Posts Tagged ‘Alien Workshop’

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.

Dylan Rieder Reveals Bleak Worldview That Includes A Futile Struggle Against Robots, Sort Of Like In “Terminator 2″

April 17, 2012

Here at Boil the Ocean Affiliated Blogging and Alloy Solutions plc we care deeply for the welfare of the pros and assorted bros who are the heartbeat of the industry and indeed, the very culture itself. That professionals represent the fleshy bedrock of the whole shebang was highlighted in recent years by the industry-backed “A World Without Pros” hearts n’ minds campaign that successfully vanquished blank decks forevermore from our storefronts and ushered in a new period of peace and prosperity for hardgoods and softgoods manufacturers alike.

Which is why this Dylan Rieder interview is troubling, in the ‘extreme’ even. Rieder, once characterized as skateboarding’s “golden boy” by the second-best dude on Element* and maintainer of a face that has launched one thousand message-board posts, talks in stark terms of how he struggles to compete in The Street League and seems to have lost his zest for colorful clothing that could earn valuable photo incentive revenues. To wit:

You should be rich; you’re in Street League.
Yeah… after taxes and all it’s not that exciting. You can’t win any money out of there anyways competing against fucking robots. It’s the same top 3 people all the time taking all the money. They need to have a cash limit, like if you win 500 grand you get kicked out to help the rest of us who can’t land everything first try; maybe give us a shot at the money.

Dylan Rieder reveals that increased automation on the contest circuit has made it more difficult for him to pay his bills, similar to the plight of former auto factory workers in Detroit.

How did you end up in Street League? You’re the oddball. You’re not doing push ups, you’re not plugged into the wall. How did it happen and do you enjoy yourself?
Yeah, it’s alright. Dyrdek is my boy, Workshop and all. Maybe he just wanted another Workshop rider. He called me and asked me if I wanted to do it. Why not? It’s extra dough in my pocket. I’m normally not too fond of the whole contest circuit thing but I got a mortgage now. You got to think about the extra pennies that can help pay the gas bill. I don’t mind it. It is what it is. You show up, you bail a couple times and then you go home. I’m not in it to win it. Under the circumstances it’s not even physically possible because everybody can do everything every try and I’m not that technical of a person.

The malaise and hopelessness of not winning key Street League contest stops seems to be afflicting other areas of Dylan Rieder’s life. He describes a waning interest in branded apparel, embarking on a slippery slope toward the sort of drab and featureless government-issued garb that clothed generations of people living under strict communist regimes.

How come you’re not riding for some fantastic energy drink company?
Fuck. You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to wear one of those logos on my forehead. Their shit is fucked. It’s cool for those guys; they make a lot of money. I despise logos and I think it’s contractual if you sign up for one of those things that every time you’re on your board you have to have one of their logos near or on your body; it’s kind of retarded. They make little stickers that look like your shirt tags and you’re supposed to put them on you. It’s retarded. I don’t understand the Nascar outfit. The whole racecar uniform shit just blows my mind. But all those dudes are rich now so kudos to them.

You’re the polar opposite; you wear no logos at all. Just blank tees. There has to be a happy medium, no?
If it was something cool, I’d wear it. It would be cool to ride for Voss, that fancy water that comes in the glass bottle. Maybe 5-Hour Energy drink, that thing works.

The bleak tone in Dylan Rieder’s latest interview suggests that he has resigned himself to a lower socio-economic tier, destined to be outperformed by machines programmed with contest-point maximizing algorithms and sneered at by former coworkers. The potential loss is even greater when you consider that Dylan Rieder is, similar to Matt Hensley, Jim Greco and the Muska, among the few fashion innovators of consequence in recent years. As new owner of DNA Distribution and Dylan Rieder’s employer boss, does Rob Dyrdek have a legal obligation to try and lift him out of the dumps, possibly by leading a sing-a-long? If life sucks for Dylan Rieder, is there any hope for the rest of us? Do NASCAR fans really “do it better”?

*When “Time To Shine” came out, anyway


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