Posts Tagged ‘Alien Workshop’

Boil the Ocean Blog Website’s Ramble About Alien Workshop Closing Down

May 25, 2014

“Everyone is just totally winging it, all the time,” the Guardian smirkingly intoned this week, from Barack Obama on down, dudes are doing what they can in the moment to get by and talk the talk, if not necessarily walk the walk. “This realisation is alarming at first, but it’s ultimately deeply reassuring,” blogmeister Oliver Burkeman commentates as he posits the power-brokers of the world staggering from crisis to crisis and trying not to let us see them sweat.

Approaching a 20-stair handrail — never mind the gaggle of screaming girls marauding downtown Los Angeles* — Rob Dyrdek can’t buy himself a few seconds with which to make second guesses, by snugging down his beanie or flipping open his cellular telephone. He trusts his gut, charges it and rolls on to the next obstacle. In the skateboarding business Rob Dyrdek has gained renown as a master tactician and virile negotiator. To wit, eight months ago:

“The DNA Brands are in great hands,” said Rob Dyrdek who will continue as minority owner and team rider of DNA LLC. “Chad Foreman and Pacific Vector, together with the three founders, Chris Carter, Mike Hill and Joe Castrucci, have created the perfect partnership to grow and develop the DNA brands. With their combined expertise, talent, and drive, the possibilities are limitless.”

Limitless by design, even. Yet, there are financial tiger traps and jackal-like lenders lurking within this Jungle Book where Rob Dyrdek, who we imagine here in a loincloth as the fictional young boy character of Rowgli, passes his days skipping from deal to deal, handshake to endorsement. But there are cold nights in which them shadows transform that throng of hormonal tweens into a pack of bloodthirsty bondholders, nipping at the heels of precocious and carefree business ventures.

23 May 2014 20:50 EDT Press Release: Pacific Vector Holdings Inc. Provides Corporate Update

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA–(Marketwired – May 23, 2014) – Pacific Vector Holdings Inc. (TSX VENTURE:PVH) (the “Company”) is providing this corporate update.

As announced on May 15, 2014, the Company required an immediate bridge of three hundred thousand dollars which would have allowed for the payment of current obligations. The Company was unable to obtain the required bridge and as a result, a first secured lender whose one million dollar loan was due April 17, 2014, has filed a notice of default. In addition, another secured lender, owed four hundred thousand dollars which matured on April 21, 2014 and an unsecured lender, owed one million dollars which matured on October 31, 2013 have filed notices of default. The Company is diligently working to cure the defaults in the next five days.

About Pacific Vector
Pacific Vector is an action sports retail and consumer brands company.**

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Earlier this year, in a candid bro-to-bro moment that involved defining a douchebag and ruminating on the import of being checked for prostate cancer so as to flourish and enjoy the various triumphs of Gulf War military commander Norman Schwartzkopf, Rob Dyrdek revealed what it is like to slam on the 20-stair M&A handrail.

“I grew up, the skateboard company I turned pro for, was from Dayton, Ohio. And 20 years after they started they sold to Burton Snowboards… and they were having a lot of trouble, and I went out and bought that thing. Because I was like the kid from Ohio, 20 years later, comes around and buys the company. And I got slapped across the face in reality of emotionally purchasing a company and being faced with a hornet’s nest on the inside of trying to turn it around and involve people that have been doing something for 20 years. It’s a brutal lesson I have learned this year that I will never face again.” (19:30)

Josh Kalis, who rode for AWS 12 years and seems to care about those dudes as deeply as anybody even after quitting a couple years ago, told Jenkem this year that he believed Dyrdek did the right thing selling DNA to Pacific Vector, despite doing so under some duress:

“Well to tell you the honest truth, Rob really seriously tried to keep that shit the way it needed to be. He gave the power to those pros, and was like, let’s make this right. Dyrdek was going broke keeping Alien Workshop afloat, that’s what people don’t know. As far as the impression I have, he was paying for every single thing out of his own pocket, to where, he was spending more money on Alien then he was bringing in from everything else and it was breaking him. He had to do something. That dude lost millions of dollars trying to keep it going. And he did that for the dudes, for the original owners, he did it for the current pros, he did it for all of us. It was just too much. Now, half of it is owned by this new company, which is being head up by Chad who helped build Blackbox with Jamie Thomas. So I look at it as it’s in good hands.”

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Among the difficult things to understand about the apparent collapse of AWS is how a top-tier company with a globally recognized name and graphics and lore, years of consistent promotion by a certified TV star, regular video output, potentate pros, and decades-long ties to retailers and wholesalers and suppliers, can’t make it work. At a time when relatively small companies like Palace and Polar (spiritually indebted to the Sovereign Sect) are balling for position on shop racks, when Jereme Rogers and Brian Wenning and James Kelch and Alex Olson and seemingly anybody else with a couple dimes to rub together can up and start glossy or gritty board concerns that don’t immediately evaporate, when companies as far removed from their respective heydays as Santa Cruz, World Industries and Blind can persist, why not a company as storied and comparatively still-vital as Alien Workshop?

“It was just getting harder,” DNA’s self-identifying “business guy” Chris Carter remarked upon an IASC panel three years ago when outlining his reasons behind selling to snowgoods maker Burton in 2008. The global economic slowdown had something to do with it, he said; Europe was “tough” and DNA had missed its window to sink American dollars into a European distribution of its own back in the early ’00s when the company was flush. “The deck company used to be the marquee brand,” Carter said, name-checking to seven-ply titans of years gone by such as Vision, Sims and Powell. Some time ago shoes assumed that spot and “deck brands are getting pushed further and further down.”

Chris Carter mentions several times decks’ commoditization, as AWS and Habitat competed for wall space and parental plastic against an expanding range of shop boards, blank boards and smaller rivals with slimmer payrolls and less overhead. Josh Kalis in the Jenkem interview figured monthly board sales of his own models fell from 6,000 decks per month in the Year 2000 to 1,000 by 2004. Archival records indicate that during this period Josh Kalis was not imprisoned for crimes against humanity, did not vie for the title of “world’s worst person” and clubbed no baby seals.

By this point DNA, already bicoastal, considered itself a global deck merchant, as per Chris Carter. Kalis and Dyrdek’s Seek imprint, which seemed directionless early on and destined to rank alongside PJ’s Undapendent records and “Street Dreams” in the slam section of Rob Dyrdek’s business career, nevertheless reflected DNA’s ambitions to build an international team in the early 00′s. Lengthy European stays became de rigueur for top-shelf video parts and retaining occasionally destructive travelers such as Danny Renaud further padded expenses. In Dayton DNA supported a loyal employee base, one-third of which Chris Carter in his talk estimated had been there for a decade or longer by 2008, who deserved things like benefits and retirement plans.

“You can call it selling out, I call it selling in,” Chris Carter said of the Burton deal, which in three years would teach him more about running a company than he’d learned on his own over the prior ten, he said. Burton’s financial posse were a disciplined lot and transfixed by profit margins, forecasting, lending rates and tinkering with distribution networks; under Burlington’s watch, DNA grew for three years straight, according to Chris Carter. Yet even they were unable to tame fallout from the 2008 worldwide credit crunch, and in response to consumers’ diminished thirst for snowboards and coats, Burton trimmed its portfolio in 2012, pulled out of the skate shoe biz and offloaded the DNA unit to millionaire teamrider Rob Dyrdek, who reportedly gushed before the deal was even complete that he intended to own Alien Workshop forever.

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Are Dyrdek Enterprise’s accounting darklords as sophisticated as Jake Burton’s? It is difficult for a person to know, but soon Dyrdek, Carter and Hill would venture onto a corporate path far afield from the frugal one Chris Carter charted in 1990, as described to the IASC audience: “We just saved our money. We actually financed it all ourselves …we started the company with $26,000. That was the startup capital. We were equal partners in the business. It was basically self-funded. We didn’t borrow any money. In fact, in the history of the company we never borrowed any money. We never took a bank loan. We never used a line of credit, not one time. We borrowed to buy a building and that was it. It was all self-funded. …We reinvested all the money back into the company.”

Amid the dark nights of soul Rob Dyrdek would later confide to Larry King, he determined to parlay DNA into a larger and more-diverse extreme sporting venture. About 18 months after cementing his DNA purchase, Rob Dyrdek in October 2013 sold it to Pacific Vector Holdings, for most of its lifetime a sunglasses company that in recent years had absorbed several extreme retail stores. Rob Dyrdek’s deal seemed to involve selling DNA for a stake in the enlarged company, for which he appeared to have a broader plan, since earlier that year the company licensed rights to develop “Street League” stores in return for royalty payments.

Pacific Vector aimed to expand given the sunglasses business appears not to have been a profitable one for the better part of a decade. It’s difficult to get the full picture from the financial statements filed by Pacific Vector via Canada’s SEDAR filing system, but they do show net annual losses each year going back from 2012 to 2005, ranging between $199,000 and $1.7 million, while annual sales were between $1.4 million and $2 million***. The jury remains out as far as 2013 results — at the beginning of May Pacific Vector notified investors that these couldn’t be filed on time because the company was still working on getting financing and couldn’t pay auditors to look over the numbers.****

Two weeks later the “Alien = done” topic materialized on the SLAP board; employees and team members were rumored to have been laid off, AWS mothballed, poignant malt-liquor photos posted to instagram accounts. The messageboards have Habitat architect Joe Castrucci retaining some intellectual property associated with the company and potentially replanting company and team beneath a different distributor, while posters rumor that Rob Dyrdek is considering a court battle for control of Alien, or the company potentially sold at auction.

For those with fond memories of skating the boards, rewinding the multicoloured videotapes, squinting for hidden messages in adverts and appreciating the gradual mind-warping at work, the options are not great ones. Alien could go away, perhaps not on its own terms, but with its legacy secure and on a respectable note as far as output, pro-personnel and stature; to some this is the preferred option. A Blueprint-like resuscitation seems a real and depressing possibility, given the nine lives that some shoe and clothing companies seem to have been imbued with in recent years. The moon-shot would be for Rob Dyrdek to again ride to the rescue and restore AWS in what would almost assuredly be some stripped-down fashion. Zen-stated wallride beltholder Jake Johnson for one has stated his intent to chill for a while and see whether AWS can work it out.

Could an Alien Workshop with a smaller team, scaled-back selection of t-shirts and hats and whatnot, and a sensible travel/video schedule be able to pay its HQ staff a living wage, cover Carter/Hill’s mortgages and not drain further dollars from Rob Dyrdek’s coffers? Does Rob Dyrdek have any more tricks yet up the sleeve of that DC Shoes varsity jacket? Have Carter and Hill dug out their basement-buried gold ingots yet? Will the retired Heath Kirchart return the favor and continue to consider a defunct Alien Workshop his board sponsor?

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Alien Workshop’s passage into shadow, permanent or not, is worth pondering. It would seem the biggest board company to go out since Plan B, and casts a singular and long cultural shadow. For a lot of people it is deeply personal. Like Girl/Chocolate, Toy Machine, Zero, Black Label, Powell Peralta, Baker and maybe a few others Alien Workshop not only resided among the top tier of a fickle and trend-driven industry for many years, it changed and directed the conversation with graphics and videos that couldn’t have come from anywhere else and inspired various acolytes and copycats. This blogging web page from time to time has taken a critical way with Alien Workshop and Habitat, and that is because the people running them have produced work worth holding to very high standards. Among the several possible outcomes mentioned earlier Boil the ocean Weblog very much is pulling for #3. While we wait, wander through the Black Hole.

*They call Los Angeles the “City of Angels” according to the US movie “The Big Lebowski”
**Versus earlier press releases in which Pacific Vector billed itself as a “premier” action sports retail and consumer brands company yall.
***For perspective, DNA at the time Pacific Vector bought it had sold $7.5 million worth of boards and clothes and whatnot over the prior 12 months.
****Earlier in the year, Street League and Pacific Vector dropped their plan to build Street League stores.

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?

Tyler Bledsoe Is Majestic

December 4, 2013

Bigspinning Pacific Northwesterner Tyler Bledsoe is back on the scene after keeping sort of a lower profile in recent years, possibly seeking professional treatment for his previously documented infatuation with the color teal. The ledges in this remarkable Etnies clip exhibit a more verdant shade of green, suggesting some progress in his personal journey, and it’s comforting to realize that even having shed his spectacles his command of the backside bigspin remains uncannily intact on what has to be one of the tougher ledge tricks to lock into, much less spin anything out of it, much less in the middle of the ledge.

Board control’s one thing, but do Tyler Bledsoe’s recent feats suggest a genetic mutation that gives his feet greater mastery over gravity, similar to folks who from birth are unable to feel pain, or rapidly develop massive muscles? Could Tyler Bledsoe’s apparent gifts enable him to defy physics in other ways such as sprinting through waist-high water or executing hairpin turns on frozen lakes? Did ancient Mayans develop a two- or three-year calendar based around the frequency with which footwear companies try to launch camouflage shoes?

Five Instances That Demonstrate Why Mikey Taylor Is/Was Great On Alien Workshop Yall

August 24, 2013

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Sometimes it is the unlikeliest of dudes who ignite controversies, and so it was that digital rumorings last week of Mikey ‘Mike’ Taylor’s potential exit from the Alien Workshop roster sent forth such as outpouring of nerve-bending jubilation and pent-up bile as to recall the declaration of celebrated armistices and the sacking of Professor Dolores Umbridge, so many centuries ago.

Does Mikey Taylor deserve such fearsome condemnation? That’s for industry tribunals to decide, but dogs and cats alike are agreed that his back-door entry to AWS via the untimely folding of the pre-MTV Rob Dyrdek vanity label Seek left this shaggy-haired student of the Socal schoolyard an increasingly odd man out as flavors and kindling skewed toward cigarettes, flood pants and mounting handrails from behind. A more recent embrace of tailored cords and Dinosaur Jr aside, the question of whether a dude whose keyword search for years included the words ‘nollie crooks’ ever merited a Mike Hill graphic will go on, but there are a handful of easily accessible arguments in favor of Mikey Taylor’s bag running a bit deeper and woollier than he’s otherwise given credit for.

Switch ollie, ‘Street Cinema’
The switch ollie occupies an odd space in the great and foggy hierarchy of tricks, not particularly technically difficult but also generally not thrown down the most thunderous of gaps where a regular-footed one is safer and probably about as impressive. Sometimes they look ugly, more often it seems they’re not bothered with at all, so it’s interesting and maybe telling when someone takes the time to film one. This is a good one, under the tutelage of that denim-clad Svengali Kareem Campbell and at the end of a still-respectable line.

Switch feeble grind 180 out, ‘Mind Field’
This was an example of one of those tricks where the footage was real good but the angle of the photo, replete with cast and which looked like it could’ve advertised Contracts in the Es heyday, was even better. The switch feeble grind is one that gathers power the deeper its dip, and this one was in there, with a quick, smooth frontside 180 out well in advance of the newspaper box.

Line that ends with the switch backside noseblunt, ‘A Time To Shine’
The switch backside noseblunt is top-drawer technical and not one you’d necessarily expect from a dude who came up doing several nollie frontside boardslides and the odd salad grind, but Mikey Taylor was cranking them out on the regular for a large chunk of the prior decade. Schoolyards and wife-beaters with newly Nike-rich Paul Rodriguez and pre-Casanova Jereme Rogers seems more Mikey Taylor’s element, but the cocktail of bluntslide tricks here would suit most any self-respecting video section.

Line with frontside bluntslide and switch frontside bluntslide, ’411 #63/Mikey issue’
Squarely amid Mikey Taylor’s Jay-Z phase, and they weren’t just handing out 411 features to anybody, so things were clicking for him. Stringing together lines with the same trick regular and switch isn’t and wasn’t a new idea but the frontside bluntslide is a hard one, and then he reaches for bonus points. Schoolyard again.

Frontside shove-it frontside crooked grind, ‘Skate More’
When PJ Ladd came he forced everybody to think a little harder about what they were doing with all the ledges, and a few years later Mikey Taylor got off a good one with what otherwise might be a curious ender for what a lot of folks still regard as his best part, though ditching Jay-Z for some second-tier Britpop was in retrospect an ominous indicator. This is a trick that still isn’t seen very often.

Sort Of Like Klein & Kirchart’s Bittersweet Signage Symphony, Except With Some Vehicles

June 2, 2013

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When not stacking characters for his highly anticipated next interview, Anthony Pappalardo has taken some time out to skate. For those not inclined to root through a 20-page Slap messageboard topic and various instagram postings here’s what seems to be the recent gist:

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As a reminder:

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Flexin

May 2, 2013

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It has been widely theorized that Mother Earth, known around some parts as GAIA or “Big Bloo,” periodically unleashes natural disasters to right global wrongs and remind her solar passengers who’s boss. Hurricanes, earthquakes and several Ja Rule albums have been attributed to nature correcting itself in a natural fashion. There is an unconfirmed science rumor that the comet which ended the dinosaurs’ reign was actually minding its own business when the earth, weary from hauling heavy lizard flesh around the sun for eons on end, intentionally floated out into the troublesome space-rock’s path.

Flash forward several years to when Girl and Chocolate released their high-def opus, “Pretty Sweet,” ostensibly like ODB for the children staffing the team. If Guy Mariano’s comeback section half a decade earlier in the Lakai video proved he still had it, closing out a production otherwise given over to hot shoes who hadn’t yet picked up a board by the time Guy Mariano was sprinkling LA confetti upon jubilant skid row dealers sounded a clarion call to old dudes everywhere, in the same way that Eric Koston’s part in “The Chocolate Tour” a decade earlier inspired the true life story of “Murderball.”

Even as winter’s unrelenting icy grip has punished would-be green shoots attempting to poke their buds aboveground this spring, so too have industry oldsters answered this call over the past month, refusing to yield to the current crop of handrailers and manualites. Transworld’s generally short-in-the-tooth production “Perpetual Motion” gave the curtains to the non-threatening hammers and gently shampooed hair-stylings of Julian Davidson, but at that point the trick of the video (50-50 handrail gap, also in the running for overall filmed achievement of the year) had already been performed by Silas Baxter-Neal, who in that lineup of uppers and comers counted as its vet, when you factor in his old-soulness and general SOTY gravitas.

Weeks later the security camera-laced Deathwish production launched with the breakout section recorded by probably the oldest or second-oldest dude on the squad, Jim Greco, he for whom 1,000 cattle have been slain to date in the ongoing search for a jacket that encapsulates just how feckless he is feeling at any given moment. Greco darkslides, across benches and from 360 flips and down handrails and switchstance, but amongst all that razzle-dazzle he appears to have cleaned out five years’ accumulated DV tapes worth of backside 360 lipslides down big handrails and certain big jumps. Jim Greco’s own post-sobriety turn in “Baker 3″ always seemed to me kind of scattered after his angry energy in “Misled Youth” and that “Baker2G” part that birthed a whole subgenre, but this one came off like he really, really wanted to go for it, kaleidoscopic outfits be damned.

Now as socialists around the world unite to march for solidarity and universal health-care coverage and tax deductible bail payments for regular- and goofy-footed independent contractors alike, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen take their turn to shock the industry, except this time by quitting their jobs rather than doing them. Yet the abrupt flying of a couple decades-deep dudes from their long-time coop — where millionaire boss Rob Dyrdek had effectively given them lordship over the springier chickens — already is seen by message-board plutocrats and industry pundits as a game-changing moment and perhaps the greatest identity crisis facing Alien Workshop since Lennie Kirk seriously devoted himself to armed robbery.

Will Jason Dill get on Palace? Is skating inherently a young man’s game, except for vert and the giant mega-ramp, where it’s a middle-schooler’s and middle-ager’s game that may reward you with an SUV? Is Mark Suciu actually a 40-year-old bro who had been quietly filming in various towns under assumed names over the past 15 years, and is the steady release of footage a sign that he may have died sometime early last year, leaving the executors of his estate to periodically drizzle out tapes to sponsors in a Tupac-like series of posthumous releases that will subsidize the multiple wives he secretly and illegally maintained in small towns across the U.S.?

Bryan Herman’s Genes Yearn For Him To Join The Redneck Yacht Club, But At What Cost To His Immortal Soul?

April 13, 2013




In its most crude and base form, skateboarding is the business of fulfilling dreams. Warrior-poet Marc Johnson once opined in a Transworld vid that, one’s deck sturdily underfoot, “you can take something that was pure thought and make it reality.” Under the half-lidded stewardship of the Muska, Shorty’s called their inaugural video offering “Fulfill the Dream.” But what happens when such dreams go “to far”?

Jason Dill’s personal dream of dockside labor is a dream deferred. But even with yesteryear’s billowing pants and flapping tees put aside, and wife beaters snugly tucked, Dill and fellow world-weary coffee sipper Dylan Rieder seem blind to the apparent kidnapping of mutual teammate and Oregonian bigspin flipper Tyler Bledsoe, quietly displaced for Easter Egg hunting and footage gathering by Bryan Herman in last week’s TF clip celebrating Jesus Christ’s 2013th resurrection anniversary and the healing power of black denim.

Across the desert sand, Bryan Herman boils and sweats through the night. Once a stringy-haired Spanky understudy with a reliable frontside boardslide, he wandered through his late teenage years as an eyebrowless Bowie disciple before his persona gradually cleansed itself in a vat of Cash Money mixtapes and purple kush, revealing his true nature. Now piloting a pickup truck, hunkered down in a countryside home stocked with firearms, has has become possessed of the redneck lifestyle, incenting him to pursue beer sponsorships, study the switchstance techniques of lapsed Habitaters Brian Wenning and Steve Durante and now, worse. A damnable quest to achieve Lake Havasu spring break glory can only have fermented an obsession to claim this for-sale boat and all the fleshy amenities its seller promises, so much so that Bryan Herman has stooped to secretly impersonating Tyler Bledsoe in an apparent effort to double-dip in the tobacco pouch of pro sponsorship checks.

Tyler Bledsoe’s present status remains unknown but presumed bound and gagged somewhere on Bryan Herman’s arid and junker-strewn estate. Will Bryan Herman’s lust for boating be slaked, allowing Bledsoe his freedom to pursue happyness and kickflip out of super-long backside tailslides? Was Tunechi’s recent seizure fright a “wake-up call” for the industry? Is it possible to enter the redneck skater hall of fame without owning tracts of rural land or owning a dump truck?

The All-Seeing Eye

January 8, 2013

One imagines the invisible hand of Adam Smith guiding the DC-ringed hand of Rob Dyrdek in bringing together this Alien Workshop/Century Optics collaboration on a fisheye lens designed for iPhones, further diversifying that perennial acquisition target away from skateboard decks and its array of bath-time offerings such as soap and towels. As Alien’s spirit guide, lead vocalist, mariachi band liaison and general-purpose mascot on last year’s winning KOTR bid, Omar Salazar is a worthwhile one to endorse this product offering, but you wonder if it was an overflow of merchant-marine ink that maybe kept Gilbert Crockett out of the running, as a dude who already has had a hand in filming a whole video shot on cell phone cameras. Maybe Century Optics feared being on the receiving end of hand-made prototypes for telephoto lenses? Will the industry’s next video camera collaboration see Palace link up with JVC?

The GR-AXM18US also includes a combination of 11 built-in digital special effects and wipes/fades that allow you to give your videos a polished, professional look

A Brief Interruption To Our Annual Year-End Programming Because Anthony Pappalardo Gave This Rather Frank Interview On 48 Blocks Today

December 28, 2012

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It was a curious thing to observe the responses when, a couple weeks ago, you had in New Balance the umpteenth major-league footwear company announcing its late entry into the SB club. Time was, a couple pros would cobble together some investment group and foist upon the beleaguered consumership some new truck company or shoe company and be met with a round of harrumphs and annoyed sighs, whereas lately an entry one by one of the multinational shoe companies tends to get a subset of the culture atwitter over the prospect of being catered to with theoretically better technology and construction backing another vulcanized, low-top sneaker bearing a logo recognizable to principals, moms, the captain of the football team, etc.

Curiouser has been the justification offered up for backing new corporate competitors, usually centered on allegedly poor quality of the shoes manufactured under skater-owned outfits. When it comes to the extremely basic designs that have generally forced some equilibrium across the shoe landscape and the fixation on suede, canvas or leather as the material, quality seems like a red herring, but that may be just me. What seemed gnarly was a certain willingness (in some cases eagerness) to reject the “grassroots” players that, whatever their warts, are our own creations in favor of these larger and more powerful entities that until 10 years ago were not much thought of, except for some disdain when it came to various hamfisted efforts to push their products. At this point we part ways from veering into another circular referendum on Nike versus the Don’t Do It movement.

Now we have a telling from Anthony Pappalardo, to 48 Blocks, on how he was allegedly fucked over by Converse, which wooed him away from Lakai despite his apparent misgivings, made him a pro-model shoe and then abruptly shifted into some bare-knuckled contract fight that seems to have severely dented Pappalardo’s already fragile-sounding self-esteem. Some of the story as Pappalardo tells it is confusing — already barely making ends meet, the breakdown in talks with Converse saw him homeless within months and later selling scrap metal to survive, kind of like some 60-to-zero shift from “pro-skater-with-shoe-deal” status with no in-between option like seeking a different sponsor, moving in with friends or family, or getting a day job. Pappalardo describes a sort of catch-22 in which Converse is not supporting him, forcing him to hustle to survive, which makes him unable to skate, so Converse (and later Chocolate) doesn’t support him. It isn’t clear what happened to any royalties from his shoe model, which seem to have sold briskly, or why he stayed committed to this apparently abusive sponsorship arrangement, when several years earlier he quit Alien Workshop with no safety net whatsoever.

It seems like there’s several pieces missing from this whole story, and while resisting the game of diagnosing Anthony Pappalardo’s potential issues via an interview apparently pecked out on a mobile phone, you wonder about the other side of all this — during the time period in question Pappalardo was not exerting a Lil B-like flooding of the market with coverage and his career arc wouldn’t yet seem to afford him the coasting abilities of someone like a Fred Gall. But at a time when shoe companies like Es and Gravis have rolled out of the frame, not hearing out a dude like Pappalardo, even given these past few years of traipsing down a path toward his trick minimalism and urban recluse profile, against a giant corporate entity feels off in some way.

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.


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