A swoosh is a swoosh is a swoosh | Simply Ranked

Plus: Durao vs. Cybertruck, Cordano's chicken broccoli soup, Skateboarding Hal of Fame, and more.

A swoosh is a swoosh is a swoosh | Simply Ranked

The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other things online that I cannot stop consuming and how it makes me feel, personally.

A swoosh is a swoosh is a swoosh

Rank: 1?
Mood: 🦈

On Wednesday, Oskar Rozenberg-Hallberg released what is potentially his strongest video part to date to celebrate a shoe that the public cannot buy.

"Every detail of the Oski x Nike SB Dunk High 'Red Shark' exudes quality and thoughtfulness." Writes Sneaker Bar Detroit, and I will have to take their word for it, as the shoe is a "friends and family" exclusive. This is not a new thing (Oski's other "Shark" colourways were a similar limited release), but an interesting one nonetheless. What does it mean to advertise a product that technically exists but without any available means for one to purchase it? Does it still count as a "product"? Is this savvy 4D chess marketeering? Satire of some middling order?

It's an ontological paradox, and perhaps even an admission that, in our current age, marketing is the only real thing that exists, and products are secondary to their messaging and brand. Oski's video part is both an ad for an essentially imaginary shoe and an ad for shoes in general. Nike SB understands that a swoosh is a swoosh is a swoosh.

All of this aside, it's nice to see Oski back on board, healthy as ever, and making me nearly throw up with anxiety as he does shit like this:


Be careful! Via "Nike SB | Oski Rozenberg | Red Shark"

The company you keep

Rank: 79,990
Mood: ☹️


Video via Quartersnacks on Twitter.

Antonio Durao broke the windshield of an influencer's Cybertruck in front of the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Take a moment to consider that sentence. Really take it in. Influencer. Cybertruck. UFC. Antonio Durao? Yes, these are the dark synergies we'll continue to see more of under Street League Skateboarding's ownership company, Thrill One Entertainment, which includes stakeholders like former UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta, current UFC president Dana White, Rob Dyrdek, and others.

SLS now holds regular events at the UFC's private arena and training centre, the Apex. SLS signed a streaming deal with Rumble, the far-right video hosting platform whose business model is appealing to and signing deals with the most odious bigots and conspiracy mongers who can't monetize elsewhere — and also Dana White's vile pet CTE lab experiment Power Slap, which is where it's safe to assume the connection with SLS was made.

In most other contexts, it wouldn't be concerning that skateboarding's top names are palling around with this crowd outside of a UFC facility. Skateboarding and MMA have always been somewhat kindred spirits. They're both individual sports that require extreme dedication, creativity, and a lack of concern for one's personal health and safety to excel. Both were once frowned upon by the public at large. There is some surface-level camaraderie there, and the connection is becoming more pronounced for some of the sport's most public faces. Tony Hawk recently had UFC bantamweight contender Marlon Vera on his podcast and prospect Payton Talbot at his park (Talbot is a significantly more skilled skater than Vera, those visits taught us). Hawk even attended a recent UFC event.

The concern is White and Thrill One's lecherous gaze. They see skateboarding as another industry to conquer, milk, and reshape in their image. These are people who realize sports curry influence, and influence brings money and power, and skateboarders, by and large, belong to the ever-valuable youth demographic.

White and his ilk are not shy about their intentions, either, as evidenced by the Rumble streaming deal and last weekend's UFC 302 PPV. The latter featured a hero's welcome for newly convicted felon and former president Donald Trump, who sat front row and was shown on camera more than 30 times (according to MMA media personality Luke Thomas' count on Monday's edition of Morning Kombat).

Great stuff. To be fair though, breaking the windshield of a Cybertruck with a switch-frontside-flip is pretty funny.

Chicken broccoli soup

Rank: 1
Mood: 🍗🥦🍲

Cordano Russell is an exceptionally talented and unique person, one more than deserving of a mini-doc produced by skateboarding's most prominent media outlet in Thrasher, which ably and entertainingly shares Russell's history and special relationship with his family, faith, and skateboarding, but my selfish thought after finishing "Skater XXL" was that I want more.

More pieces that show us who a skateboarder is outside of skateboarding and give us a reason to care about them beyond their physical abilities. The skateboarding skateboarders do is important, obviously, but in a shrunken and somewhat lost media landscape where physical magazines are just hanging on, interviews and features that used to paint these portraits are a rarity, and podcasts fill most of the void left behind, so we don't often get the candid looks at the people doing the skateboarding that "Skater XXL" and programs like its spiritual predecessor Epicly Later'd offer.

This care and attention to storytelling is how you establish notable personalities and, if you're lucky as a brand, stars. That's been one of the more noticeable impacts of social media's rise and traditional media's decline; it's fractured our attention and lessened the power of the remaining outlets to showcase aspiring and professional skateboarders as people.

The guideposts have moved and the markers have now shifted (a magazine cover was once a career maker, now a viral Instagram clip or cross-post with a celebrity arguably has a similar function), which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean it gets harder to put a finger on who to care about or why.

Skateboarding has always done well at celebrating its legends, but creating new ones seems to be an increasing struggle. Pieces like "Skater XXL" can go a long way toward rectifying that.

Hal of Fame

Rank: 1
Mood: 🤠

Yes, yes, the skateboarding industry does a pretty bang-up job at celebrating its legends. If not with life-changing money, retirement funds, or healthcare, then at least with board reissues, retrospectives, and a healthy amount of culture-wide "remembering a guy" (Guy Kampfen a voice whispers from the ether).

Skateboarding even has a Hall of Fame, which has existed since 2009 and is generally a sign of a sport that cares enough to honour its greats. The Skateboarding Hall of Fame 2023/2024 induction ceremony was held last week and saw names like Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Anita Tessensohn Sanford, Saecha Clarke, John Lucero, Jeff Grosso, Geoff Rowley, Don Bostick, Terry Brown, Jeremy Klein, Tom Knox, Ron Allen, Lynn Kramer, Di Dootson Rose, and more added to its various wings.

That's a selection of people who span generations and disciplines (Kramer is essentially the GOAT of slalom), and when brought together, are a special celebration of skateboarding as a whole.

There are some criticisms to be made of the SHOF, though, specifically of its new CEO, Billy Tuscher, a cowboy-cosplaying marketeer who does not appear to have any involvement or history in the skateboarding world and whose Twitter bio reads "Entrepreneur: Music, Media, Technology, Real Estate Development, Hotels." Cool.

On LinkedIn, Tuscher describes his purpose within the SHOF as "Spearheading efforts to expand the organization's reach, grow the brand, and enhance its overall impact on the skateboarding community worldwide." Upon the announcement of his role, he'd tell Juice:

“Skateboarding’s blend of creativity, independence, rebellion and raw authenticity are rare traits in any sport, and highly coveted by the Gen Z and Millennial audience... We enjoy a demographic many brands find challenging to reach, but that’s just authentically who we are. There are a lot of huge brands who want to help us tell the story of skateboarding.” 

That's a hollow and frankly bizarre way to talk about a Hall of Fame, a place meant to celebrate skateboarding culture, not appeal to a certain subset of advertisers. It's entirely reasonable and responsible to want the organization to be self-sufficient financially, but being relevant to as wide a swathe of skateboarders as possible should also be top of mind. When you talk about those skateboarders like they're a demographic waiting to be captured — that you just "authentically" get — it does the opposite, and they're the ones actually invested in "the story of skateboarding."

It also doesn't help that the SHOF spelt Mike Carroll's name wrong on his trophy.1

As Carroll loses an L, SHOF takes one. Photo via Crailtap on Instagram.

That all said, the Skateboarding Hall of Fame is and has the potential to continue to be an important institution for honouring the people who have made skateboarding what it is. I imagine it'd be easier if their CEO skated, though.

It's all coming together

Rank: 1
Mood: 🧐

Last month, I wrote about Tyshawn Jones' changing approach to releasing footage following his hard post of a 360-flip over his preferred NYC subway tracks.

It's odd that this is how things have evolved — that the social media post now hosts the groundbreaking and gobsmacking — but it makes sense for the times and Jones... [he] is not afraid to be patient. He'll spend years on a project until it's ready, and when the fandom is parched and pleading for something, anything, he'll release it, and we all rejoice.

His social media strategy is much the same. Every few months he'll post to his Instagram grid — but only if it's worthy. There are no throwaway skatepark clips here. Whether it's an ollie over a Ferrari, a shared post with Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Anthony Edwards, or the viral nollie-heelflip over a rail in a pair of Louis Vuitton boots during Paris Fashion Week, the bar is high. How do you top the Timbs clip? Well, you probably have to 360-flip some subway tracks.

But what comes after that? Can Jones hard post anything less than greatness? I guess we'll find out.

Since then, he's shown that he cannot. From a Supreme-posted nollie-flip:


Via Supreme on Instagram.

To a self-hosted nollie-flip-crook at Brooklyn Banks to celebrate the release of his new shoe, the Tyshawn 2, with adidas.


Via Tyshawn on Instagram.

To an utterly nuts noseblunt from Wednesday.


Via Tyshawn on Instagram.

He's posting toward a new understanding of greatness. He's also, in essence, releasing a video part piecemeal. Or, from another angle, asking us to rethink the value of the video part itself. These are standalone tricks that create their own hype cycles upon upload. Is this innovation? Is he doing Supreme "drops" but with single clips? Does his prominent Instagram posting have something to do with his recent partnership with Meta (the only dud on his grid)? These are a lot of questions, but one has to wonder because if these are the tricks he's willing to put on social media, there is a possibility we're not ready for what he isn't.

Something to consider: The trajectory of the current AI hype cycle.

Tech’s biggest businesses have stopped growing. AI can’t solve that for them.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more of the web’s biggest brands are seeing a steep decline in traffic. What happened to the futures they…
Understanding the real threat generative AI poses to our jobs
There will be no robot jobs apocalypse, but there’s still plenty to worry about. How *will* generative AI impact our jobs?

Good thing: José Vadi round-up!

And José in conversation with the pals at Village Psychic.

Another good thing: Colin Bane on mega-prodigy Reese Nelson.

Reese Nelson Athlete Profile for X Games Ventura 2024 - X Games
A profile and inside look at Reese Nelson as she prepares for X Games Ventura 2024 presented by SONIC.

A Fortunate thing:

A Real Life is Great thing: The gang at Mostly Skateboarding talked to Don Luong about the making of Toy Machine's Real Life Sucks.

Don Luong On Toy Machine’s New Video. June 2, 2024. Mostly Skateboarding Podcast
This week, Templeton Elliott and Mike Munzenrider, talk to Don Luong about the new Toy Machine video, Real Life Sucks . Listen here and subs…

The piece I wrote about Don is coming next week, I swear.

A get-in-the-Well thing: Eggplant: The Secret Life of Games had Billy Blasso, the developer of my favourite new video game, Animal Well, on the show. There are spoilers in it, so be careful.

Until next week… make time for friends. Or, make time to make new friends. People and relationships slip away like time, so if you can, do your best to keep up.

1 Typos happen, it's normal. Not to me, though. Never had one. Curious.

Laser Quit Smoking Massage

NEWEST PRESS, available April 1, 2024


My new collection of essays is available now. I think you might like it. The Edmonton Journal thinks it's a "local book set to make a mark in 2024." The CBC called it "quirky yet insightful." lol.

Book cover by Hiller Goodspeed.

Order the thing

Right, Down + Circle



I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that you can find at your local bookshop or order online now. I think you might like this one, too.

Here’s what Michael Christie, Giller Prize-nominated author of the novels Greenwood and If I Fall, If I Die, had to say about the thing.

“With incisive and heartfelt writing, Cole Nowicki unlocks the source code of the massively influential cultural phenomenon that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and finds wonderful Easter-eggs of meaning within. Even non-skaters will be wowed by this examination of youth, community, risk, and authenticity and gain a new appreciation of skateboarding’s massive influence upon our larger culture. This is my new favorite book about skateboarding, which isn’t really about skateboarding — it’s about everything.”

Photo via The Palomino.

Order the thing