Gwyneth Paltrow rides for Cariuma | Simply Ranked

Plus: real estate crime, Dave Mull is for the birds, M-A-C-B-A, 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.

Architectural phenomenon

Rank: 1
Mood: 🏚️

From VANS EU’s Incompiuto.

A skate video with a premise beyond the skateboarding contained within it is a tricky proposition. It’s a balance of attention. Will whatever concept that’s superimposed onto the tricks on-screen be a distraction or a complement? On one end, you have whatever Ty Evans was trying to do with nearly unwatchable We Are Blood, which served as more stilted hagiography to skateboarding with a dash of Dubai Tourism infomercial thrown in. On the other end, you have Something Old, Something New, whose premise is simple: here is some old footage mixed with some new footage.

The premise for VANS EU’s latest video is also straightforward and honestly quite interesting: the VANS EU team skates abandoned and incomplete construction projects in Sicily that once served as illegal money-making schemes for the Sicilian mafia; an occurrence so common it needed its own terminology — incompiuto. It’s not often that a skate video makes me learn something.

This seems like a concept that could easily be carried over across the pond. Perhaps the New Balance crew skates North Charleston, South Carolina’s naval hospital that a group of developers, including Donald Trump Jr., promised would become a new Cleveland Clinic and community centre. None of that transpired, leaving the building a dilapidated mess stripped of all its copper (with Jr. making off with over $250,000 from the scheme).

Nike could skate the vacant six-hectare lot on Little Mountain lands in Vancouver, BC. In 2009 an entire community of low-income housing was demolished with the promise of new social housing to take its place. Over a decade later it remains empty and fenced off. The CBC recently revealed that:

…the original contract to sell the land to the developer, Holborn Properties, included a $211-million, interest-free loan on an 18-year term at the time of the sale in 2008.

The contract also lacked a timeline or specific details as to when the developer would need to finish hundreds of social housing units it originally promised for the site.

After the sale, hundreds of existing units on the site were demolished. Around 700 people lost their homes.

It almost feels more depressing when the mob isn’t involved in these crimes. Instead, developer grifters continue to get encouragement, and at worst, slaps on the wrist from local government.

At least someone is bound to get some good clips out of it.

Don’t look a gift H-O-R-S-E in the MACBA

Rank: 2
Mood: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

KING OF MACBA is a game of S-K-A-T-E, at MACBA, but unlike your traditional flatground contest, gone are the constraints of the simple concrete plane. Each skater is free to utilize any obstacle surrounding the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona that they wish, from the large three-block to the flat ledges to the big scary sculpture-thingy that people decided to start dropping in on.

KING OF MACBA features some of the best technical skateboarders rolling around god’s shrivelling earth. A recent matchup between Ivan Monteiro and Daniel Jenks saw Monteiro land a switch backside tailslide switch heelflip out in two tries. In 2006, Josh Kalis ended a video part with a similar move.

This is the level of difficulty and consistency that skateboarding needed to reach for KING OF MACBA to work. Imagine the interminable slog of watching the skaters of 15 years ago take thirty tries to not do this trick. That display of skill alone makes this a fascinating contest. Then you consider how this iconic skate spot is a character in the event itself. MACBA becomes the course, dictates the tricks, and its name spells out your defeat.

It is a bit strange, though, to see this space used in such a fashion. For decades it was a destination, playing host to all of your favourite skateboarders in all of your favourite videos. Now the line between heritage sites and competition grounds blur. Only the little Monster Energy drink branded fire hydrant lets you know what reality you occupy.

That’s a tad dramatic. It’s just a game of S-K-A-T-E, right. A game of S-K-A-T-E differentiating itself from others by its terrain, its celebration and exploitation of these obstacles of lore. But there is a glaring loophole here, one that wasn’t fully considered — that simple concrete plane is a part of MACBA, too. After nine minutes of Monteiro and Jenks’ intense technical skateboarding, we revert to the S-K-A-T-E of old. The game ends with a… flatground 540 kickflip.

A metaphor, perhaps.

Dave Mull is bigger than the spot

Rank: 3
Mood: 🐧 🐦 🐤 🐔🦆 🦅 🦉

A few weeks ago, I put up a new birdfeeder on my balcony. For years I’d been using just a suet block feeder, which would attract the usual gang of House Sparrows, European Starlings, and the occasional crow who’d struggle and pout when its large body wouldn’t let it hang from the little black cage.

This new feeder (filled with black oil sunflower kernel) has brought in a whole separate crowd: Spotted Towhees, Chickadees, and even a Woodpecker that I assume was lost. Then there was the Stellar’s Jay. It sat on the balcony railing briefly, preening, jumping to the feeder for a quick bite before alighting back onto the railing. Watching it made my heart twist off and slide up into my throat. A stunning creature — and an inspiring one. From Dave Mull’s interview with Audubon:

My favorite story to tell is when I was doing that stump jump, and there were Steller’s Jays around and they were calling like a Red-tailed Hawk — their famous mimic. And they scared these Acorn Woodpeckers away from some of their acorn caches and the jays would swoop in on them. The stump jump was so terrifying that I just looked for any means of inspiration, and at one point I had the realization that those Steller’s Jays were acting way bigger than they were, they were kind of tricking everything around them. So I thought that if I could harness the power of those super witty Steller’s Jays and treat this spot like I’m bigger than it, then that’s all I needed. It sounds crazy,  but it worked.

It sure did.

Cover the world

Rank: 50/50
Mood: 🤔

Yeah, we’re living in strange times. At some point, we became unmoored and are now adrift. From this vantage, it’s hard to tell what direction the current is taking us or what obstructions lay in our way. What is up, who is down, why is The North Face teaching us how to make “slappy curbs”?

Military-grade CanCon

Rank: last, for sure
Mood: 🕵️‍♀️ 🕵️ 🕵️‍♂️

On Monday, the Ottawa Citizen published a story revealing that the Canadian military used the uncertainty of the early days of the pandemic as a guise to surveil activists and develop a plan to test “propaganda techniques similar to those employed during the Afghanistan war” on Canadian citizens. Not surprising but certainly not encouraging!

It makes you wonder what else the military has been pushing on us over the years. Has West 49 been a psyop all along? It would explain a lot.

Gwyneth Paltrow rides for Cariuma

Rank: 6
Mood: 👽

She’s at least flow.

Something to consider: donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Good things: Boarder X opens at the Museum of Vancouver tomorrow if you're in the area.

From MOV’s website:

Presented with the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Boarder X is a travelling exhibition that features work by contemporary artists from Indigenous nations across Canada: Jordan Bennett, Roger Crait, Steven Davies, Mark Igloliorte, Mason Mashon, Meghann O’Brien, and Les Ramsay.

Reflecting on cultural, political, environmental, and social perspectives related to the landscapes and territories we occupy, the exhibition examines contested spaces, political borders, hybrid identities, and traditional lands. The artwork draws parallels to urban areas prohibiting skateboarding, ski runs unwelcome to snowboarders, and surfers’ constant search for uncrowded waves.

Until next week… retweet to grow SKATEBOARDING on Twitter.