Posts Tagged ‘money’

Roberto Puleo, Dear Leader And Skate Spot Colonialism In The Video Age

February 26, 2011

Two things got me excited to load up and sit down for the 35-minute entirety of this Converse China video a while back — watching a carful of bros I’ve never heard of embark on a cross-country shred vacation through a spot on the globe that’s sort of a blur for me. There’s a vicarious sorta thrill to be drawn from vids filmed in far-flung corners of the earth that you’re not likely to visit or have board to hand if you do — new and weird cityscapes harbouring giddy potential in wide-open plazas with lemony fresh ledges, cement that waves and curls, befuddled cops that keep moving, etc. There were reasons besides Luy Pa-Sin and Alex Carolino and JB Gillett that I watched “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” so many times even in spite of that Kool Shen song.

Trick-wise the “Ni” video is short on your after-black hammers but watching them rail it from town to town and dig into spots like that ice-slick bank at 14:30 or the QP buffet at 30:30 gets the wheels turning when you wonder what else is lying around that 3.7 million square miles, where fishing villages get juiced into 10 million-bro metropoli over the course of a couple decades. All of which can turn quick into tongue-clucking and head-shaking with China’s foothold as the new Barcelona finding our West Coast video heroes jetting halfway around the world to eat at train station McDonalds and film clips at the same dozen or so spots. One particular bummer is that the spot-as-trick-benchmark means that the pros can get over k-grinding a previously unseen hubba that may or may not have seen the same move from a local years before, while those dudes’ own video parts end up Youtube fodder, absent “Night Prowler”-type productions that splash on the overseas radars.

Bobby Puleo, among the more spot-minded people out there, touches on this topic briefly in a enjoyably rambling/ranting interview that went up on his site last month.

“I do know a lot of people go and film their parts in far off places like China and Europe instead of trying to find their own shit in the places they actually live in or operate in. It seems like a lot of kids just simply don’t use their intellect or imaginations enough any more.”

Puleo’s stance is heavily defensive toward his home turf of New York and the rugged/gritty/urban brand it now carries thanks in no small part to his own efforts to highlight that aesthetic, alongside other like-minded bros such as Josh Stewart, Ricky Oyola, Chris Mulhern, Kevin Coakley, sometimes Jason Dill, etc. California kids carpetbagging their way through Manhattan in a bid to offset palm trees and concrete transition raise the hackles of jaded/bearded ones such as Puleo, who I personally would put on the far end of the spot spectrum from those who might hop a plane to film manual tricks several time zones over — fetishizing spots/surroundings to the point that the trick itself is like an afterthought or even a distraction from the attractively deteriorating warehouses or bridge-pilings, catching the smog-tinted sunset rays just so. Ricky Oyola, who interviewed Puleo, at one point seems to suggest this:

“I know nowadays, it looks like kids try too hard to find those type of spots, I think it comes out looking contrived most times.”

Puleo soon resumes his attack on VX-bearing career-builders trampling all over his town, but I think Oyola has a point here — there’s a clip in “This Time Tomorrow,” a generally totally awesome movie, where (I think) a dude ollies up one curb, then another one quickly, then has to make a tight turn and hops up on a rail to do a frontside boardslide down, like, four stairs. Hard, yes, could I do it, probably definitely no way, but there are hard questions you ask yourself when allotting video-part real estate and with a certain subset of skating very much shaped by aesthetics-minded landmarks like “Static 2” it’s clear that sometimes the clip is more about the spot than whatever trick happens to go down there.

And we now flip open last month’s Transworld, or alternately click here, to witness the ongoing fruits of a career built partly on this idea — Kenny Reed 360 flipping in North gosh-darn-it Korea, a jurisdiction with enough mystique and cache and well-fed military personnel such that the bar is lowered to the point that a flatground trick earns full-page photo status. A more exotic riff on an idea that still plays at home, which is when you’ve got a brand-new rail it doesn’t matter that Mark Appleyard kickflip backside tailslide bigspinned out on some other rail 10 years ago, because the slate is clean and a veteran pro can get in his frontside crooked grind or backside 5-0 before the amateurs come along and fuck it all up by kickflipping into everything, or worse, going up it.

Which is maybe one way long-suffering photogs could help make rent every month — hoarding the latitude and longitude of virgin spots and holding out for the highest bids put forth by dudes needing to justify royalties from their sixth pro sneaker. Style points on a backside smith grind go further when you’re not standing in the shadow of last month’s nollie backside noseblunt and if the message boards are paying attention said pro could possibly even add “spot seeker” to his online rep. Maybe people already are doing this?

Walking Blues

August 12, 2009

cardboardshoes
Couldn’t walk a mile off in my air forces (via Fuse Gallery)

Confronted with shoe walls awash in vulcanized soles and increasingly minimalist silhouettes I can’t help but wonder if we’re seeing the skate shoe business, known to some as the last and final bastion of early-00’s profitability for the industry, on the verge of commoditizing itself like what happened with hard-goods. Despite noble efforts from PJ Ladd and TK to goose footwear pricepoints – a bold move in the shadow of a global recession monster – the market seems to dictate that kids basically want $50 Vans, or close approximations thereof, heel bruises and short life spans be damned.

Of course sooner or later tastes will change and tongues will puff up once more, but you have to wonder if technological innovations like the space-age materials currently being pushed by Gravis dude above, or Sole Tech’s shoe lab, or DC’s continued efforts to promote its Super Suede material, are doomed to become the shoe version of carbon fiber decks and air-core wheels. Concaves and dimensions come and go but the skateboard deck hasn’t changed much in the last 18 years, even though the hammer era saw kids of all weight classes snapping boards faster than ever. Who’s to say that the current generation, who don’t remember the armoured tanks we used to push around in, don’t see shoes the same way now?

Now this isn’t my usual sepia-toned spiel about how we all need to go back to the good old days and skate only painted curbs so I don’t feel so horribly insecure. Paying nearly twice as much for shoes that were harder to skate in and only marginally more comfy is a bargain only a fool or a well-paid masochist like TV’s Steve-O would entertain. But I kind of wonder if the shoe companies aren’t painting themselves into a corner here, profit-wise. Meanwhile you’ve got deck conglomerates pushing and shoving to get into the footwear business, and with companies like DC white-labeling the Lynx to shops or whoever, what’s it even mean to be a skate shoe company anymore? It’s like they’re tiptoeing toward blank deck territory, which recently obliterated professional skateboarding forevermore.

But even though there’s so many skate shoe companies now all basically pushing the same product relatively cheaply, nobody really wants anything else right? So how is this different than boards? Most kids don’t give a shit if they snap a board in two weeks versus a month, cuz that’s how boards are. Or, kids don’t care enough to light a sales fire under those Almost disc-decks. The Arto shoe purportedly lasts six weeks longer than a comparable shoe*, but are kids that now buy six pairs of shoes per year going to flock to Gravis so they only have to buy shoes four times per year? People used to a regular turnover maybe don’t want their shoes to last longer, like how you want a fresh board every so often and aren’t trying to ride the same deck for 12 months.

Shit, I don’t run a shoe company, maybe the simple-shoe revolution of the 00’s is all part of their master plan to move more shoes faster. It just seems like it could wind up biting them in the ass, the way all the deck manufacturers are hustling to diversify into clothes and whatnot. Consider: with next to nothing in the way of construction advancement (slicks aside) deck prices have stayed roughly the same for almost 20 years, or at least seriously lagged the inflation rate. (Ye olde inflation calculator puts a $55 board in 1992 at $75 in 2008 dollars.) Skateboard economy, heal thyself…

*however they calculated that one