I can’t remember the names of the last four Ghostface albums and I can’t remember the names of the last four Transworld videos. I haven’t been waiting for either to live up to some expectation that waned well over a decade ago, either. The last dozen-plus Transworld videos have come and gone. There were some good parts, but they’re no less immune to one-and-done Instagratification wormhole that gets talked about by anyone giving a skate interview in 2017.
It seemed like we all agreed on this. Except people have had a lot of, um, not the nicest things to say about Riddles in Mathematics. First, The Bunt went in on it, then the comments on the Ben Gore part that was live for twenty-four hours — fidgety filming, GX and/or Colin Read envy, the soundtrack — skateboarders complain about everything, but apparently this one rubbed people in some way that the last five didn’t.
In the time since Transworld lost the website wars to more Biblical and Scientological outlets, it has been easy to forget that the magazine’s video program was once an eminent of a tastemaker in skateboarding. Transworld packaged Stevie/Kalis and Dill/A.V.E. better than even their sponsors. It prolonged the legend of Cardiel into a generation that was a decade removed from his S.O.T.Y. win. In Bloom predicated Tony T’s 2002 S.O.T.Y. trophy, and punctuated the release of Street Cinema. Heath Kirchart never got S.O.T.Y, but he had the Sight Unseen part. But that space where a Transworld video was an unmissable cultural event can’t co-exist with the internet.
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“Konchalski is New York’s chief basketball curator and historian, someone who has long celebrated the city’s excellence, but on that afternoon, riding out to Long Island, he looked out at the playground courts and felt troubled by what he saw. For decades, those courts had been filled with ballplayers, kids shoveling the snow or stumbling through the heat so they could go 1-on-15 in overcrowded games of 21.5 Courts like these had molded players like Cousy and King and Mullin into stars; these blacktops had turned playground savants like Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault and Joe ‘The Destroyer’ Hammond into city legends. But now, out the window, he saw skateboards. Not basketballs. Skateboards.” — “The Mecca in Decline: Why doesn’t New York City produce elite NBA talent like it used to?“
The excerpt above is from Jordan Ritter Conn’s excellent Grantland article about the declining level of basketball talent in New York City (Lance Stephenson withstanding, obvs.) Even if you don’t follow the sport, it is an interesting take on the evolution of recreational activity in this city.
Basketball has long been New York’s main athletic export. It has never been able to accommodate the space required for a football or baseball field, hence the lack of MLB or NFL players to emerge from the city. Except now, even NCAA Division I basketball prospects are going elsewhere, as it has grown so strained for space that courts and adequate high school facilities are becoming scarce. There is less cultural importance placed on the game because there is less space to play it.
Couple this with the fact that “for the first time in nearly a hundred years, the rate of urban population growth outpaced suburban growth, reversing a trend that held steady for every decade since the invention of the automobile.” Do you think there is going to be any more space for traditional sports in cities, let alone New York?
Konchalski’s observation that skateboards are becoming more common on basketball courts than basketballs is interesting when juxtaposed against a certain line of thinking that emanates from the “state of skateboarding” crowd. (Worst phrase ever, by the way.) There has always been a certain breed of doomsayer who would ask “Well when skateboarding isn’t popular, where is so-and-so going to be and what is so-and-so going to do?” …what? Do you guys live in some town where twenty people skate and four of them quit so skateboarding became 20% less popular? Have you walked around any major American city lately — even the ones with minimal skate spots? There is a skateboard rattling behind your head every ten, if not five minutes.
And no, l*ngb**rds don’t rattle.
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