Too much television | Simply Ranked

Plus: He's back......., HawkCon vs. CanCon, is this mouse skateboarding? and more.

Too much television | 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.

He’s back…….

Rank: 1
Mood: 🫂

Even though Canada’s premier skateboarding YouTuber, Ben Degros, told us in his last video upload three months ago that he was “done……. making skate content so he could focus his energy on his more financially successful carpentry YouTube channel, he did leave the door open a smidge for a return. At the time, I figured he’d be back and that this was likely a bit of an audience engagement trick to build popular sentiment and anticipation for an eventual comeback while he took some downtime from the very real slog of running two popular YouTube channels.

This turned out to be correct, as Degros uploaded a new video to his skateboarding channel on Saturday. The vlog, in essence, serves as a tease to the several forthcoming videos he filmed while spending a week in California in early December. There’s also some behind-the-scenes of his The Nine Club appearance and several excellently executed frontside-noseslides — he can pop out of them things real good.

It’s the same earnest, softly opinionated Degros you’ve come to expect, the brief (skateboarding) YouTube hiatus doing nothing to dull his charm. “I’m just trying to get a quick pump so I don’t lose my fitness while I’m down here.” He says at on point while scenes of him doing push-ups and chin-ups on some monkey bars in a playground flash by.

A quick pump.

Taking a few month break, even if it was somewhat deceivingly teased as him being “done…….”, is a smart move on Degros’ part. YouTube creator burnout is a genuine thing — YouTube itself has an entire help page and video series dedicated to dealing with it — and taking preventative measures is important. From what Degros has told us, YouTubing is his full-time job, and that job becomes increasingly demanding the bigger your audience grows and the more content you have to make to keep their interest and your channel’s growth steady. All the while, you need to divine what the YouTube algorithm is interested in boosting, which then can influence what kind of content you make, generally for the worse.

It’s an issue that affects much of the community and has led to recent and high-profile (in the YouTubing world) retirements of creators who can’t keep up.

It seems stressful! So, for Degros, a few months off (from this channel, anyway) was probably for the best, even if it was initially billed as “the end.” I'm looking forward to more board setup reviews soon.

HawkCon vs. CanCon

Rank: 1.2
Mood: 🤼‍♀️

Inner turmoil. A battle of the self. Knowing which part of your heart to appeal to, what side of yourself to let take the wheel, is hard. This week, two things I enjoy writing about delivered a pair of offerings ripe for consideration. Takes. Reviews. Whatever writing about a thing can be.

To start, skateboarding’s frontman, Anthony Hawk, released some SponCon to his Instagram in the form of an ad for Shred-it, the document shredding company. I assume they’ve partnered with Hawk because some 35-45 year old in their marketing department realized that their company’s name could be interpreted as a description of what Hawk does for a career — get it? Get it??


On their website, they describe the collaboration thusly:

Shred-it® is partnering with one of the world’s greatest professional skateboarders, Tony Hawk, to highlight the importance of safely shredding documents, hard drives, and other forms of physical data. 

"I’m excited to partner with the pros at Shred-it®," said Tony Hawk. "I’ve been safely shredding skate ramps for years, but when it comes to safely shredding personal information, I’m a total amateur. By teaming up with Shred-it®, we’re helping to raise awareness about the importance of physical data destruction to help protect against identify [sic] theft.”

Perfect. However, the day after this iconic collabo dropped, some local Vancouver skateboarders — Alex Stoiber, Lukas Hrgovic, and Russ Grandbois — released a quick, fun edit that I thoroughly enjoyed and thought it would be nice to spend some time on here in the newsletter. Watching others skate your shared city is always interesting. How did they decide to approach a familiar spot? Where the hell is that cool-looking ledge? Etc.

Surely, I could write about their vid and Hawk’s advert? What would be stopping me? Well, for one, the conceit of this bit, which came to a head on Wednesday when Hawk released his second SponCon in as many days. In it, he’d grind through some bottles of vitamin gummies to demonstrate the importance of keeping up with bone and muscle health as you get older.

Tony via Instagram

It was perhaps at the exact moment Tony hashtagged #turmeric that local Vancouver filmmaker Angelo Fajardo, who happens to live in my apartment building (a subtle flex), uploaded take me with you, his most recent video featuring full parts from Alexandre Poulin, Ryan Bjorgan, and Connor Belvis. It’s a beautifully shot and edited offering full of legitimately absurd skateboarding and a warm, almost joyous energy that makes the viewer feel like they might be in on the session.

Do you see the unenviable position this put me in? I was torn between my two muses: Hawk Content and Canadian Content. They were two poles pulling me apart. The only way out was to bring them together.

Too much television

Rank: 3
Mood: 🕵️‍♂️

Over the weekend, I started watching Columbo in earnest. Peter Falk’s disarming and dishevelled homicide detective is such an entertaining and endearing character that it almost makes you forget that the show is low-grade copaganda or that Falk once signed up for the IDF to fight in Egypt because he was bored. (“I wasn't passionate about Israel, I wasn't passionate about Egypt—I just wanted more excitement … I got assigned a ship and departure date but the war was over before the ship ever sailed." He says in his autobiography, excerpt via Wikipedia.)

Anyway, it made me think about the ways a performance can transcend a role, profession, or person. Specifically, it brought Fred Gall to mind. Part man, part meme, Gall has remained such a longstanding and prominent figure in the culture not just because of his skateboarding, which is how he was introduced to us, but for who he is as a person, which, for how we take him in as fans through the media, is a performance of sort. Disarming and dishevelled, he’s been “Uncle Freddy,” a party animal, a candid advocate for mental health, a DIY mastermind, a literal hero who saved monks from a burning monastery in Cambodia, and the SLAP messageboard’s pick for SOTY since time immemorial.

It’s all of these things that make Gall such a compelling character. And while Columbo may be fictional, like Falk’s career-defining role, Gall always seems to have just one more thing… for us, whether that’s releasing an eight-minute-long video part in his mid-40s or reviving Metal Skateboards and Ben Raybourn’s career.

And maybe I’ve been watching too much television, but I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Gall try to solve a caper or two.

What if we just, I don’t know, made them up?

Rank: Blech
Mood: 🪄 🤮

Rumble, the self-proclaimed “free speech” video hosting platform that caters to and promotes explicitly far-right content and creators like Steven Crowder, Alex Jones, and the prominent QAnon talk show X22 Report, is disputing recent reporting that it is the subject of an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission because it “inflated key user metrics.”

To be fair, as Wired reports, “The SEC says that the existence of the probe should not be an indication that ‘any violations of law have occurred with respect to any person, entity, or security.’ The exact nature of the SEC investigation is still unknown.”

That said, the probe follows a report from Culper Research, a research investment firm, that “[expressed] skepticism about the legitimacy of Rumble’s claimed monthly active user (MAU) counts, a key metric for investors to evaluate the performance of a social media company.” The firm claimed in its report that “Combined, the web and app data suggest to us that Rumble has only 38 to 48 million unique users, and the Company has overstated its user base by 66% to 108%.”

It should be noted that, as a research investment firm, “Culper Research said it had taken a short position in Rumble, meaning it stands to profit if Rumble’s stock price decreases.” Which is an icky sort of thing to have exist.

However, “In a quarterly earnings call following the report’s publication, Rumble reported that its monthly active users declined by 40 percent during the first three months of 2023, from 80 million to 48 million.” Christian Lamarco, the founder of Culper Research, would take that as validation of his firm’s report.

While it’s too early to say, anecdotally, it did seem off how Street League Skateboarding events were doing such big numbers on Rumble, its broadcast partner, since the start of its last season. Numbers that were often bigger than their previous appearances on YouTube streams. So maybe SLS was able to cultivate a new and bigger audience there? On a relatively obscure website that required an account to watch? Or perhaps Rumble just made up a bunch of numbers and defrauded shareholders. Who knows?1

Is this skateboarding?

Rank: 1!!!!
Mood: 🐀

“Mouse secretly filmed tidying man’s shed every night”Charlie Moloney, The Guardian | January 7, 2024

Rodney Holbrook, a 75-year-old wildlife photographer from Builth Wells in Powys, Wales, has a new friend.

“It has been going on for months. I call him Welsh Tidy Mouse. At first, I noticed that some food that I was putting out for the birds was ending up in some old shoes I was storing in the shed, so I set up a camera.”

Night vision footage showed the seemingly conscientious rodent gathering clothes pegs, corks, nuts and bolts, and placing them in a tray on Holbrook’s workbench.

Holbrook even experimented with leaving out different objects to see if the mouse could lift them, but the creature was undeterred and was even seen carrying cable ties to the pot.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the mouse was tidying up,” Holbrook said.

“He moved all sorts of things into the box, bits of plastic, nuts and bolts. I don’t bother to tidy up now, as I know he will see to it. I leave things out of the box and they put it back in its place by the morning. Ninety-nine times out of 100 the mouse will tidy up throughout the night.”

Welsh Tidy Mouse is a creature called to create. Each lid or screw it places in Holbrook’s tray is a conscious choice, a calculated move. It isn’t just “tidying up.” It’s throwing out our shallow understanding of what mice can do. This is its art. A passion and compulsion. Not only that, Welsh Tidy Mouse even has a filmer and put out a video part that got published by The Guardian and has nearly over two million views on YouTube.

So, is this skateboarding?: Are you kidding me — absolutely. Get this guy on Skateboard Cafe or something.

Something to consider: South Africa made its case to the International Court of Justice that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, and Naomi Klein writes in The Guardian that BDS is one of the most potent tools left to stop Israel’s war crimes.

Good thing: In Jenkem, Thomas Barker made some predictions for what 2024 holds for skateboarding, and in retrospect, they’re a lot more reasonable than the bs I predicted.

Another good thing: Tim Anderson, a.k.a. Bobshirt, is the latest guest on Beyond Boards.

Sure, here’s one more good thing: Josh Sabini interviewed Ishod about his photography for Monster Children.

A reposting myself thing:

You know, everything
Elissa Steamer finally gets a cover.

Until next week… live, laugh, love. If you like. It’s up to you.

Book cover by the wonderful Hiller Goodspeed.

I have a new collection of essays coming out on April 1 that you can preorder now. I think you might like it. This is how my publisher, NeWest Press, describes the book.

From prairie towns to sprawling cities, Laser Quit Smoking Massage revels in the peculiarities of the Canadian West. A unique and exciting new voice in Canadian literature, Cole Nowicki’s witty, insightful, and ever-curious reportage explores the evolving states of community, family, and belonging.

And here’s what my pal Carleigh Baker, the award-winning author of Bad Endings, said about the thing.

“Urban poodle art, corpse flowers, and Craigslist's enduring humanity. These are the things that keep Cole Nowicki up at night. With warmth and wisdom to spare, Nowicki takes readers through a mix of imaginative and deeply entertaining topics. This is not just an essay collection, it's a guidebook of curiosities and family histories usually reserved for locals. Laser Quit Smoking Massage is a lozenge of literary absurdity that might just as soon sell you a watch as blow your mind.”

Yes, I am still posting about Right, Down + Circle here. It is in stores now, and you can also order it from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher, ECW Press, or all of the usual big box devils. Also, if you like book clubs, you can join the inimitable Ted Barrow in reading Right, Down + Circle on his Berate The Birds Patreon, which you should also subscribe to because it rules.

1 They inflated the numbers, c’mon now.