Posts Tagged ‘Girl’

Stress Sticking And The Still-Potent Prognosticative Powers Of The Skate Vid Skit

April 15, 2023

For several years now, the skateboard video has alternatively been an object of fear, fascination, reverence and rejection for its uncannily accurate powers of soothsaying. Gaze glazey-eyed into its projection-, flat- or phone-screened crystal ball, and bear witness to a history of skits that at the time may have seemed whimsical or ‘snarky’, and yet with the reelin’ in of the years, have proven weirdly, surprisingly, sometimes distressingly true.

‘Propaganda,’ that late-period Powell + Peralta classic that captured Frankie Hill at his Kris Markovich/Pat Duffy/Jamie Thomas-anticipating prime, not only foresaw the concept of skateboard coaches and the streaming video-enabled, ill-favoured detour into skating-themed game shows, it also previewed the concept of skater-endorsed credit cards. Quartersnacks.com told of how Girl’s 2004 epic ‘Yeah Right’ teased special effects-enabled tricks that mostly would be done for real less than a decade later, and in 1996’s ‘Mouse,’ Rick Howard’s run through the woods wound up setting the stage for any number of dirt/grass/log rides soundtracked to Motley Crue power balladry and dissonant guitar squalling some 30 years on. The ‘DC Video’ skit on Brian Wenning’s untimely fade-out proved sadly prescient.

Do such Ouija-like properties, invisibly guiding fingertips from rubbery remote buttons or factory-slick smart-screens into ‘real world situations,’ extend beyond the realm of the seven maple plies, the urethane wheel and the alloyed hanger? None less than Aaron ‘Jaws’ Homoki this week suggests that it is so.

“Stickin’ is lame,” groused the world-weary narrator of ‘The Parallel,’ a chapter toward the back half of Girl’s 1993 video debut ‘Goldfish’ that functioned as a cautionary tale about making your passion into your job, and as a post-Plan B statement of purpose for Crailtap brain trust. Lance Mountain portrays a youthful pogoer who progresses from carefree driveway bouncing to focused questing with the homies to jaded pro, freighted with pressure and expectation, until casting off the spring-loaded shackles of professional pogoing. If the metaphor was lost on the viewer, the title card drove it home with all ten fingers wrapped ’round steel handlebars.

Yet in 2023, Year of the Iguana, the wry parable seems to have proved out. On Insta*Gram, Aaron ‘Jaws’ Homoki this week related fond memories of shepherding a crew of pro pogo stickers around his native New Mexico for a tour vid of sorts by pogo brand XPogo, entitled ‘Spring Break II: Tha Breakening’. In it, top pogoers footplant off walls, do BMX-style bar spins, rollerblade-style shoe grabs, bounce off rocks and trees; one dude does a no-handed backflip. There are some rail and stair-set double runs with Jaws his own self and elsewhere the pogoers do their thing near needle-sharp cacti and in slow-mo before arid mountain scenes, conveying a certain feeling of freedom that is to some extent universal in vibe.

But within the pogo sphere there is also pain, and pressure. There are repeated, gnarly slams amongst concrete slabs in the ‘Spring Break II’ vid, and in a separate XPogo summer trip to NY vid, a brutal 10-foot slam to some stairs. Dalton Smith, one of the aforementioned New Mexico spring breakers, speaks in an earlier interview on the stress and rigours of the professional life:

“During those Pogopaloozas I was a ball of stress, a rubber band about to snap, quiet and always plotting my runs, I was barely there. So I basically would black out right before big air started and then I would come to after holding my trophy. I wanted to win palooza so bad, my body mind and spirit were all geared towards that single task. I had no room for feeling anything.

After the competitions I felt satisfied and ecstatic, reaffirmed in my skills, but I also knew it was all bulls**t. Competition, especially one as loose as palooza, is never really about who is the best but rather who can show up and perform for this sliver of time with immense amount of pressure behind them. I am good under pressure, but I am by no means the best or gnarliest pogoer and I never have been. Palooza is about getting together and sharing our culture, experiencing each other and bring the sport further and further into the world. After competition I always felt empty because I knew that that trophy didn’t solve a damn thing going on in my heart, I still wanted to jump, I still had to prove myself, I still wanted to progress.”

Could Dalton Smith’s commentary on competitive stressors be cut-and-pasted, find/replacing ‘pogoer’ with ‘skater’ and ‘Pogopalooza’ with ‘XGames’ or ‘Street League,’ and be dropped into some pro skater interview from anywhere in the past few decades? Are pogoing videos right now recording skits that will foreshadow the future of still-more esoteric subcultures yet to fully emerge? With the skate video skit generally a lost art these days, are all remaining future-predicting powers now concentrated in the hands of WKND and the occasional Crailtap/MandibleClaw effort — or does the growing skit scarcity suggest no future whatsoever?

Mike Carroll Comes Out of Voiceover Retirement As Niels Bennett Puts On A Transatlantic Pants Clinic

March 4, 2023

Have all the myths been made, all the great tales handed down, chiseled into stone tablets, and pulverized into a fine powder to be taken up and lilted unto the planet’s corners, crannies and nooks? Sometimes, a bro wonders. Several eons ago, in a dinosauric age, dispatches from ‘the pro scene’ and available industry hype were parceled out in monthly-arriving periodicals and less-predictable videocassette releases, strained through the keyboards and mouse-movements of editors and film-o-graphers. The stories that were had were the ones that were determined to be told, in the decided style and length, sometimes fine-tuned for drama and legendmaking and lulz. 

Amongst the signature tools in the big box of Transworld video production values during their late ’90s/early ’00s heyday was the voiceover, a concept previously explored in such vids as Foundation’s ‘Rolling Thunder,’ and seasoned with that signature TWS Pro Spotlight sauce to deepen narratives and make parts like Henry Sanchez’s ‘Sight Unseen’ comeback or Marc Johnson’s upper-echelon arrival in ‘Modus’ land harder, linger longer. Through the voiceover, Brian Anderson taught a generation of kids the powers of visualization; the story of Cliff Coffman’s kickflip led to a reconsideration of football players everywhere, and Mark Gonzales anointed John Cardiel an ‘Original Coors.’ Around the time of the Great Recession the voiceover lost favour, occasionally resurfaced by the history- and vibe-mindeds such as Pontus Alv and Mark Suciu, but more broadly buried by the cinema verite wave of raw files, video-part commentaries and IG stories of name skaters’ meals and home improvement projects that have torn away the proverbial curtain and obviated much of the more choreographed mythmaking activities. 

Daly City backside smith angler Mike Carroll not only was a prime featuree of the Transworld video heyday, he also for years was a voiceover heavyweight, channeling a uniquely 1990s alloy of sarcasm and self-deprecation to assess his own neuroses in ‘Modus Operandi’, speak on tour life in ‘Beware O The Flare’ and lament slams in ‘Harsh Euro Barge.’ For much of the past decade Mike Carroll has shifted into behind the scenes roles as Girl has installed a new generation, while simultaneously remaining retired from voiceover work. 

Until this week, as Niels Bennett, among the more incandescent lights shining forth from the Crailtap set in recent years, brought forth via Free his spectacular ‘Heroes/Helden’ vid, replete with soulful music, popped tongues, switch bs 5-0s and tricks done the hard way across multiple time zones and tax jurisdictions. The vid makes resourceful use of Niels Bennett’s great fortune in filmers, parceling the Chris Mulhern-filmed US stuff and the Torsten Frank-filmed Euro stuff into halves, which are stitched together via a Mike Carroll voiceover, expounding upon Niels Bennett’s Crail-bestowed ‘Professor’ nickname and what’s described as a questing quality to his choices in spots and tricks. The vid is on the one hand another progression for Niels Bennett, whose tricks and ability never have been in doubt but here look stronger, perhaps elevated by a more grown visage and particularly a baggier cut of pant that seem destined for a @whatpantsarethose feature, or 10, in the days and weeks ahead. It also is a return to form for Mike Carroll’s voiceovering, the years seeming to have slightly weathered his sound but his noun and verb and adjective selection still in top form. 

Did some of Tom Snape’s pants game, long regarded among the sharpest in any hemisphere, rub off on Niels Bennett during the course of filming Adidas’ still super-good ‘Reverb’ video? Did you get the Guy vibes too on those nosegrind revert tricks on the one lil rail? With Mike Carroll having ceded the spotlight to successive generations of Crailtap pros and yungstars, is it nice just to hear his voice

Girl Joins The Hardware Wars, And So Potential Planetary Destructions Must Be Contemplated

February 3, 2023

Beneath a grimly monolithic sky, ‘Punxsutawney Phil’ waits dreaming — until hoisted by the scruff and slung aloft for the mirth of the masses, and to pad the pockets of his masters. On this day, in the spatial and rugged year of 2023, the befurred savant speaks blind his truth — no easy escape from winter’s brittle grasp — and summarily is returned to gaol, industrial animal pellets a paltry but scrumptious reward. And then it is done.

Over in the hardware game though, hope springs eternal. Girl Skateboards, the southern California hard-good concern that has also previously employed a rodent mascot, of late is promoting to potential buyers a newly innovative bolt design under the banner of ‘Longneck Hardware.’ Presumably modeled upon bottled beers, the bolts feature a mostly smooth length, topped with threads only where the tip protrudes beyond a truck’s baseplate. The concept is geared toward battling a scourge that the Girl IG has named ‘baseplate blowout.’

Is your board rattling or making an undesired turn? Over time, the friction of your hardware threads rubbing against your truck holes can make them oval out, causing truck wobble. Our Longneck™ Hardware has reduced threading, to minimize that wear.

Purse your lips and whistle, for a moment if you can, past the graveyard’s worth of coffins rattling with attempted mounting hardware innovations from the last several decades — BridgeBolts, Diamond’s reverse-threading of the nuts into the bolts, and the mighty Thunderbolt ones that you pounded in with a hammer. More fearsome still is the current bolt-market, saturated as it is with colorful combos and projects that exist partly to fund trips for teams of multi-shoed/boarded bros, and as vehicles for premiumly priced soft-goods with unique designs. In this realm, titans such as Diamond Supply Co., Shake Junt and Bronze 56K jockey for position, and woe to the interloper who finds themselfs underfoot.

In this sense, Girl’s arrival is auspicious — and potentially courts global disaster. During what likely was several years of R&D devoted to the Longneck hardware’s innovative design, there have been signs and siguls of an ancient power, moving here and there. In various vids, long-forgotten t-shirts and hoodies have been sported anew by the likes of Jordan Taylor, Kevin Tshala, Nico Marti’s one homie at the end of ‘STILL’, and even Chocolate’s own Erik Herrera, carrying the name of onetime hardware deity Shorty’s.

To HeckRide, Erik Herrera related the mysterious circumstances by which the HORTY sweater came to his possession:

How long were you working at Goodwill? And is that where you found that Shorty’s hoodie that was in your Welcome to Chocolate part?
I worked there for about three years and yeah, that’s where I got the hoodie (laughs). I just remember some guy dropped off a box of a bunch of skate stuff and just took it.

Similar to how drilling humans’ erroneous awakening of the so-called MUTOs in the 2014 biopic ‘Godzilla’ aroused the blue fire-heaving avenger from his own centuries-long slumber, resulting in several instances of property damage, has the increasingly active hard-ware space set in motion a revival for the long-dormant spirit of Shorty’s? Can the Muska be assume to be involved in such efforts, given his recent e-vending of classic Shorty’s decks? After all these years, does the Silverado remain the longest-lived and most-influential mounting hardware innovation? At this point, has ‘Solo Jazz’ come to rival ‘Fulfill the Dream’ for classic status, and does ‘Shrimp Blunt’ best them both in terms of music supervisions?

10. Hosea Peters — ‘Interlude’

December 22, 2020

Until such time as the Crailtap executive management team entrusts Chocolate’s ‘20s to Carlisle Aikens, Jordan Trahan and the uncommonly smooth Erik Herrera, this Daniel Policelli-made Hosea Peters part does just fine. It has yet to be determined whether the fluffstache is an earnest Tim Selleck aspiration or a practical means of SEO-esque differentiation among the daily footage flows, but consensus supports his choice in tricks, pants, spots and associates — note the drape of the denim as his soles cling on after the kickflip k-grind, the backside bigspin, plus fakie crack pop. It’s as much the belt-looped cap and the bro’s board bowled over as it is the big 360, the double-set three-hitter with Carl Aikens and Erik Herrera, or any of the other tricks knocked out here, apparently over just a couple weeks.

Due To Skating To An Unreleased Steely Dan Demo And Other Services Rendered, Niels Bennett Hereby Is Named Your 2020 Skater Of The Year

September 6, 2020

Think about the totality of human history. Go ahead. It’s about 200,000 years. A long time, but not that long. Some highs (discovery of fire, the toboggan, automatic bill-pay), some lows (the extinction of the unicorn, alarming levels of space garbage), and in between numerous creamy middles. Yet perhaps the most shocking conclusion over this period is the relatively small number of people have set skate parts to Steely Dan songs.

‘Bro,’ a knowing bro may say. ‘Recall Mike Santarossa, later to be Prime’s most reliable nollie backside kickflipper, skating to “Do It Again” in a demo footage-heavy section for Powell’s “Scenic Drive” that also included the rarely spotted half cab to frontside smith grind 180 out.” This is a fair point, driven home with bloodcurdling abandon by the fact that the terminally smooth Tony Ferguson in ‘North 2’ later would reprise the same song. A deep-thinking bro may go on to highlight how ‘Dirty Work’ soundtracked the latter half of Dan Narloch’s boss level section in the late ’00s Midwestern seminality ‘Boondoggle,’ or that Studio snippeted ‘Boston Rag’ to open its 2012 ‘Mood Lighting’ project. It would have been really difficult for Logan Lara to avoid incorporating ‘Reelin In Tha Years’ into a ‘Boys Of Summer’ release at some point.

And yet all of these choices made by individuals over the last ~25 years fall short in their own ways, for instance by leaning heavily on the somewhat generic if well-executed ‘classic rock’ projections of the early Steely Dan catalogue, before they fully steeped their music in jazz arrangements, kicked off all those other dudes, and plowed through hundreds of millions of dollars in studio time for days-long pursuits of the perfect take. Here in human history, and indeed the planet’s own, Scott Johnston stands apart in Mad Circle’s Bay Area document ‘Let The Horns Blow,’ using ‘Peg’ in a choice that has reverbrated and frequently gyrated through time.

With untold eons yet to go, now comes Niels Bennett, onetime amateur for Girl, this week promoted into the professional ranks via the svelte and vaguely clown-themed ‘Nervous Circus.’ After introducing Australian ripsaw Rowan Davis, some frontside flip reminders from Tyler Pacheco, a couple Sean Malto clips that suggest he could at this point be older than 17, and four straight minutes of Griffin Gass’ thundering, early-Andrew-Allen-meets-Primitive tech, Niels Bennett sails in with a satisfactory-sounding backside 5-0 and a string of high-fives to his forebears. There is a Rick flip, a frontside heelflip bigspin at Fort Miley, a fakie frontside flip the hard way over the Keenan Milton rail in LA, a fakie backside nosegrind 180 out at New York’s pyramid ledges that must for sure have been done before, but this good? The switch frontside bigspin is a post-millennium take on that one planter gap a bunch of those dudes used to skate and he has previously provided Chaffey materials.

Mark Suciu, who may be viewed as a spiritual predecessor to Niels Bennett, embedded similar themes into his ‘Cross Continental’ part in, wow, 2012. But in addition to a vicious and strategically placed fakie ollie and the incredible looking bluntslide to backside tailslide across the Flushing grate gap, Niels Bennett presses humankind forward via the incorporation of ‘Let George Do It,’ a deeply mined demo gemstone cast off by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen early in their 1970s vision quest. The song is in one swoop a sturdy vehicle for Niels Bennett’s loose limbed and cerebral tricks, a nod to his probably more fastidious Chocolate forebear, and a recognition that musical supervision decisions still exist that will stand up across human centuries, while remaining beyond the psionic clutches of Youtube’s copyright beholders.

Are unsleeping and relentless song-recognition algorithms to blame for the Siberian unicorn’s untimely extinction? When’s the last time you turned up the volume when ‘Is There A Ghost’ began bleating out of the speakers? Are switch frontside bluntslides for Griffin Gass similar to a 50-50 grind for everybody else? Does the dreamsicle color scheming of Niels Bennett’s debut OG model fill you with a childlike sense of longing for times past, or an inescapable woe over spilled popsicle sticks coagulating into sidewalk blobs, and guiltridden memories of slain unicorns?

Can An Old Dog Unlearn New Tricks?

August 31, 2019

Before his untimely leap into the afterworld, Bruce Lee was fond of quoting a Zen proverb: “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” Thereafter, it became safe for humans, space aliens and various others to widely bite Bruce Lee, reformulating and broadcasting the sentiment via Hollywood space operas, superhero epics and carbon fiber manufacturers. Indeed, it is now hard to remember to forget what we thought we once knew about letting memories slip our mind in our communal quest to recall our true selfs.

The parallels between Bruce Lee and Guy Mariano by now are obvious. Both were born in the year of the dragon, descended from powerful family clans, and pursued martial arts first to defend themselves against street toughs and later as a path toward self-actualization and ‘total enlightenment.’ After beating up triad gang members, legend has it, both Bruce Lee and Guy Mariano fled Hong Kong for new lifes in the United States. The rest of the story you know.

Flash forward to the present, when over the past year Guy Mariano seems to be cracking out of some self-spun cocoon threaded with high-tech Nike shoelaces and stuck together with viscous, yellowish saliva. After his ‘Fully Flared’ second coming and a followup chapter in ‘Pretty Sweet,’ Guy Mariano’s remained largely off the grid since swapping out his decadeslong Crailtap affiliations for deals with athletic goods conglomerate Nike and a garage brand co-owned by once and future retiree Eric Koston. The question seems not whether a third act is in the offing, but what form it may take as Guy Mariano attempts that most daunting of combos, mid-40s to technical progression.

In the hypercritical realm of trick/kit/vibe deconstruction — and there is none truer, oh best beloved — Guy Mariano’s now-legendary mid-2000s comeback has become much debated as equal part pyrrhic victory. We got back one of the 1990s’ purest talents, the uber-cool embodiment of 1990s Los Angeles street skating, who clawed his way out of some hopeless cesspool and even then wasn’t satisfied with the Crailtap cruise-control chill program that dudes like his former self helped invent. Re-earning his spot involved Guy Mariano deeply in the ‘Fully Flared’ envelope-pushing ledge technicalities, and after again cementing his name atop those cultural totems he pressed on in ‘Pretty Sweet,’ questing after aesthetically side-eyed choices such as the smith grind laser flip, or the fakie backside tailslide varial heelflip body varial.*

Ruminating toward the end of the novel with the same name, Webber Grill inventor George Webber laments the impossibility of going “back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.” Whereas Polar would have missed George Webber with its recent and successful ‘Big Boy Jeans’ line, Guy Mariano’s trick selection of late teases the mind. Debuting for Thunder trucks last spring, he leaned on gap-hopping tailslides by the old sand gaps. Last summer he flashed a bracing switch wallride to switch frontside crooked grind and more recently has been frontside 180ing into a a fakie frontside flipper, a carve-up to switch frontside crooked grind with that right arm trailing just so, and a switch crooked grind to vicious fakie flip back over the curb. Last week he posted a teeth-chattering and really hard two-piece through LA’s brick volcanos, sans combos, and where the actual highlight may be that achingly familiar turnaround.

Does Guy Mariano’s recent internet output rekindle hope for a simpler, more classical trick repertoire showcasing that incomparable form, which clearly still exists, and perhaps is best reflected in sensibly baggy pants? Does the potentially related reappearance of the goatee serve as some sort of stylistic leading indicator? Would ‘Become Devoid’ be a suitable album name for a metal band named ‘Totality’? Could Guy Mariano recapturing something closer to ‘Chocolate Tour’ on the tech spectrum offer hope for a Rich Gang reunion? Before all is said and done could Guy Mariano’s skating in its autumn years circle back to the youthful simplisms of his SK8 TV appearances?

*?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Alex Olson, ‘Gnar Gnar’

July 9, 2019

Long before the techno music, the abdicated Girl pro slot and the post-‘Fully Flared’ shoe-sponsor shuffle, there was a plaid-clad spikey-haired yungster going off over a few sessions in London for a Mark Gonzales/Sam Salganik VHS-exclusive video project. In its way ‘Gnar Gnar’ captures the purest-form Alex Olson, with all the elements in place: the flannels, the poked backside tailslides, those gorilla arms, the frontside tailslides and backside ollies boosted for a camcorder still a few years away from being picked up by Palace.

4. Niels Bennett — ‘Doll’

December 28, 2018

Girl’s quarter century-heavy legacy doesn’t rest squarely on Niels Bennett’s scrawny, concrete-reclining-on shoulders, but after years in the murky wilderness of what’s cool with the kids, the Torrance boys could do far worse than the fakie-popping ‘No Hotels’ alum who sparked the ‘Doll’ October surprise before the opening skit. Niels Bennett’s form looks as good on Polar-pleasers like the barrier Gonz-comply and switch wallride as it does on the moves more overtly out of the Girl am playbook, like the long-haul, million-mph frontside blunt and the hubba SSBSTS. Two Niels Bennetts could probably fit in Brandon Biebel’s red XXXL, but his pipes-heavy line at 3rd and Army and run through the sand gaps could convincingly place this part in ‘Yeah Right.’

Legacy Maintenance And Mutation In The Days Of Goldfish Focus

November 4, 2018

The time was the early 1980s and in that potent cosmos knowed as Hollywood, stars were aligning so as to align several of music’s biggest stars and birth the greatest musical album ever conceived: Queen frontman Freddie Mercury cowriting operatic party anthems with Michael Jackson, the undisputed king of entertainment. Although their respective musical prowess suggested little beyond certified platinum plaques for days and lofty wages, the artistic chemistry would be fouled by an interloping llama of some description.

According to an interview conducted with the Times of London, Queen’s former manager, Jim “Miami” Beach claims that Mercury called him and said, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.” Jackson was also reportedly less than thrilled with Mercury’s behavior during the recording session. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Mercury subsequently fell out with Jackson because the U.S. star objected to Mercury taking too much cocaine in his living room.”

On the surface, it’s just another cautionary tale about U.S. llamas, rival species and greedy excess. More deeply, it is a story of personal collaboration, llamas, and the challenges of building a chemistry strong enough to stand through the years. Like many of the 1980s’ greatest lessons, one can draw a direct line toward Element Skate Boards, which recently released its newest video, ‘Peace.’ Twenty-six years into its branded lifetime, the Twigs parent is feeling itself, springing for the considerable talents of Emerica’s Jon Miner to sort a 60-minute full-length from its deep and diverse benches, theoretically to bolster Element’s mystique and power in the board marketplace, while handing a breezy, wet, and flaming hot baton made of dirt to a new guard.

And what of that baton? By the power of the bankroll, Element’s clung to some clout over these many years, overcoming eyebrow-raising maneuvers such as a Billabong-cobranded Times Square outlet store and major-league fan service to corral a talented but usually incongruous mixture of riders, ranging at various times from Julien Stranger to Jeremy Wray to Chad Muska to Ray Barbee to Dennis Durrant to Terry Kennedy to Natas Kaupas to Kris Markovich to Stella Reynolds. Tracing the OG team to Element’s roster as of ‘Peace’ — it is sure to fluctuate again soon — would require several pages for one of Thrasher’s nerds-only company lineage features, and would rival the Bible’s ‘begats’ for reader patience.

Tenuous as Element’s current iteration may be to the ‘Skypager’ lineup or even the prior decade’s ‘This Is My Element,’ Jon Miner gamely coaxes out a cohesive if unwieldy production, strung together with static long-lens shots and a fair helping of psych-rock pulled from the ‘Made’ bins. Bionic Barley heir Brandon Westgate cranks once more down the SF hills to Operation Ivy’s buzzsaw bounce, rocketing over a king-size street gap and frontside flipping what appears to be an entire loading dock. Granola-grimy Tyson Peterson pulls a shocker of a kinked rail dismount and looks as confident sitting on backside smith grinds as he seems to be copping thrift-store trouser pants. Dominick Walker’s TSM cover footage is bananas, Greyson Fletcher catches one of the season’s most lovely and frightening kickflips, the lanky Madars Apse’s Barcelona board bonk and similar antics read like a Polar tryout, or maybe raised glass. Terminally brolic Mason Silva is positioned as ‘Peace’s’ closer, boosting fakie over the back of a rail to 5-0 and uncorking one of the wilder bump-to-bar wallride combos in a while, but it is starry-eyed wanderer Evan Smith, again, serving as the current Element generation’s spiritual core — beautifully switch backside flipping a bench, helicoptering off that silvery wedge for all the Spanish oldsters, and perhaps most dangerously of all, attempting to break Marsellus Wallace’s cardinal rule after a wallie late-shove gone wrong.

Is Element’s perpetually churning team a strength or weakness? Amid the recent media campaign for ‘Peace,’ Tyson Peterson in Thrasher speaks on his longtime Element fandom in terms of Brent Atchley, a dude off the team 10 years ago — and Bam Margera, whose pickup by Element during his ascent to MTV reality television staple marked one of the more surreal team roster mutations from the Chris Hall and Harold Hunter days, or even Reese Forbes and Kenny Hughes.

Meanwhile over at Girl, a 25-year-old entity that has derived much of its powers from maintaining a direct link to its storied pros and past, the dudes seem like they’re trying to tell us something. “We know where we’re going/but we don’t know where we’ve been,” croon the Talking Heads to Niels Bennett’s pre-intro sizzler in Girl’s crackling new ‘Doll’ vid. “I can change,” bleats James Murphy in the obligatory, sentimental-yet-lighthearted closing-credits number, as those yellowy letters scroll. “We sit back on Malayan islands/sipping mixed drinks out of broke coconut bowls, we wilding” croons Ghostface Killah amid Griffin Gass’ punchy, driving last part.

It is the sound of Girl breaking with its past, to some extent; eight minutes of ‘Doll’ unspool before there’s any tricks from a pre-9/11 rider, and then, it’s second-genner Brandon Biebel. The OGs skate for only about 30 seconds in the vid, and whether or not that’s OK is moot in 2018 — the ravages of time and adult living make anything else unrealistic, and Girl’s new hair relaxer-rejecting brood proves more than capable of carrying the half-hour ‘Doll.’

The dozens-deep pro rosters and overwrought theatrica of preceding Crailtap productions mostly are shunted to the side, allowing viewers to marinate in Niels Bennett’s sand gaps line, bounding fakie over one of Venice’s fat ledges, Tyler Pacheco’s loosey-goosey nollie heelflips and frontside bluntslides, Griffin Gass’ brawling rampages through alleys and fountains, and that one kickflip backside noseblunt. There’s winks and nods to past bits like Rick Howard’s dawdling rodent and Keenan Milton’s Rick Moranis moment, but the generational shift at work benefits even the skits — session screenwriter Colin Read, of ‘Spirit Quest’ fame, captures Spike Jonze’s brand of winking creativity using basically a board and a camera for a worthwhile entry in Girl/Choco’s anthropomorphic board series.

As the human attention span shrinks to rival the goldfish’s, ’tis it better, in pursuit of longevity and countercultural heft, to regularly shed teamriders every few years or hold to the original foundation of dudes as long as can be? Did everybody take note of Tyler Pacheco’s fakie flip in this? What about the alternate ending for the board revenge skit? How come nobody ever coined the nickname Matt “Miami” Beach?

Who Wants To Ride For Girl Skateboards?

October 13, 2018

Finally, some shame — Rick Howard, in a sorely missed skate photo for a recent Lakai ad, included a disclaimer specifying that the Anti-Hero setup that the Girl impresario is very visibly tailblocking belonged not to him but rather to photographer Mike O’Meally. Set aside boring questions of professional obligation and instead marvel at how the asterisk is more surprising than yet another appearance by the clean-scalped eagle beneath a Girl dude’s feet. It is 2018, and Kanye West tells us from the Oval Office that “time is a myth.”

For much of the past decade, various Girl teamriders not actively involved in weightlifting and yearslong DL stints have often veered between devoted Anti-Hero fandom and at times making the Torrance empire built from EMB bricks and SoCal picnic tables into an effective subsidiary for the tent-dwelling bowl tribe out of the Bay. Brian Anderson, who would eventually join Anti Hero, has talked openly of riding the boards throughout much of his Girl tenure, while Cory Kennedy in recent years took only cursory efforts to make it look like there was anything else guiding him in, out and around PNW concretes. The van door seemed to fly open for such deck double-dipping with the fabled ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tours — an inspired combination at the time, a clear passing of some subcultural torch in retrospect — and subsequent collabo product runs, while Crailtap employed a team-building playbook that at times seemed cribbed directly from the stripey socks/Dickeys/blaze orange beanie set.

For longtime devotees of the Art Dump, SHT Sound and goldfish-toting retirement home residents, one wonders about dudes’ seeming lack of enthusiasm for skating their own boards at the same time the company’s been going through an at-times painful evolution, as the onetime family has splintered across the FuckingAwesome, Numbers, and other camps. For over a decade, damn near everybody wanted to ride for Girl skateboards. The World defection bomb-drop on the industry set up a 10-year run that elevated the original squad to all-time status and provided the currency, cultural and hard, for acquisitions to set up the next generation — Rick McCrank, Brandon Biebel, Robbie McKinley, Brian Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Jereme Rogers.

Halfway through the ‘00s though the unthinkable occurred, with Paul Rodriguez stepping out, for a rebooted Plan B of all things. A crack had appeared; more than ten years on, the skate biz has learned that its institutions are never immune to the cultural fracturing that has laid low the top-40 radio hit, the water-cooler conversation-starter, the very special TV episode. The exodus from Girl began with next-generation pillars Jereme Rogers, Alex Olson, and spilled over to foundational names Koston and Mariano.

Tyler Pacheco, Simon Bannerot, Griffin Gass and Niels Bennett want to ride for Girl Skateboards. As per their recent Thrasher interview, they skate the boards. This clutch of curly-haireds, entrusted to guide the venerable company through a third decade, keep the bases covered across wallrides, hill bombs, bowls and those Southern California schoolyards. They feature in Girl’s imminent and anticipated ‘Doll’ vid, an am-focused affair that somewhat lowers the stakes; with 2017’s ‘The Flare’ making no bones about the fact that OGs Carroll, Howard, and others are throttling back with age, ‘Doll’ augurs to present a clean slate that maybe can be judged on its own merits by kids with only a vague grasp of Girl’s weighty legacy. In the Thrasher interview, Tyler Pacheco eloquently suggests that he and his bros aren’t encumbered by the historical gravity of a Girl nod, though they’re down for the cause:

How important is turning pro for Girl skateboards to you guys?
Manch: Not important at all.

It’s not a goal?
Manch: No. I mean, I already know Mike; I already know Rick; I already know Chico and Kenny and everybody. Shit, I’m already pro in my mind! I don’t look at it like that. Yonnie went pro and that’s my fuckin’ homie. When he first went pro I was like What?! Then two months later it’s like he’s my normal homie I kick it with. But it’s amazing. I was psyched when he went pro. ‘Cause everyone else I knew was on the fuckin team, It’s just like Wow, we’re all a part of this awesome fuckin’ company. No matter how far it’s gone it’s just great to be a part of it. I’ve always looked up to it and I’ll always hold it high in my heart.

What is success for Girl in 2018? Will a pro board for the preternaturally talented Niels Bennett at long last put some respect on the Slap boards’ name? Could a slimmer budget, driven by general hardgoods market saturation and rising freight costs, steer ‘Doll’ away from the high-concept, high-def sledgehammer approach of the Ty era and back toward the shoestring creativity that scraped raw the underbellies of ’80s sedans and affixed a Charlie Chaplin ‘stache on Eric Koston?