Posts Tagged ‘Toy Machine’

As Skating Leads a Parade for Brian Anderson, Does a G-Code!!! Hat Remain Strapped to Its Collective Noggin?

October 1, 2016

juvenile_tha_g_-_code_slowed_chopped-front-large

This week skateboarding rejoiced, heralding the justifiably jubilant event that was Brian Anderson’s coming out, while collectively exhaling at the acknowledgement of 10 years’ worth of rumors traded between parking-lot lines and across skateshop counters. Brian Anderson’s moment carries weight. Unlike Tim Von Werne’s buried interview and Jarrett Berry’s noteworthy/novelty cover turn for Big Brother, this arrives freighted with a universally beloved style, a caseful of contest trophies, parts in the best videos of their eras, and a Skater of the Year title in its most worthy form — a nod that proved out for years afterward. If you were to tally some imaginary checklist for gay people’s ideal skate ambassador, BA leaves few empty boxes.

Gio Reda’s at times shaky doc gets over due to Brian Anderson approaching the discussion with the same type of nonchalant grace that repopularized the hurricane grind, and steered a backside smith grind down the UCI hubba. There’s an all star cast of well-wishers, some understandable gravitas — BA’s simple reason for waiting this long to make his statement, being “freaked out” — and in the long tradition of skate vid skits there’s humor of both intentional (Biebel, Bluto) and unintentional (the hurried assurances that skaters are not Brian Anderson’s type).

Even with relatively little at stake as his pro career ticks past the 20-year mark, Brian Anderson deserves enormous credit for taking a step that can immeasurably help current and future gay kids who skate, and improve skateboarding’s increasingly tough-to-make case as a semi-lawless sanctuary open to whoever, be they misfit, malcontent, mordantly mundane, or otherwise. Even as skating emerges from the dregs of premium-extended cable packages to ascend the most lucrative podiums of international Olympic telecasts, it has failed to keep pace with even the most mainest streamy major league sports, those at which the four-wheeled persuasion still would look down their chipped noses. Gay NFL and NBA players already have identified themselves; some ex-baseball players have been out for years. Even the U.S. military, whose advertisements still draw derision when they grace skate mags’ supposedly less-conforming and higher-minded pages, six years ago dropped ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.’ For all the comparisons skating has drawn between itself and art, figure skating and rock music, it’s lagged these too.

If there is any silver lining the rainbow-coloured flag skating now heartily waves, it is that Baker’s ‘G-Code!!!’ hat sales may not have been in vain. Despite Brian Anderson’s sexuality having been more or less an open secret among skaters for more than a decade, to this blogging web page’s knowledge he never was called out publicly on it, nor put on the spot in any interview. Skateboarding is terrible bad at keeping secrets and in some sense it may have been assumed as common knowledge. But decades of ducking the law’s long arm, ignoring posted prohibitions and any number of other related illegalities seem to have kept some anti-snitching sentiment embedded in the industry. Missteps get called out — Jeremy Laebreres rowed back after an ill-considered Patrick Melcher recollection and Wes Kremer’s SOTY status didn’t absolve him from narrowed eyes after recently putting Smolik on front street. BA’s personal business is not in that pejorative realm, which maybe makes it that much more impressive that it wasn’t trotted out for him at some point.

Will BA’s big step prompt any of the supposed half dozen or so other gay pros to similarly raise their hands? Is this the type of after-black documentary hammer that assures Giovanni Reda hangs onto a pro-model slot on Viceland some five or ten years after he’s filmed anything? Where were Donny Barley and the Muska in the doc? How will history judge Andy Roy’s ‘snuggle bandit’ interview in the arc of skateboarding’s gradual embrace of its gay brethren and sisters? Could a renewed thirst to film tricks flow from Brian Anderson’s recently reinvigorated Instagram activity?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Tum Yeto Road Trip, 411 #29

July 5, 2016


Tum Yeto hoisted itself to perhaps the hoistiest of its various golden ages in the waning months of the 1990s partly thanks to visceral and brutally earned slam sections that reserved a singular ability to snuff any spark to skate that the preceding video had kindled. Jarring bails pepper this 411 road trip through Canada, populated by a wrecking-ball cast belonging at this point to another age: an Adio-endorsing, lion-maned Jamie Thomas; Mike Maldonado, decked out in corn rows and late shove-its; Ed Templeton impossible tailgrabbing with a few hundred miles’ worth of buffer from the Huntington Beach Pier fleshpots; Elissa Steamer at her pre-Bootleg peak; handrail doubles runs; Adrian Lopez, full cabbing John Drake’s ender spot from ‘Time Code;’ board-catching dome pieces; a miniramp-wrecking Bam Margera, face as yet unlined by the gravities and scars of a reality television career. This clip, considered in some circles the greatest 411 tour part evar, also features a content-complementing, classically licensing-friendly Dischord catalog pick.

Hillside Strangler

October 14, 2012

The re-emergence of the transition/all-terrain discipline over the last 5-6 years has brought much good, including renewed reverence for certain ’80s pros, pants of the canvas persuasion and counteracting the counter-intuitive notion of striving to keeping one’s action sporting sneakers crisp. However, a potential rogue thread woven into this fine flannel has been the de-emphasizing of the street grab in favor of the bowl or vert variety. Here we wade into a minefield of hot words and controversy and people rightly will point to various stink-bug stylings and the horrendous notion of tuck-knees down gaps, and it’s folly to argue, though I would submit that the melon grab is the exception proving the rule in this case.

Years ago I misplaced the Thrasher containing the above Satva Leung photo but it stuck with me to the point that when I ran across it on some blog I hurriedly right-clicked away to reclaim this digital rendition, glad to no longer feel obligation to paw through old boxes of mouldering magazines after it. The shot came to mind during Brandon Westgate’s SF bombing run and more recently in Elissa Steamer’s memory-lane trip back to Ed Templeton’s island of misfit toys. Don’t recall ever seeing footage of this trick but the boost Satva Leung looks to get off the sidewalk bump points to a separate righteous melon grab employed in a PA ditch by another former Toy Machiner, Bam Margera, in “Jump Off A Building.” The case could be made that this was some type of golden age for this move given that “Thrill of It All” dropped around the same time featuring a good backside rendition by Jamie Thomas, who also on behalf of Emerica deployed the notorious “ninja” varietal. What other melon grabs deserve to live on for perpetuity in Valhalla, hall of the slain? Does anybody got a good switch melon?

Summertime Mixtape #3: Adrian Lopez “Misled Youth”

June 6, 2012

This video hit like the proverbial ton of bricks when it came out and the lineup’s still heavy 13 years later — Jamie Thomas, Ellington, Mumford, Greco and Adrian Lopez, who in particular was kicking new holes through reality at the time. Nobody was taking backside tailslides to the levels he pushed in this section, as far as both scale and distance (that gap to ledge here) and at the time putting that trick onto a rail at all was worth talking about. Zero’s trademark quick-cut editing is in full effect here but even if the clips weren’t trimmed to the bone I feel like this part wouldn’t be as visceral if it were padded out to four minutes or more. Because of injuries or side-project clothing lines or lofty standards or whatever Adrian Lopez exited the stage some time ago — seemed like he might have had some kind of reverse-Samson thing going on where his powers diminished once he dropped the Bic — but you look at a guy like Gilbert Crockett and think about frontside shove-its and backside 50-50s and it makes sense that the same dude put on both him and Adrian Lopez.

How Many Months Do Yall Give Nick Trapasso’s Company With The Misspelled Name?

February 21, 2012

Probably it’s yet another sign that I’m getting older and higher strung and less cool with kids on the proverbial lawn that I look at the newly launched Life Extention Skateboard Group LLC and wonder not so much at its lifespan as much as the fact that it came together in the first place — when bros ten years older than I no doubt mumbled and grumbled the same thing about a decade back, around the unsteady unveiling of Baker. Say what you will about the various and sundry looks pursued by Jim Greco in the years since, but the Baker Bootleg boys bottled and guzzled the lightning of a very particular aesthetic that proved a lot longer-lived than even I would’ve thought, and I was a fan, although it seems like their vices/demons have plumbed greater depths than than this foglit new guard.

I’m not sure what they got together for the trade show, but they did approve a canned quote for a press release last month:
“The Life Extention Skateboard Group looks forward to working together with Blitz, to create an essential skateboard brand. Extend it,” said Trapasso.

As a card-carrying fan of the recently rejailed Lennie Kirk and respecter of risk-taking, I am compelled to acknowledge sheer balls, and the life-extenters look to be packing church bells — spearheaded by one of the industry’s spaciest cadets, sporting a misspelled name*, co-signed by malcontent recluse J Strickland, formed in the middle of an economic slow patch that’s steadily separating the old and infirm from the pack. Not that I’d begrudge the existence of a Tom Cruise-inspired company backed by some of the finer fuckups to fumble a tattoo gun in recent years, with the laid-back gumption to make good on the vow to deal decks out of their garage. If anything more of these kinds of shots oughtta be taken, even if the target’s invisible through a cloud of smoke and barrier of beer cans, to balance out the Business Plans For Dummies 2nd Edition strategizing and and paint-by-number logo decks pumped out each season. And what if they do blow it? Those early Big Brothers command classic status, and it was all those dudes could do to get issues out every couple months back then.

*I don’t believe that shit that they did it on purpose

If Grant Taylor Or Brandon Westgate Win Skater Of The Year, Will Leo Romero Evolve To Become Skateboarding’s Albert Gore?

November 10, 2010

If I learned anything watching the mildly psychedelic new Toy Machine production, it is that Leo Romero plays fast and loose with the laws that govern speed physics and US tax code, to such a degree that he must be branded a rebel. It is proven true by his moustache and cowboy hats. His taste for going fast and an eye for scale re: obstacle selection have turned him into one of the era’s most recognizable and bloggable pros, solidifying market share.

Yet the Leo era still harbours a gap not easily crossed by the four urethane wheels of a man. Can he capture the heart of skating’s loudest (and more or less historically accurate) Nor-cal critics, alongside the symbolic trophy and free beer a SOTY title promises? Will he reign in glory forevermore alongside Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Danny Way, or trod into his bank-skating autumn years an overlooked icon such as the Muska, pressedganged into conquering the LA record-playing business or New York spray paint art in lieu of the Phelper’s undying embrace.

Much like the Muska of yesteryear, Leo Romero currently is “in the groove” and securing trick-footage the likes of which will not be easily replicated. And they are dangerous tricks. You wish for a second angle on the final crooked grind of “Brainwash” to better judge how the rail kinks just so, but are left wondering. He forgoes the certainty of a motorcycle tow-in and instead just pushes as hard/many times as possible, maybe making the jump or maybe not. He throws himself onto deeply committed frontside feeble grinds that might wrap a lesser ‘boarder’s hardgoods around the metal pole. There is an ease of movement even when trying the otherwise nonsensical, like the up-rail tricks in the Emerica vid, that surfaces also in the mildly technical items he throws out now and then (nollie b/s heelflip off the curb and hydrant switch heelflip, “Brainwash,” b/s nosegrind nollie bigspin heelflip out, “Stay Gold” (even tho the sequence contained that one hilarious spread-eagle frame)).

Like Al Gore, Leo Romero has toiled in ditches to get where he is, flopping over handrails and spilling onto the sidewalk part of the job, but with the biggest popularity contest of the season now before him all chips are on the table. Speculation arises whether a shocking 2010 SOTY loss could drive him into a wilderness period, farming a beard and rethinking the whole reason God made him Senator of Tennessee, known to some as the “Volunteer” state. Perhaps he would try his hand at carpentry, or become a welterweight prize-fighter seeking redemption among a colorful cast of ne’er-do-wells, or feed the poor or create a book filled with detailed drawings of anatomy.

Two of Jake Phelps’ other musings for the title have been mentioned but a more plausible GWB-figure could maybe be found in team-mate Nick Trapasso, a renowned mumbler and word-mangler that has glided to a lofty position atop the skate heap with seeming ease and not a lot of stressing. Not breaking a sweat really this year, but Trapasso did rate the closer section in Thrasher’s still-fantastic “Prevent This Tragedy” and has impressed with what appears like an endless Santa-Claus sack of tricks (in “Brainwash” there’s a switch inward heelflip outta nowhere, and a nice nollie noseslide which has become one of those you suddenly don’t see often enough). A smoker/joker/mid-night toker who would be my pick for this year’s dark horse, if that counts for anything after the Chris Cole twopeat caught me completely off guard.

Matt Bennett Makes Love To Flatbars At 500 Miles Per Hour

May 5, 2010

In the high-velocity venue that possesses our lives, where the old-in-30-minutes Twitter info cycle has already probably rendered this post* obsolete, Matt Bennett’s recent pro vid and elevation to pro-dom itself is a paradox. Perhaps, the ultimate paradox. His lust for instant gratification finds him sipping from the Chewy Cannon cup of speed in this clip Toy Machine put up yesterday, streaking across a beloved ledge and flatbar setup all at a crazy rate. That rate, measured in micro-seconds, is such that his famously hard-to-manage hair nearly sticks out sideways as he rattles off a few tricks I can’t recall seeing for some time (I guess Mike Peterson had a switch hurricane in YOUGOTTAGETTHAT) and others like the b/s tail that are fast enough to require the courage of an eagle.

Perversely it seems like the Toy Machine Beavis’ broader career trajectory has been mired in tasty peanut butter, or maybe a Dairy Queen Blizzard. Kind of like Mike York in the late 1990s, it seems to me that this dude has already or should already have been granted a pro board, maybe a few times over, but then again my mind is soft. Whatever the case, people who huck backside 180s the hard way over big rails deserve some encouragement in what they do, and I dig that Matt Bennett rides so hard for the switch frontside noseslide.

*blog?

Gorilla Grip

April 12, 2010

Besides a flair for danger, eye for drama and a noble mane of hair, one of the things that made Jamie Thomas super exciting to watch in those early Toy Machine days was the uncanny way he had of sticking his trucks onto rails, be they round, skinny or otherwise. We are reminded of this fact as video maker and Fox Mulder kindred spirit Josh Stewart posts up a batch of vintage Jamie Thomas video, some of which wound up in “Welcome To Hell” and thereby helped it become revered as among the top ten greatest videos ever probably. The clip I’m thinking about here is the wallie grind on the white bar at night, but an equally boss example could be found in the finished product at about 2:56 wherein Jamie Thomas transfers his way across a different rail. (Also the one-footer/50-25 or also the credits clip.) There is more promised from the Atlantis vaults, but in the meantime make sure you watch all the Hopps commercials including this Police Squad-tinged entry.

Hey, Leo Romero Also Is Back On His Bullshit

May 20, 2009


Shoot the gun

So this RVCA* promo: basically it’s what you would expect, a load of longhairs in tight pants and red shoes, banks, jangly guitars, 5-0s and so on. It’s kind of less interesting to me than the company itself, as I’ve seen honest-to-god rappers wearing RVCA hats (I think in the XXL with Rawss on the cover) which made me wonder if RVCA is maybe far deeper in terms of, you know, cultural reach than I ever suspected, or perhaps they’re just the post-Vans revival DC except a clothing company. Which probably makes zero sense at all. Regardless Nestor Judkins has some really great tricks here, if that’s him hopping up on the backside lipslide and jumping the handrail into the bank, but otherwise this is all kind of by-the-numbers.

That is til 3 minutes in when the stage clears for Leo Romero to unleash the great Baker footage firehose, or at least the stuff that’s not worth saving for the Emerica vid, logo boards be damned. The fakie frontside blunt** opener was a good one I thought, back to the “That’s Life” part where he’d occasionally throw in random difficult ledge tricks in between gliding down gaps. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen any footage in a while but in this promo Leo Romero seems like he’s skating faster and angrier and at times (such as the humpty-hump to backside 180 and the tight-spot kickflips), seemingly for the sheer “fuck” of it, which is kind of a tough thing to communicate in an age awash with so much urban creativity. This is a good section, not great unless you look at it in terms of what he’s still sitting on, namely all the uphill handrail battles which are apparently contesting Heath’s white period for “Stay Gold” bragging rights. Not sure how rare this vid is supposed to be, but worth the free admission for the long slides, flashy frontside flip and artfully selected slams — which actually work for once, following the landed tricks toward the end of the part.

*Am I supposed to write it all in serious capital letters?
**And did I get it right this time? If I had things my way this would be a fakie ollie switch backside noseblunt because it’s totally different than a frontside bluntslide and everybody’s stupid anyway.

No New Koston Shoe Sponsor Info In This Post About A Matt Bennett Trick

April 20, 2009

When I think back to Matt Bennett’s surprise debut in the “Good and Evil” video, with that song from the car commercial and some pretty questionable trick choices, it seems like he had a certain number of things working against him but right away I was pretty much a fan of this dude. Partly because the backside Barley grind was one of those I’d been hoping to see for a few years (though I seem to remember a Birdhouse kid pulling it… Vinny Gambardella?), and I guess partly because he’s got this weird scarecrow style that generally makes it work. And he does weird tricks, like this fakie backside tailslide… or, fakie switch frontside noseslide, which to my mind sounds more accurate. From the newer Thrasher which also contains a really balls-to-the-wall contents-spread sequence of Brandon Westgate, a kid whose skating I have a hard time getting into, but that’s neither here nor there unless he is somehow responsible for Matt Bennett not having more footage in the Fallen shoes video. I have noticed that he does wear looser pants, a hallmark of your potential shoplifter. Right about now this post is getting way stupid.