Posts Tagged ‘Lakai’

Summer of Good Vibes

August 21, 2017

The heady daytimes of midsummer were made for growing green things, construction projects and loving refurbishments, laying supplies and fortifications for the long winter nights ahead. What with its rolling papers and noon wakeups, skateboarding leans toward the lazily fiddling, devil-may-care grasshopper in the tale of old, or perhaps a chaotic Fraggle. But the bold ant, in its levelheaded industriousness and generous way, can provide an alternate insect avatar, and skating must never overlook the rebuildatory tendencies of the lowly Doozer. Half-submerged in a midsummer night’s dream of positive vibes, Bowl The Ocean site examines three visions of a world that is not yet the future, but could be.

Clint and Reef, Ollie Men: Since time’s beginning, skateboarders of all stripes have celebrated that singular and uniting thrill, the big jump. Even so, one of the biggest ollies of recent years has sown division. After dueling ollies down the Wilshire 15 and over the yellow poles (implanted for pure gnarlieness enhancement) appeared last year on the Instagram pages of Birdhouse bad boy Clint Walker and FA-affiliated ATLien Reef Johnson, Jenkem magazine probed the backstory — whereas Clint Walker had tamed the massive gap and sat on the photo in hopes of bagging Thrasher’s cover, comer-upper Shareef Grady unknowingly did the same ollie and, over Clint Walker’s career-minded protestations, they both wound up pushing their tricks to the socializing internet masses to get what shine they could. The scenario was a debacle made possible by a unique fender-bender involving old and new media, and though few hard feelings were aired publicly, nobody seemed satisfied with the outcome, which also had the effect of clouding a legitimately heavy trick.

This year, Jason Hernandez is videotaping Clint Walker and the rest of Tony Hawk’s brood for what’s being billed as ‘The End’ for a new generation. Clint Walker, who has nollie heelflipped atop bone-crushing canyons and conquered fear itself, will have an assuredly crazy part. But what about that one ollie, now loaded with so much baggage? An old caveman saying from the planet’s spryer years holds that ‘the crazy thing about baggage is that it’s lighter when a friend helps carry the load,’ and the statement never was truer than when applied to the Birdhouse video in progress. Imagine a break in the middle of Clint Walker’s section where he rolls up to the Wilshire 15 and Poles, then it cuts to him jumping it, but the camera keeps rolling and then Yung Reef comes right behind him and jumps it too, riding out into a torrent of bro hugs and high fives. The vibes would runneth over.

Lakai Collabo Matchup: Even upon opening a new chapter with a winning full-length built around mostly new faces, storied shoe group Lakai faces turbulence, over the past month reportedly having to send back and reprint all physical DVD copies on some music rights shit and Fort Miley burler Jon Sciano leaving, apparently to skate for Vans. Amid Lakai’s various high-profile team defections over the last few years, Blackpooler Danny Brady has held tight, getting a shoe design recently for his efforts.

Lakai’s collaborative shoe projects have run an extremely varied gamut of partners, from culture warrior Lena Dunham to certain Wild Things to further investments in pastel paneling via several sneakers colored by Illegal Civilization person Nico Hiraga. But the Danny Brady link provides a lane for Mike Carroll and Rick Howard to potentially something together with Palace, which has made deluxely curated bathrobes and swishy shirts with any number of mega sports gear manufacturers such as Adidas and Umbro and Reebok. Palace’s teaming with Bronze helped elevate the New York bolt factory to a sought-after street fashion sensation. A similar project could further invigorate Lakai and keep Danny Brady shod on his current productive path.

Brian Wenning For Hire: For those fumbling toward some nightlight amid dark hours of the soul this summer, Brian Wenning’s recent podcast unburdenings have left DNA Distribution devotees of a certain vintage aglow. By all accounts, Brian Wenning reached the bottom of his own self-fulfilling prophecy and a humble halfway-house rebuild seemingly has done wonders for his self-regard, career reassessment and, importantly, his switch backside nosegrinds. Slimmed down and again in DCs, Brian Wenning is starting to look like he never went anywhere, venturing back onto the road and appearing to deeply enjoy himself.

His could be a feel-good summertime story, especially as Habitat prepares to reissue one of his OG graphics in what looks like a tribute to clamoring back onto life’s board. But Al Davis, another former Habitater asked and answered what must be the ultimate question in the matter: ‘PUT HIM BACK ON!!!!’

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‘People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, okay? They come to Lakai Limited Footwear for the atmosphere and the attitude. Okay? That’s what ‘The Flare’ is about. It’s about fun.’

July 30, 2017

What if you’d been told, on the occasion of ‘Fully Flared’s premiere nigh ten years ago, that Anthony Pappalardo’s part would provide a primary guiding light for the shoe supplier’s next full-length video — would you have believed it? Similarly could any 80’s baby have guessed that it would be Crailtap’s joint tour vids with Anti-Hero that would set the Girl and Choco camp’s course for much of the ’10s? What would you say if some time-mastering pixie had whispered ten years ago that Lakai would require the vision of a Mattel toy company exec to navigate the wiles of a marketplace commanded by Nike and Adidas? Could a mere humanoid imagination conjure a world in which Jake Phelps is a recognized television personality, Dr. Dre works for Apple and apologizes for his gangsta past, a new Star Wars movie comes out every year, Gucci Mane lives a life of domestic sobriety, and former reality TV game show host Donald Trump leads the free world?

It’s true, all of it. Now comes “The Flare,” Lakai’s first formal video project since Barack Obama’s inauguration, perceived by some as a comeback, executed more like a reboot. Any lingering pathos or hard feeling from recent years’ departures and drama is shoved to one side by a grinning Italian who opens the vid with the type of low-fi inventiveness that once drew wiggly yellow lines across California streets and breathed life into a fuschia-hued setup. Following any initial disorientation and upset stomachs, Federico Vitetta dispenses with much of the high-tech effects and in-your-face emoting that at times distracted and dragged on the Ty Evans-helmed productions, instead plunking in moustachioed passersby on horseback, operatic music drops and occasional WWFing of trash cans, lightening the load carried by Altamont Capital’s newest flarees.

Whether the intro’s orbish viewfinder is emblematic of some proverbial rolling stone, casting loose all moss and withered tendrils of the past as it rolls beneath that flatbed trailer, is a question best left up to individual viewers and low-scoring undergraduate term papers. Lakai’s slate is not wiped fully clean — Simon Bannerot, a curly-haired hucker with a lovely fakie frontside kickflip, is tagged in by ‘Fully Flared’ curtain-hoister Mike Mo Capaldi to fulfill similar duties here, gliding long frontside noseslides, nose manualing down steps and launching what’s got to be one of the more daring wallies this side of Lizard King’s parking ramp blast. Sebo Walker goes in with Cory Kennedy fits and a princely De La Soul tune for his gnarliest part to date, Jon Sciano tosses an M-80 of a 360 flip over a garbage bin, Raven Tershy goes the distance on the Andy Roy bar and twirls a magnificent Cab disaster, Yonnie Cruz cracks a switch ollie into one of multiple hairy hills. Jesus Fernandez’s ledge tech remains in ascent — he gets onto the Dylan Rieder block switch — while Vincent Alvarez strings together a marathon line at the LA High School banks, and Stevie Perez jumps a rickety bar to a backside smith grind and traces some fairly tech lines through various European blocks. Riley Hawk chisels further his own legacy via speed-metal fueled 360 flip noseblunts and screeching kickflip 360 wallride.

Mike Carroll and Rick Howard pop in here and there, Mike Carroll taking a version of his downtown Los Angeles line from ‘Fully Flared’ to a narrow ledge, and Rick Howard shove-iting onto well-worn New York concrete, but the most direct references to Lakai’s prior tentpole come from Tyler Pacheco, a young box-wallriding blazer who seems to have memorized that vid’s lines and lore on his way toward meeting and skating with his childhood heroes. For all its storied catalogue, though, the Crailtap camp never has seemed particularly stuck on legacy-burnishing when it comes to their videos, and the passage of time, trends and team members merits a different context in which ‘The Flare’ ought to be considered.

Probably it is true that this video will not alter skating’s course the way ‘Fully Flared’ did, and may not attain ‘Yeah Right’s’ level of envelop-pushing handrail pyrotechnics, or capture an era like ‘Mouse.’ Does it have to? It’s worth considering that before Lakai offered up MJ’s 13-minute opus, brought Guy Mariano’s career back from the dead, and helped establish Lucas Puig’s international sensationdom, it was Mike Carroll and Rick Howard’s chosen roster of style luminaries and promising youngsters who collectively weren’t setting out to craft some vision of skating to come, or on any mission to refurbish any beloved brand name. Toward the end, what’s arguably ‘The Flare’s’ biggest twist doesn’t involve a bunch of fire or green screens but rather a clever spin on skating with the bros.

Was this type of team reset the best thing to happen to Lakai? Do any full-length vids have the capacity these to change the conversation and hit as hard as ‘Fully Flared’ did 10 years ago? Will Tyler Pacheco set off a multiyear trend of table-bonking flip tricks capped off with the ‘Carroll Thumb’? Is Jesus Fernandez an odds-on favorite to win, place or show in the race for the year’s best hardflip?

Events on the Horizontal Horizon of the Eventful Event Horizon

February 20, 2017

“Blessed be the ties that bind,” the good book says, referring to the festive ties donned by Medieval lords on the occasions of their weddings to matrons true of virtue and plump of size, who in turn wore flowery gowns and pointed hats in keeping with the custom of the time. The old saying however also could equally apply to the metaphorical plastic zip-ties that once bound the international skateboard community as tightly as the wrists of a newly gagged hostage, but now have been stretched, frayed and slicked with blood after a 20-year ride in a darkened trunk, bumping through energy drink-sponsored contest spectacles, international footwear investment and reality television seasons.

In this brave and bawdy 2017, year of the Rooster, what can draw together late-90s puffy-tongued plaza revivalists with mega-ramping park prodigies and their pastel-draped, body-varialing brethren? Time was, a big video could command the culture’s attention through months of ‘coming soon’ magazine adverts, a few carefully blown deadlines and a riot-inducing premiere. But ‘event’ vids increasingly have become the domain of the major shoe company, and that cupboard looks increasingly barren as Nike, Adidas, Emerica and Vans all have shot their respective full-length wads over the last two years, with mixed results; nearly all now seem to have sworn off the sort of hourlong teamrider-wrangling that takes years and increasingly seldomly stands up under colossal expectations erected with promotional hashtags, tossed-off teaser clips, and internet punditry.

Foundation last week premiered the latest entry into one of history’s stalwart video legacies, ranging from ‘Supercollider Superconductor’ to ‘Rolling Thunder’ to ‘Art Bars’ and ‘That’s Life’ – a heavy underdog narrative was built into the roll-out, including teamriders funding their own trips and pay whittled down to board royalties, making one wonder whether ‘Oddity’ should get you psyched on this latest iteration of the magic F or just hope these legitimately gnarly dudes find themselves a better deal. Ahead lies Transworld’s ‘Riddles in Mathematics,’ extending another beloved video dynasty with a knockout lineup and a GZA-cribbing title, helmed by Chris Theissen, whose Bordeaux-sipping extreme close-up techniques in last year’s ‘Substance’ bypassed perspective and boosted Dramamine sales. The majorest upcoming video may be Lakai’s ‘Flare,’ though with only four names remaining from the decade-ago (!) ‘Fully Flared’ lineup after former pro-model flarees succumbed to the gravitational pull of Nike, Adidas and old age, and much riding on emergent hot shoes such as Tyler Pacheco, Simon Banerot and Cody Chapman, it seems as much a reboot as anything — though the droney zooms and slick panning activity characterizing recently departed flare pilot Daniel Espinoza’s Royal Trucks part, assumed repurposed from his Lakai footage, looks very much prettier/sweeter versus any type of filmographic departures in the Federico Vitetta era.

After witnessing the coming-togetherness spurred by Brian Anderson’s coming out, Dylan Rieder’s death and earlier, John Cardiel’s ‘Epicly Laterd,’ are skating’s shared cultural events leaning less on videos and contests and more on personal narratives like SOTY? Can ‘Sabotage5’ transcend the tragedy of Love Park’s demise or only leave lingering questions as to what the fuck Philadelphia was thinking, and how did the resurrecting Alien Workshop not get behind a group of dudes so heavily infatuated with one of the Sovereign Sect’s most enduring heydays? Will Palace ever get around to doing a ‘proper’ video or are their mixtape-style releases like last year’s ‘V Nice’ so good they needn’t bother? Is Birdhouse gonna take another run at video history with Jason Hernandez behind the lens? Will Danny Way’s now 2-year-overdue video part ever drop or will Bob Burnquist come with another project that pushes it back again? Hasn’t it kind of been a long time since Krooked made a video?

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Break It, The Flare Edition

February 2, 2017

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Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Marc Johnson ‘Man Down’

July 9, 2016


Tilt Mode released ‘Man Down’ at the height of the collective’s cultural and military might, spreading its power across several otherwise drab and peaceable continents before the dueling demands of heavy duty sponsorship and real life in general intervened for many of the mode’s most heavily tilted. Here though was crew captain Marc Johnson having a good time in baggy shorts as the Rolling Stones stuffed their noses with disco-era stardust, enjoying his enormous talents amongst playgrounds and makeshift jumpramps before stretching it to its breaking point a few years later in the Lakai vid — his embankment backside 360 kickflip here is a much more relaxed edition than Alex Carolino’s in the contemporary Lordz vid, and tricks such as the switch backside nosegrind and the 5-0 backside 180 are for the ages. At a time when triple-striped shoes again adorn Marc Johnson’s feet after an acrimonious split with a shoe sponsor, it would be a treat to see him do another one like this.

Big Shoes Small Boards

June 19, 2016

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There are some queries that must be considered as the ultimate questions of the time. Is it really what it is? Do gentlemen really prefer brunettes? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Do Gs get to go to heaven? If you couldn’t see the sun rising off the shore of Thailand would you ride then if I wasn’t driving? Has We The Best Season returned? Are you new around here or something man?

In our current big-footwear era of skateboarding, one question goes like this: Do international shoe manufacturers prefer small board companies? You sort of wonder. As Palace and Adidas and Skate Mental and Nike respectively grow cuddlier in the process of producing product lines, fewer such efforts appear to invite the creative hive-minds powering the likes of Element, Flip, Plan B and Zoo York to apply their MS Paint sorcery to established shoe-wall sellers. Meanwhile, the fingerprints of publicly traded footwear conglomerates increasingly seem to smudge the smartphone screens of board-company team managers:

Jamie Thomas: we bent over backwards for trevor for years. all was good, but as we were working with him on his boards, we started hearing that Nike was encouraging him to ride for skate mental because supposedly it would help his situation at Nike; Even though his graphics were done and his pro board was scheduled to be released in 2 months, he hit me up and said thanks for everything, but I’m gonna ride for Skate Mental.

Mike Carroll: Remember with Karsten [Kleppan], when we put out the intro to Lakai video part and then a week later Karsten got on Nike? It’s just like, what the fuck. And then that (Nike) dude Kaspar hit up Sam [Lakai’s Team Manager] and was like, “I know that Karsten’s off of Lakai now, but we want to get him off of Element. We want to get him on a cool company, would you guys be down to sponsor him for Girl?” It’s like, are you that retarded?

Jenkem’s text-messaging theorist: Nike backing riders to ride for small board co’s or start up their own small start up’s to dilute the market with heaps of small brands so the main camps like crailtap, black box (now dwindle) can’t focus on their own shoe programs and have to put their time and resources into keeping their board co’s alive in an over saturated market. Leaving it to them, Cons and adidas which works perfectly because they all co-exist this way in every other sport.

Is ‘small board company’ the proper terminology tho? Of the current Nike skateboard team, about half (16/34) skate for what could be construed as a ‘small/startup’ board company. But it may be more instructive to examine multinational sporting gear manufacturers’ history when it comes to sponsoring dudes who skate for a board company that is affiliated with a ‘legacy’ skate shoe company. In 2007, Nike’s inaugural and unfairly maligned full-length ‘Nothing But the Truth’ included parts from six dudes (out of 22) whose deck sponsors also ran a competing shoe outfit. By the time 2011’s ‘SB Chronicles 1’ arrived, the number had declined to two out of eight; it was 2/7 for ‘Chronicles 2’ and Cory Kennedy was the only one in last year’s ‘Chronicles 3’. Of the 24 bros in ‘Away Days,’ one skates for a board company that also peddles shoes, and on the Converse skate team, it’s one of 13.

Why might a big giant shoe company like its skaters to promote smaller/newer/upstart board companies? The idea of Jenkem’s texting thinker has some logic to it, though the deck sponsor’s ‘marquee’ position as it relates to pros’ pocketbooks has long been on the wane relative to shoes, as former DNA Distribution ‘business guy’ Chris Carter pointed out five years ago. As far as resource drains go, at a time when Brian Wenning and Jereme Rogers are able to formulate heat-press ready artwork and online storefronts, while micro-brands such as Jim Greco’s Hammers and Jeremy Klein’s revived Hook-Ups are able to secure premium pricing on limited runs, the actual overhead of doing a board company could or should be relatively low, assuming that a generation of even top-drawer pros have become accustomed to slimmer signature-board paycheques.

Would encouraging pros away from board companies/distributorships that also run shoe companies make sense for the majors? The post-getting-on-Nike moves of Trevor Colden (Mystery –> Skate Mental) and Karsten Kleppan (Element –> Skate Mental) make you wonder, and of the current SB team, about one-third, from Paul Rodriguez to Koston/Guy to Gino Iannucci, have departed such board companies for startups with no affiliation over the years, for various reasons. A widening gap between the board sponsor and shoe sponsor as far as pay, travel capability and general influence would cement the shoe merchants’ first right of refusal when it comes to Instagram clips, tour edits and coveted under-deck sticker placement real estate, and enhance capabilities to promote uniform-like outfits readymade for sweeping up spilled popcorn after matinee showings of ‘Zootopia 2: Zoological Boogaloo.’

Or does all our convoluted and conspiracy-minded nail-gnawing overlook the razory principle of Occam, which in this case might be that upstart board companies are cooler now and, given board sponsors’ functional functions as image-drivers, asa shoe purveyour you’d want the dudes you sponsor to skate under a small company’s cooler halo? Would this suggest that international shoe enterprises are chipping away at some image-management role traditionally performed by agents, increasingly beloved of pro skaters thirsting for soda sponsorship dollaridoos, but a timeworn rival of sporting giants when contract negotiation time rolls around? Should sponsor-juggling skateboarders seek the council of Jay-Z, a wheelings-and-dealings man who has had a pro-model shoe for rapping, helped manage a team and wrangled deals for pro athletes, by signing up for his exclusive Tidal internet music streaming business? Could board companies take a page from shoe companies and start encouraging teamriders toward Tumblr- and BigCartel-empowered wheel groups? Does all this silly noise obscure the shadowy role of the premium-fit cotton t-shirt as the true and honest currency of the realm?

*Note: DC is considered affiliated with Plan B for our simple-minded purposes here

How To Fix the Marc Johnson/Lakai Mess in 10 Easy Steps Dudes

May 20, 2016

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Mike Carroll, who knows a thing or two about dipping out on sponsors, hit up Jenkem the other day ostensibly to discuss “the future of Crailtap” but really to confront and publicly grapple with the proverbial and newly striped elephant in the room, Marc Johnson’s heavily rumored ship-jumping from Lakai to Adidas, eventually turning into one of the more noteworthy airings out in recent memory. Making clear his beef was not that Marc Johnson left, but how — popping up in the new Adidas vid without prior warning to Lakai’s owners/team/staff and with a loading dockful of fresh pro-model shoes rendered abruptly obsolete — Mike Carroll got his Rocco on in the age of information immediacy, booting Marc Johnson from Chocolate mid-interview:

J: What are you gonna do with that upcoming Marc Johnson Lakai product? What does a company usually do when this sort of thing happens?
MC: Send it all to his fucking house, COD with a fucking strap on, and no vaseline. Well what we’re gonna do now, first things first, I’m gonna kick him off Chocolate. I’m not gonna text him, so he can read this or someone can tell him. Maybe he’s already quit in his mind, who knows. Marc, is kicked off of Chocolate as of right now. We’ll deal with whatever we have to deal with. Shoe wise… we have a lot of shoe production in the works… Normally when this happens to companies we’d usually take legal action, but that’s something we think is not in our character to do. But I’m starting to consider it, but that’s not really on the top of our priority list.

The resulting social media froth, whipped higher by pent-up angst as more and more top-tier professionals slip into the gravitational orbit of multibillion dollar sports shoe manufacturers, has cast a pall over Adidas’ video release as well as the signing of Marc Johnson and Daewon Song, and perhaps tarnished the Adidas skateboard division with an elbows-out corporate tone that previously had mainly been Nike Inc.’s domain. Lakai meanwhile looks further sidelined following the recent exits of Guy Mariano, Nick Jensen, Na’Kel Smith, Miles Silvas, Lucas Puig and Eric Koston for Nike or Adidas.

But the situation can still be fixed. Here is Boil the Ocean web log site’s 10-point plan for patching up the relationship between Marc Johnson, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard, burnishing Adidas’ image, plugging any sales hole for Lakai, and more.

1. Marc Johnson calls up Adidas on his cellular smart phone and designs a plan for Adidas to buy all the unsold Marc Johnson Lakai shoes, both current and past models, currently in production or in the warehouse. Adidas also could buy several sets of Carrolls in full size runs.

2. Adidas employees and Marc Johnson package up the Lakai shoes and donate them, along with a matching quantity of Adidas skate shoes, to Skateistan, Cuba Skate, Skate for Change and similar charities promoting skating in risky and impoverished nations.

3. Marc Johnson personally delivers some of these shoes and skates a demo or two with a T-shirt that says “sorry Mike & Rick” written on it in marker. He posts to Instagram pics of him posing with kids holding up a box of Lakais and/or Adidas and handwritten signs personally saying sorry to various Lakai staff members and former teammates.

4. Marc Johnson persuades Mike Carroll, Rick Howard and the rest of the “Fully Flared” lineup to gather for a reunion demo where he gives a heartfelt speech thanking the Crailtap posse and fondly reminiscing on their years together, while more donations are collected for skatepark funds and organizations.

5. After burying the hatchet, Marc Johnson, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard hang around the park for hours afterward mending fences and reminiscing, until they realize that the money collected for the skatepark funds has been gaffled by a shadowy thief. The trio leap upon matching neon coloured crotch rocket motorcycles and plunge into the LA expressways in pursuit.

6. After pulling alongside the skate funds bandit, also astride a fast crotch rocket bike, Rick Howard, Mike Carroll and Marc Johnson trade punches with him at 130 mph, pausing only to swerve past slower-moving vehicles and struggling to maintain control of their bikes. After one final blow, the thief’s hood flies back to reveal he is none other than ex-Pope Benedict XVI, wearing an eye patch and spitting curses in Latin at the pro skaters.

7. The former supreme pontiff takes advantage of his pursuers’ shock and disgust to haul off and deliver a punishing haymaker to Mike Carroll’s jaw, stunning him and sending him reeling off the back of his bike. His face inches from the pavement’s blur, a sinewy hand closes around his Fourstar jacket collar and yanks him back up onto his bike, which miraculously steadies. “Still teammates — for one more night,” growls Marc Johnson, before twisting the throttle to pull up alongside Pope Benedict XVI. The two grapple briefly before a vicious kick knocks Marc Johnson loose, and the ex-Pope veers right to sideswipe Rick Howard before speeding ahead, up a dangling ramp into the trailer of a semi truck. Pope Benedict XVI hops off his bike, turns and tosses a small, blinking sphere toward the pro skaters, grinning as the trailer door rattles shut.

8. “Thermal detonator!” Rick Howard hollers, crashing his bike sideways into the others and knocking them clear before the bomb’s white flash blasts Rick Howard’s motorcycle out from under him and sends him tumbling into the breakdown lane. “Feels like the ‘Mouse’ intro,” he rasps. “Now get that bastard.” Marc Johnson and Mike Carroll nod, rev their crotch rockets and roar off after the rogue Pope. They tail the semi until dawn, far into the desert where finally it reaches Pope Benedict XVI’s secret mountain compound — an impenetrable structure of steel and rock, girdled in sheer cliff faces and watched over by lazily looping vultures. Marc Johnson and Mike Carroll exchange a glance and draw their pistols, nodding. “Just like the old days,” Mike Carroll murmurs as he fills a spare clip with bullets drawn one by one from his belt. “I thought those days were done.” “Let’s go,” says Marc Johnson, making for a break in the cliff. They scale the wall, silent and methodical, neither looking down and neither pausing when his fingertips begin to bleed. When they heave themselves atop the cliff, gasping, Marc Johnson immediately gets low. Just a few feet away, Pope Benedict XVI stands with his back to the pro skaters, punching feverishly at flashing buttons on a vast control pad. Before him, bolts of raw electricity begin arcing between a series of tall metal coils, and the air begins to thrum.

9. “That’s a relativistic heavy ion collider,” breathes Marc Johnson. “He’s overcharging its computing grid…” “…To rip thousands of tiny black holes in the space-time continuum,” Mike Carroll finishes. “And if we don’t stop him, he’s going to destroy L.A.” Marc Johnson is already up and firing, his left hand fanning the hammer on his Colt Python as he sprays the ex-pope’s base with hot lead. Mike Carroll rolls and unloads his own pistol but stops before his clip runs dry; Pope Benedict XVI has spun to face them, laughing, the bullets sailing wide and high around him. “Fools,” he rasps. “You’ll never attain true power.” Hands raised over his head, the former pontiff pivots to point at Mike Carroll, sending a blinding rope of electricity leaping from one coil to wrap the Crailtap Distribution co-owner in a hot, vibrating grip; with a thrust of his other hand, a second bolt entwines Marc Johnson, and both begin to squeeze. Pope Benedict XVI’s laughter grows louder until he abruptly stops, twisting his lips in horror. A rocket-propelled grenade screams down and strikes him square in the chest, bursting his torso into liquified nuggets of blood and tissue and bone that drench the sand and the control panel, shorting out the ion collider. The coils fall dark and Marc Johnson and Mike Carroll sink to the ground, gasping. Two cans of Bud land beside them, and they squint through the glare to see Rick Howard ambling through the dust, a still-smoking rocket launcher slung over his Girl OG tee. “They didn’t have LaBatt.” He cocks his head and regards the carnage. “But I wasn’t about to miss this party.” After locating the semi, Mike Carroll pulls it around to the heavy ion collider and stuffs a rag into its fuel tank, Marc Johnson lighting it with a cigarette. Rick Howard grabs the bag with the $45 in skatepark funds and the pros climb astride their bikes, rolling onto the asphalt as flames engulf Pope Benedict XVI’s compound behind them.

10. Rick Howard and Mike Carroll return to Los Angeles to film for the Lakai video and Marc Johnson starts work on a welcome clip for Adidas.

Guy Mariano, Nike Inc. Link to Provide Manna for Listicle Authors Hoping to Round Out a ‘Top 10 Heaviest Roll-Aways Ever Filmed’

November 20, 2015

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Indelible tricks can launch careers, shake the streets and leave marks lasting decades. Rarer are tricks that work the other way, taking their weight from years of struggle, a hallowed spot or some other type of heavy backstory. Guy Mariano’s funeral-garbed ride out of the Crailtap camp and into the arms of Nike approaches a ‘Fully Flared’ level combo of mixed feelings for aged viewers and, one assumes, Guy Mariano himself. How now to adjust the 1990s Doomsday Clock?

Ty Evans Enlists Middle Eastern Royalty, Robot Helicopters for Movie About Skateboarders Being In a Gang Called the Bloods

August 19, 2015

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Drones are in the news again, as fire chief gripe about miniature robotic helicopteros obstructing blaze battle plans, radio frequency weaponizers develop defense systems and the kite-eating tree occasionally graduates to more expensive and, one is forced to assume, tastier and electronified fare. While persnickety oldsters would pass laws and hang out ‘No Droning’ signs, the young and vibrant drone subculture simply wants to drone in peace, twirling their little propellers in disused parking lots and parks. Sound familiar?

Ty Evans, captain of TWS and Girl videos that were, finds himself astride the bucking international drone hoopla as he promotes his newest Film, ‘We Are Blood,’ a citrus soda-financed, high-tech frolic through megacities and undercharted backwaters aimed at pushing the production-value envelope and explaining what makes skaters tick. After a decade in the Crail camp, Ty Evans is unshackled from the rote part-part-part skate video format, trading in Girl’s unexpectedly long-lived ‘SHT SOUND’ for a Dolby hi-fi replacement and free to indulge in as many bro-hugs, high-fives and wildly undulating overhead-hoisted boards as his cameras’ memory chips can manage.

Cribbing the template from Brain Farm’s big snowboard movies such as ‘Art of Flight,’ Ty Evans points his lenses and drones and microphones at Paul Rodriguez, whose impeccable technicality, worldly vet status and passable script-reading capability provide a cipher for framing this road trip exploration of a bond between skaters worldwide. Paul Rodriguez sets it off appropriately enough in Los Angeles’ hallowed schoolyards, jumping to Dane Vaughn at J-Kwon and some euphoric and very welcome ditch-bombing by Omar Salazar before Ty Evans pulls back the lens to fit the rest of the US and well-traveled overseas jurisdictions like Spain, China and Brazil.

Paul Rodriguez dispenses with his own brand of razory execution — the k-grind front foot flip out is taken up a notch — before turning over a good portion of the RV miles to lesser-knowns like Jordan Maxham and infrequently-heralded journeymen like Moose, who rips most of the spots he’s recreationally vehicled to. Tiagos Lemos easily comes over as Ty Evans’ breakout star though, manufacturing at least one incredible clip per location-specific segment and his own mini-part when ‘Blood’ winds its way into Brazil’s particular deep-city grime. His ratio of monologue to tricks like the b/s 180 switch f/s crooked grind fakie flip out, switch b/s tailslide switch flip out, of the switch bigspin b/s tailslide is favorable.

Elsewhere Jamie Thomas boards Ty Evans’ RV to address some Deep South spots that include his old high school, inviting the viewer to marvel at his enduring grit and award style points for the right hand on the kink 50-50. At some juncture Brandon Biebel does a nollie b/s heelflip over a table that could repeat for 10 minutes, or perhaps through the end of the Film, with ultimate justification.

‘Blood’ reverts Ty Evans in some ways to Transworld mode, enabling him to pick and choose seasoned pros and comer-uppers motivated enough to revel in motorhome squalor for seven weeks, book extended stays overseas and spend lengthy stints at the spot biding time until the half-fozen camera rigs are properly aligned. It’s a testament to Ty Evans’ famed work ethic and the spry joints of his subjects that they cultivated a 90-minute Film from just over a year of Filming, versus spending years to construct an hourlong vid from a 30-deep roster of geographically diverse dudes that include a fair number of entrepreneurs.

(Probably Ty Evans and Girl should have broken up before ‘Pretty Sweet.’ Manning a Film that is his alone ups the stakes for Ty Evans the auteur personally but drags no weighty and beloved 20-year video legacy behind it, nor are there destination concerns for precious video-footage minutes turned in by aging favorites and the potential for substantial portions relegated to b-roll extras.)

Untethering himself from the skate vid format seems also to have resparked some of Ty Evans’ creativity that in the last few years seemed to have piled out, like in 2011’s leafy HD rehash of Rick Howard’s forest cruise in ‘Mouse.’ ‘Blood’ breaks from the schralping for an educational and droney cruise through a granite mine that sets up a slab’s brief journey from quarry to waxy ledge, there’s cool time-lapse footage of a wall scarred up by wallrides, a small-world-after-all moment in the unearthing of an ancient Spanish bowl, and frantic gamesmanship between the ‘Blood’ gang and an irate Chinese official wielding a garden hose. Staged puddle sprays aside, the RV segments bear honest whiffs of open-road adventuring and Paul Rodriguez’s ‘blank canvas’ remark about Dubai’s sumptuous plazas is on point, though Tim O’Connor’s quip on traversing the globe’s far corners to end up behind some K-Mart isn’t far off when Theotis Beasley, Sean Malto and others helicopter their way to a high-altitude landing pad where they session a basic bench.

‘Blood’s’ Cleveland-channeling theme of togetherness gets repetitive after 90 minutes, particularly when these annointed blood brothers are nailing ferocious tricks in pristine tropical spots with the blessing of local extreme power brokers, but some of ‘Blood’s’ best detours arise from dudes with only tenuous industry ties. Ty Evans of all people manages to put outer borough nomad Anthony Pappalardo in the most thoughtful and succinct context he’s had recently, same with DC’s Darren Harper. The Film’s message gets over in a surprise Skatopia visit and a well-spoken stop by a small-town DIY.

Whereas ‘Blood’ trades on the concept of a bond between skateboarders, the Film also raises the question of its elasticity. Many* believe in evangelizing skateboarding — Ty Evans in the ‘Blood’ Transworld issue says that “I’ve always been under the idea that I would love to share skateboarding with the world, and especially those that don’t skate. If a kid that doesn’t skate happens to see one of the films I’ve made, and that gets him hooked on skating, then I think that it’s working.”

Are the spirits of the kid kickflipping in front of his stoop in Oakland and the kid who swings through the YMCA park after swim team in the suburbs as closely kindred as those few dozen who may have traveled over an hour to glimpse underpaid pros skate a rickety hockey-rink demo in 1995? It is a question recently pondered by Ty Evans’ former Lakai coworker Kelly Bird, now a Nike employee:

“You can’t check a kid’s gear and automatically draw the conclusion that you’re the only two kids in school that know what Thrasher is anymore. You and the quarterback show up to school in the same outfit and neither one of you think it’s weird. He actually invites you to his party now instead of trying to flush your head down the toilet. You go to his party and have an awesome time. He lets you borrow his copy of Thrasher the next day, then Lil Wayne calls you to go skate.”

It makes little sense to attempt judging Ty Evans’ ‘We Are Blood’ on typical skate vid merits, but the effort to harness a heady concept, glossy production that stands at odds with the broader skate sphere’s persistent VX fetishization, and a lengthy runtime leaves the question as to who the Film is for. For those increasingly accustomed to digesting Guy Mariano’s latest facemelter in 14-second increments, an hour and a half seems a big ask. Volcom’s recent ‘True to This’ was partly perceived as looped fodder for retail outlets, though the number and capacity of whispered Mountain Dew speakeasies remains unclear.

Ty Evans previously has touted the high sales of ‘Fully Flared’ and ‘Pretty Sweet’ as signs of their resonance with Joe Kickflip; does ‘Blood’s’ loftier aim require a bigger yardstick? Will collapsing oil prices constrain Dubai’s ability to deploy economic incentives that could help the emirate compete against Spain and China for pro roadtrips and magazine articles detailing esoteric and wily local cuisines? Will this be the Ty Evans production that finally tops Richard Angelides’ Rhythm part in the slow-working minds of certain backward-thinking internet reactionaries?

*Particularly those whose livelihoods are tied to selling skateboard goods

Si Se Puede

June 21, 2015

wild_streets

“Because We Can” is the tagline for the Emerica-Lakai joint venture summer demo tour, ostensibly nodding to rootsy trappings of a bros-before-focused-branding jaunt that recalls Crailtap’s past roadtrip tie-ups with the Firm and Anti Hero, and perhaps also the idea that Stayed Flarees aren’t contractually bound to bulge bracket contest stops, or fettered by corporate interests broiling with jealousy and alleged to have previously boxed out events planned by rivals.

Might this thundersome tour, boasting the caliber of lineup to collectively bless parks and spots alike perhaps once per decade, also be called ‘Because We Should’? It makes certain business senses for skater owned/directed shoe companies to band together as Nike has rolled out heavy artillery on multiple fronts between SB and the revival of its Converse skate program, while K-Swiss hoovers up Supra and New Balance tries its hand at ‘Pretty Sweet’ intro cinematography and attempts to one-up Plan B in the video-supervision after-black hammer that is securing PJ Ladd footage.

Assuming any relevant private equity fund analysts are safely off parking the vans, there probably exist few more-direct methods to illuminate any ‘skater-owned’ halo than to situate various owners, founders and shot-callers atop a pic-a-nic table in a sweaty Milwaukee warehouse, or nose manualing across pads in Pittsburgh. Whereas an demo featuring Mike Parker or Herbert Hainer might draw its own standing-room gaggle of vexed shareowners, slack-jawed blog proprietours and other would-be looky-lous, any effect on unit volume likely would present as incremental and potentially surprise to the downside, after all due rep points awarded for trying.

Pressing flesh among the seven-ply’s huddled masses though remains a worthy public service in an incarnation similar to the interstate highway system and other feats of two-way public infrastructuring. Impressions seared into yung psyches run deep enough that Andrew Reynolds, who’s got to be as hardened as anybody after two decades grinding through the industry, still turns slightly giddy recollecting the time and place he first saw Mike Carroll skate, at a demo. Whereas some kickflipping kid out there this summer will in a couple decades relate seeing Andrew Reynolds and Mike Carroll staying flared as he or she speaks on the formative transpirings that set him or her on the jittery path toward running his or her own skate concern, there would seem also some current temperature-taking value for today’s company runners to be gleaned from a month or two rolling amongst chronically undercompensated shop managers and the broader goods-buying populace.

Instagram and Facebook are gently ballyhooed as grand equalizers that place access to each tween’s favorite professional a mere few keystrokes away, but any digital fuzzies warmed by the internet’s flat culture inevitably contend with personal-branding business machinations that would program bots to holler back at random followers, or transform subscriber figures into bargaining chits for contract maneuverings. From certain angles far up in the nosebleed seats the gulf between the industry’s top talents and the larger boardbuying populace seems in some ways wider — wristband warrior and NBDDer Chris Cole in a recent interview speaks angrily of pro-athlete pressures and his impatience with weekend warrior types who don’t get it:

Actually, I’m gonna go on a tirade right now: When the “core” dudes try to clown, and I’m sure you’ve fucking heard it – it’s a defense mechanism – they say stuff like, “It’s just skateboarding, man.” Implying that you’re taking it too seriously.

A. You’re telling me what skateboarding is? Get the fuck out of my face. And B., Street League is a contest with a lot of money on the line and this is actually what I do for a living. This is my job. I love the hell out of skating; I love it more than anyone. But it’s not “Just skating, maaaaan.”That’s throwing what I love and what I’ve dedicated my life to, into some hobby that you kind of fuck around with. They love to throw that one around.

Chris Cole, who knows his way around a demo as good as anybody, elsewhere rehashes yet again his awkward early years of professional development, as well as hearing firsthand critiques of his chosen outfits and conduct from prior detractors in the course of compiling talking head footage for some forthcoming documentary. It’s unclear whether any who bore ill will toward snowplow nosegrinds or flapping yellow t-shirts ever took a demo appearance as an opportunity to directly air concerns with a younger Chris Cole, or if a few weeks traversing American byways and mingling with shop employees and early-morning sessioners logging park time prior to diaper-changing duties or weekend overtime might sand edges off Chris Cole’s stance on the diverse and potentially spicy views on skating harboured by aging hobbyist/purists.

Whether deep and heady assessments of skating’s true nature can or should be chopped up between pros and average joes at local skatepark facilities or tour clip-worthy spots along the way remains a question for us all to chew over as we toddle toward our mysterious graves, but it is skating’s uniquely democratic nature that allows it even to be possible. You don’t see major league baseball teams materializing unannounced for pickup games at neighborhood sandlots; the recognized and registered sucker-free boss ballers of figure skating or tennis aren’t in the practice of swelling about local rinks and courts*, twirling axels and swatting balls alongside the fanning hoards, and potentially talking sponsor-jumps or fearsome performances.

In what other pursuit can you be hobby-horsing it upon a weekend and look up to see the world’s accepted best wandering in to join, or augment onlooker activities by also serving as a human safety net for sweaty professionals breaking themselves off at your local park? Should a board-and-shoe consuming Joe Kickflip’s views on skating, seriousness and Street Leagues carry the same weight as professional contract players with long years in these trenches? Are pitchers’ mound rushers and stands-charging small forwards similarly chided that it’s ‘just a game’? Does man remain ‘the most dangerous game’ or has this title been usurped by quadruped robots and armed drones?

*Courts of law don’t count