Archive for November, 2012

Elginerpeton, Girl, Blueprint And The Delicate Art Of The 401(k) Rollover

November 26, 2012

offshore

The billions of bloated and rotting carcasses of lungless, would-be amphibians gently fertilizing the beaches of history attest that evolution can be a messy, strenuous enterprise. Witness, in more modern times, the still-ongoing struggles for democracy around the world or also the pre-Oscar trevails of Three Six Mafia.

Like a semi-legged fish cast upon a tidal shore and seeking its footing with the help of expensive high def videography equipment, so too do a couple deck companies now entertain their potential futures removed from the warm and brinesome pools of their hatching, shedding founding-father pros and piling chips upon next-gen hot shoers that may or may not have the conjones to earn the throne and scepter and potential amphibious harem that belong rightfully to the king of the beach. Girl last week unveiled this decade’s full-length video presentation, in conjunction with Chocolate, while Blueprint has bid goodbye to more top talent dating back to the UK outfit’s establishment.

The diminished profitability of board manufacturers has been somewhat offset by the way they carry greater clout in defining what pro bros are about and providing a platform for various creative visions, to the extent these still exist in an era of limitless full-bleed series graphics and customized multi-logo baseball hats. The prior decade’s mercifully brief flirtation with pattern-graphic footwear was not enough to knock boards out of the box in this respect, despite the best efforts of several shoe teams sponsoring motocross bikers.

But even the best and brightest contributors to the ‘culture,’ of which Girl and Blueprint both long ago cemented their status, need active and relevant ambassadors out there preaching and switch backside smith grinding ledges or else you run the risk of losing touch with a permanently youthful and tempermental clientele, or running low on able-bodied independent contractors willing to slide down handrails, or both. Sad as it is, those schoolyard lords of the mid-1990s have been steadily confronting their shelf lives on video and in the streets and same as then not every dude is a Mariano or Koston.

It seems like you need one or more ‘Vision dudes’ (no Brad Dorfman) with a steady hand on the rudder to navigate such generational shoals, and I think here of bros such as John Lucero, Ed Templeton, Todd Swank, Jim Thiebaud, Mike Hill/Chris Carter and even the corporate paymasters who press boards at Element — all having weathered for the most part a total exodus of the names that launched the companies (in some cases several near-total personnel rollovers) and were able to keep drawing new and vigorous blood. Stereo, Plan B, Menace and several Gonz-helmed ventures petered out or folded once the main brains departed or shifted focus.

Similar to “Yeah Right” the new “Pretty Sweet” is being described as a torch-passing moment for the Crailtap crew, probably more true this time around given spotlights generally dimming on the OGs since “Fully Flared” (though multiple Jeron Wilson photos in a single recent mag did not go unnoticed around here). The prospect of Girl Films or Chocolate Cinemas sans Carroll, Howard, Brenes etc seems more and more realistic but ups the ante as far as the capabilities and sensibilities of those anointed ones who would pick up the gauntlet, given the long shadows cast by the dudes that made all those old videos, ads, boards. That track record being the critical mass magnet to Hoover up the needed new talent, but does ‘UnbeLeafAble’ hit the same way Sean Sheffey and the fishbowl did back when?

The outlook for Blueprint seems more up in the air in recent months as honchos Dan Magee, who masterminded the look and video output, and now Paul Shier have turned in their respective papers, leaving assorted rumors as to an unspecified new UK-centric venture, whether some recently picked US dudes will get a bump up and if Palace will sign Danny Brady. Blueprint’s efforts to broaden their platform and pitch a bigger tent made some sense but the steps they took toward that end, like moving the company to California and putting on several Americans and inexplicably relying on “Birdhouse In Your Soul” to kick off a video threw me for several loops, while old- and young-timers like Mark Baines and Chewy Cannon and Jerome Campbell bounced. How Blueprint persists/perpetuates/prevails from this point appears down in part to what roles the other UK vets take, like Nick Jensen, Neil Smith and Colin Kennedy.

Does It Get (Measurably) Better Than This?

November 16, 2012

And if so, how. Here’s a different one though — is Joey Pepper the last of the “Ryde or Die Vol. 1″ ryders to keep a skate career lit? Is Rob Welsh nowadays a fulltime guitar-slinger? Did John Igei hang it up after performing what has been duly recognized and/or realized as the best switch inward heelflip captured on film, over the Pier 7 block no less? Before planning your own pilgrimage to Pier 7, read some recent reviews here.

Are We As A Subculture Strong Enough To Stick Together As Mike Carroll Goes Gray?

November 14, 2012

Around 18 short months ago the singer Chris Brown released the Toto-sampling single “She Ain’t You” and later had the planet on smash. The move was a unique look for Chris Brown, coming off a domestic violence scandal that rocked the industry, potentially lost marketing revenue, and left the nation jaded on celebrity relationships. Now, Chris Brown, performing in a tan outfit and with a wide-brimmed hat that was not really a cowboy hat but looked kind of like something that Michael Jackson might wear. He modeled certain parts of his new song on the original Michael Jackson song and another part on Sisters With Voices, and sold ringtones. Chris Brown hit #5 on the R&B charts and went gold in Australia in what some characterized as a turning point for his career.

This web blog sometimes speaks openly on topics including ageism, the arrow of time, and futuristic battlefields littered with the limbs of damaged ‘mechs, some brought down by SRMs aimed at the groin. One can try and mentally prepare for the unknowable, spinning curveballs that life places upon you, but only so much. So it was that longtime watchers of Mike Carroll encountered several surprises in recent months — one, hints and several suggestions of gray hairs along the sides of his head during the Eric Koston Epicly Later’ds. The second was a revelation that he had not long ago been diagnosed with that feral-sounding disorder that brought down J Dilla, lupus.

On the cusp of this new decade’s full-length offering from the Crailtap camp the hype cycle is unsurprisingly focused on any potential star turn from the reinvigorated Guy Mariano and whether this may be enough to achieve a magazine trophy, some limb-risking efforts on behalf of this crop of would-be torch-picker-uppers such as Elijah Berle, the length of Marc Johnson’s er video section and whether an allegedly more relaxed filming schedule might manifest itself in a movie that doesn’t carry the weight of the world in terms of production effects and moody techno. I have not heard a great deal about Koston. And though there have been offstage mutterings to the effect of ‘this is really the last hurrah for some of these dudes’ you have to wonder in the year 2012 whether it is really the last hurrah for some of these dudes.

Versus the clockwork-like recording of NBDs that Eric Koston has been able to turn in over the past two decades, Carroll’s career has always been a subtler affair with less fussing involved, that synthesizes the EMB cool-guy envelope-pushing with the self-deprecating launch ramp antics that Girl got into along with some rap CDs and crew cuts and sometimes a rave event. But if one or the other retires effectively upon publication of the “Pretty Sweet” video project, which would deal the heavier blow to an industry already disenchanted with slowing board sales, widespread (alleged) doping and the twin career flame-outs of Pappalardo and Wenning?

Has Mike Carroll ever made a bad video part, over what is almost a quarter of a century now? Recently he issues the same sort of weary commentary as Gino Iannucci around any further footage being largely given over to recycling old tricks at new spots, but when it comes to those frontside flips and backside tailslides, should that matter? Eric Koston’s Epicly Later’d series suggested that his pro career represents a rare bird that continues to peak, but what of Mike Carroll’s — across the Plan B and Girl catalogues, is there any easily identifiable high point?

On The SOTY Campaign Trail, Justin Figueroa Seeks Common Ground With Steve Jobs, Michael Kors and Barack Obama

November 5, 2012






By now it is a widely believed factoid that Justin ‘Figgy’ Figueroa adheres to a strict, ah, drug regimen to keep his mind limber for the purposes of switch backside flipping down stair-sets and tossing his stringy mane around, possibly as part of an arcane mating ritual. Several years into his on-board career however there are signs that the requisite tattooing, boozing and all-around tramp lifestyle are designed toward a more fundamental discipline built to keep the Baker rail jockey’s brain fixated on the hammer at hand. Specifically, his choice to employ the same gear day in and day out suggests that like luminaries of other fields, Justin Figueroa hopes to focus his mojo and trim away the clutter:

You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
-44

The wizarding statisticians of InTrade, Fivethirtyeight and the recently revamped Sands resort in Las Vegas allow generous odds on Justin Figueroa claiming the golden-pantsed statue awarded annually by Thrasher, pointing toward his heavy featuring in High Speed Productions-branded internet content this year and a ‘Wayne’s World’-like interview conducted rather enthusiastically by Jake Phelps in the most recent issue of Thrasher. The ender section in the Thrasher-distributed Baker vid seems a closing argument, arriving in time to potentially shut doors on Austyn Gillette and David Gonzalez, whose own, recently released and quite gnarly Thrasher offerings lack the urgency and the depth (respectively) that the onetime Emerica flow rider has on display.

Themes of control and a certain primal urgency are evident in this video-section, as Figgy towers over handrails and casts himself upon the concrete, potentially in repentance for the lyrical transgressions of one Shane Heyl. We in the past have mumbled on ‘drama’ in his way of landing tricks and it is here in the bend of his left foot upon landing the frontside feeble grind revert and in the slight wobble during the final moments of the kickflip frontside boardslide on that one big green rail (which has a particular hurting put upon it in this part). He has enough of a capacity for oddball tricks (nollie 50-50) to keep things interesting and the technical capability to make a trick happen the hard way (switch backside tailslide back to regular at Wilshire) when the opportunity is there — and then there’s the tricks, such as the curtain-lowering k-grind, that don’t even seem real. As an irresponsible web log functionary I have my own views, but Thrasher could do worse than to back this dude for this year.


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