Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Rise of The Noseslide Shove It Heralds The Age of Dad Tricks

April 15, 2016

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Is skateboarding as we know it courting wholesale disaster and destruction? The resounding answer ultimately must be a form of ‘idk but..’ as a steadily swirling swirl of lifestyle choices, fashion accessories and increasingly, tricks themselves increasingly bear the mark of the paterfamilias, to increasingly risky and questionable ends.

The current ‘dad’ fad is little shock when you consider how skating, once a rebellious youthful subculture prior to its modern format as a joint venture of several global footwear manufacturers, previously offered a haven for broken-homed kids that in many cases was preferable to careers in substance abuse or strong-armed robbery. Generations later the youngsters now look up to second-generation pros such as Alex Olson and Riley Hawk, who skate with their dads, swap pro models and career advice as they forge dynasties that can rule over taxpayer-funded bowls and prefabricated plaza spots for eons to come, battling rival clans across the cosmos for wealth and prestige and lucrative mineral deposits.

Dadness already had been stoked to a near-inferno by the widespread re-adoption of loose-fit, faded denim jeans, sometimes with a sensible cuff-roll well suited to low-impact cycling or safely depressing the pedals of a used minivan. Soon after, hat designers including Huf and Bronze56K elevated the dad cap from musty closet shelves and lost-and-found bins to a lofty $36 pricepoint item that comes in fetching pastels, equally at home flipping an 8.5″ popsicle or being flipped via Ebay for healthy multiples of its retail price.

Yet whereas any geek off the proverbial street can outfit himself in dad garb, cultivate convincing flab in pursuit of a lusted-for dad bod and feign a tiresome lifestyle of early bedtimes and a mind-eroding 9-to-5, dadness also has revealed itself gradually through long-passe streetstyle maneuvers. The varial flip, which only style dieties bearing names such as Brian Anderson, Mike Carroll and Jordan Trahan can lift to the level of the tolerable, once was not the sort of move performed in mixed company, but no more; body varial, same deal.

The noseslide shove-it, which elbowed aside no-complies, shove-its and wallrides as well as threatening light balls to capture precious screen time in Polar’s energizing ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind,’ again resurfaced in this week’s Bronze promo ‘Plug,’, marking a new apex in ‘dad’ tricks that may be difficult to surpass. Fifteen years since Rob Welsh nearly single-handedly rescued the noseslide from that doomed scrap pile of tricks too basic for blocks and too ‘Muska’ for handrails, a new era beckons in which legs weary from four presidential terms’ worth of pop-outs are offered respite via a mellow 90-degree shove in the direction the board already is headed, a ‘tech’ trick in the same spirit as the ‘extra mild’ salsas hawked by the jug in Midwestern box stores.

How uncomfortably deep is skating willing to take its dad fixations? Does the unfortunate prophecy of the star-crossed Theban king Oedipus, who slew his father and married his mother, suggest that skating will thrust some metaphorical harpoon through surfing before turning an altogether different and still more troubling metaphorical harpoon toward roller-skating? Is there a convoluted version of the Sphinx’s riddle that could include a basic noseslide in the ‘morning,’ the late-90s favorite with the 270 shove it the hard way for the ‘afternoon,’ and then the current/dad version in the ‘night?’ Will ruin and chaos soon follow, or could the frontside tailslide shove-it be next?

Pontus Alv’s Frenetic Lament for a Scattering Tribe

April 10, 2016

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From disused plastic piping, zip ties and empty two-litres, Dutch sculptor Theo Jansen has over recent decades bestowed life upon a new and fearsome form of creature he has dubbed ‘Strandbeests,’ nomadic and dinosauric automatons that draw their power from wind and moisture to restlessly roam frozen Scandinavian shores and, through unwitting human enamourment, sprinkle their genetics globally via our computerized internet. Theirs is a lonesome lot on barren stripes of the earth, but their ramshackle ploddings are not without a certain joy and wonder.

A few Lego bricks and Ikea couches away, by accepted U.S. cowpoke measuring standards, Pontus Alv tinkers among his DIY embankments and bowls and at long last takes his third full-length off simmer, a Nordic dream smearing several decades’ worth of lovingly recollected skate touchstones that uncork themselves as the most ‘now’ vid since Supreme’s ‘Cherry’ and 2016’s pulsating frontrunner so far. Buffeted by larger forces both natural and otherwise, the non-complying bros and their half-seen stand-ins populating ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind, Please Don’t Wake Me This Time’ place faith in leaps both figurative and actual that send them soaring atop buildings, crunching through shrubs, high diving off delivery trucks and rolling away from frontside noseslides to fakie with arm dropped just so. Beyond the Alien Workshop and Blueprint camps of yore, there’s not a lot who handle their imagery and mix their media as well as is done here.

Dane Brady’s bucolic opener presents most of the elements, simply — here’s his dog, his curbs, his parking garages, his deceptively intense control, skidding from parking bumper to parking bumper or manualing through the grass or jumping a damn swing. Michael Juras and Jerome Campbell wind their way through bricked out European back streets, speed hopping bump-to-bumps and backside tailsliding way out on rugged ledges, seldom any one dude holding the frame too long without somebody else on the team hopping onto the same spot, maybe the opposite way. Hjalte Halberg crushes big blocks in possibly the vid’s best played-straight part, Pontus Alv is in there with his backward hat and his arcing wallrides, luring his followers into snaking doubles lines at Swedish DIYs and Oskar Rosenberg-Hallberg, seemingly growing up before the fisheye here, buoyed beyond the switch pole jam and ride-on smith grind by the best little-kid stylings since Yaje Popson or maybe Kevin Bradley. Aaron Herrington cashes in what look like a couple years’ worth of chips like the double wallie and later on Kevin Rodrigues, who comes with tricks that have no names.

Pontus Alv has talked about a kind of wonderful weirdess and isolation that go with doing his particular take on skating from one of the unlikeliest spots on the map, while also wearily eyeing the constraints and pressures that come with developing a beloved and increasingly successful company.

It’s always the same. It starts like, “Hey, there’s this cool new brand. It’s small. It’s underground. It’s run by these cool guys and we love it because we can’t get a hold of it.” Like when World (Industries) first started it was exactly like that. And then all of a sudden there’s all this demand and then that brings hype and then slowly the companies get their shit together. They get their business model together, the production, the distribution, and everything. And then, of course, when a companies growing, the company’s costs are also growing so it’s like, “Oh shit, now we have to widen our distribution channels to make enough money to supply the riders, team, video production, ads, and all of those things that you have to do. And then all of a sudden people look at it and are like, “Well, it’s kind of big now. I don’t know. It’s not cool anymore.” And then all of the sudden they lose some of that support and all of a sudden it’s like, “Well, we don’t have the core support anymore but we have this massive company with all these bills.” So you widen the channels more and more and more.

Henry Sanchez, who also came up in the Bay area only to part ways with the CA-based industry, questions the cultural cost of broader-based success in an interview discussing his latest return to skating: I see a bigger corporate presence in skating, and it has a stronger foothold in the market. To me, those are indications that skating is a lot bigger now. It seems like they’ve spent enough money campaigning for your heart. We had a stronger defense with a much smaller army.

It is maybe too easy to see the rising and receding industry tides gently lifting the wallriding Mary Poppins of ‘Don’t Wake Me’ across grassy hilltops, blowing him into spiky trees, or at other points holding the magical umbrella just out of reach in various times of need. But with ever-larger commercial interests alternately supporting Polar’s trans-Atlantic bonelessing and bank-building, while harbouring threats of spiky contractual strictures and molding future generations from Olympic bully pulpits, how much longer does Pontus Alv’s idyllic Polar dream go on? Could a ‘Really Sorry’ type quick follow up serve as a sort of cosmic snooze button? Was the vid’s lengthy gestation period at all related to scheduling difficulties in securing the Rover cameo? What was going through Kevin Rodrigues’ head when he seen that rail? Are all the H-Street references actually subliminal signals from Pontus Alv to the Polar team that they should abscond together for some upstart board company in a few years, thus easing the crushing pressure on Pontus Alv to follow up this video and allowing him to pursue an Evol-like reboot at far lower stakes for all involved?

Ten Leak Commandments

March 31, 2016

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Last week the nation’s ever-deepening identity crisis deepened, again, after a Facebook posting left Americans to contend with the concept of Young Jeezy wearing socks with sandals. The unholy prospect forced all the usual and uncomfortable questions front and center once again: Who are we? Where’s all this going? Can gravitational waves be manipulated for pleasure or profit? How much mass is too much? Was a Florida judge’s special dispensation for Hulk Hogan to don a formal black bandana for his sex-tape trial an indication of white privilege, the Hulkster’s 1% status, or both? And so on.

As ever, the United States may do well to take notes from Baker, whose alternately sneering and stony worldview has persisted through several revolutions of its motley and enduringly diverse lineup. Dustin Dollin stays shooting his mouth off and hurting feelings, while the current iteration of these seven-day weekenders shake loose a Rowan Zorilla-centered promo cementing their danger to various communities. Andrew Reynolds blasts a waist-high* kickflip to tractor-trailer bash, their revitalized Kevin Long spins a nollie backside tailslide flip out and Terry Kennedy, who is a large grin attached to a fakie ollie, formally enters the running for clip of the year by walking down the sidewalk. By the time Gumby-limbed ditch gremlin Rowan Zorilla earns the DJ Screw rollaway treatment to seal the formal pro nod to his off-kilter switchstance formations, the company, careening into its 16th year with 40% of its 2G lineup remaining, seems as vital as ever.

Can Transworld, pushing its own video legacy into a third decade, recapture mojo by blowing up its own timeworn model? Friend to the fisheye Chris Thiessen takes a close-up view of the concept in ‘Substance,’ which honors skating’s long tradition of taking a concept and testing its longevity, in this case hyper-intimate VX techniques cribbed from Lenz and Magenta productions while cutting a barely-threaded kingpin bolt sized radius around longtime TWS vid trappings such as timelapse sequences, voiceovers and slow motions. In parts like Dolan Stearns’, wherein he leaps Danny Garcia’s ‘Inhabitants’ intro-sequence carport and boosts a massive tree wallie, much sense of perspective is squeezed out of the frame**. Other parts like Baker’s arrested developer Tristan Funkhouser, who does a cool bump-to-bump feeble grind and an amusing surf to spinout, and Islee Jon Nguyen, who can do Pupecki grinds both ways and launches one of the meatier bigspin kickflips in recent memory, benefit from a more relaxed approach and compare favorably with the better-aged parts from TWS vids past.

TWS’ video model merits saving. The California Sunday Magazine’s recent Jake Phelps profile*** positions Thrasher as the likely last mag standing as rivals grow ‘anemic’ in the face of a mobile content onslaught, though Transworld’s thinning seems to have plateaued around the 115-page mark, perhaps a product of the revitalization via editor Jaime Owens’ early embrace of the small-company set and fondness for East Coast coverage. In time the ‘magazine video’ format may become relegated to the same shop backroom dustbin as the ‘video magazine,’ but it would be a loss — a bustling market for local/crew videos and daily deluge of one-off online parts retains some lane for gatekeepers imbued with the clout and say-so to corral diverse and blue-chip bros who aren’t otherwise in thrall to sneaker- or soda-funded projects to crank out a worthy and cohesive video in the space of a year.

Between the ever-zooming fisheye camp and the long lens stylings of Fat Bill and his acolytes, are sides being chosen up for a coming civil war that could further diminish the already dwindling population of VX-1000s? Do the ghosts of Digital and Logic and 411 rear up from the underworld to lustily cheer at each successive Transworld vid premiere? Does Jake Phelps remain some reality TV show producer’s great white whale? How bout Rowan Zorilla’s switch shove-it 50-50?

*His waist, even
**Might one put former Transworld Film maker Ty Evans on the other end of such a spectrum, too much perspective?
***Near the top of the heap for ‘secular’ press articles on skating

The Man Comes Around

March 20, 2016

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Beyond physics-challenging hair and a stated disdain for clowns, there may be hazy similarities to be grasped at and drawn between Sideshow Bob’s remarkable mayoral run in Springfield and Donald Trump’s elbows-out steamrolling toward the Republican presidential nomination. Amongst the jittery fretters who sense authoritarian tones in the bouquet of Donald Trump’s bombast, Sideshow Bob’s courtroom declaration seems prescient: ‘[D]eep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.’

Erik Ellington, bigspinning Pissdrunk of years past and curator of his own famous locks, this week mused whether skateboarding has relinquished control over aspects of its greater, amorphous self. No specifics are called out, but if one were so inclined, signs could be observed all around: Erik Ellington’s onetime sponsor Active turning its fortunes over to a bankruptcy court; the sales of DC Shoe Co, Element and Alien Workshop to various holding companies; private equity’s purchases of Huf clothes and the parent of the Crail Couch itself. It is not difficult to visualize a future in which the ‘skater owned’ trope is quietly replaced with a ‘skater designed’ slogan similar to Apple’s California dreamt, China built taglines.

In one indication of the industry being divvied into ones who are sold and those who are told, Asphalt Yacht Club’s tour diary in the Cole Wilson TWS opens with a lament over Nyjah Huston jumping the tie-dyed landship for Swooshier endeavors (though not before fulfilling various contractual obligations for demos and signings that apparently do not also include skating spots with his erstwhile deckhands) before later fondly reminiscing on endearing tour missteps by Blake Carpenter, who the article highlights as another teammate who absconded for the Portland sneaker conglomerate. While quick to apply that familiar disclaimer of forgoing any hatred towards money-getting bros, the Yacht Club also claims some pride in its stepping-stone status: “One year you’re a controversial upstart who no one thinks is going to last, the next year you’ve got so much juice that you’re suddenly the farm team for the heavyweight champion of the world.” In a recent interview Habitat’s former Floridian bluntslide titlist Ed Selego similarly foregoes any hatred toward Nike Inc payrolled skaters, despite a lengthy passage arguing that company’s alleged policy of requiring shops to carry large quantities of potentially wack shoes in addition to the desirable ones led to the closure of an MIA outlet, and subsequent calls from bill collectors:

“Nike was the biggest problem for us. We had many good years selling their product, but at the same time they pushed tons of product on us that didn’t sell. They used shops like ours for years to establish the Nike SB brand. Then they opened up distribution to all the corporate stores and started selling direct to consumer. Being the number one shoe brand wasn’t enough for them. They had to exploit the brand to appease Wall St. and their shareholders. They did this with no plan in place for all the skate shops that struggled over the years. They loaded everyone up with a ton of debt then dumped us. It’s really irresponsible for such a large brand to do this and harm the very industry that they have come to be a part of. There is no better example of corporate greed.”

Such cautionary tales don’t appear to resonate: Lakai recently ceded two of its longtime Euro promoters, JB Gillet and Nick Jensen, to Nike. Heavy odds are on Danny Brady decamping for Palace-heavy Adidas in the near future, which recently hoovered up DVS honcho Paul Shier and former Lakaiers Na’Kel Smith and Miles Silvas. If it is a two-way street, the inbound legacy ‘skate’ side is peculiarly ill-traveled.

Do Sideshow Bob’s words ring true in skatedom 20 years later, with skaters secretly lusting for a corporate overlord that will tell them when to show up, where to stand and what to do in contractually legal languages? Are pros’ indulgence in vices such as gnarly substances and credit card debt, alternately celebrated and lamented, truly a cry for some grander form of paternal control? Are recent trends in looser trucks, higher speeds and fewer grabs (Homokis aside) reflect a subconscious yearning for stricter oversight under incorporated structures and shareholder-friendly governance practices? Have such forces directed Fred Gall back toward manual labors? How much rides on straighter-laced senior executives, perhaps the grandparents in this elongated and tortured metaphor, either not noticing or not caring about what goes on in the tour van?

Point/Counterpoint: Should We Make Republique Great Again By Remembering The Lessons of The Most-Famed 1990s Drill Fight?

March 13, 2016

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The discoloured and rapidly bubbling kettle that is the 2016 presidential election season offers a warped prism through which nearly every event, from the ho-hum to the oh-damn, can and must be viewed. Skateboarders long have spurted and spouted political pontifications, from Jason Lee’s stance against military force in the advancement of hard rock interests to Fred Gall’s tale of heavy-handed police force during one drunken and star-crossed Ozzfest and others bluntly going “fuck Donald Trump” in print and online media formats, as well as Lenny Kirk’s sober warning that the US government is plotting an ‘internal war’ to ratchet up control on computer-savvy citizens and various other sheeple.

‘Pussy Gangster,’ Bill Strobeck’s latest outing for Supreme and so far his longest dwelling upon the FA kids beyond US borders, from the jump throws a dripping and still-wet beefsteak to the ravenous hounds of political punditry whose bellies remain some seven months away from filling. In an ominous and threatening setup to Sean Pablo’s 50-to-50, Sage Elsesser’s channeling of Jereme Roger’s ‘Harsh Euro Barge’ hubba achievement, Kevin Bradley’s incredible flip-and-turn-and-catch and K-Rod’s fakie early grab to wallride, a butcher knife brandishing hobo pokes and swipes at our surrounding heroes, rasping and growling before Paris’ finest execute a textbook and grammatically accurate bum’s rush to extinguish the situation.

For crooked-grinding observers on both ends of the political spectrum, the much-buzzed sequence evoked immediate comparisons to ‘Virtual Reality’s’ famous drill fight, wherein Colin McKay and co pitted boards against bit in defense of Vancouver’s New Spot. The passage of two decades, and marked disparity in physical violence doled out, prompts diverging views on what this confrontation with an earbud-challenged threatener says about skating in this year of our Lordz Wheels, 2016:

Point (liberal): The clip is important because it shows the progress skating has made in the eyes of society’s most basic institutions. Here, government is functioning on our behalf, following years of foot chases, biting canines, verbal dressings-down, tickets and arrests — policemen in this instance act, forcefully, to protect a long put-upon class. This is the system functioning the way it’s meant — rather than handcuff Tyshawn Jones for hitching a bus ride after his tall-can backside lipslide, the powers that be neutralize a real and present danger skaters didn’t invite. By taking him into custody there is some chance the bebearded slashmaker will receive any help or counseling he may need, versus a beat-down via truck and deck that leaves him to nurse his fractures and ruptures with inexpensively priced French wine.

Counterpoint (conservative): Oh please. This clip, larded with more indulgent and excessive zoom, is only the latest and saddest sign that skateboarders have lost their collective edge, cowed into domestication by the steel barriers and security-guard shepherds of Street League, and loathe to rumple limited-run t-shirts and sweaters that could fetch lofty bids on Ebay. In the era that birthed citizen militias such as the Red Dragons and inaugurated James Kelch as EMB mayor, when Ricky Oyola and the Sub Zero locals took it upon themselves to regulate and enforce upon Love Park riff raff, skaters had far less to lose and weren’t hung up on concepts like even numbers or, perish the thought, help from the police or more esoteric taxpayer-funded agencies of Big Government. And before our friends on the other side of the aisle attempt to dismiss and diminish it all as American headstrongisms, let the record show that the drill fight was a Canadian affair.

This Week in Skate Tech, In Which We Reference the Legendary Manticore and Also Bridgebolts

March 5, 2016

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In neon-toned and bumbling eras past, technology’s reputation was to be bemusedly regarded and toyed with, or ultimately cast aside. Powell Nose Bones, Rip Grip, lappers and Bridgebolts vied for premium positioning within griptape-scarred glass cases, promising attractive profit margins and incremental on-board advantages. As these were briefly coveted, idly worshiped and soon cast aside, skaters remained in thrall to the Old Ways, gleaning yearly glimpses at the future handed down by Thrasher’s pagan oracle Mephisto, engaging in various griptape superstitions and praying to volcanoes.

What changed? Like most facets of modern skateboarding it can be traced to the 1990s, when cheap electronics baptized a new generation of videomakers, stuffed-tongue lucre-funded and Flash-laden websites for DC Shoe Co USA, and a Storm surge of yellow t-shirts ultimately birthed the Osiris G-bag (whose influence has vibrated across the decades). As a generation of ramped slo-mo induced motion sickness sufferers can attest, it soon became impossible to avoid wallowing in digitized video parts, lovingly retouched photos and ender-level tricks captured within cassette tape-sized telephones and beamed within seconds to tens of thousands of screens worldwide, enabling near-instantaneous commentary on pants size.

Now, a bold and bristly vanguard of new products stands intent upon elbowing its way to the front of the technological queue, competing against steadily rising sneaker prices and highly designed special fitting t-shirts in the perennial combat for skaters’ discretionary spending:

Nike SB Eric Koston Hyperfeel 3: Eric Koston’s latest attempt to match the runaway success of his early Es shoes* manifests itself as a genetic hybrid of shoe and sock, doing one better the interior-sock playacting of shoes past such as the old DC AVE, and suggesting mystical powers similar to those enjoyed by fantastical mash-ups such the liger, pegasus, manticore and chimera. Superlatives aplenty adorn this garish creation, including the timeworn ‘game-changing’ and ‘disruptive,’ always an ominous sign. Only time will tell whether the sock component passes the oft-brutal smell test represented by the wafty smell that comes from days-unchanged socks, and whether this crossbreed proves itself a reliable steed such as the mule or a doomed hybrid like the aquatic car.

The Curb Stone: As the 1993 expose ‘Jurassic Park’ demonstrated, the laws of unintended consequences ride high in the saddle when man plays god, occasionally requiring lofty insurance payouts. So it is with the Curb Stone, an upgraded rub brick purpose-made for simultaneously smoothing and slicking ledges with a high-grade composite material conceived to dominate various concretes and cements. Useful for sure, but potentially unlocking a Pandora’s Box with its power to reshape the world around us. Holding the authority and gusto to create ledges, hubbas and wallride-friendly surfaces anywhere within reach, will this Stone inevitably result in pristine mountain ranges and national monuments such as Mt Rushmore refashioned to fit our purposes and rack up valuable ‘Likes’ on sociable computer networks?

Chocolate’s ‘Carabiner Cup’: Water quality and availability is widely predicted to be the cause of future wars and strife, and such trembly fears have unleashed investment dollars that would head such global conflicts off at the proverbial pass while also handily clipping to one’s belt loop. Chocolate, that supplier of graphical socks and party cup sets, has introduced a Carabiner Cup capable of resolving world water availability threats through a unique and burgundy coloured technology that makes seawater drinkable with the help of a gentle flame. The years ahead will reveal whether Chocolate’s powerful scientists stay on a helpful path for people or become twisted and grotesque beneath the crushing weight of their own intellect, musing about atom bombing rival planets on late-nite TV.

*Such as that “other” Koston 3

At the February Meeting of the International Brotherhood of Skate Video Character Actors

February 20, 2016

philly.jesus

Bill: Alright, let the record show this is Bill, representing the FDR managers and chair. I’d like to call this meeting to order. Can those present identify themselves for the minutes?

Len: Len here…

Ghostrider: This is your Ghostrider, present.

Murgatroyd Simmons: Murgatroyd. Here. On the phone from Milan.

Bill: Very good, we have a quorum. Let’s get to the new business then?

Ghostrider: We need to address Philly, one of our largest chapters.

Bill: No doubt. Does anyone have a motion on it?

Len: I’ve been traveling and not able to look at this closely yet… They shut the park this week, I saw… but… then Kyle Nicholson was still gunning for the switch 360 flip? Did I see that right..?

Bill: He’s switch 360 flipping on borrowed time, I’m afraid. The fences are up and the machinery moved in.

Murgatroyd: That’s a real bummer. Complete bummer.

Ghostrider: It’s a real blow to our brothers and sisters at the local chapter and to all of us. I assume I don’t need to recite for all of you the stats, between videos’ migration to Instagram and Vine and whatnot, all the private TFs, and the swelling rosters that pack the remaining full-lengths… I mean, it is really, really tough out there for any character actor, regardless of tenure or talent, to get meaningful screen time in skate videos these days. Any chapter, period.

Murgatroyd: Thank God for Fat Bill.

Len: Well, thank God for the Sabotage dudes… I mean… they provided roles for more members than nearly all other videos put together over the last few years. CJ the Picture Man, Joe McPeak… the tank-top gobbler… Philly Jesus, Snitch… all those bike cops…

Murgatroyd: Well hey, we should talk about a strike. Right?

Bill: It’s worth discussing.

Ghostrider: It may put the issue on people’s radar, but we need to get input from the local chapters on a move like that. There’s still good work to be got from the shop and independent videos and folks may not put that aside lightly with times like they are right now. There’s no more “…and you’re watching 411.” Transworld’s move back to the VX and weirdly abrasive paper for the new issue’s cover suggests a grittier direction, I’ll grant. But they’re a long way from ‘Free Your Mind’. It might just be some novelty thing.

Len: And, if these dudes in Philadelphia really will have to make their way without Love Park… you know, they may need our support there… It’s a two-way street.

Murgatroyd: True, well, good point.

Bill: There’s some mail on this, actually.

Murgatroyd: From the Philly chapter?

Bill: From some blog website. I guess people still do blogs. There’s a lot of run-on sentences and some made up words.

Len: What does it say?

Bill: It’s like a condolence card. Offering sympathy and solidarity in tough times for everyone who helped revive one of the world’s great spots, with minimal help from any company sponsors or corporate interests, producing some of the best skating and videos of the past decade. Thanks the Sabotage group and the rest for building a scene as raw and vital as any of the earlier Love Park heydays. Says it was both rousing and really sad, all the footage and photos this past week. The penmanship’s poor, it really rambles. Anyway then. I’d like to motion for canvassing the local chapters on a possible strike to call attention to the plight of our colleagues in Philadelphia related to Love Park’s closure.

Murgatroyd: Seconded.

Bill: Very good. Let’s keep an eye on this one and keep Philadelphia in our thoughts. On to old business?

Len: We’d tabled a long-term contract offer from Nike, as I recall… the money sounded alright…

Ghostrider: Yeah. I didn’t see how every one of our members sporting Nike gear helps our credibility or relevance when the shoes already saturate most skate videos right now. Still don’t, I guess, so suggest it stays tabled for now unless anybody’s got something new.

Bill: Right, seconded.

Murgatroyd: If there’s no other old business I’d move to adjourn, fellas. I’m meeting, you know, a gentleman caller.

Bill: Only other thing was a moment of silence for the Brown sisters. I suggest we adjourn with that.

All: Seconded.

Bring Hither the Fatted Calf and Kill It

February 13, 2016

how_now_apocalypse_now_cow

As the blind oracles foretold, Lennie Kirk is proving to be the guiding touchstone for skateboarding in 2016, with his devotion to hammer-handy fish multiplier Jesus Christ’s ’33 resuscitation and Lennie Kirk’s own unlikely rise from beneath that Pac-Bell van foreshadowing the timely return of top-shelf talents to the turbulent and beery pool that is skating in 2016.

Paul Rodriguez, he of the multi-sponsor fitted and long-distance switch 360 flips, already rolled away the stone and commanded the grave-cloths removed from the pro career of French double-flip enthusiast Bastien Salabanzi. With the Christian season of Lent upon us, Paul Rodriguez would play at the Lazarus legend again, this time bringing out onetime fellow City Star Devine Calloway for what by some poorly considered blog webpages’ count would be his third go-round with the skate biz, after his initial City Star twinkle, his Chocolate grown-up resurfacing some years later and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ bonus footage low profile. Nothing’s changed, it would seem, and besides his apparently mostly successful kicking of a costly New Era habit, he could’ve popped out the fakie flip 5-0 and that Crisco-smooth bigspin immediately following his still-impressive TWS part nearly a decade back.

Days later on the other coast, long-lost Tompkins wunderkind Yaje Popson officially moved his 64-Crayola wardrobe into Alien Workshop’s radiation-proof geodesic dome, itself recently restored to life via Rob Dyrdek’s Street League and television show dollarydoos. Despite what sounded like dual knee injuries, a somewhat dispiriting parting of ways with the Crailtap camp amid the heightened and heated ‘Pretty Sweet’ filming campaign, and the bucolic pleasures of small-city life in Brazil, Yaje Popson’s tricks remain super on point (switch backside smith grind, that pyramid ledge trick) and as suited as any to the worthwhile project that is refurbishing the Sovereign Sect, though maybe a little bit less surprising than Devine Calloway’s rebound given last year’s Sk8Rats turn and how he plainly spoke of missing it all. A TWS interview promises heavier hitting yet to come.

The limited economic prospects, increasingly crowded competition for unique eyeballs and impressions, and ever-present risk cocktail of age and injury raises questions around the logic of gone-once pros and bros returning for further bites of the industry cherry. Yet return they do, from Tom Penny’s bleary trip back in ‘Sorry’ to Guy Mariano’s wristguarded tech triumph in ‘Fully Flared’, the Muska’s single-gloved victory lap with Element, Christian Hosoi’s post-prison bid adventures, Supreme’s Paulo Diaz exhumation, and the extended post-Shorty’s go-rounds enabled by Sk8Mafia. More curiouser may be how such prodigal sons typically not just are welcomed but cheered back — witness last year’s outpouring of support after Kevin Spanky Long’s return journey to Baker put him again astride a pro board and back in the proverbial van.

Is the skate sphere unique in its tolerance for such wilderness years, spent consuming substances, recovering from blown-out joints, pursuing alternate careers or raising families? In the parlance of major-league team sports, comebacks usually are intra-game affairs, with some allowance for those rare talents drawing sufficient investment to bide a season or more in physical therapy, but clawing one’s way back into the professional universe after years away seems a rarer feat still, whether fueled by Kenny Powers-level moxie or some other chemical reaction. But even with a decade or more off magazine pages, digital video discs and relevant social media mobile networks, it’s difficult to imagine an increasingly fragmented and nostalgia-shaped boarding industry turning its collective nose up if long-faded lords like Sean Sheffey, Alex Gall, Scott Kane, Mike Maldonado, Billy Valdes, Pat Channita, Tim O’Connor, Jon West, Ted de Gros, or Gideon Choi turned up with a video part approaching their respective primes and the gumption to keep at it.

Does skating’s willingness and seeming zeal to re-embrace its wandering prodigals flow from the same spiritual mountain spring that nurtures tendencies to stockpile decks skated beyond any reasonable use, pack grocery-store boxes full of even lean-year Transworlds, and scour Ebay auctions to expensively recapture some spark first kindled in a long-lost CCS catalogue? As skating is lassoed, saddled, broken and eventually led head-down and besequined into that great Olympic rodeo, replete with floodlights and sad clowns, will lapsed pros resurface more often or must all spare dollarydoos shower down upon the podium-bound few? Has the YouTube age made it harder or easier for pros to recatapult dormant careers? Is Brian Wenning at Love Park right now? Yall saw Jeremy Klein’s kickflip bench stall in the Greco movie right?

The Ball or the Sword

February 7, 2016

zorro

Was there a time when persons skated without bubblegoosed lenses trained upon them and atmospheric detail duly noted for later transcription or verbal tapestry-weaving when the mood lighting strikes? If you answered “hrm the 70s?” you may legally change your name to Burl Ives and open a blimp repair business in the tax-free domicile of your choice; all others must submit to pondering how the 00s’ era of history-unearthing and nostalgia-shampooing, from ‘On’ to ‘Epicly Later’d’, may now have given way to real-time mythmaking and neatly boxing up the memories and labeling them with straight and Sharpied capital letters.

Thrasher, which in 2016 enjoys the singular luxury of having probably not just every sphere-jolting trick pass their desks prior to public consumption, but also being looped into advance plotting, wisely made an event of Aaron Homoki’s jousts with and eventual slaying of the Lyon wyrm that Ali Boulala, Europe’s switch-kickflipping PD rogue, had fenced to a draw in the ‘Sorry’ days. Recognizing both the additional weight any Boulala-linked adventure would derive from his rather crushing ‘Later’d’ entry and chessboxing various message-board-borne critiques of spot ownership, Michael Burnett & co brought Ali Boulala aboard to lend technical ‘expertise’ alongside a phalanx of documenteers dripping with cameras, presumptive champagne bottles for popping and at least one dad*.

Ali Boulala’s in-person blessing, the attendant media scrum and days of stomach-knotting uncertainty made Jaws’ wrestle with the Lyon 25, which by now has been imbued with way too much weight to just close off some future video part, perhaps the fullest and frothiest example of real-time mythmaking in action, notwithstanding corporate-bannered Evel Knievel event tricks that may or may not require the approval stamps of Communist Party officials or purpose-built structures. As Love Park again circles the tubes, likely sparking plans for further, hour-plus documentaries**, here was the supernaturally ligamented Aaron Homoki jumping this big bunch of stairs, his couple seconds of hangtime stretched across magazine pages and digital video files via security-guard entanglements, celebrity pro cameos, body armour, familial love and a whiff of history and tragedy to spice the triumph and Jaws’ tears of joy.

The well-planned battle in Lyon comes at a time when skating seems increasingly fixated on capturing and preserving its wild old days as the quest to recapture lost market share and sock away retirement funds requires adopting a more scrubbed, professional and/or mercenary stance. Books drawing upon the misadventures of Scott Bourne, Lennie Kirk and now the hallowed Big Brother magazine in various ways strive to capture in permanent print those halcyon days of molotov cocktails, ill-advised trysts and penis pump reviews before they collapse into the great internet memory hole and premium priced Ebay collector packs.

As multinational beverage and sportswear suppliers up the number of racks available to coming generations and social media empire-building draws the wandering eye of TMZ, it is fair to wonder whether collective laces inevitably and regretably must become straighter, for all involved. Jenkem, who has taken up the Big Brother interview format mantle as convincingly as any current media, got in a good one with still-reliable quote mine Corey Duffel, a living and leather-clad link to Big Brother’s no kids-gloved past, who reminds that for the time being some moat remains between skating and major-league sports as long as pros are willing and able to hold forth on their dealings with grave-robbing furniture dealers:

So I buy the Craigslist bathtub and bring it inside the house, and my old lady is like, I don’t know how I feel about this tub, I’m getting weird vibes from it, that place it came from was so fucked up. Well that night, the first night with the tub in the house, a big mirror in the back of the house just came crashing down, no earthquake or wind or anything. Something else happened, like the TV flickered, something strange, and Rachel was like, “It’s the fucking tub.” So she suggested going to the hippie store to get sage – sage is suppose to get rid of evil spirits and we’re kind of hippies like that – so we’re saging around and I shrug it off like whatever.

Then a couple of months later Bobby Worrest comes over and goes like, “Oh, that’s the tub! I met that guy Tom, Tom is fucking insane!” I was like, yeah, he’s a fucking crazy but a really cool guy. Then he goes, “What a trip, someone committed suicide in that tub.” I’m like, what?! And Bobby tells me Tom told him someone offed themselves in that tub. It was funny to find out 6 months later. Now the bathtub sits outside next to the flowers.

Elsewhere, would-be Olympian Chris Cole sits for an interview with Rolling Stone, which appears in one of its sporadic periods of interest in extreme pro lifestyles, offering a glimpse of potential Q&As to come in some future age where contest politicking and milestone trick trophies must be rattled through on behalf of those greenhorn readers who need guidance through the subject-matter minefields of ‘who’s this person’ and ‘why do I care.’ It’s a relatively staid account til the end, when in a possible fit of cultural catharsis things veer abruptly toward a liquor-soaked Russian bar fight:

The next time we saw Ian, he was up on a stage, dumping his beer over some guy’s head, and in an instant, dudes were fighting all over the bar ­– tackles, punches, chokeholds. I was on the ground smashing this dude’s face in, and I look up and saw Ian getting choked by one dude while he was punching two separate dudes and being punched in the face by a chick.

If future pros fistfight Russian bouncers but never speak of it publicly out of an abundance of professional caution, do the busted teeth and cracked eye sockets make any sound? Wasn’t Chris Cole straightedge at one point or is this another phantom memory like Henry Sanchez’s Aesthetics pro model? Has Jaws scouted out the Leap of Faith elevator structure for a future wallie cover? In states where suicide was historically considered a crime would Bobby Worrest be considered to have snitched on the ghost that lives in Corey Duffel’s secondhand bathtub? And if he did, would the fact that the bathtub now is used as a planter by definition make it dry snitching?

*Unclear whether dad pants were obligatory or only assumed
**Any of which may possibly be instantly obsolete beside the Sabotage series

Callin All the Girls, Do You Hear Me? All Around the World, City to City. Cheers to the Girls, More Juice to the Guys, Now I Got a Chicken and a Goose in the Ride

January 23, 2016

WampaDood

The alleged, unnamed and unknowable ice world lurking beyond the confines of the generally regarded universe this week became the latest cosmic force to challenge skating’s long-held but fading belief in the Spicolian maxim that, tasty ledges/gaps/bowls and a cool buzz in hand, all will be fine. This supposed “massive perturber” of some description seemed to taunt skateboarders globally in a general and taunting way. ‘See me, my powerful magnetic fields and my girth,’ it seemed to intone from beyond this solar system. ‘I spread my galactic influence among dwarf planets and, literally, chill.’ And yet on earth, vigils are held online and amongst the square-block granite pocket of Love Park, which the powers that be have determined must be gathered up and remade in a fashion devoid of crack rocks, fistfights, switch heelflips and backside noseblunts.

Philadelphia’s scene is to be cut loose from its best-beloved anchor, one it has exhumed before, at a time when that exalted god technology has enabled companies of varying stripe to cleave themselves from any particular municipality or even geography in a sort of freewheeling rootlessness. Companies design boards from Sweden, Cals Nor and So, Ohio, London and elsewhere, order them pressed in China and Mexico, warehousing them here and there before shipping them to kickflipping endorsers on any number of coasts and wherever Jake Johnson may roam. The photo and video spoils are beamed onto Instagram for consumption via mobile phone between classes, at work or in the john, with decks and premiumly priced t-shirts or sockwear readily hawked to admirers from internet web stores.

Yet much like the sun-hugging planets that owe their atmospheric colorations and ore riches to the gravitational gravity of the one true sun, there is a human case to be made that skate empires’ staying power rests in large part upon some local and geographical cornerstone. Deluxe is synonymous with the Bay, Sk8Mafia with San Diego, even the Osiris parts. Palace is filming their video all in London. Dime and Quartersnacks have fashioned clout from their towns and gained the ability to develop proprietary shirts and sweaters. Pitfalls threaten those who may wander: Alien Workshop, emboldened after adopting Philadelphia and New York as its “Photosynthesis” touchstones, floundered in its effort to launch the borderless and meandering Seek. Blueprint and Cliche surrendered a certain cache when they traded their across-the-pond concentrations to sign up the same US pros courted by California companies, skating the same palm-shaded hubbas. Plan B’s widely known ‘Tru, B’ vid was rumored to have been filmed at exclusive marble plazas on eight continents which includes the secret one.

5Boro is named for New York and so is its new ‘5BNY’ video, which boasts the capacity to open with a black-and-white cityscape motif soundtracked to jazz music that doesn’t come off all contrived, and next by showing tricks from Sylvester Eduardo, a crusher in the ‘Welcome to Hell’ mold who can muscle through some burly 50-50s and wallies and also do floaty frontside pop shove-its and frontside 360s. (Sometimes in Raps, always nice to see on the East Coast.) He’s the first among the ‘5BNY’ lineup to crisscross streets choked with pedestrians, street vendors, autos, commentary-spewing passersby and the rest of the bros, up to and including Quim Cardona*. Karim Callender glides through some of the more lackadasical nosegrinds in a while and Rob Gonyon exhibits power camo and a notable noseblunt shove-it before the scene is cleared for Jordan Trahan, this era’s 360 flip king, tossing off little-seen noseslide 50-50 combinations and no-push lines with impeccable arms, a boss over-the-can carver and probably never enough 360 flips. There could be a whole part of the 360 flips.

Similarly debuting in this blogging site’s fiscal 2016, Isle’s long-awaited ‘Vase’ comes soaked in London brick and feels sort of like a prodigal son type of homecoming after Blueprint’s unfortunate last years and ill-advised dabbles in Americana, such as the still difficult to understand decision to open a video with ‘Birdhouse In Ur Soul.’ This streamlined and gallery-damaged lot rebuild via mixed media and the same type of dollar-store intro inventiveness that helped ‘Bag of Suck’ endure as well as the editing-bay hokum of ‘Fully Flared’, but it is Tom Knox, Chris Jones, Nick Jensen and Casper Brooker who thrust their hands into London’s cracked and smoke-stained guts — Tom Knox’s vision seems not to stop at tricks that could be done at spots but to see spots around corners, overhead or behind parked vehicles, most ridiculously on tricks like the loading dock drop-down to street-gap 360 flip, or the gables-scraping tailslides. Sixteen or so years removed from ‘WFTW’s pint-size gap switch kickflipper Nick Jensen still has vicious South Bank lines and a switch backside nosegrind worthy of Steve Durante while Casper Brooker has the video’s best frontside shove-it and a wild South Bank kickflip transfer. The best section is Chris Jones, with his avant garde switch heelflip and switch manual hops across the sidewalks, which peaks with the careening tunnel runs (the ride out on the backside kickflip).

If the Isle bros can successfully reclaim London via the vital and eminently rewatchable ‘Vase,’ is it similarly possible to cultivate new roots for one’s ‘personal brand’? Surely Jereme Rogers’ years in the wilderness and before had already taken him through Las Vegas, but his recent King of the Strip video part positioned Jereme Rogers’ current formulation of hedonism, fashion mishaps and face-tatted self-aggrandizement** as a persona ready-made for Las Vegas’ rentable, plasticine and transient sin. Whereas Lennie Kirk fused spirituality with a certain on- and off-board brutality, Jereme Rogers proffers an elixir of wealth-seeking Christianity and shameless excess that seems suited to Las Vegas’ neon-heated Gamblor lairs, all-u-can-consume buffets and drive-thru wedding chapels.

Could Las Vegas provide a blinging launchpad for Jereme Rogers’ long-awaited skateboard comeback? Could an as-yet unknown icy giant hold a gap or obstacle that Jordan Trahan could not 360 flip or would its slackened gravitational pull enable even greater 360 flip feats? Why must Pluto keep getting dissed? Has any skate concern successfully transplanted itself? How come it’s been so long since somebody used Big Pun?

*Who has come to occupy an East Coast station that approximates the gonzo exuberance of Chad Muska, or maybe Smolik
**which his jail bid seems to have dulled right?


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