Behold, the Exposure Meter | Simply Ranked

Plus: Roll-up face, going into hiding, an anniversary, and more.

Behold, the Exposure Meter | 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.

Behold, the Exposure Meter

Rank: 1-308th
Mood: 📊

A SLAP messageboard thread recently informed me about a long-defunct marketing tool once wielded by Transworld Business magazine. According to the mag,  “The Exposure-Meter was created to provide a source of quantitative data that accurately measures the amount of exposure athletes in action sports receive in consumer magazines.”

Skaters would receive “points” based on how many editorial and advertising photos they’d land in the big four magazines at the time—Skateboarder, Transworld, The Skateboard Mag, and Thrasher. Those points would be assigned as such:

cover: 2,000 pts
poster: 2,000 pts
back cover: 1,000 pts
spread: 1,000 pts
full page: 500 pts
1/2 page: 200 pts
1/4 page: 125 pts
< 1/4 page: 100 pts
portrait: 100 pts

In October 2012, Grant Taylor had retained his position as the most exposed skater, with Leo Romero and David Gonzalez on his heels.

That edition would also note that Gonzalez had jumped from 107th place in the exposure rankings all the way up to third and that he’d just “dropped an online video part, and the coverage that comes with that makes [him] the strongest contender for Skater of the Year. Gonzalez had 29 pages of coverage this month in Thrasher alone, far more than any other skater in recent history.” For those who remember the contentious affair that was SOTY 2012, not long after that Exposure Meter was released, Thrasher would name Gonzalez their Skater of the Year, besting Guy Mariano, whose video part in Pretty Sweet and resurgence since Fully Flared had many convinced he’d take the title.

It makes one wonder, had the folks at Thrasher perhaps consulted the Exposure Meter when making their final decision? Could Mariano not even appearing in the top 10 of most exposed skaters that month have swayed them? Who knows. But, many inside the skateboarding industry allegedly used the Exposure Meter for similar purposes. In the SLAP thread, Robert Brink commented that it “was always funny to watch the corpos at Sole Tech pass that shit around and put so much weight on it for the ‘value’ of the team riders.”

SLAP user doublesteveburger would then ask, “Was this a precursor for… social media following[s] and its importance… today?” Which is probably right in most cases. Since the demise of the “big four,” with only Thrasher remaining, social media has become the de facto gauge of a skater’s visibility. It’s also allowed access to even more quantifiable data about a sponsor’s team riders, from follower counts to post engagement to how many sales directly result from someone clicking on a link driving to a shop page. The statistical “value” of a skater is all right there.

However, the Exposure Meter and its social media successors still can’t account for the success of skateboarders like #jkjhnsn, who have no personal social media presence to speak of and that we don’t regularly see across any media until a video part drops. Yet, they are beloved. That x-factor is unable to be tallied in points or “likes.” This means one thing: we need even more data. Give us a skater’s board sale numbers, pant size, hours spent skating a week, max ollie height, body weight, blood type, number of bowel movements per day and their consistency—we have to nail their intangible value down somehow. The mercurial must be measurable.

Roll-up face

Rank: 2
Mood: 😦

The roll-up is a strangely intimate moment to witness; those brief seconds where someone’s at their peak of focus, their mental and emotional selves about to fully invest in the physical. In the zoomed-to-the-pores Strobeckian era of filming, we’ve seen these faces in their greatest detail. Stoic, sneering, eyes bulged, lips pursed, half smiles, tongues sneaking out the corner of the mouth—the contortions are only limited by the number of skateboarders making them.

What constitutes a “good” roll-up face is mostly subjective. However, it’s safe to say Brian O’Dwyer has a good one. In Harry Bergenfield’s She’s Cheating, we get an extensive and perhaps excessive look. There’s an intensity there that seems impossible to shake. His mouth open and eyes locked on the obstacle still metres away, only breaking once the trick has been done.

How does that face come to be? What does O’Dwyer feel in those moments? When the world before him becomes a narrow hallway, and his only way through is grinding, sliding, or launching over whatever is in front of him. And more pressingly, how many bugs has he swallowed while skating open-mawed like that?

Tearing up for Tezuka

Rank: 1
Mood: 🥲

Begrudgingly, and against the Wint proverb, you do gotta hand it to Monster Energy for putting together a nice piece on Mami Tezuka for their Aspire - Inspire series. In it, we see her fellow skaters shower her with praise and learn a bit about her childhood, including her father telling the story of when he first knew she wanted to start skateboarding at three years old—after he ate shit and she jumped on his loose board and skated away.

The video also features the moment that, no matter how many times I’ve seen it over the years, still manages to catch in my throat and make me feel a bit misty-eyed: the ol’ surprise you’re pro celebration. Especially when Tezuka hugs her parents and we see the emotion welling on their faces.

Goddamnit, you got me this time, Monster.

A brighter, dorkier future

Rank: 3
Mood: 🥸

If, say, as a child, a video of me doing a 900 shove-it had been captured on video and shared widely, I also probably would’ve fled the country, adopted an alias and spent a good portion of my adult life in hiding rather than face the consequences. (The ridicule of the older kids at the skate park.)

But things are different now, which is good. No kid should ever have to hop the border, hitchhike to Florida, get an under-the-table job sweeping up at an autobody shop, buy a forged Carl Nowitski ID, and live a life on the lam for a decade before eventually returning home to confront their past just because they’ve done a stinky skateboarding trick.

An anniversary

Rank: 1 yr
Mood: 😌

How about that, huh? It’s now been a full year of putting out these “Simply Ranked” Friday posts. A big thanks to everyone who reads, shares, and subscribes to Simple Magic. It’s been a fun project to work on, and it’s a real treat to hear that people enjoy reading it or, at least, aren’t too bothered about it showing up in their inboxes each week.

Do people, up to and including my own mother, still call Simple Magic “Simply Magic,” confusing the newsletter with the name of its Friday post? Yeah, but that’s okay. It’s on me. I initially planned to be more consistent with publishing additional pieces under the Simple Magic banner, like “Special Investigations” and perhaps some different kinds of interview series. But time is a slippery thing, and occasionally, I was just lazy, which left the naming conventions unclear. My bad.

That said, going forward, I plan to write more junk for y’all to read beyond the “Simply Ranked” Friday posts. Hopefully, you enjoy that stuff, too. And if not, that’s also my bad.

Again, thanks for reading and have a nice weekend. <3

Something to consider: Settling your sibling rivalry via local election.

Good things: Nardwuar bringing the pants debate to Gorbachev.

Until next week… sure, the days are getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean their potential is lessened. So, if you can, go outside and listen. To the chatter of birds, the pastiche of passing pedestrian’s conversations, the dubstep blaring from the speaker of the guy on the electric unicycle running a red light.