Somberly digging through the annals of online content | Simply Ranked

Plus: Shane Oneill is skateboarding, Box of Fuck, when Frog has you feeling things, and more.

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.

Origins of the online-content mills

Rank: Not bad, not great
Mood: 🏭

In 2002, I sat in the back of my Grade 7 drafting class and stared at a computer. I have no memory of ever drafting anything. To this day, I’m not sure I know what drafting is. Instead, I spent the entirety of those classes visiting the early aughts, barebones Thrasher Magazine website. It was there, in a state of inconceivable boredom, I’d discovered a cache of skateboarding clips. They weren’t full-lengths, the only form of skateboarding video I’d known up to that point, but roughly 1-2 minute edits of various pros skating Thrasher’s original Double Rock skatepark.

Rather than sketching out the frame for a dining chair or whatever, I watched Mark Appleyard and Chris Cole duke it out at the “Double Rock Throwdown” event.

This first exposure to skateboarding videos online was euphoric. After the painfully slow loading time of each QuickTime video was complete, I was rewarded with nearly minutes of new footage of my favourite skateboarders that I couldn’t find anywhere else. It was free, easily digestible, and distracted me from whatever it was I supposed to be doing.

Skatepark-centric edits weren’t a new concept by any means in 2002, but they were usually reserved for tour videos, bonus features or segments in 411s. To have your private skatepark serve as a personal online-content mill—that was perhaps a first. While the original Double Rock wasn’t yet a source of money-making (Monster Energy) branded content, we’d see the rise of private skateparks adopting and further commodifying that approach in the years that followed. Taking the talents of various pros to gain outside advertiser dollars or supplement their own brand “awareness.”

Most notably, the much-beloved and then reviled The Berrics, Primitive’s smooth-as-glass facility, Transworld’s Arizona Iced Tea™️ park, Black Box’s TF, DC’s Embassy in Barcelona, and even the nebulous Braille—a “skateboarding media company” born out of YouTube user engagement—would all use their private skateparks to help supply the constant glut of content that fuels their brands.

This is how the attention economy evolves. With the decline of magazine sales and traditional modes of advertising, someone came up with an idea that would become a machine, and we convince it to churn until we turn away. Did twelve-year-old me have any inkling of what was to come? No. He was too busy being mad that Chris Cole won.

Warning sign

Rank: 2
Mood: 🚨🚨🚨

Clip via Sora Shirai’s Instagram

If someone gets into an axle stall with their feet positioned like this, you know something fucked up is about to happen.

Shane Oneill is skateboarding 🌴

Rank: 0011 0011
Mood: 🛹

For a skateboarder whose on-board technical combinations usually wind up being a convoluted tangle of proper nouns, Shane Oneill’s captions accompanying those tricks on social media are mercifully direct.

Yes, that is what he’s doing. Skateboarding. Oneill doesn’t trade in the usual techniques of social media caption-dom. A funny, self-effacing, but clearly fabricated anecdote? No. Some inspirational quote attributed to the wrong person? Not his style. How about a woefully unrelated song lyric? Unlikely. Oneill prefers to stay on that wonderfully terse track.

Stoked to win Tampa pro 2021 🍻” He tweeted after taking the victory at skateboarding’s most storied competition last month. A single “cheers” emoji tacked on to denote his appreciation. No message about perseverance or how this experience was a dream come true required. The rest of his captions are equally as frank. Most simply name the trick he’s doing or tired of doing. On occasion, he’ll even zoom out from a maneuver’s subspecies to their entire domain.

While most professional skaters likely feel obligated to post and comment on social media to help maintain their “brands,” it generally feels forced and a bit soulless. At least Oneill is being straightforward with us in our shared online space. He’s here for one thing and that one thing only—

Box of Fuck

Rank: 4
Mood: 📦

In Thursday’s mini-doc release of “Bag of Suck” - The Untold Story Behind The Enjoi Classic, it was revealed that the original name for the 2006 video was “Box of Fuck”. Our only view here is hindsight, but the name change was probably for the best.

As far as docs go, this short had a number of interesting tidbits, like Enjoi’s former filmer and brand manager, Matt Eversole, describing Clark Hassler as “not an ender skater, he’s just a good skater,” when explaining why Hassler’s part ends with him “flying off into the cosmos.” That category of skateboarder seems to be appreciated more in the present day, where “hammers” are still appreciated but aren’t mandatory.

On the other side of that, Eversole referring to Jerry Hsu’s nollie backside heelflip ender as the “difference between a good part and a great part” is something I hadn’t considered before. That trick such an impactful button on an already amazing video part that it rightfully led Anthony Claravall to tell Hsu at the Bag of Suck premiere, “you don’t have to film a video part ever again; that shit was so good.” A single flip of the board holding the power to define a career.

Somewhere in my closet, a DVD copy of Bag of Suck sits. While I no longer have any technology that wields a disc drive, I’ll hang onto that thing as long as I’m able. Because as Jason Adams correctly categorizes it, the video’s a “shelfer.”

Thursday was a big day

Rank: Yeesh
Mood: 🎭

In our time of constant content, we are spoiled as skateboarders. We know this; we’ve talked about this. Usually, those releases are spread out over a matter of days, but yesterday saw a veritable goddamn content dump. The Bag of Suck doc, a fantastic Ace Trucks edit, a short Vincent Alvarez part for those who celebrate, and the new Supreme video, Mind Goblin, all dropped. Enough great new content to occupy an afternoon—although some parts of it remain pitifully outdated.

Bill, c’mon. This schtick is bogus, man. Holding the camera sideways, though, that might catch on.

I love you. Alright. Bye, grandma.

Rank: 1
Mood: ❤️🧓

Maybe it’s the music that one could claim is used ironically but feels energizing and fits perfectly; or Daniel Dent’s editing, which is sharp, tight, never feeling like it’s lingering or missing anything; perhaps the POV of Evan Wasser plunging his friend’s bare chest or the look of genuine happiness pasted on Frankie Decker’s face as he rides up to and away from his last trick is what does it. Whatever the case, Evan Frankie (frog) doesn’t feel like another package delivered from the online-content mill. Having watched it about a dozen times now, I think I’d rather call it a gift.

*In what appears to be a recurring segment*

Simply Capped:

When you cap a spot and accidentally force a skater’s creativity to flourish.

When you cap a spot and accidentally reveal your complete lack of humanity.

Something to consider: this sockdolager of a piece on grandiloquent language by friend of the newsletter, Max Harrison-Caldwell.

Good things:

Until next week… call your grandmas and tell ‘em you love ‘em, too.