In an Age of Plenty, the Challenge of Getting Past Lavar McBride’s Arms When He Nollie Backside Flips the Hubba Hideout Stairs

May 21, 2017

The larcenous subtlety of the X-Games, now legal to drink at 22 years old, lies in its unassailable hamhandedness. From its early, lingering and loving embrace of the “extreme” label even through the market segment’s maturation into ‘action sports,’ to its endorsement of the MegaRampTM and multiyear employment of frequent seagull target Sal Masakela; even as contest-course stewards seek to more tightly bottle and present street skating’s outlaw allure, there could only be one competitive franchise when duty requires blurting onto the interwebs ten minutes of fresh video part footage from the likes of Ishod Wair, Tiago Lemos, Cole Wilson and Na-Kel Smith. If it isn’t the best contest, strictly speaking, it’s probably the easiest spoonful of corporate-sponsored tournamentation to be gulped amongst a medicine chest otherwise proffering antiseptic runs formulated with rocks to fakie, and board-in-hand youngsters hustling up embankments and across quarterpipe decks.

Between sequences extolling the powers of Home Depot’s flooring products, Tiago Lemos’ fakie 360 flip switch backside tailslide pop out and Ishod Wair’s nighttime run through Muni are ladled liberally onto a La La Palooza of skating scooped up over the past week or so. Consider: May 12, Adidas releases a ringing video from a London trip, loaded with Rodrigo TX’s impeccably swished-out technicalities*, the magic-footed Gustav Tonnesen and freshly resurfaced matriculant Mark Suciu; it is this type of clip Adidas’ Juice crew does best and crafts better than nearly anybody. A day later, quasi-Texan Keegan McCutcheon delivers a fulsome spread of shove-its and various relatables over bars, including the hallowed wallride shove. In there somewheres was Mark Del Negro’s ambidextrous arrival via Philly on Hopps, Mark Humienik’s Sable section boasting a blistering noseblunt shove-it, and a Niels Bennett footage dump from Venture, in which a wallie 50-50 on a rail and a humongous switch wallride draws another mop-topped gangler ever closer to the still-glowing OG bathroom sign. On May 17 yung Polar wonder-bowlrider Oskar Rozenberg put out a street-heavy part for Nike, going GX in the SF hills and helping shake the Brooklyn Banks from a seven-year hibernation. And then Thrasher began dropping the Creature video, with full-throated David Gravette and Milton Martinez entries.

A daunting and woundrous time it is for footage consumers, who entertain the challenge of processing and absorbing valuable experience points from video parts with nearly each meal of the day, to say nothing of posting and or in-person pontificating on each amongst one’s chosen bros. For those with the skill, mental gonads and ill judgement to angle for their own slice of the day’s skate video watching capacity, with all of its punishing fickleness and readily rendered harshitudes, it’s gotta be awful tough.

And yet there lurks another threat to these freshly scrubbed video parts, nervously approaching their public debuts with each pixel the upload progress bar adds. Like an icey iceberg sailing deeper into frigid arctic waters, this danger is largely hidden and only grows, sometimes with only small and pointy bits visible to the non-radar enhanced eye. It appears to you in the form of Lavar McBride’s arms, downward cast after flicking one of mankind’s greatest nollie backside kickflips down the Hubba Hideout steps in ‘Trilogy,’ twenty-one years in the past. Maybe it appears as Tom Penny blurrily pushing through the parking ramp in TSA’s ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ or maybe Steve Durante switch heelflipping into a switch frontside bluntslide, or Diego Najera’s still-incomprehensible switch varial heelflip. Those lionhearted bros offering up new video parts to the internet’s altar not only compete day-to-day with their contemporaries for its fleeting and capricious favour, but now with the entire history of what has come before.

Of the nollie backside flip’s many historical high points, are Jim Greco’s Baker2G edition or Jake Johnson’s in Mind Field able to command as many repeat rewinds as Lavar McBride’s one with the arms? Where were yall when Lavar McBride was trying to teach you to nollie flip at the DMV? How many minutes in a typical day need be devoted to consuming new footage so as to convincingly hold one’s own on the Slap boards? Where will you be for the X-Games’ dirty thirty?

*just for the record

Rob Pluhowski Left Skating and Never Looked Back. Should More Ex-Pros*?

May 8, 2017

Former feather-footed kickflipper and current furniture hand crafter shocked and unnerved a freshly scrubbed generation of Instagramming careerists by summing up a decade’s worth of top-shelf sponsorships, parts in seminal videos of the time, and third-world nation touring under the steady navigation of Fred Gall, using a nonchalant trio of words that stripped the English sentence to its barest, basest components: “It was cool.” Further cows sacred to various strivers and Thrasher down-for-life aspirants soon trotted out for electric stunning and captive bolting: Being shown the door from an established career in skating was for Rob Pluhowski a good thing, he doesn’t skate anymore, and he doesn’t seem to miss any of it:

“I was 27 years old, I didn’t have a fucking board at 27 years old! And, I had a fucking kid. It was just a wake-up call. My daughter was probably only a year old and I was like what the fuck am I gonna do with myself? Like what am I gonna do. If figured I’d just like sever it, end it there, end on the highest note you can possibly end at without being one of those dudes like, what the fuck are you doing? Like why is he on a skateboard? I don’t want to look like a tired old man. That’s why I don’t skateboard today. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. I don’t want to be that dude. you know what I mean. Just leave it where it was.

Now that I look back at it, it just seemed right. I got out, and now where I’m at in life, I’m fucking happy, a pig in shit. That would’ve just taken this much longer, 32 years old, riding for Zoo York or something, like some hokey shit.”

Rob Pluhowski’s unsanded, unvarnished assessment of pro contemporaries, the skate biz in general and his former place in it attracts the same sort of grinning car-wreck rubbernecking in readers that any decent interview inspires, and for the time being helps to shore up that ever-eroding barrier between skating’s outlaw flavourings and what may lie ahead. But Rob Pluhowski’s commentary here differs from other, similar veterans’ tales, in that it’s dispensed free of any strings that might even tenuously tether him to skate industry machinations, or gooey threads of relationships that could coat an otherwise harsh and bad-sounding assessment with a sugary veneer of political correctness. It’s not even that he seemed unconcerned what people may think, but that he seems only vaguely aware that such people might even exist, and doesn’t seem much interested in sweating it too much either way.

In centuries past, once the beachfront fires for whale kill roared out the bulk of their strength, our bearded chieftans would sing softly to we youth: “If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s meant to be.” Salivating as we did for that first sip of icey whale marrow, we never gave much thought to their lyricism or breath control. But the saying, like the whales’ mewled curses upon humanity and our harpoon technology, has echoed through the ages. Did Rob Pluhowski love skating? With his Bob Puleo visage and mannerisms, he’s maybe too New Jersey to really get wistful. Is it possible to love it, leave it behind completely, and eventually be good with that? If so, what verdicts does this hold for the ever-expanding, and seemingly older than ever professional ranks?

How come Rob Pluhowski’s bearing and worldview seems relatively rare when stacked against numerous interviews in which post-professional career plans include packing boxes in warehouses, described semi-humorously but nevertheless with an air of noble sacrifice? Between the reverence here and as unlikely an art critic as Danny Way singing praises, should the late 1990s/early 2000s Alien Workshop and Habitat graphics be elevated to that same pantheon reserved for Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s World Industries era, and VCJ or Jim Phillips before them? Is it really we who loved Rob Pluhowski, and are now left to consider that we may have set him free and he did not come back?

*Yo it’s understood Pluhowski never was pro but stay with it for a minute here

Danny Way Never Again Will Win a Contest Without First Performing a 45-Second Ho-Ho

April 29, 2017

An old theater adage, commonly and likely erroneously attributed to Anton Chekhov, goes like this: “If a gun is placed on the mantle in the first act, it must go off by the third.” Another, less widely known version of this concept exists within the gleaming, gelatinous sphere of popular music, and holds that if Glenn Frey takes a stage in his capacity as a solo act, “Smuggler’s Blues” must be performed by dawn the following day. RIP to Glenn Frey and all true smugglers who gave their lives to inspire one of history’s great hit singles.

This week archivist-in-chief and defending scanner champ Chrome Ball Incident released an exhaustive Danny Way interview that could function as a blueprint for serious-minded skateboard interviews. Old stories, jokes, comebacks, heartstring-tugging tales of a yung phenom grappling with insecurity and teasing by idols-turned-rivals, and tough questions respectfully asked. And, it extracted the promise of a future contest run sketched out in draft form for history’s annals:

“With bowl skating being so popular again and so many of these retro tricks coming back in style, I’m actually thinking about entering one of these Bowl Series contests just to bring back some of those classic moves, like the ho-ho. Who knows, maybe I could stall it out for a one-trick run? What about a 45-second ho-ho!?! That could be the way to go! Walking around the deck on my hands… could be a good laugh!”

With those five words and one double-digit number, Danny Way has placed his gun on the mantle. It is a firearm in the shape of an aging, battered body, twice bronzed for posterity, handstanding on the deck of history as glory showers down around him, forming glorious and shovelable drifts, for three-quarters of a minute. But at whom does this golden barrel aim? For Danny Way also has fashioned himself a shimmering prison, with gilded bars and a valuable commode. Each Bowl Series judge who reads the interview — and every one shall — will be unable to award Danny Way any points whatsoever for a contest run that does not feature a 45-second ho-ho, now possessed of the knowledge and vision of what could be.

Could Danny Way’s unwittingly self-imposed obligation to perform an elongated ho-ho extend to Mega RampTM events, which could also secure Guinness World Record status for the ho-ho performed on the highest ramp deck? Could a global ho-ho revival inspire Todd Falcon to invent an inverted ho-ho where you stand feet-down on the deck with your board in your hands held over your head and which could become knowed as the “oh-oh”? Or does this trick already exist? On the mantlepiece of skateboard tricks is the ho-ho an elephant gun or a .38 special?

Rival Schools United by Fate, Torn Asunder Amid Hill-Bombing Renaissance

April 22, 2017

Sun Tzu, that ancient Chinese military philosopher and rap music reference point, famously signed a restaurant receipt with an unsolicited strategem in place of a tip, advising one fortunate waiter that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Legend tells that this vibrant slogan enriched the lucky plate handler — who previously regarded all of this restaurant’s staff as backstabbing adversaries — by transforming them abruptly all into bosom pals, a blissful union that would inspire a hoagie chain but later run aground, friendships dashed on the rocks of unpaid franchise fees and festering mistrust. It is the story of our times, and perhaps all time.

In the 1980s, widely regarded as an extended and turgid moment in which synthesizers remade nerds into dancefloor lotharios and yet justice still could be found at the pointy tip of an arrow, skateboarding still was in its awkward early years. Much like the homebound elementary schooler, or the waiter-in-training at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, friends were those nearest to hand, if not in spirit — and so it was that skateboarders and BMX bikers became kinsmen of a kind, occasionally sharing a taste for neon accessories and zeitgeist-flavored real estate, wherein ‘Thrashin’ and ‘Rad’ staked out neighboring claims on VHS rental shelves. These co-feathered birds flocked together even through the judgment-heavy early 1990s, when Jeremy Wray cheered BMX bro Mike Esterino hopping on his famed water-tower jump.

Alas, as ledge skating gained supremacy and skateable blocks began trading at a premium due to police pressure and general scarcity, peg damage and huffy attitudes came to divide the camps, such that by the time the handrail age set in, extreme bike riders became punchlines. Skatepark proliferation ignited turf battles, with some private-sector facilities segregating the rubbery-tired rollers to their own evenings. Bike-prohibiting public parks prompted some skateboarders to yellingly shout and point at “no bikes” signage in a true perversion of historic roles.

Extreme bike riders later clawed back respect points on a comparative basis as scooter riders, rollerbladers and other ne’er-do-wells rotated through parks, and John Cardiel’s fixed-gear resurrection earned bikes a warmer position in the cockles of many 97A urethane hearts after his accident. The gnarliness of slamming on a bike was to be respected, if not the motocross-aping kits and the fact that you can sit down. And yet this uneasy entente now takes a new and graver turn, as a non-Olympic bound subset of skating re-embraces illegality from coast to coast. For some thrillhousers enamored of San Francisco’s steeps, a bike may as well be a car or a brick wall, and have come to be perceived as a potentially mortal threat:

Thrasher: What has been your closest call to getting fucking annihilated when bombing hills?
Matt Finley: Dude, so many times. I mean, I’ve gotten hit by a car before but haven’t been hit too bad. Like, four days ago we were going down Twin Peaks and a biker dude—I couldn’t hear him or anything—zooms past me and is centimeters from running into me full speed. He went right between Taylor and I. If he had clipped me I would have gotten fucking smoked! I mean, he probably would have gotten really fucked up but that was something else. That’s another thing! Fuck bikers and cars. They are they enemy. Bikers are in the road and act like cars; they just don’t give a fuck. I’m being a hypocrite but they act so entitled.

Are bikers really just skaters astride one-half of a giant skateboard that uses different types of wheels with handlebars and a seat? If bike riders and skateboarders were to finally unite their powers, could the scooter scourge be ended once and for all? If BMXers and skateboarders were more closely aligned in the run-up to biking’s debut in the 2008 Olympics, could the event somehow have been ‘thrown,’ casting extreme sports in a negative and clownish light globally, thereby ensuring that skating remained safe from Olympic circusization for generations to come?

Can Ishod Wair Break the Sub-Eight Inch Taboo?

March 31, 2017

Does the measure of a man lie within a money vault loaded to the brim with jewels and gold pieces? Is it truly shown in the longing eyes of the women he has loved, the children he has sired and their aggregate earning power, properly adjusted for inflation? Or is his name made by kingdoms conquered and owned, enemies slain or driven into abject poverty, and the filthy unwashed hoards who supplicate themselves in feeble tribute?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these and can front several thousand dollars you may be eligible to participate in the Menace Skateboards seed funding venture quest available on Instagram for a limited time only to certified investment angels and their gilded harp polishers. Yet for the past decade and more, skateboarders large and small have toiled beneath a different judgement measure, one that has stoked insecurities and sweaty-palmed apprehension among even the most outwardly confident hill-bombers, board flippers and handrail handlers. Seemingly freed of past eras’ smallmindedness that shackled hive-minded bros to goofy-boy kits in the early 1990s or carcass hucking in the early 2000s, a supposed ‘anything goes’ renaissance over the past decade has freed pros and bros alike to pursue moves from retroactivated no-complies to multisyllabic ledge combos and horse pools, wearing fits that run from short shorts to graphical sweatpant products to Tuscan leather. Just as long as you did it on a board that was at least eight inches wide.

In what has emerged as the final hardgood taboo, skating seven-anythings since roughly 2004 first became the domain of those lingering devotees to the San Diego school of tongue-puffery who felt PJ Ladd’s wonderful and horrible vibes but never fully boarded Eastern Exposure’s subterranean railroad. The Baker/Zero axis carried a machismo and masochism that soon elbowed once-stalwart 7.75s into a minority position on shop walls, and the advent of Anti-Hero as the guiding force into the aughts made such sizes an endangered species; by the time Justin Figuoera gloated how alighting upon his 8.5-plus ironing board felt like landing in your living room, anything below the 8″ mark had become a subject of open derision, similar to a wizard staff built from craft microbrews or the dreaded mall grab. The age of the big, swinging deck had been cemented.

Now, as ‘resistance’ groups ferment around the US in response to Trump administration political policy priorities, a skinny board pride movement is taking shape. Within the Nine Club’s fishbowl confessional, professionals unburden themselves and others. Chris Roberts describes being most comfortable skating a 7.75, while fakie 360-flipping waterboy Kelly Hart cops to a somewhat safer 7.9. Miles Silvas puts some respect on the 7.62’s name, relaying that his role model Rodrigo TX on the low skates that one while marketing a more masses-friendly size to shops. And Deluxe plans to further test the limits via a 7.56 Ishod Wair model that seems like it would fit his hometown Sabotage posse as reliably as the original-construction Lynx that Josh Kalis has hinted may come back.

Will the pinner board’s revival lead to academic research conclusively proving the long-held hypothesis that as decks narrow, pant sizes expand? Will a shift in truck sales toward smaller sizes and the reduced level of metals used to make them help truck manufacturers weather a period of slow economic expansion? Could a 7.5″ pride movement court backlash among more moderate 8-8.25″ clientele widely assumed to make up the majority in skateparks, backyard ramps and street spots? Was all this set in motion years ago by John Lucero, keeper of the extra-wide, shaped board flame for all those long years? What will return first, the 7.4″ or the bearing-cover wheel?

Greco and Bam Inside the Recompression Tank

March 18, 2017

Who fought hippos in the street while the zookeepers ran and hid? What’s left after an appetite for destruction is sated? And is there any place where a man or rogue hippo find a lasting peace?

Sebo Walker, imbued by the Great Old Ones with magic-moving feet and a mobile van, is a man of the people. In a literary and literal way, he lives at the skatepark — catch him on Instagram sporting his banana-yellow Lakai model, bros dozens deep riding the Stoner benches to the side. In this way Sebo Walker is part of a recent Crailtap resurgence fueled by the type of sun-kissed posse cuts that helped carve out a family-tied post-World identity way back when. The Fucking Awesome/Supreme kids, perhaps the tightest-knit team currently, jet together from SPoT to Oz, trailing ‘Fulfill the Dream’ vibes and footlockers of expensive casual clothes in their wake.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Jim Greco boils. Alone among anonymous automobiles and bleached avenues gone to seed, he sweats out the days documented in his new short movie, ‘The Year 13’. Sober, seemingly exhausted, Greco’s regimented routine constructs a lonesome, claustrophobic universe within his adopted city of four million striving bros. He sessions faded and decades-old spots with a close cadre of graying pros and celebrity Texans. He spends inordinate amounts of time yanking benches down the street to skate solo, until the bench inevitably gains the upper hand and he’s pitched to the ground. He stolidly accepts the slams. Years of hard living long past, his feet still have spark to dazzle on those brick banks and red curbs. There is a pork chop. Lengthy stretches of lonesome silence leave viewers wondering — is Jim Greco, man of a thousand looks, finding peace with himself?

I wake up every morning, I make my coffee, I go skating—there isn’t much of a deviation around this that’s worth talking about. My life is skateboarding. And waking up and staying sober and skating.”

Joining Jim Greco in skate-centric, substance-free life re-leasing is gothic SSBSTS tipster and flying tree-hugger Bam Margera, who this week described to Jenkem how he has pushed away the bottle to pursue some type of low-profile skate pilgrimage through southern Spain.

“And I just knew the spots in Spain are awesome and I wouldn’t get to bothered at the parks, like at home… Home is ridiculous. I don’t know about now, but four years ago I was like, I’m never going to a public park in America. I mean, if I was ripping it would be a different story. Then I’d know I could show up and rip. But to relearn how to skate in front of these kids with their dumb fucking iPhones filming in every which direction, and me bailing on a blunt fakie on a 4 ft quarter pipe… like, I don’t want this be seen on Earth!”

Bam Margera, who upwardly failed into the fame and influence that Jim Greco seemed once to dream of, now looks to be similarly whittling down his world toward the shape of a less burdened, if still world-weary, boy with a skateboard (and a filmer or two on hand, natch). Occasionally semi-NSFW photobloggings aside, Bam Margera’s new direction suggests a certain monkishness, prostrating in the Church of Skatan’s general direction, though separate from the group pilgrimages that have helped lure other waywards back toward their original sin.

How many comebacks have been stillborn due to self-consciousness? Might aged but still-successful pros pool resources to set up a private TF to facilitate skills-rebuilding for lapsed contemporaries? Like maybe one just for Henry Sanchez? Separately, when the technology exists for Jim Greco to film his movies in a solitary and self-directed fashion, will he? Could Jim Greco’s washed-out pocket of Los Angeles guest-star in an episode of Rick McCrank’s Abandoned?

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

duffsdog

History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?

Another Tantalizing Push Taken Towards a Pugilistic Payday

February 27, 2017

The struggling skateboard industry this weekend mounted a fresh effort to coax digitally transferred dollaradoos from skateboarders’ apparently refilling attention-span glands (based on the roaring success of the recent renaissance in hour-plus podcasts), united with the no-fi production values associated with various ‘raw files’/‘b-sides victory-lap double dipping that invite the still-hungry skateboarding content glutton inside the gruesome and glorious video part-making process.

Carefully tearing loose a page from Thrasher’s steadily thickening online-content playbook, Street League-backed telephone application developer ETN, an assumed acronym for Extreme TV Network, where TV is short for television, this weekend broadcast Aaron ‘Jaws’ Hamoki and Tommy Sandoval stepping to the UC Davis gap for the thrillment of multiple subscribing app-downloaders around the world. The format recalled Thrasher’s ‘Bust or Bail’ series that pledged cash dollars for bar-lifting tricks at famed spots, although in this instance a financial pledge was made by app downloaders to pay either $8 a month or $80 a year to tune into similarly star-powered spot assaults yet to come, as well as a range of other ETN offerings including a skateboard game show.

At a time when no less prolific a professional than 18-parter Marc Johnson pleads for folks to maybe dial down the daily firehose of skate videos, citing fatigue, it requires balls of the UC Davis gap carcass-tossing sort to not just launch a new online and mobile TV channel, but to charge spendable money for it, given the ever-thicker churn of video parts, Instagram clips, days-in-the-lifes and certain other what have yous, plus the Slap boards. While ETN’s fruitsome spread of shows suggests no more free live-streaming of venerable contests such as Tampa Pro, the idea of televising heavy-hitter sessions like Jaws’ and Tommy Sandoval’s campus romp presents its own basket of yowling logistical dilemmas. If you’re a pro with the control and cojones, a combination knowed by industry men as ‘controjones,’ do you film it for your video-part ender, hoping for some Thrasher website push before the part finds whatever second life it may on You-Tube, or do you chance trying it on ETN before a potentially smaller audience that may or may not be the only ones to ever see it, depending upon how the footage is controlled? If you are ETN, do you recruit the Kyle Walkers of this world, who landed his SOTY Thrasher cover in about 45 minutes as per Michael Burnett’s reporting, and risk leaving sadistic penny-pinchers distraught that they didn’t get their money’s worth? Do you veer toward a wider stable of shakier-legged amateurs with less to lose but who may loose more fireworks? Is there some creamy middle of name-brand dudes who are good but not ‘too good’ to achieve maximum subscribership and critical re-ups? (For kids aroused by ETN’s promise that you can try it for free and “bail anytime,” cancelling the deal allegedly presents its own challenges.)

All this though is only precursor to ETN’s true potential and inevitable destiny. Skateboarding’s inherent penchant for drama, betrayal, vengeance, despair and triumph, along with its devotion to convoluted and soapy storylines, long has drawn comparisons to professional wrestling, where the pay-per-view model yielded enough thumping paydays and created enough American jobs to recently land wrestling tycooness Linda McMahon atop the U.S. Small Business Administration, providing the capacity to use the Boston Crab on nettlesome, job-restricting regulations. After Mike Carroll aired out Marc Johnson on Jenkem.com last fall, former teammate Chris Roberts and camera-pointing journeyman Roger Bagley were the first get Marc Johnson on record with his own version of events, a coup. Now, there may well be a market for a video app that shows you Marc Johnson, Joey Brezinski and maybe some of the Primitive dudes going manual-for-manual at the Santa Monica Courthouse. But if it got out that Mike Carroll and Rick Howard maybe were going to show up? Or if Tas Pappas and Tony Hawk were one weekend heading to the same ramp? In such cases the question may be not how much one could charge, but how many yachts one can reasonably enjoy.

Is this ETN’s launch suggestive of the suggestion that the skateboard media sphere is not yet so heavily saturated as the board-making biz? How does the concept of promoting an hour-plus of roll-ups and attempts square with Street League’s ambition to draw in the more-casual sports watcher, for whom the typical skate contest run format was deemed overlong/boring? How difficult is the sale proposition for any skate video material whatsoever when you have Foundation giving away jaw-slackening footage from Corey Glick and Cole Wilson, for nothing? While on the topic, is Cole Wilson out of his damn mind? Could there possibly be any better venue than this emergent ETN for a prolonged, mysterious comeback mounted by a shadowy gap-jumper who eventually unmasks himself after jumping some giant gap to reveal his identity as Josh Kasper, whose fondness for pro wrestling is well-documented?

Events on the Horizontal Horizon of the Eventful Event Horizon

February 20, 2017

“Blessed be the ties that bind,” the good book says, referring to the festive ties donned by Medieval lords on the occasions of their weddings to matrons true of virtue and plump of size, who in turn wore flowery gowns and pointed hats in keeping with the custom of the time. The old saying however also could equally apply to the metaphorical plastic zip-ties that once bound the international skateboard community as tightly as the wrists of a newly gagged hostage, but now have been stretched, frayed and slicked with blood after a 20-year ride in a darkened trunk, bumping through energy drink-sponsored contest spectacles, international footwear investment and reality television seasons.

In this brave and bawdy 2017, year of the Rooster, what can draw together late-90s puffy-tongued plaza revivalists with mega-ramping park prodigies and their pastel-draped, body-varialing brethren? Time was, a big video could command the culture’s attention through months of ‘coming soon’ magazine adverts, a few carefully blown deadlines and a riot-inducing premiere. But ‘event’ vids increasingly have become the domain of the major shoe company, and that cupboard looks increasingly barren as Nike, Adidas, Emerica and Vans all have shot their respective full-length wads over the last two years, with mixed results; nearly all now seem to have sworn off the sort of hourlong teamrider-wrangling that takes years and increasingly seldomly stands up under colossal expectations erected with promotional hashtags, tossed-off teaser clips, and internet punditry.

Foundation last week premiered the latest entry into one of history’s stalwart video legacies, ranging from ‘Supercollider Superconductor’ to ‘Rolling Thunder’ to ‘Art Bars’ and ‘That’s Life’ – a heavy underdog narrative was built into the roll-out, including teamriders funding their own trips and pay whittled down to board royalties, making one wonder whether ‘Oddity’ should get you psyched on this latest iteration of the magic F or just hope these legitimately gnarly dudes find themselves a better deal. Ahead lies Transworld’s ‘Riddles in Mathematics,’ extending another beloved video dynasty with a knockout lineup and a GZA-cribbing title, helmed by Chris Theissen, whose Bordeaux-sipping extreme close-up techniques in last year’s ‘Substance’ bypassed perspective and boosted Dramamine sales. The majorest upcoming video may be Lakai’s ‘Flare,’ though with only four names remaining from the decade-ago (!) ‘Fully Flared’ lineup after former pro-model flarees succumbed to the gravitational pull of Nike, Adidas and old age, and much riding on emergent hot shoes such as Tyler Pacheco, Simon Banerot and Cody Chapman, it seems as much a reboot as anything — though the droney zooms and slick panning activity characterizing recently departed flare pilot Daniel Espinoza’s Royal Trucks part, assumed repurposed from his Lakai footage, looks very much prettier/sweeter versus any type of filmographic departures in the Federico Vitetta era.

After witnessing the coming-togetherness spurred by Brian Anderson’s coming out, Dylan Rieder’s death and earlier, John Cardiel’s ‘Epicly Laterd,’ are skating’s shared cultural events leaning less on videos and contests and more on personal narratives like SOTY? Can ‘Sabotage5’ transcend the tragedy of Love Park’s demise or only leave lingering questions as to what the fuck Philadelphia was thinking, and how did the resurrecting Alien Workshop not get behind a group of dudes so heavily infatuated with one of the Sovereign Sect’s most enduring heydays? Will Palace ever get around to doing a ‘proper’ video or are their mixtape-style releases like last year’s ‘V Nice’ so good they needn’t bother? Is Birdhouse gonna take another run at video history with Jason Hernandez behind the lens? Will Danny Way’s now 2-year-overdue video part ever drop or will Bob Burnquist come with another project that pushes it back again? Hasn’t it kind of been a long time since Krooked made a video?

In Which Rakim Is Ignored and Various Techniques Sweated

February 5, 2017

benetton

One effect of the seldom-challenged objective to get more kids into skating, backed broadly by companies and other entities whose welfare entwines with selling skate-related goods and services, has been the homogenization of tricks. Whether a factor of once-platinum selling trick tip DVDs or YouTube channellers, mathematical norms seem to support the theorum that with more people skating and learning tricks via common and standardized sources, form and approach seem bound to gravitate toward some common center. The coveted Penny/Reynolds flick is no longer a technique possessed of some dudes and not others, rather it is the norm, increasingly rare to deviate from.

The thrillingly unorthodox cover of his month’s Thrasher features Jim Greco, who put the flick debate on front street with his Feedback dissertation on ‘mob’ vs ‘flick’. The Thrasher feature for Jim Greco’s most recent late ’80s video revival piece, after last year’s enjoyably indulgent/indulgently enjoyable “The Way Out” vid, includes a photo showcasing classical mob styling on a schoolyard bank, suggesting that Jim Greco, who once strove to curb his mob, now may be embracing it in some throwback move consistent with his recent nostalgia tripping among first-generation Birdhouse videos, the H-Street era and other childhood recollections of one who grew up on the opposite side of the continent.

Whether or not ‘mob’ kickflips look good, as a retro affectation or not, is a matter for the courts to decide and above the pay grade of poorly managed blogging web pages. However, the recently proffered notion that Chad Muska’s ‘illusion’ frontside flips looked good, wrongheaded as it is, speaks to a similar, latent yearning for diversity in trick form that seems to have been squeezed out in the online video age*. Setting aside the singular proclivities of ‘mob’ godfather Mark Gonzales, the comparative spread between a Kareem Campbell kickflip, a Tim O’Connor one and a range of others throws into relief the relatively few outliers from the norm today, such as Brandon Westgate.

Beyond throwback questionings, could skating’s politics-bucking globalization push offer a cure? In the far corner of this hemisphere, Magnus Bordewick and his Torey Pudwill arms suggest it may be so. Following his thumping ‘Firetre’ part from a year or so back the tricks in his ‘Tigerstaden’ section erupt as much as they flip; the 360 flip and bigspin kickflip slow-mo’ed on his Instagram have the board nearly going vertical as his feet kick at the camera frame’s edges.

Could any budding diversity in trick form collide with a wave of anti-politically correct sentiment now sweeping the Western world? Have body varials opened peoples’ minds to alternative trick-doing lifestyles? Could biological differences between males and females, both mental and physical, influence trick-doing styles as a wave of fairer-sexed video parts greet the new year?

*A more preferable alternative to the current technique might be Ryan Hickey’s