Posts Tagged ‘Converse’

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

duffsdog

History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?

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Pontus Alv’s Frenetic Lament for a Scattering Tribe

April 10, 2016

strandbeest

From disused plastic piping, zip ties and empty two-litres, Dutch sculptor Theo Jansen has over recent decades bestowed life upon a new and fearsome form of creature he has dubbed ‘Strandbeests,’ nomadic and dinosauric automatons that draw their power from wind and moisture to restlessly roam frozen Scandinavian shores and, through unwitting human enamourment, sprinkle their genetics globally via our computerized internet. Theirs is a lonesome lot on barren stripes of the earth, but their ramshackle ploddings are not without a certain joy and wonder.

A few Lego bricks and Ikea couches away, by accepted U.S. cowpoke measuring standards, Pontus Alv tinkers among his DIY embankments and bowls and at long last takes his third full-length off simmer, a Nordic dream smearing several decades’ worth of lovingly recollected skate touchstones that uncork themselves as the most ‘now’ vid since Supreme’s ‘Cherry’ and 2016’s pulsating frontrunner so far. Buffeted by larger forces both natural and otherwise, the non-complying bros and their half-seen stand-ins populating ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind, Please Don’t Wake Me This Time’ place faith in leaps both figurative and actual that send them soaring atop buildings, crunching through shrubs, high diving off delivery trucks and rolling away from frontside noseslides to fakie with arm dropped just so. Beyond the Alien Workshop and Blueprint camps of yore, there’s not a lot who handle their imagery and mix their media as well as is done here.

Dane Brady’s bucolic opener presents most of the elements, simply — here’s his dog, his curbs, his parking garages, his deceptively intense control, skidding from parking bumper to parking bumper or manualing through the grass or jumping a damn swing. Michael Juras and Jerome Campbell wind their way through bricked out European back streets, speed hopping bump-to-bumps and backside tailsliding way out on rugged ledges, seldom any one dude holding the frame too long without somebody else on the team hopping onto the same spot, maybe the opposite way. Hjalte Halberg crushes big blocks in possibly the vid’s best played-straight part, Pontus Alv is in there with his backward hat and his arcing wallrides, luring his followers into snaking doubles lines at Swedish DIYs and Oskar Rosenberg-Hallberg, seemingly growing up before the fisheye here, buoyed beyond the switch pole jam and ride-on smith grind by the best little-kid stylings since Yaje Popson or maybe Kevin Bradley. Aaron Herrington cashes in what look like a couple years’ worth of chips like the double wallie and later on Kevin Rodrigues, who comes with tricks that have no names.

Pontus Alv has talked about a kind of wonderful weirdess and isolation that go with doing his particular take on skating from one of the unlikeliest spots on the map, while also wearily eyeing the constraints and pressures that come with developing a beloved and increasingly successful company.

It’s always the same. It starts like, “Hey, there’s this cool new brand. It’s small. It’s underground. It’s run by these cool guys and we love it because we can’t get a hold of it.” Like when World (Industries) first started it was exactly like that. And then all of a sudden there’s all this demand and then that brings hype and then slowly the companies get their shit together. They get their business model together, the production, the distribution, and everything. And then, of course, when a companies growing, the company’s costs are also growing so it’s like, “Oh shit, now we have to widen our distribution channels to make enough money to supply the riders, team, video production, ads, and all of those things that you have to do. And then all of a sudden people look at it and are like, “Well, it’s kind of big now. I don’t know. It’s not cool anymore.” And then all of the sudden they lose some of that support and all of a sudden it’s like, “Well, we don’t have the core support anymore but we have this massive company with all these bills.” So you widen the channels more and more and more.

Henry Sanchez, who also came up in the Bay area only to part ways with the CA-based industry, questions the cultural cost of broader-based success in an interview discussing his latest return to skating: I see a bigger corporate presence in skating, and it has a stronger foothold in the market. To me, those are indications that skating is a lot bigger now. It seems like they’ve spent enough money campaigning for your heart. We had a stronger defense with a much smaller army.

It is maybe too easy to see the rising and receding industry tides gently lifting the wallriding Mary Poppins of ‘Don’t Wake Me’ across grassy hilltops, blowing him into spiky trees, or at other points holding the magical umbrella just out of reach in various times of need. But with ever-larger commercial interests alternately supporting Polar’s trans-Atlantic bonelessing and bank-building, while harbouring threats of spiky contractual strictures and molding future generations from Olympic bully pulpits, how much longer does Pontus Alv’s idyllic Polar dream go on? Could a ‘Really Sorry’ type quick follow up serve as a sort of cosmic snooze button? Was the vid’s lengthy gestation period at all related to scheduling difficulties in securing the Rover cameo? What was going through Kevin Rodrigues’ head when he seen that rail? Are all the H-Street references actually subliminal signals from Pontus Alv to the Polar team that they should abscond together for some upstart board company in a few years, thus easing the crushing pressure on Pontus Alv to follow up this video and allowing him to pursue an Evol-like reboot at far lower stakes for all involved?

Si Se Puede

June 21, 2015

wild_streets

“Because We Can” is the tagline for the Emerica-Lakai joint venture summer demo tour, ostensibly nodding to rootsy trappings of a bros-before-focused-branding jaunt that recalls Crailtap’s past roadtrip tie-ups with the Firm and Anti Hero, and perhaps also the idea that Stayed Flarees aren’t contractually bound to bulge bracket contest stops, or fettered by corporate interests broiling with jealousy and alleged to have previously boxed out events planned by rivals.

Might this thundersome tour, boasting the caliber of lineup to collectively bless parks and spots alike perhaps once per decade, also be called ‘Because We Should’? It makes certain business senses for skater owned/directed shoe companies to band together as Nike has rolled out heavy artillery on multiple fronts between SB and the revival of its Converse skate program, while K-Swiss hoovers up Supra and New Balance tries its hand at ‘Pretty Sweet’ intro cinematography and attempts to one-up Plan B in the video-supervision after-black hammer that is securing PJ Ladd footage.

Assuming any relevant private equity fund analysts are safely off parking the vans, there probably exist few more-direct methods to illuminate any ‘skater-owned’ halo than to situate various owners, founders and shot-callers atop a pic-a-nic table in a sweaty Milwaukee warehouse, or nose manualing across pads in Pittsburgh. Whereas an demo featuring Mike Parker or Herbert Hainer might draw its own standing-room gaggle of vexed shareowners, slack-jawed blog proprietours and other would-be looky-lous, any effect on unit volume likely would present as incremental and potentially surprise to the downside, after all due rep points awarded for trying.

Pressing flesh among the seven-ply’s huddled masses though remains a worthy public service in an incarnation similar to the interstate highway system and other feats of two-way public infrastructuring. Impressions seared into yung psyches run deep enough that Andrew Reynolds, who’s got to be as hardened as anybody after two decades grinding through the industry, still turns slightly giddy recollecting the time and place he first saw Mike Carroll skate, at a demo. Whereas some kickflipping kid out there this summer will in a couple decades relate seeing Andrew Reynolds and Mike Carroll staying flared as he or she speaks on the formative transpirings that set him or her on the jittery path toward running his or her own skate concern, there would seem also some current temperature-taking value for today’s company runners to be gleaned from a month or two rolling amongst chronically undercompensated shop managers and the broader goods-buying populace.

Instagram and Facebook are gently ballyhooed as grand equalizers that place access to each tween’s favorite professional a mere few keystrokes away, but any digital fuzzies warmed by the internet’s flat culture inevitably contend with personal-branding business machinations that would program bots to holler back at random followers, or transform subscriber figures into bargaining chits for contract maneuverings. From certain angles far up in the nosebleed seats the gulf between the industry’s top talents and the larger boardbuying populace seems in some ways wider — wristband warrior and NBDDer Chris Cole in a recent interview speaks angrily of pro-athlete pressures and his impatience with weekend warrior types who don’t get it:

Actually, I’m gonna go on a tirade right now: When the “core” dudes try to clown, and I’m sure you’ve fucking heard it – it’s a defense mechanism – they say stuff like, “It’s just skateboarding, man.” Implying that you’re taking it too seriously.

A. You’re telling me what skateboarding is? Get the fuck out of my face. And B., Street League is a contest with a lot of money on the line and this is actually what I do for a living. This is my job. I love the hell out of skating; I love it more than anyone. But it’s not “Just skating, maaaaan.”That’s throwing what I love and what I’ve dedicated my life to, into some hobby that you kind of fuck around with. They love to throw that one around.

Chris Cole, who knows his way around a demo as good as anybody, elsewhere rehashes yet again his awkward early years of professional development, as well as hearing firsthand critiques of his chosen outfits and conduct from prior detractors in the course of compiling talking head footage for some forthcoming documentary. It’s unclear whether any who bore ill will toward snowplow nosegrinds or flapping yellow t-shirts ever took a demo appearance as an opportunity to directly air concerns with a younger Chris Cole, or if a few weeks traversing American byways and mingling with shop employees and early-morning sessioners logging park time prior to diaper-changing duties or weekend overtime might sand edges off Chris Cole’s stance on the diverse and potentially spicy views on skating harboured by aging hobbyist/purists.

Whether deep and heady assessments of skating’s true nature can or should be chopped up between pros and average joes at local skatepark facilities or tour clip-worthy spots along the way remains a question for us all to chew over as we toddle toward our mysterious graves, but it is skating’s uniquely democratic nature that allows it even to be possible. You don’t see major league baseball teams materializing unannounced for pickup games at neighborhood sandlots; the recognized and registered sucker-free boss ballers of figure skating or tennis aren’t in the practice of swelling about local rinks and courts*, twirling axels and swatting balls alongside the fanning hoards, and potentially talking sponsor-jumps or fearsome performances.

In what other pursuit can you be hobby-horsing it upon a weekend and look up to see the world’s accepted best wandering in to join, or augment onlooker activities by also serving as a human safety net for sweaty professionals breaking themselves off at your local park? Should a board-and-shoe consuming Joe Kickflip’s views on skating, seriousness and Street Leagues carry the same weight as professional contract players with long years in these trenches? Are pitchers’ mound rushers and stands-charging small forwards similarly chided that it’s ‘just a game’? Does man remain ‘the most dangerous game’ or has this title been usurped by quadruped robots and armed drones?

*Courts of law don’t count

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

December 28, 2012

pappalardo_pizza

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.

Title TK

June 22, 2011

Even without flipping it over and looking for the little logo you could probably tell skateboarding bears a “made in America” seal just because of the tendency towards overkill. Big pants/small wheels, goofy boys, paint-on pants, substance abuse, stair counts, ledge combos, the personas of Alva, Muska, Mike Plumb, et cetera. The mega ramp. You have your top dogs specific to a certain latitude/longitude as the pendulum swings this way or that, for instance Ron Knigge or Josh Kasper or Ray Underhill, and then what turn out to be the more longview types that might rise up during one era or another but don’t wind up being defined by it and find ways to roll with whatever’s going at the moment, say Carroll, Daewon Song, Jason Dill, Grant Taylor — Mark Gonzales. Like, there may be more technically skilled or bigger-balled dudes going at any one point, but if you’re watching “the Storm,” you’ve got Jerry Hsu on one hand and Scott Paezelt on another.

All of which is a typically long-winded way of coping with a melting of mind following a couple watches of Eli Reed’s entry in the X-Games “real street” competition, a minute-long clip that’s a little gratuitous as far as including a couple magazine cover clips and some of the more original (versus “creative”) tricks to come along in a good while. If I was, heaven forfend, a judge on “America’s Next Top Flow Bro” I would formulate some sound bite to the effect that Eli Reed has a “point of view.” Like, who’s doing nollie bonelesses on name hubbas? Switch backside 360 manual? I’m sure there are some “Forecast” seeds that have pulled similar 360-flip nosegrinds and switch bigspin flips but a key difference is that this dude’s method has that appealing stink on it. Switch k-grind for the 90s dudes and wise use of the big switch ollie, which also helped get me onboard with Mikey Taylor during the City Stars days. A minute long and this is easily one of the best sections all year, I hope he gets the $50k or whatever it is.

Funnel Cloud

April 23, 2011

Got the warm fuzzys seeing Raymond Molinar pop up in the Trapasso-facepaint Skateboard Mag the other day, partly because I’ve been worried about him fading out ever since his departure off Habitat. (Did anybody ever get the story with that, btw.) There’s a little bit of Henry Sanchez-style spazz crustiness to Raymond Molinar’s take on technical ledge tricks and he had a reputation for being kind of a dick, deserved or not, there’s a certain amount of that sort of thing that’s necessary I think, the more you gotta color inside the lines to appease the energy drink-pourers of the world. My initial recollections of Raymond Molinar date back to some tricks in a TWS vid montage, possibly “Free Your Mind,” which would’ve been an all-time classic with another part and 1/3 as many skits — he did lines in those Vans with the giant V on the side, reminiscent of some Vision Street Wears, and even back then he had the switch kickflip backside tailslides. This entry in Popwar’s short-lived “Video Hype” DVD teaser series I thought of as his official/proper debut and it’s also worth revisiting as some Utahn has revived the brand-name, a strategy that we know is sure to bring profit and pleasure to all involved, and maybe even a lucky few who are not.

Roberto Puleo, Dear Leader And Skate Spot Colonialism In The Video Age

February 26, 2011

Two things got me excited to load up and sit down for the 35-minute entirety of this Converse China video a while back — watching a carful of bros I’ve never heard of embark on a cross-country shred vacation through a spot on the globe that’s sort of a blur for me. There’s a vicarious sorta thrill to be drawn from vids filmed in far-flung corners of the earth that you’re not likely to visit or have board to hand if you do — new and weird cityscapes harbouring giddy potential in wide-open plazas with lemony fresh ledges, cement that waves and curls, befuddled cops that keep moving, etc. There were reasons besides Luy Pa-Sin and Alex Carolino and JB Gillett that I watched “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” so many times even in spite of that Kool Shen song.

Trick-wise the “Ni” video is short on your after-black hammers but watching them rail it from town to town and dig into spots like that ice-slick bank at 14:30 or the QP buffet at 30:30 gets the wheels turning when you wonder what else is lying around that 3.7 million square miles, where fishing villages get juiced into 10 million-bro metropoli over the course of a couple decades. All of which can turn quick into tongue-clucking and head-shaking with China’s foothold as the new Barcelona finding our West Coast video heroes jetting halfway around the world to eat at train station McDonalds and film clips at the same dozen or so spots. One particular bummer is that the spot-as-trick-benchmark means that the pros can get over k-grinding a previously unseen hubba that may or may not have seen the same move from a local years before, while those dudes’ own video parts end up Youtube fodder, absent “Night Prowler”-type productions that splash on the overseas radars.

Bobby Puleo, among the more spot-minded people out there, touches on this topic briefly in a enjoyably rambling/ranting interview that went up on his site last month.

“I do know a lot of people go and film their parts in far off places like China and Europe instead of trying to find their own shit in the places they actually live in or operate in. It seems like a lot of kids just simply don’t use their intellect or imaginations enough any more.”

Puleo’s stance is heavily defensive toward his home turf of New York and the rugged/gritty/urban brand it now carries thanks in no small part to his own efforts to highlight that aesthetic, alongside other like-minded bros such as Josh Stewart, Ricky Oyola, Chris Mulhern, Kevin Coakley, sometimes Jason Dill, etc. California kids carpetbagging their way through Manhattan in a bid to offset palm trees and concrete transition raise the hackles of jaded/bearded ones such as Puleo, who I personally would put on the far end of the spot spectrum from those who might hop a plane to film manual tricks several time zones over — fetishizing spots/surroundings to the point that the trick itself is like an afterthought or even a distraction from the attractively deteriorating warehouses or bridge-pilings, catching the smog-tinted sunset rays just so. Ricky Oyola, who interviewed Puleo, at one point seems to suggest this:

“I know nowadays, it looks like kids try too hard to find those type of spots, I think it comes out looking contrived most times.”

Puleo soon resumes his attack on VX-bearing career-builders trampling all over his town, but I think Oyola has a point here — there’s a clip in “This Time Tomorrow,” a generally totally awesome movie, where (I think) a dude ollies up one curb, then another one quickly, then has to make a tight turn and hops up on a rail to do a frontside boardslide down, like, four stairs. Hard, yes, could I do it, probably definitely no way, but there are hard questions you ask yourself when allotting video-part real estate and with a certain subset of skating very much shaped by aesthetics-minded landmarks like “Static 2” it’s clear that sometimes the clip is more about the spot than whatever trick happens to go down there.

And we now flip open last month’s Transworld, or alternately click here, to witness the ongoing fruits of a career built partly on this idea — Kenny Reed 360 flipping in North gosh-darn-it Korea, a jurisdiction with enough mystique and cache and well-fed military personnel such that the bar is lowered to the point that a flatground trick earns full-page photo status. A more exotic riff on an idea that still plays at home, which is when you’ve got a brand-new rail it doesn’t matter that Mark Appleyard kickflip backside tailslide bigspinned out on some other rail 10 years ago, because the slate is clean and a veteran pro can get in his frontside crooked grind or backside 5-0 before the amateurs come along and fuck it all up by kickflipping into everything, or worse, going up it.

Which is maybe one way long-suffering photogs could help make rent every month — hoarding the latitude and longitude of virgin spots and holding out for the highest bids put forth by dudes needing to justify royalties from their sixth pro sneaker. Style points on a backside smith grind go further when you’re not standing in the shadow of last month’s nollie backside noseblunt and if the message boards are paying attention said pro could possibly even add “spot seeker” to his online rep. Maybe people already are doing this?

Let’s Discuss The Most Controversial Sequence On The Internet

February 12, 2010


Haters in time

An uproar burst forth upon the seas of gentlemanly internet discourse this week when a SkateboardMag blog revealed a photo sequence of Anthony Pappalardo, known professional, plying his trade with a couple of ollies. “Foul” cried thousands, claiming that not only could they ollie themselves, but that neither ollie was particularly big or dangerous. Both of these statements are true, but uncovering the deeper, more long-winded truth requires a trip through time.

It was once the year 2000. Flying cars were commonplace, personal credit was freely available and Anthony Pappalardo was executing nollie heelflip frontside noseslides while making “urban” pants choices. But today the clock has rolled back, erasing years of economic growth and trick progression. Ollies are back. Cruising on a 70s-inspired skateboard is the choice of dreaded granolas and professional shoe endorsers alike and the most popular show on television wallows in the hair-grease and flop-sweat of philandering 1960s ad executives.

Christopher Colombus, in an apocryphal story that dates back even further, once strutted into a state dinner when a hater (of some description) stopped him, perchance to hate. The gist of it was that CC was not that hot of an explorer, and that the West Indies would’ve been inevitably found by anybody who pointed their boat far west enough, et cetera. Colombus famously ice-grilled the guy and then told them that he bet anybody he could make an egg stand on its end. After others tried and failed, Colombus squished in one end of the egg and stood it up, declaring “now that you’ve seen me do it, it would be easy for anyone.”

So too with Pappalardo? Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that Brooklyn woodshop. Someone on the Slap board said something to the effect that after watching the bonus footage on the “Prevent This Tragedy” DVD they were pissed at the blatant lack of effort APO seems to be putting forth, and after about 10 minutes of fast-forwarding, I saw the point (don’t ask me the time stamp, but he makes a couple half-hearted ollies onto a slanted plank on a hill, and bails an ollie).

You could make the argument though that there’s plenty of pro-types who’ve made their bones and sailed into their sunset years on a raft of coping slashes, frontside rocks and more recently switch 360 flips. Pappalardo may be pushing it as he retains a youthful look despite his hospital-patient pallor, and a pro model shoe may be kind of gratuitous, but I think he could still turn it on if he wanted to (citing the nollie 360 flip recently spun on Epicly Laterd). Does the fact that it’s a conscious decision make it more gratuitous? Or simply boost the level of his hustle?

Backmasking

January 22, 2010


Back it up then stop

There are those dudes like Brian Wenning and Daniel Castillo and Nate Jones who find a seam to mine and stick with it for much of their careers, and when you’ve got a nice switch heelflip/switch backside heelflip/hair that can help you pay your mortgage or whatever, more power to you. But for those of us whose major fulfillment re: progression comes from landing personal NDB’s, by a function of stair-fearing ankles or general sucking, it’s heartening to see established pro-bros who keep reaching for the new-trick rainbow year in and year out.

Case in point: Emmanuel Guzman’s rather genuine excitement at filming a flatground switch 360 flip in the Transworld video, a maneuver he apparently had figured out not long before. This particular memory was jogged via Guzman’s section in “Prevent This Tragedy” when he twirls a switch tre over a cement hump, only to follow it with what I’m assuming is another recent addition to the repertoire, a switch backside 360.

Now, there was a time and place when backside noseblunting a handrail won you fever points with the masses, covers of magazines, curtains in videos; this time was the year 2000 and the place was a little zone that so-cal brahs like to call “so-cal, brah.” The handrail BSNBS was among the last milemarker tricks, in that it became over the subsequent years kind of a benchmark as far as what dudes could do it and how big they could take it.

It seems like a lot of the past decade was given over to stringing tricks together and rediscovering ramp roots, but if there were to be ’10 version of the barometer type trick, we at Boil the ocean internet peanut gallery LLC would gently submit the switch backside 360 as a worthwhile candidate. Suitably exclusive to the super-good, it’s also one that could conceivably be done ugly enough to let you sort out the legit envelope-pushers from the skatepark stair pretenders. Guzman doesn’t sail his down a Merlino-sized gap but it’s got an interesting delay to it. And yeah we are aware that Russ Milligan has already done and gone and did it with a kickflip (who else–Chris Cole? PJ Ladd?)

Guzman’s got that wicked spider-style and the switch 360 actually ranks pretty low on the gnarlitude scale when it comes to his part in this video, with higher positions held by the frontside ollie into the giant pool, the windbreaker hill jam and a personal favorite, the backside tailslide (to regulars) on the wood rail, which anyone will tell you earns extra points always.

Spliff Star

January 19, 2010


Nick Trapasso, moments before enraging a stuffed-shirt dean of students with his relaxed attitude toward life

Back around the time when Jake Brown offered up his body to raise skateboarding’s profile on sports highlight/grievous injury clip shows, Brazilian melonfarmer Bob Burnquist took a certain amount of heat for appearing to anguish over the organ-lacerating slam, pace, and then proceed to wrest victory from the jaws of the Aussie-eating Megaramp. Some submitted that the classy thing would’ve been to cede the contest to Brown and his history-making 720, but Bob B eventually responded by saying that laying down, even for a badly injured bro, would’ve bummed Jake Brown out and violated the sacred spirit of the X Games themselfs, which would be a bummer of cataclysmic proportions, no doubt.

Only an MRI machine can know for sure what was going on in Jake Brown’s mind at the time, and given the prodigious amounts of the devil’s lettuce that Nick Trapasso is understood to blow, similar guessing at his motivations re: skating would be also a risky bet. But watching the Converse/Thrasher video it’s interesting to see some restraint in terms of what moves he does or doesn’t do at any given time, and in some ways it’s as refreshing as a cracked window to a hotboxed car.

Trapasso’s brand is one of festive floral leisurewear and tossed-off tricks, but the dude’s no slouch skill-wise, switch nose-grinding handrails and hucking that ginormous bigspin flip at the beginning. Not to mention, nollie nosegrinding a different handrail bearing an unfriendly kink. There’s plenty of people who will tell you the Spicoli thing is a put-on, and maybe it is, but there’s some type of genuine relaxation to a dude who in 2010 will incorporate a flatground kickflip into a line*, or a similarly simple halfcab to set up a stair jump, or a halfhearted blunt fakie attempt thrown in after the behatted coping nosegrind. There’s a kind of who-cares confidence there too, the sort of thing sometimes appears lost among trick trends and the rise of personal brands. Also the backside heelflip he does at 2:44 is extremely wonky and sweet-looking.

*nods to Marc Johnson’s “Modus” flatground ollie