Archive for August, 2012

Tim And Eric Are The Skate Mentalists

August 27, 2012

Empires have risen and fallen and the courage of our landed gentry has been called into question, but them Southern boys running Roger Skateboards seem committed to holding it down. Roger employees Tim and Eric are proficient in sleight of thought and trickery of the body; they remember the names of the forgotten gods and are affiliated with the shadowy international league known as the League of Shadows. There was a rumor on a bulletin board one time that Tim and Eric brought their skateboards to a crossroads near Racine at midnight to strike a bargain with the devil, promising their eternal souls in return for telepathic control over certain parthenocarpic fruits. They ride multicoloured wheels due to a belief that these imbue sexual powers.

The U.S.A. celebrates freedom, including the freedom to put one’s hands, feet, noggin or tookus on the ground when completing a trick for film or bonus points. What’s true is that in the twelve years since NC Clothing left its immortal mark on the culture in the form of the “Tilt Mode” vid, any number of individuals residing in Denver and points beyond have attempted their own variations on the theme, but solely the Wisco-oriented Beez organization has left the same angry red weals by reimagining the act of skateboarding by way of an eight-bit acid trip turnt up to 11. There are footplants in this video section that have not yet been dreamt of, and a surreal turn comes around 0:40 and things become only more disorienting as decks and entire boards begin to appear out of nowhere, extending combos that old-schoolers dared not speak of for fear of stirring powers more ancient and blasphemous than those now known.

After watching this video, can it be said that Tim and Eric embody ‘traditional skate values?’ Is incorporating cars into tricks ‘baller status’? Does incorporating humans into tricks require waivers and strict adherence to federal OSHA regulations? Should ‘ghostriding the whip’ be restricted to officially sanctioned sideshows?


August 26, 2012

Not a lot to say here, other than that this was one of those photos where you’re flipping through the magazine (TSM, Jaws cover) and you stop and say “damn.”* Marc Johnson has nearly a Mumford eagle-is-landing thing going on with his arms here and a nice hat. White tee, blue jeans and a kickflip backside tail, these components could have equated to a classic photo 20 years ago.

*Another one from the same issue is Jon Dickson’s nollie backside flip

Trading Places

August 22, 2012

What’s your occupation?
Independent contractor.

OK. Meaning…
Spot locator. Hired gun. Hunter-gatherer.

Some people aren’t familiar with your trade, is all.
My trade is a result of supply and demand.

Well, alright, how long have you been at this?
Full-time, I guess, four years? But really I started about ten years ago.

Explain how you got into this line of work then.
Like the other guys, basically filming. As often as not you’re expected to come with places to go if you get kicked out of the spot you’re at, or you trek out to the boonies and find out the spot’s not skatable for whatever reason, people are there, the cops. You can go someplace nearby, still be productive, wind up getting paid.

But you don’t film nowadays.
I do, a little bit. Here and there. But yeah, I spend more time on the road now. In the field.

Like in your car?
Yeah. For a vehicle you need, number one, gas mileage, and preferably something inconspicuous. It’s a lot of slow creeping around industrial parks, construction sites, all that. I keep maps and a phone with a dead battery and a couple handwritten addresses for when I need to answer questions.

You tote a camera too, and a laptop. There’s a story to explain those?
I’m a film student. Just spaced out and lost. I got a college student ID off a kid a while back, I haven’t had to whip it out yet though.

When did you figure out this could be a full-time job?
First off, I’m glad you call it a job, because it is work, a lot of work sometimes. It clicked for me when I was at the bar one night, showing two pros a photo I’d taken of a really long, mellow hubba ledge. It was in Van Nuys, it’s gone now, it was skated a lot though. These dudes were on the same team actually, board team. Basically they wanted me to take them to the spot the next day, I was down, I’d film or whatever. But then one of the dudes, the younger one as it happens, he went to take a piss and the dude who stayed whipped out $200 and asked if I’d take him and ditch the other guy. I took it, but then felt bad and when I was leaving to pick the older dude up the next day I actually called the other guy just to give him the heads up we were going, but he was still passed out from the night before anyway so it was a wash. Basically the older pro got his trick and sort of said he’d pay up if I clued him in on good spots I found after that, and it was on.

How much does a good spot go for now? Say a 12-stair rail, round.
The market decides.

Come on. Give people an idea.
No way. And give all these young bucks a way to undercut me? Anyway it all fluctuates.

Who’s your main clientele?
Pros. Older pros. The young kids, the ams, they don’t need my services as much, and they don’t got that much money anyway. It’s a whole equation that makes this business, kind of a food chain. At the top of the food chain, say, you got pros who have been in the game for ten or maybe fifteen years, and they have the shoe money, the energy drink, big sponsors, or a TV or contest deal. And a lot of times they’re running companies themselves. Obviously they don’t have the time to go out cruising for spots themselves, but that’s just part of it. About ten years back when “Pretty Sweet” and the Vans vid and Flip’s video came out, there was this generation of pros who, their skills were sort of starting to fade, their names were still big and people still wanted to see them and sponsors had a lot of money behind them… but if you’re going to film a backside smith grind on a bank-to-ledge you can’t do it on one where some random kid got a backside smith grind backside flip out a week before for his internet part. You need fresh spots, you do your more basic tricks on a new spot and people aren’t focused all on what other tricks have been done there. So as a spot it has more value.

And the guys who need those spots the most are the ones that have money to spend.
Right, yeah. For the kids coming up, ripping and trying to make their bones or whatever, it’s kind of beside the point. It almost works the other way for them, like for a long time you’ve seen kids who headed to these name-brand spots like El Toro or Hubba Hideout or Med Choice or Baldy or Rincon. For them it’s like you want to be measured against what’s been done before, to sort of prove yourself.

Can you sell a spot more than once?
You can. Some places, you make the call, it’s open season–for such and such figure I’ll tell you where the spot is. But what you’re getting at, keeping a spot quiet but getting good mileage out of it, that takes more work. And obviously the spot has to be worth it. But there’s ways.

You blindfold people?
Nah. I’ve thought about it. As far as I go, it’s just everybody turns off their phones and I hold on to them, you build in a few detours into your route, but like I said that’s pretty rare instances. If dudes wind up remembering their way to some spot because they’re familiar with the area it’s not likely to stay secret that long anyway, you know?

But you do sell exclusive rights sometimes.
I don’t know how “exclusive” any of these places are, they’re all publicly accessible. Mostly. But if someone’s willing to pay a premium for me to text them GPS coordinates and then erase them from my list, we can talk about it. I’ve done that. There’s no guarantees though. There’s more dudes out there trying to do this nowadays.

Do you do stuff like lock handrails, or sabotage spots to keep them under wraps?
I don’t, but I get why some people do. It’s their livelihood, I guess. It seems a little bit over the top to me. And well-equipped filmers will figure out a way to deal with it anyway.

What do you look for when you’re doing research? In the field?
Just the usual stuff, how long, tall, far, I take photos and video sometimes to give the sense of what a clip or a line would look like, depending what it is. Materials, in case stuff needs to be fixed. Sometimes you go back at night to see what it would look like lit up, or if there’s security around during the day. And if you’re smart you crop out any kind of shit in the background that would tip people off to where it is, so you can shop the photos around. Some people like more gritty looking spots, some people don’t care, so you figure out what this dude or that dude likes and you can cater to that.

How long do you think you’ll do this? Like is this a career to you?
Good question. I don’t know. It’s better than filming, for sure. Money up front and all-cash transactions. I guess it depends what you like, sometimes you feel like a big rig driver, or a courier, long days on the road. You wind up being a behind-the-scenes operator, see some billboard or TV commercial and it’s a trick at a spot that you hooked up. That’s cool the first few times, then it’s mainly the money.

Diced Pineapples

August 14, 2012

Looking at the Skateboard Mag the other day, this little Donovan Piscopo interview, and got to fantasizing about tricks. As you do. Folks like Jake Johnson and Wes Kremer recently have been out there taking the wallride to strange new places — what if you were to take Donovan’s grind here, lose the bank underlying the ledge, and a dude just did a wallride into this trick*? Sort of like a pool coping scratcher maybe, but you’d think a body could put their mind to it and lock both 58’s atop the corner for a little bit anyway. Thinking it over a while I started to wonder if I’d actually seen somebody do a trick like this at some point, in a photo or video. Unfortunately due to severely limited capacity and general neglect, my brain is never going to have the cataloging capabilities of a Police Informer or a Chrome Ball or a Vert-Is-Dead. Instead I cast myself upon the mercy of yall. Can anybody recall somebody wallriding up into a ‘vert’ scratcher grind like this, without a bank to start from?

*with or without the grab

As We Consider The Potential For International Interest-Rate Watchdogs To Turn Their Gaze Upon Street League Scoring, Here Are Several Charts

August 14, 2012

In recent days the undersea volcanic trench that is Rob Dyrdek’s business empire sent up another frothy cascade of bubbles that made ‘internet waves,’ as his Street League subsidiary jockeyed for position and unique eyeballs among an increasingly crowded and soda residue-sticky field of contest franchises. Rob Dyrdek, who skate lore says steered his investments away from P-Jays Undapendent just ahead of the great backpack rap bubble’s bursting in the early part of the last decade, is revered among newly pro’d auto-shoppers pondering the lease vs. own question for his business acumen and counter-intuitive moves, which oftentimes leave lesser investors in the dust and gazing up toward what appears to be an increasingly lofty ivory-tower perch.

Rob Dyrdek has proven that he cannot be bound by common rules and statutes of business 101, just as he cannot be constricted by typical contest guidelines, going on to design his own rules and then breaking those just the same. Rob Dyrdek has revamped various business lines altogether, for instance reviving the noble tradition of metallurgy and advanced alloying in the Serbian basin and more recently buying his pet small horse a pager. For his next move, Rob Dyrdek seems set upon reconfiguring the social stratum. A while ago we explored the concept of a top-1% designation for pros flexing to the tune of private skating facilities and other perks. Due to the power of Street League, pro skateboarders now clean the clocks of NFL union members in terms of earnings growth, perhaps delivering a cosmic blow against the jocks of the universe, right where it counts.

According to cited figures, social media friends of Street League man to man could take on the country of Australia in a brawl and stand a good chance of winning, depending on what time of day the fight started and whether Australia had just eaten a big meal beforehand. The popularity of the Street League has enabled each league cycle to hold sway over TV and internet streaming services for more than 315 hours, or roughly four months.

Yet has Rob Dyrdek’s appetite for risk led him to chance losing it all? The British Bankers Association’s approach to formulating the London interbank offered rate, a worldwide benchmark for floating rate lending, has come under fire as trading desks allegedly leaned on rate-setters to quote artificially high or low rates, part of a plan to skew the Libor’s fixing and reap rewards in the markets. Untold sums lean against these rates in the form of mortgages, auto loans and futures market bets, all of which have come into question following regulators’ allegations.

Could the Street League’s unique method of contest score calculation draw similar scrutiny? Should smelting be added as the long-rumored “fifth element” of Street League? Do you remember when Rob Dyrdek mastered the 20-stair rail in that old DC commercial and AVE turned in an uncredited cameo as a construction worker? Is AVE in the 99% or the 1%? Same question for Rob Dyrdek’s small horse but in terms of horse earnings?