Buyer's guides and broken glass | Simply Ranked

Plus: Instagram goes down, Kawhi gets hooked up, and Doobie reveals himself.

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.

For a brief moment, silence

Rank: 1
Mood: 📵

On Monday, as most became aware by virtue of our individual dependencies on the products of an unfeeling, malignant tech conglomerate: Instagram went down. As did its parent company, Facebook, and all of its affiliated services. Facebook says it was an issue with their “global backbone network capacity.” Engineers at Cloudflare described what they saw happen as:

Their DNS names stopped resolving, and their infrastructure IPs were unreachable. It was as if someone had "pulled the cables" from their data centers all at once and disconnected them from the Internet.

It happens to the best of us. The personal fallout? For a scant few hours, I did not watch skateboarding on the small screen occupying my hand. Through an app that seems to bring me closer to and further away from skating in one simultaneous swirl of non-stop tricks and unrepentant surveillance capitalism. What to call the feeling I was experiencing? Anxiety tinged with possibility, perhaps. I felt like I could do near anything if I could only muster the courage.

So I watched John Shanahan skate in and on his own pants from my desktop computer (again). I searched for my In Search of the Miraculous DVD before realizing I no longer own anything with a disc drive. I thought about skating myself, carving through the crisp fall air towards a ride-on curb that might still be waxed up. The liquor store isn’t too far either; a ginger apple cider would be almost perfect. I looked to my board, then to the phone still in my hand, and instead hearted some clips on the bird app—it happens to the best of us.

Structures for play

Rank: 1+
Mood: 🤼

“Pray to god,” a voice behind the camera encourages us, the viewer, to do. But there’s no time for mercy. The request can’t settle in our minds before the skateboarder descends Vancouver artist Mike Banwell’s sculpture Primary No. 9. Then there’s a snap—some part of the board breaking—and a crash as the skater pitches forward through a glass railing.

In retrospect, perhaps our prayers were answered: we’ve been blessed with a near-perfect internet video. The stakes are immediately set as we see the unsteady person atop the sculpture; tension builds and peaks in seconds as they drop in; and then the shocking, hilarious payoff. It’s already received a quality Stone Cold Steve Austin walkout meme treatment. Next stop: MTV’s Ridiculousness.

Banwell’s sculpture was installed at the Vancouver Law Courts in 1981. In 1983 he held an exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery called Structures for Play, so it’s not a stretch to think that he designed this piece with many forms of interpretation in mind. And what does play even mean? It’s a free, malleable state of being. Jumping into a pile of leaves, writing a positive Yelp review of your new favourite Roti joint, singing along to Whitney Houston at the top of your lungs as you drive to work—they’re all under the umbrella.

Throwing yourself through a pane of glass? Sure, that can be play, too.

Primary No. 9 in 1986.

ATM Adam McNatt Inked, 7.5 x 31 (14)$47.50

Rank: 1999
Mood: 📷 😕

The author is interrupted while checking out new A-Team graphics.

When you first start skateboarding, and perhaps for some time after, you live in a space between expectation and reality. You want to be able to kickflip or 50-50, but your body isn’t sure what buttons to press and in what order. Depending on your temperament, this can be torture, pleasure, or, more likely, a mixture of the two.

Nine-year-old me considered it the latter, like playing Mario Kart from inside of an iron maiden. Progress always set between such extremes. I can still hear my neighbour’s laughter from across the street, spurred by witnessing me popsicle myself on a flatground heelflip. I’d land my first one later that evening.

The one part of skateboarding that was always a pure joy to young me: Transworld Skateboarding’s Buyer’s Guide. I’d spend hours flipping through its pages, imagining what dream setup (Toymachine board) I’d piece together (Spitfire wheels) and then what wholly unrealistic tricks (Venture trucks) I’d be able to do on the spots around town (Osiris Gurus) if only my rural Albertan hometown had a skate shop (Speed Demon bearings) that carried what I needed.

While flipping through an old photo album during a recent visit to see my family, I came across a photo of myself as a child, in bed, buyer’s guide in hand. The frustration is evident on my face as I’m being interrupted to have the photo taken. Couldn’t they see? I was in the space beyond expectation and reality, shredding.

Kawhi Leonard rides for Neighbors

Rank: 2 rings
Mood: 🦅

Celebrities holding skateboarding products will always get me excited for whatever sick reason. Perhaps it’s a sense of validation—those of some category of elite status caring enough about this thing I love to own a piece of it themselves. Or maybe it’s a morbid fascination with seeing skateboarding objectified and used as a prop. Who’s to say?

Most of the time these instances are comically staged, but there’s a good one on occasion. Yesterday, Kawhi Leonard, the man responsible for the single greatest sporting moment I’ve ever witnessed, was in a promo video celebrating the start of the NBA’s 75th season. In it we see him clutching what appears to be two decks still wrapped in plastic.

You’d miss it if you weren’t trained by years of ingesting skateboarding media to see these things. Some light digging on Twitter revealed that Leonard was toting boards from Neighbors. Great taste. Solid skater vibes.

A skater by any other name

Rank: 5
Mood: 🧐

In the tradition of the Ragdolls, Lizard Kings and Furbys of the world; learning the legal name of the VANS EU rider with the bouncing head of curls dubbed “Doobie,” caught me by complete and utter surprise. Flashing on the screen for a brief moment during Independent’s latest tour video, I had to rewind YouTube to be sure. Victor Pellegrin. Victor Pellegrin? That’s a good, strong name. The name of a French aristocrat. Doobie? Doobie. Please. C’mon. There are worse nicknames out there, though.

Thank you, Bob

Rank: 1
Mood:  ❤️

Years before reading Transworld Skateboarding’s Buyer’s Guide alone in my childhood bed, my mother would read to me Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever (1986). The famed children’s book author gave an interview to Shelagh Rogers at the CBC last week, calling the talk a “last hurrah” after his diagnosis with dementia. It’s advanced to the stage that he can no longer type and he struggles to read, he says. But the stories are there. “The stories will be the last thing to go, I think.”

Something to consider: the rhythmic satisfaction of the double grab.

Allysha Le in Dickie’s Loose Ends.

Good things: Joe Buffalo in The New Yorker.

Until next week… just lay back, relax, and do a Bertlemann or something.