July 21, 2014

Over 40 Under 10

1:49.

The kinda big deal today was that a certain mostly highly-regarded news magazine launched a new website and scrapped its paywall. Good timing. The New Yorker covered the X Games with a story titled "Big Air," posing a question in the subhead: "Are the X Games Aging Out?"

ESPN's event is 19-years-old and took place the first summer in which I really actually cared about skateboarding. It mattered to me and I thought there could be some sort of vice-versa thing there too. The prevailing mood that I picked up in magazines and perhaps online ('95 was the first year I did any browser based surfing) was that the Extreme Games (then name) were the worst thing possible, an affront to me and all the kids that still caught hell skating, held in Providence, RI, a place which to this day I still find vaguely lame. The New Yorker on that first year:

The first Games, which took place in Newport and Providence in 1995—the Times called them the “psycho Olympics”—are remembered best, by the original participants, for the overabundance of neon-pink and neon-green paint and for the circus-like atmosphere, an affront to the athletes’ dedication. “People wandered by and were wondering what it was,” Tony Hawk, who is now forty-six, with flecks of gray in his sandy hair, told me. “They weren’t sure what to make of it, because we got grouped together with a bunch of random other activities. I hesitate to call them sports.” Those activities included barefoot waterskiing, street luge, kite skiing, and bungee jumping.
Perhaps that first year's greatest legacy is the first bit of Jamie Thomas' part from Welcome To Hell; the contest course featured lots of trannied bump to bumps and steep wedges (par for the course for the time) and a 15-stair rail, something that kind of never really caught on.

0:00-0:05

I once might have understood how they planned to judge bungee jumping but that knowledge has since eluded me. Oh, but:

Was skateboarding a sport? Judges were stoned, and the scores had to be reëvaluated and in some cases altered, ex post facto. The condition of the contestants’ hotel rooms seemed to suggest, at times, that the afternoons spent performing tricks for the cameras were little more than preludes to a rager. But the progression* was inarguable.
(*Events were discontinued if they failed to demonstrate “progression”—an action-sports buzzword, as integral to the youth culture the organizers were hoping to monetize as “rad,” “stoked,” and “sick.” Street luge may have resulted in entertaining crashes, but there weren’t enough lunatics careering down asphalt slopes during the ostensible off-season to produce any noticeable improvement from one year to the next.)
Tony Hawk’s two and a half spins—a 900—on the half-pipe, in San Francisco in 1999, seemed to defy physics and expanded a generation’s imagination. He also expanded the very definition of athletics—a pursuit that traditionally measured achievement against the constraints of rules, if not opponents. Hawk’s 900 came on his eleventh attempt in a “best trick” competition, after his allotted time had expired. “We make up the rules as we go along,” the announcer said. “Let’s give him another try!” A dozen more skaters have since equalled or bested Hawk’s standard, including, most recently, a ten-year-old boy—someone born into a world where the possibility of twirling nine hundred degrees above a plywood ramp was a given. Last year, sixteen-year-old Mitchie Brusco completed an X Games 1080.
Aren't these all our problems?

Brusco, who has ridden for Under Armour for nearly two years, is the youngest non-35-years-old or older skateboarder referenced or used as a source in the piece; otherwise it's Hawk and Andy MacDonald, Bob Burnquist,Bucky Lasek and Tom Schaar's dad, who may or may not actually skate.

Back up on top of the ramp, Tom Schaar was ready for another attempt. His father, Nick, called the experience, viewed from down below, “horrible,” but I could have watched these acts of flight all night. Schaar stuck his landing over the gap jump—a 720—this time, wobbling just slightly, and pumped his legs into the quarter-pipe, good enough for nearly thirteen feet of air and a tight 900 to finish. His father threw his hands over his head. It wasn’t a 1080, but it was good enough for gold: “progression of age,” as Tim Reed later put it, noting that Schaar was the youngest-ever Big Air winner, by ten years.

It's not quite Larry Perkins' above quote--Schaar is 14, after all, according to the story (Burnquist, 37)--but the relative paucity of the sourcing on the skateboard end of things almost portrays the ride as outmoded, making way for a new savior, which some may have regarded as such:

“Initially, there was a little bit of, like, ‘Whoa, that’s not really an action sport,’ ” Sepso said. “But I think there’s a lot of parallels. I remember when X Games started. I was more of an N.B.A., N.F.L., baseball fan. I was not really into action sports. I remember thinking, I can’t believe ESPN’s going to jump in and give medals to skateboarders. It seemed so weird. So I think there’s some of that now, with skateboarders saying, ‘Whoa, you’re giving medals to kids playing games? That’s crazy!’ ”

If the question posed in the subhead is left hanging, just so, it must be hanging like this: the ramps will get no bigger, the old men will age and what will the kids do?:

Gradually, the dance floor filled, and the party progressed from junior high to senior prom. The gamers did indeed appear to have girlfriends, or, at least, suitors. One of the play-by-play callers, a chubby ginger-haired guy named Benson Bowe, a.k.a. Red Panda, began dancing so boisterously that a circle was cleared. The battle was then joined—and won—by Jeremy (StuDyy) Astacio, a nineteen-year-old former subway dancer from the Bronx, who had recently moved into the Team EnVyUs house, in North Carolina. There was talk of the fifteen-thousand-seat arena that M.L.G. is building on Hengqin Island, in China, next to the world’s largest aquarium, and across the harbor from Macau. (It’s scheduled for completion in 2017.) Tequila shots were passed around, and the mood grew heady.

July 16, 2014

Parted Piecemeal

It's been a while since there's been as clear a contender for "Best Year Ever" since now-rookie pro Davis Torgerson went nova in the mid-to-late aughts right before Boondoggle; if anyone from either of the Twin Cities seems up to the task, it's Corey Millett.

Life is kind of tough not working at the skateshop, if only in that you seem to more rarely update your skate blog and somehow you don't see the new local vids until they're parted piecemeal onto Youtube. Corey's part is the first bit of NO-COLLAR that I've seen, and while I still lament the loss of the previous name for that project, the first returns look good. Millett does his best trick contest tricks on real obstacles and has the elusive ambidextrous heelflipper thing wired. He's got the Gailea Momolu ender to boot.

A lot has happened since the last post:

The Front Plaza is actually happening.

Davis' part came out. Both he and Corey skate that court gap, different ways though; gnarly both.

Update: I guess, as of about 8:30 a.m. 7/16/14, people are skating at Front:

June 20, 2014

No Resistance

Former rec center slab/future Front Plaza.

The latest Front Plaza update is underwhelming because they've yet to start construction on the Front Plaza. High hopes from more than a month ago have been dashed by the weight of the machinery needed to make such a plaza and the forever mushy ground on which they'd need to tread [rainiest year ever, they say (including snow, so precipitation), it's been wet]. For now, the original Front Park stands, though it's already being divvied up:

Stolen still, via the article mentioned below.

VOICE 1: What’s that thing he’s on?
VOICE 2: It’s a board with wheels.
LORRAINE BAINES: He’s an absolute dream.
—Robert Zemeckis
There will be thinking and reading when it comes to Kyle Beachy's Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding; whether by reading or memory of the film discussed within, I pushed up hills and rode down, around the neighborhood just after.
As mentioned before and contra above, Beachy is a skater and a novelist and college prof (probably an absolute dream) who has edged skateboard writing, further than most, away from talking about boners and towards something more. I'd be exaggerating if I claimed to have gotten everything first try, but Beachy frames skateboarding in a way that both those within and without can appreciate, then delineating that strange aspect, how it always is what it is, regardless of intent, time or setting.
We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.
Dive into reading, then, of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños, a short film by Thomas Campbell that ought to be watched and appreciated. I'll do the work no more justice than it does on its own, Lorriane Baines knew.

SVM from the Plat Archives.

Good friend and co-founder of this website, Sam McGuire, told the Internet he was gay this week in an interview on Jenkem, and even managed to garner some shine from the Huff Po.

Keeping tabs on the reaction, both as an interested observer and a concerned friend, I can report it's been overwhelmingly positive and supportive; Sam is up, give or take 1000 followers on the Instagram since Monday, so there's that (a stat I monitored, accidentally).

I'm happy for and proud of Sam.

Happy weekend.

June 13, 2014

Two Days After That Supra Demo


We were right there, it all happened right in front of us. Chad Muska deserves it all, running through the sand and chugging a 40, the indulgence of self-produced electronica, the decade of shrugs and whatever is going on now, because the self-awareness displayed, ailing ankle and all, just to noseslide the rail and do a frontside flip. He pushes like a swimmer* and for five minutes probably tried harder than the others. It looked fun, it looked like what I'd loved at the end of junior high, except we were both older now, and aging in skateboarding, for a good part, sucks. Oh well.
Also sitting up there, discussing things with a local rookie pro, we came to the conclusion that doing demos isn't fun. "Is that what we look like?" he asked, seemingly honestly surprised at the shuffling, the semi-slouch, the struggle to get warmed up while Chaz Ortiz lands everything. The answer, the actual with a little bit more back and forth, is, "Yeah, that's exactly what you look like," unless you're doing what Rick McCrank managed for Plan B on Lake Street in 1998, or have the cache of a Girl and Chocolate demo of the mid-aughts, or what Muska would do later, engage, read and deliver.

Doing a demo at Familia HQ must be rough (said it before, say it again). It's not exactly a truly hostile environment, but it's a place where dudes get ripped on for ripping too hard, where the crowd seems blasé and sits on perfectly good obstacles and mostly doesn't react. It shouldn't be blamed on demo fatigue because there haven't been enough demos, and there isn't enough data to pin the blame squarely on Millennials, and you can't blame the skaters because they really were out there trying. It was still weird, though. Other impressions:

-If there's a Switch God, then what type of god is it? Is it a part of a trinity, a pantheon, is he or it inherently male? On this Earth is Switch God a man, half-man-half-divine, or all divine?

-Chaz Ortiz gets a raw deal, and still came close to backside 180 nosegrinds to switchflip in a demo situation.

-Lizard King smells the part and did slip-foot frontside noseslides on the rail.

-More reptile nicknames, please. I thought I heard Muska call Spencer Hamilton "Snake" while on the mic, which would be a really great sobriquet for that dude, who rips.

-The rock and roll parking lot scene outside following the demo was something to behold. Some semi-Gummo-looking dude, parked a long way away, asked me as I biked home, if the demo was over. I'd seen him skating inside before it started, and he exited the building once they cleared the course. He was disappointed that the demo was, indeed, over.

---

Pro-skater birthdays usually go unmentioned here, but Lance Mountain at 50-years-old, today, is too rad not to.
*I always likened dudes with styles like Muska or Ghetto Fred to breakdancing, but having actually thought about it, finally, I've realized it's way more like swimming.

June 5, 2014

Davis Torgerson Turned Pro


Surprise parties can be unwelcome, underwhelming or otherwise unsuccessful, but not Davis Torgerson's surprise tonight. Some 60 or so people, friends, family and Real Skateboards teammates massed behind Familia HQ, while Davis was brought to the park to film, a successful ruse. While Davis was distracted, we streamed in the backdoor of the park and laid in wait.

Davis was caught completely off-guard; after things settled down, he said he'd have expected some teammates to surprise him, but not the group that did, complete with his mother, who lives in Chicago.
The board graphic is sick, and for those wondering, the board is an 8.06, from what I saw. There was supposed to be a video, teammates like Max Schaaf, who couldn't make it, wishing congratulations, and a trailer for Davis' upcoming web part, but the DVD didn't work. It didn't matter, though.

While folks milled around, got their face time with DT and drank beers that miraculously kept appearing out of nowhere, Dennis Busenitz and a couple other dudes, then just Busenitz, skated some. He, on a skateboard, is something to behold, and even if you didn't already have to come out to the demo tomorrow (Familia HQ, 4:00 p.m.) to give Davis some pounds, now there's Busenitz.

Davis was way more hyped, and red in the face, than the picture above suggests. Congrats.
Props to Tim Fulton for lining the thing up.

May 29, 2014

Skatepark Eternity

May 28, 2014

Beats By Rob

"I said, well daddy don't you know that things go cycles,
way that Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael."