Vlogging greatness | Simply Ranked

Plus: Silas knows how to skateboard, positive reinforcement, bad news for daring entrepreneurs 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.

Vlogging greatness

Rank: 1.1
Mood: 🧚🏽‍♀️

It took 14-year-old Rayssa Leal five attempts to backside lipslide Hollywood High’s 16 stair handrail, a crowning achievement captured in vlog form. Google Translated from Portuguese, “Went to Hollywood High 16 Steps | What maneuver did I try?” is an expertly titled piece of YouTube content delivered to her 114,000 subscribers on Tuesday. That question still driving clicks, despite being answered last week following the announcement of Leal’s well-deserved promotion to professional by Shane Oneill and April Skateboards. The backside lipslide a capper on the weekend’s Instagram official pro-nod.

In 1999—nearly a decade before Leal joined us on this planet—Jamie Thomas also backside lipslid Hollywood High’s 16 in Zero Skateboards’ Misled Youth. While time and the content delivery systems have changed, Leal and Thomas’ respective tricks have helped establish their brands and mythologies in their own ways. For Thomas, the trick was the penultimate after-black hammer, coming once The Doors’ “The End” had ended to denote the impressiveness and import of what the viewer was witnessing. A dramatic editing choice that would work to burnish Thomas’ reputation as an unrivalled, boundary-pushing skateboarder.

For Leal, the spot's history had already been established for decades by people like Thomas, immediately denoting the impressiveness and import of her trick to the audience. But the ease with which she executed the backside lipslide, only to share it straight to Instagram and an accompanying Youtube vlog rather than keep it for a video part, tells us that it’s merely perfunctory. No after black, just a nice-to-have ticked off in the ledger as she moves on to something greater, this moment simply the beginning.

Two songs long, two decades deep

Rank: 1.2
Mood: 💼

At 38 years old, in a line of work that focuses and feasts on the young, Silas Baxter-Neal appears to have figured things out as a professional skateboarder. And like most means of progression, it’s about consistency. Because simply being good is one thing, but continuing to be good on a regular, accountable basis is what’s difficult. But Baxter-Neal is doing it. He steadily releases video parts at least once or twice a year that maintain or improve upon the quality of their predecessors—or offer something different entirely.

But that formula wasn’t always clear. “I just didn’t think I understood how pro skateboarding worked at all for many years.” He’d tell Thrasher in a recent episode of “Out There.” And even once he’d turned pro and began to forge a career for himself, it didn’t seem built to last. “At that time (Habitat Inhabitants era), I thought I’d be done by the time I was 30, for sure.”

But he kept at it; his skill backed up by a work ethic that would eventually net him Thrasher’s SOTY award in 2008—an accolade and an albatross of sorts. “I didn’t feel like the kind of legendary skater that all of the other Skater of The Years previous had been… After that, I felt I had to be way better than I was. It was kind of hard to live up to my expectations.”

That title and the pressure that came with it drove him to keep pushing himself, and ultimately, he believes, he “… [wouldn’t] still be a pro skater now if I hadn’t of gotten that Skater of The Year.” It seems conflicting for Baxter-Neal, because, as we know, being consistently good for so long is a demanding thing. "If I had known that I would have a career until 37, I think I would’ve been able to relax into it a little more. But maybe at the same time, I wouldn’t have worked as hard.”

And it only gets harder as one ages. “There’s a mental toll that comes with trying to be the best I can be right now. Trying to put everything into a video part, there’s a mental toll, and sometimes it doesn’t feel all that worth it.” But he continues. In this week’s release of “Burrow,” Baxter-Neal reminds us again of what he’s capable of across two songs and seven minutes of excellent new footage.

Hopefully, he feels the strain is worth it in the end. That what he’s pulling from the concrete is something more than just another collection of tricks. And if his level of experience can give a person anything, it’s perspective—a blueprint.

“I just have a better sense of the kind of skating I want to do instead of just doing all of the tricks. I feel like I know how to skateboard now. How to be a skateboarder.”


Rank: 3
Mood: 🏀

Sometimes hitting the rim makes it even more impressive.

Some positive reinforcement

Rank: 4
Mood: 😊

As we age and our bodies change, sometimes it feels strange to catch a glimpse of oneself on our skateboards. That mirrored window or friend’s Instagram Story can show a version of us we’ve yet to square with the past. And sure, maybe our push is a little stiffer now after decades of self-propulsion, or our hairlines continue to move back like an ever-ebbing tide; but that’s just a beautiful new present to showcase. Consider your skateboard a mobile catwalk where we strike poses for the latest, greatest hours of our lives.

Yes, deck that front rock. Hold it, hold it—but not too long! Beautiful.

Bad news, daring entrepreneur

Rank: 2
Mood: ⚾️ 🥎

In my constant quest for new skateboarding product gimmicks, I wanted to know if an already well-established novelty item across multiple industries existed for the skateboard. From automobiles to Crocs, the severed and dangling plastic scrotum has been a staple of our public psyche for many years now. A beacon for people who love what a fleshy, lopsided mould of balls represents: freedom? Maybe. I’m not exactly sure. Whatever the case, people still love Truck Nuts. And if those same people will put them on their Crocs, they’ll  put them on anything. So, naturally, this means there must be a market for Skateboard Truck Nuts.

Unfortunately, when one Google image searches “skateboard truck nuts,” all that populates the screen is this:

Poor Search Engine Optimization spells the death of any product gimmick. People just won’t spend quality amounts of time scouring the endless, hellish depths of the internet for something they want to buy on a whim. So if Skateboard Truck Nuts do exist, they’re SOL. And even if they don’t and I, or any other daring entrepreneur, wanted to bring them to market, they’re DOA due to poor SEO.

Something to consider:

Good things: Love bridging the greatest of divides.

Until next week… lay in a patch of grass, stare into the sky and watch the thoughts clouding your mind float past.