Posts Tagged ‘City Stars’

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?

Hollywood Divorce

March 28, 2013

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It has been observed that the skateboarding industry is like high school, replete with jocks, nerds, overachievers, fashion victims, would-be authority figures, substance enthusiasts and vengeful, scheming captains of the water polo team who drive tricked-out jeeps and are partial to ripped jeans. Sticking with the analogy, last week we saw a long-running couple, recently broken up, each show up to the prom with new dates. Here was Blueprint, determined to pick up the shards of its spray-heart logo and shake off an ignominious dumping last fall, escorted by a half-dozen unknowns from the Southwest, and Mike York, who I like to imagine wearing a seersucker suit and white corsage. And then the former Blueprint squad, trotting out a sleek new name and logo spotlighting their Old World roots, ready to move on.

Look at Blueprint, chin out in an ill-fitting getup, dudes with blond dreads and Canadian management, trying at some kind of statement setting its team makeover clip to “Coming to America” (presumably by way of Quebec). As the would-be masterminds behind Ice Cream Shoes will attest it’s not easy to pull a Kareem Campbell when it comes to plucking unknown ams from the skatepark ether, and the pressure may be giving their filmer a case of tremors. Yet the former Blueprinters, offering pedigreed graphics and a trimmer team, may have the harder path. The stakes may be lower without this company having carried the UK on its back through the late-90s universe expansion, but it still arrives from some of the dudes who made all those legendary videos, and with no Canadian owners in the wings it’s all on them this go-round.

Both companies have an obvious fixation on America, economic or otherwise, and it is not difficult to see opportunities for them to jointly tap into American’s long-running love affair with familial turmoil and fractured relationships. Could a grudge match demo-tour produce 411 “Road Trip”-worthy highlights as each squad looks to one-up the other? Is there a potential sequel to last season’s “One in a Million” pressure-cooker meltdown to be had by confining the two teams to a “Big Brother” style condo to chew one another’s limbs off over British skate lore and whoever drank the last beer?

The respective team pages are telling. Are seeds of internal strife already germinating within Isle? A solid two-thirds of the team lists some variation of “green” as their favorite color, while boss figure Paul Shier stakes out the other side of the color wheel with “orange” and Nick Jensen boldly declares “not green.” Can they stand against the newly united Blueprint group, which have no history but seem to be on the same page when it comes to cuisine, roundly backing Mexican and BBQ variations? And will Isle continue to stick with the British spelling of words like “colour”? For that matter, will Blueprint?

9. Fabian Alomar – “Free Fabes”

December 23, 2012

Whatever happened with the DGK video and the fortunes to be gained and lost peddling this generation’s version of the FUCT t-shirt line to rap singers and their suburban admirers, Stevie Williams cemented his position as a skate mogul by using his clout to help put out a video part that a certain segment of the populace had been waiting on for 15 years — a feat that apparently had eluded Kareem Campbell, Steve Rocco, Patrick O’Dell and possibly others. The continued fetishization of mid-90s attitudes and filming equipments can’t recreate the fit of the jeans or the sound of a k-grind across the Venice pit ledges, and Fabian Alomar’s nollie backside flip over the sand gap, the line at the white planters and the tricks off the bump at the end could have run in any of the greatest videos of that era. Tough luck that it took a personal tragedy for this footage to see the light of day, but it would be testing fate to overlook a gift pony internet sites such as this one have been requesting from Santa Claus for so long. DGK’s “Free Fabes” website is here.

An Autumn With Ace & Gary

May 26, 2009

“Kevin” Spanky “Long” takes a lotta heat in certain circles for looking like a girl, wearing girls’ trousers, having girly hair, his unabashed hipsterism, and occasionally skating like a girl. The internet’s great unwashed can and will debate these points, but to my mind, there is little debate as to the classic status of this f/s air, just reaching cruising altitude above the rim of Brooklyn’s Autumn Bowl. Photo is from a striking B&W set in the Brandon Westgate “Skateboarder,” snapped by Jonathan Mehring, and for those of you who like to make your ambiguity a double, the Spanky pic butts up against a shot of Dylan Rieder backside crailing with reckless, untamed abandon. Elsewhere there’s a really sick Joey Pepper lip trick sequence that I can’t think up any dumb jokes about.

Last Axion Heroes

April 25, 2008

Kareem Campbell was many things–legendary skater, mid-90s cultural architect, Peralta-caliber talent scout, semi-convincing skit actor–but the title of successful businessman continues to elude him, even with all those Tony Hawk Pro Skater appearances. Plenty of dudes have abandoned the board for the darkman role with varying degrees of success, but what made Kareem’s gradual exit from mags and videos suck so bad wasn’t the steady decline of his companies but how raw of a skater he was, even up to the point where he disappeared.

Crailtap linked to a clip from the last Axion footwear tour the other day, and in between Javier Nunez generally being underrated and Devine Calloway ripping all over the place there’s more than a few tricks from Kareem and he still had it, even half-assing it at demos (or full-assing it in the case of the switch hardflip). It’s probably way past the point to hope for any kind of comeback, and his unfortunate link-up with ATM and the supposed Axion revival really do not count. I’m talking more the kickflips over oil drums and the manhandled rail tricks. Those were some good years though. There’s another Kareem-related post in the works, so expect more half-bitter nostalgia to come. But meanwhile check out Devine’s switch hurricane. Jesus christ…