Posts Tagged ‘Zero’

Can Ishod Wair Break the Sub-Eight Inch Taboo?

March 31, 2017

Does the measure of a man lie within a money vault loaded to the brim with jewels and gold pieces? Is it truly shown in the longing eyes of the women he has loved, the children he has sired and their aggregate earning power, properly adjusted for inflation? Or is his name made by kingdoms conquered and owned, enemies slain or driven into abject poverty, and the filthy unwashed hoards who supplicate themselves in feeble tribute?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these and can front several thousand dollars you may be eligible to participate in the Menace Skateboards seed funding venture quest available on Instagram for a limited time only to certified investment angels and their gilded harp polishers. Yet for the past decade and more, skateboarders large and small have toiled beneath a different judgement measure, one that has stoked insecurities and sweaty-palmed apprehension among even the most outwardly confident hill-bombers, board flippers and handrail handlers. Seemingly freed of past eras’ smallmindedness that shackled hive-minded bros to goofy-boy kits in the early 1990s or carcass hucking in the early 2000s, a supposed ‘anything goes’ renaissance over the past decade has freed pros and bros alike to pursue moves from retroactivated no-complies to multisyllabic ledge combos and horse pools, wearing fits that run from short shorts to graphical sweatpant products to Tuscan leather. Just as long as you did it on a board that was at least eight inches wide.

In what has emerged as the final hardgood taboo, skating seven-anythings since roughly 2004 first became the domain of those lingering devotees to the San Diego school of tongue-puffery who felt PJ Ladd’s wonderful and horrible vibes but never fully boarded Eastern Exposure’s subterranean railroad. The Baker/Zero axis carried a machismo and masochism that soon elbowed once-stalwart 7.75s into a minority position on shop walls, and the advent of Anti-Hero as the guiding force into the aughts made such sizes an endangered species; by the time Justin Figuoera gloated how alighting upon his 8.5-plus ironing board felt like landing in your living room, anything below the 8″ mark had become a subject of open derision, similar to a wizard staff built from craft microbrews or the dreaded mall grab. The age of the big, swinging deck had been cemented.

Now, as ‘resistance’ groups ferment around the US in response to Trump administration political policy priorities, a skinny board pride movement is taking shape. Within the Nine Club’s fishbowl confessional, professionals unburden themselves and others. Chris Roberts describes being most comfortable skating a 7.75, while fakie 360-flipping waterboy Kelly Hart cops to a somewhat safer 7.9. Miles Silvas puts some respect on the 7.62’s name, relaying that his role model Rodrigo TX on the low skates that one while marketing a more masses-friendly size to shops. And Deluxe plans to further test the limits via a 7.56 Ishod Wair model that seems like it would fit his hometown Sabotage posse as reliably as the original-construction Lynx that Josh Kalis has hinted may come back.

Will the pinner board’s revival lead to academic research conclusively proving the long-held hypothesis that as decks narrow, pant sizes expand? Will a shift in truck sales toward smaller sizes and the reduced level of metals used to make them help truck manufacturers weather a period of slow economic expansion? Could a 7.5″ pride movement court backlash among more moderate 8-8.25″ clientele widely assumed to make up the majority in skateparks, backyard ramps and street spots? Was all this set in motion years ago by John Lucero, keeper of the extra-wide, shaped board flame for all those long years? What will return first, the 7.4″ or the bearing-cover wheel?

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.

Tha Agony and Tha Ecstasy

May 31, 2015

TrillFam

For all the mumblings of Peter Pan syndrome and deferred adulthood attached to pro-level boarding careers and various man-amhoods, such pursuits are not built for the emotionally unhinged: Marking one’s day-to-day progress by recording hard-fought clips destined to be trimmed to a few seconds each and pasted into a Thrashermagazine.com web-video in a couple years’ time, clinging to fleeting victories during which a hammer is performed, landed and hand-on-death-lens marked, then past, perchance to plow through a 30-pack and next week try for another one. Anthony Van Engelen speaks of grappling with emotional voids after completing big video projects, and witness the deep valleys leading to an uncertain but undeniably triumphant peak in Jamie Thomas’ cold war with the not-long-for-this-world Clipper ledge.

Love/hate relations betwixt bros and boards are to be understood and forcibly massaged when circumstances demand. But what of those emotional snake-runs entangling teamriders and sponsors, which have taken to marketing themselves as families and brotherhoods? Chris Cole and his new Plan B family exhibited their unbridled giddiness upon his joining the ‘Tru’ Tank this month, cheesing and fist-pumping and committing various spelling transgressions as the onetime Zero heavyweight apparently shelved any plans to market decks on his own and instead chose to endorse monocoloured boards with skulls and guitars manufactured by another company.

It’s hard to imagine the Black Box camp not feeling some type of way after clicking on this clip, given Zero’s role plucking Chris Cole from the World camp and providing a hard-rocking hessian launchpad for the next dozen years of his career; to boot, Chris Cole just a year before seemed to identify with Paul Rodriguez’ abrupt flying of the Plan B coop as a cue to carve out one’s own deck-centric microbrand: “I think at some point Paul figured out it wasn’t about Plan B selling Paul Rodriguez skateboards anymore, it was about him selling Plan B, and that’s the point where you start to realize you could be doing something more.”

Any career-minded gnar merchant gathers a certain amount of lumps along the road, and Jamie Thomas like other pros-turned-entrepreneurs signed up for an extra helping by starting his own companies and seeing dudes he put on later pack up and leave. But Zero proved to be one of the relatively few sellers of skate goods to not only publicly acknowledge the departure of a team lynchpin in Chris Cole, but go so far as to post a brief retrospective video and wish him well.

Few others do — Brandon Westgate’s decision in April to join the Element family after seven years holding down the Zoo York family passed with little notice on Zoo York’s Instagram. Gino Iannucci’s Slap board-shaking jump to Fucking Awesome just shy of 19 years as a red block head drew nary an official peep from the Crailtap camp, though months later his former teammates can’t finish interviews without being asked about it. Whereas Mic-E Reyes headbutt sendoffs now rank as just another hallowed memory of 1990s realness and sour jpgs are a Web 1.0-ready if rarely utilized substitute, the default seems to have become an Orwellian electronic eraser applied to the team webpage, removal of the defector from relevant social media hype circles and moving on.

Like insurance and the signing of openly gay athletes, is skateboarding again in danger of being outpaced by major-league sports when it comes to acknowledging contributions from longstanding-but-departing riders? The Seattle Mariners deployed a warm statement of gratitude when outfielder Ichiro Suzuki bounced after more than a decade on the squad, and later publicly big upped him when he got his 4000th hit playing for the Yankees.

Besides agreed-upon stacks of legal tenders, what if anything do companies owe their independent contractors who toil atop handrails and within ditches in the name of endorsement deals? In Alien Workshop’s ultimately transient dissolution last year, some of the then-remaining abductees seem to have received no official word of the shutdown at all, much less any word of thanks:

Jake Johnson: It’s a strange one. Nobody said good bye. Mike Hill didn’t throw in the towel. It’s strange. It was on the internet.

Omar Salazar: I never spoke to anyone. No one ever called me, I’m just like, who is running this thing? They got rid of the only dude who I was talking to [Chad] who told me to stick around. And that’s how you get rid of people after all these years? I was bummed and then got hurt.. But no phonecall. No Rob Dyrdek phonecall… I mean jesus, who are you, man? I thought we were homies, bro [laughs]. Just kidding. Whatever.
…And I still haven’t got a paycheck like, oh, here you go, thanks for your time. Cause I could sure as hell use that for my medical bill right now. Thats all I gotta say about that.

Should the resurfaced Alien Workshop, now promoting a new tribe, offer some parting nod to the former pros who hung on til the bitter end? Did Rocco write the former sponsors of riders he stole publish thank-you notes, or rather did he demand such sponsors publicly acknowledge the service of their former riders for purposes of free promotion? Do digital thank-you notes count? What is the Instagram equivalent of a dismissal-by-headbutt?

‘You Know What? I Think I’m A Tortured Person’

November 15, 2013

JT

Did Forrest Edwards teach Jamie Thomas to enjoy life again, as Punxsutawney Phil did for Bill Murray in the famous movie ‘Groundhog Wild’? The answer is yes, but this is simply a trick question, because Forrest Edwards really did so for all citizens. Yet the Reynolds fad diet-endorser may have at least tangentially sparked Jamie Thomas with regard to Zero’s ‘Cold War,’ which features the best Jamie Thomas part in perhaps a decade — the kinked hubba kickflip 5-0, the ‘Misled Youth’ cast cameos, a fresh assault on Rincon, and the cheese-eating ender ending pictured above.

But how do we get there from here? (Via the Zero ‘Thrasher’):
I don’t know that carefree fun has ever been my style. A lot of people judge me for that. That was the beef that Muska and I had back in the day. He wanted to cruise around, get gnarly, have fun and not really take it that serious but still get stuff done. I didn’t feel like I was talented enough to just cruise around and hope stuff happened. My fund is more of an enjoyment of the mission. It’s just setting out on a path and accomplishing it. That’s what drives me. There’s obviously lots of smiles along the way, but I’m not just carefree floating around.

One did not have to see ‘One in a Million’ to conceptualize the unpredictable effect Forrest Edwards has upon any nearby bros. In the case of his new boss, Forrest Edwards’s board-twirling antics at the Clipper ledge seem to have inspired Jamie Thomas, on the doorstep of 40 years old, to follow suit and/or attempt the impossible. Is Forrest Edwards’ speedy flow-to-pro journey that much more impressive considering he did not have to toil for years in the Black Box warehouse as he sought his spot? Do Jamie Thomas’ floral button-ups suggest a more relaxed attitude toward work and play now that Dane Burman’s 50-50 grind has secured the distribution’s financial security for years to come? Is Erik Ellington’s cap-over-the-hood a throwback to San Diego superhero Peter Smolik’s glory days or a stab at Axl Rose-influenced ‘outsider’ fashion?

Who’s Got It For Cheap

September 14, 2013

NightmareOnCanalStreet

In the latest sign that we collectively have abandoned our humbler roots in favor of active sporting trophy cups and lucrative endorsement deals, one of the cardinal learnings of the 1990s seems to have faded from memory. Like so much L.A. confetti pushed before the broom of a blind disco custodian, skateboarders* seemingly have discarded their collective ambition to be like rap singers.

Perversely, more than a decade and a half since the grand fragmentation of street-skating into various splintered genres and jeans fittings, it is the black-denimed and tattooed long-hairs who seem closest to maintaining a form of business mind-meld with the likes of Gorilla Zoe and Charles Hamilton. As the internet buccaneers set sail and pillaged the profitability of compact discs and DVDs alike, urban musicians, many confident in their ability to subsidize any lost musical revenue with the street kind, largely abandoned the blockbuster commercial release ritual in favor of flooding the zone with a steady stream of sometimes tossed-off but generally more interesting and immediate free releases, oriented around building and maintaining a support base rather than trying to squeeze a shrinking number of dollars from an antiquated medium, which requires cutting in any number of increasingly irrelevant corporate interests to boot.

One-off web-centric video parts aside you maybe could draw a thin and blurry line between the decades-old concerns that still insist on a multi-year production process with the requisite release-date pushbacks, monthly ad campaigns and internal deadline turmoil that seem attendant upon such projects, versus the Magentas, Palaces and perhaps Adidases whose trip clips and internet parts skew more toward the mixtape format, without the gravity of a once-per-decade project pervading everything.

Jamie Thomas a few years ago, when Zero was like 20 dudes/dudettes deep, described a certain plan to release annually a video that would tot up whatever footage had amassed over that time period and push it out upon the salivating masses. It sounded logical, but “Cold War” seems to have wound up following the established build-and-release pattern, maybe due to Jamie Thomas’ famous adherence to rigid standards. But now comes Emerica with the first in their “Made” series, this one featuring about one-third of their team, in what’s alleged to be a succession of smaller videos that would appear to harken back to the medium’s optimal runtime of 20-30 minutes, as laid down under interplanetary law by wizened walruses able to communicate telepathically and also with crude grunting sounds.**

Must this be the way of the future for all as TV-stand real estate is ceded to Roku boxes and streaming services? Has Skate.ly already become the unofficial DatPiff.com to the industry, and Quartersnacks its Traps N Trunks? If Mark Suciu has laid claim to the Gucci analog, who is our Lil B? Which company, if any, has the balls to release the skate-video equivalent of the long-feared “all-skits rap album”?

*Or maybe just those that don’t run companies***
**Nike purported to be doing something similar, but with 50 dudes on their team and several years between each video, it winds up being sort of a half-measure.
***That are not DGK or Selfish

The Continued Adventures Of A Misled Distribution President, Joint Venture Partner and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

April 21, 2013

Thrillho

Jon Dickson recently flipped Aaron Harrison’s 1997 ender backside as he ollied his way into Deathwish’s professional designation, but Jamie Thomas lately has been revisiting his own greatest hits catalogue, between an extended remix of his “Welcome to Hell” tree wallie in the recent TWS production and here, immortal technique on a spot ripped straight from a late-90s Zero video, or at least that gap to blue rail that Cairo Foster and Chris Senn approached in a similar fashion about 10 years back. Also worth a mention is a rarely utilized but probably underrated graphic/wheel color combo.

Separately: If somebody told you when the “Thrill of It All” promo came out that besides Jamie Thomas, the dude going the hardest 16 years later would be the one who landed 70% of his tricks in a 10-clip part, would you have believed it?

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.

Trevor Colden Desperately Seeks Cheat Code To Boost Driving Skill Meter [laughs]

May 22, 2012

Just as the nation giggles when a souffle collapses on a profane, ruddy-faced television chef, or when a ballet dancer stumbles and stubs her toe after an ovation-commanding routine, or a world-class chainsaw juggler accidentally slices his thumb off while buttering toast, we live for those moments when we are reminded that the enchanted feet that push through the piles of dollars cluttering the pro/am/flow universe are human as we are. This can manifest itself in any number of ways, including public intoxication tickets, sitting in traffic and woeful tax evasion charges. In the amateur-theme Transworld issue, knit cap devotee Trevor Colden offers a charming anecdote that humanizes one-store backside heelflips:

So tell me how you passed your permit test.
How I passed my permit test [laughs]? Well, the first time I tried to take it, I got 10 wrong. The second time, I called Bama–the Zero TM–there’s these little cubby-type deals, and I was just on my phone reading him all the multiple choice questions, and he’d just tell me which one he thought was right. He got eight wrong [laughs]. The third time I tried to take it, I took a photo of all the questions and sent it to Ian Berry because he said it would be 10 times easier for him to look at it like that, and then he would text me back all the answers. And he got eight wrong [laughs].

You took it four times [laughs]?
Fourth time is a charm. I went there and passed it.

All on your own or what?
No, I took a book with me [laughs].

The Mind of Jamie Thomas

March 13, 2011

Black Box impresario and fervent Iron Maiden fan Jamie Thomas has been alternately worshiped and decried in his couple decades of skateboard industry involvement/shaping, noted as an extreme games champion, extreme motivator, follower of Jesus, and budding maestro of consumer and business products and services by Big Four auditor Ernst & Young, who chose five years ago to enshrine JT for perpetuity in their hall of fame which can be visited during normal business hours. Got to thinking the other day, watching the Tom Asta debut pro video and musing on Jamie Thomas’ musings on Josh Kalis’ early years of sponsorship, about the way his brain works.

In the Kalis “Epicly Latered” the direct line Jamie Thomas draws between the raw vein tapped by both Lennie Kirk and Alex “Trainwreck” Gall for instance is one that my own slow-witted thought process hadn’t mapped out, but is fairly on point and could be extended maybe in both directions, back to the street-brawling style of previously noted Thomas favorite Sean Sheffey and then also Zeroites like Eric Ellington or the early years of Jim Greco, with the way he used to ollie way down onto the rail for tricks. In the past I’ve sometimes thought that Lennie Kirk shares some trick selection and freedom-of-arm movements with new Fallen signee Jackson Curtin but that prompted an argument I think — whatever the case, the period-jumping view into Alex Gall’s career via a look at Lennie Kirk’s quick burn in the context of a Kalis retrospective brought my browser to this reconsideration of Trainwreck’s tenure on Zero a decade back, of which I was a pretty major fan, touched off by his sudden Zero ad takeover and this 411 section:

All the easy jokes aside re: Alex Gall’s post-career body mass fluctuations, what’s worth celebrating is his visceral approach to landing tricks and occasionally skewed selection of moves (switch Japan air down stairs, lots of fakie ollies onto rails), highlighted here by the way Jamie Thomas would put together the old Zero videos — super quick cuts to tricks just before the dude snaps the ollie, translating to a lot of short parts, 80s guitar music, jeans, big jumps, etc. It didn’t seem real outlandish back then but making videos this way seems so far removed from the current practice of ramping the slow mo when a bro gets onto a trick, letting him slide and then ramping it up again for the landing, to the point where it’s hard to get any fix on what it would’ve looked like in real life.

In that respect it’s too bad Jamie Thomas doesn’t exert total control of the dual VCRs anymore, but as E&Y long ago recognized he has this expanding business empire to look after. The announcement in January that Chris Cole was being brought in as an equity partner in Zero seemed a sort of ingenious response to the DC pickup* and possibly the final step toward creating what could be a totally vertically integrated skateboard company — nearly all bases covered across the hardgoods/softgoods spectrum (including the all-powerful revenue generator of shoes, and a bargain-priced deck lineup), production at <a href = http://business.transworld.net/5059/uncategorized/offshore-manufacturing-alternative-black-box-has-found-a-way-to-lower-costs-without-going/>the Cinco Maderas plant in Mexico</a>, distribution, online store and <a href = http://www.crossroads-show.com/>trade show</a>, with rumors also on the hoof that Jamie Thomas has secured a venture capital investment from Bigfoot to acquire large swaths of Great Lakes-region forests, as well as a stableful of aging horses. Now with its marquee pros fully vested in the company’s expansion and a warehouse staffing/housing potential amateur talent, the circle nearly is complete.

As for Asta, currently enjoying a sort of “roadblock” campaign on the Black Box site linked to his pro debut (with boards immediately available in the online shop) — I support this dude’s judicious mix of do-it-all tech with more straightforward tricks like the half-cab over the sphere or the big frontside feeble grind, and you can tell he’s really going for it on some of these clips, like the big boost put onto that one backside flip. One of the best things about “This Time Tomorrow” was seeing Asta and a slew of other dudes reviving some of the classic Love Park/downtown Philadelphia street spots, and the ender-ender here is a nice bookend to Asta-backer Cole’s contribution to the fountain gap back in that TWS vid.

*Speaking of, I have a hard time believing that somebody at the company that cooked up the mega-ramp and the EuroSuperTour couldn’t construct better press-relations campaign for the Cole signing other than “good opportunity” — you almost feel bad for the dude after reading the fifth or sixth interview where they repeatedly hint at some giant novelty check signed by the brothers Way

Strange World

June 14, 2010