Posts Tagged ‘Thrasher’

In A Non-Fungible Trick Market, Is RailCoinTM Primed For A Breakout To The Upside?

December 11, 2021

In this time of crypto currencies, rare earth minerals and collectible tokens, fortunes are made and lost on the strength of raw conviction, and sometimes, delicious menu items. Today’s frothy asset class may be tomorrow’s ‘dogecoin,’ led down the back road, shotgun in hand, to go ‘live on a farm.’ For every profitsome Chewy.com, there is a collapsed and hemorrhaging Pets.com, a phenomenon knowed to some as ‘the circle of life.’

In the similarly repetitious and vengeful skate sphere, the exact same scenario can be observed. Goofy boy pants have not only returned but command inflation-adjusted prices on the open market. You can film a pressure flip. RB Umali tapped in to contribute footage to noted revivalist John Shanahan’s 14th part of the year in the recent Pangle Jeans promo*. Genuine hype exists around the forthcoming Chocolate video**. As the koosh ball-shaped threat of Covid-19 gradually presents as more manageable, there are signs of new life and rebirth.

Samarria Brevard set things on tilt this month, as Thrasher unveiled her 360 flip hippie jump as the cover shot for the magazine’s January 2022 issue. As a trick it’s popped beyond most versions of this one and taken over/under a handrail approached frontside; as a cover, it is a milestone, the first Black woman on the storied periodical’s front, and the second woman in just four months after Breanna Gearing’s k-grind roof bomb from October.

Perhaps too obvious for most but quixotically updating web logs to note is the fact that Samarria Brevard’s cover trick here is not hitting the handrail, but avoiding it, making the photo another winsome landmark in handrail tricks’ yearslong decline as newsstand centerpiece and industry ‘talking point.’ Yea, six years ago Boiled Ocean.com digitally meandered over whether handrail skating had entered ‘middle age’; going off the leading indicator that is the periodical of record’s cover shot, we see its stock decline as relative values increase for tricks ranging from deep urban crannies, going upside down, reverse pole jams, and that singular and hazy vibe of skating rocks.

How far has handrail skating slid? Ask Mike Sinclair, industry man and candy-guzzling storyteller to the stars, recently relating in Thrasher: “I worked at Black Box in its heyday. Jamie once turned down an offer of 50 million dollars to sell. I couldn’t believe it. Jamie explained, “Mike, I never got into this for the money.” I replied, “Me neither, but I know a good fuckin’ deal when I see one.”

Jamie Thomas has since poured cold water on the precise valuation in question, but surely the sentiment marked some type of high water mark for the rail-centric brand of skating central to Zero, Baker and to other mid-aughts giants of the time. As the above chart demonstrates, handrail tricks on Thrasher covers rode high from like the 2005-2015 period, at times commanding the majority of front-page real estate. But after plateauing in the post-financial crisis period, such handrail tricks ‘expressed’ as a percentage of a given year’s covers dropped in 2021 to just 17% of the year’s total, a modern-era nadir that matched 2017’s figure, at the time the lowest profile for handrail skating on the cover of the magazine of record since the late 1990s.

Whereas the angular-bar discipline continues to be promoted and pushed forward by the likes of frothy-mouthed chompers such as Kyle Walker and Jack O’Grady, tech/gnar athletes like Miles Silvas and Nyjah Huston, and the still-rabid Zero team, the handrail more generally has shifted from flagship spot and obligatory ender-fodder to one among a steadily expanding galaxy of subgenres that have helped make more malleable the professional designation.

Following several seemingly unsuccessful dalliances between skateboard companies and private equity lords, several subsequent developments argue for the handrail trick as an undervalued asset, if not a tangible investment vehicle destined for ‘infinity and beyond.’ Skating’s inherent contrarianism seems destined to eventually swing the pendulum back toward handrails, as hinted via sometimes surprising ‘gnarliness quotients’ in the recent Frog vid, the dizzying volley that closed Mark Suciu’s ‘Flora III’ vid and sealed his SOTY bid, and the ‘Euro rails are gnarlier’ argument from newly minted Palace pro-fessional Charlie Birch, (knowed in some circles as the British Geoff Rowley). The recent and fully rational exuberance around non-fungible tokens provides a medium thru which to capture, stockpile and eventually reap untold riches as handrail tricks again come to dominate ‘the conversation,’ and indeed, our day to day lifes.

Is Mike Mo Capaldi’s digital collectibles venture ‘ABD’, detailed recently on The Bunt, already locking up undervalued handrail-oriented intellectual property ahead of a coming NFT land rush? Will custom-built IG scrapers help moneyed trading firms monitor prevailing sentiment around particular pros and tricks to better calculate fair value of digital skating assets, and the opportune time to buy and sell? Are there right now handrail tricks gathering dust in the attics and basements of parents’ houses, to be one day thrown up on a future Ebay or StockX type platform and swarmed by bot-wielding middle-agers, flush with cash and determined to land bid-battle hammers?

*Edited by noted camerophile Johnathan Shanahan
**Provided they do the correct thing and put on Hosea Peeters

One Louder

December 4, 2021

Where tightly plotted intricacy doesn’t work, apply overwhelming force — such is the Skater of the Year-centric read on Mark Suciu’s ‘Flora III’ vid, the latest and most dizzying in a flurry of fourth-quarter footage releases that it is tough to consider through many other lenses. The sheer quantity of tricks and lines that Mark Suciu has digitally distributed over the past six weeks must stand as some type of record, likely matching in the entire career output of multiple early 1990s pros.

The focus, discipline and ‘clean livin’ required for such feats still are relatively new behaviours to the skateboarding sphere, where the misfit rebel motif remains as beloved to the average skatepark vibe as it is to the beverage conglomerate marketing campaigns. This is also the source of skateboarding’s conflicted attitudes toward effort — specifically letting it show too much, versus putting it in at the spot — and the ensuing queasiness toward overt SOTY campaigning, as contest podium-standers don Thrasher shirts and turn up the heavy metal for November video part drops. It’s uncouth to talk much about it. Several decades removed from the industry crashes and societal rejection that put a gravestone on Thrasher’s cover and affixed a chip on skateboarding’s collective shoulder, there remains a risk in coming off like you’re trying too hard, or believing your own hype; in the same way dead-eyed casualism is the preferred roll-away, aloof detachment is the preferred career approach.

“I tried that year,” Mark Suciu said on the ‘9 Club’ pod cast last summer, in response to a question of whether he would make a ‘push’ to win Thrasher’s legend-making Skater of the Year award. In 2019 he had a head of steam built up with his landmark ‘Verso’ project nearly done and plenty more footage to spread around, and the Thrasher powers seemed to take notice, inviting him on trips and making him confront the question of whether and what type of effort he ought to make. “At first I was like, what? Nah. Then I was like what, wait, what if I was? How do we start backwards, how do I prove to myself that I earned it? So it made that whole year really fun for me because I was trying to skate hard, trying to live up to that.”

The nod wound up going to longtime Thrasher favorite and certified madman Milton Martinez, probably cemented the moment he rolled across the street after kickflipping into the monstrous Sunset Carwash bank. Mark Suciu wound up putting out yet another video for Habitat that year, then took a break, and while he voiced no ill will on the 9-Club, the whole process sounded sort of draining. “I found out like everybody else, on Instagram,” he said. “Which was fine.”

Two years later, Mark Suciu’s assumed a commanding presence in the last days of skateboarding’s 2021 award season with a consummate professional’s approach, spreading his output among his sponsors and friends in an increasingly deafening torrent. At one point this web logging website had suggested his prodigious ability would show in sharper relief via fewer, more distilled vids centered mainly around the tricks that only he could do or think of, but as this bold year of the ox nears its close, it’s clear he is going the other way, a precision operator instead choosing max volume.

The last minutes of his two most recent video parts* lay it out there — in the Spitfire one, he deals out tricks at the NY courthouse before literally heading across the street and continuing with a battery of tricks at the Blubba. The more western-coast ‘Flora’ section peaks with two minutes of shoving, spinning and increasingly contorted handrail tricks that draw on his earlier feats and spraying a bunch of new ones, like a fakie take on the Davis Torgerson nollie frontside hurricane, a Lutzka type spin to blunt, a nollie 360 backside nosegrind, and various others fit to test a blog post’s daily allotment of hyphens. Whereas the final ‘Verso’ segment was a puzzle to try and figure out as Mark Suciu linked tricks and lines into nested bookends, the last couple minutes of the ‘Flora III’ vid on initial watch are one of the more visceral experiences in recent memory, the tricks blasted out in shock-and-awe fashion with no slow-mo or fades to black, evidence laid out in a case that leaves very little room for doubt.

Presuming a Skater of the Year win doesn’t lead Mark Suciu to step away from professional skating as he’s contemplated in the past, is a bowl part bound to be his next medium? How many more k-grind to switch k-grind iterations could he have tacked onto the 3x combo if that one double ledge setup were longer? How much runtime would a vid like this have if Justin Albert were to have chosen a Screwed Up Click/’Baker2G’ approach? If the award going to Mark Suciu doesn’t all the way dispel the side-eye toward overt SOTY campaigning, will having a literary minded, college educated Thrasher laureate help sketch out another archetype for the kids?

*this is over the last two weeks dudes

‘Never Put So Much Time And Effort Into Any Single Goal In My Life’ — Runners N Riders For 2021’s SOTY Season

November 6, 2021

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I put into this!” exclamated David Gravette last week on Insta-Gramm; “Without a doubt I have never put so much time and effort into any single goal in my life.” The noted Creature fiend was gushing not over bagging a trophy handrail or handling some monstrous gap, but rather hooking a salmon on a fly road, hooked with an October caddis nymph, of all things. While David Gravette cradled his mauve-and-sewer-green triumph in the PNW streamwaters before letting it loose again, reality TV game show host Andy Roy’s chance encounter with a sackful of aluminum cans sent him down his own fogged memory lane to recycling hammers during his years on the struggle, balling for position against other refuse collectors at Potrero Park.

Both social media posts earned several flame emojis, but also provided a glimpse of achievements to be claimed beyond the skateboard realm. For several worthies, however, the biggest prize in ‘tha game,’ Thrasher MagaZine’s yearly Skater Of The Year, remains tantalizingly within reach; which of this year’s early contenders has more gas left in the tank for an awards-season push, and which others have yet to reveal their true powers? Let’s read on.

Jack O’Grady: for an aged web blog’s money, the most ‘Thrasher’ of the lot and squarely of the Milton Martinez mold, freshly minted pro-fessional Jack O’Grady provides Australian crust and concrete in spades via his springtime ‘Pass~Port Part,’ with plenty of caterwauling ride-aways and slams and generally questionable judgment, like that gap kickflip into the bank, for instance. Tristan Funkhauser’s eye-popping China Banks FSA didn’t quite dethrone Jack O’Grady’s technicolour rail-to-rail leap for Thrasher’s best cover of 2021, but does he got more coming to ‘seal the deal’ before the early-December drop-dead date?

Yuto Horigome: skater of the next three years in the hearts and minds of the billions of new heads worldwide now tuned to backside kickflip nosegrinds and 360s into shit, Mike Sinclair’s Olympic meal ticket has a credible bid for the also-significant Thrasher award, having nollie backside spun his self onto the cover of the mag in the process of videotaping his ‘Yuto Show’ part for April Skateboards earlier this year. He brought some fairly intense handrail stuff, like the nollie backside noseblunt and the switch pupecki grind and the backside sugarcane, though it remains to be determined how much weight an Olympic gold doubloon holds with the Thrasher brain trust, if any.

Chima Ferguson: Knowed as ‘the Thunder From Down in Australia,’ Chima Ferguson broke out Andrew Reynolds’ ‘Stay Gold’ manual for purposes of shutting down Vans’ recent ‘Appreciate U Bro’, interspersing big flip tricks down gaps with clean-cut ledge and flatground lines, while also manualing off the side of a building and nosegrinding what effectively seemed to be a type of shed. Chima Ferguson went the two the hard way over handrails, sailed over sidewalk warning bumps, and made Jack O’Grady’s kinker grind down the St Martin’s Place double set somehow seem a lil bit smaller after blasting an ollie all the way down. Does he now got enough cutting-room floor materials and the intestinal fortitude to record a few more heaters for a late-November follow-up?

Felipe Nunes: If Danny Way’s invention of a new way of skating via the MegaRampTM was enough to merit the only really justified SOTY repeat, Felipe Nunes’ feats in his ‘Limitless’ vid this year should earn similar consideration. On the theoretical pro skater character sheet Felipe Nunes’ ability ratings for power, confidence and creativity all would be maxed out — he hits famed street gaps and rails, throws an above-the-coping 540, spins a backside 360 onto a rail and finds approaches spots that traditionally legged pros wouldn’t be able to manage, like on the moistened film-roll QP. The shot of this dude climbing a fence is impressive all by itself.

Evan Smith: Getting yourself arrested in the process of securing a Thrasher cover photo hopefully provides an obligatory pass to at least the semi-final rounds of Skater O The Year consideration, even if being passed over for several years running may not. At this point in Evan Smith’s wide-eyed, grime-caked and bandy-legged career it’s easy to forget that in the early going with Element.com he could’ve gone the energy drink and contest circuit route, versus the somewhat less well-trod path involving dog shit eating and kickflip wallriding on glass walls. This year of the Ox hasn’t been Evan Smith’s heaviest in terms of output, but his ‘Uma Landsleds’ section had one of the longest noseslide to backside tailslide combos in recent history, a nollie inward heelflip steered calmly into GX territory and one of just a few Clipper lines to involve a kickflip down the first set. Evan Smith doesn’t come off like a campaigner but does have the talent and seemingly boundless energy to release some other vid before the month is out.

Mark Suciu: After the torrid pace of 2019 and the mental torture involved in completing his landmark ‘Verso’ project, the comparatively lower stakes of a sub-5 minute vid for some custom-colored Gazelles look good on perennial most-talented-skateboarder-on-planet-earth candidate Mark Suciu. A little bit more of an upbeat song helps too, making him look a little looser flipping his way across those Bay Area and New York waterfronts, exuding PJ Ladd flatground energy til he runs out of cobblestones. With Mark Suciu nearly every project has some trick it seems like you haven’t seen before, like the backside tailslide to 5-0 to pivot around at Pier 7 and the backside tailslide to backside tailslide in this one, and there are some flashes of ‘hammer Suciu,’ like the switch 5-0 and the big switch frontside 360. As far as Skater of the Year, he sounded fairly over it as per his ‘Nine Club’ appearance, but he also mentioned having a couple other videos more or less in the can.

Experimental Drugs, Dead Gods And Locust Swarms: Runners And Riders For 2020 SOTY

October 11, 2020

And this calamitous year shifts now into high gear for the final quarter. The USA president, administered experimental drugs to save his life from a bat-borne disease. Eddie Van Halen, guitar diety, claimed by the Grim Reaper. Brawny hurricanes pummel our valuable beaches and locust swarms afflict Africa’s farms.

Anti-Hero Skate Boards, that atoll of relative calm betwixt the news cycle’s fearsome winds that also employs Frank Gerwer, this past week took the unusual step of sponsoring and affixing its famous eagle logo to the vice USA presidential debates (seen above) to remind those seeking cranium-ready sand openings that Skater of The Year season is again in full swing. Must Chris Pfanner’s cool-headed and European approach to existentially risky handrails be considered in any such conversation? Will 2020 be the year that ‘at last’ delivers the coveted Rusty artifact to the doorstep of a perennial contender? Could a hazy concoction of absentee ballots, hanging chads and unknowable identities of persons most mysterious forever cast an asterisk-shaped shadow over this, the first SOTY of these new roaring ’20s? Let’s read on.

Alexis Ramirez: With a solid grip on curtain-closing activities in Sk8Mafia’s video productions and a pungent tailwind from 2014 SOTY Wes Kremer, Alexis Ramirez has impressed with various IG-ready full-circle planter grinds while covering nearly all bases in last summer’s ‘2020 Promo’, from rooftop bomb-drops to rainbow-ledged SD schoolyards to the big bars. He returned this week, with another six-minute segment that drafts off the life-affirming TikTok of the moment and includes a head-scratcher of a backside lipslide bounce-out.

Louie Lopez: The first line in that ‘Lola’ part from August pretty much says it, 360 flip up a curb, hop up onto a ledge, frontside shove out to backside nosegrind on a planter, precise and easygoing and velvet-soft. Louie Lopez is one of those skaters whose highly nonchalant execution can distract from the hairyness of the tricks and situations, like his backside lipslide shoves-out for instance, and stuff like the tailslide pop to tailslide in his concurrent ‘II’ vid for FuckingAwesome makes it all look like kind of a lark. He’s got a Thrasher cover and likely more on deck, but is he the ‘right’ SOTY for such a grim, tumultuous year?

Mason Silva: Owner of the year’s most beastly Thrasher cover so far, the whiff of inevitability follows yung Mason Silva, hopping from Element to NorCal’s storied Deluxe kingdom and dropping video parts with unsettling regularity. It’s a real shame about the filming on that gargantuan bank ollie, but the dude skates like he’s got plenty of gas in the tank and the sponsorship firepower to make a formidable fourth-quarter press. The remarkable clips in the Nike part, Mason Silva’s effort toward a ‘Dylan’ statement-of-purpose, are too many to fully list — the 180 fakie manual half-cab out at the bumpy NY banks, the halfcab wallride over the rail, the snowboard kicker 360, the #fakiehard — and at this point it seems much like his award to lose.

Evan Smith: The starry-eyed rambler’s seat among likely finalists seems de rigueur in these last few years, as does multiple crazy parts from him within the 12-month calendar. There was his blurred, kaleidoscopic part for Anti Hero’s Grimple imprint, where he at one point did a kickflip backside wallride backside 180 out on a roof, and then another 5 minutes for DC Shoe, including that long k-grind drop down to backside 50-50, kickflips over and down and through a bunch of stuff and the occasional, sort of incongruous Droors shirt. A rumored new board company could provide the platform for yet another Evan Smith vid by early December, but you wonder whether his moment to capture the SOTY trophy is passing, sort of like longrunning runners-up Dane Burman and Clive Dixon, both of whom registered powerful footage this year — Clive Dixon noseblunted the Staples Center ledge to one of our time’s illest-advised musical selections, remember — but seem again like long shots as the time draws nigh.

Tiago Lemos: There is a sort of confusing sequence toward the beginning of New Balance’s August ‘Trust Tiago’ vid where some dudes seem to be cutting/removing a bar after Tiago Lemos skates it, symbolizing the international discomfiture over his not having been awarded top prize, gilded crowns, chestsful of golden doubloons and other special honors corresponding to the skill level required for the fakie flip backside nosegrind shove-it out and other feats that Tiago Lemos has completed for several years now. Hopefully his moves toward deeper-pocketed sponsors over the last couple of years are supplying certain amounts of golden coins. As far as SOTY goes, Tiago Lemos must continue to be included on any contenders’ shortlist, and not for nothing he’s put out two more video parts this year, including the head-exploding emoji repeater hardflip frontside noseslide toward the end of his one for ‘Crupie Wheels.’

Elijah Berle: Flicka was the name of a mysterious mustang with a dangerously waving dark mane, and so we shall call Elijah Berle, who assumes a sort of ‘dark horse’ position with not a lot of footage or coverage to show as the seasons change, but now a bracing cover hinting at the long-deferred promise of video footage commemorating his migration to the lush but increasingly crowded FA stable a couple years ago. Elijah Berle’s teeth-chattering handrails and transition charges are Thrasher-approved, but it seems like he’d need a document of Tyshawn Jones proportions to command the nod after working away in the wings most of the year.

Last Days Of The ’10 SOTYs, For 90 Years Anyway

October 13, 2019

As another decade winds down, uninterrupted* by rogue asteroid strikes, Mayan doomsday prophecy or thermonuclear holocaust, we remain fortunate enough to ponder which professional-level skateboarder will absorb this, the final Skater of the Year trophy to be handed down before the dawn of a new decade, gilded with Olympic golds. It is an auspicious moment, the first short-pantsed bronze boarder handed down in Thrasher’s post-Jake Phelps era. Will the Knights Templar of Hunter’s Point raise up Mark Suciu, who screeched a precision frontside blunt across NY’s Con Edison banks, incredibly back to regular? To the bloodthirsty Milton Martinez, who ollied over the whole damn thing? Let’s read on.

Mark Suciu: Cultured, poised and stepping into the moment, streetstyle codebreaker Mark Suciu is the obvious contender if only because of the buckets’ worth of elbow grease he’s applied across the spectrum this year: Turned in a truck part, won the final Grotto Lotto, landed a Thrasher cover and interview, ripped the Dime Olympics, and wrangled not one but two media cycles out of a marathon, epic part that somehow managed to match the hype and map new dimensions of the form. Given Mark Suciu has ample time to film another couple video parts between now and mid-December, his candidacy has a certain whiff of inevitability, but two months are a long time.

Simon Bannerot: One of the increasingly reliable tentpoles of Girl’s new era, young and wavy PNWATV Simon Bannerot has done his bleeding and gotten it in that most Thrasher of theaters, the road. His turn on Thrasher’s ‘Am Scramble’ franchise netted a rare no-hands inverted cover, he conquered the Bronx’s four banks, unleashed the ender-ender for Girl’s UK tour vid, and conceivably could release some other video before the year is out. His comeback from a gnarly car accident would seem to answer the ‘has he suffered enough?’ Hewittism, but he may be deemed to require further seasoning.

Milton Martinez: The scion of a disgraced industrialist out to clear the family name and reclaim its fortunes, Milton Martinez brings the backstory and drive required for a late-innings Skater of the Year push, with Thrasher chops in spades. Over the course of the year Milton Martinez served up snippets of what he’s building toward, such as his blazing, downhill Australia line, his mountainside descent in April, the Independent and Volcom tour appearances, and now the threat of bigger things to come, a pulse-quickening kickflip into the hallowed Sunset carwash to set off 2019’s final sprint. Presumably, he has a video in the offing.

Clive Dixon: Did you remember that Birdhouse put out a video earlier this year? Perhaps not, but the Thrasher brain trust certainly does, having turned one cover over to Clive Dixon’s jaw-slackening handrail spin on Jeremy Wray’s water tower leap, and his more recent Staples noseblunt slide, with the really odd backdrop of Geoff Rowley’s bronzed 50-50 in the backdrop, presumably missing just by a hair. For those keeping score at home Clive Dixon also nollie noseblunted El Toro last year, but does he have more to uncork prior to year’s end?

Bobby Worrest: The champion of the people, the AVE-category 2019 veteran ballot entry, the king of Pulaski, Bobby Worrest played a major role in this year’s somewhat improbable but very welcome Venture resurgence, turning in an overstuffed Gucci bag of a part that included the now-notorious ‘up the three’ line, with only the house music throbs holding it back from immediate classic certification. Bobby Worrest quickly resurfaced in Gang Intl’s ‘Facades’ last summer, made an obligatory appearance in Nike’s ‘Crust Belt’ tour, and seems like he never runs out of fuel or fresh angles on those beloved Washington blocks. With Tiago Lemos not overtly tilting toward this year’s title, Bobby Worrest is the candidate most easily imagined in a gilded throne SOTY cover along the lines of Brian Anderson’s CMB-themed entry.

Rowan Zorilla: After a sleeper part being zoomed in and out upon in Bill Strobek’s ‘Blessed’ Film last year, off-kilter Shep Dawger Rowan Zorilla in 2019 has slouched back into a more lackadaisical pose, closing out the second installment of Iphone vibe project ‘Boys of Summer’ II — a t-shirt and sweater-promoting vehicle that included him fakie 360 flipping up the EMB steps, an important trick for people to know about. A more ‘serious’ part, if such a descriptor could be applied to Rowan Zorilla’s unique, bandy-legged swerves, would seem to hinge upon ‘Baker 4’ arriving before year’s end. But this is an even-money bet at best for a proven ‘keep it skate’ company that could opt to reward nostalgia for late-90s style two-year ‘coming soon’ campaigns and pushed back release dates.

*as of this writing.

Cellar Door Seeking, Switch Backside 5-0 Grinding, Contented Old Men

June 22, 2019

O, it is a difficulty, amidst these hostile troll farms, the spammy bots, the federal US antitrust privacy probes, the poisonous and pervasive loudness — recall, citizen, that there once was a time when The Internet was envisaged to become a digital daisy-chain bridging cultural and physical gaps, drawing disparate populaces closer, and placing mammalian humanoids on a path toward a computer-enhanced shangri-la similar to the one depicted in Star Trek Tha Next Generation. In the current moment it instead comes off as something of a wi-fi enabled social cheese grater, slicing our species into smaller and smaller social factions fittable inside cozy bubbles depicted in a five-years-too-late Alien Workshop graphic, and ripe for a post-singularity steamrolling by the Earth’s presumptive machine custodians. In the meantime DGK’s giving Kevin Taylor a guest board though.

Third-grade math posits one of life’s great lessons, that it is possible, at least when multiplying two negative figures, to come away with a positive. So it is that living generations must contemplate Bobby Puleo’s recent, sunnier turn via several Internet-based longform media appendages. Nearly two decades ago, back toward the time when the skate-o-sphere expanded enough to fragment into a mainstream, an underground and various other subdisciplines identifiable via trick trends and readily purchased uniforms, the public perception of Bobby Puleo began to shift — the velvet-footed bank-to-ledge artist seemed to harden his Oyolist views regarding street skating purity, growing a beard, earning a reputation for obsessive spot secrecy, and voicing (if not enforcing) a rigid framework of unwritten law regarding who should be filming or taking photos at what spots. Observers observed a shift from goofy shimmying in ‘Static II’s definitive part to electronically haranguing Josh Stewart over corporate employerships and matters of general cred, later deriding Mark Suciu’s Philadelphia residency as “tourist types coming in and running through the resources.” In Solo a couple years back, he put it like this: “I don’t have a lot of rules, but there are rules.”

In a pursuit ostensibly based in large part on rejection of organized sport conventions, rules very much included, this occasionally got peoples’ backs up and branded Bobby Puleo something of a scold. It’s a role he sometimes seemed to knowingly lean into, such as his zestful grousing over Theories inexplicably replicating one of his old ads for a Hopps/Cons promo last year. Other times he has come off reflexively cynical, like his critique of Steve Brandi’s coming out around the time of the Cons/Hopps product launch.

Earlier this year, when Chris Roberts’s Nine Club podcast unveiled a nearly three-hour sitdown with Bobby Puleo, listeners of a certain age braced for a dogmatic, graduate-level ‘True East’-minded lecture laced with detours into numerology-based population control. While an ages-long alliance between Freemasons and The Great Old Ones potentially forced Nine Club controllas to edit out the latter, Bobby Puleo’s continued ruminations on early 1990s rap music law guiding his philosophies came off more measured and less didactic, perhaps because it arrived alongside rambling stories about losing a wheel en route to a SoCal skatepark (Bobby Puleo skates skateparks — California ones no less), his own intense fan fixations (‘Mouse’-era Guy Mariano, vintage stickers, his dream of attending board-collector swap meet Skater-Con*), and his endearingly hyper-specific footage preferences (Texas backyard vert ramps).

This month Thrasher centered one of its ‘Out There’ segments on Bobby Puleo, graybeareded and gamely reminiscing on his first cellar door, cruising on his bike for back-alley spots, and hunting for aesthetically affecting garbage to make into art projects. Here, his tricks remain quick-feeted and feather soft, but there is little sign of the fearsome and uncompromising Bobby Puleo one might worry would blindfold you and drive you around for several hours before pulling up at the spot to film tricks. Touring his childhood spots, the vid raises the prospect of a galaxy collapsing back in upon itself in a sort of ‘big crunch’ that could perhaps end/begin again with a more contented, peaceable Bobby Puleo.

Is time sanding off Bobby Puleo’s harsher edges, are the rest of us getting harder in a mean age, or has the text-based medium of earlier Internet communications obscured something in his tone all these years? Are purity and happiness mutually exclusive? Do those found-object art pieces contain crytograph puzzle clues that, properly assembled, will lead some future Bobby Puleo devotee to uncover his secret map of spots decades in the future? Why is ‘the industry’ continuing to ignore Godzilla’s ballooning heaviness? Have you ever seen a bad Kevin Taylor photo?

Check Out

March 10, 2019

Perhaps Pat Canale called it 20 years ago, bemoaning in Big Brother the ‘rave’ that was Transworld’s latest Ty Evans-helmed video. Pat Canale’s ‘rave’ critique became the subject of debate and scorn, most notably upon Ty Evans’ ‘FUCK CANALE’ grip job featured in ‘Chomp On This’ and also among certain rave circles. But, on the eve of Transworld print magazine’s passage into shadow, a man may take his moment to reflect on change, loss and techno raves. When the night grows darkest, when the lightless hours stretch out like yearsold sweatpants of blackest cotton, who remains? The premiere acts’ fans have gone, the dilettantes tucked in to sleep, the drug devotees scattered to their dens; those left are the true believers, or maybe just lost track of time. Sooner or later, the rave can no longer sustain itself, the party ends and everybody goes to Denny’s.

All that’s already been said is true: In those days of yore, before informational freedom and global connectivity enabled navel-gazers to signal boost and flatten medium access to sub-pancake levels, Transworld stood among a very few and precious portals to a then-exotic subculture. A glossy wormhole accessible from junior high libraries and Texaco magazine stands, through which a Midwestern middle schooler or Euro teen could peer into fantastical ramp configurations, learning tribal lingos, tracing fingers from the coping over the channel, circling in blue ink deck-graphic thumbnails that could sharpen anticipation to unbearable heights while those rectangular cardboard boxes inched their way from California.

But even when Transworld was running flatground flip trick covers and experimenting with non-static layouts, the platform Tracker built already was laying the foundation that would allow TWS more than any other legacy skateboard media property to expand and enrich itself in the 900/X-Games/THPS era: Reliably, its swears hunkered down under relatively safe font-size limits; it became the default venue as the Girl/Chocolate and World camps settled into grown-up LA apartments, cut-and-sew tops and luxury sedans, while Thrasher was fucking with Pete the Ox. Throwing open its pages to much-maligned ads for deodorant, hair gel, consumer packaged goods and the US military helped swell Transworld’s page count to Sears catalog levels and bankrolled video equipment that Ty Evans and his successors would use to revolutionize the skate video. Ramped slow-mo, meticulous editing cuts and Gap-ready techno singles were woven into top-shelf skating from both coasts — and even Thrasher standbys — into an incredible string of annual releases running from ‘Feedback’ to ‘The Reason’ to ‘Modus Operandi’ to ‘Sight Unseen’ to ‘IE’ to ‘In Bloom’ in a streak that now seems impossible to match.

While Thrasher survived its years in the wilderness and middling video efforts by building up its SOTY franchise and positioning itself for the great genre-mooshing ushered in by the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tour, TWS too-comfortably oriented itself around steadily fading Xerox copies of its golden-age video format — the voiceovers and interludes stuck around way too long and the caliber of skaters struggled to rise to the old, iconic levels as pros proliferated and video projects ballooned into multi-year, pan-global money-losers, hoarding footage and photos as they went. Transworld’s VHS/DVD-driven powers began to ebb around the same time that digital storage costs began to fall and broadband internet powers proliferated, shifting the center of the coverage universe away from company- and magazine-backed full-lengths and toward content-farm online platforms and eventually where it is today, Instagram and Thrasher.

Losing the mobile video battle to its longtime NorCal rival helped to seal Transworld’s fate, and surely is ironic given Transworld’s prowess within VCRs and DVD players for a good decade or so. But it is too easy to count Transworld among the newsstand bodies piled high by advertising’s shift to screens, even with its steadily shrinking pagecount and shift to bimonthly publication schedule putting the magazine in danger well before its print plug got pulled in the same game of corporate-asset hot potato that took out Alien Workshop and sunk Zoo York.

The wood-chippering of this once-mighty subcultural tentpole is sad and symptomatic of a broader entropy at play across skating, which has splashed board companies and screenprint brands across the scene like stars in the evening sky. There now are lanes, and lucrative ones, for Swedish H-Street devotees, head-tatted French gutter punks, runway-walking guitar strummers, Andy Roy, first-billing Soundcloud rappers, Saturday morning cartoon breakfast cereal bowl-drinkers. Transworld’s print magazine has not only become superfluous — the big-tent middle that was the magazine’s strength has been hollowed out and scattered across dozens of smaller camps. The East Coast/EU/underground surge that Transworld commendably, maybe calculatedly, but too late tried to harness for its new core unfortunately wasn’t enough, even with a Bronze champagne drip. As Transworld continues, in some respect, as a lower-cost online entity, the watch now is on to see if they update their own list of deceased print mags.

How many lunar cycles shall pass before Transworld’s current owners recognize and reap nostalgia for the magazine’s golden period via limited-edition, expensively priced hardcover books and photographic prints, or find new owners who will? Did Transworld’s video golden age end with ‘Sight Unseen,’ ‘Free Your Mind,’ ‘Subtleties’ or ‘And Now’? Will Thrasher offer any heartfelt send-off for its southern nemesis in the next ‘Trash’ column or will they take the opportunity to twist the knife? Can you find and identify all of the outdated technologies referenced in this blog posting about Transworld as an outdated technology laid low by its reliance on other outdated technology? Is it ironic in the traditional sense that this post itself comes in a years-out-of-fashion weblog format, or just in the Alanis Morissette sense?

The Great American SOTY Chase of 2018

November 10, 2018

First it was a blue wave, then a red wall, smashing out a purple rain (or golden shower) over a green revolution and sporadic outbreaks of orange justice. This year, the campaign for Thrasher’s Skater of the Year appears colourful and relatively wide open amid tentpole video releases, a revitalized underground contest circuit, and Viceland continuing to provide a televised venue for which ascendant bros can make sacrifices unto the skate-goat, to the extreme. Who in the skateboarding business has the power and position to contend for Thrasher’s ultimate prize?

Corey Glick: Moustachioed Midwesterner Corey Glick’s punch-through in 2018’s back half may provide some balm to that sore question — whether it’s possible these days to capture the Rusty trophy without the backing of deep-pocketed footwear marketers, corn-syrup/caffeine mixologists and other moneyed interests. The current Foundation squad seems as painfully working class as they come, which seemed no impediment to Corey Glick’s KOTR heroics on the Super Co’s behalf, or maybe, it helped. The TV turn and last year’s ‘Am Scramble’ attendance places him in the conversation, and his scorching section in Foundation’s ‘Souvenir’ promo is a persuasive argument, wherein Corey Glick took the lead among an unlikely crop of wallie-to-noseblunt slide clips this year, and sailed an unbelievable, barely-on-his-soles ollie to wrap the vid and secure the professional bag. The backside noseblunt shove-it heavily contends for trick of the year.

Zion Wright: There is a whiff of inevitability around the yung bro, possibly wafting by association from Floridian colleague and 2017 FLOTY to SOTY Jamie Foy, who Zion Wright seems to match in handrail fearlessness and maybe surpasses in terms of transition 540s. The newly incorporated Vice component may have shrunk the number of years dudes need to suffer and burn on the national scene to qualify for a SOTY nod, though by the time of its airing Zion Wright had already half-cab backside smith grinded Hollywood High’s long pole, along with that 50-50 to backside tailslide in Philly and the no-hander QP backside 360. Last month he captured December’s cover and odds seem better than even that he releases some other type of part before the year’s out.

Austyn Gillette: His tricks settling into a nicely grizzled groove as the days of gangly switch feeble grind shove-its fade, modern man Austyn Gillette maybe is a long shot for this magazine award, stacked clip-for-clip versus various uber-achieving peers. Within the realm of the qualitative, where tricks are the products of hand-labour and all moustaches neatly trimmed, Austyn Gillette’s ringing ‘Radiant Cure’ part crunched hubbas and rewound shove-its, flexing one of the industry’s most reliable switch 360 flips. He poured his heart out to Thrasher in one of the year’s more penetrating interviews, later tucked in for the nigh-unpronounceable EPØKHE clip and put on a late-summer clinic at LES. His weightiest contribution may have been to inspire one of the decade’s most impassioned trick-nomenclature debates.

Evan Smith: The Thrasher clan has celebrated Evan Smith’s spastic precision for years, and between his MVP KOTR acronym-hoarding and the follow-up interview feature in his cover-photo issue, the High Speed powers that be seem to have fully embraced his wide-eyed, chronically curious personal brand. Finally receiving a Skater of the Year honour would be a long time coming for Evan Smith, who’s been a credible candidate for the last several years, offering both blockbuster-level tricks and a tall measure of sweat-lodge creativity, which tends to put some distance between the visionaries and dudes who can just do every trick. In 2016 he brought mirror-image, gap-incorporating kickflip wallrides; this year it’s a frontside kickflip water-whip and street 540s. He is the heaviest favorite.

Mason Silva: A no-frills ripper who put in ‘King of the Road’ miles on this year’s winning Element assemblage, Mason Silva’s also dispersed video parts for ‘Peace’ and the leather-and-wetsuits handstitcher set at Former. You can tell Mason Silva is a workhorse by the way he takes frontside bigspin tricks over rails and gaps the hard way, or the early pop commitments required to travel fakie over bump-to-bars and handrails. He arguably could come with still more footage before the year’s out, but then again on the other hand, his crewcut and love for the frontside 360 seem reminiscent of Jeremy Wray, a perennial Skater of the Year runner-up.

Tyshawn Jones: This generation’s undisputed king of New York romps through the city with the Gonz and promises a landmark part in Bill Strobeck’s soon-to-debut ‘Blessed’ opus for Supreme, and given that most of the yung restauratuer’s moves this year have been made in and around NY, odds favor a Jake Johnson ‘Mindfield’ tilt at the gnarliest and hardest-to-tackle spots on offer across the five borroughs. One of those — a train station ollie that Quartersnacks placed a bounty on months back — just landed the first Thrasher cover of the New Year, and earned the AVE endorsement.

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’?