Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

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.

How To Fix the Marc Johnson/Lakai Mess in 10 Easy Steps Dudes

May 20, 2016

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Mike Carroll, who knows a thing or two about dipping out on sponsors, hit up Jenkem the other day ostensibly to discuss “the future of Crailtap” but really to confront and publicly grapple with the proverbial and newly striped elephant in the room, Marc Johnson’s heavily rumored ship-jumping from Lakai to Adidas, eventually turning into one of the more noteworthy airings out in recent memory. Making clear his beef was not that Marc Johnson left, but how — popping up in the new Adidas vid without prior warning to Lakai’s owners/team/staff and with a loading dockful of fresh pro-model shoes rendered abruptly obsolete — Mike Carroll got his Rocco on in the age of information immediacy, booting Marc Johnson from Chocolate mid-interview:

J: What are you gonna do with that upcoming Marc Johnson Lakai product? What does a company usually do when this sort of thing happens?
MC: Send it all to his fucking house, COD with a fucking strap on, and no vaseline. Well what we’re gonna do now, first things first, I’m gonna kick him off Chocolate. I’m not gonna text him, so he can read this or someone can tell him. Maybe he’s already quit in his mind, who knows. Marc, is kicked off of Chocolate as of right now. We’ll deal with whatever we have to deal with. Shoe wise… we have a lot of shoe production in the works… Normally when this happens to companies we’d usually take legal action, but that’s something we think is not in our character to do. But I’m starting to consider it, but that’s not really on the top of our priority list.

The resulting social media froth, whipped higher by pent-up angst as more and more top-tier professionals slip into the gravitational orbit of multibillion dollar sports shoe manufacturers, has cast a pall over Adidas’ video release as well as the signing of Marc Johnson and Daewon Song, and perhaps tarnished the Adidas skateboard division with an elbows-out corporate tone that previously had mainly been Nike Inc.’s domain. Lakai meanwhile looks further sidelined following the recent exits of Guy Mariano, Nick Jensen, Na’Kel Smith, Miles Silvas, Lucas Puig and Eric Koston for Nike or Adidas.

But the situation can still be fixed. Here is Boil the Ocean web log site’s 10-point plan for patching up the relationship between Marc Johnson, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard, burnishing Adidas’ image, plugging any sales hole for Lakai, and more.

1. Marc Johnson calls up Adidas on his cellular smart phone and designs a plan for Adidas to buy all the unsold Marc Johnson Lakai shoes, both current and past models, currently in production or in the warehouse. Adidas also could buy several sets of Carrolls in full size runs.

2. Adidas employees and Marc Johnson package up the Lakai shoes and donate them, along with a matching quantity of Adidas skate shoes, to Skateistan, Cuba Skate, Skate for Change and similar charities promoting skating in risky and impoverished nations.

3. Marc Johnson personally delivers some of these shoes and skates a demo or two with a T-shirt that says “sorry Mike & Rick” written on it in marker. He posts to Instagram pics of him posing with kids holding up a box of Lakais and/or Adidas and handwritten signs personally saying sorry to various Lakai staff members and former teammates.

4. Marc Johnson persuades Mike Carroll, Rick Howard and the rest of the “Fully Flared” lineup to gather for a reunion demo where he gives a heartfelt speech thanking the Crailtap posse and fondly reminiscing on their years together, while more donations are collected for skatepark funds and organizations.

5. After burying the hatchet, Marc Johnson, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard hang around the park for hours afterward mending fences and reminiscing, until they realize that the money collected for the skatepark funds has been gaffled by a shadowy thief. The trio leap upon matching neon coloured crotch rocket motorcycles and plunge into the LA expressways in pursuit.

6. After pulling alongside the skate funds bandit, also astride a fast crotch rocket bike, Rick Howard, Mike Carroll and Marc Johnson trade punches with him at 130 mph, pausing only to swerve past slower-moving vehicles and struggling to maintain control of their bikes. After one final blow, the thief’s hood flies back to reveal he is none other than ex-Pope Benedict XVI, wearing an eye patch and spitting curses in Latin at the pro skaters.

7. The former supreme pontiff takes advantage of his pursuers’ shock and disgust to haul off and deliver a punishing haymaker to Mike Carroll’s jaw, stunning him and sending him reeling off the back of his bike. His face inches from the pavement’s blur, a sinewy hand closes around his Fourstar jacket collar and yanks him back up onto his bike, which miraculously steadies. “Still teammates — for one more night,” growls Marc Johnson, before twisting the throttle to pull up alongside Pope Benedict XVI. The two grapple briefly before a vicious kick knocks Marc Johnson loose, and the ex-Pope veers right to sideswipe Rick Howard before speeding ahead, up a dangling ramp into the trailer of a semi truck. Pope Benedict XVI hops off his bike, turns and tosses a small, blinking sphere toward the pro skaters, grinning as the trailer door rattles shut.

8. “Thermal detonator!” Rick Howard hollers, crashing his bike sideways into the others and knocking them clear before the bomb’s white flash blasts Rick Howard’s motorcycle out from under him and sends him tumbling into the breakdown lane. “Feels like the ‘Mouse’ intro,” he rasps. “Now get that bastard.” Marc Johnson and Mike Carroll nod, rev their crotch rockets and roar off after the rogue Pope. They tail the semi until dawn, far into the desert where finally it reaches Pope Benedict XVI’s secret mountain compound — an impenetrable structure of steel and rock, girdled in sheer cliff faces and watched over by lazily looping vultures. Marc Johnson and Mike Carroll exchange a glance and draw their pistols, nodding. “Just like the old days,” Mike Carroll murmurs as he fills a spare clip with bullets drawn one by one from his belt. “I thought those days were done.” “Let’s go,” says Marc Johnson, making for a break in the cliff. They scale the wall, silent and methodical, neither looking down and neither pausing when his fingertips begin to bleed. When they heave themselves atop the cliff, gasping, Marc Johnson immediately gets low. Just a few feet away, Pope Benedict XVI stands with his back to the pro skaters, punching feverishly at flashing buttons on a vast control pad. Before him, bolts of raw electricity begin arcing between a series of tall metal coils, and the air begins to thrum.

9. “That’s a relativistic heavy ion collider,” breathes Marc Johnson. “He’s overcharging its computing grid…” “…To rip thousands of tiny black holes in the space-time continuum,” Mike Carroll finishes. “And if we don’t stop him, he’s going to destroy L.A.” Marc Johnson is already up and firing, his left hand fanning the hammer on his Colt Python as he sprays the ex-pope’s base with hot lead. Mike Carroll rolls and unloads his own pistol but stops before his clip runs dry; Pope Benedict XVI has spun to face them, laughing, the bullets sailing wide and high around him. “Fools,” he rasps. “You’ll never attain true power.” Hands raised over his head, the former pontiff pivots to point at Mike Carroll, sending a blinding rope of electricity leaping from one coil to wrap the Crailtap Distribution co-owner in a hot, vibrating grip; with a thrust of his other hand, a second bolt entwines Marc Johnson, and both begin to squeeze. Pope Benedict XVI’s laughter grows louder until he abruptly stops, twisting his lips in horror. A rocket-propelled grenade screams down and strikes him square in the chest, bursting his torso into liquified nuggets of blood and tissue and bone that drench the sand and the control panel, shorting out the ion collider. The coils fall dark and Marc Johnson and Mike Carroll sink to the ground, gasping. Two cans of Bud land beside them, and they squint through the glare to see Rick Howard ambling through the dust, a still-smoking rocket launcher slung over his Girl OG tee. “They didn’t have LaBatt.” He cocks his head and regards the carnage. “But I wasn’t about to miss this party.” After locating the semi, Mike Carroll pulls it around to the heavy ion collider and stuffs a rag into its fuel tank, Marc Johnson lighting it with a cigarette. Rick Howard grabs the bag with the $45 in skatepark funds and the pros climb astride their bikes, rolling onto the asphalt as flames engulf Pope Benedict XVI’s compound behind them.

10. Rick Howard and Mike Carroll return to Los Angeles to film for the Lakai video and Marc Johnson starts work on a welcome clip for Adidas.

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

Bring Hither the Fatted Calf and Kill It

February 13, 2016

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As the blind oracles foretold, Lennie Kirk is proving to be the guiding touchstone for skateboarding in 2016, with his devotion to hammer-handy fish multiplier Jesus Christ’s ’33 resuscitation and Lennie Kirk’s own unlikely rise from beneath that Pac-Bell van foreshadowing the timely return of top-shelf talents to the turbulent and beery pool that is skating in 2016.

Paul Rodriguez, he of the multi-sponsor fitted and long-distance switch 360 flips, already rolled away the stone and commanded the grave-cloths removed from the pro career of French double-flip enthusiast Bastien Salabanzi. With the Christian season of Lent upon us, Paul Rodriguez would play at the Lazarus legend again, this time bringing out onetime fellow City Star Devine Calloway for what by some poorly considered blog webpages’ count would be his third go-round with the skate biz, after his initial City Star twinkle, his Chocolate grown-up resurfacing some years later and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ bonus footage low profile. Nothing’s changed, it would seem, and besides his apparently mostly successful kicking of a costly New Era habit, he could’ve popped out the fakie flip 5-0 and that Crisco-smooth bigspin immediately following his still-impressive TWS part nearly a decade back.

Days later on the other coast, long-lost Tompkins wunderkind Yaje Popson officially moved his 64-Crayola wardrobe into Alien Workshop’s radiation-proof geodesic dome, itself recently restored to life via Rob Dyrdek’s Street League and television show dollarydoos. Despite what sounded like dual knee injuries, a somewhat dispiriting parting of ways with the Crailtap camp amid the heightened and heated ‘Pretty Sweet’ filming campaign, and the bucolic pleasures of small-city life in Brazil, Yaje Popson’s tricks remain super on point (switch backside smith grind, that pyramid ledge trick) and as suited as any to the worthwhile project that is refurbishing the Sovereign Sect, though maybe a little bit less surprising than Devine Calloway’s rebound given last year’s Sk8Rats turn and how he plainly spoke of missing it all. A TWS interview promises heavier hitting yet to come.

The limited economic prospects, increasingly crowded competition for unique eyeballs and impressions, and ever-present risk cocktail of age and injury raises questions around the logic of gone-once pros and bros returning for further bites of the industry cherry. Yet return they do, from Tom Penny’s bleary trip back in ‘Sorry’ to Guy Mariano’s wristguarded tech triumph in ‘Fully Flared’, the Muska’s single-gloved victory lap with Element, Christian Hosoi’s post-prison bid adventures, Supreme’s Paulo Diaz exhumation, and the extended post-Shorty’s go-rounds enabled by Sk8Mafia. More curiouser may be how such prodigal sons typically not just are welcomed but cheered back — witness last year’s outpouring of support after Kevin Spanky Long’s return journey to Baker put him again astride a pro board and back in the proverbial van.

Is the skate sphere unique in its tolerance for such wilderness years, spent consuming substances, recovering from blown-out joints, pursuing alternate careers or raising families? In the parlance of major-league team sports, comebacks usually are intra-game affairs, with some allowance for those rare talents drawing sufficient investment to bide a season or more in physical therapy, but clawing one’s way back into the professional universe after years away seems a rarer feat still, whether fueled by Kenny Powers-level moxie or some other chemical reaction. But even with a decade or more off magazine pages, digital video discs and relevant social media mobile networks, it’s difficult to imagine an increasingly fragmented and nostalgia-shaped boarding industry turning its collective nose up if long-faded lords like Sean Sheffey, Alex Gall, Scott Kane, Mike Maldonado, Billy Valdes, Pat Channita, Tim O’Connor, Jon West, Ted de Gros, or Gideon Choi turned up with a video part approaching their respective primes and the gumption to keep at it.

Does skating’s willingness and seeming zeal to re-embrace its wandering prodigals flow from the same spiritual mountain spring that nurtures tendencies to stockpile decks skated beyond any reasonable use, pack grocery-store boxes full of even lean-year Transworlds, and scour Ebay auctions to expensively recapture some spark first kindled in a long-lost CCS catalogue? As skating is lassoed, saddled, broken and eventually led head-down and besequined into that great Olympic rodeo, replete with floodlights and sad clowns, will lapsed pros resurface more often or must all spare dollarydoos shower down upon the podium-bound few? Has the YouTube age made it harder or easier for pros to recatapult dormant careers? Is Brian Wenning at Love Park right now? Yall saw Jeremy Klein’s kickflip bench stall in the Greco movie right?

I Am the Street Dream!

October 11, 2014

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In classically rambling and semi-coherent fashion Jason Dill seems to have confirmed the messageboard-melting news that Gino Iannucci, that much-beloved train station tour guide, 360 shove-it bringer-backer and Chocolate graybeard, dipped from his tourmates of nearly two decades in favour of the ankle- and belt-bearing set at Fucking Awesome, sending several seismic waves across sectors of the internet that continue to draw valuable kilowatts from loose-fit denim, Youtube renderings of VHS video and also RZA productions. To interested observers, the transaction resembled Tumblr acquiring AOL, or perhaps Bronze Hardwares absorbing Prodigy*.

Among moneyed old-guard deck men, dark talk is afoot of Jason Dill’s potential next power move, after scooping Dylan Rieder from the smearily dissolving chambers of AWS and seeming to have taken in a number of additional former teammates with an eye toward soon launching his own Chocolate-esque sister company that may or may not be named for that violent and longtime side hustle of Gino Iannucci and graphical subject for one of his first Chocolate boards, ice hockey. Speculation has mounted, as it is wont to do, around just how much of a kick in the pants this may be for the Crailtap camp and/or a late-career left turn for Gino Iannucci, who recently booked his most productive 14 months ever but nonetheless still is hard to imagine as more than a spirit-guide, sipping Starbucks and grinning and shaking his head from a nearby bench as Dill and AVE’s floral-printed progeny publicly urinate and shoot their mouths off at the spot.

Beyond a collegial relationship at 101 two decades ago** this may not all be so weird, however, when one considers Gino Iannucci through the prism of the Guns’N’Roses music, the birdie tattoo, and various engagements involving bleached hair and vests. You can imagine a trick sprinkled here and there into Bill Strobek Vimeo uploads, which may be a positive thing for a dude whose past video entries occasionally have exhibited signs of too much baking soda in the pot, and an endorsement of GZA’s “weak rhymes/mad long” advice to youngsters.

Whereas acquiring Dylan Rieder went some ways towards reconstituting the Dill/AVE axis as it had arisen in Dayton, signing Gino Iannucci may alter Fucking Awesome’s outwards profile and raise thorny queries. Can Fucking Awesome credibly still claim underdog status, or is this an organic progression of the current wave of small companies flexing their developing fiscal muscles to acquire name-brand pros from established rivals? To what extent is this an endorsement of Jason Dill’s fractured and frizzy vision versus a no-confidence vote in the anti-heroic stylings of Crailtap in recent years? Or is it strictly a dollar thing? Perhaps most crucially does this move set the famous 1990s Doomsday Clock closer to or further away from midnight?

*The rapper and or the web portal
**Which continued to persist into 2012, as pictured above.

Sort Of Like Klein & Kirchart’s Bittersweet Signage Symphony, Except With Some Vehicles

June 2, 2013

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When not stacking characters for his highly anticipated next interview, Anthony Pappalardo has taken some time out to skate. For those not inclined to root through a 20-page Slap messageboard topic and various instagram postings here’s what seems to be the recent gist:

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As a reminder:

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Flexin

May 2, 2013

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It has been widely theorized that Mother Earth, known around some parts as GAIA or “Big Bloo,” periodically unleashes natural disasters to right global wrongs and remind her solar passengers who’s boss. Hurricanes, earthquakes and several Ja Rule albums have been attributed to nature correcting itself in a natural fashion. There is an unconfirmed science rumor that the comet which ended the dinosaurs’ reign was actually minding its own business when the earth, weary from hauling heavy lizard flesh around the sun for eons on end, intentionally floated out into the troublesome space-rock’s path.

Flash forward several years to when Girl and Chocolate released their high-def opus, “Pretty Sweet,” ostensibly like ODB for the children staffing the team. If Guy Mariano’s comeback section half a decade earlier in the Lakai video proved he still had it, closing out a production otherwise given over to hot shoes who hadn’t yet picked up a board by the time Guy Mariano was sprinkling LA confetti upon jubilant skid row dealers sounded a clarion call to old dudes everywhere, in the same way that Eric Koston’s part in “The Chocolate Tour” a decade earlier inspired the true life story of “Murderball.”

Even as winter’s unrelenting icy grip has punished would-be green shoots attempting to poke their buds aboveground this spring, so too have industry oldsters answered this call over the past month, refusing to yield to the current crop of handrailers and manualites. Transworld’s generally short-in-the-tooth production “Perpetual Motion” gave the curtains to the non-threatening hammers and gently shampooed hair-stylings of Julian Davidson, but at that point the trick of the video (50-50 handrail gap, also in the running for overall filmed achievement of the year) had already been performed by Silas Baxter-Neal, who in that lineup of uppers and comers counted as its vet, when you factor in his old-soulness and general SOTY gravitas.

Weeks later the security camera-laced Deathwish production launched with the breakout section recorded by probably the oldest or second-oldest dude on the squad, Jim Greco, he for whom 1,000 cattle have been slain to date in the ongoing search for a jacket that encapsulates just how feckless he is feeling at any given moment. Greco darkslides, across benches and from 360 flips and down handrails and switchstance, but amongst all that razzle-dazzle he appears to have cleaned out five years’ accumulated DV tapes worth of backside 360 lipslides down big handrails and certain big jumps. Jim Greco’s own post-sobriety turn in “Baker 3” always seemed to me kind of scattered after his angry energy in “Misled Youth” and that “Baker2G” part that birthed a whole subgenre, but this one came off like he really, really wanted to go for it, kaleidoscopic outfits be damned.

Now as socialists around the world unite to march for solidarity and universal health-care coverage and tax deductible bail payments for regular- and goofy-footed independent contractors alike, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen take their turn to shock the industry, except this time by quitting their jobs rather than doing them. Yet the abrupt flying of a couple decades-deep dudes from their long-time coop — where millionaire boss Rob Dyrdek had effectively given them lordship over the springier chickens — already is seen by message-board plutocrats and industry pundits as a game-changing moment and perhaps the greatest identity crisis facing Alien Workshop since Lennie Kirk seriously devoted himself to armed robbery.

Will Jason Dill get on Palace? Is skating inherently a young man’s game, except for vert and the giant mega-ramp, where it’s a middle-schooler’s and middle-ager’s game that may reward you with an SUV? Is Mark Suciu actually a 40-year-old bro who had been quietly filming in various towns under assumed names over the past 15 years, and is the steady release of footage a sign that he may have died sometime early last year, leaving the executors of his estate to periodically drizzle out tapes to sponsors in a Tupac-like series of posthumous releases that will subsidize the multiple wives he secretly and illegally maintained in small towns across the U.S.?

2. Vincent Alvarez – “Hard Times But Good Times”

December 31, 2012

Lines are some dudes’ friends and a natural enemy to others, meaning that during the space between tricks you get to see the subject navigate the board, push, potentially tug at his trousers or swivel his shoes to get set up for the coming gap, ledge, rail or come what may. Vincent Alvarez is one of those dudes where a healthy chunk of the appeal is absent without the swerve of his trucks, like in the run here that starts with the switch bluntslide, or the switchstance slalom between the cars. Vincent Alvarez skates fast and loose and sometimes like he’s flailing to hang on, and some of these tricks here like the switch frontside bigspin wallride and the hasty follow after the nollie flip into the bank are presented with all their rough edges intact, backed by a meandering jazz tune. A lot of this footage reportedly is drawn from the years around when he got onto Chocolate and filming with buddies afterwards, and to me what elevates this part is how you can see that this is a dude running his own roster of tricks, zooming around some well-traveled labyrinth of alleyways and ditches, facing down traffic and big hills. It is one of the shortest eight-minute parts ever.

3. Marc Johnson – “Pretty Sweet”

December 29, 2012

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Arriving three quarters of the way through “Pretty Sweet,” Marc Johnson’s clean and fast opening lines sail through like a cleansing breeze after about an hour of heavy-handed editing and over-caffeinated cuts between three or four angles of the same trick. This part for me right now is far more enjoyable to put on than his “Fully Flared” opus, partly because it is a third of the runtime, and partly because Marc Johnson seems like he’s having more fun, though it sounds like some encroaching-deadline madness inevitably crept in. This dude has been steadily recording great video parts for almost 20 years and you respect his efforts to think up something new to bring each time out, but Marc Johnson is as watchable backside flipping benches and switch frontside flipping into banks as he is nollie backside heelflipping out of a frontside noseslide down a rail, or rolling away from that manual b/s 180 fakie manual, perhaps the best-conceived and for sure best-executed wheelie trick of the year. This dude can make a troublesome trick like the backside noseblunt backside 360 look fluid, the brick QP casper turned a lot of those endless flip- out iterations on their ear, and that fakie 5-0 on the guard-rail cruised like an expensive hovercraft.

A Brief Interruption To Our Annual Year-End Programming Because Anthony Pappalardo Gave This Rather Frank Interview On 48 Blocks Today

December 28, 2012

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It was a curious thing to observe the responses when, a couple weeks ago, you had in New Balance the umpteenth major-league footwear company announcing its late entry into the SB club. Time was, a couple pros would cobble together some investment group and foist upon the beleaguered consumership some new truck company or shoe company and be met with a round of harrumphs and annoyed sighs, whereas lately an entry one by one of the multinational shoe companies tends to get a subset of the culture atwitter over the prospect of being catered to with theoretically better technology and construction backing another vulcanized, low-top sneaker bearing a logo recognizable to principals, moms, the captain of the football team, etc.

Curiouser has been the justification offered up for backing new corporate competitors, usually centered on allegedly poor quality of the shoes manufactured under skater-owned outfits. When it comes to the extremely basic designs that have generally forced some equilibrium across the shoe landscape and the fixation on suede, canvas or leather as the material, quality seems like a red herring, but that may be just me. What seemed gnarly was a certain willingness (in some cases eagerness) to reject the “grassroots” players that, whatever their warts, are our own creations in favor of these larger and more powerful entities that until 10 years ago were not much thought of, except for some disdain when it came to various hamfisted efforts to push their products. At this point we part ways from veering into another circular referendum on Nike versus the Don’t Do It movement.

Now we have a telling from Anthony Pappalardo, to 48 Blocks, on how he was allegedly fucked over by Converse, which wooed him away from Lakai despite his apparent misgivings, made him a pro-model shoe and then abruptly shifted into some bare-knuckled contract fight that seems to have severely dented Pappalardo’s already fragile-sounding self-esteem. Some of the story as Pappalardo tells it is confusing — already barely making ends meet, the breakdown in talks with Converse saw him homeless within months and later selling scrap metal to survive, kind of like some 60-to-zero shift from “pro-skater-with-shoe-deal” status with no in-between option like seeking a different sponsor, moving in with friends or family, or getting a day job. Pappalardo describes a sort of catch-22 in which Converse is not supporting him, forcing him to hustle to survive, which makes him unable to skate, so Converse (and later Chocolate) doesn’t support him. It isn’t clear what happened to any royalties from his shoe model, which seem to have sold briskly, or why he stayed committed to this apparently abusive sponsorship arrangement, when several years earlier he quit Alien Workshop with no safety net whatsoever.

It seems like there’s several pieces missing from this whole story, and while resisting the game of diagnosing Anthony Pappalardo’s potential issues via an interview apparently pecked out on a mobile phone, you wonder about the other side of all this — during the time period in question Pappalardo was not exerting a Lil B-like flooding of the market with coverage and his career arc wouldn’t yet seem to afford him the coasting abilities of someone like a Fred Gall. But at a time when shoe companies like Es and Gravis have rolled out of the frame, not hearing out a dude like Pappalardo, even given these past few years of traipsing down a path toward his trick minimalism and urban recluse profile, against a giant corporate entity feels off in some way.