Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 – Emmanuel Guzman, ‘Let’s Do This!’

June 25, 2021

In time, yesteryear’s Transworld video voiceovers will be presented in their intended forums: TED-style straight-to-Youtube insisters, purring and pounding atop college lecterns, or directed at bleary-eyed Denny’s diners past midnight in guttural shouts and barks. Santa Cruz A-lister Emmanuel Guzman caught one of the last of a dying breed in 2007’s exhortative ‘Let’s Do This!!1’, an easily paid price for a top-to-bottom summation of his power and range that hasn’t faded as the ATV wave crested and rolled over everything. Here and in the later Thrasher/Cons joint ‘Prevent This Tragic’ you see his puma crouch and forward lean, ready to knock your block off frontside boardsliding a rail or pumping a pool. He looks fearless, hanging onto the board in those queasy seconds he’s transferring from the bowl to the big bowl, or drifting as he pops the backside noseblunt back into the deep end, or jumping off a damn roof into some backyard ramp. This vid opened with Brian Brown, worked in Peter Smolik and Devine Calloway and closed with this Emmanuel Guzman thunderclap, and it’s one of the great sorrows of TWS’ demise that you don’t see many full-lengths offering that type of lineup anymore. 

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 — Jimmy Lannon, ‘Shaqueefa Mixtape Vol. 3’

June 23, 2021

Among Florida’s perspiring alleyways and crumbling stuccos, what makes a man? If your response included a fire hydrant, switchstance manuals, nollie flips and floral prints, you may be due an assortment of flow-program Lakais. Achieving true bucket-hat lord status, such that Jimmy Lannon enjoys, requires something more — switch backside 360ing on a bank, maybe, hopping an alligator, for sure. May this dude’s golden shirt-to-pants size ratio never waver, may all hydrants shrink before him, and may his bushings cushion each moss-encrusted tropical brick that comes beneath his wheels. 

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 – Shane O’Neill and Theotis Beasley, ‘Debacle’

June 22, 2021

Slipped in between the broken glass and Skid Row screamers in Jason Hernandez’s Technicolor property damager was one of 2009’s less intuitive tag teams. Shane O’neill’s sterilized tech matched well with Theotis Beasley’s gangly gap flights, tagging off on the stairs and ledges to a sunny love song that felt like an oasis in one of the heavier features of the time, am team or otherwise. It now reads like a postcard from a simpler time, pre-influencer follower maintenance and Olympic obligations, when a couple kids could throw on the New Eras, chill amongst the wreckage of a global economic collapse and film tricks on colourful flatbars.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 – Richard Mulder, ‘The Chocolate Tour’

June 21, 2021

Who from the OG Girl/Chocolate camp was still peaking after ‘Mouse’ besides Koston and Carroll? Here in 1999 is Richard Mulder, bass turned way too high, missing no steps since ‘Nautilus.’ In the second half of this Zero-speed edit he’s ripping through the East Coast, putting a beauty of a switch backside 5-0 grind onto Kalis and Stevie’s picnic table and anticipating Brian Wenning’s rise at City Hall. Aside from Gideon Choi’s achingly good and deservedly revisited stuff, there weren’t many to put a hurting on the Chaffey ledge transfer like this dude.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 – Kevin Bradley, ‘Bon Voyage’

June 19, 2021

Before West Coast Kev, here he was, young prodigy on a French-gone-Dwindle board sponsor, skating his ass off and hopping trash cans almost as tall as he was. All the KB elements were already in place, from the giddily boosted kickflip off the LA street bump and quietly brutal gap to backside smith grind to the afterparty-ready rollaways and deep-impact knee drops on the noseblunt and backside lipslide. There was enough range in here with the deep end airs, foot plants and body varial that yung KB could’ve theoretically gone in any of a number of directions — Nike SB contest ATV, Scandinavian-directed cobble surfer, or the current seven-day weekender.

No Time For Slipping

June 6, 2021

Years ago, before all our troubles and sadness, demonic possession was ‘buzzworthy’ and a hot topic. From time to time, shivers and consternations would be raised high by satanic board graphics, unholy amusement part field trips and unlucky shoe numbers. In those easier and younger times, much could be chalked up to youthful irascibilities and in-good-fun nose-thumbing. At times, though, things veered darker and weird, most famously in 2012 when a published Lucas Puig sequence featured the freshly striped-up Frenchman switch hardflip backside tailsliding with a water bottle in hand, immediately kindling frights that one of the most promising, ascendant talents of the time had been supernaturally captured by the long-faded spirit of Chris Lambert’s professional career, out for power and vengeance.

Ghostologists and statistical occultists never delivered conclusive proof either way. Yet as so often is the case in the spirit world, unintentional consequences followed. Clutched between the sweaty and griptape-calloused fingers of ams, pros and various bros, water bottles became commonplace, the hand towel occasionally was revived by SAD’s spiritual descendants, and kickflips with VX in hand became a way to flex on the rapidly grizzling GoPro generation. Elevating the discipline in 2017, Philadelphia ledge maestro Dylan Sourbeer barreled through Muni with a t-shirt in hand; in a much-replayed DC spot bumpering Thrashermagazine.com uploads, the Macba block was kickflipped while grasping a second board. Most infamously of all, career regulator Bob LaSalle in the Dime Video dominated both ledges and a gap while a handling a loaded pistol.

Now, everyone is older. Grant Taylor, onetime taciturn malcontent, is a family man, chatting amiably with Thrasher about his recent Los Angeles migration, a two-kids-and-a-dog realm of avocado toast and crossover hybrids. “I like that feeling of just getting lost,” he muses to celebrity photog Atiba Jefferson in Thrasher. “And that’s how you end up finding new parks, playgrounds or places to go. All the food, too. My wife and I love trying new things and eating out or getting take-out now because of COVID, so that’s always fun.” The global pandemic emptied SoCal’s streets and back-routes in time for Grant Taylor to trade in the bowls and Slayer for his first extended dip into the handrails, hubbas and ledges in some time; now, winding down Nike SB(?)’s ‘Constant,’ he is as natural on the alleyway steeps as any GX’er and young enough still to tangle with a bull-ride backside 50-50 and the gap out to backside lipslide.

Grant Taylor’s West Coast adulting bleeds through midway into the part after he carves backside up an asphalt blob and spins a frontside 360 wallride thing that brings around his left hand, clutching what appears to be either a formidable banana or a Salinas-fresh organic zucchini straight out the farmers’ market. Draped in Bob Seger’s ‘Still the Same’ — the bittersweet old-head’s answer to the Virginia Slims-ready bop of Orleans’ ‘Still the One’ — it is a yellow flashing signal, at once a requiem for misspent youth shrinking in the rear view, the promise of high-fiber and low-guilt sustenance ahead, and the ever-present risk of slipping out if one’s guard falls too far.

With the wellness trend now claiming item-in-hand clip-getting, must we brace for a backlash that puts triple-decker burgers, bottom-shelf vodka bottles or, for optimal photo/video incentives, energy beverage tall cans in the palms of the next generation? Could a rejection of big boy/loose fit denim usher in a return of Ali Boulala-ready blouses and vests that call for knives, perhaps even clamped between the teeth? With street grabs thankfully out of fashion*, are dudes’ hands subconsciously searching for something to hold? Could wider adoption of bananas, zucchinis, carrots, cucumbers and other similarly-shaped produce help to turn the tide against safety hands, fairly maligned?

*with the exception of the melon grab

Skaters On IG Staring Into The Distance And Thinking About Stuff

May 29, 2021

‘Appreciate Your Muskas’

May 22, 2021

“There’ll never be another Muska,” the old man said again, louder this time. 

His tone made it sound like some prewritten remembrance posted too early by some errant algorithm, it wasn’t, and the man understood this. He cleared his throat. “Not like he’s gone, I mean. You know?” 

The kids looked away. Neither really had looked at him in the first place, only half acknowledging his advance on the park’s chain-link perimeter, then hooking in his fingers, scanning back and forth and bobbing his head if some trick looked close. One stepped onto his board and began heelflipping.

He said a few times he used to skate and there was no reason not to believe him. Squinting you could imagine a chin under the salt-and-pepper beard, the gray wisps black under the lightly sweat-ringed hat, embroidered with a throwback baseball team logo. Probably there was a tattoo somewhere.

“He’s not gone, obviously.” The sun was low and the old man didn’t look at the two kids as he blinked. “He’s still out there obviously, and shit, he’s still got it. You saw this right?” He fumbled with a phone, pushing his fingers across it this way and that, murmuring about crooked grinds and parking lots and inspirational quotes, the ones that left him quietly embarrassed when he thought of them and they felt weighty and meaningful. 

One of the kids glanced at the screen the man held out, nodded and looked away again. The other heelflipped. 

“I’m talking more about appreciating. You know. When he was doing all that stuff, in his prime, ‘The Muska’ and Shorty’s, we all thought he was corny.” The phone jammed back between denim folds and the fingers hooked once more into the fence. “He was, for sure, in a way. You know, the rap album, his boombox all the time, and then he wore these scarves… you know, he would’ve been great with no gimmicks, is what I’m saying. I mean, look at the TSA video. T-shirt and jeans, pretty much. You know?”

There was a lengthy pause and the man decided to endure it some, swigging from his iced tea, a tall can. 

“We were all up on a high horse about it kind of, and basically missed out on appreciating him in his prime, his prime, is what I mean. You know?” He didn’t look at the kids. “Should’ve really embraced it like, this dude is going crazy right now. Kind of hard to explain. People took stuff super serious then, sort of.” 

The one kid nodded again, still looking away from the man. 

“It’s like, appreciate what’s in front of you. This dude, then, he was a legend in the making. With somebody like Reynolds, or Rowley, you know, that was easy, it was clear, there wasn’t all the rock star stuff, but man, you know? Muska was gnarly. We knew it, you know, we watched the videos and everything, I just mean, we didn’t really appreciate what he was doing, at the time. And in a way you kind of miss out. Or we did.”

Two long blares of a minivan horn, and his fingers released the chain link. It shook and the man straightened. 

“So you know, think about it. Who are your Muskas? KB? Nyjah? Anyway.” He reached for his phone but took his hand back out of his pocket and half turned away. “Make sure you see them, appreciate them. You know? That’s all I mean.” 

The horn blared again and the man was gone. The kids took out their phones, running their thumbs from bottom to top, over and over.

Sustainability Of The Fittest

May 9, 2021

In their 2001 feature movie debut ‘Choices The Movie,’ the Oscar-winning Hypnotize Minds camp unspool the tale of Pancho, a young parolee back on the streets after a prison bid, struggling to hold to the straight and narrow as fast money and old friends dangle temptations around every Memphis street corner. Lauded for Project Pat’s turn as a dark-hearted crime lord who seems to have a second, perhaps surgically implanted heart of gold, as well as its exquisitely detailed underwater sequences, ‘Choices’ was a commercial and critical smash that laid Triple Six’s winding and occasionally profane path to American Film Academy immortality. It also imparted a lesson as old as time, but as hard to learn as the names of the forgotten inverts: ignore your true nature at your own peril.

Just in time for optitudinal Earth Day hashtag circulation, Dwindle Distrobution last month blessed hardgood purchasors with decks made from a sustainably produced adhesive, designed to ease board production’s environmental footprint into something approaching a Vans Era, versus its more traditional Chet IV silhouette. Dwindle’s proprietary ‘Super Sap resin’ is derived from lumberyard byproducts of some description, with 21 boards’ worth enough to offset 10 cross-country highway miles driven in Steve Rocco’s jeep.

It is at once a political masterstroke, placing Dwindle in prime position for any rollersport-eligible federal subsidies to flow from the White House’s 10-year greenhouse gas push. It also is a marketing chess maneuver, stealing a march on rival Habitat, which has redirected its R&D dollars away from bamboo plies and toward licensing deals with television production houses and federal agencies.

Time will render its judgment on the commercial wisdom of pitching eco-friendly innovations to a consumer base that has heartily rejected any technological tiptoes away from the seven-ply maple stick, or the fiscal soundness of Dwindle’s guarantee against the sustainable sap’s ‘breakage.’ Of course, Dwindle and all others involved may be courting a deeper doom. Whereas the board biz has made environmental strides — its fragmentation and subsequent profitability collapse has meant swapping road-trip jet fuel for unleaded, and trading in continent-hopping filming expeditions for one-spot vids like Challers’ enjoyable Van Nuys City Hall meditation — the inconvenient truth may be that skateboarding and the natural world fundamentally stand at odds.

None other than Rocco, who issued a Kinkos-quality call to arms in favor of killing all marine mammals, saw the ugly truth of the thing, urging the skateboard industry to embrace its core identity as the planet’s foe and dominator, while promoting in videos the wanton focusing of decks that served to line the World coffers. This soot-darkened vision portrays skateboarding’s true nature as a Onceler-style devourer of forests, resting atop processed petroleum, turning upon Isengard-ready furnaces and forges that melt the planet’s iron veins into shapes of our own wanton choosing.

Are the 85 servings of water saved with each syrupy gallon of Dwindle’s Super Sap resin offset by the additional acres of farmland and metric tons of irrigation water needed to raise the cotton required to meet consumer demand for denim-hungry ‘Big Boy Pants,’ possibly the ‘Thneed’ of the 2020s? Will more nameplate pros follow Stevie Williams’ lead and ditch print photos and mags in favor of the tree-friendly NFT? As governmental carbon sequestration policies transform hardwood forests into emissions sinks, will the industry at last be forced to migrate toward Lib Tech’s fiberglass-ply decks?

Revenge Of The Credits Section

April 11, 2021

Long before the Snapchat-aping IG story, long before the raw files and rough cuts, even further back before the DVD ‘bonus’ menu selection, there was the after-credits section. In those analog days of yore, meat was hunted on the hoof, and pioneers of the range raised sumptuous crops from sheer rock surfaces. At the time, what little skating could be filmed between chores and fighting for survival was mostly siloed: intro, parts, demo section, friends section, slam section, credits. The chaotic and pulsating smorgasbord that often followed — alternate angles, lenses getting smoked, assorted ‘hinjinx’ — were, beyond print mag interviews, among the few unscripted windows into the wild and wooly world inhabited by top-ranked pros and ams of the time, manna to the chattering class then reliant on telegraph beeps and bloops to rumour-monger and psychoanalyze industry players.

But the credits section’s eulogy was written years ago. Any self-respecting death-clock keeper had already been marking time, one eye on the sunset for physical media in this streamy phone dimension, another observing visual media consumers’ shriveling attention spans, and a third on the growing thrum of daily content churn. And by the mid-2010s the credits section sat overripe, and ready to burst.

Like any self-respecting skate trend, it had taken root, been heavily adopted and lustily beaten into the ground for years afterward. H-Street and Plan B impresario Mike Ternasky, a prime architect of the modern video format, set the trajectory three decades ago, placing a generous 8-minute credits/et cetera section at the end of the the 58-minute ‘Questionable’, expanding to a 14-minute, four-song runtime for the credits and everything after in the 52-minute ‘Virtual Reality’ a year later. The comparatively slimmer ‘Second Hand Smoke’ still exhibited a 9-minute credit section, taking up more than a quarter of the total runtime.

Hence it became known: Big videos merited big credits. The Transworld videos under Ty Evans’ steerage knew it, dedicating 10 minutes of the 48-minute ‘Feedback’ to road trip detritus and assorted potpourri. ‘The Reason’ went further with an 18-minute credit section padding out a 65-minute tape, and even as TWS’ video rosters narrowed to a half-dozen dudes or so, the footage spooled out as the credits rolled: 11 minutes in the 36-minute ‘Sight Unseen’, 13 minutes in the 46-minute ‘Free Yr Mind’, most tellingly 15 minutes in the 44-minute legacy burnisher ‘Anthology’. Other era setpieces ‘Menikmati’ and ‘Sorry’ both boasted credits sections running 10 minutes or longer. Ty Evans would ply his generosity to other Crailtap productions, including 14 minutes’ worth in the hour-and-a-halfer ‘Fully Flared’, a generous 10 minutes for Super Champion Fun Zone (plus 32 minutes of DVD bonus material), and in perhaps the most ultimate credit-section flex of all, 10 minutes’ worth in the 26-minute Harsh Euro Barge. Another peak came in 2001, when 19 minutes of credits and mumbo-jumbo followed the 17-minute PJ Ladd’s Wonderful, Horrible Life’, though part of that was another video part’s worth of PJ Ladd footage.

In an era in which filmers but not skaters are namechecked in 10-minute web edits and lineups are relegated to Youtube descriptions, the credits section seems not only buried, but buried beneath the foundation of a building that collapses and afterwards is covered over by an avalanche or lava flow, depending on the biome and/or time of year. Now comes Quasi, the most consistent scroungers of Rust Belt decay this side of the ‘Grains’ franchise, eyes-dilated dredgers of analog-era counterculture, this week uploading to the people the 10K ‘Grand Prairie.’ Oriented around Dane Barker’s distortion-pedal flick and Justin Henry’s professional-grade grace and thundering form — witness the nollie nosegrind — the vid stews post-‘Alright’ Gilbert Crockett manuals and too-rare Jake Johnson tricks with Bobby De Keyzer’s skyscraper block circuits and a solid slug of Dick Rizzo channelling Puleo and Gall among Jersey’s least obtuse brick angles.

Over and done with in 20 minutes, the credits briefly roll and immediately spill into a half-hour drift through alternate angles, pulsating autograph sessions, an ongoing cat-and-mouse game involving Tum Yetoans on tour, a slice of Taco Bell drive-thru life, casting stones at glass bottles, several interludes involving pickup truck beds, slams, lurkers, gas stations, fire, rural pathos, frisbee sessions, blunt passing, doodling and various others. Years now removed from regular and heavy doses of post-credits antics and outtakes, the effect upon the viewer is one of shock and disorientation. Is this the real video? What is a video? Must Quasi, deploying its 30-minute credit section, be recognized as the medium’s new and perhaps final master?

Is the credit section ‘back’ or is this the last, massive nail of tribute to seal its casket forevermore? Did those dudes go with the lesser of the two angles for some of these tricks on purpose, like how putting Guy Mariano’s switch frontside shove-it k-grind in the ‘Mouse’ credits helped seal the ‘official’ part’s classic status? How come Alien never made a video with alternate-colored magnetic tape? Could Quasi, probably better right now than any other production house as far as surfacing unrinsed music supervisory choices, run a respectable consulting business for video makers cursed with basic song instincts?