Archive for May, 2022

Chad Muska Pulls Ahead of Mike V In Race To Live Out 1989 ‘Barnyard’ Board Graphic

May 28, 2022

One of the biggest stories in pro sporting over the past couple years has been street poet Mike Vallely pulling up stakes and transplanting himself to Des Moines, Iowa, the heart of American ‘flyover country,’ knowed as a farming super-power, but a long ways from SoCal’s sun-bleached big boxes and the Superfund-glazed sludges of New Jersey’s industrial bayous. In this state, heavily regarded as one of the USA’s flattest, Mike Vallely has occupied himself with power vlogging, earnest nature runs, and operating his family businesses. This bucolic dimension represents a late-career oasis of peace for one of skating’s most enthusiastic reluctant warriors, a becalmed cul-de-sac along a winding road that has led Mike V through professional hockey rinks, wrestling wings, slam poetry exhibitions, Hollywood movie sets and certain other instances.

And yet, pinch-zooming out, Mike V’s long and winding road begins to look more akin to a wobbly circle when one considers how his newfound life in Iowa, a state that is home to more hogs than humans and produces more corn than any other, was foreshadowed more than three decades earlier. In those days, boards were shaped with stone axes and chieftans draped themselves in the the skins of their most hazardous kills. On the ‘9 Club’ podcast, Mike V tells the story of how he came to World Industries, nurtured the switchstance discipline under the dictats of Steve Rocco, and ultimately came out with the revolutionizing ‘Barnyard’ board. “At the time, I was a skater of consequence,” Mike V related on the pod cast. “So many energies came together for that board to be created,” he remarked.

Among these was the pen hand of Marc McKee, whose day-glo farm scene would reverberate across the ages like so many cattle stampeding through an outdoor rave. Flipping the notion of a farm as an aromatic manufacturing plant for bacon, eggs, honey-basted chicken strips and artisanal breads, McKee channeled Mike V’s newfound vegetarianism to present an ‘Animal Farm’ of livestock and poultry rebelling, sporting T-shirts and brazenly hanging out — not so different from the skaters of the day.

MV: It definitely looked different than anything I’d ever seen before, and I slowly came around, but I had two demands. One was that the top graphic be a continuation of the bottom scene with the quote worked into it, and the second was what I determined to be a vulgar and pointless image of a horse mounting another horse – the horse that was getting mounted is still on the board, you can see her smiling face peeking out from behind the barn. I wouldn’t approve the graphic otherwise.

Upon its mass production, Mike V collected months’ worth of $10K to $15K checks, as per various interviews, and inspired some fellow skaters to rethink their own guzzling of hogflesh, ground-up cattle pieces and processed chicken muscle tissue. Across the skating sphere, Marc McKee’s graphic inspired legions of parodies and tributes and reissues, and opened doors for a ‘rural’ skater archetype inhabited at various points by talents such as Chet Childress, Daniel Haney, Justin Brock and Jon Dickson.

But even among the tidelands of Iowa’s grainfields, no man is an island. As his personal orbit grows closer to the lifestyle portrayed in the ‘Barnyard’ graphic, Mike V finds himself locked in a race with an unlikely competitor: Chad ‘The Muska’ Muska. Around the turn of the century, Mike V and Chad Muska occupied opposite ends of pro skatingdom, the latter a handrail champ chased by throngs of chanting kids on some ‘Hard Day’s Night’ type Beatlemania, the former an 80s-bred purist who filmed himself driving cross-country, doing one-man demos in towns a few stoplights away from qualifying as backwaters. As their beards gray, both appear to respond to gravel’s crunch beneath their boots, and the low-tax environment offered by red state legislatures as they produce limited-run, hand-numbered deck drops.

This week, though, Chad Muska claimed the clear edge in the longtime street pros’ quest to immerse themselves in country livin, posting videographic content to Instagram that showcased his expanding poultry brood and elsewhere doing a 360 in a John Deere tractor. In recent weeks, Chad Muska has built chicken coops, battled destructive subterranean rodents, inhaled mass amounts of pesticides and weighed the merits of various types of agricultural equipment. “Although I love my @johndeere I’m also looking into @kubotausa right now because they have some good deals at a local dealership,” he mused at one point, on Insta Gram.com.

Is Chad Muska’s rural turn made even more counterintuitive by the fact that his fits of late have skewed more heavily toward the ‘Fulfill the Dream’ era, or does this all represent a vision seeded during the Shorty’s team adventures on horseback and pilgrimage to the Tea Bowls? Can Mike V reclaim the lead in this barnyard battle royale by expanding his Street Plant brand into an organic farm and tapping the market for agritourism? Is a MuskaStrumz album of front-porch finger-picking in the works, supported by an all-star cast of fiddlers and pedal steel players similar to how Ween did their country CD?

Josh Kalis Throws Himself Upon The Mercy Of The Camo Court

May 22, 2022

The great grit pendulum creaked further toward the Jersey industrial swamps this week, as Mark Suciu, he of the coffee cup and the dog-eared classic, was spotted on IG skating shirtless in a tropical ditch wearing camo pants. The digital video footage was notable, as even cynics no longer can cast such moves as so much Thrasher-pandering given Mark Suciu in 2022 is at last a SOTY laureate, suggesting something bigger is going on here. Do we head into this bold and burblesome summer of 2022, knowed to some as the dos-oh-deus-deus, with Mark Suciu a convert to the camo pants set? Only the mountains know, and some secrets they hold deep in their chilly, immobile embrace, like the legend of Shock G’s gold.

There can be little argument that this current epoch ranks as a kind of camouflage golden age. Freely available and often correctly spelled, the Rothco-or-white-labeled-equivalent camouflage cargo at once both a rank-and-file staple a la Dickies and Levis, and a reliably bankable premium product, regularly surfacing via collabo activities including but not limited to the likes of Huf, RealTree, MossyOak and Vans. Supreme has developed its own realistic camo prints, and Palace too.

The path of ‘the culture’ toward this place of diverse and varied camo patterns n’ prints has been a long and winding one since Matt Hensley podiumed the cargo short varietal in the late 1980s. Despite making appearances across the Brooklyn Banks, EMB, Love Park and Lockwood over the course of the 1990s, the camo pant frequently was sidelined at various points in favour of designer jeans, swishies, cords, and on certain feverish after-hours road trip stops, nothing at all. The road has also been potholed with wrongheaded choices, most notoriously Stephen Lawyer’s day-glo mash-ups that looked like something vomited up by a blotter-addled army surplus store.

All of these different things lead us to the unlikely scene of Josh Kalis, longtime endorser of DGK’s enlarged woodland print and one whose camo bonafides have been the subject of little question since at least ‘Time Code,’ preemptively asking his Instagram following this month to absolve him of what, in 2022, may nevertheless remain a camo faux pas to a decades-deep camo classicist. Donning a snow camo jacket, designed to help soldiers launch surprise attacks in frozen tundra environments, with traditional woodland printed pants, best suited to temperate deciduous forest combat or stylish hiking, Josh Kalis acknowledged the unconventional combo in the IG caption: “and yea.. I have woodland Camo pants and white urban Camo jacket on. Who cares.” The apparent transgression cannot outweigh the camouflage cred that Josh Kalis has banked since being among the few to successfully pull off snow camo shorts in the 1990s, though the textual shrug belies his (accurate) view that such a duo wouldn’t have flown back then.

Was Josh Kalis, seemingly throwing together whatever was around to turn wrenches on his beloved sports cars, in fact quietly testing the waters for a late-career bucking of long-held camo norms? Who’s gonna be the first to skate in ghillie pants? Has Stephen Lawyer, bored with pushing the dimensions and possibilities of camo combos, moved on to fashion prints and cartoon dinosaur scenes?

Of Denim, Dynasties and Destiny

May 1, 2022

Like the krill-scented belch of some deep-dwelling leviathan, a discordant breeze this week did blow. It was the ‘wind of change’: Tyshawn Jones announced on the Internet that he would depart the FuckingAwesome team, for a destination yet untold. Na-Kel Smith would be joining him, and for the first time since ‘Cherry’ it felt as though the expletiveamania juggernaut Jason Dill had built via junior high class photos around this generation’s ‘LA Boys’ was beginning to sputter — sort of like if in ‘Tha Last Dance’ Jordan and Rodman had quit the Bulls after a few championships to start their own expansion team that will also sell ‘pre curve’ trucker hats and airbrushed towels.

Jason Dill long has said FA was ‘for the kids.’ But strictly speaking is was not by them; perhaps it was inevitable that the tweens Dill and Anthony Van Engelen plucked and provided the platform to achieve big-fish status at one point would strike out on their own, but it leaves to burble the question of what might have kept them within the FA fold?

The answer plainly is jeans. It is a knowed truism that in 2022, year of the grub, if you cannot command a $35 pricepoint for a cotton t-shirt, you have no business being a skateboard company. And yet, with the price of a cup of gas thundering higher and supply-chain snarls and snurls reducing the product-slinging pro to a beggar for mismatched trucks, forward-thinking companies have staked their future on a more lucrative and precarious sphere — designer jeans, that fibrous endeavour that immortalized Antoine Boy’s horn and made Marithé and François Girbaud into 13th Ward icons.

Forced into the wilderness for years first by cords, then by Dickies, Carharts and assorted chinos, jeans now are the stuff of kingdom-making and eternal glory. Polar, once a Nordic upstart consumed with frontside shove its and male nudity, is now a de facto jeans company, made into an international dynamo by its zeitgeist-anticipating Big Boy line, which has been projected to occupy significant capacity levels on Maersk Line ocean freighters. Supreme remade the much sought-after Blind jeans of peak World years, putting the company’s current zombiefied incarnation, when they brought out their own version, in the unique position of aping an homage. Primitive is not so far off, marketing Tiago jeans endorsed by a noted Big Boy client. On the other hand, the strength of the Palace Jeans franchise doubtless played a role in forging its partnership with Stevie Williams manual accessory maker Evisu and more recently the Calvin Klein alliance, one of the more powerful collabos of recent vintage*. Bronze, Quasi, Theories of Atlantis and others all offer customized jeans with branded trademarks.

And what of FA? It is impossible to deny that as a company, in utter reality, they sell jeans. And yet the relatively few models proffered upon the open market of their digital storefront are outnumbered by neon-coloured corduroys, polar fleece sweats with stylized eyeballs on them and surf shorts adorned with graphical representations of babies fistfighting in the nude. To be sure, FuckingAwesome is a power in board sales, but with a fortune to be made hawking jeans to the parched and crypto-rich masses of our day, can FA truly be said to be a jean dynasty worthy of wanton worship and a $150 MSRP?

If FA had committed earlier and more fully to dominating the jeans game, would its pants-related earnings have made Tyshawn Jones and Na-Kel Smith think thrice before leaving a company drenched in denim riches? Or to adopt a ‘Kriss Kross’ position, is it rather that FA ought to instead lean even further into developing and selling graphical boardshorts? Is it time for the forward-thinking pants mogul to make a countercyclical bet on brown cords and boot-cut pants ahead of an inevitable ‘04 nostalgia wave?

*Are those Shaun Powers jeans u are wearing?