Saari and Gomorrah | Simply Ranked

Plus: Curren Caples, intergenerational skate spot lore, Gravis returns, and more.

Saari and Gomorrah | 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.

Curren Caples for Vans

Rank: 1
Mood: 🏄‍♂️

While it might be a bit of a stretch to suggest that Curren Caples had yet to “arrive” before the release of his Curren Caples for Vans video part last week, it certainly feels like it. If you’ve followed professional skateboarding for the last 15 or so years, Caples is a name that has always been on the periphery of the top tier. A part of Flip Skateboards’ batch of wunderkind that debuted in Extremely Sorry (2009), including Louie Lopez and Luan Oliveira, he’d eventually turn pro in 2013 at 17 years old.

Since then, he’s had a handful of video parts, won a major contest or two, but ultimately — at least from the outsider’s perspective — he’s remained understated compared to his contemporaries. Of course, there’s no one correct way to have a career as a professional skateboarder, but for a while, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking Caples was coasting. If output and coverage are our agreed-upon barometer, between Extremely Sorry and Curren Caples for Vans (a span of about 14 years), he’s only had three full-ish video parts with appearances in montages spread throughout. It’s perhaps unfair to compare anyone to Lopez, but since Extremely Sorry, the number of video parts he’s authored reaches far into the double digits.

It also seemed difficult for Caples to shed the image of the archetypal bronzed, Californian surfer-child that had stuck with him since he was precisely that in 2009. Perhaps the lack of consistent output was a contributing factor there, as the public had a dearth of opportunities to see him as anything but. Then, in recent years, there started to be a slow shift in perception. Fun, eye-opening appearances at events like the Bunt Jam showed that Caples’ gifts and style hadn’t waned and that he’d grown into a much more refined skater than our snide potshots would indicate.

That skater would come into full view with Curren Caples for Vans, an effort that truly showcased the breadth of Caples’ abilities. Startling impressive tricks, interesting spot selection, and an excellent edit from Greg Hunt that ably captures the Curren Caples that has likely always been there and we just hadn’t seen — and what a pleasure it finally is. All of which begs the question: what the hell is Skate Mental? Is it a real company? How do they have such a stacked team? Their website barely works and their graphics are retrograde chum. Is it a money laundering scheme? Does Brad Staba have blackmail material on whatever higher-up at Nike keeps funnelling cash into the company? What is going on here? #freeAntonioDurao

Intergenerational skate spot lore

Rank: 1
Mood: 👶 👦 👨 👨‍🦳 👴

The skateboarder’s connection with urban space and architecture, their reimagining of the world around them thanks to a trained eye and a toy that became the nucleus of a global culture, is a tired cliche by this point, however true it may be. The skateboarder rarely has a connection to a spot that goes much deeper than that.

In the latest issue of SBC magazine, writer, photographer, and friend of the newsletter Spencer Legebokoff has a brief write-up about Kristian Peltzer’s nosebluntslide down the Gulch Hubba, one of the Kootenay region’s most notable skate spots that lives in front of the former location of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in The Gulch neighbourhood of Trail, BC. Peltzer would learn after nosegrinding the hubba in 2020 that his grandfather met his grandmother at a dance at St. Anthony’s in 1943. They’d get married the following year, and many decades later, their grandchild would be skating outside of the building they first got flirty in.

Peltzer would show the noseblunt photo to his grandfather on his 100th birthday, this  special coincidence a three-quarter-century-plus-long thread tying them together. Here, the power of this moment, of history and familial bonds, is so strong that it transcends the high likelihood that his noseblunt is ABD.

Phantom menace

Rank: Ehh, 5
Mood: 🧟‍♂️

Another ghost is wriggling itself back into corporeal form with the announcement that Gravis footwear is relaunching. Sort of. Technically Gravis never really left; its parent company Burton wound down its skateboarding program in 2012, moved its headquarters to Tokyo, Japan, and transitioned into a lifestyle brand with a sole focus on the Asian market. For years, Gravis has been putting out sufficiently lifestyle-y stuff like this:

Whether that’s worked out for them is hard to tell. Their social channels are sparingly updated, their website is currently “under maintenance,” and it’s not exactly clear where a person can buy their existing product if there’s product that does exist. Yet, Gravis skateboarding is coming back. They’ve been steadily populating their Instagram account for just over a year in anticipation. However, in a world where C1RCA Footwear (USA) has stumbled back to life in hamhandedly embarrassing fashion and Supra now shuffles on as a “metaversal fashion brand,” the chance of any other once-beleaguered shoe brand successfully returning to their former glory feels slim.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. There’s still positive brand sentiment out there and a dedicated fanbase, exemplified by a Gravis fan account on Instagram that has more than double the followers of the official Gravis skateboarding account, the owner of which also appears to have a big ol’ Gravis logo leg tattoo.

Saari and Gomorrah

Rank: -10
Mood: 🧂

As the persistent, centuries-spanning tactic of people willfully misinterpreting religious scripture, ideals, and swinging “Christian values” over their heads like a flail to drive coordinated influence campaigns across business, politics, and our social and everyday lives continues to often horrifying effect, it’s clear that the lazy, self-righteous, duplicitous turds employing it can barely be bothered to try.

Recently, during a meeting with Montana’s House Judiciary Committee, a lobbyist for Airbnb attempted to pander to what he (probably correctly) assumed was a widely Christian audience by saying that if Bethlehem had regulated short-term rentals, Jesus might not have been born in a manger or worse. Bro, what? That’s like saying Arto Saari looking back at the motel handrail he frontboards in Flip’s Sorry was an affront to god in the same way Lot’s wife looking back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was, or demanding you get a rail skater, a manual guy, a bowl barney, gap hucker, and a Nate Sherwood type in the van for each session à la Noah and his ark; or that Adelmo Jr. fell off the map after his dreads were cut in a Samson-esque loss of power — any dumbass can connect dots that aren’t there, but it takes a certain level of disdain for one’s audience to say it out loud in earnest.

A particularly concerning aspect of the recent rise of far-right Christian nationalism and the parties — lobbyists, politicians, et al. — that look to ride its wave in a craven  effort to gain money and power to the detriment of the population at large and marginalized groups especially, is that the folks using and weaponizing this language don’t feel the need to put any effort into concealing their intent anymore. The mask is off and they’re just “nuh-uh-ing” their way through it.


Local infrastructural celeb

Rank: 2
Mood: 🟨🟨🟨🟨 🟨🟨🟨🟨

Last week saw the birth of a new celebrity here in Vancouver. After a local radio host tweeted about the new “slow street” barriers that have been installed across the city and claimed that they don’t slow traffic even though the SUV straddling one in their tweet has very clearly slowed down, Twitter began its cycle of griping and dunking that would bring the small yellow barriers into the wider online discourse.

There’s a set of these precious little barriers on the street next to my apartment, and frankly, it’s about time they got their shine. They’re fun to wallie, they slide okay, and sometimes they’re set up at fun angles.


Admittedly, I can’t attest to their effectiveness as a tool for calming traffic. I’ve personally seen more frustration than appreciation for them at the intersections they’re placed in — but is anyone really going to show a public display of affection toward a barrier while on their daily commute? Well, as a person with stained glass art of a barrier up in their home, I certainly would.

But, unfortunately, being a formed mass of concrete placed on a public roadway is a generally thankless job. However, if there’s one takeaway from this situation, it’s that we need to invest further in public infrastructure. Maybe another good way to slow and maintain a steady flow of traffic would be to build large embankments on either side of the street that vehicles can carve up to avoid long line-ups at intersections, perhaps with metal edging along the embankment’s lip that acts as a marker to indicate to drivers when they’ve carved up too high. This makes a lot of sense to me.

Something to consider:

A 3-5 business days thing: Indigenous artists and skateboarders create “Art of the Skateboard” stamps from USPS, story via Associated Press.

A good thing: Sally Rooney on landlords for the Irish Times.

Rest in peace, Robbie McKinley: The preeminent nollie champion.

Until next week… if possible, go on a bike ride with your friends. Bring your skateboards. Weave in and out of alleyways. Find some trash and lean it against some other trash — that’s a skate spot. Admire what you’ve made. Appreciate the time you’ve spent together. Take a shower once you get home.