Archive for February, 2020

If Franky Spears Kickflip Backside Noseblunts The Pyramid Ledges And The Footage Disappears, Is It Again An NBD?

February 21, 2020

Current events. Priceless works of art. Mankind’s steamiest industrial achievements. The beauty of a peacock’s feather. A plate of shrimp. All are fleeting in the arc of the universe, spilling out across millennia, like so much galactical flab. In the time of the electronic cigarette and smouldering anxieties, time is a loosened and wiggly loop, like the yellowed waistband on a ragged pair of Hanes.

A man’s body of work, they say, can be measured two ways: by souls ignited in inspiration, or by enemies’ bodies rotting beneath the ground. Just for the sake of argument let’s consider Niels Bennett, Frankie Spears, Felipe Gustavo, Tom Snape and Gustav Tonnesen in the former category. Their efforts featured in last year’s post-SOTY season Adidas release ‘Reverb,’ reliably extending the sportswear conglomerate’s series of professionally executed, inoffensive videos that, like the company’s other releases over the last four or five years, is precisely as interesting as whatever dudes are featured. Who in this case are excellent: Tom Snape, possessed of an uncommon switch inward heelflip, joined co-Commonwealther Dom Henry on the board of the ‘Peep This’ preservation society; Frankie Spears, under Mark Suciu’s tutelage, burnishes an upper-classman’s refinement to handrail brutality; Niels Bennett puts a fakie frontside blunt to regular on Philly’s Puerto Rico school up-block and argues further for a pro board at the reinvigorated Girl; Gustav does Gustav stuff — a strong 20 minutes.

Or was it? Perhaps in a nod to camera-dodging subcultural sasquatches such as Ryan Hickey and Tom Penny, if you weren’t there, all you have to go on are stories and substance-fogged innuendo. Days after its internet posting, ’Reverb’ evaporated, leaving behind only fond memories and sadly pixelated vid-not-founds. It is not the only Adidas video to have vanished; Mark Suciu’s 2015 voiceovered, butt-sweaty shoe mover ’Civil Liberty’ is gone, as is Dennis Busenitz’s very good ‘Euro Lines’ part, and others. Whereas some remain archived elsewhere, speculation abounds over music-licensing half-lives or other yet murkier doings.

Given skate videos’ gradual elevation to cultural documents — along with photographs, they are the true record and benchmark for careers and achievement in an inherently subjective and qualitative realm — the abrupt erasure of lines, phrases or entire paragraphs from what’s effectively skateboarding history raises all types of unsettling questions about control and ownership. Particularly as corporate footwear actors consolidate their position as the industry’s gravitational core, the issues run well beyond memory-holed proof of who did what where, or the need for agent-repped pros to begin requesting contract clauses to preserve months or years of work for posterity purposes, let alone resume material for future sponsorships or TB-hashtagged IG postings.

If companies are bankrolling skating’s historical documents, are they also purchasing the responsibility for maintaining their piece in internet-age perpetuity, or do vids remain the entity’s property to digitally dustbin if they so please? Will the body of skate video history ultimately rest on how strictly Google, Facebook, InterActiveCorp and others decide to enforce royalty payments to musical publishers? In an age where hot shoes are ready and willing to pump out multiple video parts in any given year, are disposable video parts actually a type of flex? Are sometimes grating, mostly generic license-free songs a worthwhile price to pay for secure YouToob real estate? Will people even notice amid the growing ‘content crush’?

Does A Thrasher Part Risk Puncturing @Versace_Plug’s Distant And Detached Instagram Mystique?

February 8, 2020

The year was 2008. The global economy was beginning to circle the ‘toilet,’ U.S. presidential hopefuls were balling for position across primary-voting states, food riots shook several countries, and in Baton Rouge, singer-songwriter Webbie released ‘Savage Life 2,’ propelled into the musical mainstream by the feminist anthem ‘Independent.’ This manually spellchecking ‘club banger’ told the story of a street-savvy and successful career woman who, occasionally to the surprise of Webbie and featurees Lil Phat and Boosie, rejects their patriarchical advances to acquire and pop her own bottles, leave the club early for work when necessary, and exhibit few if any onion ring aromas.

Was Webbie, 12 years ago, actually writing the story of @versace_plug, sometimes knowed as Hyun Kummer? The answer is yes. One of the pivotal moments for the skateboard industry in the ’10s occurred when the snooze-flicking IGer denied then ghosted Torey Pudwill, after the latter had put forth a presumably unsolicited offer of Thank You flow:

Have you ever tried to reach out to any of these Instagram stars?
Torey Pudwill: Yeah, I hit up that kid Versace Plug*. He told me, “I don’t do sponsors.” That threw me off so I told him, “That ain’t what this is!” He never hit me back. I guess he’s on some new shit.

The implications were enormous: Here was a kid out of continental Europe turning down one Skater of the Year and another credible coulda-been to continue filming clips with his friends for ‘tha gram.’ Rather than submit to the industry machinery of compulsory product-drop hashtaging, camera-specific filming missions and associated hobnobbing, @versace_plug has spent however much of the ensuing years he deems appropriate skating, perfecting the fine art of the trap-soundtracked park clip, tending a Nike hookup, and gathering flamey emojis from pro skaters and fashion industry admirers. By the all-important follower metric he is batting 400K, nearly halfway to his onetime would-be employers’ personal totals and multiples of the meandering Thank You enterprise, with next to none of the traditional ‘coverage.’ To Be Sure, gifted others have walked from the industry’s embrace — Travis Stenger, the sorely missed Ted DeGros — but @versace_plug seems never to have had much careerist aspirations to begin with, and crucially, hasn’t really appeared to seek much validation from the industry, which nevertheless continues to lavish upon him positive emojis and comments.

Until Friday, that is, when @versace_plug delivered a part for Thrasher. It is a fairly comprehensive distillation of his IG exploits — big stair sets, leaned landings, bigspin flips, costly shoes, Chief Keef with hyperactive hi-hat cymbals. There are some surprises, like the hardflip up the long stairs, the spastic-fast between-stack nollie flip, the nose manual down the hubba, the Bastien Salabanzi-channeling kickflip backside lipslide shove-it on the micro rail. It is a serviceable, even impressive answer to the long-running mystery of what @versace_plug might produce if he directed his considerable skills and laconic, moneyed style toward a video part. But by making such an effort and offering it up to the center of the skateboarding universe in 2020**, is he risking the posture of aloof indifference he has cultivated via rejecting the blazen path?

Is this whole topic neutralized and rendered moot if he winds up getting onto Primitive? How much of @versace_plug’s digital clout derives directly from his top 10-level choice of handle? Has @versace_plug made a convincing enough case to be added to the short list allowed to do varial flips? Or is this in fact a ‘trick question’ and no such list ought exist whatsoever?

*’To Mr. and Mrs. Plug, a son, Versace.’
**The one not called Instagram

Amid These Dark Weeks Of The Soul, TOPX Offers A Tropical Getaway — Or A One-Way Caribbean Doom Trip

February 2, 2020

In Lars Von Trier’s 2009 romcom ‘Antichrist,’ a pivotal scene finds star-crossed lover William Dafoe perceiving a wounded fox, played by Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, who snaps off a loose piece of his own skin before delivering the meme-capable warning: ‘chaos reigns.’ Hark: It’s 2020, stand up and take a look around. Barely a month into the new decade and we’ve stumbled into a global plague. The American political fabric frays, with dark murmurings of civil war. Nuclear apocalypse is deemed nearer than ever.

What balm then for the burdened soul, as winter tightens its frosty grip and tortured men bear their hopelessness in the night’s bleakest minutes? Don’t look to music, where captains of entertainment can only hand Grammys to gothic trap warbler Billie Eilish*, or the sporting world, mired in tragedy and scandal. In skating, lost friends and a universe threatening to fracture, as rumours a-swirl of a split in the FuckingAwesome/Supreme camp over unspecified disgruntlements** on the parts of Tyshawn Jones and Na’Kel Smith.

East coast future-horror merchants Terror of Planet X are not the first ones one might look to for soul soothement. The most-recent installment of their terminally strong-quality ‘Crop Circles’ series, revealed to users this week, opens with discordant strings, disembodied voices and cryptic shots of bridges and various logistics assets before dissolving into a crust survey to rival Fred Gall’s recent IG postings. Among TOPX’s midatlantic workingmen are fakie hardflip user Corey Huber, bridging a big gap to backside tailslide; Muni stairset kickflipper Adam Hribar cranks a bigspin out of a fronstide crooked grind, the always-quality Dylan Jeffers switch varial heelflips a can and Chris Mathis bumps not just to a bar but a kink after.

It is Joey Pyle’s part, bubbling up after a stress montage, that hits like an unseasonably mild midwinter’s day, sidling through the industrial grime with a sunny line through technicoloured banks and a steel drum band rattling out a Big Easy funk standard. It’s loosey-goosey enough to pop in multiple backside 50-50 shoves, there are some deeply pleasing 360 flips, and if you squint at one point you’d swear he nollie flips the old EMB big ‘seven.’ When it is over, you feel refreshed, and perhaps mentally prepared to flip the calendar to February.

Skate video makers long have knowed of the twinkling and transportative powers of tropical motifs, with increasingly obligatory Puerto Rico wintertime trips, and steel-drum music supervision, employing it to strong effect in ‘Static 4’ and ‘Dece Vid’. Like any psychoactive item, however, all this carries risk of overindulgence. The docu-drama series ‘Yacht Rock’ in a late episode depicted the twisted and cultish Parrot-heads, led by a blowgun-toting, cheezeberg-focused version of Jimmy Buffett, employing kidnapping schemes and tropical-scented depressants whilst robotically bobbing heads to the ‘Magaritaville’ crooner’s ocean-beezy guitar strums.

Could Joey Pyle’s excellent and psyche-soothing ‘Crop Circles II’ part be prescribed by doctors to patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder, as part of a holistic treatment programme also including Banana Boat-scented candles and frequent daiquiri injections? Do tropical indulgences threaten to act as a ‘gateway drug’ toward a perilous life of violent hedonisms and ‘latitude adjustment’ garb? Why aren’t more people making use of the backside 5-0 shove-it, long a reliable East Coast weapon? Did Costa Rica retiree Daniel Haney pioneer the tropical beach bum lifestyle in skating with his bucket hat and wise real estate investments?

*the new Cam though
**but probably money