Archive for February, 2008

The rise of Jake Johnson

February 22, 2008

What was the last band that got real big off Myspace, with only a few songs? Was it The Black Kids? Jake Johnson is like the current Black Kids of skateboarding. With (as far as I know) only a handful of photos, some clips on Quartersnacks and a video part in a video that barely anybody has seen, he landed himself on the Alien am squad while being annointed the current skate wunderkind and Next Big Thing etc.

And who’s to say he’s not, really. He’s got control out the wazoo and has mastered various methods of flippery, he’s got a good long-legged lanky style on the board, skates for legit companies and is out of New York (originally by way of State College PA). There’s rumors floating around about tricks he supposedly tried (switch b/s noseblunt that round silver rail in Texas, where Mariano did the noseslide/crooked grind) and then there’s the shit he’s actually done, like the switch kickflip b/s tail on that little 5-stair rail in Philly. And, he didn’t look like a fool doing it, compared with whatever hometown hero dork probably pulled it on a similar-looking park rail or something.

Jake Johnson’s supposedly got a part in this new Chapman video (as in the board company that used to sponsor Billy Rohan and Danny Gonzales, now apparently just a woodshop), but it’s not out yet, despite premiering alongside Static 3 a few months ago. Way to keep it skate, Chapman. So while we wait for that one, here’s some Quartersnacks clips where he’s featured. Long download times but worth it.

Chuggin’ Chad

February 22, 2008

So was on the scene Wednesday night to bring us on-the-spot coverage of Muska’s buddies hauling him out of some Hollywood ho-down, fighting a losing battle with gravity. Boil the Ocean salutes Muska, who in spite of his LA schmooze-mongering and dubious career as a DJ/rap producer, manages to keep it real the best way he knows how. His frontside flips are still ass, though.

The real question is whether or not Muska is in better shape here, where he’s (allegedly) sober and looking like a leatherized Sawyer/Lone Gunman mashup. Whatever the case, he’s sporting his Supra pro models both nights, and probably the same jeans, so dudes better get cracking with those royalty checks. God knows whether Muska’s got another TSM cover in him. Fuck, who am I kidding, he totally does. Muska’s awesome.

Sean Sheffey: Still crazy

February 14, 2008

All means indeed…

It’s easy these days to get bummed out on skating, what with your Lifes of Ryans, Pacsuns, “lifestyle brands” and energy drink sponsors, sure. But then you read something like this:

Thrasher: Tell us a good Sheffey story.

Jake Brown: Here’s the best one for me, personally. I was hanging out with Mike Crum at the time, it was one of the first times I met Sheffey and I don’t know, man. We were drinking bottles of Johnny Walker and shit, hanging out at his house. And he goes, “here’s my pet snake.” And I go, “That’s sick.” Then the snake bit him so he ripped it in half. And then we drank all night after that. And then the next morning, he wakes up and he goes, “You’re gonna ride for DVS.” And I go, “What?” And he goes, “Oh, yeah.” Fucking calls Tim Gavin and demands that he send me shoes. From then on, Gavin was sending me shoes. It was so tight.

From the March Thrasher, good issue mostly.

Richard Angelides can land a guitar

February 11, 2008

Harken back to the year 1997, a simpler time when Ty Evans was a fledgling filmer standing on the shoulders of “Memory Screen,” whose ill-fated obsession with techno music had yet to afflict the greater skateboarding populace. Rhythm’s “Genesis” was one of the best put-together and least-talked about videos as the torch was being passed from SoCal mini-tables to the handrail chompers, and while he didn’t have the last section, Richard Angelides’s part in this video is still amazing. He’s young, light-footed and ridiculously skilled with an eye for tricks–switch b/s lipslide shove-its on blocks still aren’t fucked with much to this day.

Angelides has put out some great footage and photos in the 10 years since, but not nearly enough, and never really reaching the peak he hit in the Rhythm video. Quality over quantity I guess. When you see him he’s usually pushing the boundaries, even though he’s getting up there age-wise, like with the full-cab kickflip switch manual revert in Transworld’s “First Love” a couple years back. The rest of “Genesis” is good too–a young Danny Montoya puts out a banging part, there’s good footage from Ryan Bartsma, and Chany Jeanguenin crushes shit with the last part, though his music (“Block Rockin’ Beats”) was an ominous signpost of many Moby- and BT-fueld TWS montages to come.

Alien sells out

February 8, 2008

Bo Turner demands residuals

Maybe kind of a rough way to put it, but after months of no-way-never-gonna-happen rumors, yes way it did happen, Burton bought DNA Distribution. You can read the freshly scrubbed version of how it went down on Burton’s corporate news page, which is updated way more often than you’d expect. Or maybe not, since Burton’s been doing deals with Apple and buying other snowboard companies and making skate shoe power moves.

The big question is why. Alien Workshop and Habitat aren’t exactly Shorty’s. They got big-name pros and the boards sell. Sales may be down, but if companies like Blind and those weird companies that advertise in the back of Thrasher can keep limping along in 2008, you’d think DNA could find a way to make it work. Carter and Hill started in 1990, they know about lean times. Fuck, they could save a pile of dough by kicking off Berra and Selego, who between them have maybe filmed three minutes’ worth of footage in the last five years, which is probably more time than anyone’s spent looking at their photos.

Seventeen years is a long time, though. The Alien guys weren’t fresh-faced young kids when they started the company, except for Dyrdek. They’re in the wondrous world of their 40s now and have probably thought more than once about how long they can keep this shit up. For all its artsy imagery and seagull footage, DNA is basically a hardgoods company, boards and wheels with the requisite t-shirts and New Eras to match. They don’t have shoe company money to fall back on and they never pushed a clothing line, which is probably to their credit. Living and dying off board sales ain’t as easy as it used to be, especially with blank boards running around putting noble factory workers out of jobs and butchering people’s mothers.

Probably not a lot is going to change, at first anyway. Carter and Castrucci are going to keep running Alien and Habitat, the operation’s going to stay in Ohio, and all those dudes on Quiksilver already bounced for Analog a few months ago. Despite the hand-wringing going on right now, it’s pretty doubtful that Burton’s going to insert everyone’s favorite high-flying ginger Frankenstein into the mix (although if rumors are true, Heath Kirchart might get to explain to his new bosses why he allegedly ended his tenure on Analog by choking out a sales rep [ALLEGEDLY]). Maybe the Burton deal will end up being like a venture capital infusion–instead of Castrucci doing team management, art, ad buying, taxes and running out for burritos at lunchtime, he can concentrate on the important things like the art and the burritos. Or something.

Down the road, though, Carter & co. may lose interest, or find their interests coming into conflict with the power structure at Burton, who may or may not be the same people who engineered the deal with DNA in 2008. That’s when Alien/Habitat will change, and probably for the worse. How bizarrely amazing would it be for Carter to hand over Alien to Dill when he hits retirement age? Not gonna happen, if such a thing were ever likely in the first place, which is doubtful. But now, instead of DNA closing up shop when the founders leave the building, it’ll carry on, if there’s still money to be made. Who knows. Burton could kill the whole thing in two years if they really want. Or the entire earth could explode tomorrow. This is the type of thing that keeps Jim Gray up at night.