This week brought the long-anticipated but no less vaguely sad news that 411 Video Magazine’s life support was finally pulled by the core bros over at Wasserman Media Group. (Commentary by another recent Wasserman acquisition: “I’m still creatively in control of the site.” Live and learn…)
411 has existed on the fringes now for a good while, and it’s been like a decade since new issues were met with any kind of anticipation. So in a way it’s impressive they made it this far, but wonders never cease when it comes to beating dollars out of dead horses in the skateboard industry. Look at NSS. Shit, look at Duffs.
These days, though, it would probably come as a surprise to your average New Era’ed hardflipper that people used to pay for 411s, much less subscribe to get it in the mail. And among those who do recall 411’s glory days, you’re hard pressed to find anybody wax nostalgic about any issue past 30, with the exception of the Gino/Keenan/Pupecki “Roomies” in 38. I’ll go as high as 39 myself, but you know I stay having low standards.
The point is, 411’s demise has been written on the wall for some time now. A few of the telltale signs along the way:
Es Menikmati released
Fred Mortagne’s biopic/skate epic ushered in an age of blockbuster videos, washed down with a generous helping of slow motion, fancy graphics and generators. For better or worse the Es super team helped raise the bar as far as tricks, lengthy parts and production value, and in a matter of years poor 411 would find it more difficult to source footage of high-profile dudes to sprinkle between the up-and-comers and washed-ups in the Chaos sections.
411 decides to put dudes’ faces on the cover
The Skateboard Mag tried this one too, with the fairly impressive result of making Dave Carnie somehow feel like more of a pervert than he already is. The Stance approach didn’t work for TWS, and even in this age of rock star pro skaters, what self-respecting 14-year-old really wants to look into Muska’s stoned bedroom eyes every time he puts on the Cliche chaos? Note to all those still considering a portrait cover: use artwork.
Lance Mountain stops hosting
The little things, you know? I appreciate Mikey Taylor and his undying devotion to Roc-a-Fella as much as the next guy, but it just ain’t the same. Like when they tried remixing the theme song.
You know you’re running out of ideas when you start taking cues from ESPN and MTV. At this point it was pretty clear they were getting hard up for money. Speaking of, didn’t 411 also put out that video of Mike Vallely’s fights?
Podcasts and Field Logs and Wednesday Woes too. Free, quick-downloading video in tolerable quality has skateboarding on a 24-hour footage cycle now, and whatever scraps Company X might have thrown to a 411 in the past now go to the website, the Youtube channel or the “Special Edition” DVD*. Videographers like Josh Stewart will happily tell you at great length how difficult it is to sell even hotly anticipated DVD releases in this day and age, and although Weiss somehow keeps pumping out Digitals, 411 a couple years ago gave up trying to charge American money for their videos, and in the process turned each new edition into a branding vehicle for this company or that. They’ve made some effort at orienting their site around new clips, as well as something bizarre called 411VS that appears to be some kind of fantasy skateboarding league, but there’s a lot of footage out there now, and only so many minutes in the average skateboarder’s Internet day, in between checking the Slap board, cleansing the browser history of porn links and reloading the bong.
Today 411’s website offers you a look at a flyer for a Krux kickflip challenge. Meanwhile the Berrics has new footage of Sean Malto, Eric Koston, Mike Barker and Erik Ellington. You see where I’m going with this. So long 411.