Posts Tagged ‘Girl’

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 be aging beyond 17 years old, 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, robot cars have drawn first blood, 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 scammers, it’s difficult to separate dudes’ seeming lack of enthusiasm for skating their own boards with the company’s 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 not 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?

Lory Vincent, Call Your Office: The Enduring Legacy of ‘Haulin Ass to Hall and Oates’

September 23, 2018

Birthdays in the maple-and-urethane sphere are volatile aftairs, equal parts euphoria at making it thus far in compiling a body of work, and trepidation at drawing side-eyes for being past the prime, ripe for replacement or worse yet, parody. Ten years in, Powell, Girl and World were near the height of their respective powers; at 20, it was a different story, with partners and prowess faded, half-joking talk of curses and financial sponsors pondering various asset combinations to recapture growth. Make it to 30 and you are entitled to coast on reissues, at 40, open your own museum.

For videos it’s different, as the internet age places years-ago classics and ahead-of-their-time overlookeds into constant combat with the daily deluge of parts, semi-lengths and tour clips. Here, the skate-culture snake or cobra or whatever nibbles at its own tail, occasionally taking a bite: Witness Pontus Alv’s overt callbacks to H-Street vids in Polars’ recent opuses, Bronze’s highly eroticized Adio and Alien Workshop pastiches, Girl’s wink toward a Cory Kennedy ‘Yeah Right’ part in 2015’s ‘Wet Dream.’ Marc Johnson, promoting a new deck-and-t-shirt concern Business & Co., this month unveiled a YouToob mashup featuring some regularly referenced Neil Blender and Sean Young footage, along with scenes from recent Habitat collabee ‘Twin Peaks’ to say… something.

To call the history of single-artist soundtracked skate videos patchy is to be charitable. Element’s ‘This Is My…’ full-length, sonically appointed by Odd Nosdam, reclines couchbound on the mostly-inoffensive-but-barely-there end of the spectrum; on the other pogos Flip’s ‘Xtremely Sorry,’ cast out of a poorly-attended Midwestern Warp Tour stop on general principle. ‘Haulin,’ as well as higher-profile but less-on-the-line efforts like DNA entrustung Mr. Dibbs to usher in Habitat’s inaugural offering for the ‘Photosynthesis’ midsection, suggest dudes may have been doing it wrong. Some twist on Bill Clinton’s ‘92 campaign-trail warhammer such as ‘it’s the songs, stupid,’ probably applies.

At the time of its 2008 publication, ‘Haulin Ass to Hall and Oates’ struck many as an unlikely combo. For many years, the Bronx’s Big Punisher stood as skateboarders’ primary musical idol, an individual of limited means who traded upon his skill, creativity and sheer force of will to amass fame and wealth and extreme physical mass. Those were the dreams of many tween skaters. And yet on the low, Hall and Oates potentially surpass Pun’s achievements, while aligning closely with the evolving skate-ethos. Daryl Hall’s multi-instrumental mastery carries weight in skating’s still-going ATV age, and his knowing way with women — at least in song — serves as a high-water mark for the confidence skateboarders require to manage personal brands in a new and virtually streamy media environment. Separately, John Oates’ moustache exemplifies today’s ‘send it bro’ spirit. As a team they are the best-selling musical duo in history and have achieved success selling t-shirts at above-market rates, a cornerstone of fiscal prowess in today’s skate game.

Released 10 years ago this year, Ian Shulman and Tom Carter’s most enduring contribution to the skate video canon mingles Hall’s and Oates’ glossy but oft-dark tales of late-’70s love on the rocks with that damp grittiness particular to the Pacific Northwest. At a time when jangling indie rock reigned supreme in vid soundtracks and Transworld’s fading video legacy fell back on incense-scented vinyl, Two Hawks Young switch bigspin boardslides one of the chunky Hendrix rails to ‘Baby Come Back;’ Mike de Leon rocks fat tongue Reeboks and launches a serious wallie, while Daryl Hall stands stoic awaiting ‘Maneater’s signature sax bleat and on-screen text deadpans, ‘Montage.’ A yung Matt Gottwig sails a gap to nosegrind, Owen Jones hardflips into a wallride to fakie, John Oates ice grills the camera and Ryan Strangland flicks a magical-looking heelflip backside tailslide to fakie.

Will ‘Haulin Ass to Hall and Oates’ ever attain its rightful place within the skate video pantheon, or will it primarily remain valued for helping clear skateshops of lingering and unworthy kids at closing time? Must Joey Johnson’s nollie noseblunt and other ledge tricks truly rank among the greatest post-‘Trilogy’ uses of the Gideon Choi pants? Do you agree that Chromeo looked sort of shook jamming with Daryl Hall at his house?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Girl ‘Road Trip,’ 411VM Issue 39

June 24, 2018

Arriving shortly after Rick Howard and Mike Carroll joined forces with Ty Evans, this entry closed out 411VM’s midperiod and set the stage for the bloated, high-concept video escapades of the 2000s that would help sink 411 itself and eventually become an albatross for nearly all companies possessing the dollars to still attempt them. This clip also marked a historical juncture for Girl itself, featuring the handrail-heavy pickup Rick McCrank in his absolute prime and Eric Koston still ascending toward the height of his Sparkles-era powers. All the Ty-isms are there too: an intro that spans a third of the clip, stridently emotive techno-pop, high-fives and camera mugs, slow-mo. Rick McCrank whipping a switch ghetto bird on a battered QP, Mike Carroll refurbishing some of his ‘Modus’ moves like the nollie flip to backside 5-0, Rick Howard shove-iting into and out of a backside nosegrind, Eric Koston going the distance on a wiggly bar, everybody in Es shoes, launch ramps and an ostrich — nobody in 2O00 could touch it.

In an Age of Plenty, the Challenge of Getting Past Lavar McBride’s Arms When He Nollie Backside Flips the Hubba Hideout Stairs

May 21, 2017

The larcenous subtlety of the X-Games, now legal to drink at 22 years old, lies in its unassailable hamhandedness. From its early, lingering and loving embrace of the “extreme” label even through the market segment’s maturation into ‘action sports,’ to its endorsement of the MegaRampTM and multiyear employment of frequent seagull target Sal Masakela; even as contest-course stewards seek to more tightly bottle and present street skating’s outlaw allure, there could only be one competitive franchise when duty requires blurting onto the interwebs ten minutes of fresh video part footage from the likes of Ishod Wair, Tiago Lemos, Cole Wilson and Na-Kel Smith. If it isn’t the best contest, strictly speaking, it’s probably the easiest spoonful of corporate-sponsored tournamentation to be gulped amongst a medicine chest otherwise proffering antiseptic runs formulated with rocks to fakie, and board-in-hand youngsters hustling up embankments and across quarterpipe decks.

Between sequences extolling the powers of Home Depot’s flooring products, Tiago Lemos’ fakie 360 flip switch backside tailslide pop out and Ishod Wair’s nighttime run through Muni are ladled liberally onto a La La Palooza of skating scooped up over the past week or so. Consider: May 12, Adidas releases a ringing video from a London trip, loaded with Rodrigo TX’s impeccably swished-out technicalities*, the magic-footed Gustav Tonnesen and freshly resurfaced matriculant Mark Suciu; it is this type of clip Adidas’ Juice crew does best and crafts better than nearly anybody. A day later, quasi-Texan Keegan McCutcheon delivers a fulsome spread of shove-its and various relatables over bars, including the hallowed wallride shove. In there somewheres was Mark Del Negro’s ambidextrous arrival via Philly on Hopps, Mark Humienik’s Sable section boasting a blistering noseblunt shove-it, and a Niels Bennett footage dump from Venture, in which a wallie 50-50 on a rail and a humongous switch wallride draws another mop-topped gangler ever closer to the still-glowing OG bathroom sign. On May 17 yung Polar wonder-bowlrider Oskar Rozenberg put out a street-heavy part for Nike, going GX in the SF hills and helping shake the Brooklyn Banks from a seven-year hibernation. And then Thrasher began dropping the Creature video, with full-throated David Gravette and Milton Martinez entries.

A daunting and woundrous time it is for footage consumers, who entertain the challenge of processing and absorbing valuable experience points from video parts with nearly each meal of the day, to say nothing of posting and or in-person pontificating on each amongst one’s chosen bros. For those with the skill, mental gonads and ill judgement to angle for their own slice of the day’s skate video watching capacity, with all of its punishing fickleness and readily rendered harshitudes, it’s gotta be awful tough.

And yet there lurks another threat to these freshly scrubbed video parts, nervously approaching their public debuts with each pixel the upload progress bar adds. Like an icey iceberg sailing deeper into frigid arctic waters, this danger is largely hidden and only grows, sometimes with only small and pointy bits visible to the non-radar enhanced eye. It appears to you in the form of Lavar McBride’s arms, downward cast after flicking one of mankind’s greatest nollie backside kickflips down the Hubba Hideout steps in ‘Trilogy,’ twenty-one years in the past. Maybe it appears as Tom Penny blurrily pushing through the parking ramp in TSA’s ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ or maybe Steve Durante switch heelflipping into a switch frontside bluntslide, or Diego Najera’s still-incomprehensible switch varial heelflip. Those lionhearted bros offering up new video parts to the internet’s altar not only compete day-to-day with their contemporaries for its fleeting and capricious favour, but now with the entire history of what has come before.

Of the nollie backside flip’s many historical high points, are Jim Greco’s Baker2G edition or Jake Johnson’s in Mind Field able to command as many repeat rewinds as Lavar McBride’s one with the arms? Where were yall when Lavar McBride was trying to teach you to nollie flip at the DMV? How many minutes in a typical day need be devoted to consuming new footage so as to convincingly hold one’s own on the Slap boards? Where will you be for the X-Games’ dirty thirty?

*just for the record

As Skating Leads a Parade for Brian Anderson, Does a G-Code!!! Hat Remain Strapped to Its Collective Noggin?

October 1, 2016

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This week skateboarding rejoiced, heralding the justifiably jubilant event that was Brian Anderson’s coming out, while collectively exhaling at the acknowledgement of 10 years’ worth of rumors traded between parking-lot lines and across skateshop counters. Brian Anderson’s moment carries weight. Unlike Tim Von Werne’s buried interview and Jarrett Berry’s noteworthy/novelty cover turn for Big Brother, this arrives freighted with a universally beloved style, a caseful of contest trophies, parts in the best videos of their eras, and a Skater of the Year title in its most worthy form — a nod that proved out for years afterward. If you were to tally some imaginary checklist for gay people’s ideal skate ambassador, BA leaves few empty boxes.

Gio Reda’s at times shaky doc gets over due to Brian Anderson approaching the discussion with the same type of nonchalant grace that repopularized the hurricane grind, and steered a backside smith grind down the UCI hubba. There’s an all star cast of well-wishers, some understandable gravitas — BA’s simple reason for waiting this long to make his statement, being “freaked out” — and in the long tradition of skate vid skits there’s humor of both intentional (Biebel, Bluto) and unintentional (the hurried assurances that skaters are not Brian Anderson’s type).

Even with relatively little at stake as his pro career ticks past the 20-year mark, Brian Anderson deserves enormous credit for taking a step that can immeasurably help current and future gay kids who skate, and improve skateboarding’s increasingly tough-to-make case as a semi-lawless sanctuary open to whoever, be they misfit, malcontent, mordantly mundane, or otherwise. Even as skating emerges from the dregs of premium-extended cable packages to ascend the most lucrative podiums of international Olympic telecasts, it has failed to keep pace with even the most mainest streamy major league sports, those at which the four-wheeled persuasion still would look down their chipped noses. Gay NFL and NBA players already have identified themselves; some ex-baseball players have been out for years. Even the U.S. military, whose advertisements still draw derision when they grace skate mags’ supposedly less-conforming and higher-minded pages, six years ago dropped ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.’ For all the comparisons skating has drawn between itself and art, figure skating and rock music, it’s lagged these too.

If there is any silver lining the rainbow-coloured flag skating now heartily waves, it is that Baker’s ‘G-Code!!!’ hat sales may not have been in vain. Despite Brian Anderson’s sexuality having been more or less an open secret among skaters for more than a decade, to this blogging web page’s knowledge he never was called out publicly on it, nor put on the spot in any interview. Skateboarding is terrible bad at keeping secrets and in some sense it may have been assumed as common knowledge. But decades of ducking the law’s long arm, ignoring posted prohibitions and any number of other related illegalities seem to have kept some anti-snitching sentiment embedded in the industry. Missteps get called out — Jeremy Laebreres rowed back after an ill-considered Patrick Melcher recollection and Wes Kremer’s SOTY status didn’t absolve him from narrowed eyes after recently putting Smolik on front street. BA’s personal business is not in that pejorative realm, which maybe makes it that much more impressive that it wasn’t trotted out for him at some point.

Will BA’s big step prompt any of the supposed half dozen or so other gay pros to similarly raise their hands? Is this the type of after-black documentary hammer that assures Giovanni Reda hangs onto a pro-model slot on Viceland some five or ten years after he’s filmed anything? Where were Donny Barley and the Muska in the doc? How will history judge Andy Roy’s ‘snuggle bandit’ interview in the arc of skateboarding’s gradual embrace of its gay brethren and sisters? Could a renewed thirst to film tricks flow from Brian Anderson’s recently reinvigorated Instagram activity?