This year went by fast. Incredibly fast. It seems inconceivable that I was preparing to meet up with folks at our annual bbq at the Agenda Trade Show 12 months ago. Next week, Agenda 2017 in Long Beach hits once again. It’s always a very special event. The annual gathering brings a variety of people together but this year we have a truly remarkable guest of honor. Our guest does not own a big skate brand. He also doesn’t place in the top 10 of various skate events. Rather, he is leaving a mark on skateboarding that is unique and jaw-dropping Our guest is Chris Koch and he is one of the most incredible skaters I’ve ever had the privilege to know. We featured his story in our September issue. You can learn more about his skating in marathons in the video below:Chris is a motivational speaker and you find out more about him here. I am so delighted Chris will be joining us for the BBQ. As we roll into 2017, take the time to ride and enjoy the freedom that skateboarding offers.
We are going to be taking a short break as the entire Concrete Wave crew takes some time to enjoy the holidays. Best wishes to all our readers, advertisers and friends. We’ll still be posting on Facebook…but take the time to take the time!Greg Weaver at the Concrete Wave Skatepark circa 1976. Photo: Warren Bolster
Of all the programs that Longboarding for Peace has been a part of, none gets the attention like the annual “Gun Buy Back.” Yesterday someone posted a comment on our Instagram account if “this was a real thing.” I am here to tell you Howweroll_wpg indeed it is!Depending on what side of the political fence you find yourself on, you either want more guns with less restriction or less guns and more restriction. This is not what our program is about. It is about getting guns out of people’s homes who don’t want them and replacing the firearm with a skateboard. It is 100% voluntary. I have also found that the gun buy back is also a great way to start a discussion about a number of touchy subjects!From rifles to .357 magnums, you would be amazed at what people have stored in their homes! This extraordinary idea was created by Neil Carver of Carver Skateboards. It was Neil that came up with the concept back in 2013. It was his response to the tragedy of Sandy Hook where Adam Lanza stormed into an elementary school and killed 28 people. Twenty of them were between 6 and 7 years old. Speaking of Sandy Hook, December 14, marked the 4th anniversary. What is astonishing to me is that there are conspiracy theories on the web that say it was a hoax. You can read about one father’s fight to take on the hoaxers here: Over 250 guns were traded in. From this unspeakable act, Neil felt compelled to do something. Working with the police department in San Pedro, California, he was able to co-ordinate a gun buy back that offered all a chance to trade in their gun for a Carver Skateboard. Over the past two years, we have conducted 4 gun buy backs. Working with Dennis Martinez (a former pro skater and current prison pastor) along with Harvey Hawks (another former pro) the program has grown to be permanent fixture each December in San Diego. I want to pause for a moment and mention the fact that Harvey Hawks might not be familiar to all readers. His is an incredible story of redemption. Harvey actually wound up going to prison for 26 years for 2nd degree murder in a road rage incident back in 1987. He thought he was firing a warning shot at a van that was trying to ram him off the road. The sad truth is that the gun had actual bullets and they pierced the metal and fatally wounded an off-duty police officer. Harvey turned his life around in prison and I find it absolutely amazing that he such a huge part of this program. San Diego’s Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman The gun buy back would not work without the tremendous support of skate companies. These include, Carver, Bustin, Loaded, Randal, Dusters, Hashtag and in previous years, Landyachtz and Rainskates. Thank you on behalf of Longboarding for Peace If you are multi-millionaire philanthropist or a skate company with a whole bunch of product you’d like to donate, email me. Exchanging guns for skateboards is not a crime.
Welcome to the on-line edition of a popular column we brought out earlier this year. If you would like to help break the stereotypes that many people have about skateboarders, please submit story along with a photo or two. No jacket required.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Coordinator
Integrated Cadastral Information Society
After completing a Geography Degree from the University of Victoria I went on to completing an Advanced Diploma in GIS. I have been working in the GIS Industry for over 15 years. I have worked for both Provincial Ministries and for a variety of consultant companies. I am currently working with a non-profit society the exchanges geospatial data between local & provincial governments, utility companies and First Nations in BC. I am an avid skater, father of two and an ambassador for Longboarder Labs in Victoria. I am also the organizer for the Victoria Greenskate Longboard Cruise.
Do you recall your first skateboards as a kid?
My first longboard was a “Reject” board from PD’s Hotshop back when It was located on Oak St. in Vancouver. I was in grade 3. My parents used to take us into PD’s to buy skateboard gear. I still remember the 99 cents paper hats with the shop logo on them. Skullskates is an institution.
How did you get into Longboarding?
I grew up in the 80’s and was fully immersed in street skating. In White Rock where I grew up skateboarding was a huge scene. I guess I never loss the stoke. While attending the University of Victoria in the 90’s I picked up my first longboard. It was an old Powell Peralta deck with a hula girl on the bottom. It was basically just a big skateboard, but it acted as my “gateway” longboard. Since then I have been collecting boards. I think my quiver is up to around 15 right now.
What are some of the comments you’ve received over the years?
With my work I have the opportunity to travel to both large urban centers and smaller rural municipalities. If possible I will always bring a longboard with me. It’s such a great way to explore a new town. Colleagues are often surprised when I tell them that I was out exploring their town via longboard.
I also do a lot of online training webinars and site visits and I have a screen saver of my son and I longboarding and it always gets a few remarks.
When checking in to hotels in Vancouver it’s always funny to see the reaction of hotel staff when I check in wearing business attire and a few minutes later I leave to go longboarding.
I often get comments from colleagues that they used to skateboard growing up. I have actually got a few of them into longboarding after taking a 20-30 year hiatus from standing on a board.
It looks like your kids is are also into skateboarding.
Yes, I encourage both my kids to get out on my longboards. We have such a great variety of longboards we are always switching trucks and wheels around and dialing in set ups. We live less than a kilometer away from their school so they often longboard to school. As well a lot of the neighborhood kids come by and use the longboards. It make for a super fun and sometimes terrifying session.
Like many of you, I am staring down 2017 with a mix of trepidation and excitement. I dread to see another world war but at the same time, I am excited for the future. This upcoming year is going to be filled with an enormous amount of great things in skateboarding…I can feel it. You want proof? Ok, Vin Diesel returns as Xander Cage the SAME DAY Trump is sworn in! Without sounding too cliche, I have admit, change is difficult, but it’s worth embracing. Recently, my family and I changed our lifestyle. Nothing too radical but definitely different. We downsized from quite a large house to an apartment. On the plus side, no more worry about squirrels eating parts of my windowsill and no more driveway to shovel. At the same time, when you downsize, space becomes a premium. There wasn’t room for the boxes of magazines I had published over the years. My extensive skate quiver was also going to be a challenge to fit into our new place. I spent most of November giving away most of what I had collected, bought, produced and/or hoarded in the past four decades. The joy of downsizing was matched only by the pain I thought I was going to experience through eliminating 90% of my stuff. It’s hard to say good bye to something you have truly given your heart and soul to. But, as Yogi Berra famously said: “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” Curiously enough, as I was going through my journey of minimizing, I spotted a documentary on this very subject on Netflix. Here’s the trailer: Minimalism is now playing on Netflix.The film resonated with me on a profound level. Minimalism isn’t about giving up stuff. It’s about embracing the things that really count. You don’t give up technology or clothing…you simply have less things. The old saying “less is more” is at the heart of a minimalist philosophy. At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “what the hell does this have to do with skateboarding?” Well, it turns out that one of the key people featured in the documentary is a skater. Ryan Nicodemus owns a Santa Cruz complete. His partner in the minimalist adventure is Joshua Fields Milburn. I am not sure if he skates, but his story is just as compelling as Ryan’s. I was so taken with the film that I wrote to the Minimalists (as they are known by). I explained that I ran a skate magazine and that I was intrigued to know more about Ryan’s skate background. Pushing around Montana, Ryan’s hometown. The publicist got back to me pretty damn quickly and I had an opportunity to ask Ryan some questions. You’ll have to wait until our March issue to read them. Meanwhile, I encourage you to open up to the ideas of minimalism. You might be very surprised at what it can do for you. Ryan only owns ONE longboard…but it does the job! Learn more about a less is more lifestyle here.
Concrete Wave recently teamed up with Transformer Rails to test out the world’s first and most versatile, transformable grind rail. With the ability to skate the rail as a flat bar, round rail or bench and numerous height adjustments, Transformer Rails allow skaters to progress faster than ever before.
In this video, Elephant Brand Skateboards team rider Colby Deluccia unleashes a barrage of tricks combined with one of the most unique styles out there on the six foot Transformer rail. With effortlessly unthinkable combos and unparalleled manual balance, Colby shows off how to lay the hammers down.
To learn more about Transformer rails, check this piece we did on them last month. or on their site at transformerrails.com
Great times at the gathering.
Photo: Miguel Cervantes
Just before thanksgiving, I was viewing some of the longboard meet up sites and came upon a longboard rental request from a German longboarder visiting NYC for the week. I’ve been there before; visiting a foreign place and wishing I had my board, so I couldn’t just scroll by and forget it. Not much later that night I reached out to Armin Beck from Stuttgart Germany who was looking to do what we all love and do: skate. After some exchange I offered him one of my boards, no charge, no problem. Simultaneously, Kenzo Shimzu (Japanese/American), was corresponding with Miguel Cervantes (Mexican/American) on where to tear up some local hills. I reached out to them as well and realized this was quickly becoming something like a United Nations longboard summit but it was missing something or someone. After some thought, I reached out to Gustavo Santiago, a world traveler from Brazil currently visiting NYC.
So here we were, five guys from five countries spanning four continents, messaging one another to unite and spend the day on one hill, was this really happening? Little did i know that this would set into motion one of the most rewarding days of longboarding for all of us. After some more IM we decided on a meeting place and chose the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge at 11:00 AM… IT WAS ON!
As I got off the 175th st exit over the GWB and approached Broadway, there they were. After some introductions to new faces and brief exchanges, we were on our way about an hour and a half northwest where New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania converge. There was a certain symmetry to the choice of this location that joined three different states. It just seemed to fit given the variety of our backgrounds. Our journey there was fraught with non-stop laughter, comedy, some seriousness, one pit stop and, of course, more laughter. When we arrived we were all awestruck with the majestic and panoramic view. The mountain was perfect and offered up two switchbacks and a 12 degree variable grade… So nice!
It was truly an international group: an American, a German, a Brazilian, a Mexican/American and a Japanese/American atop a mile and a half, rarely travelled, double lane road with those two amazing switchbacks… The longboard gods are definitely good.
We all took to that hill like ducks to water and took each run with more vigor than the last. Each one of us was heelsiding, toesiding, occasionally bricking but most importantly, living life to the fullest.
The sun would prove to be our nemesis eventually declaring an end to the day. After some final runs we all packed our gear and began our trek home which proved more fun than the ride up.
It wasn’t until later in the night when I got home that the gravity of the events of the day began to settle in. It was really something spectacular… Perhaps the United Nations could take a page from the book of our gathering, “Through our mutual love for longboarding we embraced our diversity”… Five guys from five countries spanning four continents spending the day longboarding on one hill… YEAH, the longboard Gods smiled on all of us that day. I will NEVER forget it. The laughter, the sharing, the progression and the friendships forged. These are the memories that will stay with us forever. It was incredible.
The new LumiSkate Series from Sector 9 allows you to take back the night! Glow in the dark graphic and wheels with luminescent urethane that charges while you roll.
This is perfect board for commuting during the day or night. Available in two different shapes to suit your riding style.
Have peek at the video here:
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9.0″ Gullwing Charger Trucks
67mm 78a LumiThane Wheels
Hailing from New Zealand, Holly Thorpe is a sociology professor doing some terrific work in action sports.
We had a chance to find out more about her latest initiative – the ASDP
Below is a TED TALK that Holly gave in the fall of 2016.
What drew you to action sports in the first place?
I grew up in a small beach town on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand / Aotearoa. My parents were passionate windsurfers and surfers, so I had an early introduction to action sport cultures. I grew up in and around surfing and skateboarding culture. Then, when I went to University in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I saw snow for the first time and quickly fell in love with everything about snowboarding. I learned pretty fast and started competing. I ended up doing 8 back-to-back winters working at a ski resort in the US, and competing in New Zealand. Then I had the brainwave of combining my love of these sports with my studies, and this lead to my PhD on snowboarding culture and to the sociology of action sports more broadly. Over the past 10 years I’ve travelled the world researching action sport cultures, and have published a bunch of journal articles and three books on the topic, including Snowboarding Bodies in Theory and Practice (2011), Transnational Mobilities in Action Sport Cultures (2014), and Women in Action Sport Cultures: Identity, Politics and Experience (2016).
What prompted you to start the Action Sports for Development website? And what are the main sports that are featured?
As is often the case, I stumbled across this topic in 2011 after a devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. I had lots of family and friends living in Christchurch many of whom were passionate action sport participants. Through social media and personal connections, I became aware of lots of other local skaters, surfers, mountain bikers, and climbers, who were adopting some really creative ways of reappropriating the earthquake damaged spaces, and rebuilding their communities through their activities. So, as a researcher I just had to explore this further. I went down to Christchurch and did a bunch of interviews on the topic of action sports for resilience and coping in post-disaster spaces, and then later that year I was in New Orleans and met up with some of the people behind the Parisite Skatepark. From then on, I have been following this line of research of action sports for development in post-disaster spaces, as well as conflict-torn locations with a longstanding research project with Skateistan, and a group of young men doing parkour in Gaza. In late 2015, I won a big research grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand to focus on this topic, and this gave me the time and resources to set up the website and to try to create space for dialogue across action sports and locations. The main sports featured on the site are surfing, skateboarding, parkour, snow-sports, biking sports (especially BMX and mountain biking), and climbing, though I am seeing some interesting parallels with how capoeira is being used for development purposes so they’re featured too.
Team sports seem to dominate and have way of reinforcing cultural norms and action sports have a different sensibility. What’s your take and can we come to a balance of the best of both in today’s world?
There are some important differences in how action sports developed in contrast to more traditional, organized, competitive sports developed. The historical development of action sports have been a big part of my research, and the origins and growth and development of these activities are really important for understanding what makes them unique and some of the distinctive cultural value systems that many of us continue to hold onto today.
For many years, there were clear distinctions between the ‘jock’ sports and action sports, but I think this is changing in many parts of the world. Many youth these days don’t see the division as clearly as older generations, so they see no problem in participating in soccer (or rugby or other team sports) on Saturday morning, then going for a surf or a skate in the afternoon. There are benefits (and problems) with both–it really depends on how the activities are facilitated. Today, there are so many different ways of participating in action sports, ranging from very occasional participant to those that organize their whole lives around their activities, and those who are pursuing athletic careers in their sports, so I feel we need to take care of drawing too clear distinctions between organized, competitive sports and action sports.
All that said, I feel action sports can offer some really valuable contributions to development spaces that more competitive sports do not. In particular, the unique social dynamics in action sports (e.g., people of different ages, sexes and skill levels can participate together), the value of self-expression, play and creativity, and the fact that you don’t have to compete against and beat someone else to get a sense of achievement. If we’re using these sports in sites of conflict, for example, these aspects of action sports can be really valuable!
What are some of your key goals with the site?
My key aims for this website are to try to create a sense of community among those organizations and groups using action sports for development purposes. Of course, local contexts are unique, but many of these groups and organizations that I have spoken with over the years are experiencing similar struggles, and I think much could be learned from sharing these experiences across locations. Some ASDP organizations are now very well established, whereas others are just starting up, and I would like to see this site as a community of sharing knowledge and experiences, and making connections across sports and geographical locations. It is purely non-profit, so I’m not trying to make any money off this initiative. As a researcher, I am keen to see how research might play a more integral role in the processes that ASDP organizations are working through, and I also try to make recent and relevant research available on the site for all to use.
For those outside the world of surf/skate/snow it can seem rather puzzling – how do you the stoke of action sports is best translated/explained to those in more traditional sports?
This is something I have been working on for many years now, and I sometimes consider myself something of a ‘cultural intermediary’ because I can move between action sport cultures, academic environments (teaching, conferences, publishing), and then working with traditional sports organizations (including a big project with the International Olympic Committee) to help them understand what makes these sports unique. A lot more traditional sporting organizations are now recognizing that action sports aren’t going away and they’re actually growing, but that they can’t fit them into the same models that they’re been using with other sports for so many years. So this is where my research comes in useful, that is in trying to help them understand the importance of valuing the unique cultural value systems of action sports and a need to ‘work with’ action sports communities so that there is a productive dialogue between them.
What impact to do you think skateboarding and surfing’s inclusion in the Olympics will have on non profits within action sports?
This is actually a big focus of my research at the moment. My colleague, Associate Professor Belinda Wheaton, and I have just finished a one year project for the International Olympic Committee on surfing, skateboarding and sport-climbing’s inclusion into the Olympic Games, with a focus on the perceptions of youth around the world. I presented this research to the Olympic Programmes Commission in Lausanne in March. If you’re interested, you can read the whole 160 page report on the IOC digital library. Our work with the IOC is continuing, and we just held a world-first symposium in New Zealand on what this decision will mean for surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing.
What this means for non-profits, however, is another interesting aspect to consider! I’m not exactly sure just yet, but I think it will mean that more traditional sporting organizations and development organizations may start to take these sports more seriously when they see them at the Olympic Games. The Youth Olympic Games is another interesting space to consider for profiling the work that ASDP organizations are doing, and the potential of these sports for cross cultural dialogue and the promotion of some of the Olympic ideals. Of course, there are always pros and cons of more corporate sponsors and traditional organizations ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, so it’s worth adopting a position of cautious optimism as we move into this new, unchartered territory.
A few months ago Carver launched ‘The Ahi’, a performance skateboard constructed from over 50 square feet of recycled fishing nets, bringing plastic waste from the sea to the streets.
The Ahi, proudly made in California by Bureo, features their CX mini truck, made locally in El Segundo, CA.
Carver are stoked to announce the launch of Carver’s Roundhouse Ecothane Mag wheel (65mm 81a), made in collaboration with Bureo for The Ahi board. Ecothane is made from a unique formula that incorporates soybeans to offset the reliance on petroleum-based urethane.
As a consumable, skate wheels have shorter lives than the durable Ahi skate deck, which is designed for a lifetime of skating. In an effort to offset the reliance on fossil fuels within the wheel production process, the incorporation of soybeans in the Ecothane formula lowers the wheel’s carbon footprint.
Offering an incredibly smooth ride, the new Roundhouse Ecothane Mag wheel profile and formula brings additional grip to keep your wheels engaged with the pavement as you flow from turn to turn and has been well-received by our team riders.
President Greg Falk, on the Ecothane formula:
“We never compromise quality in selecting our materials, but it’s a true win-win when we can limit our carbon footprint and show an improvement in the board’s performance. We are pleased with the new Ecothane formula, and happy to support the movement towards a more environmentally friendly rider experience.”
Back in 1979, Gary Numan and his Tubeway Army recorded Are ‘Friends’ Electric? While the song is close to 40 years old, you have to admit, it still sounds pretty fresh. Gary basically was a one hit wonder in North America with Cars, but ‘Friends’ topped the charts in the UK. Right now, one of the fastest growing areas within skateboarding is electric skateboards. There are some who decry this fact. There are retailers who are ignoring this fact. Sadly, ignorance is not bliss. There future is partially electric. Concrete Wave was the first skateboard magazine to feature electric skateboards and we are looking at an 8 page insert for our March issue.On December 2, the folks at Inboard appeared on Shark Tank. The segment is fascinating to watch. This marks the third time a skate company headed by someone I know personally has wound up on the program. First Hamboard, then Shark Wheel. At the start of the presentation, one of the Shark’s (Robert H) says “it’s a toy” followed up by “no one is going to commute to work with a skateboard.” Sure, for folks like me and you, it’s a cringeworthy moment, but all in all, you can’t help but be drawn into the pitch. Inboard came onto the show with a valuation of almost $19 million.Electric skateboards range in price from 3 to 10 times what a traditional skateboard sells for To put it in a different way, a skateboard like the Inboard retailing for $1600 seems unreal to most shops. It gets even more incredulous to know that Inboard has $5.6 million in pre-orders. This is huge for skateboarding…er, I mean, the “urban transportation market.”Over the past 20 years, the industry along with skaters had to adjust to the fact that other types of boards crept into the market. As I predicted, we have a totally different landscape than we did a decade ago. So, consider the electric skateboard market as another landscape changer. There are some who will scoff at the use of electric power. I don’t care. If it gets more people riding, then the end justifies the means. If you’re a skater who accepts that all types of riding has merit, then our friends in the electric side should be welcomed on board. PS: Just because you wind up on Shark Tank, doesn’t mean the dollars roll in. Take a peek here:This might explain why Robert was a little gun/shark shy when it came to Inboard. Once bitten, twice shy type of thing.
Over the past year I’ve watched my Facebook feed become a battle between left and right. There are people de-friending or insulting each other and there is an atmosphere that ranges from depressingly awful to just plain ugly. But as many of you probably sense, this is just the beginning. What to do in times of political uncertainty and rage? Easy – turn to skateboarding and add a dash of music – mostly punk rock! Then again, you can stop reading right now…and just watch an oddly satisfying video. The choice is yours. Ironically, it was my son who reignited my thoughts about music (specifically punk) and skateboarding and led to this post. Back in 1976/77, The Sex Pistols captured many skaters imaginations. I was 12 and going through what every pre-adolescent goes through. Punk intrigued me because four years earlier, I had left England for Canada. The music sounded unlike anything else that I heard before. I got into it and vividly recall most of my school friends wondering what the hell had gotten into me. A few years later, they all wound up with mohawks. For some, punk fit into skateboarding while there were many who hated what it stood for. Anarchy, chaos and three chord destruction just wasn’t something they wanted in skate culture. There was a battle and some would argue it continues to this day. I’ll save more thoughts on merging of skateboarding and punk rock for another post.No matter what side of the fence you’re on policically, it was an incredible experience to be the first generation to hear The Ramones, The Clash and literally dozens of other punk bands. Their music truly was dynamite in an era of “disco inferno” The genesis of this piece started with The Dead Kennedy’s song “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” Say what you will about the DK’s, at least you knew where they stood. This song just turned 35 years old last month and given today’s climate of Alt Right (aka Neo Nazi), it is just the kind of fly to we need out there to mess with the ointment. There, I’ve done it. I’ve taken a stand: Nazi Punks, Fuck Off. You can’t make it any clearer. Is it right that skateboard mags into politics? There are some who will stay, “stick to skateboarding.” My answer is always why? Why shouldn’t a skate mag inspire people to think differently and explore new ideas. It’s not so much the act of skateboarding but where does the act of skateboarding take you? And if we have the freedom to choose (at least for now) doesn’t it make sense to take a stand against pure evil? If it wasn’t for skateboarding, it’s doubtful I would have gotten into punk. And if it wasn’t for punk, I am not sure where I’d be when it comes to questioning things. Sure, I see flaws in BOTH sides – like most of you do. What I have begun to discover is that some people’s brains are hardwired specifically to be more conservative and others are lean more liberal. This means things like policy and actual facts are over-ridden by unseen factors. Politics, it seems is no match for years of evolutionary biology If skateboarding has led you to this post and punk rock has kept you here, I urge you take a look at this video that will give you some insights into the moral roots of politics. Then again, if you’d rather watch Devo’s Freedom of Choice, featuring a bucketful of great skaters from the 70’s, go here. It’s your choice.
Editor’s Note: Bud Stratford has been a part of Concrete Wave for over a decade. This is the second tour he’s documented for us. You might not agree with everything he writes, but for sure you will find him an engaging writer. Every time I head out on an ambitious, regional tour, I always end up learning a lot about skateboarding. You’d think that having been a skateboarder for, oh, maybe 35 years or so now, I might be in a position where I “know everything” about it already. But just like everything else in life, skateboarding constantly changes and evolves. To the point that it becomes a markedly different pastime, recreation, culture, and business every eight years or so. Considering that it’s been about eight years since my last ambitious tour, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Already, I’m seeing a few things that are a little “questionable”, at the very best. And frankly disconcerting, at the very worst. I’d like to address a few of those concerns directly, with their own essay. So as to not “bring down” the rest of my generally-fun tour coverage. Let’s begin here: Skateboarding is in an economic slump. There’s definitely a consensus that things are a bit off track. But the question is, why…? Well, of course, there are external forces that unfortunately lie well beyond our control. The economy, politics, et cetera. So, I’m not going to spend any time on those things. Because, they are entirely outside of our control. Instead, I want to focus on things that are well within our control. I saw Away Days today for the first time. The Adidas video. That’s significant. I had the pleasure of watching it at Cowtown (a great shop in Goodyear, AZ) with Brian, one of the assistant managers over there. About halfway through, he asked me what I thought of it? “I don’t like it much, to be honest”, I said. “Why not?”, he asked. “I can’t relate to it at all. And something’s missing”. Well of course, the first thing that was missing was a Mark Gonzales part. Which is why I was watching it in the first place: to see a Mark Gonzales part. A part that I never saw, because it’s not in the video. There’s random footage of Mark here and there, doing the typical Mark stuff (namely, being funny and doing creative stuff), and he sort of narrates big chunks of the video. But, he has no part. Which is basically criminal, as far as I’m concerned. Because it’s the one thing that I really wanted to see. “Why doesn’t Mark have a part, Brian? Have you heard…?” “I heard it was because he didn’t feel like he could keep up with the new generation of guys, and didn’t feel good enough to have a part.” Hmm, how odd. Mark Gonzales. Not being “good enough” to have a video part. Never thought I’d hear the day that would ever happen. But, y’know, times change I guess. And not always for the better. I’ve been saying this for years: there is entirely too much pressure on kids these days to be “good at” skateboarding. Waaaaaaayyyy too much pressure. Absolutely too much pressure. And that’s bad. Very, very bad. Because it sucks the “fun” right out of skateboarding. And we’re supposed to be doing this for “fun”, right…? But, it’s not fun anymore. It’s work, it’s effort. There are Joneses to keep up with, tricks to master, footage to grab, names to be made, sponsors to garner and impress. Mark may not be “The Best” skater anymore, but I’ll tell you this: he should have had a part. Because it would have been fun as hell to watch. Because Mark is always fun to watch. It’s what makes Mark, Mark. The fact that somebody… anybody… perceives that Mark is not “good enough to have a part anymore” says an awful lot of bad stuff about skateboarding right now. And it is a damn shame. That’s the only reason I’ve stuck with skating for 35 years now. Because I never gave a damn about being “good at it”. I didn’t do it to “be good at it”. I did it to get my kicks, and to have a good time. And I still do. But if you compare and contrast me with 99.999% of all skateboarders today, you’ll find that I’m the exception… not the rule. And that’s exactly the problem. I should be the norm. Not, the exception. Scootering is easier. That’s unfortunate. I was at Kids That Rip last weekend, talking to Tiffany in the pro shop. I was surprised to find that they rent skateboards and scooters there for kids to try out in the park. This is a pretty neat idea, I thought. This should surely cultivate new skateboarders, right…? Let them try it before they buy it? And this is why I go on tour alone: to talk to people about these things, these neat and novel new ideas that shops and parks sometimes come up with, in depth. One of the questions I asked Tiffany is which one gets rented more often: scooters, or skateboards? “Unfortunately, it’s scooters.” You could almost hear the pain in her voice, having to admit that. Clearly, she’s rooting for skateboarding. But the kids want what they want. And at KTR, more often than not, it’s scooters that they want. “Why…?” “Because, they’re easier to ride. Kids like them more. There’s less pressure.” Ahhh. Theory, confirmed. Sadly. But, it’s the truth. In making these huge, impressive, high-budget videos (like Away Days) that focus so hard on the newest, hottest, up-and-coming skaters doing the hardest, most technically innovative (read: impossible) tricks… we, as an industry, are actually contributing very significantly to our own demise. Most kids will never, ever do a fraction of the tricks that the Away Days guys are doing. It is causing a severe disconnect between the average customer, and the industry that is supposed to be serving them. We are not serving them well at all. We are actually contributing to a mighty huge disservice. And doing so, I might add, quite consciously. When’s the last time you saw a scootering version of Away Days…? Ever…? No…? Well, neither have I. I think the scooter manufacturers might be a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They’re not out there making scootering look f’n impossible to do. Maybe we should take a hint from that, huh…? When I go on tour, I do not promote “good skateboarding” at all. I can’t promote “good skateboarding”, because frankly speaking, I totally suck ass at skating. And the older I get, the worse I skate. Life sucks pretty hard right now. But…! I still love skating. And I still enjoy it immensely. And I still have fun with it, even while I’m sucking at it. And, I still do it! And kids connect with that, oddly enough. Because I give them stuff that most of “The Industry” either can’t, or won’t. Namely: hope. A very different interpretation of what skateboarding is, and what it’s all about (again: “fun”). And, encouragement. It’s a bit like The Ramones. I’m sort of like the sucky skating version of them. The Ramones couldn’t play music. They made great noise, though. And they were fun. They were doing something very new, and very different, that captured the imagination and made the dullness of life seem really exciting. I suppose that when I roll up to a park… give everybody stickers, high fives, and smiles… and shoot photos, kids probably do say to themselves, “Wow. This guy is fat and old! He can barely skate! Yet, look at him! He has a camera, he writes stuff, and he works for a (kind of) major skateboard magazine…! He is living the life… and look at him! He is a total idiot, a complete loser…! Holy crap… I could do that, too…! Right…?!” And, of course, the answer is always “yes”. Yes, you surely can do whatever it is that I’m doing. You, the average kid, could probably do everything that I do, and probably a lot better than even I can. Because I am the old, fat loser that doesn’t skate good. And it gives them hope. Because they don’t have to be Jamie Thomas or Geoff Rowley to “make it” in life. They can be me. They can be punks. They can be The Ramones. They can have a voice. And they can make a difference. Lastly, there’s one more gripe that I want to address. This one’s important, too. And it’s another place where the industry could make a real difference. Every skatepark that I visit… whether they are public or private, it never seems to matter… is ridiculously humongous. Not in terms of sheer acreage… although they’re happily huge in that regard, too… but in terms of, vertically challenging. I went to Litchfield today… “Goodyear Community Skatepark” officially, but commonly referred to as “Litchfield Park”… and Ohmygawd, it was f’n scary. Like, “I didn’t even want to skate it” kind of scary. It looked like the ultimate bone-breaker… and the last thing I want in this crazy Obamacare world of high premiums and high deductibles is a broken bone at 44 years old. I really don’t want to die, or go bankrupt, skateboarding. I just want to scooter around and have some fearless fun with it. But that ain’t gonna happen at Litchfield, nuh-uh. No way in hell. The best parks I’ve seen yet, in terms of being kid-and-old-fat-guy-friendly, were both private: Kids That Rip in Chandler, and 91 West over in Peoria. Simply because, I could skate them. And have fun doing so. With confidence, even. Because they both had smaller mini-ramps… like, in the 2′-3′ range… that I could goof off on, and have fun learning new tricks on, without the fear of killing myself in the process. So, I skated them both for hours. And hours and hours and hours. But I barely even took a run at Litchfield. I did my one backside grind “just to say that I skated it”, and bugged out. I skated a brand-new ditch out in the boonies instead. That was a whole lotta fun. Litchfield wasn’t. If we want to get little kids interested in skating… and much more importantly, keep little kids interested in skating… we need to get well away from the mega-sized terrain featured in the Away Days of the world, or constructed in the Litchfield Public Parks of the planet, and give newbies, little kids, old guys… girls, even?… terrain that they can functionally and fearlessly skate. Terrain that is “not particularly challenging” would actually be kind of refreshing right now. Because for the most part, it does not really exist. There is no real middle ground between the curb in front of your house, which is probably the easiest thing in the world to skate… and the mega-ramp-sized concrete park across town, which is more than likely the hardest thing in the world to skate. At least, it is if you happen to live in Goodyear, Arizona. It’s also true if you live almost anywhere in Arizona. I suspect this may be true elsewhere, too. You can always make “less than challenging terrain” a hell of a lot harder, by learning harder tricks on it. That’s fun. It’s pretty hard to make Litchfield Park “less huge”. That’s the difference. Mark my words on this: Micro-to-mid-sized, easy-to-skate terrain is going to be the hot new direction in skateboarding. If you build it, you will empower and engage millions of new, enthusiastic, life-long skateboarders. Take note, industry, and make that happen…! (Editor’s note: you need a pumptrack in your neighbourhood!) There are many more points to be made here, of course. Contests are out (because they’re not fun); jams and other “community events” are in. There aren’t enough “everybody, everyday” skateboarding events. There’s a lack of cohesive community everywhere. Industry is typically disengaged from the consumer experience; I’ll invite any industry head to come out with me for a weekend and see the world through my eyes… and trust me on this, you’ll be glad you did, because I’m f’n good times. But I think that engaging kids on their own terms… within their own limitations, goals, and desires… and on skate terrain that they can realistically skate, and skate well, would be a damn good beginning. But how long do I have to wait until the industry realizes the wisdom, and responds…? Can it be sooner than later this time, guys? Please…?
At this time of the year, it is customary to publish a list of gifts that would be of great enjoyment/benefit to our readership. I am proud to say that we have fulfilled this obligation thanks to the hard work of our Associate Editor, Daniel Fedkenheuer. My intention is to add to Daniel’s list sometime in the near future, but for now, I thought it would be useful to share with you all few gifts that the act of skateboarding has given me. Since you can’t actually PURCHASE any of these gifts without first skateboarding, I’ve decided to comb the internet for non-skate related images…just to prove my point! I welcome your thoughts and realize this is just a brief list. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. THE GIFT OF BALANCEThis gift is truly the first you receive from skateboarding. It’s up to you as to how much you want to push yourself. It’s your decision to keep practicing. No matter what happens, as long as you keep riding, you will enjoy the ride. THE GIFT OF FREEDOMThis cannot be underestimated. As long as you have a skateboard, you open up the door and go. No lift tickets, no praying for surf or snow…The world is your oyster as long as you can find some smooth asphalt or concrete. And when you drop off your family or friends at a big event and you park the car a few miles away and return via skateboard, well, that’s freedom too! THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP I have made some made some incredible friendships over the course of 4 decades riding. My friends come from Australia, Europe and all over the USA and Canada. We may not all speak the same language or have grown up in the same culture, but skateboarding is the bridge. THE GIFT OF QUESTIONING AUTHORITY & THINKING DIFFERENTLYThere is nothing like being busted riding in a parking garage and put in the back of a cruiser to give you a taste of the state flexing its power. This happened to me after a trade show a few years ago. I’ve been kicked out numerous skate spots. As a skater, questioning things comes with territory. Golfers just don’t go through the same experiences. Not all rules make sense and blindly following orders can lead to a repeat of the Millgram Experiment. And just because you own an Apple product these days does it mean you think differently. Creativity and looking at things in a unique comes is built into skateboarding’s DNA.THE GIFT OF APPRECIATING ART & MUSICWhen I first started skateboarding there were no graphics on the bottom of decks. When longboarding re-emerged in the early 90’s, there were no graphics either. And yet, a rich culture of insanely great art has flourished within skateboarding. Music and skateboarding are as tight as peanut butter and jelly.
Created in 1967 and running until 1987, the World About Us documentary series was the brainchild of David Attenborough. In 1978, the producers set their lenses to Southern California to document the life and times of skateboarders. They called the film Skateboard Kings. This exceptional film chronicles not just the Dogtown scene, but many elements that made the 70’s skate experience truly unique. We go inside the doors of SkateBoarder Magazine, you’ll see Ray Flores drain a pool by hand and you’ll be amazed at the landscaping of Skatopia. If you’ve watched Dogtown and Z Boys or Lords of Dogtown, you’ll get a chance to see where the filmmakers mined the past. At almost 1 hour in length, the documentary whips along at a fairly intense pace. I am sure audiences in the UK were completely in awe. What is truly astounding about the film is that it casts such a wide net. While the focus is on Alva and Venice, there is so much more thrown into the mix. Southern California in the 1970’s was truly a magical time. For those who found alternative ways to express themselves, this film captures their essence perfectly. Take the time to watch and enjoy every remarkable moment.
Introducing the new Loaded Tan Tien.
The Tan Tien blends carve-oriented longboarding with advanced trick riding. A flexible deck, drop-through truck mounts, and usable kicks allow the Tan Tien to pack a lot into a relatively small package. The complex contours create a super responsive board that allows for increased confidence when leaning into turns, popping tricks, and powering through slides.
The updated grip design and bottom veneer reference the history of the Tan Tien and its conceptual underpinnings. It’ll also make your home smell of many leather-bound books.
Our associate editor Daniel Fedkenheuer has compiled a list of some fantastic gift ideas…all under $30. Happy holidays to all our readers and advertisers. I’ll be compiling my own list next week.Sk8ology – Click Carabiner Skate Tool – $12.99When you pack your car to the brim with boards and ramps, sometimes losing your keys and skate tool in the process is inevitable. For this, the world’s only skateboard tool designed to clip to your belt loops and bags is the perfect way to keep your essentials on hand.Available at: http://store.sk8ology.com Death Digital – Death Grip 2.0 VX Handle – $30This smartphone/GoPro handle combines the best of old and new school filming styles by fusing the classic feel of shooting VX footage with the ability to record on modern HD devices. It also features a shoe mount for external lighting options and a universal mount for additional attachments.Available at: http://www.deathdigital.com Lifeblood Skateboards – Lifeblood Slam Repair Kit – $19.95Every holiday season, my parents would slip a tooth brush into my stocking as a more sensible gift amidst the mounds of sugary candy. This all in one first aid kit has the same effect for the piles of presents otherwise consisting of new boards and shoes. Available at: http://socalskateshop.com Monster Paint – Clear Spray On Griptape – $18For those looking to decorate the top plys of their decks and still see their creations, this awesome spray-on allows you to apply grip where you need it most. Each can holds enough to cover 5-6 40” longboards with two coats and takes just five minutes to dry.Available at: http://longboardsusa.com Andale Bearings – Marc Johnson Pro Rated Notepad Bearings – $29.95This box set comes complete with a notepad and pencil featuring art from Marc Johnson for your ever ending trick list and a fresh set of Pro Rated bearings and spacers to keep your ride smooth through the cold. Available at: http://socalskateshop.com The Board Pillow – $29.99For the groms on your shopping list who brave the cold to keep skating through the winter season, this pillow gives them something to warm up with as they continue to eat, sleep, skate. The washable covers feature graphics of everyone from Sean Malto to Christian Hosoi to Daewon Song.Available at: http://theboardpillow.com Shorty’s – Complete Finishing Kit: Tech Pack – $26.99This all in one kit is perfect for putting the finishing touches on a brand new setup. Equipping you with everything you need from grip tape to bearings and spacers to riser pads to anti-vibration silencers to a whole bunch of stickers, this pack has it all.Available at: http://www.skatewarehouse.com/Independent – Genuine Parts Tool Kit – $24.95In relation to the last item, this second kit from Independent holds all the tools you need to assemble your setup and then some. In it, you can find a double sided wrench, a socket driver, a driver with attachments for flat, phillips and allen keys and extra hardware, axle nuts and kingpin bolts.Available at: http://www.nhsfunfactory.com The Original Grip Gum – $5.99One of the greatest burdens I face on the East Coast when it finally warms up enough to hit the streets is the mess of sand and road salt left behind from the snow storms that cakes onto my grip tape. This cleaner removes the debris from your deck and keep it grippy.Available at: http://www.skatewarehouse.com Powell Peralta – 2016 Holiday Ornaments 4PK – $21.00To round out this list, the undoubtedly most festive item is this 4 pack of Powell Peralta Holiday ornaments to add some stoke to the mess of snowmen and Santa Clauses on your tree. Available at: http://powell-peralta.com/powell-peralta