For one of the only companies among the new crop intent on harpooning the full-length video cetacean, Quasi is taking their sweet time, averaging so far one part a year, which is all to the good since it feels like they’re still figuring out their motion-picture aesthetic without veering too much onto Bill Strobeck or Mike Hill territory. Between the slow-mo trash bin bash and the crab-walking hoedown, Tyler Bledsoe’s ‘All Clear OK’ scrapes a little bit of both, but the opening automobile wipe to backside flip and the backside smith grind drop-down are promising indicators of any longer-playing project to come. Tyler Bledsoe, who’s gone dark a few times here and there in recent years, resurfaces to a throbby techno track in savage mode with a teeth-rattling street gap nollie 360, a deceptively hard entry into the Pupecki grind annals, and a round-the-world backside tailslide ender, and who else has them like that.
“I’m a gamesman, you know?” said Eric Koston, introducing his and Guy Mariano’s new skateboard company last week via a Thrasher website interview. “I just love to game.” Webster’s dictionary defines gamesman as one who practices gamesmanship, that is, ‘the art or practice of winning games by questionable expedients without actually violating the rules.’ Has 2016 been the year of the gamesman? It’s a question more safely handled by mystical baked goods and psychic rodents, but like all great ponderables, it can be annoyingly answered with another question. What ‘rules’ govern the skate biz? Don’t shit where you eat? No snitching? Render unto Dyrdek what is Dyrdek’s?
To many, the skate industry is a wily mink, lovely to behold and yet lucrative to trap, skin and sew into a coat for attending carpeted movie premieres and smoke-smuggered steakhouses. Between the expanding galaxy of digital media platforms, a professional roster that expands at the bottom via freshly anointed hot shoes and at the top via veterans dusted off for a few more go-rounds, and a general force of entropy at work among skate companies, Guy Mariano and Eric Koston may believe there to be more than one way to skin this proverbial mink mentioned in the proverb at the beginning of this paragraph. To wit, it’s not even that much of a thing what the company is called:
Guy: Just Numbers.
Eric: Edition. You’ll see as the brand rolls out, but it is Numbers Edition.
The Numbers debut video similarly pursues a deconstruction of the skate video as we knows it today. Mainly from a bystander’s point of view, it takes in everything from bails to chitchats about freeway driving conditions to Miles Silvas’ impeccable fits and switch kickflips, generally from a detached distance. Timeworn trappings such as lighting rigs, generators and fisheye lenses make no appearances, leaving our Sun and streetlights to provide a sometimes dim view on the happenings as drone-y, piano-y music softly builds a sense of dread, despite indications that Guy Mariano’s ‘Tactical Manual’ ledge fixation may be cooling. You may begin to wonder: What is about to happen to these folks? Will Consolidated’s nightmarish OD clown suddenly accost the teamriders? Will a plane crash in the background, or will a monstrous creature from beyond lumber into the frame and a ‘Cloverfield’-stye found footage escapade ensue?
With a new clip for the de rigueur Numbers/Nike collabo sneaker set, has the long Antonio Durao footage drought finally come to an end? What do all those double-digit numbers at the bottom of the Numbers ad refer to anyways? Is ambient techno the natural next step after Palace and Bronze had skaters worldwide turning up to house music? Could Rick Howard and Mike Carroll conjure the ghost of World past and recruit Greg Carroll to head up a new skateboard company called ‘Letters’ with graphics designed to poke fun at the Numbers slash/box logo, gradient color graphic themes and the personalities of each teamrider?
As the information age and its college dormmate, the digital revolution, fire up the bong and begin to shake their 1D20s and 1D12s, all becomes clear. In this smartphone-cradled realm, plated armour and halberds are enchanted with mystical powers via every new social media connection, and the currency of the kingdom is not gold pieces, but the minutes and hours that a web site is able to waste for people while they are at work or school. It is a fertile and lush land where ancient treasures lay hidden beneath piles of broken links and half-remembered Geocities pages.
What remains though when advancing into a mine long abandoned by content-hungry Dwarven lords? Torch aloft, our adventurers descend past craters and caverns where long-ago interviews with Fred Gall, Andy Roy and the Muska were extracted; deep pockets still are visible where the Steve Rocco doc and Disposable book once lay, chasms representing the riches of the John Cardiel and Ali Boulala Epicly Laterds, and Gio Reda’s Brian Anderson feature. There still are bits and pieces to be chiseled loose, drawing weekly bands of podcasters to run their fingers across well-worn walls and sift piles of cast-off ore cluttering forgotten crannies.
Do hidden gems still lurk? Yet-untold stories revealing and seminal to know? It is a question of value judged by the many-tentacled beholder’s cursed eyes. Deep, deep within these caverns and shafts, work still is done. In recent years the enchanter MuckMouth, guided by the chaotic-good sages of the Slap boards, set forth on a mission to track down and electronically quiz nearly every half-remembered pro or amateur who contributed footage to company vids or 411s over the past three decades, from Eric Sanderson to Jason King.
The roustabout bard Jenkem, who some believe on a mad quest to put down to parchment each minute that passed during Rocco’s reign in the castle World, this year brought forth from these blasted pits the endearing tale of the World Industries customer service rep, JD, heretofore remembered only in a few thousand novelty trading cards packaged with a magazine printed more than 20 years ago. And last week the leather-armored mercenary HavocTV unveiled a surprisingly engaging 29-minute documentary on Carlos Ruiz, known mainly for backside lipsliding El Toro 10 years ago, around the apex of the hammer era before trucks loosened up, ATVs reignited transition and wallies garnered fresh relevance.
Before the crackling hearth within the Foaming Stein tavern, grizzled warriors deep into their cups will mutter that these mines have been stripped to worthless hulks, that delving into these clean-scraped bowels wastes time and hit points better reserved for still-rising formations charted by Jason Dill, Lev Tanju, Pontus Alv or Alex Olson. But if you find your way to the darkened table in the back, there sits a hooded figure, sometimes spinning a yellowed Nicotine wheel, paying bounties for artifacts he insists still are hidden within this slate and limestone:
The car rental agent who handed over jeep keys to Josh Beagle and Ronnie Creager prior to the filming of ‘Barbarians at the Gate’: Little is known about this rental agent who literally provided the vehicle for what still stands as the best tour video of all time, a document of nudity, crack cocaine abuse and the St. Louis Arch that set an early direction for Heath Kirchart and diminished several farmers’ yields across the U.S. grain belt. Key questions: How did he first get into renting automobiles to people? What were his early encounters with Josh Beagle like? How would he describe the jeep’s condition upon checking it back in? What is life like after renting cars to pro skaters?
The bus driver for Osiris’ ‘Aftermath’ tour: It is widely agreed that anything that ever happened in skateboarding, past or present, occurred on Osiris’ 2001 ‘Aftermath’ tour — and this dude would have been behind the wheel the entire time. Who hooked him up with his first bus? Does he remember where he was when Cliff Burton passed? Which weapons did he use to enforce the legendary ’number one rule of the bus’? Which Osiris pro would he have trusted to take the tiller in the hour of need? If the answer is not T-Bone, why not? Have any subsequent bus driving assignments held a candle to the auspiciously titled ‘Aftermath’ tour?
The investment bankers who managed Big Brother’s $600K sale to Larry Flynt Publications: Jenkem’s highly entertaining 2014 interview with World Industries’ former CFO tugged back the curtain on the financial fence-jumping and knob-cutting that went into World’s sale of Big Brother magazine to the Larry Flynt empire. What other Rocco deals were there? How ugly a mess were Big Brothers’ books? How were valuations calculated for the souls sent in by Big Brother readers responding to an offer for a free World t-shirt in the Andy Roy issue, and did these souls then transfer to the purchaser of World after the $29 million changed hands, or does Rocco retain these in some foot locker within his beachside residence?
The shock election of Donald G. Trump to the U.S. presidency last week sent up a massive “ZOMG” shaped smoke signal from the collective skateboard camp. While New York’s useful wooden toy ambassador Billy Rohan sought to build bridges between Tompkins and Trump Tower, international ripples and wrinkles almost immediately rippled and wrinkled up as the globe at large cocked an eyebrow and looked over the tops of its glasses at a Trump-headed United States.
Already, there are signs that cross-border skateboard relations may be fraying. Fresh off the Brexit break-up, Liverpoolian ditch-slasher Geoff Rowley cut his remaining ties to the Americanized Flip, while Brazilian-born Rodrigo TX bounced from North Philly’s DGK. And late this week, reports of Cliche’s demise under Dwindle left an Eiffel-tower sized hole in skating’s increasingly Francophiliac soul.
Whereas much of the Trump campaign focused on trans-oceanal misdeeds by China and Mexico, his threats to rehash NAFTA, the Bushian trade policy beloved to Canada’s shivering cabals of beerbrewers, mining conglomerates and wealthy bears, posed a risk too great to go unchallenged by Dime Mtl’s specialist bowling posse. In a swaggering display of cross-border belligerence, Canadians scrambled several athletes to wear sunglasses indoors and create a show of force in a bowling alley, a shot across the bow of Canada’s neighbor to the south following months of heated campaign-trail rhetoric.
The aggressive bowling video, unnerving in its feats of raw agility and power throws, seemed calculated to strike at Trump’s vulnerabilities. Dime bowlers, enriched by their own line of clothing items and yellow shirts, don’t wait for the strike to be scored, they “just start kissing,” no Tic-Tac. The cross-alley throw, bouncing into the gutter and then out again to pick up a spare no Wisconsin pollster could have envisioned, is a clear metaphor for Trump’s come-from-behind win. And yet as wall after wall of pins fall to the Dime squadron’s merciless strikes, the video file seems to defy any attempted fence-building that could slow the flood of cheap Canadian goods, manufactured by low-paid penguins and elk, into the trembling hands of U.S. consumer-purchasers.
How many hours will it take Lucas Puig to go to Palace? With Miles Silvas apparently headed to GuyKo’s Numbers, is Max Geronzi the world’s hottest free agent? Is Canada feeling itself, after Dime already upended the dominance of the U.S. contest circuit via its Glory Challenges, and its endearingly urbane Bunt aims to do likewise in the increasingly vibrant skate podcast market? Does the involvement of Jamal Smith and Forrest Edwards suggest Canada already has cultivated sympathizers on U.S. soils? Could a trade war erupt over hard rock Canadian maple and tall tees, or would a stronger Canadian dollar drag down overseas sales of premium quality Dime shirts?
The key to unlocking value in any low-margin business is to maximize efficiency. This is the core truth of commerce and business underpinning a meritocracy in which the fastest copy machine is showered with honorariums and shiny treasure, where specialized mining equipment sniffs and scrapes out rare earth minerals and makes rich men of those who once swung picks, where clean factories churn out safe, packaged meal pills to cheaply feed a growing world labor base and quell any angry strife that could negatively impact production schedules.
Fragmentation and heightened competition from both nimble upstarts and well-heeled corporate gargantuates has similarly trampled profit margins in the skate biz with a trampling motion similar to that of an interplanetary trampling elephant. All around, there is a great diminishing, or distilling, depending where you sit: magazines skimpier, as photos, interviews and footage stream daily off mobile-optimized cloud platforms; years-in-the-making videos winnowed down to one-off web parts and Instagram snippets that ebb and flow on tidal transfer speeds; pro model shoes reserved for an anointed few, while the rest pick out seasonal color schemes.
In a fractured age is the team roster next for culling? The sprawling headcounts still collected by the Baker Boys, Crailtap and FuckingAwesome/Hockey contingents argue otherwise. But increasingly difficult-to-capture attention spans have sent up signals that tag teams, rather than baseball diamond or football field-ready lineups, are better suited for plattering more-meaty video offerings relative to the drip-drop of individual internet parts. Bear witness, would you, to the Bobby Worrest/Hjalte Halberg “Looks OK to Me” double feature that sort of awesomely and ominously asserts itself as the stoke-per-second leader in video releases this year at a svelte 9:46 minutes.
These brothers in Swooshdom maybe aren’t an immediately intuitive matchup, per se. But rattle through enough immactulate back-to-back ledge/flatground combos that, when drizzled out over enough countries’ spots, consistently hollering and clapping for one another, and associated homeboys collected along the way (Reese Forbes – fantastic), and it clicks in the spirit of Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen, Brian Wenning and Anthony Pappalardo, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard. Hjalte Halberg’s pop shove it frontside crooked grind line and Bobby Worrest’s line at New York’s three-up/three-down are among tons of highlights, along with the grate tricks and the entire Pulaski park section.
As two-dude videos come back into vogue, could a two-man team that is cheap to send on the road, less prone to complex beefing factions and capable of filming one another become the ultimate in independent contractor efficiency? Has the cozy relationship between Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad made the time right for Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik to rekindle their partnership? Is Bobby Worrest’s fakie flip and switch shove-it landing in time with the snare hit a quiet nod to Rob Pluhowski’s often overlooked and downbeat-friendly Element part and/or a sign that videos could revive the days when wheel impacts comfortably coexisted with metronomes?
Invention’s Mother Enlists Dual Death Lenses and Long-Tongued Lizards for 2016’s Most Outlandish, Original VideoOctober 30, 2016
How many of the Old Ways are lost to humankind, never to be rediscovered? The image of Indiana Jones armed with a laser beam may have made ‘Temple of Doom’ half short and twice strong, but could have yielded greater societal dividends than gumdinger-sized jewels and bosomy, bedded maidens. Nearly 20 years on, it required a ‘Crocodile Dundee’ derivative to finish the job, lasering his damn way toward the revelation of a lost city and civilization so brimming with wealth and virility that even today might pump rival towns and provinces to the brim with festering jealousy.
Do any such bare-chested, whip-cracking paradigm shifters vanquish thugs and crack well-timed one-liners in skateboarding? To answer the question, other questions and even more hyphens may be required. Skating long has clung to antiquated technologies, ranging from the beloved VX1000 to the as-yet unimproved upon seven-ply maple stick. But elsewise skating leaps and races ahead, cybernetically pirating high-tech editing software, monetizing unique social media followers and quietly sharing around big-budget video releases via sophisticated adult entertainment tube sites.
As Worldstar mourns Vine’s untimely demise, is there a cultural opening through which to drag the stiffening corpse of the feature-length skate vid back toward the lands of the living? Recent stabs have delivered only glancing blows at justifying 4O minute-plus runtimes. Vans’ ‘Propeller’ made a decent effort but largely bogged down after the second viewing, Adidas’ standby blurred traffic lights and architectural panning got stretched too thin to overcome couch fatigue, Polar shot the moon and made it work despite re-using a song*. Emerica wisely stopped trying to cram its entire team into ‘event’ releases and has made its ‘Made’ format work, though Nike’s similar campaign ran out of steam after a middling third go-round. The GX1000 vid was perfect.
In these heady and hurried times, who has the gumption to proffer an 80-minute epic? It is Colin Read, whose ‘Tengu’ featured the MNMFTB-challenging contender for gnarliest ollie in New York, now advancing into sweatier and more-exotic terrain via ‘Spirit Quest,’ a deceptively intricate VX1000 feature that basically dares you to look away for more than a few seconds at a time. It is a nocturnal/industrial metropolis similar to Josh Stewart’s third rail-powered ‘Static 4/5’ where walls are ridden and bars hopped, but instead of grainy tunnels and wee-hour bodega runs, ‘Spirit Quest’ soaks its clips in some ‘National Geographic’ acid bath. Here, dudes do doubles runs with themselves; alternate realities are compared in real time where tricks are both landed and bailed; arms contort into ostrich necks, walls turn into floors and exotic creatures freeze themselves into murals or switch places with tumbling skaters. Angles and sometimes tricks mirror themselves in midair, concrete humps flip to planets and bic’ed craniums, boards sprout wings in midair and camera glitches get regurgitated as architecture.
Floridian hydrant-harrier Jimmy Lannon is among ‘Spirit Quest’s cast of dozens, the only dude who can live in snow camo and switch backside 180 sewer caps in matching floral combos. The increasingly inscrutable Daniel Kim is on some Sampson deal where his trick spread (now including switch Japan airs and a switch kickflip tailgrab) seems to grow woollier in direct relation to his hair length. Bobby Worrest, Kyle Nicholson and the sadly seldom seen Zach Lyons cycle through a pan-global lineup that also includes velcro shoes and Airwalks. Taylor Nawrocki gets one of the gullier sequences at Philadelphia’s Muni, Isle’s Chris Jones dips back into a few more tunnels and does a tall switch 50-50, and Hiroki Muraoka stair-steps down a backside lipslide before popping a crazy half-off, half-on bar ollie that’s as mindbending as a lot of the visual miragery.
Will electronics retailers and omnichannels honor the receipts held by drone pilots and green screen enthusiasts, outdone by 20-year-old camera technology, detailed planning and crazily intimate knowledge of spots and cityscapes? What is the max rewatch tally for any 80-minute skate video? Could a 360 flip variation one-up ‘Spirit Quest’s VX fingerflip or just bring out the dramamine and barf bags? Could Fat Joe serve as MNMFTB’s spirit animal?
*Or maybe because of it
With this year’s 2016 US presidential race increasingly lopsided in the polls and exhibiting a deficit of true drama, political junkies hereby are forced to fixate upon the ever-frothier chase for Thrasher’s exalted Skater of the Year award, its trophy called “Rusty” and associated sacks of money and bragging rights. A genuine belt-straining tightness exists in this year’s campaign as associated runners and riders go blow-for-blow in high-def video clips and in the comparatively antiquated medium of physical magazine cover shots, all of it inuring to Joe Kickflip’s general awe and stoke. Here’s who it seems like may be potentially in possible contention:
Justin Figueroa: Emerica’s latest green-tinted salve to the Instagram throwaway clip-added mind may go down as the most handrail-light of its full-length catalogue since ‘Yellow,’ though Justin Figueroa’s section nearly single-handedly tips back the scales. This dude’s seemingly catastrophic injuries, like the intro stair-light removal, don’t seem much to dampen an altered beast appetite for massive switch 50-50s and Ellington spins, both ways; the dirt-gap switch flip is a thing of beauty and the death-drop k-grind grab landed him back on Thrasher’s cover. You could and this web blog page might make an argument that Justin Figueroa should’ve got it in 2012 off the strength of his Shake Junt/Skate Rock/Bake-and-Destroy tech-gnar build, but everybody makes mistakes.
Daan Van der Linden: In any other year a ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate, yung Van der Linden in the past 12-month period has emerged straight out the dungeons of the freshly splintered Euro zone to join the Anti-Hero roster, secure his own Thrasher cover, and blow doors in Volcom’s drone-a-riffic ‘Holy Stokes’ before hitting the road for the summer to cheat lethal handrail configurations, delight Jake Phelps and turn pro at a velocity only recently matched by Chris Joslin. It doesn’t seem beyond reality’s borders for Daan Van der Linden to crank out one more video part before the year’s up and put another bronzed and becapped humanoid on top of Julien Stranger’s toilet tank.
Evan Smith: A starry-eyed dreamer who rattles some of the industry’s loosest trucks and already has recorded a couple video sections this year, including a powerful and logical argument for 2016’s best 360 flip and a VX shop video part featuring cutty spots and a significant blizzard flip. This all was in between doing Dime’s ‘Glory Challenge’ high bar one better by diversifying away from the recommended boardslides and capturing two Thrasher covers — the most recent of which is the type of dreams-and-nightmares material normally reserved for EA Skate fantasies or maybe Jake Johnson.
Kyle Walker: Oklahoma’s Realist has been in the proverbial van what seems like all year, 180ing his giant gaps and 50-50ing his giant rails in ‘Holy Stokes,’ canoodling with the Vans breakfast mascot in a pro-shoe nod clip and later frontside bluntsliding one of the largest handrails evar alongside his Real teammates. He’s supposed to have another soon-to-arrive Thrasher exhibition. Even if Kyle Walker does not receive the Thrasher award, his retirement fund could benefit from retroactive Oklahoma Thunder photo incentive.
Jerry Hsu: San Jose’s knock-kneed switch hardflip bishop staged a massive comeback with a thinking-man’s answer to his recognized-classic ‘Bag of Suck’ opus, newly contorting himself onto sensibly sized handrails and immersing himself in Los Angelean schoolyards — the nollie backside 180 nosegrind revert boosted the increasingly hard-to-shift bar concerning midget picnic table tricks and the frontside noseslide nollie backside heelflip out early on in the ‘Made’ part served the triple purpose of providing advance notice of the heaviness to come, a certain audaciousness that didn’t require it for one of the closing clips, and generally putting respect on Jerry Hsu’s name, which interestingly* would rank up there with the shortest among history’s SOTY winners. The Thrasher brain trust, which already assigned him a cover this year, recognizes both Jerry Hsu’s decades invested in the skateboard game and dues paid via busted endoskeleton components and hospital bills, and he seems to have the belly fire and current soundness of body to compose a valid SOTY interview feature should occasion demand.
Tiago Lemos: A Brazilian on a multi-year tear that seems to gather momentum with every law of physics and gravitational dignity snubbed, Tiago Lamos is in the proverbial ‘window’ ability-wise — he possesses the raw technique to keep the J-Kwon gap to ledge fresh into a third decade (the switch bigspin backside tailslide via the scorching Thrasher part), the power to push uphill in lines (and nollie heelflip a trash can off a bump at the end) and the 90s-ness to lead the improbable switch mongo revival. With co-signs from the streets and the corporate boardroom, if there is any Brazilian to break the country’s near 20-year drought in Skater of the Year honors, this is the dude.
Dennis Busenitz: Perennial bridesmaid to the Flexfitted statue’s prior-year matrimonies, you could argue that Dennis Busenitz’ odds this year are as fair or far as any prior go-round where he’s been passed over — the last section in one of the year’s blockbuster vids, soundtracked to a Snoop Doggy Dogg song that’s been begging for the skate video treatment for decades; he also threw a curveball of a Thrasher cover and factored into the Volcom video. It is difficult to tell whether the haymaker-taking Jake Phelps perversely relishes overlooking a beloved and influential and long-laboring bro who otherwise seems to check all of your typical Thrasher boxes, but the plethora of gnarly fourth-quarter parts for better or worse make Dennis Busenitz seem again like a long shot.
A body blow to the soul of skateboarding as Dylan Rieder makes a way-too-early exit from an arena that needed him around. Just a few days after Bill Strobeck issued review material from “Cherry’s” 2014 ‘style class’, there’s a void left by a persona with enough forward lean to tuck shirts and cuff pants, and brute force that could land a regular-stance ledge trick on Thrasher’s cover in 2014. Cancer is pointless and terrible.
The switch backside bigspin flip that ends Transworld’s 2006 entry “Time to Shine” remains gnarly enough for Walker Ryan to lament his own struggles landing a similar version in the Figgy Thrasher, and at the same time there were deeply excavated lip concoctions like the noseblunt slide revert. The eponymous Gravis part got Dylan Rieder a perennial period to accompany single-name status and did as much as any project to legitimize and elevate the standalone online video part, that wrapped-not-spun ollie impossible over the bench demanding rewinds half a decade later. “Cherry” delivered a sort of peak Dylan Rieder, good naturedly teasing girls and honing the frontside flip/360 flip/fakie flip/impossible to finely barbed hooks. The art-film-slash-video-part for his Huf shoe played like a greatest hits reel that basically could’ve only come from this dude.
Dylan Rieder’s contribution to all this isn’t quantifiable, which is partly the point. He rose up with the technical chops and California-dream profile that opened a potential path to a Ryan Sheckler lifestyle enabled by the deepest-pocketed surf and sport gear sponsors. Instead he sought counsel from addled iconoclasts AVE and Dill, pared back his trick repertoire and designed skateable loafers; his Street League runs read like some lyrical argument for quality over quantity, and he got to see the movement he helped shape flow across borders in “Cherry,” setting one of the more vibrant arcs for skating so far this decade.
Besides a body of footage and photos that now won’t taper off or fizzle out, though, Dylan Rieder’s sometimes easy to caricature approach wound up proving, again, one of those truisms not just of the skate biz but a lot of times life in general – how commitment and consideration to left turns in life can transform those early-on arched eyebrows and half-hidden snickers to grudging respect and eventually full-blown fandom. Wish there were more.
As Skating Leads a Parade for Brian Anderson, Does a G-Code!!! Hat Remain Strapped to Its Collective Noggin?October 1, 2016
This week skateboarding rejoiced, heralding the justifiably jubilant event that was Brian Anderson’s coming out, while collectively exhaling at the acknowledgement of 10 years’ worth of rumors traded between parking-lot lines and across skateshop counters. Brian Anderson’s moment carries weight. Unlike Tim Von Werne’s buried interview and Jarrett Berry’s noteworthy/novelty cover turn for Big Brother, this arrives freighted with a universally beloved style, a caseful of contest trophies, parts in the best videos of their eras, and a Skater of the Year title in its most worthy form — a nod that proved out for years afterward. If you were to tally some imaginary checklist for gay people’s ideal skate ambassador, BA leaves few empty boxes.
Gio Reda’s at times shaky doc gets over due to Brian Anderson approaching the discussion with the same type of nonchalant grace that repopularized the hurricane grind, and steered a backside smith grind down the UCI hubba. There’s an all star cast of well-wishers, some understandable gravitas — BA’s simple reason for waiting this long to make his statement, being “freaked out” — and in the long tradition of skate vid skits there’s humor of both intentional (Biebel, Bluto) and unintentional (the hurried assurances that skaters are not Brian Anderson’s type).
Even with relatively little at stake as his pro career ticks past the 20-year mark, Brian Anderson deserves enormous credit for taking a step that can immeasurably help current and future gay kids who skate, and improve skateboarding’s increasingly tough-to-make case as a semi-lawless sanctuary open to whoever, be they misfit, malcontent, mordantly mundane, or otherwise. Even as skating emerges from the dregs of premium-extended cable packages to ascend the most lucrative podiums of international Olympic telecasts, it has failed to keep pace with even the most mainest streamy major league sports, those at which the four-wheeled persuasion still would look down their chipped noses. Gay NFL and NBA players already have identified themselves; some ex-baseball players have been out for years. Even the U.S. military, whose advertisements still draw derision when they grace skate mags’ supposedly less-conforming and higher-minded pages, six years ago dropped ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.’ For all the comparisons skating has drawn between itself and art, figure skating and rock music, it’s lagged these too.
If there is any silver lining the rainbow-coloured flag skating now heartily waves, it is that Baker’s ‘G-Code!!!’ hat sales may not have been in vain. Despite Brian Anderson’s sexuality having been more or less an open secret among skaters for more than a decade, to this blogging web page’s knowledge he never was called out publicly on it, nor put on the spot in any interview. Skateboarding is terrible bad at keeping secrets and in some sense it may have been assumed as common knowledge. But decades of ducking the law’s long arm, ignoring posted prohibitions and any number of other related illegalities seem to have kept some anti-snitching sentiment embedded in the industry. Missteps get called out — Jeremy Laebreres rowed back after an ill-considered Patrick Melcher recollection and Wes Kremer’s SOTY status didn’t absolve him from narrowed eyes after recently putting Smolik on front street. BA’s personal business is not in that pejorative realm, which maybe makes it that much more impressive that it wasn’t trotted out for him at some point.
Will BA’s big step prompt any of the supposed half dozen or so other gay pros to similarly raise their hands? Is this the type of after-black documentary hammer that assures Giovanni Reda hangs onto a pro-model slot on Viceland some five or ten years after he’s filmed anything? Where were Donny Barley and the Muska in the doc? How will history judge Andy Roy’s ‘snuggle bandit’ interview in the arc of skateboarding’s gradual embrace of its gay brethren and sisters? Could a renewed thirst to film tricks flow from Brian Anderson’s recently reinvigorated Instagram activity?