In Lieu of Some Longwinded and Semi-Coherent Blog Post Here’s a Bunch of Justin Henry Tricks

June 11, 2017

Could Tiago Lemos’ Incredible Switch Backside Tailslide Also Reflect Ledge Skating’s Shrinking Middle Class?

June 4, 2017

In what has come to be knowed as the ‘switch backside tailslide heard ’round the world,’ this week Tiago Lemos hopped on his board backwards, got up the high way on the long MACBA block and slid the length of a full-grown crocodile before rolling away to cement one of those increasingly rare, culture-unifying moments. “Ok. [Tiago Lemos] is a beast,” remarked Josh Kalis. Drake Jones figured “this could be the biggest,baddest switch backtail ever done!” “Amazing,” commented Mike Sinclair. Transworld, which once elevated Eric Koston to diety status, declared that Tiago Lemos hereby “is a god.”

Yet as Andy MacDonald and others understand all too well, one day’s lifted bar soon becomes the next day’s hurdle to be ollied, and later kickflipped, and eventually kilty mcbagpipped for an after-credits clip set to a whimsical indie-rock tune. Just days before Tiago Lemos seized the switch back tail crown, Antonio Durao had the internet agog at his own back to back assault on waistline-topping planters in Numbers’ second video drop, to the delight of Miles Silvas and Rodrigo TX and the vacant-eyed indifference of unnamed cell phone lookers. This all arrived a few days after Dylan Rieder’s birthday reminded how he once lifted a backside smith grind onto a Thrasher cover-meriting ledge.

Across history’s compendium of burly ledge tricks, these have been cause for celebration. But concerns have arisen among musty academic circles over a perceived ledge disparity that some experts fear may be growing. As anointed ones such as Tiago Lemos and Antonio Durao hoist their trucks and tails onto ever-higher blocks, planters and hunks of raw cement, there are separately signs that many others appear to be making do with less and less. According to the emerging theory, a slappy revolution, once conceived as a reclamation for the common man, is showing troubling signs of becoming instead a cage, a ceiling which grows ever more difficult to penetrate. While powerhouse pros claim more and more available ledge inches via high-altitude feats, increasingly curb skating is celebrated, stylized and fetishized for the world’s remainder, a disparity that grows more troublesome as ‘middle-class’ ledge spots like Love Park and JKwon increasingly face the bulldozer.

Do Boston’s Eggs, Paris’ Republique, and Los Angeles’ Swoosh-reconstituted LA Courthouse represent sanctuaries for ledge skating’s increasingly squeezed creamy middle? Could some type of social engineering be attempted via plunking cinderblocks on top of red curbs, and meanwhile chiseling down ledges deemed by ivory-tower eggheads to be ‘too high’? Is concentration of ledge height inches in the hands of a smaller few part of a broader ‘trickle-down’ theory under which smaller ledge-oriented masses will be inspired to seek out larger ledges and ultimately add inches to their own frontside crooked grinds and backside smith grinds? Is Tiago Lemos for real?

John Shanahan, Chopped and Sewed on the Final Frontier

May 28, 2017

Some weeks back a video Youtube link circulated advertising an attempted backside 360 down the famed El Toro stair set, the sort of heart-testing maneuver around which you’d either anticipate a fire-legged professional like Chris Joslin’s name attached, or else some risk-friendly unknown ready to offer up his effort to the world as some type of return on a foolhardy willingness to get uniquely pitched and presumably walk away. It was surprisingly convincing try — they say the last quarter spin is the moneymaker when hurling one’s self down twenty steps or more — and it rolls above a disclaimer revealing that the bros involved “might not go back for this” and various other pink-panted jumps and things.

But is it so easy? Many of skating’s seemingly most harebrained ideas have proven shockingly hard to let go. Duane Peters’ tangles with the fibreglass loop captivated a world-conquering Tony Hawk in his video game-designing prime, and assorted others after its bullring subduing. Jamie Thomas’ “leap of faith” drew Richard King to test his luck before the Point Loma school board took matters into their own hands and constructed a solid platinum elevator in one of this young century’s most stunning acts of baller-blockingism. In test fittings for the MegaRampTM crown, Bob Burnquist discovered that he, like propellerheaded originator Danny Way, could no longer resist the uniquely arousing allure of skating helicopters. Aaron Homoki’s taming of Lyon’s most notorious 25 stairs, 13 years after Ali Boulala charted its glide path en route to part-ending slams, became fodder for a Thrasher mini-doc.

Steeped in early ‘ESTs’, Flexfitted hats and the colour yellow, John Shanahan seems more concerned with resuscitating a specific vibe and era than etching his multisyllabic rhyming surname into history’s annals via big-spot trophy hunting. Bubbling under the DGK umbrella for a minute, John Shanahan this week officially arrives on the DC Shoes payroll via a cracking intro clip that pointedly trots out the bold/less bold/standard font DCSHOECOUSA logo of old along with eastern seaboard spots rinsed and fresh. Between the DC one and a separate LurkNYC VX footage dump, John Shanahan flexes backside nosegrind pop-outs, a slicing 360 flip out of the Kalis school, some tricks outta the modern school’s playbook (driveway wallride, ride-on tailslide kickflip), some flamboyantly retro Droors gear and hubba noseslides. Toeing some blurry line between ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘The Storm,’ he wields a serious switch k-grind and a judicious use of camouflage, which is rare to see these days.

Like Philly neighbors Kevin Bilyeu and Brian Panebianco, it’s easy and erroneous to pigeonhole John Shanahan’s shared enthusiasm for the numbers 07 and 43 and all their sportsweary accoutrements as retroactivism rooted in personal branding. Just as the Sabotage dudes unearthed, resurfaced and restored an entire scene that had been municipally buried and professionally abandoned, John Shanahan seems to harbour deeper ambitions. Sharpening cut and sew skills, where else, on Instagram, John Shanahan demonstrates enough technical proficiency and stylistic nerve to construct cargo and swishy pants that command triple-digit price tags and earn “levels” hash tags when positioned alongside skaters’ current affection for graphical sweatpants and other sub-waistline achievements. But as he tests his growing powers, is John Shanahan consciously or not flying too close to that blazing sun of skate pants fashiondom, the two-toned pant?

It is a stylistic Leap of Faith that has shadowed previous practitioner Garrett Hill throughout his sponsored career, and one not lightly rolled up to. A year after Garrett Hill’s pants debuted in video footage, Tim O’Connor gleefully went in. Eight years on, the pants’ impression lingered enough that former teammates would bring them up as a cautionary tale of judgment, hubris and star-crossed romance:

Tom Karangelov: But when there’s someone that’s so original and out there, he gets so much shit. It’s crazy. Like with Garrett [Hill], half red half black pants. People are still talking to him about that. But dude, was it really that big of a deal? They are just fucking pants. Aren’t you encouraged to be creative when you skateboard? The dude who tries to go out of the box gets like, so much shit for it.

Jenkem: Have you ever considered wearing “crazy pants” like that?
Ah, no.

Has an Adidas-supported revolution in swishy pants and increasingly garish sweats provided enough air cover for John Shanahan to push pants envelope in ever-more colourful envelopes? Which trick ranks higher in terms of ’90s/east-coastness, the backside 5-0 backside 180 out or the fakie backside nosegrind shove-it? Yall caught that one switch backside heelflip over and down the blocks right? How is the resurrected Alien Workshop not sponsoring at least one of these ‘Photosynthesis’ acolytes? You been keeping an eye on Brian Wenning’s Instagram right?

In an Age of Plenty, the Challenge of Getting Past Lavar McBride’s Arms When He Nollie Backside Flips the Hubba Hideout Stairs

May 21, 2017

The larcenous subtlety of the X-Games, now legal to drink at 22 years old, lies in its unassailable hamhandedness. From its early, lingering and loving embrace of the “extreme” label even through the market segment’s maturation into ‘action sports,’ to its endorsement of the MegaRampTM and multiyear employment of frequent seagull target Sal Masakela; even as contest-course stewards seek to more tightly bottle and present street skating’s outlaw allure, there could only be one competitive franchise when duty requires blurting onto the interwebs ten minutes of fresh video part footage from the likes of Ishod Wair, Tiago Lemos, Cole Wilson and Na-Kel Smith. If it isn’t the best contest, strictly speaking, it’s probably the easiest spoonful of corporate-sponsored tournamentation to be gulped amongst a medicine chest otherwise proffering antiseptic runs formulated with rocks to fakie, and board-in-hand youngsters hustling up embankments and across quarterpipe decks.

Between sequences extolling the powers of Home Depot’s flooring products, Tiago Lemos’ fakie 360 flip switch backside tailslide pop out and Ishod Wair’s nighttime run through Muni are ladled liberally onto a La La Palooza of skating scooped up over the past week or so. Consider: May 12, Adidas releases a ringing video from a London trip, loaded with Rodrigo TX’s impeccably swished-out technicalities*, the magic-footed Gustav Tonnesen and freshly resurfaced matriculant Mark Suciu; it is this type of clip Adidas’ Juice crew does best and crafts better than nearly anybody. A day later, quasi-Texan Keegan McCutcheon delivers a fulsome spread of shove-its and various relatables over bars, including the hallowed wallride shove. In there somewheres was Mark Del Negro’s ambidextrous arrival via Philly on Hopps, Mark Humienik’s Sable section boasting a blistering noseblunt shove-it, and a Niels Bennett footage dump from Venture, in which a wallie 50-50 on a rail and a humongous switch wallride draws another mop-topped gangler ever closer to the still-glowing OG bathroom sign. On May 17 yung Polar wonder-bowlrider Oskar Rozenberg put out a street-heavy part for Nike, going GX in the SF hills and helping shake the Brooklyn Banks from a seven-year hibernation. And then Thrasher began dropping the Creature video, with full-throated David Gravette and Milton Martinez entries.

A daunting and woundrous time it is for footage consumers, who entertain the challenge of processing and absorbing valuable experience points from video parts with nearly each meal of the day, to say nothing of posting and or in-person pontificating on each amongst one’s chosen bros. For those with the skill, mental gonads and ill judgement to angle for their own slice of the day’s skate video watching capacity, with all of its punishing fickleness and readily rendered harshitudes, it’s gotta be awful tough.

And yet there lurks another threat to these freshly scrubbed video parts, nervously approaching their public debuts with each pixel the upload progress bar adds. Like an icey iceberg sailing deeper into frigid arctic waters, this danger is largely hidden and only grows, sometimes with only small and pointy bits visible to the non-radar enhanced eye. It appears to you in the form of Lavar McBride’s arms, downward cast after flicking one of mankind’s greatest nollie backside kickflips down the Hubba Hideout steps in ‘Trilogy,’ twenty-one years in the past. Maybe it appears as Tom Penny blurrily pushing through the parking ramp in TSA’s ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ or maybe Steve Durante switch heelflipping into a switch frontside bluntslide, or Diego Najera’s still-incomprehensible switch varial heelflip. Those lionhearted bros offering up new video parts to the internet’s altar not only compete day-to-day with their contemporaries for its fleeting and capricious favour, but now with the entire history of what has come before.

Of the nollie backside flip’s many historical high points, are Jim Greco’s Baker2G edition or Jake Johnson’s in Mind Field able to command as many repeat rewinds as Lavar McBride’s one with the arms? Where were yall when Lavar McBride was trying to teach you to nollie flip at the DMV? How many minutes in a typical day need be devoted to consuming new footage so as to convincingly hold one’s own on the Slap boards? Where will you be for the X-Games’ dirty thirty?

*just for the record

Rob Pluhowski Left Skating and Never Looked Back. Should More Ex-Pros*?

May 8, 2017

Former feather-footed kickflipper and current furniture hand crafter shocked and unnerved a freshly scrubbed generation of Instagramming careerists by summing up a decade’s worth of top-shelf sponsorships, parts in seminal videos of the time, and third-world nation touring under the steady navigation of Fred Gall, using a nonchalant trio of words that stripped the English sentence to its barest, basest components: “It was cool.” Further cows sacred to various strivers and Thrasher down-for-life aspirants soon trotted out for electric stunning and captive bolting: Being shown the door from an established career in skating was for Rob Pluhowski a good thing, he doesn’t skate anymore, and he doesn’t seem to miss any of it:

“I was 27 years old, I didn’t have a fucking board at 27 years old! And, I had a fucking kid. It was just a wake-up call. My daughter was probably only a year old and I was like what the fuck am I gonna do with myself? Like what am I gonna do. If figured I’d just like sever it, end it there, end on the highest note you can possibly end at without being one of those dudes like, what the fuck are you doing? Like why is he on a skateboard? I don’t want to look like a tired old man. That’s why I don’t skateboard today. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. I don’t want to be that dude. you know what I mean. Just leave it where it was.

Now that I look back at it, it just seemed right. I got out, and now where I’m at in life, I’m fucking happy, a pig in shit. That would’ve just taken this much longer, 32 years old, riding for Zoo York or something, like some hokey shit.”

Rob Pluhowski’s unsanded, unvarnished assessment of pro contemporaries, the skate biz in general and his former place in it attracts the same sort of grinning car-wreck rubbernecking in readers that any decent interview inspires, and for the time being helps to shore up that ever-eroding barrier between skating’s outlaw flavourings and what may lie ahead. But Rob Pluhowski’s commentary here differs from other, similar veterans’ tales, in that it’s dispensed free of any strings that might even tenuously tether him to skate industry machinations, or gooey threads of relationships that could coat an otherwise harsh and bad-sounding assessment with a sugary veneer of political correctness. It’s not even that he seemed unconcerned what people may think, but that he seems only vaguely aware that such people might even exist, and doesn’t seem much interested in sweating it too much either way.

In centuries past, once the beachfront fires for whale kill roared out the bulk of their strength, our bearded chieftans would sing softly to we youth: “If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s meant to be.” Salivating as we did for that first sip of icey whale marrow, we never gave much thought to their lyricism or breath control. But the saying, like the whales’ mewled curses upon humanity and our harpoon technology, has echoed through the ages. Did Rob Pluhowski love skating? With his Bob Puleo visage and mannerisms, he’s maybe too New Jersey to really get wistful. Is it possible to love it, leave it behind completely, and eventually be good with that? If so, what verdicts does this hold for the ever-expanding, and seemingly older than ever professional ranks?

How come Rob Pluhowski’s bearing and worldview seems relatively rare when stacked against numerous interviews in which post-professional career plans include packing boxes in warehouses, described semi-humorously but nevertheless with an air of noble sacrifice? Between the reverence here and as unlikely an art critic as Danny Way singing praises, should the late 1990s/early 2000s Alien Workshop and Habitat graphics be elevated to that same pantheon reserved for Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s World Industries era, and VCJ or Jim Phillips before them? Is it really we who loved Rob Pluhowski, and are now left to consider that we may have set him free and he did not come back?

*Yo it’s understood Pluhowski never was pro but stay with it for a minute here

Danny Way Never Again Will Win a Contest Without First Performing a 45-Second Ho-Ho

April 29, 2017

An old theater adage, commonly and likely erroneously attributed to Anton Chekhov, goes like this: “If a gun is placed on the mantle in the first act, it must go off by the third.” Another, less widely known version of this concept exists within the gleaming, gelatinous sphere of popular music, and holds that if Glenn Frey takes a stage in his capacity as a solo act, “Smuggler’s Blues” must be performed by dawn the following day. RIP to Glenn Frey and all true smugglers who gave their lives to inspire one of history’s great hit singles.

This week archivist-in-chief and defending scanner champ Chrome Ball Incident released an exhaustive Danny Way interview that could function as a blueprint for serious-minded skateboard interviews. Old stories, jokes, comebacks, heartstring-tugging tales of a yung phenom grappling with insecurity and teasing by idols-turned-rivals, and tough questions respectfully asked. And, it extracted the promise of a future contest run sketched out in draft form for history’s annals:

“With bowl skating being so popular again and so many of these retro tricks coming back in style, I’m actually thinking about entering one of these Bowl Series contests just to bring back some of those classic moves, like the ho-ho. Who knows, maybe I could stall it out for a one-trick run? What about a 45-second ho-ho!?! That could be the way to go! Walking around the deck on my hands… could be a good laugh!”

With those five words and one double-digit number, Danny Way has placed his gun on the mantle. It is a firearm in the shape of an aging, battered body, twice bronzed for posterity, handstanding on the deck of history as glory showers down around him, forming glorious and shovelable drifts, for three-quarters of a minute. But at whom does this golden barrel aim? For Danny Way also has fashioned himself a shimmering prison, with gilded bars and a valuable commode. Each Bowl Series judge who reads the interview — and every one shall — will be unable to award Danny Way any points whatsoever for a contest run that does not feature a 45-second ho-ho, now possessed of the knowledge and vision of what could be.

Could Danny Way’s unwittingly self-imposed obligation to perform an elongated ho-ho extend to Mega RampTM events, which could also secure Guinness World Record status for the ho-ho performed on the highest ramp deck? Could a global ho-ho revival inspire Todd Falcon to invent an inverted ho-ho where you stand feet-down on the deck with your board in your hands held over your head and which could become knowed as the “oh-oh”? Or does this trick already exist? On the mantlepiece of skateboard tricks is the ho-ho an elephant gun or a .38 special?

Rival Schools United by Fate, Torn Asunder Amid Hill-Bombing Renaissance

April 22, 2017

Sun Tzu, that ancient Chinese military philosopher and rap music reference point, famously signed a restaurant receipt with an unsolicited strategem in place of a tip, advising one fortunate waiter that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Legend tells that this vibrant slogan enriched the lucky plate handler — who previously regarded all of this restaurant’s staff as backstabbing adversaries — by transforming them abruptly all into bosom pals, a blissful union that would inspire a hoagie chain but later run aground, friendships dashed on the rocks of unpaid franchise fees and festering mistrust. It is the story of our times, and perhaps all time.

In the 1980s, widely regarded as an extended and turgid moment in which synthesizers remade nerds into dancefloor lotharios and yet justice still could be found at the pointy tip of an arrow, skateboarding still was in its awkward early years. Much like the homebound elementary schooler, or the waiter-in-training at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, friends were those nearest to hand, if not in spirit — and so it was that skateboarders and BMX bikers became kinsmen of a kind, occasionally sharing a taste for neon accessories and zeitgeist-flavored real estate, wherein ‘Thrashin’ and ‘Rad’ staked out neighboring claims on VHS rental shelves. These co-feathered birds flocked together even through the judgment-heavy early 1990s, when Jeremy Wray cheered BMX bro Mike Esterino hopping on his famed water-tower jump.

Alas, as ledge skating gained supremacy and skateable blocks began trading at a premium due to police pressure and general scarcity, peg damage and huffy attitudes came to divide the camps, such that by the time the handrail age set in, extreme bike riders became punchlines. Skatepark proliferation ignited turf battles, with some private-sector facilities segregating the rubbery-tired rollers to their own evenings. Bike-prohibiting public parks prompted some skateboarders to yellingly shout and point at “no bikes” signage in a true perversion of historic roles.

Extreme bike riders later clawed back respect points on a comparative basis as scooter riders, rollerbladers and other ne’er-do-wells rotated through parks, and John Cardiel’s fixed-gear resurrection earned bikes a warmer position in the cockles of many 97A urethane hearts after his accident. The gnarliness of slamming on a bike was to be respected, if not the motocross-aping kits and the fact that you can sit down. And yet this uneasy entente now takes a new and graver turn, as a non-Olympic bound subset of skating re-embraces illegality from coast to coast. For some thrillhousers enamored of San Francisco’s steeps, a bike may as well be a car or a brick wall, and have come to be perceived as a potentially mortal threat:

Thrasher: What has been your closest call to getting fucking annihilated when bombing hills?
Matt Finley: Dude, so many times. I mean, I’ve gotten hit by a car before but haven’t been hit too bad. Like, four days ago we were going down Twin Peaks and a biker dude—I couldn’t hear him or anything—zooms past me and is centimeters from running into me full speed. He went right between Taylor and I. If he had clipped me I would have gotten fucking smoked! I mean, he probably would have gotten really fucked up but that was something else. That’s another thing! Fuck bikers and cars. They are they enemy. Bikers are in the road and act like cars; they just don’t give a fuck. I’m being a hypocrite but they act so entitled.

Are bikers really just skaters astride one-half of a giant skateboard that uses different types of wheels with handlebars and a seat? If bike riders and skateboarders were to finally unite their powers, could the scooter scourge be ended once and for all? If BMXers and skateboarders were more closely aligned in the run-up to biking’s debut in the 2008 Olympics, could the event somehow have been ‘thrown,’ casting extreme sports in a negative and clownish light globally, thereby ensuring that skating remained safe from Olympic circusization for generations to come?

Can Ishod Wair Break the Sub-Eight Inch Taboo?

March 31, 2017

Does the measure of a man lie within a money vault loaded to the brim with jewels and gold pieces? Is it truly shown in the longing eyes of the women he has loved, the children he has sired and their aggregate earning power, properly adjusted for inflation? Or is his name made by kingdoms conquered and owned, enemies slain or driven into abject poverty, and the filthy unwashed hoards who supplicate themselves in feeble tribute?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these and can front several thousand dollars you may be eligible to participate in the Menace Skateboards seed funding venture quest available on Instagram for a limited time only to certified investment angels and their gilded harp polishers. Yet for the past decade and more, skateboarders large and small have toiled beneath a different judgement measure, one that has stoked insecurities and sweaty-palmed apprehension among even the most outwardly confident hill-bombers, board flippers and handrail handlers. Seemingly freed of past eras’ smallmindedness that shackled hive-minded bros to goofy-boy kits in the early 1990s or carcass hucking in the early 2000s, a supposed ‘anything goes’ renaissance over the past decade has freed pros and bros alike to pursue moves from retroactivated no-complies to multisyllabic ledge combos and horse pools, wearing fits that run from short shorts to graphical sweatpant products to Tuscan leather. Just as long as you did it on a board that was at least eight inches wide.

In what has emerged as the final hardgood taboo, skating seven-anythings since roughly 2004 first became the domain of those lingering devotees to the San Diego school of tongue-puffery who felt PJ Ladd’s wonderful and horrible vibes but never fully boarded Eastern Exposure’s subterranean railroad. The Baker/Zero axis carried a machismo and masochism that soon elbowed once-stalwart 7.75s into a minority position on shop walls, and the advent of Anti-Hero as the guiding force into the aughts made such sizes an endangered species; by the time Justin Figuoera gloated how alighting upon his 8.5-plus ironing board felt like landing in your living room, anything below the 8″ mark had become a subject of open derision, similar to a wizard staff built from craft microbrews or the dreaded mall grab. The age of the big, swinging deck had been cemented.

Now, as ‘resistance’ groups ferment around the US in response to Trump administration political policy priorities, a skinny board pride movement is taking shape. Within the Nine Club’s fishbowl confessional, professionals unburden themselves and others. Chris Roberts describes being most comfortable skating a 7.75, while fakie 360-flipping waterboy Kelly Hart cops to a somewhat safer 7.9. Miles Silvas puts some respect on the 7.62’s name, relaying that his role model Rodrigo TX on the low skates that one while marketing a more masses-friendly size to shops. And Deluxe plans to further test the limits via a 7.56 Ishod Wair model that seems like it would fit his hometown Sabotage posse as reliably as the original-construction Lynx that Josh Kalis has hinted may come back.

Will the pinner board’s revival lead to academic research conclusively proving the long-held hypothesis that as decks narrow, pant sizes expand? Will a shift in truck sales toward smaller sizes and the reduced level of metals used to make them help truck manufacturers weather a period of slow economic expansion? Could a 7.5″ pride movement court backlash among more moderate 8-8.25″ clientele widely assumed to make up the majority in skateparks, backyard ramps and street spots? Was all this set in motion years ago by John Lucero, keeper of the extra-wide, shaped board flame for all those long years? What will return first, the 7.4″ or the bearing-cover wheel?

Greco and Bam Inside the Recompression Tank

March 18, 2017

Who fought hippos in the street while the zookeepers ran and hid? What’s left after an appetite for destruction is sated? And is there any place where a man or rogue hippo find a lasting peace?

Sebo Walker, imbued by the Great Old Ones with magic-moving feet and a mobile van, is a man of the people. In a literary and literal way, he lives at the skatepark — catch him on Instagram sporting his banana-yellow Lakai model, bros dozens deep riding the Stoner benches to the side. In this way Sebo Walker is part of a recent Crailtap resurgence fueled by the type of sun-kissed posse cuts that helped carve out a family-tied post-World identity way back when. The Fucking Awesome/Supreme kids, perhaps the tightest-knit team currently, jet together from SPoT to Oz, trailing ‘Fulfill the Dream’ vibes and footlockers of expensive casual clothes in their wake.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Jim Greco boils. Alone among anonymous automobiles and bleached avenues gone to seed, he sweats out the days documented in his new short movie, ‘The Year 13’. Sober, seemingly exhausted, Greco’s regimented routine constructs a lonesome, claustrophobic universe within his adopted city of four million striving bros. He sessions faded and decades-old spots with a close cadre of graying pros and celebrity Texans. He spends inordinate amounts of time yanking benches down the street to skate solo, until the bench inevitably gains the upper hand and he’s pitched to the ground. He stolidly accepts the slams. Years of hard living long past, his feet still have spark to dazzle on those brick banks and red curbs. There is a pork chop. Lengthy stretches of lonesome silence leave viewers wondering — is Jim Greco, man of a thousand looks, finding peace with himself?

I wake up every morning, I make my coffee, I go skating—there isn’t much of a deviation around this that’s worth talking about. My life is skateboarding. And waking up and staying sober and skating.”

Joining Jim Greco in skate-centric, substance-free life re-leasing is gothic SSBSTS tipster and flying tree-hugger Bam Margera, who this week described to Jenkem how he has pushed away the bottle to pursue some type of low-profile skate pilgrimage through southern Spain.

“And I just knew the spots in Spain are awesome and I wouldn’t get to bothered at the parks, like at home… Home is ridiculous. I don’t know about now, but four years ago I was like, I’m never going to a public park in America. I mean, if I was ripping it would be a different story. Then I’d know I could show up and rip. But to relearn how to skate in front of these kids with their dumb fucking iPhones filming in every which direction, and me bailing on a blunt fakie on a 4 ft quarter pipe… like, I don’t want this be seen on Earth!”

Bam Margera, who upwardly failed into the fame and influence that Jim Greco seemed once to dream of, now looks to be similarly whittling down his world toward the shape of a less burdened, if still world-weary, boy with a skateboard (and a filmer or two on hand, natch). Occasionally semi-NSFW photobloggings aside, Bam Margera’s new direction suggests a certain monkishness, prostrating in the Church of Skatan’s general direction, though separate from the group pilgrimages that have helped lure other waywards back toward their original sin.

How many comebacks have been stillborn due to self-consciousness? Might aged but still-successful pros pool resources to set up a private TF to facilitate skills-rebuilding for lapsed contemporaries? Like maybe one just for Henry Sanchez? Separately, when the technology exists for Jim Greco to film his movies in a solitary and self-directed fashion, will he? Could Jim Greco’s washed-out pocket of Los Angeles guest-star in an episode of Rick McCrank’s Abandoned?

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

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History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?