Editor’s Note: We are one day from Halloween. What a great opportunity to match two of my favorite things:
Enjoy this rather unique article and have a Happy Halloween!
When I was a child, I saw magicians vanish candles on TV with a handkerchief. I would grab my mother’s candle and try sliding it down my sleeve, drop it on the ground, or any method I could think of to duplicate the effect. I had this innocent belief that I could do anything. After many poor attempts to create something that actually looked magical, I purchased the effect, only to find that they used a trick candle. I felt cheated. But more importantly, I felt I was losing the belief that I could create my own magic!
Around the same time, I would go out skateboarding and people would talk about a mythical trick called the ollie impossible. As a magician, it fascinated me, this was before the internet, so there was no way to look it up and validate that it was humanly possible. No one I knew could actually do it, but they could describe it with enough detail so I could start trying to accomplish the impossible. I failed so many times, my ankles bruised to hell, until one day I landed it. It was the best feeling in my life. That was the day I discovered what magic really was –through a skateboard!
Magicians disempower their potential through trickery, while skaters have limitless potential and will their desire into being, which is real magic.
The art of magic is about using metaphor and moments of awe to plant seeds in your audience’s mind, to expand consciousness. But magic could grow if magicians expand their consciousness too – it is a transformative art, and it starts with the self. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m an artist and my medium is magic.
You can purchase Joe’s book here.
The passions I have combined to create art are animation, skateboarding and magic. The tools are the brush and pen, which conjure images on the page or screen; the skateboard, which places you in the moment, in the flow; and magic, which is my way of life.
I studied animation at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I was the kind of kid who would stay up all night setting up dominoes for those few quick seconds of magical motion. I sort of see myself as an animator; finding hidden life inspires me. Animation is a huge theme in my work. I don’t just think of it as hand drawn cartoons. Animation is also puppetry; it is storytelling that moves and inspires you. I want my audience to “feel animated” when my magic show is over. Skateboards are interesting because although you manipulate them, they also animate you!
Drawing has an energy and magic to it too. When you draw, the way your pencil moves across a page feels very similar to skateboarding. It skates across the page, leaving marks, while you lose yourself in it and act on feeling. When you do a wall ride on a skateboard, it leaves marks that are pure raw energy. As an animator, you draw fast and rough to produce motion. I have always seen a skateboard as being similar to a paint brush because it’s a simple tool of artistic expression.
I have always thought artists were the closest thing to real magicians. Francis Bacon was like a ghostbuster; he would put his canvas out like a trap, trying to capture a moment of truth. Bacon was trying to paint a wave, so hethrew a bucket of water at the canvas to get as close as he could to a real one. He incorporated dust from his studio floor into the wool sweaters he painted. Ralph Bakshi, the wizard of animation, is the most real person I know on the planet. In his film Wizards, the character Avatar says the spell, “Krenkel Morrow Frazetta.” It might
come across as some kind of mumbo jumbo, but each word is the last name of one of his favorite artists. Most magicians are not conscious of the meaning of their spells. Abracadabra actually means, “It is created as it is spoken.” Bakshi is a real wizard, and I have always admired people who are real magicians. Skaters have a similar authenticity to what they do. Magicians like Jeff McBride have it. Skaters like Rodney Mullen have it.
Skateboarding has always seemed like a performance that we undersold. In old skate videos, bystanders would stop on the street and watch skaters. As a skater, you could put down your hat and busk and make money street skating. Skateboarders could elevate the art by adding new flourishes to their tricks to keep them mysterious. When Rodney Mullen invented the [ollie] kickflip, it was called a “magic flip” because people didn’t understand how it was done. Now that we know, it has become a stunt. How cool would it be to have skateboard tricks that were kept a secret, tricks that were mysterious? This is why I wrote The Magic of Skateboarding. If we can make regular sized skateboards look like they float without using any gimmicks, or vanish fingerboards, we might be able to fill a void and connect skateboarding with fingerboarding in a magical way! Skateboarders can now take the stage, not just in the skate demo sense with headphones on while staring at the ground, but as conscious performers.
The fingerboard has so much potential to grow right now. I see it gaining respect. Just imagine DJs having them with LED lights, becoming a new prop in juggling culture, magicians using them with sleight of hand, and skaters combining the micro and macrocosm skateboarding with your hand down, trailing a smaller fingerboard behind you. I’m working on painting with fingerboards like palette knives, using skateboards that have actual marks from board slides as a canvas. The marks left by the fingerboards mimic those left by real skate moves, true to the art. The fingerboard has so much room to grow. Rodney Mullen talks about filling in voids, and I think combing small and large skateboards could make everything new again. In my promo video, I transform a fingerboard into a large skateboard and jump on to ride it away. If these tricks are not revealed to the masses, but instead are passed down between skaters, we could add mystery and magic to skateboarding – fingerboards could progress.
Now I skateboard on stage to start my magic show and screen animated shorts I made between my magic tricks. I only perform in galleries, museums or private parties where you can host me as a guest artist to perform in your own home. I’m open to skate venues and giving artist talks. I don’t use gimmicks in my magic; I might just grab a silk handkerchief and see how many tricks I can flow out of it just like I’m skating. I tell stories as I do tricks with fingerboards, and I recently discovered how to make an object float in the air with no gimmicks. It’s a very pure levitation – no strings, no lies, just a search for real magic. Skateboarding taught me this.
I started our company Thrive Vintage, with two friends of mine (John King, Tanner McGreevy) last summer, in the name of continuing what I felt like was a dying breed of skateboard. The actual long, surf inspired longboard skateboard I recalled seeing as a kid in old magazines and then later in movies seemed to no longer be in production and had not been for decades. The majority of larger boards I found seemed to be downhill or dancer boards mainly with a focus on one or the other, with “new school” hardware. We wanted to take it back, simple, stylish, and a smooth ride.
My passion with the classic “surf” style started long ago when watching movies like The Endless Summer and Big Wednesday with my dad and uncles and takingfamily surf trips to Southern California every year to see family. All this really manifested in a major way at a thrift store with my mom when I was 15 in Oklahoma City.
It was 1999, and I found a classic surf style longboard about 52’’ tall from the 1970’s that I grew to love. I couldn’t believe I found it for $2.50 at a thrift store! It almost looked petrified and others passed it by like an unusable antique water ski or something, but I would never do such a thing. This thing was beautiful!!!! It was longer than any board I’d seen, at this time in the nineties there were only a few companies mass-producing longboards most of which were between 32’’- 44’’ in length. I loved the size, it was only a few inches shorter than my snowboard, and my brothers and I always loved to snowboard but in Oklahoma we couldn’t so this longboard bridged that gap quite nicely for me year round.
After riding this board and only this board for some years I became very partial to the smooth ride and size. I was fortunate enough to get to travel and play with a band for years and we toured all over. I took this board with me everywhere that I was allowed to travel with it, and eventually rode it in all of the lower 48 U.S. states. I was constantly asked about the board, where someone could get one and where I got mine and so forth.
Finally, years later after being asked however too many times a light bulb went off so to speak and after extensive research I found that the company who made my antique board had gone under long ago in the mid-seventies. As far as I could tell there weren’t many options as far as long, surf-style cruiser boards. I had always seen different types of boards, some similar in size and shape to mine, but nothing quite like it.
After conferring with my close two friends years later (2015), we decided to moveforward with starting our company. Our focus was to improve and revive the surf style shape and smooth feel of the longboards of old, hence our company name Thrive Vintage. We took what we liked with the older surf style boards we’d seen and improved on them when we designed our staple board, which is 58” long, and almost 10’’ wide. This board has a surfy ride similar to a snowboard in the sense that you mainly have your heel and toe sides to work with. In this way, our boards differ in how they control and feel from the “new school” style board/truck setups.
I had a friend who saw one of my boards and commented on it being too pretty, or a novelty item. He was a pro rider in the circuit in SoCal and didn’t think the board was capable of performing due to its size, I was glad to cruise with him and show him otherwise. I enjoy riding my 58” everywhere I go, it still is the only board I ride, ever, downhill, cruising or whatever the case, I prefer it. I know I am partial because I’ve ridden this type board since 1999, and I am the owner of our company that makes these boards, but I say all that to say that as an avid longboarder and thrill seeking/surfer/snowboarder, I love and prefer riding the board I make to any other on earth. And that feels nice. That felt pompus typing, but I didn’t mean it that way, just happy that I am happy with the board we make and its performance.
Thrive Vintage now offers our two long-board shapes (the 58” is standard, and the petite is the 52” version of that), a munchkin, (which is that same surf-style shape but a shorter/skinnier 26” version) and a vintage bowl cruiser with a kick tail that is a throwback to the 80’s Caballero decks. Our boards showcase the natural wood grain finish and we wood burn/brand our Thrive Vintage logo and OKC city stamp on each board. We will also be doing select runs of boards with custom artwork wood burned into the bottom of each deck.
For now we mainly sell our boards through our website: ThriveVintageLLC.com
I met up with Mike Jones, owner of AZHIAZIAM Skate and Surf Shop when I visited the notorious Jonny Miller up in Morro Bay. As you will soon discover, Mike has parlayed a terrific name into a retailing success story.
You have a pretty cool background – a surfer who went into the Navy. You wind up in Japan as a biological warfare specialist. How do the two relate?
Coming from a long line of veterans in our family, I decided I would like to serve also, so I figured the Navy would be the best choice, being a surfer and wanting to travel the World and catch waves. It was a four year surf trip, where I worked very hard for months at a time, then I would find myself in some far off land surfing obscure waves in the middle of now where. I was very lucky that I was able to bring my surf and skateboards everywhere we went.
How did your shop come about?
I never planned on having a shop, I started making AZHIAZIAM stickers, then people started asking for shirts and hats, so I made shirts and hats. After about a year of selling the stuff out of my van and bedroom (people would actually come to my house and shop in my bedroom, I had a couple racks of clothes that I screen printed all of the clothes in my bedroom also.) Over time it started getting weird, people I didn’t know showing up asking to buy stuff, sometimes late at night and randomly during the day. I realized I needed an actual spot to sell the stuff so I could have my privacy back.
We know that Moro Bay has an incredible skateboard museum and is the near the home of Jonny Miller. What else is cooking in your town?
The hills and the waves! We have a ton of good surf here and a couple of really fun hills the local guys like to bomb. Other than than, great skate parks all around, Los Osos, Cayucos and San Luis Obispo all have insane places to skate.
Online shopping is continuously growing and its impacting many shops. What do you feel independent board shops need to get customers excited?
Keep it fresh and original, if you are buying the same brands that everyone carries online, your piece of the pie is small. If you have a cool local brand in your area, try to snag it and pump it up!
I really enjoyed reading your manifesto and the founding of the Lost Girls Tribe. For those who haven’t read it, can you give us an synopsis?
Our story starts off in a freezing cold A-Frame in Government Camp, OR with me and the two other OG ladies who thought up Lost Girls. We decided that we didn’t fit the traditional description of women in Govy (or in general), and that we’d have some fun by calling ourselves “Lost Girls.” The name stuck, and we ended up forming a tribe, a movement of people who are pushing for a new kind of action sports community and a new way to see women under the larger umbrella of modern culture.
Here’s a quote from the Manifesto that sums it up pretty well: “We are quirky, dirty, weird, funny, wild, adventurous, athletic, and we ain’t no basic bitches. We are the warrior class; we take our scrapes, breaks, and bruises as a badge of honor. In a world where some pay thousands of dollars for cosmetic surgery, we are proud of the scars.”
When it comes to women and action sports, it seems to me a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, action sports are about individuality and freedom. On the other hand, females are woefully under reported in media and there is still very much an “old boys network.” What are your thoughts?
It’s a really interesting contradiction that stems from upbringing and culture. Boys are told, “go for it!” and when they fall, “you’re ok. Get up and do it again.” Girls are told “be careful,” “don’t get hurt,” and we are often influenced to be perfectionists.
A bunch of people seem to be seeing what’s going on, and that’s so important to change anything. At first, I thought I was mistaken or crazy, but then others were raising the same questions. Why don’t you see women featured on many ski and snowboard websites? Why are a lot of women’s clothes, skis, and snowboards so unappealing to us? Why is there a huge discrepancy between numbers of men and women in the park? Why doesn’t anyone make ski boots that fit small feet?
Fairly recently, gender equality has become a topic of many conversations in our country and the world. People don’t believe something is possible until someone does it. We’ve been told that women are never going to get there. That our bodies aren’t strong enough, there’s no market, that it’s too dangerous, that there’s no way the same number of people will want to watch a woman’s edit as a man. That “she’s good, for a girl.”
I can say that I’m not so sure about that based on the response I’ve gotten. Apparently there’s even a big, burly skater dude who rocks one of our trucker hats on the regular. I look forward to the moment when the “old boys” become our fans.
Tell us about your latest endeavour with the ladies longboard team.
I see an opportunity to support athletes, and create content in the downhill longboarding/skating world. I hope that watching the ladies on our team will encourage others to get into it!
We recently got a handful of us together for a day and shot footy for our first edit at a few locations in Colorado. It included the girls rocketing down Ute Pass and our filmer skating right behind them with his dslr. I was shooting with the drone. It was a group effort, and so cool to have the guys out there helping us!
I personally am a beginner to longboarding, and I felt like I progressed so much in just one day. I’ve found this to be true when you get a group of stoked people together with different ability levels. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the edit turns out and filming more with these badass ladies!
In a world where so many females are photoshopped mercilessly, one of the things that struck me about Lost Girls is that you’re not afraid to get dirty, get bruises and the fact that you’re proud of the scars. How does this message into your media collective?
Body shaming and body image issues are so important to address. I think fake images give the impression that we’re not real people, or that our outer appearance is so important that what we look like isn’t good enough. I don’t want to live in a society where the ultimate accomplishment for a woman is to have clear skin or a gap between her thighs. I do want to live in a world where women aren’t afraid to create, explore, make things, and play.
I wanted to portray this attitude in our recent photo shoot for our 16/17 lookbook. So, I asked our team to become “models.” Instead of makeup, we put charcoal war paint on our faces. For part of the shoot, we skated around an alley in Denver.
I think there needs to be an example of media out there that’s not influenced by societal pressures to show skin to get noticed. We value respect over likes on instagram. I want to show women of all ages and walks of life that strength is beautiful.
What specific things can the network of event promoters, shops and media do to cultivate more women in action sports?
The network that comprises our industry could do so much more. Everyone could begin by caring, asking more questions, and making less assumptions. Event promoters could bring on more women employees or contract ladies to help them see what will and won’t hit the target for their audience.
Shops can begin by seeking out more and higher quality options for women that don’t have the pink tag price. I custom designed our Lost Girls hoodies partly because I couldn’t find what I wanted on an existing clothing rack. The idea is to feel warm, comfy, and bad ass in what you’re wearing.
Media holds the key to creating the consumer base for event promoters and shops. With more quality movies, edits, articles, publicity, and the right outlets, more of the world will see what we do. The more the world sees it, the more people will get stoked and want to join! Maybe the “old boys” haven’t realized that they’re relying almost solely on half of the population!
If suddenly $2 million fell into your lap, what would you do to promote The Lost Girls?
Oh man! I would go all out! Film equipment is extremely expensive, as well as travel, so that’s a no brainer. Sure, a RED camera and a helicopter would be awesome. An urban movie. Summer in Australia and winter in Japan.
We could set up a scholarship fund to get women filmers, photographers, and graphic designers the equipment they need. We could have contests and awards for athletes.
A TV documentary series about women going on adventures around the world, doing and teaching action sports, and helping the communities they visit. A good friend of mine and I have an idea in the works to do a long distance skate trip all the way across Cambodia. Being able to just go do it without trying to raise funds would be great.
Or what about a whole line of custom clothing with featured art from talented ladies? The possibilities are endless, and the current struggle is real. But even if I have to work full time as a busser to make Lost Girls successful, that’s what I’ll do. Ultimately, it’s not about the money because it gives life greater purpose.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add? Plans for the future?
I’m blown away by the amount of support we’ve had, and the amazing people who often work for nothing to make Lost Girls possible. With the new longboard team, and plenty of plans for skiing and snowboarding this winter season, I think this is going to be our best year yet.
I’m currently teaming up with artists to work on the 16/17 line. We’re going to have several runs of limited edition hoodies, and I’m also working on hats, pins, patches, long sleeve shirts, and more! Our kickoff party for the season is happening in November, and we’ll have more info on our website and social media soon.
Farther into the future, I see us creating a network of women all over the world who are getting together at their home mountains, beaches, or skate parks and progressing the sport. I also see us becoming a media outlet that utilizes retail sales to generate high quality content.
The most important thing, though, is to shred together and have fun, always.
Why Skogging?With all the styles of skating out there, why skogging? ” Isn’t it just pushing a board?” “What’s the big deal with using both legs?” “It can’t be that hard, right?”These all seem like great questions to ask. To be completely honest at first I wasn’t sure what the hype was all about when I first heard of skogging. Mr. Chris Yandall set his board down in front of me years ago and said, “Give it a try.” I pushed a few pushes and he said, “Now push with other leg”. I ate it. The feeling of “pedidexterious” as Chris coined it was so foreign to me. I skated regular footed for over 30 years. When I moved to SoCal I want to skate for the workout/exercise aspect of it. I have major medical issues that require me to workout my core. Chris showed me the footwork. Push regular foot then back foot (mongo) then repeat. Switch kick to other lead leg using one of many ways. (I use either foot slide back or cross step. All can be seen on the Skogging101 YouTube videos/channel.)So now the rider is pushing goofy foot then back foot (mongo) repeat then switch kick again. Skogging is all about the constant flow. It’s all about the movement. So why skogging? It’s actually an easy question to answer. Why not? If you are into long distance pushing it is the style that makes sense. Constant motion, constant flow all the while getting a killer core and full body workout. Miles upon miles tore up and your body is NOT tore up. Skogging takes time to get. It is a total retrain of muscle memory. It is better if you’re new to skateboarding, at least then you won’t be conditioned to push one leg. I offer the same advice that was offered to me by my mentor Mr. Chris Yandall. Practice on carpet then on a tennis court. Learn the footwork then rage! So give skogging a shot. If you need help in any shape or form, email me email@example.com. Or find me on social media or just look out your car window, chances are I will pass you. Your Friendly Neighborhood SkoggerSteven MeketaContact: firstname.lastname@example.org