I had been off the whiskey for a minute. I learned it let the devil out of me.
Last weekend at the 12th Annual Bitter Cold Showdown the devil didn’t need to come out, I was already in Detroit.
It wasn’t as cold as it was in years past. Fuck, there was barely any snow. Still, the rainbow of burned up abandoned houses streaming alongside the highway told me it was time for a drink.
And drink I did, and none of it was alone.
Over a course of four days, my travel companions (the Aggressive Mall crew) and I may possibly have consumed a daily average of 30 beers and a pint of whiskey, so if my account of things miss out on a few points or give a slightly-altered version of the truth it’s only because I followed rule No. 1 in journalism: if you’re going to do it, do it drunk.
I’m probably sure that most people going to BCSD have to put in long drives, obscene amounts of gas money, and save up what little money they have from depressing shit job to get there and I hope for damn sure you don’t regret a thing about it.
I hope most of you got a chance to put your skates on and cruise around with some of the top professional athletes in the world. I hope you did something so awesome you got props from people while skating the same course that has been home to some extremely harrowing tricks over the year.
Hopefully you got to see the multiple signs posted along Stephenson Highway that proudly said, “Welcome Skaters.” There were more this year than any other year before. Maybe you saw some cool signs at the contest, too.
All of you guys made for yet another great year. It was dope seeing old friends, even doper making new friends, and the dopest to be surrounded by all those bladers. I mean, c’mon, if a dude randomly passes you in an airport and asks if you have an allen wrench, you’re probably going to end up in Guantanamo Bay or scattered all over a field in Pennsylvania.
But not the weekend of Bitter Cold! Oh, frozen testicles no!
You show up on Thursday, you put some work in—not too much though—pick at a healing wound that needed stitches but you didn’t get, hit the famous Bar Bar, guzzle $5 pitchers, hang out the side of a van plowing through snow and mud, do some other shit, and pass out and
Then you wake up too late for continental breakfast, violently expel the brown remains of the prior day’s Steak ‘n’ Shake, shower, and go to the park to skate. At least that’s what I did.
And that’s about when my shin started swelling. It wouldn’t stop until I got to the doctor’s office on Monday. The anesthesia needles going into the would hurt like hell and I’ve never seen so much blood and puss come from such a small hole. At first the doctor thought it was staph, but after two days on highly-potent antibiotics, she thinks it’s most likely MRSA, a drug-resistant form of the flesh-eating staph bacteria.
Thanks, Bitter Cold Showdown. Only you could give me something so violently infectious that even the strongest drugs couldn’t kill. You’re a filthy, disease-ridden whore, and I couldn’t love you more.
You’re not only host to a great competition—despite people on the internet bitching about a venue change without offering up suitable alternative parks that can hold such a crowd and still provide challenging obstacles—but also a town that welcomes us with open arms, accepts our bullshit, and is nice the whole time.
Fuck it. Let’s see what went down at the comp.
You have to check out Jason Reyna’s from Rolling Mission because, honestly, I think his is one of the best of the bunch and because in the credits on Vimeo he thanked the lassies of Bar Bar “because you ladies put up with our shit year after year!”
Also, let’s not forget about Hawk Trackler because his awards are never short of entertainment, especially the awards at the end.
I know I’m probably missing a ton of other good edits, but cut me some slack—it’s Wednesday night. I’ve been awake in my own apartment for a total of about eight hours.
Let everyone bitch all they want—and they aren’t waiting around for permission—but I thought the contest was another damn good one.
Dave Lang, Demetrious George, and Chris Haffey made the biggest obstacles look like curbs. Erik Bailey skated the deadly rainbow rail like he’s been skating it in his garage all winter. Alex Broskow obviously did some technical shit I still don’t comprehend. Franco Cammayo skated in full beast street mode, Jared Grob showed his still blades hard, Montre did a damn misty off of a top soul, and Aragon still skated strong following a head injury at Winterclash.
And that was just a few hours on Saturday.
As Daniel Kinney—the founder of BCSD—said this weekend, Bitter Cold is not about the contest. It’s about the tradeshow, the gathering. It’s about getting everyone together. It’s about good companies offering their products at a huge discount to tons of people directly putting much-needed dollars into the industry.
I stood there, watching people flow in from a line that wrapped around from the front of the park and back again, envisioning that scene in Mallrats where Brodie walks into the mall and proclaims:
Then someone—namely Sam DeAngelis from Be-Mag (and other places)—thought it was a good idea to give me a microphone and put me in front of a camera. Oh, all the places that could go.
I went full retard.
It was fun.
The tradeshow debuted some dope stuff including new skates, new frames, and more. It really is the best time to see what’s going on in the sport, meet the people who make the decisions, and make yourself known, if you so choose.
Then again, this year’s tradeshow lacked its typical oomph with 17 booths. There are some hardcore staples, like Michigan-based SixWonSix, ONE Magazine, Valo, Aggressivemall (who easily won best booth with their boutique-inspired creation they shipped from California), Adam Johnson and his brands, Ground Control, Create Originals, Denial, Be-Mag, and more.
One of my personal favorites—besides Intuition’s homemade cookies—was the new brand JUICED, a collaboration project with Aggressive Mall and those loveable scamps in JSF. Their Oakland Raiders-themed hats sold the fuck out at the tradeshow like Tony Hawk did in the early 90s.
The thing that was missing were booths from major companies Razors, Rollerblade, Shima Skate Manufacturing, and Eulogy. It was really strange to see those brands without a presence at the only tradeshow in blading.
From what I’ve heard from several sources, some of the brands had to skip paying for a booth and shipping product to and from to use it for travel and other necessary expenses.
Seriously people, buy some shit.
At the trade show, Justin Eisenger of ONE announced Nils Jansons as the magazine’s Skater of the Year. There wasn’t much clapping going on after.
Nils did a damn fine job in his skating for the World Rolling Series Uploaded contest this year. The clips featured in the edit were outstanding, especially from such a young kid.
The deal is that both ONE’s voting system and the SOTY were based on online voting, just like those surveys from girls on Facebook who are trying to see if they should cut their hair.
Even if Eisinger attested to maximum professionalism in the voting process, it’s not a flaw in procedure, it’s a flaw in the premise.
While blading never sees any mass media exposure, Nils makes the news in Latvia when being nominated for a worldwide contest that’s based on athletic merit. It’s like the fucking Olympics or something. So, many non-bladers join the voting process and BOOM! It’s more than just blader votes.
Again, before anyone gets their titties in a twist and accuses me of picking on a kid and attempting to destroy rollerblading because I’m a bitter old man, realize that online voting contests are never based on merit. They’re typically based on exposure.
Still, there is no doubt that Nils was voted as ONE’s skater of the year. Eisinger responds to the dissenters and gives his rundown of the weekend over at the new OneBladeMag.com.
Another site, Mushroom Blading, offered their Skater of the Year, and despite personally naming Brian Aragon as Blade or Die’s Skater of the Year, I fully agree with those crazy Canadian kids:
There’s more that went down last weekend, including a nice fight with bladers and a knife wielding Russian who offered to filet people in the wee morning hours at Coney Island, but nothing made the weekend more perfect that the Pariah premiere.
As he anticipated, Adam Johnson was wasted for the premiere of Pariah, his latest blade flick he finished editing merely days before.
After the premiere, a certain person—who will not be named until the statute of limitations has passed—threw a professional grade firework on top of the marquee. The thunderous explosion and subsequent in-your-face flash bombs cleared the sidewalk in front of the theater.
Adam Johnson stood there, wasted out of his skull. He leaned back and smiled, the kind of the way a man should after yet another cross-country van tour culminated in such a violent display.
“That was nice,” he said before screaming and cussing at a car of bladers.
And that’s how the video goes down. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must buy it. It’s a great blend of young American talent, insane tricks from some of the best street skaters, unbelievable spots you’ve never seen, and enough lost flesh to make Buffalo Bill the suit he’s always wanted.
Buy Pariah from your local shop or straight from Straight Jacket Distribution. I’ve watched it twice since the premiere. AJ was even nice enough to publish the entire soundtrack for those of you who like to skate to skate video songs. I know I do. I highly recommend this one from Chris Farmer’s section:
Now, I’m sitting here writing this, my infected shin throbbing in pain, listening to “Keep on Knocking,” and know without a doubt that I completely failed in summarizing how awesome and amazing the whole weekend was. That’s kind of why you should have been at the BCSD 12.
I can’t wait for what lucky BCSD 13 will bring.
I at least would like to see someone make a sign with the number 13 from the back of the Roces Majestic 12. Or one, at least one, person wearing an old Roces 13 shirt, preferably the two-tone blue longsleeve made famous by Arlo’s winning X-Game run in 1996 seen here.
Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — I’d really like to thank everyone who bought my books at the trade show. I only thought I’d sell a few copies, not all of them. That feeling of support from the blade community—and fans of this shit column—made one of my favorite Bitter Cold Memories. You guys are awesome.