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Musings And Mutterings On These, The 2015 SOTY Sweepstakes

September 30, 2015


The frothsome tumult that has gripped the fertile field of would-be ’16 American prexy seizers o’er the summertime would seem to have spilled over into pro skatingdom, with no clear American Pharaoh pulling away from plodding SOTY glue-factory fodder nine months into the year and with celebratory keg orders and lofty venue security deposits presumably coming due in short order. Perhaps by design,’s steady gravitational pull toward video parts amid a continued dearth in Graumann’s Chinese Theater-ready releases has at once broadened the field and made any stab at front-runnerness almost by default a multi-part affair — with just a couple months to go and only a few bulge-bracket videos yet on deck, these hoary ranks are assessed:

AVE: Fucking Awesome pot-stirrer Jimi Britches in recent weeks has invoked a hashtag declaration of Van Engelen’s SOTY campaign, at one point nodding to the criminally overlooked onboard actions of Bay Area innovator Henry Sanchez, which may or may not bring good luck when you consider the brevity and general unluckiness of Henry Sanchez’s years-ago endorsement relationship with Lucky Skateboards. Still, Van Engelen did yeoman’s work closing out this year’s most anticipated full-length with a part that extended a remarkable 15-year body of footage that all holds up in spades, Thrasher’s web copywriters liberally splashed superlatives over AVE’s ‘Propeller’ raw footage, and it’s hard to argue against AVE embodying the Thrasher ethos in all of its growling, sweaty hurly-burly, all of which possibly makes the short-pantsed trophyman AVE’s to lose. Then there was that switch 50-50.

Cory Kennedy: ‘Our guy,’ as Thrasher’s eminently readable ‘Trash’ column described Girl’s permanent weekender Cory Kennedy, can safely be presumed to have been on a post-‘Pretty Sweet’ tear the past couple of years on the strength of his appearances in projects as high-brow as Crailtap’s ‘Wet Dream’ and close to the vest as the Thrasher-aimed ‘Cory Goes BellingHAM’ and ‘Rat Poison’. Trukfit aficionado Cory Kennedy is due for an ‘official’ ‘serious’ part in the pending Nike production due out around the SOTY-optimized timeframe of December, raising the promise of offcuts to bolster his cause via a second video part somewhere in there, and six years on from his internet-enabled crash onto the scene he has gathered sufficient gravitas and beercan profiling lifestyle shots so as to make him a convincing Skater of the Year for any and all salacious stakeholders.

Chris Joslin: Chris Joslin last year kicked down the skate industry’s door and shortly thereafter proceeded to activate his seemingly indefatigable ligaments to kick out all of the windows and most of the walls in his relentless quest to seize his moment, wrestle it to the ground and press his thumbs to its gasping throat. Each successive video part, and there have been at least three or four in the past 12 months, drips with an embarrassment of gap-crushing riches, culminating in this month’s three-minute run through dozens of Chinese stairs and related architecture and recorded in less than two weeks. A frightening thought is the domestic bullets that remain in Chris Joslin’s proverbial clip, like all those rumored (and some documented) trips down Wallenberg, raising the prospect of further ammunition for his SOTY bid.

Tiago Lemos: Hyperbole is cheap and easy to come by as the skate sphere has collapsed almost entirely into the internet and its assorted wyrmholes, but Ride Channel’s recent submission that Tiago Lemos is the best skater on Earth carried a softly lilting twinge of reality to it, to which can attest any verified viewer of Ty Evans’ soda-sponsored symphony to technology and extreme ties that bind, ‘We Are Blood,’ or previously his shared section with Carlos Iqui in ‘Gold Goons.’ The tireless mining of tricks from gaps and handrails pursued by Chris Joslin can be ported with minimal formatting to Tiago Lemos and ledges, though Brazil’s SOTY drought is on the verge of entering its third decade and Tiago Lemos has turned in relatively little Thrasher-specific output.

Rowan Zorilla: At a certain point in the early ’00s Forrest Kirby held a position that sort of was akin to being the industry’s little brother, beloved and rooted-for by hesh and fresh peers alike, a rarified spot that Rowan Zorilla seems to have man-bunned his way into over the last couple of years. Rowan Zorilla’s equity is such that he may have been the sole talent to turn down an approach from Dill and AVE’s Fucking Awesome, rather than the other way around, and Thrasher declared his SOTY contenderness following Vans’ ‘Propeller,’ probably the most comprehensive showcase so far of his off-kilter sneak attacks such as the switch kickflip noseslide, the corner-hopping kickflip into the ramp and his Thrasher-covering frontside wallride.

Gilbert Crockett: The Vans vid held two songs’ worth of Gilbert Crockett’s increasingly distilled brand of felid scrap and spring, and VC Corp staff saw fit to unload another part’s worth of footage onto Thrasher’s website for the mop-up round, placing Gilbert Crockett firmly within his loose-fitting and seldom changed khaki pants and, one assumes, well onto the High Speed radar. Gilbert Crockett bears the tattoos, grizzled countenance and staying power Thrasher’s power brokers may prize in a Skater of the Year, and the Quasi collective has intimated he may have more footage on the way ere 2015 is up.

Shane O’Neill: The simultaneously hyper-technical and technically flawless form of tricks rifled out by perennially backwards-capped Shane O’Neill probably could’ve put him in Thrasher’s awards orbit for several years now, but this year the maneuvers in his ‘Shane Goes’ video part seemed to bake in an extra push and occasionally some further degree of gnarliness, like heading down a triple set in the rain, switch, or the rarely seen switch frontside shove-it to boardslide, back to switch. Shane O’Neill’s year so far is further distinguished with one of the better tricks knocked out at Thrasher’s Clipper contest and a potential jump from Skate Mental to solo entrepreneurship, though the rumor mill has him in Paul Rodriguez’ Primitive camp.

Cory Kennedy, Celebrating A Shoe, Opens A Texaco-Shaped Back Door For Lil Wayne-Designed Textiles

September 12, 2015


New York Fashion Week has come, bearing each customary ounce and parcel of loathing and dread. Behold, the grim reaper marks its approach this year by grimly and financially reaping DC Shoe corporate parent Quiksilver Inc. which earlier in the week sought bankruptcy shelter from creditors after U.S. consumers bemusedly abandoned its boardshorts and sweaters in larger and larger numbers. Nearly $1 billion in debt, shares plunging to 1 cent and eclipsed by nimbler retail gladiators such as H&M, prognosticators projected a pessimistic path for the erstwhile Quik.

“There’s just fewer kids out there that think the surf market is cool,” said analyst Mitch Kummetz of B. Riley & Co. “The heyday of the late ’90s and the early 2000s is a distant memory.”

It is a bleak vision of things to come not just for the DC Shoe Co USA, which remains a much-going skate concern despite Quiksilver axing its skate team 2.5 year ago, but other longsuffering company mavens aspiring toward pudgy soft-goods margins may also find themselfs slapped awake from any lingering all-over print dreams by the harsh reality that not even spacewolf penny completes and branded tote bags could bar Quiksilver’s door against the corporate poltergeists of high fixed costs and irate shareholders.

Yet when titans of commerce stumble, their sharp elbows and 900 pound weightiness can rip holes in the space-time continuum through which copious amounts of shadenfreude may briefly gush, and also roomy enough for upstart entrepreneurs to assert their product visions boldly upon this greasy stage of trade. Lil Wayne, a widely known personal brand from Hollygrove, New Orleans, has pursued skate fandom and purchased Thrasher merchandise long enough to have absorbed the industry’s notorious inclination toward boom-and-bust cycles, a gruesome fiscal paradigm likely all too applicable to the now-blighted business of selling musical CDs and official ringtone files. Having long since moved on from endorsing Girbauds and Hot Boy Wear brand underpants, it only was a natural Darwinian process for Lil Wayne to apply his design prowess to clothes aerodynamically equipped for skateboarding, yet for several seasonal retail cycles Trukfit has seemed to revolve within the same treacherous surfweary space through which the planets Quiksilver, Rusty and Hurley hurtle, unable to penetrate the unlucrative but theoretically critical hardcore skating demographic*.

Adopting the sort of per-diem spendthriftiness of top-tier talents such as known electronics-hoarder Billy Marks may have contributed to the sinking of the good ship Quiksilver US Balance Sheet, but could this same genomic quality prove Trukfit’s salvation? The unfettered, devil-may-care approach to gas-station checkout counters that elevated neon-sided Wayfarer wannabes, mystic wolf t-shirts and exotic straw hats to positions of pride on skateshop shelves could prove Trukfit’s diesel-scented lifering in this time of harsh economy.

Lil Wayne’s presumptive life-ring thrower in this fantasy is none other than industry pool-boy Cory Kennedy, he of the blade shades, leafy sombrero, mid-career abrupt-transition fixation and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ lost weekend. A long-overdue sneaker nod from skate biz cornerstone Nike Inc. last week revealed that Cory Kennedy’s ever-present and malleable hunger for novelty wears has expanded to include Trukfit gear of a rainbowy persuasion, amid leys, grass skirts and certain other Hawaiian accoutrements. In scenes that recall ‘Fulfill the Dream’s’ beloved Wallows sequence except with the brightness inexplicably dialed down, the occasionally Trukfitted Cory Kennedy and his friends crunch through various of Hawaii’s grittier pockets en route to a volcanic peak-to-peak kickflip wallride and a presumptive SOTY-baiting year-end footage dump via ‘Chronicles 3′ and TBA web clips still to come.

Will a midstream transition to gas-station swag status absolve Trukfit from any sins of marketing meetings past and clear a new and lucrative path to skateboarders’ closet-floor piles? Are the stakes for Lil Wayne that much higher following his recent split with Baby and uncertain ‘Carter’ album cycle future? Was the dark Nike clip supposed to imply the viewer is wearing sunglasses the whole time? Is 2015 the year Cory Kennedy’s sponsor cabinet advisers will convince him to ‘apply himself’? Will any resulting SOTY check and bonus sponsor payments trigger a truckstop retailing boom large enough to offset revenue slides triggered by the crude-oil price collapse?

*Identified as persons who own and ride skateboards

Time For Some ‘Home Truths’ About Our Collective Addiction to Negative Imagery Dudes

September 5, 2015


Death walks among us in this jaunty new millennium, they say, here and there and potentially also sometimes as a pale rider astride a dangerous Harley hog belching out noxious smokes that also can kill grass and dandelions. Never missing the chance to blow out a trend, the skate biz has always embraced its own terminal fixation, a chattering anxiety that year in and year out raises and lowers Vegas-styled odds on the next industry crash, which company isn’t paying its riders and is destined for that great physical print Cali4nia Cheap Skates catalogue in the sky, and which named pro may already have committed career suicide via an ill-considered musical indulgence or poorly chosen street grab.

Yet just as street skating’s lust for ledges and handrails yielded a cottage industry in skate stoppers that occasionally assume whimsical ocean shapes, brisk business is done among content merchants eager to pierce the slow and sluggish hot-air balloons of musty conventional wisdom with javelins of pure moxie, alternately declaring the full-length skate vid, the over-40 pro career and the conglomerate-owned hardgoods brand ‘not dead’ with varying zest-levels. This month, the Skateboard Mag entered such bold sweepstakes with an editorial missive geared around the notion that feature-length movies (including but not limited to ‘We Are Blood’ and a feature-length documentary about Chris Cole) not only are alive and well 15% of the way into the 21st century, but that they may hold the key to fixing skateboarding’s long-festering ‘image problems:’

The type of interest that these films inspire from non-skaters has always been a powerful tool to bring awareness to skateboarding, counterbalancing some of our image problems in a very positive way, occasionally even improving our chances for public skatepark support. (Let’s face it, as corny as it may be, hearing your mom talk about “Z-Boys” and 900s is actually a step in the right direction.)

Here are the hard facts cluttering the picture as surely as sharp pebbles threaten the course of a major contest engagement: Attrition grips the skateboard sphere. The International Association of Skateboard Companies, that past campaigner against blank decks, figured in 2013 that the number of those consumers who can scientifically be deemed ‘skateboarders’ had constricted by one-fourth between 2007 and 2011, shrinking to 6.3 million over five years. Casual, regular, frequent and most troublingly the intensely coveted ‘core’ demographics all appeared to flee their boards in droves, dumping skating at an even faster clip than those binning their Razor scooters, and far lagging the comparatively robust growth in ‘adventure racing,’ squash and lacrosse, fam.

The IASC document submits television and general couch-potatoness as top culprits, but ratings data indicate that millennials also are slithering free from the digital wiles of broadcast programming. Distressing though it may be, The Skateboard Mag may be right that the only truly blameworthy visage may be viewable in a viewing mirror.

In the span of just about a week, Boil the ocean internet web blog was able to compile an array of image-damaging content features and fiery remarks that reflect poorly on the extreme sport that once seemed on pace to unseat baseball as the sport of the future:

Small beatings from Thrasher’s EIC. Thrasher commander Jake Phelps is widely recognized as one of the oldest persons involved in the skateboarding industry, yet his elder statesmanship toward parental authorities came into question this week when the Jake Johnson issue dropped into subscriber mailboxes. Penning a rare tour article*, Jake Phelps recalls with curmudgeonsome glee how he and Tim Upson years back were run up upon by a gaggle of German 10-year-olds who, after baiting Jake Phelps with a professed interest in his ‘load’ (skate board) switched to pillage mode and set to ransacking his group’s knapsacks: “I ran back and the riot was on — punching out ten-year-olds is the price they pay for rat packin’ out shit,” he intones. Several moms are known to have ten-year-olds of their own — what are they to think at the prospect of a 32-year-old Jake Phelps traveling through time to whup up on their present-day children who may deign to pick through any skateboard-bearing luggage a time-traveling Jake Phelps may have borne through alleged time wyrmholes?

Leaders of the ‘F-word’ world. Using vulgar language in a major skateboard magazine — in this case Thrasher — that’s widely read by kids puts the black leather jacket on skateboarding, but aiming swears at the potential next U.S. president puts the illicitly purchased cigarette in skateboarding’s curled lip. Anti-Hero skateboards saw fit to live up to its moniker in its latest Thrasher ad, spouting an apparently unprovoked ‘FUCK DONALD TRUMP’ and ‘FUCK TED CRUZ’ scrawl in the usual semi-legible handwriting. Lest any foul-mouthedness toward leading politicians be explained away as unhinged rants from over-the-hill discontents, Sean Pablo — sponsored by the unprintably named Fucking Awesome World Entertainment — offered a verbatim vulgarity from skating’s younger generation in a Skate Warehouse interview this week. (Anti Hero and Sean Pablo’s super PAC affiliations remain currently unknowed)

Production values from the bargain ‘Rack.’ Johnny Wilson’s most recent video injection sees noseslide sportster Hjalte Halberg’s East Coast summer vacation continuing as he pushes brawny lines through Philly and New York, while Antonio Durao’s switch 360 flip takes all stair-set comers and John Choi pops a silky curb cut backside flip. But smudges and dirt on the otherwise pristine HD lens occasionally mars ‘Rack,’ giving outsiders freshly treated by Ty Evans’ immaculate drone-cams the impression that rival moviemakers don’t care enough about their equipment — or production values — to break out a purpose-made microfiber wiper, the type of thing a skating-friendly mom might tuck into a pocket tee before folding her arms and shaking her head and half-smiling out the front door as her boys hustle to the nearest skatepark.

Respect for others out the window. Longtime Santa Cruz holder-downer ATV Emanuel Guzman possesses enough wiry sprock to handle both switch backside 360s and deep-end coping, but his ‘Magnified’ clip from Thrasher this week won’t win him many fans among parents — or apartment bloc overseers. In the span of just 45 seconds, we see Emanuel Guzman and his friends attempt to bribe a female professional (who potentially suggested they reapparate a nearby skatepark) before ignoring her call to police, blasting a tight-quarters windowpane ollie and departing with cries of “fuck yooouuu, bitch.” (No indication is given whether this actually may be her surname just spelled differently, or how many O’s in “yooooouuu” they intended to use.) Thrasher’s description of the video claims that Emanuel Guzman “has a history of clips like this,” though it does not specify which web browser he may use.

Three stripes and we’re out. One may expect Adidas, an established worldwide leader in footwear branding technology with firm commitments in place on chemical runoff and workplace diversity, to know from setting positive examples. But Adidas’ new clip advertising ADV Superstar sneakers soundtracks Tyshawn Jones’ brain-boggling ollie over to pointer grind to a curse-packed rap song by celebrated rapper Big L, which glorifies bullying less-skilled artists and advocates physical violence and physical gunfire as solutions to perceived problems such as being bad at reciting raps. Are hovering moms really going to ask to click back to Tyshawn Jones’ hardflip again when Big L is reminiscing about leaving a nameless female conquest’s ‘thighs dented’?

*On a serious tip Jake Phelps really needs to do these more regularly

Ty Evans Enlists Middle Eastern Royalty, Robot Helicopters for Movie About Skateboarders Being In a Gang Called the Bloods

August 19, 2015


Drones are in the news again, as fire chief gripe about miniature robotic helicopteros obstructing blaze battle plans, radio frequency weaponizers develop defense systems and the kite-eating tree occasionally graduates to more expensive and, one is forced to assume, tastier and electronified fare. While persnickety oldsters would pass laws and hang out ‘No Droning’ signs, the young and vibrant drone subculture simply wants to drone in peace, twirling their little propellers in disused parking lots and parks. Sound familiar?

Ty Evans, captain of TWS and Girl videos that were, finds himself astride the bucking international drone hoopla as he promotes his newest Film, ‘We Are Blood,’ a citrus soda-financed, high-tech frolic through megacities and undercharted backwaters aimed at pushing the production-value envelope and explaining what makes skaters tick. After a decade in the Crail camp, Ty Evans is unshackled from the rote part-part-part skate video format, trading in Girl’s unexpectedly long-lived ‘SHT SOUND’ for a Dolby hi-fi replacement and free to indulge in as many bro-hugs, high-fives and wildly undulating overhead-hoisted boards as his cameras’ memory chips can manage.

Cribbing the template from Brain Farm’s big snowboard movies such as ‘Art of Flight,’ Ty Evans points his lenses and drones and microphones at Paul Rodriguez, whose impeccable technicality, worldly vet status and passable script-reading capability provide a cipher for framing this road trip exploration of a bond between skaters worldwide. Paul Rodriguez sets it off appropriately enough in Los Angeles’ hallowed schoolyards, jumping to Dane Vaughn at J-Kwon and some euphoric and very welcome ditch-bombing by Omar Salazar before Ty Evans pulls back the lens to fit the rest of the US and well-traveled overseas jurisdictions like Spain, China and Brazil.

Paul Rodriguez dispenses with his own brand of razory execution — the k-grind front foot flip out is taken up a notch — before turning over a good portion of the RV miles to lesser-knowns like Jordan Maxham and infrequently-heralded journeymen like Moose, who rips most of the spots he’s recreationally vehicled to. Tiagos Lemos easily comes over as Ty Evans’ breakout star though, manufacturing at least one incredible clip per location-specific segment and his own mini-part when ‘Blood’ winds its way into Brazil’s particular deep-city grime. His ratio of monologue to tricks like the b/s 180 switch f/s crooked grind fakie flip out, switch b/s tailslide switch flip out, of the switch bigspin b/s tailslide is favorable.

Elsewhere Jamie Thomas boards Ty Evans’ RV to address some Deep South spots that include his old high school, inviting the viewer to marvel at his enduring grit and award style points for the right hand on the kink 50-50. At some juncture Brandon Biebel does a nollie b/s heelflip over a table that could repeat for 10 minutes, or perhaps through the end of the Film, with ultimate justification.

‘Blood’ reverts Ty Evans in some ways to Transworld mode, enabling him to pick and choose seasoned pros and comer-uppers motivated enough to revel in motorhome squalor for seven weeks, book extended stays overseas and spend lengthy stints at the spot biding time until the half-fozen camera rigs are properly aligned. It’s a testament to Ty Evans’ famed work ethic and the spry joints of his subjects that they cultivated a 90-minute Film from just over a year of Filming, versus spending years to construct an hourlong vid from a 30-deep roster of geographically diverse dudes that include a fair number of entrepreneurs.

(Probably Ty Evans and Girl should have broken up before ‘Pretty Sweet.’ Manning a Film that is his alone ups the stakes for Ty Evans the auteur personally but drags no weighty and beloved 20-year video legacy behind it, nor are there destination concerns for precious video-footage minutes turned in by aging favorites and the potential for substantial portions relegated to b-roll extras.)

Untethering himself from the skate vid format seems also to have resparked some of Ty Evans’ creativity that in the last few years seemed to have piled out, like in 2011’s leafy HD rehash of Rick Howard’s forest cruise in ‘Mouse.’ ‘Blood’ breaks from the schralping for an educational and droney cruise through a granite mine that sets up a slab’s brief journey from quarry to waxy ledge, there’s cool time-lapse footage of a wall scarred up by wallrides, a small-world-after-all moment in the unearthing of an ancient Spanish bowl, and frantic gamesmanship between the ‘Blood’ gang and an irate Chinese official wielding a garden hose. Staged puddle sprays aside, the RV segments bear honest whiffs of open-road adventuring and Paul Rodriguez’s ‘blank canvas’ remark about Dubai’s sumptuous plazas is on point, though Tim O’Connor’s quip on traversing the globe’s far corners to end up behind some K-Mart isn’t far off when Theotis Beasley, Sean Malto and others helicopter their way to a high-altitude landing pad where they session a basic bench.

‘Blood’s’ Cleveland-channeling theme of togetherness gets repetitive after 90 minutes, particularly when these annointed blood brothers are nailing ferocious tricks in pristine tropical spots with the blessing of local extreme power brokers, but some of ‘Blood’s’ best detours arise from dudes with only tenuous industry ties. Ty Evans of all people manages to put outer borough nomad Anthony Pappalardo in the most thoughtful and succinct context he’s had recently, same with DC’s Darren Harper. The Film’s message gets over in a surprise Skatopia visit and a well-spoken stop by a small-town DIY.

Whereas ‘Blood’ trades on the concept of a bond between skateboarders, the Film also raises the question of its elasticity. Many* believe in evangelizing skateboarding — Ty Evans in the ‘Blood’ Transworld issue says that “I’ve always been under the idea that I would love to share skateboarding with the world, and especially those that don’t skate. If a kid that doesn’t skate happens to see one of the films I’ve made, and that gets him hooked on skating, then I think that it’s working.”

Are the spirits of the kid kickflipping in front of his stoop in Oakland and the kid who swings through the YMCA park after swim team in the suburbs as closely kindred as those few dozen who may have traveled over an hour to glimpse underpaid pros skate a rickety hockey-rink demo in 1995? It is a question recently pondered by Ty Evans’ former Lakai coworker Kelly Bird, now a Nike employee:

“You can’t check a kid’s gear and automatically draw the conclusion that you’re the only two kids in school that know what Thrasher is anymore. You and the quarterback show up to school in the same outfit and neither one of you think it’s weird. He actually invites you to his party now instead of trying to flush your head down the toilet. You go to his party and have an awesome time. He lets you borrow his copy of Thrasher the next day, then Lil Wayne calls you to go skate.”

It makes little sense to attempt judging Ty Evans’ ‘We Are Blood’ on typical skate vid merits, but the effort to harness a heady concept, glossy production that stands at odds with the broader skate sphere’s persistent VX fetishization, and a lengthy runtime leaves the question as to who the Film is for. For those increasingly accustomed to digesting Guy Mariano’s latest facemelter in 14-second increments, an hour and a half seems a big ask. Volcom’s recent ‘True to This’ was partly perceived as looped fodder for retail outlets, though the number and capacity of whispered Mountain Dew speakeasies remains unclear.

Ty Evans previously has touted the high sales of ‘Fully Flared’ and ‘Pretty Sweet’ as signs of their resonance with Joe Kickflip; does ‘Blood’s’ loftier aim require a bigger yardstick? Will collapsing oil prices constrain Dubai’s ability to deploy economic incentives that could help the emirate compete against Spain and China for pro roadtrips and magazine articles detailing esoteric and wily local cuisines? Will this be the Ty Evans production that finally tops Richard Angelides’ Rhythm part in the slow-working minds of certain backward-thinking internet reactionaries?

*Particularly those whose livelihoods are tied to selling skateboard goods

#Trendwatch 2015: Personal Responsibility

August 12, 2015


What soul-eroding wreckage hath the tucked-in shirt craze of 2011 wrought? Plenty of yesteryear’s rascally character tropes increasingly are unapplicable in a brave land where oil-enriched royal dynasties shut down portions of their kingdoms to enable drone-powered filming romps and barely a month can pass without some Manhattan periodical fawning over skaters’ fashion sensibilities, amid assorted rumors of cats and dogs living together and stenchful glimpses of a new dinosaur age.

For alerts and rumours indicating the far reach of skateboarding’s current enamourment with grown manning look no further than Thrasher, that digital content barony built on crushed tall cans, DIY concrete projects and ill-considered body art, which presented this summer’s landmark ‘Stay Flared’ tour firstly as a lesson in proper diet and taking care of one’s self. Its poster child is Brandon Biebel, he of Redline binges and the pack-a-day Ja Rule voice:

Stay Flared saw an equally intense Biebel, though followers of his social media will know that this one is deadly serious about skateboarding, driven by healthy living and more pumped up than ever before. Most telling was his water consumption, specifically his ritual of “kicking a gallon” i.e. drinking at least a gallon of water every day.

“You want to join this club? You ready to kick a gallon?” he asked, incredulously.

The gallon club already involved several of the Stay Flared crew and Andrew Reynolds explained that back in LA they often send each other photos of crushed jugs throughout the day.

“These guys are drinking a gallon of water before 2 pm,” he said. “It’s pretty competitive. It’s, like, ‘Shit, I better start skating so I can finish my gallon!”

Reynolds’ involvement in the burgeoning and bubbly 2015 water affair is perhaps no great surprise given his years of sobriety recently augmented by ice-baths, fair-trade bananas, some sciatic foam roller and a substance known as ‘arnica gel’ (full list available in the Stay Flared Thrasher). But in an age where Fred Gall embraces domestic bliss and Andy Roy can hold down a $1000/month apartment in the most expensive city in America, it is fair to ponder a potential shift at hand.

With message-board vitriol poured steamily over do-nothing pros unable to film semi-regular Instagram clips that, in years past, would have been rewarded with Polo gear or studded belts for their devotion to various piling-out programmes, it is easy to attribute a more-responsible pro populace to the vagaries and ravages of age, mainly the fearsome potential of a day-job sentence lurking behind any final photo incentive cheque. Yet 90s babies also have proven themselves increasingly upstanding, between Austyn Gillette’s Habitat-endorsed high school ender, Mark Suciu’s BA pursuits and the Sabotage dudes methodically smoothing the Love Park ground and disposing of trash in the bargain, moves that recall the late-1990s citizenry of ledge-repainter Jeremy Wray.

Such are the lofty heights tested by this new wave of behavioral responsibility that Ride Channel of late has taken to truth-testing Slap Board rumors and garnering responses from the likes of Crailtap tour muncher Sam Smyth regarding alleged lynchpin teamrider permutations. Whether the Girl camp felt compelled to address potentially material and market-moving news in light of its recent investment injection remains needlessly speculated upon in the darknet.

Are more such fits of dependibility, sensible living and all-out rational action to come as various pros and industry andministrators test the fat tail of mortgage-debt exposure, and corporate structures absorb further xtreme properties? Do the recent spate of upstart board concerns require more self-starter fluid wrung from the industry’s collective pores, or instead offer a greased-up window that creakily enables hedonistic backsliding motions? Is Andy Roy next in line to host an HGTV show that harnesses his prison background for the purpose of frugally decorating tiny houses? Would the industry have found itself on a much different path had Rocco never repaid that one loan shark?

Nike’s ‘Short a Guy’ Commercial Entertains, Seeds Doomsday Fears Among Industry Boosters

July 22, 2015

A new Nike commercial this week plunged professional skateboarding managers into deep consternation, raising questions around the shoe colossus’ commitment to the extreme sport it has come to dominate.

The ad spot, depicting a youth abandoning his deck for a frenetic smorgasbord of team sports, sent shockwaves through the community of agents, publicists and social media curators responsible for marketing and managing professional skateboarders, some of whom feared the commercial hinted at Nike’s waning interest in action sporting spheres.

“Everybody’s on pins and needles,” moaned one agent who works closely with a journeyman goofy footer who is in the early stages of evaluating potential interest in pursuing discussions with sponsors such as Nike over a possible contract option.

The furrowed brows and chewed-over nails among skateboarding’s professional management sector spotlight how the industry has come to revolve around the Oregonian supplier of Janoskis, a top funder of skatepark construction, contest purses, hard-copy video releases, pro salaries and advertisements in what print magazines remain. Roughly 68% of all sponsored skaters are directly sponsored by Nike or somehow flowed their shoes, according to gussied industry watchers.

Nike’s new “Short a Guy” ad depicts a boy skating up to a neighborhood basketball court, where another kid explains the players are “short a guy” and quickly persuades him to join the game. The youngster rapidly is drawn into a succession of other games and races, pausing momentarily each time to outfit himself in new, sport-specific Nike gear. He eventually returns to his skateboard, but only to leave it behind again as he heeds the call of several pro ballers.

For some, the commercial seemed to compound concerns raised last month when Nike reported generating $736 million in action-sports product sales in its just-completed fiscal year, growing 4% over the previous year, well behind Nike’s overall 10% sales increase.

The commercial also arrived at a particularly sensitive time as Nyjah Huston was rumored to be negotiating a new and lucrative sponsorship agreement with Nike.

“I told these kids this would happen if they insisted on keeping on buying these other shoes,” groused Colnway Haffpuerg, a personal branding consultant and ‘next media’ e-stylist whose client roster includes several pro skaters. “Now look. Who’s gonna pay Gino? BA? What about all those kids, tomorrow’s pros who would have seen skating for the first time on the Street League broadcast? We’re losing a generation if we’re lucky, and maybe more.”

Several skateboarders at New York’s Nike-augmented Lower East Side skatepark, which some advanced internet flunkies already had begun to scour for cracks and weeds and other signals of lax upkeep, expressed confusion toward the commercial.

“Lacrosse, fam?” remarked a bearded driller who gave his name as Skinny Todd.

Longtime skeptics of Nike’s expanding profile and influence in the skateboarding sphere were quick to argue the ad confirmed years-long suspicions that Nike would inevitably pull out of skateboarding at some inopportune moment, leaving certain skaters “high” and various others “dry,” in favor of the more-established legacy sports that require more advanced and expensive shoes and equipment, and where Nike’s technological prowess can draw deeper distinctions between its products and those of rivals — versus pitting its vulcanized soles against those of less deep-pocketed competitors.

“Lacrosse, fam,” said Burt Ballwickey, an artist specializing in dinosaur tattoos who sported a vintage “Don’t Do It” tee to a local bar. “Everybody knew when Nike showed up 15 years ago they wouldn’t stick around when things went south, and now this commercial proves it.”

“And at the end — the football gives the board a final shove, as if to say, ‘the jocks won,'” Ballwickey ranted.

As Ebay footwear merchants deleted skateshops from their Quickstrike-focused RSS feeds and others hopefully floated DVD copies of ‘Nothing But the Truth’ at collector-level prices, professional skateboarding-focused image curators began calculating time left on luxury car leases and mulling vacation home refinancing options.

“I know how it sounds but in a way I feel like Dyrdek bears some of the blame,” said Millie Tidgette, a designer of custom Instagram tagging-bots for pro and am skaters. “They could’ve tried to bring back downhill for Street League. Or a doubles comp! Something, anything that would’ve allowed for some group of skaters to be short one person and be in that commercial and get that kid back on his board. But now — all is lost.”

Recent Dispatch From the PJ Ladd Plane of Existence

July 16, 2015


A few months on since Plan B teammate and fellow ‘Tru, B’ sideline-sitter Colin McKay casually compared Boston flatground alchemist PJ Ladd to Queen Amidala’s downward-spiraling leotard flexer in ‘Black Swan,’ third-dimension wallie champ Tom Karangelov offers a somewhat more cosmic update on the recluse technician in TWS’ current and fantastic am issue:

TWS: Any news on the PJ Ladd front?
TK: Oh, dude, I skate with PJ a bunch. He’s working on a part, I guess they want to do a part just with him. He’s super into vibes these days. He wants to grow his hair out because he was telling me that the longer your hair is they’re like antennas. They reach out for energy. So his hair’s pretty long. He’s kind of got this mysterious vibe going. Not a lot of people know what he’s up to, and I think that’s cool.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Ryan Gallant ‘First Love’

July 12, 2015

Decades in the future when municipalities join heated combats for economic scavengings, the low-bid winner for the shove-it hall of fame may dedicate TIF funds toward a bronzed likeness of Ryan Gallant, whose ‘Fulfill the Dream’ music-supervised video part from a too-often overlooked entry in the TWS cinema pantheon functions as a clinic on rotating the board into a stupefying range of blocks, rails, hubbas and other what-have-yous. Ryan Gallant has flip tricks like the 90s and the knowhow to execute in squeaky-clean terms shit like the pop-shove it frontside k-grind and the hardflip late 180, and enough youthful spring to shoot from way downtown and look like he bounces into the full cab almost by accident going down the hallway. It’s wild how in 2005, before TWS abandoned and then inevitably re-embraced the voiceover intro, Ryan Gallant spoke of appearing long-in-the-tooth for the boarding life — a decade later there’s still gas in the tank.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – John Buchanan ‘The Good Life’

July 10, 2015

John Buchanan’s surreal Brooklyn Banks opener in this part bookends pretty good with where Jeron Wilson left things off and renders well the atypical elements of this dude’s skating, wringing out a weirdly tweaked assortment of tricks that include in this section a switch frontside rock-n-roll, a spinout, a noseblunt slide to manual and various others. John Buchanan briefly was pro for Yellow Skateboards, a rabble rousing Bay Area outfit that represented skating well both in its piss-off-the-neighborsness and its relatively short lifespan, and John Buchanan had a type of dark side of the moon/brown acid twist on the granola flavor that was getting traction under the Grasshoppers and Kenny Reed pro models at the time. He also wields a certain oily smoothness, like on the nollie noseblunt pop out, and a bracing switch 360 flip, a rare pair card to hold with a switch lazer flip.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Jeron Wilson ‘Skate More’

July 8, 2015

‘Skate More’ was DVS shoes’ Terry Gilliam-infused answer to the blockbuster shoe video parade of the early aughts, and while Mikey Taylor and Jereme Rogers supplied handrailing hammers and Jason Dill pushed gritty gravitas in knee socks, it was Daewon Song’s circus of tech and the 1990s-aged swagger from Chico Brenes and Jeron Wilson that spiritually grounded the project. Jeron Wilson’s heelflips, nollied over a fire hydrant or straight-up over gaps, detonate like bombs and a range of other tricks get soundly handled (switch frontside 360 over the bench, switch 180 up onto the big block in Australia) en route to a plenty dazzling ender for the time (or this one). Song and Girl-heavies friend section seals the deal.


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