In Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film about the porn industry of the 70s and 80s, Burt Reynolds’ Jack Horner gives a fateful speech admonishing the advent of home video: “I have a stable of actors and actresses. They’re professionals. They’re not a bunch of fucking amateurs. They’re proven in the box office. They get people in theaters, where films should be seen, and they know how to fuck.”
It is not hard to imagine similar tirades (maybe with a few words switched out) occurring in Powell-Peralta boardrooms as the 80s were coming to a close, and skateboarding was around the corner from a crash. Skate videos of the decade were refined and narrative-driven, and for good reason. There were only like, six tricks invented at the time, so they had to fill up those other 53 minutes in an hour-long skate video with story, personality shots and other shit.
But what would come after skateboarding’s believed-to-be demise was a rebirth. Videos like Snuff, Video Days, Tim & Henry’s Pack of Lies, and Questionable were unrepentant in their progression — they were too busy inventing modern skateboarding in front of your eyes to worry about the extracurricular malarky from the Animal Chin days. New faces and a camera thrown in a backpack was the name of the game. The old mode was dead. But for how long?
Skateboarding draws many parallels to pornography, but one of the most curious ones is an incessant need to add narrative to something that nobody watches for the story. As we will soon learn, plots returned to skate videos as quickly as they went.
There’s no shortage of talk about a deck’snotorious resistanceto inflation. But what about shoes? While something like a Lebron in 2019 is substantially more expensive than a Jordan in 1999, skate shoes have hovered around the same average $70-80 price tag for the better part of two decades, even as skateboarding itself has grown and adapted to new trends, technologies, and customers. Meanwhile, every fashion house in Europe has been raking in the money these past few years, pushing puffy sneakers reminiscent of old skate shoes.
We tracked down the principal figures behind the first three-figure skate shoe, released in 1997, and got their story on what was as much of an anomaly as it was a watershed moment for skateboarding as a cultural phenomenon, and style of footwear design. (Keep in mind that, adjusted for inflation, $100 in 1997 is the equivalent of $156 in 2019.)
What was the skate shoe landscape like at the start of the nineties?
Don Brown, Chief Brand Strategist at Sole Tech: Airwalk, Vans and Simple were the only other shoe brands. They had become so mainstream and rigid — and there was a dip in the economy, so they scrambled to get sales wherever they could. Pierre [Andre Senizegues, founder of Sole Technology] was doing the distribution for Etnies at the time, bringing it over from France. When skateboarding crashed, vert and freestyle were pretty much eliminated. There was a whole generation of upstarts, like Rocco and them, and everyone in skateboarding rode for Etnies at some point.
Chad Muska: There were a hundred riders on Etnies, or something crazy like that. Even that High Five video had so many people in it. The shoe industry then was like, “Oh, this company is going to give you free shoes. Maybe there’s a chance you get paid.” It was so secondary to boards. There were early pro shoes, like the Half Cab, the Natas, and the SLB, but I think the real start of the skateboard shoe industry being serious was when they began making videos.
It’s one of those “more words than videos” weeks :)
“But skateboarding’s worldview can often become so totalizing that commitment to it far into adulthood, past the age when it’s socially acceptable to ride around in a school bus smoking weed and listening to Slayer, can look like protracted adolescence. This is why skateboarding, for a large chunk of the country, will never fully outgrow its degenerate associations. And that’s fine.” It is notoriously difficult to produce a genuinely great piece of writing about skateboarding, but Noah Gallagher Shannon’s profile of Grant Taylor ticks all the boxes. Send it to your mom.
QS is perpetually giving 90% of skate video editors a hard time for their uninspired marriage to Big L + and this idea that basically all rap still needs to sound like nineties rap (how boring does that sound tbh?), but we’ll throw you guys a bone here because there’s a substantial chance you haven’t heard this one before, and it’s really fun:
Today is Washington’s birthday, but the queen’s 30th is tomorrow! We are going to stick to a Rihanna’s 30th resolution of no more late Monday Links posts! Ain’t none of us perfect, I hope it was worth it.
Zered Bassett’s seafood tower cruiser will be available on Alltimers.com tomorrow. They shot a quick Insta commercial for it, which you can watch here.
Somehow missed this one when it went live just over a week ago: Nick Michel, the dude who boardslid the double-rail across from the mini double-sets at Battery Park (#QSTOP10, a few weeks back) has an amazing new part up on Thrasher, which features the VX angle of trick in question plus a trick at the ride-on rail spot that’s not on the ride-on rail! Battery Park MVP 2k18.
It’s grey out there, so here’s the clip of Muska hugging a tree to put a smile on your face (it’s tied with this video of like a 500 people rapping every single word to Glizzy’s verse on “Crew” for 2017’s best byte of life-affirming video.) It was a pleasure to watch this new season of Epicly Later’d — Andy Roy defending Jesse Paez was funnier than any bit of scripted comedy that someone could come up with, and if your heart didn’t melt at Reynolds’ relationship with his daughter and Kader, then your insides probably look like the Juicy J “Stay Fly” shirt.
“Can human achievement in general surpass Chewy Cannon’s bank-to-ledge nosegrind or can we only hope to match it?” With the completion of the endlessly postponed, all-London Palace video, Boil the Ocean dwells on the post-2010 tide shifts that have occurred in the British skateboard industry.
This Detroit edit is rad. It chronicles the recent history of all its spots via an overview of changing Google Street Views. Also, it made Detroit look funner to skate (at least for our purposes) than a lot of recent higher profile coverage to come out of there.
“Electricity acts like a skateboarder traveling down a ramp. The higher the ramp, the more potential energy they have and the further they can travel.” See: Skateboarding as a vessel to teach how electricity works.