Posts Tagged ‘WKND’

Warm Fuzzies, Cats And Dogs, And The One Line That Remains Uncrossable

November 12, 2022

Winter early moves to wrap its frigid grip around the U.S.A. Walmart, King of The Stores, has already unveiled its holiday offering-deals. In the bristleish and untucked realm of the skate-board, the season of warm fuzzies already is at hand.

In the U.K., department store operator John Lewis released its annually anticipated holiday ad, which this week cascaded across screens of varying size via a thumbnail image of a days-bearded middle ager squeezing on a helmet, prompting reactions ranging from ‘don’t I know that guy’ to ‘I am that guy.’ As an apparent product of the secular advertising industry, the bulk of the ad cuts unnervingly close to the bone for those old enough to lack the schedule flexibility to hit anything but the most-packed or least-lit park hours, but young enough to reject throwing in the towel (or resist You-Tube perusals at work). The majority of the ad plays the DadBro’s quest for a kickturn less for laughs and more along the lines of some pitiable yearning to reclaim youth or maybe a midlife crisis, until a knock at the door puts the whole thing into a much different context (that’s also very 2022 in its take on who’s down these days). After years of harnessing 720s and kickflips to market carbonated beverages, the dairy industry and the U.S. military, it is a welcome shift.

Half a hemisphere away, in a California schoolyard (but not that kind), the seven-ply Sterling Coopers of WKND up-loaded a ‘Clueless’ style walking tour through the brandings, identities and cliques currently occupying various positions across the industry, Internet and life generally in ‘Alan Gelfand High.’ The menagerie, festooned with neck braces, noxious fumes and pregnant cheerleaders, skewers the nature of the industry and skating itself, sometimes gently and sometimes less so; Paul Rodriguez, Big Nakie, Nora Vasconcellos, Heath Kirchart, Rowan Zorilla and various others all are allotted screen time to illustrate the ecosystem’s wide-ranging coexisters, until arriving at the one line that narrator/guide Bob says represents “social suicide” (which is to say, rollerbladers), presenting the WKND team-riders with a stark choice.

It’s a well-crafted and details-laden reframing of a familiar story in service of a collab product line between WKND and blader brand Them Skates. The project seems geared toward furthering and challenging the more-accepting place that skateboarding is now in, where varial kickflips and other dad tricks are freely filmed, the most questionable music selection and fashion choices of the early 2000s are embraced, and vibe triumphs over podium placements and NBDs. There are long rambles to be penned about inclusivity and how far things have come and how far they have yet to go, but there can be no doubt that things are in a different place than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago.

And yet, there is a line that WKND’s norms-challenging commercial avoids entirely, a group for which John Lewis’ heart-warming TV commercial opens no doors. While collabing with a rollerblader company in 2022 is to sample the often lonely, widely derided outcast path required to be a skateboarder in the early 1990s — from the comfort of what’s now a firmly established and generally understood subculture, if not a particularly celebrated or lucrative one — the quantity of heart and flame emojis in response to ‘Alan Gelfand High’ heavily outweighed the raised eyebrow ones and the relatively few expressions of outright disgust from the old guard. The truly daring collaboration, though, would be in the less-underground and more vigorously reviled realm of the scooter, its clanking platform and unwieldy handlebars challenging all notions of style and execution and geometry, its ranks made legion by innumerable preteens flopped across skatepark quarterpipes, a wreckage of GoGurt entrails leaking behind them, phalanxes of red-faced parents bearing water bottles and sunscreen forming a fearsome rear vanguard.

In this story, are the scooter riders of our day the ugly duckling rejected by its snooty swan peers, or a demon to be recognized for its unholy nature and summarily cast out? Are Los Angeles-area trailblazers 10C41, who released earlier this year on their channel a scooter vid called ‘RazorBLADE’, once again way ahead of the curve in pushing of envelopes? Does the heavily underground nature of the modern rollerblader scene make them by default cooler than skateboarders, with all the day jobs, confused looks and jeers from passing cars to prove it?

Let’s Pretend We’re Married

April 30, 2016


Skating last week waved a black lace garter goodbye to one of its longest-burning signal flares, Prince, a towering figure whose resolute outsiderness, restless creativity and sexual horsepower presaged skating’s passing indulgences into blouses, smouldery brooding, paisley and motorcycles. His purple fingerprints linger in skating’s infatuation with eagles, seagulls and pigeons, Corvettes and berets, whilst his Paisley Park compound providing a blueprint for many of today’s self-contained content factories. Indeed, Prince is rumored to have been the soft-spoken and hypnotic voice delivering a series of wee-hours directives to a succession of skate-biz power brokers, for decades anonymously guiding the industry from a what is widely assumed to be a love symbol-shaped telephone.

Eric Koston is as easily pegged a Prince disciple as any working pro, from skating to ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ to social media adventures and releasing multiple purple coloured shoes*. One could ponder whether Eric Koston’s late 1980s-‘Yeah Right’ run matched Prince’s prowess over his first 14 albums, and just as Prince in the mid-1990s famously severed himself from Warner Bros, the record-labeling bros who had released his music for nigh on two decades, Eric Koston last year stepped away from his own 20-year employers at Girl, and now appears set to further immerse himself in Prince’s legacy as he speed-dates deck merchants while developing his own board imprint.

This weekend Eric Koston surprised few with the unveiling of a deck series for WKND, after foreshadowing a master plan that also involved endorsing some funny arted decks created by Brad Staba’s Skate Mental company. The polyamorous moves harken back to Prince’s high-heeled hopscotching from record company to record company after the Warner Bros kiss-off, even if the frosty vibes emanating from Eric Koston’s parting ways with Girl didn’t rise to the level of scrawling ‘SLAVE’ across his face. Alternately one could posit Girl as Eric Koston’s Vanity, from whom he moves on to a string of bosomy and multi-instrumental paramours, sometimes while jamming on synthesizers.

Are Eric Koston’s indigo-tinted industry maneuvers helping to usher in a post-board sponsor era in which deck makers become loose, image-oriented collectives for pros and various bros to shack up for a time, under some ‘gest’ or similar rubric, before drifting apart? Is this threatened obsolescence of the deck-company team an extension of the much-maligned hookup culture, hunted to extinction by smartphone-eroded attention spans, ringtone raps and seven-minute abs? Just as Prince ultimately buried his +4 Axe of Creative Control with Warner Bros, will an aging Koston eventually return to Girl in a deal that grants him full rights over his ‘Goldfish’ to ‘Pretty Sweet’ raw footage, which later will be turned over to the courts for a years-long legal battle amongst Koston’s heirs after his sudden death traumatizes millions and reveals that he left no will?

*Generally purple and gold, referencing the colours of the LA Lakers**
**A team originally from Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota