The Great American SOTY Chase of 2018

November 10, 2018

First it was a blue wave, then a red wall, smashing out a purple rain (or golden shower) over a green revolution and sporadic outbreaks of orange justice. This year, the campaign for Thrasher’s Skater of the Year appears colourful and relatively wide open amid tentpole video releases, a revitalized underground contest circuit, and Viceland continuing to provide a televised venue for which ascendant bros can make sacrifices unto the skate-goat, to the extreme. Who in the skateboarding business has the power and position to contend for Thrasher’s ultimate prize?

Corey Glick: Moustachioed Midwesterner Corey Glick’s punch-through in 2018’s back half may provide some balm to that sore question — whether it’s possible these days to capture the Rusty trophy without the backing of deep-pocketed footwear marketers, corn-syrup/caffeine mixologists and other moneyed interests. The current Foundation squad seems as painfully working class as they come, which seemed no impediment to Corey Glick’s KOTR heroics on the Super Co’s behalf, or maybe, it helped. The TV turn and last year’s ‘Am Scramble’ attendance places him in the conversation, and his scorching section in Foundation’s ‘Souvenir’ promo is a persuasive argument, wherein Corey Glick took the lead among an unlikely crop of wallie-to-noseblunt slide clips this year, and sailed an unbelievable, barely-on-his-soles ollie to wrap the vid and secure the professional bag. The backside noseblunt shove-it heavily contends for trick of the year.

Zion Wright: There is a whiff of inevitability around the yung bro, possibly wafting by association from Floridian colleague and 2017 FLOTY to SOTY Jamie Foy, who Zion Wright seems to match in handrail fearlessness and maybe surpasses in terms of transition 540s. The newly incorporated Vice component may have shrunk the number of years dudes need to suffer and burn on the national scene to qualify for a SOTY nod, though by the time of its airing Zion Wright had already half-cab backside smith grinded Hollywood High’s long pole, along with that 50-50 to backside tailslide in Philly and the no-hander QP backside 360. Last month he captured December’s cover and odds seem better than even that he releases some other type of part before the year’s out.

Austyn Gillette: His tricks settling into a nicely grizzled groove as the days of gangly switch feeble grind shove-its fade, modern man Austyn Gillette maybe is a long shot for this magazine award, stacked clip-for-clip versus various uber-achieving peers. Within the realm of the qualitative, where tricks are the products of hand-labour and all moustaches neatly trimmed, Austyn Gillette’s ringing ‘Radiant Cure’ part crunched hubbas and rewound shove-its, flexing one of the industry’s most reliable switch 360 flips. He poured his heart out to Thrasher in one of the year’s more penetrating interviews, later tucked in for the nigh-unpronounceable EPØKHE clip and put on a late-summer clinic at LES. His weightiest contribution may have been to inspire one of the decade’s most impassioned trick-nomenclature debates.

Evan Smith: The Thrasher clan has celebrated Evan Smith’s spastic precision for years, and between his MVP KOTR acronym-hoarding and the follow-up interview feature in his cover-photo issue, the High Speed powers that be seem to have fully embraced his wide-eyed, chronically curious personal brand. Finally receiving a Skater of the Year honour would be a long time coming for Evan Smith, who’s been a credible candidate for the last several years, offering both blockbuster-level tricks and a tall measure of sweat-lodge creativity, which tends to put some distance between the visionaries and dudes who can just do every trick. In 2016 he brought mirror-image, gap-incorporating kickflip wallrides; this year it’s a frontside kickflip water-whip and street 540s. He is the heaviest favorite.

Mason Silva: A no-frills ripper who put in ‘King of the Road’ miles on this year’s winning Element assemblage, Mason Silva’s also dispersed video parts for ‘Peace’ and the leather-and-wetsuits handstitcher set at Former. You can tell Mason Silva is a workhorse by the way he takes frontside bigspin tricks over rails and gaps the hard way, or the early pop commitments required to travel fakie over bump-to-bars and handrails. He arguably could come with still more footage before the year’s out, but then again on the other hand, his crewcut and love for the frontside 360 seem reminiscent of Jeremy Wray, a perennial Skater of the Year runner-up.

Tyshawn Jones: This generation’s undisputed king of New York romps through the city with the Gonz and promises a landmark part in Bill Strobeck’s soon-to-debut ‘Blessed’ opus for Supreme, and given that most of the yung restauratuer’s moves this year have been made in and around NY, odds favor a Jake Johnson ‘Mindfield’ tilt at the gnarliest and hardest-to-tackle spots on offer across the five borroughs. One of those — a train station ollie that Quartersnacks placed a bounty on months back — just landed the first Thrasher cover of the New Year, and earned the AVE endorsement.

Legacy Maintenance And Mutation In The Days Of Goldfish Focus

November 4, 2018

The time was the early 1980s and in that potent cosmos knowed as Hollywood, stars were aligning so as to align several of music’s biggest stars and birth the greatest musical album ever conceived: Queen frontman Freddie Mercury cowriting operatic party anthems with Michael Jackson, the undisputed king of entertainment. Although their respective musical prowess suggested little beyond certified platinum plaques for days and lofty wages, the artistic chemistry would be fouled by an interloping llama of some description.

According to an interview conducted with the Times of London, Queen’s former manager, Jim “Miami” Beach claims that Mercury called him and said, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.” Jackson was also reportedly less than thrilled with Mercury’s behavior during the recording session. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Mercury subsequently fell out with Jackson because the U.S. star objected to Mercury taking too much cocaine in his living room.”

On the surface, it’s just another cautionary tale about U.S. llamas, rival species and greedy excess. More deeply, it is a story of personal collaboration, llamas, and the challenges of building a chemistry strong enough to stand through the years. Like many of the 1980s’ greatest lessons, one can draw a direct line toward Element Skate Boards, which recently released its newest video, ‘Peace.’ Twenty-six years into its branded lifetime, the Twigs parent is feeling itself, springing for the considerable talents of Emerica’s Jon Miner to sort a 60-minute full-length from its deep and diverse benches, theoretically to bolster Element’s mystique and power in the board marketplace, while handing a breezy, wet, and flaming hot baton made of dirt to a new guard.

And what of that baton? By the power of the bankroll, Element’s clung to some clout over these many years, overcoming eyebrow-raising maneuvers such as a Billabong-cobranded Times Square outlet store and major-league fan service to corral a talented but usually incongruous mixture of riders, ranging at various times from Julien Stranger to Jeremy Wray to Chad Muska to Ray Barbee to Dennis Durrant to Terry Kennedy to Natas Kaupas to Kris Markovich to Stella Reynolds. Tracing the OG team to Element’s roster as of ‘Peace’ — it is sure to fluctuate again soon — would require several pages for one of Thrasher’s nerds-only company lineage features, and would rival the Bible’s ‘begats’ for reader patience.

Tenuous as Element’s current iteration may be to the ‘Skypager’ lineup or even the prior decade’s ‘This Is My Element,’ Jon Miner gamely coaxes out a cohesive if unwieldy production, strung together with static long-lens shots and a fair helping of psych-rock pulled from the ‘Made’ bins. Bionic Barley heir Brandon Westgate cranks once more down the SF hills to Operation Ivy’s buzzsaw bounce, rocketing over a king-size street gap and frontside flipping what appears to be an entire loading dock. Granola-grimy Tyson Peterson pulls a shocker of a kinked rail dismount and looks as confident sitting on backside smith grinds as he seems to be copping thrift-store trouser pants. Dominick Walker’s TSM cover footage is bananas, Greyson Fletcher catches one of the season’s most lovely and frightening kickflips, the lanky Madars Apse’s Barcelona board bonk and similar antics read like a Polar tryout, or maybe raised glass. Terminally brolic Mason Silva is positioned as ‘Peace’s’ closer, boosting fakie over the back of a rail to 5-0 and uncorking one of the wilder bump-to-bar wallride combos in a while, but it is starry-eyed wanderer Evan Smith, again, serving as the current Element generation’s spiritual core — beautifully switch backside flipping a bench, helicoptering off that silvery wedge for all the Spanish oldsters, and perhaps most dangerously of all, attempting to break Marsellus Wallace’s cardinal rule after a wallie late-shove gone wrong.

Is Element’s perpetually churning team a strength or weakness? Amid the recent media campaign for ‘Peace,’ Tyson Peterson in Thrasher speaks on his longtime Element fandom in terms of Brent Atchley, a dude off the team 10 years ago — and Bam Margera, whose pickup by Element during his ascent to MTV reality television staple marked one of the more surreal team roster mutations from the Chris Hall and Harold Hunter days, or even Reese Forbes and Kenny Hughes.

Meanwhile over at Girl, a 25-year-old entity that has derived much of its powers from maintaining a direct link to its storied pros and past, the dudes seem like they’re trying to tell us something. “We know where we’re going/but we don’t know where we’ve been,” croon the Talking Heads to Niels Bennett’s pre-intro sizzler in Girl’s crackling new ‘Doll’ vid. “I can change,” bleats James Murphy in the obligatory, sentimental-yet-lighthearted closing-credits number, as those yellowy letters scroll. “We sit back on Malayan islands/sipping mixed drinks out of broke coconut bowls, we wilding” croons Ghostface Killah amid Griffin Gass’ punchy, driving last part.

It is the sound of Girl breaking with its past, to some extent; eight minutes of ‘Doll’ unspool before there’s any tricks from a pre-9/11 rider, and then, it’s second-genner Brandon Biebel. The OGs skate for only about 30 seconds in the vid, and whether or not that’s OK is moot in 2018 — the ravages of time and adult living make anything else unrealistic, and Girl’s new hair relaxer-rejecting brood proves more than capable of carrying the half-hour ‘Doll.’

The dozens-deep pro rosters and overwrought theatrica of preceding Crailtap productions mostly are shunted to the side, allowing viewers to marinate in Niels Bennett’s sand gaps line, bounding fakie over one of Venice’s fat ledges, Tyler Pacheco’s loosey-goosey nollie heelflips and frontside bluntslides, Griffin Gass’ brawling rampages through alleys and fountains, and that one kickflip backside noseblunt. There’s winks and nods to past bits like Rick Howard’s dawdling rodent and Keenan Milton’s Rick Moranis moment, but the generational shift at work benefits even the skits — session screenwriter Colin Read, of ‘Spirit Quest’ fame, captures Spike Jonze’s brand of winking creativity using basically a board and a camera for a worthwhile entry in Girl/Choco’s anthropomorphic board series.

As the human attention span shrinks to rival the goldfish’s, ’tis it better, in pursuit of longevity and countercultural heft, to regularly shed teamriders every few years or hold to the original foundation of dudes as long as can be? Did everybody take note of Tyler Pacheco’s fakie flip in this? What about the alternate ending for the board revenge skit? How come nobody ever coined the nickname Matt “Miami” Beach?

Who Wants To Ride For Girl Skateboards?

October 13, 2018

Finally, some shame — Rick Howard, in a sorely missed skate photo for a recent Lakai ad, included a disclaimer specifying that the Anti-Hero setup that the Girl impresario is very visibly tailblocking belonged not to him but rather to photographer Mike O’Meally. Set aside boring questions of professional obligation and instead marvel at how the asterisk is more surprising than yet another appearance by the clean-scalped eagle beneath a Girl dude’s feet. It is 2018, robot cars have drawn first blood, and Kanye West tells us from the Oval Office that “time is a myth.”

For much of the past decade, various Girl teamriders not actively involved in weightlifting and yearslong DL stints have often veered between devoted Anti-Hero fandom and at times making the Torrance empire built from EMB bricks and SoCal picnic tables into an effective subsidiary for the tent-dwelling bowl tribe out of the Bay. Brian Anderson, who would eventually join Anti Hero, has talked openly of riding the boards throughout much of his Girl tenure, while Cory Kennedy in recent years took only cursory efforts to make it look like there was anything else guiding him in, out and around PNW concretes. The van door seemed to fly open for such deck double-dipping with the fabled ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tours — an inspired combination at the time, a clear passing of some subcultural torch in retrospect — and subsequent collabo product runs, while Crailtap employed a team-building playbook that at times seemed cribbed directly from the stripey socks/Dickeys/blaze orange beanie set.

For longtime devotees of the Art Dump, SHT Sound and goldfish-toting retirement home scammers, it’s difficult to separate dudes’ seeming lack of enthusiasm for skating their own boards with the company’s at times painful evolution, as the onetime family has splintered across the FuckingAwesome, Numbers, and other camps. For over a decade, damn near everybody wanted to ride for Girl skateboards. The World defection bomb-drop on the industry set up a 10-year run that elevated the original squad to all-time status and provided the currency, cultural and hard, for acquisitions to set up the next generation — Rick McCrank, Brandon Biebel, Robbie McKinley, Brian Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Jereme Rogers.

Halfway through the ‘00s though the unthinkable occurred, with Paul Rodriguez stepping out, for a rebooted Plan B of all things. A crack had appeared; more than ten years on, the skate biz has learned that its institutions are not immune to the cultural fracturing that has laid low the top-40 radio hit, the water-cooler conversation-starter, the very special TV episode. The exodus from Girl began with next-generation pillars Jereme Rogers, Alex Olson, and spilled over to foundational names Koston and Mariano.

Tyler Pacheco, Simon Bannerot, Griffin Gass and Niels Bennett want to ride for Girl Skateboards. As per their recent Thrasher interview, they skate the boards. This clutch of curly-haireds, entrusted to guide the venerable company through a third decade, keep the bases covered across wallrides, hill bombs, bowls and those Southern California schoolyards. They feature in Girl’s imminent and anticipated ‘Doll’ vid, an am-focused affair that somewhat lowers the stakes; with 2017’s ‘The Flare’ making no bones about the fact that OGs Carroll, Howard, and others are throttling back with age, ‘Doll’ augurs to present a clean slate that maybe can be judged on its own merits by kids with only a vague grasp of Girl’s weighty legacy. In the Thrasher interview, Tyler Pacheco eloquently suggests that he and his bros aren’t encumbered by the historical gravity of a Girl nod, though they’re down for the cause:

How important is turning pro for Girl skateboards to you guys?
Manch: Not important at all.

It’s not a goal?
Manch: No. I mean, I already know Mike; I already know Rick; I already know Chico and Kenny and everybody. Shit, I’m already pro in my mind! I don’t look at it like that. Yonnie went pro and that’s my fuckin’ homie. When he first went pro I was like What?! Then two months later it’s like he’s my normal homie I kick it with. But it’s amazing. I was psyched when he went pro. ‘Cause everyone else I knew was on the fuckin team, It’s just like Wow, we’re all a part of this awesome fuckin’ company. No matter how far it’s gone it’s just great to be a part of it. I’ve always looked up to it and I’ll always hold it high in my heart.

What is success for Girl in 2018? Will a pro board for the preternaturally talented Niels Bennett at long last put some respect on the Slap boards’ name? Could a slimmer budget, driven by general hardgoods market saturation and rising freight costs, steer ‘Doll’ away from the high-concept, high-def sledgehammer approach of the Ty era and back toward the shoestring creativity that scraped raw the underbellies of ’80s sedans and affixed a Charlie Chaplin ‘stache on Eric Koston?

Lory Vincent, Call Your Office: The Enduring Legacy of ‘Haulin Ass to Hall and Oates’

September 23, 2018

Birthdays in the maple-and-urethane sphere are volatile aftairs, equal parts euphoria at making it thus far in compiling a body of work, and trepidation at drawing side-eyes for being past the prime, ripe for replacement or worse yet, parody. Ten years in, Powell, Girl and World were near the height of their respective powers; at 20, it was a different story, with partners and prowess faded, half-joking talk of curses and financial sponsors pondering various asset combinations to recapture growth. Make it to 30 and you are entitled to coast on reissues, at 40, open your own museum.

For videos it’s different, as the internet age places years-ago classics and ahead-of-their-time overlookeds into constant combat with the daily deluge of parts, semi-lengths and tour clips. Here, the skate-culture snake or cobra or whatever nibbles at its own tail, occasionally taking a bite: Witness Pontus Alv’s overt callbacks to H-Street vids in Polars’ recent opuses, Bronze’s highly eroticized Adio and Alien Workshop pastiches, Girl’s wink toward a Cory Kennedy ‘Yeah Right’ part in 2015’s ‘Wet Dream.’ Marc Johnson, promoting a new deck-and-t-shirt concern Business & Co., this month unveiled a YouToob mashup featuring some regularly referenced Neil Blender and Sean Young footage, along with scenes from recent Habitat collabee ‘Twin Peaks’ to say… something.

To call the history of single-artist soundtracked skate videos patchy is to be charitable. Element’s ‘This Is My…’ full-length, sonically appointed by Odd Nosdam, reclines couchbound on the mostly-inoffensive-but-barely-there end of the spectrum; on the other pogos Flip’s ‘Xtremely Sorry,’ cast out of a poorly-attended Midwestern Warp Tour stop on general principle. ‘Haulin,’ as well as higher-profile but less-on-the-line efforts like DNA entrustung Mr. Dibbs to usher in Habitat’s inaugural offering for the ‘Photosynthesis’ midsection, suggest dudes may have been doing it wrong. Some twist on Bill Clinton’s ‘92 campaign-trail warhammer such as ‘it’s the songs, stupid,’ probably applies.

At the time of its 2008 publication, ‘Haulin Ass to Hall and Oates’ struck many as an unlikely combo. For many years, the Bronx’s Big Punisher stood as skateboarders’ primary musical idol, an individual of limited means who traded upon his skill, creativity and sheer force of will to amass fame and wealth and extreme physical mass. Those were the dreams of many tween skaters. And yet on the low, Hall and Oates potentially surpass Pun’s achievements, while aligning closely with the evolving skate-ethos. Daryl Hall’s multi-instrumental mastery carries weight in skating’s still-going ATV age, and his knowing way with women — at least in song — serves as a high-water mark for the confidence skateboarders require to manage personal brands in a new and virtually streamy media environment. Separately, John Oates’ moustache exemplifies today’s ‘send it bro’ spirit. As a team they are the best-selling musical duo in history and have achieved success selling t-shirts at above-market rates, a cornerstone of fiscal prowess in today’s skate game.

Released 10 years ago this year, Ian Shulman and Tom Carter’s most enduring contribution to the skate video canon mingles Hall’s and Oates’ glossy but oft-dark tales of late-’70s love on the rocks with that damp grittiness particular to the Pacific Northwest. At a time when jangling indie rock reigned supreme in vid soundtracks and Transworld’s fading video legacy fell back on incense-scented vinyl, Two Hawks Young switch bigspin boardslides one of the chunky Hendrix rails to ‘Baby Come Back;’ Mike de Leon rocks fat tongue Reeboks and launches a serious wallie, while Daryl Hall stands stoic awaiting ‘Maneater’s signature sax bleat and on-screen text deadpans, ‘Montage.’ A yung Matt Gottwig sails a gap to nosegrind, Owen Jones hardflips into a wallride to fakie, John Oates ice grills the camera and Ryan Strangland flicks a magical-looking heelflip backside tailslide to fakie.

Will ‘Haulin Ass to Hall and Oates’ ever attain its rightful place within the skate video pantheon, or will it primarily remain valued for helping clear skateshops of lingering and unworthy kids at closing time? Must Joey Johnson’s nollie noseblunt and other ledge tricks truly rank among the greatest post-‘Trilogy’ uses of the Gideon Choi pants? Do you agree that Chromeo looked sort of shook jamming with Daryl Hall at his house?

Got To Give It Up… But To Yog-Sothoth Dudes?

September 16, 2018

It has been a big month for Gershon Mosley, one of the unlikelier phrases one may expect to read in 2018, year of the dawg. But there he is, pumping footage on IG, pontificating on Mark Suciu and Chris Joslin and Jason Lee with Jenkem, chopping it up with the Nine Club on the factors and feelings behind his fade from the industry round about a decade back. To hear him tell it, leaving behind a professional career was a sacrifice worth making to keep his skating pure, and to loosen corporate reins chafing the soul of a spiritual wanderer:

GM: I left for multiple reasons. Part of it was my life. I couldn’t stay in San Jose when I left Santa Cruz. I couldn’t afford rent. Also, I wanted to get away from there because that’s where I spent so many years growing and the world is bigger.

I had to separate the art from the business. When people get mad, they’ll say, “Skateboarding sucks!” But it’s not skateboarding that sucks, it’s the business and politics of it that suck. We’re so self-centered and so lost in just wanting to do that thing, that we don’t see the bigger picture when we say that shit. I’ve heard so many people [say it] and they quit skating altogether. Some of them still have issues. They’re still ego based. But if nothing else, skateboarding should have destroyed the ego.

It’s nothing new to put the trick, the road trip, or even the after-hours lifestyle before one’s physical human body, or mental health, or academic pursuits. But the current adulting trend — positioning earthly pleasures, financial gains and even the proverbial good times with the hemmies behind skating’s fishscale purity, with sometimes a dash of careerism — remains in full swing. Two-thirds of the interviews in the October Thrasher extol the virtues of a sober lifestyle; cover man Brandon Westgate again details the rustic charms of his dirt-under-fingernails lifestyle on da cranberry bog, fixing machinery and popping mad crans. Across the Atlantic Ocean, over centuries renowned for its depth and waves, Max Geronzi, among this generation’s most naturally gifted Frenchmen, is putting a prime period of popsicle-shape filming to the side while he inexplicably engages in a longterm engagement with a retro shaped board that appears free of any concave but nonetheless capable of lofty kickflips.

For independent shops, it is financial sacrifice being considered, as Theories of Atlantis, DGK and Deluxe nudge purchasing managers to pony up a handful of additional wholesale dollars for decks that in some cases are also available online via companies’ own web-stores. Efforts to squeeze a bit more juice from the commoditized deck-berry are understood, given deck marketers’ unwillingness and/or failure to persuade the unflowed masses to pay more for their seven plies’ worth of maple over the past couple decades. But it remains unclear whether shops are paying for anything more than maintaining status-quo brand access.

All such trade-offs possess their own merits and potential pitfalls, ranging from limitless riches to spitting out scurvy-rotted molars while starving to death in gaol. Yet in Canada, a darker practice seems to have taken hold. A thick and putrid whiff of the occult emanates from this year’s Dime Glory Challenge, kicked off with what appeared to be a clique of berobed pagans toting a baby, which promptly was elevated up toward the warehouse ceiling in what can only be assume to have been a gnarly and unspeakable ritual geared toward hyping up Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath and various other Great Old Ones. None dare call it coincidence — that World Champion of Skateboarding Wade Desarmo casually slew one of his several minions just ahead of what was anticipated to be the strongest challenge ever to the belt by one Ishod Wair… who would unluckily roll his ankle on the Wallride ChallengeTM shortly before the most important game of SKATE of his lifetime.

Is human sacrifice what’s hot in the streets of Montreal? Will Miskatonic University replace real-estate speculation as the extracurricular path of choice for aging pros looking to augment on-board professional prospects? Did the Dime dudes get that baby down? Will skateboarding’s notoriously rapid generational churn soon spur a backlash against sober, thoughtful life choices, and bring about a new era of ‘hammer’ tricks, illegitimate children and unpaid debt?

The Great And Secret Show

August 26, 2018

Savor it — the feeling of place, and knowing that one fulfills an important role in this cosmic AD&D 3rd Edition game that continues to unfold like a customized DM screen. In Western Hemisphere cities, the skateboarder takes on the form of an elongated dowel, with a flat head and bristles, a broom pushed across the urban plazas and beneath the highway overpass, shaping DIY transitions and waxing ledges and in the process sweeping aside society’s even less-desirables, the crack addict, the homeless alcoholic. Ocean Howell, in an interview following the inaugural ‘Pushing Boarders’ conference, describes the concept thusly:

The one I was thinking about was Burnside: that’s a classic one. So they started pouring concrete up to the pillars underneath the bridge and then the city (the Oregon Department of Transportation more precisely) comes and says: ‘what the fuck are you guys doing? We’re knocking this down. This is unauthorised.’ And all the surrounding property owners said, ‘don’t you dare! This was an open-air drug market and a big problem. These guys are scrounging, drinking beers and shouting but they’re fine.’ People’s cars aren’t getting broken into, it’s less threatening on the streets because you know the lower rung of people who are really hard up and so therefore commit actual crimes, they’ve been scared out. So that was the rationale by which they allowed Burnside to remain. Not because they were trying to support youth. I mean that was a supplementary benefit.

WH: You think their PR people tried to spin it like: ‘yeah we’re going to help the kids’?
No, it’s to help property value. And that is a tool in the tool kit of urban planners in the United States now. And they know; if you get one alone in a room they’ll be perfectly frank about it. Why do they site parks under bridges? Because that’s always where you get a rung below you, on the social scale… Right? And I mean there’s a good case to be made for doing that though… It’s very complicated because you know what skate culture is like and especially at a park… It’s a supportive community for kids who might otherwise end up in that situation. In Portland there was other places where they were proposing to put parks and the homeless advocates didn’t want it because they knew that that meant moving out their clients. They knew that was a tactic.

Last year, Ricky Oyola described similarly summed up the swapping out of various human classes:

‘If these little kids aren’t scared, why should I be scared; I’m a 30-year-old man coming home from work.’ Once it’s safe for young skaters, it’s safe for young male office workers. Once it’s safe for male office workers, it becomes safer for female office workers, then for older folks, and so on.”

Where does this leave the broom? Once refuse has been satisfactorily brushed aside, research shows that brooms typically are placed inside a “broom closet,” which The Free Dictionary defines as “a small room for storing brooms and other cleaning equipment.” In our day to day lives, we have knowed these “small rooms” as skateparks, safely fenced enclosures in which skills can be practiced in a structured and professionally designed environment, properly zoned, with the appropriate payments made to the planners, designers and contract players. The “other cleaning equipment” can be understood to refer to scooter kids and 2018’s surviving rollerbladers.

A bleak fate, even if bands of skateboarders were to somehow collectively embrace their broominess and enlist themselves in service to municipalities for targeted DIY spotbuilding/undesirable relocation campaigns, compensated with golden doubloons and five to ten years’ worth of footage, photos and good times with the homies. But as with any human endeavour, in the metagalactic sense, this all is only temporary.

Just as we now entrust computers to handle many of the complex and mundane details behind everyday life — processing financial transactions; opening doors for the baggage-laden, the armless and the just plain lazy; milking cows; flying fighter jets — it’s reasonable to assume that machines shall assume more difficult tasks over time, possibly including gourmet meal preparation and navigating crab-fishing vessels. Where this leaves humankind is less clear. Deeply rose-tinted glasses may be required to envision programming and electronic maintenance jobs replacing one-for-one those automated in truck-driving, lumberjacking and salesmaking.

And the brooms? Similar to how homo sapiens has dotingly organized the world’s less-dominant species into a system of parks, preserves and zoos, charitable post-singularity AIs could adopt a similar stance, repurposing established cities’ and towns’ increasingly antiquated infrastructure as free-range habitats for humans. Just as human-run animal parks strive to replicate natural environments, it is doubtless somewhat potentially possible that computers will seek to recreate ‘natural’ human surroundings and experiences such as malls, botanical gardens and monster truck rallies. In this instance, the skateboarder sub-class likely would be released from skateparks’ artificial approximation of real street spots, freed to interact and butt up against various other groups carrying on the roles of property-owners, security guards, the homeless and so on.

With several generations now raised within a ten-minute SUV ride to the nearest municipally funded skatepark, can they or their parents be persuaded to resist the allure of additional professionally poured concrete without corresponding social services and funding directed toward those in need — who may already have been shifted out of sight and mind thanks to earlier spatial realignments? Was Anti-Hero’s ‘eviction’ series a nose thumbed against gentrification or a winking acknowledgement of the company’s own role in the greater scheme? Did Turbo predict the joy, frustration and inner turmoil of such societal brooming in his iconic ‘Breakin’ scene three and a half decades ago?

Natural Born Hoarders

August 20, 2018

Dig if you will, this Instagram StoryTM from the past week; Josh Kalis’ royal blue Lamborghini plum full and overflowing with magazine-stuffed mailers, antique sneaker boxes, cardboard deck shippers. And even more laying on the nearby grass. This unlikely scene brought to you in part by Josh Kalis’ social-media cattle call for autograph seekers, volunteering to sign by mail copies of his late-career Thrasher cover blast — but also via a growing and steadily less-satiable desire for some physical artifact registering one as a knower, if not participant, in some secret circle, some had-to-be-there, grit spun into gold on the spinning wheel of time’s passage, various other painful metaphors.

Is the skateboarder a natural born hoarder? That muse that reformulated schoolyard banks into asphalt waves and disableds’ ramps into springboards for high-bar vaulting is kin to the spark behind the Psycho Stick, Fucked Up Blind Kids, Modernist Chairs and various others — but for a limited time only, as seasonal order sheets and mailorder catalogues open wide their maws for fresh products, series graphics, new colors, and exclusive collabs by, for and about the homies. As nostalgia deepens to the point that people tune in to watch retired and beloved pros flipping through old CCS catalogues, each new print ‘Thrasher’ and ‘TWS’ issue begins to look like a collector’s item, every board on the shop wall a potential hanger, every pro with a couple video parts under his belt a legend.

The bulldozing of various multimillion dollar pro sporting stadiums has left any number of garages and basements festooned with sets of numbered, uncomfortable, plastic fold-down chairs, suggesting if nothing else a missed revenue source for cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco as beloved ledges and hubbas fall under the pavement saw. But as our collective grip upon the baubles, trinkets and other physical links to the past grows increasingly white knuckled, it’s worth pondering whether such an instinct for preservation perhaps springs from the activity’s fundamentally destructive nature — wood scraped and snapped into splinters, metal beaten and ground into bizarre shapes, concrete corners rounded off and cracked away, urethane coned and yellowed to a cloudy-urined hue.

Jake Johnson, to QS: “That’s what brought so much attraction to skateboarding in the first place. The message had to do with breaking down societal standards, and destroying personal property.”

Is the destruction-driven quest for preservation arising from some pit-of-the-stomach guilt, fear of forgetting forevermore some sentimental article in a long-ago attic or basement, an unhealthy obsession with clinging to one’s youth, or some festive combination of all these? Will the science-minded deck restorers turn their talents toward reviving wrinkled and water-damaged Active catalogues for ultimate posterity? How long until a ‘Storage Wars’ episode stumbles upon a unit stacked tall with boxes of some pro’s forgotten decks, shoes, t-shirts and stickers, initially thrilling the bidders yet ultimately crushing them upon their reveal as mid-00s Dwindle graphics and Macbeth footwears?

Who Will Subsidize The 22nd Century’s Switch Hardflips?

July 29, 2018

Early in this new KOTR season, one of the key storylines already has emerged: Mike ‘Big Pink’ Sinclair, Tum Yeto darkman and pizza puff coinesseur, declares that after futilely exerting his commandership and wise strategems to their fullest in Toy Machine’s previous and unsuccessful outing, this time around he’s decided to “let the dudes run it,” determining which challenges to attempt when. It’s clear this runs against every fiber of his barrelchested being, and that his large, pink resolve will be tested with each twist of those great American byways pointing the way to the depths of the human soul that are some of, yet not the only, crannies probed by this, mankind’s greatest and most depraved scavenger hunt game show.

King of the Road’s glossified antithesis, the Olympic Game, lies just two years away, its own mark on various souls and bank accounts yet to be revealed. Unlike the basketball and blackjack dynasties and sweetened beverage manufacturers that bankrolled prior big-money contests, the tens of thousands being ponied up by sovereign states to retain and train four-wheeled talent are invested with precious metals in mind; the presidents, prime ministers and moneyed despots involved expect a return. If not this go-round, then subsequent clashes at the foot of the mount of the gods will certainly raise the question of whether ‘the dudes’ so beloved by Mike Sinclair can be entrusted to not only perform, but also plan out their runs and decide upon their own trick offerings.

Like so many of life’s conundrums, one inevitably is left pondering the fate of the switch hardflip. With a golden doubloon and certain immortality on the line, will the pride of nations be content to risk all on a late teen rolling up to the pyramid backward, popping off his or her less-inclined foot, and landing in the counterintuitive direction? Before very long, wealthy nations’ underpaid bot slaves will be scouring years’ worth of Exteme Games, Streets League, Tampa Pros and Ams, determining ratios and percentages to answer the question of how often switchstance tricks yield a plump purse and champagne shower, versus a groaning crowd, credit card, ER trip or some other negative outcome.

Solace isn’t to be found within the snowboarding realm, which continues to treasure ambidexterity — as a discipline it’s a mere few decades in. In the statistics-saturated multiverse of baseball, nearly two centuries old, the art of switch hitting is on the decline, representing just 13% of plate appearances this year, down from 20% in 1992. Further erosion is expected as a steadily elevating level of play and intensifying training regimes from Little League on up require the maximization of every innate advantage, rather than trying to cultivate new ones with a built-in disadvantage. In a pasttime where extra points are not awarded for difficulty, switch’s biggest onstacle in baseball simply is that it’s “too hard,” in the telling of Nationals hitting coach Kevin ‘Not Spanky’ Long.

Were a badly coveted KOTR win within the grasp of Mike Sinclair’s steering wheel-fatigued fingers, would he stick with his inclination to let the dudes run it, or might he forbid the Foundation boys from charging switch at a ‘Phelper’s Delight’-flavored gap or handrail in favor of any added certainty offered by a regs alternative? If contest overlords of the future continue to rate switch tricks at a premium, will more questionably footed Sammy Baptistas and Ali Boulalas become drawn into Olympic training regimens? Do BMXers or rollerbladers deal with similar conundrums? Will news headline-writing algorithms of the future destroy the switchstance discipline forevermore by lambasting Olympic losers for entrusting their countries’ hopes and dreams to the ‘wrong foot’?

Boxcar Sled Dogs In The Mood

July 22, 2018

With Oedipal vibes, Quasi’s inaugural full-length at long last arrived last week, spiced with temptation. As ever, messageboard banditos probed and hunted for stray links ahead of the official online release. Shortly after it finally hit, an electronic threat from former Throbbing Gristle frontperson Genesis P’Orridge of all people torpedoed the original Youtube link. This forced resourceful computer-rippers to seek out alternate hosting capacity via sites specializing in sophisticated adult entertainment of a different stripe, and left the rest of the world pondering what air cover their web caches and private-browser settings might provide in their pursuit of ‘Mother.’

For those ponderous unfortunates cursed to read between life’s lines and leave no Magic Eye poster unstared upon, it has been tougher still. DNA analysis obligates any video historian to place Quasi’s first full-length within the same creative lineage as ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘Mosaic,’ citing teamrider and darkman resumes, Ohio geospatial data and the winking juiciness of the Pappalardo hamburger.* It is easy, upon the seventh or eighth watch of this excellently put-together video, to speculate idly as to any nods or winks involved with soundtracking an intro to ‘Band on the Run,’ hailing the heady freedom and risk of escape and liberation — this from the company that announced its emergence from the Alien Workshop/Pacific Vector meltdown with the declarative “no more corporate blues,” and wind up this vid with some oldster stating that he’s “looking just to get away.” The rorshach-test qualities of many Quasi graphics invite similar ponderings: Do all the race cars, motorcycles and fast-running dogs similarly speak to themes of speed and escape? What about the Dale Earnhardt tributes and those drippy sculptures? How much of this is designed mainly to befuddle deck consumers who may feel on sturdier ground with pizza-themed art or endless iterations of a stylized letter B?

Whatever cipher is to be found in Quasi’s graphics, on maple or judiciously sprinkled amongst the footage in ‘Mother,’ probably serves best as a vehicle or backdrop to the team and its skills – all of which ‘go,’ in the parlance of our times. What really merits those mysterious VHS tapes’ positioning alongside the earlier yellow, gray, orange and white cassette ancestors is the video’s careful crafting and exquisite tricks. Forestalling much of the talented flow squad gets ‘Mother’ under the critical 30-minute bar, even with timeless-feeling intro and credits sections. There’s a parallel universe somewhere with full Jake Johnson and Al Davis sections, sure, but their material here is presented in the most resourceful fashion possible, and the efforts of the other bros and ams — especially the ams – more than get the video over besides.

Justin Henry, latest of the Ohio torchbearers, delivers on years’ worth of early promise, gliding and jamming his way over spots on both coasts, fusing otherwise disparate moves into weirdly smooth alloys like the bigspin backside lipslide to firecracker out, or the wallie leap to noseblunt slide. The Grant’s Tomb backside noseblunt is there. Beltholder for greatest hair in the industry, Josh Wilson, blasts multisyllabic flip tricks over various bars and dangerously dings some other ones, along with an intense ollie out of a tall wallride. There is Tyler Bledsoe’s most recent addition to the backside tailslide canon, an almost painfully good Jake Johnson flowerpot backside kickflip, Al Davis thundering switchstance down a cascade of mountain peaks.

Gilbert Crockett, who seems yet to let up from a string of heavy parts following 2015’s ‘Propeller,’ constructs a throbbingly manual-heavy closer that includes an unhinged fakie flip switch manual to switch frontside shove-it out and the rather intense kickflip nosemanual over the guardrail and down the embankment, plus other crazy shit like a scary fence jump and a switch backside nosegrind at the JFK bank to ledge. But it is Dick Rizzo with the most pumping, vital section, cracking over bars and banging down on fire-engine red cellar doors with a weirdly fluid grace, or jumping catlike over the boulevard after half-spinning switch into some griping grayhairs’ beloved banister. There are lovely dips on the backside smith grind and switch backside 5-0, the sounds of the under-bridge wall blast deeply satisfy, and the backside nosegrind revert to GT rollercoaster makes good on the pain and leaf-diving required to reel it in.

Does Quasi have the bench-depth and belly fire to come back in six months’ time with another vid showcasing Drake Johnson, Justin Drysen, Dane Barker and all those Justin Henry tricks that didn’t make it into this one? Is Bobbito back to reclaim his spot after being displaced by Shadoe Haze? Will this year reunite the Dayton diaspora in video releases if Fat Bill completes the new Supreme/FuckingAwesome one and the now three-years revived AWS brings the Joe Castrucci-helmed release described by now deservedly-pro Frankie Spears?

*Note: Boil a Ocean Weblog briefly considered registering @PappalardoBurger on Instagram, and using this to make several humorous posts relating to various video parts in the voice of the burger itself, but ultimately chose instead to leave it to parties who could do more justice to such a concept, rather than linking back to a meandering and partially thought out internet screed

Scott Johnston, The ‘Aja’ Pill and The Reality of Our Surroundings

July 6, 2018

Have you felt it? Only recently it was Madonna’s ex-boyfriend Dennis Rodman, the former WCW wrestler, providing a septum-pierced window into the mind of Kim Jong Un, heir to the legendary North Korean golf dynasty, ahead of talks toward a nuclear disarmament. Beyonce and her formerly drug-dealing spouse Jay-Z rented out the Louvre for a recent music video featuring Jay’s golden Indiana Jones medallion, while DJ Khaled plugs Weight Watchers. Onetime baseball tycoon Jose Canseco later begged former casino magnate and current U.S. President Donald Trump if he could please join the emerging U.S. space battle force, an interplanetary armed squadron geared toward asserting American values to space’s infinity — and beyond, if duty, honour and extraplanetary riches require. Ours truly is a bold age of discipline and strength, forged in courage and rare-earth minerals, impossible to dilute.

Could it all be a simulation? Scientists have begun to seriously contemplate the question, which if nothing else seems a natural for a non-retrograde Alien Workshop board graphic. The rigidity of mathematical and physics principals hints toward rules for some ‘Big Game’, but really it’s the seams that sometimes show. One worldwide famed instance involved the mass memory glitch that occurred when the ‘Berenstein Bears’ series was erroneously replaced with the misspelled ‘Berenstain Bears’ version in our current when, igniting fury and hair-tearing confusion among readers.

There’s plenty more. In ‘Deathwish Part Two,’ published to the Thrasher.dotcom video engine weeks ago, one of Beagle’s HD VX-replacers briefly captures a splash of skatepark graffiti that includes a spray-painted ‘Nike SB’, some mistaken cut-and-paste job from a reality in which the Greek goddess of victory’s namesake company is some scrappy bro brand hawking t-shirts off BigCartel. Elsewhere, Erik Ellington sells loafers with golden tassels. Andy Roy, freed from jail, a famous TV game show host.

Scott Johnston, in a recent Chrome Ball interview, alludes to an alternate timeline in which his indelible Mad Circle part was soundtracked not to the perky, radio-friendly unit shifter ‘Peg’ but to an entirely different Steely Dan song, widely assumed to be ‘Any Major Dude Will Tell You.’

Justin already had a Steely Dan song picked out but it was a different one. I ended up going through the CD and finding another one that I liked better, which was the one we used. I guess I just kinda took it and did it. (laughs)

Scott Johnston’s ‘Horns’ part, with its tightly controlled switch 360 flips, is known across this land’s towns and botanical gardens as a classic of the form to be copied to the best of anyone’s abilities, mammal and invertebrate alike. If one accepts/assumes this existence to be a simulation, one also must accept and, ultimately, celebrate the certitude of multiple versions of this same simulation playing out simultaneously, with slight variations, infinitely. It’s easy to envision dozens of editions of our current reality, multitudes of laptop and plasmoid TV and smartphone screens playing Scott Johnston’s ‘Horns’ section, each one soundtracked to a different Steely Dan track plucked with wild abandon as Scott Johnston sifts through a bottomless sack of Steely Dan CDs in Justin Girard’s apartment lo those many years ago, his hand casting and reaching further and deeper into a black night staring back with an eyeless, blank reflection on our artificial existence.

As the trumpets and infrastructure spending of another Olympic Season fade, can we find solace and hope in technology growing closer to reviving the body of the too-soon-gone Walter Becker, if not his Jose Cuervo-bathed soul? In a post-all era, is tagging the names, let alone logos, of multibillion-dollar sportswear conglomerates the height of subversivity? Does Khaled really swallow those Weight Watchers foods? If all this is just one of an infinite number of simulations playing out, are your odds of being in a good one versus a wack one roughly even, or would an advanced civilization prefer to study only ones where shit goes wrong, Love Park gets demolished, Prince ODs, Danny Way’s ‘Tru, B’ part never comes out, Max Geronzi switches over to skating exclusively novelty old-school setups, and Kyle Nicholson never gets a full shoe deal?