Henceforth embodies the swag | Simply Ranked

Plus: Primitive gives away a new (used) Tesla, getting on the jeans team, SW1FTMAFIA, and more.

Henceforth embodies the swag | Simply Ranked

The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other things online that I cannot stop consuming and how it makes me feel, personally.

Undisputedly good

Rank: 1
Mood: 👨‍👨‍👦

The savvy marketing and production of Primitive Skateboards is something I've written about a number of times in This Very Newsletter, from a video catalogue that is somehow able to showcase their large (or, more uncharitably, bloated) team in a way that doesn't feel stilted and piecemeal to how they successfully recycle their efforts by making genuinely compelling mini-doc series out of their full-length videos, releasing them many months after the fact, and extending their shelf-life in a chronically forgetful media ecosystem. Primitive knows how to maximize itself as a brand.1

Now, once again, I will give it up for one of the biggest board companies in the industry by publicly stating that I think "AM videos" are cool, and I'm glad to see that they'll be releasing one featuring three of the most exciting up-and-coming names in the business right now. DAYDREAM, set to premiere on February 16 (and "available for online release February 19" according to the trailer's YouTube description), will highlight Dylan Jaeb, Kyonosuke Yamashita, and Filipe Mota. And talk about savvy timing, as Thrasher announced Mota as their latest cover star a day before the trailer for DAYDREAM was uploaded — now that's marketing, baby.

Speaking of, a trailer! I love a good skate video trailer. I miss them, even. Another thing that seems lost in our era of on-demand media. So, while Primitive can be a bit corny in its highly polished dominance in the industry, it's clear that they've wound up in the position they're in for a reason. Now, I think they'll be alright as long as they don't veer from corny into the —

Undisputedly wack

Rank: oi
Mood: 🗑️

Screenshot taken Sunday, February 4.

It's too late. You missed it. As did I. PROD was giving away a custom Tesla Model Y to celebrate Primitive Skateboarding's 10th anniversary, but when I visited the Primitive website on Sunday, the countdown clock for the offer looked set to expire at midnight (and the offer itself only available to legal residents of the 48 contiguous U.S. States). Shoot.

All one had to do to enter was buy something from the Primitive website, with every dollar spent equal to one entry. So simple. Just stock up on some of your favourite Primitive x Naruto x Megadeath x Sriracha gear and you could win yourself a brand-new car that, sure, might be riddled with faulty parts or is under one of several active recalls, but it's a new car!

Well, not exactly. The official giveaway rules state that it's technically "A used, previously owned Tesla Model Y Rear-Wheel Drive," which is curious as it doesn't say that it's a used car anywhere in the advertisements on the Primitive website and PROD says "we're giving away a brand new car, that's crazy" in an Instagram promo announcing the giveaway.


Video via Primitive Skateboards on Instagram.

Crazy. But, if that changed your mind and you didn't want the car or the hassle of figuring out how to use the $1000 travel allowance to get to "a predetermined location in Chatsworth, California" to pick up the vehicle if you should win, you could "elect to substitute the Grand Prize with a cash alternative."

Given that the Primitive site makes it clear that the Tesla has an approximate retail value of $43,430, you'd imagine that same hardy sum in return if you don't want to drive away in your own slightly used, electric death machine. Right? No. That "cash alternative" is actually "$20,000 awarded in the form of a check, paid as $1,666.66 a month over a period of twelve (12) months." So, UBI, basically? Very forward-thinking PROD.

Anyhow, this nitpicking is all for nought because the giveaway is over. The chance of winning for legal residents of the 48 contiguous U.S. States is out the window — or so I thought. Returning to the Primitive website on Monday morning, I noticed that the giveaway's countdown clock had another five days added to it. That's when I clued in that the countdown clock does not refer to the offer as a whole, which is what you might expect given the wording and its placement at the top of the site, but to the type of entry multipliers offered, i.e. this week, anyone who buys a t-shirt(s) from the Primitive online store gets 10x the entries for their dollars spent. Only if you click through on the Tesla promo slide and scroll a ways down will you learn the promotion ends on February 20. Cool.

Screenshot taken Monday, February 5.

It'd be interesting to learn if this free-car giveaway gimmick has helped Primitive goose its online sales numbers in any substantial way because the tradeoff is that it makes PROD2 look like a massive dork. But, in the end, I guess it is fitting to give away a tin can on your 10-year anniversary.

Transitional (marketing) power

Rank: 1!!!
Mood: 👖🤤

I tried to fight it. Not very hard mind you, but I did try. Perhaps I overlooked the threat, but that's because I imagined it would be a fleeting feeling. A pull I'd be able to push back on — and I did. It just wouldn't last.

After the Dan Magee edited Conor Charleson's Slight Inclination video part was released in October, and I witnessed Charleson's excellent display of crunchy, grimy, tight transition skateboarding — most of which done while wearing blue jeans — I had the strong and sudden urge to wear jeans myself. I had not worn jeans or skated in jeans in nearly a decade, having given myself fully to the loose, comfortable embrace of chinos.

But in the following months, that feeling kept surfacing. Bubbling. Driving me to type "jeans" into the closest browser window. When in stores, I'd try on a pair or two but never commit. Then, a few weeks back, I finally caved. Charleson's visage burned into the air around me as I purchased a pair of Polar 93! jeans. Over the weekend, I would skate in them for the first time, "Bell Bottom Blues" playing in my head as I pretended a local skatepark's quarterpipes were tighter and crustier than reality. And in those jeans, they were

Henceforth embodies the swag

Rank: 2024
Mood: 🥇

It's too soon to say what, if anything, the long-term major impacts of skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport will have on skateboarding itself. It's clear that it's gotten the attention of some countries' sports authorities and other government bodies, who now provide funding and training facilities to their Olympic hopefuls and organizers. Does that investment continue or wane? Will World Skate, skateboarding's Olympic governing body, continue to get in its own way while pissing off its member nations? We'll see.

On an individual basis, the coveted gold medal has made a superstar out of Men's Street winner Yuto Horigome, while on the flip side, you might have forgotten that Australia's Keegan Palmer won Men's Park. The only seemingly consistent outcome for Olympic winners and contenders is that they've seen a decidedly sharp increase in... swag.

Aurélien Giraud at Dior Men's Fall/Winter 2024 show.

France's Aurélien Giraud was named an "ambassador" for Dior this week, with the storied French fashion house describing their new charge as “Audacious, creative and spontaneous, the multi award-winning world champion — and contender for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 — henceforth embodies the spirit of Dior style, where sportswear, heritage and reinvention converge.”

That follows Horigome and Olympic silver medalist Rayssa Leal becoming Louis Vuitton's "Friends of the Maison."

Henceforth, Friends! However, these aren't the first signs of the fashion world's interest in skateboarding and skateboarders. Serial collaborator Palace Skateboards has teamed up with everyone from Ralph Lauren to Harrods over the years. The late Virgil Abloh championed Lucien Clarke as Louis Vuitton's first skateboarding ambassador, even giving him a signature shoe in 2020. A Vogue Business article from 2022 would note Louis Vuitton would subsequently release a $60,000 "skate trunk and skateboard" and that "Celine, Gucci and Saint Laurent all sell branded skate decks, the latter’s shrouded in gold leaf, for a cool £2,170."

Courting skateboarders, skateboarding, and streetwear culture is a clear play from these stuffy old fashion houses to remain relevant. To see that push in motion is at once fascinating and a cause for revulsion. The Vogue Business piece attempts to measure the success of their entreaties into skating by StockX3 data, and how much something like the amount that "the average Lucien Clarke x Louis Vuitton skate shoe is trading for," which at that moment was "$500 higher than retail price."

Fascinating. Yuck. That sort of misunderstanding or misarticulation of what is meaningful in skate culture leads a brand like Dior to sign Giraud, who is, with all due respect, a PRO terminally devoid of swag. They see that he's had competitive success on a skateboard, is an Olympic hopeful, is French, and boom — that's all they need. And you know what? Good for Giraud. Call it a swag infusion, a bag of cash, or whatever you want; it's unlikely that Giraud would have received it if not for the Games. So, I imagine, at least in the immediate, that's pretty impactful for him.


Rank: nuh uh
Mood: 🚫

@JMaruco on Twitter

Currently, the world is stricken with Taylor Swift. She is seemingly everywhere, much to the delight of her frothing fans, right-wing psyop-crying grifters, and America's most popular professional sports league. At last weekend's Grammy's, she won best album, took up far too much screentime during that legitimately moving Tracy Chapman performance, and appeared to give the SK8MAFIA hand sign to the members of Boy Genius.

But the buck stops here. It needs to. Because that is NOT the SK8MAFIA hand sign. There is no perfect symmetry of the index and ring fingers meeting. No extension of the pinkies to form an 'M' under the 'S.' That beautiful stack of fleshy letters denotes not just a skateboarding brand but a family — a commitment to hitting the streets with the hemmies each and every weekend. Swift does not appear to be about the life this hand sign signifies, which is fine! Not everyone can be.

Plus, she already has it all. A billion dollars, football guy boyfriend, a massive global fandom that makes her one of the most influential people on the planet. She doesn't need this.

Something to consider: The first webinar from the Skateboarders for Palestine Alliance is now online.

Good thing: Next Friday, I'll be taking part in Sam Korman's "The Great Skate Debate" at Slow Impact in Tempe, Arizona. If you're around, come watch us hash out the biggest issues in skateboarding today, like do you microwave your new shoes or not? And if so, what setting do you use? Defrost? Popcorn?

Another good thing: Solnit on SF in the LRB.

Rebecca Solnit · In the Shadow of Silicon Valley: Losing San Francisco
I don’t know whether these billionaires know what a city is, but I do know that they have laid their hands on the city…

SOTY thing:

Until next week… if you're able, switch things up. Not too much, but enough. Walk to work instead of drive. Make something for dinner you've never tried. Squish the flesh of your face into a shape you had no idea it could make.

1 We're riding high here, let's not mention their history of god-awful collabs.

2 Just wondering, do Rodriguez and Primitive not realize that P-Rod needs to be spelt "P-Rod" for it to be a nickname in the vein of Alex Rodriguez's "A-Rod" and not "PROD" as in to poke?

3 The article goes on to say: "Legendary skater Steve Berra advised StockX that “there’s always going to be haters” when aiming to win over the skate community. StockX launched its skate strategy in late 2019, with the help of Berra, to build on its appeal with the skate community. Some pro skaters can be frustrated with their brand deals, as brands can see them as a moving billboard on a skate deck, says StockX VP of culture marketing, Tom Woodger. Enlisting Berra and listening to pain points from skaters helps StockX authentically connect with skateboarding." lol

Laser Quit Smoking Massage

NEWEST PRESS, available April 1, 2024


I have a new collection of essays coming out this spring that you can preorder now. I think you might like it. The Edmonton Journal thinks it's a "local book set to make a mark in 2024." Please do not tell them that I no longer live in Alberta.

Book cover by the wonderful Hiller Goodspeed.

Preorder the thing

Right, Down + Circle



I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that you can find at your local bookshop or order online now. I think you might like this one, too.

Here’s what Michael Christie, Giller Prize-nominated author of the novels Greenwood and If I Fall, If I Die, had to say about the thing.

“With incisive and heartfelt writing, Cole Nowicki unlocks the source code of the massively influential cultural phenomenon that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and finds wonderful Easter-eggs of meaning within. Even non-skaters will be wowed by this examination of youth, community, risk, and authenticity and gain a new appreciation of skateboarding’s massive influence upon our larger culture. This is my new favorite book about skateboarding, which isn’t really about skateboarding — it’s about everything.”

Photo via The Palomino.

Order the thing