As always, there’s been a lot of skateboarding going on this week; or, to be more precise, armchair skateboarding appreciation.
I’ve only skated once, but I’ve logged more hours than I care to admit devouring clips. The Oscars season of November-December has given way to the more interesting and obscure early months of the year—let’s call it skateboarding’s Sundance season. Click on!
For a country with such a rich seam of skateboarding talent, Australia has traditionally relied on America for validation. It’s surprising how few homegrown brands have risen to international notoriety or stuck around more than a few years – with notable exceptions, of course. But it’s 2021 and all that seems to be changing, with the debut of Poolroom. The details are hazy and the future unclear, but the brand seems to be a sort of Kerrigan-inspired who’s who of Australian top-shelf skaters who weren’t previously being looked after. The intro clip is obviously heavy (that ollie!) but what excites me most is a throwaway Instagram post of Dennis Durrant catching his hat mid-line before casually fakie ollieing a fence gap. You could sell that.
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Huf Worldwide: CALEB
The brand known as Huf, which is formerly the shoe brand known as Huf, and before that the clothing brand and store known as Huf, but above all the brand started by the incredible force of nature that was Keith Hufnagel (RIP), seems set into a groove of being a traditional, no bullshit skateboard clothing brand. Richmond VA’s Caleb McNeely is a perfect ambassador, with his very modern trick mix of head-scratchers (180 nose bonk/Daewon booger slide over a planter and down a storey high drop) and revived classics (a fakie nosegrind revert on a bench has never looked so good). His double ollie ender is plainly reminiscent of the great man himself.
Heroin skateboards: Dead Dave Lives
With one of the better nicknames in skateboarding history, Sheffield’s Dead Dave has a lot to live up to, or live down. On paper it sounds contrived—punk rock, shaped boards, grabs, handstand wallrides—but Dead Dave pulls it off and actually makes you consider cutting your hair into a mullet, screwing rails on your board and hitting the streets. He’s one of the new style of old-style skaters, if that makes any sense, and his enthusiasm and love for the board is infectious.
Mark Gonzales: Droping in
It might be because I’ve based much of my life on his teachings, but I’m starting to believe Mark Gonzales’ YouTube posts are the best things on the internet. Sure, the clips are often very boring—watching them sometimes gives me the feeling of when some wasted guy sits next to me at a party and forces me to watch the entire contents of his phone—but that person is Mark fucking Gonzales. Marvel as he repeatedly plows into a snow-bottomed quarterpipe; sit transfixed as he tries back tails on a crusty curb in the middle of a NYC street. Gonz’s output is refreshingly unpackaged in this format, unlike a lot of his more corporate coverage, which seems hellbent on force-feeding us his eccentricity and spontaneity in a slick package—which misses the point. This is the real Mark, and he’s a weird dude. He’s also a father, a husband, an artist and a life-long skate rat who has been going through the madness and uncertainty of Covid-19 just like the rest of us. It’s heartening to see him out there skating no matter what the circumstances, and letting us in on it.
Skateboard Cafe: Impressions
‘Impressions’ feels more like a scene report than a Bristol-based company’s video, which is a great thing. It reminded me weirdly of one of my all-time favourites, the 2004 release from Vancouver store Anti Social. There’s something special about a locally-produced video that makes it much more authentic and enjoyable—maybe it’s because the skaters have a real knowledge and intimacy with their city, rather than a tourist’s passing fancy. A short list of highlights: Korahn Gayle is an incredible skater; his backside tailslide around the Lloyds corner the hard way doesn’t seem possible. Savannah Keenan is fresh as fuck, wears red pants with a silver puffer and does the roll on 50-50 made famous by Tom Knox. Harry Ogilvie supplies the older-guy sophistication with mohawked hippie jumps and decades-deep ledge capabilities, as well as a guest trick from absurd genius and ex-teammate Mike Arnold. Josh Arnott is like the love child of Josh Kalis and Danny Wainwright. Laith Sami opens his closer part with one of the illest switch tres to be ever switch tre’d, and closes with an equally impressive flatground line in a leafy Bristol square, reeling off a dozen or so beautiful flip tricks while rolling around in circles. It’s an oddly relaxing conclusion to Impressions, and I’m going to give it five stars.