Posts Tagged ‘beauty and the beast mode’

North To Japan, Through Time’s Gelatinous And Quivering Halls

October 4, 2020

Where are the sacred scrolls and ancient tablets kept in a land ruled by subjectivity and the qualitative achievement? A place where stats and standings that provide the written record and ground historical narratives for other physical pursuits instead are relegated to an easily ignored, if well-appointed, backwater? Despite the press release-conversant, gift shop-ready Skateboarding Hall O Fame proclaimers, the permanent record here lives in the photograph, the png, the Hi-8 tape, the video file, and more than any of these, the volatile, flighty and always correct views of the kids. It is a realm made squishy and malleable by time’s passage, where Frankie Smith’s kickflip backside noseblunt once again is an ABD for future pyramid-ledge comers after Adidas re-upped its ‘Reverb’ offering from last winter, music rights appropriately massaged back into place. Hazy memories of decades-old video soundtracks resurface, dreamlike. Keith Hufnagel, gone much too soon, leaving a sterling track record on the industry side of the ledger — started from a storefront, put on generations of quality and often otherwise overlooked skaters, stayed respected with nary a bad word from ex-riders — which ought to be lionized on par with his catapult ollies.

Retro futurist John Shanahan, who knows his history, is in the news again, capturing the November Thrasher cover with a pole jam reversal of the up-rail frenzy from some years back. It is an underdog contender for sure versus Dane Burman’s more cover-ready but ultimately contents-bound Staples Center 50-50 two-step. The strongest flick of John Shanahan’s latest crop however comes in his interview, blasting a Japan air out of an embanked crimson sculpture somewhere within the churning womb of the United States.

Like other lasting works of poetry, various readings can be made from John Shanahan’s Japan air — an even further throwing back to theoretically simpler, or at least more insular, jump-ramp days; a reluctant flyout lover’s lament for cheap and accessible intercontinental travel in these pandemic times. More plainly it can be regarded as 2020’s strongest entry into the mystic annals of celebrated Japan airs of our times — approaching Mike Carroll’s timeless ‘Beauty N The Beast’ Thrasher cover, which remains regarded not only as one of the best magazine covers ever, but also alongside the Caves of Altamira and various Pen & Pixel Graphics Inc. works as the greatest images ever committed by humankind to physical matter. John Shanahan’s proves a worthwhile companion to Tony Cox’s own 2004 TWS cover, Justin Strubing’s lesser-seen version on the same spot, Daniel Kim’s switchstance stabs, the don Tony Hawk, and so on.

However unlikely it may have seemed in the yellow-hatted ‘Mean Streets’ days, with the prospect of a DC shoe part to come by mid-November, must the relentlessly productive John Shanahan be considered a capable and credible SOTY contender? Could such a choice demand a revisitation of BA’s timeless P&P cover? Will the worldwide celebrations of John Shanahan’s Japan air — along with the melon and, in certain slide situations, the crail, continuing as the few acceptable grabs on street — lead to a rereading of history and an ill-considered revival in tuck-knees and stalefishes down gaps by persons with beards and tight t-shirts?