Posts Tagged ‘Cory Kennedy’

Summer of Bad Vibes

September 5, 2017

Summer’s strength wilts and, seems like before we’re really prepared, darkness steps out. On the world stage, blunt talk of nuclear war; fires rage across the continent; monstrous storms bringing flood, pestilence and misery; and last month, the sun itself blotted out. Steely Dan is permanently fractured with Walter Becker’s death. And tragedy again in skating as beloved dad, bro, lensman and barbecue grandmaster P-Stone is lost to a car wreck, the driver Girl’s Cory Kennedy, booked on a 0.10 DWI charge, and carrying this burden for the rest of his life.

What else? The Ride Channel, that once-churning aggregation portal that Quartersnacks perceptively pegged as a HiphopDX for skating, is itself deteriorating — adding items of varied relevance now just in fits and starts, and in a troubling suggestion of early-stage dementia, each day posing to its pensive visitors the same question: Why Isn’t Chicago a Bigger Deal in Skateboarding?

Mike Munzenrider’s dutifully researched feature offered a range of answers — weather, cops, general not-giving-a-shitness — and these may well be. Does Chicago need to be a bigger deal in skateboarding? Chaz Ortiz, when he’s not buying out the bar with high-level mages, seems to be making a mighty effort to reclaim and elevate the greater metro area that set him on the path to X-Games glory, while making restitution for Trueride-flavored lines like this. But even in his most powerful Diamond t-shirt, Chaz Ortiz can’t carry 2.7 million souls on his back alone — Chicago’s been second, third, whateverth too long, plenty grimy but too Midwest to chart with the cellar-door-turned-bump-to-bar-wallride pro contingent that gravitates toward East Coast crust. In Chicago, crime wars fill the streets with dead children and the money always seems to be running out.

Not that the town has no talent. But it’s on some other shit. ‘Realm,’ the latest in a string of increasingly gnarly videos from Chicago’s Deep Dish collective, opens on a bombed-out husk of a city shot through with militarism on the march and authority’s heavy hand always just beyond the frame. The skating happens in the shadow of architectural marvels and across crumbling foundations, by streetlight and under those battleship-gray skies. CJ Kelly draws night lines down the block that go on forever, his noseblunts and wallrides bumping off poles and fences. Nico Rizzo tosses a nutty manual to no-comply down some steps, DJ Plummer scrapes off sparks and Mason Barnard whirls one of the crazier manual tricks in some while on a fat marble bench. It is wildly panted Brett Weinstein who breaks the knob off though, bigspinning both ways up an industrial-strength Euro gap, popping tricks over puddles, backside lipsliding up and through viaduct crust and, at the end, climbing up and down through the bowels of the Chase building to unload a pile of lines. This dude hits some minor-key harmony between Gino ledge tricks and the going transfixation on wallies and varial flips, and gets in one of the crazier transfer ollies since that kid jumped out to Jason Dill’s ender block.

Probe deeper though and you come to Chicago’s Ssquirted collective, which has been making videos for five or six years now that seem geared to disorient and abrade, placing viewers inside dimly lit rooms where stuffed animals are ominously scattered, and weirdly costumed characters preen just out of focus. In vids like hoEphase and this year’s bracing ‘PSYKO’ and ‘bLoWiE BuNnY’, voices get pitched down, skate footage slowly rotates and threats of violence and occult imagery fade in and out. A lot of stuff drips. The tricks blur between all this like one of those dreams where you can land everything until your grip loosens and the lights go out and you find yourself with blood-drenched hands clawing at your board.

Are the dissonant and sometimes harsh vibes out of Chicago the right ones for skating at this summer’s jarring end? Will these harsh and forbidding vids pull more people to skate Chicago or keep them away? Did Darkstar anticipate some of this doom and pathos when resurrecting its unoly knights? What’s next?

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Deuce Deuce

September 18, 2016

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“Never go full Ponte,” the old folks used to say; the thinking was, you couldn’t beat an original. Prodigal Brazilian son and recent abductee aboard the refurbished Sovereign Sect, Yaje Popson, tiptoed his magical feet right up to the edge this week aboard a burly and crimson hued 50-50 probably headed for his third or fourth video part in the last 52-week period. And yet in the great outfit sweepstakes that is this American experience in 2016, year of the aardvark, it was not even the most boisterous. That bouquet went to Australian baseball cap reverser Shane Oneill, who blew several minds via filming a backyard NBD while dressed as a tennis ball.

Far from an isolated case, Shane Oneill’s flourescent fit not only is safe for nighttime jogs, but also symptomatic of a broader industry infatuation with small, fuzzy balls and the raquets that brutalize them at high speeds, sometimes for cash prizes. Quietly applauded from the stands by multibillion dollar athletic gear manufacturers and occasionally lavendered monarchs, these power serves, double faults and love-loves seem to have displaced past and passing infatuations with hockey, soccer and skydiving.

Has skating reached peak tennis? Between Lucas Puig’s shorts and a recent resurgence in body varials, there are several signs. Gino Iannucci recruited Wimbledon-winning lefty John McEnroe Jr in serving up a line of Nike tennies, a volley later returned by Cory Kennedy, reviving the onetime Yugo of tennis sneakers for the rubber toecap set. Adidas has offered its own set and Alex Olson’s 917 is about to unveil a new line of tennis gear for skating.

Whereas the two disciplines have long occupied opposing orbits — so much so that Nike creatives mused 20 years ago on a societal role swap — there are rumors and clues that this now may be coming true. While skateboarding’s emerging coach class and trained image-cultivators groom once-useless wooden toypersons for Olympic podiums and endorsement photo ops, tennis seems intent on embracing a grittier, grimier persona more appealing to moneyed millennials raised on high-stakes, mixed-martial art bloodsports and aggressive dubstep mp3s. The Wall Street Journal wondered recently whether tennis could use more brawls to appeal to a fist-pumping, jello-shooting ‘Jersey Shore’ demographic, envisioning a pugilistic endpoint after tennis already has embraced the primal grunting, shouting and equipment-smashing that have been hallmarks of skating for generations. Tennis’ governing powers too seem intent on trying on rebellion’s black leather jacket and dangling cigarette, dabbling in scandal ranging from doping to match-fixing to the occasional off-colour comment.

As tennis’ stars age, will aping skateboarding provide an elixir of youthful advertising audiences or will tennis’ wealthy overlords catch onto the notion that a sizable bulk of pro shoes and contract dollars are tied up in veteran pros whose salad grinding days of filming feature length video parts may lie years in the past? Does the number of tennis pros who string their own racquets compare favorably or unfavorably with the number of pro skaters who grip their own boards? Will wooden decks one day apper as antiquated as wooden tennis racquets? Will a day ever arrive when skaters are not judged at least in part on their pants? Should it? Does anybody got a link for Chris Cole’s switch ollie over the tennis net that ran in a contents section around the ‘Dying to Live’ era?

Been There All The Time

October 24, 2015

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“Too hard,” was the beleaguered takeaway from jurists deliberating for three weeks the fates of legal executives who oversaw one of the law world’s most breathtaking collapses, that of the once high-flying Dewey & LeBouf LLP, sunk in 2012 and soon accused of cooking various books. Juggling upwards of 150 criminal counts, saturated in deeply technical testimony and confounded by the volcanic, phlegmatic and difficult to follow rants of one Uncle Donald, jurors tossed towels after finding themselves unable to agree on dozens of counts, in a situation similar to a spandexed rollerblader being handed a Nike-branded pen and pad so as to formulate precision Street League contest scores at a championship stop where the lowly ranked are shipped off to toil in gaol for unhappy decades.

Deck-consuming purchasers this week shall don blindfolds and ponder their own misbalanced scales as Alien Workshop unveils ‘Bunker Down,’ the resuscitated Ohio conspiracy-and-equipment merchant’s first formal video offering since resurfacing toward the beginning of the year. In its way it is a precedent-setting case — whereas half-hearted stabs have been made toward rebooting once-lively board concerns such as ATM Click and Vision, and companies such as World Industries, Toy Machine and Plan B have staged comebacks after replacing much of the companies’ prior rosters, AWS’s amateur-powered reincarnation represents the first attempt at a complete slate-wiping reset without letting its name first marinate in some nostalgic purgatory, or a box-checking effort toward team rebuilding so as to market bargain-bin products.

Sovereign Sect disciples reared on grainy images of rural blight and zoomed in shots of creepy crawlies have been heartened by now-daily photos and video clips on the Workshop’s Instagram portal that show Mike Hill much in command of the company’s signature visuals, ensconced in an abandoned nuclear research facility of some description, bought by Dyrdek. Absent hanging onto (M)other’s founding fathers, rebuilding the team from scratch was a plan far smarter than resetting with knowed pros or amateurs, lured from establishment sponsors and bearing their own baggage. Promising returns already are seen in Joey Guevara’s hilltop to alley marauding, Brandon Nguyen’s wall scaling and Frankie Spears’ handrail riffage, before Miguel Valle’s reliable lens, boring through lesser-chewed crust inside Detroit, upstate NY and other locales various. These dudes’ skating smacks of AWS to varying degrees, not far off the spectrum mapped by the company’s post-‘Mindfield’ additions, and time has validated many of the company’s prior pluckings of lil-known am talent, from Pappalardo and Wenning to Taylor and Johnson.

That grand and fickle arbitror, the marketplace, will judge whether this steamlined and refreshed Alien Workshop will remain a prowess player upon board walls and social media feeds for the years ahead, but its trajectory bears close observation — roughly 2200 miles to the southwest there have been ominous rumblings within the Crailtap camp, which already has seen three high profile departures and enough recent, billowy smoke around the prospective ship-jumpings of decades-deep Girl stalwarts such as Eric Koston and Guy Mariano so as to reasonably presume some type of fire. With the careers of other gen-one Crailtappers in their autumn season and the intentions of the Altamont cash-injectors toward lesser-loved hardgoods operations unknowed, it seems fair to ponder the future of another upstart turned industry pillar whose influence has receded like so many 90s-pro hairlines.

Is a wholesale reboot of Girl doable or desirable when vested owners such as Mike Carroll and Rick Howard are still capable of justifying their pro model products and Cory Kennedy, among Girl’s latest-annointed pros, appears in the SOTY mix? If Girl’s flow program were mined for such a baseline reset would Antonio Durao’s thundersome switch 360 flips provide air cover for any and all other newcomers? Was Plan B’s ‘Tru, B,’ bereft of all legacy professionals save the unsinkable Pat Duffy, actually a ‘Bunker Down’-style reset in all but name? Should the Alien Workshop have held the bagpipe hymn in reserve for their comeback release, or will the opening chords of BIG’s ‘You’re Nobody’ replace those of ‘Little Ethnic Song’?

Musings And Mutterings On These, The 2015 SOTY Sweepstakes

September 30, 2015

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The frothsome tumult that has gripped the fertile field of would-be ’16 American prexy seizers o’er the summertime would seem to have spilled over into pro skatingdom, with no clear American Pharaoh pulling away from plodding SOTY glue-factory fodder nine months into the year and with celebratory keg orders and lofty venue security deposits presumably coming due in short order. Perhaps by design, ThrasherMagazine.com’s steady gravitational pull toward video parts amid a continued dearth in Graumann’s Chinese Theater-ready releases has at once broadened the field and made any stab at front-runnerness almost by default a multi-part affair — with just a couple months to go and only a few bulge-bracket videos yet on deck, these hoary ranks are assessed:

AVE: Fucking Awesome pot-stirrer Jimi Britches in recent weeks has invoked a hashtag declaration of Van Engelen’s SOTY campaign, at one point nodding to the criminally overlooked onboard actions of Bay Area innovator Henry Sanchez, which may or may not bring good luck when you consider the brevity and general unluckiness of Henry Sanchez’s years-ago endorsement relationship with Lucky Skateboards. Still, Van Engelen did yeoman’s work closing out this year’s most anticipated full-length with a part that extended a remarkable 15-year body of footage that all holds up in spades, Thrasher’s web copywriters liberally splashed superlatives over AVE’s ‘Propeller’ raw footage, and it’s hard to argue against AVE embodying the Thrasher ethos in all of its growling, sweaty hurly-burly, all of which possibly makes the short-pantsed trophyman AVE’s to lose. Then there was that switch 50-50.

Cory Kennedy: ‘Our guy,’ as Thrasher’s eminently readable ‘Trash’ column described Girl’s permanent weekender Cory Kennedy, can safely be presumed to have been on a post-‘Pretty Sweet’ tear the past couple of years on the strength of his appearances in projects as high-brow as Crailtap’s ‘Wet Dream’ and close to the vest as the Thrasher-aimed ‘Cory Goes BellingHAM’ and ‘Rat Poison’. Trukfit aficionado Cory Kennedy is due for an ‘official’ ‘serious’ part in the pending Nike production due out around the SOTY-optimized timeframe of December, raising the promise of offcuts to bolster his cause via a second video part somewhere in there, and six years on from his internet-enabled crash onto the scene he has gathered sufficient gravitas and beercan profiling lifestyle shots so as to make him a convincing Skater of the Year for any and all salacious stakeholders.

Chris Joslin: Chris Joslin last year kicked down the skate industry’s door and shortly thereafter proceeded to activate his seemingly indefatigable ligaments to kick out all of the windows and most of the walls in his relentless quest to seize his moment, wrestle it to the ground and press his thumbs to its gasping throat. Each successive video part, and there have been at least three or four in the past 12 months, drips with an embarrassment of gap-crushing riches, culminating in this month’s three-minute run through dozens of Chinese stairs and related architecture and recorded in less than two weeks. A frightening thought is the domestic bullets that remain in Chris Joslin’s proverbial clip, like all those rumored (and some documented) trips down Wallenberg, raising the prospect of further ammunition for his SOTY bid.

Tiago Lemos: Hyperbole is cheap and easy to come by as the skate sphere has collapsed almost entirely into the internet and its assorted wyrmholes, but Ride Channel’s recent submission that Tiago Lemos is the best skater on Earth carried a softly lilting twinge of reality to it, to which can attest any verified viewer of Ty Evans’ soda-sponsored symphony to technology and extreme ties that bind, ‘We Are Blood,’ or previously his shared section with Carlos Iqui in ‘Gold Goons.’ The tireless mining of tricks from gaps and handrails pursued by Chris Joslin can be ported with minimal formatting to Tiago Lemos and ledges, though Brazil’s SOTY drought is on the verge of entering its third decade and Tiago Lemos has turned in relatively little Thrasher-specific output.

Rowan Zorilla: At a certain point in the early ’00s Forrest Kirby held a position that sort of was akin to being the industry’s little brother, beloved and rooted-for by hesh and fresh peers alike, a rarified spot that Rowan Zorilla seems to have man-bunned his way into over the last couple of years. Rowan Zorilla’s equity is such that he may have been the sole talent to turn down an approach from Dill and AVE’s Fucking Awesome, rather than the other way around, and Thrasher declared his SOTY contenderness following Vans’ ‘Propeller,’ probably the most comprehensive showcase so far of his off-kilter sneak attacks such as the switch kickflip noseslide, the corner-hopping kickflip into the ramp and his Thrasher-covering frontside wallride.

Gilbert Crockett: The Vans vid held two songs’ worth of Gilbert Crockett’s increasingly distilled brand of felid scrap and spring, and VC Corp staff saw fit to unload another part’s worth of footage onto Thrasher’s website for the mop-up round, placing Gilbert Crockett firmly within his loose-fitting and seldom changed khaki pants and, one assumes, well onto the High Speed radar. Gilbert Crockett bears the tattoos, grizzled countenance and staying power Thrasher’s power brokers may prize in a Skater of the Year, and the Quasi collective has intimated he may have more footage on the way ere 2015 is up.

Shane O’Neill: The simultaneously hyper-technical and technically flawless form of tricks rifled out by perennially backwards-capped Shane O’Neill probably could’ve put him in Thrasher’s awards orbit for several years now, but this year the maneuvers in his ‘Shane Goes’ video part seemed to bake in an extra push and occasionally some further degree of gnarliness, like heading down a triple set in the rain, switch, or the rarely seen switch frontside shove-it to boardslide, back to switch. Shane O’Neill’s year so far is further distinguished with one of the better tricks knocked out at Thrasher’s Clipper contest and a potential jump from Skate Mental to solo entrepreneurship, though the rumor mill has him in Paul Rodriguez’ Primitive camp.

Cory Kennedy, Celebrating A Shoe, Opens A Texaco-Shaped Back Door For Lil Wayne-Designed Textiles

September 12, 2015

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New York Fashion Week has come, bearing each customary ounce and parcel of loathing and dread. Behold, the grim reaper marks its approach this year by grimly and financially reaping DC Shoe corporate parent Quiksilver Inc. which earlier in the week sought bankruptcy shelter from creditors after U.S. consumers bemusedly abandoned its boardshorts and sweaters in larger and larger numbers. Nearly $1 billion in debt, shares plunging to 1 cent and eclipsed by nimbler retail gladiators such as H&M, prognosticators projected a pessimistic path for the erstwhile Quik.

“There’s just fewer kids out there that think the surf market is cool,” said analyst Mitch Kummetz of B. Riley & Co. “The heyday of the late ’90s and the early 2000s is a distant memory.”

It is a bleak vision of things to come not just for the DC Shoe Co USA, which remains a much-going skate concern despite Quiksilver axing its skate team 2.5 year ago, but other longsuffering company mavens aspiring toward pudgy soft-goods margins may also find themselfs slapped awake from any lingering all-over print dreams by the harsh reality that not even spacewolf penny completes and branded tote bags could bar Quiksilver’s door against the corporate poltergeists of high fixed costs and irate shareholders.

Yet when titans of commerce stumble, their sharp elbows and 900 pound weightiness can rip holes in the space-time continuum through which copious amounts of shadenfreude may briefly gush, and also roomy enough for upstart entrepreneurs to assert their product visions boldly upon this greasy stage of trade. Lil Wayne, a widely known personal brand from Hollygrove, New Orleans, has pursued skate fandom and purchased Thrasher merchandise long enough to have absorbed the industry’s notorious inclination toward boom-and-bust cycles, a gruesome fiscal paradigm likely all too applicable to the now-blighted business of selling musical CDs and official ringtone files. Having long since moved on from endorsing Girbauds and Hot Boy Wear brand underpants, it only was a natural Darwinian process for Lil Wayne to apply his design prowess to clothes aerodynamically equipped for skateboarding, yet for several seasonal retail cycles Trukfit has seemed to revolve within the same treacherous surfweary space through which the planets Quiksilver, Rusty and Hurley hurtle, unable to penetrate the unlucrative but theoretically critical hardcore skating demographic*.

Adopting the sort of per-diem spendthriftiness of top-tier talents such as known electronics-hoarder Billy Marks may have contributed to the sinking of the good ship Quiksilver US Balance Sheet, but could this same genomic quality prove Trukfit’s salvation? The unfettered, devil-may-care approach to gas-station checkout counters that elevated neon-sided Wayfarer wannabes, mystic wolf t-shirts and exotic straw hats to positions of pride on skateshop shelves could prove Trukfit’s diesel-scented lifering in this time of harsh economy.

Lil Wayne’s presumptive life-ring thrower in this fantasy is none other than industry pool-boy Cory Kennedy, he of the blade shades, leafy sombrero, mid-career abrupt-transition fixation and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ lost weekend. A long-overdue sneaker nod from skate biz cornerstone Nike Inc. last week revealed that Cory Kennedy’s ever-present and malleable hunger for novelty wears has expanded to include Trukfit gear of a rainbowy persuasion, amid leys, grass skirts and certain other Hawaiian accoutrements. In scenes that recall ‘Fulfill the Dream’s’ beloved Wallows sequence except with the brightness inexplicably dialed down, the occasionally Trukfitted Cory Kennedy and his friends crunch through various of Hawaii’s grittier pockets en route to a volcanic peak-to-peak kickflip wallride and a presumptive SOTY-baiting year-end footage dump via ‘Chronicles 3′ and TBA web clips still to come.

Will a midstream transition to gas-station swag status absolve Trukfit from any sins of marketing meetings past and clear a new and lucrative path to skateboarders’ closet-floor piles? Are the stakes for Lil Wayne that much higher following his recent split with Baby and uncertain ‘Carter’ album cycle future? Was the dark Nike clip supposed to imply the viewer is wearing sunglasses the whole time? Is 2015 the year Cory Kennedy’s sponsor cabinet advisers will convince him to ‘apply himself’? Will any resulting SOTY check and bonus sponsor payments trigger a truckstop retailing boom large enough to offset revenue slides triggered by the crude-oil price collapse?

*Identified as persons who own and ride skateboards

Too Many Cooks

November 19, 2014

slayersal

Roots-rocking revivalist Yasiin Bey famously claimed in space that the knack to flying is learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss. So shall it be for SOTY, and the yearlong subliminal toilings or lack thereof that may or may not place a 24th precious metaled and pantsed man atop some lucky pro’s professionally burbling toilet tank. Whereas recent bald-faced attempts to remake personal brands in the Thrasher mode, just happening to drop video projects near year’s end whilst wearing around S-A-D tees, generally have fallen flat, low-key schralping one’s fanny off in front of the proper HD lenses may yet prove to be the reliable path. Consider:

Cory Kennedy: A cheeseburger in paradise on a seven-day weekend, Cory Kennedy this year has spent much of his permanent vacation garbing himself in gift-shop merchandise on Thrasher-affiliated tours. His love affair with crust continues and ‘what-me-worry’ Oakley blading approach to life has taken him into the deep end sans pads, another plus in the Thrasher galaxy. Certain stony adventures truly put him on the road alongside various Bru-Rayers, Fourstars and the current SOTY clique, but has he been hittin hard enough between all the good times to shut the door on would-be campaigners?

Bobby Worrest: In recent years Bobby Worrest’s inclusion on such a list may have served merely as Facebook Timeline-ready clickbait for aging e-commercers reminiscing on early Brick Harbor clips, but consider: Ten years into his career, the DC-area’s kid beard has sidestepped career distractions as varied and alluring as shoe-sponsor travails and a potential second life as a right-wing pundit, only to switch backside noseblunt a handrail in one of his three video parts this year, each certified urban grade with no artificial flavors and seasonings. A hard-earned corporate sponsor paycheck may be a consolation prize if Thrasher fails to be won over by days of Pulaski clip-logging.

Wes Kremer: Similar to now-teammate Jake Brown giggling his way around the loop at Tampa that one year, Wes Kremer wobblingly cruised through to late-summer bomb the galaxy via an unassuming video that contained a wallie late-shove it over a chunky hubba, a slappy b/s 5-0 down some other hubba and one of the larger switch backside bigspin flips on offer recently. (It also copped a TWS cover for the curtain call, which you could look like as a plus or a minus in Thrasherland.) Then this week he did it again, running yet another slappy variation down the Clipper ledge, hucking massive shifty kickflips and resurrecting hallowed Peter Smolik career touchstones. Wes Kremer approaches Jake Johnson level wallrides, keeps his bushings slack and meanwhile seems like he’d be doing much the same shit whether they were handing awards out for it or not, so the Phelps brain-trust could easily do worse.

Torey Pudwill: With the mane of a virile walrus and a love interest that could’ve come off the arm of a freshly IPO’d internet mogul, Torey Pudwill hardly requires Thrasher’s most-exclusive title to achieve fulfillment, but there he was last summer, bringing back the so-called suski grind, pushing his ever-longer backside tailslides and exhibiting that generally ludicrous pop en route to what’s billed as a blockbuster entry in the Plan B video, which for real really is seriously coming out. Torey Pudwill gifted unto High Speed Productions two Thrasher covers this year, but does his wiggly armed comet orbit close enough to the magazine’s star to get him over?

Dylan Rieder: Our black leather pant-clad dark horse candidate, Dylan Rieder’s muscular pop and eye for Soviet-era public art as background flair got him onto the front of Thrasher earlier this year, sporting sunglasses to boot. For all those years of brutality when Heath Kirchart prowled under the radar, could Dylan Rieder’s zeitgeist-capturing turn in Bill Strobeck’s “Cherry” and Berlin residency — including that pop out of the noseblunt — in support of his latest pro-model wing tip be too much for the Thrasher camp to resist? No other name on this list brought nudity to the table the way Dylan Rieder has this year; levels yall.

Separately, if Danny Way repeated off the strength of his Mega-RampingTM “DC Video” part last decade, should Tony Hawk merit a mention for recording two parts this year with time left over to tame the Nessie-like hoverboard? Where does Mark Suciu’s MJ-sized “Search the Horizon” opus fall for Thrasher’s fiscal-year purposes? How many Wasserman Clients this year will garner a coveted nomination?

5. Cory Kennedy – “Pretty Sweet”

December 27, 2012

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Cory Kennedy projects a stony bro love for lakeshore living, jet-skis and macro brews, but watching his footage evolve over the years I think he really likes to watch Jake Johnson parts, and not just because he’s out there this year pushing his wallrides all over the place. Coming out of the Northwest Cory Kennedy has some grasp on grit and it was a pleasant surprise to see all the double-sided parking block twister tricks offset by crunchier fare like the fakie ollie out to backside 50-50, the hairy frontside k-grind and the fakie b/s nosegrind 180, moves that that also seemed calculated to combat all those backlit golden-boy profiling shots. He gets Love Park bonus points for the pop-up panel to the bench and in a video drenched with questionable ledge combos the crooked grind drop-down to switch frontside crooked grind ranks somewhere in the top ten. For these dudes like Cory Kennedy who can do it all it really comes down to what tricks go into their parts and there gets to be almost too many to list from this one, ranging from the switch bigspin to the fakie flip cracked backside over the handrail to the bigspin backside tailslide to fakie on the hubba to the nollie inward heelflip backside tailslide to fakie which, on paper, sounds terrible but became among the most-rewound tricks the first few passes through this video. The backside tailslide kickflip to backside tailslide remains zany.

Ty Evans’ Love Letter To Excess, In Which Even A Guy Mariano Part Sparkles With Frosting

December 1, 2012

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Thrasher Magazine’s Michael Burnett, who is one of the best writers in the space over the last decade, a couple years back wrote a simultaneously biting and loving intro to a Billy Marks interview in which he positioned the dude’s spendthrift and oftentimes fleeting love affair with “gadgets” and his generally relaxed attitude toward personal responsibility as fundamentally American personality traits, and some type of moustachioed, roast beef-grabbing mirror into which we all could gaze as the nation was tossed upon the horns of a fearsome economic decline.

There is a similar sensibility careening through Girl/Chocolate’s “Pretty Sweet,” or maybe more like a jittery animal instinct, allegedly governing a cultural attention span fragmented across mobile phones, social networks, flatscreen TVs and 3D IMAX movie theaters — beginning with an extended-take intro that dissolves into day-glo pyrotechnics and thumping electronic music with robot vocals, rarely lingering on one shot for more than a few seconds and deploying fireworks, special effects, time-lapse video and of course the super slow-mo. Ty Evans is eager to fish out all his tools as soon as the first part gets underway, chopping Vincent Alvarez’s more-Chocolatey-than-others tricks into a multi-course dog’s dinner determined to move as quickly between tricks and filler shots as fast as Alvarez pushes, with an aural nod to a previous Chocolate production before upshifting again to a third act, which naturally is soundtracked a custom-made song performed by a pro skater and a member of Metallica. Vincent Alvarez spins a 540 out of a curb cut and you blink and are dazed and wonder what has been happening.

And so it goes, as Hollywood celebrities again supply off-color commentary on session sidelines, dudes carve nearly up to the rooftops of buildings and Ty Evans reaches deep inside his bag of digital hocus pocus for other occasional curveballs. Many of these are not new ideas, as the invisible ramps and obstacles from “Yeah Right” make a reappearance, along with the souped-up slams from “Fully Flared” and some synchronized skating and crowd control that provided whimsy in “Hot Chocolate.” The slow-mo super cam is deployed heavily throughout, though in shorter bursts that add Hype Williams alongside Michael Bay and George Lucas as apparent inspirational touchstones for the directors here. There are some fun surreal moments, like the liquifying ledge and the suddenly multiplying boards, that signal some hope for a collaboration if Spike Jonez really were to exercise his “Malkovich” muscle.

The editing and production that are loudly at the center of “Pretty Sweet” takes their cue partly from the skating, which is as diverse a roster as Girl and Chocolate have ever recruited. Bowls, ledges, handrails, gaps, waterslides, ditches and the beloved mini picnic tables all are schralped upon by dudes whose ages must now span about two decades, including both dudes who have beards and other dudes who don’t. The Anti-Hero fandom from those summertime tours is in play, mostly by certain of the “Trunk Boyz” contingent, while a lot of the aging stalwarts tally new and lower-impact ways to spin and shove-it and flip out of tricks.

Some cosmic pendulum is aswing here. “Goldfish” arrived as the early 1990s’ obsession with slow-moving pressure flippery and brightly colored giant pants gave way to smoother and simpler tricks carried out from inside loose-fit blue jeans, and somebody out there would probably argue the case for Guy Mariano’s “Mouse” section setting some high-water mark for difficult tricks made to look easy with a minimum of fuss. There’s no goofy boy outfits strapped on in “Pretty Sweet” but a smith grind laser flip comes off like sprinting in the opposite direction, skating-wise. The younguns too embrace the spirit of excess, as they toast foamy beers and are tracked by camera-toting helicopters and dolly rigs that advance the filmer slowly through a grove of trees to capture a lipslide in the wild. Cory Kennedy, whose mid-backside tailslide kickflip attains the rare status of super-technical tricks that look as good on film as they did in a sequence, casually precedes one handrail NBD with a four-trick run. Such is the embarrassment of riches in Torrance that Eric Koston (Eric Koston) is relegated to a cameo in someone else’s section.

There is a sunny and light-hearted something bouncing through “Pretty Sweet” that, combined with the production values and skits reminded me sometimes more of a mid-period Bones Brigade movie rather than any of the Girl/Choco catalog in particular. This one doesn’t feel so much like it’s got the chip on its shoulder that “Fully Flared” did — Guy Mariano’s comeback is sealed, Marc Johnson seems to have exorcised some of the demons that drove him to record a 15-minute part and abruptly retreat to a mountain compound, Eric Koston no longer carries the weight of the team on his back by way of benchmark tricks, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard seem content in a shift toward full-time mogul status. Chico Brenes shows up and does his nollie heelflips and Jeron Wilson is not sweating it. Also it seems weird to think of someone like Brandon Biebel as a veteran pro, but at this point he definitely is one.

Like with “Stay Gold” some loose talk has gone around to the effect that “Pretty Sweet” will be “the last big video” which, well, you can just imagine how that must hurt the feelings of the poor DGK team members who are getting ready to release their first full-length in about two weeks’ time. You do wonder though what the next Girl video may look like, as there will for sure have to be one unless Ty Evans is conscripted to tote camera machinery through some Eastern European forest in service of the next crop of Disney-owned “Star Wars” movies. Can a lineup underpinned by Mike Mo, Cory Kennedy, Alex Olson and Sean Malto in four or five years’ time command the same gravitas and hoopla as something like “Pretty Sweet” or “Fully Flared” without the decades-deep vets on board? With the VHS-fetishizing movement alive and well, will Crailtap be forced to double down on high-definition recording devices and co-located editing engines? Could there one day be an entire section of after-black editing hammers?

Who Will Win The Great 2012 SOTY Race, Potentially The Final SOTY Determination For All Eternity, If The Ancient Mayans Are To Be Believed?

October 3, 2012

Fall officially is upon us and the crispening air is thick with rumor and innuendo as professional bros vie to acquire SOTY status in what could be humankind’s final trip around our sun, depending on whether or not you subscribe to certain apocalyptic theories. This site, which previously floated a bunk theory regarding Freddy Gall potentially being awarded a small golden figurine wearing a backward golden hat and short pants, is not so cocksure as to entirely rule out a galactic realignment racking our beloved magnetic poles on Dec. 21, upending convention and fermenting a cataclysm alongside several shortages of encased meats. There are some who say the recent projections of a 2013 bacon shortage may represent an early warning sign.

In keeping with this internet page’s longstanding tradition of a stiffened upper lip we nevertheless brush off certain galactic problems and consider probable front-runners for this year’s SOTY.

Justin Figueroa, alleged front-runner, has all of the stringy hair, yellowy teeth and poor hygiene choices that represent hallowed wishstones of the Thrasher lifestyle, and he has given generously of his volatile handrail riding unto Jake Phelps & co this year and those past — his 50-50 to ollie out over the steps in that Lizard King roadtrip series was some straight video game nonsense and expectations for his section in the (Thrasher exclusive, natch) upcoming Baker Boys production are riding high, particularly after he clear-cut much of the stockpile from his recent ad photo archive for the Shake Junt vid late last year.

Nyjah Huston has on offer a largish contest win in his Street League championship and a reality TV show-worthy redemption song narrative to sell, if Thrasher is buying, though you may prefer to believe their executives in the market for more unrated fare such as the XYZ video or the Menace “Epicly Later’d.” Cutting the dreads and ties to his dad-manager may have helped and Nyjah Huston no doubt pushes the big tricks, but his major video part moment was late 2011, and does Thrasher care about big-money contests as opposed to their own small-stakes, spot-specific ventures?

Vincent Alvarez seems in certain ways like he should be a readymade Thrasher success story, multidisciplined, not too beholden to fussy technical skating and traditionally clad in work pants. “Pretty Sweet” and the Skate Sauce vid represent a tall-pour rail drink elixir that ought to put him at least in the conversation. He’s not flown too far beneath the Thrasher radar, running the year’s first cover for Lakai’s KOTR win. One downside, he may not have enough tattoos.

David Gonzales is a young aggressor with boss moves, a Thrasher cover photo and the near-requisite web-exclusive video part complete with Judas Priest, copious black denim and various throw-up-the-horns poses. There’s no point denying the high-test handrails he gets on, even if he does some of the time wind up basically steering backside onto a previously frontsided obstacle with not a lot of other imagination at work. If I had a vote I’d have a hard time casting it for him, though his video part last month is real good and for sure the best thing yet he’s documented, but then again, I don’t.

Mark Suciu can be the sleeper submission, spending the past year-plus roving the countryside, oozing tricks and video footage as he ascends the sponsorship ranks. For those counting High Speed Productions-specific scoring he put his landmark Atlas shop section on Thrasher’s website, put his “Cityscape” part on Slap and as a Bay Area representative has toiled away not just at SF spots but also in and around lesser-seen urban San Jose. Since he’s legally still an amateur he may not have the needed gravitas to command the hot SOTY spotlight, but if this dude does not have a pro board in the works by year’s end something wrong and you can reasonably assume the galactic realignment is affecting the workflow on earth.

Ryan Decenzo comes off a little like a knuckle-dragging rail fighter in the Nyjah mode but with generally more thoughtful trick offerings, and this year has made some nominal Thrasher waves via his KOTR MVP turn and some choice photos here and there. Maybe not enough to win the big nod, but Jake Phelps has a well-publicized soft spot for Canadian burlies, and regardless it’s interesting to someone somewhere how the one on Darkstar at this point seems to have eclipsed the one on Plan B.

Cory Kennedy is our dark-horse pick, harboring a formidable head of steam in the way of sequences and the odd clip here and there over the last couple years, plus time logged in a King of the Road van and a prime year-end stage for deploying all his egregious footage bombs in the Girl/Choco video next month. The b/s tail kickflip b/s tail still haunts the mind. At this juncture Cory Kennedy’s a young pro with little but mind-boggling output on his resume, placing him in around the same chronological marker as Andrew Reynolds, Grant Taylor, Silas Baxter Neal or Brian Anderson when they won it, so he’s not too green.

Five Reasons Why Nike Snatched Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory On This Year’s KOTR

September 20, 2011

We believe sport is a lifestyle. It’s where we leverage that brand identity, that credibility. And it’s the biggest access point of all from a consumer standpoint. And you can see Allyson Felix, Kobe Bryant, referenced here in the visuals. These athletes are connected with the brand in every aspect of their life. We can supply that connection. We can also innovate in every single one of these dimensions. I’m happy to report it’s working. We saw every single one of our categories in fiscal year ’11 deliver growth. We have strong momentum across the category portfolio for fiscal year ’12. Trevor is going to spend a little bit more time going a little deeper about what goes on in our category offense in a few minutes.
–Charlie Denson, Nike brand president, fiscal fourth quarter earnings call, 6-30-11

Alas, Charlie Denson will be forced to stammer and cough his way through any analyst questions pertaining to the credibility of Nike’s King of the Road squad this Thursday when Nike Inc. delivers their next batch of quarterly results to shareholders. Vegas odds had the Koston/Oneill/Kennedy/Wair/Taylor fivesome as heavy favorites to handily lick the Vans/Dekline/Lakai teams, in a fancy van to boot. But as we learned last night, that wasn’t the way it went down. Below the blog website “Boil the ocean” looks at five reasons why.

1. Video game eyes
Video games taught a generation of children how to coordinate their hand motions with what’s happening on the screen in front of them, and the revolutionary PowerPad did the same for feet. Horribly for Nike’s points-gathering efforts it seems like the company refused to spring for a van large enough to fit a PowerPad, leaving Cory Kennedy to suffer a normal Xbox.

2. Social media domination
At some point along the way Eric Koston appointed himself KOTR11’s all-points shit talker, weighing in on rival teams’ struggles to produce usable footage or have a backpack that does not look like a van, or randomly putting folks on blast as he saw fit. Several of his online quips are collected here.

“Sounds like that pussy Dan Z hit the wall. KOTR ain’t for the weak.” -@erickoston
“@carmelcreeper all those pussies you’re rolling with sleep?? Fuck dat!” -@erickoston
“Why would you cover up this beauty with a shitty-ass dreamcatcher @jaredlucas” —@erickoston
“Boring as fuck” -@erickoston
“I’ll take all 3 of you guys in the octagon right now!!!” -@erickoston
“When I say “weak ass!”, you say “bitch!”….weak ass, bitch!!! ” —@erickoston
“@ham_n_cheese maybe if you got the fuck off instagram and shot a goddamn skate photo, your phone wouldn’t be dead” -@erickoston
“Awe that’s cute!! You guys have a van shaped just like the dakine backpacks you make” -@erickoston

3. Ghostly spirits
Whereas the other vans were assigned relatively benign starting points such as Seattle and El Paso, Nike began in Albuquerque, N.M., one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.A. The white paper “Haunted New Mexico: Ghosts of the Southwest” tells the legend of a hacienda that is haunted by spirits, and other bone-chilling stories. Is it possible, that Nike’s black van fell under the spell of a wayward phantasm, or they erroneously bought some haunted gas?

4. Internal group strife
All the pics of the Nike folks partying it up in the van are a classic cover for the stress of a group that is tearing itself apart in silence, or sometimes with sound. Shane Oneill quietly stepped off the merry-go-round as the competition heated up, despite (because of?) his team-manager egging him on to consume fast food and soda like his teammates Cory Kennedy and Grant Taylor. Tension was further ratcheted up by Phelps’ naming longtime Koston internet nemesis Leo Romero as Nike’s surprise guest, prompting a silent war fought with middle fingers and profane t-shirt designs.

5. Blaze of glory