Golden Arms

In Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s 1989 surrealist horrifier ‘Santa Sangre,’ a tormented mime’s apprentice watches his knife-thrower dad chop off his mother’s arms in a fit of pique —- leading the traumatized youngster to later turn over control of his own upper appendages to his disabled mother. Increasingly grisly results follow, in a cautionary tale reminding viewers that while arms oftentimes can serve wholesome and constructive purposes, like foraging for rare mushrooms or building a space telescope, they also can bring darkness, such as drawing closed some thick drapes or committing serial murders.

So it goes in the skateboard industry, where brawny lumberjacks once flexed on hard-rock Canadian maples to construct the first multi-ply decks, and later, vert-shirted 80s pros straightened elbows to extend triumphant inverts atop half-pipe decks for pleasure and profit. Despite arms’ usefulness when twisting off beer caps or tweaking melon grabs, the fickle nature of skateboarding has seen arms fall in and out of favour as the pasttime matured and mutated, trick trends and stylistic preferences rising and falling like some promiscuous tide.

Street plants gave way to pressure flips in the early 1990s, but by decades’ end arms again were resurgent, as Lennie Kirk and Quim Cardona built sturdy franchises around their wild upper-body gesticulations. And soon enough the backlash came, as aesthetic pendulums hurtled in the opposite direction and we wound up with Ronson Lambert. Hostilities toward wild armness persisted long enough into the aughts to sow doubts about an AWS slot for yung Torey Pudwill, and as the Baker generation built new legends around Antwuan Dixon’s seemingly sleepwalking upper body, many gave the trend up for dead.

Even in our current age where so many ugly chapters past are brushed off and marked up — the goofy boy, the D3 — perhaps an overt revival of the flung-arms style still would’ve never flown. But skids have been greased by a rapidly spreading trend of landing tricks with bodily sketch, often resulting in one leg being raised up and waggled overtop the still-rolling board, ostensibly for balance but more often to collect valuable likes and other less-spoken kudo forms. Under such air cover, a new and vibrant loud arm era may be dawning.

Magnus Bordewick is a John Shanahan for the quivering euro zone, mistrustful of clothes that do not swish as he elevates arm action to levels unseen in some time. In Numbers Edition 4, the latest video clip from the California skateboard company, Magnus Bordewick uncorks his explosive brand of flip tricks over and up any number of blocks and steps, waving his Nordic limbs with abandon much of the time. Whereas Torey Pudwill’s arm motions often hit the red while balancing on history’s most drawn-out backside smith grinds and backside tailslides, Magnus Bordewick’s flapping generally coincides with rocketing pop and crater-making impacts, like on the massive fakie flip on the bank, the fence-clearing kickflip, the massive bigspin flip up the long stairs. You wonder about some pressure cracks and blown-out airbags, if and when these inevitably find their way toward major-label shoe corporations’ skate offerings as a premium pricing tool.

If the awesomely combustible Magnus Bordewick represents the Flame Boy in this unfolding arms race, is JScott Handsdown his Wet Willy? Was Kyle Walker’s ‘windmill factory’ 50-50 ender for ‘Spinning Away’ the 2017 SOTY’s declaration of allegiance? Where do Brian Wenning and Antwuan Dixon’s strengthening comebacks factor in? Should the Dime Glory Challenge replace its ‘gangster challenge’ with a ‘one-footed roll-away high kick challenge’?

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2 Responses to “Golden Arms”

  1. murs Says:

    What if, James Craig read this?

  2. Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Nate Broussard, ‘Static III’ | boil the ocean Says:

    […] an era of loud arms and storked rollaways, Nate Broussard’s velvet-soft way with ledges and flip tricks seems a warm, […]

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