Peter Hewitt, whose influence in steering the Anti-Hero eagle may be understated, reframed the concept of suffering for one’s art in the run-up to the 2013 Skater of the Year award, in which he opined on who had or had not endured punishment and pain enough to have earned the nod. In an age where skating seems to owe career devotees less than ever, and when suffering of the physical and/or economic persuasions generally seems at an all-time high, the punishment ledgers ought to reflect that Jerry Hsu is fully paid up, as he further emerged this fall from his post-‘Stay Gold’ lull towing his best shit since ‘Bag of Suck’ a decade ago. His battered body, marinating gently in Los Angeles-area schoolyards, seems to have recovered and his moves in ‘Made Chapter 2’ are as liquid and surfy as he’s ever had – scootching down ditch walls, nollie heelflipping off walls, twisting out of multi-part picnic-table tricks that are comfortably in the hunt with any pursued by kids 15 years his junior. There probably is a list out there of dudes still coming with new tricks on handrails as they push into the third decade of their careers, and it would not be very long, but Jerry Hsu would be on it via this part’s ender.
Posts Tagged ‘Emerica’
Tilt Mode released ‘Man Down’ at the height of the collective’s cultural and military might, spreading its power across several otherwise drab and peaceable continents before the dueling demands of heavy duty sponsorship and real life in general intervened for many of the mode’s most heavily tilted. Here though was crew captain Marc Johnson having a good time in baggy shorts as the Rolling Stones stuffed their noses with disco-era stardust, enjoying his enormous talents amongst playgrounds and makeshift jumpramps before stretching it to its breaking point a few years later in the Lakai vid — his embankment backside 360 kickflip here is a much more relaxed edition than Alex Carolino’s in the contemporary Lordz vid, and tricks such as the switch backside nosegrind and the 5-0 backside 180 are for the ages. At a time when triple-striped shoes again adorn Marc Johnson’s feet after an acrimonious split with a shoe sponsor, it would be a treat to see him do another one like this.
Sun Tzu, the famous tactician for whom our shiny star and exotic animal exhibits now are named, defined total victory not as the end of any battle or campaign or war but rather when one’s opponent is paying hefty and recurring fees to operate a pancake franchise in his former territory, and comping the victor all premium toppings. This battleground truism rings as accurately now as it ever did in the comparatively topping-poor days of Mr Tzu, and in particular regarding the security guard, that grimacing, oft-charred coyote to skateboarding’s trim and turnt up roadrunner.
As skating’s profile has expanded and been deemed more lucrative by television channels, beverage conglomerates and concerned parents, the by-definition fraught and frosty security guard/skater dynamic has mutated its way through several forms and appendage assortments. Once squarely classified as paid haters indulging jock-minded power trips, the security guard has been alternately corrupted, co-opted and caricatured as the relationship’s balance of power has skidded and slid toward skateboarders, who today wield an an increasingly outsized cultural cudgel and cheap video recording equipments.
Travel back, if you would, to 2003, when skaterboarders in the employ of Emerica shoes took some of the early, halting steps toward sidelining security guards’ stature and dignity by filming the bribery of one in pursuit of jubble-set glory, the stairs’ blurry-faced would-be defender capitulating with the dangling of a $100 bill and a warbly ‘okay.’ That same year Rob Dyrdek did the concept one better, hiring his own security guard and cementing the dollar’s supremacy over the once hallowed security guard code. For a generation of stretch denim-purchasing yungsters the precedent was set; in subsequent Baker productions, Jim Greco would go on to good naturedly tussle with security guards and play at parlor-trick hypnosis for laughs, while elsewhere security went cheerfully ignored, or worse, reduced to asking politely.
Where does all this leave the rent-a-cop as 2015 staggers out? No longer threats and by now passe to debate, they seem to have been relegated to moving obstacles for those confident and daring enough to put a trick in their face, such as LRG nollie inward heelflip blaster Miles Silvas, or several, as the GX1000 consortium recently demonstrated in Japan. Ty Evans’ slo-mo drone ballet ‘We Are Blood’ positioned security as worthy if ineffectual water-fight opponents, while the prospect of fleeting Vine fame inspires some in the profession to abandon their fraternal code and defect.
Yet as security guards’ total defeat appears close at hand, one may ponder a certain pocket of emptiness in skating’s collective soul*, upon which a phantom finger may be hard to place. Bart Simpson, that 1990s skate standard-bearer and this decade a regular feature upon Justin Figuoera’s Ebay vintage apparel purchases, once complained of a similarly eerie malaise upon triumphing over his own authority dispenser, Principle Skinner:
BS: It’s weird, Lise. I miss having Skinner as a friend, but I miss him even more as an enemy.
LS: I think you need Skinner, Bart. Everybody needs a nemesis. Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Moriarty, Mountain Dew has its Mellow Yellow, even Maggie has that baby with the one eyebrow.
Has skating, imbued with greater cultural clout and youthful impunity, at this point effectively shaved the one eyebrow of the world’s rent-a-cops? If Mello Yello were pulled from the marketplace, would Paul Rodriguez’s tricks bubble with the same sweet zest? Will skating and security guarding only truly set aside their differences and come to understand and respect one another after they are both framed in a drug deal gone bad and jailed among the many bloodthirsty criminals they helped put away, forced to rely upon their wits, brawn and one other to break free, clear their names and reclaim their badges?
*could also refer to gaps in peoples’ Collective Soul album collections
As 1990s Gonz detritus goes ATM Click didn’t come away with a high-mileage logo like Blind or buried-treasure video footage like 60/40 but it may have had the most vibrant second creative wind under the joint vision of Mike Manzoori and Jon Miner, those later constructors of Emerica’s emerald-tinted movies. ATM Click’s hazily cluttered full-length ‘Come Together,’ later xexored by Andrew Reynolds for Baker’s kitchen-sink approach to videomaking once the baton passed from J Strickland, starts with Jon West scrawling tracers by night across some prominent West Coast spots, getting pitched hard and dealing out some lesser-seen tricks for the time (smith grind 180, frontside salad) years before Foundation, the frontside hurricane grinds and horror movies.
“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
“Recession over!” arose the jubilant cry across American streets and by-ways these past days, as consumers cheered on trucks, trains and cargo ships plumped with exportable goods, steady gains in housing values and now, the most recent leading indicator: yung Trevor Colden, wearer of the beanie and holder of the 2011 Tampa Am belt, discussed emptying his savings account, to the tune of $15,000, for the pleasure of leaving Mystery ASAP for the presumably greener* pastures of Brad Staba’s Skate Mental imprint.
Trevor Colden offered his account of the career-minded balling in a Thrasher website interview shortly after a similarly themed Instagram posting set off questions about his spendthrift approach to contract management.
The graphic that people are probably talking about the most was the one with the check. What was that all about?
That check is the check I had to pay to buy my way out of my contract with Mystery.
So you had a contract and wanted to get out early to switch to Skate Mental?
Yeah, I tried to call Jamie a couple of times and he didn’t answer. I talked to Bobier and he knew the situation and they were going to find a way to solve it. Long story short, there was no way he was going to let me out of the contract, no matter what. He was asking people for a lot of money and they weren’t going to give it to him so I went ahead and said, “Fuck, he’s not going to let me out of my contract, I’ve got $15,000 in the bank.” He was asking for double that. So I called him and told him, “Hey, I know you’re really mad at me right now. I just really want to make some changes. I can offer you $15,000. That’s all I have. I’ll come down there tomorrow and give you a check.” He said, “Yes, I graciously accept your offer. I’ll have Bobier meet up with you.” Then I started thinking, “Fuck, that’s a lot of money! Taxes are right around the corner! Shit!” So I called him back and offered him $10,000. That was still more money than he owed me in my contract. I was hoping he’d go for it. But nope, he wasn’t down. So I went down there the next day and gave Bobier the check.
Computer bash files worldwide can testify to the numerous keystrokes and characters deployed on either side of this heated matter in the days since, though Jamie Thomas’ side remains untold. Was Trevor Colden, into whom Black Box/Mystery presumably had invested valuable U.S. dollars, time and transport fuel over the course of his amateur rise, now looking to play fast and loose with legal terms to which he had agreed in the not so distant past? Did Jamie Thomas, who recently touched on the hardgood industry’s struggles in his own Thrasher interview, play needless corporate hardball with a youngster who apparently really really didn’t want to represent Mystery any longer? Is Skate Mental, which one might reasonably assume would pick up part of the tab for this kind of personnel wheeling and/or dealing, grinning through Doritos-yellowed teeth at all this? Absent details on guarantees, prepaid incentives and otherwise, does the math described above make sense?
Such questions invariably amount to little more than smoke and mirrors obstructing the real debate here, which as ever must harken back to that one other time period when America was emerging from a recession and war in the Middle East, Nas was preparing to release an album called “Illmatic” and a person with the last name of Hawk was performing pressure flips: the early 1990s. In the matter of Trevor Colden and his $15,000 check, is the true question not “who was more Rocco?”
Steve Rocco’s daring feats of team-raiding, fueled in turns by rampant money-throwing and sheer gusto, remain the stuff of slurred legend and at times serious documentary filmmaking. Gazing out upon the Pacific from his opulent trailer home, the gold fronts of Steve Rocco’s inner Bryan “Baby” Williams no doubt would have cracked a smile at the thought of a kid nonchalantly cutting a check to take his destiny into his own hands, and then plastering it across the bottom of one of his debut pro models (even if Trevor Colden’s dealmaking remains decidedly amateur-level). Or, Ipad in hand, might Steve Rocco have half-smiled and nodded in the general vicinity of San Diego, recognizing the real in a company holding a itchy-footed teamrider to terms that both had agreed, while sending a signal regarding expectations to other riders future and present, and providing a roadmap to other company owners contemplating their own next moves when top-drawer talent, if Trevor Colden should so be called, abruptly announces its intention to fly the company coop?
How much, if any, of the previously-quoted dollar figure represented Trevor Colden’s footage for his Skate Mental debut part? Are the excellent frontside noseslide, backside smith grind backside 180 and switch backside tailslide line offset entirely by an ill-conceived choice involving skinny camos and colourful socks? Would pro-level negotiator Rob Dyrdek have counseled Trevor Colden to instead ride out his contract til the end, to avoid burning bridges and potentially to help stoke a broader bidding war for his frontside k-grinds? Relatedly, is Alien Workshop thousands of dollars richer in hamburgers and hair grease now that John Fitzgerald and Donovon Piscopo are off the team, as suggested by the AWS website?
*Correct, a weed leaf joke
Beyond upping the previous bro’s ante with another couple stairs or a kickflip onto the rail, or stringing out lines to Stevie Williams-level length, Brandon Westgate in Emerica’s ‘Made’ video stayed stretching the boundaries of what seems plausible on a board with one of the more open minds working today. The SF hills keep luring him back with risky promises of driveways and front walks over which to blast tricks and suffer spills, just some crew-cutted kid in a sweater and jeans who these days happens to be carrying the Zoo legacy on his back. Brandon Westgate steps to chest-high rails and conducts thruster ollies over poles using legs infused with magnesium cores to help him grasp ultimate power, and increasingly it seems like he’s perfected his flip tricks also. If you were going to sit down and draw up a list of the craziest clips all year and had to pick one from this section, the strongest case could be made for the family-friendly tow job to the nation’s stoutest loading dock, one of those feats that grows gnarlier still as he cruises away and the thing towers over him.
In the latest sign that we collectively have abandoned our humbler roots in favor of active sporting trophy cups and lucrative endorsement deals, one of the cardinal learnings of the 1990s seems to have faded from memory. Like so much L.A. confetti pushed before the broom of a blind disco custodian, skateboarders* seemingly have discarded their collective ambition to be like rap singers.
Perversely, more than a decade and a half since the grand fragmentation of street-skating into various splintered genres and jeans fittings, it is the black-denimed and tattooed long-hairs who seem closest to maintaining a form of business mind-meld with the likes of Gorilla Zoe and Charles Hamilton. As the internet buccaneers set sail and pillaged the profitability of compact discs and DVDs alike, urban musicians, many confident in their ability to subsidize any lost musical revenue with the street kind, largely abandoned the blockbuster commercial release ritual in favor of flooding the zone with a steady stream of sometimes tossed-off but generally more interesting and immediate free releases, oriented around building and maintaining a support base rather than trying to squeeze a shrinking number of dollars from an antiquated medium, which requires cutting in any number of increasingly irrelevant corporate interests to boot.
One-off web-centric video parts aside you maybe could draw a thin and blurry line between the decades-old concerns that still insist on a multi-year production process with the requisite release-date pushbacks, monthly ad campaigns and internal deadline turmoil that seem attendant upon such projects, versus the Magentas, Palaces and perhaps Adidases whose trip clips and internet parts skew more toward the mixtape format, without the gravity of a once-per-decade project pervading everything.
Jamie Thomas a few years ago, when Zero was like 20 dudes/dudettes deep, described a certain plan to release annually a video that would tot up whatever footage had amassed over that time period and push it out upon the salivating masses. It sounded logical, but “Cold War” seems to have wound up following the established build-and-release pattern, maybe due to Jamie Thomas’ famous adherence to rigid standards. But now comes Emerica with the first in their “Made” series, this one featuring about one-third of their team, in what’s alleged to be a succession of smaller videos that would appear to harken back to the medium’s optimal runtime of 20-30 minutes, as laid down under interplanetary law by wizened walruses able to communicate telepathically and also with crude grunting sounds.**
Must this be the way of the future for all as TV-stand real estate is ceded to Roku boxes and streaming services? Has Skate.ly already become the unofficial DatPiff.com to the industry, and Quartersnacks its Traps N Trunks? If Mark Suciu has laid claim to the Gucci analog, who is our Lil B? Which company, if any, has the balls to release the skate-video equivalent of the long-feared “all-skits rap album”?
*Or maybe just those that don’t run companies***
**Nike purported to be doing something similar, but with 50 dudes on their team and several years between each video, it winds up being sort of a half-measure.
***That are not DGK or Selfish
Just as the nation giggles when a souffle collapses on a profane, ruddy-faced television chef, or when a ballet dancer stumbles and stubs her toe after an ovation-commanding routine, or a world-class chainsaw juggler accidentally slices his thumb off while buttering toast, we live for those moments when we are reminded that the enchanted feet that push through the piles of dollars cluttering the pro/am/flow universe are human as we are. This can manifest itself in any number of ways, including public intoxication tickets, sitting in traffic and woeful tax evasion charges. In the amateur-theme Transworld issue, knit cap devotee Trevor Colden offers a charming anecdote that humanizes one-store backside heelflips:
So tell me how you passed your permit test.
How I passed my permit test [laughs]? Well, the first time I tried to take it, I got 10 wrong. The second time, I called Bama–the Zero TM–there’s these little cubby-type deals, and I was just on my phone reading him all the multiple choice questions, and he’d just tell me which one he thought was right. He got eight wrong [laughs]. The third time I tried to take it, I took a photo of all the questions and sent it to Ian Berry because he said it would be 10 times easier for him to look at it like that, and then he would text me back all the answers. And he got eight wrong [laughs].
You took it four times [laughs]?
Fourth time is a charm. I went there and passed it.
All on your own or what?
No, I took a book with me [laughs].
Braydon Szafranski’s Personal Relationship With His Shoes Finally Catches Up To His Relationship With WomenFebruary 6, 2012
Hubba interview, 2009:
You’ve got some guidelines when it comes to slayin’ babes. Can you lace the public with some of your game?
It’s not necessarily that you can’t blaze the same girl three times. I’m just so obsessed with skateboarding and I like to do whatever I want at any time. If you end up blazing a girl a few times you’re gonna end up catching feelings and it becomes a lot harder to look at somebody and not give a fuck. I feel like I’m such a kid still and I’ve got lots of traveling and things I need to do. I’m not ready to get tied down. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a girlfriend, but I see some homeys dealing with arguments and drama while they’re on the road cause their girl is pissed they’re out of town all the time. At this point in my life I need to be skateboarding, traveling, hanging with the homeys and partying. I don’t see how I could have feelings for or take care of somebody else when I can hardly take care of myself.
ESPN interview, 2012:
What happened with Emerica?
It was one of those things where we both went our separate ways. They had to make room for new kids and I was off on my own path and I felt like after 11 years it was time for a change and to see something new. The whole thing is that we’re still really close. That’s still my family. I still go on trips with Miner and everybody else. They have my back, I have theirs for life. We both had different views on different things and I needed to go see what was out there besides one thing for the rest of my life.
Do you have a new home already?
No, I don’t have one right now. At the moment I’m enjoying life. Right now I’m wearing a pair of Converse, yesterday was a pair of Vans and the day before that was some Supras. I actually get to wear everything I ever wanted to wear, all those shoes I’ve been staring at for years and thinking, ‘yeah, that’d be awesome to get a trick in.’