Simple Magic’s pound-for-pound #1 four-eyes: Winter 2023 update | Simply Ranked
Plus: Tom and Austyn's shoes, who's Shmoo? A lovely weekend, and more.
The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other online things that I cannot stop consuming and how they make me feel, personally.
Simple Magic’s pound-for-pound #1 four-eyes
In July, I created the prestigious and internationally recognized ranking of glasses-wearing skateboarders. The top-ten list debuted shortly after Hockey X, which featured a career-defining performance from the skateboarding world’s premier champion of thick half-framed lenses, Diego Todd. That video part would land him the honour of being the #1 four-eyes in skateboarding (be sure to check out Farran Golding’s excellent deep dive with Todd on his Hockey X part for Quartersnacks). So, on the occasion of Todd’s most recent part in Vans’ VANS VIDEO By Flech, it made sense to revisit and update the list with the happenings of the last seven months. There has been some significant movement in the rankings since the summer, with a few previously unranked names making their debut, some known entities climbing higher, and others dropping off the list altogether.
In preparation, I’ve cleaned the lenses of my own glasses to ensure I see things as clearly and objectively as possible. With that newfound clarity, I also realized that the stakes here were not commensurate with the title being vied for, which is why whoever finds themselves at the top of the heap will also don the Golden Spectacles for however long they sit victorious atop the heap. So, without further ado, here’s Simple Magic’s pound-for-pound #1 four-eyes: Winter 2023 ranking update.
Diego Todd: He may need glasses, but Todd’s vision is 20/20 when it comes to finding and figuring out interesting, unassuming, and downright dangerous skate spots. That talent was once again on display in VANS VIDEO By Flech. Taildrops, tight corridors, flashes of tech, and scrotum-busting bails made for another exciting watch and helped him hold onto that #1 spot and earn the vaunted Golden Spectacles.
Marisa Dal Santo: Our top three remain unchanged from July, and for good reason. What puts the near or farsighted in contention for the Golden Spectacles is a mercurial mixture of ability, style, impact, and an indefinable fourth category that is impossible to put words to, but you know it when you see it. Dal Santo maxes out in all of those categories.
Jahmir Brown: Brown continues to lead the pack in the ever-difficult task of making glasses look cool while skating. It doesn’t hurt that he looks cool as hell riding a skateboard to begin with.
Una Farrar [👆2 ]: Back in July, I described Farrar as the “dark horse” of these absolutely correct and unassailable rankings. With a great showing in last month’s Don’t Stop edit by Krooked Skateboards, that once apt description is now out of date, as she’s climbed two spots to #4 and declared herself a true contender for the title.
Lindsey Robertson [👆2]: Robertson’s dominance over two distinct niches in skateboarding history often goes underappreciated, even by me, as I made these rankings last time out. During his heyday, he was both the glasses-wearing-skateboarder and skateboarding’s heelflip king. Not many have stacked titles like Robertson has. Also, remember when he casually backside heelflipped Wallenberg and then rode off into the sunset of his career? That’s how you close the show.
Max Wheeler [👇1]: What is it about St. Louis that it’s been home to so many talented glasses-wearing skateboard folk? Is there a lot of fine particulate in the air or something?
Levon Conkin [previously unranked]: Candidly, I considered vaulting Conkin straight to #1 following their stunning “A St. Losers Short” video part that premiered on Free Skate Mag back in January. From his handling of that St. Louis crust to Gabe Kehoe’s fantastic filming and editing, it was a title-worthy performance. So why just 7th place, then? It was a selfish, strategic choice. We can’t have Conkin reach the mountaintop so soon. I want him to stay motivated and productive so we get more footage of him. However, if he keeps this up, it’ll be hard to deny him the Golden Specs.
Sam Korman [previously unranked]: A former art critic, current proprietor of the wonderful Waxing the Curb blog, martini hunter, and another skateboarder on this list who’s lived in St. Louis. Go Blues.
Genesis Evans [👆1]: Where Evans truly excels is in the “indefinable fourth category that is impossible to put words to, but you know it when you see it.” The lack of recent Evans footage also increases a feeling of scarcity, making anything that comes out much more desirable. It’s a bold strategy but one that has moved him up the list.
Gifted Hater [previously unranked]: One of our day’s most prominent bespectacled skateboarders who deserves to be on this list for cultural impact alone. However, I’d also like to extend this ranking as an olive branch, as I’m pretty sure I got in the way of Hater’s photographer at the exact moment he landed a trick he’d been trying for an extended period of time while we were all skating a spot in Phoenix during Slow Impact last weekend (sorry).
The ad within the ad
Another beautiful offering from Jacob Harris and his muse Tom Knox. Considering that many brands are satisfied with a 30-second Instagram clip to promote a new colourway, the effort put into this commercial should be commended—if you feel like commending a corporation for promoting its own products well.
Anyhow, what should be noted here, beyond the amazing skateboarding and Harris’ continued excellence behind the camera, is that Knox looks to be riding a lot of Krooked boards. Tom Knox on Krooked confirmed?
Can one pop cultural force subsume another? Can the history of a novel attraction be taken, manipulated, broken apart, and misarticulated for the benefit of the dominant force? Is it possible for a pop culture figure or event to become so big that it begins to bleed into the next, triggering a collapse of context that renders its truth into a blur that an unfamiliar public can only squint at, shrug, and assume is correct? Does it start when a willful misunderstanding of nuance becomes canon?
Is Shmoo, the longtime character of iconic skateboarder and artist Mark Gonzales, a Roblox-looking figure? Is Shmoo a part of the Roblox extended universe? Have Supreme and Roblox done a collab? How many Robux does it take to purchase a limited edition Supreme Shmoo Roblox hoodie? Shmooblox? Roblox Gonzales?
He did it; he really did it
Many thought it couldn’t be done. This particular feat unmanageable even by the best of the best. In our age of online ephemera, where an effort that takes years can be forgotten in moments, was it possible for a skateboarder to appear in Simple Magic’s “Simply Ranked” Friday post for three consecutive weeks and achieve the mythic “Simply Ranked” hat-trick?
Surprisingly: yes. Congrats to Austyn Gillette on accomplishing the three-peat. Also, congrats to Gillette on the release of his new pro model shoe with Globe. Last week, I suggested that he’d need to drop a new video part to make it here for a third time in as many weeks. And while that could still happen as I’m finishing up edits on this newsletter Friday morning, I’d say the release of the “Gillette” satisfies. Especially considering the shoe itself. I have no idea if it skates well, but it sure does look interesting.
As the aesthetics of the products we consume continue to homogenize and blend together across the board, from automobiles to cellular phones and skate-shoe silhouettes, it is nice to see something a little different. Of course, novelty shouldn’t be the only reason to fork over your dollars—lord knows we don’t need any sharp-edged, airbagless CyberTrucks on the road—but if you’re looking to try something different, the only things the “Gillette” might hurt are your wallet and the soles of your feet.
After breaking through thick cloud cover into an expectedly gloomy Vancouver airspace, the airplane we’d all paid exorbitant fees to get squished into began to violently tip and shake as it approached the runway at a speed that felt unusual at best. I wondered if the last song I wanted to hear before becoming a jumble of flame, fleshy bits, and scrap metal was “Blow at High Dough” by The Tragically Hip. The plane touched down but didn’t appear to slow down as Gord Downie belted, “sometimes the faster it gets the less you need to know,” which seemed fitting, so I kept my earbuds in and held on.
The runway didn’t end, the plane eventually came to a stop, and we all loosened our grips on our armrests. Considering the truly wonderful time I’d just had at Slow Impact in Tempe, Arizona—a weekend full of engaging, illuminating discussions; a general magic swirling of ideas, hope, and like minds; old friends and plenty of new ones; an untold number of beers and Cornish pasties; and, of course, a whole lot of skateboarding—if I had been consumed by the raging ghost of burning jet fuel, it at least would’ve been a pretty high note to go out on.
Decline of the social network thing: Ed Zitron on the slow death of social media.
Forensic thing: Lou Sarowsky on the case of the abandoned skateboard.
Until next week… if you haven’t in a while, wash the walls of your home. That smudgy light fixture and doorframe are pleasant reminders of our steady, consistent existence. From day to night, leaving and returning. Here we are and continue to be.