June 18, 2014
Truth be told, I never skated the white/black sole Etnies/e’S Sal 23. I had the navy w/white sole through fall/winter ’94/95 and the elusive red w/black sole late summer ’95 into fall of the same year.To this day, it remains my favorite skate shoe of all time.* So when e’S announced their comeback, I hoped somewhere in the back of my mind that they would, in some form or fashion, reissue some of the most beloved models like the Sal 23 and Accel. Well, they did reissue the Accel in Japan, or some shit.
However, several factors in the modern world stand in the way. First, who knows what happened to that Korean factory that fabricated all those e’S back in the ’90s. It might be a laser tag arena now. Secondly, it would probably involve paying Sal; according to the quote on this web page, he played an integral part in its design. And if there’s one thing companies (even skater-owned ones) sidestep more than anything, it’s paying people if they don’t ostensibly have to. Thirdly, it might not be fiscally wise at this juncture for e’S to manufacture faithful reissues, like Nike does with every Jordan–over and over again until the end of time, amen–and lesser-known but equally beloved shoes like the Air Tech Challenge 2–a.k.a. Agassi’s.
So when the all-white dunks came out, I saw a blank canvas* on which to embark on a nostalgic vision quest. I would take matters into my own hands–literally. Indeed, it felt to good to sit down and work on a #physical project for hours and hours. Before that, though, I researched. Like most important decisions in my life, I first consulted the Slap messageboard. One dude recommended an Australian brand of spray paint, which I obtained, along with an assortment of caps, from a Canadian web site.
I guess Australia and Canada are still all about the five elements of #madrealhiphop.
Subsequently, I masked off the sides in order to preserve the “so icy” translucent blue sole, as seen above. After experimenting with the assortment of caps, I selected the skinniest one and carefully painted the sidewall (is that a term?). Like most attempts in life, it came out way better the second time. The dude on Slap was right–this paint is sticky as fuck and pretty much impossible to scrape off even with an x-acto knife. I might clean up the soles with some acetone and a q-tip at some point.
Applying the “23” proved even more challenging. I can’t claim “embroidery” as part of my skill set, so I had to find another tactic. First I tried to locate “varsity’ font stencils at my local craft stores–to no avail. Then I said “fuck it” and downloaded the font to create my own stencil. Someone on instagram–I forget who, @nailzsf maybe?–told me that the digits are one inch high on the shoe, so I laser-printed a 72-point Varsity stencil. Spray-painting the numerals proved too messy, as did going over it with a paint pen, so I eventually created another one with plain ol’ computer paper, traced the outline on the shoe with a number two pencil, then carefully went over that with the finest paint pen I could find and filled in. Finally, I cannibalized some black laces from the chromeball dunk highs.
I’m not sure if I’m going to skate them or just stunt around for the summer. In any event, as you can imagine, they pair well with Light-Ass Denim.™
twitter – @carbonite1994
insta – @frozenincarbonite
*until a skateable SB Jordan 5 comes out
**just like when I skate street, bro
May 25, 2014
If, as Roctakon once wrote, NYC commodifies cool, and LA sells you the same thing reconstituted as fame, then DC’s most valuable commodity is power. Perhaps that’s what gives DC footage that extra juice, in addition to Pulaski’s status as the coolest-looking skate spot in the country.
The power resides in the marble.
I first sensed this power when my dad used to drive me up there from time to time to go the Natural History and Air and Space Museums. As we headed up Interstate 95, the first indicator that we were entering a qualitatively different power zone were the orange spheres that appeared on the power lines at the Marine Base Quantico exit. Because, like, there were helicopters flying around. The next sign was the Pentagon, which sprawled out on our left after we took the exit onto 395. Later, when I started going there to skate, the office buildings of Crystal City (what kind of a name for a neighborhood is that anyway) loomed on your right. A mythical name for the location (or so we presumed) of those mythical parking garages that Pep and them skated in Skypager.
Astute real estate observers will note that DMV was one of the few areas to escape the 2008-2009 crash. And this year, The Washington Professional Basketball Team sustained #relevance until mid-May. Furthermore, The region has also been extremely productive in terms of physical and web-based media production. Concurrently, DC’s myriad organizations have functioned as the setting for all kinds of television programming—prestige and otherwise–due to this power locus and the accompanying Machiavellian accoutrements. So, in the following article I will attempt to merge, compare, and contrast– thematically and stylistically–recent DC skate videos with recent DC television.
March 17, 2014
UPDATE 4/8 – FINAL RESULTS. Shoutout to everyone that voted and linked.
This experiment in interactive content was inspired by a few different elements. First, the growing semi-serious discussion on #skatetwitter about power-ranking stuff in skating–like kickflips, etc. Until now, the closest thing had been the coverage meter on Transworld Business. Secondly, you know on Grantland how they love to power-rank stuff, and also to place seemingly incongruous things into brackets that you can vote on? Except the latter usually manifests itself in weird matchups like Snapchat vs. Macklemore, or some shit like that. Thirdly, I have been filling out these brackets every March since like 1990; it’s a rite of spring or some shit. I think I pick too many upsets, though. But you don’t want to be that dude who picks his whole bracket according to seeds, ’cause that’s boring as fuck. However, you also don’t want to be that dude who never watches basketball, knows nothing about sports period, yet conducts a shit-ton of research and tries to use some Sabermetric-type algorithms to “beat the system.” I think I just pick the team that I think is cooler, which led to too many Arkansas Razorbacks and Miami “THE U” picks.
ANYWAY, the real catalyst arrived (like most inspiration in #modernlife) via twitter–@eclectik posted a link to a “Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of the 90’s” bracket he made on this site Challonge. After fucking around with the site for a while, and after a 13-hour selection committee meeting in a smoke-filled room, we have the Ultimate #90s Skater Power Ranking Bracket. Note: in order to establish a level playing field, the selection committee chose to omit, for the most part, currently active pro’s, dudes in the “everyone’s favorite skater” category like Gino, Carroll, etc., and those legends who are no longer with us. Here is the tentative schedule, which the selection committee drew up to align with the NCAA’s:
ROUND ONE: 3/17-3/20
ROUND TWO: 3/21-3/24
REGIONALS: (ROUND 3) 3/25-3/27
ELITE 8: 3/28-3/31
FINAL FOUR: 4/1-4/4
So check back as per the above schedule to see results. [cue Highlander theme]
March 2, 2014
The genesis of this interview took place about five years ago, when Chris emailed me after reading this post.
In the years between then and now, a certain subdivision of skate nerdery concerning who has done what over a Cali picnic table flourished. A legend grew of someone switch 360 kickflipping over one.
A few months ago, Chris posted a sequence on his instagram account of him switch 360 flipping over a picnic table. It was as if a new dead sea scroll was unearthed. It seemed like a good opportunity for an interview, both about the trick and about LA County. The video has earned status as one of the most celebrated #lowimpact vids ever, yet its creators are still shrouded in mystery.
In the following interview, Chris tells his story, provides a perspective into the inner workings of the industry around the turn of the century, and elucidates a window back in time to a definitive era in Los Angeles.
Where are you from and how did you get into skating?
I am from Breckenridge, Colorado and I started skating in 1985. I remember being infatuated with skating after seeing the movie Back to the Future.
Describe a typical day skating in LA in the late 90’s when the pit, USC ledges, etc. were all active spots.
Skateboarding’s funny; no matter where you go, it’s super territorial. My prospective was heavily clouded with drugs, but I remember it always having a heavy overtone of competition at all the popular spots. If you were able to ignore the competitive aspects and just enjoy the actual moments skating, it was amazing.
February 1, 2014
Originally posted on Memory Screened:
To Gabriel Rodriguez, the board graphic world opened its door upon a biblical revelation. Not for him, but for his then-boss Natas Kaupas.
“My mom is Catholic”, he explains on the porch of the house he grew up in, in Mid City LA, “she had a huge mantle with Jesus on it. My room used to be on the back, so once Natas came over and had to walk through the house. When he saw that picture, he was like, ‘That is gonna be your first graphic.’ I was like, ‘Really? Fuck yeah, no doubt!’ I thought it was cool. I was a little more religious back then than I am now, so I was a little scared cause we were gonna be skating on, you know, desecrating the face or whatever.”
Using His almighty compassion, Mr Christ didn’t…
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January 12, 2014
“Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become.” -Mary McGrory
You don’t have to be an MIT physicist to deduce that New England has been killing it lately. Exhibit A: The World Series win. Exhibit B: the Patriots’ continued status at the top of the AFC East, fueled by a series of improbably last-minute comebacks, Brady’s superhuman confidence and Belichick’s analytic genius (more on this later). Exhibit C: The rise of Eggs as the most chill street spot on the East Coast and possibly in the United States (more on this later as well). Even the Celtics and Bruins have won championships in the past few years.
The only victory left for New Englanders is an honest-to-G*d Patrick John Ladd video part. For a board company video. #Physical or iTunes.
December 25, 2013
In 2009, a Crailtap employee told me that Smyth was working on an EMB book, or some shit. The status of said tome remains uncertain, but, until its completion, the recently released FTC Book is as close as we’re gonna get.
If one sat down to write a book about #local skate shops as “thing,” odds are that certain narrative motifs would emerge: owners mentoring local rippers, older dudes vibing, rivalries with other local shops. Some dudes achieved success via the #industry, some dudes flamed out and cultivated drug problems, some dudes faded out of skating and got a job working construction (via Springsteen, natch). And of course, some dudes quit at their peak to “get really into cars.”*
Indeed, these types of stories are as old as the hills to anyone who came up in a community with a local shop. However, in retail and most other ventures, timing is everything. FTC differs because its ascendance coincided with that of A) a series of new, cool-as-fuck companies B) innovators who, seemingly as an afterthought, were inventing a new genre of skating every afternoon and C) SF’s status as skate Mecca, with hometown heroes nationwide buying beaters and making the pilgrimage–Welsh most notably, but I’m sure you know one or two who made it or didn’t quite get there. From this anthropological standpoint, it’s import resonates to this day, as variants of the plaza skating culture continue to thrive and replicate. Case in point: Stalin.
And the videos. I can’t remember when/where I first saw the first one; probably out in front of Supreme. If you haven’t watched Finally in a while, it’s probably the most low-impact vid ever; the biggest drop is probably Carroll’s ollies that gap at the Wallenberg upper playground. Penal Code, canonical at this point, continues the oldies/beats/breaks/some regional hip-hop school of music supervision from Goldfish; pretty sure it was the first time I had heard “That Lady” since Paul’s Boutique. It was definitely in heavy rotation out in front of Supreme for a couple years. To paraphrase Meza, these videos maintain #relevance because of their organic, skating-the-same-spots-every-day-with-our-friends vibe–a vibe that is hard to fake via orchestrated high-five lifestyle footage.
For obsessives such as myself, The FTC Book takes the reader into a wormhole that was previously only accessible through apocryphal tales and early SLAP, which seemed more plugged-in to the EMB scene than Thrasher–a rivalry of sorts detailed in the book itself. It also answers quantum-level skate nerd questions like “who first started skating suede Pumas?” and “Did Jovontae Jeans actually exist?” Along those lines. the street-level economic details of the scene, via the infamous tab book, are also interesting as fuck. Does any other shop still maintain such a system? More importantly, do any currently-active skate spots keep the tradition of the open-air product market alive?
ANYWAY, the core of the book is its interviews; every notable EMB affiliate contributes a narrative, save Henry Sanchez. As the best dude out from 1991-1994, it would be fascinating to hear his take, but you know how that goes…
One question remains, though: if Carroll had skated to “Limelight,”would Serge have skated to “La Villa Strangiato”?
You can obtain The FTC Book here or at any FTC store in the US, Japan, or Spain
*is this a “thing” all over the country? worldwide?
PREVIOUSLY: Lonny Peoples Interview
September 17, 2013
In the dead of night, a Bell AB-212 descends onto the heliport of David Guetta’s Ibiza compound. A slim, tall African-American lady descends the stairs onto the tarmac. Her hair is styled in a mullet, or some shit.
A few minutes later, another helicopter lands, transporting a Caucasian female with an aggressive platinum blonde hairstyle. She looks like she could use a sandwich.
Neither has any idea why Mr. Guetta has summoned them. A few minutes later, when @mikewillmadeit, French Montana, Future, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Pitbull, and Katy Perry ascend the helipad stairs, everything becomes clear.
Their mission, should they chose to accept it: craft The Song Of the Summer 2013.
This did not happen, but it kinda did…
July 31, 2013
“Remember how cold it was when you took the bus up to Montreal?”
“Winnipeg is colder.”
The above is an excerpt from an internet discussion between me and my homie in MTL. I think I had mentioned that Winnipeg seemed like a tight place to live, based on a)various Green Apple-affiliated videos I had seen b) the plaza that was one of the first ones that seemed to replicate Barcelona architecture and c)the return of the Jets.
He went on to describe a bleak, economically devastated metropolis where native gangs rule the streets at night. Based on Supper’s Ready and Modern Love though, Winnipeg appears to be a spot-filled metropolis where the particularly Canadian sense of humor–via SCTV/ Bill Murray–flourishes in skate vid form. Read the rest of this entry »