Was Jamie Foy’s Yellow-Shirted SOTY Surprise an Implicit Rebuke Of Overt Trophy Hunting or Gasoline for More?

December 11, 2017

In an age where fortunes are made and dashed again with the fateful tapping of a touchscreen or a practiced turn before the correct lens, does anything remain inevitable? The SOTY campaign, one of Thrasher’s sturdiest tentpoles in a domination of new media forms that other, older publications could learn from, is proving increasingly tough to pin down as potentate pros’ lust for the Rusty statue tilts video releases toward a year-end glut and dudes go all in with bones and ligaments as autumn shrivels the leaves to warmful tones.

Throughout much of 2017, a heavy whiff of inevitability trailed yung Louie Lopez, once derided among Flip 3.0’s crop of hard-to-watch tween pickups, now a fully formed ATV testing the limits of his considerable powers in all the correct venues. Even before his Spitfire part hit, rumblings could be sensed that this was Louie Lopez’s year (or major sponsors believed so), a concept that seemed more and more certain as he ripped the SPoT to pieces en route to first place, joined Jake Phelps and co. in a cobranded Thrasher and Spitfire trip, and bounded up and across massive walls and onto the mag’s cover*. Hash tags endorsing his candidacy piled up and in recent weeks, following his searing ‘West End’ part, he was positioned as an Arto Saari heir apparent, while an interviewer wondered about a post-SOTY life for Louie Lopez.

What happened? With a meaty thud, much is swept aside by a buzzer-beating trip down a double-digit sized stair set, same as the multi-kink hulk that Kyle Walker conquered to gazump Evan Smith last year. Fate opened a lane for Fred Gall-shaped Floridian Jamie Foy this year, dispening tickets to Thrasher’s KOTR and Am Scramble trips, and Jamie Foy pushed the pedal all the way down. It is difficult to remember or indeed, imagine a faster rise — getting on a board company at the start of the year, a pro board a few months later, and then Ty Evans’ ‘Flat Earth’ film, providing a ham-going fourth-quarter opportunity that Jamie Foy took once again, carving two notches into the famed El Toro set. If Skater of the Year campaigns are evolving into meticulously planned, months-long efforts to strategically release footage, get your guy onto the right trips and pump up the IG volume, is there a certain allure in getting behind the bowling ball barreling toward all the carefully set pins?

Is the speed of Jamie Foy’s ascent, from amateur to pro and SOTY the same year, a reflection of or reason behind the breakneck pace driving skate media these days? Will a starring turn on Thrasher’s Viceland series become a prime propulsion toward future SOTY titles, as Vice veers frighteningly close to MTV territory in terms of thirstily mining skating for TV fodder? Could the nod to Jamie Foy also serve as a quiet acknowledgement that it shoulda been Fred Gall one of those years? Do we, the slack-jawed viewer, remain the ultimate winners even as Skater of the Year campaigns grow more overt and assertive? Do all the stair counts and smoothly executed pop shove-it reverts fall by the wayside when considering the way another perennial contender, Tiago Lemos, forces the world to reimagine what is even possible?

*With The Skateboard Mag gone away, does Thrasher revert to the shorthand “the mag” again?

Advertisements

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

November 19, 2017

In the 1990s, when skateboarding grew old enough to cadge cigarettes and thrill to petty crime, power derived from personal networks. Such networks were built of blood and bodily tissue, pulsating to the sounds of East Coast rap tapes, testing slang proficiencies and stiff-arming those deemed not ‘with it’ enough to merit tribal admittance. Over time, as these fleshsome blobs ingested hard currency and heaved themselves into shapes resembling semi-functional business apparatuses, they drew the eye of larger, more heavily weaponed entities, and they fought one another for pride of place and insubstantial dollar figures. All the while, their squishy amoebic forms stiffened and sparked, hardening into circuits and coagulating around wifi hot spots.

It’s a story learned by many at a young age, laying down to sleep upon straw piles and inside comfortable caves with natural stalagmite transitions. But power these days is welded to influence, a sword toted only by a certain few — those who earn it through questing, and those bloodthirsty and wily enough to acquire it by force. And, it is always sharp.

Nowadays, ‘moments’ flit by more fleetingly than ever. In our current one, the largest and most fearsome blade of influence is wielded by the Ted Barrow-curated Instagram account ‘Feedback_TS.’ The outlet punches far above its 5,700-follower weight, drawing into its orbit street-skating GOATS who yearn to be down, style magnet pros fresh off this year’s front-running full-length, and countless droves of aspirant comer-uppers lured by those juicy twin carrots, momentary fame and internet validation.

@Feedback_TS is more than a despotic judge, jury and executioner baptized in ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Mouse’ trick selections with a firm grip on format and presentation. Ted Barrow is not a pro, notwithstanding a memorable part in 2005’s ‘Lurkers 2’ alongside Jason Dill and Charles Lamb. He doesn’t get money from the skate industry. Harsh judgement and unvarnished opinion sometimes are served up, but no meanness or bitterness. Similar to the largely self-directed Slap board thralls, to skatepark heroes and strivers and the occasional professional, it is told like it is. To an extent, @Feedback_TS embodies the info-age singularity that has turned the skate biz inside-out, as the internet provides the world’s double-set early grabbers a platform on par with annointed worthies such as switch backside co-practitioner Miles Silvas and loveable oldster Jeff Gosso. Here lie isolated meadows and abandoned box canyons for creatures such as Revive and New Jersey bodybuilding manual regulator Weckingball to mutate and thrive, independent of the well-worn cart tracks, gladhanding and favored bazaars of the established skateboard business. In this turbulent realm, retired blog proprietors function on the same level as Eric Koston.

Is the right analogue to @Feedback_TS that of a wizened older brother, or maybe more accurately that worldly, well-meaning but unapologetically subversive older neighbor who probably smokes drugs and for sure operates beyond the bounds of the established family hierarchy? Between Ted Barrow and the resurgent Brian Wenning, have we entered a head-spinning and somewhat demoralizing era where switch backside smith grind shove-its rank as ‘old guy tricks’? Does the growing influence amassed by this instagram account raise concerns that it has become systemically important, with any deletion or protracted absence leaving impressionable kids adrift and guardrail-less, while parents, significant others and non-skating ass roommates wonder what happened to the deadpan voice dispensing trick terminology and occasional bursts of art history from behind the bathroom door whilst the fan is going?

The Sun Rises on a New British Empire, Which Also Includes Francis Showerface As Well As Chewy Cannon Nosegrinds

November 6, 2017

When did the sun set on the first British skate empire? Views differ, but the rubbery, tearing sound of overreach could be heard in the intro to Blueprint’s generally great ‘Make Friends with the Colour Blue’, when the squad that built a movement on overcast skies, soot-stained streets and ‘Wandering Star’ opened with sun-sloshed Los Angeles art installations and the jaunty notes of ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul.’ Like tea-thirsty monarchs of old, the British Isles grew to become a realm too small for Blueprint, and waiting for the world took too long; Europeans and Americans were signed and it was off to the New World to compete with Southern Californian palm tree tenders on their own turf and terms. An effort noble in its aim, perhaps, but doomed.

An amusing exercise a month or so back, when Grey published the instant-classic Rich West shot of Mike Arnold’s phone booth hippy jump, was inventing metaphors to read into it. Like, might this board and body barreling through a derelict telephone compartment represent a magazine transcending the digital wave pounders painfully remaking the media sphere? Do the stomped-off nose and tail demonstrate the bloodthirsty courage of the forest mammal, caught in a trap, chewing off its own leg to escape, the sort of frantic bravery required to persist as an under-the-radar talent pushing U.K. skating through a global industry slump? Something to do with the fractious Brexit vote and Michael Gove’s perplexing applause technique?

It feels like another British wave is cresting. Around seven years back the initial Palace clips began to surface. Blueprint foundered five years ago. In 2015 the venerable Sidewalk mag wound down its print edition, later that year Free emerged. Blueprint fragment picker-uppers Isle’s ‘Vase’ debut vid at the end of that year polished Paul Shier and Nick Jensen’s already-secure legacies, but more notably launched Tom Knox and Chris Jones onto the global stage in one of that year’s most cohesive videos. The vibrant and jellyfish-scented ‘Atlantic Drift’ series since then has elevated them further and granted an international platform to dad-bodded Mike Arnold, who put his own dizzying spin onto the one-spot part at Bristol’s Lloyds Amphitheater.

Now comes ‘Palasonic’, a long-in-the-waiting ‘official’ full-length from those skate-cum-fashion standard bearers of the British Islands. It lands as much of Palace’s squadron seems at the height of their powers — Lucien Clarke is ripping Carroll spots, Danny Brady still is going in 15 years after ‘First Broadcast,’ Rory Milanes appears still well in his window, Chewy Cannon has had several years to hone and hopefully rebroaden his spastic wallie/360 repertoire, Shaun Powers has established his international artistic bona fides, Jamal Smith filmed 1995’s best 411 commercial. In recent months Palace rebuilt Radlands and got Lucas Puig.

Can Blondey McCoy’s much-reposted collision-turned-cartwheel off a purple hack be infused with some similarly labored metaphor for the Palace full-length finally dropping? Has the GX1000 crew’s recent focus on hill bombing left an opening for the Haight Street-originated hippy jump to be colonized by the British? Can human achievement in general surpass Chewy Cannon’s bank-to-ledge nosegrind or can we only hope to match it?

An Imaginary Time-Traveler’s Reckoning on Winner Status, and Dylan Sourbeer’s Line Holding the T-Shirt In His Hand

October 22, 2017

“When I got to Alabama it was every bit as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was the only skateboarder in my school and I was seriously teased to such a gnarly degree,” career burler Jamie Thomas reminisced to the Nine Club hosts this week, describing a sneering ostracization known to Middle America skaters coming of age in the late 1980s. “I was really intimidated. It was a lot of jocks and preps and it was a lot of them and only one of me. I was completely by myself. It was like being in the prison yard.”

Whether Jamie Thomas the alienated high school freshman would recognize his weathered, lionized and moustachioed self nearly 30 years later is a question best addressed through a sci-fi buddy film centered on antiquated communication technologies. Were such a time-hopping Yung Chief to stumble through those folding, see-thru doors into our modern landscape, it would doubtless appear disorienting and off. In this world, foreign governments make unsolicited offers to pay skaters to quit their day job and skate for years at a time. The dude who filmed Rubbish Heap is an Oscar laureate, on the same professional level as Martin Scorcese and Three 6 Mafia. The Wall Street Journal reports that international skateshop chain Supreme is worth a billion dollars, surpassing preppy mainstay Abercrombie & Fitch. And Palace has invented a machine that takes in fashionistas’ pounds sterling and spits out long-dead hallowed grounds.

Would we forgive our imaginary, time-traveling underclassman JT for thinking that skateboarders, over the past thirty years, had secured some sort of ‘Bad News Bears’- or ‘Revenge of the Nerds’-style victory over oppression — when Nike, that decades-long guiding light to the world’s ‘jocks,’ now builds skateparks and revives spots, and skateboarders run tastemaking TV channels? Could the bliss injected by such emancipation from high school’s social gaol overpower nagging, murmured questions over any sense of shared struggle lost when a countercultural tribe finds that prefix effectively erased?

Were those misgivings enough to obscure the marvels of sassy digital assistants and movies streamed in high definition to pocket-sized telephones, our imaginary, time-traveling teenage Jamie Thomas may have hit the road – to Philadelphia, where late 1990s throwback shoes, denim and pinner decks sprouted from the cracks of a dormant scene over the past ten years from the sort of soil that’s becoming an endangered habitat as inner cities scrub up and gentrify. Here, skateboarding’s ‘loser’ status remained time-capsule intact, huddled among various drunks, junkies and lurkers on a couple blocks’ worth of concrete and stone that never seemed much needed by city officials, salaried professionals or money-folding tourists. Here, skateboarding failed to ascend society’s greasy rungs, despite a direct appeal from Love Park’s designer, the X-Games’ civic endorsement and a $1 million offer from newly flush DC Shoes to legitimize skating that was going on anyway and free cops to pursue other crimes.

It is this bitterest pill – Love Park’s final destruction — that Philadelphia’s Sabotage crew pops into their mouth, grinds between their teeth, swallows and then licks their cold-cracked lips in the fifth installment of one of the rawest video series going. From start to finish ‘Sabotage 5’ is a gloriously losing war against capitulation to the inevitable. Like any decent funeral, this eulogy is delivered by the immediate family, rather than transient pros, with the locals turning in their last tapes skating Love Park as it was, and a grip of tricks as it is dismantled. Zach Panebianco’s part opens with a fence hop to eleventh hour fountain ollie, and closes with another jump deeper into the park’s then-exposed guts. Brian Panebianco, who along with Ryan Higgins has done more than anybody to elevate the downtown Philly scene, goes two songs deep and switch varial heelflips the ‘little’ stairs onto some straggler sections of tile. Joey O’Brien, last seen in ‘Sabotage 4’ tunneling beneath Love for one of the most memorable lines there ever done, captures the backside bigspin that eluded Mark Suciu; Brian Douglas regulates the levels between filming last-weekend lines; and Tore Bevivino links some brain-scrambling moves across the fountain ledges. It is Dylan Sourbeer who gets in the last licks, at times doing his own dismantling of Love Park’s blocks and steel to open up new angles — and deservedly closing down one of these vids with a deep supply of ledge lines, a lengthy nosegrind across the exposed dirt and a can-topping kickflip from one propped-up tile to another that carries some type of finality. Some chest-puffing moments of defiance pop up – “it don’t look over to me” goes one lurker’s memorable exhortation – but by the muted closing section, it is clear which side won.

Would our time-traveling underclassman Jamie Thomas, after shaking ‘Sabotage 5’s technical ledgery from his mind, find in Love Park’s final chapter some sour recognition of the outcast status he once lived? Would the cut of Kevin Bilyeu’s jeans at least look familiar? Did yall catch this clip of Brian Wenning and Josh Kalis skating Muni the other day? Does a year burdened with melancholy and loss, make ‘Sabotage 5’ more affecting than it might otherwise have been? Does Dylan Sourbeer’s line at Muni holding the t-shirt in his hand provide a new benchmark for future human achievement?

Video Days Skate Solutions

October 16, 2017

Skateboarding’s different. But that’s why you still do it. Think back — how many of your high school crew still skate? College? Forget about it. Lance Mountain and Ray Barbee called it — some people can’t stop, even though injuries linger for longer, tricks trickle away, and life in general bogs you down.

Sound familiar? The spirit’s more than willing — can’t sprain that. The flesh, properly stretched and foam-rolled, is as ready as it can be. But the day-to-day grind of a 48-hour workweek, delivering kids to soccer games and holding down a household makes linking with any of your remaining crew like solving a Rubik’s Cube — you’re lucky to line it up a couple times a summer. Even when your tricks are there, it can all feel fleeting.

Like TK said — get there while you can. You’ve picked up a new trick or two in the last few years that some of the homies still haven’t seen (and maybe don’t believe). There’s a few spots around town you’ve yet to bless with your go-tos. Maybe even a couple minutes of footage left in your feet. Too bad none of your squad is free during the hour or two you got free in a typical week. And when they are, who wants to tote the camera?

Or you could hit us up. We’ll meet you at the spot, the ramp, the park or DIY — you pick the place and time. Our filmers can help figure the best angle for your trick or line, whether it’s a switch 360 flip or a straight ollie, and get into the trenches with you if it turns into a battle. A fisheye’s a beautiful thing — take that curb up a foot or two. Come up in the 1990s? We tote VXs and can capture the clips for you. Want HD? We shoot that too, if you’ve got the cloud space. Super 8, VHS? Hit us up and see what we’ve got available in your area.

Filming isn’t all we do. If you’re long on trick ideas but short on spots, we keep pins*. Rack up a summer’s worth of clips and don’t feel like stringing them together? We edit too. Think you got a good photo or two in you? Our guys shoot stills. Bail shots aren’t identified; we keep it discrete.

We can skate on your schedule. Our hourly rate covers one-off sessions with a swipe of the plastic, or if you’d rather keep it consistent, set up regular, recurring sessions with direct deposit. Got an hour or two suddenly free at lunch and feel like getting busy? Pull up our app to see if any of our filmers are free and nearby. Check our rates page for all the options.

Maybe you’ll roll another ten years — maybe fifteen. But if you want to capture tricks while you’ve still got them down, we’re out here. It’s not about sponsors — check out our kids’ division about gathering footage for a come-up — this is about catching the best times on your board while they’re still going down.

*All tickets and associated legal fees are on you, the client.

SOTYs Yet to Come, Seen Through the Truth-Telling Prism of Freshly Spilled Guts

October 1, 2017

In ancient Rome, soothsayers would seek prophecy, divine guidance and betting tips in the entrails of sacred animals, surveying plumpness of spleen and colouration of liver to help foresee military conquests and innovate the hot dog. Just as Jupiter, Mars and various other heavenly bros guided the blessed knives of bloody-fingered oracles, so does Boil Ocean Web Page probe the still-steamy innards of skating in 2017 to predict contenders, near-missers and hangers-on that define our reality today as the 2017 Skater of the Year campaign, still looking wide open, careens into this year’s final quarter:

Louie Lopez: Of all the Flip ‘Xtremely Sorry’-era tween pickups, it has been among the windingest roads for once-Lil Louie Lopez, who took his time choosing a path betwixt the contest-circuit hittingness of Luan Oliveira, David Gonzales’ Hot Topic handrailing and the towheaded glamour often associated with Curren Caples and Ben Nordberg. For yung LL, there is a middle way flavoured with GX1000 hills and wallies; it already would have been a noteworthy year for him, what with a pop-shove powered part for Spitfire, a Thrasher interview heavy on shitting-related questions and a slot on the Thrasher/Spitfire trip, but he also delivered among the year’s most memorable Instagram clips — possessing all the elements, a banging trick, legendary spot, beer, freaking out squares. And he’s probably got another video part in him by early December.

Tiago Lemos: Could it an unacceptable breach of protocol to award Skater of the Year to an individual increasingly suspected of being a Greek demigod of yore? Seeming to operate in near-perpetual bio-mode, Tiago Lemos still has yet to report confirmed kills of multiheaded and mythical beasties. He has, however, spent much of 2017 pushing switch mongo from one of the world’s most gargantuan switch backside tailslides to sliding a similarly sized one into a fakie manual to fakie flip out, alongside hucking humongous backside flips, surviving the fiery judgement of Fort Miley’s tall bar, and rebounding from his Dime Glory Challenge game of skate drubbing with another waist-high switch k-grind, apparently the minimum height at which this dude operates.

Shane O’Neill: Continuing his explorations of technical skating as abstract art, Shane O’Neill’s mind-numbing ‘Levels’ part in late summer posited skating as a video game in which the buttoned-up Ozzian advanced by defeating gradually more difficult ‘boss tricks,’ including a nollie backside flip late-shove-it down a solid assortment of stairs, a switch heelflip switch feeble grind on a fun-sized rail, and a fireball-heaving tribute to business partner Paul Rodriguez’s climactic Tampa-house-bringer-downer from ‘Street Dreams’. Whereas questions remain as to whether Shane O’Neill actually pushed up to his road-clearing switch kickflip opener/cover, he makes another compelling case for vanquishing the skate careerist’s Bowser, given a lesser-noticed VX part earlier in the year, services rendered in years past and likely gas in the tank for continued video achievement before the year is out.

Evan Smith: The stringy haired, starry-eyed savant seemed to have just missed Thrasher’s brass ring last year, his eye-popping kickflip wallrides ultimately falling to Kyle Walker’s kink deluge. But Evan Smith shambled on, going bananas off pillars and somehow deciding to disaster out of a switchstance manual in a 2017-opening Spitfire part. He’s since matched feats with Wes Kremer in the DC vid, shaved with puddle water, and delighted Jake Phelps with a relaxed attitude toward fearsome handrails on the Thrasher/Spitfire trip, while earning redemption points for voyaging beyond Starheadbody songs for his parts. You could choose worse.

Riley Hawk: Just as Bucky Lasek found his own lane as a domestic manservant for Tony Hawk in ‘The End,’ Riley Hawk, once a pint-sized counter-pounder, has emerged from the family breakfast nook to carve his own cavern from the sheer rock face that is the skate industry, winding down the first Lakai full-length in a decade with a knack for kinks, a willingness to fingerflip out of nosegrinds and an ironclad grip on grinds of both the Barley and Bennett persuasions. Whether he has offered enough to Thrasher’s goatheaded gods or suffered suitably to become the first second-generation SOTY is a question strictly for the hooded priests who tend HSP’s sacrificial pyres, but you could sort of see it.

Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg: Polar’s diminutive and demonic secret weapon from ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind…’ over the past year sprouted into an all-points threatener in the mold of Grant Taylor or Tony Trujillo, flowing and blasting through transitioned concrete on several non-contiguous continents in the service of rarified endorsees Spitfire, Thrasher and Nike en route to an on-the-money professional induction. The young Swede has put in the requisite miles for Thrasher — at one point supervising a fishhook-and-thread stitch job on the sadly departed P-Stone’s lacerated ass — and remains a footage machine, whipping out lipslides to smith grinds and towering kickflips in between pocketing contest purses. Of note, maybe: It has been sixteen years since the Thrasher nod went to a Euro.

Jamie Foy: Young but a handrail workhorse, Jamie Foy’s burly physique, Floridian mane and can-do mindset have enamoured him to the Thrasher bosses, who cheered his addition to Deathwish and Shake Junt Griptape Co USA before recruiting him to Thrasher’s kickoff ‘Am Scramble’ trip. Jamie Foy’s contempt for fear and double-barreled approach occasionally recall a Revolution Mother-era Mike Vallely, except with 360 flips, though it remains unclear whether this may work for or against him in the modern SOTY stakes.

The DC Blog Post or, Finding Yourself and Redefining Success After Your Parent Seeks Protection from Creditors

September 16, 2017

Like a healthily scuffed Lynx arcing across a sunny SoCal sky following an AVE post-bail heaving, the erstwhile DC Shoe Co USA is in transition. Gone are Street Leaguers Nyjah Huston, Mikey Taylor, Felipe Ortiz and Chris Cole, on whose backs DC once sought to build a contest-circuit machine to rival the likes of Nike and Adidas. The flag logo that once represented the action-sporting nation DC once aimed to forge — a more perfect union of skateboarders, BMX bicylclists, motorcross motorcyclers, surf-riders and assorted well-wishers. It’s a smaller tent now, refocused on that seven-pointed star and the normal/extra-boldface/bold typeface pattern that crowded an older generation’s heads with highly motivational and semi-coherent calls to action.

It’s been a long time for DC in skateboarding’s lonely wilderness of what is not so cool, a foggy landscape of mall stores, mail-order warehouses and board shorts with flames on the side. Few find their way to the other side. Like Es shoes, DC remained in thrall to the tech shoe’s hoary bulk as Nike found its simpler, streamlined toehold in the Dunk and set about directing the conversation in the post-9/11 years. DC gained its own corporate firepower following its roll-up by surf log manufacturer Quiksilver, and outfitting Rob Dyrdek and other lords of MTV reality provided cushion enough for DC to maintain its industry position through the vulc-sole wars of attrition, if not necessarily retaining space on shop walls. A succession of designers proceeded to bastardize the Lynx into steadily less-recognizable forms, Euro SuperTour jerseys mouldered away somewhere, and Danny Way and Colin McKay didn’t show for the Plan B vid. But, DC shoes still was there.

For skateboarders of a certain age it’s odd to think of DC, which did so much to shift skate shoes from relatively simplistic Vans and Jims toward sportier stylings and techish accoutrements in the late 1990s, as a legacy act. But here we are: The seeds of DC’s attempted return to its late 90s/early 00s vitality were sown by the retro-minded Pennsylvanians behind the Sabotage vids and #skateshoewars, copping online vintage Lynxes, Kalises and various others as they simultaneously reclaimed Love Park from the authorities. Unlike Alien Workshop, DC recognized a new generation preparing to don swishy pants and opened its East Coast flow spigots, and now spot-searching Droors-endorser John Shanahan helps DC find a path after long years of wandering.

Against this backdrop arrives the winkingly named ‘The DC Promo’, feeling more vital than any DC video project in years. DC seems focused on capturing the world-conquering prowess that drove its inaugural full-length, a quest made easier by the fact that after the LA schoolyard groundwork laid by the Girl and Plan B camps, DC convincingly placed longhaired sweathogs like AVE and Ryan Smith alongside ledge grimers such as Brian Wenning and Stevie Williams, also with some vert ramps and Mega RampsTM. ‘The DC Promo’ is not so different, proffering perpetually adolescent Tristan Funkhauser as an olive branch toward the flood-panted deities of wallies and body varials — his incredible wallie frontside 360 is well-served by Chris Ray’s incorporation of the after-black hammer. Carlos Iqui and the too-long overlooked Tommy Fynn spin some wild handrail tricks, noted clotheshorse John Shanahan cracks an immense fakie shove-it over a bar and be still our hearts, for about 30 seconds, Colin McKay and Danny Way get busy on ramp coping. Wes Kremer and Evan Smith, who made a convincing enough odd couple in Thrasher’s recent interview issue, turn in a fairly blistering tag-teamer with Evan Smith inventing a new approach to an aged Philly spot and Wes Kremer further proving out 2014’s SOTY nod with a mindbender of a last trick. But the moment really is Tiago Lemos’, a time when switch backside tailsliding the Mission District 3-up-3-down can be goofed as a warm-up clip, irksome physics get brushed aside by waist-high kickflip smith grinds (both ways), and Marcus McBride’s block hops get Xeroxed for one of the more memorable lines down the SF pier in a while. This dude is operating on a whole different wavelength right now, and it’s a privilege to watch it unfold.

How much of DC’s turn away from prime time action sporting and podium-climbing pros, and refocus on skater-run events, pumping out videos and re-outfitting team riders in glossy jerseys, was forced by Quiksilver’s bankruptcy and resulting belt-tightening? Does the existence of new Danny Way and Colin McKay footage render the question moot? Yall saw these right? How much of the recently departed riders’ salaries have been redirected toward Tiago Lemos’ bank account as a preemptive hedge against the inevitable swoop by Nike or Adidas? How frantically are DC’s marketing overlords looking for ways to get him booked on a Thrasher trip before this year’s SOTY race winds down?

Summer of Bad Vibes

September 5, 2017

Summer’s strength wilts and, seems like before we’re really prepared, darkness steps out. On the world stage, blunt talk of nuclear war; fires rage across the continent; monstrous storms bringing flood, pestilence and misery; and last month, the sun itself blotted out. Steely Dan is permanently fractured with Walter Becker’s death. And tragedy again in skating as beloved dad, bro, lensman and barbecue grandmaster P-Stone is lost to a car wreck, the driver Girl’s Cory Kennedy, booked on a 0.10 DWI charge, and carrying this burden for the rest of his life.

What else? The Ride Channel, that once-churning aggregation portal that Quartersnacks perceptively pegged as a HiphopDX for skating, is itself deteriorating — adding items of varied relevance now just in fits and starts, and in a troubling suggestion of early-stage dementia, each day posing to its pensive visitors the same question: Why Isn’t Chicago a Bigger Deal in Skateboarding?

Mike Munzenrider’s dutifully researched feature offered a range of answers — weather, cops, general not-giving-a-shitness — and these may well be. Does Chicago need to be a bigger deal in skateboarding? Chaz Ortiz, when he’s not buying out the bar with high-level mages, seems to be making a mighty effort to reclaim and elevate the greater metro area that set him on the path to X-Games glory, while making restitution for Trueride-flavored lines like this. But even in his most powerful Diamond t-shirt, Chaz Ortiz can’t carry 2.7 million souls on his back alone — Chicago’s been second, third, whateverth too long, plenty grimy but too Midwest to chart with the cellar-door-turned-bump-to-bar-wallride pro contingent that gravitates toward East Coast crust. In Chicago, crime wars fill the streets with dead children and the money always seems to be running out.

Not that the town has no talent. But it’s on some other shit. ‘Realm,’ the latest in a string of increasingly gnarly videos from Chicago’s Deep Dish collective, opens on a bombed-out husk of a city shot through with militarism on the march and authority’s heavy hand always just beyond the frame. The skating happens in the shadow of architectural marvels and across crumbling foundations, by streetlight and under those battleship-gray skies. CJ Kelly draws night lines down the block that go on forever, his noseblunts and wallrides bumping off poles and fences. Nico Rizzo tosses a nutty manual to no-comply down some steps, DJ Plummer scrapes off sparks and Mason Barnard whirls one of the crazier manual tricks in some while on a fat marble bench. It is wildly panted Brett Weinstein who breaks the knob off though, bigspinning both ways up an industrial-strength Euro gap, popping tricks over puddles, backside lipsliding up and through viaduct crust and, at the end, climbing up and down through the bowels of the Chase building to unload a pile of lines. This dude hits some minor-key harmony between Gino ledge tricks and the going transfixation on wallies and varial flips, and gets in one of the crazier transfer ollies since that kid jumped out to Jason Dill’s ender block.

Probe deeper though and you come to Chicago’s Ssquirted collective, which has been making videos for five or six years now that seem geared to disorient and abrade, placing viewers inside dimly lit rooms where stuffed animals are ominously scattered, and weirdly costumed characters preen just out of focus. In vids like hoEphase and this year’s bracing ‘PSYKO’ and ‘bLoWiE BuNnY’, voices get pitched down, skate footage slowly rotates and threats of violence and occult imagery fade in and out. A lot of stuff drips. The tricks blur between all this like one of those dreams where you can land everything until your grip loosens and the lights go out and you find yourself with blood-drenched hands clawing at your board.

Are the dissonant and sometimes harsh vibes out of Chicago the right ones for skating at this summer’s jarring end? Will these harsh and forbidding vids pull more people to skate Chicago or keep them away? Did Darkstar anticipate some of this doom and pathos when resurrecting its unoly knights? What’s next?

Summer of Good Vibes

August 21, 2017

The heady daytimes of midsummer were made for growing green things, construction projects and loving refurbishments, laying supplies and fortifications for the long winter nights ahead. What with its rolling papers and noon wakeups, skateboarding leans toward the lazily fiddling, devil-may-care grasshopper in the tale of old, or perhaps a chaotic Fraggle. But the bold ant, in its levelheaded industriousness and generous way, can provide an alternate insect avatar, and skating must never overlook the rebuildatory tendencies of the lowly Doozer. Half-submerged in a midsummer night’s dream of positive vibes, Bowl The Ocean site examines three visions of a world that is not yet the future, but could be.

Clint and Reef, Ollie Men: Since time’s beginning, skateboarders of all stripes have celebrated that singular and uniting thrill, the big jump. Even so, one of the biggest ollies of recent years has sown division. After dueling ollies down the Wilshire 15 and over the yellow poles (implanted for pure gnarlieness enhancement) appeared last year on the Instagram pages of Birdhouse bad boy Clint Walker and FA-affiliated ATLien Reef Johnson, Jenkem magazine probed the backstory — whereas Clint Walker had tamed the massive gap and sat on the photo in hopes of bagging Thrasher’s cover, comer-upper Shareef Grady unknowingly did the same ollie and, over Clint Walker’s career-minded protestations, they both wound up pushing their tricks to the socializing internet masses to get what shine they could. The scenario was a debacle made possible by a unique fender-bender involving old and new media, and though few hard feelings were aired publicly, nobody seemed satisfied with the outcome, which also had the effect of clouding a legitimately heavy trick.

This year, Jason Hernandez is videotaping Clint Walker and the rest of Tony Hawk’s brood for what’s being billed as ‘The End’ for a new generation. Clint Walker, who has nollie heelflipped atop bone-crushing canyons and conquered fear itself, will have an assuredly crazy part. But what about that one ollie, now loaded with so much baggage? An old caveman saying from the planet’s spryer years holds that ‘the crazy thing about baggage is that it’s lighter when a friend helps carry the load,’ and the statement never was truer than when applied to the Birdhouse video in progress. Imagine a break in the middle of Clint Walker’s section where he rolls up to the Wilshire 15 and Poles, then it cuts to him jumping it, but the camera keeps rolling and then Yung Reef comes right behind him and jumps it too, riding out into a torrent of bro hugs and high fives. The vibes would runneth over.

Lakai Collabo Matchup: Even upon opening a new chapter with a winning full-length built around mostly new faces, storied shoe group Lakai faces turbulence, over the past month reportedly having to send back and reprint all physical DVD copies on some music rights shit and Fort Miley burler Jon Sciano leaving, apparently to skate for Vans. Amid Lakai’s various high-profile team defections over the last few years, Blackpooler Danny Brady has held tight, getting a shoe design recently for his efforts.

Lakai’s collaborative shoe projects have run an extremely varied gamut of partners, from culture warrior Lena Dunham to certain Wild Things to further investments in pastel paneling via several sneakers colored by Illegal Civilization person Nico Hiraga. But the Danny Brady link provides a lane for Mike Carroll and Rick Howard to potentially something together with Palace, which has made deluxely curated bathrobes and swishy shirts with any number of mega sports gear manufacturers such as Adidas and Umbro and Reebok. Palace’s teaming with Bronze helped elevate the New York bolt factory to a sought-after street fashion sensation. A similar project could further invigorate Lakai and keep Danny Brady shod on his current productive path.

Brian Wenning For Hire: For those fumbling toward some nightlight amid dark hours of the soul this summer, Brian Wenning’s recent podcast unburdenings have left DNA Distribution devotees of a certain vintage aglow. By all accounts, Brian Wenning reached the bottom of his own self-fulfilling prophecy and a humble halfway-house rebuild seemingly has done wonders for his self-regard, career reassessment and, importantly, his switch backside nosegrinds. Slimmed down and again in DCs, Brian Wenning is starting to look like he never went anywhere, venturing back onto the road and appearing to deeply enjoy himself.

His could be a feel-good summertime story, especially as Habitat prepares to reissue one of his OG graphics in what looks like a tribute to clamoring back onto life’s board. But Al Davis, another former Habitater asked and answered what must be the ultimate question in the matter: ‘PUT HIM BACK ON!!!!’

Was Nyjah’s Rave the Most 1990s Thing So Far This Summer?

August 5, 2017

Who killed not only Tupac, but Biggie, Big L and nearly shot Harlem crooner Keith Sweat over a girl? What did Tupac tell Nas after dissing him on camera in Bryant Park, what made Beanie Siegel blast a cop in Philadelphia, who did Madonna secretly set up to the feds, and what did Big Punisher look like when he was skinny? It’s all revealed in an engrossing Twitter ramble archived here detailing the most celebrated rap goons of the 1990s, who they beefed with, who they bankrolled and their deepest desires. This series of anonymous Twitter tweets rapidly has become required reading not just for rap music CD owners ‘of a certain age,’ but also many starry-eyed wonderers and would-be corporate climbers unafraid of plush jumpsuits and going upside a rival’s head with a bottle of champagne in the club. It was a decade of power and song, when Bill Clinton ruled from sea to sea, riches poured from freshly manufactured Internet computers, and bus-sized crocodiles wallowed in their own filth before stalking platinum-selling country music artists across the Great American West.

Truly, the 1990s is in again full swing. Last week Aesthetics and Elwood impresario Sal Barbier delivered a lengthy dissertation on shoe designerism and dreams of speed metal guitar wizardry amid Plan B’s mystical formation and Sole Tech’s triple cell division. DC affiliates John Shanahan and Josh Kalis have been hyping with Stevie Williams a Droors revival and around box-canyon campfires, whispers of an OG Lynx reissue. Living tributes to the decade’s virility now run the gamut, from the Flexfitted cut-and-sew of the latter years to the flapping cotton of the goofy boy era.

The title of 1990s grand master can ultimately be decided solely by a gory, wig-ripping battle royale set atop a mountain peak. But all of these recent activities overlook the most powerful recent entry that is an actual rave hosted by repeated contest winner Nyjah Houston, dripping with sports cars, autotuned lyrics, complaining neighbors, and Life Extention apparel. Webster’s dictionary defines a rave as an event containing techno music, DJs, dancing, garish outfits, sunglasses and positive vibes, and so it is obvious that Nyjah’s daytime soiree meets the classical definition of a Rave.

Raves were an important square in the cultural crazy quilt that was the 1990s. Ravers were lovingly tweaked via Fuct clothing while providing future inspiration for future lines of meticulously designed T-shirts. For many, these ‘techno campouts’ represented the future promise of endless possibilities and potential — much like Nyjah’s rave video:

“I remember reading a quote from Steve Albini in which he said that a thousand people standing in a field listening to electronic music and high on Ecstasy aren’t going to change the world,” Orrall says. “And I disagreed with him.”

Can a well-attended patio party, unmolested by cops, change the world or at least crown the summertime king of ’90s shit? After exhausting early 1990s fashion tropes is the next logical move to unearth Christian Hosoi’s spandex dabblings, or did the girl jeans period already effectively achieve this? Has a common love of raving united Ty Evans with Nyjah Houston to reclaim the glory of the ‘Feedback’/’Modus’ TWS vids? Do you think Nyjah will get a face tattoo?