Archive for November, 2013

Some Kind of Monster

November 30, 2013

torben-ulrich

Nyjah Huston is in the news again, this time seeking to reel in among the biggest and slipperiest, if not necessarily the most lucrative, fish of the skate-award realm: Thrasher’s often-legendary Skater of the Year award, which if nothing else remains a monument to the grand intangibles in a world increasingly dominated by quantitative benchmarks such as Street-League scoring points, unique page-views and ‘likes.’ Before running out the remainder of the year swilling macrobrews and lighting cars on fire before giggling and bearded photographers, Nyjah Huston in his just-released ‘Fade to Black’ part cranks the Old Metallica, dons several colors of Thrasher branded t-shirt apparels and deploys any number of massive backside lipslides, kinked 50-50s and blizzard flips onto handrails in his bid for the SOTY prize.

Like many Nyjah Huston video parts before it, this year’s comes packaged as an ‘event’ chock full of feats that go several stairs further than others have dared, and inevitably has ignited frothy debates over the ‘jock’ nature of Nyjah Huston’s skating. A gently probing analysis of the topic reveals a more fundamental question, however: Are skateboarders, who draw their identities from an athletic activity, by definition ‘jocks’?

When weighing such weighty questions, it’s helpful to begin with the basics. Webster’s dictionary defines ‘jock’ as an ‘athlete, especially: a school or college athlete,’ derived from the noun ‘jock strap.’ The stretchy but supportive apparatus that embraces sportsmen worldwide today originally was invented around 4,500 B.C. by Tunisian animal husbandrists, casting about for methods to speed spice-laden camels across North Africa’s arid plains.

Modern-day skateboarding has had little use for what we now understand to be the commoditized jock strap, eschewing more-formalized undergarment support in favor of short-shorts in the early days of taming backyard transitions, to the no-safety-net stance of the early 1990s’ goofy-boy scene. But as contest purses grew more lucrative, skateboarders began to gravitate toward more form-fitting garments previously regarded as the exclusive realm of Ed Templeton and Mario Rubalcaba. The advent of stretch denim largely obviated the need for classical support regimes and some skateboarders now even have adopted tighty-whities, a mindset unthinkable just a decade ago.

Gleaming trophies and contest hauls go only so far in rationalizing such an attitudinal shift, however, and so to better understand the gravitational forces and wearable whims at play, Boil the Ocean sought out H. Stoss ‘Boss’ Perot, professor of chemical and metallurgical anthropology at the highly regarded East Wangle University. Boil the Ocean Web Site was particularly intent on engaging Professor Perot’s viewpoints given his long-running research into the fibrous content of modern-day jockstraps and designer sweatpants, a marketplace now cornered by just three multinational gargantuates — ancient trade-houses of vast means.

“There’s far more afoot than people understand,” Prof. Perot claimed while on the phone from his research facility where he looks at elastic bands. “And far more at stake. I believe this shift reflects a systemic risk that has gone unaddressed, if not willfully ignored, for far too long.”

We departed immediately for Prof. Perot’s facilities, as per coded instructions faxed over so as to elude what the academic referred to cryptically as ‘overeager aficionados’ of his singular research. Yet upon arrival we discovered the once-immaculate lab, typically festooned with stretchy materials of all types, ransacked and smoldering with no sign of the professor. A breathy croak emanating from beneath a pile of debris in one corner offered sign that the destruction was not total, and we rushed to dismantle the wreckage.

A toothy, bearded maw presented itself; that of an orangutan, a specimen out of the northeastern hills that was known to me as Mike. “They’ve got him,” Mike rasped, before lapsing into a pitiable swoon of the sort only a highly intelligent primate can truly manage.

Our mission revealed to us, we sped directly to the local ammunition dump before taking a back-room table at a friendly ale-house to plan. Pots of coffee, roasted meat and strong drink emboldened us to our cause, which became increasingly clear to be a suicide mission. The orangutan kept silent counsel at the table’s far end, slowly twirling a Bowie knife amongst his spidery fingers as his cigar burned to a stump. “So it must be,” the creature muttered, to no one in particular. “The hard way, as it ever was.”

Bizzell Hutchinson, that tavern’s deeply whiskered proprietor, had time only to throw wide the door and bark “we’ve got company” before the mortar fire began. Rockets screeched down, peeling back the roof and walls in great fiery curtains as we scrambled across the floorboards and broken mugs. Half a chair careened by and through the haze Mike, machine-gun braced against his shoulder and clattering, still gnawing his cigar and faintly, grinning. The elastics cartel had located us.

TO BE CONCLUDED…

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‘You Know What? I Think I’m A Tortured Person’

November 15, 2013

JT

Did Forrest Edwards teach Jamie Thomas to enjoy life again, as Punxsutawney Phil did for Bill Murray in the famous movie ‘Groundhog Wild’? The answer is yes, but this is simply a trick question, because Forrest Edwards really did so for all citizens. Yet the Reynolds fad diet-endorser may have at least tangentially sparked Jamie Thomas with regard to Zero’s ‘Cold War,’ which features the best Jamie Thomas part in perhaps a decade — the kinked hubba kickflip 5-0, the ‘Misled Youth’ cast cameos, a fresh assault on Rincon, and the cheese-eating ender ending pictured above.

But how do we get there from here? (Via the Zero ‘Thrasher’):
I don’t know that carefree fun has ever been my style. A lot of people judge me for that. That was the beef that Muska and I had back in the day. He wanted to cruise around, get gnarly, have fun and not really take it that serious but still get stuff done. I didn’t feel like I was talented enough to just cruise around and hope stuff happened. My fund is more of an enjoyment of the mission. It’s just setting out on a path and accomplishing it. That’s what drives me. There’s obviously lots of smiles along the way, but I’m not just carefree floating around.

One did not have to see ‘One in a Million’ to conceptualize the unpredictable effect Forrest Edwards has upon any nearby bros. In the case of his new boss, Forrest Edwards’s board-twirling antics at the Clipper ledge seem to have inspired Jamie Thomas, on the doorstep of 40 years old, to follow suit and/or attempt the impossible. Is Forrest Edwards’ speedy flow-to-pro journey that much more impressive considering he did not have to toil for years in the Black Box warehouse as he sought his spot? Do Jamie Thomas’ floral button-ups suggest a more relaxed attitude toward work and play now that Dane Burman’s 50-50 grind has secured the distribution’s financial security for years to come? Is Erik Ellington’s cap-over-the-hood a throwback to San Diego superhero Peter Smolik’s glory days or a stab at Axl Rose-influenced ‘outsider’ fashion?

‘Word Up’ or, Boil the Ocean’s Generally Uninformed Views Regarding Runners and Riders for 2013 SOTY

November 3, 2013

sheriff

As contest grow, amass greater cash purses and consolidate power, Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ has come to command a late-year rush of award-season bait generally angled toward capturing the short-pantsed golden bro with the Lego-man cap on. The phenomenon has birthed horrific mutations and eddies in the space-time continuum, such as making the front half of the year sleepier than it might otherwise have been video-wise and flummoxing innocent blog websites that generally speaking might boast somewhat better SOTY oddsmaking without having to account for an early-December crush of Phelps-baiting footage arising out of nowhere. Nevertheless:

David Gravette A scrappy journeyman working in the medium of hairy 50-50s, Creature’s golden child is the onliest 2013 candidate whose resume totes a Thrasher-themed facial tattoo. Amongst all the ditches, bars and his not-quite-a-flyout backflip, Gravette demanded a cover photo and received it, though similar to the initial landing on his round-the-horn rail ride in this year’s CSFU part, Gravette’s bid is solid but may suffer from bad timing, its arrival earlier in the year having been obscured by any number of team-jumps, jailings, gay-rights ruminations and related chatterboxing.

Nyjah Huston: His contest-circuit profile and ability to consistently stretch handrail tricks down an additional few stairs each year have made Nyjah Huston a perennial candidate lately, and similar to Ryan Sheckler, he seems to have preemptively cleared a spot in his trophy room for the Thrasher award, so far to no avail. He has offered up to the mag some kinked-bar prowess and a politically incorrect comment that may otherwise have played well to a wizard-staffed campfire, but the ensuing press-release apology and tearful track record when a gold medal eludes him may make SOTY a long shot.

Bob Burnquist’s helicopter: Never has a helicopter so boldly staked a claim to an award that otherwise has purely been the affectation of human beings, yet as digital technology advances and extreme athletes continue to achieve on stronger and deeper stages, machinery has played an ever-larger role, be it lasering substandard eyeballs, defending against rogue-state missile launches or ferrying Danny Way back to his next MegaRampTM run. It’s difficult to argue against Bob Burnquist’s helicopter as the most-extreme propeller-driven aircraft of modern times, though Thrasher underbosses may look askance at an all-park part.

Clint Walker: Like a bearded young demon conjured by blaspheming worshippers of Heath Kirchart’s career, the long-simmering Clint Walker boiled over last spring in Ambig’s ‘Modern Art’ video. Clint Walker did a truly gnarly crooked grind revert and in addition to all those damn-the-wobbles ending tricks managed that rare feat of the YouTube age, forcing rewinds after a vertigo-inducing miss on an otherwise unassuming nollie heelflip. The knock against Clint Walker would be that he’s too new, but few have chomped as hard as he this year.

Brandon Westgate: New England’s famed cranberry boggart recorded some of the year’s heaviest tricks, some flung down San Francisco hills, others up from handicap ramps, and one across a massive loading dock that looked roughly on par with the size of Brandon Westgate’s quiet and domesticated family home. Should Brandon Westgate, an accomplished tiler and this world wide web log’s odds-on favorite for the award, somehow dodge it this year, he seems assured that little-loved consolation prize which is to be attached to perpetual message-board grumblings also concerning Dennis Busenitz and Guy Mariano in the could’ve/should’ve SOTY sphere.

Bronze Hardware: With impeccable taste since the start, Bronze’s mastery of its particular/singular domain and subject matter have become harder to ignore with each passing year, braiding together a thick and lustrous twine of classic tricks, foreboding soundscapes and ‘found recordings’ into this year’s ‘Solo Jazz’ offering. Bronze Hardware’s prowess and promiscuity have engendered anger and half-mumbled threats from adversaries, which may for Thrasher staffers pose questions of peacekeeping and insurance liabilities for any SOTY event in which Bronze Hardware is named the ultimate winner.

Ben Rayborne: a grimy, bespectacled veteran of patchy backyard ramps and full pipes, who introduced the industry to the phrase “horse pool” and as much as anybody else in the running this year is of the Thrasher mold. Ben Raybourne skates giant sewers in the dark, threatens weak amphibians, rides ceilings where others may settle for the wall and fence-jams at Burnside, pumping out an array of footage this year that did include the obligatory Thrasher part. He also boasts the distinction of having some of his tricks translated into Lego formats.

Ishod Wair VX’ed footage of nighttime Love Park lines soundtracked to Raekwon in 2013 qualifies as certified blog fodder and must be treated as such. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to rate Ishod’s real-streetness after two parts worth of “Photosynthesis”-mining grit over the last year that also did include some Juicy J and multiple trips down the fountain gap. It’s a good look for Ishod Wair, whose skills never have been in doubt but whose “Since Day One” section spoke more toward the type of SoCal one-hitters that many a Street League jockey could have formulated. A lengthy interview in Thrasher, Deluxe affiliation and the promise of another possible part by year’s end further bolster his candidacy.

Jim Greco: Worse than a gruesome death or a quiet fade from the scene for Jim Greco would be damnation by being decreed ‘boring,’ and so in 2013 Greco challenges conventional norms and mores by embracing concepts like darkslides and Wrangler pants. Tangling with cars, dumpsters, hydrants and fearsome embankments, Greco pulled out a Slayer tape and most all the stops for his “Deathwish” video appearance and, seeming to grasp the spell Rodney Mullen commands over U.S. tweens, potentially extended his career another five years easy as he dares to navigate the turbulent waters of pants and sunglasses sponsorships.