Posts Tagged ‘metallurgy’

Could X-Games Technologists Blind Us With Science, Risking a Troublesome Singularity (And Humankind’s Extinction)?

June 12, 2016

In an age when Nyjah Huston walks back gender-insensitive comments, where male nudity is a feature and not a bug within one of the top recent videos, where online used goods bazaars place frothy premiums on Alex Olson’s ‘Lover’ gear while Flip’s ‘Hate Kill Destroy’ slogan is relegated to a vintage acronym, and where crust-merchants Jake Phelps and Grant Taylor close an interview by sharing their mutual love, it is fair to regard skateboarding as residing within a more sensitive place. Whether the metaphorical pendulum has careened too far away from ganging up on a dude with a drill and harassing RuPaul is a question best left to international criminal tribunals and/or the Sabotage dudes.

Which elixir could restore the balance? ESPN proffers one brewed with the cold, unfeeling logic of pure machinery. In an example of the synergistic genius that may have lured data-mining soothsayer Nate Silver from the cold-shouldery NYTimes to ESPN, the X-Games recently gave his FiveThirtyEight media web site access to a new device being tested within the increasingly embattled X-Games universe that bids to inject empirical data points into the scoring regimens, training programmes and wily banter of colourful commentators.

This Intel-developed transceiver pod, dubbed Curie after the mythological radioactive monsters, measures speed, height, spin velocity and other extreme metrics. Its powers appear handy for geometricized pit crews as they calculate roll-in height lumber purchases and the required torque speed to achieve the spins and twists necessary to bring home sweet, juicy X-Game gold, a rare earth mineral rumored to be worth its weight in gold. The device’s immediate value-add is harder to envision for the street skating discipline, however, where calibrating push strength toward rainbowy contest rails and formulating precise back-leaning to avoid sticking on ledges may deliver only incremental improvements.

But the invention may hold the potential to usher in a new and camera-ready discipline with nearly as much drama, intrigue and catastrophic injury potential as the Mega RampTM. The Curie’s ability to rapidly graph speed and trajectories could allow construction of precision-designed pyramids, quarterpipes and other obstacles able to be skated consistently without pushing, or indeed, looking — opening the way for a blindfolded best trick competition hinging solely upon instinctual foot placement, flick and catch, in the grand tradition of New York street shaman Billy Rohan.

Given his propensity for combining gnarliness with vulnerability and his captainship of Blind Skateboards, is Bill Weiss some type of cosmic shoe-in for such an event? Would Alexis Sablone’s King of the Road tenure give her an edge over a decade later? Will advancing technology eventually make such Curies small enough to embed into skateboarders’ skulls, saturating the gene pool even as humans go to war against self-aware artificial intelligence systems that assign low scores and occasional executions in response to shortcakes handrails and tic-tac’d landings?

The Pit and the Pendulum

September 6, 2009

ThrowingStar
Stick it

Belatedly wrapping up our rundown of the Black Label video, a topic that has spanned two months here, by looking back to the imperatively titled TWS production “Let’s Do This!” and specifically, Brian Brown’s part: at the time, watching this section tended to tire me out trying to keep track of the tricks, as nearly every clip was a sequence event incorporating a wallie, wallride, manual or some other shit. Chris Troy, a professional skateboarder for the Label as of last week, is a similar breed, having apparently never met a 360 or 360 shove-it he didn’t like and seeking to incorporate these into damn near every trick he does. It’s a lot to take in, and there are times when he pulls it off super impressively – the fakie bigspin feeble grind is a ballsy move for sure, though maybe not in the same league as skating to a brand-new Rancid song. Other times though it’s cool to see him do a sort of more simple trick, for instance, the crooked grind backside 180 at the Kellen James ledge, a breath of fresh air amongst the bigspins to boardslides to whirlybirds.

Shuriken Shannon tilts things in the other direction, kicking off his last-part performance with two ollies, on flat, in a line. In a couple different ways this dude is helping shift Black Label’s overall aesthetic but he’s doing it via a Lewis Marnell type of solid/frill-free skating (lime grip and occasional ledge combos aside) that gets over mostly on mashing those four little urethane circles to the ground all at the same time in a fairly satisfying way. There are techy moves, like the fakie inward heelflip and the ghetto bird (?) over the rail, but stuff like the 50-50 kickflip, switch frontside 5-0 and backside heelflip are more the rule, and I’d put the ender-ender into this category too – that spot I really like for the purposes of video clips, because it’s naturally occurring, appears kind of scary and tricks look good going down it, especially if people land switch and have to carve it out.

In other vids you’d have to wonder whether our friend the throwing star has the fireworks necessary to close out a feature-length production but one of the things “GSTL” has going for it, like Black Label generally, is the panoply of styles/terrains/archetypes as opposed to six or seven parts of stretch-denimed greasers taking aim at handrails or tall-teed technicians rotating in and out of New Era fits. I don’t carry a huge torch for Black Label or anything but Lucero’s institutional expertise and general viewpoint are as necessary as they’ve ever been (insert comment re: this day/age here), they make good videos, and have aged well as the glam rock wave crested earlier this decade… to whatever extent they owned some of that real estate before the Baker Boys/Hollywood/Pigwood community moved in, and they’re doing a nice job keeping up the neighborhood.