Posts Tagged ‘Blind’

Sparks Plus

April 21, 2019

Provocative graphics in the post-shock age are hard to come by, when Natas Kaupas’ salute to the Beast is sold as a nostalgic hoodie item and wistful treatises are penned on black-bagged World decks of yore — to say nothing of all the grisly deaths, esoteric pr0n and freely performed varial flips lurking mere keystrokes away in HD video whilst riding the bus, or in the comfort of one’s own barn. Truly, as Pharrell Williams stated on Jayne Mansfield’s major-label debut mixtape, “nothing is shocking bro.”

To be sure, board graphics continue to test the gross-out bar and do their best to nose-thumb in civilised society’s general direction; French subcultural chroniclist Seb Carayol compiled for Vice a memorable graphic rundown that included one recent board with multiple Disney Co. trademarks involved in a very sophisticated, adult and exceedingly complex scene. FA’s ‘coke dad’ was pretty gnarly. Grasping and rattling the deck-glimpser on a deeper level generally remains a harder trick, though, partly because the mutual rejection once relished between skateboarders and the rest of the world grows muddled by municipally sanctioned corrals, high-dollar endorsement arrangements and the recent adulting trend that increasingly is believed to extend career expectancy by an average of 2.5 video parts.

Rust-belt psych merchants Quasi Designs managed a rare one this week, blurting an ugly, all-caps assessment of the US youth condition, situated below two bits of Americana. On the provocation spectrum it lands somewhere around Jim Thiebaud’s ‘hanging klansman’ and Guy Mariano’s ‘accidental gun death,’ jolting the spirit, versus jabbing the uvula or leeringly stroking the libido. Whereas artistic critiques are better left to pedigreed knowers, this graphic may have been equally memorable as a sort of nihilistic cipher, with no real clue as to the maker’s feelings on the subject. But Quasi makes clear they plan to donate 50% of profits toward March For Our Lives, which funds gun violence research and seeks stricter firearm laws.

Is the mark of a truly provocative board graphic making parents sit up straighter and wrinkle their noses, versus rolling their eyes or wearily raising their brows? As company owners and graphic designers age into those perilously overlapping Venn circles of marriage, mortgage and children, does their ability and willingness to stab at societal norms wilt? Are basic logo’d board series such as Plan B’s actually super risky and challenging via courting indifference or outright contempt among would-be deck buyers, thereby putting the company itself in fiscal peril due to an unwavering commitment to its artistic vision of stylized logos?

Term Limited

September 24, 2016

old_muppets

Aging may be the great skate industry adventure of the ’10s, as grizzled pros test the tolerance of weathered ligaments and brittling bones in an ongoing quest to avoid that unholy wyrm, the Real World, and its most loathsome prison, the Day Job. There are a few who two decades ago may have seemed obvious candidates if one were to choose a moon-shotter capable of stretching a pro career into a third decade, like Eric Koston or Daewon Song or Marc Johnson. There are are others whose misadventures with substances and the US legal system made them less obvious picks, such as Jeff Grosso and Fred Gall and Guy Mariano. Yet here we are.

Jason Dill, a veteran who never really warmed to half-measures when it came to things like video part construction, socks height or New York City nightlife, appears to have embraced old age as lustily as any slot-playing, shuffleboard-pushing thee-time divorcee. Witness his silver fox persona, his grayed and thinned hair, his floral shirts, the Britannicesque recollections of days gone past and concepts ripe for resurrection. As he raises a brood of young street urchins with life partner Anthony Van Engelen, Jason Dill also has honed an ability to emotionally wound that appears as needle-eager as any sourpuss granny. From his recent Playboy interview:

I’m now past my third year of FA. I’m proud of what we’ve done. If you are a company making stuff, you need to have it in the back of your head that, hey, I might have to kill this thing one day for the greater good so it doesn’t look like a bunch of bullshit. Imagine if Mark Gonzales got to end his skate company, Blind. How would we look at it today? Imagine if Mark had made some deal with Steve Rocco, the owner of his distributor, early on, like, “I’ll totally do this, but when I think it’s time that this is done, I get to put out an ad that says, ‘It’s done. We killed it. It’s over. Thank you.

Jason Dill didn’t have to take it there. For skateboarders ‘of a certain age,’ Blind’s last 15 years or so as a stable for a Canada-heavy lineup resembling a Digital Video Magazine board team will always take a back seat to the ‘Video Days’ lineup and, later, the Ronnie Creager and Lavar McBride-led ’Trilogy’ generation. Nowadays, you’re hard-pressed to place your hand on a Blind board outside the Tech Deck assortments cradled within the boxy bosom of Walmart. In fact, they’re outlawed. But with his reminder that Blind’s heyday now lies a beagle’s lifetime in the past, Jason Dill’s prodding of old sores is an exercise in discomfort matched only by grouchy grandmothers’ bitter questions over the fate of hand-knitted blankets long ago vomited upon, washed and relegated to life’s basement closets.

Time’s grinding passage has yet to reveal whether Jason Dill or Pontus Alv — another long-in-the-tooth owner of an insurgent board company that lies under his control, and who has expressed similar sentiments — will avail themselves of a Hunter S. Thompson exit strategy, rather than some much-later forced transfer to a mall store-ready nursing home. Do they possess the financial and testicular fortitude? The skating mind seems wired for Quixotic pursuits that can batter the body, plague the mind and sometimes, sear the soul — literally throwing one’s self down a set of stairs over and over again, sometimes for days on end. Quitting while one is ahead, whether in the sense of a sound body or arrest-free permanent record, may not pay dividends in the form of shoe contracts and soda-pop endorsements. For every Heath Kirchart and Scott Johnston showing themselves the door rather than be escorted out by younger, abler-bodied teammates, there are multiples of beloved pros whose ratio of video footage minutes to pro deck graphics looks increasingly lopsided.

Can pros turned board company proprietors be relied upon to serve as judges and executioners weighing the street cred of their own enterprises? Should company owners freely discuss the concept of forced euthanasia, for will this only perplex the Dutch? Does Darren Harper’s trick-trying persistence make him more likely to seek revenge for a five years-old board to the head, or vice versa?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Aaron Artis ‘What If’

July 6, 2016


There are videos rightly and wrongly misplaced within the eddies of the space-time continuum, and despite Carlos Ruiz’s Heath Kirchart-baiting spot checks, a late-arriving stop on Kris Markovich’s decades-spanning board sponsor tour, and a fine Ronnie Creager part, Blind’s Bill Weiss-helmed 2005 vid ‘What If’ did little to stake out turf far from your typical Digital issue of the day. It did have this Aaron Artis part that gets over on some swervy turns, floaty kickflips and a sunny song, with an untamed melon grab taking the Pacific Northwesterner over a Spanish hump and the Hollywood High spikes. The powerslide surf spray revives long-suppressed memories of July afternoons lounging beside stagnant ponds of gray water, sipping a highball of unleaded gasoline. 

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 place. Whether the metaphorical pendulum has careened too far away from ganging up on a dude with a drill and harassing RuPaul is a question best left to international criminal tribunals and/or the Sabotage dudes.

Which elixir could restore the balance? ESPN proffers one brewed with the cold, unfeeling logic of pure machinery. In an example of the synergistic genius that may have lured data-mining soothsayer Nate Silver from the cold-shouldery 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 monsters, 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 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?

‘Doomsday’ For 1990s Creeps One Step Closer As Ronnie Creager Exits Blind, Experts Fear

March 13, 2014

doomsday-clock

The 1990s Doomsday Clock moved one minute closer to the much-feared ‘midnight’ mark Thursday following an announcement that Ronnie Creager had departed Blind.

The surprise move marked the exit from his company of the last remaining featuree of the 1996 World Industries production ‘Trilogy,’ ballyhooed by several messageboard commentators as one of the two seminal documents of 1990s` schoolyard skating, next to ‘Mouse.’

“We cant thank Ronnie enough for all his contributions,memories and fun times over the years,” Blind officials wrote in a press statement shortchanged of apostrophes. “We wish Ronnie nothing but the best and look forward to seeing more amazing skating from him in the future.”

Ronnie Creager was not immediately available to post to his Instagram account. The move caught some observers off guard, abruptly capping a 20-year tenure on a company originally founded by Mark Gonzales under the World umbrella, where Ronnie Creager was the longest-serving team-member several times over.

Overseers of the 1990s Doomsday Clock, including an international assortment of blogmasters and aging skateshop employees, in response moved the clock’s minute hand one increment closer to ‘midnight,’ which would signal the effective end of the 1990s’ influence over kids and industry players alike. The setting currently stands at 11:51, following the Ronnie Creager announcement.

Clock officials previously had moved the minute hand closer to midnight at various times over the past 14 years, including after Steve Rocco divested Dwindle Distribution, when Joey Suriel and Richard Mulder became licensed to sell real estate and when Rick Howard did not contribute footage to ‘Pretty Sweet.’ The minute hand was moved farther away from midnight in 2006 when Daewon Song earned Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ award, in 2011 when Patrick O’Dell released the Menace ‘Epicly Later’d’ and also following DGK’s disclosure of the lost Fabian Alomar video part.

Guy Mariano’s comeback for the Lakai video set the clock back by a full ten minutes, the largest increment on record, igniting controversy among some pundits who claimed the trick selection in fact merited moving the minute hand closer to midnight and others who argued for setting it back by as much as an hour on general principal.

The clock has proven a magnet for criticism over the years, with some arguing that the 1990s are destined to live on forever in the hearts of those who truly believe, and others who maintain that the 1990s ended at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, an event knowed to some as ‘Y2K.’

1990s Antique Roadshow: Sony Boombox With World Stickers

March 8, 2010

Conceived one morning while pondering the 15-year-old sticker on an electric shaver, here we have the first in what surely may become a gripping and emotional saga of valuable items from the internet’s favorite decade that have managed not to get thrown out in the last 10-20 years.

It is either a miracle or sad state of affairs that this thing has lasted from around the release of “Love Child” to the present, especially with its wonky (and loud) 6-CD loader mechanism. But it’s still going and continues to pull double-duty advertising one defunct skateboard company and another that may as well have been for a period of time, Creager and Craig’s dedication notwithstanding. Time and listless brand management have tarnished the Gonz’s baby but I can still occasionally look at the OG Blind logo and get all wistful for the Trilogy period, and few companies have ever matched the aesthetics of the MNC star, all subsequent Kareem efforts especially included.

Bros in Time

July 22, 2009

guy_rudy

For whatever reason this week we’re seeing a lot of themes around the glory of bro-ness popping up here and there, so I’m going to avoid retreading tha Plat’s recent odes to the season in favor of more other shit that warms the darkened cockles of aging skateboard hearts*. Such as this time warp Guy/Rudy pic, featured in the new and generally entertaining Wallride catalog. (Check for the Skate Mental dolphin deck and Carroll’s up-rail innovation.) We can sweat the Crailtap crew’s growing pains as they try and chart their course with the ’90s steadily shrinking in the rear-view mirror, but then they’ll parcel out photos like this, or empty the footage vaults for the box set, and future generations of face-tattooed Christian fundamentalist rappers can be forgiven. Too bad they’re not driving a Civic.

Tenuously related is this Lakai commercial for the nold Rick Howards, which I’ve unfortunately yet to sample, in which our pal gets some help from a couple IATSE Local 33 friends. But not Mike Carroll. If 411s were still coming out and I was still watching them I would for sure be waiting on new Lakai spots.

*inevitably bumming out the anti-bro-feeling Carbonite

Last of the Fucked Up Blind Kids

June 15, 2009


A post in which we reference the Venga Boys and anuses but the overall tone is pretty positive

The summer video season is upon us, with what seems like two videos dropping every week and as if to prove the point, I just saw this preview for the new Black Label video that apparently is coming out next month and most definitely features a bunch of kids I’m not familiar with. All of which means that A. I’m over the hill, again, and B. well behind on the commentating, such as it is. I’ll expound elsewhere about the Blind video, known to some as “The Blind Video,” based on the true story about filming a Blind video. If you have not seen it I’ll touch on some of the critical plot points: Jake Duncombe likes to party and as such will one day skate to a Venga Boys song. Jake Brown manufactures t-shirts with the F-word on them and does one of the zanier manuals in a while, Grant Patterson prefers big gaps, tall tees, and music by/for/about the ghetto. Morgan Smith is painfully Canadian, Jani Latiala catches some of his flip tricks really weird, Ronnie Creager glides.

But a few more words and possibly a couple mixed metaphors are due James Craig, however, who to my mind turned in the best section of this video and possibly the best of his career — which if you graphed it would look like two big boobs spanning the last decade, or maybe also a buttcrack with Craig’s heinous knee injury marking the tragic anus. You could probably make a sort-of convincing case for how James Craig represented the rear guard of 1990s World riders, and elsewhere Carbonite submitted “The Blind Video” as the most “Trilogy”-like World production since “Trilogy” which I can sort of see, and sort of not see. For sure a lot of these lines could have been performed in a schoolyard or UC campus of your choosing, but it’s more how this James Craig section fulfills the promise of his Blind amateur footage like this when he was something of a pre-PJ Ladd PJ Ladd (also noting the last trick symmetry with Craig’s first line in this year’s production, yes).

James Craig has also engineered a sort of double comeback with this part… in the unfortunately titled “What If” video it was clear he had pretty much all his tricks back, and then some, but his arms were all over the place to such a degree you wonder if Torey Pudwill used to watch it and take down shaky, jagged notes. He made it partway back with the surprise section in “Get Familiar” (that bigspin flip) but I gotta say I wasn’t expecting him in 2009 to be running around doing high-speed switch heelflip smith grinds, noseblunts to switch backside tailslides, and that rocket launcher kickflip that maybe exorcised some of the triple-set demons of days past. The dude could be a candidate for the short list of people who can pass off varial kickflips and it’s likely the frontside heelflip on flat will rank among the season’s very best. We here at BTO try not to read into pro skaters’ motivations and/or feelings that much but this section has the serious “fun” vibe for me; I’m a sucker for happy endings and glad James Craig handed us this one*, though I heard a second attempt at the ender trick may have taken him out again. If so, get well soon, and we’ll all try to bear in mind the thrice-endowed tart of “Total Recall.”

Bonus: James Craig’s part from the Razor Sharp vid, which I think I watched whilst drinking one time.

*pause

Have It Your Way

January 9, 2009


“Our burgers are fucking delicious,” perhaps

Hitching your wagon to the whims of the masses can make for an interesting ride. Decision by consensus has produced some amazing cultural milestones in our time, including but not limited to the Soulja Boy dance, David Archuletta and Wikipedia, where in the past I entertained myself and many others by generating useful and previously unknown “facts” about Terry Kennedy.

Of course public opinion is often way off to the point of blowing it entirely: CNN entrusted the internet peanut gallery with reporting power, which produced a sort-of plausible but still wildly untrue story about Steve Jobs nearly dying. Then there’s the inexplicable appeal of “The Mummy” movies, as well as David Archuletta. All convincing proof that democracy does not work and we might be better off under the rule of a benevolent dictator, perhaps the dwarf Gimli from “Lord of the Rings.”

I’ve noticed that skateboard-minded advertising is similarly hit-and-miss in this way. Real boldly rolled the dice with a minimalist ad generated by the Slap message board brain-trust, specifically known Hero Member “sal23,” in reaction to some apparently questionable prose accompanying the current campaign. Anyway, behold:

Real’s populist/“plain folks” approach seems to have resonated with the masses, who heaped plaudits on sal23 (“with the their/there/they’re shitty grammar and all”) to the point that he is no doubt entertaining offers from Leo Burnett, among others.

Z-mogul Stacy Peralta had less luck with his recent “Whopper Virgins” ad for BK, in which he served up the floppy sandwich to the moribund citizenry of far-flung zones in Thailand, Greenland and Transylvania (a real place kiddos) as a kind of ultimate taste test against the mighty Big Mac. Or something. It’s only sort of interesting and kind of long, but if you wanna watch it, here it is, funny outfits and all:

Peralta wound up getting slagged in the media for exploiting backwater turds and their marginal sophistication when it comes to fast foods:
-“Outrageous” declared Sharon Akabas of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University
-“Insensitive” yelped Marilyn Borchardt, development director for Food First

More distressing, Peralta came in for even more flame-broiled criticism from online comment forums:
-“The most nauseating, soul-destroying bit of corporate propaganda that I’ve seen in a long time” clucked one anonymous poster.

Of course the King and his court probably meant to stir the coals a bit with the ad, working we the people into a tizzy before coming back to sweep us off our feet with the sweet scent of roasted cow-flesh. Hopefully Peralta fares better with his new documentary on the Sharks’n’Jets, where he may be playing for significantly higher stakes. And here I really should wrap things up with a really terrible play on words with something like every Dogtown having its Z-day… or, well yeah.