Posts Tagged ‘#skateshoewars’

The DC Blog Post or, Finding Yourself and Redefining Success After Your Parent Seeks Protection from Creditors

September 16, 2017

Like a healthily scuffed Lynx arcing across a sunny SoCal sky following an AVE post-bail heaving, the erstwhile DC Shoe Co USA is in transition. Gone are Street Leaguers Nyjah Huston, Mikey Taylor, Felipe Ortiz and Chris Cole, on whose backs DC once sought to build a contest-circuit machine to rival the likes of Nike and Adidas. The flag logo that once represented the action-sporting nation DC once aimed to forge — a more perfect union of skateboarders, BMX bicylclists, motorcross motorcyclers, surf-riders and assorted well-wishers. It’s a smaller tent now, refocused on that seven-pointed star and the normal/extra-boldface/bold typeface pattern that crowded an older generation’s heads with highly motivational and semi-coherent calls to action.

It’s been a long time for DC in skateboarding’s lonely wilderness of what is not so cool, a foggy landscape of mall stores, mail-order warehouses and board shorts with flames on the side. Few find their way to the other side. Like Es shoes, DC remained in thrall to the tech shoe’s hoary bulk as Nike found its simpler, streamlined toehold in the Dunk and set about directing the conversation in the post-9/11 years. DC gained its own corporate firepower following its roll-up by surf log manufacturer Quiksilver, and outfitting Rob Dyrdek and other lords of MTV reality provided cushion enough for DC to maintain its industry position through the vulc-sole wars of attrition, if not necessarily retaining space on shop walls. A succession of designers proceeded to bastardize the Lynx into steadily less-recognizable forms, Euro SuperTour jerseys mouldered away somewhere, and Danny Way and Colin McKay didn’t show for the Plan B vid. But, DC shoes still was there.

For skateboarders of a certain age it’s odd to think of DC, which did so much to shift skate shoes from relatively simplistic Vans and Jims toward sportier stylings and techish accoutrements in the late 1990s, as a legacy act. But here we are: The seeds of DC’s attempted return to its late 90s/early 00s vitality were sown by the retro-minded Pennsylvanians behind the Sabotage vids and #skateshoewars, copping online vintage Lynxes, Kalises and various others as they simultaneously reclaimed Love Park from the authorities. Unlike Alien Workshop, DC recognized a new generation preparing to don swishy pants and opened its East Coast flow spigots, and now spot-searching Droors-endorser John Shanahan helps DC find a path after long years of wandering.

Against this backdrop arrives the winkingly named ‘The DC Promo’, feeling more vital than any DC video project in years. DC seems focused on capturing the world-conquering prowess that drove its inaugural full-length, a quest made easier by the fact that after the LA schoolyard groundwork laid by the Girl and Plan B camps, DC convincingly placed longhaired sweathogs like AVE and Ryan Smith alongside ledge grimers such as Brian Wenning and Stevie Williams, also with some vert ramps and Mega RampsTM. ‘The DC Promo’ is not so different, proffering perpetually adolescent Tristan Funkhauser as an olive branch toward the flood-panted deities of wallies and body varials — his incredible wallie frontside 360 is well-served by Chris Ray’s incorporation of the after-black hammer. Carlos Iqui and the too-long overlooked Tommy Fynn spin some wild handrail tricks, noted clotheshorse John Shanahan cracks an immense fakie shove-it over a bar and be still our hearts, for about 30 seconds, Colin McKay and Danny Way get busy on ramp coping. Wes Kremer and Evan Smith, who made a convincing enough odd couple in Thrasher’s recent interview issue, turn in a fairly blistering tag-teamer with Evan Smith inventing a new approach to an aged Philly spot and Wes Kremer further proving out 2014’s SOTY nod with a mindbender of a last trick. But the moment really is Tiago Lemos’, a time when switch backside tailsliding the Mission District 3-up-3-down can be goofed as a warm-up clip, irksome physics get brushed aside by waist-high kickflip smith grinds (both ways), and Marcus McBride’s block hops get Xeroxed for one of the more memorable lines down the SF pier in a while. This dude is operating on a whole different wavelength right now, and it’s a privilege to watch it unfold.

How much of DC’s turn away from prime time action sporting and podium-climbing pros, and refocus on skater-run events, pumping out videos and re-outfitting team riders in glossy jerseys, was forced by Quiksilver’s bankruptcy and resulting belt-tightening? Does the existence of new Danny Way and Colin McKay footage render the question moot? Yall saw these right? How much of the recently departed riders’ salaries have been redirected toward Tiago Lemos’ bank account as a preemptive hedge against the inevitable swoop by Nike or Adidas? How frantically are DC’s marketing overlords looking for ways to get him booked on a Thrasher trip before this year’s SOTY race winds down?

10. Tyler Bledsoe – ‘All Clear OK’

December 22, 2016

For one of the only companies among the new crop intent on harpooning the full-length video cetacean, Quasi is taking their sweet time, averaging so far one part a year, which is all to the good since it feels like they’re still figuring out their motion-picture aesthetic without veering too much onto Bill Strobeck or Mike Hill territory. Between the slow-mo trash bin bash and the crab-walking hoedown, Tyler Bledsoe’s ‘All Clear OK’ scrapes a little bit of both, but the opening automobile wipe to backside flip and the backside smith grind drop-down are promising indicators of any longer-playing project to come. Tyler Bledsoe, who’s gone dark a few times here and there in recent years, resurfaces to a throbby techno track in savage mode with a teeth-rattling street gap nollie 360, a deceptively hard entry into the Pupecki grind annals, and a round-the-world backside tailslide ender, and who else has them like that.

Invention’s Mother Enlists Dual Death Lenses and Long-Tongued Lizards for 2016’s Most Outlandish, Original Video

October 30, 2016

lizard-deal

How many of the Old Ways are lost to humankind, never to be rediscovered? The image of Indiana Jones armed with a laser beam may have made ‘Temple of Doom’ half short and twice strong, but could have yielded greater societal dividends than gumdinger-sized jewels and bosomy, bedded maidens. Nearly 20 years on, it required a ‘Crocodile Dundee’ derivative to finish the job, lasering his damn way toward the revelation of a lost city and civilization so brimming with wealth and virility that even today might pump rival towns and provinces to the brim with festering jealousy.

Do any such bare-chested, whip-cracking paradigm shifters vanquish thugs and crack well-timed one-liners in skateboarding? To answer the question, other questions and even more hyphens may be required. Skating long has clung to antiquated technologies, ranging from the beloved VX1000 to the as-yet unimproved upon seven-ply maple stick. But elsewise skating leaps and races ahead, cybernetically pirating high-tech editing software, monetizing unique social media followers and quietly sharing around big-budget video releases via sophisticated adult entertainment tube sites.

As Worldstar mourns Vine’s untimely demise, is there a cultural opening through which to drag the stiffening corpse of the feature-length skate vid back toward the lands of the living? Recent stabs have delivered only glancing blows at justifying 4O minute-plus runtimes. Vans’ ‘Propeller’ made a decent effort but largely bogged down after the second viewing, Adidas’ standby blurred traffic lights and architectural panning got stretched too thin to overcome couch fatigue, Polar shot the moon and made it work despite re-using a song*. Emerica wisely stopped trying to cram its entire team into ‘event’ releases and has made its ‘Made’ format work, though Nike’s similar campaign ran out of steam after a middling third go-round. The GX1000 vid was perfect.

In these heady and hurried times, who has the gumption to proffer an 80-minute epic? It is Colin Read, whose ‘Tengu’ featured the MNMFTB-challenging contender for gnarliest ollie in New York, now advancing into sweatier and more-exotic terrain via ‘Spirit Quest,’ a deceptively intricate VX1000 feature that basically dares you to look away for more than a few seconds at a time. It is a nocturnal/industrial metropolis similar to Josh Stewart’s third rail-powered ‘Static 4/5’ where walls are ridden and bars hopped, but instead of grainy tunnels and wee-hour bodega runs, ‘Spirit Quest’ soaks its clips in some ‘National Geographic’ acid bath. Here, dudes do doubles runs with themselves; alternate realities are compared in real time where tricks are both landed and bailed; arms contort into ostrich necks, walls turn into floors and exotic creatures freeze themselves into murals or switch places with tumbling skaters. Angles and sometimes tricks mirror themselves in midair, concrete humps flip to planets and bic’ed craniums, boards sprout wings in midair and camera glitches get regurgitated as architecture.

Floridian hydrant-harrier Jimmy Lannon is among ‘Spirit Quest’s cast of dozens, the only dude who can live in snow camo and switch backside 180 sewer caps in matching floral combos. The increasingly inscrutable Daniel Kim is on some Sampson deal where his trick spread (now including switch Japan airs and a switch kickflip tailgrab) seems to grow woollier in direct relation to his hair length. Bobby Worrest, Kyle Nicholson and the sadly seldom seen Zach Lyons cycle through a pan-global lineup that also includes velcro shoes and Airwalks. Taylor Nawrocki gets one of the gullier sequences at Philadelphia’s Muni, Isle’s Chris Jones dips back into a few more tunnels and does a tall switch 50-50, and Hiroki Muraoka stair-steps down a backside lipslide before popping a crazy half-off, half-on bar ollie that’s as mindbending as a lot of the visual miragery.

Will electronics retailers and omnichannels honor the receipts held by drone pilots and green screen enthusiasts, outdone by 20-year-old camera technology, detailed planning and crazily intimate knowledge of spots and cityscapes? What is the max rewatch tally for any 80-minute skate video? Could a 360 flip variation one-up ‘Spirit Quest’s VX fingerflip or just bring out the dramamine and barf bags? Could Fat Joe serve as MNMFTB’s spirit animal?

You can order ‘Spirit Quest’ here.

*Or maybe because of it

Choices 3: Judgment Day

July 30, 2016

bubble.JOSH-KALIS

Thirty-eight years ago to the day, Memphis rap posse Three 6 Mafia uncannily predicted the brassiness and unbridled vamping of this 2016 US political election season in the motion picture release ‘Choices 2,’ an airy farce with a rhetorical title referencing how two people compete to be the ‘People’s Choice’ and win the ‘People’s Choice Award,’ also knowed as the US presidency. Over time the prize has gone to saxophonists, cowboy actors and even enjoyors of post-retirement Jay-Z songs, but many of the heartiest feats of achievement that shall define the 2016 contest still lie ahead.

Several miles below sea level, the deep-pocketed forces steering the skateboarding industry from an underwater base confront their own conundrum. Josh Kalis, he of the nigh-spotless twenty-plus year career, channeled the syrupy spirits of DJ Paul and Juicy J to record his own ‘Choices,’ a satirical short film that alternately bemoans and bellylaughs at the long-armed reach of international sporting equipment companies into skate shops, sweeping less powerful companies’ shoes from shelves and leaving a paucity of options for the toecap-chewing hardflipper.

It can be no coincidence that the messenger for this unhappy fable is Josh Kalis, whose reintroduction of the ‘Kalis Lite’ to a generation of Love Park-fetishizing saboteurs comes as the most important geopolitical shoe event of the year. Despite its hikey sole and lack of air bag, the ‘Lite/LTE’ is the most credible-yet throwback to the puffy shoe era*, boosted by a particularly East Coast persuasion of nostalgia arising out of #skateshoewars and Philadelphia spot paleontology. The Kalis Lites, the most vital release from DC in years, also comes as sporting apparel makers Nike and Adidas try ever so softly to nudge skaters’ sweatstained wallets further ajar, coaxing dollaridoos toward higher-tech footwears that command fatter margins and further cement the big, swinging corporation as the dominant force in skate shoedom, widening the gap between their space-age materials and those lesser peddlers of vulcanized suede.

But a good decade into this slim-shoe era, as the Janoski continues to run roughshod over besocked $150 Kostons and rivals’ new pro models retain slender, suedey templates, the tech shoe increasingly threatens to fall back into its typecast role as a periodic fad. The rubbered-out Airwalks and Etnies briefly ushered in the 90s before Jason Lee and Jim swept the table clear for a generation of grunge rockers, conscious MCs and others to wallow, before DC began slowly turning up the tech with the Boxer and the newly-reissued Syntax. The oft-maligned D3, also recently reissued, arguably represented the apex/nadir of this period, before Nike’s Dunk fanned the Luddite spark struck by Tom Penny’s Accel-boosting Menikmati part, and within a few years the Half Cab ascended to the throne. Es, which never fully relinquished its mantle of Schemes and Logics, entered the cryogenic chamber as the vulcanized sole trampled all comers.

Are the recent techy stabs a sign that the tide finally is turning away from simplicity or just further fodder to an every-ten-years-tech-shoe fad? Could a longterm tech-shoe revival help propel Quiksilver into a new glory age of booze and boardshorts? Is independent shoe company booster Josh Kalis making a bigger and broader design statement when he talks about ‘choices’? Will the fact that Oscar-winners DJ Paul and Juicy J have one up on Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin ever truly sink in with the general public?

*Which perhaps not coincidentally overlapped with the Puff Daddy era