Si Se Puede

June 21, 2015

wild_streets

“Because We Can” is the tagline for the Emerica-Lakai joint venture summer demo tour, ostensibly nodding to rootsy trappings of a bros-before-focused-branding jaunt that recalls Crailtap’s past roadtrip tie-ups with the Firm and Anti Hero, and perhaps also the idea that Stayed Flarees aren’t contractually bound to bulge bracket contest stops, or fettered by corporate interests broiling with jealousy and alleged to have previously boxed out events planned by rivals.

Might this thundersome tour, boasting the caliber of lineup to collectively bless parks and spots alike perhaps once per decade, also be called ‘Because We Should’? It makes certain business senses for skater owned/directed shoe companies to band together as Nike has rolled out heavy artillery on multiple fronts between SB and the revival of its Converse skate program, while K-Swiss hoovers up Supra and New Balance tries its hand at ‘Pretty Sweet’ intro cinematography and attempts to one-up Plan B in the video-supervision after-black hammer that is securing PJ Ladd footage.

Assuming any relevant private equity fund analysts are safely off parking the vans, there probably exist few more-direct methods to illuminate any ‘skater-owned’ halo than to situate various owners, founders and shot-callers atop a pic-a-nic table in a sweaty Milwaukee warehouse, or nose manualing across pads in Pittsburgh. Whereas an demo featuring Mike Parker or Herbert Hainer might draw its own standing-room gaggle of vexed shareowners, slack-jawed blog proprietours and other would-be looky-lous, any effect on unit volume likely would present as incremental and potentially surprise to the downside, after all due rep points awarded for trying.

Pressing flesh among the seven-ply’s huddled masses though remains a worthy public service in an incarnation similar to the interstate highway system and other feats of two-way public infrastructuring. Impressions seared into yung psyches run deep enough that Andrew Reynolds, who’s got to be as hardened as anybody after two decades grinding through the industry, still turns slightly giddy recollecting the time and place he first saw Mike Carroll skate, at a demo. Whereas some kickflipping kid out there this summer will in a couple decades relate seeing Andrew Reynolds and Mike Carroll staying flared as he or she speaks on the formative transpirings that set him or her on the jittery path toward running his or her own skate concern, there would seem also some current temperature-taking value for today’s company runners to be gleaned from a month or two rolling amongst chronically undercompensated shop managers and the broader goods-buying populace.

Instagram and Facebook are gently ballyhooed as grand equalizers that place access to each tween’s favorite professional a mere few keystrokes away, but any digital fuzzies warmed by the internet’s flat culture inevitably contend with personal-branding business machinations that would program bots to holler back at random followers, or transform subscriber figures into bargaining chits for contract maneuverings. From certain angles far up in the nosebleed seats the gulf between the industry’s top talents and the larger boardbuying populace seems in some ways wider — wristband warrior and NBDDer Chris Cole in a recent interview speaks angrily of pro-athlete pressures and his impatience with weekend warrior types who don’t get it:

Actually, I’m gonna go on a tirade right now: When the “core” dudes try to clown, and I’m sure you’ve fucking heard it – it’s a defense mechanism – they say stuff like, “It’s just skateboarding, man.” Implying that you’re taking it too seriously.

A. You’re telling me what skateboarding is? Get the fuck out of my face. And B., Street League is a contest with a lot of money on the line and this is actually what I do for a living. This is my job. I love the hell out of skating; I love it more than anyone. But it’s not “Just skating, maaaaan.”That’s throwing what I love and what I’ve dedicated my life to, into some hobby that you kind of fuck around with. They love to throw that one around.

Chris Cole, who knows his way around a demo as good as anybody, elsewhere rehashes yet again his awkward early years of professional development, as well as hearing firsthand critiques of his chosen outfits and conduct from prior detractors in the course of compiling talking head footage for some forthcoming documentary. It’s unclear whether any who bore ill will toward snowplow nosegrinds or flapping yellow t-shirts ever took a demo appearance as an opportunity to directly air concerns with a younger Chris Cole, or if a few weeks traversing American byways and mingling with shop employees and early-morning sessioners logging park time prior to diaper-changing duties or weekend overtime might sand edges off Chris Cole’s stance on the diverse and potentially spicy views on skating harboured by aging hobbyist/purists.

Whether deep and heady assessments of skating’s true nature can or should be chopped up between pros and average joes at local skatepark facilities or tour clip-worthy spots along the way remains a question for us all to chew over as we toddle toward our mysterious graves, but it is skating’s uniquely democratic nature that allows it even to be possible. You don’t see major league baseball teams materializing unannounced for pickup games at neighborhood sandlots; the recognized and registered sucker-free boss ballers of figure skating or tennis aren’t in the practice of swelling about local rinks and courts*, twirling axels and swatting balls alongside the fanning hoards, and potentially talking sponsor-jumps or fearsome performances.

In what other pursuit can you be hobby-horsing it upon a weekend and look up to see the world’s accepted best wandering in to join, or augment onlooker activities by also serving as a human safety net for sweaty professionals breaking themselves off at your local park? Should a board-and-shoe consuming Joe Kickflip’s views on skating, seriousness and Street Leagues carry the same weight as professional contract players with long years in these trenches? Are pitchers’ mound rushers and stands-charging small forwards similarly chided that it’s ‘just a game’? Does man remain ‘the most dangerous game’ or has this title been usurped by quadruped robots and armed drones?

*Courts of law don’t count

The Functional Baker Boys

June 5, 2015

fabolous_baker_boys

The true glory in growing old and finding one’s self with little or nothing left to prove is that it carries wealth in options. Bill Murray, that graybeard vanquisher of ghosts and pro jock to the Dalai Lama, honored fellow oldster David Letterman last month by leaping out of a secretive cake chamber and proceeding to take shots to the dome. Jack Palance, that silver fox of the US prairies, saw fit to parlay his time at the Oscar podium into boasts about the size of his bowel movements and several one-armed push ups. Betty White this week joined Instagram.

So too in the skate biz, where pro careers now offer second and third acts, there are elder statemenships to be carved out, with Jeff Grosso lovingly hollering at the collective industry to get off his lawn, French Fred Mortagne pulling back the veil on the early years of Barcelona paradise, and Tony Alva donning a puff-ball stocking cap to level-set the Vans video.

Andrew Reynolds and Mike Carroll still have a few miles in them but the heavy retrospecticus vibes and general grown-manning going on when the frontside flip impresarios deposited themselves upon the Crail Couch the other day suggested some pondering toward whatever roles await them as full-time company-runners, number-crunchers and talent-pickers. At this point Andrew Reynolds has been on the sober straight-and-narrow longer than his service under the Pissdrunx, and in interviews he’s been steering kids clear of drugs and drinking for a while now, but it is nevertheless a bit jarring to hear him take shots at Migos:

Advice for the youth?
AR: Don’t smoke weed. Don’t listen to whatever they’re saying in all this trap music, whatever that shit’s called.
MC: MOLLY!
AR: That music, I listen to it in the skatepark and people play it, nonstop, the same song over and over. And I like hip hop. But that new shit though is like brainwash, Migos and all that, like fuck. That’s like, and I see on Instagram, the kids, their little statement about them, is like ‘skateboarding and weed.’ It’s like, alright. And the music is just like ‘disrespect women, money, drugs.’ That’s pretty much it. And if they’re not listening to anything else besides that then that’s just pounded in, all day long.

Andrew Reynolds never has attempted to whitewash his past or foist his teetotaling on his riders, and one must assume that for now his official stance toward Migos music is the same.* It’s not clear whether Dustin Dollin owns ‘Rich Ni**a Timeline’ but the sometime devil’s spawn in the ‘Propeller’ divulges that he holds down the other end of the Baker spectrum, apparently the last bleary-eyed pro standing from the Warner Ave 7-day weekend after his assorted bendermates fell out over the years:

Thrasher: [A]re you the last Pissdrunk?
Dustin Dollin: I cannot confirm that rumor. Pearcy still drinks. Dancer still drinks, I’m sure. But yeah, out of the celebrity skateboarders in the public eye, I may be the last. I may be the last of the OG Pissdrunks, but there are thousands of them out there now. Thousands and thousands. And growing! But yeah, Jim doesn’t drink. Ali doesn’t drink, Elissa doesn’t drink, Andrew doesn’t drink, Erik doesn’t drink.

T: Can you still get tricks hammered?
I mean, every day that I go out skating I’m usually drinking and I try to get a trick if my body’s able. So I guess it’s every time I go skating.

Part of Andrew Reynolds’ legend status no doubt flows from about two decades’ worth of steady output that’s managed to consistently raise the bar, whatever his personal circumstances. But there’s a statistical argument to be made in favour of Dustin Dollin’s boozy functionality, previously revealed through his self-appointed role as KOTR footage logger/point tallier/stunt motivator and the staying power of the dudes he’s helped put on, but mainly via his own skate tricks themselves. A review of assorted Youtube clippings and Digital Versatile Discs from Baker2G’s Y2K release to the present indicates that among the named Pissdrunx, Dustin Dollin is the second-most productive in terms of minutes’ worth of video parts released, coming in ahead of now-dry peers Erik Ellington, Jim Greco, Ali Boulala and Elissa Steamer:

pissdrunx_chart

Does Dustin Dollin’s statistical outlier status reflect genetic advantages possessed by Australians in the barroom? What of New Jersey, and might Fred Gall similarly skew averages when stacked against peers less beloved of Sambuca, Ozzy concerts and plunging headlong into burning buildings? Would Andrew Reynolds take genuine offense to the ‘Better than the Beatles’ meme? Will legitimate musicals finally earn Migos the respect they deserve?

*Until the Slap boards divulge otherwise

Tha Agony and Tha Ecstasy

May 31, 2015

TrillFam

For all the mumblings of Peter Pan syndrome and deferred adulthood attached to pro-level boarding careers and various man-amhoods, such pursuits are not built for the emotionally unhinged: Marking one’s day-to-day progress by recording hard-fought clips destined to be trimmed to a few seconds each and pasted into a Thrashermagazine.com web-video in a couple years’ time, clinging to fleeting victories during which a hammer is performed, landed and hand-on-death-lens marked, then past, perchance to plow through a 30-pack and next week try for another one. Anthony Van Engelen speaks of grappling with emotional voids after completing big video projects, and witness the deep valleys leading to an uncertain but undeniably triumphant peak in Jamie Thomas’ cold war with the not-long-for-this-world Clipper ledge.

Love/hate relations betwixt bros and boards are to be understood and forcibly massaged when circumstances demand. But what of those emotional snake-runs entangling teamriders and sponsors, which have taken to marketing themselves as families and brotherhoods? Chris Cole and his new Plan B family exhibited their unbridled giddiness upon his joining the ‘Tru’ Tank this month, cheesing and fist-pumping and committing various spelling transgressions as the onetime Zero heavyweight apparently shelved any plans to market decks on his own and instead chose to endorse monocoloured boards with skulls and guitars manufactured by another company.

It’s hard to imagine the Black Box camp not feeling some type of way after clicking on this clip, given Zero’s role plucking Chris Cole from the World camp and providing a hard-rocking hessian launchpad for the next dozen years of his career; to boot, Chris Cole just a year before seemed to identify with Paul Rodriguez’ abrupt flying of the Plan B coop as a cue to carve out one’s own deck-centric microbrand: “I think at some point Paul figured out it wasn’t about Plan B selling Paul Rodriguez skateboards anymore, it was about him selling Plan B, and that’s the point where you start to realize you could be doing something more.”

Any career-minded gnar merchant gathers a certain amount of lumps along the road, and Jamie Thomas like other pros-turned-entrepreneurs signed up for an extra helping by starting his own companies and seeing dudes he put on later pack up and leave. But Zero proved to be one of the relatively few sellers of skate goods to not only publicly acknowledge the departure of a team lynchpin in Chris Cole, but go so far as to post a brief retrospective video and wish him well.

Few others do — Brandon Westgate’s decision in April to join the Element family after seven years holding down the Zoo York family passed with little notice on Zoo York’s Instagram. Gino Iannucci’s Slap board-shaking jump to Fucking Awesome just shy of 19 years as a red block head drew nary an official peep from the Crailtap camp, though months later his former teammates can’t finish interviews without being asked about it. Whereas Mic-E Reyes headbutt sendoffs now rank as just another hallowed memory of 1990s realness and sour jpgs are a Web 1.0-ready if rarely utilized substitute, the default seems to have become an Orwellian electronic eraser applied to the team webpage, removal of the defector from relevant social media hype circles and moving on.

Like insurance and the signing of openly gay athletes, is skateboarding again in danger of being outpaced by major-league sports when it comes to acknowledging contributions from longstanding-but-departing riders? The Seattle Mariners deployed a warm statement of gratitude when outfielder Ichiro Suzuki bounced after more than a decade on the squad, and later publicly big upped him when he got his 4000th hit playing for the Yankees.

Besides agreed-upon stacks of legal tenders, what if anything do companies owe their independent contractors who toil atop handrails and within ditches in the name of endorsement deals? In Alien Workshop’s ultimately transient dissolution last year, some of the then-remaining abductees seem to have received no official word of the shutdown at all, much less any word of thanks:

Jake Johnson: It’s a strange one. Nobody said good bye. Mike Hill didn’t throw in the towel. It’s strange. It was on the internet.

Omar Salazar: I never spoke to anyone. No one ever called me, I’m just like, who is running this thing? They got rid of the only dude who I was talking to [Chad] who told me to stick around. And that’s how you get rid of people after all these years? I was bummed and then got hurt.. But no phonecall. No Rob Dyrdek phonecall… I mean jesus, who are you, man? I thought we were homies, bro [laughs]. Just kidding. Whatever.
…And I still haven’t got a paycheck like, oh, here you go, thanks for your time. Cause I could sure as hell use that for my medical bill right now. Thats all I gotta say about that.

Should the resurfaced Alien Workshop, now promoting a new tribe, offer some parting nod to the former pros who hung on til the bitter end? Did Rocco write the former sponsors of riders he stole publish thank-you notes, or rather did he demand such sponsors publicly acknowledge the service of their former riders for purposes of free promotion? Do digital thank-you notes count? What is the Instagram equivalent of a dismissal-by-headbutt?

Sixteen in the Clip

May 16, 2015

super self aware mario

As the talent level astride multi-plied-and-coloured popsicle sticks and their occasionally spoonier prodigal forefathers careens forward, sometimes at such a rate as to make close observers dead-eyed and unmoved by steadily rising tides of ledge byzantazia, the skill-level forest easily gets lost in the YouTube-clipped trees of crooked grind nollie inward heelflip bigspins and switch bigspin backside lipslides. Coming to terms with NBDs sprinkled into that second-class content citizen, the web-only clip, can only further remove our collective hive-mind from the basic eye-foot-and-sometimes-hand coordination required to even push down a street.

When Young Gun Charlie Bowdre cautioned that geeks off the street need not apply to be regulators of the hard calibers later celebrated by Warren G, he could just as well have been drawling about skateboards. Whereas your typical civilian, presented a basketball, could likely execute a rudimentary dribble and/or free throw, attempting to handle the tingly and critical building blocks carved out by Alan Gelfand and Rodney Mullen may lead unhappily to ER trips, bellylaughs of derision or both.

So what would the world’s sundry and assorted geeks, perverts, players and pushers make of the daring new GX1000 clip, opened with several stomach-turning minutes of hairy hill bombs down San Francisco streets? What would they see if they peered over their overflowing canvas sacks of Trader Joe’s to witness one of these screwball lines being filmed? The first dude leaps off a curb cut or over a bar, swerves into the street and scooches his wheels back and forth to slow down, while the second follows hunched down, potentially dragging one foot occasionally and pointing a souped-up video camera at the first one.

Might such a geek quizzed hazard to guess that the ‘better’ rider of the two was the one entrusted with costly electronics, required to keep pace with whatever speed is set by his comparatively unencumbered subject and charged with avoiding just as much traffic? Will Ty Evans-endorsed low flying follow-cam drones settle this question in the future or serve only to displace any remaining filmers who have not added ‘cinematographer/director/brand manager’ to their Linkedin pages? Will such a shift issue loathsome economic skate-industry ripples to the same degree that driverless cars are projected to swell human unemployment rolls? Will human filmers again become relevant after artificially intelligent drone filmers achieve self-awareness and start missing tricks due to repeatedly checking their instagram accounts?

Boil the Ocean Site Calls Special Stakeholder Meeting With Regards to Greg Hunt’s Compensation Package Dudes

May 8, 2015

VanCopter

The excellent Vans vid, raucous and reverent, feels like the benchmark so far this year and maybe for the surrounding couple when it comes to big-budget video releases*, and like any such worthy it comes bearing some revelations in between the assorted handrail batterings and gently sloping concrete: John Cardiel with a soul-lifting schralp and Ray Barbee hucking a real-deal no comply, Gilbert Crockett’s hot-rolled steel coil pop, TNT’s best part in a decade, Pedro Barros’ vertigo-inducing deep-end dives, all AVE everything. One could go on.**

With the embers cooled one of the more interesting points comes via boss ‘Propeller’ technician Greg Hunt, who last week skimmed some of the sludge from the ‘music supervision’ murk to reveal the sway musicians hold over modern videomaking processes:

“So I had a rough edit because people [the musicians] want to see it, which is actually a solid week of work to do. So you put together a really solid rough edit, send it off, and then you never hear back. So you figure all right, maybe they don’t like it, so we need to find a plan b. Which means finding two or three other songs as alternates, and then doing a rough edit to those songs as well, just to see if they work, and pick the best option. So that’s another week of work. And then you find out that you got the first song you submitted. So it really sucks up a lot of time trying to clear music.

So that’s what we were looking at with Pedro’s part. We talked to the publishing company, and they said they were willing to let us use it, but we needed to get these four songwriters to sign off on it. Which is kind of impossible. It was 48 hours, but really it was 24 hours, because we only had a day to find out if it was possible or not, because if not I would need at least 12 hours to re-edit something, which would have probably been impossible because I still had other things to finish for the overall video. I decided just to make calls. I know a guy at Warner Brothers, and through making the video we got to know one of the main people at Beats by Dre, and he used to skate. They are both people that are deep in the music industry.

So I basically sent them both an SOS email saying, “I have to get a hold of these four guys, immediately, can you help me?” Both those guys basically got a team of people to help track these songwriters down. Literally it was like, one of these guys knew someone who knew a guy who knew the son of someone that was in the band, but he wasn’t even in the band when they wrote the song. It was someone who was in the band later. But I got in touch with the son, and then his dad, who told me he wasn’t in the band then, but to talk to this other guy, and eventually we got all four guys in the band on the phone within 24 hours and had them stoked to give us verbal okay to go ahead and use the song. But dude, that happens every time. The stress levels are out of control.

The highly reliable and widely cited Celebrity Net Worth web site estimates Rick Howard’s net worth at $45 million. Fandangle innovator Eric Koston is seen worth $15 million; Tony Hawk, who named a trick after Madonna, $140 million; Stefan Janoski and Andrew Reynolds, $20 million and $10 million apiece. Meanwhile the amassed riches of Greg Hunt, along with pro pastor Brian Sumner, remain under review.

Like the TWS vid disclaimers of old, it is acknowledged that there is only one Anthony Van Engelen, Geoff Rowley, Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, for better or worse Dustin Dollin, et cetera. But there’s probably a hundred pros. The list of seasoned video makers with multiple big-release videos snugged under their shoelace belts is comparatively short. Besides Greg Hunt, names that come to mind include Ty Evans, Fred Mortagne, Jon Miner, Mike Manzoori, John Holland, Ewan Bowman. These are the box office-level safe hands; there are separate echelons of indie directors like Josh Stewart, Dan Wolfe, Bill Strobeck, Benny Maglinao, Lev Tanju, Pontus Alv, the sorely missed Dan Magee, and the Bronze 56K dudes with the duffel bag in the alley.

As the mp3 failed to subdue the full-length album, so far YouTube, Vimeo and their hyperactive younger sibling Vine have yet to torpedo the full-length video despite several steamy and Thrasher cover-ready death notices penned over recent years. Rob Dyrdek, that sunglasses-at-night visionary of the skate biz, has projected that there may be room for no more than 10 pros in the future — how many veteran filmer/editors will remain to compile blockbuster-level releases such as ‘SB Chronicles 17’ and ‘Still Tru, B’ and ‘Lakai Limited Footwear Presents Flarey Tales’ that despite years-long production processes, crushing hype-cycles and telephones increasingly swelled to cracking with web-ready video parts, still need making, as evidenced by VF Corp.’s five-year investment outlay behind ‘Propeller’?

Greg Hunt, whose near-matchless CV at this point includes ‘Sight Unseen,’ ‘The DC Video,’ ‘Mind Field,’ and ‘Propeller,’ in the Concrete interview says at one point that “I don’t know if I could have done this video 10 years ago. I think the only reason I was able to pull it off was experience I’ve had from doing videos in the past.” Should Greg Hunt’s breadth of talents — steering and organizing five years’ worth of skating and filming across multiple continents, steadily capturing tricks while pushing full-speed down drainage ditches, imploring Beats By Dre employees to his cause, managing filmers and colourists and Dustin Dollin, correctly identifying the need to continue incorporating Slayer into video parts as a service to the youth, consistently waking up before noon on road trips, sidestepping multi-year deadline blowings, projecting Brian Wenning’s future through a ‘DC Video’ skit over a decade ago — and subsequent scarcity as an asset qualify him as the highest-paid dude on the Vans team? Should one of the magazines feeling its way toward a more-digital world sponsor a Sundance-type festival for rising videographeurs?*** Will the bro-cam one day earn the respect it desires and become anointed the ‘brother-cam’? Is Andrew Reynolds, as a professional skater, video editor and experienced mammal handler an original Hollywood ‘triple threat’?

*Some may term them Films
**Like in this posting for instance
***Addendum: This interview with Propeller/etc filmer Ryan Lovell reminds that such a concept already exists

Important Public Service Announcement Regarding Jordan Trahan’s 360 Flip Over the JKwon Block

May 1, 2015

Autobahn Wheels this week released the follow-cam view of last year’s best 360 flip via the above clip welcoming Jordan Trahan, which also features a pop shove-it 50-50 that’s out of the Tim O’Connor playbook and a burly ditch kickflip.

An Item About the ‘Gypsy Life’ Vid that Maybe Was Gonna Be Called ‘How Cliche Got Its Louvre Back’

April 25, 2015

freedomfries

As the pot of boiling molten lead that is euro zone’s economic crisis continues to upend itself over the continental bloc, scalding and blistering the region’s economic back and dribbling into the frayed and threadbare underpants of its long term growth prospects, seeking sales abroad makes sound business sense. In recent years Blueprint and Cliche have followed the trail blazed decades back by Flip, settling into So Cal distributorships and placing themselves into contention to sign American handrail hopefuls and carve forth that ever-succulent slice of the lucrative US boards market, with the throbbily rising greenback translating to ever-larger piles of euros and related European commodities such as wine, Matif wheat and heavily sold David Hasslehoff albums.

Cliché’s latest vid arrives entitled ‘Gypsy Life,’ perhaps in a nod to the company’s Frommian series of tours as well as its increasingly nationless nature. A decade ago, in the ‘Bon Appetit’/French Fred era that elevated Cliche to the world stage, Australian phenom Cale Nuske represented a major off-continent shift in Jereme Daclin’s teambuilding. Two years after that Cliché scooped Arcadian manual-pad mixologist Joey Brezinski who had languished for a time in a kind of post-Tyron Olson teammate limbo, considered to be a uniquely singular experience, and also representing Cliché’s initial foray into employing Americans.

While Lucas Puig, that postnaturally gifted ledge soothsayer, and drop-down sweatsuit maestro JB Gillet remain spiritual viceroys, the current Gypsy Cliché is more multinational than ever, with Frenchmen representing just over one-third of the team; U.S. riders now make up the largest non-French bloc, with the remainder split between the U.K., euro zone and Australia. While Palace and Polar ball for position in an effort to crack some long-standing glass ceiling long constraining east-of-the-Atlantic hardgoods operators, Cliché’s recent hires of the triple set-thundering Paul Hart, transition muncher Brad McClain and schoolyard impressionists like Daniel Espinoza and the now-FA’d Kevin Bradley give the company firm US positioning in several relevant subgenres.

In Cliché’s bid for cross-borderdom, it is Lyonnaise hot shoe Max Geronzi` who makes the most powerful argument for France’s continued dominion, uncorking probably the best video part so far this year – Thrasher drew the easy comparison to Puig but for our unconverted francs the better metric is Chewy Cannon, whose nervy energy, switch ollie poke and merciless flick Max Geronzi closely approximates. He also constructs some of the more incredible lines in a while, weaving in poorly understood tricks such as the fakie frontside bluntslide, an arcane god few recently have prayed to beyond the house of Cobra Chris Cole. In another frightening turn, Max Geronzi backside lipslides a legit handrail out of a manual.

With some three parts under his belt so far this year, is Max Geronzi preparing for a Mark Suciu-esque run of productivity that can only end under the crushing drudgery and long-term wisdom of pursuing higher education? Is French still regarded as the international language of ledges? Is JJ Rousseau still recording footage? Did the boy seriously backside lipslide a handrail from a manual? If what Joey Brezinski said years back about using EA Skate to craft new manual combinations, would this qualify him as the first dual-level professional both on board and on screen?

Has Handrail Skating Entered Middle Age?

April 17, 2015

muska_handrail_help_call

“Nobody pays taxes on Mars,” the old saying goes, and it rings as true today as it ever was. For the astronaut, moustachioed and physically capable of handling several Gs, space travel draws a fat, black dividing line between youth and that which comes after; no man, they say, is the same after penetrating celestial orbit. For the ancient dinosaurs, to enter middle age was a feat accomplished by only the clever and ruthless, and these became chieftans and enriched warlords.

Today little has changed. History barrels forward similar to a kettle of fine fish packed into a barrel and rolled downhill and, come this time next year, handrail skating will be 30 years removed from those nervy days when Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas took it in their heads to ollie air up onto safely secured hand-bannisters and chart a bold and zesty course toward best-trick contest purses, ponderous stair counts, bike-lock controversies and the occasional bloody discharge. There was a gawky, turn-of-the-decade adolescence, followed by a coming of age under the dauntless feet of Duffy, Kirchart, Thomas and Muska, and the bigger-longer-taller maturation spree pursued in the early aughts by the Flip-Zero-Baker contingent.

Wither the handrail in 2015? In the last year and a half Transworld has featured just a single handrail trick on its cover, as page counts dwindle and TWS embraces wallrides and assorted transition terrains. Over at Thrasher, which cover-wise years ago threw in its lot with the Wade Speyer side of the tech-vs-gnar continuum, handrail tricks as a percentage of covers each year seem to have plateaued.

handrails_graph1

Is handrail skating becoming engulfed in a midlife crisis, with nollie heelflip crooked grinds widely regarded as passe, 39 stair curvers suggesting some possible upper limit and El Toro gelded? Resurgent bowls, abrupt transitions and even the vert ramp seem to have splintered handrail skating into restless and nomadic tribes, including displaced wallriders, wall-rejecting against-the-grainers, deep-crouching over-the-toppers, body varialing rewinders and a Mariano-bred stripe of small-bar uber-tech.

Recent signals however suggest that a certain purity of the round slanted bar continues to draw admirers, even without a fire-engine red, glasspacked sports car or wallie on. Australian dervish Jack Fardell, in the process of extensively notching some unholy San Francisco skatespot bedpost, commanded Thrasher’s May cover with a rabid 50-50 grind down a kinked beast that had bucked known master John Cardiel more than a decade back. Further south Paul Hart, a Floridian partly responsible for shifting Cliche’s center of gravity increasingly west of the Atlantic, recorded a sit-and-stare worthy nollie backside noseblunt to fakie sequence that naturally occurred also near the end of an Arto-aspiring ‘Gypsy Life’ section.

Is a midlife crisis a healthy and productive exercise for handrail skating generally? When handrail skating begins wearing tight polo shirts with the collars flipped up, pumping weights and loudly quoting Rae Sremmurd lyrics, at what point should a friend intervene? Will people start painting gray handrails black and then denying it? Will photoshopping gray handrails black represent the greatest ethical quandary to confront Instagram accountholders in the years ahead? Could Thrasher re-run this Kasai cover next month without anyone being the wiser except probably Jason Dill?

The Battle Hymn of Ren McCormack

April 3, 2015

Morris-and-Jerome

As a web blog Boil the ocean site faces unique challenges and may even be a dying breed similar to a breed of dying dinosaur. Semi-coherent and tiresome 4000-word posts have relinquished valuable readership to Mountain Dew listicles, clickable Tumbly sites and other increasingly micro platforms. Police Informer, Skateboarding Sucks, Carles and YouWillSoon all hung it up and now you got Andrew Sullivan warning that operating a blog could cause physical harm or even dinosaur-like death.

The video age did not shove skate photography into the proverbial tar pit in such a fashion but the internet age surely seems to be strangling the skate print-media sphere, perhaps within a vat of dangerous tar. In recent days beloved U.K. standbys Sidewalk and Kingpin decided to stop printing magazines and focus on computerized publishing, along with Germany’s Monster. This ominous gong rings out through the noble halls of Valhalla shortly after Slap and Skateboarder’s similar decisions to become online-only publishers portended a further initiative to stop publishing new content altogether, with Skateboarder’s website stocked with a Sept. 2013 issue and Slap distilled down to its message boards.

The speed at which generations turn over within skating suggests that, just as few current park ledge tailsliders recall a time when footwear logos did not default to a swoosh, within five years’ time the same may go for all but a small handful of physical magazines, specialty items turned to amid days-long power failures or the refuge of he or she who fatally cracks his strokable glass of choice. More noses warmed by gently shining screens and fewer physical paper pages in time could similarly cull both the number of photographers the industry is able to meaningfully support and the landing pads for their art, particularly if future trick-claiming scandals infect wheel and shoe buyers with a baseline distrust for anything beyond raw footage set to appropriately curated Atlanta rap songs.

As ever this Blogg site’s thoughts go to the children, or rather more specifically those children who eventually may find their trick quivers bizarrely stunted by a dearth of photographs. Whither the one foot ollie, that occasionally majestic and uniquely 1980s maneuvre that when correctly captured has the power to move a man such that he sloughs off decades’ worth of middling Hollywood toilings and industry false-starts and remembers only impressively shredded Airwalk high-tops of summers gone by. And yet the one-footer remains that peculiar and little understood enigma whose majesty almost entirely dissolves on film, with AO and Antwuan Dixon turning in some bizarre renditions lately and Grant Taylor’s comparatively more classic execution residing on transition rather than the streets.

Can the one-footer subsist in a severely constrained skate photo galaxy, a hellish nightscape where fevery competition from bigspin double flips and sugarcanes leave a scant few pages for the sometimes-AKA ollie north to continue in its most pleasurable form? The Skateboard Mag last month showcased a lovely one-footer by yung CJ Collins, a promising lamppost for all current comer-uppers, and Chris Cole featured a tailgrabbed version in this month’s — though an ominous tone also emanated from the current issue, as its cover required an image of a cell phone to incent potentially befuddled youngsters to peer inside.

In the future, will aging new-schoolers promote crowdfunding campaigns to secure remaining magazine page-space in a one-footer conservation effort? Did the ollie impossible’s resurgence already prove such repertoire rebounds are possible? Will the Vision Shoe Crew reunite for an acoustic tour of intimate East Coast venues? Shall time prove J Strickland right again?

Will the New Transworld Cover Slake Skating’s Quenchless Thirst for Pants Progression?

March 23, 2015

dontyouhatepants

Like a fire that, once lit, cannot help but to consume an entire bulldozer-built pile of disco records, or a shark that must ceaselessly advance through a sea of Pace Picante Style salsa or face its untimely Picante Style demise, skating since the beginning has been possessed of a need to progress. Alan Gelfand’s ollie wasn’t enough, it had to be did backwards; what’s the point doing a loop when you can turn it switch with a section chopped out of the top? Josh Kalis’ straight kickflip in a Love Park ‘Time Code’ line, immaculate as it is, looks quaint through the Mark Suciu lens.

Through it all the shoe has come to be regarded as the most immediate extension of the seven-ply-trucks-and-urethane configuration, but the past decade’s footwear fetishization mainly serves to obscure a decades-long struggle with pants. After clamoring out of pools and associated surf trunks the story of skating and pants has reflected that of mankind’s tortured grappling against his very own nature, occasionally overreaching, failing, burning piles of disco records, and starting anew. In the 1980s Limpies and Vision offered chaotic and unpredictable* print varieties for those zestful spirits unsatisfied by blue jeans or more-pedestrian sweatpants with skeletal rats ascending outseams; vert soon gave way to street these fell back while multicoloured and flapping denim advanced, several years passing before the East rejuvenated woodland camo and more adventurous spirits embraced snow and urban variations.

While the aughts saw style magnets such as Dylan Rieder and Nick Trapasso alternately fuck with pinestripes and pajama pants, this period of war and economic turmoil mainly reflected itself in darkened indigo denim and brown cords, the re-embrace of printed patterned pants not arriving until well into the 2010s when all-over print shirts primed a newly emboldened consumer base to throw wide the camo floodgates for increasingly esoteric prints. Thanks partly to relentless boosterism within DGK vids, the movement eventually demanding notice by the mass-market media: “It’s the one pattern that pretty much every guy is down with. What other pattern has a macho angle to it?”

Masculinities aside, the door now lies kicked down for pants makers — Thrasher offers a SAD sweatpant among several options, and now comes Fucking Awesome heavyweight Na’kel Smith on the cover of Transworld, gapping out in Tokyo within a pair of florid leggings that seem to also have crossed the Atlantic in recent months. In his numbers-taking, asses-kicking process over the last two years, Na’kel Smith seems to have taken it upon himself to push back the pants pendulum to a level of intricate and flowery detail not seen in probably about 25 years, no small undertaking when considering the intense internet flames stoked beneath noted 360 flip 50-50er** Garrett Hill, daring to step out in a still-notorious red-and-black combo.

Has Na’kel Smith doomed himself to a Sisyphusian task, destined to be squashed by a heavy and oblong fashion boulder that will waver under the weight of resurgent dad jeans, or is his pants choice more conservative than it may first appear when laid alongside a freely purchasable array of similarly floral hats, shirts, shoes, and obviously weed socks? Are authorities overlooking an emerging form of camo that now clothes newly militarized toughs hired to defend a booming US marijuana industry? Are scarfs next? As it thins has Transworld on the low had the best covers of the last year?

*particularly for Cali4nia Cheap Sk8 clientele
**And backer of 360 flip 50-50ers


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