A fate worse than death (acquisition) | Simply Ranked

Plus: SOTY... SOTY!, Cody's Snake Farm, Omar abroad, and more.

A fate worse than death (acquisition) | Simply Ranked
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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.

The second to last SOTY segment of 2022

Rank: 3
Mood: 🥉

A few weeks ago, I made a grave, naive error. In late October, I assumed that the running for Thrasher’s Skater of The Year award might be a more relaxed affair than 2021’s.

This year’s SOTY race feels more subdued than the last. There’s no tumult like there was around Suciu’s weekly video part output, no uncontestable frontrunner going into the final stretch—though all of that might change in the coming days. As it stands, we have Louie Lopez’s multiple excellent video parts with another assumed to come, Tyshawn Jones teasing us with that subway track kickflip in The General part two, Tristan Funkhouser with a wild Baker part and a mind-bending ollie at China Banks (which we know was landed in 2021, if that were to be a disqualifying thing), and any number of other standouts as the level of skateboarding in our current age sits at an absurd level and refuses to plateau.

How innocent we were back then. It turns out all of that did change in the days to come. In a little over a week, Tyshawn Jones has released two more video parts and a sneaky last-minute button that would cement another Rusty on his mantel; T-Funk put out a raucous SF-centric offering that had me screaming at my computer screen several times in concern and awe; Louie Lopez’s As You Wish Converse Cons video finally dropped, and it was a well-rounded revelation and a showcase of a skateboarder at the absolute height of their powers. Then, of course, Nyjah Huston released a bunch of video parts. They contained some of the gnarliest skateboarding ever done but still ultimately felt soulless. His is a style of skateboarding that’s focused solely on going bigger and bigger, ignoring the deeper emotional connection that good style, taste, trick selection, filming and editing build in the viewer. Eventually, it creates a sterile, alienating viewing experience, like Marvel movies or whatever it is MrBeast does.

But that hasn’t even touched on the supplementary content a few of the SOTY contenders had to bolster their campaigns. There was the wonderful 30-minute For Days feature that detailed the history, careers, and friendships of Jones, Na-Kel Smith, and Davonte Jolly. We got some insight into Jones’ decision to leave Emerica for adidas, with a blunt and level-headed assessment that we don’t often hear from skaters.

“You want to be a core skater or whatever, but I want a Lamborgini, I want the house, I want it all.” And in reference to Jones’ monthly cheque from Emerica, Na-Kel hammered it home, “You can’t be the core family man with $250.” The rest of the piece does a great job of fleshing out Jones’ drive and makes his intentions for this late-year footage push clear: “LeBron is vocal about wanting to win. I want to win.”

Lopez’s “Deadline” piece on Thrasher was a quick, fun look into the filming process of As You Wish and gave us a quote that will forever be immortalized in Lopez lore when he shared that while filming for this video, he was constantly “extremely horny to skate.” And Monster released Nyjah’s section from their forthcoming Euro-tour video Sidemission, which, if anything, hindered his chances. Seeing his athleisure-clad frame roll across gritty, grey cobblestones is as offputting as it is incongruous. He was also on Steve-O’s podcast, but I don’t get paid for writing this newsletter, which means I won’t subject myself or you, dear reader, to that.

So, yeah, it’s been quite a few days. Maybe your eyes hurt from all of the screen time. Have you considered getting blue light filters in your glasses lenses? You should look into it and prepare yourself for SOTY season 2023.

The last SOTY segment of 2022

Rank: 1
Mood: 🏆

On Thursday evening, we all learned via Instagram that Tyshawn Jones is Thrasher Magazine’s 2022 Skater of The Year. The message was punctuated by a backside flip over the same subway tracks we lost our shit over when he straight kickflipped them. A fitting capper on a wild year of skateboarding. It would be interesting to know the timeline of when this was filmed and the winner was chosen. Having that video package prepared and posted just hours after Thrasher’s online SOTY voting poll went live certainly defeats its purpose. Not that it really matters; we all know it’s the five o’clock shadowy cabal of dudes hanging around the High Speed Production office that decides the winner, but at least let the charade play out. It’s nice to feel a part of something, you know?

That aside, congrats to Jones. Even if SOTY is a strange, industry-built affair, he deserves the accolade. A generational talent who, realistically, at 23 years old, is just getting started—that’s an exciting prospect to think about. He also put forward a more calculated campaign than Suciu did last year and didn’t receive a fraction of the criticism, which I think could be because of a couple of things. First, Jones has an energy and confidence that is really compelling—he’s just naturally cool. His efforts didn’t feel “forced,” even if they, in reality, were precisely that. But mostly, I think it’s because he owned it. He was clear about his intention to win. There wasn’t the usual playing footsie with pretense, no pretending not to be serious about things.

Which is a new but not unexpected twist. Because if Thrasher, the sole dominant media entity left in skateboarding, wants SOTY to be treated like a contest (whose rulebook is an indecipherable rune) and as the “only award that matters,” it makes sense that skaters and their sponsors would treat it as such. They’re of the belief that their careers, livelihoods, and legacies depend on it.

Which all seems very un-Thrasher-like. “Skateboarding doesn't owe you shit; it owes you wheel bite in the rain,” the oft-repeated quote from late Thrasher EIC Jake Phelps, was essentially the ethos of the magazine and skateboarding at large for years. But SOTY contends that if you skate hard enough, do the gnarliest tricks, and have the right attitude (and maybe the right sponsors), skateboarding—or at least Thrasher—does owe you something. And it’s a surprisingly heavy little trophy.

Bad timing

Rank: -2
Mood: 🏎

“The wait is over…” reads the YouTube video description for The Berrics promoted and channel-hosted launch of Cody McEntire’s “Snake Farm” skateboards. It would be surprising if many people were aware of or waiting for the debut of McEntire’s brand, but I’m all for building a little false sense of import and intrigue. If you won’t pump your own tires, who will? Anyhow, at first glance, it would be easy to dunk on Snake Farm for not having a defined aesthetic beyond “snakes” and “tattoo flash” or the fact that in its racecar-and-launch-ramp-themed launch video, there is a scene where McEntire attempts to nollie bigspin over a drifting racecar, but clearly misses.

It’s all a bit corny, but I also don’t think I’m the intended audience for the brand. Which made me wonder, who is? I’m not sure we have the best picture yet, but we can try to piece one together using the available clues. Speeding cars? Roaring engines? Big stunts over speeding cars with roaring engines? Imagery with angry snakes? McEntire’s Black Rifle Coffee Company hat? (The explicitly rightwing coffee brand that sells products like a “Thin Blue Line Roast” and that was embroiled in controversy after noted teenage murderer Kyle Rittenhouse was seen wearing their merch in a social media post along with the caption “Kyle Rittenhouse drinks the best coffee in America.”)

Could this be a board brand geared towards a Nascar and gun-loving right that has a weird thing about being tread on? Did McEntire sense a gap in the skateboarding market that he might take advantage of, the silent minority of the conservative skater? Eh, that would be a bit of a leap. I doubt he’s thought too deeply about his target demographic and is just making and wearing shit that he thinks is cool, and those things happen to be culturally coded a certain way. However, if Snake Farm ever puts out a “Thin Blue Line Board,” I guess we’ll have our answer.

A fate worse than death

Mood: 🧟‍♂️

Since Supra Footwear and KR3W Denim were acquired by K-Swiss Global brands—a conglomerate of companies that included K-Swiss, Palladium, PLDM, and OTZ Shoes, which itself was a subsidiary of E-Land Group (a South Korean conglomerate of “retail malls, restaurants, theme parks, hotels… construction businesses as well as its cornerstone, fashion apparel business.”), who would eventually have their E-Land Footwear USA Holdings Inc. shares (which included Supra) purchased for 260 million by Xtep International Holdings Limited, a Chinese sporting goods manufacturer, before the Seoul-based F&F Holdings Co Ltd would acquire and relaunch the brand in South Korea last year—things have been a little strange.

The once-popular skateboarding footwear brand as we knew it, which was home to names like Jim Greco, Chad Muska, and Erik Ellington, was summarily killed and then reanimated by the dark art of corporate greed. Like the parent companies of ailing local newspapers being bought out by private equity firms, only to become lifeless hubs of native advertising or extreme nativist viewpoints to the benefit of certain political actors, whatever Supra is now, it resembles itself in name only.

In May, the company attempted to rebrand itself as a “Metaverse fashion brand” and issued a truly terrifying press release to NFT News Today that ends with what could be considered Supra’s best available eulogy.

Founded in 2006 with roots in southern Californian skate culture, SUPRA is known for its modern design and innovative aesthetics.

Inheriting the brand’s legacy, SUPRA has been reborn as a metafashion brand, a boundless connection of virtual and physical fashion.

Thus, all SUPRA’s digital wearables for the metaverse will be available in the real world and holders of SUPRA NFTs will receive various experiences through SUPRA’s fashion business.

The scariest part of this? It can happen to anyone. No brand is safe from its own success. You become beholden to it. Growth is all that matters. A dip in revenue? Suddenly, you’re one acquisition and restructuring away from becoming a zombie. All of the work and creative energy you put into your business—gone. That last bit of light behind your eyes disappears. You sell NFTs now.

MACBA luminaries

Rank: 1
Mood: 🌍

There are a few things I really appreciate about MACBA Life’s King and Queen of MACBA tournaments. Each one usually introduces me to a few new and up-and-coming skaters worth paying attention to, like Guadalupe Orellano and Aldana Bertran, who faced off against one another in an incredibly wild match that was posted last week. In this setting, you also get an interesting and somewhat revealing look into the abilities and limitations of high-level skateboarders through how they approach a spot like MACBA. Some skaters, like Giovanni Viana, would rather take a letter than do that big-ass gap out to the street (understandably so). And with MACBA being such a destination, you never know what names will be milling around and get roped into refereeing duties. In Monday’s bout between Julia Brueckler and Monica Torres, it was, surprisingly, Omar Hassan.

If this were a just world, this would be the start of an unexpected, cross-genre legends tour that we didn’t know or could ever imagine that we needed. Get the man to Slides & Grinds next.

Something to consider: Isn’t Delta like the Blind Skateboards of the sky? C’mon Yuto.

Good thing: “Every ‘chronically online’ conversation is the same” by Rebecca Jennings in Vox.

Another good thing:

Until next week… if there’s snow where you live, go outside and pick up a handful. Squeeze it into a small, tight ball. Look around you. Is there a stop sign nearby? Yes? Perfect. Stand in front of it and then walk backwards twenty paces. Throw the snowball at the stop sign. If you hit it, step back another twenty paces, make another snowball, and throw it again. Repeat as much as necessary.