Posts Tagged ‘Bob Burnquist’

The Bold And The Beautiful

November 20, 2020

Those who have had the fortune and blessings required to hit a grand slam in a major-league baseball game know that it’s a unique feeling, difficult to replicate with vibration-equipped VR gear or the powers of one’s wildest imagination. Bedreaded San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. met and introduced himself to that feeling one bubbly and Covid-free August night last summer, whamming a certified whammer in the eighth inning against some hapless Texas Rangers.

But Fernando Tatis’ power move was met not with lusty cheers and pumping fists, at least not entirely. The circumstances of his grand slam — the Padres already far ahead late in the game, the struggling Rangers pitcher having already thrown three balls — placed Fernando Tatis at odds with the mystic and unwritten arcana of the baseball codes, in this case, it being considered bad form to run up the score against a floundering opponent. His meaningless four runs, much like a misassembled Denny’s breakfast platter, became the subject of heated debate for weeks among players, managers and the vast digital peanut gallery.

Mason Silva, prodigious gap/rail/ditch/all of the above destroyer, struck again last weekend, casually uploading to ThrasherMagazine.Com another 4-plus minutes of tremendously heavy footage, at the tail end of a SOTY campaign that carries all the inevitability of a blurred stair set looming on the edge of a vignetted fisheye lens. The past few years’ kinked-rail sweepstakes has produced a new breed of steely-eyed and deadly confident Rustyholders, but Mason Silva lifts the bar as far as relentlessness — he has put out four video parts this year, all of them blistering, full of impossible-seeming stuff, and you’d take long odds putting down any money that he won’t be back at the table before mid-December.

The SOTY video deluge has a way of dominating any other ‘conversation’ at this point in the season, for better or worse. Tom Knox’s beautifully constructed, brick-strewn London symphony for Jacob Harris’ sterling ‘Atlantic Drift’ franchise got a couple good days of high-profile burn before Mason Silva resurfaced, and that’s it. The statement-of-purpose punk howl from the Glue collective got a deserved center stage — but just for a bit. As of this typing, John Shanahan’s Chicago-shaded DC Shoes vid has the big top window, but Mason Silva’s boardslide-to-boardslide thumbnail’s still up there, quietly dominating.

Skateboarding has long nursed conflicted feelings toward effort. It takes some, of course, to steady one’s self for the drop in, to crack the first ollie, to labor hours in pursuit of the trick. Reared safely beyond shouting distance of coaches, referees and gamekeepers, giving too little effort has often been easily excused, even celebrated — witness the decade-long legacy riding of first-generation Girl and Chocolate pros, or Geoff Rowley’s tune-in/drop-out monologue for Tom Penny’s recycled-footage ‘Menikmati’ part. Too much effort, though — even in the modern era of agents, round-the-clock content production and overall ‘professionalization,’ there can be pitfalls.

For proof, consider the world of Mega-transition skating, which more than other disciplines has revolved around competition, at least financially. In his 9 Club appearance, helicoptero wrangler and veteran Flip man Bob Burnquist related a story about skating a MegaRampTM rail competition with Danny Way, among others. Bob Burnquist, noted switchstance practitioner, said he began dropping in switch, and soon was approached by Danny Way, who was doing the same.

BB: He said, you know I’m trying the switch 50-50. …He was like, when we grew up, talking about him and Colin, when one of them touches a trick… and I get that. And I wasn’t planning on doing the switch 50-50, I was planning on doing a switch nosegrind, because I knew he was doing that. This is strategy, competition mode — if I play ping-pong with you I’m not gonna want to lose. I can still be your friend, and be totally fine. But in that moment it seemed like this front came, and I respected it, but it kind of bummed me out a little bit. 

…I kind of pulled back. When I skated the contest, I didn’t really go for stuff. I just was kind of holding back, and that kind of hurt me a little bit, because I don’t like doing that.

Bob Burnquist went on to explain how the experience motivated him to film all types of crazy MegaRailTM tricks for Flip’s 2009 vid ‘Xtremely Sorry.’ But a couple years before that, Bob Burnquist had seen the backlash that can come from not holding back. At the 2007 X-Games*, Jake Brown blasted a 360 ollie over the contest’s 70-foot gap before taking a 540 23 feet above the MegaQuarterPipeTM deck. Later, he spun a 720 over the gap right before popping too far off the quarterpipe and plunging 45 feet to the flat. After Jake Brown was helped get up and incredibly walked off the ramp, and things settled down some, Bob Burnquist dropped in, sailed a switch backside 180 over the gap, then launched a 16-foot-high 540, winning the contest. Jake Brown got second, and Dave Carnie rendered his verdict:

DC: after that slam, I think the gentlemanly thing to do would have been to have just ended the contest right there and given it to Jake. He was in first place. He had won. But no, Bob had to go and take his extra run and try and win it. As I’ve said, he didn’t win it, but the fact that he wanted to beat a fellow skater who had just taken one of the hardest slams ever isn’t really congruent with the spirit of skateboarding. Or even the spirit of sport, for that matter. When did “winning at all cost” creep into skateboarding?

In the marathon that the SOTY race has become, Mason Silva doesn’t seem like he’s trying to take anything from anybody, laid low by injury or not. He is in his proverbial window; can he be expected to let up? How is it possible that he hit the top rail three times in that one ditch clip from the Spitfire part? Does Primitive’s ‘Fourth Quarter’ closer Miles Silvas have more ammunition after his own Spitfire and Primitive minutes over the past month? Is the fact that Tom Knox is helping raise three small children at home through the pandemic being accurately factored into his SOTY bid? Since Mason Silva seemingly is healthy, fearless and ahead in the count, could he maybe please ollie again the stair-to-bank gap from his Thrasher cover, to get a better video angle?

Lance Mountain and Bob Burnquist Are the Runaway Jury

October 20, 2009

lance_flip
In a theater near you

Back in, uh, 1998, vertical pioneer Tony Hawk and snowboard movie-man Jamie Mosberg unveiled “The End,” a statement of purpose that laid the groundwork for Tony Hawk’s rise to sport celebrity, solidified years of cartoon graphic deck sales and set the bar impossibly for future incarnations of the Birdhouse team. As you can imagine it was a pivotal moment for the culture and Tony Hawk mentioned at one point or another that one of the highest pieces of praises he received was somebody telling him “The End” was like one of the old Bones Brigade videos, which you can definitely see, and which is certainly no left-handed compliment despite the cheese factor spread over pretty much everything in the 80s.

There’s not a lot about the “Extremely Sorry” video itself that translates to easy comparisons with the classic Powell Peralta productions – it will take someone far bolder than I to hold up Louie Lopez et al alongside the Guy/Paulo/Rudy contingent – with the obvious exception of Lance Mountain, the Bones Brigade’s Ringo, and Bob Burnquist, sometimes known as the Bob Burnquist of mega-ramp skating.

And what about Bob? He makes for an easy target, what with his dramatic contest tears, recreational base jumps, TV stunts focused on geologic wonders and so on. It would be folly to dismiss shit like that switch feeble grind on the mega-bar or that heelflip frontside 540 spin that’s in the new Thrasher or all those tricks into (i.e. from the deck, into the transition of) the mega-quarter-pipe*. Or the switch backside tailslide, or those tricks at the beginning that remind you how he used to skate for Julien Stranger and those dudes. In some ways Bob Burnquist’s mega-complex is an extension of Tony Hawk’s bullring loop, but different, because it’s hard to shake the feeling that there’s something sort of fundamentally artificial about the whole mega pursuit… the idea of donning body armor (or not, I guess) and zipping to and fro on a golf cart to ride off a ski jump on a longboard. Like an underwater motorcycle race, or skyboarding. Quibbles aside, Bob B does for sure deserve a heaping helping of credit for filming a video part of this stuff, rather than dribbling it out from X-game to Dew Tour in a bid to rack up contest purses, which I guess he could do anyway.

On the other end of the spectrum one finds Lance Mountain and his personal backyard BBQ, throwing back to any number of previous video parts – Bones Brigade and otherwise in what struck me at one point as being a more wholesome version of Chet Childress’ Burnside odyssey in the Black Label vid a couple months back. Watching Lance Mountain crunch around the coping is all types of awesome with that ridiculous smith grind, the even more ridiculous feeble grind, those inverts, incorporation of various swimming implements – the late invert! – tied up with a loose weekendish theme that a 10-year-old kid could relate to, at the same time he’s bugging out off a hippie jump over the deep end ladder. I think I felt 10 years younger watching this part, which makes me wonder how Lance Mountain felt making it (broken bones notwithstanding)

*holy fuck by the way

Boil the Ocean SOTY Short List 2009

October 11, 2009

busenitz_thunder
Just throw it in the bag

This year seems like last year, kind of, as far as there not being any type of clear front-runner for the most hallowed of skateboard awards that is not distributed in buckets by the Maloof brothers. There’s no Daewon or Danny Way or Arto Saari no-brainer, and while there are several semi-brainers (useful for commentors such as myself), the politics and squishy qualifications and completely opaque voting process makes it all the more interesting and fun to pointlessly speculate. And so we jump in.

Leo Romero: I kind of feel like if that Skateboarder cover had been a Thrasher we wouldn’t even be bloviating on this, but the uphill path of the inscrutable Leonard is part of his appeal – jumping ship from Baker to Toy Machine years after several former bloodsuckers headed headed the owner way and left Ed & co. with their hands in their pockets, alongside a general negative attitude that many have compared to Emerican elder Heath Kirchart. Leo has a potentially ground-shifting video part in store with “Stay Gold,” and while it will not drop this year, Phelps and his buddies have been known to move pre-emptively, and who doesn’t like to look smart?

Heath Kirchart: The buzz is that the Thrasher camp may not have enough love for the brooding bro with the red-carpet disses and vending machine business, but I don’t know. It’s not like the dude goes around handing out cookie bouquets to the other mags, and to a certain degree you could imagine the Thrasher powers that be digging a devil-may-care mode of operation. It would sorta be a safer pick too, since Heath K brought a show-stopper video part in 09 and potentially another one next year. Cons, he hasn’t done much for Thrasher and he skated to Morrissey.

Sean Malto: The teen heartthrob who lives his own reality show, baffling security guards with nollie frontside feeble grinds and shredding the Pacific Northwest with Julien Stranger. Green but his Thrasher cover was among the year’s gnarliest and the non-stop skateboard mission seems to always have room for a stop or shoutout to his beloved Kansas City; a pro model shoe is not far off and he’s had enough footage drizzled out here and there to mold a passable follow-up to “And Now,” but Malto’s 09 slow burn has yet to fully flare, and I’m not sure the cover, rowdy as it is, would get him over.

Dennis Busenitz: The current Slap Board messiah would seem to have SOTY at long last sewn up, with an internet-smashing video part, talked-about contest runs, many good photos and a pro shoe to boot.* He’s a Nor-Cal gnarler who can schralp transition and/or spit out switch 360 flips, he’s with the right companies. If there’s a downside I guess it’s the lack of any super-handrail heroism or mega-ramp fireworks or some type of singularly groundbreaking trick, but then again, maybe that plays to his advantage. In ten years a Busenitz SOTY win would probably come to be seen along the same lines as Chris Senn, which is to say those who know would know, the rest would be wondering “why not P-Rod” and there’d be a certain amount of “you had to be there”

Lizard King Mike Plumb: Let’s put him on the list. The zaniest Wallenberger with a stupider tattoo/carving every month, and he’s a decent interview. Kind of a long shot maybe but one could argue he’s fairly representative of where skating is these days, which is to say, both trick- and movement-wise.

Anthony Van Engelen: The odds might be stacked against him but to my mind the case has never been stronger for an AVESOTY and the brow-furrowing AWS decks it would probably produce. He has a couple magazine covers, a blazing video part, a harrowing comeback story, a bunch of tattoos and he wears Vans. As one who birthed the current fascination with speed and successfully fused hesh grime with precision tech skating he’s for sure a contender from the career standpoint and probably a SOTY everybody could agree with on some level.

Torey Pudwill: Just throwing it out there, Jake Phelps knows who he is and he’s given it to fresh-faced pros before. But, the lack of follow-through on the Wallenberg nollie flip might cost him precious support in the Yay area.

Zered Basset: the King of Zoo York coulda won it the year he made the “Vicious Cycle” part as far as we’re concerned but he nearly hit that mark again in the “State of Mind” video (still thinking the MOP was totally brilliant) and he has been on the Thrasher radar for some time. The drawback might be that he’s been kind of below the radar compared to some of the charge-happy spotlight grabbers like teammate Brandon Westgate, but an elder statesman might be the one to usher the tradition into the next decade.

It seems like there should be some kinda transition dude in here so, I don’t know, Lance Mountain. Insane as Bob’s mega-ramping has been, our view is that he’s a little bit too TWS/Fuel TV these days for Thrasher’s taste. While on the topic it seems like Justin Brock has whatever “rookie of the year” awards wrapped, unless Grant Taylor gets em.

*get it

Flight of the Passion Fruit

August 2, 2009

lizard_mega
And thus we complete the mainstream print media triumvariate

A meandering afternoon in which an errant copy of “Outside” magazine was flipped through, uncovering a pretty in-depth profile on hemp farmer and Mega Ramp LLC co-owner Bob Burnquist who is described at one point as “prone to stoner speechifying about ‘fluidic rhythms.'” (Aren’t we all.) It’s a pretty by-the-numbers rundown of the Bob’s life and times as an X-Games superhero, multiple family man and amateur pilot but at one point they’re cooling out at the rancho and things take a turn for the surreal* when a certain Utahn comes scritch-scritch-scratching at his rancho door:

While I’m at the rancho, Bob’s friend and fellow pro Pierre-Luc Gagnon, or PLG, pops by with some fresh meat: a street skater known as Lizard King (Mike Plumb to his relatives), who’s wiry and abundantly tattooed, with a rapsy smoker’s voice and the bug eyes of a man who gets amped for a living.

Bob greets them in the driveway and tells PLG to take Lizard out to the ramp “just to see what he’s getting into.”

Minutes later, Lizard King comes back looking as if he’s seen a ghost. He can’t stop pacing. “I’m not even over there looking at it and I’m having a heart attack,” he says.

Bob plays the confident older brother, goosing the Lizard up, onto and eventually down the mega-slope.

Lizard King snatches a bag of pads from PLG’s Mercedes and comes back. “I’ve never been more intimidated by anything in my entire life,” he says, then exhales deeply.

“I wanna get you psyched,” Bob says. “I’ll go out there with you.”

Bob shows Plumb how to bail the jump and then does it sans pads.

Lizard King practically collapses. Here he is, terrified, and Bob has casually dropped in as if this were a backyard pool, wearing nothing but jeans and a T-shirt.

“Fuck it, dude,” Lizard yells, rolling toward the edge. “Live life.”

His first attempt isn’t pretty, but he has gusto. There are many whoops and hollers and “Holy shits!” as he rockets down the roll-in, up the launch, and through the air, dropping his board and flying along like someone leaping off a bridge into a lake. He lands awkwardly but safely on his knee pads and slides to the base of the quarterpipe.

“I love you, Bob!” he howls as Bob and I walk back toward the house. “This is the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life! Thank you for building this!”

About an hour later, Bob’s phone buzzes. It’s a text from PLG: Lizard nailed it. “He’s got the right mentality,” Bob says. “Or the wrong one, depending how you look at it.”

Elsewhere there’s something of an “Xtremely Sorry” preview, which Bob Burnquist is apparently obsessing over “because (video parts) maintain his credibility in the skate world, which might otherwise regard him as a stunt guy who cashes in at the X Games once a year and then retreats to his ranch to roll around in flaxseed.”

In one sequence, he launches across the 50-foot gap, lands on the manual pad, kickflips his board 180 degrees while going 50 miles per hour, then drops in toward the quarterpipe – all without breaking rhythm.

So, what… manual backside flip? Frontside flip? Or just a “180 flip” into the landing from the manual pad? Meanwhile Bob’s organic restaurant has closed its doors, FYI.

*At least, surreal for those of us for whom Lizard King and “Outside” magazine exist in separate, non-overlapping worlds

Mo’ Mega Blues

December 15, 2008


Stakes is high

Danny Way loves spectacle. He sails over ancient structures and leaps from giant guitars, going so far as to revive the somewhat hilarious rocket air, all for our amusement and the pursuit of world records. Sometimes these things come at a price, including but not limited to fractured ankles, broken backs and 40-foot free falls. But on the other side of that Great Wall lies fame, lucrative energy drink endorsement deals and oodles of prize money.

No fear, though. Fame, sponsorship and wads of dough can still be had if the crash itself is enough of a spectacle, as giggly Australian Jake Brown proved on Larry King and elsewhere during his post-Mega fall recovery tour . And even if sponsors aren’t cutting photo incentive checks every time their logo flashes across the screen on some pro’s shirt as he careens toward the deck, Danny Way’s not tripping — as he notes in the Wall Street Journal last week, each replay of Jake Brown’s tooth-rattling slam is all for the greater good:

I think it’s great that they exploit the slams. That’s the biggest part of people understanding the seriousness of what we do. It’s unfortunate the person that slams has to go through that experience and deal with the repercussions of it. But Jake [Brown], for example, he did so much for the Mega event. They emphasized the slam, but that also brought so much of a focus to our event. It just gives everyone that much more opportunity and makes it that much more exciting. God forbid someone should get hurt, but sometimes it’s good to have things put in perspective. If we’re going to create an event for the public, the goal is to have people on the edge of their seats biting their nails not knowing what’s going to happen next.

God forbid it happens, but it’s possible for somebody to get really, really hurt. It’s the same thing with motocross. Freestyle moto, guys doing double flips and front flips and stuff, that stuff’s deadly, too. That’s why people come to watch it.

Interesting point, and it goes back to what’s kept vert skating on life support for the last ten years – your average Gravity Games-watching armchair gaper gets a lot more out of seeing Lincoln Uyeda blast 10-foot airs, as opposed to P-Rod cracking a nollie heelflip backside tailslide across a step-up ledge or whatever. With the mega-ramp Danny Way has upped the ante a few hundred feet in terms of hangtime, and personal peril.

The WSJ also asks Way whether he believes the mega-ramp is viable as a new skateboarding discipline (to chance an oxymoron), and he dodges, sort of, noting the growing number of pros taking the mega plunge. But if anything the rise of the mega-ramp widens the gap between your average kid kickflipping in the driveway and what seems destined to become skating’s version of underwater lion-taming, or something.

Let us pause for a moment and pour one out for all the departed tamers who were mauled and then drowned.

Anyway, for years vert skating has been moving toward a weird sort of commercial backwater, seeming to exist almost solely on ESPN, while half the vert pros suit up in body armor to slay the mega dragon and the other half shuffle off to work on their beer guts with the backyard bowl contingent. The way things are going now, vert’s TV career seems destined to be eclipsed by the spectacle of the mega monster, just months after receiving a stay of execution when the X-Games stood ready to bump it from the lineup.

So: the number of vert pros dwindling, cities building concrete parks as opposed to vert ramps, less on-screen time… will kids even know what a vert ramp is in another five years? Before I tread too far onto Vert Is Dead’s turf I’ll do that thing where I stand in a darkened room with a lighter and my eyes cast upward, fumbling with my mouse to click on the Tampa Am vert finals from earlier this year. Kids are always up for unwinnable causes right? I mean when Danny Way is 360-flip k-grinding a 20-foot vert wall and Bob Burnquist is jumping into the Grand Canyon, will anyone be left to notice when somebody lands, say, a varial 900?

Take me out

September 17, 2008


Add an organic taco, some Oakley Blades and a parachute and you’d never even guess

Try as I may, I haven’t been able to find any video of X-Game Mega Ramper Bob Burnquist delivering his xtremely Brazilian take on the national anthem of our national pasttime last night at Wrigley Field. However, according to the early reviews, it didn’t go over so well…

Who’s this piece of Howry singing?

Holy crap. PLEASE end the 7th inning stretch experiment. Whothehell is this guy??

You clearly never played Tony Hawk

Holy crap, that was brutal.

Skateboarding legend? Hmm… Looked like he was having trouble reading the words off that piece of paper they gave him.

As if that wasn’t enough, the dude or dudes who won the autographed Burnquist board giveaway are hot to unload it. Complete with accessories! Gentlemen, start your bidding…

This is skateboarding 2008

August 3, 2008

And to think if you would have asked me 10 years ago what the highlight of the X Games 2008 would be, I never would have guessed. Funny how things work out eh?