Archive for March, 2017

Can Ishod Wair Break the Sub-Eight Inch Taboo?

March 31, 2017

Does the measure of a man lie within a money vault loaded to the brim with jewels and gold pieces? Is it truly shown in the longing eyes of the women he has loved, the children he has sired and their aggregate earning power, properly adjusted for inflation? Or is his name made by kingdoms conquered and owned, enemies slain or driven into abject poverty, and the filthy unwashed hoards who supplicate themselves in feeble tribute?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these and can front several thousand dollars you may be eligible to participate in the Menace Skateboards seed funding venture quest available on Instagram for a limited time only to certified investment angels and their gilded harp polishers. Yet for the past decade and more, skateboarders large and small have toiled beneath a different judgement measure, one that has stoked insecurities and sweaty-palmed apprehension among even the most outwardly confident hill-bombers, board flippers and handrail handlers. Seemingly freed of past eras’ smallmindedness that shackled hive-minded bros to goofy-boy kits in the early 1990s or carcass hucking in the early 2000s, a supposed ‘anything goes’ renaissance over the past decade has freed pros and bros alike to pursue moves from retroactivated no-complies to multisyllabic ledge combos and horse pools, wearing fits that run from short shorts to graphical sweatpant products to Tuscan leather. Just as long as you did it on a board that was at least eight inches wide.

In what has emerged as the final hardgood taboo, skating seven-anythings since roughly 2004 first became the domain of those lingering devotees to the San Diego school of tongue-puffery who felt PJ Ladd’s wonderful and horrible vibes but never fully boarded Eastern Exposure’s subterranean railroad. The Baker/Zero axis carried a machismo and masochism that soon elbowed once-stalwart 7.75s into a minority position on shop walls, and the advent of Anti-Hero as the guiding force into the aughts made such sizes an endangered species; by the time Justin Figuoera gloated how alighting upon his 8.5-plus ironing board felt like landing in your living room, anything below the 8″ mark had become a subject of open derision, similar to a wizard staff built from craft microbrews or the dreaded mall grab. The age of the big, swinging deck had been cemented.

Now, as ‘resistance’ groups ferment around the US in response to Trump administration political policy priorities, a skinny board pride movement is taking shape. Within the Nine Club’s fishbowl confessional, professionals unburden themselves and others. Chris Roberts describes being most comfortable skating a 7.75, while fakie 360-flipping waterboy Kelly Hart cops to a somewhat safer 7.9. Miles Silvas puts some respect on the 7.62’s name, relaying that his role model Rodrigo TX on the low skates that one while marketing a more masses-friendly size to shops. And Deluxe plans to further test the limits via a 7.56 Ishod Wair model that seems like it would fit his hometown Sabotage posse as reliably as the original-construction Lynx that Josh Kalis has hinted may come back.

Will the pinner board’s revival lead to academic research conclusively proving the long-held hypothesis that as decks narrow, pant sizes expand? Will a shift in truck sales toward smaller sizes and the reduced level of metals used to make them help truck manufacturers weather a period of slow economic expansion? Could a 7.5″ pride movement court backlash among more moderate 8-8.25″ clientele widely assumed to make up the majority in skateparks, backyard ramps and street spots? Was all this set in motion years ago by John Lucero, keeper of the extra-wide, shaped board flame for all those long years? What will return first, the 7.4″ or the bearing-cover wheel?

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Greco and Bam Inside the Recompression Tank

March 18, 2017

Who fought hippos in the street while the zookeepers ran and hid? What’s left after an appetite for destruction is sated? And is there any place where a man or rogue hippo find a lasting peace?

Sebo Walker, imbued by the Great Old Ones with magic-moving feet and a mobile van, is a man of the people. In a literary and literal way, he lives at the skatepark — catch him on Instagram sporting his banana-yellow Lakai model, bros dozens deep riding the Stoner benches to the side. In this way Sebo Walker is part of a recent Crailtap resurgence fueled by the type of sun-kissed posse cuts that helped carve out a family-tied post-World identity way back when. The Fucking Awesome/Supreme kids, perhaps the tightest-knit team currently, jet together from SPoT to Oz, trailing ‘Fulfill the Dream’ vibes and footlockers of expensive casual clothes in their wake.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Jim Greco boils. Alone among anonymous automobiles and bleached avenues gone to seed, he sweats out the days documented in his new short movie, ‘The Year 13’. Sober, seemingly exhausted, Greco’s regimented routine constructs a lonesome, claustrophobic universe within his adopted city of four million striving bros. He sessions faded and decades-old spots with a close cadre of graying pros and celebrity Texans. He spends inordinate amounts of time yanking benches down the street to skate solo, until the bench inevitably gains the upper hand and he’s pitched to the ground. He stolidly accepts the slams. Years of hard living long past, his feet still have spark to dazzle on those brick banks and red curbs. There is a pork chop. Lengthy stretches of lonesome silence leave viewers wondering — is Jim Greco, man of a thousand looks, finding peace with himself?

I wake up every morning, I make my coffee, I go skating—there isn’t much of a deviation around this that’s worth talking about. My life is skateboarding. And waking up and staying sober and skating.”

Joining Jim Greco in skate-centric, substance-free life re-leasing is gothic SSBSTS tipster and flying tree-hugger Bam Margera, who this week described to Jenkem how he has pushed away the bottle to pursue some type of low-profile skate pilgrimage through southern Spain.

“And I just knew the spots in Spain are awesome and I wouldn’t get to bothered at the parks, like at home… Home is ridiculous. I don’t know about now, but four years ago I was like, I’m never going to a public park in America. I mean, if I was ripping it would be a different story. Then I’d know I could show up and rip. But to relearn how to skate in front of these kids with their dumb fucking iPhones filming in every which direction, and me bailing on a blunt fakie on a 4 ft quarter pipe… like, I don’t want this be seen on Earth!”

Bam Margera, who upwardly failed into the fame and influence that Jim Greco seemed once to dream of, now looks to be similarly whittling down his world toward the shape of a less burdened, if still world-weary, boy with a skateboard (and a filmer or two on hand, natch). Occasionally semi-NSFW photobloggings aside, Bam Margera’s new direction suggests a certain monkishness, prostrating in the Church of Skatan’s general direction, though separate from the group pilgrimages that have helped lure other waywards back toward their original sin.

How many comebacks have been stillborn due to self-consciousness? Might aged but still-successful pros pool resources to set up a private TF to facilitate skills-rebuilding for lapsed contemporaries? Like maybe one just for Henry Sanchez? Separately, when the technology exists for Jim Greco to film his movies in a solitary and self-directed fashion, will he? Could Jim Greco’s washed-out pocket of Los Angeles guest-star in an episode of Rick McCrank’s Abandoned?

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

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History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?