Posts Tagged ‘Skate Mental’

Are You People Paying Attention To The Things Jackson Curtin Is Doing Right Now?

November 2, 2019

This photo should be enough. Great skater, super hard trick, exactly the right angle, tweaked to the maximum, pants right. Time was, you’d painstakingly tear out a page like this one in the Milton Martinez Thrasher and tape it onto the wall. That still happens, but the time for wall-staring slowly is passing into shadow. Soon enough, our walls will stare at themselves.

The photo’s primal waves lead to another, more fundamental question, which is whether the swipe-happy, dead-eyed and flesh-consuming populace is giving Jack Curtin his proper due. In a world that criminally overlooked Ryan Gallant’s late-period surge, only now seems to be appreciating the treasure that is Javier Sarmiento, and failed to elevate Steve Durante to household name status, it is not an idle question.

A seminal technician with international flair and an allergy to basic-ass T-shirts, Jackson Curtin approaches the 2020s a seasoned veteran, but from ‘Pack a Lunch’ onward he seems never to have blown up relative to the skill and stylistic levels implied. Last year, he switch kickflip wallrode and switch backside noseblunted a chunky hubba for the ever-inscrutable Skate Mental label. This year he slid through New York for the Gridlock series, ripped Pier 7 and the SF Library amid the broader SF reinvigoration GX1000 set off in the hills and Supreme carried to EMB, and last week he slapped up trickblockers and put a noseblunt onto the Carroll/Chico block-to-block list for his most recent New Balance shoe design, centered on the increasingly on-burn black and clear colour scheme.

Is everybody properly savouring the current Jackson Curtin moment? Can the collective powers of Jack Curtin, Tyler Surrey, Tom Knox and recent DC Shoe Co USA defector Tiago Lemos unite to somehow make it cool to wear grandpa shoes with with a big letter N on the side? What are the odds Jack Curtin could get back to Pulaski for a joint part with Bobby Worrest? Should Paul Rodriguez, dealing with Primitive’s steadily expanding roster, spend some of his Naruto duckets on the apparently still existing Deca and put on Jack Curtain, JB Gillet, Daewon Song and fuck it, Carlos Iqui?

Big Shoes Small Boards

June 19, 2016

carroll-focus

There are some queries that must be considered as the ultimate questions of the time. Is it really what it is? Do gentlemen really prefer brunettes? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Do Gs get to go to heaven? If you couldn’t see the sun rising off the shore of Thailand would you ride then if I wasn’t driving? Has We The Best Season returned? Are you new around here or something man?

In our current big-footwear era of skateboarding, one question goes like this: Do international shoe manufacturers prefer small board companies? You sort of wonder. As Palace and Adidas and Skate Mental and Nike respectively grow cuddlier in the process of producing product lines, fewer such efforts appear to invite the creative hive-minds powering the likes of Element, Flip, Plan B and Zoo York to apply their MS Paint sorcery to established shoe-wall sellers. Meanwhile, the fingerprints of publicly traded footwear conglomerates increasingly seem to smudge the smartphone screens of board-company team managers:

Jamie Thomas: we bent over backwards for trevor for years. all was good, but as we were working with him on his boards, we started hearing that Nike was encouraging him to ride for skate mental because supposedly it would help his situation at Nike; Even though his graphics were done and his pro board was scheduled to be released in 2 months, he hit me up and said thanks for everything, but I’m gonna ride for Skate Mental.

Mike Carroll: Remember with Karsten [Kleppan], when we put out the intro to Lakai video part and then a week later Karsten got on Nike? It’s just like, what the fuck. And then that (Nike) dude Kaspar hit up Sam [Lakai’s Team Manager] and was like, “I know that Karsten’s off of Lakai now, but we want to get him off of Element. We want to get him on a cool company, would you guys be down to sponsor him for Girl?” It’s like, are you that retarded?

Jenkem’s text-messaging theorist: Nike backing riders to ride for small board co’s or start up their own small start up’s to dilute the market with heaps of small brands so the main camps like crailtap, black box (now dwindle) can’t focus on their own shoe programs and have to put their time and resources into keeping their board co’s alive in an over saturated market. Leaving it to them, Cons and adidas which works perfectly because they all co-exist this way in every other sport.

Is ‘small board company’ the proper terminology tho? Of the current Nike skateboard team, about half (16/34) skate for what could be construed as a ‘small/startup’ board company. But it may be more instructive to examine multinational sporting gear manufacturers’ history when it comes to sponsoring dudes who skate for a board company that is affiliated with a ‘legacy’ skate shoe company. In 2007, Nike’s inaugural and unfairly maligned full-length ‘Nothing But the Truth’ included parts from six dudes (out of 22) whose deck sponsors also ran a competing shoe outfit. By the time 2011’s ‘SB Chronicles 1’ arrived, the number had declined to two out of eight; it was 2/7 for ‘Chronicles 2’ and Cory Kennedy was the only one in last year’s ‘Chronicles 3’. Of the 24 bros in ‘Away Days,’ one skates for a board company that also peddles shoes, and on the Converse skate team, it’s one of 13.

Why might a big giant shoe company like its skaters to promote smaller/newer/upstart board companies? The idea of Jenkem’s texting thinker has some logic to it, though the deck sponsor’s ‘marquee’ position as it relates to pros’ pocketbooks has long been on the wane relative to shoes, as former DNA Distribution ‘business guy’ Chris Carter pointed out five years ago. As far as resource drains go, at a time when Brian Wenning and Jereme Rogers are able to formulate heat-press ready artwork and online storefronts, while micro-brands such as Jim Greco’s Hammers and Jeremy Klein’s revived Hook-Ups are able to secure premium pricing on limited runs, the actual overhead of doing a board company could or should be relatively low, assuming that a generation of even top-drawer pros have become accustomed to slimmer signature-board paycheques.

Would encouraging pros away from board companies/distributorships that also run shoe companies make sense for the majors? The post-getting-on-Nike moves of Trevor Colden (Mystery –> Skate Mental) and Karsten Kleppan (Element –> Skate Mental) make you wonder, and of the current SB team, about one-third, from Paul Rodriguez to Koston/Guy to Gino Iannucci, have departed such board companies for startups with no affiliation over the years, for various reasons. A widening gap between the board sponsor and shoe sponsor as far as pay, travel capability and general influence would cement the shoe merchants’ first right of refusal when it comes to Instagram clips, tour edits and coveted under-deck sticker placement real estate, and enhance capabilities to promote uniform-like outfits readymade for sweeping up spilled popcorn after matinee showings of ‘Zootopia 2: Zoological Boogaloo.’

Or does all our convoluted and conspiracy-minded nail-gnawing overlook the razory principle of Occam, which in this case might be that upstart board companies are cooler now and, given board sponsors’ functional functions as image-drivers, asa shoe purveyour you’d want the dudes you sponsor to skate under a small company’s cooler halo? Would this suggest that international shoe enterprises are chipping away at some image-management role traditionally performed by agents, increasingly beloved of pro skaters thirsting for soda sponsorship dollaridoos, but a timeworn rival of sporting giants when contract negotiation time rolls around? Should sponsor-juggling skateboarders seek the council of Jay-Z, a wheelings-and-dealings man who has had a pro-model shoe for rapping, helped manage a team and wrangled deals for pro athletes, by signing up for his exclusive Tidal internet music streaming business? Could board companies take a page from shoe companies and start encouraging teamriders toward Tumblr- and BigCartel-empowered wheel groups? Does all this silly noise obscure the shadowy role of the premium-fit cotton t-shirt as the true and honest currency of the realm?

*Note: DC is considered affiliated with Plan B for our simple-minded purposes here

Let’s Pretend We’re Married

April 30, 2016

purp

Skating last week waved a black lace garter goodbye to one of its longest-burning signal flares, Prince, a towering figure whose resolute outsiderness, restless creativity and sexual horsepower presaged skating’s passing indulgences into blouses, smouldery brooding, paisley and motorcycles. His purple fingerprints linger in skating’s infatuation with eagles, seagulls and pigeons, Corvettes and berets, whilst his Paisley Park compound providing a blueprint for many of today’s self-contained content factories. Indeed, Prince is rumored to have been the soft-spoken and hypnotic voice delivering a series of wee-hours directives to a succession of skate-biz power brokers, for decades anonymously guiding the industry from a what is widely assumed to be a love symbol-shaped telephone.

Eric Koston is as easily pegged a Prince disciple as any working pro, from skating to ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ to social media adventures and releasing multiple purple coloured shoes*. One could ponder whether Eric Koston’s late 1980s-‘Yeah Right’ run matched Prince’s prowess over his first 14 albums, and just as Prince in the mid-1990s famously severed himself from Warner Bros, the record-labeling bros who had released his music for nigh on two decades, Eric Koston last year stepped away from his own 20-year employers at Girl, and now appears set to further immerse himself in Prince’s legacy as he speed-dates deck merchants while developing his own board imprint.

This weekend Eric Koston surprised few with the unveiling of a deck series for WKND, after foreshadowing a master plan that also involved endorsing some funny arted decks created by Brad Staba’s Skate Mental company. The polyamorous moves harken back to Prince’s high-heeled hopscotching from record company to record company after the Warner Bros kiss-off, even if the frosty vibes emanating from Eric Koston’s parting ways with Girl didn’t rise to the level of scrawling ‘SLAVE’ across his face. Alternately one could posit Girl as Eric Koston’s Vanity, from whom he moves on to a string of bosomy and multi-instrumental paramours, sometimes while jamming on synthesizers.

Are Eric Koston’s indigo-tinted industry maneuvers helping to usher in a post-board sponsor era in which deck makers become loose, image-oriented collectives for pros and various bros to shack up for a time, under some ‘gest’ or similar rubric, before drifting apart? Is this threatened obsolescence of the deck-company team an extension of the much-maligned hookup culture, hunted to extinction by smartphone-eroded attention spans, ringtone raps and seven-minute abs? Just as Prince ultimately buried his +4 Axe of Creative Control with Warner Bros, will an aging Koston eventually return to Girl in a deal that grants him full rights over his ‘Goldfish’ to ‘Pretty Sweet’ raw footage, which later will be turned over to the courts for a years-long legal battle amongst Koston’s heirs after his sudden death traumatizes millions and reveals that he left no will?

*Generally purple and gold, referencing the colours of the LA Lakers**
**A team originally from Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 2 #3 – Brad Staba ‘Nervous Breakdown’

June 26, 2014

Is Brad Staba’s jaded/sarcastic persona an elaborate mask for a decade’s worth of bottled-up embarrassment and discomfort after perpetrating several high-profile backside salad grinds in the late 1990s and early 2000s? The answer undoubtedly is yes, though allowances must be made within a time period of hotly fermenting excess when Tum Yeto rode high upon the skate hog, selling decks emblazoned with nothing but Tod Swank’s juvenile and colourful scrawls and later embarking upon a plan to build a skateboard so large it would be an affront to God himself. ‘Nervous Breakdown’ was another chapter in Foundation’s by then established strategy of reinventing itself roughly every 18 months or so, introducing Daniel Shimizu and Omar Salazar and copping Ethan Fowler from atop various European contest-circuit podiums. Yet it was floppy-haired vintage tee shopper Brad Staba who closed the video, shuffling down monstrous handrails and cruising through dirt and occasionally flashing a grin that would later launch a thousand Skate Mental graphics of questionable moral standing. Brad Staba possessed one of the skating world’s best nollie frontside 180s around this time as well as a command of the kickflip backside 360, then a rare bird. The line at 1:07 bumps up the bar from the opening run in his Duty Now for the Future debut, where Brad Staba opened for future Latin American real-estate speculator Daniel Haney and horror movie budgeteer Jon West.

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

AWS Giveaway Spotlights The Human Toll Of Mystery’s Old B&W Ad Campaign

December 13, 2011

Australian journeyman Dennis Durrant recently made blog-waves upon disclosing that he had jumped the Mystery ship for Skate Mental in part because the Kiss-inspired, baggier-pantsed Zero offshoot had ceased to pay him for a number of reasons. No bad blood, but the takeaway was something like “it’s tough all over, kid.”

As the market continues to mull just how many professionals and unpaid amateurs it can and will support this year, a sorrier story still plays out just beyond the edges of the car lots where luxury autos are sitting un-leased. Midwestern company Alien Workshop has affixed the stiff upper lip and gone ahead and announced a giveaway opportunity that reveals how tragedy has befallen new teamrider Gilbert Crockett. The one-size-only swag on offer is a drab spectrum of grays, blacks and whites, the only Crayolas that Crockett can pull out of the carton first try, his hollowed-out eyeballs the sad result of years spent toiling for Mystery under its famed black and white regime. Alien’s recent and radical attempt at “splicing his life” to correct his colorblindedness has failed even despite the rapid manual hops, channel kickflip and much-anticipated and much awesome footage of the bench/steps jump.

Mystery’s Color Theory may have come too late to save Crockett’s sense of sight and post-board career he confronts a difficult job market that will not allow him to pilot fighter planes, design interior home spaces or correctly assemble Christmas tree light strings, leaving few choices. For inspiration he may turn to the story of Moses Itkonen, whose eyes were similarly seared by DC’s 1990s black-white-and-helvetica campaign but reinvented himself as a Canadian clothing company magnate by hiring an intern to wield a red marker.

Boil the Ocean Is Out Here Asking The Tough Questions About The Transworld Vid Dudes

July 9, 2011

When is a Transworld video not another Transworld video? Why is a raven like a writing desk? Who framed Radric Davis? Should censored Waka Flocka songs be allowed in skateboard videos? Or allowed whatsoever? If this blog website had snappy answers to any of the above it would be a more worthwhile endeavor for all, but like the increasingly malleable nature of the annual TWS video-offering itself, the only true answer may lie in an enigmatic vortex.

Does Mike Anderson embody the Transworld vid in 2011? Multi-platform media company Bonnier Corp may like to think so. Fashionably bearded and blessed by forefathers like the Gonz as well as this-gen figureheads such as Van Wastell, Mike Anderson is doing the right tricks and with panache. His switch 360 flip has meat on the bones and he can face down speed wobbles on hills and waterslides but what got me going more so than footage I’ve seen of this dude in the past is the almost disdainful nonchalance upon doing whatever trick. Thinking here ride-aways from the kickflip 50-50 stall and the frontside flip 50-50 on that humper-doodle. And maybe also the gap to switch backside 50-50, one of the better tricks in the whole video. To zero out the equation we can nod to the quiet gnarliness of the switch frontside 50-50 on the skinny bar, one of those I didn’t really notice the first couple times through.

Almost 30 videotapes/DVDs/mp4 files into the Transworld dynasty the makers tend to dig themselves into stylistic ruts but at this point they’ve got enough well-worn components to flex here and there. Witness the return of the intro montage for this one, with Toy bros trading shots at the same spot, some Leo Romero and a sorta puzzling-looking trick in a line by Josh Kalis. Judicious slow-mo applied to Dylan Rieder’s latest bench-clearing impossible that is as mind-bending as any of his other recent ones. Theotis Beasley and Nestor Judkins make their turns as rookie professionals and in the interest of a Beasley-esque focus on the positive it’s worth noting the thing of beauty that is the handrail kickflip backside tailslide in his part rather than moaning further regarding the uncalled-for censorship of an innocent Waka Flocka.

Was stoked to see Shane O’Neill’s ender-tribute to the Muska’s legendary kinker grind, many a summer Transworld vid ago, but to capture the hazed-out hands-in-the-air spirit of the Muska you really have to skip ahead to Wes Kremer’s fairly brilliant showing here, one of those examples of a dude who can put together a pretty complete skate video part without seeming to sweat it all that much. Shreds transition (pop-shove it noseslide), knows retro (kickflip tailgrab should have been in the section), gets gnarly (kink rail backside 50-50), can slow-float moves like the frontside shove-it over the bench, like how Kareem Campbell used to. By the time he wraps up the hydrant ollie line it’s consistent carnage until the end and if this early-90s get-live hip-hop closing part song thing becomes a trend, at least Wes Kremer is getting in on it while it’s still cresting.

Previously the late-model TWS vids have been compared to recent entries in the AC/DC catalog, with some comfort factor in knowing what you’re going to get, but this year I got to recalling that cliche about Chinese buffets and how you get stuffed only to be hungry again a few hours later — and how I’d be hard pressed to remember the last time “Hallelujiah” occupied the DVD tray, Tyler Bledsoe backside tailslides and all. Most new TWS vids at least initially seem to improve on the previous one but maybe in the era of daily webclips and internet-only parts the full-length production is bound to have a shorter shelf life especially if it’s a once-yearly affair? With the producers this time around seeming to make more of the fact that each summer’s TWS vid is filmed in “only one year” will they eventually shift the calendar to film for 18 months, or two years, to fully mobilize the hype machine for maximum sales powers? Would the Muska stand for his hardcore lyrics and/or lifestyle to be censored in a DVD? Didn’t say any of these questions would be answered, btw.

Oy Flips?

September 30, 2009

Plunkett_008

The Buffalo, NY dirtbag with the toilet-centric onomatopoeia surname, Dan Plunkett, now does his thing for Skate Mental boards, which you could take any number of ways. It does reinforce certain shadowy conspiracy theories around Staba’s stacking of the squad with Nike endorsers, which we’ve ruminated on in the past, sure. But the above pic has me curious if we’re also seeing a new front in the war on 360 flip form – the antithesis of YWS’s hated “yo flip”? If Josiah Gatlyn threw holy water on this dude, do you think his moustache would melt?

Midwinter Video Roundup: Am Chowder

March 20, 2009


Extra good with the soda

I have this secret theory that the ultimate reasoning behind Brad Staba’s alleged master plan to require everyone on Skate Mental to wear Nikes is really about the fat photo incentive checks keeping all the kids paid to a certain degree, and maybe less likely to raise a stink when asked to model a Mike Carroll chest-hair T-shirt for the Crailtap catalogue. But who can know these things.

So this little video, it was cool and all, except when it was done it left the feeling that I’d been watching the same dude more or less the entire time. I don’t know. I like Daryl Angel pretty good. We have a lot of fun with Ty Bruckheimer and his wide-eyed techno-reverence for top calibre skateboarding, but I thought that old HD test reel featuring lil’ Daryl Flannel worked pretty good as a showcase for really beautiful skate filming, even if the whole deal was in ultra-slow mo and comprised about 45 seconds of actual footage stretched to the length of a two-hour feature film. The Skate Mental promo is pretty much the opposite, two-song part with minimal filler and slow-mo. But I still felt like I seen a lot of these tricks already, just at a quarter of the speed and twice the resolution. The bar ollie to 50-50 caught me off-guard, he can get urban-creative; the switch backside tailslide on the barrier was big. Was the first song the Breeders? Fairly awesome either way.

With Shane no-apostrophe-Oneill I could almost fool myself into thinking it was Daryl Angel again, what with the backside bigspins and backside lipslides, except for certain tricks where it was like watching Jesus Fernandez. The nollie kickflip backside tailslide bigspin was pretty nutty and there was a nice “yeah” after one of his manual tricks. John Motta stands out I suppose because he brings more wallrides than the other dudes, and maybe more European footage, like the blazing backside 180 fakie manual helicoptero that was in Transworld I think? The varial heelflip to fakie grinder was cool and he did some convoluted ledge combo that I’m sure will have Joey Brezinski powering up “Skate 2” with a quickness. And a slick backside lipslide to backside tail.

The sort-of homogeneous skating aside it’s truly cool that there seems to have been pretty much no effort put into the production of “Chowder,” and it incorporates a lot of elements I wish got more consideration when skate video “directors” are doing the modern day equivalent of hooking together their VCRs and thumbing the pause button… i.e., sub-15 minute run-time, no intro, some interesting angles on well-worn spots (bank to bench) and some lame humor. Also, setting a pedestrian aflame with the powerslide blowtorch. I really don’t know if they’re selling this video or what.