Weaving in and out of history | Simply Ranked

Plus: Somebody take Steve's phone away, Bobby de Keyzer, the perfect collab, and more.

Weaving in and out of history | Simply Ranked
Judi Oyama photo reference via Richard Oyama
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.

Somebody take Steve’s phone away

Rank: -1
Mood: 🚫 📱

In early January, The Berrics announced that “Eric Koston and Steve Berra are 100% back in control of The Berrics.” This was important, they alleged, because Hypebeast, who’d acquired the content production house in 2018 and had a majority of board seats, had been stymying their creative output and dictating what kind of content they could release. The implication was that those overbearing corporate overlords had led to the decline of the once-beloved skateboarding media company. Now that they had wrested their portmanteau back, things would be different, they said.

In the months since, The Berrics has updated their branding and… that’s about it. Besides continuing on as an aggregate site that posts content made by others and then links to their own tangentially-related content underneath, they’ve debuted ostensibly new video concepts like “On The Spot,” where TJ Rogers does as many tricks as he can on one obstacle, which while an impressive output from Rogers, feels like a simple rehash of countless other The Berrics offerings. They’ve also continued to repackage years-old content like their ill-fated “Push” series, releasing “The Luan Oliveira Story | Push: Remastered” on March 3, curiously coinciding with the announcement that Oliveira is the latest addition to the Cariuma footwear team, a company that The Berrics, and Steve Berra, have a vested interest in as a brand manager, partner, or something — the relationship isn’t entirely clear, besides the obvious turn of The Berrics becoming a promotional arm for the shoe brand.

If anything has changed, it’s (assumedly) Berra’s increasingly strange handling of The Berrics’ Instagram account. There’s “#❤️skateboarders,” the mostly innocuous hashtag campaign that’s a clear play for engagement couched in bizarrely worded language that tries to pass it off as an altruistic effort.

As the Berrics moves forward, we wanted to start a new hashtag, like the one we started with #skateboardingisfun , celebrating all the skateboarders of the world. Every day we’re going to look at #❤️skateboarders and pull what we see and feature them on our page, no matter who they are, what they’re doing or what level of skateboarding they’re at, because we love you, appreciate you, and you’re important to the survival of skateboarding as a whole, even if you don’t know it yet. - sb

Stranger still is their “questions of the day,” that range from the eye-wateringly mundane to shockingly asinine.

Yikes. You’d hope someone in The Berrics’ orbit would step in and suggest that making a mockery of their brand for engagement isn’t the best idea — and that attempting to insult literal children in the comments of those brand-tarnishing posts isn’t a great look, either.

However, it doesn’t seem like that’ll happen anytime soon. It’s become bad enough that it almost makes you think the content-stifling allegations against Hypebeast were true and that maybe they were trying to save what’s left of The Berrics’ reputation by keeping Berra from having free reign.

Anyways, as he appears determined to ruin his options at financial and cultural relevancy, I predict we see Berra take a route frequented by a growing number of self-immolating public figures with a distinct inability for personal reflection: on Newsmax decrying “woke” culture in 4-6 months.

Weaving in and out of history

Rank: 1
Mood: 🔺 🛹 🔺 🛹 🔺 🛹 🔺

Last week, Santa Cruz skateboards put out a nice piece about Hall-of-Famer Judi Oyama, a skateboarding pioneer who remains an active competitive slalomer at 63. In the video, Oyama talks about her early years skateboarding, the progression of the sport, her love of CrossFit, and her drive to support the next generation of skateboarders — the latter leading to a personally satisfying (for the Jessup-heads out there) exchange with teenaged Santa Cruz rider Minna Stess.

Oyama’s feature reminded me of how fascinating the world of slalom skateboarding is. It’s never been the sexiest of skateboarding disciplines, but it has a highly-devoted community and the people who can do it well are absolute machines. I was able to chat with a few of the more prominent names in the scene while doing research for a segment on slalom for Post Radical a number of years back, and the dedication this pocket of skateboarding has to their craft is inspiring. There aren’t big cash prizes, major sponsorships, or anything of the like. They truly do it for the love of it. Well, and the glory, I assume. Slalom even has its own competitively dominant Nyjah Huston-esque figure in Lynn Kramer who’s won over 16 world championships.

If you get into it, it’s compelling stuff. Can anyone knock Kramer from that top spot? Will Oyama podium at 65 years old? Can anyone best defending men’s world champion Jānis Kuzmins’ 100 cone record of 19.41 seconds? We’ll have to wait until the 2024 World Skate games in Rome, Italy, to find out.

Hard yes

Rank: 1
Mood: 🥹 👖

Quasi Skateboards released either “2411-QJ02 HD24,” “Hard Dream, or “BOB2” last Friday — whichever name you prefer, it serves as the latest entry in the ever-expanding Bobby de Keyzer canon of video parts. It is also, in typical de Keyzer and Quasi fashion, excellent. As a technical skateboarder of the highest order, his trick selection is what I find most appealing. de Keyzer can likely command his skateboard to do any trick he likes, yet he exercises restraint. There are no excessive spins or flips in or out. While taste is subjective, it’s unlikely that the knowing viewer watches “Hard Dream” and doesn’t have the word whispered in the back of their mind.

Of course, it goes beyond just the tricks. It’s the spot selection, from crusty bump-to-bars to the ol’ faithful of CBC Toronto’s manual pads; an edit that takes from the experimental tradition of early Sovereign Sect yet feels very much like Quasi’s own vision; and obviously, de Keyzer’s fits. The guy can dress.

The last time I wrote about him in this space, I decried de Keyzer for taunting those of us mired in a perpetual pants crisis with his top-notch trousers; his Faces of Another brand far outside my budget. Quasi operative and kind reader of the newsletter, Jeremy Tubbs, commented on that post with a suggestion: Quasi’s Warren pant, which is apparently designed by de Keyzer himself. Since taking that advice, it’s the only pant I’ve worn. In fact, after watching “Hard Dream,” I went to Quasi’s website, noticed new colours of the Warren and ordered more. All of this to say, not only is de Keyzer one of skateboarding’s premier talents, but he also excels at the one thing most companies truly pine for in a sponsored athlete: the ability to convince people to buy their shit.

ALERT: The perfect collab

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🥹 🍔

Without doing any further research or dipping into the dank, mouldy recesses of my mind for any conflicting accounts, I can say with complete conviction that the “GENESIS 3 Burger” released by Lil Woody’s in collaboration with and in celebration of the release of the third installment in Ian Ostrowski’s skateboarding video series Genesis, is the best skateboarding brand collaboration in history.

Readers of Simple Magic know I am a long sufferer of the brand collab and its hollow ubiquitousness within the industry—but a hamburger? With 3 grass-fed beef patties? Tomatoes, grilled onions, iceberg lettuce, Swiss, cheddar, and pepper jack cheese? Campfire sauce?? The “GENESIS 3 Burger” highlights what’s always missing from the brand collab: flavour. A product whose consumption actually does something for you as a human person and offers a literal thing to chew on besides misguided attempts at brand synergy.

While I was unable to try the “GENESIS 3 Burger” to confirm whether or not it actually tasted good, ultimately, I don’t think I needed to. The fact that it existed is enough. And that its existence doesn’t continue on, eternal, languishing in the back rooms and landfills that overflow with Emerica x Psockadelic gear.

Flaaaaaash breeeeewwwww

Rank: 1!!
Mood: 🥹 ☕️

If you’re going to leverage your brand power in an effort to sell a product to a consumer base worn to nubs by a lifetime of being subjected to advertisements, it’s probably in your best interest to at least make said product interesting. A shoe with multiple logos on it? Eh, I’m good. A triple-stacked hamburger? Gimme that goddamn thing. So it was encouraging, and perhaps not at all surprising, that one of skateboarding’s strongest personal brands would come out with a unique and fitting collab of his own.

Alexis Lacroix, the invariably viral skateboarding social media star — whether that’s due to his well-documented on-board journeys with his cat, his consistent championing of the lost art ski-skating, or his now iconic catchphrase (and Instagram handle) “oooohhh yeeeahhhhh” — now has a signature “flash brew” with Lenoir Lacroix, his father’s coffee roasting company. The branding on the “ready to drink” beverages is a charming representation of the skateboarding Lacroix himself; a mouth with legs riding a skateboard and yelling his slogan. It’s the pure essence of the hitch-hiking, campfire-crooning character you know and love captured and bottled in a consumable form.

Is Lacroix’s flash brew any good? Much like the “GENESIS 3 Burger,” I don’t know or particularly care. These offerings are just a nice change of pace. That said, if you’re out there papa Lacroix, I wouldn’t say no to a case.

Something to consider: Being honest with your friends when they make a mistake.

A good thing: Mike Munzenrider with a great dive into the cultural import of the skate shop t-shirt for Quartersnacks.

An unfortunate but understandable thing:

A sad, complicated, and beautiful thing: “Miriam Toews’s Oscars moment exposes a complicated relationship with her Mennonite hometown,” by Nancy MacDonald for The Globe and Mail.

Until next week… don’t burden yourself with perfection. Blemishes are to be expected and should be appreciated. They’re what make us us. We should revel in them. You, me, and everyone you know have them. I mean, all of our March Madness brackets were just busted thanks to Princeton’s upset win over Arizona — and that’s okay. There’s beauty in it. Go Marquette.