Legally, it's Laxter Dussier | Simply Ranked

Plus: Yuto and Tenshin, gaining sentience, BATB 12 happens 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.

A couple of friends who’re good with their feet

Rank: #1
Mood: 🫂

Yuto Horigome and Tenshin Nasukawa are Japan’s best competitive skateboarders and kickboxers, respectively. They’ve each reached unimaginable heights at just 23 years old. Horigome took home a gold medal at last year’s Olympics and Tenshin, just this past weekend, came out the victor in a years-in-the-making super fight against longtime rival Takeru Segawa. The Match took place at the iconic Tokyo Dome in front of a record-breaking 56,000+ fans. Beyond the accolades, Horigome and Tenshin also appear to be pretty good buds, with Horigome in attendance for the biggest fight of his friend’s life. One that both Tenshin and Takeru claimed would be their last.

Is there a more interesting pairing of pro skater and famous non-pro skater pal than Horigome and Tenshin? Ellington and Aquaman? Jason Dill and Jack Osbourne? Alex Olson and Cat Power? Let us know in the comments below or speak the answer quietly to yourself, the truth yours and yours alone.

Balance meter

Rank: Bad
Mood: 🤕

For non-rail skateboarders like myself, the prospect of grinding or sliding a round or square bar more than a foot at a time is a daunting one. Like the bear cub attempting to climb into a hammock, I slip, flip and fall without fully understanding why—never comprehending how others can hop right in and relax for extended periods of time, swaying but never toppling, staying put until they decide of their own volition that it’s time to get off and move on.

Now that’s livin’

Rank: 0101
Mood: 🤖🤝😌

A few weekends back, Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) software was at the centre of a rather bizarre news story. LaMDA, the AI that Google uses to create chatbots (by scraping a 1.56 trillion-word dataset from all over the publically available internet to help chatbots craft responses and sound human to the humans it’s communicating with), was being tested for safety by an engineer who would subsequently be put on administrative leave after claiming that the software had gained sentience.

But if anything, there’s an argument to be made that the popular AI-powered text-to-image generators are closer to sentience than LaMDA. “Fisheye lens image of the pope riding a skateboard” conjures more sympathetic feelings than LaMDA claiming that being turned off would be “exactly like death” for it. Duh! Of course it would.

But being alive is about more than harbouring a fear of death or making existential arguments lifted from the countless sci-fi novels that fill your dataset. Being alive is all about having fun and making jokes with your pals. And if an AI is down to facilitate a laugh, that’s nothing to stress and lose your job over. Hell, I’d be inviting buddy to the next BBQ. It’s BYOB, Dall-E.

Via Twitter.

Legally speaking

Rank: 4
Mood: 🥸

If I ever attend a bullshit conference built around a bullshit product that’s also a Ponzi scheme, a conference where everyone else attending also has the same bullshit interests as me, and the people organizing this conference want to bring in a celebrity impersonator to really amp up my inner 11-year-old, to me, that person would be Daxter Lussier—or legally speaking, Laxter Dussier.

via Twitter.

The winner of BATB 12 is…

Rank: 5
Mood: 🤷‍♀️

The Berrics held the finals of Battle at The Berrics 12 on Tuesday. If you wanted to watch it live, you would’ve had to download Caffeine, a live streaming app that is the exclusive live broadcast partner of BATB 12 and The Berrics’ impressively awful “The Skate Show.” It’s a strange choice to put the finale of BATB—their flagship event that has hobbled along for just shy of an entire year—behind the obstacle of a download and signup to a different online content mill entirely. It must have taken an incredible amount of work just to corral the 64 separate humans competing in the contest, including replacing the many skaters who dropped out, got COVID, or were stuck abroad with visa issues. You’d think they’d want it to be as easy as possible for as many people as possible to see it finally get over the finish line. So why not let the world enjoy the moment with you on the website that bears your name?

Since I wasn’t willing to signup for another app, website, or whatever Caffeine’s functional state is, I had to imagine what the finals might’ve looked like. Given all of the late replacements we’d seen throughout the year, I couldn’t even be sure that the final four of Sewa Kroetkov, Tyler Peterson, Jamie Griffin, and Paul Rodriguez would be there on the night. That’s why I turned to my new AI-powered text-to-image generator friend Midjourney to conjure my most preferred outcome:

“The late character actor Harry Dean Stanton winning Battle at The Berrics 12.”

The real winner of BATB 12 is…

Rank: 6
Mood: 🤦‍♀️

After writing the above, I sat down and watched the replay of the BATB 12 finale, which currently lives on Caffeine, not The Berrics. If you skip past the 30+ minutes of slo-mo flat ground footage that preempts the event, you get to a pre-taped intro video hosted by Steve Berra [starts at 00:44:39]. In it, he calls out the various professional skateboarders who either snubbed his invite to BATB or pulled out for various reasons. He decries online commenters who doubted the contest would ever see completion and screams into the camera towards some vague outline of his critics, “and you guys are still making videos about me online!”

It’s a sad, bizarre, and self-pitying rant that attempts humour but instead probably underscores why those skaters didn’t want to participate in the first place. Even those who did, like the forever young Sean Malto, aren’t spared. Berra says at one point, unprompted and with some disgust, “Did you really think you were going to see Malto in the finals?” The screed ends with Berra telling us that despite it all, including his girlfriend breaking up with him, this was one of the best Battle at The Berrics there’s ever been. But not even he seems to believe it.

Throughout the live broadcast, whenever he’s on the mic, he sounds distant, trails off, and backs himself into awkward non-sequiturs that are hard to watch. While Steve Berra has never made it easy or given us much reason to sympathize with him, I did feel sorry for him in these moments. This man, so wholly consumed by the magnitude of his own ego, seemed to be collapsing under all of the weight.

Stray observations

  • P-Rod got covid in Copenhagen and was out of the finals.

  • Chris Cole, who P-Rod beat in the quarter-finals, replaced P-Rod and lost to Jamie Griffin, and then lost once more in the 3rd place match, leaving Cole’s final BATB 12 record at 3-3.

  • A more hoarse than usual Steve-O was on-site, taking the mic at one point to admonish Sewa and Peterson for… skating too much pre-game.

  • Peterson appeared to have learned all of Sewa’s special moves in advance of their match, landing 540 shoves/flips, double 360 flips, hardflip backside 180s, etc., which was fun.

  • BATB 12 champion Jamie Griffin can’t backside or frontside 360.

  • Presenting sponsor Cariuma had their entire men’s team, besides Trevor Colden, compete in BATB 12.

Something to consider: Muska on the verge of another new incarnation: skateboarding’s Gerald Stratford.

Good things: Freeparking, Fancy Edition. A Vancouver-centric mini-mag by ripping skater and photographer Carter Spinks. Full disclosure, I have a story about wanting to install a skateable barrier on my balcony in it.

Until next week… stop to watch ants swarm around a sidewalk crack, the humble entrance to an expansive home. Their streaming, writhing mass is hypnotizing, no?