Archive for October, 2015

Pazuzu 2: Necronomicon Boogaloo

October 31, 2015

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Ellington

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Pic dump from recent mags raises the question as to how many of these make their way to mobile screens via enabled social media sharing apps, and whether getting your photo run in a legacy papyrus-related periodical ensures it will be viewed by fewer unique heads in all?

Been There All The Time

October 24, 2015

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“Too hard,” was the beleaguered takeaway from jurists deliberating for three weeks the fates of legal executives who oversaw one of the law world’s most breathtaking collapses, that of the once high-flying Dewey & LeBouf LLP, sunk in 2012 and soon accused of cooking various books. Juggling upwards of 150 criminal counts, saturated in deeply technical testimony and confounded by the volcanic, phlegmatic and difficult to follow rants of one Uncle Donald, jurors tossed towels after finding themselves unable to agree on dozens of counts, in a situation similar to a spandexed rollerblader being handed a Nike-branded pen and pad so as to formulate precision Street League contest scores at a championship stop where the lowly ranked are shipped off to toil in gaol for unhappy decades.

Deck-consuming purchasers this week shall don blindfolds and ponder their own misbalanced scales as Alien Workshop unveils ‘Bunker Down,’ the resuscitated Ohio conspiracy-and-equipment merchant’s first formal video offering since resurfacing toward the beginning of the year. In its way it is a precedent-setting case — whereas half-hearted stabs have been made toward rebooting once-lively board concerns such as ATM Click and Vision, and companies such as World Industries, Toy Machine and Plan B have staged comebacks after replacing much of the companies’ prior rosters, AWS’s amateur-powered reincarnation represents the first attempt at a complete slate-wiping reset without letting its name first marinate in some nostalgic purgatory, or a box-checking effort toward team rebuilding so as to market bargain-bin products.

Sovereign Sect disciples reared on grainy images of rural blight and zoomed in shots of creepy crawlies have been heartened by now-daily photos and video clips on the Workshop’s Instagram portal that show Mike Hill much in command of the company’s signature visuals, ensconced in an abandoned nuclear research facility of some description, bought by Dyrdek. Absent hanging onto (M)other’s founding fathers, rebuilding the team from scratch was a plan far smarter than resetting with knowed pros or amateurs, lured from establishment sponsors and bearing their own baggage. Promising returns already are seen in Joey Guevara’s hilltop to alley marauding, Brandon Nguyen’s wall scaling and Frankie Spears’ handrail riffage, before Miguel Valle’s reliable lens, boring through lesser-chewed crust inside Detroit, upstate NY and other locales various. These dudes’ skating smacks of AWS to varying degrees, not far off the spectrum mapped by the company’s post-‘Mindfield’ additions, and time has validated many of the company’s prior pluckings of lil-known am talent, from Pappalardo and Wenning to Taylor and Johnson.

That grand and fickle arbitror, the marketplace, will judge whether this steamlined and refreshed Alien Workshop will remain a prowess player upon board walls and social media feeds for the years ahead, but its trajectory bears close observation — roughly 2200 miles to the southwest there have been ominous rumblings within the Crailtap camp, which already has seen three high profile departures and enough recent, billowy smoke around the prospective ship-jumpings of decades-deep Girl stalwarts such as Eric Koston and Guy Mariano so as to reasonably presume some type of fire. With the careers of other gen-one Crailtappers in their autumn season and the intentions of the Altamont cash-injectors toward lesser-loved hardgoods operations unknowed, it seems fair to ponder the future of another upstart turned industry pillar whose influence has receded like so many 90s-pro hairlines.

Is a wholesale reboot of Girl doable or desirable when vested owners such as Mike Carroll and Rick Howard are still capable of justifying their pro model products and Cory Kennedy, among Girl’s latest-annointed pros, appears in the SOTY mix? If Girl’s flow program were mined for such a baseline reset would Antonio Durao’s thundersome switch 360 flips provide air cover for any and all other newcomers? Was Plan B’s ‘Tru, B,’ bereft of all legacy professionals save the unsinkable Pat Duffy, actually a ‘Bunker Down’-style reset in all but name? Should the Alien Workshop have held the bagpipe hymn in reserve for their comeback release, or will the opening chords of BIG’s ‘You’re Nobody’ replace those of ‘Little Ethnic Song’?

Heated Seats And Pants With No Pleats

October 17, 2015

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“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it,” grumbled the dark lord Sauron in a recent and grumbly voiceover advertising the new Star Wars movie. “The dark side, and the light.” The vibrant world of wookies and hard-partying ewoks again has fallen into strife and discord, lousy with massing storm troopers and crashed spaceships. It represents an extension of what is perhaps the nation’s best-known workplace drama, in which the rigors of toiling under the Emperor’s exacting standards caused Darth Vader to crack and fail to recoup the Empire’s lofty investment in the initial Death Star, then resign his position before construction on the second could complete.

Darth Vader, like so many other career professionals laboring under layers of blubbery bureaucracy, encountered distressors* that occasionally drove him to lash out at colleagues and competitors, employing telekinesis and a lazery sword in equal measure, often illegally. As hinted by the Star Warrior-baiting Santa Cruz decks of yesteryear, Darth Vader’s broiling frustrations may mirror those gripping the skateboard sphere in these, the autumn days of 2015.

Like an incredulous Death Star space welder handed a snorkel, a flathead screwdriver and an unconvincing clap on the shoulder, stakes and requirements for workaday professional bros seem to ratchet ever higher while the constraints of a turbulent global economy seem intent on culling the industry herd. Once high-flying board affairs like Alien Workshop, Zero and Girl are undergoing painful evolutions, while rumors swirl around the future of Dekline shoes and Adio has taken to advertising former team riders in its bid for continued relevance. Signature-model toting professionals increasingly are expected to bear the responsibility of marketing themselves via crowd-courting internet pages, and we live in a time when not only is it unshocking to see a marginally-known amateur break off tricks like Gabriel Summers’ shiveringly gnarly nosegrind, it also is de regueur do it nominally for free. Olympic endorsement contracts would beckon skateboarding’s sobriety-compatible 1%, while remaining ne’er do wells contemplate crowdfunding raisers to sop up medical bills.

Are stress levels within skating’s grand talent pool rising to a Vader level in which colleagues get choked out at sit-down meetings? You hear these things, but it is hard to know for sure. There are signs and siguls, including but not limited to growth in powerviolence-sprinkled parts and graphics, or soundtracks bearing murderer music. Vignettes tucked into ‘Sabotage 4’ and the ‘Our Life’ video, two of the grittier and grottier outputs of recent weeks, feature fights with cops and passersby, recalling a previous industry crunch that manifested itself in part via board-to-drill combat.

Veins of latent but palpable anger burble beneath the overcast surface and betwixt combusting switchstance tricks in Gilbert Crockett’s ‘Salt Life’ video part for the redubbed Quasi, an outfit forged from the wreckage and occasional raw feelings of a highflying corporate adventure gone kaput. Quasi’s initial video look transposes some of the hi-contrast and sharp cuts of their graphical concepts, anchored in a somewhat deeper trench of Gilbert Crockett’s technical skating, including a crunchy switch backside smith grind and one of the more eye-popping switch shove-its in recent memory, and peppered with enraged grunts and a viciously celebratory board beating.

Has the quantity of cathartic, building-slapping wallrides and wallies risen in lockstep with the industry’s general level of fiscal insecurity? Will snapchatted pro boxing matches emerge as a multipronged answer to slackened incomes and late night instagram sniping? May all of it be symptomatic of a divide-and-conquer conspiracy among deep-pocketed sportswear and drink manufacturers? Does the environment grow ever riper for a Bo Turner comeback?

*versus happier eustressors trafficked among those hard-partying ewoks and jawas

Actavis Status

October 10, 2015

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Only 172 days ago*, widely regarded pharmaceutical supplier Actavis plc vulgarly displayed the power it holds over rap music when it voluntarily withdrew its beloved promethazine codeine cough syrups from the pharmacy shelves of the globe, sowing general discord and seeming to press the fast-forward button on the worldview of regular slurpers. What emerged as a merciless crackdown however rapidly evolved into syrupy brinksmanship among rap stars who bid handsomely for remaining stock, boasted of possession, and elsewhere prompted soul searching upon the end of a purply era.

Does another Love Park drought, or perhaps wholesale extinction, loom over Philadelphia and the world at large? Sabotage co-impresario Brian Panebianco has suggested as much. For longrunning fans of the polished stone blocks, this troubling outlook could position the law-abrading video series’ fourth installment as the crowded Soulja Boy countertop of Love Park footage, looking to the ‘Sabotage 4’ dudes to mine the once and future JFK Plaza as thoroughly and deeply as any preceding generation, steeping the planters, tiles and various temporary structures in a rich stew of blood, sweat and mouthwash under the gaze of their VX1000s.

Whereas the Sabotage skaters, graffitto artists and vagrants have nearly single-handedly revived Love Park in recent years, it is remarkable that such a plainly skatable, photogenic and history-soaked spot remains dominated mainly by locals, versus the flocks of migratory pros and steely-eyed wishers that perch up at the world’s JKwons, South Banks and MACBAs. Californian expat Mark Suciu rattles off several of his hyper-technical ledge couplets, Walker Ryan passes through to glide a switch backside flip down the gap,Philadelphia expat Josh Kalis transposes his Love Park template to LA and Chicago blocks, but the vast bulk of the Ty Evans-approved video length is doled out to locals.

The wiry Jamal Smith abruptly opens this video with an array of shove-its and heelflips that vacillate between the spastic and lackadaisical, commemorating the tornado spin’s pending 10-year** by applying it to a ledge. Dylan Sourbeer builds on his promo-spillover part with two songs’ worth of soldiering through the Love ledges and occasionally beyond, breaking from the double-stroller and lazy landings to unfurl some of the crazier backside tailslides at the spot so far. The vid’s heaviest thunderbolts though may be cast down by yung Joey O’Brien, capable of Mariano-approved half cab k-grind reverts on rails and Barley-crushed frontside 360s over cans, who cinderblocks out a handrail route to the fountain and penetrates Love Park’s concrete underbelly via one of the longer lines at the spot recently (also wild were the 180 switch crook lines and the impeccably twirled 360 flip into the bank).

There’s worthwhile arguments to be made over any lethargic fumes of stagnancy emanating from decades-worn spots, but fact that these dudes, most of them not pros, can year by year wring fresh mileage from what may be the most improbably longlived plaza spot domestically, conjuring progression from only about a solid city block’s worth of urban blight, reflects a lot about what this shit is supposed to be about in the first place and what’s perhaps at risk as municipal authorities ploddingly subsidize fenced-in and preapproved ‘free-speech zone’ analogues.

Will a true and final demolition of Love Park as it’s currently regarded spark a black market in tiles and ledge chunks that are rumoured still to lurk within the garages of certain ex-Philly pros to this day? Could a ‘Sabotage’-inspired wave of mouthwash guzzling force Johnson & Johnson to cull Listerine from store shelves? If Love Park somehow maintains will future VX-toters be forced to roll out a triple-seat stroller to arouse nostalgia purchases from a rarified class of skate grampas?

(Sabotage 4 can be acquired here.)

*As per the Roman/Earth calendar
**1 million plus views though