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.

“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. 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 idiocy 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. 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 Listenskateboards.com, 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 a sad tale, but messageboard advice-dispenser “giveitup4muffinz” claims the story is more dire yet… “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.

To this end I prescribe J. Lee a dose of heavy medicine care of FanFiction.net, 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 Tompkins 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.

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.

Up Your State

October 13, 2008


Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

If you haven’t seen the new SLAP, A., you’re blowing it because each issue is a collector’s item now and will surely fetch dozens of dollars on Ebay in the near future, and B., you’re missing out on an Upstate New York article featuring a bunch of good Joe Brook photos, such as the shittily scanned one above of Jose Pereyra moving a k-grind pop-over through an appropriately bleak environment. This article is also notable for featuring not one but TWO brothers-of-pros (Jeremy Jordan, Doug Brown–no, not that one, the Listen Brown), and for featuring a photo of Kenny Reed that is shot on American soil and involves no ethnic headware or backside ledge tricks. No joke.

Perennial Slap favorite Curtis Rapp also is featured, which makes this as good a time as any for all of us to revisit the video with the third-best soundtrack of the last five years.

Metal Militia

October 12, 2008

Steve Durante’s new Habitat ad is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he took time off from recording “Death Magnetic” to land the trick.

Fuck the fall

October 8, 2008


Being hated by the season

You Will Soon made a post the other day about how fall is great for skateboarding. Well, I beg to differ. I hate fall. Yeah yeah, I get all that shit about skating in hooded sweatshirts, crisp air, not sweating through your white T, powersliding through leaves and all that. Here’s the catch however: you can do all that same stuff in the springtime, and go home knowing that you have the whole summer ahead of you, whereas with fall, it’s liable to start pissing down cold November rain the next day, or better yet, a freak snowstorm that ends up being the first revolting kiss of winter.

Also sometimes when you powerslide through leaves you slip on some leaf-slime or a mystery rock and find yourself pitched to the pavement. At least in the summer it softens up a little.

Reasons why fall blows:

1. Winter lies ahead
This is the main one of course. YWS said this drives them to skate harder up in Canada, and while I guess I don’t have any room to complain geographically, I just get depressed thinking about months of skating crowded parks or cramped TFs or patches of frozen asphalt. And losing tricks.

2. Snot ropes
Watery eyes too. Or am I the only one this happens to? There’s nothing quite like manipulating your board and watching out of the corner of your vision mid-trick as a tendril of mucus lashes across your pants.

3. School starts
Or if you’re elderly like me you’ll enjoy reliving the fleeting sense of oppression at another two semesters’ worth of droning lectures and homework, even years after they’re over. I still have this terrible recurring dream of walking to school when I’m struck with the panicked realization that I’ve completely forgotten to go to one of my classes for months, and the final is today.

4. Fall smells
Burning leaves are cool, but the turkey and corn plants firing up are the worst.

5. Slamming hurts
This operates on a sliding scale according to how low the temperature gets. These days anything below 40 and I’m envisioning a Fully Flared Pappalardo intro scenario if I step off the ledge wrong. That’s about the time I settle back into the couch and cue up the Ipath promo again.

6. Skating in hooded sweatshirts actually sucks
The hood always curls off to one side and whaps me in the face if I don’t adjust it every minute or two. Hood up works sometimes, for a while, but I can’t even do earphones when it comes to head-body attachments.

7. September 11
Most of you probably remember that one. It fucked up Jay-Z’s record sales for a little while. Not cool at all.

8. It gets darker earlier
And if your spots don’t have lights you’re screwed.

9. Months and months until it warms up
As long as these past couple winters have been, it’s too distressing to even think about. No, the bears are onto something with this hibernation deal. If you’ll pardon me, I’m going to see about renting a cave, and gobble Big Montanas until my security deposit clears. Watch when I roll back the stone on Easter Sunday–if my shadow remains large enough that I think Jabari Pendleton is standing outside waiting to go skating with me, there will be six more weeks of winter, and I will require three new video games, with at least one being of the life-consuming role-playing variety. If I can’t see my breath and my winter fat has melted away to a reasonable extent, I’ll meet you at the local waxed-up parking block and possibly bitch about how it’s too hot already.