Posts Tagged ‘Thrasher’

Natural Born Hoarders

August 20, 2018

Dig if you will, this Instagram StoryTM from the past week; Josh Kalis’ royal blue Lamborghini plum full and overflowing with magazine-stuffed mailers, antique sneaker boxes, cardboard deck shippers. And even more laying on the nearby grass. This unlikely scene brought to you in part by Josh Kalis’ social-media cattle call for autograph seekers, volunteering to sign by mail copies of his late-career Thrasher cover blast — but also via a growing and steadily less-satiable desire for some physical artifact registering one as a knower, if not participant, in some secret circle, some had-to-be-there, grit spun into gold on the spinning wheel of time’s passage, various other painful metaphors.

Is the skateboarder a natural born hoarder? That muse that reformulated schoolyard banks into asphalt waves and disableds’ ramps into springboards for high-bar vaulting is kin to the spark behind the Psycho Stick, Fucked Up Blind Kids, Modernist Chairs and various others — but for a limited time only, as seasonal order sheets and mailorder catalogues open wide their maws for fresh products, series graphics, new colors, and exclusive collabs by, for and about the homies. As nostalgia deepens to the point that people tune in to watch retired and beloved pros flipping through old CCS catalogues, each new print ‘Thrasher’ and ‘TWS’ issue begins to look like a collector’s item, every board on the shop wall a potential hanger, every pro with a couple video parts under his belt a legend.

The bulldozing of various multimillion dollar pro sporting stadiums has left any number of garages and basements festooned with sets of numbered, uncomfortable, plastic fold-down chairs, suggesting if nothing else a missed revenue source for cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco as beloved ledges and hubbas fall under the pavement saw. But as our collective grip upon the baubles, trinkets and other physical links to the past grows increasingly white knuckled, it’s worth pondering whether such an instinct for preservation perhaps springs from the activity’s fundamentally destructive nature — wood scraped and snapped into splinters, metal beaten and ground into bizarre shapes, concrete corners rounded off and cracked away, urethane coned and yellowed to a cloudy-urined hue.

Jake Johnson, to QS: “That’s what brought so much attraction to skateboarding in the first place. The message had to do with breaking down societal standards, and destroying personal property.”

Is the destruction-driven quest for preservation arising from some pit-of-the-stomach guilt, fear of forgetting forevermore some sentimental article in a long-ago attic or basement, an unhealthy obsession with clinging to one’s youth, or some festive combination of all these? Will the science-minded deck restorers turn their talents toward reviving wrinkled and water-damaged Active catalogues for ultimate posterity? How long until a ‘Storage Wars’ episode stumbles upon a unit stacked tall with boxes of some pro’s forgotten decks, shoes, t-shirts and stickers, initially thrilling the bidders yet ultimately crushing them upon their reveal as mid-00s Dwindle graphics and Macbeth footwears?

Who Will Subsidize The 22nd Century’s Switch Hardflips?

July 29, 2018

Early in this new KOTR season, one of the key storylines already has emerged: Mike ‘Big Pink’ Sinclair, Tum Yeto darkman and pizza puff coinesseur, declares that after futilely exerting his commandership and wise strategems to their fullest in Toy Machine’s previous and unsuccessful outing, this time around he’s decided to “let the dudes run it,” determining which challenges to attempt when. It’s clear this runs against every fiber of his barrelchested being, and that his large, pink resolve will be tested with each twist of those great American byways pointing the way to the depths of the human soul that are some of, yet not the only, crannies probed by this, mankind’s greatest and most depraved scavenger hunt game show.

King of the Road’s glossified antithesis, the Olympic Game, lies just two years away, its own mark on various souls and bank accounts yet to be revealed. Unlike the basketball and blackjack dynasties and sweetened beverage manufacturers that bankrolled prior big-money contests, the tens of thousands being ponied up by sovereign states to retain and train four-wheeled talent are invested with precious metals in mind; the presidents, prime ministers and moneyed despots involved expect a return. If not this go-round, then subsequent clashes at the foot of the mount of the gods will certainly raise the question of whether ‘the dudes’ so beloved by Mike Sinclair can be entrusted to not only perform, but also plan out their runs and decide upon their own trick offerings.

Like so many of life’s conundrums, one inevitably is left pondering the fate of the switch hardflip. With a golden doubloon and certain immortality on the line, will the pride of nations be content to risk all on a late teen rolling up to the pyramid backward, popping off his or her less-inclined foot, and landing in the counterintuitive direction? Before very long, wealthy nations’ underpaid bot slaves will be scouring years’ worth of Exteme Games, Streets League, Tampa Pros and Ams, determining ratios and percentages to answer the question of how often switchstance tricks yield a plump purse and champagne shower, versus a groaning crowd, credit card, ER trip or some other negative outcome.

Solace isn’t to be found within the snowboarding realm, which continues to treasure ambidexterity — as a discipline it’s a mere few decades in. In the statistics-saturated multiverse of baseball, nearly two centuries old, the art of switch hitting is on the decline, representing just 13% of plate appearances this year, down from 20% in 1992. Further erosion is expected as a steadily elevating level of play and intensifying training regimes from Little League on up require the maximization of every innate advantage, rather than trying to cultivate new ones with a built-in disadvantage. In a pasttime where extra points are not awarded for difficulty, switch’s biggest onstacle in baseball simply is that it’s “too hard,” in the telling of Nationals hitting coach Kevin ‘Not Spanky’ Long.

Were a badly coveted KOTR win within the grasp of Mike Sinclair’s steering wheel-fatigued fingers, would he stick with his inclination to let the dudes run it, or might he forbid the Foundation boys from charging switch at a ‘Phelper’s Delight’-flavored gap or handrail in favor of any added certainty offered by a regs alternative? If contest overlords of the future continue to rate switch tricks at a premium, will more questionably footed Sammy Baptistas and Ali Boulalas become drawn into Olympic training regimens? Do BMXers or rollerbladers deal with similar conundrums? Will news headline-writing algorithms of the future destroy the switchstance discipline forevermore by lambasting Olympic losers for entrusting their countries’ hopes and dreams to the ‘wrong foot’?

Was Jamie Foy’s Yellow-Shirted SOTY Surprise an Implicit Rebuke Of Overt Trophy Hunting or Gasoline for More?

December 11, 2017

In an age where fortunes are made and dashed again with the fateful tapping of a touchscreen or a practiced turn before the correct lens, does anything remain inevitable? The SOTY campaign, one of Thrasher’s sturdiest tentpoles in a domination of new media forms that other, older publications could learn from, is proving increasingly tough to pin down as potentate pros’ lust for the Rusty statue tilts video releases toward a year-end glut and dudes go all in with bones and ligaments as autumn shrivels the leaves to warmful tones.

Throughout much of 2017, a heavy whiff of inevitability trailed yung Louie Lopez, once derided among Flip 3.0’s crop of hard-to-watch tween pickups, now a fully formed ATV testing the limits of his considerable powers in all the correct venues. Even before his Spitfire part hit, rumblings could be sensed that this was Louie Lopez’s year (or major sponsors believed so), a concept that seemed more and more certain as he ripped the SPoT to pieces en route to first place, joined Jake Phelps and co. in a cobranded Thrasher and Spitfire trip, and bounded up and across massive walls and onto the mag’s cover*. Hash tags endorsing his candidacy piled up and in recent weeks, following his searing ‘West End’ part, he was positioned as an Arto Saari heir apparent, while an interviewer wondered about a post-SOTY life for Louie Lopez.

What happened? With a meaty thud, much is swept aside by a buzzer-beating trip down a double-digit sized stair set, same as the multi-kink hulk that Kyle Walker conquered to gazump Evan Smith last year. Fate opened a lane for Fred Gall-shaped Floridian Jamie Foy this year, dispening tickets to Thrasher’s KOTR and Am Scramble trips, and Jamie Foy pushed the pedal all the way down. It is difficult to remember or indeed, imagine a faster rise — getting on a board company at the start of the year, a pro board a few months later, and then Ty Evans’ ‘Flat Earth’ film, providing a ham-going fourth-quarter opportunity that Jamie Foy took once again, carving two notches into the famed El Toro set. If Skater of the Year campaigns are evolving into meticulously planned, months-long efforts to strategically release footage, get your guy onto the right trips and pump up the IG volume, is there a certain allure in getting behind the bowling ball barreling toward all the carefully set pins?

Is the speed of Jamie Foy’s ascent, from amateur to pro and SOTY the same year, a reflection of or reason behind the breakneck pace driving skate media these days? Will a starring turn on Thrasher’s Viceland series become a prime propulsion toward future SOTY titles, as Vice veers frighteningly close to MTV territory in terms of thirstily mining skating for TV fodder? Could the nod to Jamie Foy also serve as a quiet acknowledgement that it shoulda been Fred Gall one of those years? Do we, the slack-jawed viewer, remain the ultimate winners even as Skater of the Year campaigns grow more overt and assertive? Do all the stair counts and smoothly executed pop shove-it reverts fall by the wayside when considering the way another perennial contender, Tiago Lemos, forces the world to reimagine what is even possible?

*With The Skateboard Mag gone away, does Thrasher revert to the shorthand “the mag” again?

SOTYs Yet to Come, Seen Through the Truth-Telling Prism of Freshly Spilled Guts

October 1, 2017

In ancient Rome, soothsayers would seek prophecy, divine guidance and betting tips in the entrails of sacred animals, surveying plumpness of spleen and colouration of liver to help foresee military conquests and innovate the hot dog. Just as Jupiter, Mars and various other heavenly bros guided the blessed knives of bloody-fingered oracles, so does Boil Ocean Web Page probe the still-steamy innards of skating in 2017 to predict contenders, near-missers and hangers-on that define our reality today as the 2017 Skater of the Year campaign, still looking wide open, careens into this year’s final quarter:

Louie Lopez: Of all the Flip ‘Xtremely Sorry’-era tween pickups, it has been among the windingest roads for once-Lil Louie Lopez, who took his time choosing a path betwixt the contest-circuit hittingness of Luan Oliveira, David Gonzales’ Hot Topic handrailing and the towheaded glamour often associated with Curren Caples and Ben Nordberg. For yung LL, there is a middle way flavoured with GX1000 hills and wallies; it already would have been a noteworthy year for him, what with a pop-shove powered part for Spitfire, a Thrasher interview heavy on shitting-related questions and a slot on the Thrasher/Spitfire trip, but he also delivered among the year’s most memorable Instagram clips — possessing all the elements, a banging trick, legendary spot, beer, freaking out squares. And he’s probably got another video part in him by early December.

Tiago Lemos: Could it an unacceptable breach of protocol to award Skater of the Year to an individual increasingly suspected of being a Greek demigod of yore? Seeming to operate in near-perpetual bio-mode, Tiago Lemos still has yet to report confirmed kills of multiheaded and mythical beasties. He has, however, spent much of 2017 pushing switch mongo from one of the world’s most gargantuan switch backside tailslides to sliding a similarly sized one into a fakie manual to fakie flip out, alongside hucking humongous backside flips, surviving the fiery judgement of Fort Miley’s tall bar, and rebounding from his Dime Glory Challenge game of skate drubbing with another waist-high switch k-grind, apparently the minimum height at which this dude operates.

Shane O’Neill: Continuing his explorations of technical skating as abstract art, Shane O’Neill’s mind-numbing ‘Levels’ part in late summer posited skating as a video game in which the buttoned-up Ozzian advanced by defeating gradually more difficult ‘boss tricks,’ including a nollie backside flip late-shove-it down a solid assortment of stairs, a switch heelflip switch feeble grind on a fun-sized rail, and a fireball-heaving tribute to business partner Paul Rodriguez’s climactic Tampa-house-bringer-downer from ‘Street Dreams’. Whereas questions remain as to whether Shane O’Neill actually pushed up to his road-clearing switch kickflip opener/cover, he makes another compelling case for vanquishing the skate careerist’s Bowser, given a lesser-noticed VX part earlier in the year, services rendered in years past and likely gas in the tank for continued video achievement before the year is out.

Evan Smith: The stringy haired, starry-eyed savant seemed to have just missed Thrasher’s brass ring last year, his eye-popping kickflip wallrides ultimately falling to Kyle Walker’s kink deluge. But Evan Smith shambled on, going bananas off pillars and somehow deciding to disaster out of a switchstance manual in a 2017-opening Spitfire part. He’s since matched feats with Wes Kremer in the DC vid, shaved with puddle water, and delighted Jake Phelps with a relaxed attitude toward fearsome handrails on the Thrasher/Spitfire trip, while earning redemption points for voyaging beyond Starheadbody songs for his parts. You could choose worse.

Riley Hawk: Just as Bucky Lasek found his own lane as a domestic manservant for Tony Hawk in ‘The End,’ Riley Hawk, once a pint-sized counter-pounder, has emerged from the family breakfast nook to carve his own cavern from the sheer rock face that is the skate industry, winding down the first Lakai full-length in a decade with a knack for kinks, a willingness to fingerflip out of nosegrinds and an ironclad grip on grinds of both the Barley and Bennett persuasions. Whether he has offered enough to Thrasher’s goatheaded gods or suffered suitably to become the first second-generation SOTY is a question strictly for the hooded priests who tend HSP’s sacrificial pyres, but you could sort of see it.

Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg: Polar’s diminutive and demonic secret weapon from ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind…’ over the past year sprouted into an all-points threatener in the mold of Grant Taylor or Tony Trujillo, flowing and blasting through transitioned concrete on several non-contiguous continents in the service of rarified endorsees Spitfire, Thrasher and Nike en route to an on-the-money professional induction. The young Swede has put in the requisite miles for Thrasher — at one point supervising a fishhook-and-thread stitch job on the sadly departed P-Stone’s lacerated ass — and remains a footage machine, whipping out lipslides to smith grinds and towering kickflips in between pocketing contest purses. Of note, maybe: It has been sixteen years since the Thrasher nod went to a Euro.

Jamie Foy: Young but a handrail workhorse, Jamie Foy’s burly physique, Floridian mane and can-do mindset have enamoured him to the Thrasher bosses, who cheered his addition to Deathwish and Shake Junt Griptape Co USA before recruiting him to Thrasher’s kickoff ‘Am Scramble’ trip. Jamie Foy’s contempt for fear and double-barreled approach occasionally recall a Revolution Mother-era Mike Vallely, except with 360 flips, though it remains unclear whether this may work for or against him in the modern SOTY stakes.

Rival Schools United by Fate, Torn Asunder Amid Hill-Bombing Renaissance

April 22, 2017

Sun Tzu, that ancient Chinese military philosopher and rap music reference point, famously signed a restaurant receipt with an unsolicited strategem in place of a tip, advising one fortunate waiter that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Legend tells that this vibrant slogan enriched the lucky plate handler — who previously regarded all of this restaurant’s staff as backstabbing adversaries — by transforming them abruptly all into bosom pals, a blissful union that would inspire a hoagie chain but later run aground, friendships dashed on the rocks of unpaid franchise fees and festering mistrust. It is the story of our times, and perhaps all time.

In the 1980s, widely regarded as an extended and turgid moment in which synthesizers remade nerds into dancefloor lotharios and yet justice still could be found at the pointy tip of an arrow, skateboarding still was in its awkward early years. Much like the homebound elementary schooler, or the waiter-in-training at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, friends were those nearest to hand, if not in spirit — and so it was that skateboarders and BMX bikers became kinsmen of a kind, occasionally sharing a taste for neon accessories and zeitgeist-flavored real estate, wherein ‘Thrashin’ and ‘Rad’ staked out neighboring claims on VHS rental shelves. These co-feathered birds flocked together even through the judgment-heavy early 1990s, when Jeremy Wray cheered BMX bro Mike Esterino hopping on his famed water-tower jump.

Alas, as ledge skating gained supremacy and skateable blocks began trading at a premium due to police pressure and general scarcity, peg damage and huffy attitudes came to divide the camps, such that by the time the handrail age set in, extreme bike riders became punchlines. Skatepark proliferation ignited turf battles, with some private-sector facilities segregating the rubbery-tired rollers to their own evenings. Bike-prohibiting public parks prompted some skateboarders to yellingly shout and point at “no bikes” signage in a true perversion of historic roles.

Extreme bike riders later clawed back respect points on a comparative basis as scooter riders, rollerbladers and other ne’er-do-wells rotated through parks, and John Cardiel’s fixed-gear resurrection earned bikes a warmer position in the cockles of many 97A urethane hearts after his accident. The gnarliness of slamming on a bike was to be respected, if not the motocross-aping kits and the fact that you can sit down. And yet this uneasy entente now takes a new and graver turn, as a non-Olympic bound subset of skating re-embraces illegality from coast to coast. For some thrillhousers enamored of San Francisco’s steeps, a bike may as well be a car or a brick wall, and have come to be perceived as a potentially mortal threat:

Thrasher: What has been your closest call to getting fucking annihilated when bombing hills?
Matt Finley: Dude, so many times. I mean, I’ve gotten hit by a car before but haven’t been hit too bad. Like, four days ago we were going down Twin Peaks and a biker dude—I couldn’t hear him or anything—zooms past me and is centimeters from running into me full speed. He went right between Taylor and I. If he had clipped me I would have gotten fucking smoked! I mean, he probably would have gotten really fucked up but that was something else. That’s another thing! Fuck bikers and cars. They are they enemy. Bikers are in the road and act like cars; they just don’t give a fuck. I’m being a hypocrite but they act so entitled.

Are bikers really just skaters astride one-half of a giant skateboard that uses different types of wheels with handlebars and a seat? If bike riders and skateboarders were to finally unite their powers, could the scooter scourge be ended once and for all? If BMXers and skateboarders were more closely aligned in the run-up to biking’s debut in the 2008 Olympics, could the event somehow have been ‘thrown,’ casting extreme sports in a negative and clownish light globally, thereby ensuring that skating remained safe from Olympic circusization for generations to come?

1. Jerry Hsu – ‘Made Chapter 2’

December 31, 2016

Peter Hewitt, whose influence in steering the Anti-Hero eagle may be understated, reframed the concept of suffering for one’s art in the run-up to the 2013 Skater of the Year award, in which he opined on who had or had not endured punishment and pain enough to have earned the nod. In an age where skating seems to owe career devotees less than ever, and when suffering of the physical and/or economic persuasions generally seems at an all-time high, the punishment ledgers ought to reflect that Jerry Hsu is fully paid up, as he further emerged this fall from his post-‘Stay Gold’ lull towing his best shit since ‘Bag of Suck’ a decade ago. His battered body, marinating gently in Los Angeles-area schoolyards, seems to have recovered and his moves in ‘Made Chapter 2’ are as liquid and surfy as he’s ever had – scootching down ditch walls, nollie heelflipping off walls, twisting out of multi-part picnic-table tricks that are comfortably in the hunt with any pursued by kids 15 years his junior. There probably is a list out there of dudes still coming with new tricks on handrails as they push into the third decade of their careers, and it would not be very long, but Jerry Hsu would be on it via this part’s ender.

6. Evan Smith – ‘Time Trap’

December 26, 2016

Like a chanting guru with his beard on fire, Evan Smith seemed to ricochet through 2016 rifling off multisyllabic tricks and dense parts and crazed contest appearances in some type of glassy-eyed Zen state – Kyle Walker earned Thrasher’s top honor on some legitimately video-game scale handrails and showed impossible-to-fake poise on massive stuff, but an easy argument could be made for Evan Smith’s technical inventiveness and unpredictability, which didn’t impugn any capacity to keep doling out footage. Along with his ‘Zygote’ and ‘No Hotels’ sections, ‘Time Trap’ has probably his craziest line of the year, wallriding and blasting a giant 360 flip mid-hill bomb before whipping himself to the pavement on an ill-considered switch 360, maybe a good summary for Evan Smith’s ongoing arc – bonking trash cans and hurling caballerials over playground slides like those dreams where you can land any trick you try, which is maybe close to daily life for this dude.

8. Kevin Kowalski – ‘On One’

December 24, 2016

Kevin Kowalski is just a young Oregonian with Bob Burnquist backyard bowl dreams, who wound up recording one of the more volatile transition-oriented sections this year that goes long Madonnas and occasionally surprises with out-of-nowhere speed bursts. This section benefits from some risky in-bowl filming (possibly via Chris Gregson) and the type of wild hairs that lend themselves to scratching Bertlemanns at the top of cradles and looping full pipes in the blink of an eye. Kevin Kowalski barrels through that one graffiti house ramp like a loosed rhino but tucks enough finesse into his back pocket to match switch frontside blunts with the likes of Vincent Alvarez, to what one assumes is obligatory squalling Nordic metal.

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.

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?