Archive for April, 2011

Dear Makers Of Skate Vids Who Make Your Work Available On Itunes

April 27, 2011

I’m down to pay and all but it would be way cooler if you split the files into chapters, kthxbye

Jason Dill And His Shirt Raise Important Concerns About Submitting To The Man, Dudes

April 25, 2011

swallow(if you can) from william strobeck on Vimeo.

Iconoclast boardsportsman and outspoken tastemaker Jason Dill is back at it again, this week controversially dropping video footage that prominently features a tucked-in t-shirt. The web clip, posted above, proved instantly divisive on the ‘Net and has raised fresh questions around the “institutionalization” of skateboarding as corporate interests exert ever greater control over team dress codes and branding.

The issue has festered since the early ’00s when Baker/Bootleg teamriders sparked outrage and tingled curiosities by donning fitted sportcoats. The latest escapade by Dill, known for provocative fashion choices such as Diesel jeans and nudity, alarmed industry observers already concerned about the growing influence of “the man.”

Jason Dill first signaled an embrace of the tuck last summer when he, along with noted dressers Alex Olson and Eli Reed, were spotted tucking in tank-tops at the Maloof Money Factory contest. Dill recently reprised that look at Brandon Biebel’s skatepark where he demonstrated that a more-constricted waistline need not interfere with basketballing feats. But expanding the initiative to include t-shirts opens a new front in the steadily growing furor and presents aging boarders with another dilemma around the already murky standards of conduct in the elder statesman role.

A little over a decade ago Dill spoke of chafing under the norms of mid-90s California skate-code, which required a certain bagginess of pant and support for Wu-Tang Clan singles. Could his venture into tucking shirts reveal similar discomfort with fashion standards that have in the past 10 years more closely aligned with Jason Dill’s personal tastebuds re: tightness and expense? Is this really a big marketing ploy for a new line of Fucking-Awesome belt buckles? And will Jason Dill laugh all the way to the bank as five years from now we all vigorously are tucking and he sharply moves to un-tuck in a scenario that is like Dr. Seuss’ cautionary tale about the Sneetches?

Funnel Cloud

April 23, 2011

Got the warm fuzzys seeing Raymond Molinar pop up in the Trapasso-facepaint Skateboard Mag the other day, partly because I’ve been worried about him fading out ever since his departure off Habitat. (Did anybody ever get the story with that, btw.) There’s a little bit of Henry Sanchez-style spazz crustiness to Raymond Molinar’s take on technical ledge tricks and he had a reputation for being kind of a dick, deserved or not, there’s a certain amount of that sort of thing that’s necessary I think, the more you gotta color inside the lines to appease the energy drink-pourers of the world. My initial recollections of Raymond Molinar date back to some tricks in a TWS vid montage, possibly “Free Your Mind,” which would’ve been an all-time classic with another part and 1/3 as many skits — he did lines in those Vans with the giant V on the side, reminiscent of some Vision Street Wears, and even back then he had the switch kickflip backside tailslides. This entry in Popwar’s short-lived “Video Hype” DVD teaser series I thought of as his official/proper debut and it’s also worth revisiting as some Utahn has revived the brand-name, a strategy that we know is sure to bring profit and pleasure to all involved, and maybe even a lucky few who are not.

In The Spirit Of _____, We Bring You ______

April 11, 2011

b/w

In keeping with the cosmic balance, Maldonado pops up in this Kerry Getz-themed clip today, click toward 01:05 for the relevant backside tailslide variant.

Josh Kalis: The Sentamentalist

April 9, 2011

Not sure how many folks celebrate or even remember Black Label’s Jim Gagne, a blue collar street-and-transition man known to pack a keg into the back of a truck to ratchet up the awesome factor in a given session. Don’t necessarily recall tricks in particular but the dude always got a thumbs up on general principle because of how he saw and embraced his “small-town mentality,” as per an old interview in Thrasher that detailed the keg scenario. It was not on the level of a Fred Gall interview but pretty close.

Around that same time Josh Kalis was gathering momentum for what would be a decade-long run of pretty much unparalleled video/photo coverage, arguably peaking with the “Photosynthesis” video section, pretty much every trick difficult and snappy and done well at eye-pleasing spots and sometimes in swishy pants. Like the coyote or famous zebra mussel he has proven able to acclimate to and thrive in the most metro of zones across New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Barcelona, as detailed in mostly chronological year-order over a recent “Epicly Laterd” broadcast. Probably you wouldn’t call 200,000-person Grand Rapids, MI a one-horse town but by comparison you maybe wonder if Kalis is on some level the same sort of small-town sentimental type as Jim Gagne.

Case in point, the sepia toned recollections of Love Park days gone by in the “Laterd” and revelations of how Kalis has since chased the meetup-spot vibe to other venues with what sound like gradually diminishing results. In the Toy Machine Thrasher that’s out now he discusses the Embarcadero era.

When you watch a video part with those guys, you see them slapping fives with everyone and having fun. I loved that time when you could just be all together at a spot, egging each other on. Everyone’s feeding off each other. Nobody wants to punk out, ’cause their friends over here might make fun of them. I like that stuff.

Kalis believes the organic vibe of a session bleeds through into whatever photos or footage wind up getting produced in between the smoked cigarettes and cracked jokes and musings on theoretical physics traded with local hobos. As per the “Laterd,” Kalis values honesty both in terms of how tricks come to pass and what’s presented in any finished product, opting to put forth the last year’s travels and daily routines as opposed to stacking DV tapes in a garage somewheres.

Kinda worried about Kalis, not because this all isn’t a worthy effort that other dudes could/maybe should follow. Concerned though that we’re seeing a cowboy slowly fenced in. Hassles from the man plus proliferation of skateparks times glorification of private warehouse training facilities makes me wonder how many organic scene/spots are bound to be left in five/ten/forty years, if Kalis is holding to the phantom of a dying vibe or some equally chilling concept. Wonder if the torch he’s carrying is going out, or turning into a plastic flashlight, or maybe even a more bizarre and ominous analogy like it’s actually the headlamp of an oncoming train and the Mayans were right and we shouldn’t really be worrying about any of this.

Sorta related to all this, wonder whether the question Kalis raises with regard to what footage inspires him (or vice versa) points back to all those dudes occupying benches and taking mounting hardware off broken boards and rolling joints in the handful of seconds before or after a trick goes down on the screen–like whether a video clip’s improved by its background noise, the suggestion of good times being had in the sun at some ledges around the corner and how it plays off all the potential inside the deck/trucks/wheels setup and even the street in front of your house. Stopping here before we hit Marc Johnson in “Operandi” mode.

A Salute To Vaj Potenza

April 4, 2011

In mid-American junior high school libraries at the dawn of the 90s it was hard to come by a more exotic or attractive cultural lifeline than Thrasher and Transworld magazines, even for readers shielded from the sheen of their garish covers by clear plastic binders. They had swear words. Authorities like teachers and the police were openly laughed at and heavy metal graphics rode tall in the saddle even when half the ads were black and white. In 1991 Vaj Potenza’s seminal work “101 Cheap and Cheesy Ways To Keep Them Off Your Ramp” won fans among devotees of driveway quarterpipes who counted “Spaceballs” and Weird Al’s “UHF” as chief cinematic landmarks of the day. Number 52 basically nails the senitment.

52. Scream “Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh…” and keep screaming until they get bored and walk away.

Twenty years later* Nos. 7, 25, 27, 29, 46, 55, 93 continue to get chuckles while Nos. 9, 50, 65, 74, 101 are grinners. This was in the October 1991 issue of Thrasher, predating the later, lesser works listed in Potenza’s online resume, though the DC footwear sported in this Vimeo profile reveal his true nature. Much appreciation to Justin at “Vert Is Dead” for not only identifying the feature from a half-remembered memory but scanning and emailing it too, for free. Enjoy this either for the biting satire of ramp life at the end of the Hosoi era, or the blurry window it offers into the long-ago genesis of this blog-space’s sensibilities, such as they are.

*dear God…

Is Nyjah Huston’s Element Victory Lap The “New Coke” Of Sponsorship Arrangements?

April 3, 2011

The above pic of a shirtless LL Cool J functions as a multi-purpose vehicle, in that it’s aimed to increase this blog-spot’s marketshare among female consumers of sk8 commentary [via content-farming] while also calling into question the much-ballyhooed (by Transworld this month) comeback of Nyjah Huston, 16-year-old Element prodigy turned hardgood entrepreneur turned Element prodigy. According to an exclusive interview given to the periodical, Nyjah’s two years in the skate industry wilderness nearly cost him everything, from sponsors to the coveted Maloof’s Money Cup, and his personal journey of becoming an older and wiser teen as a result begs the question of which other professions or pursuits involve making career comebacks at age 16 — those weird “Lil Miss” pageants? Gelding racehorses? Gymnastics?

Nyjah Huston’s skating doesn’t do a whole lot for me on a personal level (although much credit due for caballerialing onto the rail the hard way). Yet the TWS interview offers much to chew over. The Maloof powers that be preferred to hand the cash to a skater like Chris Cole who is backed by major corporate sponsors instead of a grassroots effort like Huston’s I&I although he retained the support of his loyal fans on the face book and even Element, who waited patiently and eagerly for him to return to the fold from the day he departed. He intends to shift his focus to technical skating as he enters the autumn years of his late 20s and is wary of becoming “lost in the core” if he strays too far from the spotlight of mainstream competitions and sponsorships. Manny Santiago is off the hook and he is more motivated than ever to expand his career.

It is possible this the drama of the recent years is part of a broader plan for Nyjah Huston. This entry on Yahoo! Answers! suggests that under a pseudonym he began planning his “comeback” as long as three years ago, even before he departed Element at the urging of his dad and launched what is described as a one-man operation in I&I skateboards, which found the then-ninth grader struggling to set up a profitable distribution model while simultaneously arranging demos and originating positively themed board graphics. Which leads us to ponder whether striking out on his own was a preemptive move to build anticipation for an ultimate comeback to Element and generate board sales revenue in the seasonally weak first quarter financial cycle, similar to the conspiracy theories that for years have dogged the introduction and eventual burial of the beloved “New Coke” recipe for all-time. Will Nyjah Huston’s market value, like that of Coca Cola Co., rise 2200% in the future and prompt an investment from the Oracle of Omaha?


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