ModifyWatches X ConcreteWave

ModifyWatches X ConcreteWave

 Get 30% Off today on the Modify Watches X Concrete Wave magazine  Facebook: I teamed up with @modifywatches to design my own line of custom watches! Find my collection at ​modifywatches.com/concretewave and use code ​CONCRETE30​ to get 30% off today! #wearyourpassion       Code valid through ​10/14/2016

The Editor Asks: "Hasn't it always been okay to be a gay skateboarder…?"

The Editor Asks: "Hasn't it always been okay to be a gay skateboarder…?"

An essay on Brian Anderson, gay skateboarders, our inclusive culture, and mainstream ignorance.

 

This week, I caught wind through my Facebook news feed that Brian Anderson had “come out” as skateboarding’s first openly gay, professional skateboarder. This news flash was immediately picked up worldwide… no joke… by “the mainstream media”. The New York Times covered it.

 

 

 

Rolling Stone covered it. The Independent covered it. The Guardian UK covered it. A whole host of LGBT media sites covered it, as might be expected. And then, I had those thirty or so Facebook flashes, reminding me of it (just in case I lived in a cave, and I somehow managed to forget all about it for a few brief seconds). Brian immediately became a beloved bellweather for the movement, as he well deserves I suppose. He is, by all accounts, a really great guy and an incredible skater. Regardless of whatever his sexual orientation might be.

 

 

 

Which led me immediately to this question: Why in the world is this even news…? What’s the story here…? Is this really, “new” news? Or, is it just “new” to everybody that’s not actually a skateboarder…?

 

 

 

First of all, I was kind of surprised that the story line was that he “finally came out”. I was only surprised by this because I had either taken for granted, or dumbly assumed, that he had actually “come out” eons ago. I mean, I knew he was gay. Most people I know, knew he was gay. I’m pretty sure that most of the industry knew he was gay. But just to be sure, I made a few calls and conducted a quickie survey.

 

“Hey, did you know Brian Anderson was gay…?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“When did you find out…?”

 

“Oh, I don’t remember. Maybe, 2009 or so…?” (By the way: most of my respondees all found out Brian was gay around the same time, which I found peculiarly interesting.)

 

“Oh, okay. Just checking. Thanks.”

 

If the fact that Brian Anderson was gay was some sort of “closely guarded secret”, well then, I guess it has to rank up there as one of the worst-kept secrets in all of skateboarding. Because it really wasn’t much of a secret to anybody. Anybody that I know, at least.

 

Maybe the real story was just how quick Brian’s “sudden announcement” was embraced by the rest of the skateboarding world. But then, I wasn’t really surprised by that either. Skateboarders are well-known to be a subculture that pretty much openly accepts everybody, regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, economic standing, or any other divide that you could possibly conjure up. Skateboarders pretty much see the world in terms of either skaters, or non-skaters… and that’s it. Why they would pick this week to suddenly ostracize some poor skater for some wholly insignificant reason, is just a little bit beyond my imagination. Now if Brian rollerbladed, that would be a different story. That, my frenemies, would be the end of the entire world. But, gay…? Meh.

 

It’s not like Brian is the first openly gay skateboarder, either. Maybe that’s why this isn’t really “news”. I clearly remember Jarret Berry, who graced the cover of Big Brother’s “Gay Issue” in the mid ’90s… which was, of course, a “taboo” that was charcteristically approached in Big Brother’s nonsensical, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) manner. Big Brother even crossed out the “g” so that it read “Bi Brother”, which made them all apparently gay by association. And then we have their subsequent project, Dickhouse Productions, which uses the gay-pride rainbow as their corporate logo. But I don’t remember any skate movement to go burn down Big Brother’s offices in a fit of homophobic rage, or any skate-related movement to boycott Jackass The Movie. Maybe Jarret remembers it differently. But as far as I could tell, most skaters were pretty supportive of the whole shebang. It wasn’t even really “news” then, either. It was just another issue of the usual Big Bro hijinks.

 

 

I guessed the mainstream media also conveniently missed the Mike Carroll “NAMBLA” board non-controversy, while they were at it. I never really understood the whole point of that one… maybe Mike’s been trying to tell us something… but in any rate, nobody really seemed to make much of a ruckus about that one, either. If that wasn’t your vibe, well, there was always the Randy Colvin “Censorship” model that you could rock, just to prove to everyone just how hetero you were. Unless you were a girl buying that board, of course. But I’m clearly overthinking this stuff. Because to most skaters’ credit, nobody really thought much about any of this in the first place. They just bought boards, and skated them. Because that’s what skaters do. They don’t think. They just skate.

 

The Mainstream Media might be surprised to hear that there are not only gay skaters, but there are lesbian skaters too. And transgender skaters. Skaters don’t fear any of these things. Skaters, really, don’t fear much of anything at all. Any group of nutbags that will happily slide down a 30-stair handrail on their gonads, and not think twice about how much that might actually hurt, probably isn’t gonna give two tiny craps about your wee little homophobias.  

 

There were gay skateboarders even before Jarret, naturally enough. Jarret wasn’t the “first”. He may have been the “first” to get on the cover of a major skateboard magazine in assless chaps, but that certainly doesn’t make him the very first gay skateboarder ever. They’ve always been here. I knew some personally, in fact. Great fellows. Funny guys. Great skaters. I don’t remember a single instance of anybody (besides ignorant non-skaters) ever giving them any grief at all. Shit, I don’t even remember it being a significant point of conversation. We were too busy talking about skating to worry too much about unrelated trivialities.  

 

Maybe it’s all because I’m a by-product of the ’80s. In the ’80s, of course, we were all gay. And Satanists. And freaks. I’m not lying, that’s the God-honest truth. Any skater that grew up in the ’80s will surely remember some jackwagon driving by, yelling “Skater Fag!” at the top of their lungs. That happened pretty regularly, actually. Virtually every day. Skaters… all skaters… regardless of whatever our actual sexual orientations might have been… were seen, and labeled, by the “public at large” (ie,”the mainstream”) as being gay as hell. So when an actual, bona-fide, true-blue, gay skater came along… it was like, “Oh really, you’re gay? Big damn deal. So are the rest of us, bubbo. Join the club.”

 

So, yeah. Brian came out last week, and spilled the beans on a secret that everybody basically knew, anyway. And he got a lot of genuine love and sincere support from his fellow skaters for having done so, as we all knew he would long before the fact. Commendable? Sure, I suppose.

 

But, newsworthy…? Not really. What justifies a big headline for the rest of the non-skating world is just another ho-hum, run-of-the-mill day in the life for us.

 

Maybe that’s “the story” that the mainstream media should be spinning. And maybe the rest of the mainstream world could learn a few things along the way about tolerance, acceptance, solidarity, and community from us lowly “gay skateboarders”.

 

For additional reading, check out this story from HUCK Magazine circa 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

How It's Made – Loaded Longboards Edition

How It's Made – Loaded Longboards Edition

Loaded’s Icarus is a work of art and definitely a thing of beauty. This video explains in the most unusual way possible how they make them – or more specifically, how they birth them.It’s like you’re watching something from National Geographic.  Take five minutes and experience the birth of the Loaded Icarus.   

The Editor Asks: “Hasn’t it always been okay to be a gay skateboarder…?

The Editor Asks: “Hasn’t it always been okay to be a gay skateboarder…?

An essay on Brian Anderson, gay skateboarders, our inclusive culture, and mainstream ignorance.

This week, I caught wind through my Facebook news feed that Brian Anderson had “come out” as skateboarding’s first openly gay, professional skateboarder. This news flash was immediately picked up worldwide… no joke… by “the mainstream media”. The New York Times covered it.

Rolling Stone covered it. The Independent covered it. The Guardian UK covered it. A whole host of LGBT media sites covered it, as might be expected. And then, I had those thirty or so Facebook flashes, reminding me of it (just in case I lived in a cave, and I somehow managed to forget all about it for a few brief seconds). Brian immediately became a beloved bellweather for the movement, as he well deserves I suppose. He is, by all accounts, a really great guy and an incredible skater. Regardless of whatever his sexual orientation might be.

 

Which led me immediately to this question: Why in the world is this even news…? What’s the story here…? Is this really, “new” news? Or, is it just “new” to everybody that’s not actually a skateboarder…?

 

irst of all, I was kind of surprised that the story line was that he “finally came out”. I was only surprised by this because I had either taken for granted, or dumbly assumed, that he had actually “come out” eons ago. I mean, I knew he was gay. Most people I know, knew he was gay. I’m pretty sure that most of the industry knew he was gay. But just to be sure, I made a few calls and conducted a quickie survey.

“Hey, did you know Brian Anderson was gay…?”

“Yeah.”

“When did you find out…?”

“Oh, I don’t remember. Maybe, 2009 or so…?” (By the way: most of my respondees all found out Brian was gay around the same time, which I found peculiarly interesting.)

“Oh, okay. Just checking. Thanks.”

If the fact that Brian Anderson was gay was some sort of “closely guarded secret”, well then, I guess it has to rank up there as one of the worst-kept secrets in all of skateboarding. Because it really wasn’t much of a secret to anybody. Anybody that I know, at least.

Maybe the real story was just how quick Brian’s “sudden announcement” was embraced by the rest of the skateboarding world. But then, I wasn’t really surprised by that either. Skateboarders are well-known to be a subculture that pretty much openly accepts everybody, regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, economic standing, or any other divide that you could possibly conjure up. Skateboarders pretty much see the world in terms of either skaters, or non-skaters… and that’s it. Why they would pick this week to suddenly ostracize some poor skater for some wholly insignificant reason, is just a little bit beyond my imagination. Now if Brian rollerbladed, that would be a different story. That, my frenemies, would be the end of the entire world. But, gay…? Meh.

It’s not like Brian is the first openly gay skateboarder, either. Maybe that’s why this isn’t really “news”. I clearly remember Jarret Berry, who graced the cover of Big Brother’s “Gay Issue” in the mid ’90s… which was, of course, a “taboo” that was charcteristically approached in Big Brother’s nonsensical, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) manner. Big Brother even crossed out the “g” so that it read “Bi Brother”, which made them all apparently gay by association. And then we have their subsequent project, Dickhouse Productions, which uses the gay-pride rainbow as their corporate logo. But I don’t remember any skate movement to go burn down Big Brother’s offices in a fit of homophobic rage, or any skate-related movement to boycott Jackass The Movie. Maybe Jarret remembers it differently. But as far as I could tell, most skaters were pretty supportive of the whole shebang. It wasn’t even really “news” then, either. It was just another issue of the usual Big Bro hijinks.

I guessed the mainstream media also conveniently missed the Mike Carroll “NAMBLA” board non-controversy, while they were at it. I never really understood the whole point of that one… maybe Mike’s been trying to tell us something… but in any rate, nobody really seemed to make much of a ruckus about that one, either. If that wasn’t your vibe, well, there was always the Randy Colvin “Censorship” model that you could rock, just to prove to everyone just how hetero you were. Unless you were a girl buying that board, of course. But I’m clearly overthinking this stuff. Because to most skaters’ credit, nobody really thought much about any of this in the first place. They just bought boards, and skated them. Because that’s what skaters do. They don’t think. They just skate.

The Mainstream Media might be surprised to hear that there are not only gay skaters, but there are lesbian skaters too. And transgender skaters. Skaters don’t fear any of these things. Skaters, really, don’t fear much of anything at all. Any group of nutbags that will happily slide down a 30-stair handrail on their gonads, and not think twice about how much that might actually hurt, probably isn’t gonna give two tiny craps about your wee little homophobias.

There were gay skateboarders even before Jarret, naturally enough. Jarret wasn’t the “first”. He may have been the “first” to get on the cover of a major skateboard magazine in assless chaps, but that certainly doesn’t make him the very first gay skateboarder ever. They’ve always been here. I knew some personally, in fact. Great fellows. Funny guys. Great skaters. I don’t remember a single instance of anybody (besides ignorant non-skaters) ever giving them any grief at all. Shit, I don’t even remember it being a significant point of conversation. We were too busy talking about skating to worry too much about unrelated trivialities.

Maybe it’s all because I’m a by-product of the ’80s. In the ’80s, of course, we were all gay. And Satanists. And freaks. I’m not lying, that’s the God-honest truth. Any skater that grew up in the ’80s will surely remember some jackwagon driving by, yelling “Skater Fag!” at the top of their lungs. That happened pretty regularly, actually. Virtually every day. Skaters… all skaters… regardless of whatever our actual sexual orientations might have been… were seen, and labeled, by the “public at large” (ie,”the mainstream”) as being gay as hell. So when an actual, bona-fide, true-blue, gay skater came along… it was like, “Oh really, you’re gay? Big damn deal. So are the rest of us, bubbo. Join the club.”

So, yeah. Brian came out last week, and spilled the beans on a secret that everybody basically knew, anyway. And he got a lot of genuine love and sincere support from his fellow skaters for having done so, as we all knew he would long before the fact. Commendable? Sure, I suppose.

But, newsworthy…? Not really. What justifies a big headline for the rest of the non-skating world is just another ho-hum, run-of-the-mill day in the life for us.

Maybe that’s “the story” that the mainstream media should be spinning. And maybe the rest of the mainstream world could learn a few things along the way about tolerance, acceptance, solidarity, and community from us lowly “gay skateboarders”.

For additional reading, check out this story from HUCK Magazine circa 2012.

 

Snapshop of an Event: Newquay-UK

Snapshop of an Event: Newquay-UK

It’s Saturday morning, 11.00 am, the morning after a Friday night out in the town celebrating the beginning of the weekend. Newquay is a town in Cornwall, England. This is the town where memories are made; the reckless ones, the wild ones, and the ones that leave you beaten and bruised by the power of the hill.

 

Gathered today at the bottom of our favorite hill, located just off the main street in town, are the fellow longboarders living amongst the concrete waves of Newquay. As hills go, the one looming over us could be described as more of a gentle bimble; lush terrain, a sloping decline leading into a sweeping car park, a hill accommodating for all abilities.

 

Newquay is simply an incredible venue to hold a skate event. The sun shines at least once in the 2 months of our ‘supposed’ summer and today, is the chosen day for some ‘half decent’ weather! With the lack of breeze, speed wobbles will be simply carried out without the wind helping to throw us aboard and thane lines appear easily with the heated concrete. Sweat builds and the heat of the event rises.

Newquay's very own Rocky Poole.

As we reach midday, the adrenalin begins to bubble and the rise of the longboarders slowly takes place. To my right, is one of my closest friends and to my left, is the designated camera man of the day, complete with bubble wrap from head to toe and a hip flask of JD to calm his nerves as he watches us zoom down the hill. He’s also got a helmet of his own to protect his livelihood from us fellow adrenalin junkies flying off our boards and straight at him. Dotted here and there, are the many skaters in their personal domains, giving themselves individual pep talks, some clutching their boards, most likely giving them a one to one, asking for their wood to look after them and some distracting themselves by laughing off the nerves in the pits of their stomachs, man’ing up nicely! 

 

With all the usual accompaniments that follow a downhill skating event; at least 30 cans of Monster Energy, 6 packs of cookies from the local Londis and various other necessities, we’re finally ready to begin the downhill spiral. Slide gloves, leathers and pads fitted securely, complete set ups at the ready, numerous skate tools lying at the side of the hill and spare wheels rolling around in the boots of cars. 

 

We’re ready.

Skaters are shredding in their very own individual way demonstrating their own styles. The down low, soulful, floor touching Zephyr wanna’be’s, the sketchy, quick speed freaks simply attacking the road and the calm collected, wary skaters obtaining levels of control as oppose to the few adrenalin junkies creating havoc on the hill. Ryan Beer, one of Newquay most talented boarders, begins to set the pace as his board violates the hill, speed ever increasing. Ryan throws in a stand up pendulum, thane lines appearing behind him, a trace of pure remaining stoke. ‘The outlines of adrenalin, the remainders of a successful shred!’ Shortly behind Ryan is Alf Underwood, another of Newquay’s talented downhill skaters.

Alf has his own unique style and his aggressive pumping and his striking skate stance sends him souring around the bottom corner, with an incorporated sit down slide to end his shred. Matt Houlton, fellow conformed short boarder to long boarder, a changed man as we say, tears up the tarmac shortly behind; leaving little, if any time at all for the camera man to switch from preview image, to take a shot. Matt simply cares about the road ahead, the free ride, the pure gnar and simply rides for the freedom. Matt skates a Hybrid board, combining short and long board into one. Matt adds a whole new element to the event.

 

All downhill events aren’t complete without their very own complimentary blood bath and you’re sure to leave with a few souvenirs! Plenty of scars, bruises and grazes left on your skin for you to brag about your battle damage to the ladies later on. Road rash smeared like crunchy peanut butter from head to toe, leathers holy and torn, wheels beginning to bite popped bearings and sweat dripping. It may all sound rather gory and unappetizing, yet that is what longboarding events are all about. They’re a breed of their own. They’re not glorified, they’re real! 

 

As the day sweeps subtly to an end, all skaters gather at the foot of the hill, some beaten and bruised by concrete kisses and some just so simply full of stoke, all memories of road rash are erased and replaced with pure gnar. The sun is slowly setting and the tummies of fellow tarmac temptress’s rumble, so it’s a call to the local pizza joint, order placed, beers chilling in the fridge and boards safely tucked away in the boots of our cars. 

We all know the drills, prizes are awarded and the trophies are handed out. Some more amusingly labeled than others and the faces of sweaty skaters show the pure enjoyment and adrenalin that was endured throughout the day. 

 

‘Until next time…’

 

Got something to share about your scene? Send it up and we’ll happily spread the word.

Philly Freestyle Championships

Philly Freestyle Championships

At a time in skateboarding when most people seem to be more frenzied about how our beloved lifestyle might be stripped from its counter-culture roots to become an Olympic spectacle, I took a two hour drive from North Jersey to South Philadelphia.

 

And on a crisp Saturday morning, I walked into a scene of people who seemed not to have a care in the world as to how the Olympic committee might interpret a kickflip differently from a 360 flip.

AJ Kohn with a truckstand.

 

Instead, a couple dozen skaters all of ages and backgrounds were already warming up and rehearsing runs they’d practiced well in advance for the day’s event. Here, there were no national anthems, no ten stairs and no sportscasters detailing what was going down. Instead, Philly’s own AJ Kohn was behind the mic, warning the participants that they had only 10 minutes left before the 7th Annual Philly Freestyle Championships kicked off.

 

 

As I grabbed a seat to watch the action unfold, I must admit that even with my board in hand, I felt like a bit of an outsider to this scene. As a street skater who rarely even looks at spots unless there’s at least a curb or a parking block, and as an Instagram user who’s become familiar with the coverage from today’s modern skateboarding contents, I was completely unprepared to the level of skill I was seeing before me.

 

Some skaters had their songs planned out while others focused on setting up multiple boards for Daffy Manuals in their runs. While some chose the more stationary approach for their hand plants and rail flips, some skaters made use of the whole basketball court we were on to blast into some screeching powerslides. For the next several hours, I watched skaters from novices to pros, who travelled in from Colorado, California and even from Sweden to skate the flatground at Rizzo Rink. A bunch of talented, dedicated individuals in their own world, doing their own thing. And killing it.

 

One handed, hand stand kickflp.

A personal favorite skater of mine was Tim Morris. A teacher by day who has been working his way back from a knee injury took the 40+ Masters division by storm. After an impressive display of sweeping manuals and caspers, Morris landed himself on top of the podium of the Masters with a couple of impressive runs. I spoke to him briefly afterwards and he expressed concern over his knee holding up before the contest’s 360 spin competition was set to take place. Evidently, the injury was a non-issue as Morris ended up the victor of that phase of the competition too.

Tim Morris. Teacher by day, freestyler by weekend.

I drove back to New Jersey later that weekend but kept my outsider’s take on this contest as a beacon of hope. A beacon of hope for the potential that skateboarding’s core shralpers can still provide to a world dominated by “9-Club” scores and Olympic hysteria.

 

Check out the video below:

  

Shop Interview: Handplant, Laguna Beach

Shop Interview: Handplant, Laguna Beach

I’ve known EG Fratantaro for close to 20 years. He was one of the founding folks at Sector 9. A while back he opened up Hand Plant in Laguna Beach. This kicks off a new feature here on our website.

 

What makes Laguna Beach so special in your eyes?

Laguna has strong roots in surfing and skateboarding along with its deep ties in art. Laguna Beach has always had a different feeling from the rest of Orange County. Its beautiful hills, incredible beaches and community vibe make it one of the best places to live on earth. We have nice hills to skate but no park yet, nut we are going too change that. 

What were some of the reasons for you starting up a shop? Handplant was founded out of a need to have a truly hardcore skate shop here in Laguna Beach. There was nothing like it, still isn’t, and we wanted a shop that had a boutique feeling without being to fruity.  

What are some the brands you are particularly proud to carry – items that are local or rare? Transportation Unit and Welcome skateboards along with Helm Street jewelry, leather, and handmade goods. Can’t forget about our boys at Sk8mafia and JSLV as well. We try and carry brands that aren’t in every mall shop.  What do you feel is going to be the fate of the local independent skate shop?Well we are all going to have to get real creative on getting customers in here and keeping them stoked. We have to compete against the World Wide Web and it ain’t easy. Strong, great customer service is a must.  It’s super easy to sit on your couch, order some thing of the web and have a friggin drone deliver it, but you will not get the human experience at all. People still want that and that’s why they come to HP. 

 

You were one of the pioneers of marketing and promoting longboards. What are some of your favorite memories of the times when most shops said NO, we won’t carry longboards.

Oh man there are so many of those stories. We literally paved the way and it wasn’t easy. Still to this day the hard core skate crew are still questioning it.  But if you have the right product and family of friends to back it then you can make it happen. 

Photos for sale

 

If you ran the world, what are one or two things you would do in skateboarding to change things.

Shit I’ve been skateboarding for over 35 years now and I’ve watched it change and changed it as well.  So as far as change, we’ll we did that when I worked at Sector 9. Only other change I would really want is for the companies to stay true,  don’t sell out, it’s a lifestyle so deal with it or kick rocks. Oh and take it out of the Olympics, that’s shits whack! 

Lots of cool items yours to discover.