3. Lil Dre — ‘Manifest Destiny’

December 29, 2020


For all the ‘future’ trappings around this Karl Watson-blessed kid and how he closed out the Maxallure video, from the high fashions to the ‘2070’ dateline on the into, he put something together that hits strong notes across a bunch of different eras from the last few decades. There is East Coast ledge technicality in his kickflip backside noseblunt pop-out on the wooden block, hill jumping in the Bay, some ride-on no-comply shit, and hammer-swinging flips down big gaps, like the fakie frontside flip that he crazily hang onto. There is a chain wallet. Lil Dre generally though is just fun to watch, with his strange and mesmerizing switchstance flick delay, the back-and-forth windmill on the halfcab to backside tailslide, and his raspberry after that fakie ollie to switch frontside crooked grind (or whatever this fairly heavy trick must technically be termed).

4. Shin Sanbongi — ‘Shin’

December 28, 2020


As Polar’s scattering tribe seeds Pontus Alv’s parables of no complies, wallrides and shove-its across teams based in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, pickups such as Chigasaki’s Shin Sanbongi show he can still bring new proselytizers into his Nordic-by-way-of-Portugal-by-way-of-the-late-80s fold. Commemorating his choice in colors for an Adidas shoe as the pandemic loomed, Shin Sanbongi deployed all the elements that propelled Polar to the zeitgeist’s forefront — see the crazy pole jam backside tailslide with arms on point, the backside smith grind pop way out, the line that starts with the ollie up to scorching backside powerslide and ends with a metal pole wallie, one for the books. He’s also got a way of fusing surf fluidity with East Coast grit material like his setup 360 flip, a pronounced point of view that sits him well alongside people like Dane Brady and Nick Boserio and Pontus Alv his own self. This part also features the perennially underrated Silas Baxter Neal and a great sideways glance from Dennis Busenitz as he heads into traffic.

5. Alexis Sablone — ‘Seize The Seconds’

December 27, 2020

Presented with a multiple choice questionnaire 18 years ago, would you have been able to accurately predict which ‘Wonderful, Horrible Life’ alum would embrace the Sikh religion, which would abandon the pro ranks for a rap career, and which would be in the SOTY running two decades hence? Alexis Sablone’s been around for a minute but her impassioned, cathartic, context-free board smashing at the start of her ‘Seize the Seconds’ section captures much of the 2020 moment. The ever-crisp flips and confident charges that follow are the release, and for sure among the most polished and best-captured stuff from her singular skating career. Ben Chadbourne and company catch all the angles, the toe poise on the smith grind dismount and barrier backside 180, the street-gap power heelflip. The left and right-footed kickflips in Florida speak for themselves, the subtext is gravy.

6. Seven Strong — ‘Untitled’

December 26, 2020


It’s been said, but the 24-hour footage party’s steady din occasionally functions to sift out and surface projects that stand apart for whatever reason — exotic locale, full-throated trend rejection, or in the case of Michael Nicholas’ ‘Untitled,’ a labor of remarkable quality and authenticity that comes fully formed, seemingly out of nowhere. The vid draws upon the best of these recent Supreme years, revolving around a tight-knit group of kids skating together in the streets and cuts and doing some seriously great tricks, without indulging in the worst, like trick-obscuring zoomage and gratuitous slow-mo smoke blowing. ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate Seven Strong carries the vid’s middle with five minutes of substance, including a worthy entry into the bump-to-can 360 flip canon, a doubly dangerous ollie over a chain to against-the-wall 50-50 grind, a wallie to nose bonk on a trash can, among many others. Toward the end, in the middle of a viciously wrapped pop shove-it to backside 50-50, it seems like he starts grinning even before it’s landed.

7. Tyler Dietterich — ‘Content’

December 25, 2020

Less than a minute goes by in this Philly-area rising heavy’s section in the Andrew Meyer-made ‘Content’ and it is assuredly one of the best-sounding video parts this year — the classic VX crunch of the opening backside 5-0, the slicked up glide on the backside tails, the urethane zipper down the delivery truck ramp, the harsh handrail scrape, counteracting the ‘Mushroom Jazz’ soundtrack. Tyler Dietterich skates for Theories’ new Picture Show board grouping, sweats through the knees of his pants, has a varied hat game and a nollie heelflip to rival John Shanahan’s Pulaski one for 2020’s toughest. And he seems to like making things harder on himself, with the firecracker to stair hop after backside smith grinding a split-bar rail, and fusing multiple illegal tricks for the ender here.

8. Auby Taylor — ‘Clowny’

December 24, 2020

What era archivists such as John Shanahan and Aiden Mackey have done for the ‘Photosynthesis’ period and 1996 Warped Tour, respectively, onetime gap tamer Auby Taylor pursues to a more deeply esoteric level, recreating a brief interlude in Texas’ storied vert history. There is something primal in his float and fakie ollies and method tweakers and inverts; his bulky, padded up silhouette trips some chemical synapses in the viewer’s brain, excitements long submerged in the collective subconscious, similar to the newly unearthed doppleganger for Texas’ long-dead Clown Ramp that Auby Taylor here skates for the entirety of this video. But. Is it authentic enough for Bobby Puleo, arch critic of the modern scene and noted coinesseur of backyard ramp skating?

9. Kevin Rodrigues — ‘Dancing on Thin Ice’

December 23, 2020

Is this the K-Rod experience in its purest form? The Benny Magliano-helmed Hockey production sounds all of the notes — downbeat and distorted, off-kilter wallies and slappies on aged stone, lots of black, careening slams, spots that aren’t but somehow for him are — the Polar-ready tree-root truck bonk and the sidewalk block backside tailslide are prime exhibits in favor of the old saw about seeing the world differently. This section, and last fall’s whole Hockey promo really, is a strong argument in favor of shorter, concentrated runtimes staying more potent than churning out three parts in ten months.

10. Hosea Peters — ‘Interlude’

December 22, 2020

Until such time as the Crailtap executive management team entrusts Chocolate’s ‘20s to Carlisle Aikens, Jordan Trahan and the uncommonly smooth Erik Herrera, this Daniel Policelli-made Hosea Peters part does just fine. It has yet to be determined whether the fluffstache is an earnest Tim Selleck aspiration or a practical means of SEO-esque differentiation among the daily footage flows, but consensus supports his choice in tricks, pants, spots and associates — note the drape of the denim as his soles cling on after the kickflip k-grind, the backside bigspin, plus fakie crack pop. It’s as much the belt-looped cap and the bro’s board bowled over as it is the big 360, the double-set three-hitter with Carl Aikens and Erik Herrera, or any of the other tricks knocked out here, apparently over just a couple weeks.

The Further Rise Of The Machines

December 18, 2020

If the Skater of Tha Year race is becoming all about December surprises, chalk one up for Hal. In a move this week that sent jitters down the spine of every red-blooded opposable thumbs-haver, a motorcycle made a late bid for the top honor in boardsportsdom, brrraaaapping its way through multiple famed ‘hammertime’ spots — and straight into an uncertain future for the planet in general.

The antics of the motorcycle, piloted by/likely possessor of one Justin Mulford, are captured in the Fox Racing-endorsed video part ominously titled ‘Dead Man Walking.’ In it, the motorcycle and Mulford (a sometime associate of David Loy, who is knowed to come under the influence of techno* music) jointly pursue rubbery, two-wheeled wallrides, nose manuals and euro-gap jumps across any number of SoCal locales familiar to many remaining loyal to humankind’s seven-plied achievements: picnic tables, drainage ditches, a mixed-action sport hit on Hollywood High, and an ender-ender at the famed Staples Center hubba.

It is plainly shocking to see a motorcycle rival the likes of Pedro Delfino and thoroughly deserved SOTY laureate Mason Silva for pure balls-outiness at scale, and to understand how quickly machines have assimilated innovations such as Tyrone Olson’s jump ramp-to-handrail. Still, the vid ought to come as little surprise to the ranks of the living, even considering 2020’s varied distractions. The truth is, machines have for years inched closer to supremacy not just in feats of mathematics, strategy and linguistics, but they increasingly have demonstrated a number of athletic and ‘extreme’ flexes that indicate an unalloyed lack of fear, and a certain zest for embarrassing humankind.

Just as the animatronic Chuck-E-Cheez band once intoned to pizza-soaked schoolchildren, everywhere there are signs: Rob Dyrdek’s creation of the Street League numerological trick scoring system, transforming tricks into machine-readable currencies; later, among Bob Burnquist’s organic coconut groves, the gyrating, thrusting antics of a helicopter gone ape all over the MegaRampTM — a scene-stealing performance that increasingly reads as a dire warning rather than the extreme entertainment spectacle as which it masqueraded, in those gentler times. FuckingAwesome, understood to be the largest company in terms of t-shirt revenue, followed a Henry Sanchez ‘Terminator’ tribute board endorsed by Anthony Van Engelen with this year’s T-1000 model under the Hockey imprint, for human three-day weekend Andrew Allen.

Eventually, when semi-autonomous completes enable even the least-coordinated barneys to film Brian Peacock combos using self-filming drones, will skaters of the current epoch be considered as backward and masochistic as we today look upon hack drivers and whalers? If this sort of motorcycling catches on widely, will cops scale tickets according to the offender’s horsepower? Is this all turnabout for conjuring the MegaRampTM from Evel Knievel phantoms? Ought we all gird for the day when self-aware monster trucks, filming video parts in a post-singularity wasteland, crush the remaining legacy skate spots to dust, mixing in the wind with the charred remains of humankind?

*short for technological, which itself is a reference to advanced technology

Anatomy Of A Gonz Bones Bearings Ad That Kinda Maybe Captures The Moment Between The Year That’s Been And The One Yet To Come

December 6, 2020

-‘Park would be killer if there was nobody here’ — the curse of idle wishes, fulfilled
‘People are wearing colorful face masks to express themselves’
Fraying at the edges but still (hopefully [probably]) holding together (right?)
-Impractically shaped, beautifully gripped board
-‘Life is all about transitions, bro’
-#ad
-the cold sweat of nervy anticipation, and cleaning agents soon required
-Deceptively clear skies
-2021, same as it was in 199X, same as it was in 1985, and 1918
-No toilet paper in sight
-Gonna make it (probably [hopefully {Right?}])