Posts Tagged ‘Rodney Mullen’

Reflecting on 28 Years of SOTY in Bizarro World

February 5, 2018

Since 1990, Rehsarht’s Skater of the Year award has been a rare constant in a world of fickle trick trends, shifting board shapes and a still-growing footage flood. As Tiago Lemos’ 2017 Skater of the Year issue hits newstands and the decadelong reign of narrow decks and tight trucks shows signs of loosening, it’s time to take a look back at nearly three decades of Rehsarht’s SOTYs, while pondering what’s yet to come for Bizarro World.

1990 – Mike Vallely
New decade, new era — the streets, where Mike Vallely was busting down barriers and running through graveyards. Assigning the first-ever ‘Skater of the Year’ to a young East Coaster making his name on pavement — not ramps or pools — was a statement for Rehsarht, but Vallely’s rampage through ‘Rubbish Heap,’ ‘Speed Freaks’ and ‘Risk It’ sold it.

1991 – Mark Gonzales
Skating changed month to month in the early 1990s, sometimes week to week, and what now looks like a sharp left turn from Mike Vallely’s sidewalk brawn to Mark Gonzales’ artsy, jazz-infused street ballet made all the sense in the world for kids who tripped off Blind’s mad hatter, and his coffin and kinked monster in ‘Video Days.’

1992 – Rodney Mullen
Rodney Mullen’s million-times-rewound part in ‘Questionable’ captured the blistering pace of technical progression that gripped skating in the early 1990s, pushed by Mike Carroll, Ron Knigge, Danny Way and others. What set Rodney Mullen apart, besides how his tricks took multiple watches to even comprehend, was the way he pulled from skating’s freestyle past to push the burgeoning street scene forward, even though it would take years for most pros to catch up with him.

1993 – Pat Duffy
Mike Ternasky and Plan B turned skating on its ear with ‘Questionable’ and pulled out the rug a year later with ‘Virtual Reality,’ heavily powered by Pat Duffy’s steel nerves on rails and gaps. Plenty of people convinced themselves that his kinked 50-50 and other feats had to be camera trickery the first time around; ‘Virtual Reality’ forced belief that a new level was within reach, at least for Pat Duffy. Primus playing a sparsely attended SF party was icing on the cake.

1994 – Jeremy Wray
After steadily raising the threat level in the Color video and 411’s inaugural issue, Jeremy Wray fulfilled the industry’s feeling of inevitability by joining the World camp in time for Plan B’s 1994 project, unleashing five minutes of assaults on name spots like Hubba and Carlsbad that were building their own profile as the streetstyle discipline rose to the bars they set. Several years of technical fumbling on awkwardly evolving setups fell to the side as Jeremy Wray’s floated flip tricks and decisive stomps set the new direction.

1995 – Tom Penny
Half a decade in, one of the 1990s’ biggest surprises came not just in terms of tricks and style but origin —- flick savant Tom Penny slouched his way into Southern California from across the Atlantic, shutting down spots and perhaps a few professional aspirations. Rehsarht’s choice maybe rattled some of skating’s latent jingoism, but proved prescient as Flip and later Cliche and Blueprint showcased Brits, Frenchies and other Europeans capable of hitting as heavily as any Californian.

1996 – Guy Mariano
By the time Girl put out ‘Mouse’ there no longer was any point denying that Guy Mariano possessed a talent and style for the ages —- and his curtains-closing part also reminded everybody that his ability to progress and refine didn’t atrophy despite the dude going off the radar for months (and later, years) at a time. Eric Koston, Ed Templeton and Jamie Thomas conquered more handrails, but a SOTY nod at the time felt like a long-due coronation for one of skating’s favorite sons.

1997 – Jamie Thomas
As the street wave crested and washed over skateboarding, it branched and fragmented, nurturing sub-niches and regional mutations. Jamie Thomas, farming his hair and tightening his jeans, charted a course for the hesh/handrail movement that defined aesthetically much of the decade to follow and added new levels of gnarliness in the process; a SoCal politics-driven ban from Transworld’s pages made Rehsarht the prime venue in which to bear witness.

1998 – Chad Muska
Working on the opposite side of the stylistic spectrum as Jamie Thomas but a master of the same medium, Chad Muska was unstoppable in 1998 — catalyzing the legendary Shorty’s squad, perceiving and propelling the likes of Peter Smolik and Brandon Turner, and anchoring seminal full-lengths ‘Fulfill the Dream’ and Rehsarht’s own Ty Evans-helmed ‘Feedback.’ At the same time the Muska tested new heights of skate-sphere fame, he added gravity and notoriety to the ‘Rusty’ trophy, famously declaring it “the only award that matters” after flaming out in the following year’s Tampa Pro.

1999 – Stevie Williams
Rehsarht wrapped the award’s first decade by breaking a barrier of sorts — Stevie Williams, whose North Philly grit and unending Love Park lines in Chocolate’s ‘Chocolate Tour’ and Rehsarht’s ‘The Reason’ made him the obvious SOTY pick for 1999.

2000 – Jim Greco
No star burned hotter at the century’s turn than Jim Greco, who capped a raucous run through 1998’s ‘Misled Youth,’ and 1999’s ‘Baker Bootleg’ with a movement-making part in Baker2G, beating Eric Koston to the punch with the first legit handrail backside noseblunt on a magazine cover (Rehsarht, of course). Jim Greco took his own seven-day weekend for the next several years, and he’d later credit the SOTY party for pushing him deeper into his own substances wilderness, though he’d claim some comfort from knowing his legacy already was secure.

2001 – Heath Kirchart
A dark skater for a dark year, Heath Kirchart in 2001 had already set out on a decade-long argument for substance and form over quantity and flash. Few in the stair-counting era could see Heath Kirchart in his ‘Sight Unseen’ prime, and the grim grace in his tricks contrasted with Jim Greco’s comparatively hairball approach, but you never heard much on any of it from the dude himself, being the only Skater of the Year who shunned an interview for his issue.

2002 – Paul Rodriguez
In one of the first brushes with SOTY controversy, rival camps cried foul with an award some saw better suited to twice-sorry Arto Saari or the blast-out-of-nowhere PJ Ladd. But it was tough to argue against the rapidly ascendant Paul Rodriguez for sheer volume, between ‘In Bloom’ and two songs in the Kareem Campbell-overseen ‘Street Cinema,’ setting him up for power moves to come — the Skater of the Year title later disclosed to be a top factor in putting Paul Rodriguez onto the radar of Nike’s then-gestating SB program.

2003 – Rodrigo TX
Rodrigo TX’s intensely technical skating ratcheted up multiple levels from his world-stage debut in Es’ ‘Menikmati’ for his doubled-up enders in the Firm’s ‘Can’t Stop,’ culminating in never-been-dones such as a handrail switch kickflip backside tailslide. By the time Mobb Deep stepped off the stage at TX’s SOTY party there were two palpable feelings among the professional ranks -— two-song video parts decidedly were a thing, and the Brazilians had arrived.

2004 – Lucas Puig
French wunderkind Lucas Puig quickly evolved into one of skating’s great powers between his Zappa-toned part in Cliche’s continental statement ‘Bon Appetit’ and the Beltway-baiting ‘Freedom Fries,’ wielding a mean switch heelflip and backside smith grind. After Rehsarht passed over Flip’s ‘Sorry’ lineup for SOTY honors over the preceding years, some observers assigned a type of European mulligan to Lucas Puig’s nod, though one that was questioned less and less as the years went by.

2005 – Bryan Herman
Bryan Herman came up out of California’s desert scrub in the same class of tight-denimed mop tops as Kevin ‘Spanky’ Long, Braydon Szafranski and Leo Romero, but en route to ‘Baker 3’ Bryan Herman shaved his head and eyebrows and honed a new and more horizontal breed of hardflip, making a convincing case for a Baker dynasty continuing beyond the ‘2G’ lineup. Over a decade later, dudes still would be working out variations on Bryan Herman’s left-field ender.

2006 – Jerry Hsu
By the time Enjoi got together its first video, Jerry Hsu already had a grip of gnarly video parts under his belt, and whereas it was understood he’d close out ‘Bag of Suck,’ the sheer burliness of some of his tricks and his sharpened eye for spots and lines placed him in some higher-up echelon. Reports that Enjoi’s Phelps-flavored twist on the ‘Why can’t my boyfriend skate?!’ tee killed Jerry Hsu’s shot at the award proved greatly exaggerated.

2007 – Stefan Janoski
All the ‘Fully Flared’ bombast seemed like a guaranteed SOTY ticket for one of the Lakaians, though conspiracy theorists whispered that the team’s heavy features in magazines headquartered further south blew their chances like so many pyrotechnified ledges. It could’ve gone either way at the time, but Habitat’s lank-limbed switch nosegrind captain ceded the ‘Mosaic’ closing section to the peaking Danny Garcia, and winding up the earthier ‘Inhabitants’ came as Stefan Janoski closed out a remarkable run that also went through Rehsarht’s ‘Subtleties’ vid and would only ease up after Nike’s ‘Nothing But the Truth’ full-length misfire.

2008 – Sean Malto
Sean Malto, who had hardflipped his way up and out of Middle America just a year or two prior, put on the Crailtap cape and went in for 2008, switch kickflipping up and over cliffs in ‘And Now’ and achieving that increasingly difficult feat of seeming to be everywhere at once. After several of Girl’s next-generation torch bearers jumped ship — Paul Rodriguez and Jereme Rogers to Plan B, Brandon Biebel to DGK — Sean Malto’s rapid rise suggested the Torrance dynasty would push on.

2009 – Dennis Busenitz
Another Skater of the Year that seemed years in the offing, it took a part in a predominantly European vid from a major-league shoe company to put Dennis Busenitz over the top after years of screeching urethane and spot toiling in and around the Bay.

2010 – Dylan Rieder
The Anti-Hero rider at one point deemed almost too pretty to ride with the eagle helped usher in a new skate video format for the attention-deficit age, breaking off a single, standalone video part for Gravis that stood up to or surpassed all standard-issue skate vids in 2010. A whiff of comeback redemption didn’t hurt, but the fix was probably in as soon as that impossible wrapped its way over the bench.

2011 – Brandon Westgate
For a solid three years running there seemed no bar that Brandon Westgate couldn’t leap, and just a few that he couldn’t kickflip or backside 360. In ‘Stay Gold’ the year before and his victory lap shoe part, Brandon Westgate seemed to push harder and float higher than the physics binding the rest of his peers, edging him past the likes of Leo Romero and Grant Taylor for the Rehsarht award.

2012 – Justin Figuoera
Baker’s barbarian on a board, Justin Figuoera built off his ‘Stay Gold’ momentum and alleged guitaring skills on Rehsarht’s ‘Skate Rock circuit to barrel past a last-minute push by Flip’s David Gonzalez. What looked at times like a rail-measuring/stair-counting exercise overlooked an expanding tech-gnar quotient to Figgy’s skating, putting switch backside smith grinds and switch backside tailslides onto ever-more serious handrails.

2013 – Mark Suciu
Tricks around this time seemed to tumble out in Mark Suciu’s wake as he tripped back and forth across the country in ‘Cross Continental,’ struck up a brief Love Park residency for ‘Sabotage 3’ and then toured the globe for a three-song opus in Habitat’s ‘Search the Horizon.’ The frenetic pace of filming and releasing vids seemed fueled by Mark Suciu’s uncanny ability to pepper each one with tricks that he maybe didn’t even know a few months before, keeping the increasingly screen-transfixed populace tapping in anticipation of the next drop.

2014 – Torey Pudwill
Plan B’s landmark, years-in-the-filming ‘True’ managed to exceed all expectations with lengthy and resplendent parts from company reclaimers Danny Way and Colin McKay as well as the out-of-the-wilderness PJ Ladd. Torey Pudwill, not so many years removed from Shorty’s ‘T-Stance Holmes,’ made a persuasive case for a spot on the original roster with shoulder-high backside tailslides and smith grinds that went on forever, finding ways to cram new flips and rotations into, across and off his wax-soaked ledges.

2015 – Shane O’Neill
Shane O’Neill had at this point been steadily releasing video compilations of his mindbending technical precision roughly every eight months or so, and it seemed predetermined that Rehsarht would anoint him sooner or later; in 2015, his switch kickflip backside noseblunt cover photo and subsequent video ender wound up making it official.

2016 – Evan Smith
Element day-tripper Evan Smith in 2016 rifled off tricks seemingly as fast as they formed in his mind, frying through upside-down wallrides in ‘Time Trap,’ bomb-dropping off buildings in ‘No Hotels’ and kickflipping out to both-way wallrides in ‘Zygote.’ He was rumoured to be responsible for an unofficial ban on Skaters of the Year performing with their own bands at Rehsarht’s annual party.

2017 – Tiago Lemos
Tiago Lemos’ run since hitting the U.S. gathered superlatives about as easily as he stacked clips, all of them euphemisms for shit that shouldn’t even seem possible whatsoever until the dude jumps up and slides it five feet, switchstance. Between a pro shoe, the year’s picture-perfectest switch 360 flip, and steadily cornering the market on switch backside tailslides, it was Tiago Lemos’ year, no question.

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Excerpts From “Trash” In The June 1993 Issue Of Thrasher

July 16, 2012

HARD TIMES

Henry Sanchez, Mike Carroll, Julien Stranger and Tobin Yelland had a run-in with some mini-mobsters in the Mission District of SF. After a brief altercation, the young hoods shattered the windshield of Tobin’s car with a pipe. Ten minutes later, cops pulled them over for no windshield. Tobin had no license, so he was promptly issued a two hundred dollar fine.

Meanwhile in LA, Ron Chatman’s car got stolen with all his and Mark Gonzales’ skate gear in it.

John Cardiel and Mike Ranquet went off to Japan for some snowboard deal. Cards told the tale of being ripped off by the contest promoters to the tune of $2000. When he finally got back home, he was starving.

Contrary to rumors, John Lucero’s Black Label is not out-of-business. His team is still intact, but Jason Dill jumped ship just as the finishing touches were being made on his model. Former Blockhead rider Jeremy Wray has hooked up a deal with a new company called Color Skateboards.

HALL OF NAMES

Brian Ferdinand is still unattached and unbelievable. Gravedigger Ross Goodman has been seen skating the vert ramp in Sacramento. Shawn Martin is back in the City after a brief stint in Sac.

Seen skating around SF: Alfonzo Rawls, Eric Koston, Chris Senn, Barker Barrett, Greg Hunt, Joey Suriel, Fabian Alomar, recently departed NHS rider Andy Roy, Danny Way and Mike Ternasky (who was filming for guess what?). Not one to be underdone, Pat Duffy kickflip noseslid the well-lathered Hubba Hideout. New kids taking the blocks at EMB by storm include Sean Young, Greg Hunt, Dan Drehobl, Erik Pupecki and Jamie Thomas.

Guy Mariano and Tim Gavin have been living in the redesigned World park. On a recent afternoon, the topic of discussion was Dae Won’s apparent fakie pivot grind 360 kickflip out. The new World facility format is sans mini-ramp and under four-feet tall. Rodney Mullen liked it so much that he moved his whole office there.

WHICH HUNT

Which major team manager/owner recently held a team meeting to discuss “tight money?”

Which one-time mega company’s manufacturing complex was surrounded by a battalion of North American Van Lines moving trucks in the ultimate down-sizing exercise?

Which Philadelphia, PA homeboy was chased from EMB by Jovontae Turner and Don Carey?

Which world’s biggest skate factory owner announced in the newspaper that he’s been forced to sell said facility? Did the same guy also lay claim to industry leadership in the same article? Did he additionally pose for Action Sports Retailers, that geriatric journal of consumerism, riding a box scooter?

MOLD TIMES

Rick BLackhart is doing his own line of trucks straight outta San Jo.

The Master of Disaster, Duane Peters, has sworn off drinking and started a new band called The Exploding Fuck Dolls. Members include Art and Steve Godoy, a guy named Ricky and another called Goatfucker.

FULL BLEED

Todd Swank has become so hands-on oriented that he now thrives on screening all his four-color sublimations himself. Artist Larry Clark has worked to create some fine art skates. The boards depict female genitalia and sell for $3500.

Natas Kaupas was seen in San Fernando hanging out with Guess? super-model Anna Nicole and Adam McNatt. Following that, the trio did a multi-media deity in the desert.

First Spike Jonez moved into a luxury power office high atop the La Brea Tar Pits. Then he moved into Howard Hughes’ old sun-lit sex palace apartment. Now Spike’s been seen hanging in San Diego.

NO BONES

Stacy Peralta, who left the skate scene to pursue his interest in films, was seen in South Carolina hanging with NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty. Peralta filmed numerous hot laps with Petty for an undisclosed future project.

Jay Adams was recently spotted on Oahu’s North Shore consoling Ty Page over the recent death of Ty’s wife. Mark Bowden and Tony Jetton were also in effect. Jetton is said to be opening a step aerobics clinic in Hawaii. Jay continues to surf and skate unabated.

Details were sketchy regarding a pro street contest in Daytona Beach, Florida, during spring break. The site changed at the last minute but East Coast locs Tom Boyle and Lance Conklin took second and first respectively. Other highlights included Jen O’Brien on MTV in the Beauty and the Beach contest at the parking lot of wet willie’s Daiquiri Bar.

UTTER NONSENSE

“I’m number one now and I’m never gonna slip.” –Keith Cochrane

“You can only be angry everyday.” –Todd Swank

Manny Santiago And His Excitable Left Foot Submit To You Their Entry For Tensor Truck Ad Of The Year

October 27, 2011

Whistle-prone Manny Santiago has nollie flip-tricked his way onto stuff before, but that rail is round and he only used one of his two Tensor brand trucks, which are still being manufactured. Video here and recall the still-heavy “Manny Santiago (Full Sequence)” part, aka “9-10-11”.

The Breakfast Club

October 26, 2009

Iowa_Polka
Also, this

Here at non-communist BTO we are strident believers in the power and authority of free markets. Tony Hawk for instance popularized the McSqueeb hair-cut and named a trick after Madonna, in between raising awareness of international arms trafficking via the movie “Gleaming the Cube” – therefore he gained power and many dollars. The question upon our minds this week is what recognition from a newly created Skateboarding Hall of Fame could possibly offer the Birdman that he does not already have, aside from a hazy notion of name recognition among future skateboarders with the inclination to read press releases, but we all know this to be untrue because Tony Hawk is in it for the money, the money and the cars, cars and the clothes, as clearly stated on his upcoming solo album.

But the skateboard hall of fame is the latest brainchild of the International Association of Skateboard Companies, that conglomeration of businessmen and unemployed werewolfs who devised the international “Go Skateboarding Day” and helps get kids in Arkansas arrested. As to their rationale, we’ll let IASC executive director John Bernards tell the tale:

“Taking the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the individuals who have so greatly influenced and shaped the industry allows us to look forward to the future of skateboarding without ever forgetting our roots and everything it took to get where we are today – each and every shenanigan, triumph and challenge.”

So choke on it, On Video magazine. No, but from a purely internet entertainment value perspective there are a number of funnier ways they could have approached this, for instance, judging on the criteria of “most jailed” or “most times caught on fire” or most money in the bank by the time NSS/Power/Air Speed stopped cutting checks. But instead there is only this vague notion of “influencing and shaping,” which plainly sounds like a bra ad, while spanning some unspecified time frame, similar to a series of bra catalogues. Ought not Steve Cab be in there somewhere between the Tonys Alva and Hawk? If we’re going to hook up Bruce Logan, why not the legions of additional talented freestylers and slalomers who nobly gave their dignity and lives so we could enjoy this family restaurant? Er, Rodney Mullen? What about all those guys who invented skateboarding by nailing rollerskate wheels to two-by-fours, who I keep meeting slumped atop stools in various bars? What are they, chopped liver?

As a largely uninformed third party, it is incumbent upon this blog to predict that these type of annoying and largely pointless questions will dog the SHOF (or SHOE if you like) as long as it persists, which is of course part of the whole idea. Kind of like when VH1 counts down the top 400 celebrity somethings, killing valuable airtime but also sewing the seeds of discourse across office water-coolers and internet chat-venues the world over. Is BTO blindly and blunderingly playing into the IASC’s hand just with this misguided post? Perhaps, which is why I will slyly continue to refer to it as SHOE.

Back to the cultural significance. I submit to you, is the average peanut-leaguer more aware of Mickey Mantle because of multiple references on syndicated Seinfeld re-runs, or because he’s enshrined in some privately operated shrine in Cooperstown NY, home of shrines? Is there more to this SHOE beyond self-aggrandizement and some type of vague promotion of the “sport”? Is skate-boarding history, such as it is, the sort of thing that’s learned in museums and on CNN.com’s offbeat sports page, or on the streets? (I.E., not learned at all.)

Trophies and contest purses aside there is (was?) an aspect of all this shit that’s more about shooting spitballs at the homecoming kings and star quarterbacks than hoarding achievements and gala dinners. I’m sure the SHOE will raise all manner of money for new skateparks and promotions etc, and all involved are sweet bros with only the bro-est of intentions, but ought not the arbitrator of influence and, er, “shaping” be whether or not kid kickflip at the park recognizes a name, or knows how a certain trick came about? The limitations of physics aside, wasn’t one of the main attractions the lack of vicious rules and by-laws, along with the trappings and ceremony of the institutionalized sports? Can we expect to see a SHOE spot among the career aims of Ryan Sheckler, Greg Lutzka and Chaz Ortiz? And is Bo Turner lurking out back with violent designs on the winners’ lunch money?

On And Off Again: A Video Magazine’s Tale

February 1, 2009


In case you don’t understand, I’ma make it understood again

ON Video: a FIC x BTO collab

Right up front let me just tell you how I’m generally unreliable and a veteran procrastinator: I hollered at frozen in carbonite quite some time ago to see if he wanted to do kind of a point/counterpoint thing about 411’s star-crossed “On Video” series, after I issued some smart remark about it and he nobly rose to On’s defense. So he wrote some shit and sent it to me. In the ensuing months, love affairs were launched, puppies lost and reclaimed, missiles deployed and a black man became president. And eventually I decided I needed to get on it before the cow jumps over the fucking moon.

Oh, and in all that time I didn’t watch or download or stream a single piece of On Video footage, and I know there’s at least one floating around my hard-drive. I think it’s the Rodney Mullen one, which I did watch at one point, and downloaded years later in hopes that it was the Love Park issue and I could comb it for Kalis footage to include in this project. But, I didn’t even watch that. And, I never bought any.

Which is basically what I imagine the guestbook at the On Video wake would have read. “Never bought one.” “Watched part of it at my cousin’s house once.” “Got ‘Reel to Real’ instead.” “Too much talking.” Et cetera. On Video, beloved by some, ignored by others, bought by very few. It was definitely a much-welcome lifesaver those long Wednesday mornings when I worked a skate shop, but even then I don’t recall watching one more than once or twice, with the possible exception of the half-hour Danny Way love-feast. And didn’t ever buy one, even with my mighty 10%-above-cost discount.

I did purchase the Arcade tour video, but that’s a whole other ball of worms and just one of my several personal problems.

Which is not to say the forward-thinking On series, and their obnoxious magazine ads with the inexplicable giant red dots, served zero purpose aside from running down the Natas-Satan name imbroglio to half-wit sixth graders. Fueled by a great abundance of tour footage, in an age when each and every road trip was deemed worthy of its own 411 segment (or a section in the abysmal “Around the World” videos), On got people thinking about the history, personalities and places skateboarding has produced over the past few decades as a subject worthy of serious consideration for your independent documentaries or vanity press books or what have you, at roughly the same time the current incarnation of skateboarding was powdering its collective nose for star turns on ESPN, MTV, and any numbers of theaters near you.

Frozen in Carbonite lauds On Video, rightly, for parsing the process behind pivotal video parts, people, places in skateboarding, ideas that were picked and expanded upon by the Stacy Peraltas and Epicly Later’ds and various others. Interesting, sometimes intriguing, usually at least marginally entertaining. But when the chips have been counted and so on, to me the process will forever be second to the finished product, burger over bun, the four-point-five second clip rather than the 90 intense minutes it took to climb the fence, pass over the generator and camera bags, patch the cracks and set up the lights.

Hearing Marc Johnson emphasize the stress and drama that went into making “Fully Flared” doesn’t put the proverbial balls any closer to the wall when it comes to Alex Olson’s part, or make the see-saw slow motion any less distracting. Commentaries are fine, and I enjoyed hearing about Guy Mariano’s favorite hat and the Girl honchos’ ruminations on rap music in video parts, but after one or two times through I’m back to the Earth Wind & Fire, thank you. And trying to build a skate video around the documentary idea hasn’t proved especially successful, at least to me (and I’m thinking mainly of the at-times eyeball-rolling “Hot Chocolate” video here).

And you know what – there’s something to be said for the apocrypha of skateboarding, stories that belong to them what who was there or somehow passed down via skateboard shop bullshitting, post-video screening mullings or after you’ve been at the spot a couple hours and everybody’s spending more time shooting the shit than trying tricks anymore. As valuable as the Andy Roy Big Brother interview remains, as a document and, yes, a manifesto for living one’s life, there’s something vaguely sad about the idea of it being reduced to a handful of jpgs to be bandied about messageboards and LOL’ed over. It’s sort of disappointing to think that anybody with a cable modem can click through the highlights of “Tim & Henry’s Pack of Lies,” a video that used to be next to impossible to see, much less own.

Insert here bitter old man comment re: earning it, building character, etc.

It’s certainly not like I hated On Video. And it’s not like I don’t love Epicly Later’d (though my shriveled internet grinch heart did break a bit when Pappalardo and Wenning didn’t get back together at the end of the most recent episode). Without On’s at times fumbly foundation-building, maybe O’Dell wouldn’t have been able to nail it as he seems to have done – disposable, free-of-charge slices of skateboard lore in easy-to-digest six-minute bites, to be viewed and forgotten as necessary, bought on disc by the library-builders. It remains to be seen how often I come back to the DVD of season one, which I didn’t pay for… or the Lakai box set, which I did. (Sans Blu-Ray players, too.) The grand fool-maker time will no doubt reveal which ends up being the better investment…

Product Toss

November 18, 2008


“You don’t innovate ’cause you can’t innovate, it’s not a choice”

Like many of you, my immediate reaction to the words “TWS Buyer’s Guide” is cynicism to the x-treme, at the prospect of a glorified CCS catalogue with (wait for it) ads between the glossy color pics of deck after shoe after truck after wheel. And then, you get to pay for it! It’s like those old Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs, except without the nudity and legal gray area.

But. I’m a fan of the TWS buyer’s guide. Yes, it’s true. For one thing, I think they do an impressive job of educating the young’uns (those cursed with the ability and/or inclination to read, anyway) when it comes to explaining concepts like wheelbase, bearing seats, and, er, what a millimeter is. That’s something you can’t learn in school if you’re not paying attention, which sadly is most likely the case, so we could look upon this as an important public service in the event that our fair nation is stormed by ravenous Marxists bearing metric rulers and roadsigns.

Also I tend to find the Q&A’s in these things generally more informative on the whole than the average “how many years skating/who’s your sponsors/man when does skating become like a JOB man?” interview. That is, when the appointed pro isn’t plugging his signature bearings or whatever. (What constitutes a signature bearing anyway? A [meaningless] ABEC rating and a colored shield? Fancy packaging?)

It’s interesting though how some skateboarders genuinely enjoy nerding out over the various processes involved in setting up and maintaining a board, the technology or lack thereof that works for them, and how much attention they pay to setup fads, like ultra-loose trucks, the 38mm wheel of 2008. Kind of like when an otherwise moribund rock musician lights up like a Christmas tree when Guitar Magazine inquires after his pedals or whatever.

Of course you get the usual boring setup “madness” stories, but between these and two of the ugliest frontside flip photos I’ve seen in a good long time, there’s some interesting tidbits in this year’s Buyer’s Guide. Plus it’s entertaining how often the “if it ain’t broke” refrain rings out among the pro ranks, no doubt bumming Rodney Mullen and his pile of unsold $100 Almost impact boards (which I’m admittedly sort of curious to try), along with the rest of the deck industry, stuck with a product that should have climbed to $80 per board (in the US) over the last 15 years, if it kept up with inflation.

Overheard among ruminations on the superior flick properties possessed by suede toe-caps and the proper order in which to tighten mounting hardware:

“When I put my wheels on, I have to put extra washers on my truck axle, so when I tighten the bolt, there’s some extra slack, but the bolt will be flush with the axle. This way you won’t fuck the axle up.”
-a helpful hint from Bobby Worrest

“Right now I’m rocking the standard Swiss Bones bearings. These bearings could seriously be shit, but since I grew up hearing they’re the best, they feel great.”
-Cairo Foster on independent thinking

“I usually put the grip all the way to the left, so that way I don’t have to use the razor blade on the right side of the board. It saves me a little time. After hooking up so m any boards over the years, you find ways to make it easier.”
-Jeron Wilson explains how to accumulate valuable seconds over a period of several years

“Dustin [Dollin]’s working on getting a nine-inch board.”
-Lizard King, 80s revivalist

“I take ’em off and I spray Windex in ’em to take some of the grease out.”
Elissa Steamer, Martha Stewart of bearing care

“Other trucks turn better, but if you’re gonna ride a pool or vert, there’s nothing else to ride. I used to ride Indys, but now I can’t do it. I haven’t even tried the new ones because that whole kingpin-breaking thing happened. They kinda took a turn for the worse.”
-Amy Caron, ensuring a doorstep free of NHS products and weeks of ridicule on slash dog-centric messageboards

“Remember when I was skating Terell’s board? That Darkstar board and it had this weird carbon fiber in it? The point of the 7-ply board is to break it in half. I could not break the carbon fiber – it was so annoying. It gets me even more mad.”
-Mike Mo Capaldi on technological innovation

“This One’s For You, Rod!”

October 28, 2008


That’s a man…

Almost to me is kind of like Frankenberry cereal, “King of the Hill” and late-period Big Brother, in that I don’t necessarily support it myself but I’m glad it’s around. If that makes any sense. As a company I’d still file it under the Deca/Artafact/Prime umbrella of general World generica but their commitment to having fun with the company along with letting Sheckler go makes Almost a lot more palatable. And “Cheese & Crackers” is fun to put on at a party.

Anyway this repro of an old Mullen ad/graphic has elicited an LOL from me each time I’ve flipped to it on the shitter. Cooper Wilt talks about it in his Slap interview:

“We shot it because it seemed fitting. Haslam has those long locks that flow so beautifully in the wind. We actually shot it without Rodney’s knowledge; after we shot it we were all psyched on it, but we were afraid Rodney might get bummed. But he saw it and he was psyched and thought it was funny.”

Addendum: the Almost website actually has a fairly entertaining blog, in which they express wonderment over the way their own boards are built and post sweet high-dive videos.