Posts Tagged ‘Weckingball’

Every Creeping Thing that Creepeth Upon the Earth

February 18, 2018

The tale of the St. Archer Brewery goes like this: laconic skate professionals, moneyed but with few spots to park it beyond real estate, sink fortuitous funds into a savvily marketed micro-brewing enterprise, eventually tempting brewery giant buyers thirsting after higher-margin products, and putting all involved onto that proverbial ‘easy street.’ It is a legend that has only grown as the fortunes of the legacy skate industry become more dire by the day; for board companies outside the umbrella of distributors starting with a D and rhyming with ‘Green Tux,’ it seems increasingly difficult to retain riders who’d just as soon jump ship for non-paying vanity projects. For non-multinational shoe companies, rumors swirl about the next to fold, restructure or seek a hot cash injection. And it continues.

Much as the decade-old threat of a Barcelona police crackdown thrust the skateboard industry into a worldwide search for marble ledges in a semitropical climate and mellow law enforcement atmosphere, the St. Archer golden ticket has inspired a number of aging kickflippers to try their hand at venture investing. Now comes Villager Goods, a skater-backed coconut beverage manufacturer, peddled as a more-nutritious and earthy alternative to the vast cauldrons of caffeine-spiked high fructose corn syrup that have funded so many vert careerists’ speed boat loans, often in zesty lemon-lime flavours.

It remains unclear whether fizzy drink conglomerates, facing the prospect that Coca-Cola could be taxed like tobacco, will one day make it rain upon Villager stakeholders such as Paul Rodriguez, Andrew Reynolds and AVE. But venturing into the prickly and volcanic dimension of consumer packaged food and beverages brings its own threats and perils, illuminated this week by skateboarding’s most enthusiastic heel, @Weckingball. The body-building Pupecki grinder linked Villager Goods to troubling reports that the world’s wealthiest coconut farms are powered by enslaved monkeys, forced to clamor up and down frondy palm trees without lunch breaks or paid time off. The explosive allegation was potentially poisonous to the meticulously curated and increasingly socially aware Instagram franchises of several name pros, and quickly drew a denial from Kenny Anderson.

Would the concept of moneky enslavement, proffered 25 years ago in a Xerox-quality B&W ad a month in between World’s ‘White Power’ sequences and its prescient condemnation of rogue sea creatures, have prompted tsk-tsking or earned a place in skate lore, destined to be scanned and reposted upon sociable networks several decades later? It is a hypothetical entertaining to ponder but impossible to answer. Yet as portions of the skateboard industry appear to circle the dreaded ‘drain,’ resource maximization may transform from a fusty slogan to a dire necessity. Skateboarding springs directly from human mastery of the environment; with sharp tools, man chops down living trees and slices away hard rock Canadian maple, transports it to plants using fossil fuels, and outfits the result with trucks and bolts forged from molten metals carved out of mountainsides. In a time when deck makers seem to have burned through the few dollars’ worth of cost savings secured by turning to lower-cost Chinese manufacturing, should conscripted animal labor be so quickly dismissed?

Consider: Might highly trained beavers, supervised and physically disciplined within the confines of planetary law, replace costly human loggers and support sagging profit margins in the deck business, at least until the 2020 Olympics saves the industry? Can cheap gene-engineering technologies produce bees capable of making Gulf Wax in addition to the stuff Burt converts into pricey balms? Why not lasso some whales to pull board- and T-shirt-laden ocean freighters back and forth across the Pacific for the price of some sturdy rope and plankton? Could the continued 1990s nostalgia wave create a new career path for retired circus elephants, flattening board concaves to 1996 Girl level?

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

November 19, 2017

In the 1990s, when skateboarding grew old enough to cadge cigarettes and thrill to petty crime, power derived from personal networks. Such networks were built of blood and bodily tissue, pulsating to the sounds of East Coast rap tapes, testing slang proficiencies and stiff-arming those deemed not ‘with it’ enough to merit tribal admittance. Over time, as these fleshsome blobs ingested hard currency and heaved themselves into shapes resembling semi-functional business apparatuses, they drew the eye of larger, more heavily weaponed entities, and they fought one another for pride of place and insubstantial dollar figures. All the while, their squishy amoebic forms stiffened and sparked, hardening into circuits and coagulating around wifi hot spots.

It’s a story learned by many at a young age, laying down to sleep upon straw piles and inside comfortable caves with natural stalagmite transitions. But power these days is welded to influence, a sword toted only by a certain few — those who earn it through questing, and those bloodthirsty and wily enough to acquire it by force. And, it is always sharp.

Nowadays, ‘moments’ flit by more fleetingly than ever. In our current one, the largest and most fearsome blade of influence is wielded by the Ted Barrow-curated Instagram account ‘Feedback_TS.’ The outlet punches far above its 5,700-follower weight, drawing into its orbit street-skating GOATS who yearn to be down, style magnet pros fresh off this year’s front-running full-length, and countless droves of aspirant comer-uppers lured by those juicy twin carrots, momentary fame and internet validation.

@Feedback_TS is more than a despotic judge, jury and executioner baptized in ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Mouse’ trick selections with a firm grip on format and presentation. Ted Barrow is not a pro, notwithstanding a memorable part in 2005’s ‘Lurkers 2’ alongside Jason Dill and Charles Lamb. He doesn’t get money from the skate industry. Harsh judgement and unvarnished opinion sometimes are served up, but no meanness or bitterness. Similar to the largely self-directed Slap board thralls, to skatepark heroes and strivers and the occasional professional, it is told like it is. To an extent, @Feedback_TS embodies the info-age singularity that has turned the skate biz inside-out, as the internet provides the world’s double-set early grabbers a platform on par with annointed worthies such as switch backside co-practitioner Miles Silvas and loveable oldster Jeff Gosso. Here lie isolated meadows and abandoned box canyons for creatures such as Revive and New Jersey bodybuilding manual regulator Weckingball to mutate and thrive, independent of the well-worn cart tracks, gladhanding and favored bazaars of the established skateboard business. In this turbulent realm, retired blog proprietors function on the same level as Eric Koston.

Is the right analogue to @Feedback_TS that of a wizened older brother, or maybe more accurately that worldly, well-meaning but unapologetically subversive older neighbor who probably smokes drugs and for sure operates beyond the bounds of the established family hierarchy? Between Ted Barrow and the resurgent Brian Wenning, have we entered a head-spinning and somewhat demoralizing era where switch backside smith grind shove-its rank as ‘old guy tricks’? Does the growing influence amassed by this instagram account raise concerns that it has become systemically important, with any deletion or protracted absence leaving impressionable kids adrift and guardrail-less, while parents, significant others and non-skating ass roommates wonder what happened to the deadpan voice dispensing trick terminology and occasional bursts of art history from behind the bathroom door whilst the fan is going?