Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Scott Johnston, The ‘Aja’ Pill and The Reality of Our Surroundings

July 6, 2018

Have you felt it? Only recently it was Madonna’s ex-boyfriend Dennis Rodman, the former WCW wrestler, providing a septum-pierced window into the mind of Kim Jong Un, heir to the legendary North Korean golf dynasty, ahead of talks toward a nuclear disarmament. Beyonce and her formerly drug-dealing spouse Jay-Z rented out the Louvre for a recent music video featuring Jay’s golden Indiana Jones medallion, while DJ Khaled plugs Weight Watchers. Onetime baseball tycoon Jose Canseco later begged former casino magnate and current U.S. President Donald Trump if he could please join the emerging U.S. space battle force, an interplanetary armed squadron geared toward asserting American values to space’s infinity — and beyond, if duty, honour and extraplanetary riches require. Ours truly is a bold age of discipline and strength, forged in courage and rare-earth minerals, impossible to dilute.

Could it all be a simulation? Scientists have begun to seriously contemplate the question, which if nothing else seems a natural for a non-retrograde Alien Workshop board graphic. The rigidity of mathematical and physics principals hints toward rules for some ‘Big Game’, but really it’s the seams that sometimes show. One worldwide famed instance involved the mass memory glitch that occurred when the ‘Berenstein Bears’ series was erroneously replaced with the misspelled ‘Berenstain Bears’ version in our current when, igniting fury and hair-tearing confusion among readers.

There’s plenty more. In ‘Deathwish Part Two,’ published to the Thrasher.dotcom video engine weeks ago, one of Beagle’s HD VX-replacers briefly captures a splash of skatepark graffiti that includes a spray-painted ‘Nike SB’, some mistaken cut-and-paste job from a reality in which the Greek goddess of victory’s namesake company is some scrappy bro brand hawking t-shirts off BigCartel. Elsewhere, Erik Ellington sells loafers with golden tassels. Andy Roy, freed from jail, a famous TV game show host.

Scott Johnston, in a recent Chrome Ball interview, alludes to an alternate timeline in which his indelible Mad Circle part was soundtracked not to the perky, radio-friendly unit shifter ‘Peg’ but to an entirely different Steely Dan song, widely assumed to be ‘Any Major Dude Will Tell You.’

Justin already had a Steely Dan song picked out but it was a different one. I ended up going through the CD and finding another one that I liked better, which was the one we used. I guess I just kinda took it and did it. (laughs)

Scott Johnston’s ‘Horns’ part, with its tightly controlled switch 360 flips, is known across this land’s towns and botanical gardens as a classic of the form to be copied to the best of anyone’s abilities, mammal and invertebrate alike. If one accepts/assumes this existence to be a simulation, one also must accept and, ultimately, celebrate the certitude of multiple versions of this same simulation playing out simultaneously, with slight variations, infinitely. It’s easy to envision dozens of editions of our current reality, multitudes of laptop and plasmoid TV and smartphone screens playing Scott Johnston’s ‘Horns’ section, each one soundtracked to a different Steely Dan track plucked with wild abandon as Scott Johnston sifts through a bottomless sack of Steely Dan CDs in Justin Girard’s apartment lo those many years ago, his hand casting and reaching further and deeper into a black night staring back with an eyeless, blank reflection on our artificial existence.

As the trumpets and infrastructure spending of another Olympic Season fade, can we find solace and hope in technology growing closer to reviving the body of the too-soon-gone Walter Becker, if not his Jose Cuervo-bathed soul? In a post-all era, is tagging the names, let alone logos, of multibillion-dollar sportswear conglomerates the height of subversivity? Does Khaled really swallow those Weight Watchers foods? If all this is just one of an infinite number of simulations playing out, are your odds of being in a good one versus a wack one roughly even, or would an advanced civilization prefer to study only ones where shit goes wrong, Love Park gets demolished, Prince ODs, Danny Way’s ‘Tru, B’ part never comes out, Max Geronzi switches over to skating exclusively novelty old-school setups, and Kyle Nicholson never gets a full shoe deal?

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Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Nate Broussard, ‘Static III’

June 28, 2018

In an era of loud arms and storked rollaways, Nate Broussard’s velvet-soft way with ledges and flip tricks seems a warm, calm ocean away. It is too lazy to say lazy —- gentle or patient maybe, not making the hoard or the feet or the knees work any harder than needed, just the right amount of pop to get up onto the block or over the rail, absorbing enough impact to mellowishly surf toward the next one. Even on tricks as abrupt or jarring as the switch 360 flip revert or the street gap to nose manual or the opening volcano boost to nose pivot, there’s improbably smooth resolution. His kickflip over the bar and past the grate must be remembered in song, his lines at the UK ledge spot should be enshrined. At a time when skating seems to have room for so many hangers-on and backward-looking career retconning, you hope this dude’s fade from the scene has been deliberate.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Donovon Piscopo, ‘Hockey Promo’

June 27, 2018

At some point, under the tutelage of dockworker-period Jason Dill and Pomade-packing AVE, yung Donovon Piscopo cast off his slim denim cuffs and went in for the hazy and vaguely violent beach-scuzz vibe of the California underbelly that roots the Hockey project. He’d already been refining his tricks away from the no-comply tailslide flip-outs, and for this no-tunes intro clip him and big John Fitzgerald soundtracked to their scrapes, impacts and background yelps —- Donovon Piscopo with a lower-key hand in the high-pop movement that emerged as a refreshed progression venue as handrails and stair counts took a breather. His bank to front blunt is huge in this vid, the backside smith grind to backside tailslide held to a crazy degree, the backside flip over the barrier caught in the 90-degree neighborhood and steered firmly the rest of the way around.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Kris Markovich, ‘Fight Fire with Fire’

June 26, 2018

Similar to the Wu and the Simpsons, both early-90s contemporaries, Kris Markovich’s questionable late-career moves have had the unfortunate effect of clouding a massive legacy for kids who weren’t around to catch a convincing decade-long run, and requiring oldsters who do to talk like annoyed oldsters. Nevertheless, his catalogue stands, and the somewhat fairly maligned Prime captured Kris Markovich during his angsty and nomadic World period for what’s surely among the company’s better-aging contributions to ‘the culture’: for the period, one of the top inward heelflips on offer, into shit even; Markovich staples like the backside 180 nosegrind, some big jumps, the speed; and not too deep yet into the white tees/blue jeans/white shoes era to dispense with the noseslides to fakie and fakie ollies that could merit fresh Instagram burn today. The closing 360 flip’s audible catch is a triumph of Steve Albini-style open-room sound engineering.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Lindsey Robertson, ‘Dying to Live’

June 25, 2018


A jaunty reggae tune for a one-man stress section introed at the time a singular figure — a glasses-wearing Florida kid enamored of heelflips, frontside noseslides and off-kilter tricks such as the (probably correctly) rarely spotted street stalefish. Lindsey Robertson’s part arrived at a time when a major board company still could uncork unknown talents in big videos, and Zero got somewhat questionable moves like the heelflip indy grab over with some help from the murky Jefferson Airplane single and a structure that sort of inverted the Zero template, opening with repeated slow-mo knockouts. Would that your summer is carefree enough to launch massive ollies, throw a shaka and then casually observe your own hand motions.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Girl ‘Road Trip,’ 411VM Issue 39

June 24, 2018

Arriving shortly after Rick Howard and Mike Carroll joined forces with Ty Evans, this entry closed out 411VM’s midperiod and set the stage for the bloated, high-concept video escapades of the 2000s that would help sink 411 itself and eventually become an albatross for nearly all companies possessing the dollars to still attempt them. This clip also marked a historical juncture for Girl itself, featuring the handrail-heavy pickup Rick McCrank in his absolute prime and Eric Koston still ascending toward the height of his Sparkles-era powers. All the Ty-isms are there too: an intro that spans a third of the clip, stridently emotive techno-pop, high-fives and camera mugs, slow-mo. Rick McCrank whipping a switch ghetto bird on a battered QP, Mike Carroll refurbishing some of his ‘Modus’ moves like the nollie flip to backside 5-0, Rick Howard shove-iting into and out of a backside nosegrind, Eric Koston going the distance on a wiggly bar, everybody in Es shoes, launch ramps and an ostrich — nobody in 2O00 could touch it.

Midwestern Exposure: Rust, Rubble and Rural Decay in ‘Grains’

June 10, 2018

Since fisheyes first were directed toward emptied swimming facilities, skate videos have possessed a flavour of the cultural tourist and voyeur, maybe: initially exporting southern California’s sunbleached concrete and asphalt-sculpted schoolyards, later letting couchbound pipe-packers tag along on late-night Manhattan missions, Europe’s summertime tour circuit and SPoT’s debauched drainage ditch runs. Rocketing board and shoe sales — fuel’d by THPS, Extreme Games and bulk-buying mall stores — bankrolled weekslong filming trips and demo tours to steadily more exotic locales: Watch enough vids from the 2000-2005 period and you’ll swear you know your way around Barcelona; earlier, Brazil got its own full-length and 411 eventually dedicated a series to various other Kenny Reedisms.

The skate industry’s subsequent economic ACL blowout and chronic fiscal pain since then bit deeply into travel budgets and placed a fresh focus on mining domestic urban crust and freshly combing flyover country. The widely shared misery of global economic upheaval and longterm decay have proven fertile, as Alien Workshop’s rekindled squad repeatedly probes Detroit’s sprawling grit and Rick McCrank centers an entire TV show around the concept. “Rural America is the new inner city,” the Wall Street Journal declared last year, pointing up employment scarcity, more people dying than being born, and a deepening pill epidemic. Bucolic visions of pitchforks and ice cream cones and golden-hour little league victories where losers walk away raring for the rematch are fading to the tune of dimestore murals on main street, exposing chipped brick and maybe a coupla shitty tags.

It is this graying canvass that Kevin DelGrosso and Chad Matthews stretch further into the Midwest’s lesser-traveled underbelly. Their video ‘Grains,’ filmed across the soybean belt of Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio, veers far off interstate arteries and urban sprawls to extract tricks from crumbling loading docks in Joliet, dilapidated stadiums in Gary, polished-stone plaza ledges in downtown Peoria. In between years-dead narrators relaying factoids on corn production and Farm Belt infrastructure, ‘Grains’ picks through abandoned small-town storefronts, creaking trainyards and literal rubble for an hour’s worth of wallies, backside bigspins and rusted-rail boardslides to fakie.

Early on Riley Vaughn boosts a massive no-comply over a barrier and guides some drop-down manuals into an empty fountain, later Patty Barnas flicks a lovely backside flip into a different one; Seth Neetz gets down on some electric boxes and Brian Mangerson whips manual spins onto a pyramid spot that could’ve been ported from the greater NY area. One of the burlier parts goes to Eric Thomas, who brings a Muska-level noseslide and ollies out over a rail to a nervy nose manual to drop. There’s a kind of thrift-store grab bag of spots — plenty of ditches and under-bridge banks to walls but some real gems, like a brick wave in Gary and the dreamy wallride spot in Michigan City. Also some backroad artifacts and anachronisms: a Destructo trucks tee, multiple instances of the heelflip body varial, Blues Brothers graffiti, a pop-shove it to frontside smith grind, Zubaz shorts. The vid’s makers cop to a preference for the old-fashioned and antiquated, from the VX-1000 to the opening recommendation to watch on a TV screen, versus laptop or phone.

Could an influx of summertime spot-seeking pro tours inject a meaningful boost into groaning rust-belt economies, or would all out-of-town funds inevitably pad already-fattened pockets of liquor store tycoons? Will emptying-out rural towns eventually give way to village-sized DIYs, expanding upon the urban foundation spot concept? Will the threat of catching stray bullets at Lockwood come to be replaced by the possibility of a ‘Children of the Corn’ scenario in which bloothirsty tweens in old-school attire capture and gruesomely sacrifice unknowing passers-through to a nameless being that roams the fields?

‘Grains’ can be ordered here.

Rogue Wave

May 25, 2018

Here’s the sequence of events: Just as Jason Jessee’s after-credits part in Converse Shoes’ debut full-length ‘Purple’ rolled on Thrasher and various other internet video portals, links, photos and Instagram posts began to be traded among skateboarders who’d begun connecting a few decades’ worth of dots: A biker magazine interview from 20-some years ago, in which Jason Jessee throws around racial epithets, photos before and since then of him rocking swastikas, and some signature products with the same, some of this seemingly recent. The Slap Magazine message board thread quickly burned into double-digits and accusatory comments popped onto Jason Jessee’s Instagram account, along with Converse’s and those of his various other sponsors. Jason Jessee soon issued a brief video and handwritten apology in the event anyone took offense, non-specific in its nature aside from an apparent reference to the biker mag interview from way back when.

At that point, the matter seemed settled in the minds of many fans, photographers, and other pros — whatever was in Jason Jessee’s past was atoned for and indeed, an outpouring of praise and loving emoticons followed upon his social-media channel. Santa Cruz reposted his video, and backed him. Those who responded with lingering questions — why pull on swastika gloves for a video clip? Why sew a swastika patch onto a jacket? Did anybody ever question all this? Is that it, and everything’s supposed to be good now? — were left to wonder. Some who pressed the issue on Instagram were branded haters fixated upon the past by others who deemed it water under the bridge, or no big deal in the first place.

After nearly a week, NHS/Independent/Santa Cruz/OJ posted an anti-racism graphic and disavowed hatred — and a day later, Andrew Murrell laid out the whole episode at Vice. In that article, Jason Jessee apologized further and said in the past he’d used Nazi imagery to provoke reactions, and because of drugs; NHS and Converse said they had no knowledge of any of it, and both ‘indefinitely suspended’ him from their teams. Gentle Jones, the author of the Slap board thread, claimed vindication.

Jason Jessee, whose frontside ollies up to this point had formed a foundation for his recent revival as a sort of crazy-uncle persona built around vintage motorcycles and wacky quotables, now can show whether or not he’ll continue to use these images, or sell them. He said in his initial statement that he has evolved, though the Slap message board dates some of this to the recent past. Some of his teammates have professed faith in his character, and publicly rallied around him. There’s some incongruity. It’s been noted elsewhere that Jason Jessee has been the only white member of a Latino lowrider car club and recently recommended listening to Kendrick Lamar. Going forward, he will be under a microscope.

Elsewhere, there have been attempts to defend the swastika as a derivation of the ‘Surf Nazi’ era, geared toward freaking out the squares. It seems a fairly safe bet that there are creative juices enough within skating to figure some method for achieving this without symbols that directly link back to a state-orchestrated campaign that murdered millions of children, moms, dads, and grandparents. And remain tied to violence that’s on the rise again.

A bigger question remains for the skateboard industry generally, which up until the past 36 hours mostly looked as though it would move along and bury the matter beneath a pile of fresh Instagram clips, capsule collections and good times with the homies. The skateboard magazines by and large have had nothing to say, neither have the loquacious podcasts. Between Dave Mayhew’s post-retirement video part and a boardslide to darkslide to boardslide driveway clip, Skateline NBD — which one could imagine going in on a topic like this — skipped it.

Ryan Lay, fresh off an Etnies part and knee-deep in charity work, addressed it early on. A few days later, Deluxe impresario and industry leader Jim Thiebaud came with an introspective post over the weekend: “Any form of racism doesn’t belong in our community of skating and I have long worked to support that belief. …I should have been more responsible to my convictions, my core beliefs and acted on those. I regret that.” Mackenzie Eisenhouer and Josh Kalis posted messages.

As skateboarding tries to hold to a rebellious stance and outlaw bearing, there’s perhaps some tribal instinct to circle wagons when a longstanding and celebrated member comes under any type of fire, and a reflex to thumb noses at authority. Nobly intentioned maybe, if increasingly quixotic, as sanctioned skateparks take market share from street spots in Instagram clips, and skaters begin jockeying to enlist for national Olympic rosters. But what is it that’s being protected? The bottle-lightning Teddy Barrow captured via @Feedback_TS is skateboarding’s schizophrenic relationship with criticism. Everyone’s got opinions, and nobody wants to put the homies on blast. It’s always easier to focus on the positive. Did Jason Jessee’s sponsors or teammates pick up on any of this over the years? Did anybody speak up? Would others back someone who did? Would a weblog site larded with run-on sentences have done a post? Would you?

Those questions will be relevant beyond this week. In two years’ time, the Olympics promises international media attention and scrutiny for the contest’s newest broadcast event, the likes of which the skateboard business hasn’t seen before. If some skeleton rattled out of an Olympian’s closet just ahead of the torchlighting, would the organizers, secular media and international public look for accountability among sponsors, teammates, and skateboarders generally? And would they find it? For better or worse, skateboarding’s reliance on the qualitative versus quantitative has deeply entwined pros with companies, particularly given the commoditization of decks, wheels, the vulcanized suede shoe. Pros are the brand and the brand is its pros. The brands and the pros and the skateboarders are the culture.

There is another audience. Kids who’ve been intimidated or bummed by sideways racial comments, prejudice, or outright violence, and who maybe responded to the idea of a more open-minded, self-reliant pasttime free of rules and teammates and coaches and winners and losers, anytime, anywhere. They have been watching a lot of other skateboarders, companies, pros, magazines and maybe their friends for the past week, apparently carrying on business as usual. Kids have long memories. Ask Corey Duffel, whose own youthful off-color remarks still get brought up 15 years later, despite having not been quoted saying anything remotely similar since. In another 15 years it’s going to be these kids doing the interviews, hosting the podcasts and writing the stories. What will they remember?

The Best Night of Sleep Sanger Rainsford Ever Had

May 13, 2018

In Richard Connell’s 1924 classic ‘The Most Dangerous Game,’ a big-city trophy hunter washes up on a remote island, soon revealed to be inhabited by a philosophizing fellow hunter. Over a stately dinner, the host identifies himself to be a prize hunter too, as well as something of a freethinking homicidal. Stalking elephants and leopards had grown tiresome, he explained — hence the island equipped with treacherous waters, occasionally delivering via shipwreck to its proprietor the only remaining worthwhile quarry: Men. Soon, a new hunt is on.

Among the improbably growing ranks of skateboard filmers, the thrill of the hunt tends to scale alongside duration. Instagram-ready clips are single-digit ‘Duck Hunt’ level potshots; the one-off/solo part barely Bambi. There is a worthy challenge in nailing and transcending the attention-span sweet spot that is the 15 to 20-minute promo, with a couple full parts and a couple montages, or the footage-dumping ‘mixtape’ project of similar length. But in this woolly realm, the most dangerous game is the full-length video —- its gaping maw of hubris, its difficult-to-wrangle girth, its often unbearable weight, threatening to trample less-seasoned filmers under viewers’ colossal expectations.

Having conquered skateboard professionals, shops and the upper-shredding masses, what prey remains for those moneyed alphas of the industry, the industrial shoe merchants? Mastering the full-length video, that great unquantifiable, that tantalizing money pit, that great ‘Branding Statement,’ continues to beckon and tempt international sporting goods manufacturers like some VX1000-mic’d siren song. For Nike Inc., this has been a slow process. The Oregonian sportswear conglomerate dipped in its toe-piece with 2004’s ‘On Tap,’ flexing some plotting and production and a little bit of those Rodriguez acting chops, but never fully committing. Nike saved that for 2007’s bloated misfire ‘Nuttin’ But the Truth,’ which saddled some truly great skating, a still-corralable team and perhaps the all-time greatest Danny Supa part with an insistent storyline that, while intriguingly bizarre, asked far too much of a skate video viewer base freshly armed with DVD ‘skip’ buttons. Jason Hernandez’s excellent ‘Debacle’ project from 2009 hit all the marks for length, range and focus, but led into the increasingly rote ‘Chronicles’ series, which by the third installment had devolved into a transactional, paint-by-numbers affair.

Adidas, which for a while mastered the five-to-six minute road trip video with rotating picks from its more diverse roster, also veered into a predictable pattern to where it eventually seemed obligatory to attempt something bigger — and they wound up with 2016’s ‘Away Days,’ overlong and too top-heavy with too many good parts that wound up buried. The Juice crew seemed to struggle to construct a project greater than the sum of its parts, linked by something more than Gonz vignettes and blurred shots of streetlights and moving cars.

Now comes Cons, Nike’s subsidiary for the thrift-shop set, which moves without the weight of the world’s biggest sporting goods franchise stuffed into its canvas and rubber. For this reason Cons maybe squares a bit easier with skateboarding’s historic resume of scruffiness, artsiness and a general low-fi bearing, and ‘Purple’ headmaster Ben Chadbourne plays up this angle from the opening frames, typing out an introductory monologue on mid-century equipment (though not without some mobile-phone shorthand).

‘Purple’ justifies a good chunk of its 45-minute runtime in a way that, say, a Primitive full-length might struggle with, that is, diversity in style and approach. Straightaway Bobby De Keyzer pops out of all the backside noseblunts, sets his wide-bottoms whipping with a switch backside 360 in a line, and displays a mean halfway half-cab flip — but then you veer into Sage Elsesser, languid over tall bars, and what seems like whole-body lipslides. Kevin Rodriguez brings his abrasive wallrides and grabs in a Neubauten shirt, though Pontus Alv’s more-frenetic framing maybe was a better look for him, while Aaron Herrington stays on his ‘Welcome to Hell’ shit and there’s a weirdly endearing amount of Corey Duffel clips throughout. Underground style soldier Eli Reed swerves switch over a China Bank long bench, Frank Gerwer briefly reprises his star-making Transworld turn and Brian Delatorre somewhere in the middle dishes out maybe his best part ever, a half-switch scorcher that incorporates some brawny Al Davis moves and a wild new branch line from Black Rock. There’s some curated roll-ups courtesy of Sean Pablo, a mind-numbing Sean Greene ollie and then Louie Lopez, offering another few minutes of heaters with the occasional curveball — the rarely seen fakie frontside shove-it, a night line at Third and Army.

But it is Ben Chadbourne’s choice to close not with the obvious enders from a SOTY coulda/shoulda-been, but rather a comparatively skimpy contribution from the mercurial Jake Johnson, that argues strongest for Cons pulling off the full-length better than its larger-revenued predecessors. It’s easy to make the ‘quality over quantity’ argument justifying Jake Johnson’s solemn two minute wind-down to ‘Purple,’ even if it’s also a little disappointing, given prodigious recent output elsewhere. This though is the same logic that placed Guy Mariano’s ledge-heavy part last in ‘Mouse,’ not Eric Koston’s handrail-heavier section with its NBDs; or when Birdhouse’s blockbuster ‘The End’ stuck by its winking sketch to close on a shorter Bucky Lasek section rather than the stadium-touring Tony Hawk; or how Bill Strobeck’s ‘Cherry,’ among the strongest full-lengths of this aging decade, came with hardly any conventional ‘parts’ at all.

Does humankind’s hope for deeper Jake Johnson satisfaction now hinge upon the coming Quasi video? How many angles did Sean Greene’s ollie need for real? Was Adidas putting Dennis Busenitz last in ‘Away Days’ a left turn or playing it safe? Were people allowed to smoke in prior big shoe company videos? How come there were no Game Genie codes that let you shoot the dog in Duck Hunt?

Instagram’s Never-Ending Demo

May 6, 2018

“It’s annoying. There are people who know where you are when you don’t want them to know where you are. Add to that the fact that I’m being told by people that I’m blowing it and losing out on board royalties and shoe royalties because of not being on the stuff? That makes me sick. That, in skateboarding, you’re hurting yourself by choosing not to spend more time stuck behind a computer. That doesn’t make sense. Just talk to a kid when you’re out skating, and they buy your board, you know?”

What if two-trucked handrailing Luddite David Gravette got it wrong? What if all other pros who’ve half-heartedly wished away Instagram’s round-the-clock, feed-the-beast Antlion death trap for skate content of all stripes and quality levels were looking at it totally cockeyed? What if nobility and honour lay not in turning away from the doubletapping throng, their fickle tags and fleeting tastes, and instead throwing oneself completely into it?

Just as remote email access and space mission-worthy computers in every Dockers pocket has turned white-collar jobs into 24-hour affairs, clocking in at desperate, late-night hours or out of sheer boredom on the john, so too has Instagram’s advent extended outward the dimension of the skate demo. Now, fossil fuel-guzzling, sweaty summertime tour stops stand as an anachronism beside an infinity-scrolling, pro-packed skate session beneath fingers that may or may not pick up your board the next time they stop by the shop, but may also click over to your bro-brand’s BigCartel to scoop a $32 t-shirt before they all wind up on Ebay.

In the never-ending Instagram demo, perhaps the pro daily dribbling out indifferently phone-filmed park clips is not some navel-gazing lazy, tossing half-baked bones to his or her followers while too hungover to step to street spots. He or she is our 21st century demo king, rifling off tricks and stoking out touchscreen-hypnosis kids who faithfully scroll their way to a front-row seat for the round-the-clock session stretching across time zones, continents and hemispheres, right now, go look. Like when a real demo is popping it’s hard to catch everything if your eyes aren’t peeled and pivoting.

In the never-ending Instagram demo, perhaps the pro following you back and now and then ‘liking’ one of your jiggly park clips is not grimly cycling through his or her followers to pick a predetermined handful to hype up and pump devotion into an overinflated personal brand, while awaiting an Uber to Tuesday night’s first bar. Perhaps they are those who, in the days when gas prices, hotel rates and deck company saturation levels were comparatively lower, would follow your post-demo trick on the medium-sized park ledge with one they had in a six-month-old 411, or turn to holler “yeah!” from the ramp deck while signing autographs.

In the never-ending Instagram demo, perhaps the pro posting inane ‘what’s-your-favorite’ queries to rack up responses and assert onesself into followers’ feeds isn’t fulfilling some soul-eroding contractual obligation to accumulate aspirational ‘like’ totals, while tagging the intricately curated accounts of private equity-backed sponsors. Perhaps they are the ones who, when bumper tag-scarred vans ferried teams across American hinterlands — between ramp-stuffed hockey rinks and mostly cleared-out parking lots — would jawbone idly with kids from the open sliding door, or while presumptuously perched behind the counters of skate shops where they’d clocked in briefly on the previous summer’s tour.

In the never-ending Instagram demo, perhaps the pro who trumpets the selection of one lucky commenter or nth new follower to receive a fat box is not cynically tapping internet-raised youngsters’ thirst for free shit, and frequent profile checks. Perhaps he or she is ascending his or her own digital ramp deck to perform a 4G-enabled product toss, tapping every kid’s thirst for free shit and endearing his or her sponsors to them by heaving product across the country via the internet-subsidizing postal service. Widely distributed mobile video capabilities ensure the continued capacity for kids to debase themselves in return, whether crawling through drainage ditches or taming irate and multi-ton wild animals.

Did David Gravette capitulate in 2014, or finally decide to get off the great and tactile sideline that is the offline life? What’s the Instagram equivalent of a board shooting out at a demo and cracking somebody in the face? What about the autographed car? Are all pro skater Instagram accounts actually controlled by bots, the internet largely calibrated by self-teaching algorithms, and none of this real anyway because you are dreaming right now?