Posts Tagged ‘Habitat’

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 5 – Danny Garcia ‘Inhabitants’

June 19, 2017

Danny Garcia’s curtains-drawing part in ‘Mosaic’ somewhat was the Guy Mariano ‘Mouse’ part to Stefan Janoski’s preceding Eric Koston position, but by the time Habitat came with ‘Inhabitants’ four years later Danny Garcia was transitioning from hubba-gracing gentle giant to brooding, button-up troubadour. His flick though remained among the best on the market, regular, switch, toe or heel, and his early embrace of colourful socks and surf-loose trucks extends this part’s shelf life such that someone could release it today and generally remain in step with where things stand, similar to former Lakai compadre Anthony Pappalardo’s ‘Fully Flared’ section. Few dudes then or now can hand a switch heelflip with such grace, and dudes still aren’t that much doing frontside shove-it backside nosegrind reverts both regular and switch in the same parts. Even as he turned up the lilting psychadelia and the cruising, and dialed back on the thunder gaps, you can now and then glimpse Danny Garcia’s All City roots, like in that loading dock line with the switch shove-it nosegrind revert.

Rob Pluhowski Left Skating and Never Looked Back. Should More Ex-Pros*?

May 8, 2017

Former feather-footed kickflipper and current furniture hand crafter shocked and unnerved a freshly scrubbed generation of Instagramming careerists by summing up a decade’s worth of top-shelf sponsorships, parts in seminal videos of the time, and third-world nation touring under the steady navigation of Fred Gall, using a nonchalant trio of words that stripped the English sentence to its barest, basest components: “It was cool.” Further cows sacred to various strivers and Thrasher down-for-life aspirants soon trotted out for electric stunning and captive bolting: Being shown the door from an established career in skating was for Rob Pluhowski a good thing, he doesn’t skate anymore, and he doesn’t seem to miss any of it:

“I was 27 years old, I didn’t have a fucking board at 27 years old! And, I had a fucking kid. It was just a wake-up call. My daughter was probably only a year old and I was like what the fuck am I gonna do with myself? Like what am I gonna do. If figured I’d just like sever it, end it there, end on the highest note you can possibly end at without being one of those dudes like, what the fuck are you doing? Like why is he on a skateboard? I don’t want to look like a tired old man. That’s why I don’t skateboard today. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. I don’t want to be that dude. you know what I mean. Just leave it where it was.

Now that I look back at it, it just seemed right. I got out, and now where I’m at in life, I’m fucking happy, a pig in shit. That would’ve just taken this much longer, 32 years old, riding for Zoo York or something, like some hokey shit.”

Rob Pluhowski’s unsanded, unvarnished assessment of pro contemporaries, the skate biz in general and his former place in it attracts the same sort of grinning car-wreck rubbernecking in readers that any decent interview inspires, and for the time being helps to shore up that ever-eroding barrier between skating’s outlaw flavourings and what may lie ahead. But Rob Pluhowski’s commentary here differs from other, similar veterans’ tales, in that it’s dispensed free of any strings that might even tenuously tether him to skate industry machinations, or gooey threads of relationships that could coat an otherwise harsh and bad-sounding assessment with a sugary veneer of political correctness. It’s not even that he seemed unconcerned what people may think, but that he seems only vaguely aware that such people might even exist, and doesn’t seem much interested in sweating it too much either way.

In centuries past, once the beachfront fires for whale kill roared out the bulk of their strength, our bearded chieftans would sing softly to we youth: “If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s meant to be.” Salivating as we did for that first sip of icey whale marrow, we never gave much thought to their lyricism or breath control. But the saying, like the whales’ mewled curses upon humanity and our harpoon technology, has echoed through the ages. Did Rob Pluhowski love skating? With his Bob Puleo visage and mannerisms, he’s maybe too New Jersey to really get wistful. Is it possible to love it, leave it behind completely, and eventually be good with that? If so, what verdicts does this hold for the ever-expanding, and seemingly older than ever professional ranks?

How come Rob Pluhowski’s bearing and worldview seems relatively rare when stacked against numerous interviews in which post-professional career plans include packing boxes in warehouses, described semi-humorously but nevertheless with an air of noble sacrifice? Between the reverence here and as unlikely an art critic as Danny Way singing praises, should the late 1990s/early 2000s Alien Workshop and Habitat graphics be elevated to that same pantheon reserved for Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s World Industries era, and VCJ or Jim Phillips before them? Is it really we who loved Rob Pluhowski, and are now left to consider that we may have set him free and he did not come back?

*Yo it’s understood Pluhowski never was pro but stay with it for a minute here

The Man Comes Around

March 20, 2016

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Beyond physics-challenging hair and a stated disdain for clowns, there may be hazy similarities to be grasped at and drawn between Sideshow Bob’s remarkable mayoral run in Springfield and Donald Trump’s elbows-out steamrolling toward the Republican presidential nomination. Amongst the jittery fretters who sense authoritarian tones in the bouquet of Donald Trump’s bombast, Sideshow Bob’s courtroom declaration seems prescient: ‘[D]eep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.’

Erik Ellington, bigspinning Pissdrunk of years past and curator of his own famous locks, this week mused whether skateboarding has relinquished control over aspects of its greater, amorphous self. No specifics are called out, but if one were so inclined, signs could be observed all around: Erik Ellington’s onetime sponsor Active turning its fortunes over to a bankruptcy court; the sales of DC Shoe Co, Element and Alien Workshop to various holding companies; private equity’s purchases of Huf clothes and the parent of the Crail Couch itself. It is not difficult to visualize a future in which the ‘skater owned’ trope is quietly replaced with a ‘skater designed’ slogan similar to Apple’s California dreamt, China built taglines.

In one indication of the industry being divvied into ones who are sold and those who are told, Asphalt Yacht Club’s tour diary in the Cole Wilson TWS opens with a lament over Nyjah Huston jumping the tie-dyed landship for Swooshier endeavors (though not before fulfilling various contractual obligations for demos and signings that apparently do not also include skating spots with his erstwhile deckhands) before later fondly reminiscing on endearing tour missteps by Blake Carpenter, who the article highlights as another teammate who absconded for the Portland sneaker conglomerate. While quick to apply that familiar disclaimer of forgoing any hatred towards money-getting bros, the Yacht Club also claims some pride in its stepping-stone status: “One year you’re a controversial upstart who no one thinks is going to last, the next year you’ve got so much juice that you’re suddenly the farm team for the heavyweight champion of the world.” In a recent interview Habitat’s former Floridian bluntslide titlist Ed Selego similarly foregoes any hatred toward Nike Inc payrolled skaters, despite a lengthy passage arguing that company’s alleged policy of requiring shops to carry large quantities of potentially wack shoes in addition to the desirable ones led to the closure of an MIA outlet, and subsequent calls from bill collectors:

“Nike was the biggest problem for us. We had many good years selling their product, but at the same time they pushed tons of product on us that didn’t sell. They used shops like ours for years to establish the Nike SB brand. Then they opened up distribution to all the corporate stores and started selling direct to consumer. Being the number one shoe brand wasn’t enough for them. They had to exploit the brand to appease Wall St. and their shareholders. They did this with no plan in place for all the skate shops that struggled over the years. They loaded everyone up with a ton of debt then dumped us. It’s really irresponsible for such a large brand to do this and harm the very industry that they have come to be a part of. There is no better example of corporate greed.”

Such cautionary tales don’t appear to resonate: Lakai recently ceded two of its longtime Euro promoters, JB Gillet and Nick Jensen, to Nike. Heavy odds are on Danny Brady decamping for Palace-heavy Adidas in the near future, which recently hoovered up DVS honcho Paul Shier and former Lakaiers Na’Kel Smith and Miles Silvas. If it is a two-way street, the inbound legacy ‘skate’ side is peculiarly ill-traveled.

Do Sideshow Bob’s words ring true in skatedom 20 years later, with skaters secretly lusting for a corporate overlord that will tell them when to show up, where to stand and what to do in contractually legal languages? Are pros’ indulgence in vices such as gnarly substances and credit card debt, alternately celebrated and lamented, truly a cry for some grander form of paternal control? Are recent trends in looser trucks, higher speeds and fewer grabs (Homokis aside) reflect a subconscious yearning for stricter oversight under incorporated structures and shareholder-friendly governance practices? Have such forces directed Fred Gall back toward manual labors? How much rides on straighter-laced senior executives, perhaps the grandparents in this elongated and tortured metaphor, either not noticing or not caring about what goes on in the tour van?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 2 #2 – Brandon Biebel and Brian Wenning ‘Subtleties’

June 26, 2014

This video part showcases the freewheeling lackadaisically achievable solely through sporting xtra-large t-shirts and pants long of flapping denim leg. It’s a little bit of a challenge to buy into Transworld’s positioning of Biebel and Wenning as a summer buddy-pro duo, given that they skate none of the same spots here and indeed do not even seem to be on screen together, but there is enough common technical ground beneath those frayed cuffs to argue favorably for this part somewhere in the lower levels of the high temple of shared video parts, somewhere beneath your Hsu/Barletta, Carroll/Howard, Kirchart/Klein and Way/McKay. The Pier 7 blocks generally are some of the best backdrops for Brandon Biebel’s manualing prowess and he is known to have puffed out his big t-shirt at least eight dozen times over the course of recording these tricks. At this point in time Wenning still hovered near the height of his powers, his last line here worthy of bringing up in any conversation about the best lines within the Transworld video catalogue and notable too for featuring among the last colors of the original Lynx, which beyond all expectation or reason has since proven impossible for DC to revive without screwing up some major detail.

Stream-Of-Consciousness Rant Touching On Wet Willy’s Contributions To Small-Town American Culture, Emerging Markets Wealth Distribution And The Innate Hypocrisy Of Tree-Hugging Graphical Concepts? Jason Dill’s Got U

June 24, 2013

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In case you missed it.

Thrasher: What’s skateboarding look like from where you’re sitting?

Jason Dill: It seems like skateboarding is like India. You’re either insanely rich or you’re fucked! There’s no middle class in skateboarding. We’re selling these skateboards to little kids. They like lame shit. Kids like some bullshit. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve done a lot of fuckin’ demos. I refuse to do them anymore because I don’t need to come to your town for 20 fuckin’ people who show up and no one cares. I’ve been to every small town at least twice. I remember a time when kids would come up to me to sign their boards and I’d tell them, “Hey, neither Wet Willy or Flame Boy is going to come and do a demo for you. Go get a different board and I’ll sign that.” I refused to sign a Flame Boy or Wet Willy. It just pissed me off. Talk about getting mad about something that is so far out of your control!

After that I pretty much refused to sign Element boards. Are you fucking kidding me? You know what I had the most in the world? It’s when people are like, “Oh, go green!” and it’s bullshit. I hate that fake eco green marketing shit. Power to the planet? You cut down a tree and glued it together with fuckin’ toxic glue and then paint your little save-the-world message on it? Oh my God, you’re a fuckin’ asshole! Wow! I hope they made a whole lot of fuckin’ money.

That’s the point where I can’t believe people still want me around. Wow. I’m still here? And they still want me to perform tricks on film? I still get to create? I still get to make my shit? I still get to lose my mind trying tricks and feel super insecure about my age and freak out? But the checks keep following me. The checks have followed me my whole life. The checks have followed me since my mother and me’s shitty little apartment that we had to move out of because she couldn’t afford to pay for it without me pitching in. I moved out onto my own and these checks have followed me ever since.

I’ve never lived a real life. Dyrdek’s got a Fantasy Factory? Great. I’ve got a whole fuckin’ fantasy existence. I got to spend 14 years being a drunk, drug addict alcoholic. I come back for one year and work and everybody’s high fiving me and you put me on the fuckin’ cover like I never did anything wrong? Are you kidding me? I want to stay in this forever! Go to jail, come out sponsored! That’s why skateboarding still fuckin’ rules!

Were Things Better When Habitat’s Logo Was Busier?

May 15, 2013

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In these topsy-turvy times a bro can be forgiven for wondering if we are witnessing some wholesale collapse of ‘the industry.’ One day it’s Jason Dill and AVE leaving Alien Workshop, the next it is rumored to be Grant Taylor, then the Holy See that is the Slap board would have Austyn Gillette, Brian Anderson and Alex Olson all flying their respective coops en route to greener pastures and possibly other mixed metaphors further afield. Meanwhile footwear developers have uniformly failed to achieve, leaving no alternative for Chaz Ortiz to secure sponsorship suitable for his skills than a new shoe company invented by Lil Wayne*. Perhaps most confounding is the news, reported last week by Quartersnacks, that Fred Gall got married (believed to be pictured above, with wedding party).

As we cast about for certainty and stability we look not to flighty teamriders or faddish deck technologies or the shifting cuts of cotton t-shirts, but to the graphic designs crafted to withstand the ravages of time and various silk-screen appliques. Faced with chaos and corporate identity crises, the beleaguered consumer still can safely plunk down funds for hard and soft-goods bearing a Ripper, Oval, Bighead, Flare, or OG of the Blind or Girl persuasion. So it is with Habitat’s famed and beloved ‘Pod’ logo, winner of the best new graphical design by a deck concern for the year 1999; however, a close review demonstrates a subtle shift over the past 13 years. Harken back to the original iteration of the Habitat logo, pictured herewith.

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In the winter of 1999-2000 the planet was similarly on the cusp of change. Yellow shirts were commonplace and a presidential election approached a fine froth in the U.S., while computer scientists stayed up late searching for a digital harpoon with enough 1s and 0s to slay the fearsome Y2K bug. The Habitat logo as then envisioned offered safety and security, calmly explaining that Habitat was issued under the Sovereign Sect and that the company was focused on coexistence. The hand, leaf/wave and buildings represent ancient hobo hieroglyphs used by Fred Gall to indicate places of safety and prices for lap dances at certain New Jersey strip clubs.

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If we skip ahead several chapters to the year 2013 much has changed, and the Pod logo no longer is adorned with horizontal lines and explanatory dialogue. What the Pod has gained in versatility, now shot through with camo, plaid and other patterns, it has shorn off in complexity, occasionally leaving off the H part on the left altogether and just having the circle and leaf thing. The viewer in such instances may be left to fend for his or herself, squinting and gritting teeth to recall aeroplane series, Mr. Dibbs instrumentals and the follow angle on Brian Wenning’s switch backside smith grind at Love Park. With so much now in question across the industry, should Habitat consider adding back some hot new glyph action to the logo? Have companies generally simplified their logos to shave weight from t-shirts and hopefully secure more X-Games medallions? Is Habitat only following the minimalist trek of technology hardware developers, rumored to be developing a new mouse with one button that does not click or connect to any computer?

*Perhaps more troubling is the growing realization that Trukfit and Spectre could ultimately dilute the already-established market for Hot Boy Wear.

1. Mark Suciu – “Cross Continental”

December 31, 2012

Mark Suciu seemed to lurk around every corner in 2012, roaming the map and riddling spots with very hard tricks before resurfacing every few weeks with yet another video clip, earning him favorable comparisons to Gucci Mane in his prime. In recent months Suciu has ripped downtown San Jose, Spain, the southern U.S., Philadelphia and most recently New York, finding a new way over the courthouse cliff en route to an Adidas paycheck. And this all came after setting off 2012 with a skateshop part that digs deep into a trove of well-worn spots to unearth some bar-lifting lines and certain yet-to-be-dones. Views can and will differ as to the tastefulness of frontside reverts out of backside noseblunts or frontside crooks, but Suciu proponents were handed piles of ammunition this year in favor of a rare talent that gets over without slavish retreads of coast-specific tricks on coast-specific spots, hands-off editing and (aside from a little wavy animation) no punchlines and no gimmicks when it comes to execution. Mark Suciu in the “Cross Continental” part shakes out a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks, including the little-seen switch frontside smith grind and an immaculate hardflip, and rolls below nighttime lights of skate capitals on both coasts as he composes a love letter to turn-of-the-century urban classics like “Photosynthesis” and “Ryde or Die Vol. 2” and possibly the first “EST.” It is rare that he passes up the chance to add a flip trick up a curb or a 180-out at the bottom of a bank, and he packs multiple variations on 360 flips and 360s into the same line, but it still doesn’t come off all egregious. I for sure watched this part more than any other one this year and maybe more than any other part in the last couple years, up there with Dylan Reider and Jake Donnelly.

Six Pictures Of Danny Renaud Skating Again, And One Other, Cribbed From Various Instagram Entries

October 15, 2012

“The recovery process was hell. I was confined to wheel chairs and walkers. I had a halo around my left leg for about 6 months and one on my right for two years. I had to sleep on my back, coffin style, the whole time. Talk about taking tossing and turning at night for granted. I had to learn how to walk all over again. I couldn’t start my recovery until the halo’s were off. The day I got my second halo off, I walked around a lake that was about four miles. It wasn’t until last August (2011) that I got my last surgery where I had my Achilles heel lengthened and scar tissue removed for more range of motion in my right ankle.”

“I’ve been skating a lot, trying to get this footage for Mike Atwood’s upcoming video, Incognito, which should be good. All the Florida homies and then some. So far I’ve got a small part, but you know how it goes. It’s a nightmare trying to film, but I’m working on it. I’m also taking some business classes in New York because eventually I would like to start up my own small company.”

Thanks to those users from whom these photos were yanked. For rewatching purposes.

Cup Fulla Beetlejuice

February 28, 2012

It seems like it’s been a little while since we seen one of those curveball tricks that gave Stefan Janoski another couple dimensions past just being a style-killer type during his lengthy come up from “Alone” onwards — since “Nothing But The Truth” you sometimes got the feeling he was operating under some legal obligation to represent the premium coffee swirling, fine food tasting, mahogany wood sniffing lifestyle represented by his premium boat shoes. But the above trick, which comes out of the recent Habitat catalogue and is the first time I can think of seeing this move on a hubba ledge, moves back toward the line of thinking that produced big switch b/s shifties and those backside tailslides on top of the curb, Scott Johnston style. Anybody else take this down a hubba to fakie like that?

In Which We Discuss The Potential For Stacking Some American Dollars Via Spot Profiteering

January 25, 2012

When Josh Kalis talks about a growing shortage of organic skating and tricks in current videos and magazines he’s mostly talking about how filming has come to be oriented around missions rather than documenting whatever progression is coming out of an existing scene or spot or crew, and he has a point — the idea that the possibly most-recognized/followed spot is a California warehouse done up in shades of gray probably says something about the state of the union/kids these days/etc. But the discussion around Mark Suciu’s States-spanning video part throws out some broader questions about what constitutes real or genuine skating, amid explosive charges of what one friend termed “pseudo-east coasting.”

Oh? It’s hard to recall eastern-borns skating Southern Californian schoolyards being derided as west coast carpetbagging but let’s go with it here. Authenticity counts, or it used to. In the days of yore, like the 80s, “poseurs” served as shorthand for wannabe types looking to co-opt the image of skateboarding without paying the various tolls, such as being branded a loser/misfit/outcast in zones outside of California, as well as physical injuries and legal reprisals in all locations generally, or possibly owning Limpies. Shoulder chips were earned by those who slaved over hot asphalt in pursuit of a flip trick destined to go unloved by all but a handful of local peers. Or even more dire, skating a vert ramp.

The knock against Suciu (ten years ago you could maybe slot in another Habitat employee, Danny Garcia, in a similar fashion) I think is that he’s looking to mint an image by taking some California skatepark show to hallowed East Coast spots and thereby earn valuable blog-points that are redeemable* for blog-cred on widely observed messageboards, a surefire plan to reap riches and piles of endorsement goods. This type of NIMBY brainwave has forced young’ns in days past to pay respects to their forebears and earn respect in old-fashioned ways, in some cases by stepping up to the same shit they skated. An argument could be made that kids build more character skating Love Park nowadays in its more-illegal state versus the ’99-’00 heyday. But what would be an acceptable penance for growing up in California, indulging in some “Forecast” ledge combos and not bombing enough hills? At what point would it be cool for such a bro to take his shot at the Fred Gall ledge-to-handrail? Should Jake Johnson have taken heat for tilting at the Astor Cube? Were hard feelings harbored after Bob Puleo tried his hand over in London?

There’s legitimate gripes to be made when up-and-comers seek to launch their personal brands upon your El Toros and your Hubba Hideouts and your Macba 4s, especially if they’re foolishly snarling traffic for the builders of Burnside or the flag-planters at Embarcadero. Maybe the Love Park holdouts still feel this way when they look at the Mark Suciu part. I’ll grant that part of it is down to the dude involved — much less slack would be granted to, say, Ryan Sheckler if he concocted some video part that stitched together beloved Eastern seaboard plazas and a bunch of spots in New Jersey and whatnot. But I don’t get the impression that Mark Suciu is bereft of street cred, and if this is a calculated get-rich quick scheme on his part I think he’d do better to log hours on Google Earth looking for teeny stair sets to jump up, or figuring out where Elijah Berle shops for his outfits, or recording some private skatepark antics.

*but non-transferrable