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2011 Soonies

Nov 19, 2005
Well this year the Soonies took longer than any previous year to hit the blog, but then again, everything about the blog in 2011 wasn't as frequent, so why break the streak? On to the awards!

Best Shoe Of 2011:

Do I still need to give the disclaimer that this category is based on shoes that I skated in 2011 and not necessarily shoes that were released in 2011? Oh wait, I guess I just did.

1. Reebok Vienna.

This was a shoe that I saw randomly on Ebay once, and I thought it looked pretty dope, and then on Slap I saw someone mention that they were really good for skating despite not being a skate shoe, so I ordered some. After they showed up I was actually pretty skeptical that they would be good so they sat around my place for close to a year, but then one day just before I left for France I took them for a shred just for fun and they were fucking amazing. Just goes to show that there's nothing wrong with a cup sole as long as you get a good one. The Vienna was actually so fucking good that after I got a hole in them I patched them with the inside job to keep skating them. Also the fact that I skated them in France makes me doubly stoked on them.

I'm also pretty stoked on finding and skating random shoes that weren't made for skating. Maybe it's the part of me that's still a 90s nostalgic. Feels like I'm filming for 20 Shot Sequence or something. I'd definitely skate another pair of these, but I don't think they're even being made anymore. I can't find them anywhere. However, I did find these Reeobok Munichs, which are virtually the same, but with a Busenitz-style toe on them, which look pretty sick. So if I can get those for a decent price, I'll probably skate them.

2. Puma Bennie

Another pair of non-skate shoes that were amazing for skating after sitting around my house for at least a year were these Puma Bennies. I know I got some criticism with last year's Soonies for all my top shoes of the year not being from core brands. I guess this year I may get that same criticism. I don't know what to tell you though. I definitely think it's important to support core skate brands, but I just had these sitting around my house and they were fucking awesome. If it makes you feel any better (or worse) I usually don't have to buy shoes anyway, so it's not like the core brands are losing any money on me.

Also once again they really appealed to that 90s skater inside of me, especially after I put in the red laces. They also made a great addition to my last-minute makeshift Goofy Boy halloween costume.

3. Nike Janoskis

You know, sometimes when there's a whole bunch of hype around something, it's really easy to write it off. But sometimes that hype is totally justified. I realized this when my friend Craig at Nike (thanks to Rob for hooking it up too) sent me my first pair of Janoskis. They hype is justified. They're so good to skate. I had to pop some stitches where the toe met the upper and then spend a few days stretching them out to accommodate my fat feet, but it was totally worth it. After my feet bullied them into submission, and I sharpied out the teal blue swoosh, they were great.

Strangely enough, even though shoes have always lasted me a ridiculously long amount of time, this year my shoes started wrecking normal. So every shoe I skated this year got the inside job.

3. Vans Style 31

These are also listed as number 3 because they were so sick I had to call a tie between these and the Janoskis. Style 31 is a style of Vans that I don't see get a lot of love. I always saw them in the Classics catalog when we're ordering shoes at Ninetimes and was really stoked on them because that little rubber toe, but Jason never wanted to order them. But Drew at Vans hooked us up with some shoes, and so I picked them because I thought they were sick. And they were. I'd say out of all the shoes I skated in 2011, when I looked down at my foot, these made me feel the coolest.

Worst Trend Of 2011:

1. Social Media

Ahhhhh those good old days when all you had to judge your favourite skaters on was their skate footage, occasional interview, and maybe if you were lucky a small glimpse into their personality via a 411 tour article.

But now seeing as most pro skaters are already accustomed to fame and adoration, most of them feel the need to tweet, instagram, and whatever the fuck else their every move, good or bad. Most of the time it turns out being bad. Horribly, embarrassingly bad.

Ignorance is bliss.

2. Webclips

This one's tough because it easily could be considered one of the best trends of 2011 also. There's tons of really good webclips out there, and some of the best skating I've seen this year has been through webclips. But with that being said, there is also waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much bullshit. How many fucking teasers did Nyjah have for his online section? And then months after the section dropped we're still getting "Behind The Scenes" garbage. What about this dude? His skating seems alright but NINE fucking teasers for an online section for some shitty beanie company owned by a christian penis? Get the fuck outta here. You got companies releasing GIF trailers for a preview for a video that's not coming out for at least another year. You got online sections with their credits as long as the video itself (any Ty Evans webclip) and their own blooper sections. You got this fucking ding dong uploading millions of clips daily. You got the emergence of The Illusion. And worst of all, you have all of these "Best Of" clips. "Best Of Dime Squad"? Are you fucking kidding me? There's no fucking "Best Of" with shit like this. Unless they all got fucked in the ass and then ran over by a truck, then I could consider that a "Best Of". And don't even get me started on J-Rog's goddamn bullshit.

I really think that as much as The Berrics changed the face of skateboarding content when it started up, HellaClips has done the same this year. By giving people a forum to post webclips, it seems every dickhead and their dick is out there trying to create content exclusively for the site.

But obviously there's good webclips out there too. Without webclips I wouldn't have seen amazing shit like this:



Or this:

So yeah, webclips can be good, but there's a lotttttt of garbage out there.

3. Riding for DC.


Album Of The Year:

1. Von - Satanic Blood Angel

Obviously in the last few years black metal has become increasingly more popular and trendy. It's funny how one of the most extremely brutal musical genres in the history of music would ever make it's way into book form on a shelf at American Apparel, but as skateboarders we know that nothing can stay underground forever, right? And with the increasing popularity of any culture, comes the posers. In this case we get all the posers who think black metal began and solely exists in Norway, and that using a V to spell "KVLT" is cool. Fuck those people. Some of my favourite black metal bands are from Norway, but black metal definitely didn't start in Norway, and as a matter of fact most of the best black metal bands are American, German, or Brazilian. In fact Norwegian black metal is probably the most responsible for bastardizing the genre into a farce.

Case in point in favour of non-Norwegian black metal bands is Von from San Francisco. One of the most influential bands of the second wave of Black Metal, before they became respected legends of the black metal scene, they were super underrated, and greatly under appreciated. So under appreciated in fact that they were only around for a few years, and didn't even record any proper releases. Only two demos that 10 years later would be combined into the compilation Satanic Blood Angel.

The way that Von delivers their music and lyrics, I'm convinced that they're some sort of art geniuses. I hate it when people refer to music as art, but when you read along with the lyrics and how they are presented within the hypnotically repetitive music, it's very obvious that Von had a goal and a vision beyond just "let's make some gnarly blasphemous music".

Lyrics for Watain.

2. Sixx - Sister Devil

The story of Sister Devil by Sixx is perhaps the coolest fucking story of an album ever. Sixx is comprised by the exact same members as Von, and in between the recording of Von's two demos, in 1991 they decided to record a demo as a completely different band called Sixx. Employing the same unique styles they developed as Von, the repetitious song structure, lo-fi quality, Satanic subject matter, and spoken word intros, instead of recording another black metal demo, they recorded a death rock goth classic influenced by bands like Joy Division, Christian Death, Samhain, and Sisters Of Mercy. The result is an album that although not metal at all, is still more bleak and brutal than a majority of metal bands out there trying their hardest to sound their hardest.

Sixx received even less attention and acclaim than Von, possibly because Sixx only preformed two shows and produced and released only a handful of their demo cassette before scrapping the project. Fast forward 18 years later, and Nuclear War Now records along with the original members of Von/Sixx unearthed the original demo of Sixx and re-released it. I've been listening to Von for awhile now, and also am a huge fan of death rock/post punk/old school goth shit, so when I found out this year that there was a combination of the two that just got released even though it was recorded in 91, well it blew my fucking mind. And when I finally listened to the album, it definitely did not disappoint.

3. Dead Moon - Echoes Of The Past

Sometimes I can find a band a little hard to get into if they have a lot of albums. Dead Moon has always been one of those bands. I liked them every time I heard them, but every time I decided to get into them I would get discouraged by their 13 album discography knowing that my musically obsessive and completist tendencies would take over and it would be too much to handle all at once. Another problem with bands like this are compilations or "Best Of" albums are usually really shitty and only cover the band's most popular or well known songs. But I gave in and got the two-disc Echoes Of The Past compilation from Dead Moon and it really paid off. The songs are personally chosen by frontman Fred Cole, and Dead Moon doesn't really have any "hits" anyway, so the compilation is all really good stuff.

Really glad I gave it a shot because I listened the shit out of Dead Moon this year. Fucking all time great rock band.

Honourable mentions: Samhain, definitely Danzig's best material, but somehow his least known. I listened to A LOT of Sonic Youth this year, specifically their older stuff. Ween is one of the only new bands that I consistently listen to, and I listened to them a fucking lot this this year. And last but not least, New Skin For The Old Ceremony and Songs Of Love And Hate by Leonard Cohen. Dude makes Bob Dylan look like a no-talent hack.

Video Of The Year:

One of my ideas this year was to do a best of/worst of webclips, but as I've sort of explained above, there's just sooooo much shit out there that if I were to sit here and try and remember 3 specific internet clips, I'd probably be here for awhile. On the flip side, webclips are obviously pushing aside full length videos, and when trying to think of really good videos this year, I was sitting here for awhile anyway. Hell, in some cases, full length videos ARE webclips. In any case, here's some videos that I thought were really good this year. Perhaps this year I'll have to start making a list of good/bad webclips as I watch them. But for this year it's just full length videos.

1. In Search Of The Miraculous - Pontus Alv

In Search Of The Miraculous actually came out in 2010, but I didn't see it until this year. I know some people might discount the video from winning based on that fact, but I don't give a shit. This is for sure the best video I saw this year. Artsy, gnarly, and inspiring. This is a perfect example of why when people try to defend the bullshit garbage that Ty Evans puts out, they don't have a leg to stand on. Utilizing the newest, fanciest technology and exploiting everything it can do to the limits of poor taste may equal progression (but not when you do it over and over again) but it does not equal creativity. Pontus carries on the tradition of skaters like Neil Blender and Ed Templeton and in the skate industry of today which can be all too slick, that's exactly what we need.

If you can, track down a shop or mailorder that has this video and buy it. I guarantee you if you like skateboarding, you will love it. And also if you get a chance, support his new brand Polar.

2. The Perfect Amount Of Lazy - The 4 Skateboard Company

I think Australia has developed a bit of a reputation for the type of skaters they produce. Just as ignorant people assume that the majority of Canadian skaters are tall tee wearing dinguses, it seems as though most people think that Australians are all hard partying huckers. But for those who aren't ignorant they know every country is going to have all kinds of skaters. Whether it was the Nick Boserio clip, this dude who absoloutely killed it, or The Perfect Amount Of Lazy, there was a damn good amount of skating coming out of Australia this year.

The reason I picked The 4 Skateboards video for the top three was because for me it really came out of nowhere. A company I had never heard of (although it's dope) and with the exception of Morgan Campbell, a bunch of dudes I had never heard of (although they're dope) put out exactly the type of video that I like to watch featuring exactly the type of skating I like to watch. Clean and creative. Good work mates!

3. Nike Chronicles Vol. 1 - Nike (Duh!)

I don't know what it is about dudes who have filmed/edited Transworld videos, but it seems once they make a few of those, they can never escape the trap of over production. Luckily for this video Jason Hernandez doesn't employ these methods too much, and with the amount of good skating in the video, the dolly lifestyle shots are almost ignorable. Don't care much for Youness and Marnell (although both are amazingly talented) but besides that there's some great sections in this video mostly set to great songs. Daniel Shimizu skating to Dead Moon is probably one of my favourite sections of the year, not to mention this video contains the vastly superior Grant Taylor SOTY celebration section. (Even if just based on music alone. Trasher: The fuck you thinkin' man?!) Looking forward to see who will have full sections in Vol. 2 but hoping it's not the young and boring contingent of the team such as P-Rod, Malto, Shane O'Neill, and Theotis (yeah, I said it).

Honourable Mentions: The Ninetimes Video (of course!), the aborted I-Path video The Other Ones was really good (specifically Fred Gall, Ben Raybourn, and Ryan Lay), all the Palace clips, Beez 3.5, the Kalis, Oyola, and Menace episodes of Epicly Later'd, and the good dudes over at Lostsoul Skateboards sent me a really rad video that I told them I would review, but didn't get around to watching it until just before Christmas and never got a chance to write a proper review for. (They also just came out with a really good BA.KU video for their collaboration board.) Sorry Brendan and Ray. Hope you guys don't hate me!

Saskatoon Skater Of The Year (YWSSSOTY?):

1. Scott Balkwill

First place was a pretty easy choice for me this year because since the Summer Tour, I knew it was gonna be Scotty. I've known Scott for a long time and he's always been good at skating, but then he was injured for awhile, got some knee surgery, and then for some reason this year the skinny little bastard just went nuts. It's been a long time since someone in Saskatoon went on a tear skating gnarly spots that no one else skates, but Scott did just that. Definitely raw dogged Saskatoon something fierce. Here's a little video that our friend Mackenzie put together just after the new year featuring digi cam clips of Nathan, Mackenzie, and a good deal of Scott's killing spree.

Unfortunately for us after killing Saskatoon, Scotty moved to Calgary so we don't get to see him shred or hear his duck-quack laugh as much anymore. But before he left he did get my favourite Saskatoon skate photo ever taken, the smith grind on the Acadia rail (above) that very few people have stepped to. So sick style! (Awesome photo skills by Owen, obviously.)

Oh and there's also this photo from the skatepark tour, and this would put him in first place alone:

2. Justin Schwan

Another Saskatoon skater temporarily held back by a knee injury and then coming back harder than ever, I don't think any skater in Saskatoon has been as motivated as Justin has this year. This year Justin had a section in the Ninetimes video, constantly filmed and edited park sections, and has filmed enough street stuff for another full section that this footage wasn't good enough for:

Big stuff, tech stuff, back tails on handrails, gnarly slams, first place in the Big Game Of SKATE, second place in the Welcome To Winter best trick contest, Chappy's been handling business this year for sure.

3. Scott Demeria

(0:35 seconds in.)

Ol' Dem-Dogg has been around in the Saskatoon skateboarding scene even longer than I have, and that's a long time. And that entire long time dude's kept it OG. Not into slim fit pants, little vulcanized shoes, or not stomping the shit out of your tricks, Demeria skates the way he wants to skate and doesn't give a fuck. Now into his 30s and with a new baby girl, it's sick to still see him out there killing it as much as he ever did. Dems is a great dude, but also has a strong hate streak in him, so you know everytime you see him you're gonna be stoked as hell and also laughing your ass off. Also one of my favourite commenters on this here blog. Fuck yeah Dem-RAH!

Honourable mentions: The usual suspects Jason Gordon, Garrett McNevin, Ian Sargent, Logan Hryciw, Devon Amerud, and the Buchan brothers. So many dudes in Saskatoon I love watching skate. Hard to pick a top 3.

Kook Of The Year:

1. Koston

I think this pick is gonna bum some people out, and it even bummed me out myself. But the reason I kept going back to Koston when I was recounting the last year is because if you line up the usual suspect of kooks, they've all been kooks for awhile and at this point I expect nothing less (or more). But this is the first year where it seems like Koston is really kooking it hard. I don't even care if all those Instagram beefs were real or just an inside joke to troll the message boards. Whatever they were, they gave a glimpse into the cocky personality of the dude who used to be THE dude. There was a time for me when Koston could do no wrong. He was not only the sickest skater ever, but he was also the funniest, coolest guy ever. I'm still sure that he's one of the sickest skaters ever, the other part, I'm not so sure anymore. It's like all this bird flipping and "fuck your face"ing via any media outlet available has downgraded him from Jordan to Kobe, and I feel like all of our faces have been fucked..... :(

2. Lil Wayne

You're not a skateboarder. You have your own shit, leave ours alone. Fuck off. And a big fuck you to anyone who thinks that just because this dude is famous he deserves praise for being into skateboarding. When we start letting idiots like this in, that's when we've truly stopped caring.

Sidenote: It's ironic that Lil Wayne would take one of the biggest kooks of the year, because if I were doing a "Best Webclip" category, the clip of Really Little Wayne skating his mini ramp would definitely have gotten first place.

3. The Illusion

I know lots of people are going to get pissed off about this one, but fuck them, and fuck this dude. Yeah I get it, he's got positive vibes. Despite the fact that I have an entire blog based mostly around hating on shit, I do appreciate people with positive vibes. It balances out dickheads like me. But I more so appreciate people with positive vibes like Karl Watson, Brandon Biebel, and Theotis Beasly. Not some fucking burned out acid casualty pontificating on the connection between the cosmos, skating, and spaceship earth, or how much he needs to get laid. Maybe I'm taking this out on the wrong dude. Maybe I'm more pissed off that people actually like this guy, and there's weekly clips of him opening boxes of product or videos of him looking through magazines longer than it would take to read the entire thing. I just don't get it. The only advice I have for the skate world regarding this guy is "Stay out of Malibu, deadbeat!"

Dishonourable mentions: Blah blah blah Berra, yadda yadda yadda J-Rog, doo doo doo Dyrdek, yeah yeah yeah Mike V. You get the point.

Skater Of The Year:

This category was a really hard one for me. The Soonies in general are always really hard for me to decide on, and take forever to write, but this year this category was particularly insane. A lot of last minute changes happened. I was up until 4:00 AM last night finishing this post and I had a fully different top 3 already picked, but when I started trying to think up honourable mentions today, I kept remembering so many good clips that I completely changed my top 3 line up eight times. It was such a vicious cycle that went on and on until OCD problems set in that eventually I just had to let go, so here's the three I settled on (although any of the honourable mentions may have been in their several times).

1. Dave Abair

What finally made my mind up for Abair in first place was how much sick footage this dude got this year. On top of those 4 links he also had a shitload of clips in various montages. And when you watch the clips, it's really obvious that the dude is out there skating his ass off all the time. He's not training for contests, or trying to film his iTunes section, he's just fucking shredding. This dude is some real shit right here.

2. Mark Suciu

The funny thing is this second place win is just based on the few short clips he had this year. I think we all know that if Cross Continental had come out in 2010, top spot this year wouldn't have been a very tough choice.

3. Ben Raybourn

The first time I ever saw Ben Raybourn was the poorly shot IPath ad pictured above me. When I saw the ad I thought to myself "What the fuck is this and who the fuck is this?" And to tell you the truth, it made me kind of instantly hate the dude. Chubby Canadian bloggers can be fickle like that. But then I started seeing clips of this dude skating here and there, and I had no choice but to change my thoughts to "Woah. This kid is fucking sick." Well this year he had two major sections (and a couple smaller ones) that both got me stoked as fuck. He's one of those new breed of skaters killing all terrains with a focus on powerful transition skating a la Grant Taylor, Raven Tershay, and Elijah Berle, but in Raybourne's case he's just a little more unpolished. And no diss to the other dudes, they're all amazing skaters, but I really like that unpolished aspect. So sorry for hating you Ben. But you're pro now and I'm the one looking like an idiot, so it all worked out.

Honourable Mentions: Fred Gall, Dan Plunkett, Anthony Schutlz, Jeff Grosso, Aaron Herrington, Brad Sheppard, and the dude from this video who doesn't ollie. Actually come to think of it that dude should have won.

Next year's Soonies are going to be so fucking hard to choose. Goddamn web will soon