Don't forget to remember some guys | Simply Ranked

Plus: Keepsake, ritual wedgies, bleak brand partnerships, and more.

Don't forget to remember some guys | 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.

Don’t forget to remember some guys

Rank: 1…?
Mood: 🤔

Wow, that really was three years ago, huh? How about that. As I touched on in a piece from last year, Nathan Apodaca had the world in his hand for those few weeks his star shined in 2020.

Remember @doggface208? Otherwise known as Nathan Apodaca, the viral TikTok sensation whose front-facing camera video of himself [long]boarding down the road and drinking cranberry juice while lip-syncing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” had such an impact that it brought the legendary band back into the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in four decades. He’s since parlayed that quick rise into millions of social media followers, endorsements from various brands, his own video game, and even a guest appearance on a George Lopez sitcom on NBC.

However, due to the constant content churn that is our waking lives on the internet, Apodaca is now firmly in the “where are they now” bucket of our collective memory rather than the worldwide cultural touchpoint he once was. Three years on the Gregorian calendar may as well be three light-years away in internet time, leaving Apodaca as a person to remember more as a vague notion, a feeling of time and place, instead of the social media phenomenon that had enraptured our ever-atrophying attention spans in those long gone early autumn days.

If we struggle to remember a guy who was once as ubiquitous as @doggface208, what chance do the rest of us have? Could that be why generationally talented professional skateboarder Madars Apse titled his recent Red Bull-produced video part Forget Me Not? As in, don’t forget that he is a PRO with a skillset comparable to the current best in the industry today? That perhaps a shoe sponsor should remember this clear fact and add him to their roster?

If this is a plea for us to hold onto his memory, to give it space to grow into the present and move into the future, it is compelling. Hopefully, the right people are listening.

I got so much wedgie in Brazil

Rank: !
Mood: 🩲

Oftentimes, an interview with a PRO or AM skateboarder is a bland affair. However, that isn’t always the fault of the skateboarder or even the interviewer. “Pro Spotlight” style features or an accompanying Q&A with a new video project are promotional devices. Tools designed to give a little added insight into the skater and their latest efforts while generally remaining as benign in content matter as possible to avoid any potential sullying of the moment and the thing the skater is there to promote. Not often are these in search of the profound, interesting or illuminating.

This could be seen as a course correction from the years of goading, purposefully antagonistic and offensive dialogues of the Big Brother and early Thrasher years — an approach mercifully moved away from (remember that Brandon Del Bianco King Shit interview? Yikes). While that change was a necessary good, the result didn’t address what else was missing: substantive interviews. Crass ignorance was replaced with brand-safe talking points, ritualistic slogs through shared cultural platitudes and a few borderline interesting anecdotes if the reader is lucky. Of course, that’s not to say that all interviews are like this or that there’s anything inherently wrong with the ones that are. How many press junkets for Hollywood movies produce interesting soundbites? That just isn’t their purpose, which means that more often than not, they’re kinda boring.

And kinda boring is most likely what you’ll get when PRO or AM skateboarders or the friends of PRO or AM skateboarders interview PRO or AM skateboarders. This is a popular editorial trend and tends to lead to boring interviews because most PRO or AM skateboarders are not skilled interviewers. However, sometimes, that sweeping generalization I made above is just that, and a run-of-the-mill interview becomes something more. This is what we got when Primitive Skateboards’ filmer Alan Hannon interviewed Primitive Skateboards PRO Giovanni Vianna for Thrasher to coincide with Vianna’s excellent new video part, RITORNA.

There were a handful of interesting Vianna-related factoids Hannon was able to pull out of the Brazillian phenom. From Vianna not being his real last name, Vianna having apparently released a video part nearly every year since he was four years old, that he gave up a $1,500 a month paycheque from a Brazillian clothing company to receive nothing but clothes and the potential opportunities of global recognizing that riding for Volcom might (and eventually would) bring. (Curiously, Hannon refers to that choice as taking a “pay cut” when it’s really a pay removal.)

However, the most fascinating part of the interview by far — and the source of an all-time pull quote — is Vianna talking about what sounds like a very specific form of cultural hazing.

I got so much wedgie in Brazil. That’s kind of normal in Brazil. Back in the day when you won a contest you’re gonna get wedgied. If you win the contest, everyone who was in the contest is gonna grab you and give you a wedgie. That’s normal.

If you say so. Anyhow, this is what the power of even a semi-decent interview offers: invaluable insight into a subject that lodges itself so deep into the reader’s understanding of them that it gets stuck in the crack of their gray matter.

In limbo no longer

Rank: 1
Mood: 🕊

For a time, it seemed like Keepsake, the latest Vans video by Shari White, might be stuck in music-rights-limbo indefinitely. Like many skate videos that premiere in private showings before being released to the public online, there was an understandable hubris at play: you want your video to be as good as possible, so you use a soundtrack that you think will elevate it to that place, even if you don’t have all the permissions required to use said music in a widely released production. A similar thing happened recently with HUF’s Forever, with a leaked “premiere version” of the film highlighting the small changes in sound from the officially released version that Thrasher would upload some weeks late after a long, unsuccessful licensing battle.

Thankfully, Vans got things sorted, and Keepsake was finally released online on Tuesday after its original premiere dates in early July. While that lag wouldn’t be unusual in the traditional movie industry or other media sectors, or even in skateboarding a decade ago, our high demand for content and that insatiable churn usually means a video now drops a week or two after its premiere. That we had to wait shouldn’t be strange, but it has become so.

However, the strange unknowing of this waiting was worth it, as Keepsake delivers standout parts from Nelly Morville, Dustin Henry, and footage from a good smattering of Vans’ North American team. White’s distinct eye and editing style are present throughout: a vision with a softer touch that is fun, emotive, and lets the skaters on-screen breathe in a way that feels natural, welcoming, and different from the usual fare. There’s also a tonne of great Vancouver footage in there, which I appreciate as a local mark. Is that bias? Yes!

A name, any name will do

Rank: ick
Mood: 🥴 🤢 🌎 🔥

A few ounces of whisky — classic skate session refreshment.

Noted creep and multi-time Olympic snowboarding champion Shaun White has partnered with Utah-based High West Distillery to “drive awareness of High West’s Protect the West platform, striving to conserve the natural beauty of the West and all that inhabits it so it can be enjoyed by generations to come.” What does that mean exactly? A press release explains that “High West is making a commitment to give $1,000,000 to amazing partners working to protect the West over the next three years. We will be featuring them [on our website], and we would ask that all fans of High West take a moment to help us in our mission to keep the West safe and vibrant for generations to come.”

Okay, so High West is “making a commitment” to donate money and is asking others to donate, too. Got it. I guess we have to assume they’ll be transparent about the donations highlighted by this “initiative,” which is being foregrounded by a partnership with White, who offered this statement about the arrangement:

"High West is all about seeking out adventure, and there's no better place to do that than the West… I was lucky enough to grow up exploring this incredible place, learning to snowboard, skateboard and even mountain bike here, and it's so important to me that people have the same opportunity I once had. It's pretty cool to be able to team up with not just my favorite whiskey, but one that shares my same passion for preserving the West."

I mean, hey, this whisky brand could actually care about “preserving the West” from climate change but judging from the weirdly polished PR copy, this feels more like a promotional stunt that uses a celebrity to elevate their brand awareness via a social cause. Which is perhaps more bleak than our impending climate collapse, illustrated in exquisite detail by this quote from the press release:

"You don't have to look too far outside the doors of our Saloon or Distillery to see the West is in danger," said Daniel Schear, General Manager of High West. "Like Shaun, High West is a team made up of adventurers who appreciate all the West has to offer, which is why the Protect the West initiative hits home for all of us. Our passion for this cause is only growing, and we're honored to have Shaun's support in driving more urgency and action."

“You don’t have to look too far outside the doors of our Saloon or Distillery to see the West is in danger.” Yes. Yes. Excellent brand tie-in, Danny. Here’s hoping they actually raise some dough through their “initiative,” I guess. Also, what is White doing in that Instagram post? Going street skating with a bottle of Whisky? Cool. That’s normal.

Thanks for a lovely time

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🙏❤️

On Tuesday, we had a launch event for my new book, Right, Down + Circle: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, here in Vancouver. It was a very nice time and I wanted to write about it in this space because I’m still feeling the ol’ warm ‘n’ fuzzies about it. Anyway, if you were there, thank you so much for coming and a big thanks to all of the performers who crushed it, including Aaron Read, Jen Sookfong Lee, Michael Christie, Tin Lorica, and Never Plenty, who shredded a cover of Dead Kennedy’s “Police Truck” while people played THPS on the screen behind them. Nice.

We also had a special message from the Birdman himself, which was a totally organic happening and not at all coordinated via payola.

If you want to know more about the book, all you need to do is keep reading a little further…

Something to consider: Breaking your legs for TikTok content.

@aaronjawshomokiReplying to @Mufoa soraroonie nah just skin and bones

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Good thing: Wonderful writer Jeremy Klemin “On the Accidental Art of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” for Electric Lit.

Another good thing: My dear pal and next-level poet Ivanna Baranova has a new poetry collection out on October 2 with Metatron Press. You can pre-order Continuum here.

Oscillating between existential enormity and the “tiny electronic mess” of the self, Continuum telescopes temporal vastness into sharp utterance. Keenly perceptive and sonically incantatory, Continuum follows the porous “I” across elastic thresholds of past, present, and future. When “every rational option” tries and fails, Baranova challenges us to embrace irrational options. Lovingly dialogic, this collection bears witness to ongoing destruction and renewal, offering transformational visions of the future that refuse neat resolution. Baranova enjoins us to will these futures a reality. If language creates us, Continuum’s poetics are a testament to the limitless possibilities of making and remaking the self.

A good boss thing: Matt Welty talked to Andrew Reynolds about his relationship with New Balance for Complex.

A good on-and-off-the-wall thing: Farran Golding’s excellent “Topography” video feature for Closer.

Until next week… soup season is upon us. Rinse out your biggest pot, your worthiest cauldron, and fill that thing with as much broth, vegetables, and your desired protein as possible. Feel the soup’s warmth course through your body. Let it fuel your day, night, and soul — for it is time.

I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I will keep posting about it at the end of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Apologies. It’s in stores as of September 26 and you can order Right, Down + Circle from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.

Also, if you like book clubs, you can join the inimitable Ted Barrow in reading Right, Down + Circle on his Berate The Birds Patreon, which you should also subscribe to because it rules. He’s a couple of chapters in, so you’ve got some nice stuff to listen to while puttering around the house.