Terms of engagement | Simply Ranked
Plus: Lakai's "Bubble," Palace goes to Rotten Ronnie's, Skunked by AA, 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.
Not exactly a review, but not not a review
As our attention spans continue to get whittled away by the frantic algorithmic pandering of social media and our desperate quest for constant engagement, it’s not too often we get significant releases with the type of runtime of Lakai Footwear’s “Bubble” anymore — a 40-minute long skateboarding video! That is a full-length, the definition of which has now seemed open to interpretation. Twenty minutes, 15 minutes — those have all been considered “full-lengths” in recent years. While my atrophied brain does enjoy a shorter runtime these days, if we’re being honest with ourselves, those are only full-length’s if we’ve completely lost our understanding of the concepts of time and history itself.
Traditionally, the Crailtap camp loves a full-length video. Usually, a big-budget affair that involves skits, visual effects, and the occasional explosion. With “Bubble,” they’ve taken a pared-back approach, just skating, b-roll, simple and tasteful 16mm intro bumpers, and over five minutes of credits. It makes for a more easily digestible watch, and for me, those 40-some-odd-minutes flew by.
That, of course, is helped by the stellar skateboarding. Tyler “Manchild” Pacheco often feels like he shows up more in montages than full parts, so it was a welcome reminder that while he’s still very much a silly little guy (as all the b-roll we’ve seen of him over the years attests), he’s also really goddamn good at skateboarding.
Griffin Gass is excellent and has many haircuts throughout the video. Kyonosuke Yamashita appears to be of that Casey Rigney ilk — someone who is so good at skateboarding that they’ll likely, paradoxically, never get full credit for just how good they are. Greg DeHart has Gus Gordon body (positive). Rick Howard has a clip! He also was in the background of a number of shots, which tells me that he was quite involved in the project or, at the very least, went on a few trips. Not sure if I noticed any Mike Carroll BGPs…
I’ve also really come to appreciate the low-impact lane that Vincent Alvarez has established for himself these last few years. It’s a genre of small-to-medium-size bank and ledge skating that I can get behind because that’s all I’m willing to skate, too. Cody Chapman aired the long side of the tabletop at the Con Ed banks and hardflipped over that one giant handrail — what a spread of ability. He is truly a special talent and the only person who can pull off a circle beard.
Simon Bannerot closed the show. The level of control he has over his skateboard is something else. Despite having the last part, he also has another song’s worth of footage scattered throughout the rest of the video. Or enough extra footage that they could’ve used a different, longer, more high-energy song than what they did. “Golden Clouds” by The Orb and Lee “Scratch” Perry isn’t a bad track; it’s just more ellipses than exclamation point. Maybe it’ll grow on me. Who knows? Mild and inconclusive criticism aside, the Crail camp came through, which is always nice to see.
Don’t touch the turd
Mood: 🥴 🤢 🤮
As the Vancouver Trans Pride March — a celebration of Trans, Two Spirit, Genderqueer, and Intersex peoples — made its way up Commercial Drive over the weekend, I watched as a pair of attention-seeking bigots attempted to draw a reaction from the crowd of marchers, observers, and passersby by stomping along the street in sandwichboard signs bearing anti-trans messaging. The duo were outfitted with GoPro cameras and held out extended selfie sticks with iPhones on their ends, ready and waiting to record any confrontation their presence might cause.
This effort was designed to spread hate and fear, to be sure, but it’s also safe to assume, in the case of assholes like this, that their primary goal was to gather content. Because, in the end, all that these fucks are after is a way to create an audience and monetize their odious views. Hate-influencer has been a path to success (whether financially or in notoriety) for a number of far-right figures and is one that more and more dopes seem willing to try. It’s why Ben Shapiro releases 45-minute-long video diatribes against the Barbie movie and Steven Crowder rails against whatever form “woke” has taken that day — it’s all a part of the schtick, which feeds the grift, upping view counts, ad dollars, subscriber counts, etc.
It’s the same reason noted dipshit and cat thief Tim Pool, who’s managed to parlay his bigotry into some form of financial success, will release a clip of a godawful skateboarding trick he doesn’t land and declare that it must upset “woke lefty skateboarders.” He’s not even trying, but he knows this stuff gets engagement. Skateboarders are an audience he’s actively trying to court — which is why you see him palling around with Richie Jackson and Chris Wimer thirsting for him in his comments — but he’s also just as happy to be an antagonist as long as people pay attention. It’s the same tactic the dorks in the sandwich boards at the Trans Pride March employ; they’re just trying to work their way up the ladder to where Pool is.
What’s always clear in these situations, whether it’s that pair of pasty fucks trying to stir shit up over the weekend or Pool trying to instigate an online pile-on, is how utterly pathetic it is. How sad an existence it is to define yourself in opposition to someone else’s humanity. To debase yourself in the quest for views, money, and some vague notion of acceptance from a community that only operates in hate.
While it’s important to keep an eye on these jackasses and push back when necessary, it’s also important to ignore them whenever possible. To not take the bait and share their posts to “dunk” on their dumbassery because that’s exactly what they want — and now, on Twitter, some even get paid for it. The gamification of our attention is a sick side effect of the online age and it’s rotted innumerable brains. If we can keep from spreading their bile ourselves, the better off we’ll be.
Yes… ha ha ha… yes!: Addendum
Last week, I wrote about the devilish bubbling of excitement I felt at the prospect of Andy Anderson facing Torey Pudwill in Battle At The Berrics and Pudwill having to contend with Anderson’s move set.
This is one of those things that I didn’t know was possible until it presented itself. Born of our vast and arbitrary universe like the Big Bang or god pulling a fast one on Adam and yanking out one of his ribs to make Eve — it’s a flash of creation that is as much a surprise as it is immediately and wholly necessary. Andy Anderson doing a “wet stop” against Torey Pudwill in a game of S.K.A.T.E.? It’s beautiful. I need it. The potential of watching Pudwill, one of the most technical skateboarders to exist in the brief history of skateboarding, being compelled to attempt what looks to be a rather difficult freestyle trick at Battle At The Berrics is cruel, unusual, and utterly fascinating.
While Erik Bragg, who read out the game rules for the matchup, would also take on the role of defacto referee and declare Anderson’s “wet stop” maneuver illegal, it didn’t matter. Because, in a somewhat surprising turn of events, Pudwill wound up getting absolutely waxed by the be-helmeted Anderson.
Despite starting with a bean-plant combo that was very much against the rules, Anderson mixed up his trick selection between conventional and absurd well, eventually closing out the show with his signature front-foot-impossible. The idea that Anderson could skunk Pudwill wasn’t out of the question, yet it was still relatively unexpected. The Thank You Skateboards owner took the loss well, even if some frustration was evident as he mockingly attempted freestyle moves after missing his defensive opportunities — which is the shit I’m here for. Chaos. Disruption — in the least non-tech-bro way possible. I want to see Anderson go as far in the tournament as possible. I want to see him do a coconut wheelie and then finish someone with a switch-360-flip. How beautiful, how twisted. Let the future be my desire.
Terms of engagement
In the second ever “Simple Magic: Simply Ranked” Friday post, I wrote about a new TJ Rogers video part and éS Footwear’s YouTube strategy.
It’s a great video part that also serves to welcome him to the relaunched éS team. A shoe company that’s lived, thrived, died, been resurrected and died again, only to punch up through the topsoil once more.
But if there’s one thing they should learn in this new life, it’s to avoid doing this:
Their YouTube channel undermines the quality work they’ve put out by forcing more content on the audience before the current offering is even done. Am I to watch Rogers’ ender or click on the “Shmatty VX part”? These “suggested video” and “channel” buttons cover the last four tricks in the part when watch on YouTube dot com.
Engagement is always the end goal now. The algorithms demand it at any cost. And I’m not sure how we pull ourselves out of that ridiculousness, but we can at least start small. Let me enjoy this one video part in peace and silence.
Now, nearly two years later, I am once more writing about a new TJ Rogers video part and éS Footwear’s YouTube strategy. Because, somewhat shockingly, they’ve done it again:
The run-up, execution, and ride away of the last trick in a video celebrating Rogers’ PRO model shoe are again marred by éS’ YouTube channel buttons. They’ve been actively choosing to let this happen for years. It’s a complete disregard for the efforts of the skateboarder, filmer, and editor. On top of that, how many people are even clicking on those buttons? I’d guess not many. It’s such a bizarre form of self-sabotage that I’m honestly impressed. Keep doing you, éS.
Brand collab: hmm, okay. Sure.
Rank: Hmm… 3?
Only seven short days ago, I opined about skateboarding brand collaborations in this newsletter. I think most are — to use the parlance of our culture — wack. Some can be done well, though. Last week I pointed to collaborators in chief, Palace Skateboards, as a brand that partners with other brands in such compelling ways that lending their brand to other brands is just a part of their brand.
To that end, it’s been a busy week for Palace. On Monday, they announced a collab with soft plastic shoe purveyor Crocs. Then on Tuesday, they teased one with fast-food giant McDonald’s. What will the collaboration between the skateboarding-company-cum-fashion-label and a mega-corporation with a $210 billion USD market cap look like? Will it include a Palace Burger? A shirtless Lucas Puig Happy Meal toy? A leatherman jacket with the golden arches and Tri-Ferg hopelessly intertwined in a patch on its breast?
According to a McDonald’s Instagram post, we’ll find out on Monday (although we may have already gotten a look). Next week will also see the release of a new Palace video, Beta Blockers. One would assume that this endless barrage of collaborations is what allows the skateboard company to continue releasing skateboarding videos and paying their riders what one would also have to assume is a decent wage. But is there a limit to how often and to who they lend their brand out before these other brands’ brands start to damage their brand — if those injuries aren’t already severe?
If we wanted to be generous, perhaps we could look at this as a savvy satire of the depressing desperation of our unfettered capitalist system. A skateboarding brand using its perceived cultural cache to convince a global super-conglomerate to spend money on its endeavours is quite funny. Why else would McDonald’s, a noted seller of flaccid hamburgers, feel the need to collab with Palace other than some asinine and completely unnecessary desire to appeal to a younger demographic? If that’s the case, good on Palace for taking advantage of that avarice, I guess.
However, that doesn’t mean this isn’t wack because it absolutely is. At least we can take solace in the fact that Chewy Cannon is getting paid. He is getting paid, right? Right?
Something to celebrate: Arin turned PRO in Toronto!
Good thing: I haven’t had a chance to watch John Wilson’s Johnny’s Vid yet, but if it’s good enough to get John Wilson in attendance, I’m assuming it’s VOTY.
Another good thing? Sure, why not: David Roth on weird, powerful people with “A Seat At The Table Of Success” in Defector.
A me thing: I talked to Ben Komins from Jenkem about my book Right, Down + Circle. Technically, this should be in the “Self-Promotion Alert” section, but I’ve gone rogue and placed it here in the grab-bag zone. I am unrepentant.
Until next week… try following a pigeon around. Watch it waddle in its sincere, naive way. Can we learn something from how it moves about the world? Do you feel a seed of empathy grow for the maligned bird as it coos itself to sleep in the awning of your local corner store? Would you, if given the chance, let it nuzzle in the crook of your neck?
I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I will keep posting about it at the end of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Apologies. It’ll be in stores on September 26 and you can pre-order Right, Down + Circle now from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.