7. Ishod Wair — ‘Back On My Bullshit’

December 25, 2018


A grace refreshing as swallowing cool water on a hot day, easier on the eyes than a finely tuned, Swiss-built eyeball massager — it is Ishod Wair, emerging from injury and setback to stand again, slyly grinning, upon a heap of immaculately filmed, gloriously soundtracked bullshit. Try not to smile at the shoulder-lean sign dodge; suppress if you can the gasface reflex at the frontside feeble hopped up to smith grind; see whether you can keep your eyes in a non-bugged position as he tailblocks to revert in the deep end; acquire a fire extinguisher for after you set your house and garage aflame following the various and unbelievable flip tricks over the bump to bar.

8. Nick Ferro — ‘Its Time’

December 24, 2018


As is customary, Bronze 56K and Gucci Mane functioned on similar wavelengths in 2018 — both renowned for prolific output, facial tats and murder in legal self-defense, this year both chose to take time crafting their latest projects. This sweaty labor shows in Bronze’s ‘Its Time,’ an internet YouTube file uploaded in tribute to C1RCA’s 2007 movie ‘It’s Time,’ only without the apostrophe, because street life doesn’t allow much room for punctuation and the seconds needed to tap ‘123’ and differentiate the apostrophe from the suspiciously similar comma could cost your life. Like the ribs at a strip club lunch buffet, Buggy Talls has been slowly marinating in Wyoming-based Bronze’s thick and lustrous sauce for several years, and now appears solidly ‘in the window’ — see him gnaw his way up a wall switch to k-grind, backside flip out from a frontside bluntslide with the power of an emotional Transworld video, back-to-back bigspinning light-footedly down Parisian stone, the way the Californians do. The jacket game on the switch 180 manual impossible out is accurately judged to be among the year’s coldest.

9. Jimmy Wilkins — ‘Pro Division’

December 23, 2018


The vert division of Lakai Limited Footwears had a big 2018, between Tyler Pachecho’s waking-dream Tony Hawk commercial, the Birdman’s premium-priced pro model and the continually more crucial existence of Jimmy Wilkins, yung Creature pro, prowling for danger in and around giant ramps. The unit-shifting power of all this remains that mystery odor wafting from some metaphorical pad pile’s nether zone, but Jimmy Wilkin’s blood pumping pro turn for Creature provided empiricals for new above-deck backside sugarcane speed capabilities, to shove-it out even, and stabs at a lateral-distance record on the massive 360, no hands. His blistering backside noseblunts challenge for position in the trick’s galactic power rankings, even if skating for a ‘legacy skate shoe brand’ and being chosen by the vert discipline otherwise places Jimmy Wilkins into a pretty lonely Venn diagram slice.

10. James Sayres – ‘Next Up’

December 22, 2018


The great flattener of the skate-boarding discipline — crucially differentiating from those requiring planetary gravity to best friction (snowboarding) or churn up liquified transitions (surfing) or plummet to the Earth’s surface (sky boarding) — is that practitioners require little more than a board and some flat surface to get busy, unlock leveled rewards, collect money sacks, and other wish fulfillments. Village Psychic patron James Sayres is exhibit 946,788 in his daylong loops around Brooklyn Borough Hall, drawing sparks from little besides some curbs, grates and outdoor furnitures. Set against energetic beep-bloops and an intensely vibing androgyne, James Sayres cracks fat jumps and swerves on pedestrians over what looks like one of the most satisfying afternoons at the spot with all the bros of all time. Witness the over-grate ghetto bird and switch 360 flip, and his fakie flip form, all the way on point.

Two Wrongs, A Right, And The Gargoyle’s Secret Formula

December 9, 2018

At a time when so much of what we know seems in flux — meat grown from animal cells, NASA robotically probing risky asteroids for humankind’s own graven purposes, rampant varial flips — there is a reflexive urge to set things in order. Ledge skating’s tenure-track man of letters Mark Suciu made his own offering this month, creating exclusive content with Thrasher that set out a number of aesthetically acceptable ledge combinators and warned impressionable yung booger-sliders away from a few others, including the oft-maligned crooked grind to backside lipslide.

Among the regimented rules of skateboarding, where ‘no rules’ is the ruling rule among many other unofficial rules, the crooked grind to backside lipslide’s longstanding pariah status stands out, maintained even as similarly ill-advised ledge combos ran rampant across copiously waxed blocks following ‘Fully Flared.’ Born of those spastic curb cauldrons in the early 1990s, the crooked grind to backside lipslide lay low for a certain number of Earth years until Bastien Salabanzi donked one down a semi-legit handrail in ‘Sorry,’ drawing immediate reprisals in the shallow backwaters of the early message-board days and inspiring several other related atrocities over the years to come. It was a time of war, girth and widespread musical pirating.

Yet even as aesthetically middling ledge combos (see the 5-0 to switch crooked grind) and clearly ugly ones (see any that begin with a boardslide) remain part of 2018’s conversation, the crooked grind to backside lipslide still is taboo, even after stylistically endowed persons including Silas Baxter-Neal have tiptoed up to it via the crooked grind to backside tailslide and ruffled relatively few internet feathers in the process. Weighed against the lipslide to switch k-grind that arose from the Guy Mariano/‘Fully Flared’ school or the twirly lipslide spinaround to frontside bluntslide, the crooked grind to backside lipslide on paper appears to have just as much to recommend it, if not more — there is no greasily scooting of wheels from one position to another; it involves the backslide lipslide, one of the better-looking tricks on either rail or ledge; and properly executed, it returns to the preferred regular-stance rollaway rather than to fakie.

Unlocking the value of this much-derided trick maybe requires a much-derided skater. It is Chad Fernandez, so belittled by his onetime Baker Boys bros and a prime actor in Osiris’ greatest ‘Storm’-era excesses, who retains the best on-film execution of the crooked grind to backside lipslide. A novice beerbuyer’s age in the past, the future gargoyle wrassler closed out his part in Transworld’s little-recalled ‘Interface’ vid with a ten-second clinic on the necessary ingredients for a successful run at this trick. Filmed long-lens from the side, Chad Fernandez picks an elongated and mostly flat rail that allows for the crucial nuance — a lengthy crooked grind, rather than the brief tap that sets other renditions up for immediate and pathetic failure — before dropping back to a backside lipslide that’s just long enough to make the point before landing back to regular. This skater-trick intersection, counterintuitive to the hilt, reveals the best in each — and also the sadly ingrained prejudices still allowing both to be too-easily dismissed, 20 years on.

Does this clip negate the long-held notion that two wrongs do not make a right? Would this one be harder or easier switch? Could Mark Suciu prove his willingness to accept an intellectual and stylistic challenge by filming one, perhaps up and then across the chunky red kink-ledge at Manhattan’s Columbus Park, which he combo’d in his Adidas shoe video earlier this year?

A New Gilded Age For Skate Videos

December 2, 2018

There is more hugging in the new Supreme vid than you might think. A heartfelt Tyshawn Jones embrace features in promotional posters tucked into Thrasher and plastered across New York City in the run-up to the billion-dollar streetwear barony’s new full-length, emphasis on the full. Bloby pickup Kevin Rodrigues collects three after one clip, Sean Pablo rolls straight into a businesslike squeeze after successfully stepping to a backside lipslide on the Jake Johnson rail, and Sage Elsesser appears to willingly accept the outstretched arms of Andy Roy. Dudes sitting and watching tricks hug. ‘Blessed,’ which surpasses President Trump’s most-recent State of the Union address in length, freely ladles out the love: These young men bound by the red box-logo are older, better and seemingly tighter than ever, drawn close by their good fortune, high-value boxes, and a tinge of tragedy. Each heavy clip, many slathered in slow-mo, culminates in relief in the trick conquered, exaltation in the accomplishment, and joy in bro-dom. Bill Strobeck’s title, obligatory quotation marks included, says it all.*

This universe is a far cry from headbutts dealt to uppity sneakerheads, but going strictly off the skating, ‘Blessed’ justifies its celebratory vibes. Ben Kadow, he of the thousand-yard stare and latent disgruntlement, hurls himself onto rails and electrical boxes out the gate, but even he eventually succumbs to a satisfied grin by the time he chews through a couple boards on a jagged crescent-shaped lipslide. Rowan Zorilla, who still looks odd decked out in Supreme gear, delivers off-kilter jaw-slackeners including a China Banks nollie flip, another wallie noseblunt for the 2018 tally, and a how-the-fuck nose manual wallride. Sage Elsesser steps to Pulaski’s dishes from another, lower level; Kevin Bradley presses pause on his piling-out campaign to throw a beautiful over-bin heelflip and huck at the Brooklyn Banks. Splindly Blue Steel-worker Sean Pablo flicks a rather mean backside flip to fakie 5-0 at the bank-to-hubba spot while a new generation of tween onlookers man the fence, and elsewhere gets unexpectedly gnarly, backside lipsliding the Jake Johnson rail and taking a picture-perfect line down a three stack under security duress. For goodness’ sake, Na’kel Smith makes slamming look fun.

It is Tyshawn Jones, however, whose curtain-dropper asserts a measure of severity and awe, turning in what must be the heaviest east coast video part since Jake Johnson tore down walls in ‘Mindfield.’ It’s just a handful of clips here that wouldn’t stand as enders for other, lesser pros, and some whose like hasn’t much been seen before — the switch backside 360 over the can, say, or the enormously lofted fakie float over the bar. Bill Strobeck’s lingering and oft-zoomy lens soaks in the pain, struggle and eventual euphoria permeating the last few tricks, and it’s hard to turn ‘Blessed’ off without the feeling that Tyshawn Jones has changed the conversation at some level. (And then there’s the nollie flip.)

The onetime Fat Bill evolved out of the primordial VX-toting ooze to become one of the relatively few videomaking iconoclasts out there, with a fairly set group of muses, a much-derided/much-copied style, and legit classics to his resume. Surely ‘Blessed’ applies to its editor/director as much as any of his leading dudes, and he is savoring their shared moment — but at 84 minutes, he overextends himself, and there are points where ‘Blessed’ drags despite its adherence to a more classical part-part-part structure. Despite all its montages and occasional interludes, ‘Cherry’ kept things moving for a fairly brisk 40 minutes. Here, you’re watching screwed footage of Ben Kadow on a light-up wheeled cruiser for 40 seconds, or waiting as la smoke curls for the duration of Jason Dill’s ‘Trilogy’ part. There’s a lengthy EMB session capturing the crew’s chemistry, but it gets you wondering whether Bill Strobeck’s real aim is to memorialize and immortalize two years of these Supreme kids collectively ‘in the window,’ traveling the world, wearing expensive clothing pieces, and living their best lifes before the vagaries of adulthood encroach — versus constructing a more functional, digestable skate video. His filming, reliably aped here and there by Johnny Wilson, in some cases only obscures any perspective of the trick or spot at hand. There are Madinna and Motley Crue singles, incongruously.

Wave aside for a moment though what ‘Blessed’ is, or is not, and instead slow-mo pan across what it says — at a time when Instagram, Youtube and other FAANG-funded suspects are meant to have brutalized attention spans and left the full-length skate video for dead, we arrive at the end of 2018 with a bushelful of projects, some ranking among the decade’s most vital. Quasi, Polar, Bronze, GX1000, Element, Foundation, Primitive, Alltimers, Cons, Vans, Girl and Transworld all put out meaty and worthwhile video releases this year; even Etnies saw fit to offer its first in 23 years. The bloat of ‘Blessed’ itself can be celebrated, in that its frenetically collabing, billion-dollar benefactors believe in not just the concept of an hour-plus vid but will support the dude with the vision. Years after ‘Pretty Sweet,’ ‘Stay Gold,’ ‘Fully Flared’ and other big-ticket productions were declared in sotto vice to variously be ‘tha last video ever,’ a bumper crop of great videos, worth revisiting as a whole or in parts — the opening Portland tear in ‘We Blew It,’ Jake Johnson’s uphill roof flip for Converse, Buggy Talls’ switch 180 manual impossible out on the big block in ‘Its Time,’ Jeff Carlyle’s vein-pumping arms-down descents in ‘Roll Up,’ etc — suggest a new gilded age of skate videos at hand.

With internet users reportedly cutting back on Facebook pokes and youngsters formulating fewer Tweets, is it too early to declare the World Wide Web ‘totally over’ and with it, mouldering and half-sensical blogging outlets? Would there have been more hugging in the GX video if dudes weren’t moving so fast? Does Sean Pablo’s extended middle finger segment suggest he’s embraced Richard D. James as his next stylistic touchstone? Will Bill Strobeck’s use of ‘Birthday Boy’ boost Ween sufficiently in the skate video music supervision power rankings such that kids next year will soundtrack IG clips to ‘Touch My Tooter’ and ‘Poop Ship Destroyer’?

*Also, weed

Horsemasters, Horse-punchers And The Intergalatic Pistol Whip

November 18, 2018

In the 2004 coming-of-age musical ‘Mean Girls,’ a quartet of junior high-schoolers skip town to search for a dead body, braving a vicious junkyard dog, a deadly freight train and menacing bullies in a journey of self-discovery and humanoid bonding. Along the way they bicker and fight, but when the pistol goes off in the final act, nobody snitches, and they all are one step closer to that exhausting and pressurized land: adulthood.

As another year darkens and draws to a close, who is the dog, the dead body, the pistolier? It sounds like a cool card-based RPG but really it is the story of the skateboard culture. Besides obviating magazines and videos as content gatekeeping mechanisms, Instagram’s rise as skateboarding’s universal center has enabled widespread broadcasting of hard feelings and beefs, with Dan Plunkett, Richie Jackson, Bobby Puleo, and Marc Johnson airing pro-level grievances, and that’s just in the last few weeks.

Palace, that UK-based maker of tailored track suits and premium triangles, for years has done double-duty as a moneyed backbiter and/or uncomfortable truths-sayer, depending on where you sit. In all-caps product descriptions and tour-article photo captions, Palace has tweaked and aired out would-be riders like Tiago Lemos and ‘that white guy on Numbers and Adidas who skates rails,’ as well as rival deck merchants such as Eric Koston and Guy Mariano’s Numbers New Edition.

This week it was Alien Workshop and Habitat, panned in a Blondey McCoy photo caption for being ‘fully dogshit now,’ a blow irksome enough to draw a profane emoticon rejoinder from bookish ledge savant and marquee Habitat pro Mark Suciu. Set aside, if you will for a moment, AWS’s historical role as an obvious graphical and thematic touchstone in Palace’s occult-scented earlier years, or the painful generational shift at hand over the last few years as the upstarts eat the old guard’s lunch. It feels here a wee bit like Palace is punching down, given Alien and Habitat’s years of struggles as a hot-potato asset tossed between corporate overlords and distributors, while Palace is out here opening glitzy outlet stores with fuzzy novelty letters, and playing the ponies with the wealthy horsemasters of Ralph Lauren.

Does Palace really just need a better foil? One wonders whether their bullet-pointed, Londonite verse might eventually take aim at Supreme, Palace’s closest competitor in cobranded clothing collections and vulturist resale premiums. As many of their multi-decaded contemporaries like Alien, Girl and Zoo York are in retreat, Supreme is ascendant, in the midst of a trans-continental premiere tour for Bill Strobeck’s ‘Blessed’ movie and meanwhile promoting collaborative products with North Face, radio-controlled car makers and da X Files, to name a few. Given Palace’s predilection for poking fun, it’s tough to imagine them not giggling over the Superb ‘Blueberry’ parody a few years back, or group chats evaluating the various outfits on display in the new vid, even as their respective retail bosses jockey for position and consumer favour in the same discretionary spending-heavy locales.

Could a well-timed and high-profile company-to-company beef bolster the promotional cycle for whichever company next comes with a full-length vid? Would such a rivalry, fanned to the overheated levels required for modern internet discourse, result in a Disco Demolition Night-style clothing immolation, ranking among mankind’s costliest bonfires ever? Do Palace and Supreme’s mutual love for Lucien Clarke and (one naturally assumes) Jamal Smith neutralize any possible negative vibes?

The Great American SOTY Chase of 2018

November 10, 2018

First it was a blue wave, then a red wall, smashing out a purple rain (or golden shower) over a green revolution and sporadic outbreaks of orange justice. This year, the campaign for Thrasher’s Skater of the Year appears colourful and relatively wide open amid tentpole video releases, a revitalized underground contest circuit, and Viceland continuing to provide a televised venue for which ascendant bros can make sacrifices unto the skate-goat, to the extreme. Who in the skateboarding business has the power and position to contend for Thrasher’s ultimate prize?

Corey Glick: Moustachioed Midwesterner Corey Glick’s punch-through in 2018’s back half may provide some balm to that sore question — whether it’s possible these days to capture the Rusty trophy without the backing of deep-pocketed footwear marketers, corn-syrup/caffeine mixologists and other moneyed interests. The current Foundation squad seems as painfully working class as they come, which seemed no impediment to Corey Glick’s KOTR heroics on the Super Co’s behalf, or maybe, it helped. The TV turn and last year’s ‘Am Scramble’ attendance places him in the conversation, and his scorching section in Foundation’s ‘Souvenir’ promo is a persuasive argument, wherein Corey Glick took the lead among an unlikely crop of wallie-to-noseblunt slide clips this year, and sailed an unbelievable, barely-on-his-soles ollie to wrap the vid and secure the professional bag. The backside noseblunt shove-it heavily contends for trick of the year.

Zion Wright: There is a whiff of inevitability around the yung bro, possibly wafting by association from Floridian colleague and 2017 FLOTY to SOTY Jamie Foy, who Zion Wright seems to match in handrail fearlessness and maybe surpasses in terms of transition 540s. The newly incorporated Vice component may have shrunk the number of years dudes need to suffer and burn on the national scene to qualify for a SOTY nod, though by the time of its airing Zion Wright had already half-cab backside smith grinded Hollywood High’s long pole, along with that 50-50 to backside tailslide in Philly and the no-hander QP backside 360. Last month he captured December’s cover and odds seem better than even that he releases some other type of part before the year’s out.

Austyn Gillette: His tricks settling into a nicely grizzled groove as the days of gangly switch feeble grind shove-its fade, modern man Austyn Gillette maybe is a long shot for this magazine award, stacked clip-for-clip versus various uber-achieving peers. Within the realm of the qualitative, where tricks are the products of hand-labour and all moustaches neatly trimmed, Austyn Gillette’s ringing ‘Radiant Cure’ part crunched hubbas and rewound shove-its, flexing one of the industry’s most reliable switch 360 flips. He poured his heart out to Thrasher in one of the year’s more penetrating interviews, later tucked in for the nigh-unpronounceable EPØKHE clip and put on a late-summer clinic at LES. His weightiest contribution may have been to inspire one of the decade’s most impassioned trick-nomenclature debates.

Evan Smith: The Thrasher clan has celebrated Evan Smith’s spastic precision for years, and between his MVP KOTR acronym-hoarding and the follow-up interview feature in his cover-photo issue, the High Speed powers that be seem to have fully embraced his wide-eyed, chronically curious personal brand. Finally receiving a Skater of the Year honour would be a long time coming for Evan Smith, who’s been a credible candidate for the last several years, offering both blockbuster-level tricks and a tall measure of sweat-lodge creativity, which tends to put some distance between the visionaries and dudes who can just do every trick. In 2016 he brought mirror-image, gap-incorporating kickflip wallrides; this year it’s a frontside kickflip water-whip and street 540s. He is the heaviest favorite.

Mason Silva: A no-frills ripper who put in ‘King of the Road’ miles on this year’s winning Element assemblage, Mason Silva’s also dispersed video parts for ‘Peace’ and the leather-and-wetsuits handstitcher set at Former. You can tell Mason Silva is a workhorse by the way he takes frontside bigspin tricks over rails and gaps the hard way, or the early pop commitments required to travel fakie over bump-to-bars and handrails. He arguably could come with still more footage before the year’s out, but then again on the other hand, his crewcut and love for the frontside 360 seem reminiscent of Jeremy Wray, a perennial Skater of the Year runner-up.

Tyshawn Jones: This generation’s undisputed king of New York romps through the city with the Gonz and promises a landmark part in Bill Strobeck’s soon-to-debut ‘Blessed’ opus for Supreme, and given that most of the yung restauratuer’s moves this year have been made in and around NY, odds favor a Jake Johnson ‘Mindfield’ tilt at the gnarliest and hardest-to-tackle spots on offer across the five borroughs. One of those — a train station ollie that Quartersnacks placed a bounty on months back — just landed the first Thrasher cover of the New Year, and earned the AVE endorsement.

Legacy Maintenance And Mutation In The Days Of Goldfish Focus

November 4, 2018

The time was the early 1980s and in that potent cosmos knowed as Hollywood, stars were aligning so as to align several of music’s biggest stars and birth the greatest musical album ever conceived: Queen frontman Freddie Mercury cowriting operatic party anthems with Michael Jackson, the undisputed king of entertainment. Although their respective musical prowess suggested little beyond certified platinum plaques for days and lofty wages, the artistic chemistry would be fouled by an interloping llama of some description.

According to an interview conducted with the Times of London, Queen’s former manager, Jim “Miami” Beach claims that Mercury called him and said, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.” Jackson was also reportedly less than thrilled with Mercury’s behavior during the recording session. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Mercury subsequently fell out with Jackson because the U.S. star objected to Mercury taking too much cocaine in his living room.”

On the surface, it’s just another cautionary tale about U.S. llamas, rival species and greedy excess. More deeply, it is a story of personal collaboration, llamas, and the challenges of building a chemistry strong enough to stand through the years. Like many of the 1980s’ greatest lessons, one can draw a direct line toward Element Skate Boards, which recently released its newest video, ‘Peace.’ Twenty-six years into its branded lifetime, the Twigs parent is feeling itself, springing for the considerable talents of Emerica’s Jon Miner to sort a 60-minute full-length from its deep and diverse benches, theoretically to bolster Element’s mystique and power in the board marketplace, while handing a breezy, wet, and flaming hot baton made of dirt to a new guard.

And what of that baton? By the power of the bankroll, Element’s clung to some clout over these many years, overcoming eyebrow-raising maneuvers such as a Billabong-cobranded Times Square outlet store and major-league fan service to corral a talented but usually incongruous mixture of riders, ranging at various times from Julien Stranger to Jeremy Wray to Chad Muska to Ray Barbee to Dennis Durrant to Terry Kennedy to Natas Kaupas to Kris Markovich to Stella Reynolds. Tracing the OG team to Element’s roster as of ‘Peace’ — it is sure to fluctuate again soon — would require several pages for one of Thrasher’s nerds-only company lineage features, and would rival the Bible’s ‘begats’ for reader patience.

Tenuous as Element’s current iteration may be to the ‘Skypager’ lineup or even the prior decade’s ‘This Is My Element,’ Jon Miner gamely coaxes out a cohesive if unwieldy production, strung together with static long-lens shots and a fair helping of psych-rock pulled from the ‘Made’ bins. Bionic Barley heir Brandon Westgate cranks once more down the SF hills to Operation Ivy’s buzzsaw bounce, rocketing over a king-size street gap and frontside flipping what appears to be an entire loading dock. Granola-grimy Tyson Peterson pulls a shocker of a kinked rail dismount and looks as confident sitting on backside smith grinds as he seems to be copping thrift-store trouser pants. Dominick Walker’s TSM cover footage is bananas, Greyson Fletcher catches one of the season’s most lovely and frightening kickflips, the lanky Madars Apse’s Barcelona board bonk and similar antics read like a Polar tryout, or maybe raised glass. Terminally brolic Mason Silva is positioned as ‘Peace’s’ closer, boosting fakie over the back of a rail to 5-0 and uncorking one of the wilder bump-to-bar wallride combos in a while, but it is starry-eyed wanderer Evan Smith, again, serving as the current Element generation’s spiritual core — beautifully switch backside flipping a bench, helicoptering off that silvery wedge for all the Spanish oldsters, and perhaps most dangerously of all, attempting to break Marsellus Wallace’s cardinal rule after a wallie late-shove gone wrong.

Is Element’s perpetually churning team a strength or weakness? Amid the recent media campaign for ‘Peace,’ Tyson Peterson in Thrasher speaks on his longtime Element fandom in terms of Brent Atchley, a dude off the team 10 years ago — and Bam Margera, whose pickup by Element during his ascent to MTV reality television staple marked one of the more surreal team roster mutations from the Chris Hall and Harold Hunter days, or even Reese Forbes and Kenny Hughes.

Meanwhile over at Girl, a 25-year-old entity that has derived much of its powers from maintaining a direct link to its storied pros and past, the dudes seem like they’re trying to tell us something. “We know where we’re going/but we don’t know where we’ve been,” croon the Talking Heads to Niels Bennett’s pre-intro sizzler in Girl’s crackling new ‘Doll’ vid. “I can change,” bleats James Murphy in the obligatory, sentimental-yet-lighthearted closing-credits number, as those yellowy letters scroll. “We sit back on Malayan islands/sipping mixed drinks out of broke coconut bowls, we wilding” croons Ghostface Killah amid Griffin Gass’ punchy, driving last part.

It is the sound of Girl breaking with its past, to some extent; eight minutes of ‘Doll’ unspool before there’s any tricks from a pre-9/11 rider, and then, it’s second-genner Brandon Biebel. The OGs skate for only about 30 seconds in the vid, and whether or not that’s OK is moot in 2018 — the ravages of time and adult living make anything else unrealistic, and Girl’s new hair relaxer-rejecting brood proves more than capable of carrying the half-hour ‘Doll.’

The dozens-deep pro rosters and overwrought theatrica of preceding Crailtap productions mostly are shunted to the side, allowing viewers to marinate in Niels Bennett’s sand gaps line, bounding fakie over one of Venice’s fat ledges, Tyler Pacheco’s loosey-goosey nollie heelflips and frontside bluntslides, Griffin Gass’ brawling rampages through alleys and fountains, and that one kickflip backside noseblunt. There’s winks and nods to past bits like Rick Howard’s dawdling rodent and Keenan Milton’s Rick Moranis moment, but the generational shift at work benefits even the skits — session screenwriter Colin Read, of ‘Spirit Quest’ fame, captures Spike Jonze’s brand of winking creativity using basically a board and a camera for a worthwhile entry in Girl/Choco’s anthropomorphic board series.

As the human attention span shrinks to rival the goldfish’s, ’tis it better, in pursuit of longevity and countercultural heft, to regularly shed teamriders every few years or hold to the original foundation of dudes as long as can be? Did everybody take note of Tyler Pacheco’s fakie flip in this? What about the alternate ending for the board revenge skit? How come nobody ever coined the nickname Matt “Miami” Beach?

Who Wants To Ride For Girl Skateboards?

October 13, 2018

Finally, some shame — Rick Howard, in a sorely missed skate photo for a recent Lakai ad, included a disclaimer specifying that the Anti-Hero setup that the Girl impresario is very visibly tailblocking belonged not to him but rather to photographer Mike O’Meally. Set aside boring questions of professional obligation and instead marvel at how the asterisk is more surprising than yet another appearance by the clean-scalped eagle beneath a Girl dude’s feet. It is 2018, robot cars have drawn first blood, and Kanye West tells us from the Oval Office that “time is a myth.”

For much of the past decade, various Girl teamriders not actively involved in weightlifting and yearslong DL stints have often veered between devoted Anti-Hero fandom and at times making the Torrance empire built from EMB bricks and SoCal picnic tables into an effective subsidiary for the tent-dwelling bowl tribe out of the Bay. Brian Anderson, who would eventually join Anti Hero, has talked openly of riding the boards throughout much of his Girl tenure, while Cory Kennedy in recent years took only cursory efforts to make it look like there was anything else guiding him in, out and around PNW concretes. The van door seemed to fly open for such deck double-dipping with the fabled ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tours — an inspired combination at the time, a clear passing of some subcultural torch in retrospect — and subsequent collabo product runs, while Crailtap employed a team-building playbook that at times seemed cribbed directly from the stripey socks/Dickeys/blaze orange beanie set.

For longtime devotees of the Art Dump, SHT Sound and goldfish-toting retirement home scammers, it’s difficult to separate dudes’ seeming lack of enthusiasm for skating their own boards with the company’s at times painful evolution, as the onetime family has splintered across the FuckingAwesome, Numbers, and other camps. For over a decade, damn near everybody wanted to ride for Girl skateboards. The World defection bomb-drop on the industry set up a 10-year run that elevated the original squad to all-time status and provided the currency, cultural and hard, for acquisitions to set up the next generation — Rick McCrank, Brandon Biebel, Robbie McKinley, Brian Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Jereme Rogers.

Halfway through the ‘00s though the unthinkable occurred, with Paul Rodriguez stepping out, for a rebooted Plan B of all things. A crack had appeared; more than ten years on, the skate biz has learned that its institutions are not immune to the cultural fracturing that has laid low the top-40 radio hit, the water-cooler conversation-starter, the very special TV episode. The exodus from Girl began with next-generation pillars Jereme Rogers, Alex Olson, and spilled over to foundational names Koston and Mariano.

Tyler Pacheco, Simon Bannerot, Griffin Gass and Niels Bennett want to ride for Girl Skateboards. As per their recent Thrasher interview, they skate the boards. This clutch of curly-haireds, entrusted to guide the venerable company through a third decade, keep the bases covered across wallrides, hill bombs, bowls and those Southern California schoolyards. They feature in Girl’s imminent and anticipated ‘Doll’ vid, an am-focused affair that somewhat lowers the stakes; with 2017’s ‘The Flare’ making no bones about the fact that OGs Carroll, Howard, and others are throttling back with age, ‘Doll’ augurs to present a clean slate that maybe can be judged on its own merits by kids with only a vague grasp of Girl’s weighty legacy. In the Thrasher interview, Tyler Pacheco eloquently suggests that he and his bros aren’t encumbered by the historical gravity of a Girl nod, though they’re down for the cause:

How important is turning pro for Girl skateboards to you guys?
Manch: Not important at all.

It’s not a goal?
Manch: No. I mean, I already know Mike; I already know Rick; I already know Chico and Kenny and everybody. Shit, I’m already pro in my mind! I don’t look at it like that. Yonnie went pro and that’s my fuckin’ homie. When he first went pro I was like What?! Then two months later it’s like he’s my normal homie I kick it with. But it’s amazing. I was psyched when he went pro. ‘Cause everyone else I knew was on the fuckin team, It’s just like Wow, we’re all a part of this awesome fuckin’ company. No matter how far it’s gone it’s just great to be a part of it. I’ve always looked up to it and I’ll always hold it high in my heart.

What is success for Girl in 2018? Will a pro board for the preternaturally talented Niels Bennett at long last put some respect on the Slap boards’ name? Could a slimmer budget, driven by general hardgoods market saturation and rising freight costs, steer ‘Doll’ away from the high-concept, high-def sledgehammer approach of the Ty era and back toward the shoestring creativity that scraped raw the underbellies of ’80s sedans and affixed a Charlie Chaplin ‘stache on Eric Koston?