Words and Photos by Zach Baker
“I love Montreal so much, but every time I come here, I’m such a piece of shit.” — Jersey Dave
Skateboarding is all spectacle, but I understand that you’re up in arms about the International Olympic Committee treating it like the highly-commercialized mainstream sport that it is. You’re asking “how can you even judge skateboarding? It’s art, bro.”
Dime, in the Canadian tradition of being smarter, funnier and better at skateboarding than us, addressed this dilemma long before Tokyo 2020 was even a discussion. But still, we’re here deciding which kickball court to skate piles of refuse in, pleading, “how could they do this to us? This isn’t the 200 meter backstroke…this is skateboarding!” Yes, aside from the fact that smoking weed makes you better at it, skateboarding has very little in common with competitive swimming.
As descendants of the land that brought us the Montreal Screwjob, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Robert “Sluggo” Boyce, the Dime boys recognized what the future of skateboard events could and should look like. Let me tell you, it looks a lot like professional wrestling.
Like pro wrestling, skateboarding’s industry puppet-masters rig the show. You have the editor of “The Bible” telling you who’s cool, who’s wack, and how many dad hats to buy. Video parts remove all the bails until all that’s left is a three-minute sizzle reel. Meanwhile, there are guys promoting energy drinks that they wouldn’t drink if it gave them all the pop in the world. We can’t begin to forget the Great 900 Hoodwink of ’99, involving a chizzy Australian anti-hero and the crowd-favorite businessman who allegedly can’t even flip his fucking board.
Skateboarding in a professional sense isn’t about being true to reality; it’s about contorting it into as entertaining of a version as possible. Skateboarders are willing to suspend disbelief and embrace this “unreality.” In wrestling, the insiders call it “kayfabe” — it is the unspoken agreement to pretend that it is real, so that everyone involved could enjoy it to the fullest extent possible. The Dime Glory Challenge is a spotlight on the pre-existing fictional narrative of the skate industry, while sneakily creating its own. It is the perfect fix.
In their happy perch of a city, just under an hour north of a country where the 2016 election has half of its citizens threatening to invade Canada for safety, the Dime boys have the luxury of sitting on an idyllic marble ledge as the world implodes around them. Dime is at once a super-fan, a skate brand, a fashion house and a critic. Through savage business prowess and a lot of sitting around and talking shit, they have figured out what makes people tick. They’ve assemble the data, they can fill the seats and get the views, putting themselves in an ideal position to rig skateboarding for decades to come.
The irony in wrestling is that its unreality is what creates its success — it is a brilliant manipulation of the audience’s hope that, in a sea of bullshit, they may get to see something unexpected or dare we say, real.
Dime knows what we want. We want to see people land crazy tricks, but we really just want to see someone get washed trying something stupid. We want flashy showboating, petty gossip and maybe even some tears. We want someone to try and kickflip going way too fast. We want someone to sack themselves on a six-foot-tall flatbar or to see Lil Nice Girl climb out of a foam pit. We want Peter Hewitt to be flown to Canada for the weekend to do literally nothing, and then win last place and $15,000 (Canadian) for his efforts. (He didn’t even look at a skateboard.) We want to see Alexis Lacroix do anything.
As far as creating a commotion, the cues taken from Don King were apparent. The World Champion Game of S.K.A.T.E. was between defending champ, Wade D., the undisputed best flatground skater in the fucking world, and Jamal Smith, a charismatic young brother with cool style, an affinity for social media, and banging big spin revert combos. After some serious shots fired online, Jamal came out to face the reigning champ draped in an American flag, while Wade rolled into the park in a Bentley. They took breaks between rounds, in which Jamal smoked weed, and Wade was treated with the hometown celebrity that his biased countrymen felt he deserved. Then he won, obviously. He’s perfect.
Did Wade take a couple dives? Sure. Was in the interest of the narrative, and on the insistence of his Dime overlords, who were writing the checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Probably. They forced Lee Yankou to sack. They forced Sluggo to be so good at partying, to land a switch back flip first try into the foampit, and to roll so many strikes at bowling the next night that his clothes probably still smell like turkey. They made Dustin Henry take out Little Nice Girl in the Gladiator Challenge. They spare no one.
It seems like a joke, and at first, it is. However, having seen the extent of the manipulation that these seemingly harmless young men are capable of, by 2020, you’ll realize that the Glory Challenge is far more sinister than anything Street League or fifteen elderly Olympic people could ever dream of. They will form a dangerous cult of people in speed shades, arms raised high in salute to Valdez, and ready to take over the world.