This entire article is somewhat pointless now, because this picture just appeared on David Belle’s Facebook page:
Guess that makes this kinda irrelevant. But since I did quite a lot of research, this will be published anyway, just for reference. The opinions I had written have been deleted. (Although it’s worth noting that in the original article, I did conclude that David Belle’s social media accounts were almost certainly the real thing. See, proof!) Use anything below as a reference if you’re interested in the history behind this incident.
From this point up until to the second-to-last picture, everything appears as I originally wrote it.
There’s been a good deal of controversy about David Belle’s new website, davidbelle.com. The primary point of contention is that – as of this writing – it seems to be little more than a watered-down advertisement for Take Flight Apparel. But before we can draw any conclusions, let’s review the available facts, verify those facts, and hear explanations from those involved. Then we’ll draw conclusions and see where those conclusions lead us.
- The domain davidbelle.com has been in existence since January 29, 2006.
- Davidbelle.com is hosted on the same nameservers as TakeFlightApparel.com and MisterParkour.com.
- Adam Dunlap owns both TakeFlightApparel.com and MisterParkour.com.
- Davidbelle.com and TakeFlightApparel.com use the same hosting company and their IP addresses are only one digit apart.
- The domain davidbelle.com was registered before takefightapparel.com.
- Davidbelle.com was registered using an anonymous proxy.
- At different times, davidbelle.com has redirected visitors to misterparkour.com and revolutionparkour.com, both of which are owned by Adam Dunlap.
- There is very little unique content on davidbelle.com.
- None of this proves that davidbelle.com is not David’s official website or that it is controlled by Take Flight.
- This is not the first time Take Flight has preemptively taken control of the future website of a prominent traceur. They — or someone masquerading as them — registered marktoorock.com two years ago and put advertisements for their products on it.
- They did the same thing for timothyshieff.com.
Davidbelle.com was registered on January 29, 2006.
Before that site went up, marktoorock.com merely redirected visitors to takeflightapparel.com
Predictably, marktoorock.com was registered using the same proxy service as davidbelle.com.
They did the same thing with timothyshieff.com. The only real proof I have for this is a blurry screen capture from Google’s cached pages preview, and an eyewitness report from someone who was there.
As you can see, it’s very similar to the design of marktoorock.com. The “parkour clothing” link can be faintly made out on the right. It’s likely using the same code as MarkToorock.com, just with different content on the home page.
And look, guess who registered it? The same proxy service. Granted, these proxy service things don’t carry a whole lot of weight — but it’s still information that could be useful somehow.
What those who are involved have to say
This issue was discussed in a thread on a friend of mine’s Facebook Wall. Adam Dunlap himself commented in an attempt to explain what’s going on.
Now that is has proven to be the real David Belle’s social media… there isn’t much point to this post, except as a reference point for anyone who might be interested in Take Flight’s history.
What have we here?
You know what this looks like to me? Seems like they’re trying to become the official everything of parkour. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your point of view. Yeah, they’re a good company; but doesn’t having an “official” something imply regulation and control, which is against the philosophy of parkour? It might imply that. It might not.
Take Flight’s actions over the next few months will be telling; they now have the sanction of David Belle, a clean name, an established (and good) reputation, no real competitors…
Right now, they’re facing a choice. They can make like Urban Freeflow and start focusing on the money in parkour; seems unlikely, since they’re a non-profit. Or they can be like American Parkour, and keep true to the spirit of parkour. Only time will tell.
At this point, I honestly have no opinion on them. Take Flight seems to be a good company. They definitely make good products. However, in the past they’ve shown themselves to have no problem using slightly sleazy, though not illegal, business practices. See: marktoorock.com and timothyshieff.com. Starting now, I’m regarding them with completely fresh eyes. What they do in the next few months will determine my opinion of them.
What do you think will happen?
Update 3: 10/19/11
Yeah. It goes to TF’s Apparel page. I wonder how many other domains Take Flight owns…
Holy CRAP. Ninety-eight? Seriously? Why? I realize you might want to buy up the misspellings of your name just as a convenience to anyone who types in www.takeflightaparel.com and — woah. Hold on. That doesn’t redirect to Take Flight. Neither does www.tkeflightapparel.com, www.takflightapparel.com, or www.takeflghtapparel.com. Apparently they’re not doing that. So why do they own so many other domains?
I just sent them an email asking that. Will update as soon as they respond.
Update 4: 10/23/11
Another day, another parkour-related domain Take Flight owns.
And no, they haven’t emailed me back with an answer to my question about how many domains they own.