Intimate close-up of a skateboarder sorting their recycling | Simply Ranked

Plus: The Berrics is... back? Alexis Ramirez, cat toys, and more.

Intimate close-up of a skateboarder sorting their recycling | 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.

Guess who’s back (Berra)

Rank: ?
Mood: 👋

Image via The Berrics

On new year’s day, in a post signed by The Berrics’ founding portmanteau of Steve Berra and Eric Koston and shared across their website and social channels, the duo celebrated regaining complete control of their media company. While not explicitly calling out Hypebeast, who The Berrics was acquired by in 2018 and gave up a majority of board seats to, that is whom this post appears to be directed at. While it has been apparent for many years that the private-skatepark-cum-content-production-house had lost the cultural relevancy and import it once held, according to Berra and Koston, Hypebeast maintains at least some responsibility for that decline.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s been almost 5 years since we’ve effectively had any influence over what we created, how it was run, what we made and what it stood for. Five years forced to the sidelines, largely silent, being told what we can and cannot do… or else suffer the consequences. Suffice to say, it was painful watching and experiencing some of the things that transpired.

What those potential consequences were is unclear (I reached out to The Berrics for comment but was told they could not provide any further details at this time). It would be interesting to know what sort of limitations had been set and what content had been allegedly foisted upon them. Has the Burberry Erry era been an elaborate Hypebeast construction? The Berrics left with no choice but to be complicit and provide a platform for the unfortunate young influencer.

Whatever the case, Berra and Koston have clawed back their brainchild, and in what is safe to assume is classic Berra prose, he describes their achievement as such:

However, we always knew this day would finally come. Naturally, as skateboarders, we believe that we are dead to the degree that we do not fight and that the pain we experience in these battles, whether it be for tricks or anything else in life, fades under the triumph of our victories. So fight we did and victorious we emerged in the fight for our company and our names.

Cool. Does this mean we’ll see substantial shifts in how The Berrics operates and what content they put out? They say it will. And ultimately, skateboarding is better with a more healthy and robust media ecosystem, so ideally, there can be some righting of the proverbial ship. However, it remains to be seen how much water they’ve taken on, who really steered them into the rocks, and if anyone is still interested in seeing them float.

Put the tips of your index and ring fingers together for Alexis Ramirez

Rank: 1
Mood: 🫶

If one were to describe Sk8Mafia skateboards as succinctly as possible, the easiest route would be “consistent.” The company’s brand presentation has remained virtually unchanged since it started as Dan Connelly’s side gig selling t-shirts in college. Sk8Mafia’s logo has remained that comically simple ‘S’ stacked on top of and merged with the ‘M’ below—something that looks devised and perfected in the margins of a notebook during a less-than-engaging college lecture. But, most importantly, that logo is inextricably paired with its hand sign. When a person pushes the tips of their index and middle fingers together, the ‘S’ and ‘M’ logo appears amidst the flesh of their hands like magic.

That hand sign has become something of a beloved skateboarding in-joke, done so often in photos and videos by Sk8Mafia members that non-members began to throw up their hands ironically. A friendly potshot taken enough that its irony eventually circled around to genuine appreciation for the San Diego-based brand. A brand that has remained unchanged by time in a way that’s become as endearing as it is rare. But beyond the consistency of its brand, Sk8Mafia has also kept up a constant and impressive output of videos. From their “Sk8Mafia Saturdays” video series on Transworld’s website in the mid-to-late aughts, their “promo” and full-length videos that drop once or twice a year, to the many solo video parts released in between. It’s a schedule that most skateboarding companies don’t come close to matching.

Over the last six or so years, one of the most consistent and constantly improving presences in the Sk8Mafia orbit has been Alexis Ramirez. Over that time, he’s put out upwards of ten full video parts across his sponsors amid countless appearances in tour and homie videos. It seems criminal, or at least a bylaw infraction, that Ramirez is as underrated as he is, given all of the evidence he’s given us that he should be anything but. And in his most recent offering released on new year’s day—which seems to be a footage dump of his DC-clad clips given his recent departure from the shoe company—he shows us how good he is and the potential he holds.

It’s hard to say what exactly keeps a talent like Ramirez from reaching a higher plane of professional skateboarding success or recognition. One could speculate that the Sk8Mafia brand is damaging to a skateboarder’s personal brand, as they’re not one widely considered “cool.” Only Wes Kremer and Tyler Surrey have appeared to transcend the ‘S’ and ‘M.’

But if forced to make a career-altering decision, would you leave a brand that’s home to your longtime friends who love and support you to align yourself with another that might add some temporary extra sheen of “cool?” Or would you stay the course, pressing the tips of your index and ring fingers together in celebration after another successful mission in the greater San Diego area as your hemmie patiently waits for you to take the blunt?

Unconventional NBDs

Rank: 2
Mood: 👰‍♂️ 🤵‍♀️

Twitter user @ryonlot notes in the comments of this tweet that Josh Harmony uses footage from his wedding ceremony at the start of his video part in Toy Machine’s Good & Evil (2004), which means that the above isn’t an NBD, but it is cause for a thought experiment. What would be an unconventional non-skating NBD in the modern skate video? We’ve seen skaters shotgun endless beers, get arrested, projectile vomit, go under the knife, cliff jump, ride motorcycles, look longingly out of the windows of their train cars, and countless other similarly themed moments of b-roll that flash by between tricks and slams to help time a music cue just right. But all of those things have become common, perhaps even trite, by today’s standards, with decades of video history to look back on.

Thankfully, there are quite a few avenues of the non-skating NBD in skate videos to explore. Consider the following list a jumping-off point and perhaps even a helpful reference tool for filmmakers looking to add a little extra spice to their timelines.

  • Family Handycam footage of a skateboarder being brought into the world via c-section.
  • A skateboarder returning a library book.
  • Night vision footage of a skateboarder encountering their sleep paralysis demon.
  • Intimate close-up of a skateboarder sorting their recycling.
  • A skateboarder slaughtering a pig for consumption.
  • Capture live footage of a skateboarder’s colonoscopy video tour. (Edit opportunity: transition this into a clip of the skateboarder pumping around a full pipe.)
  • Ring camera catches skateboarder’s epic stairs fail.
  • The professional/amateur skateboarder receives a cheque from a sponsor with a distinct look of confusion and disappointment on their face.
  • The professional/amateur skateboarder on trial for tax evasion.
  • Mikey Taylor crashing a Cyber Truck into a Whole Foods.

An evolved twiddling of the thumbs

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🐈‍⬛🛹

It’s uncanny how similar this cat and I’s fingerboarding techniques are. While, admittedly, I do not carry the 15-year-old Element branded Tech Deck that sits on my desk in my mouth from place to place—the graphic on its underside nearly gone due to use and some purposeful logo erasure—I do use both of my paws to “do” tricks. The reasoning is simple: why would I want to struggle to do something with my hands that I already struggle to do with my feet?

That’s not meant as a slight against the surprisingly robust and dynamic fingerboarding community; my needs are just different. If I employ both hands, I can execute any trick I desire, test the reality of new ones, and skate my red Swingline stapler as a hubba ledge off the edge of my laptop undetected while on the unending Zoom meetings that comprise my workday.

Consider this style of fingerboarding an evolved twiddling of the thumbs. A somewhat mindless, private, and effective way to pass the time, except that instead of just flapping thumbs on top of one another like a bored 1950s altar boy, the practitioner can pull off flawless kickflip front bluntslides and any manual combination they wish—an impossibility otherwise. An advantage both that cat and I can appreciate.

Doing the work

Rank: 5
Mood: 👷‍♂️👽

A collab with a government agency would show a lot of growth from the time they did one with InfoWars.

Something to consider: You can have the whole world to play with but will always return to your little toys.

Good thing:

Another good thing: 4PLY MAG got the statistical goods on 16 years of Copenhagen Open.

Until next week… consider making a big ol’ pot of chilli one of your New Year’s resolutions. It’s quick, affordable, and achievable. Start 2023 off with a win (and gas).