Posts Tagged ‘Thrasher’

Running Mates

November 6, 2016

zaphod

The key to unlocking value in any low-margin business is to maximize efficiency. This is the core truth of commerce and business underpinning a meritocracy in which the fastest copy machine is showered with honorariums and shiny treasure, where specialized mining equipment sniffs and scrapes out rare earth minerals and makes rich men of those who once swung picks, where clean factories churn out safe, packaged meal pills to cheaply feed a growing world labor base and quell any angry strife that could negatively impact production schedules.

Fragmentation and heightened competition from both nimble upstarts and well-heeled corporate gargantuates has similarly trampled profit margins in the skate biz with a trampling motion similar to that of an interplanetary trampling elephant. All around, there is a great diminishing, or distilling, depending where you sit: magazines skimpier, as photos, interviews and footage stream daily off mobile-optimized cloud platforms; years-in-the-making videos winnowed down to one-off web parts and Instagram snippets that ebb and flow on tidal transfer speeds; pro model shoes reserved for an anointed few, while the rest pick out seasonal color schemes.

In a fractured age is the team roster next for culling? The sprawling headcounts still collected by the Baker Boys, Crailtap and FuckingAwesome/Hockey contingents argue otherwise. But increasingly difficult-to-capture attention spans have sent up signals that tag teams, rather than baseball diamond or football field-ready lineups, are better suited for plattering more-meaty video offerings relative to the drip-drop of individual internet parts. Bear witness, would you, to the Bobby Worrest/Hjalte Halberg “Looks OK to Me” double feature that sort of awesomely and ominously asserts itself as the stoke-per-second leader in video releases this year at a svelte 9:46 minutes.

These brothers in Swooshdom maybe aren’t an immediately intuitive matchup, per se. But rattle through enough immactulate back-to-back ledge/flatground combos that, when drizzled out over enough countries’ spots, consistently hollering and clapping for one another, and associated homeboys collected along the way (Reese Forbes – fantastic), and it clicks in the spirit of Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen, Brian Wenning and Anthony Pappalardo, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard. Hjalte Halberg’s pop shove it frontside crooked grind line and Bobby Worrest’s line at New York’s three-up/three-down are among tons of highlights, along with the grate tricks and the entire Pulaski park section.

As two-dude videos come back into vogue, could a two-man team that is cheap to send on the road, less prone to complex beefing factions and capable of filming one another become the ultimate in independent contractor efficiency? Has the cozy relationship between Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad made the time right for Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik to rekindle their partnership? Is Bobby Worrest’s fakie flip and switch shove-it landing in time with the snare hit a quiet nod to Rob Pluhowski’s often overlooked and downbeat-friendly Element part and/or a sign that videos could revive the days when wheel impacts comfortably coexisted with metronomes?

Who The Best Season Has Returned As Boil A Ocean Website Looks At The 2016 SOTY Campaign

October 23, 2016

With this year’s 2016 US presidential race increasingly lopsided in the polls and exhibiting a deficit of true drama, political junkies hereby are forced to fixate upon the ever-frothier chase for Thrasher’s exalted Skater of the Year award, its trophy called “Rusty” and associated sacks of money and bragging rights. A genuine belt-straining tightness exists in this year’s campaign as associated runners and riders go blow-for-blow in high-def video clips and in the comparatively antiquated medium of physical magazine cover shots, all of it inuring to Joe Kickflip’s general awe and stoke. Here’s who it seems like may be potentially in possible contention:

Justin Figueroa: Emerica’s latest green-tinted salve to the Instagram throwaway clip-added mind may go down as the most handrail-light of its full-length catalogue since ‘Yellow,’ though Justin Figueroa’s section nearly single-handedly tips back the scales. This dude’s seemingly catastrophic injuries, like the intro stair-light removal, don’t seem much to dampen an altered beast appetite for massive switch 50-50s and Ellington spins, both ways; the dirt-gap switch flip is a thing of beauty and the death-drop k-grind grab landed him back on Thrasher’s cover. You could and this web blog page might make an argument that Justin Figueroa should’ve got it in 2012 off the strength of his Shake Junt/Skate Rock/Bake-and-Destroy tech-gnar build, but everybody makes mistakes.

Daan Van der Linden: In any other year a ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate, yung Van der Linden in the past 12-month period has emerged straight out the dungeons of the freshly splintered Euro zone to join the Anti-Hero roster, secure his own Thrasher cover, and blow doors in Volcom’s drone-a-riffic ‘Holy Stokes’ before hitting the road for the summer to cheat lethal handrail configurations, delight Jake Phelps and turn pro at a velocity only recently matched by Chris Joslin. It doesn’t seem beyond reality’s borders for Daan Van der Linden to crank out one more video part before the year’s up and put another bronzed and becapped humanoid on top of Julien Stranger’s toilet tank.

Evan Smith: A starry-eyed dreamer who rattles some of the industry’s loosest trucks and already has recorded a couple video sections this year, including a powerful and logical argument for 2016’s best 360 flip and a VX shop video part featuring cutty spots and a significant blizzard flip. This all was in between doing Dime’s ‘Glory Challenge’ high bar one better by diversifying away from the recommended boardslides and capturing two Thrasher covers — the most recent of which is the type of dreams-and-nightmares material normally reserved for EA Skate fantasies or maybe Jake Johnson.

Kyle Walker: Oklahoma’s Realist has been in the proverbial van what seems like all year, 180ing his giant gaps and 50-50ing his giant rails in ‘Holy Stokes,’ canoodling with the Vans breakfast mascot in a pro-shoe nod clip and later frontside bluntsliding one of the largest handrails evar alongside his Real teammates. He’s supposed to have another soon-to-arrive Thrasher exhibition. Even if Kyle Walker does not receive the Thrasher award, his retirement fund could benefit from retroactive Oklahoma Thunder photo incentive.

Jerry Hsu: San Jose’s knock-kneed switch hardflip bishop staged a massive comeback with a thinking-man’s answer to his recognized-classic ‘Bag of Suck’ opus, newly contorting himself onto sensibly sized handrails and immersing himself in Los Angelean schoolyards — the nollie backside 180 nosegrind revert boosted the increasingly hard-to-shift bar concerning midget picnic table tricks and the frontside noseslide nollie backside heelflip out early on in the ‘Made’ part served the triple purpose of providing advance notice of the heaviness to come, a certain audaciousness that didn’t require it for one of the closing clips, and generally putting respect on Jerry Hsu’s name, which interestingly* would rank up there with the shortest among history’s SOTY winners. The Thrasher brain trust, which already assigned him a cover this year, recognizes both Jerry Hsu’s decades invested in the skateboard game and dues paid via busted endoskeleton components and hospital bills, and he seems to have the belly fire and current soundness of body to compose a valid SOTY interview feature should occasion demand.

Tiago Lemos: A Brazilian on a multi-year tear that seems to gather momentum with every law of physics and gravitational dignity snubbed, Tiago Lamos is in the proverbial ‘window’ ability-wise — he possesses the raw technique to keep the J-Kwon gap to ledge fresh into a third decade (the switch bigspin backside tailslide via the scorching Thrasher part), the power to push uphill in lines (and nollie heelflip a trash can off a bump at the end) and the 90s-ness to lead the improbable switch mongo revival. With co-signs from the streets and the corporate boardroom, if there is any Brazilian to break the country’s near 20-year drought in Skater of the Year honors, this is the dude.

Dennis Busenitz: Perennial bridesmaid to the Flexfitted statue’s prior-year matrimonies, you could argue that Dennis Busenitz’ odds this year are as fair or far as any prior go-round where he’s been passed over — the last section in one of the year’s blockbuster vids, soundtracked to a Snoop Doggy Dogg song that’s been begging for the skate video treatment for decades; he also threw a curveball of a Thrasher cover and factored into the Volcom video. It is difficult to tell whether the haymaker-taking Jake Phelps perversely relishes overlooking a beloved and influential and long-laboring bro who otherwise seems to check all of your typical Thrasher boxes, but the plethora of gnarly fourth-quarter parts for better or worse make Dennis Busenitz seem again like a long shot.

*or not

Ain’t No Goddamn Son of a Bitch

September 3, 2016

daan

Is there anything sadder than a paint-caked curb lashed down with skatestoppers? If you answered ‘the state of the skate biz in 2016’ you may award yourself 40 weblogging points and accept this Internet page’s personal thumbs-up. Fear and sorrow ride high in the saddle as the year grows bristly hairs upon its chin and makes layaway payments on an adjustable bed. DC Shoes, owned by decreasingly bankrupt surfboard concern Quiksilver, has parted ways with time-travel machine owner Rob Dyrdek. Famous cocaine salesman Rick Ross not only has become the latest tattoo parlour client to fly the Kayo coop, but he is suing his former Dirty Ghetto business partners to the tune of 80 large. The Selfish Skateboards web page has gone a year without updating.

If there are islands of stability to be charted amid these stormish seas of action sporting commerce, and are not already amongst the eternally sunlit empires of the swoosh and the triple-stripe, they lie somewhere near those ungently gentrifying environs of the Yay Area, emblazoned with eagles and explosively shitting pigeons. Anti-Hero’s devotion to the ATV discipline, affinity for picking SOTYs and uncanny ability to ride trending waves from trucker hats to windbreakers and custom totables not only has sold boatloads of boards and clothing items, it’s inspired a sister tribe of sock-making disciples and inspired fawning collabs from SoCal schoolyardsters Crailtap and the logo t-shirt millionaires at Supreme who, a dozen years back, may have furrowed their brows at the one eight’s scuffed shoes and beer-dampened sleeping bags sooner than toast them with a wizard staff.

How to wield such ultimate power? Amateur ankles and knees represent a money pit forever fillable with t-shirt and deck revenues. Anti-Hero admirably has steered clear of any power-drunk signing spree similar to those that vaulted Es shoes and Plan B to dizzying heights from which their teams could only wobble and/or slam, alternating hires of top-drawer properties such as Grant Taylor and Chris Pfanner with heartwarming acquisitions of aged criminals such as Jeff Grosso and Andy Roy. But the resident alien-steered eagle this year made its most bald-faced power move to date by not only scooping Dutch M-80 Daan Van Der Linden, whose 0-to-100 tear this year has slingshot him from a Euro-scene ‘Say My Name, Say My Name’ T-Eddy candidate to presumptive Skater of the Year nominee with a professional board. The debate isn’t so much whether the nod is deserved but what else he could possibly have done to justify the advanced timeline, which seems even to have surpassed Chris Joslin’s rapid flow-to-pro launch.

Blinkered victims of too many misspent hours mired in idle skateshop-counter arguments may also ask what it means that in 2016 Anti-Hero is the de-facto landing pad for a Van Der Linden. Whereas his mindbending pointer grind revert on that curvy over-vert thing in the Volcom vid and steady hand on the coping would hang in any Anti-Hero video, his handrail frontside feebles and noseslide nollie heelflips out suggest that 15 or even 10 years ago he’d more likely have been nabbed by Flip or Girl or Zero or Cliche as some late entrant capable of filling out a surprise intro for a yearslong video project.

As style battery Brian Anderson seems on the verge of signing up and unattached, button-up personas as seemingly distant from the beers-and-bowls universe as Walker Ryan ride the boards, is Anti-Hero in danger of flying too close to the proverbial sun? In retrospect was ‘Beauty and the Beast’ less a meeting of So-to-NorCal minds and more the passing of some cosmic baton? Between the Volcom parts, the Bru-Ray clips, the Thrasher cover and the wallride, is SOTY 2016 Daan Van Der Linden’s to lose? Did Rick Ross launch the most successful music career from a prison since Johnny Cash?

The Ball or the Sword

February 7, 2016

zorro

Was there a time when persons skated without bubblegoosed lenses trained upon them and atmospheric detail duly noted for later transcription or verbal tapestry-weaving when the mood lighting strikes? If you answered “hrm the 70s?” you may legally change your name to Burl Ives and open a blimp repair business in the tax-free domicile of your choice; all others must submit to pondering how the 00s’ era of history-unearthing and nostalgia-shampooing, from ‘On’ to ‘Epicly Later’d’, may now have given way to real-time mythmaking and neatly boxing up the memories and labeling them with straight and Sharpied capital letters.

Thrasher, which in 2016 enjoys the singular luxury of having probably not just every sphere-jolting trick pass their desks prior to public consumption, but also being looped into advance plotting, wisely made an event of Aaron Homoki’s jousts with and eventual slaying of the Lyon wyrm that Ali Boulala, Europe’s switch-kickflipping PD rogue, had fenced to a draw in the ‘Sorry’ days. Recognizing both the additional weight any Boulala-linked adventure would derive from his rather crushing ‘Later’d’ entry and chessboxing various message-board-borne critiques of spot ownership, Michael Burnett & co brought Ali Boulala aboard to lend technical ‘expertise’ alongside a phalanx of documenteers dripping with cameras, presumptive champagne bottles for popping and at least one dad*.

Ali Boulala’s in-person blessing, the attendant media scrum and days of stomach-knotting uncertainty made Jaws’ wrestle with the Lyon 25, which by now has been imbued with way too much weight to just close off some future video part, perhaps the fullest and frothiest example of real-time mythmaking in action, notwithstanding corporate-bannered Evel Knievel event tricks that may or may not require the approval stamps of Communist Party officials or purpose-built structures. As Love Park again circles the tubes, likely sparking plans for further, hour-plus documentaries**, here was the supernaturally ligamented Aaron Homoki jumping this big bunch of stairs, his couple seconds of hangtime stretched across magazine pages and digital video files via security-guard entanglements, celebrity pro cameos, body armour, familial love and a whiff of history and tragedy to spice the triumph and Jaws’ tears of joy.

The well-planned battle in Lyon comes at a time when skating seems increasingly fixated on capturing and preserving its wild old days as the quest to recapture lost market share and sock away retirement funds requires adopting a more scrubbed, professional and/or mercenary stance. Books drawing upon the misadventures of Scott Bourne, Lennie Kirk and now the hallowed Big Brother magazine in various ways strive to capture in permanent print those halcyon days of molotov cocktails, ill-advised trysts and penis pump reviews before they collapse into the great internet memory hole and premium priced Ebay collector packs.

As multinational beverage and sportswear suppliers up the number of racks available to coming generations and social media empire-building draws the wandering eye of TMZ, it is fair to wonder whether collective laces inevitably and regretably must become straighter, for all involved. Jenkem, who has taken up the Big Brother interview format mantle as convincingly as any current media, got in a good one with still-reliable quote mine Corey Duffel, a living and leather-clad link to Big Brother’s no kids-gloved past, who reminds that for the time being some moat remains between skating and major-league sports as long as pros are willing and able to hold forth on their dealings with grave-robbing furniture dealers:

So I buy the Craigslist bathtub and bring it inside the house, and my old lady is like, I don’t know how I feel about this tub, I’m getting weird vibes from it, that place it came from was so fucked up. Well that night, the first night with the tub in the house, a big mirror in the back of the house just came crashing down, no earthquake or wind or anything. Something else happened, like the TV flickered, something strange, and Rachel was like, “It’s the fucking tub.” So she suggested going to the hippie store to get sage – sage is suppose to get rid of evil spirits and we’re kind of hippies like that – so we’re saging around and I shrug it off like whatever.

Then a couple of months later Bobby Worrest comes over and goes like, “Oh, that’s the tub! I met that guy Tom, Tom is fucking insane!” I was like, yeah, he’s a fucking crazy but a really cool guy. Then he goes, “What a trip, someone committed suicide in that tub.” I’m like, what?! And Bobby tells me Tom told him someone offed themselves in that tub. It was funny to find out 6 months later. Now the bathtub sits outside next to the flowers.

Elsewhere, would-be Olympian Chris Cole sits for an interview with Rolling Stone, which appears in one of its sporadic periods of interest in extreme pro lifestyles, offering a glimpse of potential Q&As to come in some future age where contest politicking and milestone trick trophies must be rattled through on behalf of those greenhorn readers who need guidance through the subject-matter minefields of ‘who’s this person’ and ‘why do I care.’ It’s a relatively staid account til the end, when in a possible fit of cultural catharsis things veer abruptly toward a liquor-soaked Russian bar fight:

The next time we saw Ian, he was up on a stage, dumping his beer over some guy’s head, and in an instant, dudes were fighting all over the bar ­– tackles, punches, chokeholds. I was on the ground smashing this dude’s face in, and I look up and saw Ian getting choked by one dude while he was punching two separate dudes and being punched in the face by a chick.

If future pros fistfight Russian bouncers but never speak of it publicly out of an abundance of professional caution, do the busted teeth and cracked eye sockets make any sound? Wasn’t Chris Cole straightedge at one point or is this another phantom memory like Henry Sanchez’s Aesthetics pro model? Has Jaws scouted out the Leap of Faith elevator structure for a future wallie cover? In states where suicide was historically considered a crime would Bobby Worrest be considered to have snitched on the ghost that lives in Corey Duffel’s secondhand bathtub? And if he did, would the fact that the bathtub now is used as a planter by definition make it dry snitching?

*Unclear whether dad pants were obligatory or only assumed
**Any of which may possibly be instantly obsolete beside the Sabotage series

3. Anthony Van Engelen – ‘Propeller’

December 29, 2015

In a just and honourably logical world there are two sorts of Skaters of the Year: Those undeniable destroyers whose up-and-comingness has already established them as power forces and for whom the Thrasher nod bestows gravitas and permanence of place that the honoree bears out through photos, video footage and survivability over the ensuing years; or, a recognition of plants aligning and a moment arriving for those understood to have achieved all of that except the award itself already.* Anthony Van Engelen, that early embracer of body art, hard living and Jason Dill’s fractured and improbably profitable take on popular culture, falls squarely into the latter compartment with a blistering burn of a closing-section in Vans’ ‘Propeller’ video that refurbished some already-patented AVE tricks, such as the backside nosegrind and the switch frontside crooked grind, broke out new ones, like the switch backside smith grind and switch frontside 180 nosegrind 180 out, and drew recommendations to wipe the blood from his teeth upon floating that ollie off the volcano and barely hanging onto the fence frontside 5-0. On the strength of always-quality production and wack trick avoidance AVE a long time ago registered as a consummate pro but between the Vans part, which also placed him alongside Bobby Worrest in a class of aging dudes who still fuck with handrails, and the equivalent of three video parts (across the Vans vid, the associated raw footage (above) and tricks strewn across various Bill Strobeck and Jeff Kutter productions) cement his status as forevermore.

*Danny Way’s mega reinvention aside, maybe, repeats suggest lack of imagination

Pazuzu 2: Necronomicon Boogaloo

October 31, 2015

donnellyhop

Ellington

tyshawnjones

gonzarelli

EMB

Pic dump from recent mags raises the question as to how many of these make their way to mobile screens via enabled social media sharing apps, and whether getting your photo run in a legacy papyrus-related periodical ensures it will be viewed by fewer unique heads in all?

Heated Seats And Pants With No Pleats

October 17, 2015

judge_kiss

“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it,” grumbled the dark lord Sauron in a recent and grumbly voiceover advertising the new Star Wars movie. “The dark side, and the light.” The vibrant world of wookies and hard-partying ewoks again has fallen into strife and discord, lousy with massing storm troopers and crashed spaceships. It represents an extension of what is perhaps the nation’s best-known workplace drama, in which the rigors of toiling under the Emperor’s exacting standards caused Darth Vader to crack and fail to recoup the Empire’s lofty investment in the initial Death Star, then resign his position before construction on the second could complete.

Darth Vader, like so many other career professionals laboring under layers of blubbery bureaucracy, encountered distressors* that occasionally drove him to lash out at colleagues and competitors, employing telekinesis and a lazery sword in equal measure, often illegally. As hinted by the Star Warrior-baiting Santa Cruz decks of yesteryear, Darth Vader’s broiling frustrations may mirror those gripping the skateboard sphere in these, the autumn days of 2015.

Like an incredulous Death Star space welder handed a snorkel, a flathead screwdriver and an unconvincing clap on the shoulder, stakes and requirements for workaday professional bros seem to ratchet ever higher while the constraints of a turbulent global economy seem intent on culling the industry herd. Once high-flying board affairs like Alien Workshop, Zero and Girl are undergoing painful evolutions, while rumors swirl around the future of Dekline shoes and Adio has taken to advertising former team riders in its bid for continued relevance. Signature-model toting professionals increasingly are expected to bear the responsibility of marketing themselves via crowd-courting internet pages, and we live in a time when not only is it unshocking to see a marginally-known amateur break off tricks like Gabriel Summers’ shiveringly gnarly nosegrind, it also is de regueur do it nominally for free. Olympic endorsement contracts would beckon skateboarding’s sobriety-compatible 1%, while remaining ne’er do wells contemplate crowdfunding raisers to sop up medical bills.

Are stress levels within skating’s grand talent pool rising to a Vader level in which colleagues get choked out at sit-down meetings? You hear these things, but it is hard to know for sure. There are signs and siguls, including but not limited to growth in powerviolence-sprinkled parts and graphics, or soundtracks bearing murderer music. Vignettes tucked into ‘Sabotage 4’ and the ‘Our Life’ video, two of the grittier and grottier outputs of recent weeks, feature fights with cops and passersby, recalling a previous industry crunch that manifested itself in part via board-to-drill combat.

Veins of latent but palpable anger burble beneath the overcast surface and betwixt combusting switchstance tricks in Gilbert Crockett’s ‘Salt Life’ video part for the redubbed Quasi, an outfit forged from the wreckage and occasional raw feelings of a highflying corporate adventure gone kaput. Quasi’s initial video look transposes some of the hi-contrast and sharp cuts of their graphical concepts, anchored in a somewhat deeper trench of Gilbert Crockett’s technical skating, including a crunchy switch backside smith grind and one of the more eye-popping switch shove-its in recent memory, and peppered with enraged grunts and a viciously celebratory board beating.

Has the quantity of cathartic, building-slapping wallrides and wallies risen in lockstep with the industry’s general level of fiscal insecurity? Will snapchatted pro boxing matches emerge as a multipronged answer to slackened incomes and late night instagram sniping? May all of it be symptomatic of a divide-and-conquer conspiracy among deep-pocketed sportswear and drink manufacturers? Does the environment grow ever riper for a Bo Turner comeback?

*versus happier eustressors trafficked among those hard-partying ewoks and jawas

Musings And Mutterings On These, The 2015 SOTY Sweepstakes

September 30, 2015

waynebus

The frothsome tumult that has gripped the fertile field of would-be ’16 American prexy seizers o’er the summertime would seem to have spilled over into pro skatingdom, with no clear American Pharaoh pulling away from plodding SOTY glue-factory fodder nine months into the year and with celebratory keg orders and lofty venue security deposits presumably coming due in short order. Perhaps by design, ThrasherMagazine.com’s steady gravitational pull toward video parts amid a continued dearth in Graumann’s Chinese Theater-ready releases has at once broadened the field and made any stab at front-runnerness almost by default a multi-part affair — with just a couple months to go and only a few bulge-bracket videos yet on deck, these hoary ranks are assessed:

AVE: Fucking Awesome pot-stirrer Jimi Britches in recent weeks has invoked a hashtag declaration of Van Engelen’s SOTY campaign, at one point nodding to the criminally overlooked onboard actions of Bay Area innovator Henry Sanchez, which may or may not bring good luck when you consider the brevity and general unluckiness of Henry Sanchez’s years-ago endorsement relationship with Lucky Skateboards. Still, Van Engelen did yeoman’s work closing out this year’s most anticipated full-length with a part that extended a remarkable 15-year body of footage that all holds up in spades, Thrasher’s web copywriters liberally splashed superlatives over AVE’s ‘Propeller’ raw footage, and it’s hard to argue against AVE embodying the Thrasher ethos in all of its growling, sweaty hurly-burly, all of which possibly makes the short-pantsed trophyman AVE’s to lose. Then there was that switch 50-50.

Cory Kennedy: ‘Our guy,’ as Thrasher’s eminently readable ‘Trash’ column described Girl’s permanent weekender Cory Kennedy, can safely be presumed to have been on a post-‘Pretty Sweet’ tear the past couple of years on the strength of his appearances in projects as high-brow as Crailtap’s ‘Wet Dream’ and close to the vest as the Thrasher-aimed ‘Cory Goes BellingHAM’ and ‘Rat Poison’. Trukfit aficionado Cory Kennedy is due for an ‘official’ ‘serious’ part in the pending Nike production due out around the SOTY-optimized timeframe of December, raising the promise of offcuts to bolster his cause via a second video part somewhere in there, and six years on from his internet-enabled crash onto the scene he has gathered sufficient gravitas and beercan profiling lifestyle shots so as to make him a convincing Skater of the Year for any and all salacious stakeholders.

Chris Joslin: Chris Joslin last year kicked down the skate industry’s door and shortly thereafter proceeded to activate his seemingly indefatigable ligaments to kick out all of the windows and most of the walls in his relentless quest to seize his moment, wrestle it to the ground and press his thumbs to its gasping throat. Each successive video part, and there have been at least three or four in the past 12 months, drips with an embarrassment of gap-crushing riches, culminating in this month’s three-minute run through dozens of Chinese stairs and related architecture and recorded in less than two weeks. A frightening thought is the domestic bullets that remain in Chris Joslin’s proverbial clip, like all those rumored (and some documented) trips down Wallenberg, raising the prospect of further ammunition for his SOTY bid.

Tiago Lemos: Hyperbole is cheap and easy to come by as the skate sphere has collapsed almost entirely into the internet and its assorted wyrmholes, but Ride Channel’s recent submission that Tiago Lemos is the best skater on Earth carried a softly lilting twinge of reality to it, to which can attest any verified viewer of Ty Evans’ soda-sponsored symphony to technology and extreme ties that bind, ‘We Are Blood,’ or previously his shared section with Carlos Iqui in ‘Gold Goons.’ The tireless mining of tricks from gaps and handrails pursued by Chris Joslin can be ported with minimal formatting to Tiago Lemos and ledges, though Brazil’s SOTY drought is on the verge of entering its third decade and Tiago Lemos has turned in relatively little Thrasher-specific output.

Rowan Zorilla: At a certain point in the early ’00s Forrest Kirby held a position that sort of was akin to being the industry’s little brother, beloved and rooted-for by hesh and fresh peers alike, a rarified spot that Rowan Zorilla seems to have man-bunned his way into over the last couple of years. Rowan Zorilla’s equity is such that he may have been the sole talent to turn down an approach from Dill and AVE’s Fucking Awesome, rather than the other way around, and Thrasher declared his SOTY contenderness following Vans’ ‘Propeller,’ probably the most comprehensive showcase so far of his off-kilter sneak attacks such as the switch kickflip noseslide, the corner-hopping kickflip into the ramp and his Thrasher-covering frontside wallride.

Gilbert Crockett: The Vans vid held two songs’ worth of Gilbert Crockett’s increasingly distilled brand of felid scrap and spring, and VC Corp staff saw fit to unload another part’s worth of footage onto Thrasher’s website for the mop-up round, placing Gilbert Crockett firmly within his loose-fitting and seldom changed khaki pants and, one assumes, well onto the High Speed radar. Gilbert Crockett bears the tattoos, grizzled countenance and staying power Thrasher’s power brokers may prize in a Skater of the Year, and the Quasi collective has intimated he may have more footage on the way ere 2015 is up.

Shane O’Neill: The simultaneously hyper-technical and technically flawless form of tricks rifled out by perennially backwards-capped Shane O’Neill probably could’ve put him in Thrasher’s awards orbit for several years now, but this year the maneuvers in his ‘Shane Goes’ video part seemed to bake in an extra push and occasionally some further degree of gnarliness, like heading down a triple set in the rain, switch, or the rarely seen switch frontside shove-it to boardslide, back to switch. Shane O’Neill’s year so far is further distinguished with one of the better tricks knocked out at Thrasher’s Clipper contest and a potential jump from Skate Mental to solo entrepreneurship, though the rumor mill has him in Paul Rodriguez’ Primitive camp.

Has Handrail Skating Entered Middle Age?

April 17, 2015

muska_handrail_help_call

“Nobody pays taxes on Mars,” the old saying goes, and it rings as true today as it ever was. For the astronaut, moustachioed and physically capable of handling several Gs, space travel draws a fat, black dividing line between youth and that which comes after; no man, they say, is the same after penetrating celestial orbit. For the ancient dinosaurs, to enter middle age was a feat accomplished by only the clever and ruthless, and these became chieftans and enriched warlords.

Today little has changed. History barrels forward similar to a kettle of fine fish packed into a barrel and rolled downhill and, come this time next year, handrail skating will be 30 years removed from those nervy days when Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas took it in their heads to ollie air up onto safely secured hand-bannisters and chart a bold and zesty course toward best-trick contest purses, ponderous stair counts, bike-lock controversies and the occasional bloody discharge. There was a gawky, turn-of-the-decade adolescence, followed by a coming of age under the dauntless feet of Duffy, Kirchart, Thomas and Muska, and the bigger-longer-taller maturation spree pursued in the early aughts by the Flip-Zero-Baker contingent.

Wither the handrail in 2015? In the last year and a half Transworld has featured just a single handrail trick on its cover, as page counts dwindle and TWS embraces wallrides and assorted transition terrains. Over at Thrasher, which cover-wise years ago threw in its lot with the Wade Speyer side of the tech-vs-gnar continuum, handrail tricks as a percentage of covers each year seem to have plateaued.

handrails_graph1

Is handrail skating becoming engulfed in a midlife crisis, with nollie heelflip crooked grinds widely regarded as passe, 39 stair curvers suggesting some possible upper limit and El Toro gelded? Resurgent bowls, abrupt transitions and even the vert ramp seem to have splintered handrail skating into restless and nomadic tribes, including displaced wallriders, wall-rejecting against-the-grainers, deep-crouching over-the-toppers, body varialing rewinders and a Mariano-bred stripe of small-bar uber-tech.

Recent signals however suggest that a certain purity of the round slanted bar continues to draw admirers, even without a fire-engine red, glasspacked sports car or wallie on. Australian dervish Jack Fardell, in the process of extensively notching some unholy San Francisco skatespot bedpost, commanded Thrasher’s May cover with a rabid 50-50 grind down a kinked beast that had bucked known master John Cardiel more than a decade back. Further south Paul Hart, a Floridian partly responsible for shifting Cliche’s center of gravity increasingly west of the Atlantic, recorded a sit-and-stare worthy nollie backside noseblunt to fakie sequence that naturally occurred also near the end of an Arto-aspiring ‘Gypsy Life’ section.

Is a midlife crisis a healthy and productive exercise for handrail skating generally? When handrail skating begins wearing tight polo shirts with the collars flipped up, pumping weights and loudly quoting Rae Sremmurd lyrics, at what point should a friend intervene? Will people start painting gray handrails black and then denying it? Will photoshopping gray handrails black represent the greatest ethical quandary to confront Instagram accountholders in the years ahead? Could Thrasher re-run this Kasai cover next month without anyone being the wiser except probably Jason Dill?

1. Bobby Worrest – ‘Hometown Turf Killer’

December 31, 2014


Are ‘au natural’ street plazas going the way of the proverbial buffalo as city councils approve expensively designed, corporate-sponsored alternatives to be tucked safely away from the gentle arts of commerce and civic life? Was Bobby Worrest, by soaking his first and best of three 2014 video parts exclusively in DC’s notoriously hard-to-skate Pulaski plaza, making a point to us all about using every part of such diminishing urban resources, from its highly regarded dish to the bitty handrails? Was he really high-tailing it from the cops at 00:25? Such questions are unanswerable at best and at worst open up the possibility of galactic damnation, which would make it incrementally more difficult to draw continued pleasure from the way Bobby Worrest threads his way through the spot, sometimes seeming to chart his route on the fly (like the line with the frontside 180 nosegrind revert), getting chummy with ledges and with no wack tricks. His lines in this part are varied and deep with hard tricks (switch frontside bluntslide, switch kickflip backside tailslide, switch kickflip frontside noseslide, etc etc), sparing little notice for traffic of the human or auto persuasion. Whether it was the U.S. government shutdown, Zero’s molar-rattling ‘Cold War’ vid, salvation via Nike from the dregs of shoe sponsorlessness or just ‘his people’ (as pictured following the final switch flip), something kindled a fire beneath Bobby Worrest’s sneakers this past year, and the adoring populace can only hope it continues to bubble, blister and blacken his foot-flesh well into 2015.