Posts Tagged ‘Bridgebolts’

The Power of the Deck-Buying Dollar, and the Promise of the $30 T-Shirt

July 16, 2017

The internet’s cultural side-loader washing machine swirls. What once was, is again, sometimes faded and sometimes pinked by rogue red garments. In the civilian world, tragedy plus time equals comedy; in skateboarding, fashion and hardware trends plus a period of years divided by the internet’s recyclatory properties (which are a constant), factoring the quotient by the strength of the counter-prevailing fads of the day, equals attractive brand-building opportunities that can help to finance electric cars with an auto-pilot option.

Santa Cruz, whose venerable skate dynasty doesn’t preclude opportunistic chintz-grabs, this month has revived its early 1990s technology breakthrough, the Everslick, presumably upgraded to avoid the sogginess that turned so many back toward conventional decks by the turn of the half-decade. As skaters nationwide discovered low-cost ledge lubricants to be had in the supermarket’s canning section, Alien Workshop, World and others abandoned slicks, relegating the technology to the same hardware-fad dustbin as Bridgebolts, Rip Grip, copers and Gullwing’s incredibly heavy plastic-coated hangers. But with deck shapes then already well on their way toward a homogenized popsicle shape, shelving the slick also marked a fateful step away from one of the few deck innovations that briefly commanded a premium price from penny-pinching skateboard consumers — and provided a fleeting glimpse into a future where peddling decks could be something other than a low-margin, efficiency-maximizing commodity business.

In this year of our lord 2017, the deck buyer’s dollar has never been more powerful. Through the 20/20-enabling hindsight view afforded via the internet’s continually expanding archives, skateboard purchasers can gloatingly look 25 years into the past to see mailorder clearinghouses hawking decks for $45 apiece. Adjusted for inflation, those same objects ought to change hands for about $76 at current rates, but U.S. shops, internet portals and even the lowly mall asks only around $55 as the industry has failed to provide a justification for lifting prices incrementally skyward over the years. The world has not stood idly by; wages, logistics and other costs grew while the skateboard business repeatedly cast their votes for Ulysses Grant as their preferred candidate for boards. This has lead deck makers and distributors to move manufacturing overseas to cut costs, whilst chipping away at shop margins, and diversifying into shoes and clothes to subsidize deck enterprises in the grand quest for profitability or its less attractive sibling, break-evenness.

It did not have to be this way. The wooden baseball bat —- derived from hardwood trees and among the sporting world’s closest kin to the seven-ply deck —- has not been subject to the same price-point stagnation. Despite occasional mutations in shape and diversification away from ash into maple and birch, the wooden bat has changed relatively little over the past 30 years, if not the past 130. A basic wood bat retailed for around $20-$35 in 1992; similar models today fetch $30 to $160, scaling upwards based upon pro endorsements, premium wood selections and high-tech processing techniques to command enlarged dollar piles from wood-shopping baseballers.

The same embrace of that unbottleable qualitative that produced Natas Kaupas’ hydrant spin, the Fucked Up Blind Kids, and Gou Miyagi is at play here: The visceral pleasure to be milked from sliding silkscreened Canadian hard-rock maple across concrete or stone cannot be replicated through aluminum or synthetic hybrids, probably to the detriment of performance enhancements that might put more balls into end zones or players on base in other, more regimented pastimes. And the same frugal Ludditism that has fueled the past decade’s revival in low-profile vulcanized shoewear translates to a collective “meh” towards innovations such as Almost’s “Impact” decks, corrugated bottom plies and unique wood mixes.

Should board makers dreaming of fatter profits look to the cotton T-shirt, where token shifts in construction and fit allow those with the strongest graphics and market position to nowadays ask $30 or more for an otherwise commoditized garment? Has the remarkably visionary Jason Dill already been applying this concept to boards? Was the riser pad the air bubble of hardware? Do Paul Schmitt and Rodney Mullen possess a secret storehouse of advanced board technologies long-shelved due to fears the seven-ply maple-worshipping would never accept them?

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Canada in Ruggish Show of Ten-Pin Aggression Following Trump Election

November 19, 2016

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The shock election of Donald G. Trump to the U.S. presidency last week sent up a massive “ZOMG” shaped smoke signal from the collective skateboard camp. While New York’s useful wooden toy ambassador Billy Rohan sought to build bridges between Tompkins and Trump Tower, international ripples and wrinkles almost immediately rippled and wrinkled up as the globe at large cocked an eyebrow and looked over the tops of its glasses at a Trump-headed United States.

Already, there are signs that cross-border skateboard relations may be fraying. Fresh off the Brexit break-up, Liverpoolian ditch-slasher Geoff Rowley cut his remaining ties to the Americanized Flip, while Brazilian-born Rodrigo TX bounced from North Philly’s DGK. And late this week, reports of Cliche’s demise under Dwindle left an Eiffel-tower sized hole in skating’s increasingly Francophiliac soul.

Whereas much of the Trump campaign focused on trans-oceanal misdeeds by China and Mexico, his threats to rehash NAFTA, the Bushian trade policy beloved to Canada’s shivering cabals of beerbrewers, mining conglomerates and wealthy bears, posed a risk too great to go unchallenged by Dime Mtl’s specialist bowling posse. In a swaggering display of cross-border belligerence, Canadians scrambled several athletes to wear sunglasses indoors and create a show of force in a bowling alley, a shot across the bow of Canada’s neighbor to the south following months of heated campaign-trail rhetoric.

The aggressive bowling video, unnerving in its feats of raw agility and power throws, seemed calculated to strike at Trump’s vulnerabilities. Dime bowlers, enriched by their own line of clothing items and yellow shirts, don’t wait for the strike to be scored, they “just start kissing,” no Tic-Tac. The cross-alley throw, bouncing into the gutter and then out again to pick up a spare no Wisconsin pollster could have envisioned, is a clear metaphor for Trump’s come-from-behind win. And yet as wall after wall of pins fall to the Dime squadron’s merciless strikes, the video file seems to defy any attempted fence-building that could slow the flood of cheap Canadian goods, manufactured by low-paid penguins and elk, into the trembling hands of U.S. consumer-purchasers.

How many hours will it take Lucas Puig to go to Palace? With Miles Silvas apparently headed to GuyKo’s Numbers, is Max Geronzi the world’s hottest free agent? Is Canada feeling itself, after Dime already upended the dominance of the U.S. contest circuit via its Glory Challenges, and its endearingly urbane Bunt aims to do likewise in the increasingly vibrant skate podcast market? Does the involvement of Jamal Smith and Forrest Edwards suggest Canada already has cultivated sympathizers on U.S. soils? Could a trade war erupt over hard rock Canadian maple and tall tees, or would a stronger Canadian dollar drag down overseas sales of premium quality Dime shirts?

This Week in Skate Tech, In Which We Reference the Legendary Manticore and Also Bridgebolts

March 5, 2016

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In neon-toned and bumbling eras past, technology’s reputation was to be bemusedly regarded and toyed with, or ultimately cast aside. Powell Nose Bones, Rip Grip, lappers and Bridgebolts vied for premium positioning within griptape-scarred glass cases, promising attractive profit margins and incremental on-board advantages. As these were briefly coveted, idly worshiped and soon cast aside, skaters remained in thrall to the Old Ways, gleaning yearly glimpses at the future handed down by Thrasher’s pagan oracle Mephisto, engaging in various griptape superstitions and praying to volcanoes.

What changed? Like most facets of modern skateboarding it can be traced to the 1990s, when cheap electronics baptized a new generation of videomakers, stuffed-tongue lucre-funded and Flash-laden websites for DC Shoe Co USA, and a Storm surge of yellow t-shirts ultimately birthed the Osiris G-bag (whose influence has vibrated across the decades). As a generation of ramped slo-mo induced motion sickness sufferers can attest, it soon became impossible to avoid wallowing in digitized video parts, lovingly retouched photos and ender-level tricks captured within cassette tape-sized telephones and beamed within seconds to tens of thousands of screens worldwide, enabling near-instantaneous commentary on pants size.

Now, a bold and bristly vanguard of new products stands intent upon elbowing its way to the front of the technological queue, competing against steadily rising sneaker prices and highly designed special fitting t-shirts in the perennial combat for skaters’ discretionary spending:

Nike SB Eric Koston Hyperfeel 3: Eric Koston’s latest attempt to match the runaway success of his early Es shoes* manifests itself as a genetic hybrid of shoe and sock, doing one better the interior-sock playacting of shoes past such as the old DC AVE, and suggesting mystical powers similar to those enjoyed by fantastical mash-ups such the liger, pegasus, manticore and chimera. Superlatives aplenty adorn this garish creation, including the timeworn ‘game-changing’ and ‘disruptive,’ always an ominous sign. Only time will tell whether the sock component passes the oft-brutal smell test represented by the wafty smell that comes from days-unchanged socks, and whether this crossbreed proves itself a reliable steed such as the mule or a doomed hybrid like the aquatic car.

The Curb Stone: As the 1993 expose ‘Jurassic Park’ demonstrated, the laws of unintended consequences ride high in the saddle when man plays god, occasionally requiring lofty insurance payouts. So it is with the Curb Stone, an upgraded rub brick purpose-made for simultaneously smoothing and slicking ledges with a high-grade composite material conceived to dominate various concretes and cements. Useful for sure, but potentially unlocking a Pandora’s Box with its power to reshape the world around us. Holding the authority and gusto to create ledges, hubbas and wallride-friendly surfaces anywhere within reach, will this Stone inevitably result in pristine mountain ranges and national monuments such as Mt Rushmore refashioned to fit our purposes and rack up valuable ‘Likes’ on sociable computer networks?

Chocolate’s ‘Carabiner Cup’: Water quality and availability is widely predicted to be the cause of future wars and strife, and such trembly fears have unleashed investment dollars that would head such global conflicts off at the proverbial pass while also handily clipping to one’s belt loop. Chocolate, that supplier of graphical socks and party cup sets, has introduced a Carabiner Cup capable of resolving world water availability threats through a unique and burgundy coloured technology that makes seawater drinkable with the help of a gentle flame. The years ahead will reveal whether Chocolate’s powerful scientists stay on a helpful path for people or become twisted and grotesque beneath the crushing weight of their own intellect, musing about atom bombing rival planets on late-nite TV.

*Such as that “other” Koston 3

Explosive Sticker-Price Explosion In Stickers Sets Inflation Alarm Bells A-Ringing

February 7, 2013

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Skateboarding has long seemed impervious to the whims of inflation, with a deck and grip-tape in 1990 costing roughly the same as it does today, a conundrum that has confounded shop owners and time-travelers bent on achieving quick profits. Logic rules that over time a good either rises in price as ingredient or construction costs increase, or becomes cheaper due to advances in more efficient production techniques and more easily mined minerals. In skateboard decks’ instance, technologically advanced choppers derived from multi-blade Gillette razors have eased the felling of Canadian hard-rock maples, but the giant iron weights needed to press plies together and form decks have grown more dear due to increased demand from coastal New Jersey exercise parlours.

But fallout from the worldwide economic volcano could change all. Easy-money policies pursued by the Fed and other central banks have raised fears that nebulous and weird “bubbles” could be a-growing in certain segments of industry, risking catastrophe. So sayeth Esther George, Midwestern Fed banker:

“”Prices of assets such as bonds, agricultural land, and high-yield and leveraged loans are at historically high levels. A sharp correction in asset prices could be destabilizing,” she added.

On the internet, Ebay is an electronic marketplace where web users can buy bundled tongue depressors and floppy disks by the pound, or gently used pants. It is a digital bazaar where ‘buyer beware’ is the law of the land and strange economic aberrations can develop, challenging monetary norms and thought processes. So it is that skateboard stickers have undergone a mutant outgrowth in price, with the “buy it now” demand of $16.99 for one cassette-tape sized decal running a hefty 3,400% premium to the 50-cent rate prescribed by glass case curators nationwide in 1994.

Here, fond remembrances of the passing Bridgebolt fancy of the early 1990s costs $8.00 to relive in sticker form. This Powell sticker ostensibly from the 70s is the size of several dimes, comes with ‘authentic’ centering error and is $32 to buy immediately. Elsewhere, two American dollars sought for a couple SMA stickers possibly reflects the harshness of Europe’s sovereign debt problems. Other entities, such as Apple Computer and HURLEY.COM, also make skateboard stickers.

Could a neon-coloured Steve Rocco Sims sticker selling for $27 or a $100 asking price for a larger Powell decal jostle the economy in an unfriendly way? Is there a market for recently unearthed Tracker stickers? Will packets of Bad Boy Club stickers ever find their true home? View more stickers currently on offer here.