Is there anything sadder than a paint-caked curb lashed down with skatestoppers? If you answered ‘the state of the skate biz in 2016’ you may award yourself 40 weblogging points and accept this Internet page’s personal thumbs-up. Fear and sorrow ride high in the saddle as the year grows bristly hairs upon its chin and makes layaway payments on an adjustable bed. DC Shoes, owned by decreasingly bankrupt surfboard concern Quiksilver, has parted ways with time-travel machine owner Rob Dyrdek. Famous cocaine salesman Rick Ross not only has become the latest tattoo parlour client to fly the Kayo coop, but he is suing his former Dirty Ghetto business partners to the tune of 80 large. The Selfish Skateboards web page has gone a year without updating.
If there are islands of stability to be charted amid these stormish seas of action sporting commerce, and are not already amongst the eternally sunlit empires of the swoosh and the triple-stripe, they lie somewhere near those ungently gentrifying environs of the Yay Area, emblazoned with eagles and explosively shitting pigeons. Anti-Hero’s devotion to the ATV discipline, affinity for picking SOTYs and uncanny ability to ride trending waves from trucker hats to windbreakers and custom totables not only has sold boatloads of boards and clothing items, it’s inspired a sister tribe of sock-making disciples and inspired fawning collabs from SoCal schoolyardsters Crailtap and the logo t-shirt millionaires at Supreme who, a dozen years back, may have furrowed their brows at the one eight’s scuffed shoes and beer-dampened sleeping bags sooner than toast them with a wizard staff.
How to wield such ultimate power? Amateur ankles and knees represent a money pit forever fillable with t-shirt and deck revenues. Anti-Hero admirably has steered clear of any power-drunk signing spree similar to those that vaulted Es shoes and Plan B to dizzying heights from which their teams could only wobble and/or slam, alternating hires of top-drawer properties such as Grant Taylor and Chris Pfanner with heartwarming acquisitions of aged criminals such as Jeff Grosso and Andy Roy. But the resident alien-steered eagle this year made its most bald-faced power move to date by not only scooping Dutch M-80 Daan Van Der Linden, whose 0-to-100 tear this year has slingshot him from a Euro-scene ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate to presumptive Skater of the Year nominee with a professional board. The debate isn’t so much whether the nod is deserved but what else he could possibly have done to justify the advanced timeline, which seems even to have surpassed Chris Joslin’s rapid flow-to-pro launch.
Blinkered victims of too many misspent hours mired in idle skateshop-counter arguments may also ask what it means that in 2016 Anti-Hero is the de-facto landing pad for a Van Der Linden. Whereas his mindbending pointer grind revert on that curvy over-vert thing in the Volcom vid and steady hand on the coping would hang in any Anti-Hero video, his handrail frontside feebles and noseslide nollie heelflips out suggest that 15 or even 10 years ago he’d more likely have been nabbed by Flip or Girl or Zero or Cliche as some late entrant capable of filling out a surprise intro for a yearslong video project.
As style battery Brian Anderson seems on the verge of signing up and unattached, button-up personas as seemingly distant from the beers-and-bowls universe as Walker Ryan ride the boards, is Anti-Hero in danger of flying too close to the proverbial sun? In retrospect was ‘Beauty and the Beast’ less a meeting of So-to-NorCal minds and more the passing of some cosmic baton? Between the Volcom parts, the Bru-Ray clips, the Thrasher cover and the wallride, is SOTY 2016 Daan Van Der Linden’s to lose? Did Rick Ross launch the most successful music career from a prison since Johnny Cash?