Tiago Lemos is Brazilian and switch ollied over the back of a handrail into a switch backside smith grind. Tiago Lemos wears baggy khaki shorts and fakie hardflipped out of a switch frontside crooked grind on a thigh-high picnic table. Tiago Lemos still skates for the small board company that put him on after he got to the US and he nollie inward heelflipped into a backside lipslide down a handrail. Tiago Lemos switch backside tailslide switch flipped out into another switch backside tailslide that he slid the length of a two-year-old alligator. Tiago Lemos did a switch bigspin to switch backside tailslide on the J-Kwon gap to ledge and only turned pro in April. Tiago Lemos knows the names of the forgotten gods and does gully tricks like a switch backside 5-0 180 out on ledges tall enough to choke a giraffe.
Palace’s ‘V Nice,’ documenting some Los Angelean residence by the famed swishy short manufacturer, arrived like a heady midsummer night fever dream, one where Lucien Clark had a part in Trilogy and Danny Brady seized control of an anti-aging serum that also contained plans for as-yet unfathomed bank-to-bench moves at Lockwood. Whether or not Jamal Smith’s powers to go viral have obscured over the years his excellent skating is a debate for podcasts yet to come, though only after flavored soda waters have been sipped empty and the clock has passed the 45-minute mark. Currently, it seems clear that Jamal Smith is among the most inventive minds working in the frontside shove-it medium; in ‘V Nice’ he is hitting PJ Ladd levels over the Santa Monica sand gaps and pushing one of the grimier switch 360 flips on the market. And his grinds sound good.
Every few years some new kid arrives and inspires comparisons to Tom Penny — Andrew Reynolds, Ali Boulala, Eric Fletcher, Wes Kremer — now comes Daan Van Der Linden, racking up unbelievable tricks and co-signs galore since emerging from his Dutch incubator that presumably also gestates ideas like the rarely glimpsed Madonna noseblunt or the handrail hippie jump. Daan Van Der Linden’s own feather-light ease extends as much to his preternatural ability to survive rough spills as it does to jaw-droppers such as the frontside crooked grind pop-over, the early-grab rail ride, the pop-shove it off the vert wall and the cliffhanging frontside wallride. His skating doesn’t seem weighted with much self-awareness when it comes to the heaviness of some of these tricks, perhaps insulated by some Penny-type fog.
Like a chanting guru with his beard on fire, Evan Smith seemed to ricochet through 2016 rifling off multisyllabic tricks and dense parts and crazed contest appearances in some type of glassy-eyed Zen state – Kyle Walker earned Thrasher’s top honor on some legitimately video-game scale handrails and showed impossible-to-fake poise on massive stuff, but an easy argument could be made for Evan Smith’s technical inventiveness and unpredictability, which didn’t impugn any capacity to keep doling out footage. Along with his ‘Zygote’ and ‘No Hotels’ sections, ‘Time Trap’ has probably his craziest line of the year, wallriding and blasting a giant 360 flip mid-hill bomb before whipping himself to the pavement on an ill-considered switch 360, maybe a good summary for Evan Smith’s ongoing arc – bonking trash cans and hurling caballerials over playground slides like those dreams where you can land any trick you try, which is maybe close to daily life for this dude.
‘Spirit Quest’ beat its 1:20:00 clock with moving mirages like Daniel Kim’s mindbending mirror wall-push sequence towards the beginning of this section, which takes a couple watches for slow-witted captains of windbag web blogs to fully comprehend. In a star-crossed year, Daniel Kim indulges a taste for exotic and enigmatic tricks that may never be as huggable as a hardflip or backside smith grind: Switch japan grabs, the pop-shove it nosegrind tailgrab and his barrier-clearing switch kickflip tailgrab mix Daniel Kim’s robust ‘Belly of the Beast’ tech with the type of cosmic syrup Jason Dill maybe was sipping when he conjured a 25-year-old coping trick on the cover of Thrasher in ‘Mindfield’-era Alien’s waning days. Few were those bringing wholly unthought of tricks to the table this year, with or without one white glove.
Kevin Kowalski is just a young Oregonian with Bob Burnquist backyard bowl dreams, who wound up recording one of the more volatile transition-oriented sections this year that goes long Madonnas and occasionally surprises with out-of-nowhere speed bursts. This section benefits from some risky in-bowl filming (possibly via Chris Gregson) and the type of wild hairs that lend themselves to scratching Bertlemanns at the top of cradles and looping full pipes in the blink of an eye. Kevin Kowalski barrels through that one graffiti house ramp like a loosed rhino but tucks enough finesse into his back pocket to match switch frontside blunts with the likes of Vincent Alvarez, to what one assumes is obligatory squalling Nordic metal.
There are a range of persons, places and things in skating that credibly qualify as a damn shame, among them a relative scarcity of jazz music recorded before the 1980s. Into this breach marches 5Boro’s Sylvester Eduardo, who opened the ‘5BNY’ vid late last year while this list already was in progress and so became counted within the current fiscal year for skate blog technicality purposes. More generally it seemed like its mixture of John Coltrane, crisp cityscapes and Jordan Trahan’s indelible flip tricks slipped into that unfortunate year-end black hole made deeper by insidiously backward-creeping year-end awards and lists. Timing seems no particular concern for Sylvester Eduardo, who can put down sizable shove-its and bigspins with little to no setup, who hurls himself over Blubba and cranks burly switch 360 flips, elsewhere 180ing the hard way onto some of New York’s more well-known hunks of brick. The backside kickflip he cracks ahead of the over-and-down caballerial deserves enshrining in a high-class, expensive luxury shrine someplace.
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?