It has been observed that the skateboarding industry is like high school, replete with jocks, nerds, overachievers, fashion victims, would-be authority figures, substance enthusiasts and vengeful, scheming captains of the water polo team who drive tricked-out jeeps and are partial to ripped jeans. Sticking with the analogy, last week we saw a long-running couple, recently broken up, each show up to the prom with new dates. Here was Blueprint, determined to pick up the shards of its spray-heart logo and shake off an ignominious dumping last fall, escorted by a half-dozen unknowns from the Southwest, and Mike York, who I like to imagine wearing a seersucker suit and white corsage. And then the former Blueprint squad, trotting out a sleek new name and logo spotlighting their Old World roots, ready to move on.
Look at Blueprint, chin out in an ill-fitting getup, dudes with blond dreads and Canadian management, trying at some kind of statement setting its team makeover clip to “Coming to America” (presumably by way of Quebec). As the would-be masterminds behind Ice Cream Shoes will attest it’s not easy to pull a Kareem Campbell when it comes to plucking unknown ams from the skatepark ether, and the pressure may be giving their filmer a case of tremors. Yet the former Blueprinters, offering pedigreed graphics and a trimmer team, may have the harder path. The stakes may be lower without this company having carried the UK on its back through the late-90s universe expansion, but it still arrives from some of the dudes who made all those legendary videos, and with no Canadian owners in the wings it’s all on them this go-round.
Both companies have an obvious fixation on America, economic or otherwise, and it is not difficult to see opportunities for them to jointly tap into American’s long-running love affair with familial turmoil and fractured relationships. Could a grudge match demo-tour produce 411 “Road Trip”-worthy highlights as each squad looks to one-up the other? Is there a potential sequel to last season’s “One in a Million” pressure-cooker meltdown to be had by confining the two teams to a “Big Brother” style condo to chew one another’s limbs off over British skate lore and whoever drank the last beer?
The respective team pages are telling. Are seeds of internal strife already germinating within Isle? A solid two-thirds of the team lists some variation of “green” as their favorite color, while boss figure Paul Shier stakes out the other side of the color wheel with “orange” and Nick Jensen boldly declares “not green.” Can they stand against the newly united Blueprint group, which have no history but seem to be on the same page when it comes to cuisine, roundly backing Mexican and BBQ variations? And will Isle continue to stick with the British spelling of words like “colour”? For that matter, will Blueprint?