Archive for October, 2008

Boil the Ocean’s SOTY Short List

October 31, 2008

Early and often

Dubious nomination process, predetermined winners and your vote doesn’t mean shit – sound familiar? It’s Skater of the Year season, and while you can spam Thrasher’s inbox with all the Busenitz ballots you want, but he’s not gonna win, and chances are Phelps already has a name rattling around his spectacled skull, sans any cares for what the rest of us think.

But for better or worse SOTY remains the only skateboard honor that means anything, and the winners, even those that hadn’t already bondo’ed their legend status, have proved the High Speed honchos prescient in the end. So pardon me while I throw out some wild guesses as to who’s in the running this year.

Silas Baxter Neal: An ad in every magazine and a video part for every finger on your hand over the last couple years. He’s a Thrasher cover-getting SF local with Pacific Northwest roots who made his big video debut in Rocket Science a few years back, but even though SBN is one of the steadily declining number of newly minted pros-cum-amateurs who can count his dues paid in full, career-wise, if he won he’d be greener than BA when he got Pen-and-Pixeled for the 1999 SOTY throne.

Billy Marks: Phelps has long been a Zero fan and has teased poor Billy with the SOTY/Tech Deck ad conundrum for years, and if Marks ever were to have a shot at it, this would be the year I guess. He has a big video part and a big Thrasher interview going for him, but other than that he’s been kind of quiet, unless you count the ping-pong videos. Plus if he won he’d have to produce another 10 pages of photos for the issue and he seems like a hopelessly lazy dude, ping-pong prowess notwithstanding.

Bobby Worrest: He skates for Deluxe companies, drinks shitty beer, has churned out boatloads of footage these last couple years and seems to possess a Thrasher-approved “who cares” attitude, as well as a sense of humor. On the other hand, like SBN his professional career is none too long in the tooth, and unless you count all his internet antics (which I certainly do) he hasn’t put out a legit part this year.

Guy Mariano: Thrasher likes to give SOTY to longtime legends recently (Daewon, Marc Johnson, Danny Way again) and Mariano is pretty much about as legend as they come, except perhaps for John Legend, or Robert Neville. He sets the high bar for street skating video parts and then comes back a decade later and does the same shit for comebacks, what the fuck? On the downside, aside from some of the first Flared-era photos, not much of his recent coverage has made it into Thrasher, and possibly worse for his SOTY candidacy, a lot of said coverage has been in TWS.

Rune Glifberg: This year’s dark horse candidate – representing one of the more SOTY-heavy squads at Flip and an old-guard transition titan who so far has avoided tarring himself with the X-Games brush, Rune turned in probably one of the best profiles of the year to date a few months ago in Thrasher. While Dyrdek’s UAV will turn into a pumpkin before the Flip video comes out this year Phelps has proven more than willing to hand out preemptive SOTY awards like so many Tomahawk cruise missles, as Rowley and Appleyard can attest.

Lizard King: I get the feeling the Thrasher bosses have a deep and abiding love for Michael Plumb, but a helping of hairball photos and a side-order video part (even if it is set to Killa) do not an SOTY make.

Ryan Sheckler: As much as nobody wants to think about it, I have a sad feeling that this is a real possibility, as Phelps’ determination to prove his don’t-give-a-fuckness combined with Sheckler’s boring win at the Thrasher handrail contest and the prospect of selling a metric ton of magazines are very real factors. I’d like to think that Ballard would tender his resignation should this event come to pass, and Thrasher has taken the occasional swipe at the golden boy from San Clemente, but Phelps’ recent comments that Sheckler is in the running haunt me in the wee hours of the night, even if he was joking. Not funny.

Vote for Barack Obama next week.

“This One’s For You, Rod!”

October 28, 2008

That’s a man…

Almost to me is kind of like Frankenberry cereal, “King of the Hill” and late-period Big Brother, in that I don’t necessarily support it myself but I’m glad it’s around. If that makes any sense. As a company I’d still file it under the Deca/Artafact/Prime umbrella of general World generica but their commitment to having fun with the company along with letting Sheckler go makes Almost a lot more palatable. And “Cheese & Crackers” is fun to put on at a party.

Anyway this repro of an old Mullen ad/graphic has elicited an LOL from me each time I’ve flipped to it on the shitter. Cooper Wilt talks about it in his Slap interview:

“We shot it because it seemed fitting. Haslam has those long locks that flow so beautifully in the wind. We actually shot it without Rodney’s knowledge; after we shot it we were all psyched on it, but we were afraid Rodney might get bummed. But he saw it and he was psyched and thought it was funny.”

Addendum: the Almost website actually has a fairly entertaining blog, in which they express wonderment over the way their own boards are built and post sweet high-dive videos.

Over and Out

October 27, 2008

RJ Blastoff

One of the things that got me excited about the Sieben/Lowry Roger adventure, besides their penchant for wholesale retardness and ads like this, was the fact that they put on Texas’s Jeremy Holmes, who in this humble tool’s opinion is one of the overlooked skateboarders of the current generation. If you’re not familiar, youtuber and all-around Baron Davis fan “juliandude” has got you with a decent four-minute career retrospective, provided you don’t mind DTP, slow-mo nollie heelflips on flat and comic sans ms. (Me, I’m a fan.)

What I am significantly less fanatical about is the news out of the Lone Star state yesterday that after what I can only assume was a torrid 60-day love affair, Roger and Holmes have parted ways, one way or the other. Which leaves the team looking pretty much like it already was, sans Holmes and plus a handful of youtube heroes that shall remain nameless until they are voted on by you, the American people. And I suppose those couple other countries out there that also have internet. I am assured these places do exist, I just have a hard time picturing them. I imagine an Eskimo with a mouse plugged into a big ice cube, maybe with a fish frozen inside.

Anyway, who’s to say what went down that fateful night (let’s assume it was at night) in Texas, a place where ice is prized for its cooling properties and nothing is the way it seems. Perhaps there were sticker invoice irregularities involved, or maybe Jeremy Holmes is waiting out the remaining 48 hours of his contract with Roger before announcing that he has joined Birdhouse, or better yet, the fundamentalist Christian faith. All I heard is that he’s sitting on a full part’s worth of footage and somebody is seriously dropping the ball over there. In the meantime here’s about a minute of shit from a Texas video last year that features that Ghostface remake of the Rakim song and a switch crooked grind drop-down to ah, switch crooked grind again.

Heard On the Street

October 24, 2008

Listen up

Sad news from Listen today:

First of all thanks to everyone who has supported us for the past 4 years. Due to the unforeseen economic downfall and obstacles beyond our control, we have collectively decided to take these next two months to restructure our company financially and operationally in order to bring you a new and improved Listen skateboards and, in January 2009.

Man. First of all, let’s hope that’s two months in calendar time and not “Fulfill the Dream: Coming Soon” time. Either way, hopefully these dudes can hold it together, because right now skateboarding could do with more Listens and less multinational conglomerate hard/softgood concerns.

Speaking of, those guys aren’t doing so hot either…

Foot Locker Inc.

Citigroup Global Markets analyst Kate McShane describes shares in the new owner of CCS as “beaten down” and ripe for buying after FL lost 30% of its value over the past month. It hurts, like a shinner or seeing the words “Core Shop Exclusive!!” in a $102 million mail-order company’s catalog. McShane telegraphs what may be positive news for Es, however: “Over the longer term, we think Foot Locker is well positioned to capitalize on a healthier consumer & a technical athletic footwear trend.”

Globe International Ltd.

Globe caught a tough one last month when they closed out fiscal 2007/2008 with a $24.6 million net loss, but they’re keeping an Australian stiff upper lip judging from their annual report, which looks more like a booking catalog and is probably the only shareholder document to feature beardmaster Chris Haslam gooning it up in a Slayer shirt. Do you think he gets photo incentive for that?

Also, important facts to bear in mind when considering GLB.AX: Major competitors would be other apparel-related businesses providing the same services to the general public through its shops or on-line. Customers are the general public who are fashion conscious.

Billabong International Ltd.

Australia-based surf clothier and owner of Element finds itself pitched on the fickle waves of teen consumerism, and while Billabong hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other guys, one of their top executives last month unloaded a quarter-million shares just prior to the credit crisis kicking into high gear. It’s never really a good look when one of your top dogs trims his personal stake in the company, but by selling when he did our boy avoided losing $500,000 or so, which speaks to brains of a sort at the helm.

Quiksilver Inc.

ZQK has had a tough run of things, trading this week to a one-year low as debt balloons and investors flee the DC parent like so many Lakai riders. The plunging chart pretty much tells the tale, but why not give the last word to messageboard advice-dispenser “giveitup4muffinz”… “ZQK DEBT NOW = 150% OF MARKET CAP this turd is sinking fast!!! this company is f*cked!!! do not invest in this company. you’ll be broke. it’s going under!! no future for ZQK.

What a Fool Believes

October 22, 2008

From somewhere back in his long-ago

I’ve been lagging on the new Stereo “Field Report” promo for a while here, glued as I am to this presidential campaign and trying to sort out whether Sarah Palin does or does not support skateparks. It’s what the politicos call a “wedge to wedge” issue. (Here all week, my friends.)

Anyway, a few things. Dyson Ramones, getting good, really super good. Something of a springy spaghettio thing going on with his tricks, powerful backside heelflips and a kickflip backside 360 on flat, in a line, which for some reason seems way more impressive than when it’s done down a gap. See also: Jesus Fernandez.

Renaud has some clips and they’re all blazing of course (most in particular the opening backside flip over the Carroll rail) and Supa cracks this amazing fakie inward heelflip on a hip sort of a thing. Also well notable is Benny Fairfax, John Lupfer (who some have suggested could serve as a temporary stand-in for the Dirt) and the welcome return of prodigal agent Matt Rodriguez.

And then we have Jason Lee, whose participation in Stereo may or may not be entirely governed by his NBC contract at this point, but apparently leaves him free to ham it up with Dune to whatever extent the agency deems necessary. I think I get the greasy playboy airhead angle they’re going for, but to me it doesn’t ring true with the founding aesthetic of Stereo, which is basically jazz music. Cool, sophisticated, yes, but also sort of dark and melancholy. (Full of em tonight, I am.)

To this end I prescribe J. Lee a dose of heavy medicine care of, where an anonymous author (auteur?) by the name of “Dark.Morning” recently submitted an “Earl” script titled “Polar,”, containing no small amount of gravitas:

Carl had never imagined feeling like this. There was no way he could have foreseen kneeling in the dark of his living room, holding his eldest son, crying with him, kissing his hair. He was even rocking, slowly, and didn’t even notice the motion. Earl was limp in his father’s arms, shuddering and sobbing in pure agony. Carl rubbed his son’s back with one hand, and laid the other on his nape. And he realized, no matter what had happened, no matter what would happen to Randy, he would still love…Earl. He would love his son.

They used to polar opposites, clashing with teeth bared and heads held high. Not anymore.

Nothing like some stark reality to ground your private jet for a while. Think on it, agents.

Beast of Both Worlds

October 21, 2008

The Which Beer Project

Like Guns’n’Roses and Metallica, peanut butter and chocolate, Hall & Oates, some combos seem predestined somehow – bear witness to Girl and Anti-Hero’s “Beauty and the Beast” tour, already inked into the annals of legendary road trips, and the video the best tour documentary to come along since probably “Harsh Euro Barge.” It’s no “Barbarians At the Gate” or “Shit” but I’d definitely rate it above the bloated “Super Champion Fun Zone,” and let’s be honest, in the late 00’s, making a tour video that’s worth watching more than once is no mean feat. Even O’Dell and his all-seeing VX1000 didn’t clear that bar with last year’s “Wild Ride” doc.

The 10 Beast Moments:
10. McCrank’s Miller flip subtitle – he skates for Girl, remember?
9. Gerwer no-handed climbing the ladder / Koston crapping out on the boat
8. Jack Rebney Beast edit cameo
7. Trujillo’s hardflip – Scarface sidewalk gap soundtrack
6. Wizard staffs – on track to become as ubiquitous as Half-Cabs, or played out like Leo Romero’s black eye game?
5. BA’s pants sag – Gerwer’s AH sombrero
4. Malto’s nosegrind pop-out – Peabody gap to b/s smith grind
3. Julien Stranger nollie noseblunt – Alex Olson brick nosegrind
2. John Cardiel – backside 50/50
1. Mike Carroll, Japan air – very possibly the best trick caught on film this year:

The Savvy Consumer

October 19, 2008

Built to shred

The paper of record has skateboarding on the brain lately–witness their somewhat puzzling eulogy for Van Wastell the other day, mining blogs including our good friends at You Will Soon for reaction to the sad news. (Is that better or worse form than lifting man-on-the-street comments from message boards? Not sure…)

A few weeks prior to that, in a lighter take on the woodpushing realm, the Gray Lady turned her gaze toward the still-lucrative skate shoe industry, pursuing the question of why skateboarders gravitate toward easily destroyed footwear.* Which is of course an offshoot of the bigger question, are skateboarders really just a pack of idiots?

(BTO advises against pondering this question whilst perusing the TWS messageboards or watching that ESPN show where they show slams for a solid half-hour.)

NYT fashion/style reporter Justin Porter takes a meandering path through the usual fashion/function argument, and he’s sophisticated enough to note the structure of Etnies’ corporate umbrella and the business nuances of flow programs, while staying inclusive enough to take the obligatory editorial stab at articulating trick physics to the Joe Plumbers of the world: “The skateboard revolved slowly under his feet and seemed to freeze for a moment, waiting for gravity to catch up. Then the skater’s back foot flicked the board, and again it spun. He landed with a satisfying thump and rode away.”

I promise one (1) satisfying thump to the first person who can identify what trick Mr. Porter is describing there. Shove-it late back foot flip? Those hot at Thompkins this summer?

Anyway, later in the article none other than Mike Vallely shows up to flex flower-child poetics: When skateboarders looks down at their feet, “they need to feel a vibe there.” “[T]here had to be a way to move away from a subculture within a subculture.” (?)

Meanwhile industry sausage-makers weigh in on the import of the Lupe Fiascos and Pharrell Williamses of the world in financing DC execs’ boat payments, and eventually we return to the story’s central point–in Mr. Porter’s words, “Skateboarders know that they will quickly destroy their footwear, but still don’t always seek shoes that are indestructible.”

And here, in the final three paragraphs, Mr. Porter pretty much nails it: “Indestructible” shoes, which have been tried before, tend to look like shit. And despite the best efforts of the worlds’ mightiest shoe minds, such an indestructible shoe has yet to be devised, much less devised in any kind of aesthetically pleasing way.

I don’t know if function vs. fashion is the right way to look at it anyway. I mean, the Yosiris-led tech shoe era produced unmatched innovation, as Peter Smolik and Scott Pazelt proved once and for all in “The Storm.” Jerry Hsu skated D3s for crying out loud. And God knows, I’m living proof that vulcanized soles don’t come with coupons for switch 360 flips.

So while Emerica and Vans battle for the most minimalist silhouette on the runway, we’ve got Reynolds in the lab working on a better mousetrap and Es nervously hoping the pendulum swings back toward the moon boot. And maybe in another five years we’ll be shaking our heads, wondering how we took those 30-step drops clad only in stretch denim and waffle soles, while we Shoe Goo up some new $120 space-age Rodney Mullen construction.

*Note the Softrucks on the board in the mini-ramp photo accompanying the article.

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

October 17, 2008

“I sleep in a racing car, do you??”

Let me go ahead and preface this whole thing by saying up front that I don’t have any kids, which maybe makes me unable to relate to the childlike wonder that possesses otherwise clear-thinking adults to cook up ideas such as the ShredBed, pictured above. It also precludes me from rationalizing Mike V’s latest physical altercation in any meaningful way but that’s probably beside the point.

That point being, Chad Knight, alum of Maple, Osiris and American Gladiators, teammate to Marc Johnson, T-Bone and Wolf, loves skateboarding. If you need gory evidence look no further than the gruesome knee injury that more or less took him out of the game around the time George Bush Jr. took the controls.

And if you need further gory evidence, I’d just point out that Chad Knight skates for NSS shoes, and you know it’s not for the massive check. Put it like this. I was downtown last weekend and saw a hobo lying in repose on a bench, wearing a bedraggled pair of Adios. And I thought to myself, well, Adio’s still in the game to some extent, as their footwear continues to trickle down to society’s lowest common denominator. I have yet to see a hobo sporting NSS, which says something. I think.

Anyway, ShredBed is Chad Knight’s new venture, which I recently learned about whilst simultaneously trying to avoid the TSM Corey Duffel interview and kill time on the toilet. He describes it therein as “a furniture company targeted mainly at kids that incorporates skateboard decks and components into the design.” Which isn’t a bad idea when you think about it. Lord knows a bottle of bearing lube would’ve helped pass some of those long junior high nights.

But before I clown on Chad Knight too hard we ought to note that he did study physical therapy at Mira Costa Community College, which probably makes him more qualified to design sleeping apparatuses than, say, you or me. And shit, how many energy drinks and Myspace knockoffs has Salman Agah shit out, and he’s still considered a legend, right?

Point being, if (when) my old lady ever kicks me out, sets my shirts aflame and I wind up at the singles complex behind Arby’s, you can maybe catch me sleeping off last night’s Alabama Slammers in a ShredBed. I also plan to have the JR Blastoff album ready to rock in the clock radio each morning. Fulfill the dream, people.

You See What Happens, Larry?

October 15, 2008

This is what happens, Larry

A bit on the nose, but this Lebowski series from 5:AM is simply too sweet not to post up. It may or may not have been out for quite a while (I just recently caught it on the DLX message board), which makes you wonder whether they’ve pursued similar Lebowski-themed graphics since. My vote for the next lineup would include:

-Knox Harrington (the video artist)
-Uli (Karl Hungus)
-Dafino (private snoop)
-Arthur Digby Sellers (in iron lung)
-Malibu police chief (fucking fascist)

Two Sides

October 14, 2008

“They know I’m a troublemaker”

How about I continue to milk the recent Slap issue. The Karma interview, thusly juxtaposed with Andy Roy’s Big Brother feature, teaches us that when it comes to brawling with snowboard bro-brahs in Utah, it all comes down to your perspective…

Big Brother, 1996:
Chris Pontius: Ddin’t you guys get in a fight with some guys in Utah?

Andy Roy: Yeah! That’s how this window got busted out. That was sick! Little Richard [Paez] started a fight with all those snowboarders. This little girl was fucking with him. He had a hood on, and she grabbed the strings and pulled them down. Her boyfriend was standing right next to her, and he shoved Richard.

Karma Tsocheff: No, but what were you saying to them?

Andy Roy: I was all, “I’m a pro snowboarder. I ride for Palm-er. I do the pow-pow.” “WHUT!” he got all pissed off, and shoved Richard again. He was small, so I shoved him – remember, I was spitting on that one guy, all those loogies on his back. They got mad, put me in a headlock, and shoved us all outside.

Karma: All these guys were holding my arms back, and this one guy, this pro snowboarder named, Andy Brewer, had his hands in my mouth. Andy Brewer’s a little bitch.

Andy Roy: So the whole party rushes outside right? I go, “you guys rip off skateboarding! You guys are FAGGOTS!” They freaked out. This one guy is all, “I want to fight you!” I’m all, “Alright, I’ll fight you.” He goes, “Okay.” He was all wasted. So I put up my dukes–BOOM! One punch, knocked him out. Then his big buddy came up to me pissed off. He was huge. I was scared he was gonna crush me, and then Karma stepped in–WHAM! Bottle over the head! Fucking on the ground! Then Richard runs to the van, grabs a skateboard, tosses it to Karma, and he starts smashing it over his head. And I went, “What? I want to get in on some of that,” and started kicking him in the head. I had blood all over my shoe. You fucked him up!

Karma: It was so crazy, because after I broke the bottle over his head, we ran by the van, and the dude got up and all of his friends came charging at the van, and the biggest dude was running alongside the van, and the second he came around the corner–BAM!–the deck went straight to his head. Just fuckin’ laid him out right there behind the van.

Andy Roy: He fucked him up with the griptape side. The dude did the fish! Crazy style!

Chris Pontius: So what happened?

Andy Roy: Karma got chased. We didn’t know where he was and Richard and Jesse were down the street fighting. Those guys thought I was the guy with the bottle, so they started chasing me. I ran to the van, and Doug was in there. “OPEN THE VAN!” I get in and they come rushing up while I’m trying to rig the van with these fucking wires you had to connect to start it, and the window is half down and they got bottles. I said, “Fuck that! I didn’t hit you with a bottle!” And then finally I got the van started, woOm! WOOM! and I whipped it around, and drove back to wehre Richard and Jesse were, and I said “GET THE FUCK IN!” Turned around again, and they were all out there with hockey sticks and shit! They had the whole street blocked! I said “fuck this! I’m gonna run the motherfuckers over!” I was all drunk. I just floored it, and I went after this one guy, and he jumped back, swung the hockey stick, and broke that window right there. We got out of there. We went down some side street and hid. Then all of a sudden, VOOM, VOOM, VOOM–all these cop cars flew past. The next day was our last demo, right? We didn’t even show up. We were scared. We couldn’t find Karma, or nothing.

Karma: I slept under a rig that night with no shirt. I had to walk like five hours to get downtown. It was fucked up.

Slap, 2008:
Richard Hart: How often was it that Andy Roy instigated all the problems?
Karma: Always. He just enjoyed fucking with people. One time we were in Salt Lake City. We skated some ramp and then these guys took us to this snowboarder party. Andy is standing over some guy who is sitting down, drizzling beer on this guy’s head, until he finally figures it out… and then Andy goes, “What? It was an accident! I’m druuuunk!” And then he would just do it again. Anyway, a fight broke out and we were in the middle of the living room; me, Richard and Andy, and the room is packed with these jock snowboarders. The whole party turned on us. Imagine being in a pit at a punk show, but the whole pit is surrounding you. It was really scary.

This guy is trying to rip my mouth open but somehow we managed to jam out the side door and run for the van. Andy was scrapping with these two big dudes and I just ran past them and broke a bottle over one of their heads and kept running. I looked back and there were 10 dudes coming towards us with hockey sticks, and I hid behind the back of the van and hit the first guy with a skateboard. I actually kept that board – it had an inch-by-inch patch of skin with hair on it. I gave it to Keenan and he was stoked on it.

But anyway, we’re fighting off all these dudes while piling into the van. The thing was, our van at the time, you had to touch the battery with a wire to get it started. Somebody had to be inside trying to start it while someone else is outside with this wire, jumping the battery… so Doug jumps out with this little wire, just waiting for someone to clock him from behind, somehow gets it started, jumps in, Richard and Jesse and AP were already in the van, but I hadn’t gotten in yet.

Andy is driving and he whips around and charges at these dudes and they smash a window with a hockey stick. Meanwhile, I’m being chased by these guys down the street. You know how in a movie there’ll be a chase scene with people jumping over fences from one backyard to the next? And a dog will chase you across the yard? Well, that happened to me. But I got to a grocery store and hid behind a garbage can. No shirt, full of adrenaline. And then there are cops everywhere, shining lights at all the houses. I’m jacked. Ended up walkking all the way into downtown, sleeping on the street, and called this local skater the next day at a pay phone to track the others down.