Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Leo Valls Takes Advantage Of A Hurricane To Make A Case For The Continued Relevance Of Tail Devils, Grappling Hooks

February 20, 2013

DEVO

The kindest gift that Paul Rodriguez ever bestowed upon the industry was making switch 360 flips down double sets look not-really-trying casual. Upping the ante in one’s mid-teens to not only top-drawer difficulty but seeming no-sweat execution put a fresh floor under tricks that pushed boundaries and set the stage for a weird and wondrous era in which random YouTube kids compete with professionals for unique page views and thumbs-up identifiers. It also enabled dudes who aren’t up to switch backside noseblunting handrails to differentiate on metrics such as speed, aesthetics, geography, or wearing suspenders. French cobblestone ticklers Magenta have based their whole deal on agility and architecture without fussing a great deal over filling up their tech/gnar power meters, pumping out a stream of sliding- and pushing-packed vids that have refreshed and divided the populace in ways similar to the Stereo videos of yore, except with more Wu-Tang Clan.

Making a New York vid probably has been on these dudes’ list as long as the Los Angeles schoolyards were for the Palace guys, and watching their new ‘Panic in Gotham’ clip you get a sense of the zest with which they screeched their wheels across these hallowed streets, even if most of the marquee spots were disregarded in favor of jumping whatever benches and bars they ran across. New York long has been associated with chutzpah and some balls are helpful if you aim to insert clips of flatground shove-its or a repeat of one of those one-footed slider moves, but this raises interesting questions around the role of these caffeinated French purists, and tricks like Leo Valls’ tail-skid to slappy noseslide. Are the Magenta bros in their tightly fished, powerslide-mining fashion pushing as much innovation as the likes of Corey Kennedy or Torey Pudwill working over a DIY parking block ledge? Would their efforts be classified as ‘lateral’ progression, devolution or some as-yet unknown direction? Is there room for Magenta as a hardgood manufacturer to differentiate on products amenable to their styles of scooching and spinning, like ceramic wheels or tailguards? Could Magenta and Nissan collab on an environmentally friendly grappling hook that enables urban skaters to hook a ride on a low-emission vehicle?

Made To Measure

May 31, 2012

Who profited most from the great fashion wars of the 1990s? Was it the denim tycoons, thumbing thick wads of dollar bills earned by selling reams of earth-toned fabric stitched together to make World-branded pants? Was it the hedge fund moguls who sold short the stock of Vision Street Wear just as berets and tank tops fell under the scrutiny of parking-lot fashion police? Perhaps the midpriced mall retailers such as Gap and Ralph Lauren who somehow managed to briefly appeal to otherwise streetwise and snobbish LA ledgelords? Maybe the Dickies executive who refused to give up on a market that at first viciously rejected Ed Templeton’s gentle embrace of highwater-styled “butthuggers?” Or the venture capitalist soothsayers who backed those textile alchemists that fused spandex with denim just as Jim Greco and Ali Boulala began to raise the wrist?

Over a decade later the landscape has flattened. A sort of fashion equilibrium has settled over the industry, matching the anything-goes mindset now prevailing across teamrider recruitment, video part chemistry and skatepark layouts. The peaks and valleys offered by yesteryear’s goofy boys and Hot Topic bracelet shoppers was superceded by the more sober-minded white tee/brown cord/Half-Cab set, sensibly fitting flannel shirts and the more recent revival of the raglan sleeve. At the same time the critical fawning over “Dog Town and Z-Boys,” combined with a solid 25 years’ worth of material to chew over, gave licence to a decade of mythmaking and nostalgic navel-gazing that at its nadir gave rise to a ponderous web blog site on the internet futilely attempting to ‘make sense of it all’ through wordy postings.

Assessing the current state of affairs in succinct, 1000-word equivalent snack-sized servings is the recently introduced Skartorialist site done by Kingpin/Blueprint affiliate Sam Ashley, which puts a pockmarked urethane spin on the moment-to-moment fashion photo blogs that have given rise to a bustling Ebay trade in pocket squares and Sears catalogues from the 1950s. It probably helps that Sam Ashley operates in close proximity to Londoners who have generally proven themselves to possess a more refined level of taste when it comes to fashion choices, Paul Carter’s striped Osiris swishy pants notwithstanding. The site’s frank presentation and skateboard-as-staple theme may have crossed the radar of the OG Sartorialist, who featured not one but two skate pics this week.

This is a concept well suited to an audience as prone to pick nits over personal dress to the point that a passing comment about one’s preference for plain-black t-shirts (versus the more typical plain white t) can prompt a freewheeling and at times soul-searching discourse on the psychological and moral divide between the black- and white-T camps, and how this may or may not reflect a similar but much-older debate revolving around corresponding color choices in women’s underwear. The site also provides for the sort of self-benchmarking popularized by Hotornot.com, and in this spirit I was encouraged to see Angus Morrison sporting a throwback Powell Peralta shirt similar to a ‘winged ripper’ number I got the other day, on some youthful dream fulfilled by disposable income that’s probably a sure sign of some middle-age doomsday ahead.

The role of outfit choices was cemented several years ago by a scientific poll conducted on the Slap message board, which found a majority of respondents agreeing that a bizarro outfit can detract from an otherwise legit photo, or video clip. The Skartorialist blog seems to keep time as folks in one corner of the world decide where the envelope needs pushing and where it is already folded nicely. For better or worse most of the dudes in the pics so far wouldn’t draw a second look at your typical mall or football stadium or Dave Matthews Band concert, which raises some interesting questions. Has the appetite for risk-taking on big handrails gone up at the same time dudes have become more wary of looking like a fool on the street? Does this conservatism mean sacrificing any role as early adopters of long-running themes? Who will start and fund the next JNCO? Are tall, stripey socks this year’s 59fifty hat? Do the duotoned pants backed by Garrett Hill and more recently Neil Smith represent the final frontier?

Slap’s “One In A Million” Web TV Show Dishes Out Tough Love, Bro Hugs With An Ominous Message Dudes

February 25, 2012

When the U.S. economy crashed in the 1970s it was time for Americans everywhere to look in the mirror and face up to some home truths about the way folks were living at the time. Giant, luxurious ghetto sleds guzzled up gas by the boatload. Reams of cloth were being squandered to create extravagant disco pants and cocaine residue encrusted every tattered scrap of U.S. currency plunked down to see expensively produced Hollywood blockbusters including “Airport,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hugo the Hippo.”* Now too, following a decade of excess that saw Rob Dyrdek perversely create the world’s largest skateboard, Danny Way construct the “Mega Ramp” and rumours of a mega picnic table from the Axion team, onetime City skateboards star Alex Klein holds up a reality TV-shaped mirror to depict the harsh state of the modern day industry.

Whereas last year’s OIAM focused mostly on fun-but-competitive-but-still-fun seshes at famed Bay spots, when it wasn’t focused on the Forrest situation, this year’s edition uproots the premise and casts it into warts-and-all New York City where urban grime is dressing for producer Klein’s mixed-greens salad of rotting values and wrongheaded challenges that function as a take-out version of the movable feast for corporate interests that Klein believes the activity has become in ’12. In one man’s tormented vision of this business, which sort of resembles the storyline to one of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater Playstation games, hungry up-comers literally live in a company-sponsored skatepark draped up with product placement, giving thanks when showered with a meager offering of sponsor-branded woodgoods and denim. In this OIAM, prefabricated and local government-approved sk8 facilities are the destination of choice just as often as your cellar doors and organic stair sets, and survival depends on split-second acts of self-promotion and stepping up to trade show-style physical challenges.

“You should know that a big part of skateboarding is learning to market yourself,” declares 5boro’s Steve Rodriguez, the words crashing down with all the condemnation of a convicting judge’s gavel. Contestants born into a seasonal rotation of series graphics sheepishly offer sharpie scrawls and Sears catalogue castoff collages, daring the viewer to recall an era when the likes of Jeremy Wray and Neil Blender arted up their own boards. A more faint of heart storyboarder may have dreamed up a Hollywood hogwash ending that sees the youth rise up and rebel, robbing the warehouse of decks and shoes to sell for dirt-weed funding and rave entry fees. But Alex Klein has seen the industry eat up and spit out too many eager ams to fool anyone with false hopes for a better future yet to come. The winner of this contest will immediately shift into filming/demoing/promoting mode for his new clutch of sponsors, resolutely sporting multiple logos on his New Era as he places respectably upon Dew Tour podiums and, in time, thanking his country for the honor of donning a red-white-and-blue uniform for the Olympics after testing free of some illicit substances.

*Spoiler alert, the hippo did it


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