Cool down those takes | Simply Ranked

Plus: Eze and Milton, Poppy's pro, trailer extinction, and more.

Cool down those takes | 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.

Familial ties

Rank: 1+1
Mood: 👩‍👩‍👧‍👦

There’s a truth that’s been living on the periphery of skateboarding’s collective consciousness for several years, and with the release of Converse CONS’ CONSTANZA video, has now come into full view: Eze Martínez, younger brother of Thrasher Magazine’s 2019 Skater of The Year, Milton Martínez, is good as hell. There had been flashes of Eze’s brilliance on Milton’s SOTY trip, in his video parts for Diego “The Butcher” Bucchieri’s Cleaver Skateboards, and from clips floating around on Instagram. But now, with this showing, it feels like Eze could be poised to make an impact on the industry.

On top of that, to echo what Quartersnacks said of Eze and Milton earlier this week, “There’s something extra fun in watching siblings who skate at absolute opposite ends of the skate spectrum excel in their respective corners at this high of a level.” That made me think of other siblings who’ve reached great heights in their fields while taking noticeably different approaches.

Consider the Duchamp family. While most know of the avant-garde Marcel, his siblings would also find success in the art world, with Jacques being an accomplished printmaker, Raymond a sculptor, and Suzanne working in the abstract, in a somewhat similar vein to Marcel. Pauline Esther Friedman and Esther Pauline Friedman, a pair of identical twins known by their famous pen names Dear Abby and Ann Landers, are still the preeminent names in the world of advice columnists long after their deaths, both having advised strangers in their individual styles while remaining a near unified being, as a Washinton Post profile from 1986 showed.

As children, these two petite twin daughters of Russian Jewish immigrants (born on the Fourth of July, 1918) dressed alike, crept into each other's bed, were never separated until the night of the day they were married in a joint ceremony. Now, more than 85 million people turn to the Friedman Twins each day to hear about alcoholism, whether money is an appropriate wedding gift, mental illness, spouse abuse, how to tell someone his fly is open, divorce and everything else from the trivial to the traumatic.

"Sissie, get your duds on and I'll help zip you up, dear," Abby calls across the hall before the Saturday night banquet.

"I can't imagine being a single," Abby says, as she fastens hook after hook running up the long cream silk sleeves of Ann's dress.

"Neither can I," says Ann.

Or how about Zooey and Emily Deschanel? The sisters are both accomplished actors, with Emily portraying the titular “Bones” in the stylized long-running crime procedural Bones, and Zooey having a more high-flying career with a brief stint as a movie star with roles in Almost Famous, (500) Days of Summer, and Elf among her popular TV roles. And in a surprise twist, Zooey is dating a Property Brother. Pretty cool.

All of this to say, is Eze the Bones to Milton’s New Girl? Yes, absolutely.

Poppy’s pro

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🌺

The Worble Crew, individually known as Worblers or Worblites, continued their impressive strength of schedule, releasing another full-length video last week. Worble World features Mulls Steve and Dave, Eunice Chang, Chris Colbourn (Patrick Wilson),  Janthavy Norton, Poppy Starr Olsen, and many more. As per usual, it’s an impressive, fun, and light-hearted romp set to the sounds of regular Worble collaborators Cobra Man.

In the aftermath of the video’s premiere, the Australian standout Starr would get a bump up in status to professional. The beauty of a production like Worble World is that among the great skateboarding, we also get a substantial amount of b-roll, which, if deployed well, can go a long way to helping flesh out the personalities of the skateboarders on screen. That, in theory, allows the audience to connect to the person behind the skating and potentially gives them more reason to invest in them as fans and — as is the ultimate goal of the skateboarding video — as customers who will buy products with their name on it.

What Worble World showed us of Starr, from the tricks to the b-roll, is that she is an absolute delight. However, what I wasn’t aware of until scrolling through her Instagram page is that she’s already pro, having released a pro-model children’s book with Penguin Books Australia last year.

The rare double-pro. Good for her.

David Gonzalez is horned up

Rank: 2012
Mood: 🤘🤪🤘

I think it’s time to call it, to say the words aloud, so we can have a universally agreed-upon understanding for the betterment of skateboarding at large: it doesn’t matter how good or accomplished a professional skateboarder you are, the industry will forget about you once it deems you wrung dry. It’s a ruthless pursuit, and as some pros have pointed out over the years, hopefully, you have a side gig or an exit strategy because before you know it, you might be a former Skater of The Year we’re giving the Remembering a Guy treatment to even though you were at the top of the game less than five years ago.

This isn’t to say that David Gonzalez has fallen off skill-wise. As evidenced in his recent “Cold Call” video released by Thrasher, he’s still wildly talented. If you follow Gonzalez on social media, that’s something you’re reminded of on the regular. What’s changed is Gonzalez’s place in the culture. The rock-and-roll skinny-jeans look and persona has long fallen out of fashion and those that didn’t adjust accordingly haven’t fared well. Hell, even Figgy has taken to wearing big swooshy pants along with his perpetually torn-up baseball t-shirts.

It does seem unfair to skaters like Gonzalez, who were pushed and marketed hard by their sponsors as a particular type of guy (heavy-metal rail chomper), essentially casting their image in stone for the public, to then be left behind once the winds of what’s in vogue shift. Globe Footwear, Gonzalez’s longtime shoe sponsor, dropped him from the roster a few years back at the beginning of its Austyn Gillette-led rebrand. From all accounts, Gonzalez’s remaining core sponsors are Flip Skateboards and Rockstar Energy Drink. Hard to imagine that being the most lucrative pairing. Gonzalez appears to be contractually obligated to post about the latter on social media; whether or not he’s also required to be weirdly horny about it isn’t clear.

Or maybe that’s just it. The industry and culture might have moved on from the zeitgeist that existed at Gonzalez’s career heyday, but he doesn’t want to and accepts the consequences. It’s who he is; trends be damned. The goofy, now almost endearing horns he throws up after riding away from any trick he lands on his skateboard, tongue jammed out of his face in a climactic, caricatured show of rock ’n’ roll attitude, is a faded polaroid of a bygone era. One he’d rather exist in. And who could blame him? It’s where his career reached its absolute apex.

The banal cruelty of the skateboarding industry also leaves the fans with few options. The best we can do to support the figures at the forefront of those distinct moments in time, who entertained us while helping to fill their sponsor’s coffers before being pushed aside once they were no longer seen as viable marketing tools, is to treat them like that faded polaroid — something to look back on and remember fondly.

Tease me, tease me

Rank: 5
Mood: 📽 🎞

At the supreme risk of sounding like an old man yelling at the clouds, remember when skate videos had trailers? Maybe they were plopped into the middle of other skate videos, featured in an issue of 411, or sprinkled online. It was a concerted effort to build hype. At best, now we get a teaser on Instagram that is, more often than not, just a few raw clips pushed together without feeling or intent. Sometimes it’s only an Instagram story informing us of a new video dropping the following week. It’s also common for a video to be released online without warning or anticipation at all, the months or years spent working on a project becoming just another thumbnail in the feed.

I was reminded of the power of a good trailer after watching — and bear with me here — The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom’s “Official Trailer #3.” Of course, most skateboarding companies do not have the budget to make multiple trailers or stand to make untold millions, and potentially billions, of dollars from their videos like Nintendo does off of their forthcoming release, but the excitement level I feel for a game whose premise has been the same since its first iteration in 1986 is surprising and will likely lead me to shell out whatever absurd price Nintendo decides to charge for it.

Anticipation is a good thing and has always been an effective marketing tool, which is what a good trailer cultivates. And besides their base-level purpose as a marketing tool, trailers also tell the viewer that what is being teased is worthy of consideration and being marked on their calendars. Skate videos are at the heart of skateboarding culture and worthy of that respect, as are all of the skaters and filmers who make them — also, was Link riding a mech? Fuck yeah.

Let’s take a minute, a breath, and cool down those takes

Rank: 1
Mood: ❄️

Simple Magic HQ virtual tour.

Yes, it’s true that even here in the humble offices of the Simple Magic newsletter — a sprawling 9,334 sq. ft. space on the 22nd floor of a brand-new downtown Vancouver office tower with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer an unrivalled panoramic view of the harbour to the city’s core as I walk from my lone desk in the corner to the French press that’s beside the hotplate on a folding table in the kitchen area where I pour myself an invigorating cup of morning joe to start each day —  I am not immune to the “hot take,” either.

Earlier, I compared Eze and Milton Martínez to Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Just above, I claimed that trailers for skateboarding videos no longer exist. We’ve become so encouraged and accustomed to letting these errant thoughts fly that I’ve seen takes so hot they’ve forced me to close my laptop. It’s unsustainable for us as a culture, a species, to keep proposing loose ideas as pseudo-facts in service of content creation and virality. What I’d like to suggest is just cooling things off a bit. We can still have “takes,” but maybe we pare back the excess and start to think of them as “thoughts,” “opinions,” and, if we want to push it, “trenchant analysis.”

Link to tweet

See? Doesn’t that feel better? Magic Johnson has long mastered the art of the tepid take. The non-statement. It’s a pleasure to witness his craft. There’s no stretching of reality or grasping for hyperbole there. And if there’s one thing watching the sun rise and set from the 22nd floor of the Simple Magic offices has taught me, it’s that there’s nothing more compelling than the god-honest truth.

Something to consider: Bob Burnquist meeting with the mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to talk about… NFTs?

Link to tweet

Good thing: Lurking with Lou and Aaron Herrington, care of Village Psychic.

Good but depressing thing: “J.D. Vance Changes the Subject” by Gabriel Winant in n+1.

An expected but telling thing about the state of the internet: Pulitzer Prize-winning Buzzfeed News gets iced in favour of bad business decisions and a murky AI-generated content future, and Twitter finally completes its mission to destroy its verification system.

Until next week… if you find yourself with some free time, or if you can make some, play a game with friends or family. When was the last time you had a spirited bout of cribbage? How about rummy?  What a great opportunity to catch up and talk some friendly shit. We don’t do enough of that.