Bear in the machine | Simply Ranked

Plus: Sergeant in the Monster Army, going out to eat, roses 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.

Bear in the machine

Rank: 5
Mood: 🐻🍎📱

I don’t often go to Instagram’s explore page. That section of the app, as users have come to know, is driven by a learned algorithm that takes what content you view and search and creates a bleeding mosaic out of all of the things it thinks you might be interested in. It’s overwhelming, a timesuck, a trick mirror—it’s hard to look away. And when I do stare into it, I often see myself as this bear sitting atop a delicious, infinite pile of apples. Everything that’s shown to me is fit for consumption. I rarely even finish what I start, jumping to the next thing with disinterested haste. I consume and consume and consume until everything is apples. The horizon just a core that hasn’t been reached yet. I gorge until my vision blurs and my mind bloats from the sickly sweetness of the unending feast. Even after the app is closed, when I close my eyes, there I am, fanned out across the pile, the possibilities endless yet all purposefully, regretfully the same.

Rank: 4
Mood: 🪖

Liam Pace has enlisted into the Monster Army, which at first glance appears to be an organized militia with ranked officers from Sergeant to General. But if you have nothing better to do with your time, you might read their website a little further and discover that “The Monster Army is Monster Energy's athlete development program that supports athletes ages 13-21 in motocross, bmx, mountain bike, skate, surf, snow, and ski. Athletes are evaluated and invited into the program to represent the Monster Energy brand.” Sweet.

So, how does the Monster Army help develop athletes? There are opportunities for financial support for those who are “ranked” in their competitive fields, which seems good if you remember to fill out all of the paperwork. The MA claims that being featured across their social media channels will “allow athletes' profiles to be seen by thousands of fans. Helping to grow their personal brands.” So if you don’t get financial support, at least you’ll be in the black on that juicy exposure. Recruits can also receive “valuable guidance and advice from the Monster Army team managers to help take [their] talents to the next level!” Nice.

But the greatest perk of all might be the opportunity to join the official Monster Energy team with the Trey Woods and Nyjah Hustons of the world. A state of being where the Monster “M” patch on your clothing does more than signal rank; it gets you paid. This recent Liam Pace part, an objectively amazing display of skill, serves as an advertisement for a program that might get you into that space. A space that Pace should already exist in. But instead, he is here in a sort of pre-AM not-quite-flow stasis, wrapped in the language of the armed forces, fighting for the Monster Army and its parent conglomerate, The Coca-Cola Company.

Going out to eat

Rank: 1
Mood: 🧍‍♀️ 🧍 🧍‍♂️ 🌯🧍‍♀️ 🧍 🧍‍♂️

It’s not always the spots or the tricks that stay with you from the session. Sometimes, the post-skate beers and burritos are what congeals into the memories that define friendships and personal eras. They set the scene for the moments that become anecdotes that will get shared for years. It’s where the bonds of your relationships mature and become more nuanced, the place where skateboarding requires not skateboarding.

So, if the thought of stumbling into happy hour with all of your friends, caked in sweated salt and buoyed by the simple act of time spent together, is enough to bring you to tears, you’re not alone.

The time you have wasted for your rose

Rank: 2
Mood: 🌹

Summer days grew long, its light atrophied and winter’s shadows extended, and yet, Slyvain Tognelli had yet to land his full cab hippie jump. In a battle of not-quite-Baca proportions, Tognelli at least took inspiration from Las Vegas’ own, at one point shaving the nose of his board to help it make the 360-degree journey between the horizontal bars of the railing (the inside of which, perhaps in jest, he also waxed).

A year and change of intermittent returns. This failed maneuver sitting in the back of his mind, moving to the front every other month. It’s funny, these focal points we place on the world, dropped pins sowing desire of objects. How often I think of that grease bin behind the Chinese restaurant—the perfect slimy out ledge—should be concerning.

The Fundamentals of Skateboard Judging Pt. 3: Will you get crap for protecting your knee caps?

Rank: 3
Mood: 🦺

What I thought might be one of the more interesting parts of World Skate’s The Fundamentals of Skateboard Judging online course, “Judging Skaters with Protective Gear” (lesson 29/79), turned out to be a quick and tidy six-minute video with co-host Kyle Berard putting a button on the subject just after the one-minute mark.

“No, no [judging] penalties are given for [wearing] any kind of safety equipment.”

While they’re talking solely about the “Park” discipline in this lesson, it’s safe to assume it applies across “Street” and “Vert.” I’m not sure why I had expected the answer to be anything but the obvious—choosing to protect your body and brain rightfully shouldn’t dock you points—however, there was a part of me that wanted to hear a begrudging sigh or see a pursing of the lips, some minor acknowledgment that the risk of a padless maneuver gives it more weight. That feeling, a remnant of a cultural machismo that persists, is unfortunately hard to shake.

Something to consider: Finding the (sloth on the) silver lining.

Good things: More Bears.

Until next week… IRL apples are good, though. Maybe chomp into one.