Posts Tagged ‘Big Brother’

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March 10, 2019

Perhaps Pat Canale called it 20 years ago, bemoaning in Big Brother the ‘rave’ that was Transworld’s latest Ty Evans-helmed video. Pat Canale’s ‘rave’ critique became the subject of debate and scorn, most notably upon Ty Evans’ ‘FUCK CANALE’ grip job featured in ‘Chomp On This’ and also among certain rave circles. But, on the eve of Transworld print magazine’s passage into shadow, a man may take his moment to reflect on change, loss and techno raves. When the night grows darkest, when the lightless hours stretch out like yearsold sweatpants of blackest cotton, who remains? The premiere acts’ fans have gone, the dilettantes tucked in to sleep, the drug devotees scattered to their dens; those left are the true believers, or maybe just lost track of time. Sooner or later, the rave can no longer sustain itself, the party ends and everybody goes to Denny’s.

All that’s already been said is true: In those days of yore, before informational freedom and global connectivity enabled navel-gazers to signal boost and flatten medium access to sub-pancake levels, Transworld stood among a very few and precious portals to a then-exotic subculture. A glossy wormhole accessible from junior high libraries and Texaco magazine stands, through which a Midwestern middle schooler or Euro teen could peer into fantastical ramp configurations, learning tribal lingos, tracing fingers from the coping over the channel, circling in blue ink deck-graphic thumbnails that could sharpen anticipation to unbearable heights while those rectangular cardboard boxes inched their way from California.

But even when Transworld was running flatground flip trick covers and experimenting with non-static layouts, the platform Tracker built already was laying the foundation that would allow TWS more than any other legacy skateboard media property to expand and enrich itself in the 900/X-Games/THPS era: Reliably, its swears hunkered down under relatively safe font-size limits; it became the default venue as the Girl/Chocolate and World camps settled into grown-up LA apartments, cut-and-sew tops and luxury sedans, while Thrasher was fucking with Pete the Ox. Throwing open its pages to much-maligned ads for deodorant, hair gel, consumer packaged goods and the US military helped swell Transworld’s page count to Sears catalog levels and bankrolled video equipment that Ty Evans and his successors would use to revolutionize the skate video. Ramped slow-mo, meticulous editing cuts and Gap-ready techno singles were woven into top-shelf skating from both coasts — and even Thrasher standbys — into an incredible string of annual releases running from ‘Feedback’ to ‘The Reason’ to ‘Modus Operandi’ to ‘Sight Unseen’ to ‘IE’ to ‘In Bloom’ in a streak that now seems impossible to match.

While Thrasher survived its years in the wilderness and middling video efforts by building up its SOTY franchise and positioning itself for the great genre-mooshing ushered in by the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tour, TWS too-comfortably oriented itself around steadily fading Xerox copies of its golden-age video format — the voiceovers and interludes stuck around way too long and the caliber of skaters struggled to rise to the old, iconic levels as pros proliferated and video projects ballooned into multi-year, pan-global money-losers, hoarding footage and photos as they went. Transworld’s VHS/DVD-driven powers began to ebb around the same time that digital storage costs began to fall and broadband internet powers proliferated, shifting the center of the coverage universe away from company- and magazine-backed full-lengths and toward content-farm online platforms and eventually where it is today, Instagram and Thrasher.

Losing the mobile video battle to its longtime NorCal rival helped to seal Transworld’s fate, and surely is ironic given Transworld’s prowess within VCRs and DVD players for a good decade or so. But it is too easy to count Transworld among the newsstand bodies piled high by advertising’s shift to screens, even with its steadily shrinking pagecount and shift to bimonthly publication schedule putting the magazine in danger well before its print plug got pulled in the same game of corporate-asset hot potato that took out Alien Workshop and sunk Zoo York.

The wood-chippering of this once-mighty subcultural tentpole is sad and symptomatic of a broader entropy at play across skating, which has splashed board companies and screenprint brands across the scene like stars in the evening sky. There now are lanes, and lucrative ones, for Swedish H-Street devotees, head-tatted French gutter punks, runway-walking guitar strummers, Andy Roy, first-billing Soundcloud rappers, Saturday morning cartoon breakfast cereal bowl-drinkers. Transworld’s print magazine has not only become superfluous — the big-tent middle that was the magazine’s strength has been hollowed out and scattered across dozens of smaller camps. The East Coast/EU/underground surge that Transworld commendably, maybe calculatedly, but too late tried to harness for its new core unfortunately wasn’t enough, even with a Bronze champagne drip. As Transworld continues, in some respect, as a lower-cost online entity, the watch now is on to see if they update their own list of deceased print mags.

How many lunar cycles shall pass before Transworld’s current owners recognize and reap nostalgia for the magazine’s golden period via limited-edition, expensively priced hardcover books and photographic prints, or find new owners who will? Did Transworld’s video golden age end with ‘Sight Unseen,’ ‘Free Your Mind,’ ‘Subtleties’ or ‘And Now’? Will Thrasher offer any heartfelt send-off for its southern nemesis in the next ‘Trash’ column or will they take the opportunity to twist the knife? Can you find and identify all of the outdated technologies referenced in this blog posting about Transworld as an outdated technology laid low by its reliance on other outdated technology? Is it ironic in the traditional sense that this post itself comes in a years-out-of-fashion weblog format, or just in the Alanis Morissette sense?

What Gemstones Remain Undiscovered as Content Miners Pick Clean the Caverns of Skating’s Past?

December 3, 2016

herobrine

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?

The Ball or the Sword

February 7, 2016

zorro

Was there a time when persons skated without bubblegoosed lenses trained upon them and atmospheric detail duly noted for later transcription or verbal tapestry-weaving when the mood lighting strikes? If you answered “hrm the 70s?” you may legally change your name to Burl Ives and open a blimp repair business in the tax-free domicile of your choice; all others must submit to pondering how the 00s’ era of history-unearthing and nostalgia-shampooing, from ‘On’ to ‘Epicly Later’d’, may now have given way to real-time mythmaking and neatly boxing up the memories and labeling them with straight and Sharpied capital letters.

Thrasher, which in 2016 enjoys the singular luxury of having probably not just every sphere-jolting trick pass their desks prior to public consumption, but also being looped into advance plotting, wisely made an event of Aaron Homoki’s jousts with and eventual slaying of the Lyon wyrm that Ali Boulala, Europe’s switch-kickflipping PD rogue, had fenced to a draw in the ‘Sorry’ days. Recognizing both the additional weight any Boulala-linked adventure would derive from his rather crushing ‘Later’d’ entry and chessboxing various message-board-borne critiques of spot ownership, Michael Burnett & co brought Ali Boulala aboard to lend technical ‘expertise’ alongside a phalanx of documenteers dripping with cameras, presumptive champagne bottles for popping and at least one dad*.

Ali Boulala’s in-person blessing, the attendant media scrum and days of stomach-knotting uncertainty made Jaws’ wrestle with the Lyon 25, which by now has been imbued with way too much weight to just close off some future video part, perhaps the fullest and frothiest example of real-time mythmaking in action, notwithstanding corporate-bannered Evel Knievel event tricks that may or may not require the approval stamps of Communist Party officials or purpose-built structures. As Love Park again circles the tubes, likely sparking plans for further, hour-plus documentaries**, here was the supernaturally ligamented Aaron Homoki jumping this big bunch of stairs, his couple seconds of hangtime stretched across magazine pages and digital video files via security-guard entanglements, celebrity pro cameos, body armour, familial love and a whiff of history and tragedy to spice the triumph and Jaws’ tears of joy.

The well-planned battle in Lyon comes at a time when skating seems increasingly fixated on capturing and preserving its wild old days as the quest to recapture lost market share and sock away retirement funds requires adopting a more scrubbed, professional and/or mercenary stance. Books drawing upon the misadventures of Scott Bourne, Lennie Kirk and now the hallowed Big Brother magazine in various ways strive to capture in permanent print those halcyon days of molotov cocktails, ill-advised trysts and penis pump reviews before they collapse into the great internet memory hole and premium priced Ebay collector packs.

As multinational beverage and sportswear suppliers up the number of racks available to coming generations and social media empire-building draws the wandering eye of TMZ, it is fair to wonder whether collective laces inevitably and regretably must become straighter, for all involved. Jenkem, who has taken up the Big Brother interview format mantle as convincingly as any current media, got in a good one with still-reliable quote mine Corey Duffel, a living and leather-clad link to Big Brother’s no kids-gloved past, who reminds that for the time being some moat remains between skating and major-league sports as long as pros are willing and able to hold forth on their dealings with grave-robbing furniture dealers:

So I buy the Craigslist bathtub and bring it inside the house, and my old lady is like, I don’t know how I feel about this tub, I’m getting weird vibes from it, that place it came from was so fucked up. Well that night, the first night with the tub in the house, a big mirror in the back of the house just came crashing down, no earthquake or wind or anything. Something else happened, like the TV flickered, something strange, and Rachel was like, “It’s the fucking tub.” So she suggested going to the hippie store to get sage – sage is suppose to get rid of evil spirits and we’re kind of hippies like that – so we’re saging around and I shrug it off like whatever.

Then a couple of months later Bobby Worrest comes over and goes like, “Oh, that’s the tub! I met that guy Tom, Tom is fucking insane!” I was like, yeah, he’s a fucking crazy but a really cool guy. Then he goes, “What a trip, someone committed suicide in that tub.” I’m like, what?! And Bobby tells me Tom told him someone offed themselves in that tub. It was funny to find out 6 months later. Now the bathtub sits outside next to the flowers.

Elsewhere, would-be Olympian Chris Cole sits for an interview with Rolling Stone, which appears in one of its sporadic periods of interest in extreme pro lifestyles, offering a glimpse of potential Q&As to come in some future age where contest politicking and milestone trick trophies must be rattled through on behalf of those greenhorn readers who need guidance through the subject-matter minefields of ‘who’s this person’ and ‘why do I care.’ It’s a relatively staid account til the end, when in a possible fit of cultural catharsis things veer abruptly toward a liquor-soaked Russian bar fight:

The next time we saw Ian, he was up on a stage, dumping his beer over some guy’s head, and in an instant, dudes were fighting all over the bar ­– tackles, punches, chokeholds. I was on the ground smashing this dude’s face in, and I look up and saw Ian getting choked by one dude while he was punching two separate dudes and being punched in the face by a chick.

If future pros fistfight Russian bouncers but never speak of it publicly out of an abundance of professional caution, do the busted teeth and cracked eye sockets make any sound? Wasn’t Chris Cole straightedge at one point or is this another phantom memory like Henry Sanchez’s Aesthetics pro model? Has Jaws scouted out the Leap of Faith elevator structure for a future wallie cover? In states where suicide was historically considered a crime would Bobby Worrest be considered to have snitched on the ghost that lives in Corey Duffel’s secondhand bathtub? And if he did, would the fact that the bathtub now is used as a planter by definition make it dry snitching?

*Unclear whether dad pants were obligatory or only assumed
**Any of which may possibly be instantly obsolete beside the Sabotage series

The Slap Boards Are Big Brother Magazine

February 8, 2015

slap-campus

Everything is good,” declared a grinning Cortez Bryant as he clamored into his time-traveling space Delorian hours after his star client, Dwayne Carter, Twittered his displeasure and angst towards longtime employer Cash Money Records and by proxy father figure Baby/Beatrice/Birdman. “I wouldn’t be out at the club right now,” Cortez Bryant beamed, assuring YouTube viewers that nothing was amiss within the house that the Hot Boys built, despite what persons may have read elsewhere.

Was Cortez Bryant lying? Last month it emerged that Lil Wayne had sued Baby to the tune of $51 million, suggesting that everything was not good after all. Rap music is a topsy turvy business for sure, but you wonder whether Cortez Bryant figured people would listen to him rather than what they read on the computer internet, or if he was playing for time in a high-stakes game of financial and legal Stratego against Birdman’s lawyerly halberders, or if he was speaking in some far more general and cosmic sense about the human condition given Turk’s recent comments that BG’s prison sentence could be miraculously cut short by an as-yet unknowable ‘legal loophole.’*

Powers that be in the hard-n-soft goods biz would perform a similar dirt-off-my-shoulders oldster routine when it comes to the Slap Board, that ever-churning cauldron of YouTube links, hearsay, harsh truth-telling and pure id that oftentimes is livelier and more insightful than that month’s issue of your favorite big-4(3[2?]) magazine. Disclosing and painstakingly dissecting beefs, career choices, wardrobes and various industry flotsam before it can be packaged and shepherded to sponsor-approved instagram accounts, oftentimes in the most splintery and unvarnished terms capable of QWERTY filtration, is a freewheeling public service that seemingly goes little-loved in many team managers’ offices, as per Ride Channel’s recent industry survey item:

Vernon Laird, team manager, Bones Bearings:My impression of the average message boarder is a disgruntled never-has-been or never-will-be old, bitter man. Somebody who was mad that there were never sponsored or never pro and sits around and talk shit about everybody and everything in the skateboard industry because they have too much free time on their hands.

Mike Sinclair, team manager, Tum Yeto: Most hide behind their account name, and they usually want to pry, poke, and jab, which they have the right to do, at me or the brands I work for. The only difference is that I get paid for my opinion, and some of these guys just want to take their bad day out on me or others anonymously.

Before alt.skate-board and later the Crail-board provided early venues for distributing Kareem Campbell drive-by obituaries and nurturing the legend of a yung PJ Ladd, Big Brother magazine represented a forum for the attitudes and angles on skateboarding that tend toward the tasteless, puerile, and a certain mirror-gazing irreverence toward the industry itself that often seems bizarrely missing in a pastime ostensibly reared up to question authority and everything else, but that a lot of times veers dangerously near to preening sanctimoniousness. Videos got roasted, pros and industry heads were called out in interviews and editorial copy alike, and the likes of Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Andy Roy, Ronnie Creager and Daewon Song were raised up on high before the publication succumbed to the same injurious stew of intoxicants, corporate ownership and general burn-out that have corroded pro careers. While there’s some truth in the rose-tinted view of a past when the general public didn’t bear witness to favorite pros profanely shouting down tweenage trollers via social-media pages of choice, the flipside has to have been the relatively few outlets and companies that controlled information flow and curated the industry’s self-image, which Big Brother never much seemed concerned with.

The internet’s halls are swabbed by anonymous mouthpieces whose currency too often is valued by loudness of opinion, and Slap’s forums are no better or worse. But the Slap message-boards too easily are brushed off as a den of venomous haters, caricatured over the years as armchair skaters in garb only, uniformed in white tees/brown cords/half cabs or more recently a Polar/Dickies/Cons ensemble that prizes wallies and reviles tricks that may rate high-single-digit Street League scores. Similar javelins surely were hurled at the Carnie/Canale/Kosick contingent back when, similarly aimed at an easy-target messenger rather than entertain the idea that, for instance, it’s possible to acknowledge the prowess of a Nyjah Huston whilst criticizing his apparent approach to tricks and skating in general.

James Craig in the Ride-Channel survey talks bluntly about recognizing when the Slap board got it uncomfortably correct:

[F]or me the biggest one was going on there early on and I just went under my middle name, Cliff. I starting seeing all kinds or random hate on me: “James Craig has the worst style in skateboarding.” Haha! It was pretty brutal, but everyone has an opinion. All I knew is my style is what it is-—not fake, it’s just me—-so it didn’t really bum me out, but it didn’t change the fact people were hating on me. You know what I did? I said, “Fuck it! I’m just going to take it in and flip it into a positive!”

It motivated me to not settle for bullshit sketchy makes but to have a little more pride in my footage and skating. This worked for me at the time, and after that I had some of the best, [most] proud years of my skateboard life. I’d look at footy from What If? (2005) and be pissed that I ended up with some seriously out-of-control arms, and in my next two parts I was super hyped on the way it all looked after putting in the effort to make my shit better. Some would say that’s wack, because I wanted to prove [the message boards] “wrong,” but motivation can be found anywhere. You just have to be willing to deal with the reality that “they” might be a little bit right, and [be prepared to do] whatever it takes accomplish what you want.

The irony shouldn’t be overlooked that in a golden age of DIY companies and spots, when even housing complex building projects are willing to take a knee before Burnside’s concrete, the longest-running and most-vibrant online web community continues to draw such ire and eye-rolling disdain from the industry. At one time skateboards were issued with an optional chip-on-shoulder and latent sneer toward powers-that-be that deemed it a loser’s pursuit, and rescinding that is one risk lodged inside six-figure contest purses, multinational sneaker endorsements and the class/coach dynamic where the dollars-earned or click-views end justifies most any means.

Jason Rothmeyer, New Balance sales manager and SPoT competition vet, remarks at one point in the Ride Channel item that “[t]he judges’ stand is a microcosm of the Slap message board. Just a bunch of dudes talking mad shit, mostly.” James Craig likens it to a skateshop breeze-shooting session, which you could extend further — a shop where anybody can be an employee, customers never interrupt the discussion to ask for new D3 colours, and closing time never comes, allowing the strength of the argument to prevail, or not, over days and weeks and years as brick-and-mortar locations cede their meetup-and-conversation functions to this aromatic and frenetic realm of text messages, embedded videos and digital Bigcartel baskets.

*For those keeping score Turk now also has sued Cash Money

Castiatic Tackle

July 12, 2014

TWSs

Big Punisher the rap singer famously weighed 700 pounds at the time of his untimely passing several centuries ago. This achievement, unequaled by rappers of his time or since then, made true the statement that this onetime government-named Christopher Rios had more heart than would-be rivals in the game because it later was revealed that his heart was three times the size of a normal human’s, a Grinch-like feat that alongside his body of work enshrined eternally Big Punisher’s non-player status.

Would Transworld Skateboarding have enjoyed similar canonization had the Tracker-birthed publication evaporated at the height of its Sears-catalogue engorgement? The future of the past unoccurred is but a shadow out of time and a colour out of space. However, a confluence of worldwide economic tightenings, growths within internet page browsing, and the collective lines of ethernet speed snorted by Youtube uploaders, hard/softgood manufacturers and Pro Spotlight-eligible pros themselves seems over the past decade to have exacted a fleshy toll upon the World’s Number One Skateboard Magazine*.

TWS has hovered slightly above the 100-page mark in recent months, roughly same for The Skateboard Mag. Days when colourful and pro-endorsed hair gels and the dairy industry trade group balled for position alongside Baker boards and decades-old urethane concerns seem to have faded, with some choosing instead to pursue unique clicks and views on Quartersnacks.com and the Slap message-boards, while a new vanguard of more-virtual board outfits slings merchandise straight off white-labeled web blog platforms. It is a departure from the heady days of 2003, when TWS’ 20th anniversary issue boasted four different covers enveloping 408 pages; ads for Seek, Artafact, Germ and Fuze; two separate spreads featuring Toan Nguyen and one with Anthony Pappalardo backside tailsliding a hubba.

In recent weeks, Palace made several ripples for having an ad in TWS at all — which when you think about it is an uneasy look, re: one of the better-selling (and better-conceived) board companies of the day sort of deigning to show up at the party. Elsewhere, magazine ads taken out by Supreme and Fucking Awesome similarly have been seen as a novelty. While the remaining big three mags experiment with placing print content online in various forms, recent jumps from print to digital for Skateboarder and Slap ominously withered on the vine.

Worse, print publications increasingly appear locked in a slow-burning battle against a posse of nimbler websites able to post clickbaitable content willy-nilly without regard for print deadlines, touring schedules and the lassoing of press-ready adverts. In a broadening competition for the thumb-scrolling consumer of skate-related text blocs, this corner of the pasture has earned some coups: Jamie Thomas last month confirmed to Jenkem Mag recent rumors that Zero and Fallen would move to Dwindle, about a week after the site put up a thoughtful interview with recently-out photog Sam Maguire and a few months after they got Paul Rodriguez to run down the model for his board company. EXPN.com some months back interviewed Ty Evans on his post-Crailtap plans and earlier this month got Chris Cole on the record about quitting Zero (though without bothering to call him on press-release linguistic exercises or his statements to the contrary a few months ago).

Transworld the other day did land Habitat treehugger-in-chief Joe Castrucci on the company’s future with a heartwarming video to boot, though Jenkem the same day posted an interview with rider-wrangler Brennan Conroy that featured a shade more industry laundry aired.

The websites do not offer products for sale to coax revenue from lucrative zones such as airport bookstores and the remaining Barnes & Nobles. But they seemingly hold an advantage in being able to regularly crank out buzz/worthy list items. They’re also able to occasionally capitalize on the print mags’ own content, such as Nyjah Huston’s comments regarding girls and skating, which subsequently were walked back. They can freely post up more-lengthy items that don’t readily lend themselves to photo-powered features, like Muckmouth’s endlessly entertaining and entertainingly endless ‘Back in the Spotlight’ series and Jenkem’s Big Brother-worthy interview with ‘Tyler’ the skated-in sock enthusiast, or the more meditative feature on Tony DaSilva’s post-Foundation pursuits.

TWS and TSM and Thrasher could move similarly and sometimes do; witness Transworld’s own recent scoop, catching up with a fresh-out messageboard darling Jereme Rogers. You’d imagine though that they’re more constrained with the machinations of producing an actual physical product every four weeks, the expenses that go alongside supporting staff photographers, designers, writers and ad-sales officials. It has rightly been said that print magazines’ role these days includes some gatekeeping, and that a photo or interview in a magazine means more and lingers longer in the collective consciousness, and they have maintained as the de-facto locales for hosting and posting serious ‘internet’ video parts. But one worries how long this persists when the every-four-years generational shift skews more and more toward informing itself via mobile phones and whatever vaporous, cloud-infused technology may lurk just over these brave and binary horizons, for instance a floating monocle that allows the wearer to surf a web and look at his or her phone through the other/opposite eye.

Thrasher remains relatively fat and seems kind of insulated to all of this, having harnessed its SOTY award as a magnet for exclusive campaigner video parts, shifting KOTR toward a WWW serial and generally tethering its fortunes to the same winds of extreme whimsy that have lifted the boats and market shares of Anti-Hero, Independent, Spitfire and Vans over the past half-decade. For better or worse, how many TWS or TSM logo shirts do you see on dudes outside the page that bears the subscriber postcards?

What does the ‘culture’ if it can still so be called lose without mags of record, available to impressionable groms as they wander their junior-high libraries and kill time while their moms peruse supermarkets? As the multinational footwear vacuums of Nike, Adidas and Converse briskly hoover up teamriders, should we similarly consider the vision of a future centered upon one or two print mags and a host of bootstrap-pulling, internet-based contenders? How have the dwindling number of skate magazine pages affected the photographer ranks, and will an honest living be makeable should the pendulum of publication shift squarely to the internet? How much do the board/shoe/etc companies themselves, nudging their teamriders toward cultivating flighty Instagram followings, bear responsibility for shifting eyeballs away from the printed page?

*Billed more recently as ‘Skateboarding’s Finest’

Not For Nothing But This Nick Tucker Sequence Is Among The More Fucked Up In Recent Memory

December 18, 2013

nick_tucker_supra

If you were to glance at any of the above frames on its own, possibly in a moment of quiet repose, what trick might you guess Nick Tucker is whipping down those well-trod Hollywood steps on behalf of Supra shoes — fakie 360 flip? Half-cab kickflip? Tweaked switch backside heelflip? Backside 360, or something far more ominous? If you guessed “switch inward heelflip” you may legally change your name to Pat Canale. While John Igei continues to hold the title for the best switch inward heelflip ever performed, over the Pier 7 block just a bit up the road in SF, a persuasive case maybe could be built for Nick Tucker to hold a spot somewhere in the top 10 off the strength of this outlandish sequence alone.

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.