This Holiday Season, Give Thanks for Tyshawn Jones

November 26, 2016

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Canada in Ruggish Show of Ten-Pin Aggression Following Trump Election

November 19, 2016

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The shock election of Donald G. Trump to the U.S. presidency last week sent up a massive “ZOMG” shaped smoke signal from the collective skateboard camp. While New York’s useful wooden toy ambassador Billy Rohan sought to build bridges between Tompkins and Trump Tower, international ripples and wrinkles almost immediately rippled and wrinkled up as the globe at large cocked an eyebrow and looked over the tops of its glasses at a Trump-headed United States.

Already, there are signs that cross-border skateboard relations may be fraying. Fresh off the Brexit break-up, Liverpoolian ditch-slasher Geoff Rowley cut his remaining ties to the Americanized Flip, while Brazilian-born Rodrigo TX bounced from North Philly’s DGK. And late this week, reports of Cliche’s demise under Dwindle left an Eiffel-tower sized hole in skating’s increasingly Francophiliac soul.

Whereas much of the Trump campaign focused on trans-oceanal misdeeds by China and Mexico, his threats to rehash NAFTA, the Bushian trade policy beloved to Canada’s shivering cabals of beerbrewers, mining conglomerates and wealthy bears, posed a risk too great to go unchallenged by Dime Mtl’s specialist bowling posse. In a swaggering display of cross-border belligerence, Canadians scrambled several athletes to wear sunglasses indoors and create a show of force in a bowling alley, a shot across the bow of Canada’s neighbor to the south following months of heated campaign-trail rhetoric.

The aggressive bowling video, unnerving in its feats of raw agility and power throws, seemed calculated to strike at Trump’s vulnerabilities. Dime bowlers, enriched by their own line of clothing items and yellow shirts, don’t wait for the strike to be scored, they “just start kissing,” no Tic-Tac. The cross-alley throw, bouncing into the gutter and then out again to pick up a spare no Wisconsin pollster could have envisioned, is a clear metaphor for Trump’s come-from-behind win. And yet as wall after wall of pins fall to the Dime squadron’s merciless strikes, the video file seems to defy any attempted fence-building that could slow the flood of cheap Canadian goods, manufactured by low-paid penguins and elk, into the trembling hands of U.S. consumer-purchasers.

How many hours will it take Lucas Puig to go to Palace? With Miles Silvas apparently headed to GuyKo’s Numbers, is Max Geronzi the world’s hottest free agent? Is Canada feeling itself, after Dime already upended the dominance of the U.S. contest circuit via its Glory Challenges, and its endearingly urbane Bunt aims to do likewise in the increasingly vibrant skate podcast market? Does the involvement of Jamal Smith and Forrest Edwards suggest Canada already has cultivated sympathizers on U.S. soils? Could a trade war erupt over hard rock Canadian maple and tall tees, or would a stronger Canadian dollar drag down overseas sales of premium quality Dime shirts?

Running Mates

November 6, 2016

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The key to unlocking value in any low-margin business is to maximize efficiency. This is the core truth of commerce and business underpinning a meritocracy in which the fastest copy machine is showered with honorariums and shiny treasure, where specialized mining equipment sniffs and scrapes out rare earth minerals and makes rich men of those who once swung picks, where clean factories churn out safe, packaged meal pills to cheaply feed a growing world labor base and quell any angry strife that could negatively impact production schedules.

Fragmentation and heightened competition from both nimble upstarts and well-heeled corporate gargantuates has similarly trampled profit margins in the skate biz with a trampling motion similar to that of an interplanetary trampling elephant. All around, there is a great diminishing, or distilling, depending where you sit: magazines skimpier, as photos, interviews and footage stream daily off mobile-optimized cloud platforms; years-in-the-making videos winnowed down to one-off web parts and Instagram snippets that ebb and flow on tidal transfer speeds; pro model shoes reserved for an anointed few, while the rest pick out seasonal color schemes.

In a fractured age is the team roster next for culling? The sprawling headcounts still collected by the Baker Boys, Crailtap and FuckingAwesome/Hockey contingents argue otherwise. But increasingly difficult-to-capture attention spans have sent up signals that tag teams, rather than baseball diamond or football field-ready lineups, are better suited for plattering more-meaty video offerings relative to the drip-drop of individual internet parts. Bear witness, would you, to the Bobby Worrest/Hjalte Halberg “Looks OK to Me” double feature that sort of awesomely and ominously asserts itself as the stoke-per-second leader in video releases this year at a svelte 9:46 minutes.

These brothers in Swooshdom maybe aren’t an immediately intuitive matchup, per se. But rattle through enough immactulate back-to-back ledge/flatground combos that, when drizzled out over enough countries’ spots, consistently hollering and clapping for one another, and associated homeboys collected along the way (Reese Forbes – fantastic), and it clicks in the spirit of Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen, Brian Wenning and Anthony Pappalardo, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard. Hjalte Halberg’s pop shove it frontside crooked grind line and Bobby Worrest’s line at New York’s three-up/three-down are among tons of highlights, along with the grate tricks and the entire Pulaski park section.

As two-dude videos come back into vogue, could a two-man team that is cheap to send on the road, less prone to complex beefing factions and capable of filming one another become the ultimate in independent contractor efficiency? Has the cozy relationship between Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad made the time right for Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik to rekindle their partnership? Is Bobby Worrest’s fakie flip and switch shove-it landing in time with the snare hit a quiet nod to Rob Pluhowski’s often overlooked and downbeat-friendly Element part and/or a sign that videos could revive the days when wheel impacts comfortably coexisted with metronomes?

Invention’s Mother Enlists Dual Death Lenses and Long-Tongued Lizards for 2016’s Most Outlandish, Original Video

October 30, 2016

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How many of the Old Ways are lost to humankind, never to be rediscovered? The image of Indiana Jones armed with a laser beam may have made ‘Temple of Doom’ half short and twice strong, but could have yielded greater societal dividends than gumdinger-sized jewels and bosomy, bedded maidens. Nearly 20 years on, it required a ‘Crocodile Dundee’ derivative to finish the job, lasering his damn way toward the revelation of a lost city and civilization so brimming with wealth and virility that even today might pump rival towns and provinces to the brim with festering jealousy.

Do any such bare-chested, whip-cracking paradigm shifters vanquish thugs and crack well-timed one-liners in skateboarding? To answer the question, other questions and even more hyphens may be required. Skating long has clung to antiquated technologies, ranging from the beloved VX1000 to the as-yet unimproved upon seven-ply maple stick. But elsewise skating leaps and races ahead, cybernetically pirating high-tech editing software, monetizing unique social media followers and quietly sharing around big-budget video releases via sophisticated adult entertainment tube sites.

As Worldstar mourns Vine’s untimely demise, is there a cultural opening through which to drag the stiffening corpse of the feature-length skate vid back toward the lands of the living? Recent stabs have delivered only glancing blows at justifying 4O minute-plus runtimes. Vans’ ‘Propeller’ made a decent effort but largely bogged down after the second viewing, Adidas’ standby blurred traffic lights and architectural panning got stretched too thin to overcome couch fatigue, Polar shot the moon and made it work despite re-using a song*. Emerica wisely stopped trying to cram its entire team into ‘event’ releases and has made its ‘Made’ format work, though Nike’s similar campaign ran out of steam after a middling third go-round. The GX1000 vid was perfect.

In these heady and hurried times, who has the gumption to proffer an 80-minute epic? It is Colin Read, whose ‘Tengu’ featured the MNMFTB-challenging contender for gnarliest ollie in New York, now advancing into sweatier and more-exotic terrain via ‘Spirit Quest,’ a deceptively intricate VX1000 feature that basically dares you to look away for more than a few seconds at a time. It is a nocturnal/industrial metropolis similar to Josh Stewart’s third rail-powered ‘Static 4/5’ where walls are ridden and bars hopped, but instead of grainy tunnels and wee-hour bodega runs, ‘Spirit Quest’ soaks its clips in some ‘National Geographic’ acid bath. Here, dudes do doubles runs with themselves; alternate realities are compared in real time where tricks are both landed and bailed; arms contort into ostrich necks, walls turn into floors and exotic creatures freeze themselves into murals or switch places with tumbling skaters. Angles and sometimes tricks mirror themselves in midair, concrete humps flip to planets and bic’ed craniums, boards sprout wings in midair and camera glitches get regurgitated as architecture.

Floridian hydrant-harrier Jimmy Lannon is among ‘Spirit Quest’s cast of dozens, the only dude who can live in snow camo and switch backside 180 sewer caps in matching floral combos. The increasingly inscrutable Daniel Kim is on some Sampson deal where his trick spread (now including switch Japan airs and a switch kickflip tailgrab) seems to grow woollier in direct relation to his hair length. Bobby Worrest, Kyle Nicholson and the sadly seldom seen Zach Lyons cycle through a pan-global lineup that also includes velcro shoes and Airwalks. Taylor Nawrocki gets one of the gullier sequences at Philadelphia’s Muni, Isle’s Chris Jones dips back into a few more tunnels and does a tall switch 50-50, and Hiroki Muraoka stair-steps down a backside lipslide before popping a crazy half-off, half-on bar ollie that’s as mindbending as a lot of the visual miragery.

Will electronics retailers and omnichannels honor the receipts held by drone pilots and green screen enthusiasts, outdone by 20-year-old camera technology, detailed planning and crazily intimate knowledge of spots and cityscapes? What is the max rewatch tally for any 80-minute skate video? Could a 360 flip variation one-up ‘Spirit Quest’s VX fingerflip or just bring out the dramamine and barf bags? Could Fat Joe serve as MNMFTB’s spirit animal?

You can order ‘Spirit Quest’ here.

*Or maybe because of it

Who The Best Season Has Returned As Boil A Ocean Website Looks At The 2016 SOTY Campaign

October 23, 2016

With this year’s 2016 US presidential race increasingly lopsided in the polls and exhibiting a deficit of true drama, political junkies hereby are forced to fixate upon the ever-frothier chase for Thrasher’s exalted Skater of the Year award, its trophy called “Rusty” and associated sacks of money and bragging rights. A genuine belt-straining tightness exists in this year’s campaign as associated runners and riders go blow-for-blow in high-def video clips and in the comparatively antiquated medium of physical magazine cover shots, all of it inuring to Joe Kickflip’s general awe and stoke. Here’s who it seems like may be potentially in possible contention:

Justin Figueroa: Emerica’s latest green-tinted salve to the Instagram throwaway clip-added mind may go down as the most handrail-light of its full-length catalogue since ‘Yellow,’ though Justin Figueroa’s section nearly single-handedly tips back the scales. This dude’s seemingly catastrophic injuries, like the intro stair-light removal, don’t seem much to dampen an altered beast appetite for massive switch 50-50s and Ellington spins, both ways; the dirt-gap switch flip is a thing of beauty and the death-drop k-grind grab landed him back on Thrasher’s cover. You could and this web blog page might make an argument that Justin Figueroa should’ve got it in 2012 off the strength of his Shake Junt/Skate Rock/Bake-and-Destroy tech-gnar build, but everybody makes mistakes.

Daan Van der Linden: In any other year a ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate, yung Van der Linden in the past 12-month period has emerged straight out the dungeons of the freshly splintered Euro zone to join the Anti-Hero roster, secure his own Thrasher cover, and blow doors in Volcom’s drone-a-riffic ‘Holy Stokes’ before hitting the road for the summer to cheat lethal handrail configurations, delight Jake Phelps and turn pro at a velocity only recently matched by Chris Joslin. It doesn’t seem beyond reality’s borders for Daan Van der Linden to crank out one more video part before the year’s up and put another bronzed and becapped humanoid on top of Julien Stranger’s toilet tank.

Evan Smith: A starry-eyed dreamer who rattles some of the industry’s loosest trucks and already has recorded a couple video sections this year, including a powerful and logical argument for 2016’s best 360 flip and a VX shop video part featuring cutty spots and a significant blizzard flip. This all was in between doing Dime’s ‘Glory Challenge’ high bar one better by diversifying away from the recommended boardslides and capturing two Thrasher covers — the most recent of which is the type of dreams-and-nightmares material normally reserved for EA Skate fantasies or maybe Jake Johnson.

Kyle Walker: Oklahoma’s Realist has been in the proverbial van what seems like all year, 180ing his giant gaps and 50-50ing his giant rails in ‘Holy Stokes,’ canoodling with the Vans breakfast mascot in a pro-shoe nod clip and later frontside bluntsliding one of the largest handrails evar alongside his Real teammates. He’s supposed to have another soon-to-arrive Thrasher exhibition. Even if Kyle Walker does not receive the Thrasher award, his retirement fund could benefit from retroactive Oklahoma Thunder photo incentive.

Jerry Hsu: San Jose’s knock-kneed switch hardflip bishop staged a massive comeback with a thinking-man’s answer to his recognized-classic ‘Bag of Suck’ opus, newly contorting himself onto sensibly sized handrails and immersing himself in Los Angelean schoolyards — the nollie backside 180 nosegrind revert boosted the increasingly hard-to-shift bar concerning midget picnic table tricks and the frontside noseslide nollie backside heelflip out early on in the ‘Made’ part served the triple purpose of providing advance notice of the heaviness to come, a certain audaciousness that didn’t require it for one of the closing clips, and generally putting respect on Jerry Hsu’s name, which interestingly* would rank up there with the shortest among history’s SOTY winners. The Thrasher brain trust, which already assigned him a cover this year, recognizes both Jerry Hsu’s decades invested in the skateboard game and dues paid via busted endoskeleton components and hospital bills, and he seems to have the belly fire and current soundness of body to compose a valid SOTY interview feature should occasion demand.

Tiago Lemos: A Brazilian on a multi-year tear that seems to gather momentum with every law of physics and gravitational dignity snubbed, Tiago Lamos is in the proverbial ‘window’ ability-wise — he possesses the raw technique to keep the J-Kwon gap to ledge fresh into a third decade (the switch bigspin backside tailslide via the scorching Thrasher part), the power to push uphill in lines (and nollie heelflip a trash can off a bump at the end) and the 90s-ness to lead the improbable switch mongo revival. With co-signs from the streets and the corporate boardroom, if there is any Brazilian to break the country’s near 20-year drought in Skater of the Year honors, this is the dude.

Dennis Busenitz: Perennial bridesmaid to the Flexfitted statue’s prior-year matrimonies, you could argue that Dennis Busenitz’ odds this year are as fair or far as any prior go-round where he’s been passed over — the last section in one of the year’s blockbuster vids, soundtracked to a Snoop Doggy Dogg song that’s been begging for the skate video treatment for decades; he also threw a curveball of a Thrasher cover and factored into the Volcom video. It is difficult to tell whether the haymaker-taking Jake Phelps perversely relishes overlooking a beloved and influential and long-laboring bro who otherwise seems to check all of your typical Thrasher boxes, but the plethora of gnarly fourth-quarter parts for better or worse make Dennis Busenitz seem again like a long shot.

*or not

Immortal Technique

October 13, 2016

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A body blow to the soul of skateboarding as Dylan Rieder makes a way-too-early exit from an arena that needed him around. Just a few days after Bill Strobeck issued review material from “Cherry’s” 2014 ‘style class’, there’s a void left by a persona with enough forward lean to tuck shirts and cuff pants, and brute force that could land a regular-stance ledge trick on Thrasher’s cover in 2014. Cancer is pointless and terrible.

The switch backside bigspin flip that ends Transworld’s 2006 entry “Time to Shine” remains gnarly enough for Walker Ryan to lament his own struggles landing a similar version in the Figgy Thrasher, and at the same time there were deeply excavated lip concoctions like the noseblunt slide revert. The eponymous Gravis part got Dylan Rieder a perennial period to accompany single-name status and did as much as any project to legitimize and elevate the standalone online video part, that wrapped-not-spun ollie impossible over the bench demanding rewinds half a decade later. “Cherry” delivered a sort of peak Dylan Rieder, good naturedly teasing girls and honing the frontside flip/360 flip/fakie flip/impossible to finely barbed hooks. The art-film-slash-video-part for his Huf shoe played like a greatest hits reel that basically could’ve only come from this dude.

Dylan Rieder’s contribution to all this isn’t quantifiable, which is partly the point. He rose up with the technical chops and California-dream profile that opened a potential path to a Ryan Sheckler lifestyle enabled by the deepest-pocketed surf and sport gear sponsors. Instead he sought counsel from addled iconoclasts AVE and Dill, pared back his trick repertoire and designed skateable loafers; his Street League runs read like some lyrical argument for quality over quantity, and he got to see the movement he helped shape flow across borders in “Cherry,” setting one of the more vibrant arcs for skating so far this decade.

Besides a body of footage and photos that now won’t taper off or fizzle out, though, Dylan Rieder’s sometimes easy to caricature approach wound up proving, again, one of those truisms not just of the skate biz but a lot of times life in general – how commitment and consideration to left turns in life can transform those early-on arched eyebrows and half-hidden snickers to grudging respect and eventually full-blown fandom. Wish there were more.

As Skating Leads a Parade for Brian Anderson, Does a G-Code!!! Hat Remain Strapped to Its Collective Noggin?

October 1, 2016

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This week skateboarding rejoiced, heralding the justifiably jubilant event that was Brian Anderson’s coming out, while collectively exhaling at the acknowledgement of 10 years’ worth of rumors traded between parking-lot lines and across skateshop counters. Brian Anderson’s moment carries weight. Unlike Tim Von Werne’s buried interview and Jarrett Berry’s noteworthy/novelty cover turn for Big Brother, this arrives freighted with a universally beloved style, a caseful of contest trophies, parts in the best videos of their eras, and a Skater of the Year title in its most worthy form — a nod that proved out for years afterward. If you were to tally some imaginary checklist for gay people’s ideal skate ambassador, BA leaves few empty boxes.

Gio Reda’s at times shaky doc gets over due to Brian Anderson approaching the discussion with the same type of nonchalant grace that repopularized the hurricane grind, and steered a backside smith grind down the UCI hubba. There’s an all star cast of well-wishers, some understandable gravitas — BA’s simple reason for waiting this long to make his statement, being “freaked out” — and in the long tradition of skate vid skits there’s humor of both intentional (Biebel, Bluto) and unintentional (the hurried assurances that skaters are not Brian Anderson’s type).

Even with relatively little at stake as his pro career ticks past the 20-year mark, Brian Anderson deserves enormous credit for taking a step that can immeasurably help current and future gay kids who skate, and improve skateboarding’s increasingly tough-to-make case as a semi-lawless sanctuary open to whoever, be they misfit, malcontent, mordantly mundane, or otherwise. Even as skating emerges from the dregs of premium-extended cable packages to ascend the most lucrative podiums of international Olympic telecasts, it has failed to keep pace with even the most mainest streamy major league sports, those at which the four-wheeled persuasion still would look down their chipped noses. Gay NFL and NBA players already have identified themselves; some ex-baseball players have been out for years. Even the U.S. military, whose advertisements still draw derision when they grace skate mags’ supposedly less-conforming and higher-minded pages, six years ago dropped ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.’ For all the comparisons skating has drawn between itself and art, figure skating and rock music, it’s lagged these too.

If there is any silver lining the rainbow-coloured flag skating now heartily waves, it is that Baker’s ‘G-Code!!!’ hat sales may not have been in vain. Despite Brian Anderson’s sexuality having been more or less an open secret among skaters for more than a decade, to this blogging web page’s knowledge he never was called out publicly on it, nor put on the spot in any interview. Skateboarding is terrible bad at keeping secrets and in some sense it may have been assumed as common knowledge. But decades of ducking the law’s long arm, ignoring posted prohibitions and any number of other related illegalities seem to have kept some anti-snitching sentiment embedded in the industry. Missteps get called out — Jeremy Laebreres rowed back after an ill-considered Patrick Melcher recollection and Wes Kremer’s SOTY status didn’t absolve him from narrowed eyes after recently putting Smolik on front street. BA’s personal business is not in that pejorative realm, which maybe makes it that much more impressive that it wasn’t trotted out for him at some point.

Will BA’s big step prompt any of the supposed half dozen or so other gay pros to similarly raise their hands? Is this the type of after-black documentary hammer that assures Giovanni Reda hangs onto a pro-model slot on Viceland some five or ten years after he’s filmed anything? Where were Donny Barley and the Muska in the doc? How will history judge Andy Roy’s ‘snuggle bandit’ interview in the arc of skateboarding’s gradual embrace of its gay brethren and sisters? Could a renewed thirst to film tricks flow from Brian Anderson’s recently reinvigorated Instagram activity?

Term Limited

September 24, 2016

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Aging may be the great skate industry adventure of the ’10s, as grizzled pros test the tolerance of weathered ligaments and brittling bones in an ongoing quest to avoid that unholy wyrm, the Real World, and its most loathsome prison, the Day Job. There are a few who two decades ago may have seemed obvious candidates if one were to choose a moon-shotter capable of stretching a pro career into a third decade, like Eric Koston or Daewon Song or Marc Johnson. There are are others whose misadventures with substances and the US legal system made them less obvious picks, such as Jeff Grosso and Fred Gall and Guy Mariano. Yet here we are.

Jason Dill, a veteran who never really warmed to half-measures when it came to things like video part construction, socks height or New York City nightlife, appears to have embraced old age as lustily as any slot-playing, shuffleboard-pushing thee-time divorcee. Witness his silver fox persona, his grayed and thinned hair, his floral shirts, the Britannicesque recollections of days gone past and concepts ripe for resurrection. As he raises a brood of young street urchins with life partner Anthony Van Engelen, Jason Dill also has honed an ability to emotionally wound that appears as needle-eager as any sourpuss granny. From his recent Playboy interview:

I’m now past my third year of FA. I’m proud of what we’ve done. If you are a company making stuff, you need to have it in the back of your head that, hey, I might have to kill this thing one day for the greater good so it doesn’t look like a bunch of bullshit. Imagine if Mark Gonzales got to end his skate company, Blind. How would we look at it today? Imagine if Mark had made some deal with Steve Rocco, the owner of his distributor, early on, like, “I’ll totally do this, but when I think it’s time that this is done, I get to put out an ad that says, ‘It’s done. We killed it. It’s over. Thank you.

Jason Dill didn’t have to take it there. For skateboarders ‘of a certain age,’ Blind’s last 15 years or so as a stable for a Canada-heavy lineup resembling a Digital Video Magazine board team will always take a back seat to the ‘Video Days’ lineup and, later, the Ronnie Creager and Lavar McBride-led ’Trilogy’ generation. Nowadays, you’re hard-pressed to place your hand on a Blind board outside the Tech Deck assortments cradled within the boxy bosom of Walmart. In fact, they’re outlawed. But with his reminder that Blind’s heyday now lies a beagle’s lifetime in the past, Jason Dill’s prodding of old sores is an exercise in discomfort matched only by grouchy grandmothers’ bitter questions over the fate of hand-knitted blankets long ago vomited upon, washed and relegated to life’s basement closets.

Time’s grinding passage has yet to reveal whether Jason Dill or Pontus Alv — another long-in-the-tooth owner of an insurgent board company that lies under his control, and who has expressed similar sentiments — will avail themselves of a Hunter S. Thompson exit strategy, rather than some much-later forced transfer to a mall store-ready nursing home. Do they possess the financial and testicular fortitude? The skating mind seems wired for Quixotic pursuits that can batter the body, plague the mind and sometimes, sear the soul — literally throwing one’s self down a set of stairs over and over again, sometimes for days on end. Quitting while one is ahead, whether in the sense of a sound body or arrest-free permanent record, may not pay dividends in the form of shoe contracts and soda-pop endorsements. For every Heath Kirchart and Scott Johnston showing themselves the door rather than be escorted out by younger, abler-bodied teammates, there are multiples of beloved pros whose ratio of video footage minutes to pro deck graphics looks increasingly lopsided.

Can pros turned board company proprietors be relied upon to serve as judges and executioners weighing the street cred of their own enterprises? Should company owners freely discuss the concept of forced euthanasia, for will this only perplex the Dutch? Does Darren Harper’s trick-trying persistence make him more likely to seek revenge for a five years-old board to the head, or vice versa?

Deuce Deuce

September 18, 2016

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“Never go full Ponte,” the old folks used to say; the thinking was, you couldn’t beat an original. Prodigal Brazilian son and recent abductee aboard the refurbished Sovereign Sect, Yaje Popson, tiptoed his magical feet right up to the edge this week aboard a burly and crimson hued 50-50 probably headed for his third or fourth video part in the last 52-week period. And yet in the great outfit sweepstakes that is this American experience in 2016, year of the aardvark, it was not even the most boisterous. That bouquet went to Australian baseball cap reverser Shane Oneill, who blew several minds via filming a backyard NBD while dressed as a tennis ball.

Far from an isolated case, Shane Oneill’s flourescent fit not only is safe for nighttime jogs, but also symptomatic of a broader industry infatuation with small, fuzzy balls and the raquets that brutalize them at high speeds, sometimes for cash prizes. Quietly applauded from the stands by multibillion dollar athletic gear manufacturers and occasionally lavendered monarchs, these power serves, double faults and love-loves seem to have displaced past and passing infatuations with hockey, soccer and skydiving.

Has skating reached peak tennis? Between Lucas Puig’s shorts and a recent resurgence in body varials, there are several signs. Gino Iannucci recruited Wimbledon-winning lefty John McEnroe Jr in serving up a line of Nike tennies, a volley later returned by Cory Kennedy, reviving the onetime Yugo of tennis sneakers for the rubber toecap set. Adidas has offered its own set and Alex Olson’s 917 is about to unveil a new line of tennis gear for skating.

Whereas the two disciplines have long occupied opposing orbits — so much so that Nike creatives mused 20 years ago on a societal role swap — there are rumors and clues that this now may be coming true. While skateboarding’s emerging coach class and trained image-cultivators groom once-useless wooden toypersons for Olympic podiums and endorsement photo ops, tennis seems intent on embracing a grittier, grimier persona more appealing to moneyed millennials raised on high-stakes, mixed-martial art bloodsports and aggressive dubstep mp3s. The Wall Street Journal wondered recently whether tennis could use more brawls to appeal to a fist-pumping, jello-shooting ‘Jersey Shore’ demographic, envisioning a pugilistic endpoint after tennis already has embraced the primal grunting, shouting and equipment-smashing that have been hallmarks of skating for generations. Tennis’ governing powers too seem intent on trying on rebellion’s black leather jacket and dangling cigarette, dabbling in scandal ranging from doping to match-fixing to the occasional off-colour comment.

As tennis’ stars age, will aping skateboarding provide an elixir of youthful advertising audiences or will tennis’ wealthy overlords catch onto the notion that a sizable bulk of pro shoes and contract dollars are tied up in veteran pros whose salad grinding days of filming feature length video parts may lie years in the past? Does the number of tennis pros who string their own racquets compare favorably or unfavorably with the number of pro skaters who grip their own boards? Will wooden decks one day apper as antiquated as wooden tennis racquets? Will a day ever arrive when skaters are not judged at least in part on their pants? Should it? Does anybody got a link for Chris Cole’s switch ollie over the tennis net that ran in a contents section around the ‘Dying to Live’ era?

Ain’t No Goddamn Son of a Bitch

September 3, 2016

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Is there anything sadder than a paint-caked curb lashed down with skatestoppers? If you answered ‘the state of the skate biz in 2016’ you may award yourself 40 weblogging points and accept this Internet page’s personal thumbs-up. Fear and sorrow ride high in the saddle as the year grows bristly hairs upon its chin and makes layaway payments on an adjustable bed. DC Shoes, owned by decreasingly bankrupt surfboard concern Quiksilver, has parted ways with time-travel machine owner Rob Dyrdek. Famous cocaine salesman Rick Ross not only has become the latest tattoo parlour client to fly the Kayo coop, but he is suing his former Dirty Ghetto business partners to the tune of 80 large. The Selfish Skateboards web page has gone a year without updating.

If there are islands of stability to be charted amid these stormish seas of action sporting commerce, and are not already amongst the eternally sunlit empires of the swoosh and the triple-stripe, they lie somewhere near those ungently gentrifying environs of the Yay Area, emblazoned with eagles and explosively shitting pigeons. Anti-Hero’s devotion to the ATV discipline, affinity for picking SOTYs and uncanny ability to ride trending waves from trucker hats to windbreakers and custom totables not only has sold boatloads of boards and clothing items, it’s inspired a sister tribe of sock-making disciples and inspired fawning collabs from SoCal schoolyardsters Crailtap and the logo t-shirt millionaires at Supreme who, a dozen years back, may have furrowed their brows at the one eight’s scuffed shoes and beer-dampened sleeping bags sooner than toast them with a wizard staff.

How to wield such ultimate power? Amateur ankles and knees represent a money pit forever fillable with t-shirt and deck revenues. Anti-Hero admirably has steered clear of any power-drunk signing spree similar to those that vaulted Es shoes and Plan B to dizzying heights from which their teams could only wobble and/or slam, alternating hires of top-drawer properties such as Grant Taylor and Chris Pfanner with heartwarming acquisitions of aged criminals such as Jeff Grosso and Andy Roy. But the resident alien-steered eagle this year made its most bald-faced power move to date by not only scooping Dutch M-80 Daan Van Der Linden, whose 0-to-100 tear this year has slingshot him from a Euro-scene ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate to presumptive Skater of the Year nominee with a professional board. The debate isn’t so much whether the nod is deserved but what else he could possibly have done to justify the advanced timeline, which seems even to have surpassed Chris Joslin’s rapid flow-to-pro launch.

Blinkered victims of too many misspent hours mired in idle skateshop-counter arguments may also ask what it means that in 2016 Anti-Hero is the de-facto landing pad for a Van Der Linden. Whereas his mindbending pointer grind revert on that curvy over-vert thing in the Volcom vid and steady hand on the coping would hang in any Anti-Hero video, his handrail frontside feebles and noseslide nollie heelflips out suggest that 15 or even 10 years ago he’d more likely have been nabbed by Flip or Girl or Zero or Cliche as some late entrant capable of filling out a surprise intro for a yearslong video project.

As style battery Brian Anderson seems on the verge of signing up and unattached, button-up personas as seemingly distant from the beers-and-bowls universe as Walker Ryan ride the boards, is Anti-Hero in danger of flying too close to the proverbial sun? In retrospect was ‘Beauty and the Beast’ less a meeting of So-to-NorCal minds and more the passing of some cosmic baton? Between the Volcom parts, the Bru-Ray clips, the Thrasher cover and the wallride, is SOTY 2016 Daan Van Der Linden’s to lose? Did Rick Ross launch the most successful music career from a prison since Johnny Cash?