Gatekeeping the algorithm | Simply Ranked

Plus: Ergonomic spots, Plan B's "Code," baggy pants are coming and more.

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.

Simply reviewed

Rank: 1
Mood: 📽️

It’s never explained what’s “much needed” or the “long” circumstance that spurred this desire (a long day? Hike? Societal collapse?), but what is clear after watching Alex Greenberg’s Much Needed After A Long is that he’s a filmmaker coming into his own. His filming has become sharper, angles more considered, and his editing refined, resulting in a work that feels distinctly his own. And sure, A Clockwork Orange title sequence ripoff would usually be hokey, and perhaps its use is tinged with some irony, but it’s fine here.

Then, of course, the meat of the thing—the skating—is a treat. We see a steady mix of creative, casual, tech, and high-risk maneuvers (and even a Ragdoll homage thrown in for good measure) from big names like Andrew Reynolds and Leo Baker to those on the ascent like Coles Bailey and Quinn Batley. All of that is tied together with b-roll that captures and humanizes the crew through hugs, candid conversations, and meta-references to other skate videos while themselves inside a skate video.

Much Needed After A Long ends with Kyota Umeki, whose haywire landings and trick selection are always a pleasure to watch. Simon & Garfunkel play Umeki out as he takes a legitimately surprising route into the New York County Courthouse bank before rolling across the street and into the celebratory embrace of friends—a genuine moment of joy you can feel through the screen.

And if a skateboarding video can make you register a real human emotion, that is a sign of its success.

Mind fit

Rank: XL
Mood: 🧠👖

The line between the real and virtual worlds can be drawn in different places for different people, and sometimes that line gets blurred or ignored altogether. Your great aunt can view her Facebook feed as a seamless transition into the lives of friends and family. NFT marks pay real (and imagined) money for digital items they believe are really theirs because some code it’s tied to is stashed away in the blockchain.

And now, for players of the skateboarding simulator Session, the distance between the reality of skating the streets IRL and in-game is about to get much smaller. Because soon, a great many skaters will find that their avatars can represent them with a new level of accuracy.

26 pairs of baggy pants. Wow. From swooshy cargos to draping jeans, come September, there be more options for fans of generous cuts. Will having wide pixelated pant legs that flap and wrap around pixelated legs be enough to blend the real and on-screen worlds for some? Is online about to become the new curb behind Safeway that you and your friends meet up at on Tuesday evenings? The merging of flesh and avatar takes place solely in the mind, and skaters are always thinking about their goddamn pants, so I wouldn’t put it past them.

Decrypt for meaning

Rank: N/A
Mood: 🔎

By the time you read this, Plan B’s latest video, CODE, will have been released online. For those of us who have yet to or will not watch, the trailer above—full of big stunts and b-roll of bros getting “juiced” to what sounds like the soundtrack to Vin Diesel’s XXX—gives us a good indicator of what its vibe will be.

If you have to give Plan B credit for anything, it’s being consistent. Since its relaunch in 2005, this has been more or less the company’s MO. But skateboarding has changed a lot over the subsequent years. It’s been a long while since overly polished, action-movie style dramatizations of skateboarding tricks were the popular aesthetic. Now, a tech curb edit will get more play online than a twenty-stair hardflip.

That doesn’t mean there’s no longer an audience for this style of skateboarding or their team’s hard work is done in vain, as comments on the trailer’s YouTube page indicate.

And it’s not terribly prudent or fair to make a judgment call on the full video from just watching the trailer. Still, admittedly, even the latter’s 56 seconds of runtime feels hollow and aimless, giving the impression that Plan B is keeping on just to keep on. Plus, with a number of their big-name roster members like Sheckler, Pudwill, and Bufoni having left to start their own projects, along with alleged team rider PJ Ladd being nowhere to be seen in the trailer, there’s now even less reason for the folks to tune in.

That all said, I will absolutely be watching CODE later. Why? That’s as good a question as any, one that I haven’t quite been able to crack.

Ergonomic spots

Rank: 1
Mood: 🪑

For all of the time that filmers and photographers spend hunched and squatted with aching lower backs and knees, all in pursuit of an angle and image, it’s nice to see a spot that accommodates their medium ergonomically.

Gatekeeping the algorithm

Rank: 101010
Mood: 🙅‍♀️

Via @barson_len on Twitter.

Sure, it’s just a collection of rules followed in a set number of calculations that take your user data to show you content it deems relevant to you, but I bet the Twitter algorithm calls it a frontside indy. Can the algorithm spot a “bussup” or the difference between switch and regular? When was the last time the algorithm got wheel bite while bombing a hill or nicked their Achilles with razor tail? Does it know what the strange body-numbing euphoria of landing a trick you’ve been trying for hours on end feels like? Has the algorithm ever had to walk all the way home after a session because they broke their board trying to kickflip the four stair at the Catholic Church and got smote by god instead? Did the algorithm spend hours in middle school drawing Toy Machine, Zero, and Shorty’s logos all over their binders, first with pencil, then ballpoint, and finally, once they were happy with the results, Sharpie? Didn’t think so.

Something to consider: Stuck in a boring conversation? Fake your own death.

Good things (gone too soon): Joe Pera Talks With You.

Until next week… squeeze a little lemon into your ice water.