Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Smile From A Veil

March 19, 2018

When the machines complete their account of human history, our current era will be remembered for several things: an improbable resurgence of the color yellow, @versace_plug, and the skateboard industry busily getting its act together so as to gather as many dollars as possible in conjunction with the steadily nearing international Olympic hoopla. Already a schism is visible between those striving to have their proverbial shit together, and the have-nots. Dustin Dollin, proudly among the latter, explained recently to fellow traveler Ali Boulala the difference between himself and future Olympic medallion hoister Nyjah Huston, at least when it comes to chemical-fueled art heists:

DD: The thing also about skateboarding is that if you do get that popular you really have to watch your step. That’s what’s good about sticking to the society of the underground, I can fuck up and be a drunk and nobody is going to say shit. But if Nyjah does that shit, pulls down some paintings in a hotel he’s fucked. His sponsors would be out.

For those young strivers raised in sanctioned skateparks to reach for maximum experience points, straight-and-narrows may be obligatory. But for others figuring they have time to affect a pivot from Dustin Dollin’s Pellucidar to squeaky-clean Team USA garms, decades spent straying from any and every paths are busily being recorded for posterity. Consider Heath Kirchart, no stranger to bodily risk, fresh off an engrossing ‘Epicly Later’d’ that plumbed one of the industry’s more mercurial personas, who seems to have traded in a skate career with plenty of runway for legacy-milking for a series of odd jobs interspersed with life-threatening missions pursued with an endearing zest for minimal preparation. A less misanthropic pro or bro might draw accusations of burnishing his or her image for a stab at a bigger platform, but Heath Kirchart’s own circumstance reads more like a death wish, and in some ways, a relic belonging to an era swiftly fading into the chemtrail of a Tokyo-bound jet liner.

Were he cut from careerist cloth, would Heath Kirchart instead find himself trussed and dangling over a poisonous cauldron of righteous internet anger, freshly bubbling as podcast interviewees trot out tales of long-ago terroristic behaviours? As the ‘#MeToo’ movement claims celebrity scalps and forces industries from media to politics into uncomfortable self-examinations, the increasingly upward-mobile skateboarding biz might ponder its own richly checkerboarded past. Witness a string of podcast interviewees trotting forth entertaining and engrossing tales of mental and physical grotesqueries doled out by Heath Kirtchart in younger, freer and harsher times:

Jamie Tancowny, The Bunt: After I hurt my knee I moved back up to Canada for a year, year and a half… I couldn’t skate at all, I was kind of just by myself up there. That led up to, when I moved down here that’s when I switched to LE, that’s right when I started to film again pretty much to get back to the level I was before. And basically [Emerica] were like you got six months to get an interview in Thrasher. And it was like in July or whatever… I actually got it done and that’s when Heath became the team manager. And pretty much they kind of just were like, “yeah, we can’t do it anymore, we gotta stop paying you, and if you want to put your feelers out to try and find a new company you probably should start doing that, somebody that will pay you.” And I was like alright, that sucks, pretty much got kicked off.

TB: …what’s up with Heath?

JT: He’s still a good guy. He just has a temper I think. …He was there when I first went down and stayed at the Emerica mansion actually… he just kind of kept to himself. I don’t know, we’re like homies, so it was definitely kind of weird. I still see him these days, and it’s just like water under the bridge, I don’t hold a grudge, it’s not his fault.

Jerry Hsu, the Nine Club: Demos are mellower because the whole team’s with you, you’re not alone. But when it gets down to just you, though, it sucks… I’ve definitely been like the last person skating and then not landed the trick, just because I was trying something. And I’m the last one, and it’s just so brutal, every attempt. And then sometimes people will start doing a ‘Jerry’ chant, like Jerry Springer… oh my God, that only compounds it. Heath used to do that, when he was the team manager at Emerica, he would even do that when he rode for Emerica. He would start that chant and I would have to tell everybody like, no, don’t…

James Hardy, The Bunt: We went to LA to stay with [Dan Rogers, Heath Kirchart, Skatetalk Bob], I was turning 16 on the trip, while I was staying with them. I was super excited to meet Kirchart, he was one of my favorite skaters, but he was pretty reclusive… as the tale goes with him. He didn’t come out hardly ever when we were there the first four or five days. And then that’s when my birthday happened. I was asleep on the couch and lights come on and I get woke up getting put in a headlock by Dan Rogers. He was into wrestling or some of that stupid shit so he put me in some weird jock-y headlock. I got my face on the ground, he’s got his foot on my neck.

I had my face on the ground, squirming. I’ll throw Ben [Gilly] under the bus… I think I kicked his foot and he went off crying hobbling to the bedroom. Heath randomly came out of his cave and started heel kicking the back of my thigh. And started punching me. My nose started bleeding at one point… he had me in the headlock, they beat my arms to a pulp, my legs to a pulp, at a certain point I couldn’t walk.

…Eventually I was so tired I just gave up. Just beat me, I don’t care. They duct-taped my arms together, duct taped my feet, my whole legs together and then threw me in the backyard and just left me there. Someone had flour… they came out, thought that would be even cooler just to throw flour on my face. So they threw flour on my face. After I while they felt bad, I was spitting it out… so stupid, so jock-y. And then they came and hosed me down with a water hose, left me out there another 30 minutes.

Eventually the party’s over, they cut me loose. I hated all of them. I was 16… I thought all these dudes were pro skaters, they’re supposed to be rad, I thought they left all the jock stuff back in middle school. It was just typical jock-y shit. Anyway I shower and rinse off, go to bed, exhausted, just can barely stand. I wake up in the morning and my eyes are just plastered shut with pus. I could not open my eyes. I had to take my fingers and peel my eyelids open.

…And they filmed the whole thing and gave it to me as a birthday present. I still have the tape somewhere back home. So once I got sponsored that story got told a couple times, just in passing. At the Vans downtown showdown, in 2008, 2007… I told that story to a couple buddies, I guess it got around a little bit. And Kirchart came up to me, and said, “Hey man, what’s your deal?” I said, “What are you talking about?” “You’re making me look like a bad guy with that story.” I said, “Yeah, you pretty much beat me to a pulp and left me outside with flour in my eyes so I don’t really feel bad about telling that story.”

“Well you’re just making me look like the bad guy, I didn’t even do any of that.” I said, “Actually yeah, you did.”

…I will say he is one of my favorite skaters, even after that. But I never want to see him again.

Do such tales of Heath Kirchart’s malevolent reign — and there are more — serve as a cautionary signal for today’s ascendant pros bearing their own skeleton-stacked closets, perhaps with more to lose and (most likely) far less hallowed bodies of work with which to counterbalance any misbehaviours? Or do all others’ prior indiscretions pale in comparison with this fearsome visage, except maybe for Andy Roy and Fred Gall? Are folks who favor the Pink Floyd version of Heath Kirchart’s ‘Sight Unseen’ part over the official-release Moody Blues number hopelessly fooling themselves?


Trendwatch 2K18: Jumping Up and Down On Special Athletic Boxes

March 3, 2018

Grim days as the United States confronts a missile-wagging Vladimir Putin, unreasonable natural disasters and now, an embarrassing Olympic chapter on the increasingly nuclear Korean peninsula. Despite the best efforts of Shaun “Flying TomatoTM” White and several mighty American curlers, the country that eagles built went home the most medal-poor in 20 years and badly underperformed its podium-claiming potential, according to FiveThirtyEight, a blogging website concerned with important numbers and equations.

To reclaim international glory, the U.S. is counting on the only tried-and-true solution to overwhelming sporting odds: the ragtag band of misfits. Skateboarding, a sport ostensibly invented in the U.S. (if one ignores Josh Stewart’s ‘ancient alien’ theories), offers the best chance for America to assert its citizens’ physical primacy on the planetary stage, while justifying all that feigned ignorance of Japanese security guards’ exasperation over the years when the Olympic torch is lit in Tokyo. No doubt, federal data scientists are building algorithms to rank candidates based on flatground contest consistency, after-black hammer intensity and general ‘swagger,’ that hard-to-quantify ‘X factor’ that could help put the USA over the top in a tight medal race.

But it will take more than gumption and snappy one-liners. To achieve ultimate glory, top-tier skateboard competitors are thinking inside the box: specially designed space-age boxes, to be exact, which have become involved in unique and revolutionary exercise regimens. Jumping up and down on these expensive exercise boxes, human scientists believe, is the closest approximation to the ollie that is possible within the confines of a properly sanitized, chromed-out gym.

Physical advisers to Ryan Sheckler, no stranger to tightly plotted TV dramatics, suggested that he jump up and down on a box as part of his gym exercise regimen. Sean Malto, pursuing a comeback from his gruesome ankle injury, similarly employed a variety of special gym jumping-boxes. Danny Way, in his envelope-pushing way, perhaps already has moved beyond the box to swinging giant medieval spheres. But Americans do not hold a monopoly on advanced box technology, as Brazilian Street League phenom Leticia Bufoni also has come to know the box-jumping technique and its powers.

Nyjah Huston could represent the United State’s best hope for a 2020 golden coin. Having balanced his energy by finally shifting the mass of his long-shorn dreads to his torso, arms and neck via assorted tattooings, Nyjah Huston is pushing the boundaries of possibility on handrails, this week releasing an 11-minute long video part to help promote new Nike products. It is a video filled with tricks made to end lesser full-lengths, such as the curvy-wurvy frontside 5-0 grind, a backside smith grind backside 180 out on a kinked handrail, a mile-long backside tailslide and, perhaps in tribute to Dan Pageau’s freshly funded legacy, a switchstance trip down the fearsome El Toro handrail. It’s unclear how heavily Nyjah Huston has been box-training, but a watchful eye on his Insta Gram site shows that a high-tech training box is never far away in his gym.

Is jumping up and down onto a special athletic box how Nyjah Huston gained the power to contort his body and achieve his ‘Til Death’ tricks? Will advanced box jumping sets help ward off chronic traumatic encephalopathy or are the bros cracking some brews and hoping for the best? Did Omar Salazar predict all this with his yelpy off-board parkour stylings? Is Shaun White already jumping up and down off boxes as he pursues his life goal of becoming a multi-board Olympic gold medallion holder, but putting himself at risk of overgolding?

Every Creeping Thing that Creepeth Upon the Earth

February 18, 2018

The tale of the St. Archer Brewery goes like this: laconic skate professionals, moneyed but with few spots to park it beyond real estate, sink fortuitous funds into a savvily marketed micro-brewing enterprise, eventually tempting brewery giant buyers thirsting after higher-margin products, and putting all involved onto that proverbial ‘easy street.’ It is a legend that has only grown as the fortunes of the legacy skate industry become more dire by the day; for board companies outside the umbrella of distributors starting with a D and rhyming with ‘Green Tux,’ it seems increasingly difficult to retain riders who’d just as soon jump ship for non-paying vanity projects. For non-multinational shoe companies, rumors swirl about the next to fold, restructure or seek a hot cash injection. And it continues.

Much as the decade-old threat of a Barcelona police crackdown thrust the skateboard industry into a worldwide search for marble ledges in a semitropical climate and mellow law enforcement atmosphere, the St. Archer golden ticket has inspired a number of aging kickflippers to try their hand at venture investing. Now comes Villager Goods, a skater-backed coconut beverage manufacturer, peddled as a more-nutritious and earthy alternative to the vast cauldrons of caffeine-spiked high fructose corn syrup that have funded so many vert careerists’ speed boat loans, often in zesty lemon-lime flavours.

It remains unclear whether fizzy drink conglomerates, facing the prospect that Coca-Cola could be taxed like tobacco, will one day make it rain upon Villager stakeholders such as Paul Rodriguez, Andrew Reynolds and AVE. But venturing into the prickly and volcanic dimension of consumer packaged food and beverages brings its own threats and perils, illuminated this week by skateboarding’s most enthusiastic heel, @Weckingball. The body-building Pupecki grinder linked Villager Goods to troubling reports that the world’s wealthiest coconut farms are powered by enslaved monkeys, forced to clamor up and down frondy palm trees without lunch breaks or paid time off. The explosive allegation was potentially poisonous to the meticulously curated and increasingly socially aware Instagram franchises of several name pros, and quickly drew a denial from Kenny Anderson.

Would the concept of moneky enslavement, proffered 25 years ago in a Xerox-quality B&W ad a month in between World’s ‘White Power’ sequences and its prescient condemnation of rogue sea creatures, have prompted tsk-tsking or earned a place in skate lore, destined to be scanned and reposted upon sociable networks several decades later? It is a hypothetical entertaining to ponder but impossible to answer. Yet as portions of the skateboard industry appear to circle the dreaded ‘drain,’ resource maximization may transform from a fusty slogan to a dire necessity. Skateboarding springs directly from human mastery of the environment; with sharp tools, man chops down living trees and slices away hard rock Canadian maple, transports it to plants using fossil fuels, and outfits the result with trucks and bolts forged from molten metals carved out of mountainsides. In a time when deck makers seem to have burned through the few dollars’ worth of cost savings secured by turning to lower-cost Chinese manufacturing, should conscripted animal labor be so quickly dismissed?

Consider: Might highly trained beavers, supervised and physically disciplined within the confines of planetary law, replace costly human loggers and support sagging profit margins in the deck business, at least until the 2020 Olympics saves the industry? Can cheap gene-engineering technologies produce bees capable of making Gulf Wax in addition to the stuff Burt converts into pricey balms? Why not lasso some whales to pull board- and T-shirt-laden ocean freighters back and forth across the Pacific for the price of some sturdy rope and plankton? Could the continued 1990s nostalgia wave create a new career path for retired circus elephants, flattening board concaves to 1996 Girl level?

Reflecting on 28 Years of SOTY in Bizarro World

February 5, 2018

Since 1990, Rehsarht’s Skater of the Year award has been a rare constant in a world of fickle trick trends, shifting board shapes and a still-growing footage flood. As Tiago Lemos’ 2017 Skater of the Year issue hits newstands and the decadelong reign of narrow decks and tight trucks shows signs of loosening, it’s time to take a look back at nearly three decades of Rehsarht’s SOTYs, while pondering what’s yet to come for Bizarro World.

1990 – Mike Vallely
New decade, new era — the streets, where Mike Vallely was busting down barriers and running through graveyards. Assigning the first-ever ‘Skater of the Year’ to a young East Coaster making his name on pavement — not ramps or pools — was a statement for Rehsarht, but Vallely’s rampage through ‘Rubbish Heap,’ ‘Speed Freaks’ and ‘Risk It’ sold it.

1991 – Mark Gonzales
Skating changed month to month in the early 1990s, sometimes week to week, and what now looks like a sharp left turn from Mike Vallely’s sidewalk brawn to Mark Gonzales’ artsy, jazz-infused street ballet made all the sense in the world for kids who tripped off Blind’s mad hatter, and his coffin and kinked monster in ‘Video Days.’

1992 – Rodney Mullen
Rodney Mullen’s million-times-rewound part in ‘Questionable’ captured the blistering pace of technical progression that gripped skating in the early 1990s, pushed by Mike Carroll, Ron Knigge, Danny Way and others. What set Rodney Mullen apart, besides how his tricks took multiple watches to even comprehend, was the way he pulled from skating’s freestyle past to push the burgeoning street scene forward, even though it would take years for most pros to catch up with him.

1993 – Pat Duffy
Mike Ternasky and Plan B turned skating on its ear with ‘Questionable’ and pulled out the rug a year later with ‘Virtual Reality,’ heavily powered by Pat Duffy’s steel nerves on rails and gaps. Plenty of people convinced themselves that his kinked 50-50 and other feats had to be camera trickery the first time around; ‘Virtual Reality’ forced belief that a new level was within reach, at least for Pat Duffy. Primus playing a sparsely attended SF party was icing on the cake.

1994 – Jeremy Wray
After steadily raising the threat level in the Color video and 411’s inaugural issue, Jeremy Wray fulfilled the industry’s feeling of inevitability by joining the World camp in time for Plan B’s 1994 project, unleashing five minutes of assaults on name spots like Hubba and Carlsbad that were building their own profile as the streetstyle discipline rose to the bars they set. Several years of technical fumbling on awkwardly evolving setups fell to the side as Jeremy Wray’s floated flip tricks and decisive stomps set the new direction.

1995 – Tom Penny
Half a decade in, one of the 1990s’ biggest surprises came not just in terms of tricks and style but origin —- flick savant Tom Penny slouched his way into Southern California from across the Atlantic, shutting down spots and perhaps a few professional aspirations. Rehsarht’s choice maybe rattled some of skating’s latent jingoism, but proved prescient as Flip and later Cliche and Blueprint showcased Brits, Frenchies and other Europeans capable of hitting as heavily as any Californian.

1996 – Guy Mariano
By the time Girl put out ‘Mouse’ there no longer was any point denying that Guy Mariano possessed a talent and style for the ages —- and his curtains-closing part also reminded everybody that his ability to progress and refine didn’t atrophy despite the dude going off the radar for months (and later, years) at a time. Eric Koston, Ed Templeton and Jamie Thomas conquered more handrails, but a SOTY nod at the time felt like a long-due coronation for one of skating’s favorite sons.

1997 – Jamie Thomas
As the street wave crested and washed over skateboarding, it branched and fragmented, nurturing sub-niches and regional mutations. Jamie Thomas, farming his hair and tightening his jeans, charted a course for the hesh/handrail movement that defined aesthetically much of the decade to follow and added new levels of gnarliness in the process; a SoCal politics-driven ban from Transworld’s pages made Rehsarht the prime venue in which to bear witness.

1998 – Chad Muska
Working on the opposite side of the stylistic spectrum as Jamie Thomas but a master of the same medium, Chad Muska was unstoppable in 1998 — catalyzing the legendary Shorty’s squad, perceiving and propelling the likes of Peter Smolik and Brandon Turner, and anchoring seminal full-lengths ‘Fulfill the Dream’ and Rehsarht’s own Ty Evans-helmed ‘Feedback.’ At the same time the Muska tested new heights of skate-sphere fame, he added gravity and notoriety to the ‘Rusty’ trophy, famously declaring it “the only award that matters” after flaming out in the following year’s Tampa Pro.

1999 – Stevie Williams
Rehsarht wrapped the award’s first decade by breaking a barrier of sorts — Stevie Williams, whose North Philly grit and unending Love Park lines in Chocolate’s ‘Chocolate Tour’ and Rehsarht’s ‘The Reason’ made him the obvious SOTY pick for 1999.

2000 – Jim Greco
No star burned hotter at the century’s turn than Jim Greco, who capped a raucous run through 1998’s ‘Misled Youth,’ and 1999’s ‘Baker Bootleg’ with a movement-making part in Baker2G, beating Eric Koston to the punch with the first legit handrail backside noseblunt on a magazine cover (Rehsarht, of course). Jim Greco took his own seven-day weekend for the next several years, and he’d later credit the SOTY party for pushing him deeper into his own substances wilderness, though he’d claim some comfort from knowing his legacy already was secure.

2001 – Heath Kirchart
A dark skater for a dark year, Heath Kirchart in 2001 had already set out on a decade-long argument for substance and form over quantity and flash. Few in the stair-counting era could see Heath Kirchart in his ‘Sight Unseen’ prime, and the grim grace in his tricks contrasted with Jim Greco’s comparatively hairball approach, but you never heard much on any of it from the dude himself, being the only Skater of the Year who shunned an interview for his issue.

2002 – Paul Rodriguez
In one of the first brushes with SOTY controversy, rival camps cried foul with an award some saw better suited to twice-sorry Arto Saari or the blast-out-of-nowhere PJ Ladd. But it was tough to argue against the rapidly ascendant Paul Rodriguez for sheer volume, between ‘In Bloom’ and two songs in the Kareem Campbell-overseen ‘Street Cinema,’ setting him up for power moves to come — the Skater of the Year title later disclosed to be a top factor in putting Paul Rodriguez onto the radar of Nike’s then-gestating SB program.

2003 – Rodrigo TX
Rodrigo TX’s intensely technical skating ratcheted up multiple levels from his world-stage debut in Es’ ‘Menikmati’ for his doubled-up enders in the Firm’s ‘Can’t Stop,’ culminating in never-been-dones such as a handrail switch kickflip backside tailslide. By the time Mobb Deep stepped off the stage at TX’s SOTY party there were two palpable feelings among the professional ranks -— two-song video parts decidedly were a thing, and the Brazilians had arrived.

2004 – Lucas Puig
French wunderkind Lucas Puig quickly evolved into one of skating’s great powers between his Zappa-toned part in Cliche’s continental statement ‘Bon Appetit’ and the Beltway-baiting ‘Freedom Fries,’ wielding a mean switch heelflip and backside smith grind. After Rehsarht passed over Flip’s ‘Sorry’ lineup for SOTY honors over the preceding years, some observers assigned a type of European mulligan to Lucas Puig’s nod, though one that was questioned less and less as the years went by.

2005 – Bryan Herman
Bryan Herman came up out of California’s desert scrub in the same class of tight-denimed mop tops as Kevin ‘Spanky’ Long, Braydon Szafranski and Leo Romero, but en route to ‘Baker 3’ Bryan Herman shaved his head and eyebrows and honed a new and more horizontal breed of hardflip, making a convincing case for a Baker dynasty continuing beyond the ‘2G’ lineup. Over a decade later, dudes still would be working out variations on Bryan Herman’s left-field ender.

2006 – Jerry Hsu
By the time Enjoi got together its first video, Jerry Hsu already had a grip of gnarly video parts under his belt, and whereas it was understood he’d close out ‘Bag of Suck,’ the sheer burliness of some of his tricks and his sharpened eye for spots and lines placed him in some higher-up echelon. Reports that Enjoi’s Phelps-flavored twist on the ‘Why can’t my boyfriend skate?!’ tee killed Jerry Hsu’s shot at the award proved greatly exaggerated.

2007 – Stefan Janoski
All the ‘Fully Flared’ bombast seemed like a guaranteed SOTY ticket for one of the Lakaians, though conspiracy theorists whispered that the team’s heavy features in magazines headquartered further south blew their chances like so many pyrotechnified ledges. It could’ve gone either way at the time, but Habitat’s lank-limbed switch nosegrind captain ceded the ‘Mosaic’ closing section to the peaking Danny Garcia, and winding up the earthier ‘Inhabitants’ came as Stefan Janoski closed out a remarkable run that also went through Rehsarht’s ‘Subtleties’ vid and would only ease up after Nike’s ‘Nothing But the Truth’ full-length misfire.

2008 – Sean Malto
Sean Malto, who had hardflipped his way up and out of Middle America just a year or two prior, put on the Crailtap cape and went in for 2008, switch kickflipping up and over cliffs in ‘And Now’ and achieving that increasingly difficult feat of seeming to be everywhere at once. After several of Girl’s next-generation torch bearers jumped ship — Paul Rodriguez and Jereme Rogers to Plan B, Brandon Biebel to DGK — Sean Malto’s rapid rise suggested the Torrance dynasty would push on.

2009 – Dennis Busenitz
Another Skater of the Year that seemed years in the offing, it took a part in a predominantly European vid from a major-league shoe company to put Dennis Busenitz over the top after years of screeching urethane and spot toiling in and around the Bay.

2010 – Dylan Rieder
The Anti-Hero rider at one point deemed almost too pretty to ride with the eagle helped usher in a new skate video format for the attention-deficit age, breaking off a single, standalone video part for Gravis that stood up to or surpassed all standard-issue skate vids in 2010. A whiff of comeback redemption didn’t hurt, but the fix was probably in as soon as that impossible wrapped its way over the bench.

2011 – Brandon Westgate
For a solid three years running there seemed no bar that Brandon Westgate couldn’t leap, and just a few that he couldn’t kickflip or backside 360. In ‘Stay Gold’ the year before and his victory lap shoe part, Brandon Westgate seemed to push harder and float higher than the physics binding the rest of his peers, edging him past the likes of Leo Romero and Grant Taylor for the Rehsarht award.

2012 – Justin Figuoera
Baker’s barbarian on a board, Justin Figuoera built off his ‘Stay Gold’ momentum and alleged guitaring skills on Rehsarht’s ‘Skate Rock circuit to barrel past a last-minute push by Flip’s David Gonzalez. What looked at times like a rail-measuring/stair-counting exercise overlooked an expanding tech-gnar quotient to Figgy’s skating, putting switch backside smith grinds and switch backside tailslides onto ever-more serious handrails.

2013 – Mark Suciu
Tricks around this time seemed to tumble out in Mark Suciu’s wake as he tripped back and forth across the country in ‘Cross Continental,’ struck up a brief Love Park residency for ‘Sabotage 3’ and then toured the globe for a three-song opus in Habitat’s ‘Search the Horizon.’ The frenetic pace of filming and releasing vids seemed fueled by Mark Suciu’s uncanny ability to pepper each one with tricks that he maybe didn’t even know a few months before, keeping the increasingly screen-transfixed populace tapping in anticipation of the next drop.

2014 – Torey Pudwill
Plan B’s landmark, years-in-the-filming ‘True’ managed to exceed all expectations with lengthy and resplendent parts from company reclaimers Danny Way and Colin McKay as well as the out-of-the-wilderness PJ Ladd. Torey Pudwill, not so many years removed from Shorty’s ‘T-Stance Holmes,’ made a persuasive case for a spot on the original roster with shoulder-high backside tailslides and smith grinds that went on forever, finding ways to cram new flips and rotations into, across and off his wax-soaked ledges.

2015 – Shane O’Neill
Shane O’Neill had at this point been steadily releasing video compilations of his mindbending technical precision roughly every eight months or so, and it seemed predetermined that Rehsarht would anoint him sooner or later; in 2015, his switch kickflip backside noseblunt cover photo and subsequent video ender wound up making it official.

2016 – Evan Smith
Element day-tripper Evan Smith in 2016 rifled off tricks seemingly as fast as they formed in his mind, frying through upside-down wallrides in ‘Time Trap,’ bomb-dropping off buildings in ‘No Hotels’ and kickflipping out to both-way wallrides in ‘Zygote.’ He was rumoured to be responsible for an unofficial ban on Skaters of the Year performing with their own bands at Rehsarht’s annual party.

2017 – Tiago Lemos
Tiago Lemos’ run since hitting the U.S. gathered superlatives about as easily as he stacked clips, all of them euphemisms for shit that shouldn’t even seem possible whatsoever until the dude jumps up and slides it five feet, switchstance. Between a pro shoe, the year’s picture-perfectest switch 360 flip, and steadily cornering the market on switch backside tailslides, it was Tiago Lemos’ year, no question.

Bathe in the Glory and Horror of Post-Everything Skating

January 29, 2018

Last week was notable in the sense that Miles Silvas ended lines for all professional skateboarders forevermore. For a meandering five minutes, he pushes, flips and slides his way through several Los Angelean blocks, swerving past security, adjusting his chain and switch heelflipping an artfully knocked-over trash bin on the way to a truly gnarly ender and a history-book entry for probably the craziest run ever. But has Miles Silvas’ ‘One Stop’ line pushed things not only forward, but over some maddening brink?

We now enter a realm where seemingly everything been done, in which all eras exist simultaneously, where nothing and everything is cool and wack all at once everywhere. Observe, on any given day. Switch tailslide something-out champ Luan Oliveira nonchalantly rips wearing a visor. A Florida flow kid lands on Thrasher’s cover, just a few months after a similarly situated young buck frontside crooked grinded the fearsome El Toro first try. Not long before that, Gabriel Summers nosegrinds a larger 21-stair handrail first try whilst wearing a dogs-playing-poker shirt. All over, the established ways dissolve before your eyes: Varial flips are commonplace, people are sponsored by weed mobile phone apps, neon camouflage is freely worn, and CCS proudly advertises its mail-order catalogues in the pages of Thrasher while marketing jeans with macaroni and cheese print interiors.

It’s easier to exhale and surrender to feeling permanently unmoored, eyes glazing over as irony and confusion blunt shock’s few remaining edges, and one brow-furrowing surprise after another leaves you punch drunk. For Youtube browsers in this state, caution is the watchword as skate videos, once content to function as a compendium of individual skaters’ tricks set against a driving tune of their own choosing, now throw loose whatever bonds of convention remain, seemingly pursuing their own brand of ‘What, Me Worry?’ lawlessness.

Drone buff Ty Evans has long shouldered criticisms that his brand of Filmmaking prizes high-end camera rigs and general spectacle over actual tricks, and more than two decades into his skate Film career, no stripes-changing can be detected in ‘The Flat Earth.’ The Film’s heavy incorporation of 360-degree video, digitally rolled onto two dimensions for consumption on high-resolution flattened TV screens, suggests a project that perhaps once aspired to some virtual reality gambit — but settled for a version of Ty Evans’ prior outing, ‘We Are Blood,’ with the storyline switched out for intense bouts of psychedelia, where mountain peaks and highways contort and spasm to dubstep blurts for minutes on end with no identifiable skateboards in sight.

There’s of course blistering footage, in particular from the unsinkable Carlos Iqui and aforementioned one-time Floridian flow rider Jamie Foy. But whereas the Brain Farm budget permitted Ty Evans to indulge in peak Ty Evansness (see: slow-motioned puddle splashing, skating the world’s tallest building, fire) the comparatively bootstrapped ‘Flat Earth’ production may be the first time in 15 or so years where his level of resources significantly declined for a new full-length skate Film, and the result suggests something like Ty Evans’ version of ‘Memory Screen.’

As Ty Evans casts about for purchase in this sloppy, undulating stew that is skating in 2018, simmering a few sub-basements below Bronze and Beez, nearby to Ssquirted, thrives the Instagram video clips of @dogceo. Here is a euphoric and jarring dimension in which park and street footage are hurled with abandon into some video toaster, sauced liberally with vintage video games from other countries and blurred text offering repeated and nonsensical exhortations — where it’s not enough for a grab-bag of logos to bleed through background (or foreground) of a clip, they must flash, and ripple. Skating is happening here, to an extent, at times, but the giddy, disorienting thrill is squeezed from not really knowing whether the steadily immolating visual salad bar is a vehicle for the tricks, or the other way around.

In a time of pink swishy pants and backside smith grind body varials, where’s the lane for a comparatively level-headed dude such as Walker Ryan? Is the steady erosion of conventional wisdoms and tribal law behind the continued appeal of high-handed authorities such as Jake Phelps and @FeedbackTS? If everything officially is over what happens next?

Passing Virtual Hats Versus Capturing Digital Trophies, While Our Machine Masters Sit in Silent Judgment

January 22, 2018

Throughout the age of man, humans have invented machines to get money. Printing-press produced money predated the first printed Bible by a cool nine or five centuries; more recent innovations have included the one-armed bandit and the automated teller machine clique. But as demonstrated by the Internet-based currency scheme Bitcoin, its value jingling intensely higher, computers have come to surpass them all.

Skateboarders are a subset of humans who use their ingenuity to find deeper purpose and sometimes lucrative thrills in automobile parking structures, cement swimming holes and metallic stair-climbing assisters. Just as they remade the concrete Jersey barrier into a gateway to unholy pleasures, they have fashioned the Internet into a digital sieve through which financial donations freely flow, while haters and modern life’s other harsh realities are easily filtered out.

This yung year of 2018 already has seen motivational Exxon Mobil tank-blaster J Scott Hands Down seek to parlay a considerable Instagram following into a sort of X-nest egg, angling for a $100K down payment on a video part and cost of living increase associated with quitting his day job and moving his family to California to pursue a highly profitable and stable career in skateboarding. J Scott’s solicitation of funds to penetrate professional skateboarding’s ranks came as noted Canadian Dan Pageau, famed for a pioneering switchstance slam on El Toro, sought thousands in recognition of his careerlong contributions to the culture as he made his own industry exit — following similar and earlier efforts by Youtube person Vinnie Banh and various others.

Dan Pageau and J Scott Hands Down are innovative and interesting in their own ways. But their ultimate undoings may lie in failing to grasp that increasingly, the Internet is the end, not the means. Consider: Despite certain chest thumpings over Street League contest purses rising to the hundreds of thousands, machines again demonstrate their money-making superiority. Within the burgeoning realm of E-sports, wherein children and men competitively play video games, contest winnings are magnitudes larger, rising well into eight figures, with consolation prizes including an absence of battered bones and comparatively fewer court dates.

Instead of hoping to stoke sympathy of skaters and assorted well-wishers via internet money-requesting platforms, should J Scott Hands Down, Dan Pageau and Vinnie Banh instead focus on stroking keyboards and tickling touchpads, to better appease our mechanized rulers, grab for digital brass rings and capture all the riches that can be crammed into virtual wallets? Did you know that pro video game players also indulge in industry drama and get kicked off teams? Can pros like Shane O’Neill and Nyjah Huston help to bridge the cultural gap between skateboarders and the artificially intelligent paymasters of the Internet? Has this limp joke been attempted in this blogging space already before? Will we know whether and when the singularity arrives if it is not posted to Instagram?

More 2017 Video Part Life

January 1, 2018

Griffin Gass, ’35th North’ – Future ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate again raises the question, as the Girl camp dips deeper into the Pacific Northwest for its new pickups, are they indulging in continued Anti Hero fandom or returning to the company’s partial Vancouverian roots? Also, the Pupecki grind on the Seattle rail

Magnus Bordewick, ‘Tigerstaden’ – This dude makes flip tricks look like explosions, with a jacket game to rival SP

Lucien Clarke, ‘Palasonic’ – From the Landscape intro to the Boss seven minutes later, Lucien Clark goes in

Kyle Nicholson, ‘Olympic Demo Reel’ – If there ever was a dude who belonged on ScumCo it’s the perennially overlooked Kyle Nicholson, bouncing back here after the City of Philadelphia robbed him of a Love gap switch 360 flip

Josh Drysen, ‘sml. Wheels’ – Solidly weird tech

Yonnie Cruz, ‘The Flare’ – It’s up for debate whether Lakai lensmen Federico Vitetta and Daniel Wheatly can capture Yonnie Cruz’ skating with the same combination of reckless abandon and high stakes that Ryan Garshell managed, but this part ripped, and James Capps tricks helped too

Yaje Popson, ‘Riddles in Mathematics’ – Whatever headaches were saved thanks to having the least-claustrophobic camera work in Chris Theissen’s latest paean to the uncomfortable close-up were offset by some of the most garish camo going. But Yaje Popson’s skating surpasses all

Kevin Taylor, ’42’ – A deep indulgence from one of the discipline’s true masters

Jimmy Lannon, ‘Shaqueefa Mixtape Vol 3’ – If you’re among those that can watch Jimmy Lannon do bump-to-bars for several minutes straight, you can do so via one of the year’s best-soundtracked videos

Niels Bennett, ‘Awake’ – The catch on the frontside 5-0 shove-it in this is nearly enough to tide people over until this dude’s next clip, which would benefit all involved if it announced Niels Bennett as the next curly-haired wallrider for Girl

Louie Lopez, ‘West End’ – people will debate whether he should’ve gotten Skater of the Year, but he gets points for prioritizing shove-its over kickflips when it comes to bump and gaps. And who’s whipping caballerials out of wallrides?

Tore Bevivino, ‘Sabotage 5’ – Strapping on the face mask for some of the gulliest levels lines ever done at Love Park

1. Brett Weinstein – ‘Realm’

December 31, 2017

For a while now Brett Weinstein has been cutting ‘Trilogy’ ledge lines through Chicago’s little-heralded plazas, and cracking through its industrial craters and dark alleys, but the increasingly well-crafted ‘Deep Dish’ flicks have packaged up his nighttime prowling with a doom and gloom well matched to one of skating’s most-avoided cities. In ‘Realm,’ their best one so far, Brett Weinstein guns through tricks with the spry urgency of ‘Wonderful, Horrible’ era PJ Ladd, like on the line with the 50-50 backside 180, and generally busts out in all directions — up stairs, down them, fakie manualing around corners and rattling up loading docks. And when the confounding prospect of launching out of a concave fountain to grind a round planter isn’t enough, he incorporates Zubaz. The dude does not slow down; check for him in Theories’ Chicago clip and Deep Dish’s joint vid with Snack.

2. Miles Silvas – ‘Numbers Edition 3’

December 30, 2017

Realistically, which is to say in the realm of reality, track pants movement-pusher Miles Silvas made this list, inconsequential as it is, with just the knee drop after the switch frontside bluntslide in this part. The depth of his talent and taste though means he delivers another fulsome video part of his uncommonly singular style and near-peerless choice in tricks — in just the first minute here he’s got a backside bigspin the hard way over a handrail, a backside noseblunt at a tough-to-recommend speed, and Cam’ron. Nobody really is landing tricks like this dude (see: the hubba kickflip backside tailside roll-away, or after the switch backside heelflip over the bar) and there’s not so many who measure up when it comes to mind-bending backside tailslides in general, variations on which this part is sort of built around. Quibbling is restricted to how Miles Silvas seems to have toned down his outfits from the LRG pattern wars.

3. Tiago Lemos – ‘The DC Promo’

December 29, 2017

Sometimes it’s tough to root for a superhero, but damn if Tiago Lemos doesn’t continually force the rest of us, from pros to parking lot shove-iting weekend warrior bros, to redream what’s possible with some urethane, metal and pressed wood. He was quiet for a few months there but between flying a head-high nollie backside heelflip off a Philadelphia hip and passing Fort Miley’s high bar test in ‘The DC Promo,’ and a clinic on ledges that require a stepstool for civilians to mount in his Independent part after that, Tiago Lemos probably performed more of the craziest tricks released this year than anybody else, not seeming to stress it much in the process. The DC ‘Promo’ reset has him jumping on rails and mashing through pedestrians to defy SF Pier skatestoppers in shocking new ways, to a sunny Sunday-afternoon type of number that a decade ago might’ve soundtracked a Transworld part. People talk about Tiago Lemos’ jean shorts and switch mongo in the sense of ’90s revivalism but his skating increasingly seems like it’s from a whole other planet, and the foot-off switch backside tailslide at the Mission three-up three-down shows he’s on-trend anyways with all these ridiculous foot-off landings.