Archive for May, 2020

ShipRocked On The Final Frontier

May 31, 2020

At some point on Friday, May 22, the last of skateboarding’s wavering, already-crumbly stylistic barriers came collapsing down. They fell beneath two different colored Nikes, kickflip frontside crooked grinding a waist-high handrail, beneath a pile of flaming skulls, zippers and rap-rock intonations, topped with Day-Glo liberty-spikes. Tally if you will from clay tablets and la smoke-hazed memory banks the most-ridiculed dress, music and geometry of the 1990s onward, and yung Vincent Nava stitches them all together and sails them down a 20-stair handrail; it is a wonder he doesn’t push his neon flame-gripped board mongo, or skate Nash decks, or sport an eyebrow piercing.

Time was, stepping out in getups cobbled together from Manic Panic-stained pages torn from a Hot Topic lookbook, let alone filming in these, was to walk out in front of the battalion of tastemaking industry tanks. It was only a little over a decade ago that Zero’s Garrett Hill made the decision to 360 flip 50-50 a handrail in pants with two different coloured legs, earning widespread ridicule and fun-poking questions that continue into the modern era. There was a time in the late 1990s when Ed Templeton’s artistic exploits and choice to wear slim(mer) fitting Dickies helped earn him his own semi-serious ‘Ed Hater’s Club’ among Big Brother readers. Before that, Jason Dill’s teenage angst over an Iron Maiden tee he hadn’t the courage to wear in the World era became a lodestar for his own journey of self-discovery via sleeveless shirts and cowboy hats that he himself would, in turn, later deride. Cairo Foster and Ramiro ‘Furby’ Salcedo were clowned for glasses and gauges, respectively.

Flash forward a few years, and Supreme poster child Tyshawn Jones clips up in his own bicoloured pants legs en route to a SOTY nod. Camo crossbreeder Stephen Lawyer offers in-depth insights as to his technique, while John Shanahan exchanges multiple Benjamin Franklins for custom-made Rugrats cargo attire. Ascendant Alltimer Will Marshall has turned Legoman hats, short stature and Canadian heritage — obstacles to so many Darkstar riders of years past — into careermaking assets. Recently, there was a fight over who should get credit for designing the Osiris D3.

Where does this leave Vincent Nava? On paper his Pig Wheels part, replete with a 14-stair backside noseblunt in a coronavirus mask, a furious cab backside tailslide in a line and a backside overcrook on a Heath rail, is to be reckoned with; draped in cut-n-sew cartoon character tops, chunky rap-rock guitars, literal chest thumping, leopardskin print patchworkcargos that would make One-Off John think twice, and profligate hairspray clips, it amounts to a gauntlet thrown down before the industry. But from ostensible gatekeepers, there was no hesitation: Within days, Ted Schmitz conducted a lengthy and glowing interview for Thrasher, no doubt scooping Jenkem. The typically acerbic Slap boards offered mostly praise for the skating and marveled over the fits, ‘like a character someone who’s never skateboarded before would make on Skate 3.’ Admirers have run up his IG follower count above 18K, and his video part views via Pig’s feed have surpassed those of recent footage from industry-backed pros and ams.

What is owed a skater like Vincent Nava — a career? Respect? Wheelbite in the rain? If Slipknot and Limp Bizkit are not a ‘bridge too far,’ then indeed do any still exist? Did Bronze56k years ago somehow set in motion this Pig Wheels production, which also involves two people named ‘22K’ and ‘Kid Bronze’? Beyond Pig, is Tail Devil the next logical sponsor for Vincent Nava en route to an inevitable co-sign from Supreme, via the ragged, patched-pantsed path blazed by Aidan Mackey and Ben Kadow?

Diced Pineapples III: Nightmares, Dreamscapes And Wallrides To 50-50s

May 9, 2020

What became, oh best beloved, of the dog who caught the car? In the ancients’ telling, the dog received a car — as well as a seven-year loan, rapid depreciation and a set of factory floormats. The dog eventually paid it off but vowed to never again catch new, only pre-owned, and went on to live a fiscally responsible life troubleshooting code and grilling on weekends before meeting an untimely end after consuming a sack of Halloween candy.

In many ways this is the story of our time. But what about the other story — that of the slower, less tenacious dog, maybe a dachshund, that never really got after the car but yearned to see, from the chained comfort of his owners’ yard, one of his ‘dogs’ finally nab one? Eight years ago, a wordy and meandering internet-based weblog page theorized about a person, any person, wallriding up a vertical block, locking both front and back wheels atop the ledge and 50-50 grinding it while still in the horizontal/wallride position. It was in many ways a simple dream that nonetheless required multiple entries to poorly articulate, and then it spun unto the ether like so many twisted cigarette butts, flung from a novelty ashtray while pondering the power of positive visualization. “You can take something that was pure thought and make it reality” — Marc Johnson’s long-ago teachings at the knee of high school footballer Cliff Kauffman.

Usually when it comes to tricks, and increasingly in this daily-saturation, everybody-is-good age, if you take something that was pure thought, chances are that someone’s already made it reality on InstaGram, or on a jubilantly coloured curb in a VHS-only release from the days of yore. Yet this particular variation — wallriding a vertical surface, off flat, no bank, grinding both trucks from the side and not transitioning onto the top of the ledge — seemed to hover just outside the frame. That is until last month, when Www.Thrashermagazine.com uploaded the latest iteration of its ‘Plazacation’ series, setting loose a formidable lineup into DC’s Pulaski park, among them former mayor Darren Harper, current incumbent Bobby Worrest, prodigal son Jack Curtin, plazzaseur Mark Suciu, the incomparable Tiago Lemos and, critically, Rahzel Ashby, who hits the big white wall backside, edges both wheels over the top, scratches and rides back down, sealing the deal.

How many other iterations of this same trick have tumbled past weary blogspotters’ cracked and malfunctioning radars before this one finally rang the bell? With the trick tamed, is the next obvious step to look for someone to somehow incorporate a kickflip? Has Gustav Tonnesen probably already done this? In ‘Field O Dreams,’ after Kevin Costner built it, and they came, and he edited and uploaded the footage, was he satisfactorily stoked or was he left only with an empty, searching feeling in place of the cosmic itch-scratching he had long yearned after, setting him on a path toward a moistened and post-apocalyptic life of solitary roaming and pee-drinking?

The Rise of Hazzard County

May 3, 2020

The world is unfair. If you are physiologically tall, like Tyshawn Jones, it’s easier to do high jumps up things like the EMB six, even switch. If you are low and short, you possess an inborn advantage when navigating spots like the double duck-under bump to gap that Chris Jones skates in ‘365 Days,’ or not hitting your head in low-ceilinged parking ramps. If you possess super powers, you can bust through walls or save individuals from burning buildings or wallride heavy machinery.

Not every advantage is rooted in squishy biology. Generations reared under California’s staring sun and snow-free temperate temps can guzzle cheap imported beer and train for the Olympic Contest all year round, rich with spots and pools and parks all over the place. Denizens of crumbly urbanaties like New York and Philadelphia enjoy doing their tricks against the appealing architectural densities that power some of the world’s most important t-shirt brands. In America’s Pacific Northwest, fever-dreaming hellriders scooped and shaped ever-gnarlier concrete bowls, waves and swirly whirls into breeding barns to populate the ATV era.

But what if some massive, invisible force grasped this intricate and arousing ecosystem of genetic haves, geographical have-nots and assorted others, then shook it vigorously, erasing the standing order similar to a galactic Etch-A-Sketch? Under the microscopic, economy-smashing fists of C0V1D-I9 it is happening. Even as coastal dwellers in California, Washington, New York and Florida remain locked down to various extents, the Great South, Texas’ tidal grasslands and the Dakota fracking grounds are ripe for the proverbial ripping. While socially distant pros and bros sheltering in industry meccas await Amazon deliveries of Iphone tripods and annoy downstairs neighbors with IG flatground challenges, their Red state counterparts increasingly are free to hoover sand from freshly emancipated skateparks, reacquaint themselves with ‘Night Prowler’ fisheye proximities and clip up. In the fast-moving, fickle and fad-devouring world of skateboarding, kids may soon recall coastal dominance of ‘the culture’ only via moss-gathering YouTube embeddings and lore passed down in recreationally scented whispers of oldsters staking out the skatepark parking lot curb.

What would it look like if the industry’s center of gravity shifted below the Mason-Dixon line? Glimpses can be glimpsed via past exploits of past southern-state heavies including Opry-minded handrail cannonballer Ben Gilley, genteel Real retiree James Hardy, hot rod-loving and glam rocking swamp rat Sal Barbier, once and future hessian kingpin Jamie Thomas, Texan ditch coinesseur Michael Sieben. The image in sharpest recent relief comes from Atlanta’s Justin Brock, who dusted off his blue jeans, goatee and guitar rawk last week for a burner of a part for Stratosphere. His fakie master status remains intact in his current team management role, riding a long fakie 5-0 off a loading dock ledge and Rick flipping a sizable crust stretch, and the frontside bigspin is strong as ever, whipping one up a Chicago curb and then fakie down a heaping helping of stairs. He’s got a confident hand-point on the table-top backside lipslide at one point, and the nollie flip wallride enter is Jake Johnson-level force and mysticism.

Is the vision of a southern-led and -fried skate sphere, as laid out by Justin Brock, George Thorogood, Young Jeezy and Skid Row really such a bad thing? Will easing lockdowns draw filming trips to Midwestern and Southern states, delivering an economic boost to their budget motel chains, liquor stores and strip clubs? Would a longterm skate-industry tilt toward Southern and Midwestern states leave the industry dangerously vulnerable to hurricanes, tornados, dry county regulations and Boss Hogg?