Posts Tagged ‘Omar Salazar’

Tha Agony and Tha Ecstasy

May 31, 2015


For all the mumblings of Peter Pan syndrome and deferred adulthood attached to pro-level boarding careers and various man-amhoods, such pursuits are not built for the emotionally unhinged: Marking one’s day-to-day progress by recording hard-fought clips destined to be trimmed to a few seconds each and pasted into a web-video in a couple years’ time, clinging to fleeting victories during which a hammer is performed, landed and hand-on-death-lens marked, then past, perchance to plow through a 30-pack and next week try for another one. Anthony Van Engelen speaks of grappling with emotional voids after completing big video projects, and witness the deep valleys leading to an uncertain but undeniably triumphant peak in Jamie Thomas’ cold war with the not-long-for-this-world Clipper ledge.

Love/hate relations betwixt bros and boards are to be understood and forcibly massaged when circumstances demand. But what of those emotional snake-runs entangling teamriders and sponsors, which have taken to marketing themselves as families and brotherhoods? Chris Cole and his new Plan B family exhibited their unbridled giddiness upon his joining the ‘Tru’ Tank this month, cheesing and fist-pumping and committing various spelling transgressions as the onetime Zero heavyweight apparently shelved any plans to market decks on his own and instead chose to endorse monocoloured boards with skulls and guitars manufactured by another company.

It’s hard to imagine the Black Box camp not feeling some type of way after clicking on this clip, given Zero’s role plucking Chris Cole from the World camp and providing a hard-rocking hessian launchpad for the next dozen years of his career; to boot, Chris Cole just a year before seemed to identify with Paul Rodriguez’ abrupt flying of the Plan B coop as a cue to carve out one’s own deck-centric microbrand: “I think at some point Paul figured out it wasn’t about Plan B selling Paul Rodriguez skateboards anymore, it was about him selling Plan B, and that’s the point where you start to realize you could be doing something more.”

Any career-minded gnar merchant gathers a certain amount of lumps along the road, and Jamie Thomas like other pros-turned-entrepreneurs signed up for an extra helping by starting his own companies and seeing dudes he put on later pack up and leave. But Zero proved to be one of the relatively few sellers of skate goods to not only publicly acknowledge the departure of a team lynchpin in Chris Cole, but go so far as to post a brief retrospective video and wish him well.

Few others do — Brandon Westgate’s decision in April to join the Element family after seven years holding down the Zoo York family passed with little notice on Zoo York’s Instagram. Gino Iannucci’s Slap board-shaking jump to Fucking Awesome just shy of 19 years as a red block head drew nary an official peep from the Crailtap camp, though months later his former teammates can’t finish interviews without being asked about it. Whereas Mic-E Reyes headbutt sendoffs now rank as just another hallowed memory of 1990s realness and sour jpgs are a Web 1.0-ready if rarely utilized substitute, the default seems to have become an Orwellian electronic eraser applied to the team webpage, removal of the defector from relevant social media hype circles and moving on.

Like insurance and the signing of openly gay athletes, is skateboarding again in danger of being outpaced by major-league sports when it comes to acknowledging contributions from longstanding-but-departing riders? The Seattle Mariners deployed a warm statement of gratitude when outfielder Ichiro Suzuki bounced after more than a decade on the squad, and later publicly big upped him when he got his 4000th hit playing for the Yankees.

Besides agreed-upon stacks of legal tenders, what if anything do companies owe their independent contractors who toil atop handrails and within ditches in the name of endorsement deals? In Alien Workshop’s ultimately transient dissolution last year, some of the then-remaining abductees seem to have received no official word of the shutdown at all, much less any word of thanks:

Jake Johnson: It’s a strange one. Nobody said good bye. Mike Hill didn’t throw in the towel. It’s strange. It was on the internet.

Omar Salazar: I never spoke to anyone. No one ever called me, I’m just like, who is running this thing? They got rid of the only dude who I was talking to [Chad] who told me to stick around. And that’s how you get rid of people after all these years? I was bummed and then got hurt.. But no phonecall. No Rob Dyrdek phonecall… I mean jesus, who are you, man? I thought we were homies, bro [laughs]. Just kidding. Whatever.
…And I still haven’t got a paycheck like, oh, here you go, thanks for your time. Cause I could sure as hell use that for my medical bill right now. Thats all I gotta say about that.

Should the resurfaced Alien Workshop, now promoting a new tribe, offer some parting nod to the former pros who hung on til the bitter end? Did Rocco write the former sponsors of riders he stole publish thank-you notes, or rather did he demand such sponsors publicly acknowledge the service of their former riders for purposes of free promotion? Do digital thank-you notes count? What is the Instagram equivalent of a dismissal-by-headbutt?

The All-Seeing Eye

January 8, 2013

One imagines the invisible hand of Adam Smith guiding the DC-ringed hand of Rob Dyrdek in bringing together this Alien Workshop/Century Optics collaboration on a fisheye lens designed for iPhones, further diversifying that perennial acquisition target away from skateboard decks and its array of bath-time offerings such as soap and towels. As Alien’s spirit guide, lead vocalist, mariachi band liaison and general-purpose mascot on last year’s winning KOTR bid, Omar Salazar is a worthwhile one to endorse this product offering, but you wonder if it was an overflow of merchant-marine ink that maybe kept Gilbert Crockett out of the running, as a dude who already has had a hand in filming a whole video shot on cell phone cameras. Maybe Century Optics feared being on the receiving end of hand-made prototypes for telephoto lenses? Will the industry’s next video camera collaboration see Palace link up with JVC?

The GR-AXM18US also includes a combination of 11 built-in digital special effects and wipes/fades that allow you to give your videos a polished, professional look

And Then We Came To The End!

June 11, 2009

Eric Koston scouts his last-minute trick for “Debacle.” Interesting fact: The truck, made of crepe paper, was designed by Swedish architect Johan Fredrik Åbom and cost $850,000.

Nike’s final, successful attempt to crack the shoe-chewing skateboard market is probably the story of our lil pasttime in the ’00 decade, even if it’s sort of a bass-ackwards version of what the rest of the industry has undergone. Skate shoe companies took center stage as the big-money game beyond boards and wheels, muddling through the thankless game of trying to maintain credibility with the dirty, scabbed kids that brung em to the dance, while signing pro wakeboarders and serving up juicy discounts to big-box retailers that will happily put your trucks on backwards as you shop for carabiners. Meanwhile, the suits at Nike were cherry-picking independent skate shops and aging East-coast pros that together would ride the wave of sneakerhead largesse and make it hard for even the die-hard purists to argue that Nike was the bloodthirsty corporate monster we’d all been led to believe.

It was an interesting story that died a boring death today, as Nike SB signed Eric Koston and can no longer be seen in any shape or form as an underdog in skateboarding. The Birdos were half-right in that Nike eventually decided to be Nike and throw its wallet around, buying up top talent as they see fit, flowing everybody in the industry who isn’t skating for another shoe company, reigning supreme over Tampa, flooding the mall shops with SB’s and pushing “Jocks Suck” 6.0s elsewhere. Meanwhile the current generation doesn’t remember a time when people didn’t skate Nike shoes, pre-fab skateparks are awash with swooshes, and the SB branch has more or less figured out how to act like a skateboard company as far as putting out videos, doing demos, getting tour articles into the magazines; eventually they can be expected to start blowing video deadlines I guess.

Getting Koston has seemed so much like the predestined move for Nike from the beginning that you wonder what’s next, except it appears Nike’s already provided the answer in the form of Sacto-birthed pro models for Stefan Janoski and Omar Salazar, both Vans knock-offs that make it pretty clear Nike’s given up on trying to be any kind of leader, the way they were when they came in with the Dunk a few years ago and helped the Es Accel usher in the wave of low-tech simple shoes. Beyond the staple Blazers and Dunks Nike SB is/was the one company making teched-out shoes that A. had serious space technology behind them and B. actually sold despite said low-tech shoe trend, so seeing their operation fall into line with the parade of Vans imitators (belatedly) communicates complacency at best, surrender at worst, or perhaps an Antarctic sabbatical with Marty Stouffer for the shoe design squad.

There have been and will be long and usually boring debates on Nike’s role in this big teddy bear picnic, but at this point the threads feel like they’ve been played out — Nike came on the scene and boosted some half-forgotten pros* like Danny Supa, Reese Forbes, Gino, etc.; they proceeded to make the expected power moves via P-Rod, Janoski, Salazar, and now Koston. For a few years there SB sales, restricted to actual real skateboard stores, translated to serious loot for the operators that they weren’t seeing selling other shoes, for various reasons; now you can order “CCS Exclusive” colors of Nike Dunks off the internet or get them at Zumiez. Nike takes good care of its people, pros to reps, and they do joint ventures with Blueprint and Slam City and the SPOT and Slap and Skate Mental; they should do all this stuff because they can and it keeps cranks like me from complaining too much.

But now that Nike’s at last acting like the 800-pound gorilla it is, it’s hard not to feel wary about what comes next. Best case scenario is they generallhy follow the rest of the shoe pack, make good videos and do right by the proper people. Or, perhaps they scoop up Ryan Sheckler, appoint him president of the 6.0 division, and sponsor nationwide skate camps hooked up to Rob Dyrdek’s proposed “skateboard league”… clearing the way for a generation of talent scouts and parent-managers hanging off the skatepark chain-link fence, calling the cops on the oldsters and scaring away all the precious weirdos that came up with the screaming hand and the idea to jump a skateboard on a handrail.

*By the other shoe companies, anyway


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers