Posts Tagged ‘Jake Phelps’

Last Days Of The ’10 SOTYs, For 90 Years Anyway

October 13, 2019

As another decade winds down, uninterrupted* by rogue asteroid strikes, Mayan doomsday prophecy or thermonuclear holocaust, we remain fortunate enough to ponder which professional-level skateboarder will absorb this, the final Skater of the Year trophy to be handed down before the dawn of a new decade, gilded with Olympic golds. It is an auspicious moment, the first short-pantsed bronze boarder handed down in Thrasher’s post-Jake Phelps era. Will the Knights Templar of Hunter’s Point raise up Mark Suciu, who screeched a precision frontside blunt across NY’s Con Edison banks, incredibly back to regular? To the bloodthirsty Milton Martinez, who ollied over the whole damn thing? Let’s read on.

Mark Suciu: Cultured, poised and stepping into the moment, streetstyle codebreaker Mark Suciu is the obvious contender if only because of the buckets’ worth of elbow grease he’s applied across the spectrum this year: Turned in a truck part, won the final Grotto Lotto, landed a Thrasher cover and interview, ripped the Dime Olympics, and wrangled not one but two media cycles out of a marathon, epic part that somehow managed to match the hype and map new dimensions of the form. Given Mark Suciu has ample time to film another couple video parts between now and mid-December, his candidacy has a certain whiff of inevitability, but two months are a long time.

Simon Bannerot: One of the increasingly reliable tentpoles of Girl’s new era, young and wavy PNWATV Simon Bannerot has done his bleeding and gotten it in that most Thrasher of theaters, the road. His turn on Thrasher’s ‘Am Scramble’ franchise netted a rare no-hands inverted cover, he conquered the Bronx’s four banks, unleashed the ender-ender for Girl’s UK tour vid, and conceivably could release some other video before the year is out. His comeback from a gnarly car accident would seem to answer the ‘has he suffered enough?’ Hewittism, but he may be deemed to require further seasoning.

Milton Martinez: The scion of a disgraced industrialist out to clear the family name and reclaim its fortunes, Milton Martinez brings the backstory and drive required for a late-innings Skater of the Year push, with Thrasher chops in spades. Over the course of the year Milton Martinez served up snippets of what he’s building toward, such as his blazing, downhill Australia line, his mountainside descent in April, the Independent and Volcom tour appearances, and now the threat of bigger things to come, a pulse-quickening kickflip into the hallowed Sunset carwash to set off 2019’s final sprint. Presumably, he has a video in the offing.

Clive Dixon: Did you remember that Birdhouse put out a video earlier this year? Perhaps not, but the Thrasher brain trust certainly does, having turned one cover over to Clive Dixon’s jaw-slackening handrail spin on Jeremy Wray’s water tower leap, and his more recent Staples noseblunt slide, with the really odd backdrop of Geoff Rowley’s bronzed 50-50 in the backdrop, presumably missing just by a hair. For those keeping score at home Clive Dixon also nollie noseblunted El Toro last year, but does he have more to uncork prior to year’s end?

Bobby Worrest: The champion of the people, the AVE-category 2019 veteran ballot entry, the king of Pulaski, Bobby Worrest played a major role in this year’s somewhat improbable but very welcome Venture resurgence, turning in an overstuffed Gucci bag of a part that included the now-notorious ‘up the three’ line, with only the house music throbs holding it back from immediate classic certification. Bobby Worrest quickly resurfaced in Gang Intl’s ‘Facades’ last summer, made an obligatory appearance in Nike’s ‘Crust Belt’ tour, and seems like he never runs out of fuel or fresh angles on those beloved Washington blocks. With Tiago Lemos not overtly tilting toward this year’s title, Bobby Worrest is the candidate most easily imagined in a gilded throne SOTY cover along the lines of Brian Anderson’s CMB-themed entry.

Rowan Zorilla: After a sleeper part being zoomed in and out upon in Bill Strobek’s ‘Blessed’ Film last year, off-kilter Shep Dawger Rowan Zorilla in 2019 has slouched back into a more lackadaisical pose, closing out the second installment of Iphone vibe project ‘Boys of Summer’ II — a t-shirt and sweater-promoting vehicle that included him fakie 360 flipping up the EMB steps, an important trick for people to know about. A more ‘serious’ part, if such a descriptor could be applied to Rowan Zorilla’s unique, bandy-legged swerves, would seem to hinge upon ‘Baker 4’ arriving before year’s end. But this is an even-money bet at best for a proven ‘keep it skate’ company that could opt to reward nostalgia for late-90s style two-year ‘coming soon’ campaigns and pushed back release dates.

*as of this writing.

‘Get Some Or Get The Fuck Out’

March 16, 2019

Jake Phelps is dead. No two-week notice, no yearslong incremental torch passing, no forced retirement, as if — ’suddenly and easy’ his exit came, according to his uncle. Merciful maybe, but an unlikely end to a tale that seemed fated to finish in some lights-out crash or catastrophe, roughly. Still. As a bookend for a man who made his way in choppy, decisive words, it’s a flame-out versus a slow fade, and one with weight. Jake Phelps is dead.

You felt like you knew him since the volume on his personality ran so loud for so long, too loud sometimes and abrasive, but it was nothing if not consistent. Jake Phelps came camera ready with a rap sheet that reads almost suspiciously well written: NorCal kid transplanted to hardscrabble Boston, coming up just in time to watch the bottom crumble out of skating; doing around a decade in those industry meatgrinders, the skateshop counter and the shipping warehouse, until Thrasher’s reins got handed to him around the time of another industry nadir. Willy Staley’s 2016 profile for California Sunday — easily secular-press skate piece top five — succinctly charts how Jake Phelps remade Thrasher, maybe not in his own image, but for sure the one he aspired to.

And then he lived it, traveling the world, rolling in, breaking his bones, rearing generations of iconic skaters, getting punched, getting stitched up, enforcing rules that aren’t written anyplace, howling at the moon, skating. His matching worldview and lifestyle were blunt, purist and sometimes smacked of bumper-sticker sloganeering. Not always predictable, though. He mourned Prince. Ryan Sheckler, who deeply transgressed by lying to Jake Phelps’ face about bagging an El Toro trick, deserved a ban but didn’t get one. When the Bunt hosts marveled at his stamina and wondered whether they’d still be doing it at 55, Jake Phelps turned suddenly, almost shockingly parental: “Of course you will! You have to just believe in yourself.”

As piss and vinegar-soaked as he appeared up til his surprise dip-out, Jake Phelps for years had been a walking dinosaur, if not necessarily bombing straight toward some tar pit end. On any given morning barreling down his beloved Dolores Street, Jake Phelps surely embodied worlds in decline: Old San Francisco, famously non-PC, MJ1s on his feet until whatever deadstock tap ran dry, proofing a decades-old print publication with a snarling discontent any seasoned editor would recognize and respect. An artifact arguing and cussing every day for a place in a world moving some other way. And by all accounts disinterested in any skate-industry artifice beyond the one he ruled.

Within the journalistic canon, it’s easy to consider Jake Phelps among the lineage of Hunter S. Thompson, with his profane exhortations and self-destructive appetites, or Mark Twain, with his barbed quotables and steamboat-pilot gear, or Anna Wintour, Vogue’s fearsome empress, doling out blessings and banishments in equal turn. But Jake Phelps’ media arc may most closely align with Hugh Hefner, berobed lion of the Playboy masthead — similarly polarizing, uncompromising in his tastes, firmly fixed in his values, constructor of and living totem for an editorial vision that mapped ways and rules for a world where he aimed to live, and you could too. “Who was writing these dream stories? I was,” he told the Bunt boys.

The High Speed offices today likely face no key man risk. By all accounts Jake Phelps’ day-to-day duties at the mag were next to nil. As the last of the old mags still going, Thrasher’s trajectory and point of view seem safe in the hands of Tony Vitello, Michael Burnett, Michael Sieben, Lui Elliot, Dan Zaslavsky and the rest. There will be a hole there left by this one who Tony Hawk’s dad busted drinking beers in the skatepark parking lot, who the Texas authorities nabbed skating a full pipe 200 feet below a dam — who was so long and deeply entwined with the most important institution in skating that it seemed impossible to separate the two, and probably pointless. Somebody else now will write the dream stories, but not with precisely the same vividness, rancor, rapture, and complete commitment.

Who The Best Season Has Returned As Boil A Ocean Website Looks At The 2016 SOTY Campaign

October 23, 2016

With this year’s 2016 US presidential race increasingly lopsided in the polls and exhibiting a deficit of true drama, political junkies hereby are forced to fixate upon the ever-frothier chase for Thrasher’s exalted Skater of the Year award, its trophy called “Rusty” and associated sacks of money and bragging rights. A genuine belt-straining tightness exists in this year’s campaign as associated runners and riders go blow-for-blow in high-def video clips and in the comparatively antiquated medium of physical magazine cover shots, all of it inuring to Joe Kickflip’s general awe and stoke. Here’s who it seems like may be potentially in possible contention:

Justin Figueroa: Emerica’s latest green-tinted salve to the Instagram throwaway clip-added mind may go down as the most handrail-light of its full-length catalogue since ‘Yellow,’ though Justin Figueroa’s section nearly single-handedly tips back the scales. This dude’s seemingly catastrophic injuries, like the intro stair-light removal, don’t seem much to dampen an altered beast appetite for massive switch 50-50s and Ellington spins, both ways; the dirt-gap switch flip is a thing of beauty and the death-drop k-grind grab landed him back on Thrasher’s cover. You could and this web blog page might make an argument that Justin Figueroa should’ve got it in 2012 off the strength of his Shake Junt/Skate Rock/Bake-and-Destroy tech-gnar build, but everybody makes mistakes.

Daan Van der Linden: In any other year a ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate, yung Van der Linden in the past 12-month period has emerged straight out the dungeons of the freshly splintered Euro zone to join the Anti-Hero roster, secure his own Thrasher cover, and blow doors in Volcom’s drone-a-riffic ‘Holy Stokes’ before hitting the road for the summer to cheat lethal handrail configurations, delight Jake Phelps and turn pro at a velocity only recently matched by Chris Joslin. It doesn’t seem beyond reality’s borders for Daan Van der Linden to crank out one more video part before the year’s up and put another bronzed and becapped humanoid on top of Julien Stranger’s toilet tank.

Evan Smith: A starry-eyed dreamer who rattles some of the industry’s loosest trucks and already has recorded a couple video sections this year, including a powerful and logical argument for 2016’s best 360 flip and a VX shop video part featuring cutty spots and a significant blizzard flip. This all was in between doing Dime’s ‘Glory Challenge’ high bar one better by diversifying away from the recommended boardslides and capturing two Thrasher covers — the most recent of which is the type of dreams-and-nightmares material normally reserved for EA Skate fantasies or maybe Jake Johnson.

Kyle Walker: Oklahoma’s Realist has been in the proverbial van what seems like all year, 180ing his giant gaps and 50-50ing his giant rails in ‘Holy Stokes,’ canoodling with the Vans breakfast mascot in a pro-shoe nod clip and later frontside bluntsliding one of the largest handrails evar alongside his Real teammates. He’s supposed to have another soon-to-arrive Thrasher exhibition. Even if Kyle Walker does not receive the Thrasher award, his retirement fund could benefit from retroactive Oklahoma Thunder photo incentive.

Jerry Hsu: San Jose’s knock-kneed switch hardflip bishop staged a massive comeback with a thinking-man’s answer to his recognized-classic ‘Bag of Suck’ opus, newly contorting himself onto sensibly sized handrails and immersing himself in Los Angelean schoolyards — the nollie backside 180 nosegrind revert boosted the increasingly hard-to-shift bar concerning midget picnic table tricks and the frontside noseslide nollie backside heelflip out early on in the ‘Made’ part served the triple purpose of providing advance notice of the heaviness to come, a certain audaciousness that didn’t require it for one of the closing clips, and generally putting respect on Jerry Hsu’s name, which interestingly* would rank up there with the shortest among history’s SOTY winners. The Thrasher brain trust, which already assigned him a cover this year, recognizes both Jerry Hsu’s decades invested in the skateboard game and dues paid via busted endoskeleton components and hospital bills, and he seems to have the belly fire and current soundness of body to compose a valid SOTY interview feature should occasion demand.

Tiago Lemos: A Brazilian on a multi-year tear that seems to gather momentum with every law of physics and gravitational dignity snubbed, Tiago Lamos is in the proverbial ‘window’ ability-wise — he possesses the raw technique to keep the J-Kwon gap to ledge fresh into a third decade (the switch bigspin backside tailslide via the scorching Thrasher part), the power to push uphill in lines (and nollie heelflip a trash can off a bump at the end) and the 90s-ness to lead the improbable switch mongo revival. With co-signs from the streets and the corporate boardroom, if there is any Brazilian to break the country’s near 20-year drought in Skater of the Year honors, this is the dude.

Dennis Busenitz: Perennial bridesmaid to the Flexfitted statue’s prior-year matrimonies, you could argue that Dennis Busenitz’ odds this year are as fair or far as any prior go-round where he’s been passed over — the last section in one of the year’s blockbuster vids, soundtracked to a Snoop Doggy Dogg song that’s been begging for the skate video treatment for decades; he also threw a curveball of a Thrasher cover and factored into the Volcom video. It is difficult to tell whether the haymaker-taking Jake Phelps perversely relishes overlooking a beloved and influential and long-laboring bro who otherwise seems to check all of your typical Thrasher boxes, but the plethora of gnarly fourth-quarter parts for better or worse make Dennis Busenitz seem again like a long shot.

*or not

Ten Leak Commandments

March 31, 2016

jeezy_sandals

Last week the nation’s ever-deepening identity crisis deepened, again, after a Facebook posting left Americans to contend with the concept of Young Jeezy wearing socks with sandals. The unholy prospect forced all the usual and uncomfortable questions front and center once again: Who are we? Where’s all this going? Can gravitational waves be manipulated for pleasure or profit? How much mass is too much? Was a Florida judge’s special dispensation for Hulk Hogan to don a formal black bandana for his sex-tape trial an indication of white privilege, the Hulkster’s 1% status, or both? And so on.

As ever, the United States may do well to take notes from Baker, whose alternately sneering and stony worldview has persisted through several revolutions of its motley and enduringly diverse lineup. Dustin Dollin stays shooting his mouth off and hurting feelings, while the current iteration of these seven-day weekenders shake loose a Rowan Zorilla-centered promo cementing their danger to various communities. Andrew Reynolds blasts a waist-high* kickflip to tractor-trailer bash, their revitalized Kevin Long spins a nollie backside tailslide flip out and Terry Kennedy, who is a large grin attached to a fakie ollie, formally enters the running for clip of the year by walking down the sidewalk. By the time Gumby-limbed ditch gremlin Rowan Zorilla earns the DJ Screw rollaway treatment to seal the formal pro nod to his off-kilter switchstance formations, the company, careening into its 16th year with 40% of its 2G lineup remaining, seems as vital as ever.

Can Transworld, pushing its own video legacy into a third decade, recapture mojo by blowing up its own timeworn model? Friend to the fisheye Chris Thiessen takes a close-up view of the concept in ‘Substance,’ which honors skating’s long tradition of taking a concept and testing its longevity, in this case hyper-intimate VX techniques cribbed from Lenz and Magenta productions while cutting a barely-threaded kingpin bolt sized radius around longtime TWS vid trappings such as timelapse sequences, voiceovers and slow motions. In parts like Dolan Stearns’, wherein he leaps Danny Garcia’s ‘Inhabitants’ intro-sequence carport and boosts a massive tree wallie, much sense of perspective is squeezed out of the frame**. Other parts like Baker’s arrested developer Tristan Funkhouser, who does a cool bump-to-bump feeble grind and an amusing surf to spinout, and Islee Jon Nguyen, who can do Pupecki grinds both ways and launches one of the meatier bigspin kickflips in recent memory, benefit from a more relaxed approach and compare favorably with the better-aged parts from TWS vids past.

TWS’ video model merits saving. The California Sunday Magazine’s recent Jake Phelps profile*** positions Thrasher as the likely last mag standing as rivals grow ‘anemic’ in the face of a mobile content onslaught, though Transworld’s thinning seems to have plateaued around the 115-page mark, perhaps a product of the revitalization via editor Jaime Owens’ early embrace of the small-company set and fondness for East Coast coverage. In time the ‘magazine video’ format may become relegated to the same shop backroom dustbin as the ‘video magazine,’ but it would be a loss — a bustling market for local/crew videos and daily deluge of one-off online parts retains some lane for gatekeepers imbued with the clout and say-so to corral diverse and blue-chip bros who aren’t otherwise in thrall to sneaker- or soda-funded projects to crank out a worthy and cohesive video in the space of a year.

Between the ever-zooming fisheye camp and the long lens stylings of Fat Bill and his acolytes, are sides being chosen up for a coming civil war that could further diminish the already dwindling population of VX-1000s? Do the ghosts of Digital and Logic and 411 rear up from the underworld to lustily cheer at each successive Transworld vid premiere? Does Jake Phelps remain some reality TV show producer’s great white whale? How bout Rowan Zorilla’s switch shove-it 50-50?

*His waist, even
**Might one put former Transworld Film maker Ty Evans on the other end of such a spectrum, too much perspective?
***Near the top of the heap for ‘secular’ press articles on skating

Time For Some ‘Home Truths’ About Our Collective Addiction to Negative Imagery Dudes

September 5, 2015

espy

Death walks among us in this jaunty new millennium, they say, here and there and potentially also sometimes as a pale rider astride a dangerous Harley hog belching out noxious smokes that also can kill grass and dandelions. Never missing the chance to blow out a trend, the skate biz has always embraced its own terminal fixation, a chattering anxiety that year in and year out raises and lowers Vegas-styled odds on the next industry crash, which company isn’t paying its riders and is destined for that great physical print Cali4nia Cheap Skates catalogue in the sky, and which named pro may already have committed career suicide via an ill-considered musical indulgence or poorly chosen street grab.

Yet just as street skating’s lust for ledges and handrails yielded a cottage industry in skate stoppers that occasionally assume whimsical ocean shapes, brisk business is done among content merchants eager to pierce the slow and sluggish hot-air balloons of musty conventional wisdom with javelins of pure moxie, alternately declaring the full-length skate vid, the over-40 pro career and the conglomerate-owned hardgoods brand ‘not dead’ with varying zest-levels. This month, the Skateboard Mag entered such bold sweepstakes with an editorial missive geared around the notion that feature-length movies (including but not limited to ‘We Are Blood’ and a feature-length documentary about Chris Cole) not only are alive and well 15% of the way into the 21st century, but that they may hold the key to fixing skateboarding’s long-festering ‘image problems:’

The type of interest that these films inspire from non-skaters has always been a powerful tool to bring awareness to skateboarding, counterbalancing some of our image problems in a very positive way, occasionally even improving our chances for public skatepark support. (Let’s face it, as corny as it may be, hearing your mom talk about “Z-Boys” and 900s is actually a step in the right direction.)

Here are the hard facts cluttering the picture as surely as sharp pebbles threaten the course of a major contest engagement: Attrition grips the skateboard sphere. The International Association of Skateboard Companies, that past campaigner against blank decks, figured in 2013 that the number of those consumers who can scientifically be deemed ‘skateboarders’ had constricted by one-fourth between 2007 and 2011, shrinking to 6.3 million over five years. Casual, regular, frequent and most troublingly the intensely coveted ‘core’ demographics all appeared to flee their boards in droves, dumping skating at an even faster clip than those binning their Razor scooters, and far lagging the comparatively robust growth in ‘adventure racing,’ squash and lacrosse, fam.

The IASC document submits television and general couch-potatoness as top culprits, but ratings data indicate that millennials also are slithering free from the digital wiles of broadcast programming. Distressing though it may be, The Skateboard Mag may be right that the only truly blameworthy visage may be viewable in a viewing mirror.

In the span of just about a week, Boil the ocean internet web blog was able to compile an array of image-damaging content features and fiery remarks that reflect poorly on the extreme sport that once seemed on pace to unseat baseball as the sport of the future:

Small beatings from Thrasher’s EIC. Thrasher commander Jake Phelps is widely recognized as one of the oldest persons involved in the skateboarding industry, yet his elder statesmanship toward parental authorities came into question this week when the Jake Johnson issue dropped into subscriber mailboxes. Penning a rare tour article*, Jake Phelps recalls with curmudgeonsome glee how he and Tim Upson years back were run up upon by a gaggle of German 10-year-olds who, after baiting Jake Phelps with a professed interest in his ‘load’ (skate board) switched to pillage mode and set to ransacking his group’s knapsacks: “I ran back and the riot was on — punching out ten-year-olds is the price they pay for rat packin’ out shit,” he intones. Several moms are known to have ten-year-olds of their own — what are they to think at the prospect of a 32-year-old Jake Phelps traveling through time to whup up on their present-day children who may deign to pick through any skateboard-bearing luggage a time-traveling Jake Phelps may have borne through alleged time wyrmholes?

Leaders of the ‘F-word’ world. Using vulgar language in a major skateboard magazine — in this case Thrasher — that’s widely read by kids puts the black leather jacket on skateboarding, but aiming swears at the potential next U.S. president puts the illicitly purchased cigarette in skateboarding’s curled lip. Anti-Hero skateboards saw fit to live up to its moniker in its latest Thrasher ad, spouting an apparently unprovoked ‘FUCK DONALD TRUMP’ and ‘FUCK TED CRUZ’ scrawl in the usual semi-legible handwriting. Lest any foul-mouthedness toward leading politicians be explained away as unhinged rants from over-the-hill discontents, Sean Pablo — sponsored by the unprintably named Fucking Awesome World Entertainment — offered a verbatim vulgarity from skating’s younger generation in a Skate Warehouse interview this week. (Anti Hero and Sean Pablo’s super PAC affiliations remain currently unknowed)

Production values from the bargain ‘Rack.’ Johnny Wilson’s most recent video injection sees noseslide sportster Hjalte Halberg’s East Coast summer vacation continuing as he pushes brawny lines through Philly and New York, while Antonio Durao’s switch 360 flip takes all stair-set comers and John Choi pops a silky curb cut backside flip. But smudges and dirt on the otherwise pristine HD lens occasionally mars ‘Rack,’ giving outsiders freshly treated by Ty Evans’ immaculate drone-cams the impression that rival moviemakers don’t care enough about their equipment — or production values — to break out a purpose-made microfiber wiper, the type of thing a skating-friendly mom might tuck into a pocket tee before folding her arms and shaking her head and half-smiling out the front door as her boys hustle to the nearest skatepark.

Respect for others out the window. Longtime Santa Cruz holder-downer ATV Emanuel Guzman possesses enough wiry sprock to handle both switch backside 360s and deep-end coping, but his ‘Magnified’ clip from Thrasher this week won’t win him many fans among parents — or apartment bloc overseers. In the span of just 45 seconds, we see Emanuel Guzman and his friends attempt to bribe a female professional (who potentially suggested they reapparate a nearby skatepark) before ignoring her call to police, blasting a tight-quarters windowpane ollie and departing with cries of “fuck yooouuu, bitch.” (No indication is given whether this actually may be her surname just spelled differently, or how many O’s in “yooooouuu” they intended to use.) Thrasher’s description of the video claims that Emanuel Guzman “has a history of clips like this,” though it does not specify which web browser he may use.

Three stripes and we’re out. One may expect Adidas, an established worldwide leader in footwear branding technology with firm commitments in place on chemical runoff and workplace diversity, to know from setting positive examples. But Adidas’ new clip advertising ADV Superstar sneakers soundtracks Tyshawn Jones’ brain-boggling ollie over to pointer grind to a curse-packed rap song by celebrated rapper Big L, which glorifies bullying less-skilled artists and advocates physical violence and physical gunfire as solutions to perceived problems such as being bad at reciting raps. Are hovering moms really going to ask to click back to Tyshawn Jones’ hardflip again when Big L is reminiscing about leaving a nameless female conquest’s ‘thighs dented’?

*On a serious tip Jake Phelps really needs to do these more regularly

Who Will Win The Great 2012 SOTY Race, Potentially The Final SOTY Determination For All Eternity, If The Ancient Mayans Are To Be Believed?

October 3, 2012

Fall officially is upon us and the crispening air is thick with rumor and innuendo as professional bros vie to acquire SOTY status in what could be humankind’s final trip around our sun, depending on whether or not you subscribe to certain apocalyptic theories. This site, which previously floated a bunk theory regarding Freddy Gall potentially being awarded a small golden figurine wearing a backward golden hat and short pants, is not so cocksure as to entirely rule out a galactic realignment racking our beloved magnetic poles on Dec. 21, upending convention and fermenting a cataclysm alongside several shortages of encased meats. There are some who say the recent projections of a 2013 bacon shortage may represent an early warning sign.

In keeping with this internet page’s longstanding tradition of a stiffened upper lip we nevertheless brush off certain galactic problems and consider probable front-runners for this year’s SOTY.

Justin Figueroa, alleged front-runner, has all of the stringy hair, yellowy teeth and poor hygiene choices that represent hallowed wishstones of the Thrasher lifestyle, and he has given generously of his volatile handrail riding unto Jake Phelps & co this year and those past — his 50-50 to ollie out over the steps in that Lizard King roadtrip series was some straight video game nonsense and expectations for his section in the (Thrasher exclusive, natch) upcoming Baker Boys production are riding high, particularly after he clear-cut much of the stockpile from his recent ad photo archive for the Shake Junt vid late last year.

Nyjah Huston has on offer a largish contest win in his Street League championship and a reality TV show-worthy redemption song narrative to sell, if Thrasher is buying, though you may prefer to believe their executives in the market for more unrated fare such as the XYZ video or the Menace “Epicly Later’d.” Cutting the dreads and ties to his dad-manager may have helped and Nyjah Huston no doubt pushes the big tricks, but his major video part moment was late 2011, and does Thrasher care about big-money contests as opposed to their own small-stakes, spot-specific ventures?

Vincent Alvarez seems in certain ways like he should be a readymade Thrasher success story, multidisciplined, not too beholden to fussy technical skating and traditionally clad in work pants. “Pretty Sweet” and the Skate Sauce vid represent a tall-pour rail drink elixir that ought to put him at least in the conversation. He’s not flown too far beneath the Thrasher radar, running the year’s first cover for Lakai’s KOTR win. One downside, he may not have enough tattoos.

David Gonzales is a young aggressor with boss moves, a Thrasher cover photo and the near-requisite web-exclusive video part complete with Judas Priest, copious black denim and various throw-up-the-horns poses. There’s no point denying the high-test handrails he gets on, even if he does some of the time wind up basically steering backside onto a previously frontsided obstacle with not a lot of other imagination at work. If I had a vote I’d have a hard time casting it for him, though his video part last month is real good and for sure the best thing yet he’s documented, but then again, I don’t.

Mark Suciu can be the sleeper submission, spending the past year-plus roving the countryside, oozing tricks and video footage as he ascends the sponsorship ranks. For those counting High Speed Productions-specific scoring he put his landmark Atlas shop section on Thrasher’s website, put his “Cityscape” part on Slap and as a Bay Area representative has toiled away not just at SF spots but also in and around lesser-seen urban San Jose. Since he’s legally still an amateur he may not have the needed gravitas to command the hot SOTY spotlight, but if this dude does not have a pro board in the works by year’s end something wrong and you can reasonably assume the galactic realignment is affecting the workflow on earth.

Ryan Decenzo comes off a little like a knuckle-dragging rail fighter in the Nyjah mode but with generally more thoughtful trick offerings, and this year has made some nominal Thrasher waves via his KOTR MVP turn and some choice photos here and there. Maybe not enough to win the big nod, but Jake Phelps has a well-publicized soft spot for Canadian burlies, and regardless it’s interesting to someone somewhere how the one on Darkstar at this point seems to have eclipsed the one on Plan B.

Cory Kennedy is our dark-horse pick, harboring a formidable head of steam in the way of sequences and the odd clip here and there over the last couple years, plus time logged in a King of the Road van and a prime year-end stage for deploying all his egregious footage bombs in the Girl/Choco video next month. The b/s tail kickflip b/s tail still haunts the mind. At this juncture Cory Kennedy’s a young pro with little but mind-boggling output on his resume, placing him in around the same chronological marker as Andrew Reynolds, Grant Taylor, Silas Baxter Neal or Brian Anderson when they won it, so he’s not too green.

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.

If Grant Taylor Or Brandon Westgate Win Skater Of The Year, Will Leo Romero Evolve To Become Skateboarding’s Albert Gore?

November 10, 2010

If I learned anything watching the mildly psychedelic new Toy Machine production, it is that Leo Romero plays fast and loose with the laws that govern speed physics and US tax code, to such a degree that he must be branded a rebel. It is proven true by his moustache and cowboy hats. His taste for going fast and an eye for scale re: obstacle selection have turned him into one of the era’s most recognizable and bloggable pros, solidifying market share.

Yet the Leo era still harbours a gap not easily crossed by the four urethane wheels of a man. Can he capture the heart of skating’s loudest (and more or less historically accurate) Nor-cal critics, alongside the symbolic trophy and free beer a SOTY title promises? Will he reign in glory forevermore alongside Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Danny Way, or trod into his bank-skating autumn years an overlooked icon such as the Muska, pressedganged into conquering the LA record-playing business or New York spray paint art in lieu of the Phelper’s undying embrace.

Much like the Muska of yesteryear, Leo Romero currently is “in the groove” and securing trick-footage the likes of which will not be easily replicated. And they are dangerous tricks. You wish for a second angle on the final crooked grind of “Brainwash” to better judge how the rail kinks just so, but are left wondering. He forgoes the certainty of a motorcycle tow-in and instead just pushes as hard/many times as possible, maybe making the jump or maybe not. He throws himself onto deeply committed frontside feeble grinds that might wrap a lesser ‘boarder’s hardgoods around the metal pole. There is an ease of movement even when trying the otherwise nonsensical, like the up-rail tricks in the Emerica vid, that surfaces also in the mildly technical items he throws out now and then (nollie b/s heelflip off the curb and hydrant switch heelflip, “Brainwash,” b/s nosegrind nollie bigspin heelflip out, “Stay Gold” (even tho the sequence contained that one hilarious spread-eagle frame)).

Like Al Gore, Leo Romero has toiled in ditches to get where he is, flopping over handrails and spilling onto the sidewalk part of the job, but with the biggest popularity contest of the season now before him all chips are on the table. Speculation arises whether a shocking 2010 SOTY loss could drive him into a wilderness period, farming a beard and rethinking the whole reason God made him Senator of Tennessee, known to some as the “Volunteer” state. Perhaps he would try his hand at carpentry, or become a welterweight prize-fighter seeking redemption among a colorful cast of ne’er-do-wells, or feed the poor or create a book filled with detailed drawings of anatomy.

Two of Jake Phelps’ other musings for the title have been mentioned but a more plausible GWB-figure could maybe be found in team-mate Nick Trapasso, a renowned mumbler and word-mangler that has glided to a lofty position atop the skate heap with seeming ease and not a lot of stressing. Not breaking a sweat really this year, but Trapasso did rate the closer section in Thrasher’s still-fantastic “Prevent This Tragedy” and has impressed with what appears like an endless Santa-Claus sack of tricks (in “Brainwash” there’s a switch inward heelflip outta nowhere, and a nice nollie noseslide which has become one of those you suddenly don’t see often enough). A smoker/joker/mid-night toker who would be my pick for this year’s dark horse, if that counts for anything after the Chris Cole twopeat caught me completely off guard.

Chris Cole: Back For the First Time

December 5, 2009


Turn his SOTY on, again

Chris Cole is an amazing skater with a truckload of natural ability and the skill of a sober ninja who was born in the 1980s. I would say Pierre Luc Gagnon, for instance, is another dude with high skill levels and the temerity to take it to the extreme. But there can be only one skateboard version of the Highlander each year and this year it is again Chris Cole, for any number of probably valid reasons. If you’re an internet bean counter, though, you may count this particular blog zone in the vaguely disappointed pile. Not because Cole isn’t a Rob Zombie superbeasto on the ramps and rails, all while managing to not act like an asshole all over the place. (Did everybody see this one?) And not because we think he won’t hesitate to not withhold punches from his weighty arms should he come upon us saying so. Because he seems like a gentle giant type, despite the skulls and leather and shit. Not like one of those church-burning, brain-gobbling Norweigan guitar slingers. Pretty much what we’re saying is, you could probably buy a used auto from Chris Cole and count on getting at least a decent deal.

But, Skater of the Year twice? Same decade even? The SOTY nomination/voting/election process is famously opaque and has not been overseen by international election observers since His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I took office. There is no doubt that the ultimate yardstick must within the skateboard pudding served up over the course of the year. However. Cole’s noble performances these past 12 months (Wallenberg, Maloof, Berrics, “Strange World”) probably would better serve to affirm the wisdom of his being chosen the first time around, whereas Phelps & Co. could take the opportunity to anoint someone in 2009 who will be assured to blow minds in 2013, should our civilization, such as it is, defy the Mayan calendar and live that long. There’s a strong case to be made for COLETY09 sure, it probably could’ve been made last year too what with that Fallen video, but zeroing in on an already acknowledged legend-in-the-making who also happened to put some blood/sweat into building the Thrasher brand in recent months runs the risk of watering down the one award that’s supposed to mean something, doesn’t it? But you know, at least Sheckler didn’t get it.

Boil the Ocean SOTY Short List 2009

October 11, 2009

busenitz_thunder
Just throw it in the bag

This year seems like last year, kind of, as far as there not being any type of clear front-runner for the most hallowed of skateboard awards that is not distributed in buckets by the Maloof brothers. There’s no Daewon or Danny Way or Arto Saari no-brainer, and while there are several semi-brainers (useful for commentors such as myself), the politics and squishy qualifications and completely opaque voting process makes it all the more interesting and fun to pointlessly speculate. And so we jump in.

Leo Romero: I kind of feel like if that Skateboarder cover had been a Thrasher we wouldn’t even be bloviating on this, but the uphill path of the inscrutable Leonard is part of his appeal – jumping ship from Baker to Toy Machine years after several former bloodsuckers headed headed the owner way and left Ed & co. with their hands in their pockets, alongside a general negative attitude that many have compared to Emerican elder Heath Kirchart. Leo has a potentially ground-shifting video part in store with “Stay Gold,” and while it will not drop this year, Phelps and his buddies have been known to move pre-emptively, and who doesn’t like to look smart?

Heath Kirchart: The buzz is that the Thrasher camp may not have enough love for the brooding bro with the red-carpet disses and vending machine business, but I don’t know. It’s not like the dude goes around handing out cookie bouquets to the other mags, and to a certain degree you could imagine the Thrasher powers that be digging a devil-may-care mode of operation. It would sorta be a safer pick too, since Heath K brought a show-stopper video part in 09 and potentially another one next year. Cons, he hasn’t done much for Thrasher and he skated to Morrissey.

Sean Malto: The teen heartthrob who lives his own reality show, baffling security guards with nollie frontside feeble grinds and shredding the Pacific Northwest with Julien Stranger. Green but his Thrasher cover was among the year’s gnarliest and the non-stop skateboard mission seems to always have room for a stop or shoutout to his beloved Kansas City; a pro model shoe is not far off and he’s had enough footage drizzled out here and there to mold a passable follow-up to “And Now,” but Malto’s 09 slow burn has yet to fully flare, and I’m not sure the cover, rowdy as it is, would get him over.

Dennis Busenitz: The current Slap Board messiah would seem to have SOTY at long last sewn up, with an internet-smashing video part, talked-about contest runs, many good photos and a pro shoe to boot.* He’s a Nor-Cal gnarler who can schralp transition and/or spit out switch 360 flips, he’s with the right companies. If there’s a downside I guess it’s the lack of any super-handrail heroism or mega-ramp fireworks or some type of singularly groundbreaking trick, but then again, maybe that plays to his advantage. In ten years a Busenitz SOTY win would probably come to be seen along the same lines as Chris Senn, which is to say those who know would know, the rest would be wondering “why not P-Rod” and there’d be a certain amount of “you had to be there”

Lizard King Mike Plumb: Let’s put him on the list. The zaniest Wallenberger with a stupider tattoo/carving every month, and he’s a decent interview. Kind of a long shot maybe but one could argue he’s fairly representative of where skating is these days, which is to say, both trick- and movement-wise.

Anthony Van Engelen: The odds might be stacked against him but to my mind the case has never been stronger for an AVESOTY and the brow-furrowing AWS decks it would probably produce. He has a couple magazine covers, a blazing video part, a harrowing comeback story, a bunch of tattoos and he wears Vans. As one who birthed the current fascination with speed and successfully fused hesh grime with precision tech skating he’s for sure a contender from the career standpoint and probably a SOTY everybody could agree with on some level.

Torey Pudwill: Just throwing it out there, Jake Phelps knows who he is and he’s given it to fresh-faced pros before. But, the lack of follow-through on the Wallenberg nollie flip might cost him precious support in the Yay area.

Zered Basset: the King of Zoo York coulda won it the year he made the “Vicious Cycle” part as far as we’re concerned but he nearly hit that mark again in the “State of Mind” video (still thinking the MOP was totally brilliant) and he has been on the Thrasher radar for some time. The drawback might be that he’s been kind of below the radar compared to some of the charge-happy spotlight grabbers like teammate Brandon Westgate, but an elder statesman might be the one to usher the tradition into the next decade.

It seems like there should be some kinda transition dude in here so, I don’t know, Lance Mountain. Insane as Bob’s mega-ramping has been, our view is that he’s a little bit too TWS/Fuel TV these days for Thrasher’s taste. While on the topic it seems like Justin Brock has whatever “rookie of the year” awards wrapped, unless Grant Taylor gets em.

*get it