Archive for May, 2012

Made To Measure

May 31, 2012

Who profited most from the great fashion wars of the 1990s? Was it the denim tycoons, thumbing thick wads of dollar bills earned by selling reams of earth-toned fabric stitched together to make World-branded pants? Was it the hedge fund moguls who sold short the stock of Vision Street Wear just as berets and tank tops fell under the scrutiny of parking-lot fashion police? Perhaps the midpriced mall retailers such as Gap and Ralph Lauren who somehow managed to briefly appeal to otherwise streetwise and snobbish LA ledgelords? Maybe the Dickies executive who refused to give up on a market that at first viciously rejected Ed Templeton’s gentle embrace of highwater-styled “butthuggers?” Or the venture capitalist soothsayers who backed those textile alchemists that fused spandex with denim just as Jim Greco and Ali Boulala began to raise the wrist?

Over a decade later the landscape has flattened. A sort of fashion equilibrium has settled over the industry, matching the anything-goes mindset now prevailing across teamrider recruitment, video part chemistry and skatepark layouts. The peaks and valleys offered by yesteryear’s goofy boys and Hot Topic bracelet shoppers was superceded by the more sober-minded white tee/brown cord/Half-Cab set, sensibly fitting flannel shirts and the more recent revival of the raglan sleeve. At the same time the critical fawning over “Dog Town and Z-Boys,” combined with a solid 25 years’ worth of material to chew over, gave licence to a decade of mythmaking and nostalgic navel-gazing that at its nadir gave rise to a ponderous web blog site on the internet futilely attempting to ‘make sense of it all’ through wordy postings.

Assessing the current state of affairs in succinct, 1000-word equivalent snack-sized servings is the recently introduced Skartorialist site done by Kingpin/Blueprint affiliate Sam Ashley, which puts a pockmarked urethane spin on the moment-to-moment fashion photo blogs that have given rise to a bustling Ebay trade in pocket squares and Sears catalogues from the 1950s. It probably helps that Sam Ashley operates in close proximity to Londoners who have generally proven themselves to possess a more refined level of taste when it comes to fashion choices, Paul Carter’s striped Osiris swishy pants notwithstanding. The site’s frank presentation and skateboard-as-staple theme may have crossed the radar of the OG Sartorialist, who featured not one but two skate pics this week.

This is a concept well suited to an audience as prone to pick nits over personal dress to the point that a passing comment about one’s preference for plain-black t-shirts (versus the more typical plain white t) can prompt a freewheeling and at times soul-searching discourse on the psychological and moral divide between the black- and white-T camps, and how this may or may not reflect a similar but much-older debate revolving around corresponding color choices in women’s underwear. The site also provides for the sort of self-benchmarking popularized by Hotornot.com, and in this spirit I was encouraged to see Angus Morrison sporting a throwback Powell Peralta shirt similar to a ‘winged ripper’ number I got the other day, on some youthful dream fulfilled by disposable income that’s probably a sure sign of some middle-age doomsday ahead.

The role of outfit choices was cemented several years ago by a scientific poll conducted on the Slap message board, which found a majority of respondents agreeing that a bizarro outfit can detract from an otherwise legit photo, or video clip. The Skartorialist blog seems to keep time as folks in one corner of the world decide where the envelope needs pushing and where it is already folded nicely. For better or worse most of the dudes in the pics so far wouldn’t draw a second look at your typical mall or football stadium or Dave Matthews Band concert, which raises some interesting questions. Has the appetite for risk-taking on big handrails gone up at the same time dudes have become more wary of looking like a fool on the street? Does this conservatism mean sacrificing any role as early adopters of long-running themes? Who will start and fund the next JNCO? Are tall, stripey socks this year’s 59fifty hat? Do the duotoned pants backed by Garrett Hill and more recently Neil Smith represent the final frontier?

Trevor Colden Desperately Seeks Cheat Code To Boost Driving Skill Meter [laughs]

May 22, 2012

Just as the nation giggles when a souffle collapses on a profane, ruddy-faced television chef, or when a ballet dancer stumbles and stubs her toe after an ovation-commanding routine, or a world-class chainsaw juggler accidentally slices his thumb off while buttering toast, we live for those moments when we are reminded that the enchanted feet that push through the piles of dollars cluttering the pro/am/flow universe are human as we are. This can manifest itself in any number of ways, including public intoxication tickets, sitting in traffic and woeful tax evasion charges. In the amateur-theme Transworld issue, knit cap devotee Trevor Colden offers a charming anecdote that humanizes one-store backside heelflips:

So tell me how you passed your permit test.
How I passed my permit test [laughs]? Well, the first time I tried to take it, I got 10 wrong. The second time, I called Bama–the Zero TM–there’s these little cubby-type deals, and I was just on my phone reading him all the multiple choice questions, and he’d just tell me which one he thought was right. He got eight wrong [laughs]. The third time I tried to take it, I took a photo of all the questions and sent it to Ian Berry because he said it would be 10 times easier for him to look at it like that, and then he would text me back all the answers. And he got eight wrong [laughs].

You took it four times [laughs]?
Fourth time is a charm. I went there and passed it.

All on your own or what?
No, I took a book with me [laughs].

Has Ryan Reyes Found A New Place To Hide Cheese On A Pizza?

May 16, 2012

Straight out the dungeons of skate/lifestyle photography curated over at the Thrasher blogs comes this curiosity offered by Ryan Reyes, which looks like some kind of boardslide-bonk of the transfer persuasion. They call it a “railie.” Continuing this week’s celebration of Creature’s many mutations, have yall ever seen this move before, or know what it’s supposed to be otherwise called? Carving out new trick territory five decades puts dudes on HM Stanley/Dr Livingstone levels, but maybe I missed this one the first time around. Here’s a second take, to fakie. Sweet

And With Creature’s Sort-Of Update Of The Osiris G-Bag, Things Have Finally Come Full Circle

May 15, 2012

In the years before 2pac died, Norcal soothsayer E-40 occasionally spoke on the importance of timing, while rapping on open mics about industry hype. Fifteen years later everything and nothing has changed as we regard a landscape strewn about with the corpses of hard- and soft-goods brands loved and not, as well as passing specters that sometimes resemble our self-respect, long ago put in shallow graves by the energy drink dollar. The refugees of this once-noble subculture have naturally sought to subsist by eating our own collective tail, giving rise to a new/old breed of 80s ramp revivalists who represent a more innocent time via tattoos, stripey socks and macrobrew-scented breath.

When Creature rose from the dead a few years ago it had all the trappings of classic period Romero zombieism, an organic and fairly gnarly reflection of the times versus some cheesy wink-and-nudge job like that rewrite of “Pride and Prejudice” or the relaunch of Vision Street Wear*. Here you had some guys with a legit claim to the ramp dog way of life, driving around in a hearse, throwing vert jams, putting out graphics with a lot of monsters and urinating in public** versus some of the later, more hamfisted attempts to capture the Anti-Hero wave, like shoehorning bowl kids onto your picnic table/handrail squad.

Recent developments however suggest that longtime Creature mastermind Darren Navarette may have cooked too long in the sun of San Diego, a region of Southern California sometimes blamed for poisoning the autumn years of the 1990s with bulky rave footwear and tasteless technical tricks. Among the glowing product reviews posted at Skatedaily.net is a recent item highlighting Creature’s “Black Box cooler”, a toteable refrigeration unit the size of a sixpack that also offers speakers and a hookup for an Ipod or other digital music device. Fans of “the Storm” will immediately be transposed backward in time toward an era when the Federalz enlivened several sessions via the notorious Osiris G-Bag, which you may or may not know has evolved through the years recently into a unit known as the “Megatron” that earned its own review, and from a Canadian.

The pic on the Skatedaily review features a Van Halen album presumably blasting, but the use of an Ipod gives the came away. Can one credibly cool a sub-$5 sixer within this product? Will Peter Smolik, flush with Blitz cash flow and emboldened by Rob Dyrdek’s recent dealmaking, attempt to merge Sk8Mafia with Creature? Will the Federalz speak on the controversy on an upcoming mixtape? Would Hell Rell endorse this thing? Does this speaker-cooler-box represent a risk of serious eye injury because beers or soda could be shaken up to dangerous levels by heavy bass vibrations from the tunes?

*BTW, when is somebody going to float the idea of bringing back Prime?
**I’m assuming

BDU Blues

May 6, 2012

When we locked eyes three-quarters of the way through the last part in TWS’s “Cinematographer” redux I think we both did a double-take — it wasn’t the sort of place I should have been surprised to see you, on the side of a decaying playground under an overcast sky, but it had been a while. For both of us — you, years ago embracing Adidas flip-flops, Honda CRVs and sweatshirts festooned with the Greek alphabet… me, delving deeper into the nightlife, growing thinner through the years, occasioning to recall our times together only now and then when I managed to chip the mountain in my closet down to the musty-smelling Shorty’s backpack and spent lighters and Magnum markers inside.

But I smiled then because enough time had passed since the bitterness of our parting — by then really we’d grown far enough apart that it was closer to a mutual apathy, already past the point of moving on. I have my tendency to overdo things and hold onto them long past the sell-by date, and we both could see you had other suitors. They may have been able to take you all sorts of places I never could or would, but there’s enough consolation for me in the knowledge that when we first crossed paths their sort wouldn’t have spared you a second glance, or become captured the way I was with you.

I was young then, or younger anyway, and so were you–just a few years younger than me, but more world-weary, given your strict, no-nonsense upbringing. I liked to think I’d seen as much of the world as you, even if it was different parts maybe, but we both knew there were questions about your background I didn’t care or bother to ask after. When we got together it seemed beside the point. Summertime was just getting going and you showed up, crisp, ready for whatever the day became, easygoing to the point we could spend days on end in one another’s company.

Did the familiarity get us? Did one of us take the other for granted, tiresome as it sounds? We lost the glow. The edge was off by the time I saw you gussied up with accessories you didn’t need and repping A-Team. Some days I caught myself looking and wondering if you’d lost the shape I used to love so much. It wasn’t only you though. There was a corridor of art shows, corduroy, European plazas, leather and reality television appearances opening, and the further down it I went, the more it seemed you belonged with the yellow t-shirts and compact discs filled with conscious hip-hop lyrics. So I didn’t begrudge you when I would see you in the mall, striding across college campuses, looking a just a little bit too weathered not to be a put-on — but by then I knew your tricks. Some of them I taught you, after all.

Let’s not fool one another. It was good to see you again, know that our paths continue to cross, that it doesn’t have to be forced. I don’t think either one of us expects things to go back to how they were, or wants them to. Those were some good years though — for both of us — and when you don’t see it coming, running into you again can make me feel almost the same as when we first got together.


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