Selling brimstone to the damned | Simply Ranked

Plus: Foundation's "Whippersnappers," C1RCA returns, NFT lord, and more.

Selling brimstone to the damned | 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.

Foundational feeling

Rank: 1
Mood: 🥺

If you watch Foundation Skateboards’ most recent video offerings in succession, from Oddity (2017) — whose intro acts like a celebration of and a farewell to the Foundation of the previous decade or so — to Souvenir (2018), Star & Moon (2021), Splendor (2022), and then this week’s Whippersnappers, you notice a certain feeling start to coalesce. A new brand direction begins to make sense of itself and get comfortable. Part of that can be explained by the evolution of Foundation’s team, which has become especially dynamic with a wider range of styles and personalities than the That’s Life and Cataclysmic Abyss era that was defined by a near uniform tight pants, ‘70s punk aesthetic, and handrail skateboarding.

With recent additions like Keegan McCutchen, whose next-level skill was on display in a rather ethereal intro segment; Tania Cruz cannon-balling herself in exciting fashion across jealousy-inducing European spots; the quick and creative tech of Austin Heilman; Ryan Hamburg’s startling deep arsenal of tricks; Ariana Spencer’s increasingly powerful presence; and Jesse Lindloff finally finding his footing in the industry after Thrasher’s 2019 Am Scramble (and making me audibly gasp with that melon to nosepick); Foundation has put together one of the more underrated rosters in skateboarding. And that’s without even mentioning the vets who’ve more than come into their own.

Julian Lewis returned from closing the show in Splendor as fun and death-defying as ever; Dakota Servold continues to refine his game in a most pleasant way; Corey Glick’s galaxy-brained approach to skateboarding is almost becoming hard to define it’s so spectacularly unique; and Aidan Campbell’s recent turn of deciding to make every piece of public infrastructure within sight skateable with a protractor and wax is truly something to behold. The footage of Campbell floating away into the surf at the end of the video gives the impression that this might have been his last big project as he transitions further into his role as team manager at Etnies, but I may be reading too much into that.

The other key ingredient of Foundation’s recent spate of video magic is, undoubtedly, their filmer, director, and editor, Don Luong. First taking the reigns for Oddity, we’ve watched his creative direction become more distinct and evocative with each effort. He’s not afraid to lean into the emotion of a moment with b-roll, sound design, and artful interstitials that bring to mind Jon West’s influence on Foundation videos of the 1990s.

Some lovely jumps in b-roll.

I’ve written before in this newsletter that, for me, the hallmark of a truly great skate video is one that makes me feel something. Something beyond simply awe at the tricks performed. This video does that. It’s in the small moments—the lovely jumps in b-roll. How silencing the audio on Hamburg’s pump track grab lets the song build a certain air of lightness. There’s also a moment in the montage section featuring Hamburg, Spencer, Servold, Lewis, and others where the momentum shifts. The pace of the edit and the way the music builds projects this increased sense of, for lack of a better word, urgency. But it’s not overbearing; it’s simply letting us know that we’re really going to want to pay attention here, to appreciate what’s happening before us. If Luong and company keep putting out videos like this, I most definitely will.

Do you still remember us?🤪

Rank: -1
Mood: 🤪 ☠️

On Monday, C1RCA Footwear’s Instagram began to stir. Like a malnourished animal awake after a long hibernation, it creaked, groaned, rose, and wandered out into the sunlight of a world much different than the one it knew at the time of its last post in May of 2020. C1RCA Footwear’s Instagram’s first steps were, charitably, unsteady. Yet, it stood up tall — presumably in a pair of Adrian Lopez AL50s — and delivered a message to the brand’s adoring fans.

Dear friends,
After a long period of silence, we’re excited to announce that C1rca USA is officially back in action🥳🥳🥳
Do you still remember us?🤪
We’ve been working hard to bring you the best product: from classic designs to fresh new styles, we have something for everyone🥰
In the next few days, we will announce the day when you can finally get your hands on a fresh pair of C1rca shoes again🛹

👉🏻Stay tuned for the big reveal and welcome back to the C1rca family!🤩

#backinacion #c1rcaUSA #committedtoskateboarding #C1RCA #c1rcashoes #c1rcaskate #backintown #staytuned #skate #skateboarding #skatelife #skater

After such a long time away, you could perhaps forgive C1RCA Footwear’s Instagram for not remembering the exact sound of its own voice or the audience it’s supposed to be speaking to. However, that emoji-riddled note to “friends” is about as accurate as its “#backinacion” hashtag, which should be concerning.

It’s unclear who’s behind this reincarnation of C1RCA Footwear and what it will ultimately look like, but it should be clarified this will be the return of “C1RCA USA” as C1RCA has continued to exist in at least one different market to this day. Four Star Distribution, the owner and licensor of the C1RCA trademark, has some type of licensing agreement or partnership deal with a South American outfit that runs “C1RCA Chile,” and they absolutely love a fun colourway.

I reached out to C1RCA USA via email for clarification on who’s behind the relaunch but didn’t receive a response. Given its bizarre rollout, there’s always the possibility they’ll return in the depressing vein of a zombie Supra Footwear. But in all likelihood, it’ll come back in the same fashion it existed in the last time out: as an echo of its former self that sells a low-quality product for a year or two before going dormant again. In that way, and at least one other, there are definitely folks who remember 🤪

Tampa Pro’d

Rank: 1.1
Mood: 🏆

Like clockwork, Tampa Pro happened and I once again didn’t realize it was going on until I had to reverse-engineer a tweet to understand its context and effectively became my own contest results spoiler.

Which is more funny than it is annoying. I’ll be okay. In the end, Yuto Horigome deservedly took the win, returning to form after stumbling at the Olympic qualifiers in February and, in classic Horigome fashion, debuting a bonkers new trick in the process. Giovanni Vianna and Chris Joslin would take second and third, respectively.

However, the standout moments for me while watching the 2023 Tampa Pro replay on YouTube weren’t the skateboarding or the results but the sponsorship-related change-ups I learned about along the way. Like how Vincent Milou has secured blue chip backing from Toyota and Visa, or the shocking but perhaps not unexpected revelation hammered into the viewers’ brains via commercial-spot-onslaught that Luan Oliveira now rides for Cariuma. An utterance that sounds more like a dispatch from a far-away dystopian future or a Slap Messageboards shitpost than reality.

Those drastically opposed trajectories are just another reminder of time’s relentless march forward. I look forward to it all happening again when I accidentally decode a TikTok dance craze that reveals the winner of Tampa Pro 2024.

NFT lord

Rank: -.01
Mood: 😔

The dogged determination that a lifetime of skateboarding instills in someone is an invaluable trait. Failure is a teacher. You don’t lose; you learn, etc. A healthy resolve can carry you through life’s most challenging moments and help you realize your greatest goals and desires. But another essential skill to have is the ability to recognize when you’re mired in a battle you cannot win and to have the humility to listen to those around you when they tell you that your efforts could be better spent elsewhere. Live to fight another day and all that.

Or you can keep “building.” However, a castle made of sand will always wash away with the tide, no matter how convinced you are otherwise.

“This brand will push the boundaries of what’s possible between web2 n web3 lifestyle culture through the dopest products, storytelling, events, and partnerships” means absolutely nothing. It’s an empty buzzword Mad Lib. All we’ve seen from “web3” is that crypto and NFTs are nothing more than grifts and Ponzi schemes. Both markets have been collapsing spectacularly for months. The only people still interested are the misinformed, willfully deluded, and those desperate to swindle them. You’re trying to sell brimstone to the damned.

Also, “SK8PES?” C’mon, man.

Smol gnar blackmail

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🕵️‍♂️

A rogue fingerboard park construction spree is underway in Washington, D.C. and Eric Falquero, the strategic partnerships editor at local news website the DCist, has found himself at the centre of the mystery. On March 5, Falquero would note on Twitter that some strange “skate park dioramas” had gone up around the neighbourhood in Dupont Circle. Then, just days later, a peculiar package would arrive at Falquero’s office, addressed to him.

Whoever the sick (positive) mind behind these guerilla fingerboard park installations is, in their note to Falquero, they claim that the builds will continue until D.C. is granted statehood. A movement that has gained momentum in recent years, despite some recent and perhaps telling setbacks.

Here’s hoping everyone finds a way to get what they want (statehood but also more fingerboard parks).

Something to consider: “But what if skateboarding was just dumb?” Chris Milic wonders in a great interview with Adam Abada for Quartersnacks.

A really wonderful thing: Dani Abulhawa’s “Skatepark Allyship // An Audio Artwork.”

A passage of time thing: We get an extra hour of sunlight come Sunday, which means we’re that much closer to bringing-our-skateboards-to-the-beach weather.

A good thing: “It’s Not About Hypocrisy” by Laura Wagner for Defector.

Until next week… if you find yourself in the Italian cafe down the street and a patron loudly exclaims to the proprietor who’s behind the counter making your Americano,  “Frankie, whaddaryah doin’ back there,” that is an expression of love between two friends and you should try it out in your own circles when you get a chance because it is quite fun to belt out. In fact, you should give it a little test drive right wherever you are right now. Go ahead. You’ll love it, I swear.