Archive for October, 2012

In The Great Dice Game That Is The Skate Shoe Business, Gravis IVSK8 Wagered, Rolled And Lost

October 24, 2012

Winter arrived early this week for the action-goods provider Burton, as P&L discontent forced tough decisions at the top that abruptly left Nordic sweater Arto Saari, stylistic watchword Dylan Rieder and others shoe deal-less and set adrift on the ice floe that is free agency in the current economy, increasingly resembling a scene from one of the early, J Strickland-helmed Baker videos where a poor dude is rolling on the ground and groaning in super slow-mo. Is what it is and all involved are wished well, though things appear somewhat brighter for pro and am endorsers of Analog brand pants, who according to this press release will enjoy certain hand-holding procedures throughout this difficult period:

Regarding the Analog surf and skate teams, we will be working with each team rider individually on an exit plan to transition them out of the brand.

The gap in sponsorship largesse is expected to be felt most heavily by Southern California thrift-store proprietors, several leasing agents and various weed spots, while the hardgoods industry collectively contorts and careens as it attempts to financially nose manual through a global recession period. As consumers we lose out by way of a thinner selection of goods available for our paycheques and one less competitor to keep honest rival shoe sellers. Yet the untimely demise of Gravis’ “IVSK8″ lineup could signal that a deeper and more troubling loss already be lurks elsewhere, buried among footnotes in the great balance sheet of our psyches.

Foisting another footwear choice on an oversaturated population, backed by a big snowboard concern and incorporating a rather on-the-nose identifier amounted to long odds facing the Gravis venture from the jump, but was the company’s true crime being too daring? The much-derided Dylan pro model and later loafer drew wide attention but by all accounts made relatively few sales when stacked against the various iterations of the half-dozen vulcanized templates that have domineered shop walls for what seems now like the better part of the last decade, possibly the longest span of time a shoe trend has held sway over a previously fickle subset of trend-hoppers.

In a time of war abroad and economic upheaval at home, have our shoe choices skewed too far toward the safe, familiar and disposable, virtually ensuring that even the likes of PJ Ladd cannot persuade us to spend freely on a technology-forward, expensive signature model? Did Gravis roam too far off the stylistic reservation without a properly tested avalanche transceiver? Or must we make conscious, tribal decisions to periodically embrace outlandish design silhouettes so as to maintain our group ‘edge’?

Six Pictures Of Danny Renaud Skating Again, And One Other, Cribbed From Various Instagram Entries

October 15, 2012

“The recovery process was hell. I was confined to wheel chairs and walkers. I had a halo around my left leg for about 6 months and one on my right for two years. I had to sleep on my back, coffin style, the whole time. Talk about taking tossing and turning at night for granted. I had to learn how to walk all over again. I couldn’t start my recovery until the halo’s were off. The day I got my second halo off, I walked around a lake that was about four miles. It wasn’t until last August (2011) that I got my last surgery where I had my Achilles heel lengthened and scar tissue removed for more range of motion in my right ankle.”

“I’ve been skating a lot, trying to get this footage for Mike Atwood’s upcoming video, Incognito, which should be good. All the Florida homies and then some. So far I’ve got a small part, but you know how it goes. It’s a nightmare trying to film, but I’m working on it. I’m also taking some business classes in New York because eventually I would like to start up my own small company.”

Thanks to those users from whom these photos were yanked. For rewatching purposes.

Hillside Strangler

October 14, 2012

The re-emergence of the transition/all-terrain discipline over the last 5-6 years has brought much good, including renewed reverence for certain ’80s pros, pants of the canvas persuasion and counteracting the counter-intuitive notion of striving to keeping one’s action sporting sneakers crisp. However, a potential rogue thread woven into this fine flannel has been the de-emphasizing of the street grab in favor of the bowl or vert variety. Here we wade into a minefield of hot words and controversy and people rightly will point to various stink-bug stylings and the horrendous notion of tuck-knees down gaps, and it’s folly to argue, though I would submit that the melon grab is the exception proving the rule in this case.

Years ago I misplaced the Thrasher containing the above Satva Leung photo but it stuck with me to the point that when I ran across it on some blog I hurriedly right-clicked away to reclaim this digital rendition, glad to no longer feel obligation to paw through old boxes of mouldering magazines after it. The shot came to mind during Brandon Westgate’s SF bombing run and more recently in Elissa Steamer’s memory-lane trip back to Ed Templeton’s island of misfit toys. Don’t recall ever seeing footage of this trick but the boost Satva Leung looks to get off the sidewalk bump points to a separate righteous melon grab employed in a PA ditch by another former Toy Machiner, Bam Margera, in “Jump Off A Building.” The case could be made that this was some type of golden age for this move given that “Thrill of It All” dropped around the same time featuring a good backside rendition by Jamie Thomas, who also on behalf of Emerica deployed the notorious “ninja” varietal. What other melon grabs deserve to live on for perpetuity in Valhalla, hall of the slain? Does anybody got a good switch melon?

Ishod Wair, Roaming Wide Open Spaces Of Brick And Leaf

October 8, 2012

Next to Luy-Pa Sin, JB Gillett, Bastien Salabanzi and Henning Braaten, the hot shoes of Lordz Wheels’ 2004 production “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” shared billing with this pretty dizzying array of amazing spots that a lot of us in the US had yet to see at the time, when the domestic pro wave had at that point fully crashed into Barcelona and France but had yet to wash over the rest of the continent. Situated amongst the rickety handrails and cluttered run-ups that you’d come to associate with old-world skating was a whole smorgasbord of expansive, new-looking plazas drenched with marble and strewn about with all manner of ledges and steps and banks and wedges. At various times it was almost like it didn’t matter which dude was pushing through or what he was up to exactly, you could sit back and let your imagination go.

Into the annals of spot pr0n now comes Ishod Wair, human American, pictured above tooling through this carnival of brick that reportedly can be found in Hamburg, Germany. Some time back we linked up an old Tom Penny section that amounted to a couple one-off tricks in a skatepark and then one long, meandering line down a street on a sunny afternoon, with some commentary stapled onto it to the effect that such a line summed up certain shit about the appeal of this beloved action sport. The spot in the Ishod Wair clip gets to some of those ideas in the same way as the great ‘plazas’ of yesteryear, like the Santa Monica Courthouse, EMB, Pier 7, Love Park, Sants station and so on — these big blank canvasses where a dude, possibly feeling his oats, could pull trick after trick until his batteries give out like Mike Carroll in “Goldfish” or he runs out of space like Josh Kalis. No need to X off rail or gap tricks from a finite list and enough room on the benches over to the side for cultural spillover, this is where Josh Kalis’ “organic” tricks can be sewn. Extra bonus points awarded to Ishod Wair here for inserting a flatground kickflip into the mix here, no sweat.

Head Cleaner

October 7, 2012

Probably it’s a good thing that after a half-decade’s worth of footwear purveyours collectively issuing the same half-dozen models adorned with various logos, and the seven-ply hot dog holding sway for at least three times that long, it is a plus that a subculture stretched thin by recession and embracing a certain amount of commoditization retains enough crankiness and spark to gnash message-board teeth over perceived biting. And so it is that we take heart in the internet tizzy fermented by the debut of Politic, which devotees of the “Static II” aesthetic immediately scrutinized over similarities to UK phenom Palace, what with their comparable names, repurposing of analog video machines, and triangular logos that come on t-shirts with a little version over the left breast zone and a big version on the back.

Some may call it ironic that for a subset whose pride in cellar doors, wallies, natural and/or abrupt transition and certain other unconventional landforms got it pasted as “creative” here and there now seems clearly to be eating its own tail, but there’s potentially a murkier kind of food chain being linked together here.* Palace came in for accolades from this and other quarters when it emerged as a synthesis of Silverstar, Illuminati and “Time Code” era AWS, transplanted to overcast U.K. backwaters and dubbed over on VHS tape. Politic’s initial look cribs from the same playbook and you could read in some nods to Blueprint circa “Lost & Found.” But whereas Palace a year or two into its run dialed the nostalgia-meter back to 1995 with a big, sloppy kiss to the Menace segment in “20-Shot Sequence,” Politic may be trying not to join Palace but to beat them in their golden-age tribute-payments, its supposed take-off on Palace itself a take-off on the World-led wave of logo swipes that pervaded the early 90s?

The invisible hand of the free market will determine whether domestic and international consumers will catch feelings over this episode, embiggen their hearts to allow room for competition in the subgroup or ultimately cast both into the vast sale pile that sits below the deck wall in the skate shop of the great beyond. What is not up for debate is that Steve Durante seemingly has a long-overdue professional model and the lure of new footage, in these longer and colder autumn days, that right there is enough to warm the cockles of even the most cold-hearted capitalist.

*Others would challenge this statement and say that the staters don’t have a good grasp on the actual definition of ironic, driving additional unique visitors to Dictionary.com.

Who Will Win The Great 2012 SOTY Race, Potentially The Final SOTY Determination For All Eternity, If The Ancient Mayans Are To Be Believed?

October 3, 2012

Fall officially is upon us and the crispening air is thick with rumor and innuendo as professional bros vie to acquire SOTY status in what could be humankind’s final trip around our sun, depending on whether or not you subscribe to certain apocalyptic theories. This site, which previously floated a bunk theory regarding Freddy Gall potentially being awarded a small golden figurine wearing a backward golden hat and short pants, is not so cocksure as to entirely rule out a galactic realignment racking our beloved magnetic poles on Dec. 21, upending convention and fermenting a cataclysm alongside several shortages of encased meats. There are some who say the recent projections of a 2013 bacon shortage may represent an early warning sign.

In keeping with this internet page’s longstanding tradition of a stiffened upper lip we nevertheless brush off certain galactic problems and consider probable front-runners for this year’s SOTY.

Justin Figueroa, alleged front-runner, has all of the stringy hair, yellowy teeth and poor hygiene choices that represent hallowed wishstones of the Thrasher lifestyle, and he has given generously of his volatile handrail riding unto Jake Phelps & co this year and those past — his 50-50 to ollie out over the steps in that Lizard King roadtrip series was some straight video game nonsense and expectations for his section in the (Thrasher exclusive, natch) upcoming Baker Boys production are riding high, particularly after he clear-cut much of the stockpile from his recent ad photo archive for the Shake Junt vid late last year.

Nyjah Huston has on offer a largish contest win in his Street League championship and a reality TV show-worthy redemption song narrative to sell, if Thrasher is buying, though you may prefer to believe their executives in the market for more unrated fare such as the XYZ video or the Menace “Epicly Later’d.” Cutting the dreads and ties to his dad-manager may have helped and Nyjah Huston no doubt pushes the big tricks, but his major video part moment was late 2011, and does Thrasher care about big-money contests as opposed to their own small-stakes, spot-specific ventures?

Vincent Alvarez seems in certain ways like he should be a readymade Thrasher success story, multidisciplined, not too beholden to fussy technical skating and traditionally clad in work pants. “Pretty Sweet” and the Skate Sauce vid represent a tall-pour rail drink elixir that ought to put him at least in the conversation. He’s not flown too far beneath the Thrasher radar, running the year’s first cover for Lakai’s KOTR win. One downside, he may not have enough tattoos.

David Gonzales is a young aggressor with boss moves, a Thrasher cover photo and the near-requisite web-exclusive video part complete with Judas Priest, copious black denim and various throw-up-the-horns poses. There’s no point denying the high-test handrails he gets on, even if he does some of the time wind up basically steering backside onto a previously frontsided obstacle with not a lot of other imagination at work. If I had a vote I’d have a hard time casting it for him, though his video part last month is real good and for sure the best thing yet he’s documented, but then again, I don’t.

Mark Suciu can be the sleeper submission, spending the past year-plus roving the countryside, oozing tricks and video footage as he ascends the sponsorship ranks. For those counting High Speed Productions-specific scoring he put his landmark Atlas shop section on Thrasher’s website, put his “Cityscape” part on Slap and as a Bay Area representative has toiled away not just at SF spots but also in and around lesser-seen urban San Jose. Since he’s legally still an amateur he may not have the needed gravitas to command the hot SOTY spotlight, but if this dude does not have a pro board in the works by year’s end something wrong and you can reasonably assume the galactic realignment is affecting the workflow on earth.

Ryan Decenzo comes off a little like a knuckle-dragging rail fighter in the Nyjah mode but with generally more thoughtful trick offerings, and this year has made some nominal Thrasher waves via his KOTR MVP turn and some choice photos here and there. Maybe not enough to win the big nod, but Jake Phelps has a well-publicized soft spot for Canadian burlies, and regardless it’s interesting to someone somewhere how the one on Darkstar at this point seems to have eclipsed the one on Plan B.

Cory Kennedy is our dark-horse pick, harboring a formidable head of steam in the way of sequences and the odd clip here and there over the last couple years, plus time logged in a King of the Road van and a prime year-end stage for deploying all his egregious footage bombs in the Girl/Choco video next month. The b/s tail kickflip b/s tail still haunts the mind. At this juncture Cory Kennedy’s a young pro with little but mind-boggling output on his resume, placing him in around the same chronological marker as Andrew Reynolds, Grant Taylor, Silas Baxter Neal or Brian Anderson when they won it, so he’s not too green.


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