Posts Tagged ‘mega ramps’

Flight of the Passion Fruit

August 2, 2009

lizard_mega
And thus we complete the mainstream print media triumvariate

A suspect quesadilla prompted a longer-than-anticipated sit-down this afternoon, in which an errant copy of “Outside” magazine was flipped through, uncovering a pretty in-depth profile on hemp farmer and Mega Ramp LLC co-owner Bob Burnquist who is described at one point as “prone to stoner speechifying about ‘fluidic rhythms.'” (Aren’t we all.) It’s a pretty by-the-numbers rundown of the Bob’s life and times as an X-Games superhero, multiple family man and amateur pilot but at one point they’re cooling out at the rancho and things take a turn for the surreal* when a certain Utahn comes scritch-scritch-scratching at his rancho door:

While I’m at the rancho, Bob’s friend and fellow pro Pierre-Luc Gagnon, or PLG, pops by with some fresh meat: a street skater known as Lizard King (Mike Plumb to his relatives), who’s wiry and abundantly tattooed, with a rapsy smoker’s voice and the bug eyes of a man who gets amped for a living.

Bob greets them in the driveway and tells PLG to take Lizard out to the ramp “just to see what he’s getting into.”

Minutes later, Lizard King comes back looking as if he’s seen a ghost. He can’t stop pacing. “I’m not even over there looking at it and I’m having a heart attack,” he says.

Bob plays the confident older brother, goosing the Lizard up, onto and eventually down the mega-slope.

Lizard King snatches a bag of pads from PLG’s Mercedes and comes back. “I’ve never been more intimidated by anything in my entire life,” he says, then exhales deeply.

“I wanna get you psyched,” Bob says. “I’ll go out there with you.”

Bob shows Plumb how to bail the jump and then does it sans pads.

Lizard King practically collapses. Here he is, terrified, and Bob has casually dropped in as if this were a backyard pool, wearing nothing but jeans and a T-shirt.

“Fuck it, dude,” Lizard yells, rolling toward the edge. “Live life.”

His first attempt isn’t pretty, but he has gusto. There are many whoops and hollers and “Holy shits!” as he rockets down the roll-in, up the launch, and through the air, dropping his board and flying along like someone leaping off a bridge into a lake. He lands awkwardly but safely on his knee pads and slides to the base of the quarterpipe.

“I love you, Bob!” he howls as Bob and I walk back toward the house. “This is the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life! Thank you for building this!”

About an hour later, Bob’s phone buzzes. It’s a text from PLG: Lizard nailed it. “He’s got the right mentality,” Bob says. “Or the wrong one, depending how you look at it.”

Elsewhere there’s something of an “Xtremely Sorry” preview, which Bob Burnquist is apparently obsessing over “because (video parts) maintain his credibility in the skate world, which might otherwise regard him as a stunt guy who cashes in at the X Games once a year and then retreats to his ranch to roll around in flaxseed.”

In one sequence, he launches across the 50-foot gap, lands on the manual pad, kickflips his board 180 degrees while going 50 miles per hour, then drops in toward the quarterpipe – all without breaking rhythm.

So, what… manual backside flip? Frontside flip? Or just a “180 flip” into the landing from the manual pad? Meanwhile Bob’s organic restaurant has closed its doors, FYI.

*At least, surreal for those of us for whom Lizard King and “Outside” magazine exist in separate, non-overlapping worlds

Mo’ Mega Blues

December 15, 2008


Stakes is high

Danny Way loves spectacle. He sails over ancient structures and leaps from giant guitars, going so far as to revive the somewhat hilarious rocket air, all for our amusement and the pursuit of world records. Sometimes these things come at a price, including but not limited to fractured ankles, broken backs and 40-foot free falls. But on the other side of that Great Wall lies fame, lucrative energy drink endorsement deals and oodles of prize money.

No fear, though. Fame, sponsorship and wads of dough can still be had if the crash itself is enough of a spectacle, as giggly Australian Jake Brown proved on Larry King and elsewhere during his post-Mega fall recovery tour . And even if sponsors aren’t cutting photo incentive checks every time their logo flashes across the screen on some pro’s shirt as he careens toward the deck, Danny Way’s not tripping — as he notes in the Wall Street Journal last week, each replay of Jake Brown’s tooth-rattling slam is all for the greater good:

I think it’s great that they exploit the slams. That’s the biggest part of people understanding the seriousness of what we do. It’s unfortunate the person that slams has to go through that experience and deal with the repercussions of it. But Jake [Brown], for example, he did so much for the Mega event. They emphasized the slam, but that also brought so much of a focus to our event. It just gives everyone that much more opportunity and makes it that much more exciting. God forbid someone should get hurt, but sometimes it’s good to have things put in perspective. If we’re going to create an event for the public, the goal is to have people on the edge of their seats biting their nails not knowing what’s going to happen next.

God forbid it happens, but it’s possible for somebody to get really, really hurt. It’s the same thing with motocross. Freestyle moto, guys doing double flips and front flips and stuff, that stuff’s deadly, too. That’s why people come to watch it.

Interesting point, and it goes back to what’s kept vert skating on life support for the last ten years – your average Gravity Games-watching Sarah Palin voter gets a lot more out of seeing Lincoln Uyeda blast 10-foot airs, as opposed to P-Rod cracking a nollie heelflip backside tailslide across a step-up ledge or whatever. With the mega-ramp Danny Way has upped the ante a few hundred feet in terms of hangtime, and personal peril.

The WSJ also asks Way whether he believes the mega-ramp is viable as a new skateboarding discipline (to chance an oxymoron), and he dodges, sort of, noting the growing number of pros taking the mega plunge. But if anything the rise of the mega-ramp widens the gap between your average kid kickflipping in the driveway and what seems destined to become skating’s version of underwater lion-taming, or something.

Let us pause for a moment and pour one out for all the departed tamers who were mauled and then drowned.

Anyway, for years vert skating has been moving toward a weird sort of commercial backwater, seeming to exist almost solely on ESPN, while half the vert pros suit up in body armor to slay the mega dragon and the other half shuffle off to work on their beer guts with the backyard bowl contingent. The way things are going now, vert’s TV career seems destined to be eclipsed by the spectacle of the mega monster, just months after receiving a stay of execution when the X-Games stood ready to bump it from the lineup.

So: the number of vert pros dwindling, cities building concrete parks as opposed to vert ramps, less on-screen time… will kids even know what a vert ramp is in another five years? Before I tread too far onto Vert Is Dead’s turf I’ll do that thing where I stand in a darkened room with a lighter and my eyes cast upward, fumbling with my mouse to click on the Tampa Am vert finals from earlier this year. Kids are always up for unwinnable causes right? I mean when Danny Way is 360-flip k-grinding a 20-foot vert wall and Bob Burnquist is jumping into the Grand Canyon, will anyone be left to give a shit when somebody lands, say, a varial 900?

That’s Just The Way It Is

December 4, 2008


“Made a G today…”

In an age of tumult and upheaval, both good and ill, it’s nice that there are those constants out there upon which we can rely. American Idol is about to come back on, a peroxided Britney Spears roams the Billboard charts, and the Sheckle-Air is alive and well – and in Guinness Hall of Fame form. Via Skatebook.tv, Cryin’ Ryan flies out one more time as 2008 winds down…

24 Hour Party People

November 15, 2008


Irrational exuberance

It’s not without a certain jealousy that I peruse the photos of Rob Dyrdek’s shoe release party and wonder just how long the skateboard industry (or, if you prefer, the action sports/energy drink/reality TV industry) can sustain this mode of operation – race cars, pro-level pussy, multiple TV crews and all the Monster energy drink one can stomach, I assume. Why not throw a party for the 30-somethingth shoe from a 30-something pro? Why not rent out a spot to premiere the new 411? (If memory serves, they were doing this at one point.) Meanwhile we’ll print up big ol’ hardbound magazines – er, books – and hand ’em out for free. And shit, go right ahead and build that $1.7 million ramp so Danny Way can jump the Great Wall of China.

Oh, I just wonder about all this stuff as retail sales drop through the floor and factories shut down and houses go into foreclosure and shit. (Oil’s down to $60 per barrel though, so maybe they’ll do King of the Road next summer.) Certain of the skateboard internet sphere almost giddily predicts the next 1993 year in and year out, and while I don’t expect Tony Hawk to go back to living out of his Lexus anytime soon, you kind of wonder when the skateboard business as a whole is gonna have to take a step back.

I mean it wasn’t even two years ago that blank boards killed the industry – remember how they stole food from the mouths of pros’ kids? How are dudes supposed to make their Cadillac payments? Meanwhile kids are downloading videos off the Napster and now we’re in a recession. It’s almost noble, the way Dyrdek maintains a stiff upper lip while the ice swans in his Candyland bunker slowly lose shape.

For serious though, where does the money come from? And is it gonna keep coming? Zumiez and PacSun are bleeding cash. Rumors are a-float about layoffs at hard and softgood suppliers alike. From what I hear, the real shops are still doing okay. Hopefully those crazy sneakerheads manage their trust funds wisely through this trying time in our nation’s economic history.

But if boards aren’t selling, videos aren’t selling, clothes and shoes are sitting on the shelves longer and, erm, I guess I’m not clued in on the movements of wheel markets… well you get the idea. Who’s gonna keep the free drinks flowing at the magazine/shoe collabo release parties? Is Panasonic Car Audio going to keep flying 300 of Sheckler’s tightest brahs from way back to Vegas for his sweet nineteenth? How many Red Bull hats does JR-Blastoff gotta wear every month to keep current on his Bentley lease?

Like with the government bailout or the Firm video, the questions don’t stop. Will the industry ever have to live with less? If it does, will that mean we have to wear giant pants again? Would the wise investor purchase stocks in a canvas wholesaler now, ahead of our return to 44″ waistlines? And is Wade D way ahead of everybody on this?