Posts Tagged ‘Nike’

Where Are All the Vanity Board Team Owners?

September 30, 2014

scrooge_mcduck

Loudly, the “Lego Movie” demonstrated how this earthy life is built upon deception and a series of injurious failures, with the slim chance of revolutionizing society or overthrowing a malevolent dictator baked in to stave off utter hopelessness. So it may also be in the boardgoods galaxy, where increasingly it would seem that proprietorship of a deck company is tantamount to some sort of Sisyphean trek in holey vulc-soles, or several pelvic fractures, or maybe just an unfulfilling relationship.

Alien Workshop owners Chris Carter and Mike Hill’s grab for the brass life-ring of corporate ownership devolved into a game of M&A hot potato that may have soured them on the business for life, Jake Johnson said in an interview the other day: “I don’t think these guys wanna do it anymore. I think that they’re pretty pissed off.” Smoothie king Andrew Reynolds, in a separate interview, described running Baker and its affiliates more like a labor of love: “I own some skateboard companies and there’s not that much money in it. I see the truth.” Pontus Alv, owner/operator of by all accounts one of the more successful board companies at the moment, sounds fatigued as he oscillates between evaluating Chinese factories and trying to hold down a pro career: “It’s a shit load of work plus trying to be a team manager, going on a tour, promoting the brand, trying to skate…. I try to work with other people but a lot of times I just end up doing it myself because I can and they don’t have the same vision as me.”

Boards have yet to devolve into unfashionable utilities. The hierarchy of professional image and personal branding dictates that deck sponsors provide meaningful direction that appears to matter to the moneyed international footwear conglomerates that riders require to pay various mortgages and car notes and things. Nike, Jamie Thomas says, helped shepherd Trevor Colden from Mystery to the swish-heavy pastures of Skate Mental, and conspiracy theory-minded observers will note that EU comer-upper Karsten Kleppan did a similar two-step from Lakai and Element in recent months.

So are board company owners doing it wrong? The argument has been made that owning professional sports teams should not be a profit-seeking venture, but rather a long-term luxury investment similar to a yacht or bankrolling a Ron Artest CD. Rather than paper dollar bill wads, rewards arrive in the form of grand intangibles and assorted life hammers such as the prestige that comes with fielding a championship team or sweatily mounting a Grammys stage to collect hard-won trophies for hit Ron Artest singles. Sports team owners enjoy earthly delights like fostering relevant cultural memes, cheering as your employees innovate new ways to involve animals in celebrations, and build in the lab with the Pandas’ Friend formerly known as Metta World Peace from time to time.

Former World Industries Chief Financial Officer Scott Drouillard, in a recent interview with Jenkem, described blindly speculating on Florida swampland as preferable to working for a skateboard company, and the rationale for selling out over a decade ago:

All of us had invested all of our wealth in this company, and there were three big factors. One, the overall economy and stock market was at a historic high, going off the scale. Two was our industry… Our industry was blowing up! And knowing it goes in cycles, about 10 year cycles, we knew we were really at the explosive peak of it. Lastly, is how we were managing the company. We were hitting home runs like 3 out of 4 times, and you can’t be expected to continue hitting home runs like that forever.

Viewed through such a lens, does this portray decades-deep boardsportsmen such as Tod Swank, Ed Templeton, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard as grinning sadomasochists? Does Steve Rocco, reclining on some Malibu beach, kick himself for not finagling a stake in the Big Brother-spawned Jackass franchise? Would there be more rap careers if board companies were backed by deep-pocketed benefactors? Would there be worse ones? Are Pat Pasquale and Nick Trapasso employing some Billy Beane-esque algorithm in building the Life Extention team, or only their video soundtracks?

We Fly These Asphalt Yachts On City Streets, Pain In Our Souls, We’re Eating

April 28, 2014

happy_jeezy

“Recession over!” arose the jubilant cry across American streets and by-ways these past days, as consumers cheered on trucks, trains and cargo ships plumped with exportable goods, steady gains in housing values and now, the most recent leading indicator: yung Trevor Colden, wearer of the beanie and holder of the 2011 Tampa Am belt, discussed emptying his savings account, to the tune of $15,000, for the pleasure of leaving Mystery ASAP for the presumably greener* pastures of Brad Staba’s Skate Mental imprint.

Trevor Colden offered his account of the career-minded balling in a Thrasher website interview shortly after a similarly themed Instagram posting set off questions about his spendthrift approach to contract management.

The graphic that people are probably talking about the most was the one with the check. What was that all about?
That check is the check I had to pay to buy my way out of my contract with Mystery.

So you had a contract and wanted to get out early to switch to Skate Mental?
Yeah, I tried to call Jamie a couple of times and he didn’t answer. I talked to Bobier and he knew the situation and they were going to find a way to solve it. Long story short, there was no way he was going to let me out of the contract, no matter what. He was asking people for a lot of money and they weren’t going to give it to him so I went ahead and said, “Fuck, he’s not going to let me out of my contract, I’ve got $15,000 in the bank.” He was asking for double that. So I called him and told him, “Hey, I know you’re really mad at me right now. I just really want to make some changes. I can offer you $15,000. That’s all I have. I’ll come down there tomorrow and give you a check.” He said, “Yes, I graciously accept your offer. I’ll have Bobier meet up with you.” Then I started thinking, “Fuck, that’s a lot of money! Taxes are right around the corner! Shit!” So I called him back and offered him $10,000. That was still more money than he owed me in my contract. I was hoping he’d go for it. But nope, he wasn’t down. So I went down there the next day and gave Bobier the check.

Computer bash files worldwide can testify to the numerous keystrokes and characters deployed on either side of this heated matter in the days since, though Jamie Thomas’ side remains untold. Was Trevor Colden, into whom Black Box/Mystery presumably had invested valuable U.S. dollars, time and transport fuel over the course of his amateur rise, now looking to play fast and loose with legal terms to which he had agreed in the not so distant past? Did Jamie Thomas, who recently touched on the hardgood industry’s struggles in his own Thrasher interview, play needless corporate hardball with a youngster who apparently really really didn’t want to represent Mystery any longer? Is Skate Mental, which one might reasonably assume would pick up part of the tab for this kind of personnel wheeling and/or dealing, grinning through Doritos-yellowed teeth at all this? Absent details on guarantees, prepaid incentives and otherwise, does the math described above make sense?

Such questions invariably amount to little more than smoke and mirrors obstructing the real debate here, which as ever must harken back to that one other time period when America was emerging from a recession and war in the Middle East, Nas was preparing to release an album called “Illmatic” and a person with the last name of Hawk was performing pressure flips: the early 1990s. In the matter of Trevor Colden and his $15,000 check, is the true question not “who was more Rocco?”

Steve Rocco’s daring feats of team-raiding, fueled in turns by rampant money-throwing and sheer gusto, remain the stuff of slurred legend and at times serious documentary filmmaking. Gazing out upon the Pacific from his opulent trailer home, the gold fronts of Steve Rocco’s inner Bryan “Baby” Williams no doubt would have cracked a smile at the thought of a kid nonchalantly cutting a check to take his destiny into his own hands, and then plastering it across the bottom of one of his debut pro models (even if Trevor Colden’s dealmaking remains decidedly amateur-level). Or, Ipad in hand, might Steve Rocco have half-smiled and nodded in the general vicinity of San Diego, recognizing the real in a company holding a itchy-footed teamrider to terms that both had agreed, while sending a signal regarding expectations to other riders future and present, and providing a roadmap to other company owners contemplating their own next moves when top-drawer talent, if Trevor Colden should so be called, abruptly announces its intention to fly the company coop?

How much, if any, of the previously-quoted dollar figure represented Trevor Colden’s footage for his Skate Mental debut part? Are the excellent frontside noseslide, backside smith grind backside 180 and switch backside tailslide line offset entirely by an ill-conceived choice involving skinny camos and colourful socks? Would pro-level negotiator Rob Dyrdek have counseled Trevor Colden to instead ride out his contract til the end, to avoid burning bridges and potentially to help stoke a broader bidding war for his frontside k-grinds? Relatedly, is Alien Workshop thousands of dollars richer in hamburgers and hair grease now that John Fitzgerald and Donovon Piscopo are off the team, as suggested by the AWS website?

*Correct, a weed leaf joke

2. Ishod Wair – ‘Wair N Tear’

December 30, 2013


Future pros who master the art of juggling corporate sponsorship video productions and VX-flavored bro-cam affairs, bankable via messageboard-approved Bitcoin dividends, will look back on early masters of the great balancing act such as newly anointed SOTY Ishod Wair, who initiated his 12-month pillage of US spots late last year in the legendary ‘Sabotage 3’ and wound it down with another NKE-underwritten one-two Thrashermagazine.com combination that proved effective in snaring the industry’s most-prestigious award for the second time in three years, after Grant Taylor similarly ran the servers in December 2011. Depending on how you count them Ishod Wair turned out four video parts this year, but this one for Fourstar earns the highest across-the-board score as far as the after-black hammer material he’s capable of, the lengthy lines and the much-beloved ‘Photosynthesis’ production, from the cameras to the Love ledges. Some of Ishod Wair’s tricks have this ethereal, floaty quality, like the full 360 out of the backside tailslide and the drift on the heelflip over the rail toward the beginning, but then he’ll set down something like that nollie backside kickflip around 2:29 that is solid enough to seal international peace accords. Ishod Wair in 2013 is a dude at the height of his powers but still putting in work — witness his fountain combat for the switch frontside bigspin here if you haven’t seen it.

9. Donovon Piscopo – ‘SB Chronicles Vol. 2’

December 22, 2013

piscopo_chron

Jason Hernandez is one of those rare filmers whose steady hand has the power to make good skating look better, versus the other way around like a lot of dudes, and Donovon Piscopo’s greasefired debut via the Nike vid is a good example, keeping the Dill/AVE progeny careening safely in-frame as he tornadoes over a handrail, hurls himself around a curvy bar, carves curbs and generally chews scenery all over the place. I didn’t have much of a position on Donovon Piscopo’s slicked hair and general T&C Surf Designs approach prior to his proper arrival here, but the way he glides that shove-it along the ditch and his feet clamp the board onto the garage door on that wallride sold me, with a TNT-approved property/casualty ender thrown in. Not sure I need to see another frontside bluntslide impossible out, but I didn’t hate it.

Eric Koston, Exploring The Potential For Hammers In Personal Wardrobing, May Suddenly Have Del Boca Vista On Smash

December 11, 2012

hawaiianshirts

At Boil the ocean custom sceptre repair and old-tyme blogginghaus we make few pretenses to the effect that our ultimate loyalties lie elsewise than with the 1990s torch-bearing set, and it is against these currents that we swim when trying to weigh the personal bearing and heaviness of the newer faces on Girl/Chocolate, as juxtaposed in particular across “Pretty Sweet.” The task grows no easier when you have Eric Koston, a five-star general in the game who wears a jersey that says Champion and eats a bowl of Wheaties every morning, pushing around dressed like he’s got his mind set on the shuffleboard court and the early-bird special.

Initially “Pretty Sweet” finds him dressed for the PGA tour, schralping a California ditch in a soberly striped shirt and well-appointed swoosh hat, but before long he’s going for that high-risk 360 flip to switch manual off the drop where he can be seen breaking out the neon crayola crayon tees and, importantly, the camo. You may not guess it coming from a dude of his stature, but I am beginning to suspect that Eric Koston does not have a firm grasp on the efficient use of camo. Case in point being the run down the brick banks where Koston, possibly in a fit of wild abandon, chooses to combine a striped soccer jersey with some camouflage army fatigues, breaking several international accords against pairing stripes with camos. Later he indulges in some cut-off blue jean shorts while going all Jake Johnson down an APAC staircase.

More recently, Koston has been noticed swanning about certain European properties in a floral print hat, basketball jerseys and faux leopard skin, like some headphone-endorsing, crash helmet-wearing Tony Manfre.

While curiously diverse the point is not to catalogue the various and sundry fashion combinations that Eric Koston chooses to pursue, bizarre though some may be, but rather to speculate irresponsibly as to what these may reveal about his current mental state. One can imagine Koston, more than two decades into the video deadline grind and flush at last with Nike fuck-you money, grumpily rejecting any claims on tightly choreographed shirt/pant ensembles and thrusting his fingers deeper and deeper into whatever bottomless and mouldering duffel bag he has in tow on the current filming tour, cobbling together increasingly outlandish getups and upbraiding any youngster that hazards a question or sideways glance. You can begin to picture him treating a particularly day-glo hue of pants, better left undiscovered in some discount bin long since abandoned by a merciful god, as a personal challenge not to be left unaccepted and preferably matched with a pair of banana yellow sneakers, a cantankerous sneer perched on his lip and maybe a bingo card stuffed into his back pocket.

Will Eric Koston’s embrace of ultra-technical, two-sided curb tricks reach a peak concurrent to his recent exploration of colorful and multi-disciplined outfits, potentially involving a sombrero? Has Koston finally gone “too far”? Is this all a natural (though somewhat delayed) reaction to the white tee/blue jean uniform of 1995?

Cup Fulla Beetlejuice

February 28, 2012

It seems like it’s been a little while since we seen one of those curveball tricks that gave Stefan Janoski another couple dimensions past just being a style-killer type during his lengthy come up from “Alone” onwards — since “Nothing But The Truth” you sometimes got the feeling he was operating under some legal obligation to represent the premium coffee swirling, fine food tasting, mahogany wood sniffing lifestyle represented by his premium boat shoes. But the above trick, which comes out of the recent Habitat catalogue and is the first time I can think of seeing this move on a hubba ledge, moves back toward the line of thinking that produced big switch b/s shifties and those backside tailslides on top of the curb, Scott Johnston style. Anybody else take this down a hubba to fakie like that?

2. Grant Taylor – Thrasher SOTY Part

December 29, 2011

A lot of people did harder tricks and pocketed more soda-pop contest money in 2011 than did Atlanta hatee Grant Taylor but as a Skater of the Year he covers all the critical bases… fast-moving and fearless with little regard for private property and embodying the speed/simple/all-terrain concept that drove a lot of peoples’ skating this year. It seemed like Grant Taylor was doing his floaty frontside ollies, swilling domestic beers and bleeding all over the place in 2011 and the chips all got cashed in with two video parts at the end of the year, but I wound up watching the Thrasher-exclusive one a little bit more partly because of the seven frontside 5-0s, partly because the street edge seemed a little sharper, partly just because of the line at that one humpy spot in China that says up a lot about this dude all by itself. Then the windowsill 5-0 and the boardslide through the curvy handrails with a gap, this dude goes full tilt.

Five Reasons Why Nike Snatched Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory On This Year’s KOTR

September 20, 2011

We believe sport is a lifestyle. It’s where we leverage that brand identity, that credibility. And it’s the biggest access point of all from a consumer standpoint. And you can see Allyson Felix, Kobe Bryant, referenced here in the visuals. These athletes are connected with the brand in every aspect of their life. We can supply that connection. We can also innovate in every single one of these dimensions. I’m happy to report it’s working. We saw every single one of our categories in fiscal year ’11 deliver growth. We have strong momentum across the category portfolio for fiscal year ’12. Trevor is going to spend a little bit more time going a little deeper about what goes on in our category offense in a few minutes.
–Charlie Denson, Nike brand president, fiscal fourth quarter earnings call, 6-30-11

Alas, Charlie Denson will be forced to stammer and cough his way through any analyst questions pertaining to the credibility of Nike’s King of the Road squad this Thursday when Nike Inc. delivers their next batch of quarterly results to shareholders. Vegas odds had the Koston/Oneill/Kennedy/Wair/Taylor fivesome as heavy favorites to handily lick the Vans/Dekline/Lakai teams, in a fancy van to boot. But as we learned last night, that wasn’t the way it went down. Below the blog website “Boil the ocean” looks at five reasons why.

1. Video game eyes
Video games taught a generation of children how to coordinate their hand motions with what’s happening on the screen in front of them, and the revolutionary PowerPad did the same for feet. Horribly for Nike’s points-gathering efforts it seems like the company refused to spring for a van large enough to fit a PowerPad, leaving Cory Kennedy to suffer a normal Xbox.

2. Social media domination
At some point along the way Eric Koston appointed himself KOTR11’s all-points shit talker, weighing in on rival teams’ struggles to produce usable footage or have a backpack that does not look like a van, or randomly putting folks on blast as he saw fit. Several of his online quips are collected here.

“Sounds like that pussy Dan Z hit the wall. KOTR ain’t for the weak.” -@erickoston
“@carmelcreeper all those pussies you’re rolling with sleep?? Fuck dat!” -@erickoston
“Why would you cover up this beauty with a shitty-ass dreamcatcher @jaredlucas” —@erickoston
“Boring as fuck” -@erickoston
“I’ll take all 3 of you guys in the octagon right now!!!” -@erickoston
“When I say “weak ass!”, you say “bitch!”….weak ass, bitch!!! ” —@erickoston
“@ham_n_cheese maybe if you got the fuck off instagram and shot a goddamn skate photo, your phone wouldn’t be dead” -@erickoston
“Awe that’s cute!! You guys have a van shaped just like the dakine backpacks you make” -@erickoston

3. Ghostly spirits
Whereas the other vans were assigned relatively benign starting points such as Seattle and El Paso, Nike began in Albuquerque, N.M., one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.A. The white paper “Haunted New Mexico: Ghosts of the Southwest” tells the legend of a hacienda that is haunted by spirits, and other bone-chilling stories. Is it possible, that Nike’s black van fell under the spell of a wayward phantasm, or they erroneously bought some haunted gas?

4. Internal group strife
All the pics of the Nike folks partying it up in the van are a classic cover for the stress of a group that is tearing itself apart in silence, or sometimes with sound. Shane Oneill quietly stepped off the merry-go-round as the competition heated up, despite (because of?) his team-manager egging him on to consume fast food and soda like his teammates Cory Kennedy and Grant Taylor. Tension was further ratcheted up by Phelps’ naming longtime Koston internet nemesis Leo Romero as Nike’s surprise guest, prompting a silent war fought with middle fingers and profane t-shirt designs.

5. Blaze of glory

Frenchman’s Defection To German Shoe Company From Californian One Spotlights A Deepening Fissure In The Industry Dudes

September 11, 2011

“…Along the way, amazing things have simply continued to happen–like a Francophile Forrest Gump, seemingly stumbling obliviously from one victory to the next…”

Did you leave on good terms?
We talked a lot about it. For them it was hard. I understand their point of view. It’s the skate brands that make all this happen. They have the real sense for it. They are the ones that go find riders and build them up. Without Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, or Guy, I would still be out in the French countryside. They push people like me up and then the big companies can come in and help themselves. I see their side of it. That’s why it was so hard to make that decision.

Trying to figure out which plot point in “Forrest Gump” would correspond with Lucas Puig’s fraught parting with Lakai to don triple-striped track suits. (Spoiler alert) Maybe when him and Lieutenant Dan ride out the hurricane and Lt. Dan loudly curses God? Or the point where Forrest decides to stop running cross-country with his new pack of followers? Sleeping with his elementary school heartthrob and then she abruptly bounces?

Like Gump’s rise to become a shrimping magnate, Lucas Puig’s shift to Adidas was in the works long before Es went into suspended animation, but this month’s splashy teamrider interviews in the new TWS, Adidas-backed web part and the magazine’s concurrent gushing over a lavish Nike shoe-release party in Spain comes off sorta tone deaf, coming a shortly after the towel was thrown in by the dudes who touched off the current generation’s Game of Skate obsession.

I guess if the years go on and footwear heavies like Lakai, Sole Tech, etc are forced into a farm-league role by virtue of their slimmer wallets, interview responses like Chris Cole’s recent DC talk or the one above (or maybe the “why’d you move” question itself) will vanish and look kinda quaint in the rear-view mirror, but currently Puig’s comment makes me feel for the Crail camp. They bring up the hot young’ns, occasionally turn them into stars good for a pro model or two before they wave goodbye and head for money-greener pastures. And if you don’t cheer them on the way out you risk looking a hater in the “do u” era.

From a P&L perspective it seems like a kick in the pants too–like you can have Cory Kennedy sell your wood and urethane, but when it comes to moving high-margin kicks and clothes, a dude like that may ascend outta your price bracket. So does your enterprise turn into a staging ground for the more well-heeled shoemakers, or does a Lakai satisfy themselves with a role as tastemakers and scouts scooping talent on the upswing? Do these companies need to figure out tie-ups to ensure some type of compensation/protection for bringing dudes up? Long-running contracts? Does skateboarding need break-up fees?

There’s a rumor going around that Sean Malto is being wooed away to DC to the tune of $5 million over a period of five years, a princely sum that raises the interesting question as to where DC ranks along the shoe co spending spectrum, what with their recent team overhaul-splurge. You could also ponder the potential for the multinational Nikes and Adidases to raise up new faces–in their now-decade of SBness has Nike gotten behind many lesser-known ams? I’m thinking Shane O’Neill, Grant Taylor? Lewis Marnell? With Adidas one would be Lem Villemin, who it’s nice to see get on with Cliche at last.

As far as that part goes it’s usual killer Lucas Puig stuff–he has got a real good handle right now on manual tricks, especially the one at three-up-three-down and the crazy squeaker. The BA/SF run was a nice point-scorer and the backside nosegrind revert up that brick ledge is heavy duty.

Who Killed Es Footwear?

August 15, 2011


I’ll be missing u

It’s gotta not be the shoes: First thought I had upon official confirmation that the pioneering freestyler behind Sole Technologies was mothballing Es, not even ten years ago the mightiest shoe company out, was that the actual product probably had nothing to do with anything. The slippery slope greased up, in some ways, by the resurgence of the Accel itself (personally would ID the Nike Dunk as a co-conspirator) put footwear trends on a path toward the reigning minimalist silhouette atop a white vulcan sole to the point where shops might as well be doing their own Half-Cab and Chuck Taylor renditions. If anything I’d think the commodification of super-simple shoe designs bought Es a few more years than they might otherwise have had if the pendulum had swung violently back toward the basketball court, but then again a meteor could have struck the planet and we may all have wound up atomized.

Then some other people are quick to heap blame on big fishes Nike/Converse/Adidas/probably not Reebok for trolling through the shallow end with their fat wallets, fucking up the food chain for mellower sea creatures that never harbored deeper ambitions, sort of like the Jamaican lobster sang about in “Little Mermaid.” That lobster is convincing and seems wise. But if that were the case, how come Es can’t survive but companies with a fraction of the name recognition and history and established sales/shop networks can still make it? Thinking here of Vox, Dekline, the revived Axion and Duffs, NSS. Or what about little-loved competitors like Globe, Osiris, Circa? How come Circa still has two subdivisions? This may be one of those deals where the amorphous “international markets” comes in as the explainer, but I always thought that was why Es kept around those occasional space-age models in the garish colors.

You look at the Es team website and it’s interesting. On one end you’ve got journeymen pro-dudes like perennial teamriders Rick McCrank and Rodrigo TX, more recent addition John Rattray, you could even include Justin Eldridge here. And then you’ve got a slew of relative newbies like Jimmy McDonald, Kevin Terpening, Ben Raemers, Josh Matthews. We can carve out a middle tier for Bobby Worrest/Kellen James/Mike Anderson but if you’re one of those types who likes to dissect “fit” when it comes to roster moves it would be easy to formulate some messageboard post questioning the cohesion. Maybe there’s a cautionary tale about putting too much weight on up-and-comer internet favorites as opposed to picking some genre lane and staying in it, which seems like it’s working for a company like Emerica. Or maybe it’s a lesson about going the super-team route, and how you better have a good backup plan if and when your super-team scatters to the four shoe sponsorship winds.*

And maybe this episode is more a sign o’ the times than anything else, since it seems like a really big company hasn’t unwound in a while. Es is quite a bit diminished from its Menikmati heights nowadays, but it doesn’t sit right to see this end for an operation with so much history. First three Koston models, Muska’s airbag, Penny stepping in from the wilderness with a switch front-foot impossible of all tricks, the “Enjoy Skateboarding” series, a good run with Ronnie Creager, the Accel obviously, the overlooked “Especial” video, the first Arto shoes, the Contracts, etc etc.

As one of those people who skated in Accels or derivatives like the Square One more than any other single shoe over the past 10 or 12 years, I mourn Es, though partly it’s out of confusion as to how the company with the little tilde thing wound up on the chopping block as opposed to others shopping for some pro-backed identity in an overcrowded segment. I was and still am considering a separate post that may serve as a sappy love letter to the Koston 2, one of the hardest to love shoes ever made that gave back twice as much after they were broke in, and in some ways were ahead of their time in terms of a less-padded tongue and being something like an unapologetic mid-top.

*Another thought, might things have turned out different if Pierre-Andre had cut Koston in via an equity stake?