Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

2. Carlisle Aikens – ‘Bunny Hop’

December 30, 2021


There’s maybe other people who can make tricks look as smooth and powerful as Carl Aikens, but not so many whose skating can communicate the freedom and infectious fun the way that this dude and his XXL jeans can, melon grabbing down big sets, surfing through the plazas, switch bigspin kickflipping a double set and snapping nollies straight over poles. In Chocolate’s ‘Bunny Hop’ he rolls in all the elements from his prodigious output the past few years via N. Rollings, Melodi and Huf, and then some, unflappable in his roomy pants and rippling flannels, at ease floating kickflips on the sidewalk or hucking nollie backside 180s from roof to roof. He’s got a solid look-back landing on stuff like the switch backside tailslide and switch frontside bluntslide, and seeing his name in the chunk font this month gives that rare assurance of everything being in its right place.

4. Erik Herrera – ‘Introducing’ (Chocolate)

December 28, 2021


This year’s laureate for best hair in skating, Erik Herrera last winter got the official bump up to the rejuvenated Chocolate team, a move that seemed overdue the minute he stepped on one of those boards. This dude has a feathery grace and a way with the tank tops that has been primed to push past all those SoCal spots he has been ripping these past few years. As per Choco’s fantastic ‘Bunny Hop’ vid that’s all in progress, but this one from earlier in the year laid out all the components — the backside 180 nosegrind revert out past the steps, the fakie 360 flip up and over and down the brickpile, heelflips landed way up on the nose, the dive-bomb catch on the massive backside flip past the sidewalk and up the steps. As a bonus, Erik Herrera, like putative future Chocolate teammate Hosea Peeters and a few other dudes, also shops at the same underground outlet still hawking HORTY apparel.

A Kinder, Gentler Nation: Brush-Stroke Bluntslides And Skatespot Compassion

October 17, 2021

Humankind’s deepest yearning is to prove its dominion over the earth. For centuries man has cleaved rock and mountain to make way for our cars, mine its riches and festoon our teeth with rare jewels. Our efficient canals link the planet’s most profitable oceans, our chemically enhanced farms dividing the land’s flat spaces into squares and circles to feed our teeming masses. The power of our machines burns holes in the atmosphere and melts ice. From space, our cities and giant walls can be seen by any alien species still questioning who may be in charge down there.

Skateboarding, among several noteworthy human-race developments of recent decades, is hardly different. Mastery of one’s environment has been a central directive since banana boards were pointed into drained swimming pools in the era of Gerald Ford, and even more so once broadening decks and bouncier wheels were turned loose on ‘the streets.’ Santa Cruz rallied followers beneath its ‘Pave Tha World’ banner; in the 1990s, Concrete Powder was the magazine title that captured prevailing attitudes toward the expanding urban blanket. In the 00s, certain skaters including Wade Speyer and Fred Gall came to be synonymous with demolition, while the intro to ‘Fully Flared’ showcased in hi-def the literal destruction of spots as they were being ripped. Today, one of the culture’s long-serving creeds, ‘skate and destroy,’ is emblazoned for all eternity upon graphical sweatpants. At its core, skateboarding represented a primal human reaction against an increasingly artificial world, one to be discovered, used, discarded and left behind.

Ledge-repainting gestures of figureheads such as Jeremy Wray and Mark Gonzales notwithstanding, this energy of late has seeped sometimes troublingly into the human realm, with security guards in recent years shoved to one side to get the clip, and heated debates with house spots’ owners or renters. But the quiet expansion of the ‘adulting’ trend and a handful of recent clips suggest a kinder, gentler approach to spots as skateboarding collectively pauses to take a hard look at the origins and effects of its decades of antisocialisms, real or postured.

Carlisle Aikens, the reinvigorated Chocolate engine’s most-productive piston whose skating occupies an extreme corner of the smooth/powerful X-Y axes, provided a glimpse last week in the Parisian-flavoured Bye Jeremy clip, softly brushing a stonework out-ledge with a switch frontside bluntslide that whispered where others, like Jake Johnson, previously have thundered. It called to mind a similarly soft-shoed frontside blunt from Josh Wilson in Quasi’s ‘Grand Prairie’ vid from earlier this year, eased down a hubba shortly before a wholesome mother-and-son voiceover on bondo-ing injured spots. The fakie frontside noseslide ticklers in Jacopo Carozzi’s ‘Samurai Safari’ Sardinia vacation a couple weeks ago were reminiscent of Brandon Biebel’s heavyweight dancing from the nollie side a few years back. And the other day, in between slamming down ditches and banks, Ronnie Sandoval in Vans’ vibrant ‘Nice 2 See U,’ lightly tapping a rail on a backside 5-0 transfer where a more harshly inclined individual may have stomped.

Could a more tender approach to spots represent skateboarding’s typical contrarianism rearing up against the hard-pressed pinch and crossed-up ’90-10′-style 50-50s? Are people going easier on spots as year by year, more succumb to the wrecking ball? Does all this have something to do with why so many dudes were wearing gloves in the Vans vid? Could now be the time to roll cryptocurrency gains into downtrodden equity in manufacturers of lappers and Z-rollers?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 – Richard Mulder, ‘The Chocolate Tour’

June 21, 2021

Who from the OG Girl/Chocolate camp was still peaking after ‘Mouse’ besides Koston and Carroll? Here in 1999 is Richard Mulder, bass turned way too high, missing no steps since ‘Nautilus.’ In the second half of this Zero-speed edit he’s ripping through the East Coast, putting a beauty of a switch backside 5-0 grind onto Kalis and Stevie’s picnic table and anticipating Brian Wenning’s rise at City Hall. Aside from Gideon Choi’s achingly good and deservedly revisited stuff, there weren’t many to put a hurting on the Chaffey ledge transfer like this dude.

The Snowblower Is The New Bolt Cutter

February 14, 2021

The story of ‘earth’ (the planet) is defined by the eternal tug of war between man and his environment. Viewed from above, land is carved into multicoloured squares and circles, crops to feed man’s teeming billions. Below ground, humans tunnel into soil and rock to extract minerals and gemstones that power cities and festoon foreheads. While tropical islands are constructed from trash or military equipment, each day people display their own minor triumphs over nature, driving heavily laden trucks up hills, relaxing in aeroplanes, boldly growing plants in Antarctica.

Erik Herrera, young fleet-foot now riding officially for Chocolate, this week put up another W for humankind, melding numerous pushes and an anti-ableist cement slope to fling a backside flip over a sidewalk and up a five-step, stoking out Tyler Pacheco and mankind generally. Despite the lack of a slow-mo angle, this backside kickflip more narrowly represented another ripple in the decadeslong environmental push and pull that birthed, developed and continues to define skateboarding. Asphalt embankments provided the friction and gravity for Z-boys of old to approximate surfing sans water; the pools later barged helped ferment the outlaw raiderisms that would be required to persist through the skatepark closures and vert ramp scrappings that would follow. Forced adaptation to office plazas, loading docks and schoolyards required fashioning tricks and entire disciplines around the street biome, working within the terrain’s natural limits and sometimes toppling them. The ingenuity required to translate picnic tables and staircase aids into platforms for innovation and progression allows a new form of vision, like slipping on the enchanted sunglasses from ‘They Live’ and seeing the Sistine Chapel in a New Jersey backyard.

Watching backside kickflips like Erik Herrera’s, on screens powered by rare earth minerals and housed within temperature-controlled rumpus rooms made out of dead trees, it’s easy to feel victorious. Science and technology have provided bondo and sawzalls and the power to make nigh any spot skateable; Thrasher’s March 2021 issue featured a how-to interview with a masked superhero knowed only as ‘Knob Buster.’ Those with mall shop and video game money, properly funneled into the pockets of laid-back warehouse landlords, have unlocked private TFs capable of sidestepping both security and inclement weather.

Yet all of this is a feint, dodging the real and ultimate authority: weather. No less a visionary than Mike Carroll recognized the climate’s paramount rule when, in the ‘Modus’ credits, he mutters his capitulation to the wind, seeking solace in the embrace of a video game controller when persistent breezes made all flip trick attempts pointless. Pat Duffy and Ronnie Creager and Marc Johnson wowed generations by taking on handrails and pic-a-nic tables in the rain, but these remain novelties, with malevolent nimbostrati continuing to reroute domestic and international filming trips to local bars. Even in these pandemic times, the only surefire cure for winter is southbound airfare.

Or is it? The same combination of ingenuity, courage and hardheaded masochism that hurls bodies repeatedly down stairs in pursuit of the clip, and that certain euphoric zen, are now pushing the meteorological envelope further than ever before. John Shanahan’s uncanny ability on the slippery snow-skate is one thing, but as blizzards rake the U.S.A. over past weeks, ways are being found to best even the uncooperative climate itself. The Philadelphia contingent again curls their collective lip toward any barriers before their ledges and cans — deploying a damn snowblower to cut paths between Municipal Plaza’s benches, leaving gaps for young Chris Falo to push and pop over as needed. Further west, Josh Kalis’ Grand Rapids group took the same approach to liberate an even more minimal spot from old man winter’s icicle-fingered clutches, in Boston and Cincinnati they’re skating snowbanks. Kevin Bilyeu’s bubblegoosed nose manual and trash can kickflip aren’t even the point, it’s the principle involved.

Is the snowblower the new bolt cutter? Could an iced-over parking lot or frozen Canadian pond, properly Zamboni’d, host a powerslide event worthy of a wintertime Dime Glory Challenge? Will the future bring affordable and localized weather-controlling machines to skateparks and leave yet-to-come generations that much more confused over why anyone bothers with street spots at all, or will varied temperatures, locales and other environmental trappings be required to properly model the premiumly priced softgood pieces that will support the pros of the day?

10. Hosea Peters — ‘Interlude’

December 22, 2020

Until such time as the Crailtap executive management team entrusts Chocolate’s ‘20s to Carlisle Aikens, Jordan Trahan and the uncommonly smooth Erik Herrera, this Daniel Policelli-made Hosea Peters part does just fine. It has yet to be determined whether the fluffstache is an earnest Tim Selleck aspiration or a practical means of SEO-esque differentiation among the daily footage flows, but consensus supports his choice in tricks, pants, spots and associates — note the drape of the denim as his soles cling on after the kickflip k-grind, the backside bigspin, plus fakie crack pop. It’s as much the belt-looped cap and the bro’s board bowled over as it is the big 360, the double-set three-hitter with Carl Aikens and Erik Herrera, or any of the other tricks knocked out here, apparently over just a couple weeks.

Jerry Hsu, The Bitter Dose And A New Support Network For Gap to Backside Nosebluntslides

April 7, 2018

“The payout was sneaker money,” Roc Marciano recently griped over the pittance he received for 3 million streams of 2016’s ‘Rosebudd’s Revenge,’ spurring the Hempstead rap singer to summon a new business model for this year’s sequel: He would offer digital downloads off his own site for $30 apiece for weeks before delivering the album to steaming services and other Web 2.0 branches. Would the steep price deter a generation of musical pirates reared on filesharing platforms, or annoy willing fans who’d see their pricey purchase beamed worldwide to stream subscribers within a month’s time? Roc Marciano suggests enough devotees deemed the project — and the artist himself — premium price-worthy: “This shit is printing money. The return on investment happened in a day.”

A similarly blustery horizon in action sporting commerce came into view this week via the somewhat-anticipated launch of SciFiFantasy.co, an internet Web portal peddling t-shirts, with-hood sweaters and headgear emblazoned with the categorical signifier once relegated to Cloud Strife and Charlton Heston, now synonymous with multidimensional Tilt Moder Jerry Hsu and his defiantly vertical switch hardflips. After dedicating around two decades’ worth of slacker-chic switch heelflips and frontside nosegrind pop-outs to the likes of Osiris, Enjoi, Emerica and Chocolate, Jerry Hsu is flexing. Throwing top-drawer and presumably still-paying sponsors to the wind while vapors of his impeccable ‘Made Chapter 2’ part still linger, Jerry Hsu now tests the brawn of his amorphous and minimalist brand venture with a new product lineup in a range of colors and sizes.

So far, the returns appear handsome. As per Slap board reporting, a recent Sci-Fi Fantasy run rapidly sold through at threadful boutique location Dover Street Market, and the online store’s subsequent debut found hopeful clickers emptying the Sci-Fi Fantasy warehouse and filling web shopping carts, leaving only lesser-loved sizes to be picked over and in a few months resold on digital bazaars.

Sci-Fi Fantasy’s most sought-after products: mainly plain shirts and sweaters, understatedly self-titled in a gentle serif. Fetching though the colors may be and the embroidery no doubt the finest in the realm, it bears pondering what has inspired droves of consumers to fork over $70 per hoodie, with gusto. You’d like to think 20 years of in-street toiling with next to no wack moves plays some role. With the deck sector badly oversaturated and sneaker manufacturing a rich executive’s game, companies such as Jerry Hsu’s solo-project venture could be regarded as a 100% cotton, unstructured investment vehicle through which supporters can directly fund favored pros’ skating, sorta like an ongoing Kickstarter with bright yellow tops as thank-you gifts and any footage or photos considered a longterm payout.

In a Warhol-esque version of a future skate industry where 1% of pros earn lavish salaries and the rest ball for position, will everyone have their own brand, with price-points scaling higher in accordance with gnarliness and footage releases? Will the premium t-shirt reign as the skate biz’s optimum profit center until 3D printing forces the industry to license out its hottest logos and graphics for the purposes of at-home softgoods manufacturing, in custom sizes? Will skateboard users’ long-held resistance to anything beyond the seven-ply hard rock maple deck prove the industry’s ultimate salvation when once-profitable shirts, pants and shoes can be synthetically produced via 3D printing? Will ‘Black Cat’ one day earn recognition as Jerry Hsu’s lesser-loved ‘other masterpiece’?

1. Jerry Hsu – ‘Made Chapter 2’

December 31, 2016

Peter Hewitt, whose influence in steering the Anti-Hero eagle may be understated, reframed the concept of suffering for one’s art in the run-up to the 2013 Skater of the Year award, in which he opined on who had or had not endured punishment and pain enough to have earned the nod. In an age where skating seems to owe career devotees less than ever, and when suffering of the physical and/or economic persuasions generally seems at an all-time high, the punishment ledgers ought to reflect that Jerry Hsu is fully paid up, as he further emerged this fall from his post-‘Stay Gold’ lull towing his best shit since ‘Bag of Suck’ a decade ago. His battered body, marinating gently in Los Angeles-area schoolyards, seems to have recovered and his moves in ‘Made Chapter 2’ are as liquid and surfy as he’s ever had – scootching down ditch walls, nollie heelflipping off walls, twisting out of multi-part picnic-table tricks that are comfortably in the hunt with any pursued by kids 15 years his junior. There probably is a list out there of dudes still coming with new tricks on handrails as they push into the third decade of their careers, and it would not be very long, but Jerry Hsu would be on it via this part’s ender.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Gabriel Rodriguez, Daniel Castillo and Shamil Randle ‘Mouse’

July 8, 2016


Of the many ‘what-ifs’ associated with all-time top fiver ‘Mouse,’ the potential for a full-on follow-up to Gabriel Rodriguez’s ‘Paco’ closing section forever will be up there with the prospects for a healthy Mike Carroll and a reenergized Jovontae Turner. He does come through in this Choco-trio section with some massive tailslides and two of the grimier fakie tricks to chunk out the courthouse ledge, before Daniel Castillo comes with a good Venice pit line and some below-the-knees cargo pockets, the height of fashion for summer 1996. Shamil Randle gets in two of the video’s best-looking manual tricks in the same line plus the rarely-seen fakie frontside shove-it, possibly an asterisked outlier to Jimmy Gorecki’s generally on-point ‘Trilogy’ rule.