Proof of life, small victories, and vision | Simply Ranked

Plus: Rob Pace doubles down, curse of the takes, making a skate video with your friends, and more.

Proof of life, small victories, and vision | 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.

Google Cal for the greater good

Rank: 2
Mood: 🗓

Just curious, is there any coordination that takes place in the broader skateboarding media ecosystem? Is there no shared Google Calendar that The Brands use when scheduling the release of their marketing materials? It could be something to consider, as last Thursday, almost in sync, Independent and Thunder Trucks released video parts for Carlos Ribeiro and Wade DesArmo, respectively.

While great for us as viewers, you’d imagine there was some frustration on The Brands’ side. Each must have been excited to drop offerings from such big names, as getting footage of that quality for a tertiary sponsor like trucks is relatively rare. A switch crook through a multi-kinked handrail and perhaps the best fakie-varial-kickflip ever done (besides BA’s in Yeah Right, of course) are tricks deserving of individual attention, their own slice of limelight. But to then wind up counter-programming each other? Not ideal.

So, perhaps an industry-wide Google Calendar that plots who will drop what each day could be a big help. I can even start one. It’s no stress on my end, really. All it means is that I’d get a bit of a sneak peek at everything that’s coming out weeks or months ahead of time, which would actually be a bit of a burden if you think about it. Spoiler alert, amiright? But that’s okay. If it helps The Brands avoid unfortunate double-bookings like this, it’s worth it.

Google Sheets for the greater good

Rank: 2
Mood: 🗒

On top of that Google Calendar, it might also be a good idea to flesh out a spreadsheet that catalogues every trick and spot featured in a video part for posterity’s sake. Again, I can take this on. It’s no biggie. And really, I think it would be for the greater good because two video parts coming out on the same day is one thing, but imagine having two video parts come out on the same day, featuring the same tricks done on the same spots — and as an added twist — done by the same person?

That’s exactly what happened to Rob Pace. On Tuesday, Santa Cruz released Fuck Em, an excellent video that features perhaps the best Erick Winkowski section to date (I gauge this by the number of tricks he does that I have no idea what to call them) and a Pace part that likely puts in him in pole position for winning Thrasher’s Skater Of The Year award. However, it should be noted that the Santa Cruz part features several wild maneuvers, including his kinked rail drop-down grind that was a Thrasher cover last year, which were initially shown in his Emerica Footwear Welcomes Rob Pace part that debuted online just hours before Fuck Em.

This doesn’t take away from the impact of the parts per se, but it is strange. Was there some agreement between The Brands to share these clips? Could it have been an unfortunate oversight? Whatever happened here, if filmers and editors started using a Google Sheet to note every trick every skater does and perhaps link out to an MP4 of said tricks for added clarity, that could keep this from ever happening again. Sure, it would be a lot of work, but I’m happy to help.

Rules of engagement

Rank: ugh
Mood: 😵‍💫

Eventually, we’ll learn. Not today or even soon, but one day. Perhaps the realization will only come with the demise of the social media platforms that rewired our brains and taught us constant and total engagement is what’s right and true. That “takes” must be given, bad takes must be eviscerated, and this is how conversation online should function.

It’s only ever clearer now, especially on platforms like Twitter, where a poster’s engagement can be monetized if they upgrade to “Premium” and content moderation is all but gone, that much of what we see and what trends is not meant to spark meaningful debate or contribute to any “discourse,” as if it ever was. It’s just bait. Even still, we fall for it. When some self-styled business guru dipshit like “Nick Huber” farts a vaguely disparaging and ultimately asinine comment about skateboarders into the ether, we give him exactly what he wants: engagement. It even gets taken up the chain to the very top.


Of course, none of this is surprising. We’ve been doing this for years. This is how we’ve conditioned ourselves to exist and interact in our current online information ecosystem. It’s both boring and embarrassing to see prominent names in skateboarding still engage with these ploys earnestly. (Although, it isn’t surprising when it comes to our own self-styled business guru dipshit in Mikey Taylor.)

I find this particularly frustrating because I spend a frightening amount of time on the internet and have seen this play out countless times before. So that’s on me, I guess. However, it’s also genuinely concerning. Huber’s dipshittery is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but the approach and its success are a showcase of the way social media continues to amplify the worst of us so simply and effectively.

We know how it works: if we react to a post deserving of shock or scorn, that engagement then helps boost the voices of the asshole who posted it, pushing their message out even further. It’s the longtime social media strategy of career bigots like the Tim Pools and Jordan Petersons of the world. In more recent and bleak cases (and not without some crossover from those ghouls), it’s raised the voices of those supporting and/or denying the Israeli government’s continued genocidal acts against Palestinians. And now, on Twitter, it’s only ever going to get worse.

Conspirador Norteño analyzed Twitter’s Community Notes data for the first five days of the siege on Gaza following Hamas’ horrific attack on Israeli citizens on October 7 and found that 71.8% of related labelled posts — those flagged as containing false or misleading information — came from Twitter Premium subscribers, meaning they could potentially earn ad revenue if their posts got engagement, giving them a clear incentive to take advantage of tragic events to post the stupidest, vilest bullshit you can think of.

All of this contributes to how nuance, common sense, and humanity get shouted down in favour of hot takes, baits, and misinformation online. As a user, this creates a heightened state of discomfort that is hard to look away from, is relatively easy for others to manipulate, and is tacitly encouraged by the platforms because they love engagement more than anyone else. For them, all it means is that there are more opportunities for us to be served ads.

One day, we’ll learn. Not today, and definitely not soon, but one day. Perhaps once our collective “takes” have finally taken every ounce of us there was left to give, when we no longer remember how to speak with any sense of normalcy or compassion, and the last thing that comes from our dry, cracked lips is not a plea for water but a subtweet.

Not a great segue, but Austyn Gillette has a new video part

Rank: 1
Mood: 🖼

And it’s good! Gillette added some additional inspirational context via Instagram while promoting his latest effort.

…The title of the film “Know You My Own Way” is the only way I can best describe my personal relationship with skateboarding. I only know my experience with it and don’t plan to adhere to the modern day pressures of keeping up. To desire to keep up with what is going on is nearly impossible in the world we live in. Whether that be the standards set by social media, tricks being done or the temporary styles that come and go. I advise anyone to develop their own relationship with whatever craft they take on. Your individuality is precious and it will always be your truest form. Detach from the expectations of the internet. Take your time with projects because you owe it to yourself to make something original to you. There is no rush.

That’s all excellent advice, in my opinion. It’ll be interesting to see how much time Globe Shoes, Gillette’s sponsor and backer of this project, give him to express himself in his truest form if their Gillette-fronted rebrand doesn’t give them the returns they were hoping for. But for now, credit to them, he’s received a significant amount of runway. While I’m not sure I’d skate a pair of Globes, I do hope they take off because the industry is better with more players in it.

Making a skate video with your friends, part 2

Rank: 1
Mood: ❤️ 📹 ❤️

A couple of years ago, some friends and I released a lil skate video, and I wrote about the feelings and connections the experience provides. I reread my thoughts on the process at the time, and they all still ring true today, so I thought I’d post them here again (with slight edits) before sharing our latest lil video, kitty.

To be in your 30s and lugging around a big fat video camera to film your friends skateboarding is not an unserious endeavour. Well, it is a little unserious, I suppose. Spending your free time cycling and driving to ledges and embankments and curbs and weird winding alleyways you saw on Instagram that might have a sweet wallride instead of, I don’t know, setting up a Registered Retirement Savings Plan, is maybe not the most prudent decision in the long run, but that’s fine. You’ve chosen fun. To drink beers in schoolyards after dark, cake every prospective edge in wax, and laugh as one of you bails while throwing down your board.

There is a seriousness involved, to be sure. Through the fisheye or long lens, you can see it. There's no need to zoom in, you can tell how hard you’re trying to land those tricks from any vantage. How they take serious time. Those hours on board also mean hours holding a camera. Commitment from all parties is required. It almost always feels worthwhile, too, even if no one rides away. There’s something about pushing yourself and feeling the ache of your body the following day. An earned limp. Roadrash merit badge. It keeps you connected to your mortality in a generally enjoyable way with results you can see.

The clips. You’ve been collecting and storing these moments with your friends in a timeline that you’ll occasionally slap a song over to see if the vibes mesh. What’s the end goal? You’re not sure. You don’t have sponsors. There’s no hard deadline to “release” anything, so it stays fluid. Months, maybe years pass. You all want one or two more tricks. But to what end? It’s all a lark anyway, so eventually, you decide to sit down and piece it together. You raid the b-roll folder to help give the video heart. It sits for a day or two, fermenting. Then, you all gather in the bachelor suite to watch an exclusive premiere. The past flashes through the present in minutes.

Who else will watch it? Hopefully, someone. But it’s for you and your friends anyway — a proof of life, small victories, and vision. You upload. It feels good. After the rain abates and the snow melts, you all agree to drag the big fat video camera out the first chance you get, which, if we’re being serious, must mean success.

Something to consider: Calling and emailing your local and federal representatives to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Good thing: Josh Sabini’s interview with Nora Vasconcellos for Monster Children.

Another good thing: My man Adam Abada’s part in Kevin Horn’s Perennial via Village Psychic.

Another good thing: One of skateboarding’s best, Indigo Willing, was this week’s guest on Beyond Boards.

Until next week… be present, remember to take time for yourself when you can, and as always, make some soup. #SoupSeason

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 over halfway through the thing now, so you’ve got some nice stuff to listen to while puttering around the house.

Also, also, the Birdman himself has finally read the book (or at least took a photo of it). So if that doesn’t convince you to buy it, that’s okay. There’s no pressure. I just appreciate you reading this newsletter.