Posts Tagged ‘Ted Barrow’

Kerry Getz, Choice Overload, And What We All Can Learn From The Horde Tour

April 7, 2019

Apologies if it’s been told before: A disc jockey, prison guard and a lumberjack walk into a vape lounge. A lounge team member looks up and says: “I know you folks. You must be coming from Human Resources Online’s list of the worst professions in 2018, ranked in terms of average salary and advancement opportunities, right?” Before they can answer, a pro skateboarder wanders in behind them; the logger nudges the CO: “Now there’s somebody who’s got it tough.”

Vent City — the excitably searching new podcast project brought forth this week by a squadron of perhaps too deeply-pondering industry outsider types — among many, many other things briefly marvels upon the paltry midlife prospects of the would-be board careerist. Panelist Ted Barrow drops his Feedback_TS zippered black-leather mask to empathize with friends and acquaintances now a decade or two invested in the skate life, with naught to show for it all beyond flow packages, good times with the hemmies and some fluctuating clout:

“There is the 28- to 34-year-old pro who’s basically finally gotten to the level they could hope to get to and… with the exception of Louie Barletta, who I think went pro pretty late and still was able to have a pretty long career and then segue into the in-house kind of stuff… it’s so gnarly because you spend so much of your life getting so good at this useless skill, and then you get a small amount of recognition, a small amount of money considering average salaries for that age, and then you’re sort of let loose into the world. It’s so brutal.” Co-podcaster Ryan Lay puts in that he didn’t earn a livable wage from skateboarding until he was 27 or 28.

Elsewise in podcast land, Habitat’s veteran flick sharpener Kerry Getz swings away at a soft pitch offered by the Bunt boys, weighing whether ’tis better to be a pro skater in these percolating and promiscuous times, or back in the late 90s/early 2000s, a known golden age in which Kerry Getz counted his personal private ownership of costly European coupes by the dozen:

“Better in the late 90s and early 2000s, guaranteed! I feel bad for some of those dudes out there that are fuckin’ so good at skateboarding and may not ever get recognized. The companies just don’t have the funding. …I don’t even know how some of these dudes even get paid to to skate, to go around and make a living doing it.”

The concept of an economic widening among the professional rankings is not new; in particular, eastern-coaster pros have aired warnings for the better part of a decade, and evidence has emerged in video parts. But now, as we gird ourselves for the looming ’20s, for the first time in history, is it better to be a ‘fan of’ skateboarding than a professional or pro-track amateaure?

In those heady summers of the late 1970s and early 1980s, pro wages escalated and dove in accordance with contest supremacy and industry largesse. But for all others, skateparks remained far between, magazines relatively few, and televised video a luxury afforded strictly to The Fall Guy, certain copyrighted muppets, and JR Ewing’s oily asset base. By the time Jake Phelps declared skateboarding ‘dead’ in the early 1990s, it had gone thoroughly underground, draping itself in flappy t-shirts and brightly colored pants that served to mark pros and ‘joes’ as near-equals in the same downtrodden outcast tribe, separated only by their boards’ successful flip totals. Later, Tony Hawk and Wet Willy and Mountain Dew developed lucrative franchises that liberally showered American currency over pro and am ranks alike for several generations, until the Great Recession forced a harsh fiscal reckoning and Internet proliferation helped fuel a long-gestating fragmentation that has scooped out skateboarding’s middle, with some casualties.

For the hardgood/content/Culture consumer, meanwhile, the great internet blow-out has opened up a bottomless cornucopia serving any and every potential niche imaginable. Underserved and underrepresented groups can link and expand without need for sponsorship or co-signs from powers that be; prehistoric, pleistocene and popsicle deck options all are freely available; a bunch of European kids can make a Barcelona-heavy video heavy on circus tricks (by the ‘Trilogy’/’Mouse’ benchmark) and make it one of the year’s top videos; the Es Scheme has returned to the public marketplace, not that anybody necessarily asked.

Inevitably, good times end, leaving behind tears and broken dishes and oftentimes expensive legal bills. On The Bunt, Kerry Getz frets over cultural gluttony: “It’s just a clusterfuck of so many skateboarders, it’s like an overload. You almost don’t know who to zone in on and focus on. And the content is ridiculous these days. Every day dudes are dropping 50-second clips, a minute clip. That used to be like a full video part for some people. These dudes are just dropping the hammer every day.”

Kerry Getz, whom video footage previously has shown to be sensitive to stress, may represent an early indicator of what researchers have identified as ‘choice overload’ — pressure from having to choose among a steadily broadening set of options. Northwestern University researchers have found persuasive evidence of such stressors afflicting the U.S. consumer class, which can leave unprepared spenders feeling dissatisfied with their ultimate choices, fearful to choose in the first place, or refusing to make any decision at all.

Perhaps the most historic and extreme example showing the possible downside of such choice overload is that of Ghengis Khan, well-known leader of the Mongol horde, rugged individualist, and eventual emperor over most of modern-day Asia and Europe. Ghengis Khan, perhaps more so than any other empire-builder, contemplated a near-global range of options when mulling that central question: What to have for lunch to-day? At its peak, the Mongol empire touched cuisine options ranging from Korean BBQ and Russian borscht to lo mein noodles and various forms of goulash. And yet, according to ‘The Secret History of the Mongols,’ the great and terrible khan’s death came while, apparently unsatisfied with any of these myriad possibilities, he went hunting.

Can the untimely death of Ghenghis Khan some 800 years ago teach skateboarders important lessons about using and abusing Instagram and streaming video before it’s ‘too late’? Is Sour’s release of a second bananas video only about six weeks after their last one a ‘bridge too far’ or merely an outtakes-fueled flex? Did you know you can again buy clay wheels? Is everybody gonna die?

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

November 19, 2017

In the 1990s, when skateboarding grew old enough to cadge cigarettes and thrill to petty crime, power derived from personal networks. Such networks were built of blood and bodily tissue, pulsating to the sounds of East Coast rap tapes, testing slang proficiencies and stiff-arming those deemed not ‘with it’ enough to merit tribal admittance. Over time, as these fleshsome blobs ingested hard currency and heaved themselves into shapes resembling semi-functional business apparatuses, they drew the eye of larger, more heavily weaponed entities, and they fought one another for pride of place and insubstantial dollar figures. All the while, their squishy amoebic forms stiffened and sparked, hardening into circuits and coagulating around wifi hot spots.

It’s a story learned by many at a young age, laying down to sleep upon straw piles and inside comfortable caves with natural stalagmite transitions. But power these days is welded to influence, a sword toted only by a certain few — those who earn it through questing, and those bloodthirsty and wily enough to acquire it by force. And, it is always sharp.

Nowadays, ‘moments’ flit by more fleetingly than ever. In our current one, the largest and most fearsome blade of influence is wielded by the Ted Barrow-curated Instagram account ‘Feedback_TS.’ The outlet punches far above its 5,700-follower weight, drawing into its orbit street-skating GOATS who yearn to be down, style magnet pros fresh off this year’s front-running full-length, and countless droves of aspirant comer-uppers lured by those juicy twin carrots, momentary fame and internet validation.

@Feedback_TS is more than a despotic judge, jury and executioner baptized in ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Mouse’ trick selections with a firm grip on format and presentation. Ted Barrow is not a pro, notwithstanding a memorable part in 2005’s ‘Lurkers 2’ alongside Jason Dill and Charles Lamb. He doesn’t get money from the skate industry. Harsh judgement and unvarnished opinion sometimes are served up, but no meanness or bitterness. Similar to the largely self-directed Slap board thralls, to skatepark heroes and strivers and the occasional professional, it is told like it is. To an extent, @Feedback_TS embodies the info-age singularity that has turned the skate biz inside-out, as the internet provides the world’s double-set early grabbers a platform on par with annointed worthies such as switch backside co-practitioner Miles Silvas and loveable oldster Jeff Gosso. Here lie isolated meadows and abandoned box canyons for creatures such as Revive and New Jersey bodybuilding manual regulator Weckingball to mutate and thrive, independent of the well-worn cart tracks, gladhanding and favored bazaars of the established skateboard business. In this turbulent realm, retired blog proprietors function on the same level as Eric Koston.

Is the right analogue to @Feedback_TS that of a wizened older brother, or maybe more accurately that worldly, well-meaning but unapologetically subversive older neighbor who probably smokes drugs and for sure operates beyond the bounds of the established family hierarchy? Between Ted Barrow and the resurgent Brian Wenning, have we entered a head-spinning and somewhat demoralizing era where switch backside smith grind shove-its rank as ‘old guy tricks’? Does the growing influence amassed by this instagram account raise concerns that it has become systemically important, with any deletion or protracted absence leaving impressionable kids adrift and guardrail-less, while parents, significant others and non-skating ass roommates wonder what happened to the deadpan voice dispensing trick terminology and occasional bursts of art history from behind the bathroom door whilst the fan is going?

“Fuckin’ monster”

August 6, 2008


photo via teamjaded.com

If it hasn’t already been posted a billion times elsewhere, last week Ted Barrow put up a really cool interview about the Brooklyn Banks with Rodney Torres, Rob Campbell, Louie-Louie, Ray Wong, and German Nieves.

RODNEY: Oh yeah, the banks contest. When was that, 93? When Kyle got a skate key to his head by Mario. Alright, Mario is still around today, and so is Kyle but, Mario is still around in skateboarding. He’s helping Vinnie Raffa put together skate videos now. Back in the day, I don’t know, they had some beef or something. There was a big contest, like all the top pros at that time were at that event, it might have been in a 411, but anyway. Mario and Kyle just didn’t like eachother, for whatever reason, and they saw eachother at the banks contest…from the story I remember is Kyle tried to rob Mario, tried to steal his chain, and they started fistfighting. Mario hit him with a skate key. The fork of the skate key, in the back of his head.
ROB: he hit him a few times
RODNEY: in the back of his head!
ROB: Busted his shit open…
RODNEY: Busted his shit open.

Rating the E-beefs

May 27, 2008


Hit ’em up

I thought about posting something with Brian Patch getting arrested for sexually congressing a 15-year-old (girl) but the general reaction among the skateboard sphere has been “dude have you SEEN 15-year-old girls lately?! OMG” so I’ll take a pass, unless it turns into a hilarious circus similiar to the current R Kelly trial. Which we all hope that it will.

Instead let us turn to the blog-o-sphere itself, which has been more entertaining than usual lately, what with the willingness of pros and other industry types to air one another out. Since most of these people still have a dog in the skateboard fight, a lot of the shots are pretty passive-aggressive, making the whole thing even more high-schoolish than the industry usually is… and not nearly as entertaining as the bridge-burning tirades posted by the likes of Kris Markovich and Henry Sanchez. But we’ll make do.

Rather than running down the fascinating minutia of each dust-up, which everybody probably knows already, I’ll summarize and pass judgment upon each battle, as is my wont, and employ the hard-won experience gained in my 15 years of internet usage… all the way back to impersonating John Fogarty in Prodigy chatrooms.

Clyde Singleton v. Jamie Thomas

Recap: So our old friend Clyde, who seems to take great pleasure in letting everyone know he’s no longer a pro skateboarder, has come out as a Sheckler apologist, joining the rarified ranks of Danny Way, Rob Dyrdek and, uh, Sheckler’s parents. Separately, Jamie Thomas took it upon himself to explain to Danny Way his perception of the whole “Sheckler Is Ruining Skateboarding” school of thought, a conversation that Danny Way apparently related to Sheckler, who no doubt spent several days contemplating this in solitude before placing Jamie Thomas into the “haters” camp, and letting the world know in the Skateboard Mag. For what it’s worth, Sheckler has insinuated that Thomas is boring in earlier interviews.

Anyway. Clyde gets hate mail for coming out in defense of Sheckler. (I personally interpret Clyde’s thumbs-up as general approval for anyone who’s young, good at skating, raking in money and rolling in chicks, as opposed to a thoroughly researched view on Sheckler’s video parts and MTV persona.) Clyde responds to Sheckler haters on his blog, naming Thomas amongst their kind and taking thinly veiled shots at the Zero chieftan for the usual handrail fetish, playing dress up with riders, and issuing trick lists. Thomas, a new inductee to the hallowed church of internet discourse, responds; much back-pedaling and over-explanation by Clyde ensues.

Powers of reasoning: Clyde’s TWS “15 Reasons You Hate Ryan Sheckler” would have come off half-baked even in an environment not already permeated with “Sheckler vs. Haters” coverage, but I think I get his angle, maybe. Jamie Thomas, the injured/misquoted party here, is pretty civil calling Clyde out for getting the story wrong and keeps it classy, though it’s a little bit scary that he’s right there with the second comment after Clyde’s post went up. Clyde may have a point re: the tight rein Jamie Thomas keeps when it comes to his image, but it’s lost amid all the “you got me wrong fam.” Edge: Jamie Thomas

Internet savvy: Clyde started a blog, but any idiot can. Jamie Thomas withstood the trials of the Slap board and his screen name survived to tell the tale, with a positive rep even. Clyde claims he doesn’t read the comments on his own site. Yeah, sure. Edge: Jamie Thomas

Career: This is a tough one. Jamie Thomas changed the game with Welcome to Hell, etc etc, but Clyde came up in the World camp and rode with Sal through Aesthetics. JT did the leap of faith but Clyde fakie b/s tailslid Hubba Hideout. So it’s close. Draw

Dollars: What it all comes down to, right? Edge: Jamie Thomas (obviously)

What animals they would be: Jamie Thomas has employed lions and eagles in the past but I see him as more of a horse. Clyde would maybe be a hyena. Edge: Clyde Singleton

Winner: Jamie Thomas

Dave Carnie v. Bob Burnquist

Recap: This has been a long-simmering one, with Carnie being one of the few to openly call out Bob Burnquist for watching Jake Brown’s legendary slam at the X-games, playing up the drama and gravity of the situation prior to his last run and then winning a contest that would have otherwise gone to the fallen Brown. Carnie, for better or worse, tends not to hold his tongue on shit, and his take on the whole Jake Brown thing voiced a lot of people’s dissatisfaction with Bob for his general tendency to not keep it real at all.

Powers of reasoning: Bob rightly called out Carnie on not contacting him for his side of the story, although Bob’s side of the story was already told in numerous articles on the Jake Brown slam. Carnie agreed with Bob, admitted he was wrong, and big-upped Bob for handling his shit in an adult manner. Maybe, but Bob did wait until Carnie called him to skate his ramp to finally broach the issue… Edge: Bob Burnquist

Internet savvy: Dave Carnie has a blog, which he acknowledged should probably be afforded higher journalistic standards than ‘write whatever the fuck I feel.’ Bob Burnquist is a vegan hippie who grows his own vegetables. Edge: Dave Carnie

Career: I don’t know how to go about comparing the career of an X-Games champ to one of the handful of skateboard magazine writers who isn’t also a photographer. Dave Carnie probably has more street cred, and we all know how far that goes. Edge: Bob Burnquist

Dollars: Bob hasn’t let his hippiefied leanings stand in the way of carving 100-foot-tall ramps into the sides of mountains, or grinding giant handrails that drop off into the Grand Canyon. Does he also own a helicopter? I can’t remember. Edge: Bob Burnquist

What animals would they be: Dave Carnie is often associated with cats, but despite his fluffy beard and happy-go-lucky approach to life, his analytical nature and self-destructive tendencies bely a deeper anger and perhaps some bitterness too. So maybe an elephant seal. Bob I would maybe say is a falcon. Formidable, but also kind of a priss. Edge: Dave Carnie

Winner: Dave Carnie… because he’s able to admit when he’s wrong, and because I think he was basically right about the Bob/Jake situation.

Ted Barrow v. Ryan Sheckler

Recap: Kind of a one-sided beef here, but with Barrow dedicating a lengthy blog post to the Sheckler issue and drawing parallels to the assholish nature of a young Danny Way, someone with Sheckler’s black-and-white worldview could promptly file Barrow into the haters category.

Powers of reasoning: Barrow acknowledges Sheckler’s argument, which is that Way was a child prodigy pro way back when, and he’s respected now, so you haters, you shut up. But Barrow points out that Danny Way, asshole that he may have been as a kid, came up through the usual channels of the day–contests, videos and photos–where he was judged on his skating first and foremost, whereas Sheckler is being savaged in the court of public opinion for his life of cryin’, rather than his skate tricks.

I don’t think Barrow takes this far enough though. By all means, let’s evaluate Sheckler on the basis of his skating alone—what’s he got? Big kickflips, backside flips, some stock handrail tricks and a tuck-knee air that got played out a couple years ago. I think it’s the opposite—Sheckler is in the spot he’s in because of his personality, not his skating. And though they may be brothers in youthful assholedom, Sheckler or anyone else equating his skill to a young Danny Way—the kid who almost landed the 900 a good eight or nine years before Tony Hawk—is way off. Anyway. Edge: Barrow

Career: Sheckler has an MTV show about himself. Here’s Ted Barrow’s part in Lurkers 2. He can do switch b/s smith grinds on ledges. Edge: Barrow

Dollars: Sheckler makes that Mountain Dew money. Barrow seems like the starving artist type, although I guess he could be a secret trust fund case, like a certain videographer might be. Edge: Sheckler

What animals they would be: Barrow would be a barn owl, of modest means, but maybe a little bit pretentious, and he eats mice. Sheckler would be a Pomeranian. Edge: Barrow

Winner: Ted Barrow, in a walk.