Like a chanting guru with his beard on fire, Evan Smith seemed to ricochet through 2016 rifling off multisyllabic tricks and dense parts and crazed contest appearances in some type of glassy-eyed Zen state – Kyle Walker earned Thrasher’s top honor on some legitimately video-game scale handrails and showed impossible-to-fake poise on massive stuff, but an easy argument could be made for Evan Smith’s technical inventiveness and unpredictability, which didn’t impugn any capacity to keep doling out footage. Along with his ‘Zygote’ and ‘No Hotels’ sections, ‘Time Trap’ has probably his craziest line of the year, wallriding and blasting a giant 360 flip mid-hill bomb before whipping himself to the pavement on an ill-considered switch 360, maybe a good summary for Evan Smith’s ongoing arc – bonking trash cans and hurling caballerials over playground slides like those dreams where you can land any trick you try, which is maybe close to daily life for this dude.
Posts Tagged ‘element’
Mike Vallely’s One-Minute X-Games Part in the Blue Helmet Is Not the Video Part Your Summer Asked For but the One It DeservesJune 27, 2015
In his tactical 1970s business fable ‘The Lorax,’ Dr. Seuss venerated capitalism’s transformative power via a versatile garment dubbed the ‘thneed,’ a rangy soft thing wearable as a sock, a hat or an overlarge large glove, but also capable of covering bicycle seats, draping windowspaces and carpeting floors. Despite the efforts of various stash-pocket crafting footwear concerns and Foundation’s legendary cinch-shirt, the skateboarding industry has yet to hit upon its thneed. However, when pondering the thneed’s potential further function as grandiose metaphor, New Jersey strongman Mike Vallely has it ‘sewn up’ when it comes to the pro boarding career as a multipronged stepping stool or crowbar toward further pathways and trades, some better explored than others.
Lo, and consider: Mike Vallely alternately over the past 30 years has functioned as the hot-shoe am; deck-shape innovator; Steve Rocco cohort and nemesis in turns; launcher of at least six different board companies; slam poet; pro wrestler; pro hockey player; three-time rider for George Powell; vegan advocate; maniacal tourer; ‘Beef’-style DVD star and vicarious defender of skate honour; Black Flag manager; Black Flag singer; titular performer in Mike V and the Rats; founding father of Revolution Mother; supporting actor to Paul Blart; podcaster; and more recently, streetstyle helmet-endorser.
No longer shall Mike Vallely bear ‘contest-contending pro’ upon his CV, however, declaring the other day that his entry into this year’s X-Games ‘Real Street’ video contest “is definitely the last competition of any kind that I participate in.” Destiny may or may not have other plans in store for the windy and sometimes foggy path it so far has set for Mike Vallely, but for the time being it is hugely fortunate for the planetary public that such a competitive swan song doubles as the most singularly ‘summertime’ video part yet concocted this year – reflecting Mike Vallely’s many and sundry and sometimes peculiar skate-biz travels this section sticks out like a sore vestigial tail from those of his rivals, the oldest of whom runs 13 years his junior and none of whom wear a helmet or have used their physical fists to free the Muska from overbearing security agents.
Bursting with solar wattage, our-street-could-be-your-spot accessibility and curatorially mismatched sneakers, the ‘Real Street’ video makes a big nod back to Mike Vallely’s seismic ’Public Domain’ section using the type of era-specific construction that similarly made Etnies’ World park ‘Skate and Create’ entry one of the best things to come out of that TWS project. It’s been a minute since Mike Vallely put out a more straight-up video part that didn’t also include voiceovers and touring toil footage, which is too bad – trimmed of gravity and seriousness all the street plants and gonzo schrapling make some handrailing and wallie-concerned video parts recorded by comer-uppers half his age look grim and calculated by comparison.
Would a ‘Real Street’ contest win cement Street Plant Skateboards as the last stop on Mike Vallely’s deck-manufacturer endorsement dancecard and help produce a longer part like this? Why has Airwalk been left out of the hazy corporate seance that has attempted to revive nearly all other defunct or culturally comatose skate companies? Has Baby learned anything from his breakup with Lil Wayne that will make him handle things differently with Thugger? Will Mike Vallely be proven right on helmets and thus force future historians to re-evaluate Ryan Sheckler’s tweenage street footage?
For all the mumblings of Peter Pan syndrome and deferred adulthood attached to pro-level boarding careers and various man-amhoods, such pursuits are not built for the emotionally unhinged: Marking one’s day-to-day progress by recording hard-fought clips destined to be trimmed to a few seconds each and pasted into a Thrashermagazine.com web-video in a couple years’ time, clinging to fleeting victories during which a hammer is performed, landed and hand-on-death-lens marked, then past, perchance to plow through a 30-pack and next week try for another one. Anthony Van Engelen speaks of grappling with emotional voids after completing big video projects, and witness the deep valleys leading to an uncertain but undeniably triumphant peak in Jamie Thomas’ cold war with the not-long-for-this-world Clipper ledge.
Love/hate relations betwixt bros and boards are to be understood and forcibly massaged when circumstances demand. But what of those emotional snake-runs entangling teamriders and sponsors, which have taken to marketing themselves as families and brotherhoods? Chris Cole and his new Plan B family exhibited their unbridled giddiness upon his joining the ‘Tru’ Tank this month, cheesing and fist-pumping and committing various spelling transgressions as the onetime Zero heavyweight apparently shelved any plans to market decks on his own and instead chose to endorse monocoloured boards with skulls and guitars manufactured by another company.
It’s hard to imagine the Black Box camp not feeling some type of way after clicking on this clip, given Zero’s role plucking Chris Cole from the World camp and providing a hard-rocking hessian launchpad for the next dozen years of his career; to boot, Chris Cole just a year before seemed to identify with Paul Rodriguez’ abrupt flying of the Plan B coop as a cue to carve out one’s own deck-centric microbrand: “I think at some point Paul figured out it wasn’t about Plan B selling Paul Rodriguez skateboards anymore, it was about him selling Plan B, and that’s the point where you start to realize you could be doing something more.”
Any career-minded gnar merchant gathers a certain amount of lumps along the road, and Jamie Thomas like other pros-turned-entrepreneurs signed up for an extra helping by starting his own companies and seeing dudes he put on later pack up and leave. But Zero proved to be one of the relatively few sellers of skate goods to not only publicly acknowledge the departure of a team lynchpin in Chris Cole, but go so far as to post a brief retrospective video and wish him well.
Few others do — Brandon Westgate’s decision in April to join the Element family after seven years holding down the Zoo York family passed with little notice on Zoo York’s Instagram. Gino Iannucci’s Slap board-shaking jump to Fucking Awesome just shy of 19 years as a red block head drew nary an official peep from the Crailtap camp, though months later his former teammates can’t finish interviews without being asked about it. Whereas Mic-E Reyes headbutt sendoffs now rank as just another hallowed memory of 1990s realness and sour jpgs are a Web 1.0-ready if rarely utilized substitute, the default seems to have become an Orwellian electronic eraser applied to the team webpage, removal of the defector from relevant social media hype circles and moving on.
Like insurance and the signing of openly gay athletes, is skateboarding again in danger of being outpaced by major-league sports when it comes to acknowledging contributions from longstanding-but-departing riders? The Seattle Mariners deployed a warm statement of gratitude when outfielder Ichiro Suzuki bounced after more than a decade on the squad, and later publicly big upped him when he got his 4000th hit playing for the Yankees.
Besides agreed-upon stacks of legal tenders, what if anything do companies owe their independent contractors who toil atop handrails and within ditches in the name of endorsement deals? In Alien Workshop’s ultimately transient dissolution last year, some of the then-remaining abductees seem to have received no official word of the shutdown at all, much less any word of thanks:
Jake Johnson: It’s a strange one. Nobody said good bye. Mike Hill didn’t throw in the towel. It’s strange. It was on the internet.
Omar Salazar: I never spoke to anyone. No one ever called me, I’m just like, who is running this thing? They got rid of the only dude who I was talking to [Chad] who told me to stick around. And that’s how you get rid of people after all these years? I was bummed and then got hurt.. But no phonecall. No Rob Dyrdek phonecall… I mean jesus, who are you, man? I thought we were homies, bro [laughs]. Just kidding. Whatever.
…And I still haven’t got a paycheck like, oh, here you go, thanks for your time. Cause I could sure as hell use that for my medical bill right now. Thats all I gotta say about that.
Should the resurfaced Alien Workshop, now promoting a new tribe, offer some parting nod to the former pros who hung on til the bitter end? Did Rocco write the former sponsors of riders he stole publish thank-you notes, or rather did he demand such sponsors publicly acknowledge the service of their former riders for purposes of free promotion? Do digital thank-you notes count? What is the Instagram equivalent of a dismissal-by-headbutt?
Nyjah Huston is in the news again, this time seeking to reel in among the biggest and slipperiest, if not necessarily the most lucrative, fish of the skate-award realm: Thrasher’s often-legendary Skater of the Year award, which if nothing else remains a monument to the grand intangibles in a world increasingly dominated by quantitative benchmarks such as Street-League scoring points, unique page-views and ‘likes.’ Before running out the remainder of the year swilling macrobrews and lighting cars on fire before giggling and bearded photographers, Nyjah Huston in his just-released ‘Fade to Black’ part cranks the Old Metallica, dons several colors of Thrasher branded t-shirt apparels and deploys any number of massive backside lipslides, kinked 50-50s and blizzard flips onto handrails in his bid for the SOTY prize.
Like many Nyjah Huston video parts before it, this year’s comes packaged as an ‘event’ chock full of feats that go several stairs further than others have dared, and inevitably has ignited frothy debates over the ‘jock’ nature of Nyjah Huston’s skating. A gently probing analysis of the topic reveals a more fundamental question, however: Are skateboarders, who draw their identities from an athletic activity, by definition ‘jocks’?
When weighing such weighty questions, it’s helpful to begin with the basics. Webster’s dictionary defines ‘jock’ as an ‘athlete, especially: a school or college athlete,’ derived from the noun ‘jock strap.’ The stretchy but supportive apparatus that embraces sportsmen worldwide today originally was invented around 4,500 B.C. by Tunisian animal husbandrists, casting about for methods to speed spice-laden camels across North Africa’s arid plains.
Modern-day skateboarding has had little use for what we now understand to be the commoditized jock strap, eschewing more-formalized undergarment support in favor of short-shorts in the early days of taming backyard transitions, to the no-safety-net stance of the early 1990s’ goofy-boy scene. But as contest purses grew more lucrative, skateboarders began to gravitate toward more form-fitting garments previously regarded as the exclusive realm of Ed Templeton and Mario Rubalcaba. The advent of stretch denim largely obviated the need for classical support regimes and some skateboarders now even have adopted tighty-whities, a mindset unthinkable just a decade ago.
Gleaming trophies and contest hauls go only so far in rationalizing such an attitudinal shift, however, and so to better understand the gravitational forces and wearable whims at play, Boil the Ocean sought out H. Stoss ‘Boss’ Perot, professor of chemical and metallurgical anthropology at the highly regarded East Wangle University. Boil the Ocean Web Site was particularly intent on engaging Professor Perot’s viewpoints given his long-running research into the fibrous content of modern-day jockstraps and designer sweatpants, a marketplace now cornered by just three multinational gargantuates — ancient trade-houses of vast means.
“There’s far more afoot than people understand,” Prof. Perot claimed while on the phone from his research facility where he looks at elastic bands. “And far more at stake. I believe this shift reflects a systemic risk that has gone unaddressed, if not willfully ignored, for far too long.”
We departed immediately for Prof. Perot’s facilities, as per coded instructions faxed over so as to elude what the academic referred to cryptically as ‘overeager aficionados’ of his singular research. Yet upon arrival we discovered the once-immaculate lab, typically festooned with stretchy materials of all types, ransacked and smoldering with no sign of the professor. A breathy croak emanating from beneath a pile of debris in one corner offered sign that the destruction was not total, and we rushed to dismantle the wreckage.
A toothy, bearded maw presented itself; that of an orangutan, a specimen out of the northeastern hills that was known to me as Mike. “They’ve got him,” Mike rasped, before lapsing into a pitiable swoon of the sort only a highly intelligent primate can truly manage.
Our mission revealed to us, we sped directly to the local ammunition dump before taking a back-room table at a friendly ale-house to plan. Pots of coffee, roasted meat and strong drink emboldened us to our cause, which became increasingly clear to be a suicide mission. The orangutan kept silent counsel at the table’s far end, slowly twirling a Bowie knife amongst his spidery fingers as his cigar burned to a stump. “So it must be,” the creature muttered, to no one in particular. “The hard way, as it ever was.”
Bizzell Hutchinson, that tavern’s deeply whiskered proprietor, had time only to throw wide the door and bark “we’ve got company” before the mortar fire began. Rockets screeched down, peeling back the roof and walls in great fiery curtains as we scrambled across the floorboards and broken mugs. Half a chair careened by and through the haze Mike, machine-gun braced against his shoulder and clattering, still gnawing his cigar and faintly, grinning. The elastics cartel had located us.
TO BE CONCLUDED…
Stream-Of-Consciousness Rant Touching On Wet Willy’s Contributions To Small-Town American Culture, Emerging Markets Wealth Distribution And The Innate Hypocrisy Of Tree-Hugging Graphical Concepts? Jason Dill’s Got UJune 24, 2013
In case you missed it.
Jason Dill: It seems like skateboarding is like India. You’re either insanely rich or you’re fucked! There’s no middle class in skateboarding. We’re selling these skateboards to little kids. They like lame shit. Kids like some bullshit. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve done a lot of fuckin’ demos. I refuse to do them anymore because I don’t need to come to your town for 20 fuckin’ people who show up and no one cares. I’ve been to every small town at least twice. I remember a time when kids would come up to me to sign their boards and I’d tell them, “Hey, neither Wet Willy or Flame Boy is going to come and do a demo for you. Go get a different board and I’ll sign that.” I refused to sign a Flame Boy or Wet Willy. It just pissed me off. Talk about getting mad about something that is so far out of your control!
After that I pretty much refused to sign Element boards. Are you fucking kidding me? You know what I had the most in the world? It’s when people are like, “Oh, go green!” and it’s bullshit. I hate that fake eco green marketing shit. Power to the planet? You cut down a tree and glued it together with fuckin’ toxic glue and then paint your little save-the-world message on it? Oh my God, you’re a fuckin’ asshole! Wow! I hope they made a whole lot of fuckin’ money.
That’s the point where I can’t believe people still want me around. Wow. I’m still here? And they still want me to perform tricks on film? I still get to create? I still get to make my shit? I still get to lose my mind trying tricks and feel super insecure about my age and freak out? But the checks keep following me. The checks have followed me my whole life. The checks have followed me since my mother and me’s shitty little apartment that we had to move out of because she couldn’t afford to pay for it without me pitching in. I moved out onto my own and these checks have followed me ever since.
I’ve never lived a real life. Dyrdek’s got a Fantasy Factory? Great. I’ve got a whole fuckin’ fantasy existence. I got to spend 14 years being a drunk, drug addict alcoholic. I come back for one year and work and everybody’s high fiving me and you put me on the fuckin’ cover like I never did anything wrong? Are you kidding me? I want to stay in this forever! Go to jail, come out sponsored! That’s why skateboarding still fuckin’ rules!
Tossed On Stormy Financial Seas And Seeking A Leash, Billabong International Ltd. Eyes A Private-Equity Life RingSeptember 24, 2012
The surfs of capitalism are a-froth down under, where action sporting goods developer Billabong in recent weeks has found itself courted by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital and a rival private equity enterprise, TPG Capital, both of which eyed plans to acquire the ‘Bong, buff out its financial dents, slap on a new coat of paint and present a trimmer, more profitable extreme enterprise to the capital markets. Billabong, purveyor of the eponymous boardshorts supplier as well as tree-hugging-and-then-cutting-down skateboard maker Element and the glasses company Von Zippa, already has mapped out a path to enhanced earnings power but the investment mavens of the private equity world bring to the table their own ideas. Boil the Ocean has put its own venturing capital war-chest away in the attic in favor of more economically conservative armchair critiques of the contemporary scene, but nonetheless proffers a few strategic alternatives that Billabong’s management squad and its new partner may take under consideration in this heady season of risk-taking and risk-making.
Incentivize multiple disciplines among RVCA signess. The unpronouncable alternative sporting clothes unit already keeps one foot on the board and the other in the proverbial octagon of mixed ultimate fighting, a scenario that represents an elixir for investors thirsting after operational synergies. Thought leaders such as Jason Ellis already have paved the way for pro skateboarders to test their capacity for head injuries within the fighting pits of Las Vegas and elsewhere, and RVCA already counts within its skate ranks well-known aggressor types such as Kevin ‘Spanky’ Long, Josh Harmony and Nestor Judkins.
Set an aggressive hurdle rate for Mike V’s next contract with Element. Multiple stints with Powell and a record of high attrition among his own hardgood ventures virtually ensure that Mike V has another nature-future ahead of him at some point, plus he already got the tattoo. Vallely’s ceaseless grind, grassroots efforts to reach the kids and willingness to tackle new projects like pro wrestling have seen his board-selling abilities endure, but striking a deal that would require a certain number of pachyderm-printed decks, wheels and shoes to move before alotting incentive pay would be one way to maximize income before Mike Vallely roams on toward life’s next green pasture.
Sell more $46 t-shirts. New Billabong CEO Launa Inman last month identified a AUD40 million sales target for the Element, Da-Kine and RVCA brands. At the current conversion rate, you would only have to sell 909,091 such shirts to make up the difference, compared to about 2 million regular shirts at like $20, less than half the work.
Harness Element’s ‘back to nature’ vibe. “Just to give you a little bit of a sense, Element is very much a skate brand. It’s all about urban,” said CEO Inman, remarking to analysts on a conference call last month. “It’s a brand that has done well in America, we just need to refresh it.” This makes sense — the U.S. launched ebonics, rap music and the career of Keith Urban. However, it leaves another segment of the marketplace untapped: rural. The hinterlands match up well with Element’s rootsy ethos but there is also a smart business move to be made here, as there seem to be far less competitors. Google returns about 127,000 results for “urban lifestyle brand” compared to just 4,200 for “rural lifestyle brand.” There may also be opportunities for a smaller, more nimble retail competitor to entrenched big-boxers such as Fleet Farm, Farm & Fleet and Runnings’.
Avoid global financial crises when possible. Responding to a shareholder query in August, Billabong CFO Craig White acknowledged that the worldwide financial meltdown of 2008 may have set the parent company back some 10 years in terms of earnings, which had to be a bummer. Now the European sovereign debt crisis is afflicting Billabong’s wholesaling business in that region, all of it highlighting the import of extraplanetary diversification.
Ever since the skateboarding industry rebounded from its early-90s revenue nadir pros and companies alike have dreamed of releasing a video in November 2011, to reap the branding advantages of the 11/11 dateline that would occur only once in this thousand-year span. But several challenges arose. First several pros became drunk and forgot their plans. Later, California radio preacher Harold Camping predicted a rapture event occurring May 21, 2011, prompting several other parties to abandon their effort as sales were widely seen slackening after the end of the world. Then the Rev Harold Camping postponed his date further to October 21, 2011, and several more plans were waylaid. But that did not happen and now there are dueling video parts from Walker Ryan and Nyjah Huston, the only two with the sheer gumption to grasp hold of these powerful dates after so many others lost hope, and each laying claim to one of the all-ones dates that we are to see in our lifetimes, 11/1/11 vs 11/11/11.
True as it has been, there can only be “one” and the contest is rightly joined. Immediately Nyjah Huston rises to the level of advantagor because he has more letters in his name, and understood the ancient power of claiming runes. Nyjah Huston’s youthful mastery of alphabetics and numberology carries power over to him that allows him to jump down more stairs than the average person who is five or ten years older and several hundred six-packs heavier than he is. Nyjah Huston has chiseled these handrail tricks many times over in the walls of the Maloof caverns and soaked them for 50 days in some cauldron full of Monster Energy Drinks. His reward is to bathe in vats of gold pieces, gathering even more through the sale of an exclusive video clip on Itunes.
Walker Ryan was cursed with an over-functioning brain that burdened him from a young age, kidnapped by G-men and enslaved at a secret government facility known as “the Shop” where specially gifted individuals are studied. The curse drives Walker Ryan to spin rapidly in a switch backside direction, into frontside tailslides and bigspin flips. He has rejected society and bombs more hills than Nyjah Huston, creates a greater number of lines and more peculiar manuals like the switch wheelie switch backside flip, or the kickflip up onto the table at the new spot. This part is given away for free, signaling that Walker Ryan has rejected material objects.
The twin video sections clash because either one could be the same title of a terrible Kanye West CD, with the edge going to Walker Ryan because it actually was. The two clash at Rincon, with Nyjah Huston risking more limbs by kickflip backside lipsliding on the railing. Nyjah Huston’s backside flip nosegrind edges the one done by Walker Ryan, but Walker Ryan battles back since he never cried after losing an expensive contest on TV.
But in the ultimate end Nyjah Huston turns in an aggressive last couple of tricks (if that sequence wasn’t pieced together), but even still Walker Ryan turns in a lesser-hyped volume that applies a greater tax to the mind and has not already been ladled out over a thousand and one street courses, thereby decapitating Nyjah Huston in the great battle to release video footage on either November 1 or November 11 of this month. Each man’s thoughts and dreams are now his to know.
The above pic of a shirtless LL Cool J functions as a multi-purpose vehicle, in that it’s aimed to increase this blog-spot’s marketshare among female consumers of sk8 commentary [via content-farming] while also calling into question the much-ballyhooed (by Transworld this month) comeback of Nyjah Huston, 16-year-old Element prodigy turned hardgood entrepreneur turned Element prodigy. According to an exclusive interview given to the periodical, Nyjah’s two years in the skate industry wilderness nearly cost him everything, from sponsors to the coveted Maloof’s Money Cup, and his personal journey of becoming an older and wiser teen as a result begs the question of which other professions or pursuits involve making career comebacks at age 16 — those weird “Lil Miss” pageants? Gelding racehorses? Gymnastics?
Nyjah Huston’s skating doesn’t do a whole lot for me on a personal level (although much credit due for caballerialing onto the rail the hard way). Yet the TWS interview offers much to chew over. The Maloof powers that be preferred to hand the cash to a skater like Chris Cole who is backed by major corporate sponsors instead of a grassroots effort like Huston’s I&I although he retained the support of his loyal fans on the face book and even Element, who waited patiently and eagerly for him to return to the fold from the day he departed. He intends to shift his focus to technical skating as he enters the autumn years of his late 20s and is wary of becoming “lost in the core” if he strays too far from the spotlight of mainstream competitions and sponsorships. Manny Santiago is off the hook and he is more motivated than ever to expand his career.
It is possible this the drama of the recent years is part of a broader plan for Nyjah Huston. This entry on Yahoo! Answers! suggests that under a pseudonym he began planning his “comeback” as long as three years ago, even before he departed Element at the urging of his dad and launched what is described as a one-man operation in I&I skateboards, which found the then-ninth grader struggling to set up a profitable distribution model while simultaneously arranging demos and originating positively themed board graphics. Which leads us to ponder whether striking out on his own was a preemptive move to build anticipation for an ultimate comeback to Element and generate board sales revenue in the seasonally weak first quarter financial cycle, similar to the conspiracy theories that for years have dogged the introduction and eventual burial of the beloved “New Coke” recipe for all-time. Will Nyjah Huston’s market value, like that of Coca Cola Co., rise 2200% in the future and prompt an investment from the Oracle of Omaha?
Recalling a time when world records were giggled at
Element’s newest towheaded amateur Nick Garcia doesn’t exactly stand out from the current generation of ditch-skating ATV types, but there’s a couple things worth checking in this welcome-to-the-team video: namely the opening manual, the half-cab frontside nosegrind and the backside 180 magic-feet maneuver that takes a few rewinds to fully sink in. As far as that manual goes, at a quarter of the video’s runtime it’s probably one for the record books, up there with Hufnagel’s SF city block in “Roll Forever” and Vallely in that one older video I’m having trouble remembering right now. In terms of sheer distance, though, I think the one at the end of “Come Together” still takes the cake, right?