Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie Creager’

Term Limited

September 24, 2016

old_muppets

Aging may be the great skate industry adventure of the ’10s, as grizzled pros test the tolerance of weathered ligaments and brittling bones in an ongoing quest to avoid that unholy wyrm, the Real World, and its most loathsome prison, the Day Job. There are a few who two decades ago may have seemed obvious candidates if one were to choose a moon-shotter capable of stretching a pro career into a third decade, like Eric Koston or Daewon Song or Marc Johnson. There are are others whose misadventures with substances and the US legal system made them less obvious picks, such as Jeff Grosso and Fred Gall and Guy Mariano. Yet here we are.

Jason Dill, a veteran who never really warmed to half-measures when it came to things like video part construction, socks height or New York City nightlife, appears to have embraced old age as lustily as any slot-playing, shuffleboard-pushing thee-time divorcee. Witness his silver fox persona, his grayed and thinned hair, his floral shirts, the Britannicesque recollections of days gone past and concepts ripe for resurrection. As he raises a brood of young street urchins with life partner Anthony Van Engelen, Jason Dill also has honed an ability to emotionally wound that appears as needle-eager as any sourpuss granny. From his recent Playboy interview:

I’m now past my third year of FA. I’m proud of what we’ve done. If you are a company making stuff, you need to have it in the back of your head that, hey, I might have to kill this thing one day for the greater good so it doesn’t look like a bunch of bullshit. Imagine if Mark Gonzales got to end his skate company, Blind. How would we look at it today? Imagine if Mark had made some deal with Steve Rocco, the owner of his distributor, early on, like, “I’ll totally do this, but when I think it’s time that this is done, I get to put out an ad that says, ‘It’s done. We killed it. It’s over. Thank you.

Jason Dill didn’t have to take it there. For skateboarders ‘of a certain age,’ Blind’s last 15 years or so as a stable for a Canada-heavy lineup resembling a Digital Video Magazine board team will always take a back seat to the ‘Video Days’ lineup and, later, the Ronnie Creager and Lavar McBride-led ’Trilogy’ generation. Nowadays, you’re hard-pressed to place your hand on a Blind board outside the Tech Deck assortments cradled within the boxy bosom of Walmart. In fact, they’re outlawed. But with his reminder that Blind’s heyday now lies a beagle’s lifetime in the past, Jason Dill’s prodding of old sores is an exercise in discomfort matched only by grouchy grandmothers’ bitter questions over the fate of hand-knitted blankets long ago vomited upon, washed and relegated to life’s basement closets.

Time’s grinding passage has yet to reveal whether Jason Dill or Pontus Alv — another long-in-the-tooth owner of an insurgent board company that lies under his control, and who has expressed similar sentiments — will avail themselves of a Hunter S. Thompson exit strategy, rather than some much-later forced transfer to a mall store-ready nursing home. Do they possess the financial and testicular fortitude? The skating mind seems wired for Quixotic pursuits that can batter the body, plague the mind and sometimes, sear the soul — literally throwing one’s self down a set of stairs over and over again, sometimes for days on end. Quitting while one is ahead, whether in the sense of a sound body or arrest-free permanent record, may not pay dividends in the form of shoe contracts and soda-pop endorsements. For every Heath Kirchart and Scott Johnston showing themselves the door rather than be escorted out by younger, abler-bodied teammates, there are multiples of beloved pros whose ratio of video footage minutes to pro deck graphics looks increasingly lopsided.

Can pros turned board company proprietors be relied upon to serve as judges and executioners weighing the street cred of their own enterprises? Should company owners freely discuss the concept of forced euthanasia, for will this only perplex the Dutch? Does Darren Harper’s trick-trying persistence make him more likely to seek revenge for a five years-old board to the head, or vice versa?

The Slap Boards Are Big Brother Magazine

February 8, 2015

slap-campus

Everything is good,” declared a grinning Cortez Bryant as he clamored into his time-traveling space Delorian hours after his star client, Dwayne Carter, Twittered his displeasure and angst towards longtime employer Cash Money Records and by proxy father figure Baby/Beatrice/Birdman. “I wouldn’t be out at the club right now,” Cortez Bryant beamed, assuring YouTube viewers that nothing was amiss within the house that the Hot Boys built, despite what persons may have read elsewhere.

Was Cortez Bryant lying? Last month it emerged that Lil Wayne had sued Baby to the tune of $51 million, suggesting that everything was not good after all. Rap music is a topsy turvy business for sure, but you wonder whether Cortez Bryant figured people would listen to him rather than what they read on the computer internet, or if he was playing for time in a high-stakes game of financial and legal Stratego against Birdman’s lawyerly halberders, or if he was speaking in some far more general and cosmic sense about the human condition given Turk’s recent comments that BG’s prison sentence could be miraculously cut short by an as-yet unknowable ‘legal loophole.’*

Powers that be in the hard-n-soft goods biz would perform a similar dirt-off-my-shoulders oldster routine when it comes to the Slap Board, that ever-churning cauldron of YouTube links, hearsay, harsh truth-telling and pure id that oftentimes is livelier and more insightful than that month’s issue of your favorite big-4(3[2?]) magazine. Disclosing and painstakingly dissecting beefs, career choices, wardrobes and various industry flotsam before it can be packaged and shepherded to sponsor-approved instagram accounts, oftentimes in the most splintery and unvarnished terms capable of QWERTY filtration, is a freewheeling public service that seemingly goes little-loved in many team managers’ offices, as per Ride Channel’s recent industry survey item:

Vernon Laird, team manager, Bones Bearings:My impression of the average message boarder is a disgruntled never-has-been or never-will-be old, bitter man. Somebody who was mad that there were never sponsored or never pro and sits around and talk shit about everybody and everything in the skateboard industry because they have too much free time on their hands.

Mike Sinclair, team manager, Tum Yeto: Most hide behind their account name, and they usually want to pry, poke, and jab, which they have the right to do, at me or the brands I work for. The only difference is that I get paid for my opinion, and some of these guys just want to take their bad day out on me or others anonymously.

Before alt.skate-board and later the Crail-board provided early venues for distributing Kareem Campbell drive-by obituaries and nurturing the legend of a yung PJ Ladd, Big Brother magazine represented a forum for the attitudes and angles on skateboarding that tend toward the tasteless, puerile, and a certain mirror-gazing irreverence toward the industry itself that often seems bizarrely missing in a pastime ostensibly reared up to question authority and everything else, but that a lot of times veers dangerously near to preening sanctimoniousness. Videos got roasted, pros and industry heads were called out in interviews and editorial copy alike, and the likes of Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Andy Roy, Ronnie Creager and Daewon Song were raised up on high before the publication succumbed to the same injurious stew of intoxicants, corporate ownership and general burn-out that have corroded pro careers. While there’s some truth in the rose-tinted view of a past when the general public didn’t bear witness to favorite pros profanely shouting down tweenage trollers via social-media pages of choice, the flipside has to have been the relatively few outlets and companies that controlled information flow and curated the industry’s self-image, which Big Brother never much seemed concerned with.

The internet’s halls are swabbed by anonymous mouthpieces whose currency too often is valued by loudness of opinion, and Slap’s forums are no better or worse. But the Slap message-boards too easily are brushed off as a den of venomous haters, caricatured over the years as armchair skaters in garb only, uniformed in white tees/brown cords/half cabs or more recently a Polar/Dickies/Cons ensemble that prizes wallies and reviles tricks that may rate high-single-digit Street League scores. Similar javelins surely were hurled at the Carnie/Canale/Kosick contingent back when, similarly aimed at an easy-target messenger rather than entertain the idea that, for instance, it’s possible to acknowledge the prowess of a Nyjah Huston whilst criticizing his apparent approach to tricks and skating in general.

James Craig in the Ride-Channel survey talks bluntly about recognizing when the Slap board got it uncomfortably correct:

[F]or me the biggest one was going on there early on and I just went under my middle name, Cliff. I starting seeing all kinds or random hate on me: “James Craig has the worst style in skateboarding.” Haha! It was pretty brutal, but everyone has an opinion. All I knew is my style is what it is-—not fake, it’s just me—-so it didn’t really bum me out, but it didn’t change the fact people were hating on me. You know what I did? I said, “Fuck it! I’m just going to take it in and flip it into a positive!”

It motivated me to not settle for bullshit sketchy makes but to have a little more pride in my footage and skating. This worked for me at the time, and after that I had some of the best, [most] proud years of my skateboard life. I’d look at footy from What If? (2005) and be pissed that I ended up with some seriously out-of-control arms, and in my next two parts I was super hyped on the way it all looked after putting in the effort to make my shit better. Some would say that’s wack, because I wanted to prove [the message boards] “wrong,” but motivation can be found anywhere. You just have to be willing to deal with the reality that “they” might be a little bit right, and [be prepared to do] whatever it takes accomplish what you want.

The irony shouldn’t be overlooked that in a golden age of DIY companies and spots, when even housing complex building projects are willing to take a knee before Burnside’s concrete, the longest-running and most-vibrant online web community continues to draw such ire and eye-rolling disdain from the industry. At one time skateboards were issued with an optional chip-on-shoulder and latent sneer toward powers-that-be that deemed it a loser’s pursuit, and rescinding that is one risk lodged inside six-figure contest purses, multinational sneaker endorsements and the class/coach dynamic where the dollars-earned or click-views end justifies most any means.

Jason Rothmeyer, New Balance sales manager and SPoT competition vet, remarks at one point in the Ride Channel item that “[t]he judges’ stand is a microcosm of the Slap message board. Just a bunch of dudes talking mad shit, mostly.” James Craig likens it to a skateshop breeze-shooting session, which you could extend further — a shop where anybody can be an employee, customers never interrupt the discussion to ask for new D3 colours, and closing time never comes, allowing the strength of the argument to prevail, or not, over days and weeks and years as brick-and-mortar locations cede their meetup-and-conversation functions to this aromatic and frenetic realm of text messages, embedded videos and digital Bigcartel baskets.

*For those keeping score Turk now also has sued Cash Money

‘Doomsday’ For 1990s Creeps One Step Closer As Ronnie Creager Exits Blind, Experts Fear

March 13, 2014

doomsday-clock

The 1990s Doomsday Clock moved one minute closer to the much-feared ‘midnight’ mark Thursday following an announcement that Ronnie Creager had departed Blind.

The surprise move marked the exit from his company of the last remaining featuree of the 1996 World Industries production ‘Trilogy,’ ballyhooed by several messageboard commentators as one of the two seminal documents of 1990s` schoolyard skating, next to ‘Mouse.’

“We cant thank Ronnie enough for all his contributions,memories and fun times over the years,” Blind officials wrote in a press statement shortchanged of apostrophes. “We wish Ronnie nothing but the best and look forward to seeing more amazing skating from him in the future.”

Ronnie Creager was not immediately available to post to his Instagram account. The move caught some observers off guard, abruptly capping a 20-year tenure on a company originally founded by Mark Gonzales under the World umbrella, where Ronnie Creager was the longest-serving team-member several times over.

Overseers of the 1990s Doomsday Clock, including an international assortment of blogmasters and aging skateshop employees, in response moved the clock’s minute hand one increment closer to ‘midnight,’ which would signal the effective end of the 1990s’ influence over kids and industry players alike. The setting currently stands at 11:51, following the Ronnie Creager announcement.

Clock officials previously had moved the minute hand closer to midnight at various times over the past 14 years, including after Steve Rocco divested Dwindle Distribution, when Joey Suriel and Richard Mulder became licensed to sell real estate and when Rick Howard did not contribute footage to ‘Pretty Sweet.’ The minute hand was moved farther away from midnight in 2006 when Daewon Song earned Thrasher’s ‘Skater of the Year’ award, in 2011 when Patrick O’Dell released the Menace ‘Epicly Later’d’ and also following DGK’s disclosure of the lost Fabian Alomar video part.

Guy Mariano’s comeback for the Lakai video set the clock back by a full ten minutes, the largest increment on record, igniting controversy among some pundits who claimed the trick selection in fact merited moving the minute hand closer to midnight and others who argued for setting it back by as much as an hour on general principal.

The clock has proven a magnet for criticism over the years, with some arguing that the 1990s are destined to live on forever in the hearts of those who truly believe, and others who maintain that the 1990s ended at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, an event knowed to some as ‘Y2K.’

In Which A Recent Krew Video Inspires Us To Tally Up Some All-Time Lords Of The Bucket-Hat

March 20, 2013

MINNOW-1

They say history is written by the victors, and when it comes to rewriting certain chapters, or revitalizing them for the purposes of revivalism, maybe we say the past is best remembered by those popping bottles and making it rain in the club at any given point in time. Current bottle-popper and kickflip backside noseblunter Lucien Clarke remains among the hottest ‘boarders out of London and as an employee of Palace possesses the subcultural capital to deploy for the purposes of making his mark on the scene, whatever it and that may be. So it is that this meaty clip released last week by Krew clothes documents his daring decision to get behind the bucket-hat, that vestige of late 1990s fashion long since wadded up in the fist of time and used to clobber some smaller, clumsier dimension for forgetting to stoke the rescue fire.

A Palace-branded white button-up that a waiter or Dylan Rieder might wear commands a $200 asking price on Ebay, giving the company and its team-riders gravitas in the accessorizing game, and doubling down on the bucket-hat is in keeping with prior Menace-aping efforts. But are Lucien Clarke’s shoulders broad enough to pick up and carry forward the bucket hat’s noble legacy? Here is a look back at some of its esteemed practitioners throughout the hat’s golden age.

Andrew Reynolds: The Boss is an obvious influence on Lucien Clarke’s massive nollie backside kickflips, and during his Birdhouse-moppet era a bucket-hat held down Reynolds’ locks as he launched himself down gaps and rails in “The End.” The fact that his hairdo looked sort of like a bowl cut only adds to the mystique and credibility of the hat.

Jason Dill: Probably run more as a novelty item that completed a Dr. Hunter S Thompson ensemble for a brief juice-sipping clip that featured in TWS’ “Feedback”, Dill’s foray came early in his deep dive into alternative fashion that would lead many an impressionable youngster down the proverbial garden path throughout the ’00s. You get the sense that Jason Dill probably was not that invested in the hat necessarily, but it’s interesting to ponder how he currently views its place in the world, and whether he agrees with Lucien Clarke that it is ripe for revisiting.

Chad Fernandez: Even before Chad Fernandez was drawn into a verbal sparring match with an unpaid tween amateur he gave the impression that he had something more to prove than other pros, which is maybe why in retrospect he seemed more invested in the hat when rewatching clips like his part in Osiris’ “The Storm.” A decade later Chad Fernandez has shifted to beanies for this 2011 part that features some genuinely out of hand stuff like the ollie up to crooked grind at the beloved bench-to-stair spot, a nosegrind on the rail recently wooed by Sean Malto in the Girl/Chocolate video and a high-speed one footer.

Ronnie Creager: The lord of positive vibrations was an equal opportunity endorser of headware in videos such as Es’ “Menikmati”, in which Ronnie Creager managed not to succumb to the pressure of conceptualizing a lengthy, autobiographical intro that may have featured costumes. Of all those mentioned on this brief list, the desert-dwelling Creager may today have the most legit claim to wearing a bucket-hat in the course of his current day to day, which could also involve golf and checking in on Easter Egg packages that may lie around the Southern California region unclaimed for fifteen years.

Last of the Fucked Up Blind Kids

June 15, 2009


A post in which we reference the Venga Boys and anuses but the overall tone is pretty positive

The summer video season is upon us, with what seems like two videos dropping every week and as if to prove the point, I just saw this preview for the new Black Label video that apparently is coming out next month and most definitely features a bunch of kids I’m not familiar with. All of which means that A. I’m over the hill, again, and B. well behind on the commentating, such as it is. I’ll expound elsewhere about the Blind video, known to some as “The Blind Video,” based on the true story about filming a Blind video. If you have not seen it I’ll touch on some of the critical plot points: Jake Duncombe likes to party and as such will one day skate to a Venga Boys song. Jake Brown manufactures t-shirts with the F-word on them and does one of the zanier manuals in a while, Grant Patterson prefers big gaps, tall tees, and music by/for/about the ghetto. Morgan Smith is painfully Canadian, Jani Latiala catches some of his flip tricks really weird, Ronnie Creager glides.

But a few more words and possibly a couple mixed metaphors are due James Craig, however, who to my mind turned in the best section of this video and possibly the best of his career — which if you graphed it would look like two big boobs spanning the last decade, or maybe also a buttcrack with Craig’s heinous knee injury marking the tragic anus. You could probably make a sort-of convincing case for how James Craig represented the rear guard of 1990s World riders, and elsewhere Carbonite submitted “The Blind Video” as the most “Trilogy”-like World production since “Trilogy” which I can sort of see, and sort of not see. For sure a lot of these lines could have been performed in a schoolyard or UC campus of your choosing, but it’s more how this James Craig section fulfills the promise of his Blind amateur footage like this when he was something of a pre-PJ Ladd PJ Ladd (also noting the last trick symmetry with Craig’s first line in this year’s production, yes).

James Craig has also engineered a sort of double comeback with this part… in the unfortunately titled “What If” video it was clear he had pretty much all his tricks back, and then some, but his arms were all over the place to such a degree you wonder if Torey Pudwill used to watch it and take down shaky, jagged notes. He made it partway back with the surprise section in “Get Familiar” (that bigspin flip) but I gotta say I wasn’t expecting him in 2009 to be running around doing high-speed switch heelflip smith grinds, noseblunts to switch backside tailslides, and that rocket launcher kickflip that maybe exorcised some of the triple-set demons of days past. The dude could be a candidate for the short list of people who can pass off varial kickflips and it’s likely the frontside heelflip on flat will rank among the season’s very best. We here at BTO try not to read into pro skaters’ motivations and/or feelings that much but this section has the serious “fun” vibe for me; I’m a sucker for happy endings and glad James Craig handed us this one*, though I heard a second attempt at the ender trick may have taken him out again. If so, get well soon, and we’ll all try to bear in mind the thrice-endowed tart of “Total Recall.”

Bonus: James Craig’s part from the Razor Sharp vid, which I think I watched whilst drinking one time.

*pause

Easter Egg Hunt

June 8, 2009


Dig dig deep for your soul

One of the enduring traits of the Crailtap set is the childlike whimsy they’ve been able to maintain over the years, starting with the Lance Mountain reset skit, through Keenan’s tumultuous skate down the block and the ongoing adventures of the pink/flame decks, who hopefully are teaming up to fight the hoverboard by the time the next Girl video comes out in 2015. So it is with this spirit that Eric Koston, for the moment apparently still a free shoe agent despite recent visits to the, er, Portland airport, has thrown the latest curveball in the ongoing game of which company will have the honor of covering his feet and paying him untold billions in endorsement cash: via Twitter, Koston is now strategically hiding pairs of shoes in and around Los Angeles and doling out not-so-subtle clues as to where they can be found.

I guess I’m not sure what we’re to make of the initial pair’s identity, but any 411-o-phile worth his issue 30 with the AWS industry section knows that Koston is revisiting Ronnie Creager’s timeless “Day in the Life” section, where in between skating a two-stair handrail and getting his grin on, Creager drove around to various LA zones and planted oodles of World Industry products. (It is rumored to this day that the motherload remains undiscovered and that this partially inspired the Kurt Russell vehicle and cautionary tale of family piracy, “Captain Ron.”) All I’m saying is, let’s not all be totally surprised if Koston’s next move is relocating to Arizona, also known as the place old pros go to nurse knee injuries and skate ditches, where he and Creager will soon preside over the unholy resurrection of Nadia footwear.

Video Games Killed The Video Star… Or Something…

January 26, 2009

Every now and again, I’m visited with the pleasant and usually unexpected revelation that there are people in this world that A. have more time on their hands than I do, B. have less pressing matters on which to spend said time, and C. are possibly bigger dorks than I, in a general sense. I know, heaven for-fend. So it is with the cottage industry of recreating skate video parts via EA Skate, known to some as the best skateboard video game since Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. And, it’s not even classic video parts, I mean, of course there’s Guy Mariano’s “Mouse” section and a whopper of a three-part version of Marc Johnson’s “Fully Flared” closer, but beyond these you’ll find such head-scratching esoterica as Furby’s Berrics clip, Jake Brown’s X-games mega-slam (sans helmet), and a remake of YouTube manual sensation Aaron Kyros’s part.

(On a side note, I would be inclined to say that Aaron Kyros could have been the Soulja Boy Tell’Em of YouTube skate videos, if he would have thought up a name for his manual twirling dance, and made it into a ringtone.)

So as Electronic Arts releases the meticulously titled “Skate 2,” let’s look over a few parts recreated with the original “Skate.”

Antwuan Dixon – “Baker 3”

This entry, if not 100% faithful in size and scope trick-wise, is sort of innovative in that it cribs the soundtrack from the video itself in recreating young Antwuan’s Baker debut. The medium drives home the notion that we are looking back on a more innocent time for all of us, with nice use of the Suburbs picnic tables and a suitable stand-in for the Carlsbad gap.
Rating: Three-up

Nick Trapasso – “Suffer the Joy”

This one gets points for dredging the Suburbs for a passable schoolyard setting for Trapasso’s well-loved bigspin blunt line, but couldn’t fit in the wallie – bummer, brah. The minds who put this clip together give into the all-too-strong desire to boost the stair count on some of the hairier rail/gap stuff, but EA Skate’s “loose style” does a decent Trapasso impersonation and they replicated the wonky landing on the kickflip backside 360 pretty good.
Rating: Three-up

Alex Chalmers – “Sorry”

Probably one of the most impressive EA Skate knock-off parts considering how hard it is to do transition shit in this game. With the Faction pop-punk and general contempt shown for gravity, the Canadian fly-out wizard’s little-loved Flip video makes for a convincing update to those old Tony Hawk clips they used to toss you when you completed the game with such-and-such pro. The only thing holding this back from a perfect five rating are the hilariously awkward telephone voice interlude and the fact that the wits behind this couldn’t figure out a way to recreate Renee Renee’s late back foot flip thing. For shame.
Rating: Four-up

Guy Mariano – “Mouse”

It kind of looks like him, if you squint your eyes, and hit yourself over the head with a whiskey bottle for a few hours. Back to the Suburb playgrounds for the bump-to-picnic-table, which is okay minus the lengthy hangtime, and while I can’t think of any particular spot offhand I have to imagine he could have found a better bank-to-ledge to stand in for the Lockwood bench. Plus the awkward rotations on some of the techy ledge stuff. (There are several recreations of Guy Mariano’s “Fully Flared” opus, but if I’m going to bear seven minutes of Band of Horses music and not actually watch Guy Mariano skate, well, I need to get something out of it besides a lengthy blog posting.)
Rating: Two-up

Ronnie Creager – “What If”

Under the video details it says “I needs me a life.” He got the slow-mo kickflip backside tailslide 360 out, when the song stops, so that’s something. User “BriDenSkates” has several other such parts to his name, as well as a couple super cute kitten videos, which as we all know are the lifeblood of YouTube. For this reason I bestow upon this clip a full five-up rating, and encourage BriDenSkates to get to work on “Trilogy” and “20 Shot Sequence.”