Death of the poster | Simply Ranked

Plus: Identity re/construction, beautiful and useless product gimmicks, stocking stuffers, and more.

Death of the poster | Simply Ranked
Desktop Tombstone via MidJourney
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.

Identity construction

Rank: ?
Mood: 🎭

What is it that makes a professional skateboarder marketable? It’s reasonable to assume that their skateboarding ranks first, then personality, and maybe some auxiliary gimmick or the elusive and indefinable x-factor. However, it’s not uncommon for personality to take precedence—it provides the emotional ingredient of public identities to which fans can attach themselves. Lizard King was never the best skateboarder, but he was (for some) an engaging presence, which undoubtedly helped extend his career further than most. The formula to manufacture a skateboarder’s market appeal would seem straightforward: if a brand pushes a skater hard enough and that skater produces enough photos, video parts, and social media content, that should give their skating and personality enough opportunity to resonate.

But how would you explain low-output cult favourites like Jake Johnson? In the right circumstance, does scarcity drive people towards fandom? Sure. Or how about Clive Dixon, who’s consistently released some of the gnarliest video parts that skateboarding has seen yet has been relegated to brands with a low core-appeal like Birdhouse, and in a recent lateral (and perhaps regressive) move, Disorder? In an interview with Michael Burnett in Thrasher following the release of his debut video part for Disorder, Burnett presses Dixon on whether he’s frustrated at not “having a better sponsorship situation despite all that you’ve accomplished.”

Yeah. The most frustrating thing that I honestly ever heard in that regard was from a mutual friend of ours. He pretty much told me like, Hey, man, who are you? What’s your identity? You have boxes that you’re not checking off that don’t put you in a lucrative position. He was basically telling me that I wasn't marketable. That was pretty crushing for me as well, but fuck it. I don’t really care anymore.

This isn’t surprising to hear, but it also doesn’t hold up. Can we really define the “identities” of skateboarding’s most prominent names? Do we know anything about Jamie Foy beyond that he’s from Florida and can front crook anything you put in front of him? Does Elijah Berle have an identity, or is that just the clothes he chooses to wear? Mark Suciu went to college, which has been shoehorned into how we perceive him, to positive and negative effects, depending on who you ask. Dixon spent years travelling the country in his van, writing poetry, and skating the most fucked up spots imaginable—that seems like a more dynamic public-facing identity than most.

Of course, none of that means Dixon “deserves” to be a bigger name with better sponsors; it just shows how fickle and capricious the industry and our tastes are. That’s what really drives this. Because if I were to diagnose Dixon’s situation as someone who digests way too much skateboarding media and culture, the issue is simple: riding for Birdhouse and being associated with a polarizing Clint Walker is what held him back from getting “cooler” sponsors. Is that fair? No. But that’s not a word with much weight in this world.

Identity reconstruction

Rank: !
Mood: 🪨🌬💧🔥

Despite the known-unknown equation of what initially endears a skateboarder to fans and the industry, it appears to be an equally opaque and challenging exercise for the skateboarder to win them back when their career begins to slide. It’s not impossible, Guy Mariano did it to great success, but he was already a beloved and generational talent who had Fully Flared to use as a vehicle to defibrillate his career. Remember Nike’s golden child Trevor Colden? He’s still out there—in Cariumas. Neen Williams? Footprint Footwear. Considering that riding for “uncool” brands generally serves as a scarlet letter for a skateboarder (especially once they’re released from “cool” brands), it would seem to be an impossible task to repair that personal brand damage, however silly that all is.

The same could be said for skateboarding brands themselves. Once they lose their cultural cache, it’s hard to get the core audience to open up their wallets again. Blind, World Industries, Plan B—all former stalwarts who’re now shadows of their former selves, some of their products haunting the aisles of Walmart and Target. It wouldn’t be unfair to lump Element in there, as well. However, something interesting has been happening over the last couple of years.

After the departure of founder Johnny Schillereff in 2020, it appears that the creative direction for the brand had been handed off to Element’s European contingent, with Alexandre Deron being promoted from Europe Core Marketing Manager to Global Core Marketing Manager in January 2021. Since then, there’s been a marked difference in the brand's aesthetic. Plus, their biggest star, Nyjah Huston, also left the team, which likely alleviated a lot of pressure on their pocketbook and potentially their perception to core consumers.

These changes have all led to Element’s latest offering, E.S.P. VOL.2. A genuinely fantastic video with solid parts and appearances from mainstays like Brandon Westgate, Jaako Ojanen, a career-defining closer from Nick Garcia, and showcases for the brand’s new generation of talent. Gabriel Fortunato, Vitoria Costa, Leon Charo Tite, Eetu Toropainen, and Funa Nakayama all shine, with the footage of Nakayama’s first-try front crook at Hollywood High highlighting the absurdity of her Thrasher cover photo. There are even a few tricks from their legends division in Mark Appleyard and Donny Barley.

E.S.P. VOL.2 feels like a clear demarcation, a vision of what Element wants its future to look like, even as it says goodbye and pays respect to its storied, uneven past with a shoutout to all of its previous riders in the video’s credits.

Whether this translates to board sales remains to be seen.

More. Please, give me more.

Rank: 1
Mood: 😈😈😈

Last week, I beat on heaven’s eardrum, pleading for more new and useless product gimmicks. My desire to see the unnecessary and the asinine is as unquenchable as it is unexplainable. A leather sleeve for a basketball, a metal cover for a curb—I can’t look away. Perhaps it’s the galling confidence and stilted ingenuity of the producers of these things; their attempts to fix things that don’t need fixing are transfixing. The naked greed required to sell these products with no reasonable purpose to the curious and naïve is like watching a boil fester. Will it ever pop or just continue to grow? What horrors are contained within?

Thankfully, my calls for more have been answered. And while this one isn’t designed for mass consumption (yet?), it is the perfect distillation of the useless skateboarding product gimmick, offering a solution to a problem that does not exist.


Death of the poster

Rank: -$44,000,000,000
Mood: 👻

If you are a regular #skatetwitter participant or Twitter user in general, then you’re aware of all the depressing whiffs and dives the social media platform has been making these last few weeks under its desperately uncool new leadership. From mass layoffs and spite firings, the half-assed shipping of new features that have led to advertisers getting impersonated and Twitter losing millions in ad revenue, to extreme right-wing idealogues and hatemongers having permanent bans reversed in the name of, well, “owning the libs,” it seems. While it’s doubtful the app simply disappears in the vein of Vine; there’s a significant likelihood of service disruptions due to a lack of technical support (which is what happens when you fire the majority of your engineers), and the potential that it becomes a much worse place to hang out thanks to a rise in hate speech and spam accounts (which is what happens when you fire the majority of your content moderators) if all you really want to do is talk some crap about skateboarding with your friends online. So while the future is still unclear, it doesn’t look good. On Monday, Beatrice Domond’s account was hacked by crypto bots and spewed bitcoin-related garbage for at least a full day before it was finally deactivated, which is not an encouraging sign.

Twitter has never been a premier hub for skateboarding media or its online community—not by a long shot. Skateboarding brands, media outlets, and pro skaters infrequently post on the app, most of their attention going towards the more photo and video-friendly Instagram and YouTube. Twitter doesn’t even contend when it comes to leading the discourse, gossip, and shit-talking that drives skateboarding’s fandoms; that would belong to the SLAP messageboards. But Twitter holds a unique position within skateboarding. It’s a text-central app whose cultural structure is designed for hot/cold takes, in-jokes, and skate-related non-sequiturs to thrive. You don’t need to start a topic. Here, your immediate reactions to the latest videos or industry news can be posted, shared, memed, and mutated in minutes. Where else would I even post this?

Or read this near-contextless tweet and know exactly what he’s talking about.

I don’t think a eulogy for the app is quite necessary yet, but if Twitter does become the 4chan-esque wasteland it appears to be trending towards, #skatetwitter and other communities like it will be missed.

Stocking stuffer

Rank: $1,079.00
Mood: 🎁

After a childhood spent watching and being enamoured by east coast American skate videos and skateboarders—in particular, one Bobby Puleo—while living in small towns across Canada’s western provinces, the discovery that a person can purchase the ever-elusive-to-me cellar door from Home Depot is a revelation. Not only that, they come in various colours (red, brick, white, matte black, gray, driftwood, sandstone), sizes, and steepness.


For anywhere between $900-$1,500, one can add an extra layer of dynamism to any skate spot. Flat ledge lost its lustre? Pick up one of these bad boys and soon you’ll be 180-nosegrind-reverting into the satisfying clang of a powder-coated steel cellar door. In need of a steep bank to get a three-flip to fakie on, à la Paul Shier? You know the URL to visit. Not sure what to do on that dull old loading dock? Slide one of these fellas 6-8 feet past its drop and now you have a unique and challenging gap-to-bank.

And considering the time of year that Home Depot is pushing their cellar doors in social ads, they must know they’ve got a potential hit on their hands with this very specific demographic of customers. So, with the holiday season coming up, consider dropping hints to your loved ones about what you really have on your wishlist.

Something to consider: Supporting the funding of a new indoor skatepark in Winnipeg. The existing one, run by Youth For Christ, has refused to budge on its blatantly discriminatory hiring and organizational practices.

Good thing: Sam Muller with an oral history of Hollywood High in the LA Times.

Another good thing:

One more good thing: John Rattray and John Horner’s Why So Sad? comic.

How about a good grift:

And some more McDonalds:

Until next week… make banana bread. Share the banana bread. Almost everyone loves banana bread. Experiment with your banana bread. Put chocolate chips in your banana bread. Enjoy a piece of banana bread with your morning coffee. Savour it as you contemplate the day ahead.