Posts Tagged ‘Billy Rohan’

Could X-Games Technologists Blind Us With Science, Risking a Troublesome Singularity (And Humankind’s Extinction)?

June 12, 2016

In an age when Nyjah Huston walks back gender-insensitive comments, where male nudity is a feature and not a bug within one of the top recent videos, where online used goods bazaars place frothy premiums on Alex Olson’s ‘Lover’ gear while Flip’s ‘Hate Kill Destroy’ slogan is relegated to a vintage acronym, and where crust-merchants Jake Phelps and Grant Taylor close an interview by sharing their mutual love, it is fair to regard skateboarding as residing within a more sensitive, human place.

Is there an elixir that would shift the balance? ESPN proffers one brewed with the cold, unfeeling logic of pure machinery. In an example of the synergistic thinking that may have lured data-mining soothsayer Nate Silver from the NYTimes to ESPN, the X-Games recently gave his FiveThirtyEight media web site access to a new device being tested within the increasingly embattled X-Games universe that bids to inject empirical data points into the scoring regimens, training programmes and wily banter of colourful commentators.

This Intel-developed transceiver pod, dubbed Curie after the mythological radioactive personalities, measures speed, height, spin velocity and other extreme metrics. Its powers appear handy for geometricized pit crews as they calculate roll-in height lumber purchases and the required torque speed to achieve the spins and twists necessary to bring home sweet, juicy X-Game gold, a rare earth mineral rumored to be worth its weight in gold. The device’s immediate value-add is harder to envision for the street skating discipline, however, where calibrating push strength toward rainbowy contest rails and formulating precise back-leaning to avoid sticking on ledges may deliver only incremental improvements.

But the invention may hold the potential to usher in a new and camera-ready discipline with nearly as much drama, intrigue and catastrophic injury potential as the Mega RampTM. The Curie’s ability to rapidly graph speed and trajectories could allow construction of precision-designed pyramids, quarterpipes and other obstacles able to be skated consistently without pushing, or indeed, looking — opening the way for a blindfolded best trick competition hinging solely upon instinctual foot placement, flick and catch, in the grand tradition of New York street shaman Billy Rohan.

Given his propensity for combining gnarliness with vulnerability and his captainship of Blind Skateboards, is Bill Weiss some type of cosmic shoe-in for such an event? Would Alexis Sablone’s blindfolded King of the Road tenure give her an edge over a decade later? Will advancing technology eventually make such Curies small enough to embed into skateboarders’ skulls, saturating the gene pool even as humans go to war against self-aware artificial intelligence systems that assign low scores and occasional executions in response to shortcakes handrails and tic-tac’d landings?

Even Dwarfs Started Small

September 27, 2009

ellenpage_whipit
Sonny’s missing

Feel for the little kid skaters whose skill outpaces their form and frames, the preternaturally gifted Nyjah Huston or Chaz Ortiz types launching careers before cracking the 60-inch height threshold, tricks obscured by billowing T-shirts and short statures. Even prodigies who grew into powers like Nick Jensen and Grant Taylor needed time to fully develop and inhabit their skating; Guy Mariano may be the exception proving the rule that no little kid part has been deemed a classic.

With all this half-baked philosophizing in mind comes Yaje Popson’s section in the much-ballyhooed “Rich Mahogany” video (holder of the title for best internet promo of the year), which forces a reckoning with the whole hate-the-first-five-years-and-then-ask-questions approach to little kid skaters. Now I got this New York-centric vid a couple months ago, partly because of that promo and partly because Billy Rohan and Lurker Lou were in it, but there I’d be, letting Yaje Popson’s opening part play through, the usual little-kid grumbles fading away like so many unreturned library books and Slap messageboard passwords.

One major advantage this kid has is his backside lipslides, which he can seemingly screech across most any available surface. Another is an innate ability to break down old person defenses. Let us discuss an example. At one point in this video part he’s doing this line down a street and he whips out the fakie frontside noseslide shove-it, a classic mid-to-late-90s ledge trick that’s gotten all bogged down these days with fakie flips and bigspins and reality TV and shit. It’s the sorta trick one may see somebody do at a spot or a park and convey the impression that the person doing it probably had been skating a while. Yaje Popson has a lot of these type of moves, or else something about the way he does a trick like the switch backside bigspin that made me think about Rick Howard in “Questionable” instead of whoever’s doing them these days (Darrell Stanton?). Or this frontside feeble grind he does on a beefy ledge, which is awesome in all of the standard ways. And, he nollie 180’s into that courthouse bank drop, which is just ridiculous.

Of course at this point Yaje Popson’s already past the little-kid red zone, because at 17 or whatever he’s shed most of that dumpy short-stack style that some dudes unfortunately never overcome, no matter how tight their clothing gets. There’s a kind of feature on him here, but the best idea is probably to get the Green Diamond video and watch that because it’s also got loads of beards and Vans and Kyle Iles does the sickest switch noseblunt slide. There is also a Soulja Boy song and the “Bossy” instrumental. You can buy it from Unicron probably, I can’t find Quartersnacks’s ordering page anymore.

Industry Meta-Post

July 7, 2009


“It’s on”

So: in the last few weeks, JR Blastoff retired to the tune of a logo graphic, Nike scooped Koston, Heath Kirchart channeled Joaquin Phoenix on the TWS red carpet and Brewce Martin clung to life following a freak accident with a tire mounting machine. Strictly speaking yall can be forgiven if you didn’t notice that the yellow, coned wheels are coming off the skateboard business, while the powers that be do their damnedest to hold it all together, up to and including pro model shoes for Kyle Leeper and Shuriken Shannon. Perhaps it is time for a collective Bad Boys 2 moment.

First there was the nasty fight over who may nurse Active Mailorder back to health… because sometimes, “buy-two-clearance-items-get-one-free” deals just can’t get bros buying flame graphic boardshorts again. Zumiez made a play with designs toward creating some sort of mall-shop conglomerate, but couldn’t close the deal; the ultimate winners of the $5.2 million Active auction chose to remain nameless for reasons that remain their own (think they’re from Florida).

In a similar battle for a faded, yesteryear skate brand, Kareem Campbell issued a big “nuh uh” Tweet towards Circa, regarding the latter’s claimed ownership of the storied Axion footwear trademark. It’s hard to think who’d do better by this company, which had in its heyday the Guy Mariano model, a hot team and Kevin Taylor’s stab at a running shoe. As far as I know they’re currently counting on Brian Wenning to lead the charge back into the mosh pit that is the skate shoe market, which seems like the type of crazy-like-a-fox move the post-MNC Kareem would green-light, so maybe there’s room for the two parties to get together on this.

Elsewhere, Jamie Thomas’s Black Box distribution recruited Frank Messman, a known wizard with powers to conjure profits from skateboard sales. His brief is said to include constructing elaborate financial hedges against the shifting prices of Canadian hard-rock maple, urethane and black leather dye. Messman is familiar to some as the dude who “turned World around,” but considering Messman’s potential supernatural powers this actually could have been a back-door Trojan Horse power move by the Chief to head off competition in the past through time travel. (Terminator part 4 release this summer only a coincidence?) Regardless these are tough times indeed. Jamie Thomas famously tests the work ethic of his flow kids in the trenches of the Black Box warehouse; could traveling sales rep responsibilities await willing amateurs? Highly paid pros set to work devising a comeback strategy for Monster Trucks?

One idea to get the industry back on the rails that’s been floated by multiple industry leaders is that old chestnut, the Olympics. This would “Grow the Sport” while simultaneously putting skateboarders alongside soccer and basketball players, thus earning them the respect of couchbound Americans that they may richly deserve. A similar gambit in the late 1980s resurrected the ping-pong industry, which had been all but dead after star paddleman Jerry Rogerman quit the sport to focus on a career in hair rock.

At Boil the Ocean blog the tendency is to believe that skateboarding in the Olympics is a bad idea, not because of any evil intentions by the IOC or the IASC or even Tony Iommi, all of whom are upstanding persons with nothing but the purest of intentions for athletic pursuits of all varieties. More problematic is the still-fresh memory of poor Bode Miller, pilloried in the press for his love of a good time, and to make it plain, some fear the same thing might happen to the gentle Fred Gall.

A better plan, of course, was already dreamed up by the powers at K-Swiss, who stunned the skate industry and rational thinkers everywhere by naming none other than Greg Lutzka “creative director.” Video evidence follows, for those who haven’t seen it already.

BTO votes we put Billy Rohan in charge of everything. View his platform here around the 1:00 minute mark.