Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

Zoomin’ And Rona-Free In The Product Drought (No Bubble)

August 16, 2020

‘The Hunger For More’ was Lloyd Banks’ debut album for G-Unit Records, released in 1986 around the same time label boss 50 Cent was consolidating his ownership of American entertainment following a life-threatening beef with Supreme. Back then, the album title referred to Lloyd Banks’ climb out of poverty and physical risk-taking via the power of music, while still possessing an ambition to wrestle into submission other sectors of the media world. It stayed at #1 for 59 weeks and gave voice to a generation.

And it still coveys an important message, ‘in these challenging times.’ At first, it was easy being a skateboarder in the Covid-19 era. Street spots were left unattended, people got over any remaining hang-ups about smart-phone propping, and certain others masked up to get cool ninja-themed clips. Reality, as it is wont to do, eventually performed a metaphysical puncturing motion. Citywide quarantines and stay-at-home orders that hit skateboarding’s low-cost manufacturers in Chinese wood product plants and West Coast forges have, as predicted, evolved into rolling product shortages that have shops sending up IG signal flares when a rare shipment of wheels or trucks arrives — often what’s available versus those the purchasing manager’s heart truly desires. Amid rumours of woodshop walk-outs following positive coronavirus designations, the scene’s economics, as ever, follow the lead set by Deedz’ pants, hurtling back toward the early 1990s when kids in California skate meccas benefited from easier access to product via pros’ trunk sales.

Judging from the socially bubbling fishbowl of Insta Gram.net, though, professionals and widely followed amateurs so far seem relatively unimpacted by the coronavirus scourge. Aside from Josh Stewart’s presumed brush with the novel disease, celebrity skateboarders in the public eye seem to have broadly sidestepped the pandemic’s talons, at least for now — and this, without the help of a major-league bubble like in basketball or a or regional travel regime like in pro wrestling.

What is their secret? Like several other items, it can be found beneath the talented finger of Bill Strobeck. The long lens zoom technique, pioneered by Wm. Strobeck for the Supreme projects and these days aped by pro and bro filmers from California to Eastern Europe, for years has drawn criticism for badly obscuring critical spot context, muddling tricks and inducing nausea amongst casual viewers at levels not seen since the swinging fisheyes of the ‘Riddles in Mathematics’ period. But a properly muscled zoom finger, and sociable distance from which to post up and flex it, may be helping to keep both filmers and skaters Rona-free, provided they steer clear from hugs of the bro variety and otherwise after the trick or line has been completed. Disorienting, confounding and a stylistically dead horse it may be, the in-and-out-and-in-again zoom method could remain be the dominant style until biopharma conglomerates’ vaccine efforts make it safe for Beagle, Brian Panebianco and other Century MK1-wielders to cozy up downwind again.

Could a coronavirus-driven lull in fisheye angles lead to a buyer’s market on VX1000market.com, and is now the appropriate time to invest in the shrinking supply of Century MK1 lenses ahead of the inevitable, if slow in the coming, zoomy filming backlash? Or will sporadic Covid-19 flare-ups ultimately render close-up filming obsolete? Could skatepark parking lot product hawking lift 99%er pro incomes above the poverty line, and help to avoid any coronavirus risk associated with food delivery work? As hardgood warehouse stockpiles dwindle, are team managers nervously ignoring “boards” texts from riders?

ShipRocked On The Final Frontier

May 31, 2020

At some point on Friday, May 22, the last of skateboarding’s wavering, already-crumbly stylistic barriers came collapsing down. They fell beneath two different colored Nikes, kickflip frontside crooked grinding a waist-high handrail, beneath a pile of flaming skulls, zippers and rap-rock intonations, topped with Day-Glo liberty-spikes. Tally if you will from clay tablets and la smoke-hazed memory banks the most-ridiculed dress, music and geometry of the 1990s onward, and yung Vincent Nava stitches them all together and sails them down a 20-stair handrail; it is a wonder he doesn’t push his neon flame-gripped board mongo, or skate Nash decks, or sport an eyebrow piercing.

Time was, stepping out in getups cobbled together from Manic Panic-stained pages torn from a Hot Topic lookbook, let alone filming in these, was to walk out in front of the battalion of tastemaking industry tanks. It was only a little over a decade ago that Zero’s Garrett Hill made the decision to 360 flip 50-50 a handrail in pants with two different coloured legs, earning widespread ridicule and fun-poking questions that continue into the modern era. There was a time in the late 1990s when Ed Templeton’s artistic exploits and choice to wear slim(mer) fitting Dickies helped earn him his own semi-serious ‘Ed Hater’s Club’ among Big Brother readers. Before that, Jason Dill’s teenage angst over an Iron Maiden tee he hadn’t the courage to wear in the World era became a lodestar for his own journey of self-discovery via sleeveless shirts and cowboy hats that he himself would, in turn, later deride. Cairo Foster and Ramiro ‘Furby’ Salcedo were clowned for glasses and gauges, respectively.

Flash forward a few years, and Supreme poster child Tyshawn Jones clips up in his own bicoloured pants legs en route to a SOTY nod. Camo crossbreeder Stephen Lawyer offers in-depth insights as to his technique, while John Shanahan exchanges multiple Benjamin Franklins for custom-made Rugrats cargo attire. Ascendant Alltimer Will Marshall has turned Legoman hats, short stature and Canadian heritage — obstacles to so many Darkstar riders of years past — into careermaking assets. Recently, there was a fight over who should get credit for designing the Osiris D3.

Where does this leave Vincent Nava? On paper his Pig Wheels part, replete with a 14-stair backside noseblunt in a coronavirus mask, a furious cab backside tailslide in a line and a backside overcrook on a Heath rail, is to be reckoned with; draped in cut-n-sew cartoon character tops, chunky rap-rock guitars, literal chest thumping, leopardskin print patchworkcargos that would make One-Off John think twice, and profligate hairspray clips, it amounts to a gauntlet thrown down before the industry. But from ostensible gatekeepers, there was no hesitation: Within days, Ted Schmitz conducted a lengthy and glowing interview for Thrasher, no doubt scooping Jenkem. The typically acerbic Slap boards offered mostly praise for the skating and marveled over the fits, ‘like a character someone who’s never skateboarded before would make on Skate 3.’ Admirers have run up his IG follower count above 18K, and his video part views via Pig’s feed have surpassed those of recent footage from industry-backed pros and ams.

What is owed a skater like Vincent Nava — a career? Respect? Wheelbite in the rain? If Slipknot and Limp Bizkit are not a ‘bridge too far,’ then indeed do any still exist? Did Bronze56k years ago somehow set in motion this Pig Wheels production, which also involves two people named ‘22K’ and ‘Kid Bronze’? Beyond Pig, is Tail Devil the next logical sponsor for Vincent Nava en route to an inevitable co-sign from Supreme, via the ragged, patched-pantsed path blazed by Aidan Mackey and Ben Kadow?

Who’s Smiling In The Great COVID19 Footage Drought Of 2020?

March 22, 2020

“Country boy a tourist, say he looking for a brick,” Gucci Mane softly rasped in late 2017, spinning a crime tale of feast turned to famine on his ‘El Gato: The Human Glacier’ project. In between threatening to burn down rivals’ marijuana crops and sticking up for the Steve Harvey suit, Gucci counseled all would-be cocaine magnates on one of the several secrets to his own (past?) successes: keeping a side supply stashed to draw upon when your competitors’ plugs run dry, allowing Gucci Mane not only to continue peddling drugs in a thinly supplied market, but to charge a premium to boot. It is a story much like Aesop’s fable of the hardworking, pragmatic ant and the flamboyant, cocaine-addicted grasshopper, except in Gucci’s version the ant is an iced-out lion and it did not come out on Def Jux.

Today, as the global coronavirus pandemic reconfigures human and animal societies, it is again time to ponder Gucci Mane’s words. Indeed, time is all mankind has now, in an age of boredom and worried waiting. Instagram, the skateboarding industry’s outsourced hypnosis engine, sputters and coughs on limited fuel. Municipal and statewide lockdowns in the US and Europe have upended the long-running ‘Skateboarding Is Not A Crime’ conceit; with businesses and schools closed across continents and cities deserted, the question is now whether a spot can be skated, but should it? The athletic equipment manufacturers that are pro skateboarders’ most powerful employers have aligned with public health authorities and independent companies in a species-wide call to stay indoors and curb potential infection, inventing hashtag campaigns and video challenges to bide the time and sate the daily lust for ‘likes’ and follower maintenance.

Just like Gucci Mane’s secret bricks and pounds, the end result is pause pushed on the 24-7 content crush, a rain delay on the global, never-ending demo all had until recently taken for granted. COVID19-chancing renegade missions aside, today there exists a finite supply of footage that pros, ams, filmers, brand managers and TMs and bros now must determine how best to sprinkle and disperse as movement and sociable restrictions grow steadily more intense, and any endpoint uncertain. Just as sports TV channels dip into ‘classic matches’ and commentators regurgitate and eat their own punditry again and again, so do skateboarding’s content brokers and programming avengers have their own choices to make. With filming missions cancelled and even throwaway park clips now a limited commodity amid shelter-in-place orders, the wizened ants and ‘El Gatos’ who banked footage and resisted those tingly ‘for tha Gram’ urges shall be revealed; flakey, unhappy grasshoppers soon shall go wanting, forced to fall back on virus-themed #TBT variations and pontificating on road trips past, in between propping up their phone for off-the-couch flatground clips.

Has Thrashermagazine.com already implemented a wartime video-rationing programme designed to stretch its supply of releases to cover a widening coronavirus-driven gap in new productions? Will companies readying full-lengths increasingly carve them into single parts to dribble out over time, so as to command more homebound and content-starved eyeballs? Since it’s been about 3 months since his last one, does Mark Suciu already got a couple parts filmed and ready to go? If the COVID19 virus mutates and returns and forces further quarantines and social isolation, will the pressure on board companies, hardgoods distributors and independent contracting pros grow to such an extent that footage comes to be hoarded up and traded for exorbitant sums of toilet paper, pasta and ammunition? Should everybody just watch Justin Albert’s excellent ‘Flora’ vid over and over again?

Social Distortion, A Global Spot Smorgasbord And The Conundrum Of The Alien Workshop ‘Quarantine’ Graphic

March 14, 2020

Sometimes, it is difficult to recognize life’s crossroads moments until you are slapped across the teeth with the flat of a scimitar a-ship at dawn in the middle of the Indian ocean. Other times, destiny chooses you, hurling you toward your fate like a weightful pokemon lusting to crush its adversary’s arms and fingers. Bill Weiss is a man who recognizes choices, and stands ready. In the year 1973, he released arguably the peak of the Digital Video Magazine catalogue, ‘Get Tricks or Die Trying,’ which was a reference to rap singer 50 Cent’s concept album about hunting down and destroying archrival Buddy Rich. For many, it remains a seminal document for all ages and income levels.

Back in the human realm, COVID-19 caused by CoronaVirus threatens mankind, his economies and civic practices. Fear and sadness grip the world. Populations hoard, and now seclude themselves away. “NYC empties out in face of coronavirus,” says NBC. “Foot traffic has fallen sharply in cities with big coronavirus outbreaks,” writes the Economist, with charts ranking Rome, Tokyo, Seoul and Paris atop the list. Kron 4 News, which broke the ‘whistle tips’ story in 2003, says “coronavirus is slowly turning the Bay Area into a ghost town.” Meanwhile, passenger-starved airplane admission sells for 70% less than normal as the global virus threat empties out the sky.

Is this opportunity or temptation? Modern skateboarding trades in bodily harm the way backroom sharps deal cards, and stack big faces. Are weeks of coronavirus-induced fever, bodily pain, respiratory disruptions and potential death far off the more traditional days of soreness from pile-driving one’s self to the bottom of a spot, or months immobilized in a cast? At hand, potentially, is a global smorgasbord of lightly tended spots. But with the current bodily harm risk factor extending well beyond any carcass-hucker and any potential board-to-the-head takers on the session, should this smorgasbord be sampled, at risk of spreading hazardous contagion, prolonging the pandemic and risking further mortality? This once-in-a-generation* conundrum now stands before pros, ams, bros and barneys the world over, as security guards, business owners and other streetlevel authority figures hunker down to ponder societal fabrics and Netflix watchlists.

With the clock ticking on a skatespot supermarket sweep, are vans already rolling and trick lists compiled, prioritized and checked off? Does heightened anxiety and fraying emotion ramp the tension and aggression in any confrontation with those left to stand guard? Will rapidly shifting municipal, state and federal coronavirus responses place wayward skaters at risk of being wrung up on public endangerment charges for crossing city, county and state lines, whilst rubbing ungloved boards and body parts across ledges, handrails and other public/private properties? Should everybody just stay home, and invest in Kyle Berard-built backyard spots?

*hopefully