Posts Tagged ‘Nike’

Down And Out In Dunktown

February 28, 2021

“It was one of the oldest neighborhoods around, but back then, nobody was really trying to live there. Nothing going on, every once in a while somebody would try and hype it up again like, hey, remember this place? Some cool stuff would pop up here and there but it was close to a notorious part of town. Nothing really wrong with the neighborhood itself, but it was more like, outta sight, outta mind.

“Other parts of town got crowded up and too busy, and here and there, people started moving back in. At first it was your typical mix, like young hipsters and sophisticated thirtysomethings. And you could see why, it had that a little bit of a more classic neighborhood vibe, kinda old school feel, for sure simpler than everything going on downtown. So people started moving back, they’d talk about how they’d loved the area all along and all that, and sure enough after a couple years you started to see some high rollers and upper crust types coming in. The vibe was changing no doubt, but you could find a reasonable place if you looked.

“It was still a nice place to be, nothing about the neighborhood itself fundamentally changed, but as the years went by it just started to get really crowded. And the free market did its thing. Rents went up. Bidding wars for coveted spots turned really intense. Different types of rent control programs were tried, some got pretty creative, but people were just getting so crazy with it — hiring programmers to build bots to help them land a spot, offering bribes, assaults, death threats. Kinda funny, since it was the old residents that were supposed to be the riffraff. Some landlords wouldn’t even give out their places’ address, the heat got so intense. But at the end of the day the developers and landlords didn’t turn anybody down, and you know, a lotta business and investment was coming in. Developers would sometimes try and set aside space for the longtime residents, but the same thing would always happen. And it’s starting to happen in other parts of town too.

“People say the bubble’s gonna burst soon, but they’ve said that before, and either way, most of the old locals who made the neighborhood what it was, by now they’re pretty much gone. All the streets, lines and angles are still the same, more or less, and it’s still possible on paper to live there without deep pockets and connects. But hardly anybody sees the point in trying, especially with the kind of money you can get for it if you do somehow land a spot. And there’s plenty of other neighborhoods around, some just as nice, some probably better, some whose roots in the city go even deeper. So this neighborhood’s theirs now, I guess, as long as they can afford it.”

Pusher Man

November 8, 2020

Across his three-decade career, Gino Iannucci has been many things, to many persons: embodiment of detached cool in World’s golden age, skate celebrity roomie, successful hesh-fresh bridger in the gap/rail era, vanguard enlistee for Nike Inc., retail boutique proprietor, graybeard fashion model. Whereas his reputation for yeti-like elusiveness overlooks certain late-period productivity bursts, he remains enswaddled in mystique. In the geometric sum total, Gino Iannucci is the preeminent living example of skateboarding as qualitative versus governance by contest score, ollie height, or NBDs crossed off that cosmic list.

Respective paychecks aside, Gino Iannucci’s subcultural durability has outlasted any number of hot-shoe contest killers, a fact unlost on Nike’s brandwise strategists, who made him one of Nike’s initial signees for the sportswear conglomerate’s final, successful push into board-skating. His enduring presence on the roster helped counterbalance Nike’s pursuit of more obvious Street League contenders and future Olympians. Even if he increasingly leaned upon skatepark one-foots and giving interviews, Nike and other sponsors enjoyed a direct link back to the Gonz backside heelflip, the nollie switch k-grind shove-it out, the Roslyn banks greatest-hits list. As the old Slap message board saw went, “I’d rather watch Gino push.”

The phrase may now face the ultimate test. As Nike and Adidas show signs of culling their skate programs, Gino Iannucci seems to have come to the end of his swoosh-clad run, with recent Adidas-sporting IG story clips earning giddy reposts from the likes of bearded beach kingpin Lucas Puig, and demonstrating Gino Iannucci’s still-considerable clout with bros of a certain age. Almost entirely absent from the FA video output since signing six years ago, he has of late revived his Poets imprint and in recent weeks has posted promotional vids almost entirely reliant on his famed left-foot propulsion technique, in one hopping up a curb and then riding off a sidewalk, in another cruising down a mellow rural road, before the other day including a skatepark pyramid nose manual and pivot fakie.

Could it be that Gino Iannucci is following in the careening, center-line footprints of his East Coast forebear, Mike Vallely? In the 2001 black denim document ‘Label Kills,’ Mike Vallely’s section revolved almost entirely around pushing, an unconventional move later immortalized by Mike Vallely naming his punk band ‘Revolution Mother’*. At a time when professional clout chiefly was measured by stair count, Mike Vallely’s choice to showcase the push and its direct descendants, such as the boneless and no-comply, was to VHS watchers equal parts confounding and inspiring. But similar to the Hot Boys’ 1974 hit ‘Respect My Mind’, it signaled Mike Vallely was thinking bigger and broader, setting a trajectory toward a more malleable ‘personal brand’ and career that would place Mike Vallely variously on hockey rinks, fronting Black Flag, and astride Paul Blart, Mall Cop, in thin air.

Can Poets sink or swim on the strength of Gino Iannucci’s push, or will it require some handrail-assisted Miller flips to ‘seal the deal’? Do you think Gino could take Paul Blart? Could instructional Youtube vids and advanced AI technologies help mechanics-challenged youngsters and career-extending oldsters alike fine-tune their own push techniques? Have the stars already foretold an inescapable destiny in which Gino Iannucci and Mike Vallely join forces on the hockey rink to lead a final showdown against the forces of evil, perhaps with Paul Blart as a stuffed-shirt official?

*Also likely referring to multiple revolutions of the board’s wheels while pushing

7. Ishod Wair — ‘Back On My Bullshit’

December 25, 2018


A grace refreshing as swallowing cool water on a hot day, easier on the eyes than a finely tuned, Swiss-built eyeball massager — it is Ishod Wair, emerging from injury and setback to stand again, slyly grinning, upon a heap of immaculately filmed, gloriously soundtracked bullshit. Try not to smile at the shoulder-lean sign dodge; suppress if you can the gasface reflex at the frontside feeble hopped up to smith grind; see whether you can keep your eyes in a non-bugged position as he tailblocks to revert in the deep end; acquire a fire extinguisher for after you set your house and garage aflame following the various and unbelievable flip tricks over the bump to bar.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 6 – Donovon Piscopo, ‘Hockey Promo’

June 27, 2018

At some point, under the tutelage of dockworker-period Jason Dill and Pomade-packing AVE, yung Donovon Piscopo cast off his slim denim cuffs and went in for the hazy and vaguely violent beach-scuzz vibe of the California underbelly that roots the Hockey project. He’d already been refining his tricks away from the no-comply tailslide flip-outs, and for this no-tunes intro clip him and big John Fitzgerald soundtracked to their scrapes, impacts and background yelps —- Donovon Piscopo with a lower-key hand in the high-pop movement that emerged as a refreshed progression venue as handrails and stair counts took a breather. His bank to front blunt is huge in this vid, the backside smith grind to backside tailslide held to a crazy degree, the backside flip over the barrier caught in the 90-degree neighborhood and steered firmly the rest of the way around.

The Best Night of Sleep Sanger Rainsford Ever Had

May 13, 2018

In Richard Connell’s 1924 classic ‘The Most Dangerous Game,’ a big-city trophy hunter washes up on a remote island, soon revealed to be inhabited by a philosophizing fellow hunter. Over a stately dinner, the host identifies himself to be a prize hunter too, as well as something of a freethinking homicidal. Stalking elephants and leopards had grown tiresome, he explained — hence the island equipped with treacherous waters, occasionally delivering via shipwreck to its proprietor the only remaining worthwhile quarry: Men. Soon, a new hunt is on.

Among the improbably growing ranks of skateboard filmers, the thrill of the hunt tends to scale alongside duration. Instagram-ready clips are single-digit ‘Duck Hunt’ level potshots; the one-off/solo part barely Bambi. There is a worthy challenge in nailing and transcending the attention-span sweet spot that is the 15 to 20-minute promo, with a couple full parts and a couple montages, or the footage-dumping ‘mixtape’ project of similar length. But in this woolly realm, the most dangerous game is the full-length video —- its gaping maw of hubris, its difficult-to-wrangle girth, its often unbearable weight, threatening to trample less-seasoned filmers under viewers’ colossal expectations.

Having conquered skateboard professionals, shops and the upper-shredding masses, what prey remains for those moneyed alphas of the industry, the industrial shoe merchants? Mastering the full-length video, that great unquantifiable, that tantalizing money pit, that great ‘Branding Statement,’ continues to beckon and tempt international sporting goods manufacturers like some VX1000-mic’d siren song. For Nike Inc., this has been a slow process. The Oregonian sportswear conglomerate dipped in its toe-piece with 2004’s ‘On Tap,’ flexing some plotting and production and a little bit of those Rodriguez acting chops, but never fully committing. Nike saved that for 2007’s bloated misfire ‘Nuttin’ But the Truth,’ which saddled some truly great skating, a still-corralable team and perhaps the all-time greatest Danny Supa part with an insistent storyline that, while intriguingly bizarre, asked far too much of a skate video viewer base freshly armed with DVD ‘skip’ buttons. Jason Hernandez’s excellent ‘Debacle’ project from 2009 hit all the marks for length, range and focus, but led into the increasingly rote ‘Chronicles’ series, which by the third installment had devolved into a transactional, paint-by-numbers affair.

Adidas, which for a while mastered the five-to-six minute road trip video with rotating picks from its more diverse roster, also veered into a predictable pattern to where it eventually seemed obligatory to attempt something bigger — and they wound up with 2016’s ‘Away Days,’ overlong and too top-heavy with too many good parts that wound up buried. The Juice crew seemed to struggle to construct a project greater than the sum of its parts, linked by something more than Gonz vignettes and blurred shots of streetlights and moving cars.

Now comes Cons, Nike’s subsidiary for the thrift-shop set, which moves without the weight of the world’s biggest sporting goods franchise stuffed into its canvas and rubber. For this reason Cons maybe squares a bit easier with skateboarding’s historic resume of scruffiness, artsiness and a general low-fi bearing, and ‘Purple’ headmaster Ben Chadbourne plays up this angle from the opening frames, typing out an introductory monologue on mid-century equipment (though not without some mobile-phone shorthand).

‘Purple’ justifies a good chunk of its 45-minute runtime in a way that, say, a Primitive full-length might struggle with, that is, diversity in style and approach. Straightaway Bobby De Keyzer pops out of all the backside noseblunts, sets his wide-bottoms whipping with a switch backside 360 in a line, and displays a mean halfway half-cab flip — but then you veer into Sage Elsesser, languid over tall bars, and what seems like whole-body lipslides. Kevin Rodriguez brings his abrasive wallrides and grabs in a Neubauten shirt, though Pontus Alv’s more-frenetic framing maybe was a better look for him, while Aaron Herrington stays on his ‘Welcome to Hell’ shit and there’s a weirdly endearing amount of Corey Duffel clips throughout. Underground style soldier Eli Reed swerves switch over a China Bank long bench, Frank Gerwer briefly reprises his star-making Transworld turn and Brian Delatorre somewhere in the middle dishes out maybe his best part ever, a half-switch scorcher that incorporates some brawny Al Davis moves and a wild new branch line from Black Rock. There’s some curated roll-ups courtesy of Sean Pablo, a mind-numbing Sean Greene ollie and then Louie Lopez, offering another few minutes of heaters with the occasional curveball — the rarely seen fakie frontside shove-it, a night line at Third and Army.

But it is Ben Chadbourne’s choice to close not with the obvious enders from a SOTY coulda/shoulda-been, but rather a comparatively skimpy contribution from the mercurial Jake Johnson, that argues strongest for Cons pulling off the full-length better than its larger-revenued predecessors. It’s easy to make the ‘quality over quantity’ argument justifying Jake Johnson’s solemn two minute wind-down to ‘Purple,’ even if it’s also a little disappointing, given prodigious recent output elsewhere. This though is the same logic that placed Guy Mariano’s ledge-heavy part last in ‘Mouse,’ not Eric Koston’s handrail-heavier section with its NBDs; or when Birdhouse’s blockbuster ‘The End’ stuck by its winking sketch to close on a shorter Bucky Lasek section rather than the stadium-touring Tony Hawk; or how Bill Strobeck’s ‘Cherry,’ among the strongest full-lengths of this aging decade, came with hardly any conventional ‘parts’ at all.

Does humankind’s hope for deeper Jake Johnson satisfaction now hinge upon the coming Quasi video? How many angles did Sean Greene’s ollie need for real? Was Adidas putting Dennis Busenitz last in ‘Away Days’ a left turn or playing it safe? Were people allowed to smoke in prior big shoe company videos? How come there were no Game Genie codes that let you shoot the dog in Duck Hunt?

5. Oskar Rozenberg – ‘Elite Squad’

December 27, 2017


Yung ‘Oski’ came as the transition-frying secret weapon last year in Polar’s ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind,’ and his capacity to brutalize ramps and bowls and lesser beings in general only grew this year as he took his all-the-way-up approach to the European contest circuit, the Brooklyn Banks, China and various points in between. In return for a monochromatic sneaker with a semi see-thru sole, Oksar Rozenberg gave to Nike nearly five minutes of high-definition heaters, careening off walls, backside 180ing out of frontside smith grinds, impossibly charging a high bar out of vert, and doing doubles with Hjalte Halberg. That reservoir kickflip is perfect in every way.

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

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History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?

2. Hjalte Halberg – ‘I Like it Here Inside My Mind, Don’t Wake Me This Time’

December 30, 2016

In Polar’s kinetic, nervous and occasionally poignant ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind’ – the best-crafted, most cohesive ‘company’ video this year and maybe for the last few – Hjalte Halberg brings probably the most straightforward street-purist approach, helping ground some of the body-varialing and handrail-bonking flights of fancy from Dane Brady and the Blobys, and (along with Aaron Herrington and Pontus Alv) injecting some of the diversity often lacking amongst an industry where the easier path sometimes comes off like targeted appeals to specific niches. Hjalte Halberg in this vid rains down force and precision on his Copenhagen blocks, blasting backside flips from bumps and rifling off some of the fastest heelflips committed to digital video. He seems immune to friction and there are moments, like when he’s backside 180ing out of a manual, where he seems maybe not fully in control, but these are rare and pass quickly. Between his video with Bobby Worrest and various other footage Hjalte Halberg could’ve made his own whole video of this shit over the past year.

Running Mates

November 6, 2016

zaphod

The key to unlocking value in any low-margin business is to maximize efficiency. This is the core truth of commerce and business underpinning a meritocracy in which the fastest copy machine is showered with honorariums and shiny treasure, where specialized mining equipment sniffs and scrapes out rare earth minerals and makes rich men of those who once swung picks, where clean factories churn out safe, packaged meal pills to cheaply feed a growing world labor base and quell any angry strife that could negatively impact production schedules.

Fragmentation and heightened competition from both nimble upstarts and well-heeled corporate gargantuates has similarly trampled profit margins in the skate biz with a trampling motion similar to that of an interplanetary trampling elephant. All around, there is a great diminishing, or distilling, depending where you sit: magazines skimpier, as photos, interviews and footage stream daily off mobile-optimized cloud platforms; years-in-the-making videos winnowed down to one-off web parts and Instagram snippets that ebb and flow on tidal transfer speeds; pro model shoes reserved for an anointed few, while the rest pick out seasonal color schemes.

In a fractured age is the team roster next for culling? The sprawling headcounts still collected by the Baker Boys, Crailtap and FuckingAwesome/Hockey contingents argue otherwise. But increasingly difficult-to-capture attention spans have sent up signals that tag teams, rather than baseball diamond or football field-ready lineups, are better suited for plattering more-meaty video offerings relative to the drip-drop of individual internet parts. Bear witness, would you, to the Bobby Worrest/Hjalte Halberg “Looks OK to Me” double feature that sort of awesomely and ominously asserts itself as the stoke-per-second leader in video releases this year at a svelte 9:46 minutes.

These brothers in Swooshdom maybe aren’t an immediately intuitive matchup, per se. But rattle through enough immactulate back-to-back ledge/flatground combos that, when drizzled out over enough countries’ spots, consistently hollering and clapping for one another, and associated homeboys collected along the way (Reese Forbes – fantastic), and it clicks in the spirit of Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen, Brian Wenning and Anthony Pappalardo, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard. Hjalte Halberg’s pop shove it frontside crooked grind line and Bobby Worrest’s line at New York’s three-up/three-down are among tons of highlights, along with the grate tricks and the entire Pulaski park section.

As two-dude videos come back into vogue, could a two-man team that is cheap to send on the road, less prone to complex beefing factions and capable of filming one another become the ultimate in independent contractor efficiency? Has the cozy relationship between Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad made the time right for Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik to rekindle their partnership? Is Bobby Worrest’s fakie flip and switch shove-it landing in time with the snare hit a quiet nod to Rob Pluhowski’s often overlooked and downbeat-friendly Element part and/or a sign that videos could revive the days when wheel impacts comfortably coexisted with metronomes?

As Skating Leads a Parade for Brian Anderson, Does a G-Code!!! Hat Remain Strapped to Its Collective Noggin?

October 1, 2016

juvenile_tha_g_-_code_slowed_chopped-front-large

This week skateboarding rejoiced, heralding the justifiably jubilant event that was Brian Anderson’s coming out, while collectively exhaling at the acknowledgement of 10 years’ worth of rumors traded between parking-lot lines and across skateshop counters. Brian Anderson’s moment carries weight. Unlike Tim Von Werne’s buried interview and Jarrett Berry’s noteworthy/novelty cover turn for Big Brother, this arrives freighted with a universally beloved style, a caseful of contest trophies, parts in the best videos of their eras, and a Skater of the Year title in its most worthy form — a nod that proved out for years afterward. If you were to tally some imaginary checklist for gay people’s ideal skate ambassador, BA leaves few empty boxes.

Gio Reda’s at times shaky doc gets over due to Brian Anderson approaching the discussion with the same type of nonchalant grace that repopularized the hurricane grind, and steered a backside smith grind down the UCI hubba. There’s an all star cast of well-wishers, some understandable gravitas — BA’s simple reason for waiting this long to make his statement, being “freaked out” — and in the long tradition of skate vid skits there’s humor of both intentional (Biebel, Bluto) and unintentional (the hurried assurances that skaters are not Brian Anderson’s type).

Even with relatively little at stake as his pro career ticks past the 20-year mark, Brian Anderson deserves enormous credit for taking a step that can immeasurably help current and future gay kids who skate, and improve skateboarding’s increasingly tough-to-make case as a semi-lawless sanctuary open to whoever, be they misfit, malcontent, mordantly mundane, or otherwise. Even as skating emerges from the dregs of premium-extended cable packages to ascend the most lucrative podiums of international Olympic telecasts, it has failed to keep pace with even the most mainest streamy major league sports, those at which the four-wheeled persuasion still would look down their chipped noses. Gay NFL and NBA players already have identified themselves; some ex-baseball players have been out for years. Even the U.S. military, whose advertisements still draw derision when they grace skate mags’ supposedly less-conforming and higher-minded pages, six years ago dropped ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.’ For all the comparisons skating has drawn between itself and art, figure skating and rock music, it’s lagged these too.

If there is any silver lining the rainbow-coloured flag skating now heartily waves, it is that Baker’s ‘G-Code!!!’ hat sales may not have been in vain. Despite Brian Anderson’s sexuality having been more or less an open secret among skaters for more than a decade, to this blogging web page’s knowledge he never was called out publicly on it, nor put on the spot in any interview. Skateboarding is terrible bad at keeping secrets and in some sense it may have been assumed as common knowledge. But decades of ducking the law’s long arm, ignoring posted prohibitions and any number of other related illegalities seem to have kept some anti-snitching sentiment embedded in the industry. Missteps get called out — Jeremy Laebreres rowed back after an ill-considered Patrick Melcher recollection and Wes Kremer’s SOTY status didn’t absolve him from narrowed eyes after recently putting Smolik on front street. BA’s personal business is not in that pejorative realm, which maybe makes it that much more impressive that it wasn’t trotted out for him at some point.

Will BA’s big step prompt any of the supposed half dozen or so other gay pros to similarly raise their hands? Is this the type of after-black documentary hammer that assures Giovanni Reda hangs onto a pro-model slot on Viceland some five or ten years after he’s filmed anything? Where were Donny Barley and the Muska in the doc? How will history judge Andy Roy’s ‘snuggle bandit’ interview in the arc of skateboarding’s gradual embrace of its gay brethren and sisters? Could a renewed thirst to film tricks flow from Brian Anderson’s recently reinvigorated Instagram activity?