‘Twas a good year, surely it ‘twas.
We had some laughs. We made some new scars.
Our hearts raced at finding new spots, and they sank when old ones were destroyed. We’ve made some new friends, and maybe some new bladers.
We may creak a little bit more when we wake up, but we’ll keep blading because we know life would suck without it.
While we here at Blade or Die hope that you all look into 2012 with the utmost optimism, we cannot help but feel a little nostalgic this time of year and look back with happiness at the fortunate times we’ve had the last year.
We have nothing but cause for celebration so we’d like to honor those who have helped make it such a blessed good year with out annual awards in categories we make up every year, except for Best Facial Hair because we as men (and women who love men with decadent facial sculptures) must celebrate our evolutionary blunder to continue to grow hair on our chins in our old age, but not the part that warms and protects the most vital organ in the body.
Without further ado, here is some serious ass-kissing in the form of the…
Blade or Die’s Best of Blading in 2011
(This is the part where a sexy woman in a small dress is supposed to walk over and hand me a sealed envelope, but sometimes shit just doesn’t work out.)
Video of the Year: Regardless
It takes balls to have Chris Haffey as the opening section, but Brandon Negrete has those balls. And with a closer like Jon Bolino’s, well, those big old balls get dipped right into your wide-agape mouth as you were mesmerized by hypnotic messages contained in this revolving disc of pure awesome.
Yes, Regardless is so good it actually tea bags you while you watch it. Despite that gross image you’ll never be able to pull from your skull, Regardless is fucking rad.
There isn’t one thing about the video that can be adequately described with a dated adjective or adverb. There are tons of names you recognize, some names you know better now (Chris Daffik is one of those), great art, awesome fucking tunes, and more.
Regardless features the best of blading. From Haffey’s large-scale perfect tricks to the Elvis-hip powered switch-ups from Andrew Jacuzzi, with a stop for Erik Bailey’s compact power that makes a garbage truck look like a bitch, the talent in both the skating and the filmmaking is nice enough to give your eyeballs a hand job (also known as a hand jiggy or hando in some circles) while it drops nut in your mouth.
If you haven’t bought Regardless yet, dot it. Regardless is the video you must have on your shelves.
(Note: As of this writing I have not seen The Ground Control Video. If anyone wants to send this poor bastard a copy to review, I am more than happy to oblige.)
Then again, I cannot mention videos this year without mentioning The SHOCK Video (which I previously reviewed here). Not only was the video so fucking sick, but now I might have to testify in criminal court regarding the San Francisco Police Department’s on-going practices on disregarding witness statements when filing criminal charges because of events that conspired in the aftermath of the premiere, details of which I’ve been advised not to discuss.
You can’t get anymore fucking WESTSIDE than that.
Edit of the Year: Richie Eisler
Not only is Richie Eisler filming all of the time (including filming and editing a contender for edit of the year by one Dominic Sagona), he’s also fucking shredding.
A force behind the Powerblading movement, Richie mixed some big-wheeled tricks with some fucked-up Mushroom blading shit, all while hauling balls.
The intro section of falls wasn’t cliche because it was broken up with the humorous sights of him light-heartedly laughing his way repeatedly into the fountain. It told me right from the beginning that the edit was going to be a fast-paced fun romp on blades, instead of some “epic” or some slow-motion emo shit show.
But we should expect none of that from Richie, a man called “arguably the nicest guy in rolling.”
As far as the artistic aspects, the music fit, the slow-motion wasn’t overused (unlike a nauseatingly disturbing trend currently in many edits), and the order of the tricks kept progressing nicely.
As far as the technical aspects go, I don’t know any of that shit nor do I care. The final product was beautiful and Richie’s skills are amazing. That’s all that really matters.
For more on Richie, check out richieeisler.com.
Best Facial Hair: Jeff Stockwell
Looking those silken threads of wonder weave their way so effortless across his face to form a hair bridge from manliness to god-like proportions, just like Jeff Stockwell does to a backyard pool in his latest edit for his latest Xsjado skate.
(Note: If Edit of the Year was judged merely on style points, that edit would have won based on the skating and motif.)
Jeff’s mustache could be cast in the lead role of a Tarantino gunslinger movie and its only worth co-star would be a mean, diamond-studded revolver temptress set on revenge.
Best New Company: Shima Skate Manufacturing
From the ashes of Nimh, Shima Skate Manufacturing rose to a near glorious Phoenix. While the product is nearly identical, SSM did what few failed skate companies did to their followers: it didn’t leave them hanging.
They captured the Shredwiser spilling-Bud-and-blood spirit in John Bolino, Matty Schrock, Joey Chase, and Michael Braud; the creativity of Oli Short and Mathieu Ledoux; the infectious brotherhood of Bolino and Montre Livingstong; the novelty of two—count ‘em two—sets of brothers in the Brierleys and Isaacs; a diverse international team; and the leading status of Brian Shima, himself.
SSM packed together a badass, young motorcycle gang looking to fuck some shit up and have a beer truck worth of style while they do it. (However, no matter what anyone builds, JSF will always be the Hell’s Angels of rollerblading.)
Adding to SSM’s badassery is its paid homage to some founding fathers of modern rollerblading. The five members of the SSM Godfather team—Fabrice Guyont, Brandon Campbell, Tory Treseder, BJ Bernhart, and blading’s orginal bad ass Josh Petty—exemplify the nodded-head to those who have bruised before us.
Again, and this needs to be pointed out, they’ve got Matty Schrock, who is the rawest dude to ever legally sell me weed.
If you deny any bit of how fucking hardcore Matty is, just look at what SSM teammate Joey Chase (a man I easily voted as the Blader I Least Want to Be in a Fight With) had to say about him: “I have seen this man take some of the hardest falls and get right up and lace the trick. He is the hybrid of Rob Thompson and Charles Dunkle.”
Yeah, that’s going to be a fucking dope team video.
Best Versatile Skating Product: Bulletprufe Jeans
If you fall like a garbage bag full of hot shit like me, you’ll learn to fuck up some clothing pretty quickly.
The name Bulletprufe speaks for itself. They’re one of the few skate jeans I’ve owned where I can fall repeatedly and still have a pair of jeans decent enough to wear to my day job. The seams and the fabric can take a good, overweight, old-man concrete slapping and still be worth a damn.
I only offer this award because of my personal experience with these jeans. I paid full price for the jeans and consider it the best purchase of the year that didn’t attach to my feet. The compliments I get from women don’t go unnoticed as well.
The guy who runs the shit, Will, has some damn good customer service to boot. (That’s a pun, bitch!)
Hardest Working Man in Blading: Jon Julio
Julio does work. Like shitloads of it.
Despite running Valo, TheM Goods Distribution and bearing company, still testing wheels for Dyna, filming for edits and the upcoming FiVe, being a married man, and still managing to be close to home for his family in the Bay Area after relocating from Southern California, Jon also started The Youth Co. (which has yet to be announced as what it actually is), organized the Blader Cup, and developing Jon Julio’s Blading: The Game, an upcoming iPhone game.
I’m sure I probably missed other things, but you get the point.
With Jon’s duties, in 2011 Valo released the long-awaited Valo Lights and recently in a black and red colorway, making these the umpteeth million pro skates Jon has had in his second decade as a professional rollerblader.
The dude is an icon and continues to work his ass off.
Best Blading-Related Softcore Porn Site: BladeorFuckorDrink
When Adam Johnson isn’t touring the country—and even when he is—is compiling a neverending Tumblr feed of softcore porn known as bladesbabesbooze.tumblr.com.
A sister to his vandownbytheriver.tumblr.com (which also has its fair share of the tit-tays), Johnson doesn’t post much about blading or even booze, but damn there are a lot of babes.
Still, if you’re Tubling, you need to follow both of AJ’s accounts because while one shows you images captured of beautiful, Photoshopped-perfect, young women brazen (or stupid) to pose in front of a camera for money, his other feed emphasizes the difficulty of life when you try to balance what you love and still chase those lovelies.
The Babes show a longing for the mystic company of an exotic woman, while the Van bares the open scars of the reality of attempting to make them happy.
Here are some examples:
It’s exciting, depressing, shallow, deep, and extremely therapeutic.
Skater of the Year: Brian Aragon
Brian Aragon hasn’t failed to produce quality shit for a long damn time. His smooth, athletic ability to know exactly where he is at all times is both the source of envy and drives his uncanny ability to 540 into any grind.
Aragon, while influenced by many before him, ushered in a new generation of clean-cut spinning tops, thus shaping the competitive blading landscape forever.
However, it wasn’t his impressive trophy collection—enough to put him on top of the World Rolling Series bracket yet again this year—that made him skater of the year, it was his street skating abilities in the form of this edit:
The WRS Uploaded contest only confirmed what everyone knows: Aragon fucking shreds.
His edit, though, really surprised me. All of the mind-boggling huge spins he does consistently became his trademark and what everyone expects from his skating, but when going after the WRS he was both brave and smart to go against it while still laying down some monstrous tricks.
He was more airs and big spins when he dominated over the spine to win the Blader Cup, but I think Aragon is about to surprise everyone even further if he follows down the path of diversity.
And not to mention he beat Chris Haffey at B.L.A.D.E.
Owns the Year: Chris Haffey
Like Aragon, Haffey could have won Skater of the Year every year. He did last year, at least in my book.
However, Chris owned 2011. He really did. Broke a world record, made the gigantic Staples Center ledge even more his bitch in his WRS Uploaded edit, had some great sections in Charg!ng and Regardless, did some more Nitro Circus shit, and still had time to play his extremely talented homies in S.K.A.T.E., which made for some very fucking entertaining content on his personal website, chrishaffey.com.
But since he’s the best rollerblader ever—ever—it’s as if the expectations of his greatness are so high that he’d have
Chris is—unlike a satirical column several weeks ago that a depressing amount of people actually took seriously asserts—Chris is perpetually awesome. His talent is immense and diverse (despite he openly admits he can only look over one shoulder), his humor and inability to take himself seriously are heroic, and his self-regulated personal standards as an athlete and human being are admirable.
The fact that he does this consistently gives him the honor to own the year. That’s right, 2011 was the Year of the Superman.
Like his bossman AJ says…
Scene of the Year: Barcelona
Deny it all you want, but there has always been an extremely huge rift between America and the rest of the international scene. Europeans almost always buy American skate videos, but it is a rarity to see an extensive collection of all DVDs from a year (unless you’re some skate-company owning industry head or Ivan Narez) on an American’s shelf. I’m one of those Americans.
But scenes coming for free online from Barcelona make it easily the best place in the world to blade.
Last year Barcelona got its own section in last year’s best video, Valo 4 Life, and then this year it gets its own trailer for the upcoming Xsjado video.
It was also the scene of the best edit of the year and the epicenter of the Powerblading movement.
It is not solely on it’s entirely shreddable terrain, including that which makes pros wonder why it could be created if not for blading, but also the locals, both on and off the blades. While I have never personally been, the blading and the nightlife make it a great reason to get a stamp in a passport.
Blading Website of the Year: Rollernews
Now before you go and get your tits in a twister, remember than Time Magazine has its person of the year that is judged on a varying degree of criteria, once naming Adolf Hitler and twice Josef Stalin and Richard Nixon.
We here at Blade or Die use that same criteria when announcing Rollernews is the site of the year.
So, congrats, Rollernews?
So from all of us here at Blade or Die (who happen to be on Facebook), we wish you the happiest of New Years.
See you all in 2012. The world’s supposed to end and also be the year of two suns, so instead of another stupid New Year’s resolution, make this last year a life resolution.
Wake up. Stop Dreaming. Get out. Chase something.
Fuck around. Get drunk. Break something.
Go without sleep. Sleep ‘til noon.
Quit believing. Be your own savior.
Whatever you feel like you have to do, do it because the only thing we know for certain about life is this: it ends.
There’s no point in pretending you’ll grow old if you’re young and making good decisions.
Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — I’m proud to admit the only things I want to do until I die is blade, move around, and write my fucking fingers numb reminiscing about the fun I’ve had and all the weird shit I’ve learned along the way.
Some of that is in my first book, A Constant Suicide, and more in my second, Freeze Tag on the Highway (which came out earlier this year). I’m selling them cheap because while the message is more important than the money, weed isn’t free.
The publishing company I own, Rock Town Press, continues to print its books on paper along with digital publication because we believe that the physical publication of books is the perfect invention not only for its ease to publicly distribute information, but its craving to be shared with others. So if you buy our books, we encourage you to share them with your friends.
If you would like one donated to your public library so you can read it free of charge, email me the name and address of your local library at briankrans (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll personally mail them one.