Posts Tagged ‘Arto Saari’

In The Great Dice Game That Is The Skate Shoe Business, Gravis IVSK8 Wagered, Rolled And Lost

October 24, 2012

Winter arrived early this week for the action-goods provider Burton, as P&L discontent forced tough decisions at the top that abruptly left Nordic sweater Arto Saari, stylistic watchword Dylan Rieder and others shoe deal-less and set adrift on the ice floe that is free agency in the current economy, increasingly resembling a scene from one of the early, J Strickland-helmed Baker videos where a poor dude is rolling on the ground and groaning in super slow-mo. Is what it is and all involved are wished well, though things appear somewhat brighter for pro and am endorsers of Analog brand pants, who according to this press release will enjoy certain hand-holding procedures throughout this difficult period:

Regarding the Analog surf and skate teams, we will be working with each team rider individually on an exit plan to transition them out of the brand.

The gap in sponsorship largesse is expected to be felt most heavily by Southern California thrift-store proprietors, several leasing agents and various weed spots, while the hardgoods industry collectively contorts and careens as it attempts to financially nose manual through a global recession period. As consumers we lose out by way of a thinner selection of goods available for our paycheques and one less competitor to keep honest rival shoe sellers. Yet the untimely demise of Gravis’ “IVSK8” lineup could signal that a deeper and more troubling loss already be lurks elsewhere, buried among footnotes in the great balance sheet of our psyches.

Foisting another footwear choice on an oversaturated population, backed by a big snowboard concern and incorporating a rather on-the-nose identifier amounted to long odds facing the Gravis venture from the jump, but was the company’s true crime being too daring? The much-derided Dylan pro model and later loafer drew wide attention but by all accounts made relatively few sales when stacked against the various iterations of the half-dozen vulcanized templates that have domineered shop walls for what seems now like the better part of the last decade, possibly the longest span of time a shoe trend has held sway over a previously fickle subset of trend-hoppers.

In a time of war abroad and economic upheaval at home, have our shoe choices skewed too far toward the safe, familiar and disposable, virtually ensuring that even the likes of PJ Ladd cannot persuade us to spend freely on a technology-forward, expensive signature model? Did Gravis roam too far off the stylistic reservation without a properly tested avalanche transceiver? Or must we make conscious, tribal decisions to periodically embrace outlandish design silhouettes so as to maintain our group ‘edge’?

5. Tyler Surrey – “Sk8Mafia Video”

December 26, 2011

Look how much can happen in 20 years — Bill Clinton, the Backstreet Boys and the Atkins diet all rose to power and faded, as did Peter Smolik and Tom Petty in their own respective ways. If you woulda told me about 20 years back that “Last Dance With Mary Jane” one day would be used in what I’m assuming is only a semi-ironic nature to soundtrack a skate part, my 1993 self would’ve sneered and spat, but here we are, Smolik cast as a Southern Californian kingpin of some description whose board company has managed to nurture some of the heaviest hitting kids to come up. Tyler Surrey’s been marinating away for a few years but officially blows doors at the end of this “Sk8Mafia Video” a few months back, putting to work a switch flip that looks of the same bloodline as Arto’s and Nick Jensen’s and Mike Mo’s. My favorite tricks in this part (which kinda looks like one long careless summer in Europe) are the switch flip nose manual on the slanty block, the nollie heelflip over the bench, that nollie backside noseblunt of course and the last trick which really is worthy of Smolik in all the best ways. Still sort of hate the Tom Petty but watching Tyler Surrey cruise is worth it.

DGK Invokes Godwin’s Law In Rodrigo TX Signing

January 4, 2011

It was pretty clear that Flip/Rowley ruffled some feathers with their Mark Appleyard kiss-off a few weeks back, but the more recent muted send-off of Firm transplant Rodrigo TX kinda makes you wonder whether top DGK bosses really meant to equate Flip to the Third Reich, which this meme-upon-meme welcome clip sort of suggests in a bizarre way. We’ll assume they’re riffing on this one and move along to the more surprising and intriguing prospect of Arto Saari resuming residence under the genie’s lamp, now maintained by NHS. For someone who was flummoxed by the AWS abduction in the first place (all Burton in-house power maneuvers aside) this is one of those instances of things again being right with the world, though your mileage may vary…

Future Shock

December 2, 2008


File under tea leaves, goat entrails, etc.

Because I sometimes feel this blog doesn’t do nearly as much navel-gazing as the medium seems to require, I’ll be indulging in end-of-year list tedium with regard to video parts and tricks and haircuts and so on. But before we get into all that mess I thought it would be interesting to look back on the 2008 prognostications of another internet commentator, whose anonymous laundry list of skate predictions for this year turned out to be interestingly accurate.

Among others the noble Canucks of Temple Skate Supply put up the list here but I’ll re-post bit by bit, starting with one prediction that finally came true yesterday after more than a year of whisperings:

Blitz breaks up… Flip to NHS… Baker gives up ownership of its name and starts under a new Distribution(deathwish).
And as the world now knows, Flip has indeed packed up its cartoons and kiddie ams and set up shop under Bob Denike’s Norcal empire. The rest is uncertain, but now that Tony Hawk has flown the coop with Birdhouse after buying out Per Welinder and Reynolds & co. have set up Baker Boyz distribution, that leaves the house of Blitz with the Baker name (for the time being)… erm, Hook-Ups, Sk8 Mafia and the venerable Fury trucks. No doubt 2009 will see Mr. Welinder with plenty of time to indulge his “passion for incubating core brands.”

As for the rest of the 2008 predictions:

Rowley and Arto move to a new Burton backed shoe company.
Half right, at least so far, though this was telegraphed well in advance along with the next item…

Burton Buys Workshop and habitat
…which is a dead horse beaten to dust in this space. It did happen.

Appleyard follows his friends and leaves Globe
Or maybe Flip, but as of right now his name remains on both websites, an all-important barometer of team integrity.

TK Rides for ES (the true sign of the end)
I too heard this rather hilarious bit of info, but unfortunately rational thought intervened (to whatever extent it can where Terry Kennedy is involved) and he went to Supra. Ah, for what could have been…

Sheckler Wins the X Games and Finally takes his place as the new reynolds
A quick check of the distressingly lengthy Wikipedia entry on Sheckler’s contest performance reveals that he did indeed win the X-games, though whether he represents the new anything at all remains in high dispute, at least in this space.

Photo incentive photo shopping scandals
What scandal? Things are tough out there, brah. Get those logos in where they fit in. There’s always room for one more.

Big Brother Comes back but only on the internet
True, but discussed years ahead of the Jackass World debut.

Krew gives up traditional skateboard marketing for hollywood glam
This one I’m not sure on, if only because I’m not sure if Krew actively engaged in traditional skateboard marketing to begin with. I guess they had that photo of Penny doing the switch noseblunt, if I remember right. But didn’t they run an ad with Greco doing an actual skate trick recently? That’s like a two-fer right there.

Alphanumeric comes back
They did, though a clothing company returning as a purveyor of high-end (high priced) T-shirts is kind of like a magazine returning as a website…

Circa sells out but hides it by starting a combat division. (pay attention to the left hand while being distracted by the right)
Also true! But most likely it was already in the works for a while when the list was written. I have no idea how well these shoes are selling, but you have to hand it to Circa for having the sheer balls to, in the tradition of Antoine Bugle Boy, see an overcrowded marketplace and say “me too.”

Burton brings birdhouse under its corporate wing
Is there room for B-House to play a sort of un-ironic Skate Mental to DNA’s Girl and Chocolate? I’d be inclined to say no, but it would play into some nice Hawk/White synergies, which I’m assured are all the rage among smart skate conglomerates these days.

Purple Pants become hip
Incorrect, but only because purple pants have always been hip.

Steroids become the norm…
Mike V unavailable for comment, so this remains undetermined. Ryan Sheckler is nowhere near the norm, of anything.

Out of pocket

July 23, 2008


When keeping it real goes wrong

Skate magazines these days catch a lot of flack from world-weary oldsters on the internet who view modern interviews in the long shadow of the mid-90s rags, in which certain pro skaters vowed to, for instance, infect every other pro skater they could with the HIV virus. Or simply murder one another. What can I say, it was a different time.

What’s funny, in a not-so-funny way, is that as social standards continue their gentle downward slide, interviews in skateboard magazines have generally gotten less interesting*. Now, there are any number of explanations for this. For one thing, there’s more skateboarders in general, and thanks to the law of averages and the forum provided by the likes of ESPN and the Dew, skateboarding has attracted a greater number of less-interesting individuals than it used to.

Then there’s the general corporatization of the skateboard industry, another slow process, since a lot of reputable corporations are way too uptight when it comes to the type of lackadaisical shipping schedules and haphazard bookkeeping practices that fly at skateboard outfits (shoutout to Ipath). Magazines were one of the first juicy morsels of the industry gobbled up by corporate concerns, since the magazine business is a known commodity. Cue ads for the Army and Ford Trucks, font size limits for the word “fuck,” and the sudden appearance of kiddie graphics over top of previously entertaining nudity (from Larry Flynt, of all people).

So yeah, the Time Warners of the world definitely bear some blame for the watering-down of skate magazine content. But what’s becoming more and more clear is that skateboard magazines themselves seem to be doing their damndest to sanitize their own shit.

About a year ago there was that industry-wide panties-bunching over blank boards. You may remember how they destroyed skateboarding forevermore and took food from the mouth of Andrew Reynolds’ baby. Anyway, the IASC printed up a little pamphlet for the winter ASR that featured a load of prominent pros going off on blank decks and espousing the virtues of branded hardgoods concerns, real warm and fuzzy stuff. Part of the deal was that said pros posed for a big group photo in some LA ditch… and around the same time, TWS ran the same photos under the guise of “a bunch of pros getting together for no reason except just to skate, man.” Slap messageboard maven Neal Boyd broke it down nicely here. Kind of slimy altogether.

There’s loads of other political stuff that goes on, photoshopping of shoes and clothing logos of course, and during his recent debate with Jamie Thomas, Clyde Singleton alleged that the Zero chief is notified whenever his name or likeness appears in any magazine, and presumably he gets the final sign-off on it. Which may or may not be true.

Anyway, all of this of course is a longwinded buildup to me calling Arto Saari a total pussy.

Apparently about four months ago Arto spoke with Big Brother/Vice alum Chris Nieratko (who knows from journalism, at least to some degree) for what was, by all accounts, a pretty straightforward interview: what have you been up to, what’s up with injuries, what went on with the big sponsor changes, and the now apparently obligatory questions about his mobile sauna, which I find a total snoozer. But after hanging up the phone, Arto apparently came down with the old 120-day itch and called up the boys at TSM, ordering them to pull the interview… which apparently they did.

Let’s all take a moment now to revel in the sad irony of TSM, a magazine supposedly started by the TWS staffers fed up with corporate bullshit, cowtowing to the corporate concerns of Arto, a fully owned subsidiary of Burton snowboards.

Now, I like Arto. He’s a bona fide legend, though I’m fairly certain the best of his skating is behind him at this point. I like DNA, though I’ve aired concerns that they’re losing their identity with this whole Burton takeover. I don’t even hate Burton. I mean fuck, they’re not K2 or Salomon.

But how this doesn’t make all parties involved look like boardroom image-management assholes totally escapes me. Contrary to what a lot of people have said, I don’t have a real hard time seeing why Burton suits would want this axed: Arto said in no uncertain terms how difficult it was to leave Flip, sort of agreed when Nieratko made fund of Burton and Gravis, and tugged back the curtain on how dead serious Burton is about their riders’ contractual obligations. With all the work the company does to promote Jake Burton as this “jus’ folks” granola-munching dude who’d rather be hiking the backcountry than sit on a conference call, it’s not a good look. And Arto of all people should have known better.

The problem of course is Nieratko. He dipped out of the skate magazine scene when Big Brother was still drawing breath and just recently checked back in, which shows in the way he interviews people and is probably one of the reasons why he’s still one of the best dudes doing this kind of thing. He calls bullshit on stuff—i.e. the sad state of Gravis’s past footwear designs—and probably used his silver-tongued powers to lull Arto into forgetting his Burton loyalty oaths.

The mistake Nieratko made was assuming that his editors at TSM would have his back on the whole deal. With Gravis just rolling out and Alien gearing up for a video release, Burton probably has got a good amount invested in TSM real estate, and at a time when belts are tightening at magazines in general and skate magazines in particular, I’m sure the threat to pull that dough probably was heard loud and clear. You have to wonder though, if magazines keep pulling this type of shit and running interviews bland as a late-period 411 (RIP), who’s even going to read them anymore.

*There are exceptions. Tony Tave’s interview in Thrasher last year, when he was fucked up on salvia, was pretty entertaining, for instance.