Posts Tagged ‘The End’

Save The Last Dance: Rough Cuts, Tony Hawk, And The End

April 3, 2021

For all of the sporting goods conglomerates and beverage merchants’ noble efforts toward social network policing, considered product placement and synergetic collabos with anointed undergrounders, freewheeling inventiveness and excruciating self discovery inherent to street skating lives on in the photograph, the video part, and perhaps soon in speculatively priced NFTs. The televised free-thrower or would-be home run swatter has been broadcast hundreds, thousands of times taking his or her shot; even Dill-acknowledged ice skaters have drilled their routines for weeks, years. Free from editorial hanky panky or daydreaming filmers, what you see in the still-going print mags and steady churn of video drops almost always represents the first time a given person has ever landed the trick or line in question, and even as the content drifts deepen, ABDs remain frowned upon, to the point that a talent so diamond-rare as Louie Lopez had his ollie into a slick NY bannister immediately asterisked as previously tamed by Cons colleague Jake Johnson, in the Mindfield DVD bonus materials no less.

The homies jumping up and screaming and mobbing after the trick’s been landed is such a timeworn trope now that the reason they’re fired up is assumed to be ingrained — he or she’s never done it before, the bros have never seen them do it it before, and if it’s your first time watching, you haven’t either. It’s been so since way back too, from the 1980s when capturing just-birthed tricks still awkward and wobbly helped push out the boundaries of what was possible and imaginable, to chases for the first version landed on film, to the pros themselves momentarily transported back to their first ollie on that long-ago sidewalk out front: Harold Hunter, happily shocked in ‘Mixtape’ — “never landed that trick in my life!” Geoff Rowley’s euphoric post-Clipper pushing and flatgrounding in ‘Really Sorry,’ the father to so many turning lane backside bigspins spun after bumps-to-bars.

All this is part of the engrossing spell cast by the rough cut/raw files vids rolled out in recent years, to feed forever-scrollers and reheat the steadily eroding shelf life of the IG-age video part. Mason Silva’s Spitfire part footage posted up a few weeks back is the case in point. Between soundtrackless clips of absurdly hard tricks seemingly cracked out in one or two gos, you wade into battle with him, your breath catching as each roll up ratchets the stakes higher. Toward the end when he’s tangling with the drop-down boardslide, he somehow over and over steps off, snaps his board and then the inevitable, not only sacking but pitched six feet to his shoulder. You watch him get up, suffer, trudge to the top and start in again, til he lands it — first time he’s ever done this — rides across the street, halfheartedly pops up the curb, lays down, pulls his shirt over his face… he sits up, daps the bros and grins, but then is keeling over again to the concrete and smiling and more than anything, relieved. You’re relieved too, but energized and inspired and you wonder — what will he try next?

Tony Hawk, owner of numerous firsts over the course of history’s most illustrious pro career, has in the last few months been documenting the opposite: the process of saying goodbye to tricks, doing them not for the first time, but the last. Now 52, solidly in what human biologists have identified as the ‘grandpa zone,’ Tony Hawk has been vocal about how his hollow bird bones don’t have many 900s in them anymore, and he seems to be methodically whittling away the list of what he’s willing or physically able to do, documenting some of these last dances for charity purposes and, one assumes, for personal posterity.

There’s a much different tone to these battles than those of Mason Silva or other still-ascendant talents. The stakes seem both lower — having twice put the Bagel Bites brand up on his back, Tony Hawk has little left to prove to anybody — and heavier, with every flatbottom slam carrying a premium for each year past 30. He means to do these tricks on his own terms, with no filming deadline or contest purse up for grabs, but he does have something on the line. If he doesn’t, can’t land these tricks, then maybe his last go-round with them is already in the rearview mirror, and that much more of his abundant ability already ebbed?

A couple months ago Tony Hawk posted up what he said would likely be his last 720, with rickety joints and dwindling appetite for pain already having placed them further out of reach. After repeatedly flinging away his board and queasily folding one leg underneath him on one slam, he of course nails one, some 35 years after doing the first ever. He hops up onto the opposite platform and hurls down his board in ‘The End’ fashion, pumps his fists and throws his helmet, sliding down the transition to throaty yells all around. It’s a triumph; he’s still got it.

Several weeks later Tony Hawk went for one more go-round with the ollie 540, another one he pioneered when he had youth’s faster feet and quicker bounceback on his side. This time he spins and spins, the board always slipping away, until he cranks one around as clean as you could possibly want. He scratches the opposite coping, kicks away his board and drops to his knees, covering his face — laughing, or sobbing — wiping at his eyes. “Definitely the last one I’ll ever do.”

Watching Tony Hawk take out some of the moves that made him for one last spin, do you feel hyped, melancholy, old, or some confusing and indigestion-courting combo of all three? Even as Tony Hawk puts away one by one his above-coping contest pyrotechnics, does a broader universe of grinds and slides await him, suggested by what he called his first switch Bennett grind the other day? For old dudes tuned to Mackenzie Eisenhour’s IG account, is his recent string of post-40 breakthroughs on everything from kickflip backside tailslides to backside smith grinds to backside noseblunts on transition inspiring or just confounding?

FUBU or BUFU? A Podcast Indictment of Skate Shoe Companies and the Dark Age Few Speak of

March 6, 2017

duffsdog

History is written by the winners, each new generation a fresh lump of clay for the victorious potter’s hands to mold into his own graven image, funny animal shapes or mixed metaphors of one’s own choosing. In skateboarding in 2017 the winners are clear and have been for some time — the heavyweight sporting goods manufacturers, whose near-mindless devotion to quality, largess showered upon long-suffering professional athletes and resolute stewardship of investor dollars grows with each telling. Around ritual bonfires, their names and the names of their boardroom directors are exalted unto the spirit world.

Sometimes, people forget. Truth bombs are deployed — Nine Club Ipod-cast co-host Roger Bagley lit one such fuse during last week’s newsmaking Marc Johnson interview, which turned, as it must, toward the claustrophobic pachyderm that had eluded the rest of the skate media world for the preceding nine months, Marc Johnson’s messy break-up with the Crailtap camp amid his move from Lakai to Adidas. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” Roger Bagley said. “Skateboard shoe companies make shitty shoes. Nike, Adidas, Converse make really great shoes. People got tired of buying shitty shoes and decided to start buying really good shoes. Their business started hurting.”

He elaborated on Instagram: the_breadcrumb_trail@thattomcox I never called them out…and they know what I meant by the comment. They make good shoes and they try their best to make the best possible shoes they can for a good price, but the majority of brands out there make garbage. Everyone wants to stay “core” …but, when it comes to spending $75 on a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable on your feet versus spending that money on something that feels amazing…I know where I’m spending my money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing @esskateboarding right now…but, the fact is “core” brands can’t produce a shoe at the same quality as these corporations….and the sad fact is people aren’t buying “core” skate shoes at the shops like they used to…and people can blame it on the corporations ability to market the shit out their products to the masses…but, when it comes down to it they just make a better product and “core” brands can’t compete

Skateboarders for many years nursed a guilt complex over purchasing shoes and other products from international shoe merchandisers, which had spent decades of years and millions of dollars building up the athletes, major-league sport organizations and associated fanbases that many picked up a skateboard to avoid in the first place. Whereas various tennis shoes and basketball sneakers got put to griptape out of necessity in the early days, most of these eventually were cast aside in favor of skateboard industry-birthed footwear concerns that promised flatness of sole, adherence to rapidly shifting fashions and a pureness of heart that could never be matched by corporate mega-cobblers’ social responsibility covenants.

But was it all FUBU or BUFU? Duffs shoes, out of the World Industries empire that was, did little to hide the human, environmental and moral toll exacted by Cobnobblers and Strombolis. The cultural crimes of the D3 often are mentioned, but less discussed are funny-sounding enablers such as the Oarb. As skateboarding collectively rejoiced in Tony Hawk’s 900 spin achievement, the validation that only can come from a blockbuster video game franchise, and all of the ensuing merchandise sales, did the irrational exuberance only serve to throw a garish, overpriced and low-quality shoe-shaped blanket over a truly horrific era, before the global shoe makers deigned to begin supplying skateboarding in earnest starting around 2003?

One marvels to think about what could have been possible had bulge bracket footwear companies been wholeheartedly embraced instead of rejected. Properly shod, Jamie Thomas, for instance, perhaps could have landed the Leap of Faith. Or, Bob Burnquist might have landed those couple Transworld covers. If Marc Johnson hadn’t waited until 2016 to move to Adidas, could his ‘Fully Flared’ part have been 26 minutes long? Backed by corporate shoe money, could ‘The End’ have offered more realistic pyrotechnics? If DGK had clung to the Reebok deal, could ‘Parental Advisory’ have offered a Jay-Z cameo instead of Beanie Siegel?

Should skate shoe companies just give up already and thank Nike and Adidas for letting them do business as long as they have? Will the late 1980s through the early 2000s in future decades be regarded as a dark age, or will technology eventually provide a way to retroactively apply VX-quality swooshes and stripes and circular stars to lesser shoes, as a form of atonement? Does VF Corp.’s Vans count as a skate shoe company or the other kind?