Posts Tagged ‘Justin Brock’

Aggravated Breed

November 7, 2015

thugger_dunk

Justin Brock’s part in Nike’s 2009 all-am ‘Debacle’ six years later remains rightly heralded as a triumph of chunky wallrides and massive frontside bigspins, yet its underlying theme of hard labor as a unifying force, if not a humanizing one, remains dusty and obscured like a dust-covered, obscure book somewhere. Bankrolled by the biggest employer in skating and soundtracked not coincidentally to blue-collar bards Skid Row’s number one platinum single ‘Slave to the Grind,’ Justin Brock meditated upon themes of toil and control, driving home the point by sporting spectacles that reflected the drudgery of the assembly-line worker, whose dreams of becoming Montana’s poet laureate or a champ bass angler are rendered wholly unrecognizable by smeary, sweat-fogged safety goggles.

Now it is nearly 2016*, the fall breeze bears whiffs of a fresh Nike video release, and pros are considering their futures. Haves increasingly are separated out from have-nots: Witness the footage largesse of Nyjah Huston, allegedly on the cusp of his own Nike payday, releasing a video section in accordance with various contractual niceties rather than any particular team effort, only to slide off the Thrasher front page in a matter of days. Chris Joslin, whose skills on the gaps left him somehow overdue for a professional nod only about a year after manifesting on mobile screens, achieved his own signature board after heading to the Eastern Hemisphere to film a part in under two weeks, a future seemingly assured so long as his ligaments stay game. Elsewhere the industry’s economic contraction ensures that the rich tradition of pros and would-be pros with day jobs continues, nodded to recently by Aaron Herrington and, in the TWS issue sporting his skyscraper backside tailslide on the cover, Jon Nguyen:

TWS: Do you drive Uber cars to supplement your income too? How is that?
JN: Yeah, I do. It’s fine. It’s work. It’s relatively easy. If you don’t mind driving, it’s not a big deal. It’s kind of cool because I can just do it whenever I need to. If I’m really hurting for money, I can just push it and work like a week straight too.

How does it work? You’re just in the system and if you want to give rides, you clock in?
You sign up to be a driver and then you just turn the app on and set it to driver mode when you want to work and you’re ready to go. You get paid weekly; it goes straight to your bank account. They take like 25 percent or something, but it’s so convenient. You don’t have a boss and then if I’m going on a trip, I can just not work for a couple of weeks. They’re just trying to make money, so they don’t give a shit about you. But I’m just trying to make money too, so I don’t give a shit about them.

Are those would-be careerists that lack any fiscal lifelines dangled by a diversified sporting goods merchant, soda company or televised competition circuit boxing themselves out of any path toward a secure and comfortable life beyond the world’s urine-soaked hubbas, bondo’d handrail approaches and urethane-scarred walls? According to 360 flip smith grind popularizer and onetime beanie magnate Josiah Gatlyn the answer is a tantalizing ‘maybe,’ as per a widely-circulated YouToob comment that dared to call into question skating’s long-held subcultural maxim which positions the ‘office job’ somewhere toward the bottom of Dante’s flamey underworldly rings, probably around ‘anger’ and ‘heresy.’ Josiah Gatlyn goes on to suggest such verboten concepts as pursuing education and recommends cutting any street dreams with a healthy splash of pragmatism:

The average career only lasts around 5-10 years tops, and I’m pretty sure there’s only been about 10-20 professionals (at the very most, I feel like there are way less) out of thousands who have even gotten close to making enough money that they wouldn’t have to worry about getting a career job after their career was over. I have no idea why people assume that professional skateboarders make so much money. That’s absolutely not true. Basically, every pro will eventually be spit out into the real world. That process only gets harder and harder the older you get. From age 20 – 25 are the most important years of your entire life and regardless if you’re a skateboarder or not, if you do not figure out what career path you’re going to take, you’re going to struggle pretty hard.

The skateboard business, awash with young souls eager to quit high school and skate for boards, beers, airfare, hotel rooms and per diem, seemed in no mood for Josiah Gatlyn’s broadsides, and an unlikely figure emerged to rebut them — Sierra Fellers, whose own career seemed on the wane after Foundation dropped him, but who maintains with the Ramshakle company. Sierra Fellers’ response Ride Channel article wonders whether Josiah Gatlyn is making excuses for not wanting a pro career badly enough to make whatever steep sacrifices may be required, and taking the ‘easy way out’ by returning to the ‘real world.’

Recently I’ve asked a lot of people about what happened to him and what he was doing, and everyone I’ve talked to said that he was bitter at the skate industry and gave up to be a designer. Which, sadly, after reading the YouTube comment that’s been circulating, seems to be true.

When you do what you’re truly passionate about, it’s usually so much harder and more work than anything else. It would have been a lot easier for me to get a “normal job” and start working on my promotions. If anything, skateboarding has been the main source of education for me. All the traveling, skating, having a good time, and even the partying have taught me way more than I could have ever imagined to prepare me for the “real world.”

Could Sierra Fellers be correct? Speaking from experience, former Foundation 360 flipper and first-wave PissDrunxist Tony DaSilva recently described to Jenkem his own leisurely and mellow path back to the real world as being lined with plush comforts such as indoor pollution clouds, general societal disconnect and close proximity to hot, hot truckstop fellatio:

Many of us that step out of the skate industry after making a living at it are left over as society’s bottom feeders. We don’t have anything to offer. We don’t have a degree. We don’t write with proper grammar. We speak our own language.

I started realizing we’re all a part of the same day-to-day struggle. We’re all scrambling to figure out where the hell we’re going. And that through skateboarding, I had retained and gained a hell of a lot more life experience than most of the people I was getting to know. This was the factor that separated me from all of them, but it was becoming one of the pieces that now gave me more confidence.

It was skateboarding that gave me the tools that enabled me to transition into the “real world.” I couldn’t see it at the time though. The thing that I thought had kept me so sheltered and embedded in a niche culture, was ultimately what prepared me for what was next.

Is Sierra Fellers’ plight for street-dreaming dreamers to keep chasing those nocturnal transmissions a pure-hearted effort to talk the next generation’s Jake Johnsons and Paul Rodriguezes from tossing their skills and promises of video parts yet to come into that fetid toilet bowl that is the 9-5 lifestyle? Or is he carrying water for a secretive cabal of vampyric industry heads who require a steady supply of youthful aspiration and low-cost human tissue to power their mechanized operations, similar to the global baller robots profiled in the ‘Matrix’ movies? It’s often hard to tell with baller robots, and so these questions must be asked.

Sierra Fellers’ response to Josiah Gatlyn does regurgitate one of skating’s more timeworn tropes, which is that despite all the various injuries and indignities, skating as a career is a rich, fulfilling wonderland versus the vacuous, soul-corroding netherworld represented by the dreaded ‘office job.’ It can come off rather rich coming from the genetically and geographically gifted who are lucky enough to entertain the choice, and whereas skating’s far from the first sphere to hum the semi-sensical ‘do what you love’ mantra, it seems fair to wonder whether nurturing personal wish-fulfillment scenarios and squinting at longterm security through meager monthly minimums and ready-to-flip flow packages can persist as one’s third decade approaches.

Among the world’s ditchdiggers, insurance claim adjustors and adult cinema custodians are there solely embittered quitters to be found, who otherwise might have blessed the planet and achieved their dreams as opera singers, socialite-philosophers or addled weblog authors? What then of our ditches, insurance claims and adult cinema floors? As the skate biz constricts and veteran pros bat eyes at high-toned corporate sponsors in hopes of stretching their own careers a few more years, do the web mavens, graphic artists, logistics staff and talent managers ponder their own monetary sacrifices to continue under the industry’s independent division, versus buddying up to more corporate concerns? For their own good, should pros consider the maxim of Pontus Alv, who figured the optimum lifespan of a board company at about ten years, with regard to professional careers?

*Partially because the Mayan calendar flubbed the alleged 2012 apocalypse

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.

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?