Literary spot check | Simply Ranked

Plus: a lucky dump, dawn of the SkateTubers, by god they've done it, and more.

Literary spot check | 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.

Lucky dump

Rank: 1
Mood: 🧇💨

The “footage dump” is not an unusual practice in the world of professional skateboarding. Sometimes, a PRO or AM has a stockpile of clips that, while good, are of a quality that’s not quite at the level deemed necessary for a high-profile video part. Usually, those clips get released straight to Instagram or via a tertiary sponsor like wheels, bearings, griptape, or hardware. Besides being more “content” for skateboarding’s ravenous media ecosystem, these offerings also tend to be a different look at a PRO or AM’s skateboarding, as they’re generally more relaxed affairs that aren’t dialled up to eleven in search of an unknown upper-bound limit of ability.

However, Fabiana Delfino’s FAST AF part for Bronson Speed Co. is not that in the slightest. It is one of, if not the best, effort of Delfino’s career — and it’s for a bearing company. How does Bronson get blessed with such a haul? While it’s leagues above the quality of your standard “footage dump,” this does appear to be one, just for a different reason. The day after her FAST AF part was released, Delfino announced on Instagram that she was jumping from her longtime shoe sponsor, Vans, to Etnies.

That would lead one to assume that the Bronson part was a sort of brand cleanse: no longer will we see Delfino tread in waffle soles, just Callicuts from here on out. And honestly, good for her. One hopes she gets paid well and is given the opportunity and platform for her profile to grow because she deserves it.

Image snagged via @Quesly2 on Twitter.

Also, how lucky is Bronson in this situation? A top-tier skater switches sponsors unrelated to their competitive field and they benefit? They better have cut Delfino a decent cheque as thanks.

Dawn of the SkateTubers

Rank: 300k
Mood: 💻

While it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that Paul Rodriguez has suddenly become a YouTuber, there has been a marked shift in his style of YouTube content in recent weeks and months that more resembles what could be considered classic “YouTuber content.” From vlog series like “Life Reset” to unboxing videos1 and even a number of 20+ minute affairs where P-Rod breaks down his current board setup — that’s quintessential YouTuber, nay, SkateTuber content.

It’s been an interesting evolution for this avenue of his online output, which he launched around 12 years ago, with the first entry in “Paul Rodriguez’s Official YouTube Channel” being a 24-second clip of baby Paul bailing and then landing a switch frontside flip down an eight stair.

Hundreds of small park edits, check-ins, compilations, and other miscellany would follow in the intervening years. But it wasn’t until four months ago that P-Rod seemed to take this new direction for his channel a little more seriously, releasing a “Welcome to my YouTube!” video that, well, welcomed the uninitiated to his YouTube, which currently boasts over 300 thousand subscribers.

Now that is classic ‘Tuber ‘tent. So what is driving professional skateboarders, some even of the rank and esteem of Paul Rodriguez, to feed into the YouTube machine? Was it the slow trickle of other notable PROs like Tom Asta and Pedro Delfino turning to the ‘Tube? Could it have been boredom with the standard approach to professional skateboarderdom, something he’s been enveloped in since childhood? Or was it something else, like how YouTube is one of the best platforms for creators to monetize their content against ads?

I imagine it’s mostly that. And who can blame the other PRO and AMs that inevitably follow suit? For those not in P-Rod’s unique and financially stable position, skateboarding is a notoriously cruel and mercurial industry to make a living in, so if you can supplement your income and perhaps even extend your career by asking viewers to like and subscribe, why not? More power to you. While it would be better if skaters were simply paid more by their sponsors for doing their jobs instead of needing to carve out a secondary career, as fans, all it means is we get more stuff to watch — as well as the occasional perk, as highlighted by the description in Asta’s video above. Seriously, act now and you — yes, you — can get “20% off EPIC WATER FILTERS” by using the code “EPICASTA” at checkout.

The singularity grows near

Rank: 180
Mood: 🤕🦴

In this clip from the ABC medical drama The Good Doctor (first posted by the wonderful Wes of @sportmanteau89 on Twitter and that I ripped here because tweets no longer embed on Substack), we see a small step taken toward an unexpected future: a mainstream media production kind of talking about skateboarding in an accurate fashion. Emphasis on kind of.

After an amateur chimney repair goes awry and “Curtis” falls and breaks his legs, he reveals that he wanted to avoid paying over-priced professionals to work on the faulty chimney because he is still young and able, in fact, he “can still do a Hurrican Grind.” Confused and Handsome Doctor #1 looks to Knowledgable and Handsome Doctor #2, who casually explains that “it’s a skateboard move that builds off of a 180 Ollie,” which apparently clears everything up.

But you know what? Handsome Doctor #2 is not wrong! Hurricane grinds do build off of a 180 ollie. Is it possible that the writers for The Good Doctor googled “skateboard tricks,” found the Wikipedia page that lists skateboarding grinds, thought “Hurricane” sounded the coolest and included the one standout descriptor in its blurb (180s are mentioned three times in 120 words)? Absolutely. However, that doesn’t invalidate their effort. In fact, it brings us one small step closer to something I thought I’d never see: skateboarding becoming normalized enough that the old guard of entertainment at least attempts to portray it accurately.

Anyway, I hope Curtis heals up quick.

By god, they’ve done it

Rank: 1!!
Mood: 💕 💞 💓 💗 💖 💘 💝

It should be noted upfront that Conor Charleson’s Slight Inclination is a video part that speaks to me on every imaginable level, so try as I might, I cannot do anything but gush. Small, tight, awkward transitional obstacles that would not look skateable under any other circumstance? The use of well-shot b-roll to create mood and, on occasion, build a subtle narrative? A song that fits not only the skater but also doesn’t feel incongruous from the visuals and elevates the project as a whole? Illustrations and animations that add a charming, personal touch? By god, they’ve done it. That’s everything I’ve ever needed in a video part.

So where do I — yes, me — go from here? With an offering this close to perfection, is there or will there ever be anything else worth watching? Charleson and filmer/editor Dan Magee have really put me in a tough spot. It’s actually a bit inconsiderate of them, considering I write about skateboarding videos every week. Do I just find new ways to talk about Conor Charleson’s Slight Inclination each Friday until Charleson’s next part drops? I probably could, yes. Did you see how high up he keeps his front foot on the board when doing his alley-oop wallrides, essentially pivoting on the wall, but it somehow doesn’t look it? How it almost seems like he’s gripping the nose and tail of his board with his toes to help muscle through those nearly non-existent transitions, lifting himself up through the nothing into something — that something being a beautifully executed, difficult-to-comprehend skateboarding maneuver.

I should probably stop writing about Conor Charleson’s Slight Inclination now and save some thoughts for the weeks, months, and years of newsletters to follow.

Literary spot check

Rank: 1930
Mood: 🕵️‍♂️

Still from The Maltese Falcon.

Inspired by our recent trip to San Francisco, my partner started to read Dashiell Hammett’s classic SF-based hard-boiled detective novel The Maltese Falcon. It didn’t take long until Sam Spade, a private detective and the book’s timeless protagonist played by Humphrey Bogart in the film adaptation, made his way to a familiar place.

“Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill to Chinatown, Spade paid his fare and left the taxicab. San Francisco’s night-fog, thin, clammy, and penetrant, blurred in the street.”

While on our trip, Bush and Stockton was one of the first places I stopped to point and say things like, hey, I’m pretty sure Mason Silva Cabellarialed this.

I’m pretty sure Bogart backside flipped it?

It makes one wonder, did Humphrey Bogart, Dashiell Hammett, or even Sam Spade swimming in Hammett’s mind, ever consider how fucking big this gap is, that the sidewalk that you have to haul ass down toward it is always busy, or how steep the landing is on the other side of the street? Trying to find out who killed Miles Archer couldn’t have always been at the front of their minds. I imagine at some point, one of them had to think, how did Tyshawn Jones switch-varial-heel this thing?

Something to consider:

A good thing to try: Picking up the wombat.

A good thing to pre-order: I’ve been reading an ARC of my pal José Vadi’s new book Chipped and it absolutely rules. He fleshes out the experience of being a skateboarder in such a thoughtful, provocative, and special way. I would suggest pre-ordering it ASAP.

Oh no, another social media platform thing: If you want to join Bluesky, here are some invite codes. First come, first serve:

  • bsky-social-2cno6-kb7bp
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  • bsky-social-h6hrs-e6crc
  • bsky-social-dxkom-nrg4j
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Oh no, a me sharing something I posted earlier this week thing: I wrote about going to The Bunt Jam back in July. Yes, this is a few months late, but perhaps we could just consider the piece as having “marinated.”

A sticker update: If you asked for Simple Magic stickers, I finally sent them off. Thank you for your patience <3

“Sorry, I need to take a photo so I can let my readers know I mailed them their thank-you stickers.” An actual thing I said to the lady at the post office.

Until next week… the NBA preseason has begun. May all of your teams rise to victory, no matter how depleted or stacked their rosters are. That said, the Toronto Raptors are playing the Sacramento Kings in Vancouver this weekend and I’m excited to watch my team lose in person. Light The Beam, 2024.

I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I will keep posting about it at the end of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Apologies. Right, Down + Circle is in stores now and you can also order it from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.

Also, if you like book clubs, you can join the inimitable Ted Barrow in reading Right, Down + Circle on his Berate The Birds Patreon, which you should also subscribe to because it rules. He’s a couple of chapters in, so you’ve got some nice stuff to listen to while puttering around the house.

  1. P-Rod has been making unboxing videos for a number of years but has recently begun posting them more regularly and with a newfound and decidedly earnest verve.