Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cower and Kneel Before the $9 Billion Digital Skatestopper

July 13, 2016

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For centuries, man schemed and toiled to turn technology to his advantage, from the spearing and roasting of the first woolly mammoth to mass-producing plastic woolly mammoth baubles for personal fun to resurrecting the woolly mammoth via cloning systems. Skateboarders are no different, if one simply swaps out the woolly mammoth for a shambling, hairy metaphor that posits hammers, enders and assorted NBDs, and quick-dry cement, sawzalls, pinned spots, Iphone-ready death lenses and the urethane wheel in place of wooden spears and genome-sequencing software.

Yet just as Russian-made woolly mammoth clones inevitably will turn against their creators* and run rampant across textile mills and used-car lots, technology has been turned into an enemy of skating. The telephone, developed by Alexander Graham Bell to relay stock-market quotations and pizza instructions, was transformed into a high-speed snitching device shortly after the first pools were barged. The powers of metallurgy, honed by the dwarves in the mines of Moria, were harnessed by demonic forces to forge skatestoppers. In the same spirit, skateboarders have fought back.

Now comes a new threat, lurking within the smartphones of children, that promises strife, subjugation and certain doom: the mobile reality role-playing fantasy, Pokemon Go. The premise involves capturing and conscripting fantastical, suitcase-sized creatures and pitting them against one another in battle for the pure glory of it. These cartoonish organisms must be detected by physically traveling to physical world locations where the next step is to stand around swiping upon the telephone screen. There are reasons aplenty to suspect that Pokemon Go is only part of a larger, sickening “game within a game” that may murderously ape the 1990s platformer hit “Lemmings”**.

But the Pokemon game’s demented and unholy true purpose has slowly emerged as sharp-minded watchers began observing the game herding players toward famed skatespots (see above), where their loiterly meanderings provide a skatestopper more effective than a hundred curled metal flanges. Yet the plot runs deeper and hoarier still, given the apparent targeting of sanctioned skateparks as destinations for sheepish players to gather, oblivious with their mass, and obstaclize. Moneyed interests of the world have responded, valuing the Pokemon application to the tune of the Bahamas’ economy.

Could animated, bouncing rabbitoids and birds do what generations of business owners, security guards and disapproving moms have failed at, and erase skateboarding from this mortal coil forevermore? Could Street League and X-Game courses, if not overrun by phone-staring drifters, yet be rendered obsolete if no one looks up from their screen to pump a fist or holler at a 9.0 run? Is Jeremy Klein, with his extensive anime knowledge, disregard for social mores, and increasingly professorial look what with the spectacles, be skateboarding’s only hope to somehow infiltrate the Pokemon Go machinery and destroy it from within?

*As well as the band Kreator most likely
**SNES version soundtrack for all-time top 10

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Marc Johnson ‘Man Down’

July 9, 2016


Tilt Mode released ‘Man Down’ at the height of the collective’s cultural and military might, spreading its power across several otherwise drab and peaceable continents before the dueling demands of heavy duty sponsorship and real life in general intervened for many of the mode’s most heavily tilted. Here though was crew captain Marc Johnson having a good time in baggy shorts as the Rolling Stones stuffed their noses with disco-era stardust, enjoying his enormous talents amongst playgrounds and makeshift jumpramps before stretching it to its breaking point a few years later in the Lakai vid — his embankment backside 360 kickflip here is a much more relaxed edition than Alex Carolino’s in the contemporary Lordz vid, and tricks such as the switch backside nosegrind and the 5-0 backside 180 are for the ages. At a time when triple-striped shoes again adorn Marc Johnson’s feet after an acrimonious split with a shoe sponsor, it would be a treat to see him do another one like this.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Gabriel Rodriguez, Daniel Castillo and Shamil Randle ‘Mouse’

July 8, 2016


Of the many ‘what-ifs’ associated with all-time top fiver ‘Mouse,’ the potential for a full-on follow-up to Gabriel Rodriguez’s ‘Paco’ closing section forever will be up there with the prospects for a healthy Mike Carroll and a reenergized Jovontae Turner. He does come through in this Choco-trio section with some massive tailslides and two of the grimier fakie tricks to chunk out the courthouse ledge, before Daniel Castillo comes with a good Venice pit line and some below-the-knees cargo pockets, the height of fashion for summer 1996. Shamil Randle gets in two of the video’s best-looking manual tricks in the same line plus the rarely-seen fakie frontside shove-it, possibly an asterisked outlier to Jimmy Gorecki’s generally on-point ‘Trilogy’ rule.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Aaron Artis ‘What If’

July 6, 2016


There are videos rightly and wrongly misplaced within the eddies of the space-time continuum, and despite Carlos Ruiz’s Heath Kirchart-baiting spot checks, a late-arriving stop on Kris Markovich’s decades-spanning board sponsor tour, and a fine Ronnie Creager part, Blind’s Bill Weiss-helmed 2005 vid ‘What If’ did little to stake out turf far from your typical Digital issue of the day. It did have this Aaron Artis part that gets over on some swervy turns, floaty kickflips and a sunny song, with an untamed melon grab taking the Pacific Northwesterner over a Spanish hump and the Hollywood High spikes. The powerslide surf spray revives long-suppressed memories of July afternoons lounging beside stagnant ponds of gray water, sipping a highball of unleaded gasoline. 

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Tum Yeto Road Trip, 411 #29

July 5, 2016


Tum Yeto hoisted itself to perhaps the hoistiest of its various golden ages in the waning months of the 1990s partly thanks to visceral and brutally earned slam sections that reserved a singular ability to snuff any spark to skate that the preceding video had kindled. Jarring bails pepper this 411 road trip through Canada, populated by a wrecking-ball cast belonging at this point to another age: an Adio-endorsing, lion-maned Jamie Thomas; Mike Maldonado, decked out in corn rows and late shove-its; Ed Templeton impossible tailgrabbing with a few hundred miles’ worth of buffer from the Huntington Beach Pier fleshpots; Elissa Steamer at her pre-Bootleg peak; handrail doubles runs; Adrian Lopez, full cabbing John Drake’s ender spot from ‘Time Code;’ board-catching dome pieces; a miniramp-wrecking Bam Margera, face as yet unlined by the gravities and scars of a reality television career. This clip, considered in some circles the greatest 411 tour part evar, also features a content-complementing, classically licensing-friendly Dischord catalog pick.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Nate Jones ‘Real to Reel’

July 5, 2016

Midsummer days hot enough to put the sweat on you by 8 a.m. call to mind the carefree love that can blossom in young muskrats’ hearts, and of simpler and more wholesome times when highlights from a 411 commercial and a nice backside 5-0 on a ledge were legit inclusions for a video-opening, pro-inducing video part such as Nate Jones’ in Real’s century-launching ‘Real to Reel.’ Besides Nate Jones’ immaculate kickflip stylings, the rarely seen overhead angle to a street gap and the rarer-still acceptable varial flip, Nate Jones’s breezy, no-muss part captures him midway between the baggy-hoodied, yellow-teed everyman and the patchouli scented Bay ramblor that would years later claim his pro career. Beyond the snapshot of SF in a more livable time, you can catch glimpses of a spiritual forebear to Brian Delatorre’s GX hills handling and Dylan Rieder’s ‘Mindfield’ ender.

The Incomparable Rodrigo TX

June 26, 2016

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The annals of skate history are littered with x-rays, unpaid medical bills, jail sentences and as-yet undiagnosed cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy that would argue against the timeworn slogan that skateboarding is a youthful fountain worthy of Juan Ponce de Leon’s most brutal fantasies. And then, there are those who seem to truly defy age’s gravitational yankings, such as Daewon Song, Louie Barletta and, in the dirtier, ghettoier and kidlike column, Rodrigo Teixeira.

Renowned under his AP Stylebook-friendly acronymical abbreviator, Rodrigo TX is that unlikely child prodigy whose career has achieved not just a second act but a third and now perhaps fourth, as his immaculately curated flippery augurs for the pinnacle, or one of them, in Adidas’ overstuffed tongue of a full-length ‘Away Days.’ Some of these dudes in a few years’ time will rightly be regarded as swishy pant bandwagoners and then there are others, such as TX and Great Yarmouth whirlwind Chewy Cannon, who look born into them, and rarer still is the type of finesse that allows TX to crib ‘Menikmati’-era moves like the nollie flip noseslide and make them look not just crazy good but a welcome alternative to a tenement city’s worth of wallies.

While former roommate Mark Appleyard opted to take years off before repositioning himself in skating’s orbit like he never floated away, Rodrigo TX seems to have redoubled efforts year to year, cranking out video parts while honing his tricks to finely shaped points, such that his fakie flip for Adidas not long ago merited hushed discussion among the alltime greats. Draped in monochromatic stripeyness Rodrigo TX’s ‘Away Days’ clips like the fakie frontside boardslide, the frontside tailslide kickflip out and the one where he does Mikey Taylor’s DVS ender switch bedazzle the watcher in a video chockablock with hyper-clean ledge skating, and then comes with rubbernecker-friendly fare like the nollie inward heelflip backside 180 to make sure everybody’s paying attention. TX’s Muni frontside heelflip rivals Lucas Puig’s for best in the vid and that last backside flip needs to go into a time capsule.

Does Rodrigo TX’s Adidas sponsorship, similar to Bobby Worrest’s Nike deal, rank as one of those rare cases that makes perfect sense for all involved given dues paid, legacy ‘skate’ industry bridges apparently left standing and peak on-board performance capacity still somehow yet ahead? Is it possible to say that somebody else did that backside kickflip or is such a statement impossibly untrue? Are Carlos Iqui and Tiago Lemos together the new Rodrigo TX or is Rodrigo TX the new Rodrigo TX (and also the Rodrigo TX of the Flip years)? What if somebody told you there was a video with Rodrigo TX, Silas Baxter Neal, Nyjah Huston, Bobby Worrest, Rick McCrank and PJ Ladd?

Big Shoes Small Boards

June 19, 2016

carroll-focus

There are some queries that must be considered as the ultimate questions of the time. Is it really what it is? Do gentlemen really prefer brunettes? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Do Gs get to go to heaven? If you couldn’t see the sun rising off the shore of Thailand would you ride then if I wasn’t driving? Has We The Best Season returned? Are you new around here or something man?

In our current big-footwear era of skateboarding, one question goes like this: Do international shoe manufacturers prefer small board companies? You sort of wonder. As Palace and Adidas and Skate Mental and Nike respectively grow cuddlier in the process of producing product lines, fewer such efforts appear to invite the creative hive-minds powering the likes of Element, Flip, Plan B and Zoo York to apply their MS Paint sorcery to established shoe-wall sellers. Meanwhile, the fingerprints of publicly traded footwear conglomerates increasingly seem to smudge the smartphone screens of board-company team managers:

Jamie Thomas: we bent over backwards for trevor for years. all was good, but as we were working with him on his boards, we started hearing that Nike was encouraging him to ride for skate mental because supposedly it would help his situation at Nike; Even though his graphics were done and his pro board was scheduled to be released in 2 months, he hit me up and said thanks for everything, but I’m gonna ride for Skate Mental.

Mike Carroll: Remember with Karsten [Kleppan], when we put out the intro to Lakai video part and then a week later Karsten got on Nike? It’s just like, what the fuck. And then that (Nike) dude Kaspar hit up Sam [Lakai’s Team Manager] and was like, “I know that Karsten’s off of Lakai now, but we want to get him off of Element. We want to get him on a cool company, would you guys be down to sponsor him for Girl?” It’s like, are you that retarded?

Jenkem’s text-messaging theorist: Nike backing riders to ride for small board co’s or start up their own small start up’s to dilute the market with heaps of small brands so the main camps like crailtap, black box (now dwindle) can’t focus on their own shoe programs and have to put their time and resources into keeping their board co’s alive in an over saturated market. Leaving it to them, Cons and adidas which works perfectly because they all co-exist this way in every other sport.

Is ‘small board company’ the proper terminology tho? Of the current Nike skateboard team, about half (16/34) skate for what could be construed as a ‘small/startup’ board company. But it may be more instructive to examine multinational sporting gear manufacturers’ history when it comes to sponsoring dudes who skate for a board company that is affiliated with a ‘legacy’ skate shoe company. In 2007, Nike’s inaugural and unfairly maligned full-length ‘Nothing But the Truth’ included parts from six dudes (out of 22) whose deck sponsors also ran a competing shoe outfit. By the time 2011’s ‘SB Chronicles 1’ arrived, the number had declined to two out of eight; it was 2/7 for ‘Chronicles 2’ and Cory Kennedy was the only one in last year’s ‘Chronicles 3’. Of the 24 bros in ‘Away Days,’ one skates for a board company that also peddles shoes, and on the Converse skate team, it’s one of 13.

Why might a big giant shoe company like its skaters to promote smaller/newer/upstart board companies? The idea of Jenkem’s texting thinker has some logic to it, though the deck sponsor’s ‘marquee’ position as it relates to pros’ pocketbooks has long been on the wane relative to shoes, as former DNA Distribution ‘business guy’ Chris Carter pointed out five years ago. As far as resource drains go, at a time when Brian Wenning and Jereme Rogers are able to formulate heat-press ready artwork and online storefronts, while micro-brands such as Jim Greco’s Hammers and Jeremy Klein’s revived Hook-Ups are able to secure premium pricing on limited runs, the actual overhead of doing a board company could or should be relatively low, assuming that a generation of even top-drawer pros have become accustomed to slimmer signature-board paycheques.

Would encouraging pros away from board companies/distributorships that also run shoe companies make sense for the majors? The post-getting-on-Nike moves of Trevor Colden (Mystery –> Skate Mental) and Karsten Kleppan (Element –> Skate Mental) make you wonder, and of the current SB team, about one-third, from Paul Rodriguez to Koston/Guy to Gino Iannucci, have departed such board companies for startups with no affiliation over the years, for various reasons. A widening gap between the board sponsor and shoe sponsor as far as pay, travel capability and general influence would cement the shoe merchants’ first right of refusal when it comes to Instagram clips, tour edits and coveted under-deck sticker placement real estate, and enhance capabilities to promote uniform-like outfits readymade for sweeping up spilled popcorn after matinee showings of ‘Zootopia 2: Zoological Boogaloo.’

Or does all our convoluted and conspiracy-minded nail-gnawing overlook the razory principle of Occam, which in this case might be that upstart board companies are cooler now and, given board sponsors’ functional functions as image-drivers, asa shoe purveyour you’d want the dudes you sponsor to skate under a small company’s cooler halo? Would this suggest that international shoe enterprises are chipping away at some image-management role traditionally performed by agents, increasingly beloved of pro skaters thirsting for soda sponsorship dollaridoos, but a timeworn rival of sporting giants when contract negotiation time rolls around? Should sponsor-juggling skateboarders seek the council of Jay-Z, a wheelings-and-dealings man who has had a pro-model shoe for rapping, helped manage a team and wrangled deals for pro athletes, by signing up for his exclusive Tidal internet music streaming business? Could board companies take a page from shoe companies and start encouraging teamriders toward Tumblr- and BigCartel-empowered wheel groups? Does all this silly noise obscure the shadowy role of the premium-fit cotton t-shirt as the true and honest currency of the realm?

*Note: DC is considered affiliated with Plan B for our simple-minded purposes here

Could X-Games Technologists Blind Us With Science, Risking a Troublesome Singularity (And Humankind’s Extinction)?

June 12, 2016

In an age when Nyjah Huston walks back gender-insensitive comments, where male nudity is a feature and not a bug within one of the top recent videos, where online used goods bazaars place frothy premiums on Alex Olson’s ‘Lover’ gear while Flip’s ‘Hate Kill Destroy’ slogan is relegated to a vintage acronym, and where crust-merchants Jake Phelps and Grant Taylor close an interview by sharing their mutual love, it is fair to regard skateboarding as residing within a more sensitive place. Whether the metaphorical pendulum has careened too far away from ganging up on a dude with a drill and harassing RuPaul is a question best left to international criminal tribunals and/or the Sabotage dudes.

Which elixir could restore the balance? ESPN proffers one brewed with the cold, unfeeling logic of pure machinery. In an example of the synergistic genius that may have lured data-mining soothsayer Nate Silver from the cold-shouldery NYTimes to ESPN, the X-Games recently gave his FiveThirtyEight media web site access to a new device being tested within the increasingly embattled X-Games universe that bids to inject empirical data points into the scoring regimens, training programmes and wily banter of colourful commentators.

This Intel-developed transceiver pod, dubbed Curie after the mythological radioactive monsters, measures speed, height, spin velocity and other extreme metrics. Its powers appear handy for geometricized pit crews as they calculate roll-in height lumber purchases and the required torque speed to achieve the spins and twists necessary to bring home sweet, juicy X-Game gold, a rare earth mineral rumored to be worth its weight in gold. The device’s immediate value-add is harder to envision for the street skating discipline, however, where calibrating push strength toward rainbowy contest rails and formulating precise back-leaning to avoid sticking on ledges may deliver only incremental improvements.

But the invention may hold the potential to usher in a new and camera-ready discipline with nearly as much drama, intrigue and catastrophic injury potential as the Mega RampTM. The Curie’s ability to rapidly graph speed and trajectories could allow construction of precision-designed pyramids, quarterpipes and other obstacles able to be skated consistently without pushing, or indeed, looking — opening the way for a blindfolded best trick competition hinging solely upon instinctual foot placement, flick and catch, in the grand tradition of New York street shaman Billy Rohan.

Given his propensity for combining gnarliness with vulnerability and his captainship of Blind Skateboards, is Bill Weiss some type of cosmic shoe-in for such an event? Would Alexis Sablone’s King of the Road tenure give her an edge over a decade later? Will advancing technology eventually make such Curies small enough to embed into skateboarders’ skulls, saturating the gene pool even as humans go to war against self-aware artificial intelligence systems that assign low scores and occasional executions in response to shortcakes handrails and tic-tac’d landings?

Do The Spirit Animals of GX1000 And The International Olympic Committee Howl At The Same Red Moon?

June 4, 2016

“Skateboarding is now 1 step away from the Olympics,” Ride Channel mystics pronounced this week, with all the hollow reservation of an over-the-hill fighter demanding through spat-out teeth and blood to be put in for another round, and all the limp-necked surrender to be revealed in a fistful of counterfeit blimp tickets. This pursuit, once the domain of renegades, outcasts and losers, now is not called but rather ordered up to the big leagues, its youthsome mettle having proven a fuel too valuable for ratings-hungry sponsors to let sit unburned for another decade while the Olympics’ viewership virility flags. The 80s gave, the 90s took away, the 00s gave back — to some — and though a declining number of hard-good consumers and an ever-thickening stew of bootstrappy board companies slicing thinner and thinner pie wedges to share amongst independent and multinational competitors alike, skateboarding’s talismanic powers to restore youth, when its bones are ground into a fine powder and snorted through a €100 bill, have become impossible for the Olympics to ignore.

It is difficult to envision Olympic podiums, matching uniforms and the brassy pomp of various national anthems when Ryan Garshell, Yonnie Cruz, Al Davis, Brian Delatorre, and Jake Johnson are battling irate homeowners, ditching cops, spraying graffiti and barreling crossways into traffic in the bracing and much-awaited ‘GX1000’ vid. Like the ‘Sabotage’ series emanating from the other coast this vid seems less about polishing tricks and placing them on a pedestal for admiration than hunting them through hills and alleys, wrestling them to the ground and cutting notches in the belt after wiping any blades clean of blood let by both parties. The way they let the hill bombs run out with no music has an intensity impossible to concoct with slow-motion drone filmography, and its montage structuring is refreshingly dense, difficult to digest in even a few watches how tech Yonnie Cruz gets in those hills or the burliness of Al Davis’ wallies or all the things Brian Delatorre can do at crazy speed, setting aside the added challenge of having the police, the homeless, and various powers of SF-dwelling Silicon Valleyites arrayed against them.

And yet several planes of existence above, the Olympics may not be so different. Marauding from country to country, city to city, this nationless entity allegedly flouts rules, stokes anger and resentment among locals and from time to time gets kicked out. Some would argue the Olympics embraces a ‘skate and destroy’-like ethos as it briefly sessions municipalities and leaves economic and structural wreckage behind. The Olympics meanwhile cashes its endorsement checks, immortalizes its achievements on high-performance video media, and looks for the next spot.

Should skateboarders, rather than fearing and loathing the Olympics’ crass pyrotechnics and ferocious currency-dealing apparati, embrace it as a spiritual partner in lawlessness amid a more existential battle against local, state and perhaps federal authority figures as well as various other haters? Could Yonnie Cruz handle one of those abandoned Sarajevo ski jumps and bobsled tracks? Switch? Will a future Olympics judging panel be forced to review the GX1000 files as a reference point for tricks that Jake Johnson previously has proven are possible to be wallied into? Did the Cool Runnings dudes pass a test detecting drugs capable of enhancing performance and/or reality? What about Yonnie Cruz’s switch backside 360 tho?


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