Posts Tagged ‘Instagram.com’

Who’s Smiling In The Great COVID19 Footage Drought Of 2020?

March 22, 2020

“Country boy a tourist, say he looking for a brick,” Gucci Mane softly rasped in late 2017, spinning a crime tale of feast turned to famine on his ‘El Gato: The Human Glacier’ project. In between threatening to burn down rivals’ marijuana crops and sticking up for the Steve Harvey suit, Gucci counseled all would-be cocaine magnates on one of the several secrets to his own (past?) successes: keeping a side supply stashed to draw upon when your competitors’ plugs run dry, allowing Gucci Mane not only to continue peddling drugs in a thinly supplied market, but to charge a premium to boot. It is a story much like Aesop’s fable of the hardworking, pragmatic ant and the flamboyant, cocaine-addicted grasshopper, except in Gucci’s version the ant is an iced-out lion and it did not come out on Def Jux.

Today, as the global coronavirus pandemic reconfigures human and animal societies, it is again time to ponder Gucci Mane’s words. Indeed, time is all mankind has now, in an age of boredom and worried waiting. Instagram, the skateboarding industry’s outsourced hypnosis engine, sputters and coughs on limited fuel. Municipal and statewide lockdowns in the US and Europe have upended the long-running ‘Skateboarding Is Not A Crime’ conceit; with businesses and schools closed across continents and cities deserted, the question is now whether a spot can be skated, but should it? The athletic equipment manufacturers that are pro skateboarders’ most powerful employers have aligned with public health authorities and independent companies in a species-wide call to stay indoors and curb potential infection, inventing hashtag campaigns and video challenges to bide the time and sate the daily lust for ‘likes’ and follower maintenance.

Just like Gucci Mane’s secret bricks and pounds, the end result is pause pushed on the 24-7 content crush, a rain delay on the global, never-ending demo all had until recently taken for granted. COVID19-chancing renegade missions aside, today there exists a finite supply of footage that pros, ams, filmers, brand managers and TMs and bros now must determine how best to sprinkle and disperse as movement and sociable restrictions grow steadily more intense, and any endpoint uncertain. Just as sports TV channels dip into ‘classic matches’ and commentators regurgitate and eat their own punditry again and again, so do skateboarding’s content brokers and programming avengers have their own choices to make. With filming missions cancelled and even throwaway park clips now a limited commodity amid shelter-in-place orders, the wizened ants and ‘El Gatos’ who banked footage and resisted those tingly ‘for tha Gram’ urges shall be revealed; flakey, unhappy grasshoppers soon shall go wanting, forced to fall back on virus-themed #TBT variations and pontificating on road trips past, in between propping up their phone for off-the-couch flatground clips.

Has Thrashermagazine.com already implemented a wartime video-rationing programme designed to stretch its supply of releases to cover a widening coronavirus-driven gap in new productions? Will companies readying full-lengths increasingly carve them into single parts to dribble out over time, so as to command more homebound and content-starved eyeballs? Since it’s been about 3 months since his last one, does Mark Suciu already got a couple parts filmed and ready to go? If the COVID19 virus mutates and returns and forces further quarantines and social isolation, will the pressure on board companies, hardgoods distributors and independent contracting pros grow to such an extent that footage comes to be hoarded up and traded for exorbitant sums of toilet paper, pasta and ammunition? Should everybody just watch Justin Albert’s excellent ‘Flora’ vid over and over again?

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

November 19, 2017

In the 1990s, when skateboarding grew old enough to cadge cigarettes and thrill to petty crime, power derived from personal networks. Such networks were built of blood and bodily tissue, pulsating to the sounds of East Coast rap tapes, testing slang proficiencies and stiff-arming those deemed not ‘with it’ enough to merit tribal admittance. Over time, as these fleshsome blobs ingested hard currency and heaved themselves into shapes resembling semi-functional business apparatuses, they drew the eye of larger, more heavily weaponed entities, and they fought one another for pride of place and insubstantial dollar figures. All the while, their squishy amoebic forms stiffened and sparked, hardening into circuits and coagulating around wifi hot spots.

It’s a story learned by many at a young age, laying down to sleep upon straw piles and inside comfortable caves with natural stalagmite transitions. But power these days is welded to influence, a sword toted only by a certain few — those who earn it through questing, and those bloodthirsty and wily enough to acquire it by force. And, it is always sharp.

Nowadays, ‘moments’ flit by more fleetingly than ever. In our current one, the largest and most fearsome blade of influence is wielded by the Ted Barrow-curated Instagram account ‘Feedback_TS.’ The outlet punches far above its 5,700-follower weight, drawing into its orbit street-skating GOATS who yearn to be down, style magnet pros fresh off this year’s front-running full-length, and countless droves of aspirant comer-uppers lured by those juicy twin carrots, momentary fame and internet validation.

@Feedback_TS is more than a despotic judge, jury and executioner baptized in ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Mouse’ trick selections with a firm grip on format and presentation. Ted Barrow is not a pro, notwithstanding a memorable part in 2005’s ‘Lurkers 2’ alongside Jason Dill and Charles Lamb. He doesn’t get money from the skate industry. Harsh judgement and unvarnished opinion sometimes are served up, but no meanness or bitterness. Similar to the largely self-directed Slap board thralls, to skatepark heroes and strivers and the occasional professional, it is told like it is. To an extent, @Feedback_TS embodies the info-age singularity that has turned the skate biz inside-out, as the internet provides the world’s double-set early grabbers a platform on par with annointed worthies such as switch backside co-practitioner Miles Silvas and loveable oldster Jeff Gosso. Here lie isolated meadows and abandoned box canyons for creatures such as Revive and New Jersey bodybuilding manual regulator Weckingball to mutate and thrive, independent of the well-worn cart tracks, gladhanding and favored bazaars of the established skateboard business. In this turbulent realm, retired blog proprietors function on the same level as Eric Koston.

Is the right analogue to @Feedback_TS that of a wizened older brother, or maybe more accurately that worldly, well-meaning but unapologetically subversive older neighbor who probably smokes drugs and for sure operates beyond the bounds of the established family hierarchy? Between Ted Barrow and the resurgent Brian Wenning, have we entered a head-spinning and somewhat demoralizing era where switch backside smith grind shove-its rank as ‘old guy tricks’? Does the growing influence amassed by this instagram account raise concerns that it has become systemically important, with any deletion or protracted absence leaving impressionable kids adrift and guardrail-less, while parents, significant others and non-skating ass roommates wonder what happened to the deadpan voice dispensing trick terminology and occasional bursts of art history from behind the bathroom door whilst the fan is going?

John Shanahan, Chopped and Sewed on the Final Frontier

May 28, 2017

Some weeks back a video Youtube link circulated advertising an attempted backside 360 down the famed El Toro stair set, the sort of heart-testing maneuver around which you’d either anticipate a fire-legged professional like Chris Joslin’s name attached, or else some risk-friendly unknown ready to offer up his effort to the world as some type of return on a foolhardy willingness to get uniquely pitched and presumably walk away. It was surprisingly convincing try — they say the last quarter spin is the moneymaker when hurling one’s self down twenty steps or more — and it rolls above a disclaimer revealing that the bros involved “might not go back for this” and various other pink-panted jumps and things.

But is it so easy? Many of skating’s seemingly most harebrained ideas have proven shockingly hard to let go. Duane Peters’ tangles with the fibreglass loop captivated a world-conquering Tony Hawk in his video game-designing prime, and assorted others after its bullring subduing. Jamie Thomas’ “leap of faith” drew Richard King to test his luck before the Point Loma school board took matters into their own hands and constructed a solid platinum elevator in one of this young century’s most stunning acts of baller-blockingism. In test fittings for the MegaRampTM crown, Bob Burnquist discovered that he, like propellerheaded originator Danny Way, could no longer resist the uniquely arousing allure of skating helicopters. Aaron Homoki’s taming of Lyon’s most notorious 25 stairs, 13 years after Ali Boulala charted its glide path en route to part-ending slams, became fodder for a Thrasher mini-doc.

Steeped in early ‘ESTs’, Flexfitted hats and the colour yellow, John Shanahan seems more concerned with resuscitating a specific vibe and era than etching his multisyllabic rhyming surname into history’s annals via big-spot trophy hunting. Bubbling under the DGK umbrella for a minute, John Shanahan this week officially arrives on the DC Shoes payroll via a cracking intro clip that pointedly trots out the bold/less bold/standard font DCSHOECOUSA logo of old along with eastern seaboard spots rinsed and fresh. Between the DC one and a separate LurkNYC VX footage dump, John Shanahan flexes backside nosegrind pop-outs, a slicing 360 flip out of the Kalis school, some tricks outta the modern school’s playbook (driveway wallride, ride-on tailslide kickflip), some flamboyantly retro Droors gear and hubba noseslides. Toeing some blurry line between ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘The Storm,’ he wields a serious switch k-grind and a judicious use of camouflage, which is rare to see these days.

Like Philly neighbors Kevin Bilyeu and Brian Panebianco, it’s easy and erroneous to pigeonhole John Shanahan’s shared enthusiasm for the numbers 07 and 43 and all their sportsweary accoutrements as retroactivism rooted in personal branding. Just as the Sabotage dudes unearthed, resurfaced and restored an entire scene that had been municipally buried and professionally abandoned, John Shanahan seems to harbour deeper ambitions. Sharpening cut and sew skills, where else, on Instagram, John Shanahan demonstrates enough technical proficiency and stylistic nerve to construct cargo and swishy pants that command triple-digit price tags and earn “levels” hash tags when positioned alongside skaters’ current affection for graphical sweatpants and other sub-waistline achievements. But as he tests his growing powers, is John Shanahan consciously or not flying too close to that blazing sun of skate pants fashiondom, the two-toned pant?

It is a stylistic Leap of Faith that has shadowed previous practitioner Garrett Hill throughout his sponsored career, and one not lightly rolled up to. A year after Garrett Hill’s pants debuted in video footage, Tim O’Connor gleefully went in. Eight years on, the pants’ impression lingered enough that former teammates would bring them up as a cautionary tale of judgment, hubris and star-crossed romance:

Tom Karangelov: But when there’s someone that’s so original and out there, he gets so much shit. It’s crazy. Like with Garrett [Hill], half red half black pants. People are still talking to him about that. But dude, was it really that big of a deal? They are just fucking pants. Aren’t you encouraged to be creative when you skateboard? The dude who tries to go out of the box gets like, so much shit for it.

Jenkem: Have you ever considered wearing “crazy pants” like that?
Ah, no.

Has an Adidas-supported revolution in swishy pants and increasingly garish sweats provided enough air cover for John Shanahan to push pants envelope in ever-more colourful envelopes? Which trick ranks higher in terms of ’90s/east-coastness, the backside 5-0 backside 180 out or the fakie backside nosegrind shove-it? Yall caught that one switch backside heelflip over and down the blocks right? How is the resurrected Alien Workshop not sponsoring at least one of these ‘Photosynthesis’ acolytes? You been keeping an eye on Brian Wenning’s Instagram right?