Cool, and yet, rude | Simply Ranked

Plus: Olympic qualifiers, Plan B is... questionable at best, Turbo Island, and more.

Cool, and yet, rude | Simply Ranked

The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other things online that I cannot stop consuming and how it makes me feel, personally.

Sports! Big Time. Podium? Let's Break. It. Down.

Rank: 1-3
Mood: 🥇🥈🥉

It seems like a bit of a detour, but the road to Paris runs through Dubai. Sunday saw the finals of the Olympic qualifiers for Skateboard Street take place in Dubai Harbour. This was an opportunity for athletes to start shoring up their positions as their respective country's champions for the Paris 2024 Summer Games in August.

As per usual, there was a lot of fucked up skateboarding on display. By that, I mean the level of skill and ability is so high now in competitive skateboarding that it beggars belief. On the Men's side of things, Sora Shirai landed a Caballerial-sugar-cane down the biggest rail in the park and didn't even win! Japan and Zero Skateboard's(!) Kairi Netsuke would take the top spot with moves like heelflip-backside-tailslides and noseblunts. Things have become so absurd that relatively unknown Slovakian Richard Tury does heelflip-frontside-noseblunts in competition. Back in my day, all you needed was a bigspin-front-board and maybe a nosegrind. Ah, the passage of time.

One of the highlights for me, of course, is that Ryan Decenzo once again made it to the finals. He performed ably but not well enough to medal. I love him, regardless. The most exciting final's moments were once again in the Women's event. Ibuki Matsumoto made her way from open qualifiers to the finals — a seriously impressive feat — and ended only a couple of positions shy of the podium with a kickflip-backside-50-50 down the big rail in the process.

China's Chenxi Cui, a literal child at 13 years old, was by far the fastest skater on the course. Speed appeared to be how she'd compensate for an understandable lack of pop as she'd fly and flip her board onto every hubba on the course, her back truck barely touching as her slight frame skipped across the end of each obstacle.

After a brief stint of relying too heavily on her patented frontside-50-50-kickflip, Chloe Covell now does nosegrind-nollieflips on rails — in her run! It was an exceptional showing from the Australian, but Japan's Liz Akama took the top spot with ease. A solid run followed by a frontside-feeble-front-180 and frontside-270-lipslide down the big rail clinching the victory.

In a bit of a shocker, Brazil's Rayssa Leal couldn't put enough makes together in best trick and wound up in 8th, or last place, of the finals. A diversion from her usual podium positions. I note this often, but it's worth repeating: the high-level progression and increasing competitive parity from event to event in Women's Street make it, for me, one of the most compelling watches in not just skateboarding but sports as a whole.

And with Dubai now behind them, that ends "Phase One" of World Skate's Olympic qualifiers for Paris 2024. Phase Two starts in May with an event in Shanghai, China, and then another in June in Budapest, Hungary, as a recent World Skate bulletin details. As a fun reminder that there is still a whole lot of rot behind the fun we watch on screen, that bulletin is signed by Gary Ream, who remains the chairperson of skateboarding's Olympic governing body despite being forced to resign as board chair of USA Skateboarding last year for a series of concerning controversies. Good stuff.

Turbo barge

Rank: 1
Mood: ✈️🚢🚗

It might be a bit of a stretch to say that we don't get a good ol' tour video anymore, but their frequency has certainly declined over the years, especially those of the expansive international variety. The global pandemic and an industry where most companies' margins are thin to none are probably the main factors contributing to that dip, as it doesn't seem like the skateboarding public's desire to attend the skate demonstration of a visiting team — a time-honoured tradition — has dwindled any. Even with a constantly changing cultural and technological landscape where most of us now live through our phones, we still appear more than willing to experience a demo IRL, even if much of it is spent looking at the action through said phones.

That enduring appeal is on display in Antihero Skateboard's and Thrasher Magazine's recent tour video Turbo Island, where each stop the team makes is a packed affair. Perhaps I'm just feeling nostalgic because I watched Girl Skateboard's classic tour video, Harsh Euro Barge, for the first time in over a decade over the weekend, but it absolutely rules to watch throngs of fans and onlookers enraptured by live high-level skateboarding. It rules to be a part of those throngs. The first time I ever watched Grant Taylor do Grant Taylor things in person was a near-religious experience, one made all the better by the crush of people around me experiencing the same thing (big ol' airs).

Here's to hoping we get more demos, that companies can continue to send their riders across our ailing planet, and that everyone can experience the magic of seeing Grant Taylor fly through the goddamn sky.

Plan B? Questionable.

Rank: Ugh
Mood: 🤢

Screenshot via @Quesly2 on Twitter who screenshotted it from a @thesecrettape Instagram Story.

Last Friday, in a quickly-deleted Instagram post that went up on International Women's Day, Plan B skateboards promoted their new "Independent Woman" board graphic series. Done by Marc McKee, the series — if I understand its high concept correctly — features scantily clad women who appear to be female analogues to a selection of the brand's male professional team riders, the boobs and butts of each illustrated woman gleaming in their independence.

This offering seems like the brand's best effort to tap into that long-ago era of "irreverent" and "subversive" skateboarding graphics that many of a certain generation hold dear, McKee himself behind much of that catalogue. However, there is a difference between work being subversive or offering commentary via irreverence (which McKee has done in the past) and being an ignorant dipshit for a cheap laugh (which McKee has also done in the past).

What message do these illustrations of overtly sexualized women subvert when promoted on International Women's Day in the year of our lord 2024? That women should be treated with respect and not as sexual objects? It certainly doesn't subvert the fact that Plan B, in its current form, is an embarrassing shell of itself.

It makes one wonder if they would have done this series if Leticia Bufoni was still on the team or if they had any women at all on the roster. Also, did the big brains in the back office ever consider that it might be embarrassing for their current team riders to have their personal brands attached to this? It's bad enough that this is probably the last viable board sponsor for skaters like Chris Joslin or Tommy Fynn; why subject them to this juvenile nonsense?

The pathetic capper on the whole thing is that the negative reaction online that they had to assume would come, that they deserved to get, and which was probably the entire point of the series, bothered them enough that they deleted their post advertising it. No strength in their dogshit convictions! And they're still selling the boards on their website, so it's not like they've learned or reflected on anything; they were just tired of taking heat on the internet. This is probably the wrong reaction, but what cowards.

It's unclear how long Plan B will continue to limp along in its current mindless, soulless state, but perhaps it's time for them to show us and themselves a little mercy and get put out to pasture.

Cool, and yet, rude

Rank: 19-46
Mood: 🏀😡

The Portland Trail Blazers recently harnessed the power of the VX for a fun, behind-the-scenes look at the team's overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors on March 9. It's a cool promotional piece for the basketball franchise's social media accounts, but I'm choosing to take it as a slight. What is the VX to you? A simple gag? Some sort of lark? Doesn't Joe Cronin, the Blazers general manager, understand that so much of skateboarding's culture revolves around the aesthetic this generation of cameras provides? An aesthetic that they're using as a gimmick. Wow. There are no words.

Perhaps, as penance, the Blazers can start playing a little better so the Raps can really start to tank what's left of the season so we can get into a good draft pick position. Wait, what's that? You're telling me that Masai Ujiri included one of our first-round picks for Ochai Agbaji and Kelly Olynk back in February? What the hell, man? When do the indignities end?

UPDATE: Members of the Portland skateboarding community have let me know that Tristan Brillanceau-Lewis, the filmmaker behind such rad videos as PORTLAND PUBLIC SKATING, made the Blazer's VX promo, which explains why it's so good. However, that doesn't change the fact that I'm still mad at Masai.

Won't somebody think of the t-shirts?

Rank: 3XL
Mood: 👕

Gildan accuses shareholder of planting misleading story about new CEO as leadership battle turns bitter
Company has been engulfed in an intense power struggle since the board dismissed Glenn Chamandy after a 40-year tenure

On Wednesday, the Globe and Mail reported on a brewing scandal in the ongoing leadership battle at Canadian t-shirt behemoth Gildan Activewear. The company is "publicly accusing one of its largest shareholders, U.S. investment fund Browning West, of planting a misleading story in American media about the company’s new chief executive, Vince Tyra – something the shareholder has staunchly denied."

As the Globe notes, "At stake is the hearts and minds of Gildan’s remaining investors, whose support will be instrumental amid an increasingly vicious fight over who will lead the company," and that "Browning West is a key player among a group of nine dissident investors who hold an estimated combined 35 percent of Gildan’s stock. These shareholders want Glenn Chamandy reinstated as CEO. Mr. Chamandy had served in the top job for two decades before his ouster in December."

That story, which ran in The New York Post (lol), says that two decades ago, Tyra engaged in "an affair with a female subordinate, who currently holds a senior leadership position at Gildan." Both Tyra and the executive who is now the company's Vice-President, Distributor Sales, say that is "a deliberate mischaracterization of a brief relationship between two consenting, unattached adults."

The Post notes that it received the allegation in a report from a company called Paragon Intel, whose website says they "[provide] the top professional investors in the world insight into company performance through the unique lens of c-suite quality." If that word salad wasn't enough, consider this one: "Paragon Intel brings quantification and a performance-first mindset to a process plagued by gut feel and anecdotal evidence." Sure seems like they provided some anecdotal evidence to The Post!

Anyhow, I'm not here to defend any multi-millionaire doofuses jockeying for position in a cotton blend-centric game of Succession. I'm here to ask the question that really matters: what does this mean for the t-shirts? Who among us hasn't worn a shop or brand tee printed on a Gildan or American Apparel (which Gildan owns) garment? They are relatively cheap, decent enough in quality, and you might even be wearing one right now. Will this executive turmoil at the Montreal-based company affect our ability to spend a couple hundred bucks to get a bunch of shirts printed for the launch of our new skateboarding brand that we've decided to call something like Regement, Hopscotch, or Sandwich Artist? Only time will tell.

Something to consider:

The Zone of Interest is about the danger of ignoring atrocities – including in Gaza | Naomi Klein
If Jonathan Glazer’s brave Oscar acceptance speech made you uncomfortable, that was the point

Good thing: 4PLY MAG's "Thrasher Covers Analysis" is fun to poke around in and a good resource for us nerds.

Another good thing: Another fantastic episode of This Old Ledge from Ted Barrow and Thrasher. Keep 'em coming, please.

A crushing reality thing: Canada continues to be ruled by a small consortium of mega-corporations. Good times.

Loblaw Has Become an Everything Company | The Walrus
The grocery chain is now involved in pharmacare, financial services, and real estate—with no signs of slowing down

Another crushing reality thing:

The end of the MrBeast era
Jimmy Donaldson warped YouTube in his image — but YouTube is warping him back

The most realistic and perverse endgame of "content creator" as a career has always been that content creation becomes all there is. The "content" never matters as much as its creation and subsequent metrics.

Me thing: The launch for my new collection of essays (see below for more) is on April 3 here in Vancouver. Come through if you're around :)

Poster by Hiller Goodspeed.

BTW, Tonk rules:

Thanks for Waiting, by tonk
10 track album

Until next week… if you happen to see a toddler toddling, take a moment to appreciate that state of being, where wonder is all there is and everything is good until proven otherwise. It's an admirable existence, one that seems imprudent to pursue, but it may be worth trying to adjust your eyes to let that wonder in, if only for a moment or two.

Laser Quit Smoking Massage

NEWEST PRESS, available April 1, 2024


I have a new collection of essays coming out this spring that you can preorder now. I think you might like it. The Edmonton Journal thinks it's a "local book set to make a mark in 2024." Please do not tell them that I no longer live in Alberta.

Book cover by the wonderful Hiller Goodspeed.

Preorder the thing

Right, Down + Circle



I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that you can find at your local bookshop or order online now. I think you might like this one, too.

Here’s what Michael Christie, Giller Prize-nominated author of the novels Greenwood and If I Fall, If I Die, had to say about the thing.

“With incisive and heartfelt writing, Cole Nowicki unlocks the source code of the massively influential cultural phenomenon that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and finds wonderful Easter-eggs of meaning within. Even non-skaters will be wowed by this examination of youth, community, risk, and authenticity and gain a new appreciation of skateboarding’s massive influence upon our larger culture. This is my new favorite book about skateboarding, which isn’t really about skateboarding — it’s about everything.”

Photo via The Palomino.

Order the thing