Archive for June, 2019

Under The Killing Moon: A Jeff Grosso, Beach Private Eye Adventure

June 30, 2019

Tangy surf-guitar stabs rippled out of the passing El Camino, along with an acrid stream of PCP smoke. Jeff Grosso wasn’t one to judge, having tied one on himself the evening before. That was a night to forget, and he had. Now he cracked a yellowed grin as the blueish smoke faded into the afternoon haze. To Grosso, it was the smell of money.

His Detroit cop buddies used to call summer the killing season. Here in Aranda Beach, summer lasted all year round. Depending on your business, that could be good or bad. Grosso craned his head, face settling back into the long-worn ruts of a scowl as he strained to make out the police scanner’s drone in the office behind him. The place was his. The letters across the window said so: Jeff Grosso, Private Investigator.

“One side, Flubber,” he rumbled at the seal sprawled half across the office doorjamb. The seagoing mammal snorted as Grosso strode over it, crushed ice sloshing in his empty cup. If he were hunting clues today, that would make it a good bet the seal was alive, appearances to the contrary. Truth be told, though, Grosso wasn’t much of a betting man. More a guzzle-comped-drinks-til-you’re-asked-to-leave type. He turned up the scanner volume and thumbed loose the rum’s flimsy tin cap. Two more bodies fished out the canal this morning. The cap spun loose and tumbled to the floor. Some things never changed.

There were easier ways to make a living in a town like Aranda Beach and Grosso knew most of them. Respectability, good graces, punctuality, personal hygiene — adjectives like these hadn’t presented themselves to the good Lord when He was filling out the great Mad-Lib of Jeff Grosso’s life. Learn a trade, his mother used to tell him. Undertakers make more and get better hours, she said. Since you don’t mind mucking around with dead bodies. That much was true. He never had the heart to tell her that his own talents tended more toward making them, not prettying them up afterwards. Sometimes you don’t need to read the Mad-Lib to the end to get a laugh. Sometimes, you didn’t need to read at all.

Three daiquiris usually were good to get Grosso’s brain limbered up for an afternoon thinking his way around corners, most of which these days had a debt collector on the other side. Afternoons when he got to five, like this one, either meant he’d just closed a case or hadn’t in too long. He slumped back into his chair, scowled again, turned the scanner louder. No ID yet on the bodies. That’d come. And then maybe a case. Another sixteen days before rent was due. Grosso had lived down worse odds.

His last hitch on the force helped Grosso perfect the trick of nodding off with slitted eyes and furrowed brow — “just thinking, is all,” when somebody wandered in. Enough to fool Aranda Beach’s desperates and chanceless tourists whose predicaments got hopeless enough to draw them through this particular office door, on the rougher side of a resort town long gone to seed. But she’d known him far too long, and in all the worst ways, to be fooled when she marched in over the seal and leaned over his desk.

“Huhwuzzah,” Grosso attempted, not well.

“Yeah,” she curled her lip. “Great.”

It’d been years since she’d hosted YouTube video clips for the SoCal action sporting goods chain, but Grosso doubted he’d ever think of her as anything other than Active Erica. Jet-dark curls draped her eyes, fixing him with the look a person might give a dog that blundered into a nest of angry skunks, then caught its tail on fire and ran yipping toward a gas station. A nap he’d figured on this afternoon, a new case maybe. Five daiquiris, hey, it’s almost the weekend. But not this. Not her.

“Erica,” he managed. Blinked twice. “How… expected.”

“Holy shit, shut up.” She relieved a metal folding chair from its lodebearing role beside the nearest wall, opened it and banged it into position across from him. Glaring, she leaned back in. “You owe me. Remember?”

Now, Grosso knew a half-dozen ways to bat a soft ball like that, and the daiquiris humbly suggested a few more. Every once in a while, though, he couldn’t completely hold off the better judgement that he’d occasionally collected over two decades spent rubbing elbows with Aranda Beach’s most forgettable deadbeats and rip-off artists. But he couldn’t help smiling.

“Good,” he murmured, pulling open a desk drawer, setting the rum back inside and holding it open long enough for Erica’s eyes to flick down to the loaded Desert Eagle he kept inside. “This afternoon was starting to look awful boring.”

Now she smiled, too, briefly. “Just like old times.”

“We should be so lucky.”

Instead of the cussing out he probably deserved, he thought she maybe smiled again, and now he knew he was pushing his luck. Her bulky black leather jacket helped conceal it, but he hadn’t missed the shoulder holster’s bulge under her left arm. In Aranda Beach, missing a thing like that could get you killed — or worse, wrapped up in the kind of trouble that had taken daiquiri number six’s spot on this afternoon’s calendar.

“Skate Moss, she goes by,” Erica thumbed onto her phone a photo, a smiling blonde in a pink ski cap. Grosso blinked at it, briefly recalling long-ago California summers and his unpaid dental bills. “Know her?”

Grosso shrugged. “Seen her around, maybe.”

“Nobody else has for the last two weeks.” Erica tapped the screen. “No posts since just after the beginning of the month.”

“So?”

“Her sponsors are worried. That’s not who hired me, though. Her friends say she was headed this way.”

The police scanner barked. “Deceased both male, mid-20s, one reported missing three days ago, other still unidentified.”

They glanced at each other and Grosso creaked back in his chair. Outside, the El Camino rolled by again, now blasting DMX.

“Wonder if he’s back in jail,” Grosso muttered.

“What?”

Grosso grimaced, blinked a couple times, drummed his fingertips on his desk. “Hungry?”

She just looked at him.

“Ceviche. John’s is the place. Over by the pier.”

She didn’t say anything.

“Shanahan’s a good kid, took it over from his pops a couple years back, he’s pretty green still, but sharp, yeah. A lot of nylon and puffy tongues, likes his yellow. But the best ceviche for 40 miles up and down the coast. And he keeps his ears open. If anybody heard what this friend of yours was getting up to, he’ll know.”

Erica nodded and paused, looked at the wall behind him. “Not gonna lie, Grosso. This might get rough.”

He opened the desk drawer again. “I’m hungry. Let’s go.”

Cellar Door Seeking, Switch Backside 5-0 Grinding, Contented Old Men

June 22, 2019

O, it is a difficulty, amidst these hostile troll farms, the spammy bots, the federal US antitrust privacy probes, the poisonous and pervasive loudness — recall, citizen, that there once was a time when The Internet was envisaged to become a digital daisy-chain bridging cultural and physical gaps, drawing disparate populaces closer, and placing mammalian humanoids on a path toward a computer-enhanced shangri-la similar to the one depicted in Star Trek Tha Next Generation. In the current moment it instead comes off as something of a wi-fi enabled social cheese grater, slicing our species into smaller and smaller social factions fittable inside cozy bubbles depicted in a five-years-too-late Alien Workshop graphic, and ripe for a post-singularity steamrolling by the Earth’s presumptive machine custodians. In the meantime DGK’s giving Kevin Taylor a guest board though.

Third-grade math posits one of life’s great lessons, that it is possible, at least when multiplying two negative figures, to come away with a positive. So it is that living generations must contemplate Bobby Puleo’s recent, sunnier turn via several Internet-based longform media appendages. Nearly two decades ago, back toward the time when the skate-o-sphere expanded enough to fragment into a mainstream, an underground and various other subdisciplines identifiable via trick trends and readily purchased uniforms, the public perception of Bobby Puleo began to shift — the velvet-footed bank-to-ledge artist seemed to harden his Oyolist views regarding street skating purity, growing a beard, earning a reputation for obsessive spot secrecy, and voicing (if not enforcing) a rigid framework of unwritten law regarding who should be filming or taking photos at what spots. Observers observed a shift from goofy shimmying in ‘Static II’s definitive part to electronically haranguing Josh Stewart over corporate employerships and matters of general cred, later deriding Mark Suciu’s Philadelphia residency as “tourist types coming in and running through the resources.” In Solo a couple years back, he put it like this: “I don’t have a lot of rules, but there are rules.”

In a pursuit ostensibly based in large part on rejection of organized sport conventions, rules very much included, this occasionally got peoples’ backs up and branded Bobby Puleo something of a scold. It’s a role he sometimes seemed to knowingly lean into, such as his zestful grousing over Theories inexplicably replicating one of his old ads for a Hopps/Cons promo last year. Other times he has come off reflexively cynical, like his critique of Steve Brandi’s coming out around the time of the Cons/Hopps product launch.

Earlier this year, when Chris Roberts’s Nine Club podcast unveiled a nearly three-hour sitdown with Bobby Puleo, listeners of a certain age braced for a dogmatic, graduate-level ‘True East’-minded lecture laced with detours into numerology-based population control. While an ages-long alliance between Freemasons and The Great Old Ones potentially forced Nine Club controllas to edit out the latter, Bobby Puleo’s continued ruminations on early 1990s rap music law guiding his philosophies came off more measured and less didactic, perhaps because it arrived alongside rambling stories about losing a wheel en route to a SoCal skatepark (Bobby Puleo skates skateparks — California ones no less), his own intense fan fixations (‘Mouse’-era Guy Mariano, vintage stickers, his dream of attending board-collector swap meet Skater-Con*), and his endearingly hyper-specific footage preferences (Texas backyard vert ramps).

This month Thrasher centered one of its ‘Out There’ segments on Bobby Puleo, graybeareded and gamely reminiscing on his first cellar door, cruising on his bike for back-alley spots, and hunting for aesthetically affecting garbage to make into art projects. Here, his tricks remain quick-feeted and feather soft, but there is little sign of the fearsome and uncompromising Bobby Puleo one might worry would blindfold you and drive you around for several hours before pulling up at the spot to film tricks. Touring his childhood spots, the vid raises the prospect of a galaxy collapsing back in upon itself in a sort of ‘big crunch’ that could perhaps end/begin again with a more contented, peaceable Bobby Puleo.

Is time sanding off Bobby Puleo’s harsher edges, are the rest of us getting harder in a mean age, or has the text-based medium of earlier Internet communications obscured something in his tone all these years? Are purity and happiness mutually exclusive? Do those found-object art pieces contain crytograph puzzle clues that, properly assembled, will lead some future Bobby Puleo devotee to uncover his secret map of spots decades in the future? Why is ‘the industry’ continuing to ignore Godzilla’s ballooning heaviness? Have you ever seen a bad Kevin Taylor photo?

Boil The Ocean Blog Is Out Here Asking The Tough Questions About Godzilla’s Body Image And The New Matt Militano Part Dudes

June 2, 2019

Hollywood isn’t ready to talk about the summer blockbuster season’s biggest open secret: Godzilla has let himself go. Just when the human race needs the apartment block-sized reptilian avenger most, it appears that Godzilla’s typical between-battle sabbatical has swelled his girth to even more immense proportions, potentially posing a tactical disadvantage as Godzilla goes up against triple-headed ne’er-do-well King Ghidora and/or attempts to tuck in a dress shirt. “Why do I seem to be the only critic-columnist on the planet earth who’s even mentioning this obvious fact?” blogs movie Blogger Jeffrey Wells, suggesting that the film industry is loathe to offend overweight moviegoers by focusing on Godzilla’s extra tonnage. Elsewhere, as Godzilla thumps vigorously in the rain against his rubbery adversaries, the radiation-birthed behemoth is proffered as a ‘thicc icon’, mainly regarding his wordless powers of persuasion to lobby Mothra and Rodan into defending our planet against Ghidora.

Like many Godzilla plot points, the non-debate over Godzilla’s heaving, scaly waistline provides several key takeaways for the skateboard-selling business. This week upon their Instagram platform, Politic Boards performed a digital mea culpa for what has been one of the most nagging, obvious and yet rarely discussed question marks hovering over the past decade: How come Ross Norman, velvet-heeled flip trick practitioner and genteel southern person, is not pro? “It’s my fault he’s not,” Politic’s managers this week said. “I thought he didn’t care too much. So when I did finally ask him, he was so happy to be part of the family I felt terrible I didn’t ask earlier.” The professionally endorsed 7.75″ aims to correct the oversight, along with a reliably cracking debut vid showcasing Ross Norman’s long-beloved ‘Trilogy’ drip: nollie 180 switch k-grinds, fakie backside nosegrinds, mirror noseblunt slides with Rob Welsh vibrations, the wife beaters and white tees come included.

As any clued-in Godzilla observer realizes, however, as soon as one existential threat to humanity is fatally body-slammed into the urban rubble, ancient forces and mankind’s bottomless hubris already are awakening another laser-eyed city wrecker via military testing or occult rituals. Now comes Matt Militano, onetime early casualty of Alex Klein’s blighted OIAM season, now a nearly decadelong journeyman of flow programs and scene vids, sporting a spaced Stefan Janoski visage and weaving together enjoyably tangled ledge combos. along the U.S. East Coast. Matt Militano’s time in the trenches has produced his share of video parts and assorted potpourri, but his entry in Zach Sayles’ new ‘Vanish’ vid is the most thorough accounting so far of his deep and varied skills — ranging here from a tall backside flip up to fakie manual on one of the tall Muni cans to a backside 180 out of a Brooklyn Banks wallride, to a thorough working-over of the colored Philly step-up blocks and an unexpectedly long backside nosebluntslide popped off a cellar door. The whole vid, with a mix of Sabotage and GX associates, can be had for $10 here.

With Ross Norman’s long-awaited professionalizing finally complete, what companies now will tend to Matt Militano’s too-long overlooked shoe, board and bank account situations? Say Palace, what about Jamal Smith anyways? After Matt Militano and John Shanahan, who will be the third to officially make the backside nosegrind to backside noseblunt a trick trend? Who had a bigger impact on rap music production: Bob James’ rhythm section or Godzilla? Is Godzilla the long-rumored ‘fifth element of hip hop’? If Godzilla came back skinny in his next movie, would theories begin a-swirling about a Gucci Mane-type clone, or would people simply buy his new mixtape?