Guy Mariano, Nike Inc. Link to Provide Manna for Listicle Authors Hoping to Round Out a ‘Top 10 Heaviest Roll-Aways Ever Filmed’

November 20, 2015


Indelible tricks can launch careers, shake the streets and leave marks lasting decades. Rarer are tricks that work the other way, taking their weight from years of struggle, a hallowed spot or some other type of heavy backstory. Guy Mariano’s funeral-garbed ride out of the Crailtap camp and into the arms of Nike approaches a ‘Fully Flared’ level combo of mixed feelings for aged viewers and, one assumes, Guy Mariano himself. How now to adjust the 1990s Doomsday Clock?

Odd Couple Therapy

November 14, 2015


Sun Tzu, the famous tactician for whom our shiny star and exotic animal exhibits now are named, defined total victory not as the end of any battle or campaign or war but rather when one’s opponent is paying hefty and recurring fees to operate a pancake franchise in his former territory, and comping the victor all premium toppings. This battleground truism rings as accurately now as it ever did in the comparatively topping-poor days of Mr Tzu, and in particular regarding the security guard, that grimacing, oft-charred coyote to skateboarding’s trim and turnt up roadrunner.

As skating’s profile has expanded and been deemed more lucrative by television channels, beverage conglomerates and concerned parents, the by-definition fraught and frosty security guard/skater dynamic has mutated its way through several forms and appendage assortments. Once squarely classified as paid haters indulging jock-minded power trips, the security guard has been alternately corrupted, co-opted and caricatured as the relationship’s balance of power has skidded and slid toward skateboarders, who today wield an an increasingly outsized cultural cudgel and cheap video recording equipments.

Travel back, if you would, to 2003, when skaterboarders in the employ of Emerica shoes took some of the early, halting steps toward sidelining security guards’ stature and dignity by filming the bribery of one in pursuit of jubble-set glory, the stairs’ blurry-faced would-be defender capitulating with the dangling of a $100 bill and a warbly ‘okay.’ That same year Rob Dyrdek did the concept one better, hiring his own security guard and cementing the dollar’s supremacy over the once hallowed security guard code. For a generation of stretch denim-purchasing yungsters the precedent was set; in subsequent Baker productions, Jim Greco would go on to good naturedly tussle with security guards and play at parlor-trick hypnosis for laughs, while elsewhere security went cheerfully ignored, or worse, reduced to asking politely.

Where does all this leave the rent-a-cop as 2015 staggers out? No longer threats and by now passe to debate, they seem to have been relegated to moving obstacles for those confident and daring enough to put a trick in their face, such as LRG nollie inward heelflip blaster Miles Silvas, or several, as the GX1000 consortium recently demonstrated in Japan. Ty Evans’ slo-mo drone ballet ‘We Are Blood’ positioned security as worthy if ineffectual water-fight opponents, while the prospect of fleeting Vine fame inspires some in the profession to abandon their fraternal code and defect.

Yet as security guards’ total defeat appears close at hand, one may ponder a certain pocket of emptiness in skating’s collective soul*, upon which a phantom finger may be hard to place. Bart Simpson, that 1990s skate standard-bearer and this decade a regular feature upon Justin Figuoera’s Ebay vintage apparel purchases, once complained of a similarly eerie malaise upon triumphing over his own authority dispenser, Principle Skinner:

BS: It’s weird, Lise. I miss having Skinner as a friend, but I miss him even more as an enemy.

LS: I think you need Skinner, Bart. Everybody needs a nemesis. Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Moriarty, Mountain Dew has its Mellow Yellow, even Maggie has that baby with the one eyebrow.

Has skating, imbued with greater cultural clout and youthful impunity, at this point effectively shaved the one eyebrow of the world’s rent-a-cops? If Mello Yello were pulled from the marketplace, would Paul Rodriguez’s tricks bubble with the same sweet zest? Will skating and security guarding only truly set aside their differences and come to understand and respect one another after they are both framed in a drug deal gone bad and jailed among the many bloodthirsty criminals they helped put away, forced to rely upon their wits, brawn and one other to break free, clear their names and reclaim their badges?

*could also refer to gaps in peoples’ Collective Soul album collections

Aggravated Breed

November 7, 2015


Justin Brock’s part in Nike’s 2009 all-am ‘Debacle’ six years later remains rightly heralded as a triumph of chunky wallrides and massive frontside bigspins, yet its underlying theme of hard labor as a unifying force, if not a humanizing one, remains dusty and obscured like a dust-covered, obscure book somewhere. Bankrolled by the biggest employer in skating and soundtracked not coincidentally to blue-collar bards Skid Row’s number one platinum single ‘Slave to the Grind,’ Justin Brock meditated upon themes of toil and control, driving home the point by sporting spectacles that reflected the drudgery of the assembly-line worker, whose dreams of becoming Montana’s poet laureate or a champ bass angler are rendered wholly unrecognizable by smeary, sweat-fogged safety goggles.

Now it is nearly 2016*, the fall breeze bears whiffs of a fresh Nike video release, and pros are considering their futures. Haves increasingly are separated out from have-nots: Witness the footage largesse of Nyjah Huston, allegedly on the cusp of his own Nike payday, releasing a video section in accordance with various contractual niceties rather than any particular team effort, only to slide off the Thrasher front page in a matter of days. Chris Joslin, whose skills on the gaps left him somehow overdue for a professional nod only about a year after manifesting on mobile screens, achieved his own signature board after heading to the Eastern Hemisphere to film a part in under two weeks, a future seemingly assured so long as his ligaments stay game. Elsewhere the industry’s economic contraction ensures that the rich tradition of pros and would-be pros with day jobs continues, nodded to recently by Aaron Herrington and, in the TWS issue sporting his skyscraper backside tailslide on the cover, Jon Nguyen:

TWS: Do you drive Uber cars to supplement your income too? How is that?
JN: Yeah, I do. It’s fine. It’s work. It’s relatively easy. If you don’t mind driving, it’s not a big deal. It’s kind of cool because I can just do it whenever I need to. If I’m really hurting for money, I can just push it and work like a week straight too.

How does it work? You’re just in the system and if you want to give rides, you clock in?
You sign up to be a driver and then you just turn the app on and set it to driver mode when you want to work and you’re ready to go. You get paid weekly; it goes straight to your bank account. They take like 25 percent or something, but it’s so convenient. You don’t have a boss and then if I’m going on a trip, I can just not work for a couple of weeks. They’re just trying to make money, so they don’t give a shit about you. But I’m just trying to make money too, so I don’t give a shit about them.

Are those would-be careerists that lack any fiscal lifelines dangled by a diversified sporting goods merchant, soda company or televised competition circuit boxing themselves out of any path toward a secure and comfortable life beyond the world’s urine-soaked hubbas, bondo’d handrail approaches and urethane-scarred walls? According to 360 flip smith grind popularizer and onetime beanie magnate Josiah Gatlyn the answer is a tantalizing ‘maybe,’ as per a widely-circulated YouToob comment that dared to call into question skating’s long-held subcultural maxim which positions the ‘office job’ somewhere toward the bottom of Dante’s flamey underworldly rings, probably around ‘anger’ and ‘heresy.’ Josiah Gatlyn goes on to suggest such verboten concepts as pursuing education and recommends cutting any street dreams with a healthy splash of pragmatism:

The average career only lasts around 5-10 years tops, and I’m pretty sure there’s only been about 10-20 professionals (at the very most, I feel like there are way less) out of thousands who have even gotten close to making enough money that they wouldn’t have to worry about getting a career job after their career was over. I have no idea why people assume that professional skateboarders make so much money. That’s absolutely not true. Basically, every pro will eventually be spit out into the real world. That process only gets harder and harder the older you get. From age 20 – 25 are the most important years of your entire life and regardless if you’re a skateboarder or not, if you do not figure out what career path you’re going to take, you’re going to struggle pretty hard.

The skateboard business, awash with young souls eager to quit high school and skate for boards, beers, airfare, hotel rooms and per diem, seemed in no mood for Josiah Gatlyn’s broadsides, and an unlikely figure emerged to rebut them — Sierra Fellers, whose own career seemed on the wane after Foundation dropped him, but who maintains with the Ramshakle company. Sierra Fellers’ response Ride Channel article wonders whether Josiah Gatlyn is making excuses for not wanting a pro career badly enough to make whatever steep sacrifices may be required, and taking the ‘easy way out’ by returning to the ‘real world.’

Recently I’ve asked a lot of people about what happened to him and what he was doing, and everyone I’ve talked to said that he was bitter at the skate industry and gave up to be a designer. Which, sadly, after reading the YouTube comment that’s been circulating, seems to be true.

When you do what you’re truly passionate about, it’s usually so much harder and more work than anything else. It would have been a lot easier for me to get a “normal job” and start working on my promotions. If anything, skateboarding has been the main source of education for me. All the traveling, skating, having a good time, and even the partying have taught me way more than I could have ever imagined to prepare me for the “real world.”

Could Sierra Fellers be correct? Speaking from experience, former Foundation 360 flipper and first-wave PissDrunxist Tony DaSilva recently described to Jenkem his own leisurely and mellow path back to the real world as being lined with plush comforts such as indoor pollution clouds, general societal disconnect and close proximity to hot, hot truckstop fellatio:

Many of us that step out of the skate industry after making a living at it are left over as society’s bottom feeders. We don’t have anything to offer. We don’t have a degree. We don’t write with proper grammar. We speak our own language.

I started realizing we’re all a part of the same day-to-day struggle. We’re all scrambling to figure out where the hell we’re going. And that through skateboarding, I had retained and gained a hell of a lot more life experience than most of the people I was getting to know. This was the factor that separated me from all of them, but it was becoming one of the pieces that now gave me more confidence.

It was skateboarding that gave me the tools that enabled me to transition into the “real world.” I couldn’t see it at the time though. The thing that I thought had kept me so sheltered and embedded in a niche culture, was ultimately what prepared me for what was next.

Is Sierra Fellers’ plight for street-dreaming dreamers to keep chasing those nocturnal transmissions a pure-hearted effort to talk the next generation’s Jake Johnsons and Paul Rodriguezes from tossing their skills and promises of video parts yet to come into that fetid toilet bowl that is the 9-5 lifestyle? Or is he carrying water for a secretive cabal of vampyric industry heads who require a steady supply of youthful aspiration and low-cost human tissue to power their mechanized operations, similar to the global baller robots profiled in the ‘Matrix’ movies? It’s often hard to tell with baller robots, and so these questions must be asked.

Sierra Fellers’ response to Josiah Gatlyn does regurgitate one of skating’s more timeworn tropes, which is that despite all the various injuries and indignities, skating as a career is a rich, fulfilling wonderland versus the vacuous, soul-corroding netherworld represented by the dreaded ‘office job.’ It can come off rather rich coming from the genetically and geographically gifted who are lucky enough to entertain the choice, and whereas skating’s far from the first sphere to hum the semi-sensical ‘do what you love’ mantra, it seems fair to wonder whether nurturing personal wish-fulfillment scenarios and squinting at longterm security through meager monthly minimums and ready-to-flip flow packages can persist as one’s third decade approaches.

Among the world’s ditchdiggers, insurance claim adjustors and adult cinema custodians are there solely embittered quitters to be found, who otherwise might have blessed the planet and achieved their dreams as opera singers, socialite-philosophers or addled weblog authors? What then of our ditches, insurance claims and adult cinema floors? As the skate biz constricts and veteran pros bat eyes at high-toned corporate sponsors in hopes of stretching their own careers a few more years, do the web mavens, graphic artists, logistics staff and talent managers ponder their own monetary sacrifices to continue under the industry’s independent division, versus buddying up to more corporate concerns? For their own good, should pros consider the maxim of Pontus Alv, who figured the optimum lifespan of a board company at about ten years, with regard to professional careers?

*Partially because the Mayan calendar flubbed the alleged 2012 apocalypse

Pazuzu 2: Necronomicon Boogaloo

October 31, 2015






Pic dump from recent mags raises the question as to how many of these make their way to mobile screens via enabled social media sharing apps, and whether getting your photo run in a legacy papyrus-related periodical ensures it will be viewed by fewer unique heads in all?

Been There All The Time

October 24, 2015


“Too hard,” was the beleaguered takeaway from jurists deliberating for three weeks the fates of legal executives who oversaw one of the law world’s most breathtaking collapses, that of the once high-flying Dewey & LeBouf LLP, sunk in 2012 and soon accused of cooking various books. Juggling upwards of 150 criminal counts, saturated in deeply technical testimony and confounded by the volcanic, phlegmatic and difficult to follow rants of one Uncle Donald, jurors tossed towels after finding themselves unable to agree on dozens of counts, in a situation similar to a spandexed rollerblader being handed a Nike-branded pen and pad so as to formulate precision Street League contest scores at a championship stop where the lowly ranked are shipped off to toil in gaol for unhappy decades.

Deck-consuming purchasers this week shall don blindfolds and ponder their own misbalanced scales as Alien Workshop unveils ‘Bunker Down,’ the resuscitated Ohio conspiracy-and-equipment merchant’s first formal video offering since resurfacing toward the beginning of the year. In its way it is a precedent-setting case — whereas half-hearted stabs have been made toward rebooting once-lively board concerns such as ATM Click and Vision, and companies such as World Industries, Toy Machine and Plan B have staged comebacks after replacing much of the companies’ prior rosters, AWS’s amateur-powered reincarnation represents the first attempt at a complete slate-wiping reset without letting its name first marinate in some nostalgic purgatory, or a box-checking effort toward team rebuilding so as to market bargain-bin products.

Sovereign Sect disciples reared on grainy images of rural blight and zoomed in shots of creepy crawlies have been heartened by now-daily photos and video clips on the Workshop’s Instagram portal that show Mike Hill much in command of the company’s signature visuals, ensconced in an abandoned nuclear research facility of some description, bought by Dyrdek. Absent hanging onto (M)other’s founding fathers, rebuilding the team from scratch was a plan far smarter than resetting with knowed pros or amateurs, lured from establishment sponsors and bearing their own baggage. Promising returns already are seen in Joey Guevara’s hilltop to alley marauding, Brandon Nguyen’s wall scaling and Frankie Spears’ handrail riffage, before Miguel Valle’s reliable lens, boring through lesser-chewed crust inside Detroit, upstate NY and other locales various. These dudes’ skating smacks of AWS to varying degrees, not far off the spectrum mapped by the company’s post-‘Mindfield’ additions, and time has validated many of the company’s prior pluckings of lil-known am talent, from Pappalardo and Wenning to Taylor and Johnson.

That grand and fickle arbitror, the marketplace, will judge whether this steamlined and refreshed Alien Workshop will remain a prowess player upon board walls and social media feeds for the years ahead, but its trajectory bears close observation — roughly 2200 miles to the southwest there have been ominous rumblings within the Crailtap camp, which already has seen three high profile departures and enough recent, billowy smoke around the prospective ship-jumpings of decades-deep Girl stalwarts such as Eric Koston and Guy Mariano so as to reasonably presume some type of fire. With the careers of other gen-one Crailtappers in their autumn season and the intentions of the Altamont cash-injectors toward lesser-loved hardgoods operations unknowed, it seems fair to ponder the future of another upstart turned industry pillar whose influence has receded like so many 90s-pro hairlines.

Is a wholesale reboot of Girl doable or desirable when vested owners such as Mike Carroll and Rick Howard are still capable of justifying their pro model products and Cory Kennedy, among Girl’s latest-annointed pros, appears in the SOTY mix? If Girl’s flow program were mined for such a baseline reset would Antonio Durao’s thundersome switch 360 flips provide air cover for any and all other newcomers? Was Plan B’s ‘Tru, B,’ bereft of all legacy professionals save the unsinkable Pat Duffy, actually a ‘Bunker Down’-style reset in all but name? Should the Alien Workshop have held the bagpipe hymn in reserve for their comeback release, or will the opening chords of BIG’s ‘You’re Nobody’ replace those of ‘Little Ethnic Song’?

Heated Seats And Pants With No Pleats

October 17, 2015


“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it,” grumbled the dark lord Sauron in a recent and grumbly voiceover advertising the new Star Wars movie. “The dark side, and the light.” The vibrant world of wookies and hard-partying ewoks again has fallen into strife and discord, lousy with massing storm troopers and crashed spaceships. It represents an extension of what is perhaps the nation’s best-known workplace drama, in which the rigors of toiling under the Emperor’s exacting standards caused Darth Vader to crack and fail to recoup the Empire’s lofty investment in the initial Death Star, then resign his position before construction on the second could complete.

Darth Vader, like so many other career professionals laboring under layers of blubbery bureaucracy, encountered distressors* that occasionally drove him to lash out at colleagues and competitors, employing telekinesis and a lazery sword in equal measure, often illegally. As hinted by the Star Warrior-baiting Santa Cruz decks of yesteryear, Darth Vader’s broiling frustrations may mirror those gripping the skateboard sphere in these, the autumn days of 2015.

Like an incredulous Death Star space welder handed a snorkel, a flathead screwdriver and an unconvincing clap on the shoulder, stakes and requirements for workaday professional bros seem to ratchet ever higher while the constraints of a turbulent global economy seem intent on culling the industry herd. Once high-flying board affairs like Alien Workshop, Zero and Girl are undergoing painful evolutions, while rumors swirl around the future of Dekline shoes and Adio has taken to advertising former team riders in its bid for continued relevance. Signature-model toting professionals increasingly are expected to bear the responsibility of marketing themselves via crowd-courting internet pages, and we live in a time when not only is it unshocking to see a marginally-known amateur break off tricks like Gabriel Summers’ shiveringly gnarly nosegrind, it also is de regueur do it nominally for free. Olympic endorsement contracts would beckon skateboarding’s sobriety-compatible 1%, while remaining ne’er do wells contemplate crowdfunding raisers to sop up medical bills.

Are stress levels within skating’s grand talent pool rising to a Vader level in which colleagues get choked out at sit-down meetings? You hear these things, but it is hard to know for sure. There are signs and siguls, including but not limited to growth in powerviolence-sprinkled parts and graphics, or soundtracks bearing murderer music. Vignettes tucked into ‘Sabotage 4’ and the ‘Our Life’ video, two of the grittier and grottier outputs of recent weeks, feature fights with cops and passersby, recalling a previous industry crunch that manifested itself in part via board-to-drill combat.

Veins of latent but palpable anger burble beneath the overcast surface and betwixt combusting switchstance tricks in Gilbert Crockett’s ‘Salt Life’ video part for the redubbed Quasi, an outfit forged from the wreckage and occasional raw feelings of a highflying corporate adventure gone kaput. Quasi’s initial video look transposes some of the hi-contrast and sharp cuts of their graphical concepts, anchored in a somewhat deeper trench of Gilbert Crockett’s technical skating, including a crunchy switch backside smith grind and one of the more eye-popping switch shove-its in recent memory, and peppered with enraged grunts and a viciously celebratory board beating.

Has the quantity of cathartic, building-slapping wallrides and wallies risen in lockstep with the industry’s general level of fiscal insecurity? Will snapchatted pro boxing matches emerge as a multipronged answer to slackened incomes and late night instagram sniping? May all of it be symptomatic of a divide-and-conquer conspiracy among deep-pocketed sportswear and drink manufacturers? Does the environment grow ever riper for a Bo Turner comeback?

*versus happier eustressors trafficked among those hard-partying ewoks and jawas

Actavis Status

October 10, 2015


Only 172 days ago*, widely regarded pharmaceutical supplier Actavis plc vulgarly displayed the power it holds over rap music when it voluntarily withdrew its beloved promethazine codeine cough syrups from the pharmacy shelves of the globe, sowing general discord and seeming to press the fast-forward button on the worldview of regular slurpers. What emerged as a merciless crackdown however rapidly evolved into syrupy brinksmanship among rap stars who bid handsomely for remaining stock, boasted of possession, and elsewhere prompted soul searching upon the end of a purply era.

Does another Love Park drought, or perhaps wholesale extinction, loom over Philadelphia and the world at large? Sabotage co-impresario Brian Panebianco has suggested as much. For longrunning fans of the polished stone blocks, this troubling outlook could position the law-abrading video series’ fourth installment as the crowded Soulja Boy countertop of Love Park footage, looking to the ‘Sabotage 4’ dudes to mine the once and future JFK Plaza as thoroughly and deeply as any preceding generation, steeping the planters, tiles and various temporary structures in a rich stew of blood, sweat and mouthwash under the gaze of their VX1000s.

Whereas the Sabotage skaters, graffitto artists and vagrants have nearly single-handedly revived Love Park in recent years, it is remarkable that such a plainly skatable, photogenic and history-soaked spot remains dominated mainly by locals, versus the flocks of migratory pros and steely-eyed wishers that perch up at the world’s JKwons, South Banks and MACBAs. Californian expat Mark Suciu rattles off several of his hyper-technical ledge couplets, Walker Ryan passes through to glide a switch backside flip down the gap,Philadelphia expat Josh Kalis transposes his Love Park template to LA and Chicago blocks, but the vast bulk of the Ty Evans-approved video length is doled out to locals.

The wiry Jamal Smith abruptly opens this video with an array of shove-its and heelflips that vacillate between the spastic and lackadaisical, commemorating the tornado spin’s pending 10-year** by applying it to a ledge. Dylan Sourbeer builds on his promo-spillover part with two songs’ worth of soldiering through the Love ledges and occasionally beyond, breaking from the double-stroller and lazy landings to unfurl some of the crazier backside tailslides at the spot so far. The vid’s heaviest thunderbolts though may be cast down by yung Joey O’Brien, capable of Mariano-approved half cab k-grind reverts on rails and Barley-crushed frontside 360s over cans, who cinderblocks out a handrail route to the fountain and penetrates Love Park’s concrete underbelly via one of the longer lines at the spot recently (also wild were the 180 switch crook lines and the impeccably twirled 360 flip into the bank).

There’s worthwhile arguments to be made over any lethargic fumes of stagnancy emanating from decades-worn spots, but fact that these dudes, most of them not pros, can year by year wring fresh mileage from what may be the most improbably longlived plaza spot domestically, conjuring progression from only about a solid city block’s worth of urban blight, reflects a lot about what this shit is supposed to be about in the first place and what’s perhaps at risk as municipal authorities ploddingly subsidize fenced-in and preapproved ‘free-speech zone’ analogues.

Will a true and final demolition of Love Park as it’s currently regarded spark a black market in tiles and ledge chunks that are rumoured still to lurk within the garages of certain ex-Philly pros to this day? Could a ‘Sabotage’-inspired wave of mouthwash guzzling force Johnson & Johnson to cull Listerine from store shelves? If Love Park somehow maintains will future VX-toters be forced to roll out a triple-seat stroller to arouse nostalgia purchases from a rarified class of skate grampas?

(Sabotage 4 can be acquired here.)

*As per the Roman/Earth calendar
**1 million plus views though

Musings And Mutterings On These, The 2015 SOTY Sweepstakes

September 30, 2015


The frothsome tumult that has gripped the fertile field of would-be ’16 American prexy seizers o’er the summertime would seem to have spilled over into pro skatingdom, with no clear American Pharaoh pulling away from plodding SOTY glue-factory fodder nine months into the year and with celebratory keg orders and lofty venue security deposits presumably coming due in short order. Perhaps by design,’s steady gravitational pull toward video parts amid a continued dearth in Graumann’s Chinese Theater-ready releases has at once broadened the field and made any stab at front-runnerness almost by default a multi-part affair — with just a couple months to go and only a few bulge-bracket videos yet on deck, these hoary ranks are assessed:

AVE: Fucking Awesome pot-stirrer Jimi Britches in recent weeks has invoked a hashtag declaration of Van Engelen’s SOTY campaign, at one point nodding to the criminally overlooked onboard actions of Bay Area innovator Henry Sanchez, which may or may not bring good luck when you consider the brevity and general unluckiness of Henry Sanchez’s years-ago endorsement relationship with Lucky Skateboards. Still, Van Engelen did yeoman’s work closing out this year’s most anticipated full-length with a part that extended a remarkable 15-year body of footage that all holds up in spades, Thrasher’s web copywriters liberally splashed superlatives over AVE’s ‘Propeller’ raw footage, and it’s hard to argue against AVE embodying the Thrasher ethos in all of its growling, sweaty hurly-burly, all of which possibly makes the short-pantsed trophyman AVE’s to lose. Then there was that switch 50-50.

Cory Kennedy: ‘Our guy,’ as Thrasher’s eminently readable ‘Trash’ column described Girl’s permanent weekender Cory Kennedy, can safely be presumed to have been on a post-‘Pretty Sweet’ tear the past couple of years on the strength of his appearances in projects as high-brow as Crailtap’s ‘Wet Dream’ and close to the vest as the Thrasher-aimed ‘Cory Goes BellingHAM’ and ‘Rat Poison’. Trukfit aficionado Cory Kennedy is due for an ‘official’ ‘serious’ part in the pending Nike production due out around the SOTY-optimized timeframe of December, raising the promise of offcuts to bolster his cause via a second video part somewhere in there, and six years on from his internet-enabled crash onto the scene he has gathered sufficient gravitas and beercan profiling lifestyle shots so as to make him a convincing Skater of the Year for any and all salacious stakeholders.

Chris Joslin: Chris Joslin last year kicked down the skate industry’s door and shortly thereafter proceeded to activate his seemingly indefatigable ligaments to kick out all of the windows and most of the walls in his relentless quest to seize his moment, wrestle it to the ground and press his thumbs to its gasping throat. Each successive video part, and there have been at least three or four in the past 12 months, drips with an embarrassment of gap-crushing riches, culminating in this month’s three-minute run through dozens of Chinese stairs and related architecture and recorded in less than two weeks. A frightening thought is the domestic bullets that remain in Chris Joslin’s proverbial clip, like all those rumored (and some documented) trips down Wallenberg, raising the prospect of further ammunition for his SOTY bid.

Tiago Lemos: Hyperbole is cheap and easy to come by as the skate sphere has collapsed almost entirely into the internet and its assorted wyrmholes, but Ride Channel’s recent submission that Tiago Lemos is the best skater on Earth carried a softly lilting twinge of reality to it, to which can attest any verified viewer of Ty Evans’ soda-sponsored symphony to technology and extreme ties that bind, ‘We Are Blood,’ or previously his shared section with Carlos Iqui in ‘Gold Goons.’ The tireless mining of tricks from gaps and handrails pursued by Chris Joslin can be ported with minimal formatting to Tiago Lemos and ledges, though Brazil’s SOTY drought is on the verge of entering its third decade and Tiago Lemos has turned in relatively little Thrasher-specific output.

Rowan Zorilla: At a certain point in the early ’00s Forrest Kirby held a position that sort of was akin to being the industry’s little brother, beloved and rooted-for by hesh and fresh peers alike, a rarified spot that Rowan Zorilla seems to have man-bunned his way into over the last couple of years. Rowan Zorilla’s equity is such that he may have been the sole talent to turn down an approach from Dill and AVE’s Fucking Awesome, rather than the other way around, and Thrasher declared his SOTY contenderness following Vans’ ‘Propeller,’ probably the most comprehensive showcase so far of his off-kilter sneak attacks such as the switch kickflip noseslide, the corner-hopping kickflip into the ramp and his Thrasher-covering frontside wallride.

Gilbert Crockett: The Vans vid held two songs’ worth of Gilbert Crockett’s increasingly distilled brand of felid scrap and spring, and VC Corp staff saw fit to unload another part’s worth of footage onto Thrasher’s website for the mop-up round, placing Gilbert Crockett firmly within his loose-fitting and seldom changed khaki pants and, one assumes, well onto the High Speed radar. Gilbert Crockett bears the tattoos, grizzled countenance and staying power Thrasher’s power brokers may prize in a Skater of the Year, and the Quasi collective has intimated he may have more footage on the way ere 2015 is up.

Shane O’Neill: The simultaneously hyper-technical and technically flawless form of tricks rifled out by perennially backwards-capped Shane O’Neill probably could’ve put him in Thrasher’s awards orbit for several years now, but this year the maneuvers in his ‘Shane Goes’ video part seemed to bake in an extra push and occasionally some further degree of gnarliness, like heading down a triple set in the rain, switch, or the rarely seen switch frontside shove-it to boardslide, back to switch. Shane O’Neill’s year so far is further distinguished with one of the better tricks knocked out at Thrasher’s Clipper contest and a potential jump from Skate Mental to solo entrepreneurship, though the rumor mill has him in Paul Rodriguez’ Primitive camp.

Cory Kennedy, Celebrating A Shoe, Opens A Texaco-Shaped Back Door For Lil Wayne-Designed Textiles

September 12, 2015


New York Fashion Week has come, bearing each customary ounce and parcel of loathing and dread. Behold, the grim reaper marks its approach this year by grimly and financially reaping DC Shoe corporate parent Quiksilver Inc. which earlier in the week sought bankruptcy shelter from creditors after U.S. consumers bemusedly abandoned its boardshorts and sweaters in larger and larger numbers. Nearly $1 billion in debt, shares plunging to 1 cent and eclipsed by nimbler retail gladiators such as H&M, prognosticators projected a pessimistic path for the erstwhile Quik.

“There’s just fewer kids out there that think the surf market is cool,” said analyst Mitch Kummetz of B. Riley & Co. “The heyday of the late ’90s and the early 2000s is a distant memory.”

It is a bleak vision of things to come not just for the DC Shoe Co USA, which remains a much-going skate concern despite Quiksilver axing its skate team 2.5 year ago, but other longsuffering company mavens aspiring toward pudgy soft-goods margins may also find themselfs slapped awake from any lingering all-over print dreams by the harsh reality that not even spacewolf penny completes and branded tote bags could bar Quiksilver’s door against the corporate poltergeists of high fixed costs and irate shareholders.

Yet when titans of commerce stumble, their sharp elbows and 900 pound weightiness can rip holes in the space-time continuum through which copious amounts of shadenfreude may briefly gush, and also roomy enough for upstart entrepreneurs to assert their product visions boldly upon this greasy stage of trade. Lil Wayne, a widely known personal brand from Hollygrove, New Orleans, has pursued skate fandom and purchased Thrasher merchandise long enough to have absorbed the industry’s notorious inclination toward boom-and-bust cycles, a gruesome fiscal paradigm likely all too applicable to the now-blighted business of selling musical CDs and official ringtone files. Having long since moved on from endorsing Girbauds and Hot Boy Wear brand underpants, it only was a natural Darwinian process for Lil Wayne to apply his design prowess to clothes aerodynamically equipped for skateboarding, yet for several seasonal retail cycles Trukfit has seemed to revolve within the same treacherous surfweary space through which the planets Quiksilver, Rusty and Hurley hurtle, unable to penetrate the unlucrative but theoretically critical hardcore skating demographic*.

Adopting the sort of per-diem spendthriftiness of top-tier talents such as known electronics-hoarder Billy Marks may have contributed to the sinking of the good ship Quiksilver US Balance Sheet, but could this same genomic quality prove Trukfit’s salvation? The unfettered, devil-may-care approach to gas-station checkout counters that elevated neon-sided Wayfarer wannabes, mystic wolf t-shirts and exotic straw hats to positions of pride on skateshop shelves could prove Trukfit’s diesel-scented lifering in this time of harsh economy.

Lil Wayne’s presumptive life-ring thrower in this fantasy is none other than industry pool-boy Cory Kennedy, he of the blade shades, leafy sombrero, mid-career abrupt-transition fixation and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ lost weekend. A long-overdue sneaker nod from skate biz cornerstone Nike Inc. last week revealed that Cory Kennedy’s ever-present and malleable hunger for novelty wears has expanded to include Trukfit gear of a rainbowy persuasion, amid leys, grass skirts and certain other Hawaiian accoutrements. In scenes that recall ‘Fulfill the Dream’s’ beloved Wallows sequence except with the brightness inexplicably dialed down, the occasionally Trukfitted Cory Kennedy and his friends crunch through various of Hawaii’s grittier pockets en route to a volcanic peak-to-peak kickflip wallride and a presumptive SOTY-baiting year-end footage dump via ‘Chronicles 3′ and TBA web clips still to come.

Will a midstream transition to gas-station swag status absolve Trukfit from any sins of marketing meetings past and clear a new and lucrative path to skateboarders’ closet-floor piles? Are the stakes for Lil Wayne that much higher following his recent split with Baby and uncertain ‘Carter’ album cycle future? Was the dark Nike clip supposed to imply the viewer is wearing sunglasses the whole time? Is 2015 the year Cory Kennedy’s sponsor cabinet advisers will convince him to ‘apply himself’? Will any resulting SOTY check and bonus sponsor payments trigger a truckstop retailing boom large enough to offset revenue slides triggered by the crude-oil price collapse?

*Identified as persons who own and ride skateboards

Time For Some ‘Home Truths’ About Our Collective Addiction to Negative Imagery Dudes

September 5, 2015


Death walks among us in this jaunty new millennium, they say, here and there and potentially also sometimes as a pale rider astride a dangerous Harley hog belching out noxious smokes that also can kill grass and dandelions. Never missing the chance to blow out a trend, the skate biz has always embraced its own terminal fixation, a chattering anxiety that year in and year out raises and lowers Vegas-styled odds on the next industry crash, which company isn’t paying its riders and is destined for that great physical print Cali4nia Cheap Skates catalogue in the sky, and which named pro may already have committed career suicide via an ill-considered musical indulgence or poorly chosen street grab.

Yet just as street skating’s lust for ledges and handrails yielded a cottage industry in skate stoppers that occasionally assume whimsical ocean shapes, brisk business is done among content merchants eager to pierce the slow and sluggish hot-air balloons of musty conventional wisdom with javelins of pure moxie, alternately declaring the full-length skate vid, the over-40 pro career and the conglomerate-owned hardgoods brand ‘not dead’ with varying zest-levels. This month, the Skateboard Mag entered such bold sweepstakes with an editorial missive geared around the notion that feature-length movies (including but not limited to ‘We Are Blood’ and a feature-length documentary about Chris Cole) not only are alive and well 15% of the way into the 21st century, but that they may hold the key to fixing skateboarding’s long-festering ‘image problems:’

The type of interest that these films inspire from non-skaters has always been a powerful tool to bring awareness to skateboarding, counterbalancing some of our image problems in a very positive way, occasionally even improving our chances for public skatepark support. (Let’s face it, as corny as it may be, hearing your mom talk about “Z-Boys” and 900s is actually a step in the right direction.)

Here are the hard facts cluttering the picture as surely as sharp pebbles threaten the course of a major contest engagement: Attrition grips the skateboard sphere. The International Association of Skateboard Companies, that past campaigner against blank decks, figured in 2013 that the number of those consumers who can scientifically be deemed ‘skateboarders’ had constricted by one-fourth between 2007 and 2011, shrinking to 6.3 million over five years. Casual, regular, frequent and most troublingly the intensely coveted ‘core’ demographics all appeared to flee their boards in droves, dumping skating at an even faster clip than those binning their Razor scooters, and far lagging the comparatively robust growth in ‘adventure racing,’ squash and lacrosse, fam.

The IASC document submits television and general couch-potatoness as top culprits, but ratings data indicate that millennials also are slithering free from the digital wiles of broadcast programming. Distressing though it may be, The Skateboard Mag may be right that the only truly blameworthy visage may be viewable in a viewing mirror.

In the span of just about a week, Boil the ocean internet web blog was able to compile an array of image-damaging content features and fiery remarks that reflect poorly on the extreme sport that once seemed on pace to unseat baseball as the sport of the future:

Small beatings from Thrasher’s EIC. Thrasher commander Jake Phelps is widely recognized as one of the oldest persons involved in the skateboarding industry, yet his elder statesmanship toward parental authorities came into question this week when the Jake Johnson issue dropped into subscriber mailboxes. Penning a rare tour article*, Jake Phelps recalls with curmudgeonsome glee how he and Tim Upson years back were run up upon by a gaggle of German 10-year-olds who, after baiting Jake Phelps with a professed interest in his ‘load’ (skate board) switched to pillage mode and set to ransacking his group’s knapsacks: “I ran back and the riot was on — punching out ten-year-olds is the price they pay for rat packin’ out shit,” he intones. Several moms are known to have ten-year-olds of their own — what are they to think at the prospect of a 32-year-old Jake Phelps traveling through time to whup up on their present-day children who may deign to pick through any skateboard-bearing luggage a time-traveling Jake Phelps may have borne through alleged time wyrmholes?

Leaders of the ‘F-word’ world. Using vulgar language in a major skateboard magazine — in this case Thrasher — that’s widely read by kids puts the black leather jacket on skateboarding, but aiming swears at the potential next U.S. president puts the illicitly purchased cigarette in skateboarding’s curled lip. Anti-Hero skateboards saw fit to live up to its moniker in its latest Thrasher ad, spouting an apparently unprovoked ‘FUCK DONALD TRUMP’ and ‘FUCK TED CRUZ’ scrawl in the usual semi-legible handwriting. Lest any foul-mouthedness toward leading politicians be explained away as unhinged rants from over-the-hill discontents, Sean Pablo — sponsored by the unprintably named Fucking Awesome World Entertainment — offered a verbatim vulgarity from skating’s younger generation in a Skate Warehouse interview this week. (Anti Hero and Sean Pablo’s super PAC affiliations remain currently unknowed)

Production values from the bargain ‘Rack.’ Johnny Wilson’s most recent video injection sees noseslide sportster Hjalte Halberg’s East Coast summer vacation continuing as he pushes brawny lines through Philly and New York, while Antonio Durao’s switch 360 flip takes all stair-set comers and John Choi pops a silky curb cut backside flip. But smudges and dirt on the otherwise pristine HD lens occasionally mars ‘Rack,’ giving outsiders freshly treated by Ty Evans’ immaculate drone-cams the impression that rival moviemakers don’t care enough about their equipment — or production values — to break out a purpose-made microfiber wiper, the type of thing a skating-friendly mom might tuck into a pocket tee before folding her arms and shaking her head and half-smiling out the front door as her boys hustle to the nearest skatepark.

Respect for others out the window. Longtime Santa Cruz holder-downer ATV Emanuel Guzman possesses enough wiry sprock to handle both switch backside 360s and deep-end coping, but his ‘Magnified’ clip from Thrasher this week won’t win him many fans among parents — or apartment bloc overseers. In the span of just 45 seconds, we see Emanuel Guzman and his friends attempt to bribe a female professional (who potentially suggested they reapparate a nearby skatepark) before ignoring her call to police, blasting a tight-quarters windowpane ollie and departing with cries of “fuck yooouuu, bitch.” (No indication is given whether this actually may be her surname just spelled differently, or how many O’s in “yooooouuu” they intended to use.) Thrasher’s description of the video claims that Emanuel Guzman “has a history of clips like this,” though it does not specify which web browser he may use.

Three stripes and we’re out. One may expect Adidas, an established worldwide leader in footwear branding technology with firm commitments in place on chemical runoff and workplace diversity, to know from setting positive examples. But Adidas’ new clip advertising ADV Superstar sneakers soundtracks Tyshawn Jones’ brain-boggling ollie over to pointer grind to a curse-packed rap song by celebrated rapper Big L, which glorifies bullying less-skilled artists and advocates physical violence and physical gunfire as solutions to perceived problems such as being bad at reciting raps. Are hovering moms really going to ask to click back to Tyshawn Jones’ hardflip again when Big L is reminiscing about leaving a nameless female conquest’s ‘thighs dented’?

*On a serious tip Jake Phelps really needs to do these more regularly


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