Archive for September, 2014

Where Are All the Vanity Board Team Owners?

September 30, 2014

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Loudly, the “Lego Movie” demonstrated how this earthy life is built upon deception and a series of injurious failures, with the slim chance of revolutionizing society or overthrowing a malevolent dictator baked in to stave off utter hopelessness. So it may also be in the boardgoods galaxy, where increasingly it would seem that proprietorship of a deck company is tantamount to some sort of Sisyphean trek in holey vulc-soles, or several pelvic fractures, or maybe just an unfulfilling relationship.

Alien Workshop owners Chris Carter and Mike Hill’s grab for the brass life-ring of corporate ownership devolved into a game of M&A hot potato that may have soured them on the business for life, Jake Johnson said in an interview the other day: “I don’t think these guys wanna do it anymore. I think that they’re pretty pissed off.” Smoothie king Andrew Reynolds, in a separate interview, described running Baker and its affiliates more like a labor of love: “I own some skateboard companies and there’s not that much money in it. I see the truth.” Pontus Alv, owner/operator of by all accounts one of the more successful board companies at the moment, sounds fatigued as he oscillates between evaluating Chinese factories and trying to hold down a pro career: “It’s a shit load of work plus trying to be a team manager, going on a tour, promoting the brand, trying to skate…. I try to work with other people but a lot of times I just end up doing it myself because I can and they don’t have the same vision as me.”

Boards have yet to devolve into unfashionable utilities. The hierarchy of professional image and personal branding dictates that deck sponsors provide meaningful direction that appears to matter to the moneyed international footwear conglomerates that riders require to pay various mortgages and car notes and things. Nike, Jamie Thomas says, helped shepherd Trevor Colden from Mystery to the swish-heavy pastures of Skate Mental, and conspiracy theory-minded observers will note that EU comer-upper Karsten Kleppan did a similar two-step from Lakai and Element in recent months.

So are board company owners doing it wrong? The argument has been made that owning professional sports teams should not be a profit-seeking venture, but rather a long-term luxury investment similar to a yacht or bankrolling a Ron Artest CD. Rather than paper dollar bill wads, rewards arrive in the form of grand intangibles and assorted life hammers such as the prestige that comes with fielding a championship team or sweatily mounting a Grammys stage to collect hard-won trophies for hit Ron Artest singles. Sports team owners enjoy earthly delights like fostering relevant cultural memes, cheering as your employees innovate new ways to involve animals in celebrations, and build in the lab with the Pandas’ Friend formerly known as Metta World Peace from time to time.

Former World Industries Chief Financial Officer Scott Drouillard, in a recent interview with Jenkem, described blindly speculating on Florida swampland as preferable to working for a skateboard company, and the rationale for selling out over a decade ago:

All of us had invested all of our wealth in this company, and there were three big factors. One, the overall economy and stock market was at a historic high, going off the scale. Two was our industry… Our industry was blowing up! And knowing it goes in cycles, about 10 year cycles, we knew we were really at the explosive peak of it. Lastly, is how we were managing the company. We were hitting home runs like 3 out of 4 times, and you can’t be expected to continue hitting home runs like that forever.

Viewed through such a lens, does this portray decades-deep boardsportsmen such as Tod Swank, Ed Templeton, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard as grinning sadomasochists? Does Steve Rocco, reclining on some Malibu beach, kick himself for not finagling a stake in the Big Brother-spawned Jackass franchise? Would there be more rap careers if board companies were backed by deep-pocketed benefactors? Would there be worse ones? Are Pat Pasquale and Nick Trapasso employing some Billy Beane-esque algorithm in building the Life Extention team, or only their video soundtracks?

Ryan Gallant’s Clipper Ledge Transworld Cover Is A Victory For Us All Dudes

September 25, 2014

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Will landing a magazine cover matter more when mass-marketed US publications dwindle to just one or two print editions? Will they matter less? Kickflip backside noseblunt sliding San Francisco’s Clipper ledge easily qualifies among the gnarlier tricks this year, the past few years, and as a somewhat out-of-nowhere late-career peak for Ryan Gallant, if only because he’s been plying this trade about 15 years now and is not in the ostensible final weeks of filming a supposed Plan B video supposedly.

Ryan Gallant, his sponsors and Transworld itself all have clear reasons to rejoice this month. Below we shall examine several other obvious and less-obvious beneficiaries of Ryan Gallant’s trick, which is one for the history books:

East coasters laid heads to pillows after seeing this magazine cover knowing that another page in a West Coast spot’s history was writ upon by a New Englander’s briny fist.

Aging professionals are reminded that, as Jamie Thomas demonstrated in last year’s “Cold War,” exercise and proper diet have gone a long way toward extending the pro lifespan from the early-20s retirement age of a quarter-century ago, and benchmarkable feats are well within grasp provided you posess mastery of backside noseblunts and other similarly forceful tricks such as backside 180 switch frontside crooked grinds, as Ryan Gallant has proven able.

Goofy footers now can sit back in a leisurely manner as the onus shifts to regular footed pros and certain other would-be players to attempt a switch version, or do it frontside.

Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, will benefit because Ryan Gallant’s trick will encourage people to reach for hidden strengths within themselves, a living tribute to Gary Gygax.

Windmill propellers may find to go for another spin or two, modeling their movements on Ryan Gallant’s board and generating clean and renewable energy for residential houses and however many wafflemakers they contain.

Street League contestants will watch for opportunities to climb in the rankings in the form of tiny, tiny teardrops gathering in Nyjah Huston’s eyes, as he imagines other famous hubbas that he may one day kickflip backside noseblunt.

Stevie Williams could be rubbing his hands together in glee at the prospect of collecting this clip for the pending Gold Goons production, said to feature the cast of the Nintendo game Goons and Goblins and several heavy ingots of gold ore.

Rave ’til Dawn

September 7, 2014

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Similar to David Carr and Dee Snider, Baker Boys man Andrew Reynolds’ unlikely journey over the past decade saw him emerge from the den of substance-saturated iniquity to ultimately assume the mantle of thoughtful elder statesman. In an intriguing interview with Jenkem the other day, Reynolds’ comments suggest some connection between tunnel-visioned fucked-upness and the fog of war that can descend when grappling with a trick or line, two pursuits that for some may serve as means to basically the same end:

Some skaters have told me that when they try really difficult and scary tricks they black out in between tries. Has that ever happened to you before?
Definitely, it’s something that I’ve talked to Jim Greco about. The blackout is what you’re searching for constantly from trying a trick. Even when I was really young I noticed it because I would skate a lot of contests and stuff in Florida and people afterwards would say like, “Oh that was cool they were playing Zeppelin,” or whatever and I would just be like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” For me it was just silence the whole time I skated. With Tampa Pro and stuff, it’s just total focus and silence. If I’m able to tell what song was playing at a contest or demo afterward, that’s how I know I didn’t really want to be there.

Besides not hearing the music, is there actually any blackout throughout the run or trick?
I mean, you know what you’re doing… I think it’s the reason people pay money to learn how to meditate and do yoga to quiet their mind, you know? It’s like the most extreme form of that. I think that’s why when skaters don’t skate for a couple weeks are like, “Ahh, I gotta get out and do something!” because you’re so used to that feeling and escape your whole life. You need it.

Does Wes Kremer, a made man several times over at this point who seems never to particularly stress or struggle over what for others would present nigh-impossible feats, exist in a semi-permanent such zone? You wonder, observing his incredible ‘Crusty by Nature’ part and his generally footloose and fancy-free persona, whether some coitus-interruptus moment mid-trick left him in a sort of suspended haze, in a fashion such as the hypnotist heart attack that sent Peter Gibbons meandering toward middle management material in a matter of days. Neither the switch bigspin kickflip, the nollie flip backside into the burly bank, nor probably the best handrail darkslide captured to date on film particularly seems to faze Wes Kremer. The brief but hair-raising wobble out of the switch k-grind during the run through Tom Penny’s schoolhall basically sums it up.

Reynolds speaks of industry tutelage at the knee of one Tony Hawk, that demo god and video-game impresario, but it is worth pondering whether Wes Kremer developed his own focusing methods under a very different school. A self-professed Osiris disciple during “the Storm” heyday, Wes Kremer tells Thrasher of a potentially formative experience in which he beheld the rituals of another lord of So-Cal school hallways, Josh Kasper*:

Did you ever run the D3s?
Oh, absolutely. For sure. Marius moved into the same housing complex as Tony Magnusson, one
of the main dudes at Osiris. Once he moved over there and started kicking it with T-Mag and shit, getting shoes—after that we were hyped on Osiris. And it was pretty much an SD company, so we’d always see the dudes around. I remember seeing T-Bone, Smolik, Kasper. Holy shit, dude, I skated with Kasper one time back in the day. It was insane. We roll up to this triple set, right. I had no idea he was going on the session. I’m looking at it and all of a sudden I see this convertible BMW pull up. I’m like, “Who’s that?” And he pulls right up to the spot, right next to the stairs—bumpin’ this Eminem track. I wish I could say it was that 8 Mile song, but it was some other inspirational one. He gets his board out and he’s like, “Hey, hey, nice to meet you. I’m Josh.” And then out of nowhere—he didn’t even fuckin’ ollie the thing—he starts hucking front threes. He sticks it, dude. Literally sticks a frontside 270 and slams. And after the Eminem song ended, one of the songs from The Storm came on. Like, the craziest, most-techno song in the video. It’s just blasting out of the convertible while Kasper is getting served up, like, literally every try. Unfortunately, at the end of the day he didn’t get it. But I came back with an amazing Kasper encounter.

*A part that should get some kind of recognition solely for using what sounds like four different songs in less than three minutes

One Shoelace Belt to in the Darkness Bind Them

September 1, 2014

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All around us, the towers of logic are a-tumble, similar to Jenga blocks erroneously positioned nearby to a Fred Gall wallride. Behold, the vagabond winos at Cliche now peddle decks in distribution partnership with handrail headbangers Zero under Dwindle, the house that Flameboy built. Longboard makers run financial roughshod over storied and battle-hardened deck dynasties; three months on from Alien Workshop’s abrupt mothballing, major magazines have yet to offer any account, official or otherwise. In midtown professional skaters lustily embrace their corporate paymasters, as Paul Rodriguez and other Street Leageuers press Nasdaq’s ceremonial market-opening button and Chris Cole affirms to the WSJ that skateboarding is the “perfect” method for the Olympic to expand its viewership and rope in new advertising dollars.

In recent weeks another would-be bastion of reasoning crumbled following DGK’s release of its “Blood Money” promo. Largely obscured by Marquise Henry’s massive switch backside noseblunt, half-cab pointer grind revert and AVE ender, Dane Vaughn’s last trick and facial hair making a bid for the year’s sleaziest, as well as Boo Johnson’s handgliding hardflips and impeccable frontside tailslides*, was the subliminal yet clearly articulated message that skinny camo pants no longer can be used as any litmus test for judgment, fashion- or otherwise, upending a longstanding assumption that stood unchallenged as recently as Trevor Colden’s Skate Mental part. DGKs from Marquise Henry to Jackson Curtin (several times recognized historically as the industry’s best-dressed) can been seen within more form-fitting camoflage, jettisoning the traditional woodland patterning, cargo pockets and bagginess that imbued the noble BDU with its sense of timelessness**.

Are we so lost? Like Rick Howard video parts and Red Dragon brawlings, increasingly, skate-centric fashion innovations seem to be fading into the haze of history, sometimes dropped amid adoption by more general populaces, sometimes because they ultimately became understood to look wacky. Patterned berets sold by Vision came to identify counterculture warriors in 1980s cinema, whereas lacesavers went the way of the vert ramp in the early 1990s just in time for kickflips to usher in ollie patches, Shoe Goo and a slightly different way of shredding shoelaces. Airwalk, Vans and Etnies could not wrap their heads around low-top sneakers quickly enough to save a generation of “Questionable” era hightops from stickers and shears, the latter of which also chopped short pant cuffs in the goofy boy period, influencing several ravers.

Following a bizarre interlude when shopping at the Gap was cool, skateboarders helped lift cargo pants to their later Abercrombie staple status before Muska developed a unique method for bunching up his pants at calf level, in which he was joined on both coasts by the likes of Sean Sheffey and Fred Gall. Warner Ave members later attempted to resuscitate spray-painted shoes and reclaim the vert shirt from bodybuilders, but despite the ongoing success enjoyed by the weed leaf sock, such strokes of inspiration in recent years mostly wandered toward more pedestrian pastures, the brown cords/white tee ensemble serving as a notable such milemarker.

Consider the shoelace belt, and whether it represents the longest-lived such accessory. Popularized around the 2002 release of Flip’s “Sorry” as a more lightweight and streamlined alternative to spiked belts for the stretch black denim set, the shoelace belt enjoyed broad embrace across the tech/gnar spectrum, at times seeming to mutate into a product category of their own. Mall retailer Zumiez currently offers three pages’ worth of shoelace belt items and belt-optimized branding options are available in multi-coloured sets from the hat firm Neff. Despite adherence to colourful editions among the likes of Sebo Walker and Shep Dawg Stephen Lawyer there appear signs that the shoelace belt’s profile may decline as more-traditional leather variants reclaim lost market share and diminishing lace hole populations leave larger-waisted consumers bereft of fittable out-of-the-shoebox options.

Would extinction of the shoelace as a belt mark another step toward relinquishing any claim skating still may hold over casual-wear style leadership? Have bike messengers and dockworkers already usurped this position? Is it ‘just a shoelace brah’ or so much more brah? Does there exist photo evidence of so-called “lace heads” lining up outside shops days before a sneaker release only to discard the shoes in favor of looping limited-release laces through expensive denim beltloops? Were these the original target consumers for Jake Brown and Peter Smolik’s ‘lifetyle company’ LACED?

*to regular, naturally
**Josh Kalis of course seems to remain a traditionalist, and Bobby Worrest