and alleged skateboarder, to head the Treasury department. The early reports proved premature however, as the Federales quickly took it upon themselves to clear Geithner’s name of any thrashing of the four-wheeled variety:

A skateboarding Treasury secretary would indeed be something special. However, a Fed spokesman said yesterday that, in fact, Mr. Geithner doesn’t actively participate in skateboarding.

There are some theories as to why surfers and snowboarders have outdone skaters in seeking political office. Surfing and snowboarding tend to cost more, and this may act as a social filter.

Also, a lot of people start surfing and snowboarding in middle age. It’s certainly possible to pick-up skateboarding later in life, but few adults can stomach the time and pain commitment that learning skateboarding requires.

So it seems skaters will have to wait a bit longer for the first skateboarding Treasury secretary. Change can only happen so fast.

Christ Air

November 20, 2008


The only way to fly

Australians love to party, and who can blame them? Their scenic island nation is surrounded by lovely beaches and reefs, crocodiles and concrete skateparks are abundant, and the land was immortalized by 80s hit machine Men At Work (later covered by Sheckler favorites MGMT).

But, as Rupert Murdoch has made clear, there’s always one guy who’s gotta take things too far. Behold the sobering tale of a homebound Aussie and his ignoble choice of coke mule:

A 33-YEAR-old Victorian man faces up to 25 years in jail after cocaine was found hidden inside two skateboards at Sydney Airport.

The man was stopped by Customs officers yesterday after arriving on a flight from Auckland, Customs and Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a joint statement.

Get it? Joint statement? Anyway.

Customs officers became suspicious that drugs were hidden inside two skateboard decks and an X-ray revealed an image consistent with a possible drug concealment.

Now when I read this I immediately thought to myself, how exactly might one go about hiding a bunch of blow in a board? And it came to me. The Element Push/Helium constructions! Obviously this Down Under Rick Ross had read his TWS Buyer’s Guide.*

If you think about it, this sort of makes sense. We’re nearly a decade on from one of Muska’s more nefarious contributions to the skateboard style canon – the weed stash pocket – and as the stair sets get bigger and the rails longer and the mega-ramps span more and more famous landmarks, it’s natural for someone to come along and up the stakes. Hence the coke smuggling board from Element. Shit, check out the Helium construction logo. No business like snow business.

Curiosity got the better of me and I pulled up this handy cocaine street value calculator, because that’s the beauty of the internet right there, and if the estimate is correct, this dude fit like $75 grand worth of blow in each board. “$75 grand per board… I don’t care how many Dew Tours you win… you got to win forever to make that kinda loot.”

No doubt. You have to wonder how deep this goes. Is Tosh Townend’s new deal over at Pocket Pistol skates a new distribution venue, or a pit stop on the way to a Colombian necktie? Does Element operate an extensive and shadowy Latin American “flow team?” Does this all somehow explain Mike Vallely’s seemingly constant aggression? Are the, ahem, Helium deck exports keeping Element afloat through this difficult economic period? Too many questions, and too many bad puns. I’m quitting while I’m ahead…

*It’s worth revisiting Cairo’s comments on deck technology: “I’m totally not backing anything with a missing ply inside. I’m not going to name names.” Possible endorsement of the stop snitching campaign?

Pete Eldridge: King of Crush

November 20, 2008


Got the street sweeper

As far as comebacks go, Tom Penny and Guy Mariano don’t much resemble the dudes they were when they left the game, for better or worse. (Well, worse, I guess, but what’s the point in complaining.) Meanwhile if you were a video editing sorcerer you could probably cut and paste most of the tricks from Pete Eldridge’s part in the new Mystery promo and plug them into his old Bootleg part* without too much trouble. I guess it was probably only about five years ago, but you know how skateboarding careers go. Didn’t Anthony Mosely come and go in less time?

The east coast Eldridge still has it in spades – commanding nollie backside heelflip in the first line, even if it isn’t screwed up the way J Strickland used to enjoy doing with flatground tricks. When he stomps down tricks like that boosted ollie over the hubba you can practically hear the urethane compressing when his wheels slam down, or when he’s lofting all that shit over the various bump-to-bars (switch frontside shove-it, cranked backside 180, switch whirlybird in Spain). Frontside flip pictured overhead is power Ginsu status and the last trick straightened me in my seat and put expletives on my tongue. Mighty nice to have him back.

Am I the only one who’s into Mystery’s clean B&W video gloss? It reminds me of the old Eastern Exposures. The rest of the promo’s good. Everen Stallion didn’t do a whole lot for me aside from his pr0n-ready moniker and affection for nollie b/s bigspin ledge variations, but I’ll give it up for the stretched 180 into the bank and the five-oh shove-it in Chinatown… and the final 360 flip over the rail was hot. Jimmy Carlin makes montage highlights with the smith grind hardflip and the (erm) forward flip, I liked Windsor James taking the nollie flip backside over the rail too, but I think Dennis Durrant held it down hardest with all that ledge techery and switch frontside k-grind, like nothing. Do you think he’s gonna have the last section in whatever video they make next, because I kind of do.

Seperately: Was Ryan Smith’s only trick that stalefish? Lost weekends or not, it’s too soon for that dude to fade. Frontside flip nosegrind hydro hideout, this was supposed to be a ten-year run.

*I always thought PE had the upper hand on PR with the Nas instrumental.

Product Toss

November 18, 2008


“You don’t innovate ’cause you can’t innovate, it’s not a choice”

Like many of you, my immediate reaction to the words “TWS Buyer’s Guide” is cynicism to the x-treme, at the prospect of a glorified CCS catalogue with (wait for it) ads between the glossy color pics of deck after shoe after truck after wheel. And then, you get to pay for it! It’s like those old Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs, except without the nudity and legal gray area.

But. I’m a fan of the TWS buyer’s guide. Yes, it’s true. For one thing, I think they do an impressive job of educating the young’uns (those cursed with the ability and/or inclination to read, anyway) when it comes to explaining concepts like wheelbase, bearing seats, and, er, what a millimeter is. That’s something you can’t learn in school if you’re not paying attention, which sadly is most likely the case, so we could look upon this as an important public service in the event that our fair nation is stormed by ravenous Marxists bearing metric rulers and roadsigns.

Also I tend to find the Q&A’s in these things generally more informative on the whole than the average “how many years skating/who’s your sponsors/man when does skating become like a JOB man?” interview. That is, when the appointed pro isn’t plugging his signature bearings or whatever. (What constitutes a signature bearing anyway? A [meaningless] ABEC rating and a colored shield? Fancy packaging?)

It’s interesting though how some skateboarders genuinely enjoy nerding out over the various processes involved in setting up and maintaining a board, the technology or lack thereof that works for them, and how much attention they pay to setup fads, like ultra-loose trucks, the 38mm wheel of 2008. Kind of like when an otherwise moribund rock musician lights up like a Christmas tree when Guitar Magazine inquires after his pedals or whatever.

Of course you get the usual boring setup “madness” stories, but between these and two of the ugliest frontside flip photos I’ve seen in a good long time, there’s some interesting tidbits in this year’s Buyer’s Guide. Plus it’s entertaining how often the “if it ain’t broke” refrain rings out among the pro ranks, no doubt bumming Rodney Mullen and his pile of unsold $100 Almost impact boards (which I’m admittedly sort of curious to try), along with the rest of the deck industry, stuck with a product that should have climbed to $80 per board (in the US) over the last 15 years, if it kept up with inflation.

Overheard among ruminations on the superior flick properties possessed by suede toe-caps and the proper order in which to tighten mounting hardware:

“When I put my wheels on, I have to put extra washers on my truck axle, so when I tighten the bolt, there’s some extra slack, but the bolt will be flush with the axle. This way you won’t fuck the axle up.”
-a helpful hint from Bobby Worrest

“Right now I’m rocking the standard Swiss Bones bearings. These bearings could seriously be shit, but since I grew up hearing they’re the best, they feel great.”
-Cairo Foster on independent thinking

“I usually put the grip all the way to the left, so that way I don’t have to use the razor blade on the right side of the board. It saves me a little time. After hooking up so m any boards over the years, you find ways to make it easier.”
-Jeron Wilson explains how to accumulate valuable seconds over a period of several years

“Dustin [Dollin]‘s working on getting a nine-inch board.”
-Lizard King, 80s revivalist

“I take ‘em off and I spray Windex in ‘em to take some of the grease out.”
Elissa Steamer, Martha Stewart of bearing care

“Other trucks turn better, but if you’re gonna ride a pool or vert, there’s nothing else to ride. I used to ride Indys, but now I can’t do it. I haven’t even tried the new ones because that whole kingpin-breaking thing happened. They kinda took a turn for the worse.”
-Amy Caron, ensuring a doorstep free of NHS products and weeks of ridicule on slash dog-centric messageboards

“Remember when I was skating Terell’s board? That Darkstar board and it had this weird carbon fiber in it? The point of the 7-ply board is to break it in half. I could not break the carbon fiber – it was so annoying. It gets me even more mad.”
-Mike Mo Capaldi on technological innovation

I’m Alright

November 15, 2008

A Boil the Ocean breakdown of the Eric Koston Celebrity Charity Golf Tournament.

24 Hour Party People

November 15, 2008


Irrational exuberance

It’s not without a certain jealousy that I peruse the photos of Rob Dyrdek’s shoe release party and wonder just how long the skateboard industry (or, if you prefer, the action sports/energy drink/reality TV industry) can sustain this mode of operation – race cars, pro-level pussy, multiple TV crews and all the Monster energy drink one can stomach, I assume. Why not throw a party for the 30-somethingth shoe from a 30-something pro? Why not rent out a spot to premiere the new 411? (If memory serves, they were doing this at one point.) Meanwhile we’ll print up big ol’ hardbound magazines – er, books – and hand ‘em out for free. And shit, go right ahead and build that $1.7 million ramp so Danny Way can jump the Great Wall of China.

Oh, I just wonder about all this stuff as retail sales drop through the floor and factories shut down and houses go into foreclosure and shit. (Oil’s down to $60 per barrel though, so maybe they’ll do King of the Road next summer.) Certain of the skateboard internet sphere almost giddily predicts the next 1993 year in and year out, and while I don’t expect Tony Hawk to go back to living out of his Lexus anytime soon, you kind of wonder when the skateboard business as a whole is gonna have to take a step back.

I mean it wasn’t even two years ago that blank boards killed the industry – remember how they stole food from the mouths of pros’ kids? How are dudes supposed to make their Cadillac payments? Meanwhile kids are downloading videos off the Napster and now we’re in a recession. It’s almost noble, the way Dyrdek maintains a stiff upper lip while the ice swans in his Candyland bunker slowly lose shape.

For serious though, where does the money come from? And is it gonna keep coming? Zumiez and PacSun are bleeding cash. Rumors are a-float about layoffs at hard and softgood suppliers alike. From what I hear, the real shops are still doing okay. Hopefully those crazy sneakerheads manage their trust funds wisely through this trying time in our nation’s economic history.

But if boards aren’t selling, videos aren’t selling, clothes and shoes are sitting on the shelves longer and, erm, I guess I’m not clued in on the movements of wheel markets… well you get the idea. Who’s gonna keep the free drinks flowing at the magazine/shoe collabo release parties? Is Panasonic Car Audio going to keep flying 300 of Sheckler’s tightest brahs from way back to Vegas for his sweet nineteenth? How many Red Bull hats does JR-Blastoff gotta wear every month to keep current on his Bentley lease?

Like with the government bailout or the Firm video, the questions don’t stop. Will the industry ever have to live with less? If it does, will that mean we have to wear giant pants again? Would the wise investor purchase stocks in a canvas wholesaler now, ahead of our return to 44″ waistlines? And is Wade D way ahead of everybody on this?

Tick Tick Boom

November 10, 2008


Have a few words

To most of you, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk will be familiar as the hometown of Dr. Thomas Girdlestone (1758-1822), known as one of the first advocates of using arsenic salts to treat Psoriasis and Lepra in the early 19th century. I on the other hand tend to associate Yarmouth with the amazing Chewy Cannon, a regular-footer of extraordinary technical prowess who put together what is in my opinion one of the really timeless parts of this decade in Blueprint’s “Lost & Found” a few years back.

Footage of Chewy Cannon has been sort of hard to come by since then, but the other day I came up on this recent mini-section in a Yarmouth video called “Rolling Like Kings,” a part for which we can maybe thank Adidas (whose site I nabbed the above CC pic from), if he was looking to dump some of his swoosh footage ahead of “Make Friends With the Colour Blue” (which can’t come soon enough). The dude has lost nary a step – still lightning-quick with the switch k-grinds and nollie cabs, and the way he sits back on the fakie nosegrinds/manuals is super impressive. Also sweet are the tossed-off switch backside bigspin on flat and all the powersqueaks in the South Bank line. Bananas, with impeccable execution:

Monster Mash

November 8, 2008

Weekend’s here and not much to say so I’m posting this pic of Van Engelen, which is probably better use of this space anyhow. Really hope this trick shows up in “Mindfield.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers