Archive for February, 2023

Trendwatch 2K23: Destroying The Entire Planet

February 25, 2023

Young Joc would weep to see it: this week’s highlight ‘Shopaholics,’ an apocalypse-flavoured dispatch from inside a dilapidated Milwaukee-area shopping mall compiled by N95-packing Wiskate affiliates. Conjuring the spirit of 1978 fantasy epic ‘Dawn of tha Dead,’ which portrayed an idyllic life of ‘chilling’ 24-7 in an abandoned mall with your closest pals, Josh Ellis and Eric Risser follow Strangelove fuzzbuster Max Murphy and certain other urban spelunkers through skylit and mold-encrusted ledge plazas, darkened corridors and occasionally through holes in the walls, whilst surveying a menagerie of adolescent graffiti (including obligatory Slayer tag) and the worldly mysteries of Mr. Bulky. There’s a lovely bluntslide across a tipped-over desk, a gruff wallie off a grate to long backside 5-0, and a backside noseblunt to fakie on a bump to block that seems fit to rev the Muni crowd. 

‘Shopaholics’ is the latest in a line of ruin-repurposings and blight tourism that have enabled fleeting if often unsanitary glimpses at a world in which ‘turn off pedestrians’ and ‘turn off cars’ can be clicked in some grand options menu. The excellent ‘Grains’ series probed the loading docks and weathered brick of the emptying-out rural Midwest; ‘Rust Belt Trap’ and any number of Jersey and upstate NY vids have plumbed that region’s industrial swamps, while the reconstituted Alien team roamed the seemingly empty Detroit; the Girl team a few years went into pre-demolition mode at Mike Carroll’s house and also Rick McCrank for a time hosted a TV show called ‘Abandoned.’ 

While HBO’s ‘Last of Us’ has suburban Californiano moms reconsidering their mushroom microdosing regiments, it is worth pondering skating’s fixation on the barren and derelict, and whether this may suggest an embrace, or even cheering on, of the planet’s demise. As always, subconscious signals can be vaguely gleaned from the annals of skate graphics and logos, a CCS-flavoured Ouija board that has mutated and evolved alongside skating’s swerving and occasionally flatspotted path from spat-upon misfit to bankable Olympic partner. In the early 1990s, regarded by some as a ‘simpler time’ when the trick frontier still was being mapped and nobody had any money, World Industries conveyed a gigglesome and mischeivous worldview in the form of grinning, carefree and childlike globes:

Seasons changed, summer gave way to fall, television ratings expanded and a bunch of stuff got more serious. A shift in vibe was detectable by the time Habitat brought ‘Inhabitants’ in 2007, hopscotching between deciduous leafage and Fred Gall blowing up a spraypainted TV on some train tracks, tagged with the slogan ‘A World In Decline.’ A global Great Recession set venerable hard- and soft-good suppliers on their heels, clipped pro paychecks and set in motion a steadily fragmenting galaxy of smaller companies exhibiting a darker and more nihilistic worldview that presented itself in the form of graphics with the earth looking sad, ill, and suicidal:

As another crisis gripped the globe at the turn of a new and pricklesome decade, the lockdowns that accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to theories and fantasies that the planet, for a time bereft of human industry and machinations, may begin to ‘heal itself’. Amid this tumultuous and nervy period, the more ominous globe graphics of late came to be reconsidered:

However, science soon debunked such future-bucolic notions, and the planet’s residents resumed jamming the surface with cars and warring. Skating’s planetary portrayals reverted as well, offering visions of the earth in a zombie-like grip, or sporting a firing squad-ready cigarillo-and-blindfold combo:

Do the darker and more malevolent depictions of the Planet Earth in graphical t-shirt and board designs over the past decade reflect a latent desire for a post-apocalyptic future, featuring abandoned and readily skatable malls around every corner and accessible debris free for line-friendly configuring? Even if the all ledges were nice and squared off, would the loss of billions of lives really be worth it? Between their various Hollywood outings, is Jason Lee or Mike Vallely skating’s true lord of the mall, or is this a title that rightfully must be ascribed to Mac Mall?

Chopper City In Sponsorship No-Man’s Land

February 12, 2023

The life of the free agent can be fast-moving and merciless, where emotions must be shedded and checked at the door, skin lathered with moisturizing thickening agents, and at least one eye trained upon the proverbial ‘prize.’ It is an eat-what-you-kill enterprise, where a bro may at the end of the day find his own self upon the proverbial ‘menu.’ For the end of these rainbows could hold a decade long, one-third-of-a-billion payday; or it could be only series of highly tax-bracketed mirages, where one can be briefly romanced by a giant or a metropolitan or both before being tossed aside like so many mouldering tangerines, cast back into one of 10,000 boreal lakes for a paltry $200M.

Within the skate industry’s comparatively blue-collar dimension, where tee shirt-protected pros must be able to balance on the toes of their weaker foot whilst going backward down a handrail for pennies on the dollar of a major-league contract agreement, patience sometime rewards the field-player. Witness yung Dylan Jaeb, that ‘Forecast’-era Mike Mo doppelgänger who appeared born incarnate of the Poods park and sublimely switch 360 flipped in Thrasher’s recent ‘Am Scramble,’ play the field for around 18 months before placing his footage with Primitive in time for its ‘DEFINE’ production and moving various Dragonball and Megadeth merchandise. Downtown Chicago pop monster Nick Matthews bounced between flow arrangements for years until in recent months bashing through to the cover of Thrasher and the new Anti-Hero vid.

In years past, barrel-chested surf dad Lucas Puig kept message boarders guessing for nearly a year after Dwindle tugged loose Cliche’s plug, before jilting the short-lived Numbers imprint and other unfortunates and linking with the stripes-allied Palace group. Sometimes it’s millennium ducats and other times, the dividends are paid in career longevity and general goodwill drizzled generously over personal brands, with thumb-up, plumped bicep and flamey emojis flowing liberally when Chris Cole returned to Zero, Austyn Gillette to Habitat, Arto Saari to Flip.

The patience required to play ‘tha long game’ can be learned elbow-to-elbow with cardsharps in a seaside high-rollers’ den; it can be driven into the bone with the sub-zero intensity of a lifetime spent in Siberian gulag. It also can be acquired marching step by step up the side of a mountain-installed MegaRampTM, battling for building-sized tricks at 45 miles per hour. As of this writing, it has been a decade since Bob Burnquist twisted no-grab flip tricks the length of an Olympic swimmin’ hole and switch backside 360ed UP onto the MegaQP deck in his ‘Dreamland’ magnum opus vid, and during this time the vertical switchstance pioneer and MegaRampTM chancer has enjoyed a stable arrangement with international hardgoods provider Flip, while endorsing a steady diet of beverage products, apparel designs and footwear options. And yet Bob Burnquist’s helicopter, lowkey MVP on the enders and doer of several heli NBDs in a whirlsome cameo, has hovered in sponsorship no-man’s land.

Until now? The boldfaced collab factory Supreme this week on IG revealed that it apparently has put the helicopter on its team, generating hundreds of thousands of likes and comments including ‘wut.’ Aviation Youtubers who had days earlier spotted and filmed the vehicle’s takeoff tagged it as an AS350 / H125 model on an LA session with a homie from DHL in yellow and white livery. With the basic version retailing for around $2.9 million, a brand-appropriate markup to Bob Burnquist helicopter’s pro models issued by Supreme must be assumed to eventually command $48 billion on Grailed.

Is Bob Burnquist, still technically governed by the forces of gravity so far as we all know, in danger of being shown up by his helicopter appearing to land an exclusive aerospace endorsement deal with Supreme? Will the helicopter jump on the next filming trip, helping teamriders reach higher-altitude, unskated grass- and dirt-ride spots, while Bill Strobeck zooms out from the cockpit and into the ski landers? Now that winterized extremophile Shaun White is retired from Olympic competing, must the ‘Flying Tomato’ title shift to this becrimsoned ‘copter? Does Palace, which recently branded some cars, need to come with a plane or blimp next? With Nick Matthews hopefully now fully aboard with Anti-Hero, does Walker Ryan become the most criminal case of being overlooked by the industry, following his dumbfounding, self-released ‘Textures’ video?

Girl Joins The Hardware Wars, And So Potential Planetary Destructions Must Be Contemplated

February 3, 2023

Beneath a grimly monolithic sky, ‘Punxsutawney Phil’ waits dreaming — until hoisted by the scruff and slung aloft for the mirth of the masses, and to pad the pockets of his masters. On this day, in the spatial and rugged year of 2023, the befurred savant speaks blind his truth — no easy escape from winter’s brittle grasp — and summarily is returned to gaol, industrial animal pellets a paltry but scrumptious reward. And then it is done.

Over in the hardware game though, hope springs eternal. Girl Skateboards, the southern California hard-good concern that has also previously employed a rodent mascot, of late is promoting to potential buyers a newly innovative bolt design under the banner of ‘Longneck Hardware.’ Presumably modeled upon bottled beers, the bolts feature a mostly smooth length, topped with threads only where the tip protrudes beyond a truck’s baseplate. The concept is geared toward battling a scourge that the Girl IG has named ‘baseplate blowout.’

Is your board rattling or making an undesired turn? Over time, the friction of your hardware threads rubbing against your truck holes can make them oval out, causing truck wobble. Our Longneck™ Hardware has reduced threading, to minimize that wear.

Purse your lips and whistle, for a moment if you can, past the graveyard’s worth of coffins rattling with attempted mounting hardware innovations from the last several decades — BridgeBolts, Diamond’s reverse-threading of the nuts into the bolts, and the mighty Thunderbolt ones that you pounded in with a hammer. More fearsome still is the current bolt-market, saturated as it is with colorful combos and projects that exist partly to fund trips for teams of multi-shoed/boarded bros, and as vehicles for premiumly priced soft-goods with unique designs. In this realm, titans such as Diamond Supply Co., Shake Junt and Bronze 56K jockey for position, and woe to the interloper who finds themselfs underfoot.

In this sense, Girl’s arrival is auspicious — and potentially courts global disaster. During what likely was several years of R&D devoted to the Longneck hardware’s innovative design, there have been signs and siguls of an ancient power, moving here and there. In various vids, long-forgotten t-shirts and hoodies have been sported anew by the likes of Jordan Taylor, Kevin Tshala, Nico Marti’s one homie at the end of ‘STILL’, and even Chocolate’s own Erik Herrera, carrying the name of onetime hardware deity Shorty’s.

To HeckRide, Erik Herrera related the mysterious circumstances by which the HORTY sweater came to his possession:

How long were you working at Goodwill? And is that where you found that Shorty’s hoodie that was in your Welcome to Chocolate part?
I worked there for about three years and yeah, that’s where I got the hoodie (laughs). I just remember some guy dropped off a box of a bunch of skate stuff and just took it.

Similar to how drilling humans’ erroneous awakening of the so-called MUTOs in the 2014 biopic ‘Godzilla’ aroused the blue fire-heaving avenger from his own centuries-long slumber, resulting in several instances of property damage, has the increasingly active hard-ware space set in motion a revival for the long-dormant spirit of Shorty’s? Can the Muska be assume to be involved in such efforts, given his recent e-vending of classic Shorty’s decks? After all these years, does the Silverado remain the longest-lived and most-influential mounting hardware innovation? At this point, has ‘Solo Jazz’ come to rival ‘Fulfill the Dream’ for classic status, and does ‘Shrimp Blunt’ best them both in terms of music supervisions?