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


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


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


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


“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


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?

Rip Grip

August 14, 2016


Dear Readers: Remember the reader who was having an argument with his bro about the proper way to carry his board? He was certain the right way was with the trucks and wheels facing inward, toward his waist. His bro insisted the trucks and wheels should face away from the body. Boil the Ocean sided with his bro for reasons elaborated upon below. The letter nearly didn’t get printed because it seemed so inconsequential. Well, that couldn’t have been more mistaken.

In short order this blogging internet Web site page was bombarded with letters from the four corners — including Samoa, Guadalajara, Athens and Mexico City. You’d have had no idea so many people cared about the ‘right’ way to carry your board. Here’s a sampling of how passions were stirred:

Dear Boilie: Obviously, you come from a wealthy background. The chief reason for carrying your board ‘griptape out’ is to avoid shredding one’s t-shirt, belt, limited edition swishy jacket, and various other undergarments to pieces on the griptape. Maybe this isn’t an issue for ‘silver spooners’ such as yourself — especially in a day when all your favorite ‘small’ board brands float themselves on sales of $35 t-shirts — but the rest of us have to think a little harder. Maybe you should try the same in your next column!
Yours sincerely, Crown Connect

Dear Boilie: Nice try fam. The way to carry your skateboard is under your feet. Get killed.

Dear Boilie: u fucked up again lol no surprise smh but as usual it took you about 2000 words and a bunch of trips to Thesaurus.com i bet haha. hate if u want but actually i mall grab haha no shame in my Game. think about it trucks are designed to fit your hand and u never know when u might have to Swing on some body!!! u wont catch me slippin …. or reading ur stupid ass sight smdh

Dear Boilie: Numerous studies have demonstrated that carrying your board griptape side in throws off the Earth’s rotation and incrementally slows its spin. A more slowly spinning Earth relaxes its gravitational pull on the Moon, letting it slip further and further away. Eventually we’ll lose our Moon, fucking up the tides and crippling natural surf spots. Just another example of your grotesque and bizarre anti-surfing agenda. Thanks a lot asshole.
-Haole Hater

Dear Boilie: I’m actually with you on this one, but for a completely different reason. Since the wheels and bottom of my board sometimes become wet from the oceans of blood that I push through every day, I prefer to carry my board graphics-side out. May the darkness guide you.
-Dan Watson

Dear Boilie: You are right about the way to carry a skateboard and for a very good reason. The skateboard, when cradled in the fingers, pivots around the line of support between the knuckles and the opposite edge of the board; the weight of the trucks and wheels, attached to the *bottom* of the skateboard under traditional configurations, creates imbalance. When carrying the skateboard with the griptape side facing away from the carrier, that imbalance forces the skateboard to “lean” against the carrier’s torso, which can be a source of annoyance, discomfort and any number of dirty streaks across otherwise crisp white Ts. To compensate and hold it straight, the carrier will have to exert more force with his or her fingers and hand. When carried griptape side in, however, the board’s “lean” goes against the interior of the carrier’s forearm, which moves in tandem with the skateboard, leading to less uncomfortable motion and rubbing for both parties. When properly balanced, this method also minimizes any griptape rub against the carrier’s torso and leaves the carrier’s arm freer to move, making it easier to climb stairs, shift grip or run from police.
Your Friendly Physics Prof

Lords of Tha Rings, The Magic Castle, and The Magician’s Secret

August 7, 2016


This week skateboard wheel magnates, action sport coaches and boardshort flame embroidiers linked hands to rejoice and toast a magnum of OE Ice 800 to Zeus, Hera and various lesser Greek deities who first copyrighted the Olympic Games and then agreed to various franchise rights that thereby bound mortals in commerce and athletic competition across the centuries. Just as an ashen altar hosted numerous animals sacrificed in the name of the dashing god of thunder and all skies, so too does skateboarding now ready its own fatted goats and oxen to sate a decades-long lust for Olympic golden doubloons, alongside hard- and softgoods vendors who have selflessly given of themselves for over a decade. These worthies reluctantly but heroically steered skateboarding into the blingy embrace of roller-hockey regulators and the International Olympic Consortium, a group of straight-up bros focused on creating the greatest sports entertainment knowed among the known universe.

Time was, a flabby oxen and a lunar cycle’s worth of fervent prayers to Poseidon, Hades or any number of other supernatural figures could get your javelin onto the podium, if you catch the drift. Nowadays, bovine growth hormone and illicit blood transfusions have angered the gods and transformed Mount Olympus into a $12 billion cesspool ruled by suspect windsurfers. Now, for the first time, skateboarders will prostrate themselves before these mighty gods and their painful thunderbolts with an official nod for the 2020 competitions in Japan, promising less actual prize money than at Tampa Pro but carrying a strict rules regimen functioning as a sort of ‘Infinite Jest’-length footnote to the 10 Commandments, except in Greek and prayed over by an international battery of lawyers.

But now is not the time to try and apply valuations to a cultural transaction in which participating skateboarders will be held to globally regulated anti-drug lifestyles, dress themselves in national sponsors’ chosen ensembles and ensure that all their relevant Instagram posts carry appropriate hashtags so as to comport with requirements of advertisers and broadcasters that have plunked down for the rights to control all Mt. Olympus-related communications:

The International Olympic Committee may not be able to stop doping, but it will be damned if it will let athletes or the companies sponsoring them tweet terms such as “2016,” “Rio,” “Medal,” “Games,” “Summer” or “Games” if the mention doesn’t benefit an official Olympics business partner.

If the context of “Rio de Janeiro,” “Effort,” “Performance” “Challenge” or “Victory” mentions on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram tie unauthorized “Sponsors” and “Olympians” they support to the “Olympics,” the IOC will intercede.

In return for all this, there are limited efforts and vague aspirations for skateboarding not be portrayed foolishly or in a wack fashion before a worldwide audience sought by advertisers, organizations erected to throw sporting events, and companies peddling skateboard-related goods, but few others. Vert vet Neal Hendrix, who has bushwhacked through a certain amount of bureaucratic underbrush on this long, strange Olympic expedition, offers a demo of sorts in Kevin Wilkins’ recent interview, gently replacing his ‘fucks’ with basic cable-friendly ‘Fs’ and ‘freakins.’ Gary Ream, whose background in gymnastics and BMX hospitality helped create the Woodward Skateboarding Camp chain, says not to sweat stuff like uniforms and other stuff because it’s like four years away. As for Tony Hawk’s famed observation that the Olympics needs skateboarding more than the other way around?

“Come on—skateboarding is all about commercial. It’s all about sponsorship. Look how many skateboard companies… It’s cool. It’s free enterprise. It’s OK. If somebody makes out a little bit more than skateboarding does, so be it.”

Now, with committees of icon advisors, international event coordinators and women toiling under the observation of the Roller Sports Federation to shape a 2020 Olympic skateboard event, the time is upon us to turn away from the bawdy and blaring spectacle of Rio, weaponized Zika mosquitoes and toxic sludge. Now is the hour for anthem humming and reflecting upon the values, truths and yes, occasional heathen sacrifices, that brought skateboarding to this hallowed juncture. Via the KOTR Thrasher:

How did you learn to hypnotize chickens?
Jason Jessee: It’s a talent you’re born with but you may not realize it until your best friend’s dad tells you how to do it. My homie Manuel Hernandez’s dad is a Watsonville legend, so I learned it from him. You just have to be really sure of yourself and hopefully you have a girlfriend and everything’s cool with that. Hopefully you have the relationship side handled. You go in there with a solid relationship and you attack them. You don’t even really touch them. You don’t squeeze them or anything. You’re just really gentle with them but you’re not gentle mentally.

Are they like pit bulls in that they can sense fear?
Yeah. They’ll wait until you’re off guard and they’ll attack you from behind — attack your balls and cheeks. They’re just hungry. They can’t help it! They’re just hungry all the time. So you’ve gotta be gentle with them but mentally fierce. You don’t want your mind to wander. You don’t want to be thinking about other problems.

So what about the part where you swirl your finger in their eyes and make them play dead?
That’s a magician’s secret. That’s only known to the brothers of the Magic Castle. I can’t really talk about it. You want to swirl your finger in their eyes. You don’t really want to talk about it, though.

Okay. Sorry. And then after he was hypnotized, putting him on the back of the stuffed dead rooster, that was just to shame him, right?
Exactly. Let him know he’s the lowest man in the barnyard.

Choices 3: Judgment Day

July 30, 2016


Thirty-eight years ago to the day, Memphis rap posse Three 6 Mafia uncannily predicted the brassiness and unbridled vamping of this 2016 US political election season in the motion picture release ‘Choices 2,’ an airy farce with a rhetorical title referencing how two people compete to be the ‘People’s Choice’ and win the ‘People’s Choice Award,’ also knowed as the US presidency. Over time the prize has gone to saxophonists, cowboy actors and even enjoyors of post-retirement Jay-Z songs, but many of the heartiest feats of achievement that shall define the 2016 contest still lie ahead.

Several miles below sea level, the deep-pocketed forces steering the skateboarding industry from an underwater base confront their own conundrum. Josh Kalis, he of the nigh-spotless twenty-plus year career, channeled the syrupy spirits of DJ Paul and Juicy J to record his own ‘Choices,’ a satirical short film that alternately bemoans and bellylaughs at the long-armed reach of international sporting equipment companies into skate shops, sweeping less powerful companies’ shoes from shelves and leaving a paucity of options for the toecap-chewing hardflipper.

It can be no coincidence that the messenger for this unhappy fable is Josh Kalis, whose reintroduction of the ‘Kalis Lite’ to a generation of Love Park-fetishizing saboteurs comes as the most important geopolitical shoe event of the year. Despite its hikey sole and lack of air bag, the ‘Lite/LTE’ is the most credible-yet throwback to the puffy shoe era*, boosted by a particularly East Coast persuasion of nostalgia arising out of #skateshoewars and Philadelphia spot paleontology. The Kalis Lites, the most vital release from DC in years, also comes as sporting apparel makers Nike and Adidas try ever so softly to nudge skaters’ sweatstained wallets further ajar, coaxing dollaridoos toward higher-tech footwears that command fatter margins and further cement the big, swinging corporation as the dominant force in skate shoedom, widening the gap between their space-age materials and those lesser peddlers of vulcanized suede.

But a good decade into this slim-shoe era, as the Janoski continues to run roughshod over besocked $150 Kostons and rivals’ new pro models retain slender, suedey templates, the tech shoe increasingly threatens to fall back into its typecast role as a periodic fad. The rubbered-out Airwalks and Etnies briefly ushered in the 90s before Jason Lee and Jim swept the table clear for a generation of grunge rockers, conscious MCs and others to wallow, before DC began slowly turning up the tech with the Boxer and the newly-reissued Syntax. The oft-maligned D3, also recently reissued, arguably represented the apex/nadir of this period, before Nike’s Dunk fanned the Luddite spark struck by Tom Penny’s Accel-boosting Menikmati part, and within a few years the Half Cab ascended to the throne. Es, which never fully relinquished its mantle of Schemes and Logics, entered the cryogenic chamber as the vulcanized sole trampled all comers.

Are the recent techy stabs a sign that the tide finally is turning away from simplicity or just further fodder to an every-ten-years-tech-shoe fad? Could a longterm tech-shoe revival help propel Quiksilver into a new glory age of booze and boardshorts? Is independent shoe company booster Josh Kalis making a bigger and broader design statement when he talks about ‘choices’? Will the fact that Oscar-winners DJ Paul and Juicy J have one up on Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin ever truly sink in with the general public?

*Which perhaps not coincidentally overlapped with the Puff Daddy era

Cower and Kneel Before the $9 Billion Digital Skatestopper

July 13, 2016


For centuries, man schemed and toiled to turn technology to his advantage, from the spearing and roasting of the first woolly mammoth to mass-producing plastic woolly mammoth baubles for personal fun to resurrecting the woolly mammoth via cloning systems. Skateboarders are no different, if one simply swaps out the woolly mammoth for a shambling, hairy metaphor that posits hammers, enders and assorted NBDs, and quick-dry cement, sawzalls, pinned spots, Iphone-ready death lenses and the urethane wheel in place of wooden spears and genome-sequencing software.

Yet just as Russian-made woolly mammoth clones inevitably will turn against their creators* and run rampant across textile mills and used-car lots, technology has been turned into an enemy of skating. The telephone, developed by Alexander Graham Bell to relay stock-market quotations and pizza instructions, was transformed into a high-speed snitching device shortly after the first pools were barged. The powers of metallurgy, honed by the dwarves in the mines of Moria, were harnessed by demonic forces to forge skatestoppers. In the same spirit, skateboarders have fought back.

Now comes a new threat, lurking within the smartphones of children, that promises strife, subjugation and certain doom: the mobile reality role-playing fantasy, Pokemon Go. The premise involves capturing and conscripting fantastical, suitcase-sized creatures and pitting them against one another in battle for the pure glory of it. These cartoonish organisms must be detected by physically traveling to physical world locations where the next step is to stand around swiping upon the telephone screen. There are reasons aplenty to suspect that Pokemon Go is only part of a larger, sickening “game within a game” that may murderously ape the 1990s platformer hit “Lemmings”**.

But the Pokemon game’s demented and unholy true purpose has slowly emerged as sharp-minded watchers began observing the game herding players toward famed skatespots (see above), where their loiterly meanderings provide a skatestopper more effective than a hundred curled metal flanges. Yet the plot runs deeper and hoarier still, given the apparent targeting of sanctioned skateparks as destinations for sheepish players to gather, oblivious with their mass, and obstaclize. Moneyed interests of the world have responded, valuing the Pokemon application to the tune of the Bahamas’ economy.

Could animated, bouncing rabbitoids and birds do what generations of business owners, security guards and disapproving moms have failed at, and erase skateboarding from this mortal coil forevermore? Could Street League and X-Game courses, if not overrun by phone-staring drifters, yet be rendered obsolete if no one looks up from their screen to pump a fist or holler at a 9.0 run? Is Jeremy Klein, with his extensive anime knowledge, disregard for social mores, and increasingly professorial look what with the spectacles, be skateboarding’s only hope to somehow infiltrate the Pokemon Go machinery and destroy it from within?

*As well as the band Kreator most likely
**SNES version soundtrack for all-time top 10