Posts Tagged ‘Chris Roberts’

The Thick Of It

April 24, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Ishod Wair Break the Sub-Eight Inch Taboo?

March 31, 2017

Does the measure of a man lie within a money vault loaded to the brim with jewels and gold pieces? Is it truly shown in the longing eyes of the women he has loved, the children he has sired and their aggregate earning power, properly adjusted for inflation? Or is his name made by kingdoms conquered and owned, enemies slain or driven into abject poverty, and the filthy unwashed hoards who supplicate themselves in feeble tribute?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these and can front several thousand dollars you may be eligible to participate in the Menace Skateboards seed funding venture quest available on Instagram for a limited time only to certified investment angels and their gilded harp polishers. Yet for the past decade and more, skateboarders large and small have toiled beneath a different judgement measure, one that has stoked insecurities and sweaty-palmed apprehension among even the most outwardly confident hill-bombers, board flippers and handrail handlers. Seemingly freed of past eras’ smallmindedness that shackled hive-minded bros to goofy-boy kits in the early 1990s or carcass hucking in the early 2000s, a supposed ‘anything goes’ renaissance over the past decade has freed pros and bros alike to pursue moves from retroactivated no-complies to multisyllabic ledge combos and horse pools, wearing fits that run from short shorts to graphical sweatpant products to Tuscan leather. Just as long as you did it on a board that was at least eight inches wide.

In what has emerged as the final hardgood taboo, skating seven-anythings since roughly 2004 first became the domain of those lingering devotees to the San Diego school of tongue-puffery who felt PJ Ladd’s wonderful and horrible vibes but never fully boarded Eastern Exposure’s subterranean railroad. The Baker/Zero axis carried a machismo and masochism that soon elbowed once-stalwart 7.75s into a minority position on shop walls, and the advent of Anti-Hero as the guiding force into the aughts made such sizes an endangered species; by the time Justin Figuoera gloated how alighting upon his 8.5-plus ironing board felt like landing in your living room, anything below the 8″ mark had become a subject of open derision, similar to a wizard staff built from craft microbrews or the dreaded mall grab. The age of the big, swinging deck had been cemented.

Now, as ‘resistance’ groups ferment around the US in response to Trump administration political policy priorities, a skinny board pride movement is taking shape. Within the Nine Club’s fishbowl confessional, professionals unburden themselves and others. Chris Roberts describes being most comfortable skating a 7.75, while fakie 360-flipping waterboy Kelly Hart cops to a somewhat safer 7.9. Miles Silvas puts some respect on the 7.62’s name, relaying that his role model Rodrigo TX on the low skates that one while marketing a more masses-friendly size to shops. And Deluxe plans to further test the limits via a 7.56 Ishod Wair model that seems like it would fit his hometown Sabotage posse as reliably as the original-construction Lynx that Josh Kalis has hinted may come back.

Will the pinner board’s revival lead to academic research conclusively proving the long-held hypothesis that as decks narrow, pant sizes expand? Will a shift in truck sales toward smaller sizes and the reduced level of metals used to make them help truck manufacturers weather a period of slow economic expansion? Could a 7.5″ pride movement court backlash among more moderate 8-8.25″ clientele widely assumed to make up the majority in skateparks, backyard ramps and street spots? Was all this set in motion years ago by John Lucero, keeper of the extra-wide, shaped board flame for all those long years? What will return first, the 7.4″ or the bearing-cover wheel?

Lil Wayne’s Poseur Card Revoked on Podcast Testimonialism

January 14, 2017

lil-wayne-tweet

Most people enjoy being the dominant life form in whatever room, building or landscape they may occupy. Cactuses, sperm whales and the common housefly all stand meekishly in the shadow of humankind’s achievements, which include mastering fire, developing the multibillion dollar telecom industry, and the Garfield coffee mug franchise. Even the largest and most ornate beaver dams and termite mounds are a joke compared to man’s buildings which literally tower over other species, often dominating them in their own habitats.

In recent decades skateboarders similarly have differentiated themselves from other members of their species, displaying a capability to navigate backyard transitions and flip boards underfoot, at first in a stationary freestyle way, and later while maintaining respectable speeds. Possessed of a tribal instinct forged in the flamey fires of societal rejection, skateboarders identified themselves with lopsided haircuts, freeform denim and flat-soled suede sneakers, snarling at pretenders trying to cop the look without paying dues in parking-lot hours and spilled blood.

Does the poseur, which once jockeyed with jocks and security guards for archvillain status, conceptually survive in this brave year of the rooster, 2017? Fattened on mall money and transfixed by sly winks from extreme-intrigued ingenues, collective guards have fallen away. Advice on appropriating skate stylings have become common enough that Jake Phelp’s occasional grouchy grumping over Thrasher tee-sporting celebrities is seen as increasingly quaint.

Now comes Lil Wayne, née Dwayne Carter, Cash Money Records’ Danny Way, an industry-reared wonder boy possessed of once-in-a-generation talents, later estranged from early benefactors and in later years, outpaced by onetime proteges. In his post-platinum era wanderings, which also has included guitar solos and bowling, Lil Wayne picked up skateboarding, following earlier lines drawn by Pharrell ‘Skateboard P’ Williams and Lupe Fiasco. Eagerly written off after publicly declaring his dedication, Lil Wayne somehow stuck with it, living down ill-considered proclamations of prowess and conceiving the obligatory terrible clothes company. Along the way the ‘A Milli’ author earned love from actual skateboarders the old-fashioned way*:

Conor Champion: “He’s a little kid that just started skating in a grown millionaire’s body. Out of everything he could be doing with his free time, he’s choosing to be at the skatepark with us at three in the morning. You have to realize he could be doing literally anything in the world at that moment.”

Now, as far as wiling away hours at the park as a barometer of love for skating, many 10-year-olds measure up. Investing more than half a decade and then shaking off a droughty croak to muse for an hour over truck heights, the tradeoffs of filming in parks, getting kicked out of parks, lighting up spots with Iphones and hanging out behind restaurants to skate a bank-to-wall at 4:00 in the morning — that’s a horse of a different color, unsaddled by celebrity dilettantes and fair-weather penny cruiser pilots outfitted by 401(k)-toting stylists loathe to shovel the manure of bailed kickflips and gashed faces. With a profane pithiness suited to the penman responsible for one of rap music’s greatest verses, Lil Wayne justified himself last month on Chris Roberts’ ‘Nine Club’ podcast:

Lil Wayne: “I hate to use the word perfect but I’m the perfect guy to explain it. I’ve experienced a lot of great fuckin feelings. I’ve seen checks with a lot of zeroes on them bitches, with my name. I’ve experienced a lot of wonderful… moments with women. I’m talking about fucking her while her movie’s on in the background. With your music on the radio. I’ve opened a lot of great doors, I’ve seen a bunch of smiles on a bunch of faces…. I swear I don’t know if there’s a feeling that comes close to landing on them four wheels.”

Will Baby try and put the kibosh on Lil Wayne releasing a video part while still under a CMB contract? Does employing a housekeeper for one’s private skatepark and also a co-located bowling alley qualify Lil Wayne as ‘upriver’ on Jason Dill’s famed skate-scale or does it require a different benchmark altogether, like maybe the Russian deeps of Lake Baikal? Was all of this foretold after Ty Evans placed Mannie Fresh music into ‘Fully Flared’ for Lucas Puig, JB Gillet and JJ Rousseau, a music supervision masterstroke that may also have absolved Ty Evans of any number of indie-rock missteps over the years?

*Not like that, you pervert