The Slap Boards Are Big Brother Magazine

February 8, 2015

slap-campus

Everything is good,” declared a grinning Cortez Bryant as he clamored into his time-traveling space Delorian hours after his star client, Dwayne Carter, Twittered his displeasure and angst towards longtime employer Cash Money Records and by proxy father figure Baby/Beatrice/Birdman. “I wouldn’t be out at the club right now,” Cortez Bryant beamed, assuring YouTube viewers that nothing was amiss within the house that the Hot Boys built, despite what persons may have read elsewhere.

Was Cortez Bryant lying? Last month it emerged that Lil Wayne had sued Baby to the tune of $51 million, suggesting that everything was not good after all. Rap music is a topsy turvy business for sure, but you wonder whether Cortez Bryant figured people would listen to him rather than what they read on the computer internet, or if he was playing for time in a high-stakes game of financial and legal Stratego against Birdman’s lawyerly halberders, or if he was speaking in some far more general and cosmic sense about the human condition given Turk’s recent comments that BG’s prison sentence could be miraculously cut short by an as-yet unknowable ‘legal loophole.’*

Powers that be in the hard-n-soft goods biz would perform a similar dirt-off-my-shoulders oldster routine when it comes to the Slap Board, that ever-churning cauldron of YouTube links, hearsay, harsh truth-telling and pure id that oftentimes is livelier and more insightful than that month’s issue of your favorite big-4(3[2?]) magazine. Disclosing and painstakingly dissecting beefs, career choices, wardrobes and various industry flotsam before it can be packaged and shepherded to sponsor-approved instagram accounts, oftentimes in the most splintery and unvarnished terms capable of QWERTY filtration, is a freewheeling public service that seemingly goes little-loved in many team managers’ offices, as per Ride Channel’s recent industry survey item:

Vernon Laird, team manager, Bones Bearings:My impression of the average message boarder is a disgruntled never-has-been or never-will-be old, bitter man. Somebody who was mad that there were never sponsored or never pro and sits around and talk shit about everybody and everything in the skateboard industry because they have too much free time on their hands.

Mike Sinclair, team manager, Tum Yeto: Most hide behind their account name, and they usually want to pry, poke, and jab, which they have the right to do, at me or the brands I work for. The only difference is that I get paid for my opinion, and some of these guys just want to take their bad day out on me or others anonymously.

Before alt.skate-board and later the Crail-board provided early venues for distributing Kareem Campbell drive-by obituaries and nurturing the legend of a yung PJ Ladd, Big Brother magazine represented a forum for the attitudes and angles on skateboarding that tend toward the tasteless, puerile, and a certain mirror-gazing irreverence toward the industry itself that often seems bizarrely missing in a pastime ostensibly reared up to question authority and everything else, but that a lot of times veers dangerously near to preening sanctimoniousness. Videos got roasted, pros and industry heads were called out in interviews and editorial copy alike, and the likes of Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Andy Roy, Ronnie Creager and Daewon Song were raised up on high before the publication succumbed to the same injurious stew of intoxicants, corporate ownership and general burn-out that have corroded pro careers. While there’s some truth in the rose-tinted view of a past when the general public didn’t bear witness to favorite pros profanely shouting down tweenage trollers via social-media pages of choice, the flipside has to have been the relatively few outlets and companies that controlled information flow and curated the industry’s self-image, which Big Brother never much seemed concerned with.

The internet’s halls are swabbed by anonymous mouthpieces whose currency too often is valued by loudness of opinion, and Slap’s forums are no better or worse. But the Slap message-boards too easily are brushed off as a den of venomous haters, caricatured over the years as armchair skaters in garb only, uniformed in white tees/brown cords/half cabs or more recently a Polar/Dickies/Cons ensemble that prizes wallies and reviles tricks that may rate high-single-digit Street League scores. Similar javelins surely were hurled at the Carnie/Canale/Kosick contingent back when, similarly aimed at an easy-target messenger rather than entertain the idea that, for instance, it’s possible to acknowledge the prowess of a Nyjah Huston whilst criticizing his apparent approach to tricks and skating in general.

James Craig in the Ride-Channel survey talks bluntly about recognizing when the Slap board got it uncomfortably correct:

[F]or me the biggest one was going on there early on and I just went under my middle name, Cliff. I starting seeing all kinds or random hate on me: “James Craig has the worst style in skateboarding.” Haha! It was pretty brutal, but everyone has an opinion. All I knew is my style is what it is-—not fake, it’s just me—-so it didn’t really bum me out, but it didn’t change the fact people were hating on me. You know what I did? I said, “Fuck it! I’m just going to take it in and flip it into a positive!”

It motivated me to not settle for bullshit sketchy makes but to have a little more pride in my footage and skating. This worked for me at the time, and after that I had some of the best, [most] proud years of my skateboard life. I’d look at footy from What If? (2005) and be pissed that I ended up with some seriously out-of-control arms, and in my next two parts I was super hyped on the way it all looked after putting in the effort to make my shit better. Some would say that’s wack, because I wanted to prove [the message boards] “wrong,” but motivation can be found anywhere. You just have to be willing to deal with the reality that “they” might be a little bit right, and [be prepared to do] whatever it takes accomplish what you want.

The irony shouldn’t be overlooked that in a golden age of DIY companies and spots, when even housing complex building projects are willing to take a knee before Burnside’s concrete, the longest-running and most-vibrant online web community continues to draw such ire and eye-rolling disdain from the industry. At one time skateboards were issued with an optional chip-on-shoulder and latent sneer toward powers-that-be that deemed it a loser’s pursuit, and rescinding that is one risk lodged inside six-figure contest purses, multinational sneaker endorsements and the class/coach dynamic where the dollars-earned or click-views end justifies most any means.

Jason Rothmeyer, New Balance sales manager and SPoT competition vet, remarks at one point in the Ride Channel item that “[t]he judges’ stand is a microcosm of the Slap message board. Just a bunch of dudes talking mad shit, mostly.” James Craig likens it to a skateshop breeze-shooting session, which you could extend further — a shop where anybody can be an employee, customers never interrupt the discussion to ask for new D3 colours, and closing time never comes, allowing the strength of the argument to prevail, or not, over days and weeks and years as brick-and-mortar locations cede their meetup-and-conversation functions to this aromatic and frenetic realm of text messages, embedded videos and digital Bigcartel baskets.

*For those keeping score Turk now also has sued Cash Money

TFW You Flip Through TWS and Out Pops a Rick Howard Photo

January 23, 2015

rickhowardpipe
…and the world’s troubles fade ever so briefly

Trisect

January 17, 2015

lobsterz

“Jim Jones,” intoned Cam’ron on the intro to his 2007 comeback release ‘Public Enemy #1.’ “That was my partner, that’s my friend. He ran with me over ten years, he deserves all the success he gets, he worked hard to get it. But what you all motherfuckers got to realize is ain’t nothing lasts forever.” The Harlem Wolf, as several resources have termed him, was responding to rumors of a private falling-out with Jim Jones amid a seemingly broader disintegration of the Diplomats, with Freaky Zeaky jailed, Juelz Santana pursuing blighted collaborations with Lil Wayne, Cam’ron sparring via his two-way with 50 Cent and Jim Jones innovating basketball influenced dance crazes.

Like many of Cam’ron’s escapades this one offered a lesson to the skateboard industry, if only it had been wise enough to listen. Not a year after Cam’ron described his internal feelings, Nike began selling the Red Lobster dunk (no relation to the restaurant) to rapturous acclaim from east coasters and crustaciophiles both. But it was not all gravy within the house of the lobster shoe, as a year later the competing Blue Lobster dunk (also no relation) surfaced, effectively dividing the market for footwear inspired by succulent shellfish and likely cannibalizing certain revenues. Just as the ancient clay tablets foretold, further fragmentation struck when Nike put forth a Yellow Lobster dunk (still no relation to the seafood restaurant enterprise), cementing division not as a passing phase but rather a permanent state of affairs for such shoes, and few have heard tell from them since.

Is an upstart Green Lobster shoe inevitable, or has the door been thrown wide for pretenders to the shellfish shoe throne such as the Crawfish dunk? Perhaps, but one wonders whether Jason Dill, AVE, Chris Carter, Mike Hill and Rob Dyrdek listened and/or learned from Cam’ron and his friends, where the lobster shoes so clearly did not. About 18 months since the first cracks appeared in the Sovereign Sect’s geodesic dome, it now appears to have splintered into three factions, each seemingly genetically superior and limitless by design. Yet in the torrid and dismembering flesh-chiseler that is the board-and-wheel biz, which if any will survive to issue a Bo Turner guest board? Boil the ocean internet site takes a bleary-eyed look.

Fucking Awesome
The Supreme-scented, occasionally active t-shirt project of Jason Dill was dusted off and promoted to a full-fledged deck and t-shirt entity following Dill and AVE’s joint Workshop defection in spring 2013, following a game of corporate hot potato with AWS as the overcooked stem tuber in question. FA Worldwide Entertainment, as it is known when parents, teachers or big-box friendly magazine writers are about, stole a march on rivals last year by commandeering much of the ‘Cherry’ runtime as well as its follow-ons, ‘Joyride’ and ‘Illegal Civilization 2.’
Special Moves: Bill Strobeck, DKNY, Vans money, comparisons to early World Industries, all those ams, Gino Iannucci somehow
Vulnerabilities: Key man risk in Jason Dill, already-sprawling team, potential for further dilution via alleged sister company ‘Hockey’

M(other)
Strip-teased via Gilbert Crockett’s Instagram account of all places, this supposed Alien offshoot flecks at Pentium-powered graphic design with plenty of woodgrain; said to be headed by former AWS business minds Chris Carter and Chad Bowers, this entity also seems to have effectively abducted the remainder of the post-FA Alien team, including Tyler Bledsoe, Gilbert Crockett and Jake Johnson.
Special Moves: The most-productive limbs of the Alien Workshop corpse, several of whom seem true believers in the vision out of Dayton; well-sized team to deliver a 15-minute optimum timeline video; clean slate
Vulnerabilities: Staking out distinct visual-arts real estate, Jake Johnson making good on his subliminal threats of quitting the biz, possible crosstown beef with…

Alien Workshop
In retrospect perhaps a no-brainer given its established brand value and the American dollars sunk into it on non-consecutive occasions by television persona Rob Dyrdek, Alien Workshop officially is in reboot mode, recently unveiling boards and shirts via a Habitat-esque Tum Yeto tie-up. The Slap boards have this effort helmed by Dyrdek, former G&S silkscreen necromancer Mike Hill and a TBA team that’s been alleged to potentially include everyone from former Alien flowee Paul Liliani to twice-named Cosmic Vomiter Rob/Bert Wooten to late-shove it hoister Lee Yankou and, er, Johnny Layton?
Special Moves: Those visuals, recognition amongst mall-shop purchasing bishops, a stout backcatalogue
Vulnerabilities: Rob Dyrdek’s thirst for recouping invested capital, some 13-plus size DC Lynx for any new inductees to fill, the evil banality of series graphics

In an already overgrown forest, can three yung shoots tap the life-sustaining sales nutrients and social-media followers required to sprout and grow in the shadow of a wilted giant? Are Heath Kirchart’s affections currently being vied for? Which among these newly anointed tribal leaders can look upon his erstwhile competitors and speak Cam’ron’s magnanimous words for Jim Jones: “I wish that man nothing but the best of luck and success and I hope he goes all the way to the motherufcking top and has a great career. Best of luck beloved.”

Marble Floors, Gold Turlets and Chandeliers

January 8, 2015

Belatedly, another ten good ones from last year:


Nik Stain – ‘Bruns Skate Jawn’
The half-cab flips could’ve come straight out of an early Prime video, in a good way.

Aaron Herrington – ‘Static 4′
Skating to song, probably the best possible pace-setter for the two Static videos to come.

Brandon Westgate – ‘Zoo England’
He doesn’t slow down

Eli Reed – Japan part
Eli Reed goes Magenta in Tokyo with some scarfs and socks. See if you can find the ‘Street Cinema’ spot.

Matt Miller – DC shoe part
Rob Welsh’s onetime water boy released one of the gnarlier parts all year, and got a shoe for his trouble, potentially eliminating the descriptor ‘unheralded’ from his career. Switch 360 flip noseblunt, switch backside 360 noseblunt, etc.

Youness Amrani – ‘Almost a Part’
Some late-period 411VM vibes from this one, in a good way. Downhill manual revert and late 180 on the heelflip varial are bananas.

Chewy Cannon – ‘Transmission’
Dead or alive, there are few better to watch skate

Matt Bennett – ‘True Blue’
It’s cool to see how far this dude has been able to take his sack of mainly unconventional tricks – the pop out of the handrail fakie backside tailslide (to regular) is of note.

Carlos Iqui – ‘Iqui Does It’
Stevie William’s ‘Reason’ opener-attempter, but on a hubba.

Jamal Williams – ‘Static 5′
Among the best put-together video parts this year, and possibly for all of history

1. Bobby Worrest – ‘Hometown Turf Killer’

December 31, 2014


Are ‘au natural’ street plazas going the way of the proverbial buffalo as city councils approve expensively designed, corporate-sponsored alternatives to be tucked safely away from the gentle arts of commerce and civic life? Was Bobby Worrest, by soaking his first and best of three 2014 video parts exclusively in DC’s notoriously hard-to-skate Pulaski plaza, making a point to us all about using every part of such diminishing urban resources, from its highly regarded dish to the bitty handrails? Was he really high-tailing it from the cops at 00:25? Such questions are unanswerable at best and at worst open up the possibility of galactic damnation, which would make it incrementally more difficult to draw continued pleasure from the way Bobby Worrest threads his way through the spot, sometimes seeming to chart his route on the fly (like the line with the frontside 180 nosegrind revert), getting chummy with ledges and with no wack tricks. His lines in this part are varied and deep with hard tricks (switch frontside bluntslide, switch kickflip backside tailslide, switch kickflip frontside noseslide, etc etc), sparing little notice for traffic of the human or auto persuasion. Whether it was the U.S. government shutdown, Zero’s molar-rattling ‘Cold War’ vid, salvation via Nike from the dregs of shoe sponsorlessness or just ‘his people’ (as pictured following the final switch flip), something kindled a fire beneath Bobby Worrest’s sneakers this past year, and the adoring populace can only hope it continues to bubble, blister and blacken his foot-flesh well into 2015.

2. Wes Kremer – ‘Crusty By Nature’

December 30, 2014


‘Skater of the Year is the people’s award, but it is not of the people,’ a sly armadillo was heard to mutter at a recent Hurley exhibition. While the armadillo was on point in a muddled way, a case can be made that in the years when the Thrasher brain trust gets it right — as they did this year with Wes Kremer — it serves as a nod not only to heavily ripping skating but to a dude who captures some type of moment. In a year marred by the Ebola virus, lost planefuls of people, civil unrest and terror, Wes Kremer’s multiple, amazing video parts are the well-worn ’80s buddy cop comedy airing on the next channel up from the 24-hour strife cycle. Here is a Skater of the Year running lines in the wet and rolling in the dirt, getting over without instagramming hashtags or campaigning in still-creased SAD tees, name-checking Rick, Donny, Eric and Brian on his trick list*; even security guards and bike cops are compelled to give pounds. Wes Kremer at times this year seemed on a one-man mission to elevate respectively the slappy, late-shove it and spinout, and heaven help us if next year he puts the no-comply wallride onto Clipper’s summer-jam screen.

*ODS too of course

3. Jordan Trahan – ‘Enron’

December 29, 2014


The ancients believed the frontside pop-shove it possessed various herbal and medicinal qualities that buoyed healing and promoted weight gain. Jordan Trahan, only tangentially related to the earlier-mentioned Jordan Sanchez and famed Alaskan ‘puzzleboss’ Jordan Kiwitroop, knows the names of the forgotten gods and how properly to revere them. As the afterglow gathers toward the close of Bronze’s understandably powerful ‘Enron’ Film this year, Jordan Trahan in two short minutes fulfills many prophecies of old that longer, more expensively made video parts failed to consummate this year. Really, this section harboured all relevant affairs, including a fully cracked backside bigspin and lightly floated hardflip, but to it we endeavor to staple Jordan Trahan’s internet-famous JKwon 360 flip, anointed as an ageless heater by none other than Josh Kalis himself and widely recognized as 2014’s most impactful trick in which a board spins 360 degrees and flips at the same time. As earlier mentioned in the Book of Revelation, ‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a 360 flipping board, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.’ And yet as the fella says, certain individuals don’t want war.

4. Dylan Rieder – ‘Cherry’

December 28, 2014


Is this the year Dylan Rieder decided to stop worrying and enjoy being Dylan Rieder? Probably not, but it’s sort of entertaining to theorize the how and why as to this paring-back of his skating in recent years — this is not such a one with 10 tricks to his name, and whereas it would be nice to see those switch backside bigspin flips and backside bigspin outs taken out for a walk now and then, Dylan Rieder appears content to zero in on a few tricks — 360 flips, kickflips switch and regular and frontside, the impossible still — lovingly handcrafted and polished for max oomph and richness in the instant document that was Bill Strobeck’s ‘Cherry.’ Whether a natural sequence of progressions from the course charted within the Gravis section or an outcropping of the fuck-you money he gets from DKNY and whoever else, it’s heartening all by itself to see a dude who would be an alternate-universe candidate for the reality show/energy drink/corporate contest axis not just migrate away from multinational sponsor lordshippery, but continue to hone his tricks in the bargain.

5. Jordan Sanchez – ‘Some Things’

December 27, 2014


Year by year it seems steadily more difficult to figure out ways to push out the boundaries of what is possible on a skateboard, particularly after x-ing out the incremental stair count addition as innovation. Jordan Sanchez blew minds last summer and since by seeming to tap some sort of collective glaze-eyed consciousness gurgling away when so-called spots like the corner railings or taut steel cables or invitingly low loading dock bannisters are passed by amid the drudgery of daily life, and proceeds to crooked grind rather than boardslide, stall rather than tap, no-comply onto the handrail rather than kickflip. Lots of flip tricks have been tossed down lots of gaps in the past couple decades but not so many people have elevated the Natas hydrant spin, or thought to try.

6. Jake Johnson – ‘Static 4′

December 26, 2014


While making Jake Johnson the marquee no-complier, wallrider and shove-it man on Polar may have been a concept terminal in its redundancy, it is enduringly awesome to see the dude apply his raw and wiry talent to the genre, birthed as much by Josh Stewart’s ‘Static’ series as anything else, and stretch it to gobsmacking distances. Jake Johnson’s line down the black bank etched itself into Alien Workshop’s apparent eulogy and in profile recalls those dudes surfing Portugal’s freak waves, while the now-famed frontside slappy down Clipper pops up with as little warning as the idea that anybody would try such a thing at that spot in the first place. The squalling guitars here are a serviceable Dinosaur Jr approximation and if there’s any knock at all on this footage it might be that there’s plenty more room for Jake Johnson to unbottle some of deep-web technical ability, like the fakie ollie to front blunt, but it is fabulous to watch him in this zone.


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