Endless highways, unreachable horizons | Simply Ranked

Plus: John Wilsons, everyone releases a video, Mami Tezuka's Toyota Tacoma, and more.

Endless highways, unreachable horizons | 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.

Classic John Wilson stuff

Rank: 1
Mood: 🤓 📹

John Wilson starting his latest video, Johnny’s Vid, with one of the most bonkers handrail tricks — and just skateboard tricks in general — of all time is just a part of what Quartersnacks would call a series of “smart decisions” Wilson made throughout the edit. I’d even go so far as to call it brilliant. To see the switch-360-flip-noseblunt-slide from Antonio Durao’s Thrasher cover in those opening seconds was shocking in its lack of deference for what we’ve all come to understand an “ender” to be. However, used like this, it had much more impact as an opener. Blindsided, we are forced to take it in and either move on in a stunned state to even more bonkers Durao maneuvers with this one stuck in our minds like a fishhook or stop the video at its start and watch it begin over and over again.

It’s the kind of clever editing that one comes to expect from the John Wilsons of the world. While John Wilson’s Johnny’s Vid was released online last Thursday, the latest episode of the documentary-style narrative comedy How To With John Wilson aired on HBO the following day. This John Wilson — who also attended the premiere of John Wilson’s Johnny’s Vid — was similarly masterful with “How To Work Out,” which follows Wilson as he grapples with what it means to be “big.”

This first sees him go to the gym in an attempt to bulk up. But bigness soon takes on new forms as Wilson grapples with his own success and his expectations of it, finding himself disillusioned with the world of relative celebrity his HBO show has granted him. These meta-narratives become wrapped up with a wholesome biggest-pumpkin contest and ultimately achieve what Wilson excels at: subverting expectations in enjoyable and compelling ways. Classic John Wilson stuff.

A grand theory behind a good couple of weeks

Rank: 1
Mood: 🗓 🌾

It’s been a good couple of weeks for skate videos. From Johnny’s Vid and Lakai’s “Bubble” to the release of WKND’s Rumble Pack, Palace’s Beta Blockers, a new Bronze edit, and HUF’s Forever (whose initial go-live date was Monday but music rights issues have since delayed it) — we’re getting spoiled.

In Rumble Pack, we got Sarah Meurle’s excellent PRO part, another top-tier Tom Karangalov offering with one of the more star-studded introductions that WKND has ever put together, which is saying something (Brian Anderson, Jamie Thomas, PJ Ladd, Geoff Rowley, Tony Hawk, Jeremy Wray, and Heath Kirchart. C’mon.) and Filip Almqvist with one of the more stunning quick-footed enders in memory. WKND’s serious commitment to having fun while poking fun at and paying homage to skateboarding history is always a treat.

I’ve been on holiday and driving around Alberta, so I haven’t had a chance to watch Beta Blockers, Bronze TV, or Forever yet (if it’s even out by the time of publishing), but I assume they’re also great. Cyrus Bennet? Nick Matthews? Kyle Wilson? Shawn Powers? That absurd Mitch Barrette nosegrind-nollie-heel I saw flash by in an Instagram Story? It all sounds good to me.

This bottleneck of video releases does make one wonder why now? Deep summer isn’t usually this flush with content, especially when it comes to big-name projects. In recent years, October and November are when the high-profile items drop as brands champion their respective riders in Thrasher’s increasingly competitive and chaotic Skater Of The Year race.

Could this be a sign that the SOTY push is becoming tired? That brands and skaters would rather release their videos when they want to and not when they think the viewing public might deem them most in “contention?” Or is it just a pleasant coincidence for all of us at home? Alternatively, what if these questions are all a ruse designed to help fill space in the newsletter as I continue to travel around my home province, following endless highways into unreachable horizons on the way to visit family, stopping to take photos of open fields, cows at a distance, and whatever other beauty I encounter along the way? Eh, it’s too early to say.

Tezuka’s Toyota Tacoma

Rank: 1.1!
Mood: 🛻

Mami Tezuka demanding a 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser on Threads.

Pay attention because this is how you do it. And really, it’s always been this simple — if you have all of the ingredients in place. Are you really good at something? Talented enough that people are already giving you money and products in exchange for having their logos on or around your person? Do you also have a substantial following online? Then take advantage of the premium on your name and simply ask for what you desire.

Will this approach actually work? That remains to be seen. But in a career path as finite and fragile as professional skateboarding, how do you make any headway without putting yourself out there? It seems doubtful that the average PRO can afford a new vehicle unless they’re winning large contest prize purses. So, if you have a big enough platform, why not simply demand one?

Mamu Tezuka demanding a Toyota Tacoma on Threads.

In this case, it’s a win-win-win for all parties. Toyota gets the good press and positive cultural rub of having Tezuka posting about and driving around in their products, Tezuka receives a free vehicle, and we get to witness the rare occasion of a PRO skater getting compensated well for all the work they put into their craft. If all is right with the world, Terry from Toyota will hook Mami Tezuka up with a Tacoma.

Biden stealing from the middle class again

Mood: 🥴 🤢 🤮

Gifted Hater learning about Joe Biden stealing from the middle-class thanks to an ad on Rumble’s SLS livestream.

Street League Skateboarding’s Tokyo event happened over the weekend. I’m sure there were some big tricks and exciting moments that SLS tends to deliver. A series of SLS posts on Threads spoiled that Chloe Covell won with a legitimately massive switch flip and Yuto Horigome clinched another victory with a dizzying nollie-270-noseslide-270-out down a small-ish hubba ledge that looked tailor-made for him to do just that — so that’s nice, I guess.

I haven’t watched SLS since their first appearance on Rumble, the explicitly right-wing video platform they signed an exclusive streaming contract with ahead of their 2023 season. I wrote about the deal and the platform’s odious nature in detail a few months ago (and Karim Zidan and Jono Coote have written about it in The Guardian and Vague more recently).

Since then, Rumble has been leaning even further into the muck, with the announcement last week that ailing bigoted dipshit Steven Crowder is starting a new “network” that will stream on the platform and be headlined by none other than legitimately horrible human and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as Vanity Fair reported.

As of late, business—and, quite frankly, life—has not been good for far-right commentator Steven Crowder. His show has suffered declining viewership on the right-wing streaming site Rumble. He’s been attacked by a host of conservative pundits and faced accusations of fostering a wildly toxic workplace, allegedly exposing his genitals to staff, and being abusive toward his now estranged wife. So naturally, in an apparent effort to turn things around, he’s turned to Infowars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Crowder announced Tuesday that he will be partnering with Jones on a new streaming venture. Jones, who was found liable for a combined nearly $1.5 billion for defaming the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said the partnership was a step toward building “a conservative populace economy.” Crowder called Jones, who filed for personal bankruptcy last year, the “number one draft pick” in a media project that he billed as “the replatforming.”

There were a whole lot of mushy words exchanged between the two with this announcement. “Getting you involved with it,” Crowder told Jones, “It’s a stamp of approval that we’re offering something that no one else is.” Jones, who has had nearly all of his social media accounts banned or suspended indefinitely, will host the Friday edition of Crowder’s daily show.

“It was Steven Crowder—back when everybody turned their back on me pretty much during deplatforming other than Tucker Carlson—that stood up for me,” said Jones Tuesday. “So he’s the type of guy I want to work with.”

Cool. Always great to have kids tuning into Rumble to watch their favourite skaters compete and then getting suggested Rumble’s exclusive Alex Jones videos afterwards. I reached out to SLS again for comment about whether they are concerned about exposing their audience to these non-stop fonts of hate and lies, and once again, I did not receive a response.


Rank: 1!!
Mood: 🖼

Nora Vasconcellos’ Thrasher cover shot by Zander Taketomo. Screengrab of Zander Takemoto’s Thrasher cover photo from Zander Taketomo’s Instagram.

It’s a bit surprising that Nora Vasconcellos hadn’t graced the cover of Thrasher until its latest issue, but here we are now, and from the colours to the composition, it’s something special — which is saying something considering the run that “The Bible” has been on when it comes to fantastic covers this year. On top of that, this appears to be the first time that Thrasher has had more than one woman on the cover of its magazine in a calendar year, bringing the grand total up to two (so far!) in 2023 following Funa Nakayama’s wild first-try front crook down Hollywood High’s 16 for the January edition.

What a cool moment. One that makes me wish I’d taken a higher-quality screenshot of the Instagram post above, which is itself a screenshot of a photo of someone holding the Thrasher with Nora on its face. One thing at a time. What I did take a nicer photo of, however, are these cows at a distance.


Something to consider: Blessing the timeline by putting way too much thought into Instagram Story question prompts like Hanif Abdurraqib.

Good thing: “Naked Wives and Surprising Pensises,” a review of Ed Templeton’s latest photo book, Wires Crossed, by ‘sletter friend Kyle Beachy for Southwest Review.

Another good thing: We’re gonna keep seeing Chloe Covell win for some time to come, I reckon.

A singular focus thing: ‘sletter friend Max Harrison-Caldwell and many others lay waste to what is apparently “the worst spot in Berkley” in Tony Zhang’s Purgatory.

A scapegoat thing: If you’ve encountered any errors in those week’s newsletter, it’s on Titivillus.

Until next week… if you find yourself driving into one of those unreachable horizons, make sure the radio is turned up and sing along as loud as you can to whatever it is that’s playing until you arrive.

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’ll be in stores on September 26 and you can pre-order Right, Down + Circle now from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters-Indigo). I think you might like it.