Archive for February, 2016

At the February Meeting of the International Brotherhood of Skate Video Character Actors

February 20, 2016

philly.jesus

Bill: Alright, let the record show this is Bill, representing the FDR managers and chair. I’d like to call this meeting to order. Can those present identify themselves for the minutes?

Len: Len here…

Ghostrider: This is your Ghostrider, present.

Murgatroyd Simmons: Murgatroyd. Here. On the phone from Milan.

Bill: Very good, we have a quorum. Let’s get to the new business then?

Ghostrider: We need to address Philly, one of our largest chapters.

Bill: No doubt. Does anyone have a motion on it?

Len: I’ve been traveling and not able to look at this closely yet… They shut the park this week, I saw… but… then Kyle Nicholson was still gunning for the switch 360 flip? Did I see that right..?

Bill: He’s switch 360 flipping on borrowed time, I’m afraid. The fences are up and the machinery moved in.

Murgatroyd: That’s a real bummer. Complete bummer.

Ghostrider: It’s a real blow to our brothers and sisters at the local chapter and to all of us. I assume I don’t need to recite for all of you the stats, between videos’ migration to Instagram and Vine and whatnot, all the private TFs, and the swelling rosters that pack the remaining full-lengths… I mean, it is really, really tough out there for any character actor, regardless of tenure or talent, to get meaningful screen time in skate videos these days. Any chapter, period.

Murgatroyd: Thank God for Fat Bill.

Len: Well, thank God for the Sabotage dudes… I mean… they provided roles for more members than nearly all other videos put together over the last few years. CJ the Picture Man, Joe McPeak… the tank-top gobbler… Philly Jesus, Snitch… all those bike cops…

Murgatroyd: Well hey, we should talk about a strike. Right?

Bill: It’s worth discussing.

Ghostrider: It may put the issue on people’s radar, but we need to get input from the local chapters on a move like that. There’s still good work to be got from the shop and independent videos and folks may not put that aside lightly with times like they are right now. There’s no more “…and you’re watching 411.” Transworld’s move back to the VX and weirdly abrasive paper for the new issue’s cover suggests a grittier direction, I’ll grant. But they’re a long way from ‘Free Your Mind’. It might just be some novelty thing.

Len: And, if these dudes in Philadelphia really will have to make their way without Love Park… you know, they may need our support there… It’s a two-way street.

Murgatroyd: True, well, good point.

Bill: There’s some mail on this, actually.

Murgatroyd: From the Philly chapter?

Bill: From some blog website. I guess people still do blogs. There’s a lot of run-on sentences and some made up words.

Len: What does it say?

Bill: It’s like a condolence card. Offering sympathy and solidarity in tough times for everyone who helped revive one of the world’s great spots, with minimal help from any company sponsors or corporate interests, producing some of the best skating and videos of the past decade. Thanks the Sabotage group and the rest for building a scene as raw and vital as any of the earlier Love Park heydays. Says it was both rousing and really sad, all the footage and photos this past week. The penmanship’s poor, it really rambles. Anyway then. I’d like to motion for canvassing the local chapters on a possible strike to call attention to the plight of our colleagues in Philadelphia related to Love Park’s closure.

Murgatroyd: Seconded.

Bill: Very good. Let’s keep an eye on this one and keep Philadelphia in our thoughts. On to old business?

Len: We’d tabled a long-term contract offer from Nike, as I recall… the money sounded alright…

Ghostrider: Yeah. I didn’t see how every one of our members sporting Nike gear helps our credibility or relevance when the shoes already saturate most skate videos right now. Still don’t, I guess, so suggest it stays tabled for now unless anybody’s got something new.

Bill: Right, seconded.

Murgatroyd: If there’s no other old business I’d move to adjourn, fellas. I’m meeting, you know, a gentleman caller.

Bill: Only other thing was a moment of silence for the Brown sisters. I suggest we adjourn with that.

All: Seconded.

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Bring Hither the Fatted Calf and Kill It

February 13, 2016

how_now_apocalypse_now_cow

As the blind oracles foretold, Lennie Kirk is proving to be the guiding touchstone for skateboarding in 2016, with his devotion to hammer-handy fish multiplier Jesus Christ’s ’33 resuscitation and Lennie Kirk’s own unlikely rise from beneath that Pac-Bell van foreshadowing the timely return of top-shelf talents to the turbulent and beery pool that is skating in 2016.

Paul Rodriguez, he of the multi-sponsor fitted and long-distance switch 360 flips, already rolled away the stone and commanded the grave-cloths removed from the pro career of French double-flip enthusiast Bastien Salabanzi. With the Christian season of Lent upon us, Paul Rodriguez would play at the Lazarus legend again, this time bringing out onetime fellow City Star Devine Calloway for what by some poorly considered blog webpages’ count would be his third go-round with the skate biz, after his initial City Star twinkle, his Chocolate grown-up resurfacing some years later and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ bonus footage low profile. Nothing’s changed, it would seem, and besides his apparently mostly successful kicking of a costly New Era habit, he could’ve popped out the fakie flip 5-0 and that Crisco-smooth bigspin immediately following his still-impressive TWS part nearly a decade back.

Days later on the other coast, long-lost Tompkins wunderkind Yaje Popson officially moved his 64-Crayola wardrobe into Alien Workshop’s radiation-proof geodesic dome, itself recently restored to life via Rob Dyrdek’s Street League and television show dollarydoos. Despite what sounded like dual knee injuries, a somewhat dispiriting parting of ways with the Crailtap camp amid the heightened and heated ‘Pretty Sweet’ filming campaign, and the bucolic pleasures of small-city life in Brazil, Yaje Popson’s tricks remain super on point (switch backside smith grind, that pyramid ledge trick) and as suited as any to the worthwhile project that is refurbishing the Sovereign Sect, though maybe a little bit less surprising than Devine Calloway’s rebound given last year’s Sk8Rats turn and how he plainly spoke of missing it all. A TWS interview promises heavier hitting yet to come.

The limited economic prospects, increasingly crowded competition for unique eyeballs and impressions, and ever-present risk cocktail of age and injury raises questions around the logic of gone-once pros and bros returning for further bites of the industry cherry. Yet return they do, from Tom Penny’s bleary trip back in ‘Sorry’ to Guy Mariano’s wristguarded tech triumph in ‘Fully Flared’, the Muska’s single-gloved victory lap with Element, Christian Hosoi’s post-prison bid adventures, Supreme’s Paulo Diaz exhumation, and the extended post-Shorty’s go-rounds enabled by Sk8Mafia. More curiouser may be how such prodigal sons typically not just are welcomed but cheered back — witness last year’s outpouring of support after Kevin Spanky Long’s return journey to Baker put him again astride a pro board and back in the proverbial van.

Is the skate sphere unique in its tolerance for such wilderness years, spent consuming substances, recovering from blown-out joints, pursuing alternate careers or raising families? In the parlance of major-league team sports, comebacks usually are intra-game affairs, with some allowance for those rare talents drawing sufficient investment to bide a season or more in physical therapy, but clawing one’s way back into the professional universe after years away seems a rarer feat still, whether fueled by Kenny Powers-level moxie or some other chemical reaction. But even with a decade or more off magazine pages, digital video discs and relevant social media mobile networks, it’s difficult to imagine an increasingly fragmented and nostalgia-shaped boarding industry turning its collective nose up if long-faded lords like Sean Sheffey, Alex Gall, Scott Kane, Mike Maldonado, Billy Valdes, Pat Channita, Tim O’Connor, Jon West, Ted de Gros, or Gideon Choi turned up with a video part approaching their respective primes and the gumption to keep at it.

Does skating’s willingness and seeming zeal to re-embrace its wandering prodigals flow from the same spiritual mountain spring that nurtures tendencies to stockpile decks skated beyond any reasonable use, pack grocery-store boxes full of even lean-year Transworlds, and scour Ebay auctions to expensively recapture some spark first kindled in a long-lost CCS catalogue? As skating is lassoed, saddled, broken and eventually led head-down and besequined into that great Olympic rodeo, replete with floodlights and sad clowns, will lapsed pros resurface more often or must all spare dollarydoos shower down upon the podium-bound few? Has the YouTube age made it harder or easier for pros to recatapult dormant careers? Is Brian Wenning at Love Park right now? Yall saw Jeremy Klein’s kickflip bench stall in the Greco movie right?

The Ball or the Sword

February 7, 2016

zorro

Was there a time when persons skated without bubblegoosed lenses trained upon them and atmospheric detail duly noted for later transcription or verbal tapestry-weaving when the mood lighting strikes? If you answered “hrm the 70s?” you may legally change your name to Burl Ives and open a blimp repair business in the tax-free domicile of your choice; all others must submit to pondering how the 00s’ era of history-unearthing and nostalgia-shampooing, from ‘On’ to ‘Epicly Later’d’, may now have given way to real-time mythmaking and neatly boxing up the memories and labeling them with straight and Sharpied capital letters.

Thrasher, which in 2016 enjoys the singular luxury of having probably not just every sphere-jolting trick pass their desks prior to public consumption, but also being looped into advance plotting, wisely made an event of Aaron Homoki’s jousts with and eventual slaying of the Lyon wyrm that Ali Boulala, Europe’s switch-kickflipping PD rogue, had fenced to a draw in the ‘Sorry’ days. Recognizing both the additional weight any Boulala-linked adventure would derive from his rather crushing ‘Later’d’ entry and chessboxing various message-board-borne critiques of spot ownership, Michael Burnett & co brought Ali Boulala aboard to lend technical ‘expertise’ alongside a phalanx of documenteers dripping with cameras, presumptive champagne bottles for popping and at least one dad*.

Ali Boulala’s in-person blessing, the attendant media scrum and days of stomach-knotting uncertainty made Jaws’ wrestle with the Lyon 25, which by now has been imbued with way too much weight to just close off some future video part, perhaps the fullest and frothiest example of real-time mythmaking in action, notwithstanding corporate-bannered Evel Knievel event tricks that may or may not require the approval stamps of Communist Party officials or purpose-built structures. As Love Park again circles the tubes, likely sparking plans for further, hour-plus documentaries**, here was the supernaturally ligamented Aaron Homoki jumping this big bunch of stairs, his couple seconds of hangtime stretched across magazine pages and digital video files via security-guard entanglements, celebrity pro cameos, body armour, familial love and a whiff of history and tragedy to spice the triumph and Jaws’ tears of joy.

The well-planned battle in Lyon comes at a time when skating seems increasingly fixated on capturing and preserving its wild old days as the quest to recapture lost market share and sock away retirement funds requires adopting a more scrubbed, professional and/or mercenary stance. Books drawing upon the misadventures of Scott Bourne, Lennie Kirk and now the hallowed Big Brother magazine in various ways strive to capture in permanent print those halcyon days of molotov cocktails, ill-advised trysts and penis pump reviews before they collapse into the great internet memory hole and premium priced Ebay collector packs.

As multinational beverage and sportswear suppliers up the number of racks available to coming generations and social media empire-building draws the wandering eye of TMZ, it is fair to wonder whether collective laces inevitably and regretably must become straighter, for all involved. Jenkem, who has taken up the Big Brother interview format mantle as convincingly as any current media, got in a good one with still-reliable quote mine Corey Duffel, a living and leather-clad link to Big Brother’s no kids-gloved past, who reminds that for the time being some moat remains between skating and major-league sports as long as pros are willing and able to hold forth on their dealings with grave-robbing furniture dealers:

So I buy the Craigslist bathtub and bring it inside the house, and my old lady is like, I don’t know how I feel about this tub, I’m getting weird vibes from it, that place it came from was so fucked up. Well that night, the first night with the tub in the house, a big mirror in the back of the house just came crashing down, no earthquake or wind or anything. Something else happened, like the TV flickered, something strange, and Rachel was like, “It’s the fucking tub.” So she suggested going to the hippie store to get sage – sage is suppose to get rid of evil spirits and we’re kind of hippies like that – so we’re saging around and I shrug it off like whatever.

Then a couple of months later Bobby Worrest comes over and goes like, “Oh, that’s the tub! I met that guy Tom, Tom is fucking insane!” I was like, yeah, he’s a fucking crazy but a really cool guy. Then he goes, “What a trip, someone committed suicide in that tub.” I’m like, what?! And Bobby tells me Tom told him someone offed themselves in that tub. It was funny to find out 6 months later. Now the bathtub sits outside next to the flowers.

Elsewhere, would-be Olympian Chris Cole sits for an interview with Rolling Stone, which appears in one of its sporadic periods of interest in extreme pro lifestyles, offering a glimpse of potential Q&As to come in some future age where contest politicking and milestone trick trophies must be rattled through on behalf of those greenhorn readers who need guidance through the subject-matter minefields of ‘who’s this person’ and ‘why do I care.’ It’s a relatively staid account til the end, when in a possible fit of cultural catharsis things veer abruptly toward a liquor-soaked Russian bar fight:

The next time we saw Ian, he was up on a stage, dumping his beer over some guy’s head, and in an instant, dudes were fighting all over the bar ­– tackles, punches, chokeholds. I was on the ground smashing this dude’s face in, and I look up and saw Ian getting choked by one dude while he was punching two separate dudes and being punched in the face by a chick.

If future pros fistfight Russian bouncers but never speak of it publicly out of an abundance of professional caution, do the busted teeth and cracked eye sockets make any sound? Wasn’t Chris Cole straightedge at one point or is this another phantom memory like Henry Sanchez’s Aesthetics pro model? Has Jaws scouted out the Leap of Faith elevator structure for a future wallie cover? In states where suicide was historically considered a crime would Bobby Worrest be considered to have snitched on the ghost that lives in Corey Duffel’s secondhand bathtub? And if he did, would the fact that the bathtub now is used as a planter by definition make it dry snitching?

*Unclear whether dad pants were obligatory or only assumed
**Any of which may possibly be instantly obsolete beside the Sabotage series