Posts Tagged ‘Transworld’

Rob Pluhowski Left Skating and Never Looked Back. Should More Ex-Pros*?

May 8, 2017

Former feather-footed kickflipper and current furniture hand crafter shocked and unnerved a freshly scrubbed generation of Instagramming careerists by summing up a decade’s worth of top-shelf sponsorships, parts in seminal videos of the time, and third-world nation touring under the steady navigation of Fred Gall, using a nonchalant trio of words that stripped the English sentence to its barest, basest components: “It was cool.” Further cows sacred to various strivers and Thrasher down-for-life aspirants soon trotted out for electric stunning and captive bolting: Being shown the door from an established career in skating was for Rob Pluhowski a good thing, he doesn’t skate anymore, and he doesn’t seem to miss any of it:

“I was 27 years old, I didn’t have a fucking board at 27 years old! And, I had a fucking kid. It was just a wake-up call. My daughter was probably only a year old and I was like what the fuck am I gonna do with myself? Like what am I gonna do. If figured I’d just like sever it, end it there, end on the highest note you can possibly end at without being one of those dudes like, what the fuck are you doing? Like why is he on a skateboard? I don’t want to look like a tired old man. That’s why I don’t skateboard today. I can’t do what I used to be able to do. I don’t want to be that dude. you know what I mean. Just leave it where it was.

Now that I look back at it, it just seemed right. I got out, and now where I’m at in life, I’m fucking happy, a pig in shit. That would’ve just taken this much longer, 32 years old, riding for Zoo York or something, like some hokey shit.”

Rob Pluhowski’s unsanded, unvarnished assessment of pro contemporaries, the skate biz in general and his former place in it attracts the same sort of grinning car-wreck rubbernecking in readers that any decent interview inspires, and for the time being helps to shore up that ever-eroding barrier between skating’s outlaw flavourings and what may lie ahead. But Rob Pluhowski’s commentary here differs from other, similar veterans’ tales, in that it’s dispensed free of any strings that might even tenuously tether him to skate industry machinations, or gooey threads of relationships that could coat an otherwise harsh and bad-sounding assessment with a sugary veneer of political correctness. It’s not even that he seemed unconcerned what people may think, but that he seems only vaguely aware that such people might even exist, and doesn’t seem much interested in sweating it too much either way.

In centuries past, once the beachfront fires for whale kill roared out the bulk of their strength, our bearded chieftans would sing softly to we youth: “If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s meant to be.” Salivating as we did for that first sip of icey whale marrow, we never gave much thought to their lyricism or breath control. But the saying, like the whales’ mewled curses upon humanity and our harpoon technology, has echoed through the ages. Did Rob Pluhowski love skating? With his Bob Puleo visage and mannerisms, he’s maybe too New Jersey to really get wistful. Is it possible to love it, leave it behind completely, and eventually be good with that? If so, what verdicts does this hold for the ever-expanding, and seemingly older than ever professional ranks?

How come Rob Pluhowski’s bearing and worldview seems relatively rare when stacked against numerous interviews in which post-professional career plans include packing boxes in warehouses, described semi-humorously but nevertheless with an air of noble sacrifice? Between the reverence here and as unlikely an art critic as Danny Way singing praises, should the late 1990s/early 2000s Alien Workshop and Habitat graphics be elevated to that same pantheon reserved for Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s World Industries era, and VCJ or Jim Phillips before them? Is it really we who loved Rob Pluhowski, and are now left to consider that we may have set him free and he did not come back?

*Yo it’s understood Pluhowski never was pro but stay with it for a minute here

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At the February Meeting of the International Brotherhood of Skate Video Character Actors

February 20, 2016

philly.jesus

Bill: Alright, let the record show this is Bill, representing the FDR managers and chair. I’d like to call this meeting to order. Can those present identify themselves for the minutes?

Len: Len here…

Ghostrider: This is your Ghostrider, present.

Murgatroyd Simmons: Murgatroyd. Here. On the phone from Milan.

Bill: Very good, we have a quorum. Let’s get to the new business then?

Ghostrider: We need to address Philly, one of our largest chapters.

Bill: No doubt. Does anyone have a motion on it?

Len: I’ve been traveling and not able to look at this closely yet… They shut the park this week, I saw… but… then Kyle Nicholson was still gunning for the switch 360 flip? Did I see that right..?

Bill: He’s switch 360 flipping on borrowed time, I’m afraid. The fences are up and the machinery moved in.

Murgatroyd: That’s a real bummer. Complete bummer.

Ghostrider: It’s a real blow to our brothers and sisters at the local chapter and to all of us. I assume I don’t need to recite for all of you the stats, between videos’ migration to Instagram and Vine and whatnot, all the private TFs, and the swelling rosters that pack the remaining full-lengths… I mean, it is really, really tough out there for any character actor, regardless of tenure or talent, to get meaningful screen time in skate videos these days. Any chapter, period.

Murgatroyd: Thank God for Fat Bill.

Len: Well, thank God for the Sabotage dudes… I mean… they provided roles for more members than nearly all other videos put together over the last few years. CJ the Picture Man, Joe McPeak… the tank-top gobbler… Philly Jesus, Snitch… all those bike cops…

Murgatroyd: Well hey, we should talk about a strike. Right?

Bill: It’s worth discussing.

Ghostrider: It may put the issue on people’s radar, but we need to get input from the local chapters on a move like that. There’s still good work to be got from the shop and independent videos and folks may not put that aside lightly with times like they are right now. There’s no more “…and you’re watching 411.” Transworld’s move back to the VX and weirdly abrasive paper for the new issue’s cover suggests a grittier direction, I’ll grant. But they’re a long way from ‘Free Your Mind’. It might just be some novelty thing.

Len: And, if these dudes in Philadelphia really will have to make their way without Love Park… you know, they may need our support there… It’s a two-way street.

Murgatroyd: True, well, good point.

Bill: There’s some mail on this, actually.

Murgatroyd: From the Philly chapter?

Bill: From some blog website. I guess people still do blogs. There’s a lot of run-on sentences and some made up words.

Len: What does it say?

Bill: It’s like a condolence card. Offering sympathy and solidarity in tough times for everyone who helped revive one of the world’s great spots, with minimal help from any company sponsors or corporate interests, producing some of the best skating and videos of the past decade. Thanks the Sabotage group and the rest for building a scene as raw and vital as any of the earlier Love Park heydays. Says it was both rousing and really sad, all the footage and photos this past week. The penmanship’s poor, it really rambles. Anyway then. I’d like to motion for canvassing the local chapters on a possible strike to call attention to the plight of our colleagues in Philadelphia related to Love Park’s closure.

Murgatroyd: Seconded.

Bill: Very good. Let’s keep an eye on this one and keep Philadelphia in our thoughts. On to old business?

Len: We’d tabled a long-term contract offer from Nike, as I recall… the money sounded alright…

Ghostrider: Yeah. I didn’t see how every one of our members sporting Nike gear helps our credibility or relevance when the shoes already saturate most skate videos right now. Still don’t, I guess, so suggest it stays tabled for now unless anybody’s got something new.

Bill: Right, seconded.

Murgatroyd: If there’s no other old business I’d move to adjourn, fellas. I’m meeting, you know, a gentleman caller.

Bill: Only other thing was a moment of silence for the Brown sisters. I suggest we adjourn with that.

All: Seconded.

Bring Hither the Fatted Calf and Kill It

February 13, 2016

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As the blind oracles foretold, Lennie Kirk is proving to be the guiding touchstone for skateboarding in 2016, with his devotion to hammer-handy fish multiplier Jesus Christ’s ’33 resuscitation and Lennie Kirk’s own unlikely rise from beneath that Pac-Bell van foreshadowing the timely return of top-shelf talents to the turbulent and beery pool that is skating in 2016.

Paul Rodriguez, he of the multi-sponsor fitted and long-distance switch 360 flips, already rolled away the stone and commanded the grave-cloths removed from the pro career of French double-flip enthusiast Bastien Salabanzi. With the Christian season of Lent upon us, Paul Rodriguez would play at the Lazarus legend again, this time bringing out onetime fellow City Star Devine Calloway for what by some poorly considered blog webpages’ count would be his third go-round with the skate biz, after his initial City Star twinkle, his Chocolate grown-up resurfacing some years later and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ bonus footage low profile. Nothing’s changed, it would seem, and besides his apparently mostly successful kicking of a costly New Era habit, he could’ve popped out the fakie flip 5-0 and that Crisco-smooth bigspin immediately following his still-impressive TWS part nearly a decade back.

Days later on the other coast, long-lost Tompkins wunderkind Yaje Popson officially moved his 64-Crayola wardrobe into Alien Workshop’s radiation-proof geodesic dome, itself recently restored to life via Rob Dyrdek’s Street League and television show dollarydoos. Despite what sounded like dual knee injuries, a somewhat dispiriting parting of ways with the Crailtap camp amid the heightened and heated ‘Pretty Sweet’ filming campaign, and the bucolic pleasures of small-city life in Brazil, Yaje Popson’s tricks remain super on point (switch backside smith grind, that pyramid ledge trick) and as suited as any to the worthwhile project that is refurbishing the Sovereign Sect, though maybe a little bit less surprising than Devine Calloway’s rebound given last year’s Sk8Rats turn and how he plainly spoke of missing it all. A TWS interview promises heavier hitting yet to come.

The limited economic prospects, increasingly crowded competition for unique eyeballs and impressions, and ever-present risk cocktail of age and injury raises questions around the logic of gone-once pros and bros returning for further bites of the industry cherry. Yet return they do, from Tom Penny’s bleary trip back in ‘Sorry’ to Guy Mariano’s wristguarded tech triumph in ‘Fully Flared’, the Muska’s single-gloved victory lap with Element, Christian Hosoi’s post-prison bid adventures, Supreme’s Paulo Diaz exhumation, and the extended post-Shorty’s go-rounds enabled by Sk8Mafia. More curiouser may be how such prodigal sons typically not just are welcomed but cheered back — witness last year’s outpouring of support after Kevin Spanky Long’s return journey to Baker put him again astride a pro board and back in the proverbial van.

Is the skate sphere unique in its tolerance for such wilderness years, spent consuming substances, recovering from blown-out joints, pursuing alternate careers or raising families? In the parlance of major-league team sports, comebacks usually are intra-game affairs, with some allowance for those rare talents drawing sufficient investment to bide a season or more in physical therapy, but clawing one’s way back into the professional universe after years away seems a rarer feat still, whether fueled by Kenny Powers-level moxie or some other chemical reaction. But even with a decade or more off magazine pages, digital video discs and relevant social media mobile networks, it’s difficult to imagine an increasingly fragmented and nostalgia-shaped boarding industry turning its collective nose up if long-faded lords like Sean Sheffey, Alex Gall, Scott Kane, Mike Maldonado, Billy Valdes, Pat Channita, Tim O’Connor, Jon West, Ted de Gros, or Gideon Choi turned up with a video part approaching their respective primes and the gumption to keep at it.

Does skating’s willingness and seeming zeal to re-embrace its wandering prodigals flow from the same spiritual mountain spring that nurtures tendencies to stockpile decks skated beyond any reasonable use, pack grocery-store boxes full of even lean-year Transworlds, and scour Ebay auctions to expensively recapture some spark first kindled in a long-lost CCS catalogue? As skating is lassoed, saddled, broken and eventually led head-down and besequined into that great Olympic rodeo, replete with floodlights and sad clowns, will lapsed pros resurface more often or must all spare dollarydoos shower down upon the podium-bound few? Has the YouTube age made it harder or easier for pros to recatapult dormant careers? Is Brian Wenning at Love Park right now? Yall saw Jeremy Klein’s kickflip bench stall in the Greco movie right?

Oblivion Access

January 1, 2016

Some others

Gilbert Crockett – ‘Salt Life’
Hard-cut edit on the post-Workshop frontier from Gilbert Crockett’s perpetually spring-loaded feet

Jack Kirk – ‘Krew Killers’
Spyro gyro tailslide

Andrew Allen – ‘Boys of Summer’
Between this, ‘Propeller’ and the Vans offcuts, there is some type of unholy Skater of the Year bid

Kevin Bradley – ‘Chronicles 3’
Neck and neck with ‘Sickness’ in turn up terms, last 30 seconds particularly

Tyler Surrey – ‘Spanish VX’
Lines that go forever, and a case for nollie flip noseslides in 2016

Tom Asta – ‘1947’
Nollie heelflip backside noseblunt on a handrail

Jerry Hsu – ‘Boys of Summer’
The heartwarming results possible – feeble grind, smith grind – when beloved pros oblige requests to ‘just see you skate’

Nick Boserio – ‘No Cash Value’
2015’s reigning lord of hairball, where you wouldn’t be surprised if he loosened his trucks before the penultimate escalator plunge

Dylan Sourbeer – ‘Sabotage4 Promo’
Love park ledgelord with Wenning slump status

Tony Trujillo – ‘Propeller’
His best one since the Transworld vid

Donovan Piscopo – ‘Hockey promo’
The planter backside tailslide line

Josh Kalis – ‘Sabotage4’
*shrug*

Yaje Popson – ‘SK8RATS’
Back in living color, but for good?

Mark Suciu – ‘Civil Liberty’ sans voiceovers
Also including Dennis Busenitz at Pulaski, and ending with one of the most Mark Suciu tricks doable there

Hats off to Chrome Ball Incident for its exhaustive (yet apparently truncated) interview-by-mail with jailed switchstance barbarian, stunt cycler and street preacher Lennie Kirk, which nearly met 2015’s quotables quota on its own and expands upon all the old stories, nearly all of which seem to be true and then some:

“Many times with Jesus’ guidance, Him, I and my girl, Ez, took the bike to 177mph at night on the 101 freeway. All out throttle to the max. Alone, I topped the bike out at 184mph, wide open for more than 10 miles. Just me and God. It’s a surreal spiritual experience. God’s glory in it all. Other drivers seeing a bike fly by them at 184mph in the night! It’s deeply personal, eternal and unique. A oneness with God, my girl and my bike… flowing and free, not worried about cops.”

nike-sb-the-sb-chronicles-vol-3

The print media struggle in 2015 means taking risks to stand out. Transworld, its revival already well underway, rolled further dice by essentially re-running The Skateboard Mag’s most-recent cover on page 56-57 of its Jan. 2016 issue.

Also flexing on print media this year was Quartersnacks, one of the few (if only) internet web pages with not only the balls to make a book but the well of stories, hoarded text messagement, pic of folks skating castoff TVs and depth of collective character to pull it off in spades – buy it here.

Pazuzu 2: Necronomicon Boogaloo

October 31, 2015

donnellyhop

Ellington

tyshawnjones

gonzarelli

EMB

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

Recent Dispatch From the PJ Ladd Plane of Existence

July 16, 2015

PJ_Rodney

A few months on since Plan B teammate and fellow ‘Tru, B’ sideline-sitter Colin McKay casually compared Boston flatground alchemist PJ Ladd to Queen Amidala’s downward-spiraling leotard flexer in ‘Black Swan,’ third-dimension wallie champ Tom Karangelov offers a somewhat more cosmic update on the recluse technician in TWS’ current and fantastic am issue:

TWS: Any news on the PJ Ladd front?
TK: Oh, dude, I skate with PJ a bunch. He’s working on a part, I guess they want to do a part just with him. He’s super into vibes these days. He wants to grow his hair out because he was telling me that the longer your hair is they’re like antennas. They reach out for energy. So his hair’s pretty long. He’s kind of got this mysterious vibe going. Not a lot of people know what he’s up to, and I think that’s cool.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Ryan Gallant ‘First Love’

July 12, 2015


Decades in the future when municipalities join heated combats for economic scavengings, the low-bid winner for the shove-it hall of fame may dedicate TIF funds toward a bronzed likeness of Ryan Gallant, whose ‘Fulfill the Dream’ music-supervised video part from a too-often overlooked entry in the TWS cinema pantheon functions as a clinic on rotating the board into a stupefying range of blocks, rails, hubbas and other what-have-yous. Ryan Gallant has flip tricks like the 90s and the knowhow to execute in squeaky-clean terms shit like the pop-shove it frontside k-grind and the hardflip late 180, and enough youthful spring to shoot from way downtown and look like he bounces into the full cab almost by accident going down the hallway. It’s wild how in 2005, before TWS abandoned and then inevitably re-embraced the voiceover intro, Ryan Gallant spoke of appearing long-in-the-tooth for the boarding life — a decade later there’s still gas in the tank.

Has Handrail Skating Entered Middle Age?

April 17, 2015

muska_handrail_help_call

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

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

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

handrails_graph1

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

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

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

Will the New Transworld Cover Slake Skating’s Quenchless Thirst for Pants Progression?

March 23, 2015

dontyouhatepants

Like a fire that, once lit, cannot help but to consume an entire bulldozer-built pile of disco records, or a shark that must ceaselessly advance through a sea of Pace Picante Style salsa or face its untimely Picante Style demise, skating since the beginning has been possessed of a need to progress. Alan Gelfand’s ollie wasn’t enough, it had to be did backwards; what’s the point doing a loop when you can turn it switch with a section chopped out of the top? Josh Kalis’ straight kickflip in a Love Park ‘Time Code’ line, immaculate as it is, looks quaint through the Mark Suciu lens.

Through it all the shoe has come to be regarded as the most immediate extension of the seven-ply-trucks-and-urethane configuration, but the past decade’s footwear fetishization mainly serves to obscure a decades-long struggle with pants. After clamoring out of pools and associated surf trunks the story of skating and pants has reflected that of mankind’s tortured grappling against his very own nature, occasionally overreaching, failing, burning piles of disco records, and starting anew. In the 1980s Limpies and Vision offered chaotic and unpredictable* print varieties for those zestful spirits unsatisfied by blue jeans or more-pedestrian sweatpants with skeletal rats ascending outseams; vert soon gave way to street these fell back while multicoloured and flapping denim advanced, several years passing before the East rejuvenated woodland camo and more adventurous spirits embraced snow and urban variations.

While the aughts saw style magnets such as Dylan Rieder and Nick Trapasso alternately fuck with pinestripes and pajama pants, this period of war and economic turmoil mainly reflected itself in darkened indigo denim and brown cords, the re-embrace of printed patterned pants not arriving until well into the 2010s when all-over print shirts primed a newly emboldened consumer base to throw wide the camo floodgates for increasingly esoteric prints. Thanks partly to relentless boosterism within DGK vids, the movement eventually demanding notice by the mass-market media: “It’s the one pattern that pretty much every guy is down with. What other pattern has a macho angle to it?”

Masculinities aside, the door now lies kicked down for pants makers — Thrasher offers a SAD sweatpant among several options, and now comes Fucking Awesome heavyweight Na’kel Smith on the cover of Transworld, gapping out in Tokyo within a pair of florid leggings that seem to also have crossed the Atlantic in recent months. In his numbers-taking, asses-kicking process over the last two years, Na’kel Smith seems to have taken it upon himself to push back the pants pendulum to a level of intricate and flowery detail not seen in probably about 25 years, no small undertaking when considering the intense internet flames stoked beneath noted 360 flip 50-50er** Garrett Hill, daring to step out in a still-notorious red-and-black combo.

Has Na’kel Smith doomed himself to a Sisyphusian task, destined to be squashed by a heavy and oblong fashion boulder that will waver under the weight of resurgent dad jeans, or is his pants choice more conservative than it may first appear when laid alongside a freely purchasable array of similarly floral hats, shirts, shoes, and obviously weed socks? Are authorities overlooking an emerging form of camo that now clothes newly militarized toughs hired to defend a booming US marijuana industry? Are scarfs next? As it thins has Transworld on the low had the best covers of the last year?

*particularly for Cali4nia Cheap Sk8 clientele
**And backer of 360 flip 50-50ers

TFW You Flip Through TWS and Out Pops a Rick Howard Photo

January 23, 2015

rickhowardpipe
…and the world’s troubles fade ever so briefly