Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Callin All the Girls, Do You Hear Me? All Around the World, City to City. Cheers to the Girls, More Juice to the Guys, Now I Got a Chicken and a Goose in the Ride

January 23, 2016

WampaDood

The alleged, unnamed and unknowable ice world lurking beyond the confines of the generally regarded universe this week became the latest cosmic force to challenge skating’s long-held but fading belief in the Spicolian maxim that, tasty ledges/gaps/bowls and a cool buzz in hand, all will be fine. This supposed “massive perturber” of some description seemed to taunt skateboarders globally in a general and taunting way. ‘See me, my powerful magnetic fields and my girth,’ it seemed to intone from beyond this solar system. ‘I spread my galactic influence among dwarf planets and, literally, chill.’ And yet on earth, vigils are held online and amongst the square-block granite pocket of Love Park, which the powers that be have determined must be gathered up and remade in a fashion devoid of crack rocks, fistfights, switch heelflips and backside noseblunts.

Philadelphia’s scene is to be cut loose from its best-beloved anchor, one it has exhumed before, at a time when that exalted god technology has enabled companies of varying stripe to cleave themselves from any particular municipality or even geography in a sort of freewheeling rootlessness. Companies design boards from Sweden, Cals Nor and So, Ohio, London and elsewhere, order them pressed in China and Mexico, warehousing them here and there before shipping them to kickflipping endorsers on any number of coasts and wherever Jake Johnson may roam. The photo and video spoils are beamed onto Instagram for consumption via mobile phone between classes, at work or in the john, with decks and premiumly priced t-shirts or sockwear readily hawked to admirers from internet web stores.

Yet much like the sun-hugging planets that owe their atmospheric colorations and ore riches to the gravitational gravity of the one true sun, there is a human case to be made that skate empires’ staying power rests in large part upon some local and geographical cornerstone. Deluxe is synonymous with the Bay, Sk8Mafia with San Diego, even the Osiris parts. Palace is filming their video all in London. Dime and Quartersnacks have fashioned clout from their towns and gained the ability to develop proprietary shirts and sweaters. Pitfalls threaten those who may wander: Alien Workshop, emboldened after adopting Philadelphia and New York as its “Photosynthesis” touchstones, floundered in its effort to launch the borderless and meandering Seek. Blueprint and Cliche surrendered a certain cache when they traded their across-the-pond concentrations to sign up the same US pros courted by California companies, skating the same palm-shaded hubbas. Plan B’s widely known ‘Tru, B’ vid was rumored to have been filmed at exclusive marble plazas on eight continents which includes the secret one.

5Boro is named for New York and so is its new ‘5BNY’ video, which boasts the capacity to open with a black-and-white cityscape motif soundtracked to jazz music that doesn’t come off all contrived, and next by showing tricks from Sylvester Eduardo, a crusher in the ‘Welcome to Hell’ mold who can muscle through some burly 50-50s and wallies and also do floaty frontside pop shove-its and frontside 360s. (Sometimes in Raps, always nice to see on the East Coast.) He’s the first among the ‘5BNY’ lineup to crisscross streets choked with pedestrians, street vendors, autos, commentary-spewing passersby and the rest of the bros, up to and including Quim Cardona*. Karim Callender glides through some of the more lackadasical nosegrinds in a while and Rob Gonyon exhibits power camo and a notable noseblunt shove-it before the scene is cleared for Jordan Trahan, this era’s 360 flip king, tossing off little-seen noseslide 50-50 combinations and no-push lines with impeccable arms, a boss over-the-can carver and probably never enough 360 flips. There could be a whole part of the 360 flips.

Similarly debuting in this blogging site’s fiscal 2016, Isle’s long-awaited ‘Vase’ comes soaked in London brick and feels sort of like a prodigal son type of homecoming after Blueprint’s unfortunate last years and ill-advised dabbles in Americana, such as the still difficult to understand decision to open a video with ‘Birdhouse In Ur Soul.’ This streamlined and gallery-damaged lot rebuild via mixed media and the same type of dollar-store intro inventiveness that helped ‘Bag of Suck’ endure as well as the editing-bay hokum of ‘Fully Flared’, but it is Tom Knox, Chris Jones, Nick Jensen and Casper Brooker who thrust their hands into London’s cracked and smoke-stained guts — Tom Knox’s vision seems not to stop at tricks that could be done at spots but to see spots around corners, overhead or behind parked vehicles, most ridiculously on tricks like the loading dock drop-down to street-gap 360 flip, or the gables-scraping tailslides. Sixteen or so years removed from ‘WFTW’s pint-size gap switch kickflipper Nick Jensen still has vicious South Bank lines and a switch backside nosegrind worthy of Steve Durante while Casper Brooker has the video’s best frontside shove-it and a wild South Bank kickflip transfer. The best section is Chris Jones, with his avant garde switch heelflip and switch manual hops across the sidewalks, which peaks with the careening tunnel runs (the ride out on the backside kickflip).

If the Isle bros can successfully reclaim London via the vital and eminently rewatchable ‘Vase,’ is it similarly possible to cultivate new roots for one’s ‘personal brand’? Surely Jereme Rogers’ years in the wilderness and before had already taken him through Las Vegas, but his recent King of the Strip video part positioned Jereme Rogers’ current formulation of hedonism, fashion mishaps and face-tatted self-aggrandizement** as a persona ready-made for Las Vegas’ rentable, plasticine and transient sin. Whereas Lennie Kirk fused spirituality with a certain on- and off-board brutality, Jereme Rogers proffers an elixir of wealth-seeking Christianity and shameless excess that seems suited to Las Vegas’ neon-heated Gamblor lairs, all-u-can-consume buffets and drive-thru wedding chapels.

Could Las Vegas provide a blinging launchpad for Jereme Rogers’ long-awaited skateboard comeback? Could an as-yet unknown icy giant hold a gap or obstacle that Jordan Trahan could not 360 flip or would its slackened gravitational pull enable even greater 360 flip feats? Why must Pluto keep getting dissed? Has any skate concern successfully transplanted itself? How come it’s been so long since somebody used Big Pun?

*Who has come to occupy an East Coast station that approximates the gonzo exuberance of Chad Muska, or maybe Smolik
**which his jail bid seems to have dulled right?

Leo Valls Takes Advantage Of A Hurricane To Make A Case For The Continued Relevance Of Tail Devils, Grappling Hooks

February 20, 2013

DEVO

The kindest gift that Paul Rodriguez ever bestowed upon the industry was making switch 360 flips down double sets look not-really-trying casual. Upping the ante in one’s mid-teens to not only top-drawer difficulty but seeming no-sweat execution put a fresh floor under tricks that pushed boundaries and set the stage for a weird and wondrous era in which random YouTube kids compete with professionals for unique page views and thumbs-up identifiers. It also enabled dudes who aren’t up to switch backside noseblunting handrails to differentiate on metrics such as speed, aesthetics, geography, or wearing suspenders. French cobblestone ticklers Magenta have based their whole deal on agility and architecture without fussing a great deal over filling up their tech/gnar power meters, pumping out a stream of sliding- and pushing-packed vids that have refreshed and divided the populace in ways similar to the Stereo videos of yore, except with more Wu-Tang Clan.

Making a New York vid probably has been on these dudes’ list as long as the Los Angeles schoolyards were for the Palace guys, and watching their new ‘Panic in Gotham’ clip you get a sense of the zest with which they screeched their wheels across these hallowed streets, even if most of the marquee spots were disregarded in favor of jumping whatever benches and bars they ran across. New York long has been associated with chutzpah and some balls are helpful if you aim to insert clips of flatground shove-its or a repeat of one of those one-footed slider moves, but this raises interesting questions around the role of these caffeinated French purists, and tricks like Leo Valls’ tail-skid to slappy noseslide. Are the Magenta bros in their tightly fished, powerslide-mining fashion pushing as much innovation as the likes of Corey Kennedy or Torey Pudwill working over a DIY parking block ledge? Would their efforts be classified as ‘lateral’ progression, devolution or some as-yet unknown direction? Is there room for Magenta as a hardgood manufacturer to differentiate on products amenable to their styles of scooching and spinning, like ceramic wheels or tailguards? Could Magenta and Nissan collab on an environmentally friendly grappling hook that enables urban skaters to hook a ride on a low-emission vehicle?

Made To Measure

May 31, 2012

Who profited most from the great fashion wars of the 1990s? Was it the denim tycoons, thumbing thick wads of dollar bills earned by selling reams of earth-toned fabric stitched together to make World-branded pants? Was it the hedge fund moguls who sold short the stock of Vision Street Wear just as berets and tank tops fell under the scrutiny of parking-lot fashion police? Perhaps the midpriced mall retailers such as Gap and Ralph Lauren who somehow managed to briefly appeal to otherwise streetwise and snobbish LA ledgelords? Maybe the Dickies executive who refused to give up on a market that at first viciously rejected Ed Templeton’s gentle embrace of highwater-styled “butthuggers?” Or the venture capitalist soothsayers who backed those textile alchemists that fused spandex with denim just as Jim Greco and Ali Boulala began to raise the wrist?

Over a decade later the landscape has flattened. A sort of fashion equilibrium has settled over the industry, matching the anything-goes mindset now prevailing across teamrider recruitment, video part chemistry and skatepark layouts. The peaks and valleys offered by yesteryear’s goofy boys and Hot Topic bracelet shoppers was superceded by the more sober-minded white tee/brown cord/Half-Cab set, sensibly fitting flannel shirts and the more recent revival of the raglan sleeve. At the same time the critical fawning over “Dog Town and Z-Boys,” combined with a solid 25 years’ worth of material to chew over, gave licence to a decade of mythmaking and nostalgic navel-gazing that at its nadir gave rise to a ponderous web blog site on the internet futilely attempting to ‘make sense of it all’ through wordy postings.

Assessing the current state of affairs in succinct, 1000-word equivalent snack-sized servings is the recently introduced Skartorialist site done by Kingpin/Blueprint affiliate Sam Ashley, which puts a pockmarked urethane spin on the moment-to-moment fashion photo blogs that have given rise to a bustling Ebay trade in pocket squares and Sears catalogues from the 1950s. It probably helps that Sam Ashley operates in close proximity to Londoners who have generally proven themselves to possess a more refined level of taste when it comes to fashion choices, Paul Carter’s striped Osiris swishy pants notwithstanding. The site’s frank presentation and skateboard-as-staple theme may have crossed the radar of the OG Sartorialist, who featured not one but two skate pics this week.

This is a concept well suited to an audience as prone to pick nits over personal dress to the point that a passing comment about one’s preference for plain-black t-shirts (versus the more typical plain white t) can prompt a freewheeling and at times soul-searching discourse on the psychological and moral divide between the black- and white-T camps, and how this may or may not reflect a similar but much-older debate revolving around corresponding color choices in women’s underwear. The site also provides for the sort of self-benchmarking popularized by Hotornot.com, and in this spirit I was encouraged to see Angus Morrison sporting a throwback Powell Peralta shirt similar to a ‘winged ripper’ number I got the other day, on some youthful dream fulfilled by disposable income that’s probably a sure sign of some middle-age doomsday ahead.

The role of outfit choices was cemented several years ago by a scientific poll conducted on the Slap message board, which found a majority of respondents agreeing that a bizarro outfit can detract from an otherwise legit photo, or video clip. The Skartorialist blog seems to keep time as folks in one corner of the world decide where the envelope needs pushing and where it is already folded nicely. For better or worse most of the dudes in the pics so far wouldn’t draw a second look at your typical mall or football stadium or Dave Matthews Band concert, which raises some interesting questions. Has the appetite for risk-taking on big handrails gone up at the same time dudes have become more wary of looking like a fool on the street? Does this conservatism mean sacrificing any role as early adopters of long-running themes? Who will start and fund the next JNCO? Are tall, stripey socks this year’s 59fifty hat? Do the duotoned pants backed by Garrett Hill and more recently Neil Smith represent the final frontier?

Slap’s “One In A Million” Web TV Show Dishes Out Tough Love, Bro Hugs With An Ominous Message Dudes

February 25, 2012

When the U.S. economy crashed in the 1970s it was time for Americans everywhere to look in the mirror and face up to some home truths about the way folks were living at the time. Giant, luxurious ghetto sleds guzzled up gas by the boatload. Reams of cloth were being squandered to create extravagant disco pants and cocaine residue encrusted every tattered scrap of U.S. currency plunked down to see expensively produced Hollywood blockbusters including “Airport,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hugo the Hippo.”* Now too, following a decade of excess that saw Rob Dyrdek perversely create the world’s largest skateboard, Danny Way construct the “Mega Ramp” and rumours of a mega picnic table from the Axion team, onetime City skateboards star Alex Klein holds up a reality TV-shaped mirror to depict the harsh state of the modern day industry.

Whereas last year’s OIAM focused mostly on fun-but-competitive-but-still-fun seshes at famed Bay spots, when it wasn’t focused on the Forrest situation, this year’s edition uproots the premise and casts it into warts-and-all New York City where urban grime is dressing for producer Klein’s mixed-greens salad of rotting values and wrongheaded challenges that function as a take-out version of the movable feast for corporate interests that Klein believes the activity has become in ’12. In one man’s tormented vision of this business, which sort of resembles the storyline to one of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater Playstation games, hungry up-comers literally live in a company-sponsored skatepark draped up with product placement, giving thanks when showered with a meager offering of sponsor-branded woodgoods and denim. In this OIAM, prefabricated and local government-approved sk8 facilities are the destination of choice just as often as your cellar doors and organic stair sets, and survival depends on split-second acts of self-promotion and stepping up to trade show-style physical challenges.

“You should know that a big part of skateboarding is learning to market yourself,” declares 5boro’s Steve Rodriguez, the words crashing down with all the condemnation of a convicting judge’s gavel. Contestants born into a seasonal rotation of series graphics sheepishly offer sharpie scrawls and Sears catalogue castoff collages, daring the viewer to recall an era when the likes of Jeremy Wray and Neil Blender arted up their own boards. A more faint of heart storyboarder may have dreamed up a Hollywood hogwash ending that sees the youth rise up and rebel, robbing the warehouse of decks and shoes to sell for dirt-weed funding and rave entry fees. But Alex Klein has seen the industry eat up and spit out too many eager ams to fool anyone with false hopes for a better future yet to come. The winner of this contest will immediately shift into filming/demoing/promoting mode for his new clutch of sponsors, resolutely sporting multiple logos on his New Era as he places respectably upon Dew Tour podiums and, in time, thanking his country for the honor of donning a red-white-and-blue uniform for the Olympics after testing free of some illicit substances.

*Spoiler alert, the hippo did it


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