A new [shoe brand] has appeared! | Simply Ranked

Plus: Democracy in action, how much content is enough, a happy Harry Lintell, and more.

A new [shoe brand] has appeared! | Simply Ranked
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.

A new [shoe brand] has appeared!

Rank: 1
Mood: 👟👟

We are living in an exciting moment in time. Not socially, politically, or regarding the state of the natural environment — that all seems pretty fraught. What is exciting, however, is that there’s a new entry into the skateboarding shoe market that appears to have some potential.

Asics first announced its foray into the skate world in 2020 when it launched an exploratory line of shoes exclusive to its Japanese market. The results must have shown potential because we’ve seen a slow trickle of notable PROs and AMs — including one Gino Iannucci — make a quiet switch to the brand over the last six months or so. A poster from an event last week teased the official Asics roster.

We have to assume this list is incomplete, given that skaters like Walker Ryan, Brandon Turner, and more have all recently been seen in and tagged Asics Skateboarding on Instagram. Adding to the intrigue is the addition of master lensman Jacob Harris of Atlantic Drift fame, who has been seen travelling with the team. That’s particularly interesting since we still don’t have any real sign of brand identity from Asics Skateboarding, and Harris as a filmmaker has a unique and distinct vision (that other shoe brands like New Balance and Adidas have utilized in the past, albeit after having long established their brand identities).

So what gives this latest effort of an outsider brand making its way into skateboarding potential? For starters, they are an established company with a history of making quality products, what we know of their team shows that they have an interest in appealing to a wide breadth of skaters (Kieran Woolley, Kyota Umeki, Brandon Turner, and Brent Atchley??), and they’ve tapped the talents of someone who’s already succeeded at this once before.

Kaspar Van Lierop, who helped bring Nike SB to the fore after its various fits and starts in the industry, is one of the people at the helm of the Asics Skateboarding program. I reached out to him via email to see if he’d be interested in chatting about the development of the brand, its team, and their designs for the future. He politely declined, noting that they want to keep things under wraps for as long as possible, but he did offer this little nugget of a statement:

“I will say we are planning to do things differently than most skate footwear brands. We are hoping to stoke people out by bringing a refreshing look and feel. We plan to have a more nimble, less loud, but confident approach. Blending skate, art and Asics heritage. Asics skateboarding shoes have been around in Japan for about 3 years now. [In] late June the product will be available in a small selection of USA skateshops. Then next year we will focus on Europe, Australia etc. The first global campaign will launch in July.”

*Intrigue intensifies*

Content council

Rank: 6
Mood: 👷‍♂️🧟‍♂️🧑‍🦰🧜👩‍✈️👴🦹‍♀️🎙

At the suggestion of their former guest, professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez, Chad and JT, the hosts of the comedy podcast Going Deep with Chad and JT, recently visited Thousand Oaks, California, where they attended a city council meeting and pranked local government officials — specifically, former professional skateboarder, current entrepreneur, influencer, and first-term council member, Mikey Taylor.

TL; DW: Chad and JT asked Taylor and the rest of the council to cover Thousand Oaks in marble so skaters can shred it up unimpeded. Hell yeah, my dudes. Taylor would repost the clip on his official city council Instagram account with the caption, “Well this happened last night 😂😂,” the contentification loop from the Instagram highlight of a podcast appearance to recorded IRL moment back to an Instagram post, complete.

The rest of the city council meeting was more interesting. If you’ve never attended one, it can be a simultaneously eye-wateringly boring and eye-opening experience, as local government is ground zero for democracy and absurdity. Just before Chad and JT spoke, an elderly Thousand Oaks resident used her allotted speaking minutes to put a creative spin on what appeared to be her opposition to the T.O. Ranch development, which is “the largest mixed-use project in the city’s history,” according to the VC Star. Of the 420 residential units that comprise the T.O. Ranch, 54 are designated as low-income.

Her issue? Those low-income units are just too small for families, and there’s not enough green space around, which kids need to help with their “IQ development.” Plus, there’s “no play area… no places for teens to go. No basketball court. It would be a shame to put children into a situation like that. You would be creating a slum atmosphere. Too crowded. Too psychologically damaging for families who are struggling as it is.” Then with just seven seconds left on the clock, “The people who would go there are very low-income people; they need better from us….” Huh? With two seconds to go, it still wasn’t entirely clear whether this was a misguided concern for low-income people or she just didn’t want them living near her. The anticipation for her last few words was like those tense flashing moments that can hold entire universes as a basketball arcs through the air for a potential game-winning buzzer-beater — except thoroughly depressing. “…Please keep [the neighbourhood] for seniors.” A real shell game of morality right up until the very end!

The resident who spoke after Chad and JT would gently admonish the council, reminding them that it was their duty to protect local historical sites, expressing concern about the state of a 100-year-old schoolhouse after the region’s recent extreme rains.

“I understand that there are new members of the council who may not know that the responsibility for protecting our landmarks is solely your responsibility.” Yeesh! You okay after that one, new council member Mikey?! Need an ice pack? But the resident wasn’t finished because if council members weren’t worried about the schoolhouse, what else wasn’t on their minds? “This council should proactively research potential landmarks and points of interest.”

Point of order! Goddamn! Eviscerated. That’s democracy in action, baby.

How much is enough

Rank: 2
Mood: ⚖️

As someone who makes a living “creating” “content” in some form or another, I’m often left conflicted as to why. Specifically, why do we need so much of it? Content, a nebulous term that in its current colloquial use can mean anything from PDF scans of Anna Karenina to Dr. Pimple Popper, is how we’ve come to define our culture. It can be described as binge-able, transcendent, problematic, necessary, and utterly disposable. We seem determined to oversaturate and overburden every aspect of our lives with it in hopes of entertainment, or, more accurately, engagement.

It’s a derivative, cannibalistic pursuit. Say a celebrated novel becomes a less-celebrated but still popular television mini-series. Naturally, that leads to an “after show” that airs immediately following each episode. There will be official and unofficial podcasts, YouTube video breakdowns, Twitter takes, and memes pulled from the show’s original context that will permeate our online and offline lives for months or years to come. This happens because we cannot just consume a thing once. It has to be regurgitated by someone else, then by us again and again. It’s a human-centipede-ouroboros of content. A cycle that I admittedly enjoy contributing to and consuming (as you are right now, beloved reader).

When I think about this for too long, I return to the same question: why? Why do we make so much content? The obvious answers are for money, to dominate a market share, self-promotion, or simply for something to do. Is any of that why The Nine Club podcast felt the need to create a secondary show, The Nine Club Experience? And once The Nine Club Experience ended in March, why professional skateboarder Justin Eldridge decided to turn his segment on that show, “Eldy’s Pick of the Week,” into its own web series? A low-budget affair that sees Eldridge talk straight to the camera about stuff he likes, with the occasional remote piece where he visits a preferred restaurant or halves a spaghetti squash.

Not that everything put out into the world needs to have some greater intent or purpose, but what is the point of this? Is it just content creation for the sake of content creation? And more importantly, why do we watch it? Does anyone take anything away from it? Unequivocally, yes.

There are hundreds of positive comments below Eldridge’s videos. He has an audience born of The Nine Club that’s hungry to see more from the personalities that have accompanied them throughout so much of their day-to-day lives. Those are legitimate connections, so I can understand the appeal of an “Eldy’s Picks of the Week,” even if it’s not my cup of tea. This existential angst — this why — I’ve come to grapple with every other week, I believe, is a natural byproduct of the struggle we all face in some way or another in the age of constant content. Where everything is something to consume. The obvious but hard-to-shrug-off reality that some things just aren’t for us, even as we’re exposed to all of it all of the time.

Old guard, new faces

Rank: 1
Mood: 👶

One of the prevailing narratives around Crailtap and its assorted brands is their somewhat notorious ability to let up-and-coming talent languish in hazy states of sponsorship between FLOW and AM. Before magician-cum-skateboarder Jordan Trahan was officially “on” Chocolate Skateboarders and eventually turned PRO, the will-they-won’t-they of his sponsored status was the source of much discussion and derision on SLAP and other online and IRL places where fans gather to talk shit about things we don’t have full insight into.

While that practice may still be happening, I think we’ve reached a point in the rebuild phase of Chocolate and Girl Skateboards where we gotta hand it to them: their teams are pretty sick. Both companies still have a phalanx of the old guard, but it’s the younger names on their lineups that have added a real infusion of life. Chocolate rounded out its roster with James Capps, Carlisle Aikens, Erik Herrera, and the aforementioned Trahan — all skaters who fit the Chocolate mould that favours style as much as technical ability.

Girl’s Simon Bannerot, Niels Bennett, Breana Geering, Rowan Davis, and Griffin Gass are all fantastic skaters, each with a unique on-board and aesthetic style. Gass, whose “Orca Card” video part for Spitfire Wheels debuted on Thrasher on Monday, is perhaps the most underrated of the bunch. This particular offering is another welcome reminder of just how skilled he is, managing a delightful balance of high-level tech with overall excellent trick and spot selection, all of which is complemented by a stellar edit and song that weaves throughout the video as smoothly as Gass does through the streets of Seattle.1

It’s heartening to see legacy brands soldier on and continue to do good things even if they don’t have as much cultural import as they once had. For those like Girl and Chocolate, who’ve been so integral to the history of modern street skateboarding, a refresh was never off the table, even if it seemed distant at times. Foundation has done it. Who’s next? Let’s try Darkstar.

Look at this photo of Harry Lintell

Rank: 1
Mood: 😌

Via Tim Fulton’s Instagram

The Englishman took in America’s pastime and wound up taking home quite a souvenir. Look at the REAL Skateboards PRO radiate such pure, unadulterated joy. If you’re having a long week, enjoy this moment, that feeling, with him, through him.

Something to consider: Village Psychic has laid out “Skateboarding’s New Rules.”

Something my lil iPhone tripod and I personally subscribe to.

Good thing: From Norma Ibarra, Emanuele Barbier, and Marie Anne Louis-Charles, “Polaris is a one-of-a-kind project featuring diverse communities of non-traditional skateboarders across so-called Canada who are paving the way to inclusion while doing what they love, skateboarding.”

Another good thing: “The Internet Isn’t Meant To Be So Small” by Kelsey McKinney in Defector.

A fun thing: How Roy Wood Jr. crushed the toughest room in comedy” by Wesley Lowery in The Washington Post.

A fun, interesting thing: Andrew Murrell’s piece “2013: The Year Modern Skateboarding Broke” from Jenkem Vol. 3 turned into a rad video essay by Alex Coles.

Until next week… somewhere near you right now, whether at the base of a tree or the crack of a sidewalk, ants are putting in overtime. Take a moment to watch them swarm and stumble over one another with blind purpose and precision. Such impressive work ethic on display. It’s transfixing. When are they not on their grind, really? True champions of hustle cultur — oh shit, they’re crawling all over your shoes, dude! Get out of there!

Usually, by now, you’ve finished the newsletter and are ready to get on with your day. But I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who reads and subscribes. It’s fun writing these things, but it’s all the more rewarding knowing that people (mostly) enjoy reading them as well. For the folks who have pledged real human money to Simple Magic, thank you! I currently don’t have plans to monetize this thing at the moment, but if I ever do, I will spend that money wisely and exclusively on Subway sandwiches. My order, you ask? A footlong veggie patty on Italian herbs and cheese, toasted, with mozzarella, ALL of the veggies, and a few squirts of creamy Sriracha, chipotle southwest, and garlic aioli. Throw in three chocolate chunk cookies, no drink (tap water is more than fine), and we’re living life to the absolute fullest.

<3 Cole

  1. “This fucking rules,” was my immediate reaction after watching “Orca Card,” a review I shared out loud to my empty bachelor suite apartment.