i am cheeseball | Simply Ranked

Plus: Baker Has a Deathwish 2, LinkedInitis, more videos, more Dyrdek(!), and more.

i am cheeseball | 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.

16 years and 67 minutes

Rank: 1
Mood: 🧁🥯🥖⚰️

Last Friday, at midnight EST, BAKER HAS A DEATHWISH PART 2 was uploaded to the Baker Skateboards YouTube account (and removed for a Terms of Service violation a few days later before being uploaded once more). It's a sequel 16 years in the making, and, as you'd imagine given how time works, a lot has changed between 2008's Baker Has A Deathwish and today, while some things have remained more-or-less the same. As for the latter, both videos are 67 minutes long, there's a significant overlap in cast members nearly two decades on, and the United States and its allies are still supporting devastating, inhumane, and unwinnable campaigns of destruction in the Middle East.

Of course, the differences between then and now are stark, too. For one, it has become increasingly hard to not watch a skate video. In an attempt to cultivate some of that real-world camaraderie I keep hearing so much about, last Friday afternoon, I proposed to the group chat that we have a BAKER HAS A DEATHWISH PART 2 at-home premiere over the weekend. The only day that worked for everyone was Sunday. Those intervening 48 hours were a blunt reminder of the accessibility of skateboarding media in our current era.

Every time I opened Instagram, there was a clip from the video, forcing me to shut the app with a frantic flick or pressing of buttons that would make any passerby assume I'd just accidentally opened PornHub on the bus. Scrolling Twitter was a test in object permanence: could I forget every BHAD2-related tweet I saw before Sunday rolled around?

SPOILER!!!! NO!!!!!!!

This isn't the fault of the posters, obviously. Experiencing a cultural moment together online is one of the last best parts of the internet left. I'd just been so used to partaking, to not ever consciously questioning the unfettered immediacy of my consumption, that to finally confront it was jarring. I'd trained the algorithms in these apps (or they'd trained me) so competently that they were simply showing what I would typically want to see. The only one not living up to their end of this bargain now was me. The deal we struck where everything became available wherever and whenever for the low, low cost of all of our user data and the ability to hold onto and fully appreciate anything anymore.

That said, BAKER HAS A DEATHWISH PART 2 is great. It was even better watching it with a room full of friends after spending two full days averting my eyes from anything resembling a spoiler. Now, I don't just have the fading image of another skate video watched online — a passive indulgence that sometimes feels so routine as to become rote — I have the experience of hooting and hollering with my pals, of laughing, shit-talking, and eating far too many potato chips.

Even 16 years later, that holds up.

Pulse-pounding opportunities

Rank: -4
Mood: 😱

If you're not careful and don't stay alert to where your mouse and keyboard take you, you may find yourself scrolling aimlessly through LinkedIn. This strange morass, ostensibly a professional setting, is where people confidently opine, overshare, and pontificate about business and marketing and their personal lives in an effort to... well, that is unclear. To become a LinkedIn Influencer or Thought Leader is to assume the form of a white-collar shitposter. Someone who'll say anything in hopes that it sparks engagement in their self-perceived area of expertise, like comparing leaving a cushy corporate gig to start a small business to their messy public divorce or whatever.

So, if you do find yourself on LinkedIn, while concerning, it's possible to remain safe if you do not read or engage with any of the posts crossing your feed. Because if you do, you will encounter shit like this:

Activate or die.

Posts where a guy is just saying stuff while linking to an article titled something like, "Extreme Sports Offer Brands Pulse-Pounding Opportunities to Go Viral" from an outlet called SponsorUnited which will claim that they're "the leading global sports and entertainment intelligence platform, delivering actionable data and insights to build stronger marketing partnerships [and providing] unrivaled knowledge across the sponsorship and media landscape so brands and rights holders can make impactful decisions that drive business."

Then you'll find that the central insight from the article is that "action sports" are an underutilized marketing opportunity for major brands because, according to social media metrics, a bunch of people probably saw a logo for Cup Noodles underneath Chloe Covell's 50-50 kickflip at a Street League Skateboarding event.

A Nissin Cup Noodles activation with SLS in Chicago last year––where the logo’s placement was front and center at the base of the stairs as each competitor took their turn––offers a prime example of brand integration within an event that goes viral. The video of this trick scored the highest engagement––215K on Instagram––of any SLS social post in 2023.

That's when you're reminded that marketing, like crypto or the stock market, is a made-up thing where a bunch of people just say some stuff and are rewarded with money. But by then, it's too late because you've been scrolling LinkedIn so long that, without warning, you've begun drafting a post equating the unpredictability of being a social media manager and the role's need to stay nimble and adaptable with your IBS.

He is cheeseball

Rank: 3
Mood: 🤖

Rob Dyrdek is an entrepreneur. It doesn't take long to figure this out. If you look at his social media accounts and click on any video cut from his Build with Rob podcast, you'll receive vast earfuls of sage-sounding business and life advice from a person who seemingly has both handled. The resume, as they say, speaks for itself: Dyrdek is a former professional skateboarder, reality television personality, the current host of MTV's only show, and runs a stylized venture capital outfit that bears his name, Dyrdek Machine, and whose website describes its purpose as:

"Dyrdek Machine is a venture creation studio that partners with visionary entrepreneurs. We systematically fuse art, science, and magic to create meaningful businesses that stand the test of time and impact the world."

Art? Science? Even magic? That's great. So, what do you need to do to get a $250k-$10 million funding and development investment for your business from Dyrdek Machine in hopes of defying time and leaving your mark on the world? A background in arts or science? A demonstrated history of witchcraft? No, no. It's simple, really. You just need to be a "Do-Or-Dier."

We believe success can only be achieved by possessing both a relentless work ethic and an unwavering belief in your ability to create your own destiny. We surround ourselves with those that share this ideology.

A.K.A. a Do-Or-Dier. A venture capital-themed suicide pact. A great way to get results. Once the Dyrdek Machine recognizes and aligns itself with the potential of an applicant, the Machine starts whirring.

We provide expertise, capital, and amplification to visionary entrepreneurs destined to impact the world. We guide Do-Or-Diers through the Machine Method; chronicle the journey together on Build With Rob, and pay it forward through the Do-Or-Dier Visionary Foundation.

Those are all words that make sense to the entrepreneur. For the pleb, here's a breakdown from the Dyrdek Machine website.


Need a little more information on how the machine works? That's understandable.

Harness the power of Rob. Harness. The power. Of Rob. Harness the power of ROB — and change the world.

Need some additional inspiration? Just take a look at these promotional images.

Oh, and the world-impacting products churned out by the Dyrdek Machine? They range from snack foods to slippers. Let's see the Power of Rob infuse them with potential on Instagram.

"i am cheeseball"

Outstanding Cheeballs! Bacon... Chedda! "The greatest innovation to one of the most nostalgic snacks." Cheeseballs are a "nostalgic" snack? The Machine says: yes. However, be warned, they are also "super addictive," but "don’t worry" because nutrients and minerals and protein.

That's just expert-level product marketing. "You are what you eat." Masterclass. It's true if you really think about it. You become what you put in the Machine, and as Dyrdek himself demonstrates: he is cheeseball.

The opposite of edging

Rank: 1
Mood: 🔪

The gang behind Rust Belt Trap are back with another fantastic offering in Front Row. Crusty spots, great atmosphere, Karen Dalton, some BMX — it's got it all. I must admit, I did not try to not watch Front Row immediately as I did with BHAD2, and you know what, I'm happy I didn't. Sometimes it's nice to give in. To find that gratification immediately. Whatever you call the opposite of edging.

A lil August in January

Rank: 1!
Mood: 📆🎁

January was quite a month for the skateboarding video. As in, there were a lot of them. Perhaps more than usual. It felt a little like last August when a good chunk of the industry unconsciously coordinated to release the projects they'd been working away on.

While not quite reaching peak summer 2023 levels in terms of blockbusters, 2024 has begun in earnest. There's BHAD2 and Front Row, as mentioned above, then the very watchable Carhartt WIP offering Precious, a new Naquan Rollings joint, a local Vancouver feature by Pedro Orsi called TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR FISHEYE that has the one really long hardflip-backside-tailslide you've probably seen come across your Instagram, the recent GX1000 effort, another spiced-up Satan's Drano vid, an Ishod YouTube channel update, Time Scan 2, Habitat celebrating it's (almost) quarter century of existence, take me with you, some Magenta (that was technically uploaded on December 31, but c'mon), a big ol' Etnies tour video, Jante — 9:19, and I'm sure I'm still missing a bunch.

That's a lot of skateboarding. An August amount? Probably not, but still a hardy January Dump.

Something to consider:

It's been nearly four months of a non-stop siege on a trapped and innocent Palestinian population in Gaza (with increasing extreme violence and displacement in the West Bank) that most Western governments still absurdly refer to as Israel's right to "self-defence" despite the ICJ ruling it as plausible acts of genocide and Israeli government officials not being shy that genocide, ethnic cleansing, and theft of Palestinian land is the goal.

How war destroyed Gaza’s neighbourhoods – visual investigation
Satellite imagery and open-source evidence lay bare the destruction to civilian infrastructure by Israel in its war on Hamas
A Pediatrician’s Two Weeks Inside a Hospital in Gaza
No space, no supplies, and harrowing life-and-death decisions.

It's hard to put words to these horrors and the political ambivalence towards them, but we still need to, and then direct them at our leaders, local and federal.

Good thing:

Via Nick Boserio on Instagram.

Another good thing: After some digging and fortuitous googling, Natalie Porter was able to track down and talk to '70's era skater Judith Porter.

Judith Cohen
The original draft of this post from June 12, 2023, was an attempt to alert the skateboarding world that I was looking for Judith, as my internet sleuthing for one “Judy Cohen” was unsuccessful. An…

A good, but personally revealing thing: Thanks to the hosts of my favourite MMA podcast, I've been getting into sumo, which rules (you can watch highlights from every day of the GRAND SUMO January tournament that just wrapped up on NHK's YouTube channel), and that ultimately led me to this fantastic Brian Phillips Grantland feature "Sea of Crises" from 2014 that I somehow hadn't read. I just revealed a lot about myself here.

A good things with good people thing: 'sletter friend Ted Barrow has been releasing a fun spate of watch-along videos to his Patreon with folks like Sam Korman, Maurice Crandall, and Adam Burns (Jokamundo).

Until next week… if you have the opportunity, watch Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color. It is truly a pleasure to watch that big ol' kaiju waddle around in black and white.

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