Posts Tagged ‘Grant Taylor’

The Incredible Shrinking Alien Workshop

February 23, 2014

thanks_ohio

Singular as it was to see the Dill/AVE ‘Dear John’ letter pop up on AWS’s site last spring, it is wild to look upon the ‘Team’ page in recent weeks and count just four working professionals and two amateurs, half the year-ago number, and relegating 30-years-young 2006 Sect inductee Omar Salazar to de-facto elder statesman status. Setting aside Heath Kirchart’s retired jersey and the mercurial standing of Rob Dyrdek the absentee landlord, if you were to trim now-departed ridership from the ‘Cinematographer’ section (and keep the between-clip clips) you’d get about a three-minute vignette; just three parts from ‘Mind Field’ would survive.

The narrative seems to go like this: aging bones and the lack of any equity stake in the company that employed them for some 15 years, Van Engelen and Dill dipped after seeing the title to DNA’s corporate UFO change hands multiple times in recent years, in the most recent case supposedly finding out only after the fact that Dyrdek had abruptly flipped the company to sunglass investor and Street League licensor Pacific Vector Holdings. (‘Despicable Me’ teaches us that a vector possesses direction and magnitude, while Pacific refers to the ocean that abuts California.) Sans these sometime-roomies and industry spirit-guides, Ohio-rooted bean-planter Kevin Terpening quietly exited, followed by the long-anticipated departure of Mikey Taylor, Grant Taylor’s seemingly preordained leap to Anti-Hero and most recently that of onetime franchise fakie 360-flipper and recent DKNY booster Dylan Rieder*.

The slow ebb of branded professional talent from the AWS roster over the past three quarters probably does not rise to the level of the World Industries ship-jumping of the mid-1990s or the nearly absolute Toy Machine team abscondiment that left Ed Templeton and Austin Stephens to rebuild by themselves the house of the Transmissionator. The steady grabbing of coats leaves open the question though as to whether the exodus has yet run its course. The curb-carving hair-greaser known to fans as Donovon Piscopo is seen to remain close with the DAVE contingent; hardly a fortnight can pass without wallride impresario Jake Johnson being instagrammed in close proximity to Polar hardgoods and he has really started to do a lot of no-complies these past 18 months.

Are the quartet of Jake Johnson, Omar Salazar, a recently reinvigorated and spectacleless Tyler Bledsoe, and Gilbert Crockett — who for one has voiced on the record his commitment to remaining aboard the grand Alien trip — strong enough to sustain and refresh this hallowed and murky well of Midwestern weirdness? Did recent “collaborations” with the estates of Warhol and Haring* signal a grasping at creative straws for a company with one of the strongest track records of art still going? To what extent are DNA’s new owners vexed by the exits, versus what their financial models may have divined prior to agreeing the purchase? Will the excellently disjointed TOUROHIO clip from late last year come to be seen as bridge or a bookend? Are the personnel moves to be interpreted as some right-sizing of DNA’s pro-level staffing, given Josh Kalis’ recent comments to the effect that even the MTV-moneyed boardroom chessboxer Dyrdek struggled to keep the company financially viable?

*Noting the Dill and Ave note, as the industry becomes increasingly press-release driven it seems more and more strange when companies keep silent on the departure of marquee names, especially those of years-long riders, instead quietly deleting them from their websites and re-screening their boards.
**does the world need a Radiohead album of Beatles covers?

2. Grant Taylor – Thrasher SOTY Part

December 29, 2011

A lot of people did harder tricks and pocketed more soda-pop contest money in 2011 than did Atlanta hatee Grant Taylor but as a Skater of the Year he covers all the critical bases… fast-moving and fearless with little regard for private property and embodying the speed/simple/all-terrain concept that drove a lot of peoples’ skating this year. It seemed like Grant Taylor was doing his floaty frontside ollies, swilling domestic beers and bleeding all over the place in 2011 and the chips all got cashed in with two video parts at the end of the year, but I wound up watching the Thrasher-exclusive one a little bit more partly because of the seven frontside 5-0s, partly because the street edge seemed a little sharper, partly just because of the line at that one humpy spot in China that says up a lot about this dude all by itself. Then the windowsill 5-0 and the boardslide through the curvy handrails with a gap, this dude goes full tilt.

If I Had To Guess, Or Maybe Felt Like Guessing In A Semi-Uneducated Fashion

December 2, 2011

Image

 

…I would submit that form like this on rock-n-rolls moved Grant Taylor at least 40% of the way toward situating a little golden trophy guy with a backward hat on a bookshelf in Atlanta or wherever.

Big Anthony Speaks The Magic Words, And The SOTY Pot Begins To Bubble

October 20, 2011

More or less on schedule with the arrival of shittier weather and the autumn crop of video premieres, Boil the ocean internet blog spot/space examines potential and plausible candidates for Thrasher’s 2011 skater of the year, known as the only award without several zeroes behind it that matters in the streets.

Dennis Busenitz
If it ain’t this year then probably it never will be for the dude, and these younger guns toting heavier hammers and rumors of Jake Phelps remaining cool on him further slim the odds. Drawing the curtains on this year’s most recent Real production was another stripe up on Busenitz’s arm and from over here his big win in Tampa (SOTY of contests?) bought one of the year’s more culture-affirming moments, but kinda still see him getting passed over again — which in the long run will probably rank him with Muska and Jamie Thomas, since aside from Bob Puleo and Marc Johnson it’s tough to think of many dudes exerting more influence on the ‘modern scene.’

Torey Pudwill
Pro footwear, his own week on the Thrasher website and dating an internet meme of ridiculous proportions, Torey Pudwill has made strides since parting ways with his Alien flow packages. But was his midsummer Thrasher web dominance more like a marriage of convenience targeting unique page views than a lasting love affair? Calculated shot at SOTY status or not you’d be hard pressed to match the combos and waist-high ledge get-ups in terms of fireworks power, among both web one-offs and still-to-DVD productions alike. Pudwill would be a strong entry in a race that some years seems to go to the consensus candidate in lieu of a dominant MJ, Rowley, Arto or Daewon.

Grant Taylor
A favorite skater’s favorite skater type and for the past year-plus the recipient of many a slobbery, deep-throated photo caption via Thrasher and with fairly good reason. Grant Taylor possibly tops Leo Romero in attitude negativity and also is an ATV mold-breaker. Meanwhile he’s managed to run an impressive and Heath Kirchart-like streak of non-communication that’s admirable in our Instagram laundry-airing era. No video part yet but I like how he’s got good footage embedded in any number of crusty tour clips.

Brandon Westgate
Not letting up the bumps-to-bars pummeling he brought toward the end of last year, Brandon Westgate in 2011 also offered us a regular-joe turn in “Epicly Later’d” that sported a blue collar motif kinda at odds with the Marc Ecko corporate umbrella, but well loved by the canned beer/hair by Wahl set. Setting up shop on the San Francisco hills wins Nor-Cal points and he backside smith grinded up a handrail, Brandon Westgate is on his level.

Nyjah Huston
A 16-year-old kid who’s closing in on a million dollars’ worth of soda-pop contest prizes (this year) and yet somehow being packaged as a comeback story. For the purposes of Xcel autosumming stair counts and degree rotations onto handrails Nyjah Huston could probably claim the little SOTY statuette on the basis of Street League points, and he generously gave a week’s worth of photos and a humdrum interview to Thrasher not long ago. Together with a to-come internet video part this kid figures as a contender but even without the tween dreadlocks look there’s not a lot dramatic about his tricks.

Justin Brock
Every self-respecting blog list needs a dark-horse entry that makes some kind of rational sense, and for our purposes Justin Brock fits the bill. He is a southern beer swiller and a sometime loudmouth, he recorded a rollicking two-song section for the Real vid that peaked with a triumph over security, he jumped aboard KOTR mainly I think to support his bros and swill beers (and lose). Has there ever been a glasses-wearing skater of the year?

Fred Gall
Good internet lists designed to create arguments and draw precious web hits also often include a darker-horse entry that is controversial. Fred Gall in 2011 courted controversy by taking off his clothes (again), going to jail (again), and wallriding a moving bus. There is a ponderous blog post maybe to be written as a compare/contrast of Fred Gall and Sean Sheffey’s careers and legal trespasses and their shared inclination toward switchstance skating, but for the purposes of this one, I guess Sheffey never won SOTY either.

Five Reasons Why Nike Snatched Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory On This Year’s KOTR

September 20, 2011

We believe sport is a lifestyle. It’s where we leverage that brand identity, that credibility. And it’s the biggest access point of all from a consumer standpoint. And you can see Allyson Felix, Kobe Bryant, referenced here in the visuals. These athletes are connected with the brand in every aspect of their life. We can supply that connection. We can also innovate in every single one of these dimensions. I’m happy to report it’s working. We saw every single one of our categories in fiscal year ’11 deliver growth. We have strong momentum across the category portfolio for fiscal year ’12. Trevor is going to spend a little bit more time going a little deeper about what goes on in our category offense in a few minutes.
–Charlie Denson, Nike brand president, fiscal fourth quarter earnings call, 6-30-11

Alas, Charlie Denson will be forced to stammer and cough his way through any analyst questions pertaining to the credibility of Nike’s King of the Road squad this Thursday when Nike Inc. delivers their next batch of quarterly results to shareholders. Vegas odds had the Koston/Oneill/Kennedy/Wair/Taylor fivesome as heavy favorites to handily lick the Vans/Dekline/Lakai teams, in a fancy van to boot. But as we learned last night, that wasn’t the way it went down. Below the blog website “Boil the ocean” looks at five reasons why.

1. Video game eyes
Video games taught a generation of children how to coordinate their hand motions with what’s happening on the screen in front of them, and the revolutionary PowerPad did the same for feet. Horribly for Nike’s points-gathering efforts it seems like the company refused to spring for a van large enough to fit a PowerPad, leaving Cory Kennedy to suffer a normal Xbox.

2. Social media domination
At some point along the way Eric Koston appointed himself KOTR11’s all-points shit talker, weighing in on rival teams’ struggles to produce usable footage or have a backpack that does not look like a van, or randomly putting folks on blast as he saw fit. Several of his online quips are collected here.

“Sounds like that pussy Dan Z hit the wall. KOTR ain’t for the weak.” -@erickoston
“@carmelcreeper all those pussies you’re rolling with sleep?? Fuck dat!” -@erickoston
“Why would you cover up this beauty with a shitty-ass dreamcatcher @jaredlucas” —@erickoston
“Boring as fuck” -@erickoston
“I’ll take all 3 of you guys in the octagon right now!!!” -@erickoston
“When I say “weak ass!”, you say “bitch!”….weak ass, bitch!!! ” —@erickoston
“@ham_n_cheese maybe if you got the fuck off instagram and shot a goddamn skate photo, your phone wouldn’t be dead” -@erickoston
“Awe that’s cute!! You guys have a van shaped just like the dakine backpacks you make” -@erickoston

3. Ghostly spirits
Whereas the other vans were assigned relatively benign starting points such as Seattle and El Paso, Nike began in Albuquerque, N.M., one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.A. The white paper “Haunted New Mexico: Ghosts of the Southwest” tells the legend of a hacienda that is haunted by spirits, and other bone-chilling stories. Is it possible, that Nike’s black van fell under the spell of a wayward phantasm, or they erroneously bought some haunted gas?

4. Internal group strife
All the pics of the Nike folks partying it up in the van are a classic cover for the stress of a group that is tearing itself apart in silence, or sometimes with sound. Shane Oneill quietly stepped off the merry-go-round as the competition heated up, despite (because of?) his team-manager egging him on to consume fast food and soda like his teammates Cory Kennedy and Grant Taylor. Tension was further ratcheted up by Phelps’ naming longtime Koston internet nemesis Leo Romero as Nike’s surprise guest, prompting a silent war fought with middle fingers and profane t-shirt designs.

5. Blaze of glory

3. Grant Taylor – “Debacle”

December 28, 2009

Despite turning in one of the more rewatchable parts in Alien’s very rewatchable “Mind Field,” the one nit this blog-site picked was that Grant Taylor’s section could’ve featured more of his coldly controlled transition stuff, and sure enough a few months later the Lite-Brite perpetual motion machine that was Jason Hernandez’s “Debacle” vid for Nike delivered the goods. Much like the lime-green drug rug donned for backyard rain dances, Grant Taylor wrings extra mileage out of the classics (one-footer, stand-up frontside 5-0s in the deep end) without coming off like one of those kids who hurried to learn pivot fakies after all his friends quit frontside flipping the stairs down by the school. The roly-poly launch to quarterpipe transfer thingy is one of my favorites in this and still gives me the willies occasionally, even after watching this video dozens of times on the i-pod.

Walking On Broken Glass

June 24, 2009


Alternate corny post title: “Smash Hit”

Keeping Nike honest means awarding plaudits when they make the right moves, and firing out the fast, noisy, technicolor explosion that is “Debacle” amidst a summer of sweaty and bloated full-lengths qualifies as a win even if they hadn’t put it up in varying degrees of HD glory for free and speedy download. The powers that SB show they can learn too, deep-sixing the skits that mired “NBTT” (for the most part) and amazingly not playing out the car-skating thing… you’d kind of expect the predictable slow-mo one-trick intros centered on the autos.

Skating-wise Habitat’s transfer-happy Daryl Angel brings his brand of inoffensive modern skateboarding to spots in San Jose, Europe and, er, China, and wages his ongoing battle against the bland through two songs, but the little dude manages to turn up the heat around the time the half-cab feeble grind; the up-down Far East rail combo is a head-nodder, if a little predictable for someone to do at that spot, and he flexes gnar chops on the gap to pole jam and an AVE line reconstruction. Other shit like that f/s halfcab nosegrind and the kinked b/s smith point at potential but this dude’s footage needs an editor more than anything else. David Clark’s kind of a mixed bag; the sort of mellow, vibe-friendly tricks in which he traffics don’t stack up well next to the fireworks of a Nugget or Brock in most instances, but he’s not even getting over on style points here that much, though the hubba wallie is a heater. He might be on the Austin Stephens road.

Jolting between China, SoCal and points unknown, Shane Oneill and Theotis Beasley go blow-for-blow in one of the more effect tag-team/cameo combos recently, and for whatever reason the Nugget’s footage here went over better than his part for the novelty t-shirt purveyor Skate Mental… it could be the song, which probably is my favorite in a skate vid so far this year, or the Beasley backside double-flip, or maybe just the filming which is really on point throughout this whole production and helps the between-skating clips go down a lot easier.

Grant Taylor seems to be refocusing on which grabs look the coolest these days, moving away from his sophisticated take on 50-50 grinds in the Alien video, though he packs a cool block gap backside lipslide into his bud-green drug rug. A few months back I was kind of bummed that his “Mind Field” section didn’t have more transition skating but he roars through the bowls here, blasting this crazy transfer out of the whoop-de-whoops and puddle jumping with the bros before rekindling the dashed dreams of one Frankie Hill. The power beanie gets a lot of play with Justin Brock, who rumbles through spots like a rainbow-colored rockslide with a different array of tricks – bigspin grabs above the coping and a pretty impressive run through the pipes. Somebody more pool-inclined than I will have to determine whether a willy grind on backyard transition is legit, but if the sea-green stocking hat didn’t convince you Justin Brock’s going for it, that move oughtta help.

Really I think the hero of this vid has to be Jason Hernandez, who mixes Zero-style editing slices with some of the more interesting lifestyle clips (like David Clark in the window) to move “Debacle” along at precisely the right pace, clocking in under the critical 20-minute mark if you don’t count the credits. It’s a testament to restraint and judicious cutting, especially considering how a lot of filmers still seem held in thrall by the picture quality that HD camcorders afford. Now begins a new debate: is HD video destroying video grabs’ low-fi kitsch?

In Utero

February 11, 2009

“Mind Field” is a big meal. Beginning with the ams…

Grant Taylor is a hard one to pin down: all-terrainer of the new school, fresh-faced fifth-grader features with an affinity for graffiti(?), ramps and fits of grouchiness that could coax a cracked-tooth smile upon the craggiest faces of slash dogs. He lives in a bowl and reportedly spearheaded the construction of his own foundation spot, at the ripe age of however old he is (my guess, not very). Following the brief trick-list rundown in the Nike video and assorted cement park schralpage sprinkled throughout the Indy 30-year tour thing, “Mind Field” finds Grant Taylor sharpening his street teeth on some standard little-kid thrill chasing (big rails, big jumps) and other shit of a way different order: the half-cab backside smith*, the door bash and so on. Personally I would’ve liked to see more transition out of the kid, because I like that one thing he does with his arm when he lands, but it’s going to be interesting to watch where he takes things from here – I get the feeling he’s already foregone a probably assured career milking his ingrained Penny style on easy ledge/natural transition stuff. More to come, I guess.

Tyler Bledsoe I knew first as a midget in baggy pants who wore glasses and made periodic appearances in complimentary DNA calendars; we now know him as an upstart Oregonian with an affinity for headgear of multiple types, still-loose clothing and the ability to impress Rick Howard with frontside bluntslide variations across the USA. Hat wearin’ Tyler, as he is known to some**, practices soft-focus landings and Sean Malto dismounts and brings probably the greatest level of Lakai ledge flare to the Alien production; at times it’s like the honchos in Ohio opted to trade in their option on Torey Pudwill in favor of the next-gen edition with the kinks worked out. Bledsoe doesn’t have the off-kilter tech mindbender nature that Pudwill employs, but you’re less likely to fear for his pelvis when he’s bigspinning out of some tailslide six or seven feet off the ground. So maybe it was an insurance liability issue. Which would explain all the hats, to cover the glasses strap.

Jake Johnson we have waxed on, and waxed off, in this space previously… I’ll keep this brief: several viewings in, his section remains my favorite in “Mind Field” and I regularly sit up straighter on the couch when those kaleidoscopic twinkles fade in after Omar’s ovation. Johnson builds on the ambidextrous/low-tech approach taken in the Chapman video a year ago, with the limber flips and skyscraper rails, but he looks a lot more fluid now – on some kind of Nate Broussard puffy cloud even when he’s riding away from those colossal wallrides, or that hairball of a fakie heelflip.

*Also performed about eight or nine years ago by your boy, Bobby D
**some who read this blog post, anyway