Posts Tagged ‘Kader Sylla’

A War Outside Your Window

March 12, 2022

Nike Inc. at last grants Ishod Wait a pro shoe, VF Corp.’s Vans same with Lizzie Armanto, Kader Sylla provides more of his pinnacle flick and laughs off Bill Strobeck’s filming foibles, but there’s no comfort. Too much fear and darkness, a planet casting for its footing grabbed and wrenched backward into what seems like a harsher and more brutal age, somewhere that seemed relegated to stale movie plots and militarized video game series. In an age that seemed sometimes to drown itself in shades of blurry and bleeding grays, the rapid reveal of a deep jet-black streak is a cold reminder of an old order that hasn’t gone away.

A year ago spring neared and a path out of a strange, lost year seemed close. Optimistic vibes emanated from Kyle Wilson’s fuzzy-hooded switch backside tailslide, and these mostly held through the variants and waves that obscured and fatigued the winding way back. The most bracing vid for this unsteady new year, though, comes out of embattled Kyiv, ‘Revolutions on Granite,’ a deeply felt documentary on the Ukrainian skate scene via Brendan Gilliam and Peter Dayton Conopask, which screened disorientingly prescient when Thrasher posted it this week.

The vid opens with talk of stone blocks embedded with hunger, blood and tears, and after the past few weeks of neighborhood bombardments, destroyed homes and fleeing families, certain phrases from the interviews seem to hang in the air an extra second or so: “We fought for our territory,” “on the world scene, we were no one,” “we always have troubles with our neighbor.” Some of this relates to the nascent Ukrainian skate scene, as isolated a backwater as there was amid skating’s worldwide nadir in the early 1990s. But the documentary’s power lies in the way it threads together the building — literally in some cases — of a scene centered on Kyiv’s Maidan plaza with the newly freed country’s furtive path out of the Soviet era and toward a freer state of being.

It’s easy for a western-world skater to see his or herself in the beanies, bleached hair and baggy denim that follows as the Kyiv skaters push the potential of their granite playground, and visiting pros like Fred Gall and (of course) Kenny Reed briefly suggest a future for the city as a vibrant satellite of the burgeoning Europe sphere — until 2014, when the plaza devolves into a literal battleground as pro-democracy protesters clash with corruption-tinged figures hailing from the country’s Russia-aligned east. The plaza falls into disrepair, stone tiles broken with hammers to make projectiles for throwing, the memories of dead bodies strewn across the blocks too heavy for at least some of the locals to think of it as anything beyond hallowed ground.

There is a line late in the vid — “Whenever it feels like finally it’s starting, we’re gonna live great lives… there’s always something that gets in the way” — that now can be heard freighted with the awful calm of a hurricane’s eye, or reading yet again a throwaway text exchange with a friend just before they suddenly were gone. You hear the way some of these people talk and feel fairly certain that they are today themselves in a very real fight that perhaps the rest of the world thought was a thing of the past, but they very clearly knew as a present threat. The open question is whether the documentary will prove to be an epitaph or a prequel, and it’s hard not to now come away with the feeling that question weighed on the minds of those who made it.

Thrasher posted a link to donate to Ukrainian refugees; it would be something if gift certificates were available to purchase from Ukrainian skate shops/parks/companies similar to how people have booked Airbnbs to funnel funds to displaced and besieged locals.

Switch Frontside 180 Watch: Rowan Zorilla And The Case For The Fixer-Upper Trick

February 21, 2022

Little loved, often for cause, the switchstance frontside 180 nevertheless remains one of the more exacting barometers for skill, form and trick deployment available across nearly the entire spectrum of pros, ams and bros of any persuasion. Whereas it’s a daily affair to observe and commentate upon a particularly commanding 360 flip, and a rainbow of flavours and fillings of backside tailslides has long been available, a well executed, strategically positioned and pleasurable-to-observe switch frontside 180 remains a rarity indeed, even in this jiggling and footage-drenched age.

Apex specimens can be cracked high and spun late, or floated and slowly turned; like a melonchollie or certain other moves it is a trick that often must be grabbed by the face and ripped to pieces in a primal, commanding display. Those not hip to the teachings risk offering up lazy-scraping crop dusters that have come, sometimes rightly, to render the switch frontside 180 unto the realm of skatepark QP deck jumpers, and aging tween crooner Justin Bieber. Most these days opt to dispense with the whole thing and incorporate a switch heelflip, or kickflip, or make it into a bigspin, and can they be blamed? Even brawny editions such as yung TJ Rogers’ El Toro fling can come off like settling after better ‘basic’ tricks already have been chiseled into the stone tablets of the landmark gaps.

In a heady and histrionic time, there is a whiff of renaissance around the switch frontside 180, and rumours of things yet to pass. Quartersnacks recently observed in its year-end video part rodeo how Kyle Wilson’s booming version, which holds a firm position in his regular rotation, looks like he could take it over a house. His ‘Portions’ and ‘Beyond Tha 3rd Wave’ switch frontside 180s, paired with Kyle Wilson’s globally and correctly recognized ‘boss status,’ have in turn helped elevate the trick to a ‘cultural relevancy’ reminiscent of the late 1990s, when Tim O’Connor flexed a serrated, tweaked-out take in the Element World Tour video that solidified his status as the best to ever spin it.

The excitements continued this week with an abruptly uploaded Baker video, wherein after an inspiring and invigorating part from fortysomething Andrew Reynolds (who his own self once sailed a slow-mo-ish switch frontside 180 over a handrail whilst wearing a bucket hat in Birdhouse’s ‘The End’, released on the cusp of the Lewinsky affair), many astute switch frontside 180 watchers likely slumped back into the couch cushions, drowsy and sated by Kader Sylla’s textbook entry during the line that made up the bulk of his footage — the type that cemented this trick as a reliable line-linker in the mid-90s SoCal schoolyards wave.

This turned out tho to be a warm-up for Rowan Zorilla’s spin on the trick halfway through his blazing and ramshackle closer, flying one over a rail and into a bank that synthesized most of the premium versions available for this trick — high and lofty, a little bit of tweak and late rotation, over a handrail — to push up the switch frontside 180’s power rankings on the west side. The jazzy intonations and kink count make it an easy mirrorable of Danny Renaud’s CA sweep in ‘Mosaic’, and given Rowan Zorilla’s assortment of lesser-seen switchstance tricks and loose-fitting executions it is not surprising he’d have a good one, generating tingles as to what may come next in the still-building 2020s switch frontside 180 wave.

Did Rowan Zorilla opt not to bother to tighten his trucks on that rocky hubba ride or did his fuzzy, vaguely animalistic Supreme sweater bestow some poorly understood, primal powers? Do Supreme dudes really need to go that hard on the handrails? With Kader Sylla now of an age to lease luxury autos, does onetime Shep Dawg hot shoe Rowan Zorilla register as a Baker old head? What does that make Andrew Reynolds, here with footage that suggests no measurable decline since ‘Made 2’? Who is gonna be the next one on the switch frontside 180 Summer Jam screen?

Breakups 2 Makeups

September 22, 2019

This week’s most entertaining spectator sport took place inside Manhattan’s Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, where Tekashi 6ix9ine snitched with wild abandon upon his former Nine Trey Blood gang affiliates, other rappers, and also himself. In the ‘Goodfellas’ narrative of 6ix9ine’s unlikely rise from restaurant employee to rainbow-haired viral shouter, it was a faster-than-expected arrival at the penultimate, pointy-fingered courtroom scene, but probably well suited to 6ix9ine’s speed-of-social media career arc, not to mention the attention spans of ‘kids these days.’

Are there takeaways or extrapolations toward skateboarding beyond the pop shove-it reference in 6ix9ine’s 2018 barker ‘Gummo’? Well, as 6ix9ine bid goodbye to his former gang pals with several days of heavyweight tattling and lawyers pontificated upon ‘stanzas’ of his songs, the longer-running and more wholesome partnership between Andrew Reynolds and Emerica concurrently drew to an end — a different yet no less seismic breakup that even a year ago seemed at once inevitable and unthinkable, unless you were up on all those earlier Adidas rumors.

For those keeping score at home, Kader Sylla was born, learned to walk, was spotted by Reynolds, turned pro and backside noseblunted the Muni bench within the span of Andrew Reynolds’ 20-year Emerica sponsorship. This was multiples longer than the couple years 6ix9ine and Nine Trey spent mutually exploiting one another, and likely more lucrative in both monetary and cultural senses: Andrew Reynolds headlined ‘This is Skateboarding’ and ‘Stay Gold,’ helped define multiple eras and Emerica itself, immortalizing stretch denim and green filters along with handrails and big jumps, and selling boatloads of footwear. Few pros have been more closely entwined with a shoe supplier. Three of Google’s top ten suggested Emerica searches involve Reynolds, both share the letters ‘E’ and ‘R’ and ‘A’ in their names*, the company continues to have dozens of his products for sale, and didn’t they cut him an equity stake after denying Eric Koston’s similar demand before losing him to Lakai?

For these reasons and others, Andrew Reynolds’ Emerica departure has birthed much moisty-eyed reminiscing and a vague sense of sadness for days past, viewed through emerald-coloured glasses. And perhaps rightfully so, but what’s being mourned? Wistful feels for Andrew Reynolds’ decades on the Sole Tech payroll remind how, as the years get reeled in and healthy livin helps careers sprawl across multiple decades, skateboarding maybe ain’t so much different than the industry’s rivals-turned-idols, major league sports, where legacies are lionized, jerseys retired, and extensive commemorative marketing campaigns marshaled. It’s also worth pondering, as the dissolution of Andrew Reynolds’ and Emerica’s long-running economic relationship stirs the loins and emotions of various devotees, how ‘the culture’ remains heavily tethered to the mutualized interests of both hard- and softgood manufacturers and their independent contractors.

While busily telling on his illegal gang affiliates in court last week, 6ix9ine described his own deal with Nine Trey:

Q. As a member of Nine Trey what responsibilities, if any, did you have?
A. Just keep making hits and be the financial support for the gang.

Q. And what, if anything, did you get from Nine Trey?
A. I would say my career.

In the final analysis, was Andrew Reynold’s 20-year run with Emerica substantially different? In this blog web site’s belaboured metaphor, is Andrew Reynolds 6ix9ine, or really Nine Trey? Could Emerica’s classy IG goodbye to Reynolds be a lesson for Plan B, which offered a hamhanded sendoff to Brazilian dynamo Leticia Bufoni by way of a photo of a second-place win with some chatbot-level pleasantries? Could all the 6ix9ine/Nine Trey hurt feelings, federal charges and personal stress for Jim Jones have been avoided if 6ix9ine and his friends could have gazed into some digitally social** crystal ball to witness, in advance, how Andrew Reynolds and Emerica handled their parting, while also peeping a Vans-clad Reynolds ripping in the Lotties vid? If 6ix9ine got an early look at Nick Michel’s Lotties footage would he have spilled the beans on the Slap board?

*Spelling out ‘Era,’ a well knowed Vans pro model shoe, possibly foreshadowing his eventual footwear landing pad?
**Or socially digital

Jamie Foy Is The 90-10 King

May 26, 2019

These days, tricks need to do more. Executing barrel rolls, 180-degree denominated rotations and combinations thereof long ago ceased to be enough. In our bristly and perspirating time, tricks are called upon to be vehicles — grinding, sliding platforms upon which a body can place other tricks, greater distance, more kinks, personal brands, and, for those heedful of Rob Dyrdek’s sensible advice, luxury automobile lease payments.

Such is the role for certain tricks that years ago became too basic to regularly inspire on their own — the boardslide, the 50-50 grind, the backside noseslide. The recent dad trick renaissance aside, these maneuveurs now occupy a building-block role similar to the wide and flat Lego pieces upon which any number of castles, moon bases or Disney-licensed models can and must be constructed. While the noseslide has segued into a nostalgia piece and the boardslide has undergone some brutal grafting-on of other tricks to ‘stay relevant,’ their forms by and large have remained the same. Less so with the 50-50, which as we shall see has gradually mutated into nearly an entirely different trick altogether, so as to go deeper, farther and sometimes, to a different time/space entirely.

The year was 1992, Instagram had yet to be innovated, and Pat Duffy was the Terminator in plaid flannel; upon initial viewing, his double-kink 50-50 grind down the handrail towards the end initially struck some as unbelievable camera trickery. But upon chin-strokeful lookings back, the trick is fairly textbook in its execution, a hint of toe-side pinch on the mount, leveled out between the trucks for the rest of the descent. Jamie Thomas, top street-style skateboarder and late-1990s inheritor of the House 50-50, made them truly so in ‘Welcome to Hell’ — sailing one down the big Brooklyn Banks rail, the noted tail-tap ride-out on the long flat bar, and leaning slightly backside through the final 20-stair. But similar to the industry empire-building that was to come, Jamie Thomas also hints toward the utilitarian evolution the 50-50 itself would undergo over the next decades, skewing the rail between the toe-side of his front truck and the heel side of his rear truck in the bump-to-bar 50-50 transfer.

Twenty something years later, robots drive our semi trucks, the biggest Nas in the music biz is a country-western singer, and the 50-50 is a different creature. You can still find the ‘classic editions,’ but it’s just as common to find the post-Y2K, hybrid-ready variant: the 90/10, or 10/90, in which the rail is jammed nearly crossways between the front and back trucks for improved positioning for the next kink, or the flip trick out, or the final 20 feet. In our bionic age, the main requirement no longer is just getting to the bottom, the people require more.

It should come as no surprise that the lead 90-10 practitioner is Jamie Foy, the ‘pinch god’ knowed for popping out of frontside crooked grinds higher than lesser ones can ollie. For Jamie Foy, the 90-10 is the preferred landing position for once-unthinkables like kickflipping onto a round and ‘skateproofed’ bar. With the 90-10, he can hop onto a round kinker and very soon pop a shove-it out, relax atop a cutty triple set while eyeing the sidewalk ride-off to come, or navigate the gentleman’s curve of yet another overlong and kinked round rail.

Like all worthwhile paydirt in skateboarding’s great intellectual property pile, the 90-10 rapidly has drawn eager prospectors well on their way toward mining it out. The skate industry’s little bro made good Kader Sylla is a convert, as is Creature’s heathen warlord Kevin Baekkel. Jamie Foy’s SOTY predecessor Kyle Walker uses a long 90-10 to reposition at the tail end of his ‘Spinning Away’ helicopter factory before riding away clean.

Will the 90-10, practical but aesthetically sort of off-putting, clear the way for a renaissance of ‘true’ 50-50s, similar to what Brian Wenning’s mid-block pop-outs did for the backside nosegrind? Is the 90-10 made easier through truck wear on similarly pinch-ready tricks, such as the crooked grinds that dig out what Ted Barrow has termed the ‘crook nook’? Is the increasingly technical nature and rising danger quotient of modern 90-10-related tricks antithetical to the more mellow, soul-carving world envisioned by the probable Ipath-skating hippies whose loose trucks style opened the way for first the pinch and then the 90-10 itself?