‘Doomsday’ For 1990s Creeps One Step Closer As Ronnie Creager Exits Blind, Experts Fear

March 13, 2014

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The 1990s Doomsday Clock moved one minute closer to the much-feared ‘midnight’ mark Thursday following an announcement that Ronnie Creager had departed Blind.

The surprise move marked the exit from his company of the last remaining featuree of the 1996 World Industries production ‘Trilogy,’ ballyhooed by several messageboard commentators as one of the two seminal documents of 1990s` schoolyard skating, next to ‘Mouse.’

“We cant thank Ronnie enough for all his contributions,memories and fun times over the years,” Blind officials wrote in a press statement shortchanged of apostrophes. “We wish Ronnie nothing but the best and look forward to seeing more amazing skating from him in the future.”

Ronnie Creager was not immediately available to post to his Instagram account. The move caught some observers off guard, abruptly capping a 20-year tenure on a company originally founded by Mark Gonzales under the World umbrella, where Ronnie Creager was the longest-serving team-member several times over.

Overseers of the 1990s Doomsday Clock, including an international assortment of blogmasters and aging skateshop employees, in response moved the clock’s minute hand one increment closer to ‘midnight,’ which would signal the effective end of the 1990s’ influence over kids and industry players alike. The setting currently stands at 11:51, following the Ronnie Creager announcement.

Clock officials previously had moved the minute hand closer to midnight at various times over the past 14 years, including after Steve Rocco divested Dwindle Distribution, when Joey Suriel and Richard Mulder became licensed to sell real estate and when Rick Howard did not contribute footage to ‘Pretty Sweet.’ The minute hand was moved farther away from midnight in 2006 when Daewon Song earned Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ award, in 2011 when Patrick O’Dell released the Menace ‘Epicly Later’d’ and also following DGK’s disclosure of the lost Fabian Alomar video part.

Guy Mariano’s comeback for the Lakai video set the clock back by a full ten minutes, the largest increment on record, igniting controversy among some pundits who claimed the trick selection in fact merited moving the minute hand closer to midnight and others who argued for setting it back by as much as an hour on general principal.

The clock has proven a magnet for criticism over the years, with some arguing that the 1990s are destined to live on forever in the hearts of those who truly believe, and others who maintain that the 1990s ended at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, an event knowed to some as ‘Y2K.’

High Anxiety

March 10, 2014

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Clint Walker’s flubbed nollie heelflip and subsequent board tumble in the Ambiguous vid ranked as the most vertigo-inducing video clip of 2013. Fellow Birdhauser Ben Raybourn in his new Nike shoes video part further challenges vestibular systems at around 2:00 with his mindbending run through the big old waterslide. Glad to see the horse pool again.

Bobby Worrest’s Phenomenal Pulaski Part Offers A Glimpse Of The Great Skate Recession

March 9, 2014

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While recent ‘one-spot’ video sections have generally revolved around transition of one type or another, be it DIY concrete (Chet Childress, ‘God Save the Label’), mega-scope wood scaffolding (Bob Burnquist, ‘Dreamland’) or backyard dipping bowl (Lance Mountain’s still-amazing part from ‘Xtremely Sorry’), Eastern coast action-sport action hero Bobby Worrest this week released via the Internet a for-concentrate edition of his grimy, technical stylings filmed entirely at DC’s famed Pulaski Park. It’s easy to formulate arguments around why this is probably the ideal setting for Bobby Worrest’s brand of unvarnished ledge gnawing, the white and brownish blocks serving themselves up for any number of switch backside kickflips and noseslides, that seat-of-the-pants 180 nosegrind revert and a rarely observed backside noseblunt shove-it, peppered with various over-the-shoulder traffic checks, nose stalling and an abrupt half-cab end-runner.

It had been speculated that Bobby Worrest taped these tricks during the 2012 government shutdown, though various media accounts of the time period thoroughly debunk this era as some free-bust, sovereign credit rating-imperiling Shangri-la. Something far simpler and more grim may be at work here, that is, a shadowy economic strangler that seems to be marauding amongst the smaller, more independent industry members and choking them out in various financial ways.

Hark, ye: Erotica author and shop owner Chris Nieratko speaks on the slow death of the demo, wherein the ‘sad state of our economy has halted almost all domestic skate tours if they aren’t within a short van ride from Southern California.’ Elsewhere, Jamie Thomas posts an update on Black Box Distribution’s restructuring efforts, while Baker trimmed long-timers Braydon Szafranski, Kevin Long and Jeff Lenoce in what’s described as a survival tactic. Months-long jaunts to Barcelona seem to have been traded for weeks-long China visits or more common, domestic road-trips that increasingly appear pasted together by bros as opposed to cos.

A hometown-centric skate part of Bobby Worrest, himself a refugee of the Sole-Tech slim down, could reflect any number of other factors, such as a preference not to go anywhere or an abundance of stacked footage with an easy packaging hook. Would though such a futuristic vision of more-budget parts such as this be so dire? Brian Panebianco and Ryan Higgins delivered one of the best videos of the past 14 months centered on the resurgent Philly front that is doing what scenes used to do; that is, draw people to it rather than inspiring Orbitz email alerts for vacation destinations. Lucas Puig’s drip-drab of French foundation-spot footage over the past year regularly topped certain others’ polished video offerings, and the punctuation-marked Gravis clip that revived the Dylan Rieder movement years back earned Internet plaudits for deeply mining a close cluster of LA spots.

Will coming years more deeply segment have-not pros from those lifted on tides of multinational sport apparel largesse, capable of securing weekend skate-spot permits for the pedigreed few that can command widespread online sales powers? Would this be a bad thing? Will the Great Recession and regulatory ‘uncertainty’ continue to hover long enough over landlords and property owners so as to give locale-bound professionals a reasonable buffer zone before having to expand their legal/ticket budgets? Have certain Barceloniyean bartenders begun to feel the financial pinch of fewer moneyed American professionals wetting their moneyed, professional whistles after long days of nude sunbathing, or did moneyed American professionals become/stay that way by judiciously regulating their tipping behaviours?

Alex Olson’s Braids Go Hard Dudes

March 6, 2014

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Time was, a young man headed west to probe the frontier, seek fortune and treasure, and just maybe discover a small piece of the American Dream along the way. This was the inspiring tale behind such 1980s computer game franchises such as ‘Tha Oregon Trail’ and 1990s escapades in skateboard distributorship involving chiefly American Dream Unit, but the ensuing years have seen several stars realign and scripts flipped such that Alex Olson, heir to a Dagger dynasty and budding entrepreneur, leaves the Southern California desert basin that raised him in search of a more-inspired industry pathway to be had in New York City, known to some as the City of Lights.

Of a piece with the ‘classic era’ tricks and sensibility that helped land a young Alex Parker Olson on the cover of that now de-funked Skateboarder mag, the breakaway Crailtapper’s brand vision involves pushing skating outside its corporate and cultural comfort zone. However, a couple decades removed from the racially/sexually/violently charged graphics of the World heyday, Alex Olson’s personal vision quest seems to revolve in large part around some of the few remaining industry taboos to be had: the Italian tongue, rave music and a more malleable view of sexual orientations that earned him a ‘Skate or Bi-Curious’ T-Eddy award. Is he or isn’t he? What’s up with the phone number? Will the market continue to bear premium prices for fancy t-shirts? Is Bianca Chandon what’s hot in the streets?

Alex Olson recently divulged some of the venture’s spiritual touchstones when crafting the company with raw mindpower.

AO: I think I had mentioned to Brian (Anderson) before 3D was thought up that it would be really cool to name a company after a boat.

Belying Alex Olson’s beguiling cat-and-mouse branding game is a quiet assertion of aggression via his recent hairstyle, as captured within some Thrasher photos. The embrace of pigtail braids not only pushes the grand Alex Olson envelope that much further, it also harkens back to 1990s rap hairstyles sported by game-related legends ranging from Snoop Doggy Dogg to Wish Bone, Ice T and that other redheaded stranger, Willie Nelson. Alex Olson is challenging the industry to keep pace with his assertive moves, even as he challenges up and comers to match his vertically oriented wallrides, absorb his rave sounds and sport spotless white linens on tough city streets.

AO: I wonder if pigtails will come in as the new style.

TWS: You launched it bro.

AO: It would be funny if everyone had pigtails (Laughs.)

Is the onetime APO nonchalantly carving out his own lane or risking a multi-car pileup by shifting gears on fickle hard- and softgoods consumers one too many times? Will the Supreme vid answer all or just unspool further questions, like an unhelpful Cheshire Cat that is also bearing coveted Scott Johnston clips? Will Bianca Chandon’s party line grow in stature to one day rival They Might Be Giants’ ‘Dial-a-Song’ service for domestic phoneholders? 

The Incredible Shrinking Alien Workshop

February 23, 2014

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Singular as it was to see the Dill/AVE ‘Dear John’ letter pop up on AWS’s site last spring, it is wild to look upon the ‘Team’ page in recent weeks and count just four working professionals and two amateurs, half the year-ago number, and relegating 30-years-young 2006 Sect inductee Omar Salazar to de-facto elder statesman status. Setting aside Heath Kirchart’s retired jersey and the mercurial standing of Rob Dyrdek the absentee landlord, if you were to trim now-departed ridership from the ‘Cinematographer’ section (and keep the between-clip clips) you’d get about a three-minute vignette; just three parts from ‘Mind Field’ would survive.

The narrative seems to go like this: aging bones and the lack of any equity stake in the company that employed them for some 15 years, Van Engelen and Dill dipped after seeing the title to DNA’s corporate UFO change hands multiple times in recent years, in the most recent case supposedly finding out only after the fact that Dyrdek had abruptly flipped the company to sunglass investor and Street League licensor Pacific Vector Holdings. (‘Despicable Me’ teaches us that a vector possesses direction and magnitude, while Pacific refers to the ocean that abuts California.) Sans these sometime-roomies and industry spirit-guides, Ohio-rooted bean-planter Kevin Terpening quietly exited, followed by the long-anticipated departure of Mikey Taylor, Grant Taylor’s seemingly preordained leap to Anti-Hero and most recently that of onetime franchise fakie 360-flipper and recent DKNY booster Dylan Rieder*.

The slow ebb of branded professional talent from the AWS roster over the past three quarters probably does not rise to the level of the World Industries ship-jumping of the mid-1990s or the nearly absolute Toy Machine team abscondiment that left Ed Templeton and Austin Stephens to rebuild by themselves the house of the Transmissionator. The steady grabbing of coats leaves open the question though as to whether the exodus has yet run its course. The curb-carving hair-greaser known to fans as Donovon Piscopo is seen to remain close with the DAVE contingent; hardly a fortnight can pass without wallride impresario Jake Johnson being instagrammed in close proximity to Polar hardgoods and he has really started to do a lot of no-complies these past 18 months.

Are the quartet of Jake Johnson, Omar Salazar, a recently reinvigorated and spectacleless Tyler Bledsoe, and Gilbert Crockett — who for one has voiced on the record his commitment to remaining aboard the grand Alien trip — strong enough to sustain and refresh this hallowed and murky well of Midwestern weirdness? Did recent “collaborations” with the estates of Warhol and Haring* signal a grasping at creative straws for a company with one of the strongest track records of art still going? To what extent are DNA’s new owners vexed by the exits, versus what their financial models may have divined prior to agreeing the purchase? Will the excellently disjointed TOUROHIO clip from late last year come to be seen as bridge or a bookend? Are the personnel moves to be interpreted as some right-sizing of DNA’s pro-level staffing, given Josh Kalis’ recent comments to the effect that even the MTV-moneyed boardroom chessboxer Dyrdek struggled to keep the company financially viable?

*Noting the Dill and Ave note, as the industry becomes increasingly press-release driven it seems more and more strange when companies keep silent on the departure of marquee names, especially those of years-long riders, instead quietly deleting them from their websites and re-screening their boards.
**does the world need a Radiohead album of Beatles covers?

Retired 1990s Professionals Present To You: A Tale of Two Brand Visions

January 11, 2014

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Why did you decide to launch a footwear company at this time? What opportunities do you see in this market?
Tim Gavin: Right now we see a huge opportunity for a footwear brand with a different mind set when it comes to product. I decided it was the right time for a concept that I’ve always wanted to do for so long. I wanted to think different with our product as that is our primary focus. We are brand-driven and product-focused as we feel product prevails and a lot of what is out in the market simply looks very similar in terms of overall product mix. Our mix of product is very different as a total collection with no vulcanized soles in the first season. I always thought about how skateboarding, art, and music have such a deep connection. The catalyst for the footwear direction really came about in the discussion and belief that skateboarding is not only an art form, but a modern day individual sport. So, we used that as the basis to create a footwear collection that delivers great functionality and style. There is a quote from Mies van der Rohe that we use as a brand guideline: “Create form out of the nature of our tasks with the methods of our time.” That really says it all.

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati…

You recently started Hela Cool Skateboards. What’s the vision for the brand?
James Kelch: HELLA COOL SKATEBOARD CLUB is a little company I started on my front porch. It’s a cartoon me and my girl Lee Ann were working on. It’s about a princess who skates and has pets who skate. And a plant also. Each character is a version of a modern skater. Hella cat is the maniac rager skater. The princess is the skater who thinks they deserve everything. The bunny is the skater who can ollie but has no tricks. The squirrel is the skater who spins in circles running his mouth and won’t shut up. The potted plant named Potty is the stoned skater who you drop off at the park, and when you come to pick him up, he is sitting in the same place. He has no feet. They all live in a haunted house. I started it in May 2013. The vision is to just maintain and sustain a positive attitude in such a weird high-profile business-owned skateboard world. No pros at the moment. Maybe never. I have no plan. I let the universe decide what happens. I just go with the flow. Since I ain’t trying to get rich—I’m a vagrant—I won’t waste the money living like a movie star. It’s all for the club! And you’re all invited to join #HELLACOOLSKATEBOARDCLUB. And one more thing—the club isn’t about me or my past. It’s about enjoying skateboarding for what it’s worth. And the only thing it’s really worth is your own peace of mind.

Gino Iannucci’s Most-Productive 14 Months Ever, And Other Assorted Notes On 2013

January 5, 2014

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2013 fucked around and turned out to be a banner year footage-wise for Long Islander and long weekender Gino Iannucci, doing a mini-Beyonce with a quick minute of mostly-park footage uploaded without warning Christmas Eve by hardworking Brick Harbour elves. Pinning down Gino when he’s on his board doesn’t seem to have gotten much easier over the years, despite his willingness to wax nostalgic on video about train station parking lots, but if you put this footage together with his tricks from ‘Pretty Sweet’ plus the inexplicably trimmed extra footage you’d have a nearly three-minute section that would readily accommodate a Mathematics instrumental.

10 Other Video Parts

-Derm – ‘In Crust We Trust’
One of the oblique thrills of marking time via local scene videos jockeying for YouTube chart positioning is that you may or may not ever see any of the dudes again, or, you might. It’s an open question as to whether Eric Dermond desires or will have any type of ‘career’ in the industry but his section in the enjoyably grimy “In Crust We Trust” felt like watching “Subzero” era Fred Gall skating “Inhabitants” era Fred Gall spots, topped with a nicely bone-crushing slam.
-Kyle Walker – ‘In Color’
-Mark Suciu – ‘Philadelphia’
-Jordan Trahan – ‘Boros to Bayous’
-Matt Nordness – ‘Hurry Up & Try’
The intro with the blocks is almost enough all by itself.
-Jake Donnelly – ‘Jake’s VX Mix’
-Evan Smith – ‘The Evan Smith Experience’
This one seems to have come and gone pretty quick, but Evan Smith loosened up his trucks and floored it and recorded a bunch of fairly heavy tricks for this.
-Lucas Puig – ‘Bon Voyage’
-Ben Raybourn – ‘New Ground’
“Horse pool”
-Cole Middleton – ‘Video X’

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Thrasher: Have you ever exercised in your life?
Fred Gall: I started lifting weights a little bit to try to buff up when I thought I was going to jail.

-Thrasher Jan. 2014

The Rise of Coloured Pants
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Increased embrace of shorter/smaller videos from the likes of Emerica, Nike and Habitat harkened back to certain early-90s practices that make current economic sense — the trend toward ever-larger teams and vague desires to recoup travel expenses via blockbuster video projects remain at odds with the general public’s tendency toward watching individual parts on Youtube and skipping back to watch specific tricks rather than whole parts. Meanwhile some of the wealthiest professionals, including Theotis Beasley, Ishod Wair and Nyjah Huston, participated in their own early-1990s style revival by sporting loudly coloured pants and in certain instances what appear to be swimming trunks, signaling a potential new front in the swag wars.

1. Brandon Westgate – ‘Made’

December 31, 2013

Beyond upping the previous bro’s ante with another couple stairs or a kickflip onto the rail, or stringing out lines to Stevie Williams-level length, Brandon Westgate in Emerica’s ‘Made’ video stayed stretching the boundaries of what seems plausible on a board with one of the more open minds working today. The SF hills keep luring him back with risky promises of driveways and front walks over which to blast tricks and suffer spills, just some crew-cutted kid in a sweater and jeans who these days happens to be carrying the Zoo legacy on his back. Brandon Westgate steps to chest-high rails and conducts thruster ollies over poles using legs infused with magnesium cores to help him grasp ultimate power, and increasingly it seems like he’s perfected his flip tricks also. If you were going to sit down and draw up a list of the craziest clips all year and had to pick one from this section, the strongest case could be made for the family-friendly tow job to the nation’s stoutest loading dock, one of those feats that grows gnarlier still as he cruises away and the thing towers over him.

2. Ishod Wair – ‘Wair N Tear’

December 30, 2013

Future pros who master the art of juggling corporate sponsorship video productions and VX-flavored bro-cam affairs, bankable via messageboard-approved Bitcoin dividends, will look back on early masters of the great balancing act such as newly anointed SOTY Ishod Wair, who initiated his 12-month pillage of US spots late last year in the legendary ‘Sabotage 3′ and wound it down with another NKE-underwritten one-two Thrashermagazine.com combination that proved effective in snaring the industry’s most-prestigious award for the second time in three years, after Grant Taylor similarly ran the servers in December 2011. Depending on how you count them Ishod Wair turned out four video parts this year, but this one for Fourstar earns the highest across-the-board score as far as the after-black hammer material he’s capable of, the lengthy lines and the much-beloved ‘Photosynthesis’ production, from the cameras to the Love ledges. Some of Ishod Wair’s tricks have this ethereal, floaty quality, like the full 360 out of the backside tailslide and the drift on the heelflip over the rail toward the beginning, but then he’ll set down something like that nollie backside kickflip around 2:29 that is solid enough to seal international peace accords. Ishod Wair in 2013 is a dude at the height of his powers but still putting in work — witness his fountain combat for the switch frontside bigspin here if you haven’t seen it.

3. Danny Brady – ‘Definitely Brady’

December 28, 2013

Danny Brady to Palace was one of those soundly logical, hand-in-glove industry happenings that helped maintain some sense of normalcy and balance in a year otherwise characterized by seismic team-jumps and resignations, and this part, which is probably Danny Brady’s best in several years, did double-duty washing away the awkward weirdness which is Blueprint’s current Canada-by-way-of-Arizona iteration. Brady’s fakie game, now cemented firmly cemented among the pantheon of veteran devotees such as Clyde Singleton and Terry Kennedy, is in top form here, like on the bank-to-ledge tailslide kickflip, and the relative frequency of clips without a hat implies a new level of comfort and trust in his Palace bros and bosses. The line with the backside tailslide to fakie needed only the cub scout cap to a ‘Lost & Found’ clip.


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