Posts Tagged ‘Bobshirt’

The Thick Of It

April 24, 2022

The global battle against misinformation flared last week in the studio of the Nine Club, where host Chris Roberts put the ‘View’ for the switch heelflip set on pause for a few minutes to share his personal turmoil, bouts of gut-wrenching stress that verged on nausea: “The last couple of days have been really tough.”

This all was brought on by the pod-cast’s previous longform interview with Mark Oblow, longtime industry head of Prime, Gravis and other team/brand management positions over the course of several decades, who opted about 20 minutes into his nearly three-hour interview to veer abruptly into one of the darkest chapters in skateboarding’s history — Mark ‘Gator’ Rogowski’s 1991 murder of Jessica Bergsten — relating a version of the story he said he had “pieced together.” Preserved here, he characterized her death as an accident chalked up to drugs and “rough sex,” that Mark Rogowski, who “wasn’t that type of person,” later turned himself in and helped authorities locate the body. He then went on to chuckle over how he ever since avoids getting rough in bed; the Nine Club hosts offered “wow” and “really” as Mark Oblow segued to a related story about later trying to work prison connections to protect Mark Rogowski from other inmates.

Articles from the LA Times and Village Voice covering the murder and trial are archived here, citing trial documents and Mark Rogowski’s own words to contradict in graphic terms this version of the story, including that Mark Rogowski confessed to initially bludgeoning Jessica Bergsten with a Club, that he had hated and resented her, and that her decomposed body was found by campers.

On IG, Youtube, the Slap Boards and elsewhere people reacted with shock and revulsion. The rape and murder Mark Rogowski committed was the subject of the 2003 ‘Stoked’ documentary and occasional message board threads since. Whereas much of the unwritten code that guides, binds, strengthens and constrains what remains of skateboarding’s tribalism is wrapped up a kind of living oral history, handed down over shop counters and traded whilst sitting on curbs, the digital age has set down half-remembered stories and rumors in pixels and binary machine languages, sharpening them, memorializing them for posterity and permanent scrutiny. In this case, the ‘receipts’ were not hard to find. Mark Oblow soon apologized for what he called “ignorant and insensitive comments,” saying that for the past 30-plus years he had believed a version of the story told to him by Mark Rogowski.

Chris Roberts apologized as well, and vowed to do a better job of policing content on what’s become one of skateboarding’s biggest platforms. “We want to be able to question a guest, challenge a guest, on what they’re saying, if it’s inaccurate, we want to be able to have that discussion and feel like we can get in there,” he said on the Nine-Club ‘Experience’ episode several days after the interview aired. “At the end of the day we don’t want anything to come out of our show that’s inaccurate, misinformation, disinformation.”

It’s a noble sentiment, if a dauntingly lofty one. Setting aside whether the Nine Club itself is equipped to identify and push back on improbable takes or wrong-seeming recollections, given the hosts’ seeming preference for going into interviews cold, there are limits that would challenge even skilled interviewers like Eric Swisher, Tim Anderson, Mike Burnett and Willy Staley, possessed of historical knowledge, the inclination to research and the tact to wade in deeper. Time’s passage, the frequent involvement of intoxicants and general human subjectivity are always gonna cast a certain gauze over the specifics of tales like Tom Penny shutting down a session in hiking boots, or the particulars of those World wheel invoices.

A bigger hurdle though is that more than ever, a given pro or industry bro has no particular need to subject themselves to potential tough questioning. Ascendant talents and established luminaries alike have their own social media platforms to post photos and clips, vids can go straight to Youtube, limited edition hand-numbered whatzits and premiumly priced apparels can be marketed directly to the fanbase. The longform podcast or published textual interview can be trimmed of controversial or uncomfortable subject matter, by appealing to friendship with the interviewer or the potential discomfort of a mutual sponsor.

It’s also unclear whether the skateboard media consumer, by and large a population intensely invested in the logos on their and others’ t-shirts, care deeply about how high up a given anecdote or tidbit lands in the great coordinate plane of narrative content, with truthfulness as the Y axis and entertainment value the X; an ‘Athletic’ or ‘Sports Illustrated’ for skateboarding has yet existed in part because there’s no significant, sustaining demand. Thrasher’s expanding space in recent years for exploring mental health and addiction, and making room on its platform for women, gay, lesbian, trans and other participants raise an interesting question as to whether that’s changing.

Should that grotesque take on a still-horrific crime have been edited out of the Nine Club episode to begin with, or was it preferable for it to be posted and to have had the whole ensuing discussion? With CNN+’s sudden plug-pulling, is there a guest pod-cast hosting spot for new free agent Chris Wallace? Who’s going to host an affordable housing debate with Mikey Taylor, or a digital asset bubble assessment with Stevie Williams and Justin Eldridge?

Rob Pluhowski Left Skating and Never Looked Back. Should More Ex-Pros*?

May 8, 2017

Former feather-footed kickflipper and current furniture hand crafter shocked and unnerved a freshly scrubbed generation of Instagramming careerists by summing up a decade’s worth of top-shelf sponsorships, parts in seminal videos of the time, and third-world nation touring under the steady navigation of Fred Gall, using a nonchalant trio of words that stripped the English sentence to its barest, basest components: “It was cool.” Further cows sacred to various strivers and Thrasher down-for-life aspirants soon trotted out for electric stunning and captive bolting: Being shown the door from an established career in skating was for Rob Pluhowski a good thing, he doesn’t skate anymore, and he doesn’t seem to miss any of it:

“I was 27 years old, I didn’t have a fucking board at 27 years old! And, I had a fucking kid. It was just a wake-up call. My daughter was probably only a year old and I was like what the fuck am I gonna do with myself? Like what am I gonna do. If figured I’d just like sever it, end it there, end on the highest note you can possibly end at without being one of those dudes like, what the fuck are you doing? Like why is he on a skateboard? I don’t want to look like a tired old man. That’s why I don’t skateboard today. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. I don’t want to be that dude. you know what I mean. Just leave it where it was.

Now that I look back at it, it just seemed right. I got out, and now where I’m at in life, I’m fucking happy, a pig in shit. That would’ve just taken this much longer, 32 years old, riding for Zoo York or something, like some hokey shit.”

Rob Pluhowski’s unsanded, unvarnished assessment of pro contemporaries, the skate biz in general and his former place in it attracts the same sort of grinning car-wreck rubbernecking in readers that any decent interview inspires, and for the time being helps to shore up that ever-eroding barrier between skating’s outlaw flavourings and what may lie ahead. But Rob Pluhowski’s commentary here differs from other, similar veterans’ tales, in that it’s dispensed free of any strings that might even tenuously tether him to skate industry machinations, or gooey threads of relationships that could coat an otherwise harsh and bad-sounding assessment with a sugary veneer of political correctness. It’s not even that he seemed unconcerned what people may think, but that he seems only vaguely aware that such people might even exist, and doesn’t seem much interested in sweating it too much either way.

In centuries past, once the beachfront fires for whale kill roared out the bulk of their strength, our bearded chieftans would sing softly to we youth: “If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s meant to be.” Salivating as we did for that first sip of icey whale marrow, we never gave much thought to their lyricism or breath control. But the saying, like the whales’ mewled curses upon humanity and our harpoon technology, has echoed through the ages. Did Rob Pluhowski love skating? With his Bob Puleo visage and mannerisms, he’s maybe too New Jersey to really get wistful. Is it possible to love it, leave it behind completely, and eventually be good with that? If so, what verdicts does this hold for the ever-expanding, and seemingly older than ever professional ranks?

How come Rob Pluhowski’s bearing and worldview seems relatively rare when stacked against numerous interviews in which post-professional career plans include packing boxes in warehouses, described semi-humorously but nevertheless with an air of noble sacrifice? Between the reverence here and as unlikely an art critic as Danny Way singing praises, should the late 1990s/early 2000s Alien Workshop and Habitat graphics be elevated to that same pantheon reserved for Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s World Industries era, and VCJ or Jim Phillips before them? Is it really we who loved Rob Pluhowski, and are now left to consider that we may have set him free and he did not come back?

*Yo it’s understood Pluhowski never was pro but stay with it for a minute here

The Medium-Sized MNC Star T-Shirt Is The Message Dudes

December 7, 2011

Image

Quartersnacks the other day posted up this deep dive into Sect adherent Jake Johnson who sounds like he’s spent the better part of the last year pondering ponderous thoughts on a skate-oriented pilgrimage to Pittsburgh as part of a broader effort to reconnect with his inner dirtball. The idea wins kudos at this blog webpage, where such concepts are prized above sponsorship by big-box retail chains. One of Jake Johnson’s ponders involves the “message” that underlies skateboarding, a potent smoothie of rebellion, aggression, creativity, pain and escapism, some of which might be lost on a generation coming up with parks aplenty and tweet-ready reality idols straddling the primetime viewing hour. There’s a separate message though for which Jake Johnson feels more personal responsibility, transmogrifying his board into a ball-point pen and the streets to an 8.5×11″ piece of white printer paper:

“My sponsors give me a lot of freedom. For the most part, they understand that me developing a concept, message, and my style of skating is the most important thing for their company. They’re willing to do whatever it takes for me to skate my best, and they trust me that I know how to do that. A lot of companies don’t.”

Thinking back on “Mind Field” Jake Johnson from what I recall worked hard to root the footage in his working frame of reference which was mostly New York at the time, setting up kind of a contrast to Josh Kalis’ various beefs about Greg Hunt not incorporating enough of his Barcelona tricks, but whatever. The comment (and whole interview really) signal that Jake Johnson found an early grasp on what somebody can do with the career opportunity he was handed and seems to be thinking hard about what he wants to do with it.

Who else thinks in terms of this “message” thing? I think Leo Valls and the “Night Prowler” guys definitely have an aesthetic that they’re looking to promote with their skating, built on what Ricky Oyola and Bob Puleo developed, a sorta homesteading purity for the streets. When Jamie Thomas cued up that clip of himself skating over that bridge in Chicago at the beginning of his “Welcome To Hell” section I think he had an idea he wanted to get across, same with Jim Greco and Stevie Williams a couple years later. Jason Dill is a dude who you can imagine looks at his message as a malleable and mutating thing. Mike Vallely’s career arc cast him into a spot now where you could say that “message” is nearly all he puts out, versus skate tricks.

There’s some comments made in the (too) long-gestating “Epicly Later’d” on Menace along the lines that Pupecki, Valdes, Suriel et al were at the time some assortment of castoffs and misfits corralled by Kareem Campbell to fill out his allotted corner of the Rocco empire. Maybe that’s partly true, but you gotta think that the mastermind behind our still-beloved “mNc” star logo had his own type of message in mind, having to do with communicating through vaguely scary hand-signals and 360 flipping through sidewalk cafes. If all he wanted was some square pegs he could’ve got Adam McNatt and Ryan Fabry.