The Flatbar of Righteous Indignation | Simply Ranked

Plus: Pro skater CVs, Magic Eye tricks, alternative angles, and more.

The Flatbar of Righteous Indignation | Simply Ranked
“The Leap of Faith” via Midjourney
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.

The Flatbar of Righteous Indignation

Rank: 14.6
Mood: 📛

Since Jamie Thomas held onto that melon for dear life in Zero Skateboard’s Thrill of It All (1997), skaters have been calling and comparing big ol’ drops like the one he attempted, “The Leap of Faith.” The original “The Leap of Faith,” a now-defunct spot at Point Loma High School in San Diego, California, immortalized by Thomas with a bail, has the unique distinction of being a skate spot with a universally fitting nickname. Are you flinging yourself over a handrail with a massive drop on the other side, or just trying a big-ass gap in general? That’s a Leap of Faith, my friend. The same can’t be said about other monikered spots, which usually include the name of their location, the skater who first conquered them, or a straight-up physical description—El Toro, Gonz Gap, Blubba, etc.

“The Leap of Faith” is active. It’s a challenge, aspirational, emotional, and rare, as far as spot nicknames go. I think we need more like it. Nicknames that inspire a particular sort of reverence for those in the know and that anyone can use to add import and intrigue to their local handrail or wallride.

Of course, it can be tough to come up with a nickname that has the emotional heft and cultural gravity of “The Leap of Faith.” That’s why I put together Simple Magic’s Skate Spot Nickname Generator for those who might need help dubbing their town’s double set.

Feel free to try it out and let me know how it goes. “The Curb of Resignation” could be your town’s next hotspot.

Previous experience

Rank: 2
Mood: 👷‍♀️👨‍⚕️ 👩‍🌾👩‍🍳👨‍🏫 👩‍🏭👨‍💻

Maintaining longevity and relevancy as a professional skateboarder seems like a challenging and unenviable task. While not common today, where constant output is demanded across platforms, pros could once make a splash early on with one or two career-defining video parts that cemented their legacies and kept them afloat on name value alone for years or decades afterwards. Simply the memory of their impact was enough to sustain them and keep kids buying their branded products, which is kind of a special thing that exists—or existed—within skateboarding.

That wouldn’t appear to be a serious possibility anymore, however. Perhaps because skateboarding has become so big and skateboarders have gotten so good, to have a Tom Penny-like run would require a skater to completely rewire what we thought could be done on a skateboard or look so cool riding one that all we needed was a single three-minute edit to sustain us for fifteen years. Heitor could maybe pull off the latter, but now, even some of the most technically gifted skateboarders on the planet struggle to scrape together a career.

Sure, Sewa Kroetkov has never been the most popular pro skateboarder. Being aligned with brands and media outlets like Blind, Red Bull, and The Berrics does not scream staying power. And his hyper-technical skating is certainly not in style now and probably hasn’t been the approach du jour since that cursed few years following Fully Flared that inspired a mad dash to unlock every possible combination of tricks, much to the chagrin of sequence caption writers everywhere.

But Sewa is still out here doing it, much the same as he ever was. And he appears to be getting better, even as he moves deeper into his thirties, as evidenced by his recent ‘LATE’ video part uploaded by The Berrics last week. All two minutes and forty-four seconds of it is quintessential Sewa—flip-ins, outs, in-the-middle-of, front-footed—it’s a lot. It’s impressive. It’s not for me, which is fine.

But it also doesn’t seem to be for Sewa’s sponsors anymore either. His website only lists two “partnerships,” Venture and Andalé, and he’s started selling his own boards in “independent limited drop[s]” to commemorate moments like his finals appearance at Battle at The Berrics and his “LATE” video part. He might also be hinting at starting a board company outright.

That’s a lot of work and resources dedicated to remaining in an industry that doesn’t seem to have a place for him in it, which is a cruel sentence to write but considering the state of things at the moment; it is the reality. From all accounts, Sewa seems to be a good person who is simply trying to spend his life doing what he loves and is exceptionally good at. Hopefully, it works out for him. The industry is more interesting with him in it. I’d suggest he start sending potential sponsors this “career highlights” list from his website as a CV.

Pretty impressive, not gonna lie!

Post it to the autostereogram

Rank: 1
Mood: 👀

Photo: Henry Kingsford

On Wednesday, Grey Skate Mag tweeted out this fantastic photo of Casper Brooker taken by Henry Kingsford. If you’ve watched Brooker’s latest Atlantic Drift video part, you’ll know what trick this image is the climax of. But if you aren’t familiar, it might take you a few moments of staring at it to understand what exactly it is you’re looking at. It’s clearly a rail trick to hippy jump, but with the board tilted so far forward, it’s unlike the 50-50 or feeble grind you might expect it to be. So you keep staring. Then, like a Magic Eye puzzle, the answer appears: Crooked grind.

This style of photo, where a piece of missing context leaves you looking harder and longer at it, is one of my favourites. Where you might assume you know what’s happening, but you can’t be 100% sure until you see the clip or the caption, like Jerry Hsu’s March 2016 Thrasher cover.

Photo: Ben Colen

The giveaway is the right shoulder; how it’s still wound up. The shoulder of a switch nosegrind is unlikely to be pulled back like that or worthy of a cover. Could Jerry 5-0 up the rail? Wouldn’t put it past him, but it doesn't seem very likely. What sort of twisting of the body would lead to that sort of positioning, then? You stare a little harder, a little longer, until it hits you. Ah, of course, a nollie backside 180.

This ability to suss out and decode nuance is learned unconsciously from years of skating and poring through skateboarding photos and videos. It gives us the foresight to predict so-and-so’s flatground trick in the middle of their line by the subtle shifts of their body—otherwise useless interpretive skills that only we can implement. So why not bring your nose up to the screen until meaning appears? What else is it good for?

Alternative angles

Rank: 3
Mood: 📹 🎥 📽

It’s hard to fully comprehend the difficulty of a trick if you’ve never been to the spot it’s being executed on. Especially if the clip is just a flash among a flurry of others, with no second angle, and the artistic liberties taken with the filming of the original rely on your understanding of said spot to appreciate the impact of what is being done on it. That means to really “get it,” sometimes you need to seek out alternative angles. Not b-sides or iPhone clips, but those captured by the unbiased and uneducated eye of the non-skater.

These are pure, unvarnished views of obstacles, which can give us the most honest look at their scale and the environment they live in. The cinematographers here are not compelled to make something look bigger or grittier than it is or to zoom in so close that we can’t tell what’s happening besides a blur of texture and limbs. In these alternative angles, we have the opportunity to see a spot as it appears to the pedestrian, the civilian, to Paul Giamatti’s character Chuck Rhoades who’s for, whatever reason, staking out NYC’s Pyramid Ledges in his Showtime vehicle Billions.

And it’s through Giamatti’s eyes that we get a glimpse of how goddamn tall those ledges are and how absurd it is that Tyshawn Jones noseblunted them from flat. A clip that rushed by without a second thought in his part in Supreme’s “Play Dead.” All we need now is for someone to comb through all five seasons of Ballers to see if The Rock has ever leaned on that A-frame rail Nyjah Huston went up and down so we can get a closer look at that concrete kicker.

Simply Reviewed: Emerica’s “EMPOWER”

Rank: 1.1
Mood: 🤕

Released in the immediate wake of a contentious SOTY announcement, Emerica’s  EMPOWER feels like a continuation of the wild glut of videos dropped in the last few weeks—just without the trophy-hunting aspirations. With full parts from Eric Winkowski, Chris Wimer, and Kevin Bækkel, a solid montage section featuring the Spanky footage we all so desire, and a classic—and perhaps a bit more experimental than usual—green-hued edit and a solid soundtrack, it’s an overall great video.

Not that that should be surprising, but it is nice to see a long-standing brand like Emerica continue to chug along into the next generation while still maintaining the spirit that made them a staple of the 2000s. It’s also interesting to see them, I’d assume, strategically release this video after the adidas and Nike-backed SOTY video dumps dominated November and the first chunk of December. Is that because they didn’t want EMPOWER to get lost in the shuffle, or maybe they’re holding out hope that Bækkel’s curtains part would be in contention for 2023? It could be a bit of both. On that note, watching Bækkel skate is a uniquely terrifying experience. Please be careful, Kev.

Something to consider:

Good thing: Village Psychic talked to Andrew Reynolds about bisecting shoes and getting on New Balance.

Another good thing: This is my Avengers.

Until next week… if you feel that you’re in a rut—creatively, professionally, emotionally, romantically, etc.—and are looking for a way to shake things up, try drinking some laxative tea. It’ll keep you on your toes.