Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Can An Old Dog Unlearn New Tricks?

August 31, 2019

Before his untimely leap into the afterworld, Bruce Lee was fond of quoting a Zen proverb: “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” Thereafter, it became safe for humans, space aliens and various others to widely bite Bruce Lee, reformulating and broadcasting the sentiment via Hollywood space operas, superhero epics and carbon fiber manufacturers. Indeed, it is now hard to remember to forget what we thought we once knew about letting memories slip our mind in our communal quest to recall our true selfs.

The parallels between Bruce Lee and Guy Mariano by now are obvious. Both were born in the year of the dragon, descended from powerful family clans, and pursued martial arts first to defend themselves against street toughs and later as a path toward self-actualization and ‘total enlightenment.’ After beating up triad gang members, legend has it, both Bruce Lee and Guy Mariano fled Hong Kong for new lifes in the United States. The rest of the story you know.

Flash forward to the present, when over the past year Guy Mariano seems to be cracking out of some self-spun cocoon threaded with high-tech Nike shoelaces and stuck together with viscous, yellowish saliva. After his ‘Fully Flared’ second coming and a followup chapter in ‘Pretty Sweet,’ Guy Mariano’s remained largely off the grid since swapping out his decadeslong Crailtap affiliations for deals with athletic goods conglomerate Nike and a garage brand co-owned by once and future retiree Eric Koston. The question seems not whether a third act is in the offing, but what form it may take as Guy Mariano attempts that most daunting of combos, mid-40s to technical progression.

In the hypercritical realm of trick/kit/vibe deconstruction — and there is none truer, oh best beloved — Guy Mariano’s now-legendary mid-2000s comeback has become much debated as equal part pyrrhic victory. We got back one of the 1990s’ purest talents, the uber-cool embodiment of 1990s Los Angeles street skating, who clawed his way out of some hopeless cesspool and even then wasn’t satisfied with the Crailtap cruise-control chill program that dudes like his former self helped invent. Re-earning his spot involved Guy Mariano deeply in the ‘Fully Flared’ envelope-pushing ledge technicalities, and after again cementing his name atop those cultural totems he pressed on in ‘Pretty Sweet,’ questing after aesthetically side-eyed choices such as the smith grind laser flip, or the fakie backside tailslide varial heelflip body varial.*

Ruminating toward the end of the novel with the same name, Webber Grill inventor George Webber laments the impossibility of going “back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.” Whereas Polar would have missed George Webber with its recent and successful ‘Big Boy Jeans’ line, Guy Mariano’s trick selection of late teases the mind. Debuting for Thunder trucks last spring, he leaned on gap-hopping tailslides by the old sand gaps. Last summer he flashed a bracing switch wallride to switch frontside crooked grind and more recently has been frontside 180ing into a a fakie frontside flipper, a carve-up to switch frontside crooked grind with that right arm trailing just so, and a switch crooked grind to vicious fakie flip back over the curb. Last week he posted a teeth-chattering and really hard two-piece through LA’s brick volcanos, sans combos, and where the actual highlight may be that achingly familiar turnaround.

Does Guy Mariano’s recent internet output rekindle hope for a simpler, more classical trick repertoire showcasing that incomparable form, which clearly still exists, and perhaps is best reflected in sensibly baggy pants? Does the potentially related reappearance of the goatee serve as some sort of stylistic leading indicator? Would ‘Become Devoid’ be a suitable album name for a metal band named ‘Totality’? Could Guy Mariano recapturing something closer to ‘Chocolate Tour’ on the tech spectrum offer hope for a Rich Gang reunion? Before all is said and done could Guy Mariano’s skating in its autumn years circle back to the youthful simplisms of his SK8 TV appearances?

*?

Giant Hubbas Again Detect Geoff Rowley’s Scent As Multidecade Pursuit Heats Up

August 17, 2019

A long-sought trophy slipped through hunters’ fingers this week. Vans Shoe, among the relatively few companies to successfully thread the space between full-length and one-off part, provided via its strong ‘Take It Back’ video evidence that un-sorry scouser Geoff Rowley continues to get down, to the hilt, peppering his fairly earned post-40 ditch tricks with legitimately fearsome hubbas and jumps, the type of spots that for decades have stalked Geoff Rowley in hopes of finally bagging him and posing for a golden-hour tinted IG pic* before field-dressing him and packing out his meat and antlers.

A chronic thrill dependent, Geoff Rowley in the year 2019 seems yet unable or unwilling to fully embrace a likely lucrative career sharpening knives or guiding rifle-equipped C-suiters and other big game fanatics — one of the few off-ramps from the pro ranks that holds a generous runway toward one’s autumn years and does not involve the words ‘brand’ or ‘manager.’ At least, not while he still has the chance to flirt with and occasionally bed that unpredictable mistress, streetstyle skateboarding, and her oft-wielded riding crop, gross bodily harm.

For certains that found perfect pitch in 1999’s ‘Feedback’ combo of Geoff Rowley with a young Arto Saari and some old Fugazi, the volatile mixture remains intoxicating. Geoff Rowley’s slowed down some, but familiar tingles arise watching him boardslide a bridge railing, screech a noseslide down a hefty hubba ledge, stomp on a lofted kickflip disaster in the deep end, or take the requisite push away into traffic after floating a pop-shove it over the wall and into the street.

Whereas in the past Geoff Rowley’s footage evenly matched a measure of skill and fearlessness against ever-gnarlier terrain, the equation now contains a psychological question around what position he occupies in the greater food chain. For much of his career Geoff Rowley played a scumstached Bugs Bunny to the bumbling Elmer Fudds of the Hollywood High 16, the Staples Center hubba, that one Lyon hubba. The question now is whether these spots, having again picked up Geoff Rowley’s scent after 2015’s ‘Propeller,’ have lulled Geoff Rowley into believing that he remains an apex predator, rather than potentially being separated from the pack, taken down, stuffed and placed on display wherever it is that the world’s most fearsome spots gather in their smoking jackets to sip scotch and stroke their meticulously trimmed whiskers.

Are skater-hunting spots purposefully going after older targets as kids like Kevin Bradley regularly make them look silly? Did Vans fund the bronze Rowley statue as a decoy to aid in his escapes? What happened to the sign from the ender wall-bash in the cover photo? When his day comes, will tears cloud Geoff Rowley’s vision as he knowingly pushes up to his final, fatal hubba or gap, similar to Mickey Rourke’s glory-doomed ‘The Wrassler’?

*Such pics often are submitted in return for ‘likes’ which can be exchanged for goods and services in an open forum.

Oh So We’re Good Now With Fakie Frontside Shove-Its Fam?

July 28, 2019

The ancient Egyptians, knowed as a people sprung from the intergalactic union of slender dog-headed humanoids and architecturally inclined space aliens, based their centuries-long dynasty upon advanced mathematics and in particular, the power of three. Just as star-guided numerologies dictated the design of pyramidal tombs and, later, the sport trike, so too can these be drawn upon to identify and analyze a prickly and little-foreseen situation confronting ‘the culture’ in 2019: the unlikely normalization of the fakie frontside shove-it.

Lo, the pathway to this current state of affairs was laid equally by the ascendance of Polar, where an early vid nodded to and propelled the shove-it, and the broad rejection of ’00s kickflip culture, characterized by thirsty ams balling for position by adding toe-centric flip tricks into or out of various other activities, or clamoring for ever-larger parking lot gaps. The frontside shove-it, notoriously difficult to photograph, in recent years has offered both a reprieve from the switch frontside bigspin, largely discarded as a gap-chomping tool, and the backside bigspin, thoroughly rinsed as a line-ender as the current decade limps to its unknown conclusion.

Where does this leave hot shoes hungry to differentiate their video part/montage slice/IG post from the footage glut’s deafening roar? There are few untouched trick deposits of years past left to be mined, and those still remaining can be treacherous — enter verbose career risk-taker Jason Dill, whose Vita-shod stairstepping became an instant rewind in the VCR age and has rightly become the stuff of legend. The current generation, though, holds up this rare gem and turns it topwise, gazing beyond the set-top dismount and fixating instead on the mostly forgotten trick preceding it, a fat fakie frontside pop shove-it over a barrier.

Beyond the frontside pop shove-it, the nollie pop shove-it for years has been a standby for popping over fences and blocks, the regular pop shove-it has enjoyed a resurgence recently as a kickflip alternative over bumps-to-cans and -bars, and switch versions continue to have their place in lines and down gaps. Whereas the nollie frontside pop shove-it might remain too near a relative to the unfairly maligned nollie backside bigspin, the fakie frontside pop shove-it, not much better aesthetically, is finding unlikely traction. Austyn Gillette, still fleet of foot despite life’s heavy wear, threw one over a bench and down a drop in his ‘Radiant Cure’ part last year. John Shanahan, cut-and-sew curator of the late-90s movement who also has assisted in the debatable reclamation of mustard-coloured tees, pulled from Dill’s ‘Photosynthesis’ archives for his Thoro ender. And last week, Skyscraper City Quasi flowee Nick Matthews hopped perhaps the best-looking recent example at Flushing’s recently hot gap, pristinely popped and whip-quick spun.

Is the fakie frontside pop shove-it’s rise an offshoot of the ‘dad trick’ movement, the tip of a ‘Brutalist’-minded stylistic school centered on ugly tricks including but not limited to varial flips and wallride nollie outs, or something far more weird and outlandish? Which would score higher in a Street League impact section, a fakie frontside pop shove-it or its more successful cousin, the fakie heelflip? Who’s gone one over the big wall at Pulaski?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Lucien Clarke, ‘Palasonic’

July 12, 2019

It’s an old saw, calling so-and-so’s skating ‘effortless,’ and increasingly inaccurate, given the curtain-pulling-backness that comes with obligatory ‘raw files’ follow-ups to each vid of significance, plus the coverage subgenres devoted to meltdowns and slams. So it’s probably wrong to perceive Lucien Clarke’s ‘Palasonic’ opus as some type of gentle breeze through London’s urban meadows, as far as the skating goes, but it’s not difficult to come away from the part feeling some stresses shed: There’s the gentle Toby Shuall strumming as Lucien Clarke pushes through bushes and chips away those loathsome caps at the benches what raised him, not terribly concerned about what company’s shoes he’s sporting, whether there’s a tick-tack here or there, repeated tricks, or a mid-push stance switch. The point is the pop onto the nollie frontside noseslide, the no hesitation on the three-stack ollies, the arm drop on the switch heelflip frontside noseslide, the glide through the switch noseblunt slide, seven and a half minutes of street skating the way it was meant to be done.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Alex Olson, ‘Gnar Gnar’

July 9, 2019

Long before the techno music, the abdicated Girl pro slot and the post-‘Fully Flared’ shoe-sponsor shuffle, there was a plaid-clad spikey-haired yungster going off over a few sessions in London for a Mark Gonzales/Sam Salganik VHS-exclusive video project. In its way ‘Gnar Gnar’ captures the purest-form Alex Olson, with all the elements in place: the flannels, the poked backside tailslides, those gorilla arms, the frontside tailslides and backside ollies boosted for a camcorder still a few years away from being picked up by Palace.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Frank Gerwer, ‘Cash Money Vagrant’

July 8, 2019

One hesitates to call any particular Frank Gerwer video part, or photo, or activity the definitive height of his powers, since such a statement presumes full knowledge of his powers in the first place, several of which have yet to be discovered and named by leading planytologists. All that being said, Frank Gerwer’s ‘Cash Money Vagrant’ part captures Six Newell’s most-benosed rogue at the height of his powers, freshly installed as Anti-Hero’s frontside crooker in chief, still much the yung chomper that kickflipped Wallenberg, here making early notches on Bay Area landmarks like Clipper and that one rail with the gap out in Oakland. His chain-link tailslide to postcard-worthy hill bomb in 2019 is looking like a cigar-chewing, nattily dressed grandpa to today’s screaming GX generation.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Justin Strubing, ‘Art Bars’

July 7, 2019

During one of Foundation’s more interesting periods, occurring between the Steve Olson/Heath Kirchart mid-90s heyday and the leather clad, Corey Duffel-helmed handrail machine of the mid-00s, Justin Strubing upped the Magic F’s finesse quotient with a focused trick array and a quick-feeted fluidity not much seen at the time. The tricks he was dealt by the great trick dealer-outer in the sky, like the bluntslides, the ollie poke and those backside tailsides, he took further and higher than his Tum Yeto contemporaries and most others too, mixing in lesser-seens like the fakie heelflip, the frontside 5-0 backside 180 out, and fond devotion to the MJ2s.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Aquil Brathwaite, ‘Vicious Cycle’

July 6, 2019

Ignore for a minute the incongruity that goes with soundtracking an East Coast kid in an East Coast vid to ‘California Soul’ — in its way it functions as a leading indicator of Zoo’s geographical and mercantile wanderings under the ‘00s Ecko regime. Like all things summertime it’s really about the vibe. Aquil Brathwaite stepped out as a young charger with bottomless energy for snapping trick after trick across pretty much all the media-friendly New York spots going at the time and then some, pushing and pushing and popping something new with the same cocktail of freewheeling ability and youthful exhuberance brought by ‘WHL’-era PJ Ladd and ‘Trilogy’-era Lavar McBride. Maybe fitting for a dude whose most memorable footage came on his arrival, Aquil Brathwaite’s powers at the time were such that he avoided little-kid style even on certified little-kid tricks like the varial flip, and this section remains a document for all seeking truth in switch ollies, kickflip backside 5-0s and hardflip backside 180s.

Under The Killing Moon: A Jeff Grosso, Beach Private Eye Adventure

June 30, 2019

Tangy surf-guitar stabs rippled out of the passing El Camino, along with an acrid stream of PCP smoke. Jeff Grosso wasn’t one to judge, having tied one on himself the evening before. That was a night to forget, and he had. Now he cracked a yellowed grin as the blueish smoke faded into the afternoon haze. To Grosso, it was the smell of money.

His Detroit cop buddies used to call summer the killing season. Here in Aranda Beach, summer lasted all year round. Depending on your business, that could be good or bad. Grosso craned his head, face settling back into the long-worn ruts of a scowl as he strained to make out the police scanner’s drone in the office behind him. The place was his. The letters across the window said so: Jeff Grosso, Private Investigator.

“One side, Flubber,” he rumbled at the seal sprawled half across the office doorjamb. The seagoing mammal snorted as Grosso strode over it, crushed ice sloshing in his empty cup. If he were hunting clues today, that would make it a good bet the seal was alive, appearances to the contrary. Truth be told, though, Grosso wasn’t much of a betting man. More a guzzle-comped-drinks-til-you’re-asked-to-leave type. He turned up the scanner volume and thumbed loose the rum’s flimsy tin cap. Two more bodies fished out the canal this morning. The cap spun loose and tumbled to the floor. Some things never changed.

There were easier ways to make a living in a town like Aranda Beach and Grosso knew most of them. Respectability, good graces, punctuality, personal hygiene — adjectives like these hadn’t presented themselves to the good Lord when He was filling out the great Mad-Lib of Jeff Grosso’s life. Learn a trade, his mother used to tell him. Undertakers make more and get better hours, she said. Since you don’t mind mucking around with dead bodies. That much was true. He never had the heart to tell her that his own talents tended more toward making them, not prettying them up afterwards. Sometimes you don’t need to read the Mad-Lib to the end to get a laugh. Sometimes, you didn’t need to read at all.

Three daiquiris usually were good to get Grosso’s brain limbered up for an afternoon thinking his way around corners, most of which these days had a debt collector on the other side. Afternoons when he got to five, like this one, either meant he’d just closed a case or hadn’t in too long. He slumped back into his chair, scowled again, turned the scanner louder. No ID yet on the bodies. That’d come. And then maybe a case. Another sixteen days before rent was due. Grosso had lived down worse odds.

His last hitch on the force helped Grosso perfect the trick of nodding off with slitted eyes and furrowed brow — “just thinking, is all,” when somebody wandered in. Enough to fool Aranda Beach’s desperates and chanceless tourists whose predicaments got hopeless enough to draw them through this particular office door, on the rougher side of a resort town long gone to seed. But she’d known him far too long, and in all the worst ways, to be fooled when she marched in over the seal and leaned over his desk.

“Huhwuzzah,” Grosso attempted, not well.

“Yeah,” she curled her lip. “Great.”

It’d been years since she’d hosted YouTube video clips for the SoCal action sporting goods chain, but Grosso doubted he’d ever think of her as anything other than Active Erica. Jet-dark curls draped her eyes, fixing him with the look a person might give a dog that blundered into a nest of angry skunks, then caught its tail on fire and ran yipping toward a gas station. A nap he’d figured on this afternoon, a new case maybe. Five daiquiris, hey, it’s almost the weekend. But not this. Not her.

“Erica,” he managed. Blinked twice. “How… expected.”

“Holy shit, shut up.” She relieved a metal folding chair from its lodebearing role beside the nearest wall, opened it and banged it into position across from him. Glaring, she leaned back in. “You owe me. Remember?”

Now, Grosso knew a half-dozen ways to bat a soft ball like that, and the daiquiris humbly suggested a few more. Every once in a while, though, he couldn’t completely hold off the better judgement that he’d occasionally collected over two decades spent rubbing elbows with Aranda Beach’s most forgettable deadbeats and rip-off artists. But he couldn’t help smiling.

“Good,” he murmured, pulling open a desk drawer, setting the rum back inside and holding it open long enough for Erica’s eyes to flick down to the loaded Desert Eagle he kept inside. “This afternoon was starting to look awful boring.”

Now she smiled, too, briefly. “Just like old times.”

“We should be so lucky.”

Instead of the cussing out he probably deserved, he thought she maybe smiled again, and now he knew he was pushing his luck. Her bulky black leather jacket helped conceal it, but he hadn’t missed the shoulder holster’s bulge under her left arm. In Aranda Beach, missing a thing like that could get you killed — or worse, wrapped up in the kind of trouble that had taken daiquiri number six’s spot on this afternoon’s calendar.

“Skate Moss, she goes by,” Erica thumbed onto her phone a photo, a smiling blonde in a pink ski cap. Grosso blinked at it, briefly recalling long-ago California summers and his unpaid dental bills. “Know her?”

Grosso shrugged. “Seen her around, maybe.”

“Nobody else has for the last two weeks.” Erica tapped the screen. “No posts since just after the beginning of the month.”

“So?”

“Her sponsors are worried. That’s not who hired me, though. Her friends say she was headed this way.”

The police scanner barked. “Deceased both male, mid-20s, one reported missing three days ago, other still unidentified.”

They glanced at each other and Grosso creaked back in his chair. Outside, the El Camino rolled by again, now blasting DMX.

“Wonder if he’s back in jail,” Grosso muttered.

“What?”

Grosso grimaced, blinked a couple times, drummed his fingertips on his desk. “Hungry?”

She just looked at him.

“Ceviche. John’s is the place. Over by the pier.”

She didn’t say anything.

“Shanahan’s a good kid, took it over from his pops a couple years back, he’s pretty green still, but sharp, yeah. A lot of nylon and puffy tongues, likes his yellow. But the best ceviche for 40 miles up and down the coast. And he keeps his ears open. If anybody heard what this friend of yours was getting up to, he’ll know.”

Erica nodded and paused, looked at the wall behind him. “Not gonna lie, Grosso. This might get rough.”

He opened the desk drawer again. “I’m hungry. Let’s go.”

Cellar Door Seeking, Switch Backside 5-0 Grinding, Contented Old Men

June 22, 2019

O, it is a difficulty, amidst these hostile troll farms, the spammy bots, the federal US antitrust privacy probes, the poisonous and pervasive loudness — recall, citizen, that there once was a time when The Internet was envisaged to become a digital daisy-chain bridging cultural and physical gaps, drawing disparate populaces closer, and placing mammalian humanoids on a path toward a computer-enhanced shangri-la similar to the one depicted in Star Trek Tha Next Generation. In the current moment it instead comes off as something of a wi-fi enabled social cheese grater, slicing our species into smaller and smaller social factions fittable inside cozy bubbles depicted in a five-years-too-late Alien Workshop graphic, and ripe for a post-singularity steamrolling by the Earth’s presumptive machine custodians. In the meantime DGK’s giving Kevin Taylor a guest board though.

Third-grade math posits one of life’s great lessons, that it is possible, at least when multiplying two negative figures, to come away with a positive. So it is that living generations must contemplate Bobby Puleo’s recent, sunnier turn via several Internet-based longform media appendages. Nearly two decades ago, back toward the time when the skate-o-sphere expanded enough to fragment into a mainstream, an underground and various other subdisciplines identifiable via trick trends and readily purchased uniforms, the public perception of Bobby Puleo began to shift — the velvet-footed bank-to-ledge artist seemed to harden his Oyolist views regarding street skating purity, growing a beard, earning a reputation for obsessive spot secrecy, and voicing (if not enforcing) a rigid framework of unwritten law regarding who should be filming or taking photos at what spots. Observers observed a shift from goofy shimmying in ‘Static II’s definitive part to electronically haranguing Josh Stewart over corporate employerships and matters of general cred, later deriding Mark Suciu’s Philadelphia residency as “tourist types coming in and running through the resources.” In Solo a couple years back, he put it like this: “I don’t have a lot of rules, but there are rules.”

In a pursuit ostensibly based in large part on rejection of organized sport conventions, rules very much included, this occasionally got peoples’ backs up and branded Bobby Puleo something of a scold. It’s a role he sometimes seemed to knowingly lean into, such as his zestful grousing over Theories inexplicably replicating one of his old ads for a Hopps/Cons promo last year. Other times he has come off reflexively cynical, like his critique of Steve Brandi’s coming out around the time of the Cons/Hopps product launch.

Earlier this year, when Chris Roberts’s Nine Club podcast unveiled a nearly three-hour sitdown with Bobby Puleo, listeners of a certain age braced for a dogmatic, graduate-level ‘True East’-minded lecture laced with detours into numerology-based population control. While an ages-long alliance between Freemasons and The Great Old Ones potentially forced Nine Club controllas to edit out the latter, Bobby Puleo’s continued ruminations on early 1990s rap music law guiding his philosophies came off more measured and less didactic, perhaps because it arrived alongside rambling stories about losing a wheel en route to a SoCal skatepark (Bobby Puleo skates skateparks — California ones no less), his own intense fan fixations (‘Mouse’-era Guy Mariano, vintage stickers, his dream of attending board-collector swap meet Skater-Con*), and his endearingly hyper-specific footage preferences (Texas backyard vert ramps).

This month Thrasher centered one of its ‘Out There’ segments on Bobby Puleo, graybeareded and gamely reminiscing on his first cellar door, cruising on his bike for back-alley spots, and hunting for aesthetically affecting garbage to make into art projects. Here, his tricks remain quick-feeted and feather soft, but there is little sign of the fearsome and uncompromising Bobby Puleo one might worry would blindfold you and drive you around for several hours before pulling up at the spot to film tricks. Touring his childhood spots, the vid raises the prospect of a galaxy collapsing back in upon itself in a sort of ‘big crunch’ that could perhaps end/begin again with a more contented, peaceable Bobby Puleo.

Is time sanding off Bobby Puleo’s harsher edges, are the rest of us getting harder in a mean age, or has the text-based medium of earlier Internet communications obscured something in his tone all these years? Are purity and happiness mutually exclusive? Do those found-object art pieces contain crytograph puzzle clues that, properly assembled, will lead some future Bobby Puleo devotee to uncover his secret map of spots decades in the future? Why is ‘the industry’ continuing to ignore Godzilla’s ballooning heaviness? Have you ever seen a bad Kevin Taylor photo?