We move now into the last few weeks of summer when the heat’s baked into your bones and the midday sun sucks the pop from your legs, reorienting people’s timescale around dusk sessions or better yet, sitting on one’s board and complaining. An antidote to motivation is in Coda’s Slappy Hour vid, which I slept on until being hipped to it on some “good summer watch” angle a while back. It is, and the dusty late-August section goes to working bro Jerry Mraz and his beefy backside kickflips, yellowy wheels, sweaty white tees and a small town’s worth of gritty bank spots — the street spine thing looks like one of the funnest on record. There’s enough filmed at dusk here to pass for an outtake from Slave’s “Radio Television” without the ’70s filter. The push in the first line about says it all.
Archive for August, 2011
No deep thoughts today, only posting up a youtube-unearthed gemerald that I try and revisit periodically, Dan Drehobl’s closer for Think’s 1996 production “Damage.” I bought this tape on the strength of a review in Big Brother, funded by a grocery store paycheck on summer vacation. Tricks in this section, which hit hard at the time, have passed in and out of fashion to the point that a lot of these would stand up fine if some dude filmed them today (gap to lipslide), and to date I’m not sure anybody is fucking with his China Banks assault near the end. The song does it too, skateboard this weekend.
It’s gotta not be the shoes: First thought I had upon official confirmation that the pioneering freestyler behind Sole Technologies was mothballing Es, not even ten years ago the mightiest shoe company out, was that the actual product probably had nothing to do with anything. The slippery slope greased up, in some ways, by the resurgence of the Accel itself (personally would ID the Nike Dunk as a co-conspirator) put footwear trends on a path toward the reigning minimalist silhouette atop a white vulcan sole to the point where shops might as well be doing their own Half-Cab and Chuck Taylor renditions. If anything I’d think the commodification of super-simple shoe designs bought Es a few more years than they might otherwise have had if the pendulum had swung violently back toward the basketball court, but then again a meteor could have struck the planet and we may all have wound up atomized.
Then some other people are quick to heap blame on big fishes Nike/Converse/Adidas/probably not Reebok for trolling through the shallow end with their fat wallets, fucking up the food chain for mellower sea creatures that never harbored deeper ambitions, sort of like the Jamaican lobster sang about in “Little Mermaid.” That lobster is convincing and seems wise. But if that were the case, how come Es can’t survive but companies with a fraction of the name recognition and history and established sales/shop networks can still make it? Thinking here of Vox, Dekline, the revived Axion and Duffs, NSS. Or what about little-loved competitors like Globe, Osiris, Circa? How come Circa still has two subdivisions? This may be one of those deals where the amorphous “international markets” comes in as the explainer, but I always thought that was why Es kept around those occasional space-age models in the garish colors.
You look at the Es team website and it’s interesting. On one end you’ve got journeymen pro-dudes like perennial teamriders Rick McCrank and Rodrigo TX, more recent addition John Rattray, you could even include Justin Eldridge here. And then you’ve got a slew of relative newbies like Jimmy McDonald, Kevin Terpening, Ben Raemers, Josh Matthews. We can carve out a middle tier for Bobby Worrest/Kellen James/Mike Anderson but if you’re one of those types who likes to dissect “fit” when it comes to roster moves it would be easy to formulate some messageboard post questioning the cohesion. Maybe there’s a cautionary tale about putting too much weight on up-and-comer internet favorites as opposed to picking some genre lane and staying in it, which seems like it’s working for a company like Emerica. Or maybe it’s a lesson about going the super-team route, and how you better have a good backup plan if and when your super-team scatters to the four shoe sponsorship winds.*
And maybe this episode is more a sign o’ the times than anything else, since it seems like a really big company hasn’t unwound in a while. Es is quite a bit diminished from its Menikmati heights nowadays, but it doesn’t sit right to see this end for an operation with so much history. First three Koston models, Muska’s airbag, Penny stepping in from the wilderness with a switch front-foot impossible of all tricks, the “Enjoy Skateboarding” series, a good run with Ronnie Creager, the Accel obviously, the overlooked “Especial” video, the first Arto shoes, the Contracts, etc etc.
As one of those people who skated in Accels or derivatives like the Square One more than any other single shoe over the past 10 or 12 years, I mourn Es, though partly it’s out of confusion as to how the company with the little tilde thing wound up on the chopping block as opposed to others shopping for some pro-backed identity in an overcrowded segment. I was and still am considering a separate post that may serve as a sappy love letter to the Koston 2, one of the hardest to love shoes ever made that gave back twice as much after they were broke in, and in some ways were ahead of their time in terms of a less-padded tongue and being something like an unapologetic mid-top.
*Another thought, might things have turned out different if Pierre-Andre had cut Koston in via an equity stake?
International tastemaker, former Sal Barbier employee and affable guy-on-the-couch TV guest star Jason Dill is in the messageboard headlines again, only this time for skate tricks. It’s a departure for Dill, one of the most quotable/misquotable personalities in the biz, and who seems very much aware of it. What do you think, this is the third career renaissance for Jason Dill? Fourth? Would it be pointless hyperbole to submit Dill as the Madonna of useless wooden toydom? Does this site traffic in any other sort?
The cynical book is easy to make on Jason Dill, who could be perceived putting himself just far enough ahead of the pack when it comes to trick trends, outfit choices and various cultural movements to appear streets beyond the yellow-shirted nollie crooked grinders of the early ’00s or the energy drink-hatted ledge swirlers of our current age. His occasional mouthiness — witness this month’s Thrasher, “We axed the Scientologist and acquired two new ams” — marks him as something of a snob, which maybe he sort of is, but any and all of that stuff I feel like is balanced out by what’s just as obvious to anybody who’s followed Jason Dill for any period of time, and he basically lays out later on page 149: “as a fan of skateboarding myself…”
Whatever foibles he’s got it’s hard not to root for a dude who lugs around several suitcases full of skateboarding history and potpourri underneath that now-dormant afro puff, hitching his filming wagon to some long-forgotten H-Street dude’s section 20 years ago or seeming to wear a wrist cast as some type of fashion accessory. Whether or not I personally recognize or relish whatever references and insinuations he’s baking into his tricks, you appreciate the effort to bring something more nuanced to the table with one eye on the history books and the other kids who may or may not pick up on it.
Rightly or wrongly sometimes I get to wondering about how skating is different than or same as big-league sports like basketball or football, and professional fandom is part of this wondering. Like, does Johan Santana subscribe to the MLB network so he can Tivo Joe Mauer’s at-bats? Or does Brian Urlacher have a shelf of VHS tapes handy in case he feels like watching some games with the Fridge? Do basketballers discuss it in the locker room if some dude on another team made a glorious slam dunk? On our end how many pros you think went out and bought the DVD/begged for PMs on the Slap board when “Stay Gold” came out? How many dudes with pro shoes on the market right now could rattle off Mike Maldonado’s last trick in “Welcome To Hell”? Should it matter?
Recently while aboard a luxury locomotive I gazed out the window to take in the urban decay and peacefully zoned out on the loading docks and warehouses, snapping to after realizing that it had been several minutes and probably it looked retarded to whatever secular co-passengers might’ve been paying attention. One of those increasingly seldom times when a person can still feel as though these pursuits might set them apart in some fundamental way from the rest of the whoevers, and coming on the heels of the pretty emotionally heavy Oyola “Later’ds,” casts Ricky/Bobby/Traffic and the rest in a whole different light.
I ask you, who but a truly cockeyed optimist looks for and sees potential for good times in a sea of crumbling concrete foundations and pissy public parks and disused traffic barriers? What sort of a person launches a hardgoods affair, in 2011, out of the east coast without Marc Ecko rhino pants money and with a full-time truck driving job? What sort of a person would professionally endorse this company? What sort of person devotes the last decade-plus to filming this stuff for unprofitable video enterprises? Does spot-seeking and those who live the attached lifestyle require a person to be naturally outfitted with rose-colored goggles, or are they earned like a samurai’s blade or a unicorn’s wish-granting powers?
Elsewhere on the east coast, Du Flocka Rant gives the children a reason to believe. (via quartersnacks)