Money, Midler, and the McRib

About seven-hours into the NBA’s Christmas Day game schedule, two things were abundantly clear: Kevin Durant and the McRib were back.

After missing the entirety of the 2019-2020 season with an Achilles injury, Durant earned 29 points over 33 minutes of play against the Celtics. It was a return that's been eagerly anticipated—how would the perennial All-Star look after coming back from such a devastating injury? Was that enough time for his body to heal from surgery, go through the proper physical therapy, and then safely work himself into peak performance shape?

In just his second game of the regular season, he looked good. Very good.

And you know who else looked good in their return? The McRib. Between each quarter, every timeout, and smushed between free throws, we, the viewer, were subjected to an onslaught of McRib commercials. McDonald’s every-now-and-then menu item, marketed as a can’t miss cult favourite, was seen dripping with sauce, cast in a warm sensual light, and narrated by Brian Cox for whatever reason. An evocative scene by any measure.


After the basketball marathon, I decompressed by first playing a quiz identifying different Greek and Roman gods and goddesses on Sporcle. Then, I watched Illegal Civ’s Christmas Day release of Godspeed.

Not having a real familiarity with what Illegal Civ is as a brand (“THE FIRST TEEN MOVIE STUDIO” its website clarifies), but knowing of the big names in the video (Ishod Wair, Ish Cepeda, Robert Neal, Zion Wright, Kevin White, Alex Midler), I was keen to watch and find out.

After taking in nearly an hour’s worth of incredibly high-level skateboarding, appreciating some of the skaters’ charms via b-roll, and cringing at the confrontations with police/security/pedestrians, a few things stuck with me.

First, Ishod is the GOAT. That seems apparent.

Second, when I clicked on the YouTube link, the video had multiple ad breaks scattered throughout—the only time I can recall experiencing a monetized skate video on the platform.

Initially, I was a bit peeved at the ads, having just white-knuckled through ESPN and ABC’s nearly unwatchable NBA broadcasts. Rotten with such an unrelenting deluge of commercials that I would scream back at my television each time it cut away to scream at me about Wonder Woman—besieged by increasingly meta State Farm ads featuring Chris Paul being equally besieged by State Farm ads.

But it made sense. How else does a company make money from a video in the current straight to Thrasher or YouTube upload era? Will there be Godspeed hardcopies? Would their sales even recoup the cost of DVD production? What’s a DVD?

Illegal Civ doesn’t get that big-time McRib money, so if they can scratch together some engagement-based dough via targeted Rogaine ads (thank you for noticing, algorithm), good for them. Although, I did eventually turn my AdBlock on—sorry dudes!

And finally, Alex Fucking Midler’s Backside Fucking 360:

Hello again, Sunset Car Wash bank. Its return to the forefront of skateboarding’s consciousness now a near yearly ritual. Last year, Milton Martinez had his own Kevin Durant redemption arc by kickflipping into the same monster that inverted his ankle the year before. A single trick so significant, so awe-inspiring that Thrasher crowned him Skater of the Year.

Now it’s Midler. Upping the ante to such a degree that it’s hard to fathom anyone topping it. That said, the response to this unprecedented maneuver does feel a bit muted. It hasn’t been as earth-shattering as Milton’s kickflip just a year previous. Is a backside 360 not the increase in difficulty we imagine? Did Midler make it look too easy? Is Midler not as marketable as Milton? Well, why do people care about the McRib?

Before Milton conquered the carwash bank, it was Greco in Baker 3 back in 2005. Previous to that, it was Cardiel, then Gonz sweeping the street with his face in 1998. That’s a whopping fourteen-year gap between Greco and Martinez’s moves. Dustin Dollin tried to kickflip in around 2016 and got worked in typical Dollin fashion, which only added to the decade-and-a-half of infamy left percolating around the spot. Before Milton (B.M.), did a kickflip into the Sunset Car Wash bank even seem possible, in those halcyon days when the ceiling still held? When what could be done on a skateboard wasn’t exactly limited, but there was a governor of sorts in place, at least on the imaginations of those without the courage and ability to try.

Now all you have to do is watch the third-to-last trick in Midler’s Godspeed part to grasp how far skateboarding has come when it comes to stunts. Is it any use to doubt where it can end up?

This is not the ender.

Perhaps we’re becoming inured thanks to this constant leveling up. Desensitized to progress. There’s not enough time to consider what could be when what could be is what’s been done daily via Instagram Story.

When it comes to the Car Wash, maybe there should’ve been an unspoken agreement, a skateboarding-wide understanding that breathing room needed to be given to the spot to allow for ample anticipation of the next big drop—Milton’s Moratorium. Let the trick recede from memory, wait until the shaking stops, so the next impact doesn’t feel like just an aftershock.

Sure, that’s antithetical to skateboarding’s ingrained culture of oneupmanship, but it’s a tried and true marketing ploy. It works for the McRib.

People love the goddamn McRib.