An unpaid advertisement | Simply Ranked

Plus: Short-term rental sponsor, shortsighted graphics, tall and imaginary rails, and more.

An unpaid advertisement | 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.

This is new

Rank: $582 CAD per night
Mood: 🏡 🤔

What, exactly, is this? On its face, it’s clear: Andy Anderson is doing a promotion for Colin Mckay’s short-term rental property, blithely called “The Cutest Little Beach House.” But the question I imagine most had when this popped up in their feeds, myself included, is why? Why is Anderson taking us on a guided tour of every room? Through the bathrooms, bedrooms, its “baller-ass kitchen,” games-room guest house, and prompting us multiple times to visit The Cutest Little Beach House on Airbnb, on its forthcoming self-titled URL, or to just DM Colin McKay himself for rates.

I think the nuts-and-bolts answer is also pretty straightforward: In the video, Anderson thanks Mckay for letting him and his friends stay at The Cutest Little Beach House, which would lead one to believe that this advertorial post sent out to Anderson’s nearly half a million Instagram followers is payment enough for the OG Red Dragon. But this still doesn’t answer the why in the more pressing, existential sense.

How did we end up here? With skateboarders doing this? As public sentiment sours and governmental pressure increases on Airbnb and short-term rental properties amid an ever-worsening housing crisis in the United States, Canada, and beyond, it doesn’t seem like a terribly prudent idea for McKay to push this so publicly now or for Anderson to promote it. Usually, skateboarders are early to trends or start them, not the ones jumping on as the ship begins to sink.

Skateboarders have also, historically, been villainized for the destruction of property, public and private. It’s an accurate charge, even if our longstanding rebuttal would be that we’re simply reinterpreting space and urban architecture and that a chunk out of a ledge or wheel marks arcing across a wall is superficial at best. So it is a bit of a fascinating turn for a skateboarder to then contribute to the reinterpretation of entire neighbourhoods and the destruction of the rental and homeownership markets, which only get more inaccessible as short-term rentals proliferate, property prices soar, and wages stagnate. That’s new. And also, again, why?

Laid… paid? Upgrade?

Rank: 1?
Mood: 👟 🤔

As someone who has worked in marketing for many years and has written innumerable product descriptions, I’ve, without a doubt, penned some duds in my day. Sometimes, you just lose focus. That will happen when you spend hours and hours reframing and reshaping a select few descriptors in a way that’s on-brand, compelling to a purchasing audience, yet retains an allowable level of personality to give a stiff block of text a bit of life. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a product description as bad or bizarre as the one for éS Footwear’s Quattro (H/T @/youwillsoon on Instagram).

Note the Quattro’s “stunning appearance.”
The éS QUATTRO debuted in 1998, the same year as Google was founded. Both were revolutionary in the their respective worlds. The QUATTRO sold out so fast, we believe if it wasn’t for this shoe, the search engine – Google, wouldn’t be as popular as it is today. Ronnie Creager & Rick McCrank were both fans of the éS QUATTRO thanks to its supreme comfort, boardfeel, and its stunning appearance - the best option before Tinder! Want to get laid, paid and get an upgrade… the NEW updated éS QUATTRO is for you!

This is from the actual product page on the éS Footwear website. Did the Quattro really have the same revolutionary impact as Google in the skateboarding world? As in, did the Quattro propel éS into a global superpower that continues to dominate its respective market to this day, purchasing competitors and startups that would increase its reach and earning potential to make it one of the most profitable companies in the world? Also, is the Quattro somehow responsible for Google’s popularity and indomitable growth? I’ll have to look into that.

Interestingly, the rest of the product descriptions I browsed on the éS website are relatively benign. There’s clunky hyperbole here or there, like with the Creager reissue, which states, “…We’re so stoked to see this shoe back and looking better than ever… as will all the true skaters around the world that have been patiently waiting, waiting and waiting!”1, but nothing too far out of the ordinary.

So what happened with the Quattro, then? My guess is whoever wrote it had been staring at a screen all day; their brain ran out of juice, and they weren’t sure what keystroke to put in front of the next, so they googled “products invented in 1998” and went from there. As for the Tinder stuff? Bro, you can’t get horny in the product descriptions. That’s rule #1.


Rank: blech
Mood: 🧐

In the vast, nebulous world of private equity firms, holding companies, and brand licensing, it can be hard to tell who actually owns and is running a company. Often, poorly performing outfits will get acquired, gutted, and propped up again as zombie versions of themselves. It’s a desperate leveraging of brand recognition in hopes of squeezing whatever dollars possible out of a consumer base.

Sometimes, brands will recede and resurface again and again like a ghostly whack-a-mole. Nostalgia weaponized, its effect depreciating rapidly each time out. Take Vision  Skateboards and its more popularly known apparel arm, Vision Street Wear. The iconic ‘70s/’80s brand was a staple of the time that crept its way into pop culture more widely as one of the first “streetwear” brands. As time moved on, its relevancy faded, and its brand licenses sold, there would be a number of Vision Street Wear brand refreshes and countless reissues of Vision board graphics made popular in its heyday, from the Psycho Stick to Mark Gonzales and Mark “Gator” Rogowski pro models.

The “Gator” reissues have always been a surprising choice, given Rogowski was infamously convicted for the rape and murder of Jessica Bergsten in 1991. Poor taste, a lack of moral conviction, fucking gross — all reasonable ways to describe Vision profiting off Rogowski’s name in the decades following his heinous crimes. This is especially so in light of their recent “Horror” reissue series, which takes the Psycho Stick, Gonzales, and “Gator” graphics and updates them to have their noses look like they’re dripping in blood, as if, you know, they might have been used to murder someone. Happy Halloween.

While “Gator’s” name is replaced with “Original” on the board, it’s still clearly his graphic, which, true to the series name, is horrific. It’s hard to imagine that this was unintentional. And it raises the question of who, exactly, is doing this and who is profiting from it?


Is it Authentic Brands Group, the billion-dollar retail and brand management company with everything from RVCA, Reebok, Sports Illustrated, and Shaquille O’Neal in its portfolio, and which Vision Street Wear is a subsidiary? ABG acquired Vision Street Wear’s collective licensing in 2014 and stated their intention to “re-establish the company's roots by finding a master licensee in California where the brand was born.” Those efforts have since included apparent Canadian and European licensees and bringing aboard DJ and producer Steve Aoki as “brand collaborator and co-owner,” per Women’s Wear Daily in 2017.

Nick Woodhouse, president and chief marketing officer for Authentic Brands Group, believes Aoki, who played at his bachelor party [editor’s note: lol], is the ideal person to build up [Vision Street Wear].

Does Aoki have any say about what boards get made? Does Aoki’s Vision even include skateboards? It’s not entirely clear, as the URL is, as of writing this, in a “coming soon” state. And while the Canadian and European Vision Street Wear sites do carry Vision boards, none of them currently carry the “Horror” series (the Canadian licensee does sell regular “Gator” reissues, mind you). Even more confusingly, Vision skateboards appear to be a separate entity from Vision Street Wear entirely, even though the Vision Street Wear licensees sell them.

So who’s making and selling these fucked up boards? The only place I’ve found them for sale online is at Select Skate Shop, the online store for Select Distribution, which distributes board brands like Hosoi, Elephant, Schmitt Stix, Vision, and Tracker Trucks. Their website says they “manufacture everything in house from our very own woodshop,” which would point in the direction of Select as the maker of the graphic. The person running Select appears to be Brad Dorfman, the founder of Vision, so there you go.

“We are so very proud to screen and transfer artwork to make awesome skateboards to ride.” The Select Distribution website reads. Even the “Horror” series? They must not be too proud, because they’ve deleted and turned off the comments for their Instagram posts promoting them.

My war? Sure.

Rank: 2
Mood: 🤕

In 2013, Silas Baxter-Neal was the first to grind and then continue to grind a significant handrail with a gap in it2. A decade later, Rob Pace has done one with two gaps. But, if we’re being real, why not three, huh? Or, just do four! What are you waiting for! Six! Ten! What about a handrail made of gaps!? It wouldn’t exist in a physical sense, but conceptually, you only need to ollie down a set of stairs to claim victory. Then history is yours, your place in it eternal. Just try it! No? Cowards. Fine, maybe I will.

An unpaid advertisement

Rank: 1!!
Mood: 😀 😃 😄 😁

Toronto’s Fay DeFazio Ebert took home gold at last weekend’s Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. It was a big moment for the 13-year-old, putting her in good standing to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics with Team Canada. One of the biggest storylines following Ebert’s win is how she skates with a feather from her pet duck, Richard, protruding from her helmet during competitions. Now, if that isn’t some heartwarming joie de vivre that only a kid can muster, I don’t know what is.

In the CBC’s coverage of Ebert’s victory, a lot was made of her short few years on this planet and how most of her competitors have some years on her.

Ebert isn't uncomfortable skating against older competitors, saying it's more about the friendship between the athletes.

"Back home I skate with 20-, 30-year-olds, maybe as old as 50, this one guy. He's so good, too."

Shout out to that one guy. My favourite part of Ebert’s story, beyond the victory and feathers, is that she rides for my dream sponsor. No, not Zero Skateboards or Vans Footwear — get a grip. I’m talking about Subway.

I fucking love Subway, man. Gimme a footlong veggie patty on Italian herbs and cheese with all the veggies, chipotle southwest, hot sauce, garlic aioli, pepper, and three chocolate chunk cookies, and I’m set. Every time. Yes, this is an unpaid advertisement. Yes, I’ve said all of this before. I don’t give a shit. I’m going to Subway right now. I’m not even hungry. I just want to smell the weird pre-made bread warming in the heating device, sit in those uncomfortable moulded benches, and watch the world go by.

Something to consider: “No Human Being Can Exist” By Saree Makdisi in n+1.

Good thing: ‘sletter friend Max-Harrison-Caldwell talked to Static auteur Josh Stewart about the health and well-being of the full-length skate video for Village Psychic.

Another good thing: Congrats to the happy couple.

Wow! Another good thing: Joe Allen’s Passing Places is full of crusty spots, familiar faces, and great tricks.

Yes, another good, albeit hellish, thing: Joseph Shabason’s new album, a rescoring of the Toy Machine classic Welcome To Hell, is out now, and you can watch the thing as well. It’s a fun trip.

A public broadcaster thing: I’ll be on CBC’s On The Coast at 5:20pm PST today if you want to listen to me yammer on about my THPS book for folks stuck in rush-hour traffic.

Until next week… put on your favourite sweater. Hold yourself. Feel the warmth you’ve created? Don’t forget that you’re capable of this, that you can share your warmth with others.

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. Right, Down + Circle is in stores now and you can also order it from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.

Also, if you like book clubs, you can join the inimitable Ted Barrow in reading Right, Down + Circle on his Berate The Birds Patreon, which you should also subscribe to because it rules. He’s almost through the thing now, so you’ve got some nice stuff to listen to while puttering around the house.

Also, also, the Birdman himself has finally read the book (or at least took a photo of it). So if that doesn’t convince you to buy it, that’s okay. There’s no pressure. I just appreciate you reading this newsletter.

  1. Damn, I guess I’m not a true skater.

  2. If this is wrong, please don’t tell me. Let me luxuriate in my ignorance. Thank you in advance.