Posts Tagged ‘Numbers’

Can An Old Dog Unlearn New Tricks?

August 31, 2019

Before his untimely leap into the afterworld, Bruce Lee was fond of quoting a Zen proverb: “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” Thereafter, it became safe for humans, space aliens and various others to widely bite Bruce Lee, reformulating and broadcasting the sentiment via Hollywood space operas, superhero epics and carbon fiber manufacturers. Indeed, it is now hard to remember to forget what we thought we once knew about letting memories slip our mind in our communal quest to recall our true selfs.

The parallels between Bruce Lee and Guy Mariano by now are obvious. Both were born in the year of the dragon, descended from powerful family clans, and pursued martial arts first to defend themselves against street toughs and later as a path toward self-actualization and ‘total enlightenment.’ After beating up triad gang members, legend has it, both Bruce Lee and Guy Mariano fled Hong Kong for new lifes in the United States. The rest of the story you know.

Flash forward to the present, when over the past year Guy Mariano seems to be cracking out of some self-spun cocoon threaded with high-tech Nike shoelaces and stuck together with viscous, yellowish saliva. After his ‘Fully Flared’ second coming and a followup chapter in ‘Pretty Sweet,’ Guy Mariano’s remained largely off the grid since swapping out his decadeslong Crailtap affiliations for deals with athletic goods conglomerate Nike and a garage brand co-owned by once and future retiree Eric Koston. The question seems not whether a third act is in the offing, but what form it may take as Guy Mariano attempts that most daunting of combos, mid-40s to technical progression.

In the hypercritical realm of trick/kit/vibe deconstruction — and there is none truer, oh best beloved — Guy Mariano’s now-legendary mid-2000s comeback has become much debated as equal part pyrrhic victory. We got back one of the 1990s’ purest talents, the uber-cool embodiment of 1990s Los Angeles street skating, who clawed his way out of some hopeless cesspool and even then wasn’t satisfied with the Crailtap cruise-control chill program that dudes like his former self helped invent. Re-earning his spot involved Guy Mariano deeply in the ‘Fully Flared’ envelope-pushing ledge technicalities, and after again cementing his name atop those cultural totems he pressed on in ‘Pretty Sweet,’ questing after aesthetically side-eyed choices such as the smith grind laser flip, or the fakie backside tailslide varial heelflip body varial.*

Ruminating toward the end of the novel with the same name, Webber Grill inventor George Webber laments the impossibility of going “back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.” Whereas Polar would have missed George Webber with its recent and successful ‘Big Boy Jeans’ line, Guy Mariano’s trick selection of late teases the mind. Debuting for Thunder trucks last spring, he leaned on gap-hopping tailslides by the old sand gaps. Last summer he flashed a bracing switch wallride to switch frontside crooked grind and more recently has been frontside 180ing into a a fakie frontside flipper, a carve-up to switch frontside crooked grind with that right arm trailing just so, and a switch crooked grind to vicious fakie flip back over the curb. Last week he posted a teeth-chattering and really hard two-piece through LA’s brick volcanos, sans combos, and where the actual highlight may be that achingly familiar turnaround.

Does Guy Mariano’s recent internet output rekindle hope for a simpler, more classical trick repertoire showcasing that incomparable form, which clearly still exists, and perhaps is best reflected in sensibly baggy pants? Does the potentially related reappearance of the goatee serve as some sort of stylistic leading indicator? Would ‘Become Devoid’ be a suitable album name for a metal band named ‘Totality’? Could Guy Mariano recapturing something closer to ‘Chocolate Tour’ on the tech spectrum offer hope for a Rich Gang reunion? Before all is said and done could Guy Mariano’s skating in its autumn years circle back to the youthful simplisms of his SK8 TV appearances?

*?

Golden Arms

April 29, 2018

In Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s 1989 surrealist horrifier ‘Santa Sangre,’ a tormented mime’s apprentice watches his knife-thrower dad chop off his mother’s arms in a fit of pique —- leading the traumatized youngster to later turn over control of his own upper appendages to his disabled mother. Increasingly grisly results follow, in a cautionary tale reminding viewers that while arms oftentimes can serve wholesome and constructive purposes, like foraging for rare mushrooms or building a space telescope, they also can bring darkness, such as drawing closed some thick drapes or committing serial murders.

So it goes in the skateboard industry, where brawny lumberjacks once flexed on hard-rock Canadian maples to construct the first multi-ply decks, and later, vert-shirted 80s pros straightened elbows to extend triumphant inverts atop half-pipe decks for pleasure and profit. Despite arms’ usefulness when twisting off beer caps or tweaking melon grabs, the fickle nature of skateboarding has seen arms fall in and out of favour as the pasttime matured and mutated, trick trends and stylistic preferences rising and falling like some promiscuous tide.

Street plants gave way to pressure flips in the early 1990s, but by decades’ end arms again were resurgent, as Lennie Kirk and Quim Cardona built sturdy franchises around their wild upper-body gesticulations. And soon enough the backlash came, as aesthetic pendulums hurtled in the opposite direction and we wound up with Ronson Lambert. Hostilities toward wild armness persisted long enough into the aughts to sow doubts about an AWS slot for yung Torey Pudwill, and as the Baker generation built new legends around Antwuan Dixon’s seemingly sleepwalking upper body, many gave the trend up for dead.

Even in our current age where so many ugly chapters past are brushed off and marked up — the goofy boy, the D3 — perhaps an overt revival of the flung-arms style still would’ve never flown. But skids have been greased by a rapidly spreading trend of landing tricks with bodily sketch, often resulting in one leg being raised up and waggled overtop the still-rolling board, ostensibly for balance but more often to collect valuable likes and other less-spoken kudo forms. Under such air cover, a new and vibrant loud arm era may be dawning.

Magnus Bordewick is a John Shanahan for the quivering euro zone, mistrustful of clothes that do not swish as he elevates arm action to levels unseen in some time. In Numbers Edition 4, the latest video clip from the California skateboard company, Magnus Bordewick uncorks his explosive brand of flip tricks over and up any number of blocks and steps, waving his Nordic limbs with abandon much of the time. Whereas Torey Pudwill’s arm motions often hit the red while balancing on history’s most drawn-out backside smith grinds and backside tailslides, Magnus Bordewick’s flapping generally coincides with rocketing pop and crater-making impacts, like on the massive fakie flip on the bank, the fence-clearing kickflip, the massive bigspin flip up the long stairs. You wonder about some pressure cracks and blown-out airbags, if and when these inevitably find their way toward major-label shoe corporations’ skate offerings as a premium pricing tool.

If the awesomely combustible Magnus Bordewick represents the Flame Boy in this unfolding arms race, is JScott Handsdown his Wet Willy? Was Kyle Walker’s ‘windmill factory’ 50-50 ender for ‘Spinning Away’ the 2017 SOTY’s declaration of allegiance? Where do Brian Wenning and Antwuan Dixon’s strengthening comebacks factor in? Should the Dime Glory Challenge replace its ‘gangster challenge’ with a ‘one-footed roll-away high kick challenge’?