Archive for October, 2021

A Kinder, Gentler Nation: Brush-Stroke Bluntslides And Skatespot Compassion

October 17, 2021

Humankind’s deepest yearning is to prove its dominion over the earth. For centuries man has cleaved rock and mountain to make way for our cars, mine its riches and festoon our teeth with rare jewels. Our efficient canals link the planet’s most profitable oceans, our chemically enhanced farms dividing the land’s flat spaces into squares and circles to feed our teeming masses. The power of our machines burns holes in the atmosphere and melts ice. From space, our cities and giant walls can be seen by any alien species still questioning who may be in charge down there.

Skateboarding, among several noteworthy human-race developments of recent decades, is hardly different. Mastery of one’s environment has been a central directive since banana boards were pointed into drained swimming pools in the era of Gerald Ford, and even more so once broadening decks and bouncier wheels were turned loose on ‘the streets.’ Santa Cruz rallied followers beneath its ‘Pave Tha World’ banner; in the 1990s, Concrete Powder was the magazine title that captured prevailing attitudes toward the expanding urban blanket. In the 00s, certain skaters including Wade Speyer and Fred Gall came to be synonymous with demolition, while the intro to ‘Fully Flared’ showcased in hi-def the literal destruction of spots as they were being ripped. Today, one of the culture’s long-serving creeds, ‘skate and destroy,’ is emblazoned for all eternity upon graphical sweatpants. At its core, skateboarding represented a primal human reaction against an increasingly artificial world, one to be discovered, used, discarded and left behind.

Ledge-repainting gestures of figureheads such as Jeremy Wray and Mark Gonzales notwithstanding, this energy of late has seeped sometimes troublingly into the human realm, with security guards in recent years shoved to one side to get the clip, and heated debates with house spots’ owners or renters. But the quiet expansion of the ‘adulting’ trend and a handful of recent clips suggest a kinder, gentler approach to spots as skateboarding collectively pauses to take a hard look at the origins and effects of its decades of antisocialisms, real or postured.

Carlisle Aikens, the reinvigorated Chocolate engine’s most-productive piston whose skating occupies an extreme corner of the smooth/powerful X-Y axes, provided a glimpse last week in the Parisian-flavoured Bye Jeremy clip, softly brushing a stonework out-ledge with a switch frontside bluntslide that whispered where others, like Jake Johnson, previously have thundered. It called to mind a similarly soft-shoed frontside blunt from Josh Wilson in Quasi’s ‘Grand Prairie’ vid from earlier this year, eased down a hubba shortly before a wholesome mother-and-son voiceover on bondo-ing injured spots. The fakie frontside noseslide ticklers in Jacopo Carozzi’s ‘Samurai Safari’ Sardinia vacation a couple weeks ago were reminiscent of Brandon Biebel’s heavyweight dancing from the nollie side a few years back. And the other day, in between slamming down ditches and banks, Ronnie Sandoval in Vans’ vibrant ‘Nice 2 See U,’ lightly tapping a rail on a backside 5-0 transfer where a more harshly inclined individual may have stomped.

Could a more tender approach to spots represent skateboarding’s typical contrarianism rearing up against the hard-pressed pinch and crossed-up ’90-10′-style 50-50s? Are people going easier on spots as year by year, more succumb to the wrecking ball? Does all this have something to do with why so many dudes were wearing gloves in the Vans vid? Could now be the time to roll cryptocurrency gains into downtrodden equity in manufacturers of lappers and Z-rollers?