Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Westgate’

Legacy Maintenance And Mutation In The Days Of Goldfish Focus

November 4, 2018

The time was the early 1980s and in that potent cosmos knowed as Hollywood, stars were aligning so as to align several of music’s biggest stars and birth the greatest musical album ever conceived: Queen frontman Freddie Mercury cowriting operatic party anthems with Michael Jackson, the undisputed king of entertainment. Although their respective musical prowess suggested little beyond certified platinum plaques for days and lofty wages, the artistic chemistry would be fouled by an interloping llama of some description.

According to an interview conducted with the Times of London, Queen’s former manager, Jim “Miami” Beach claims that Mercury called him and said, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.” Jackson was also reportedly less than thrilled with Mercury’s behavior during the recording session. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Mercury subsequently fell out with Jackson because the U.S. star objected to Mercury taking too much cocaine in his living room.”

On the surface, it’s just another cautionary tale about U.S. llamas, rival species and greedy excess. More deeply, it is a story of personal collaboration, llamas, and the challenges of building a chemistry strong enough to stand through the years. Like many of the 1980s’ greatest lessons, one can draw a direct line toward Element Skate Boards, which recently released its newest video, ‘Peace.’ Twenty-six years into its branded lifetime, the Twigs parent is feeling itself, springing for the considerable talents of Emerica’s Jon Miner to sort a 60-minute full-length from its deep and diverse benches, theoretically to bolster Element’s mystique and power in the board marketplace, while handing a breezy, wet, and flaming hot baton made of dirt to a new guard.

And what of that baton? By the power of the bankroll, Element’s clung to some clout over these many years, overcoming eyebrow-raising maneuvers such as a Billabong-cobranded Times Square outlet store and major-league fan service to corral a talented but usually incongruous mixture of riders, ranging at various times from Julien Stranger to Jeremy Wray to Chad Muska to Ray Barbee to Dennis Durrant to Terry Kennedy to Natas Kaupas to Kris Markovich to Stella Reynolds. Tracing the OG team to Element’s roster as of ‘Peace’ — it is sure to fluctuate again soon — would require several pages for one of Thrasher’s nerds-only company lineage features, and would rival the Bible’s ‘begats’ for reader patience.

Tenuous as Element’s current iteration may be to the ‘Skypager’ lineup or even the prior decade’s ‘This Is My Element,’ Jon Miner gamely coaxes out a cohesive if unwieldy production, strung together with static long-lens shots and a fair helping of psych-rock pulled from the ‘Made’ bins. Bionic Barley heir Brandon Westgate cranks once more down the SF hills to Operation Ivy’s buzzsaw bounce, rocketing over a king-size street gap and frontside flipping what appears to be an entire loading dock. Granola-grimy Tyson Peterson pulls a shocker of a kinked rail dismount and looks as confident sitting on backside smith grinds as he seems to be copping thrift-store trouser pants. Dominick Walker’s TSM cover footage is bananas, Greyson Fletcher catches one of the season’s most lovely and frightening kickflips, the lanky Madars Apse’s Barcelona board bonk and similar antics read like a Polar tryout, or maybe raised glass. Terminally brolic Mason Silva is positioned as ‘Peace’s’ closer, boosting fakie over the back of a rail to 5-0 and uncorking one of the wilder bump-to-bar wallride combos in a while, but it is starry-eyed wanderer Evan Smith, again, serving as the current Element generation’s spiritual core — beautifully switch backside flipping a bench, helicoptering off that silvery wedge for all the Spanish oldsters, and perhaps most dangerously of all, attempting to break Marsellus Wallace’s cardinal rule after a wallie late-shove gone wrong.

Is Element’s perpetually churning team a strength or weakness? Amid the recent media campaign for ‘Peace,’ Tyson Peterson in Thrasher speaks on his longtime Element fandom in terms of Brent Atchley, a dude off the team 10 years ago — and Bam Margera, whose pickup by Element during his ascent to MTV reality television staple marked one of the more surreal team roster mutations from the Chris Hall and Harold Hunter days, or even Reese Forbes and Kenny Hughes.

Meanwhile over at Girl, a 25-year-old entity that has derived much of its powers from maintaining a direct link to its storied pros and past, the dudes seem like they’re trying to tell us something. “We know where we’re going/but we don’t know where we’ve been,” croon the Talking Heads to Niels Bennett’s pre-intro sizzler in Girl’s crackling new ‘Doll’ vid. “I can change,” bleats James Murphy in the obligatory, sentimental-yet-lighthearted closing-credits number, as those yellowy letters scroll. “We sit back on Malayan islands/sipping mixed drinks out of broke coconut bowls, we wilding” croons Ghostface Killah amid Griffin Gass’ punchy, driving last part.

It is the sound of Girl breaking with its past, to some extent; eight minutes of ‘Doll’ unspool before there’s any tricks from a pre-9/11 rider, and then, it’s second-genner Brandon Biebel. The OGs skate for only about 30 seconds in the vid, and whether or not that’s OK is moot in 2018 — the ravages of time and adult living make anything else unrealistic, and Girl’s new hair relaxer-rejecting brood proves more than capable of carrying the half-hour ‘Doll.’

The dozens-deep pro rosters and overwrought theatrica of preceding Crailtap productions mostly are shunted to the side, allowing viewers to marinate in Niels Bennett’s sand gaps line, bounding fakie over one of Venice’s fat ledges, Tyler Pacheco’s loosey-goosey nollie heelflips and frontside bluntslides, Griffin Gass’ brawling rampages through alleys and fountains, and that one kickflip backside noseblunt. There’s winks and nods to past bits like Rick Howard’s dawdling rodent and Keenan Milton’s Rick Moranis moment, but the generational shift at work benefits even the skits — session screenwriter Colin Read, of ‘Spirit Quest’ fame, captures Spike Jonze’s brand of winking creativity using basically a board and a camera for a worthwhile entry in Girl/Choco’s anthropomorphic board series.

As the human attention span shrinks to rival the goldfish’s, ’tis it better, in pursuit of longevity and countercultural heft, to regularly shed teamriders every few years or hold to the original foundation of dudes as long as can be? Did everybody take note of Tyler Pacheco’s fakie flip in this? What about the alternate ending for the board revenge skit? How come nobody ever coined the nickname Matt “Miami” Beach?

Tha Agony and Tha Ecstasy

May 31, 2015

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For all the mumblings of Peter Pan syndrome and deferred adulthood attached to pro-level boarding careers and various man-amhoods, such pursuits are not built for the emotionally unhinged: Marking one’s day-to-day progress by recording hard-fought clips destined to be trimmed to a few seconds each and pasted into a Thrashermagazine.com web-video in a couple years’ time, clinging to fleeting victories during which a hammer is performed, landed and hand-on-death-lens marked, then past, perchance to plow through a 30-pack and next week try for another one. Anthony Van Engelen speaks of grappling with emotional voids after completing big video projects, and witness the deep valleys leading to an uncertain but undeniably triumphant peak in Jamie Thomas’ cold war with the not-long-for-this-world Clipper ledge.

Love/hate relations betwixt bros and boards are to be understood and forcibly massaged when circumstances demand. But what of those emotional snake-runs entangling teamriders and sponsors, which have taken to marketing themselves as families and brotherhoods? Chris Cole and his new Plan B family exhibited their unbridled giddiness upon his joining the ‘Tru’ Tank this month, cheesing and fist-pumping and committing various spelling transgressions as the onetime Zero heavyweight apparently shelved any plans to market decks on his own and instead chose to endorse monocoloured boards with skulls and guitars manufactured by another company.

It’s hard to imagine the Black Box camp not feeling some type of way after clicking on this clip, given Zero’s role plucking Chris Cole from the World camp and providing a hard-rocking hessian launchpad for the next dozen years of his career; to boot, Chris Cole just a year before seemed to identify with Paul Rodriguez’ abrupt flying of the Plan B coop as a cue to carve out one’s own deck-centric microbrand: “I think at some point Paul figured out it wasn’t about Plan B selling Paul Rodriguez skateboards anymore, it was about him selling Plan B, and that’s the point where you start to realize you could be doing something more.”

Any career-minded gnar merchant gathers a certain amount of lumps along the road, and Jamie Thomas like other pros-turned-entrepreneurs signed up for an extra helping by starting his own companies and seeing dudes he put on later pack up and leave. But Zero proved to be one of the relatively few sellers of skate goods to not only publicly acknowledge the departure of a team lynchpin in Chris Cole, but go so far as to post a brief retrospective video and wish him well.

Few others do — Brandon Westgate’s decision in April to join the Element family after seven years holding down the Zoo York family passed with little notice on Zoo York’s Instagram. Gino Iannucci’s Slap board-shaking jump to Fucking Awesome just shy of 19 years as a red block head drew nary an official peep from the Crailtap camp, though months later his former teammates can’t finish interviews without being asked about it. Whereas Mic-E Reyes headbutt sendoffs now rank as just another hallowed memory of 1990s realness and sour jpgs are a Web 1.0-ready if rarely utilized substitute, the default seems to have become an Orwellian electronic eraser applied to the team webpage, removal of the defector from relevant social media hype circles and moving on.

Like insurance and the signing of openly gay athletes, is skateboarding again in danger of being outpaced by major-league sports when it comes to acknowledging contributions from longstanding-but-departing riders? The Seattle Mariners deployed a warm statement of gratitude when outfielder Ichiro Suzuki bounced after more than a decade on the squad, and later publicly big upped him when he got his 4000th hit playing for the Yankees.

Besides agreed-upon stacks of legal tenders, what if anything do companies owe their independent contractors who toil atop handrails and within ditches in the name of endorsement deals? In Alien Workshop’s ultimately transient dissolution last year, some of the then-remaining abductees seem to have received no official word of the shutdown at all, much less any word of thanks:

Jake Johnson: It’s a strange one. Nobody said good bye. Mike Hill didn’t throw in the towel. It’s strange. It was on the internet.

Omar Salazar: I never spoke to anyone. No one ever called me, I’m just like, who is running this thing? They got rid of the only dude who I was talking to [Chad] who told me to stick around. And that’s how you get rid of people after all these years? I was bummed and then got hurt.. But no phonecall. No Rob Dyrdek phonecall… I mean jesus, who are you, man? I thought we were homies, bro [laughs]. Just kidding. Whatever.
…And I still haven’t got a paycheck like, oh, here you go, thanks for your time. Cause I could sure as hell use that for my medical bill right now. Thats all I gotta say about that.

Should the resurfaced Alien Workshop, now promoting a new tribe, offer some parting nod to the former pros who hung on til the bitter end? Did Rocco write the former sponsors of riders he stole publish thank-you notes, or rather did he demand such sponsors publicly acknowledge the service of their former riders for purposes of free promotion? Do digital thank-you notes count? What is the Instagram equivalent of a dismissal-by-headbutt?

Marble Floors, Gold Turlets and Chandeliers

January 8, 2015

Belatedly, another ten good ones from last year:


Nik Stain – ‘Bruns Skate Jawn’
The half-cab flips could’ve come straight out of an early Prime video, in a good way.

Aaron Herrington – ‘Static 4’
Skating to song, probably the best possible pace-setter for the two Static videos to come.

Brandon Westgate – ‘Zoo England’
He doesn’t slow down

Eli Reed – Japan part
Eli Reed goes Magenta in Tokyo with some scarfs and socks. See if you can find the ‘Street Cinema’ spot.

Matt Miller – DC shoe part
Rob Welsh’s onetime water boy released one of the gnarlier parts all year, and got a shoe for his trouble, potentially eliminating the descriptor ‘unheralded’ from his career. Switch 360 flip noseblunt, switch backside 360 noseblunt, etc.

Youness Amrani – ‘Almost a Part’
Some late-period 411VM vibes from this one, in a good way. Downhill manual revert and late 180 on the heelflip varial are bananas.

Chewy Cannon – ‘Transmission’
Dead or alive, there are few better to watch skate

Matt Bennett – ‘True Blue’
It’s cool to see how far this dude has been able to take his sack of mainly unconventional tricks – the pop out of the handrail fakie backside tailslide (to regular) is of note.

Carlos Iqui – ‘Iqui Does It’
Stevie William’s ‘Reason’ opener-attempter, but on a hubba.

Jamal Williams – ‘Static 5’
Among the best put-together video parts this year, and possibly for all of history

1. Brandon Westgate – ‘Made’

December 31, 2013


Beyond upping the previous bro’s ante with another couple stairs or a kickflip onto the rail, or stringing out lines to Stevie Williams-level length, Brandon Westgate in Emerica’s ‘Made’ video stayed stretching the boundaries of what seems plausible on a board with one of the more open minds working today. The SF hills keep luring him back with risky promises of driveways and front walks over which to blast tricks and suffer spills, just some crew-cutted kid in a sweater and jeans who these days happens to be carrying the Zoo legacy on his back. Brandon Westgate steps to chest-high rails and conducts thruster ollies over poles using legs infused with magnesium cores to help him grasp ultimate power, and increasingly it seems like he’s perfected his flip tricks also. If you were going to sit down and draw up a list of the craziest clips all year and had to pick one from this section, the strongest case could be made for the family-friendly tow job to the nation’s stoutest loading dock, one of those feats that grows gnarlier still as he cruises away and the thing towers over him.

Certain Presumptive Skaters Of The Year Could Benefit From Additional Pain, Frustration And Aging, Top Pros Say

December 6, 2013

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Assorted musings and murmurings on the SOTY race, as Thrasher ratchets the tension and unique page-views ever higher by announcing a short list.

Salman Agah: “I’m going with Greco. It’s my opinion that you shouldn’t even be eligible until you’re at least 30.”

Peter Hewitt: “So I’m looking at the contenders & here’s my opinion: Greco- if that was going to happen Guy would’ve won last year. Burman- Burly, but needs to suffer more. Ishod- again, he has much more to prove. Sandoval- I feel this guy has earned it the Thrasher way. Nyjah- so talented it could be a video game. Does he say Thrasher to me? Not really. Westgate- One of my favorites, bionic-man stuff. Raybourn- Also one of my faves but he must suffer more. Suciu- must suffer more. Burnquist- dimension X of skateboarding… Only one percent of skateboarders can comprehend. Provost, Walker, & Gravette must all suffer more. My picks are Tommy Sandoval & Brandon Westgate!”

Leo Romero: “First I would say Westgate, but he doesn’t care much for these shenanigans. So second would be Nyjah because he came out with multiple video parts for you guys that are fucking crazy. He seems like he really wants it. Also DC has spent quite a bit on advertising in the mag.”

Jeff Grosso: “Westgate is rad, but I vote for Mark Suciu. I like his East coast style and vibe. I’m a big fan of the varial heel flip and he’s got a pretty one! I like his simple, effortless, style. Also, one of his video parts I watched he skated to “junk bond trader” by Elliott Smith which is a beautiful song about art as commodity and the selling of ones soul. As an Elliott fan, I found his choice of music… Interesting? So, when I saw an interview with him in the mag, I was curious. I like what I read about the dude. He seems like a thoughtful, talented, bad ass, young skateboarder. No frills. Just style and shred! But, with a nod to the people he grew up influenced by. I don’t know. I just dig his style.”

Silas Baxter-Neal: “Ishod – skate rat ripping for himself not for a trophy. Skates EVERYTHING, and looks sick doing it. Still puts out video parts for the homies while filming for corpo vids. If Thrasher stands for real skateboarding then Ishod should be the SOTY. If you guys like handrails and gold medals and a shitty push then give it to Nyjah Bingy.”

Josh Kalis: “I have two answers. Two very different dudes for two very different reasons. One is based off a points system – Nyjah, and the other is based off being a pure skater who came through with video parts, coverage, etc. without stepping outside of the skate world – core mentality. For skateboarding – Suciu. Both deserve it, in my opinion, but if it was solely up to me I’d pick Suciu.”

Andrew Reynolds: “I think Ishod should get it because the amount of skateboarding he does – he has three video parts: Sabotage 3, Wair and Tear, and the Chronicles video. I think he won a contest,too. And he did it all without trying to get Skater of the Year.”

Peter Smolik: “It should be me! But on some real shit, Nyjah.”

‘Word Up’ or, Boil the Ocean’s Generally Uninformed Views Regarding Runners and Riders for 2013 SOTY

November 3, 2013

sheriff

As contest grow, amass greater cash purses and consolidate power, Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ has come to command a late-year rush of award-season bait generally angled toward capturing the short-pantsed golden bro with the Lego-man cap on. The phenomenon has birthed horrific mutations and eddies in the space-time continuum, such as making the front half of the year sleepier than it might otherwise have been video-wise and flummoxing innocent blog websites that generally speaking might boast somewhat better SOTY oddsmaking without having to account for an early-December crush of Phelps-baiting footage arising out of nowhere. Nevertheless:

David Gravette A scrappy journeyman working in the medium of hairy 50-50s, Creature’s golden child is the onliest 2013 candidate whose resume totes a Thrasher-themed facial tattoo. Amongst all the ditches, bars and his not-quite-a-flyout backflip, Gravette demanded a cover photo and received it, though similar to the initial landing on his round-the-horn rail ride in this year’s CSFU part, Gravette’s bid is solid but may suffer from bad timing, its arrival earlier in the year having been obscured by any number of team-jumps, jailings, gay-rights ruminations and related chatterboxing.

Nyjah Huston: His contest-circuit profile and ability to consistently stretch handrail tricks down an additional few stairs each year have made Nyjah Huston a perennial candidate lately, and similar to Ryan Sheckler, he seems to have preemptively cleared a spot in his trophy room for the Thrasher award, so far to no avail. He has offered up to the mag some kinked-bar prowess and a politically incorrect comment that may otherwise have played well to a wizard-staffed campfire, but the ensuing press-release apology and tearful track record when a gold medal eludes him may make SOTY a long shot.

Bob Burnquist’s helicopter: Never has a helicopter so boldly staked a claim to an award that otherwise has purely been the affectation of human beings, yet as digital technology advances and extreme athletes continue to achieve on stronger and deeper stages, machinery has played an ever-larger role, be it lasering substandard eyeballs, defending against rogue-state missile launches or ferrying Danny Way back to his next MegaRampTM run. It’s difficult to argue against Bob Burnquist’s helicopter as the most-extreme propeller-driven aircraft of modern times, though Thrasher underbosses may look askance at an all-park part.

Clint Walker: Like a bearded young demon conjured by blaspheming worshippers of Heath Kirchart’s career, the long-simmering Clint Walker boiled over last spring in Ambig’s ‘Modern Art’ video. Clint Walker did a truly gnarly crooked grind revert and in addition to all those damn-the-wobbles ending tricks managed that rare feat of the YouTube age, forcing rewinds after a vertigo-inducing miss on an otherwise unassuming nollie heelflip. The knock against Clint Walker would be that he’s too new, but few have chomped as hard as he this year.

Brandon Westgate: New England’s famed cranberry boggart recorded some of the year’s heaviest tricks, some flung down San Francisco hills, others up from handicap ramps, and one across a massive loading dock that looked roughly on par with the size of Brandon Westgate’s quiet and domesticated family home. Should Brandon Westgate, an accomplished tiler and this world wide web log’s odds-on favorite for the award, somehow dodge it this year, he seems assured that little-loved consolation prize which is to be attached to perpetual message-board grumblings also concerning Dennis Busenitz and Guy Mariano in the could’ve/should’ve SOTY sphere.

Bronze Hardware: With impeccable taste since the start, Bronze’s mastery of its particular/singular domain and subject matter have become harder to ignore with each passing year, braiding together a thick and lustrous twine of classic tricks, foreboding soundscapes and ‘found recordings’ into this year’s ‘Solo Jazz’ offering. Bronze Hardware’s prowess and promiscuity have engendered anger and half-mumbled threats from adversaries, which may for Thrasher staffers pose questions of peacekeeping and insurance liabilities for any SOTY event in which Bronze Hardware is named the ultimate winner.

Ben Rayborne: a grimy, bespectacled veteran of patchy backyard ramps and full pipes, who introduced the industry to the phrase “horse pool” and as much as anybody else in the running this year is of the Thrasher mold. Ben Raybourne skates giant sewers in the dark, threatens weak amphibians, rides ceilings where others may settle for the wall and fence-jams at Burnside, pumping out an array of footage this year that did include the obligatory Thrasher part. He also boasts the distinction of having some of his tricks translated into Lego formats.

Ishod Wair VX’ed footage of nighttime Love Park lines soundtracked to Raekwon in 2013 qualifies as certified blog fodder and must be treated as such. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to rate Ishod’s real-streetness after two parts worth of “Photosynthesis”-mining grit over the last year that also did include some Juicy J and multiple trips down the fountain gap. It’s a good look for Ishod Wair, whose skills never have been in doubt but whose “Since Day One” section spoke more toward the type of SoCal one-hitters that many a Street League jockey could have formulated. A lengthy interview in Thrasher, Deluxe affiliation and the promise of another possible part by year’s end further bolster his candidacy.

Jim Greco: Worse than a gruesome death or a quiet fade from the scene for Jim Greco would be damnation by being decreed ‘boring,’ and so in 2013 Greco challenges conventional norms and mores by embracing concepts like darkslides and Wrangler pants. Tangling with cars, dumpsters, hydrants and fearsome embankments, Greco pulled out a Slayer tape and most all the stops for his “Deathwish” video appearance and, seeming to grasp the spell Rodney Mullen commands over U.S. tweens, potentially extended his career another five years easy as he dares to navigate the turbulent waters of pants and sunglasses sponsorships.

Here Are Three Great Ollie Pics From The June Skateboard Mag Dudes

May 24, 2013

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Brandon Westgate is a master practitioner and Collin Provost’s is a current affair but the favorite here is rural warrior and sometime horseman Josh Bentz’s, for the late ’80s photo composition and general gas face points. Evan Smith, Steve Nesser and Elijah Berle all have notable frontside variations in the issue also.

3. Brandon Westgate – Emerica Part

December 28, 2011

Ancient cavemen surfers were known to coin a phrase, which went something like “when you catch a wave, ride it as long as you can.” Flip knew it, Plan B knew it, Powell for a while knew it and now Bay Stater Brandon Westgate. These past couple years Westgate caught a hell of a wave that may or may not have crested yet, depending on his next moves and how you personally rank homestyle hammers such as tiling a bathroom. For a few different reasons I responded more to this Emerica part released just three or four months past his vast and crushing opener for the “Stay Gold” vid, maybe because it was shorter, more condensed and potent, maybe just because of the last trick. He’s still got his teeth sunk into the San Francisco hills and I think this is some of the most impressive skateboardering this year from a physics perspective, partly cuz you never see a car or motorcycle pulling him up to those bump/bars. Also do we agree at this point to elevate the 360 flip over the bar to the Hall of Kings where it can sit alongside Josh Kalis’ one at the end of “Photosynthesis”?

Big Anthony Speaks The Magic Words, And The SOTY Pot Begins To Bubble

October 20, 2011

More or less on schedule with the arrival of shittier weather and the autumn crop of video premieres, Boil the ocean internet blog spot/space examines potential and plausible candidates for Thrasher’s 2011 skater of the year, known as the only award without several zeroes behind it that matters in the streets.

Dennis Busenitz
If it ain’t this year then probably it never will be for the dude, and these younger guns toting heavier hammers and rumors of Jake Phelps remaining cool on him further slim the odds. Drawing the curtains on this year’s most recent Real production was another stripe up on Busenitz’s arm and from over here his big win in Tampa (SOTY of contests?) bought one of the year’s more culture-affirming moments, but kinda still see him getting passed over again — which in the long run will probably rank him with Muska and Jamie Thomas, since aside from Bob Puleo and Marc Johnson it’s tough to think of many dudes exerting more influence on the ‘modern scene.’

Torey Pudwill
Pro footwear, his own week on the Thrasher website and dating an internet meme of ridiculous proportions, Torey Pudwill has made strides since parting ways with his Alien flow packages. But was his midsummer Thrasher web dominance more like a marriage of convenience targeting unique page views than a lasting love affair? Calculated shot at SOTY status or not you’d be hard pressed to match the combos and waist-high ledge get-ups in terms of fireworks power, among both web one-offs and still-to-DVD productions alike. Pudwill would be a strong entry in a race that some years seems to go to the consensus candidate in lieu of a dominant MJ, Rowley, Arto or Daewon.

Grant Taylor
A favorite skater’s favorite skater type and for the past year-plus the recipient of many a slobbery, deep-throated photo caption via Thrasher and with fairly good reason. Grant Taylor possibly tops Leo Romero in attitude negativity and also is an ATV mold-breaker. Meanwhile he’s managed to run an impressive and Heath Kirchart-like streak of non-communication that’s admirable in our Instagram laundry-airing era. No video part yet but I like how he’s got good footage embedded in any number of crusty tour clips.

Brandon Westgate
Not letting up the bumps-to-bars pummeling he brought toward the end of last year, Brandon Westgate in 2011 also offered us a regular-joe turn in “Epicly Later’d” that sported a blue collar motif kinda at odds with the Marc Ecko corporate umbrella, but well loved by the canned beer/hair by Wahl set. Setting up shop on the San Francisco hills wins Nor-Cal points and he backside smith grinded up a handrail, Brandon Westgate is on his level.

Nyjah Huston
A 16-year-old kid who’s closing in on a million dollars’ worth of soda-pop contest prizes (this year) and yet somehow being packaged as a comeback story. For the purposes of Xcel autosumming stair counts and degree rotations onto handrails Nyjah Huston could probably claim the little SOTY statuette on the basis of Street League points, and he generously gave a week’s worth of photos and a humdrum interview to Thrasher not long ago. Together with a to-come internet video part this kid figures as a contender but even without the tween dreadlocks look there’s not a lot dramatic about his tricks.

Justin Brock
Every self-respecting blog list needs a dark-horse entry that makes some kind of rational sense, and for our purposes Justin Brock fits the bill. He is a southern beer swiller and a sometime loudmouth, he recorded a rollicking two-song section for the Real vid that peaked with a triumph over security, he jumped aboard KOTR mainly I think to support his bros and swill beers (and lose). Has there ever been a glasses-wearing skater of the year?

Fred Gall
Good internet lists designed to create arguments and draw precious web hits also often include a darker-horse entry that is controversial. Fred Gall in 2011 courted controversy by taking off his clothes (again), going to jail (again), and wallriding a moving bus. There is a ponderous blog post maybe to be written as a compare/contrast of Fred Gall and Sean Sheffey’s careers and legal trespasses and their shared inclination toward switchstance skating, but for the purposes of this one, I guess Sheffey never won SOTY either.

Is Brandon Westgate’s New Emerica Video The Career Equivalent Of Ollieing Over The Back Of A Rail And Grinding It Uphill? Switch??

January 19, 2011

Now that everybody can do all tricks and caballerial kickflips are a prerequisite for post-roshambo strategy I kind of have no idea whether restraint as a concept is still in play. Probably not the time or the place to have the conversation about whether or not the bro going for the kickflip frontside blunt down the park handrail can do it consistently on a curb but maybe there’s some similar elements. Pretty sure that Spiderman explored some related themes of power and responsibility in his new off-broadway production, I think it’s called “U Do U And I’ll Do Me: Turn Off The Dark While I File This Workman’s Comp Claim On U” or something.

Speaking of responsibilities young Zoo Yorker Brandon Westgate has professionally designed footwear to sell and name recognition to build ahead of a potential retirement gig as an “extremely” informed home renovation specialist on HGTVX. Your more seasoned pro might get his companies to pony up for a mini-ramp jam in a strip club and let the blurred web-only footage do the heavy lifting, but instead you’ve got handyman Westgate continuing to push the old boulder uphill with a whole new video section after an teeth-rattling entry in the Emerica vid a couple months ago.

To me this one’s way better — half the length and zeroes in on the more dramatic aspects of his skating, bombing down those San Francisco hills like he’s riding a snowboard* and the ungodly pop up onto some of those bars. The run where he 50-50s the fence off of the sidewalk bump is the kind of clip you want to watch every day, all the time, one of those little slices of what skating is perfectly captured on a digital video-making machine. The nagging reservations I harboured around his sort-of weird-looking flip tricks in the past are basically washed away here with not a lot of complex moves — Quartersnacks and Platinum Seagulls are riding for the giant kickflip but over here I’m promoting the 360 flip over the rail that seems like a totally ridiculously long distance to launch that particular trick. Later on the ender quietly asks the world at large how much better they can do with the up-rail movement in 2011, the answer could be some time coming.

*in a good way, dudes