The Dime Glory Challenge has been compared to Wrestlemania, it has been called an antidote to Street League, and a joke in the face of skateboarding’s road to becoming an Olympic sport. I have heard colleagues echo my sentiments about Dime being the only company whose ideas are worthy of jealousy. “You know that one Dime video where ___” is a frequent refrain among many of our peers.
How do you write about something that everyone is unanimously in love with for the third year in a row without veering into trite redundancy? Why is it impossible to see anyone who doesn’t like Dime as anything but a shameless contrarian?
Last Saturday, we woke up so excited that we showed up to the Challenge at noon, only to learn that it would not begin until 3 P.M. Our moderately day-drunk sights set on our fellow attendees: only a week removed from #NYFW, a buzzed “wouldn’t it be funny” soon turned into asking strangers for pictures of their outfits to pass the time and break some ice.
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Throughout most of our lifetimes, the four-peat has been elusive in professional sports. (The last one was the New York Islanders’ dynastic run of Stanley Cup wins from 1980 until 1983.) This weekend, however, we approach the real possibility of the first four-peat of the new millennium: Wade Desarmo could become the World Champion of Skateboarding for the fourth time in a row.
Only one obstacle stands in his way: winner of Thrasher’s 2013 “Skater of the Year” Award and recurring recipient of Quartersnacks’ more encompassing “Best Skater” award, Ishod Wair.
Your local shop, bar, and T.F. bench has no doubt been abuzz with predictions about this weekend’s game, but predictions seem split down the middle. Sure, Ishod is the Best Skater™ — except who wants to be the contrarian in the room doubting a three-time repeating champion? Since none of us have ever played a World Champion in S.K.A.T.E. before, our opinions are reduced to amateur guesswork. To get some real insight, we contacted Wade’s past three Glory Challenge opponents and Dennis Busenitz, who once famously swept him in an obscure exhibition series called “Battle at the Berrics,” for their predictions.
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Fall 2018 marks ten years since Billy Rohan rescued those slabs of marble from Albany’s defunct Shelter Skatepark, with which he would go on to create the best iteration of 12th & A that there ever was. Through the spring of 2013, 12th Street became a rare place to skate straight, stone ledges in lower Manhattan without having to worry about a kick-out. I remember Billy being in awe of how he and Curtis Rapp pulled off this marble heist and installation without a hitch: “This spot is perfect — it feels like Stalin Plaza, except instead of marble ground, I have to settle for a basketball court.”
I also remember that when we were doing the interview for this old segment about the Chapman Skateboards archive, Gregg mentioned how Billy equated their patented technology for a “performance tip” (a piece of special plastic at the nose and tail of a board that kept your pop crisper for longer) to be like skating on Stalin Plaza ground at all times.
Apart from Billy’s anecdotal obsession with Stalin Plaza, I have wanted to go there since Harsh Euro Barge came out. It looked the right amount of different from any other European holy grail spot; something stood out about those arbitrary pieces of marble stacked on flawless ground, with a precision applied to the spacing between each one. How were these piles of beautifully sliced rocks left alone in a building-less abyss?
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The China Banks are some of skateboarding’s most hallowed ground. From being a pivotal filming location for Powell Peralta’s The Search For Animal Chin, to the site of Joe Valdez’s tricks that earned him a devoted cult twenty years after the fact, to the host of numerous NBDs, magazine covers, and even 2018 video part enders — there are few street spots in skateboarding that have been able to endure FOUR DECADES of continued innovation and history.
…but those are San Francisco’s China Banks.
New York‘s China Banks are perfect three-foot-high quarterpipe transitions, which are ideal for a city that didn’t begin getting a surge in actual skatepark transitions until the 2010s. They have gaps between them, a hip, and are the perfect size for anyone looking to have fun learning a transition trick on a natural quarterpipe. The only catch is, of course, that they are made out of perhaps the only surface less conducive to skateboarding than fire or water: cobblestones.
So why have our Chinatown Banks, constructed out of some of the worst possible material for skateboarding, endured as a kinda-sorta-maybe-could-be spot for the past ~twenty years?
You know those friends who always find themselves in “project” relationships, where they try to see the best in the person despite countless red flags, and drain themselves trying to “fix” their significant other? That’s New York skateboarding’s relationship with the China Banks — I mean, have you seen the garbage we skate? We look at bad spots through rose colored glasses, thinking they’re mere steps away from perfection. We’re co-dependent on these bad spots; the plain trick on the bad spot just means so much more than if it’s a hard trick on a recycled plastic bench in a parking lot. Maybe if we approach them just the right way, and apply just the right tweaks to them, the Chinatown Banks will love us back.
Unfortunate for us, things don’t always work out as optimistically as we hope.
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Intro & Interview by Frozen in Carbonite
Top Collage by Requiem For A Screen
From time to time, skating functions as a nexus point for a cultural #moment. Case in point: the old X-Large store on Vermont in L.A. — a locale squarely in the middle of a venn diagram of streetwear, rap, and what we now know as street skating:
1. Backed by the Beastie Boys, who used footage from Questionable in the video for “Time for Livin’”
2. Neighbored by Los Feliz School, home of legendary hip/bump/stairs etc.
3. Frequented by the most progressive World/Girl/Choc riders of the time, who, as Clyde Singleton noted in his legendary 20 Shot Sequence commentary, blew thousands of dollars on Pumas and “weird Ben Davis pants.”
The internet — or more specifically, the only thing on it that anyone cares about, Instagram — functions as the modern-day X-Large store. And in a few short years, Sk8mafia rider Stephen Lawyer has mastered this convergence by capitalizing on both the #attentioneconomy and Instagram-as-Content-Management-System.
Where are you from, and how did you get into skating?
I’m from San Diego. I was playing hella baseball as a kid, and I saw some neighborhood kids skating. I got a board together and started skating to practice ‘n shit. And one day at practice I was just like “Man, I’m tired of this shit. I just wanna skate with the homies.” I quit baseball and here I am.
Who was most influential on your skating coming up?
I’m sure you’ve heard of Jordan Taylor. I was best friends with his little brother, and we always used to skate together. It was pretty dope watching Jordan and all the other homies do their thing. They had a crew called More for Less, and they’d always make videos and shit. We pretty much followed in their footsteps.
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