The History of Skate Shoes

The History of Skate Shoes

Editor’s Note:I don’t mind that pretty much 100% of all skate shoe companies refuse to engage in anything but street and vert. It’s their money to spend on whatever they wish, marketing wise. While it would have been great to have a nice big skate shoe company take space in the mag, it never came to fruition. And I am sure as heck not holding my breath now! If I look back on the past 20 years, I’d say Vans has probably done the most to promote different types of skateboarding. They threw down $800,000 for the Dogtown film. Can you imagine if Nike had sponsored a freeriding event or two? Doubtful that will ever happen. Skate shoe companies still wield a mighty powerful stick in the industry and any variance from the mean will not be tolerated. It’s pretty much street, transition or vert…and don’t even try and think of creating a downhill shoe! 
And then along comes a nice email from the folks at Simple Shoes. As my friend Kilwag pointed out (over at Skate and Annoy), Simple created this chart and didn’t even include themselves. That’s quite amazing and on top of this, Aurelija​, their publicist wrote such a nice email, that I truly couldn’t resist posting something.
 So, in the spirit of Simple, I present this blog post. Keeping an open mind is paramount. Thanks Simple. I hope you sell a ton of shoes and if you want to spread the message in CW Mag, I’d be down.  From the original Chuck Taylors of the ‘20s to modern sneakers, the crossover between fashion and skateboarding created a uniquely recognizable style. People were quick to capitalize on the youth trend, but it always kept its rebellious core. Adopting everything from surfing, early boarders would ride their glorified box carts bare foot. Early shredding tended to take place below the ankles (in the form of bloodied feet). It took a while before fashion and tech were refined. With the arrival of the first skate shoe in 1965 (thanks, Randolph Rubber), the stage was set for clever manufacturers, professional sponsorships and merchandisers to fund the brave new world. From vulcanized rubber to the ever-changing shape of hi-tops, skate fashion was one of those rare instances where young people were given a voice. Companies listened and made products that worked. Every sneaker is like a time capsule. Shoes of the ‘60s copied basketball style. The ‘80s saw chunkier, padded sneakers make a break with the past.  The present day has a slimmer, more confident shoe design—popular with boarders and non-boarders alike. Charting the story from humble shoe to cultural icon, this interactive map should paint a clearer picture of the skate scene.

Punk Rock and 1977

Punk Rock and 1977

For many skaters of the 1970’s, 1977 proved to be a crucial year. It’s when everything really started to come together for me as a skater. I was 2 years deep into skateboarding and in late 1976, I learned about punk rock. In the summer of 1977, I found myself in England. I was with my family on a trip back to visit my extended family and pick up a few records. Specifically, the Sex Pistols. It was pretty funny going into a record shop and seeing a blank space at “number 2” on the charts. The shops were so scared of putting “God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols” that they intentionally left it blank.  I still have this single. And yes, this song still sounds as good today as it did back then. When I returned home and played the song for friends at school, they couldn’t quite understand it. Three years later they had mohawks.   Well, 40 years later, I am here to warn you that we are not going to intentionally leave anything blank like that shop did. Punk rock is not just music. It is an attitude. And that attitude runs a gamut of emotions and actions. No, we’re not going to spit on you. But we are about to unleash a 6,000+ word essay (over 4 postings) that looks at the state of things in skate retail. Bud is warning me that this might ruffle a few feathers. Ruffling feathers is the essence of punk, so I think we are on the right path. Ironically punk rock came full circle last year when Malcolm McLaren’s son burned five million pounds worth of memorabilia. Talk about punk rock – that is very punk rock. But we’re not going to that extreme. Stand by…you have been warned. Special shout out to Doug Ward of Clifton, NJ for inspiring this piece.

Mike Moore – The Man Behind the Logo

Mike Moore – The Man Behind the Logo

 We’ve just hit over 20 years on the web. You can see it for yourself here. This wonderful logo was created by Mike Moore. Hard to believe that time has passed so quickly. As the June issue celebrates our 15th Anniversary issue, I will be featuring an editorial that looks at the roots of the magazine. The Skategeezer Homepage definitely kicked things off. We are long overdue for an interview with Mike. I am pleased to present it to you now. THANK YOU Mike for your inspiring art!  How did you stumble across the skategeezer homepage? This was well before google…!Mike Moore: My wife and I were visiting her sister and brother-in-law. He was on line before I was, and was pretty sure I’d be hooked. He set me up on his computer, showed me the basics, and let me roam. This was ’96, I started typing in different searches, just goofy stuff, and WAS quickly hooked. To that point I had only used computers as graphics machines. I started skating Christmas of 1975, at 10, with the other kids on my street, the first trick was to see how far you could go down the sidewalk, without dying, on a clay wheeled Roller Derby board. Didn’t know you could do much beyond that. Puttered around like that for a while. Sometime between ’77 and ’78 (with the release of Skateboard “The Movie”) skating blew up in our area. I started buying Skateboarder at the local 7-11 (sometimes taking the “tube sock discount”), I was hooked. Kept skating from then thru college, was out by ’91…thought I should be a grown up. So after my brother-in-law sat me down at the “wonder box” and I spent time goofing around, I started searching out skate stuff. That era of skating (’96 – ’97) was completely foreign to me. It was ugly in my eyes. So I started searching old company names, old pro’s names, etc. Somewhere along that search safari, The Skategeezer site popped up. If I remember right, you had a quiz, “Are You a Skate Geezer?”….I passed with flying colors, though admittedly I’m probably more of a Skate Geek. We went home from the visit. I convinced my wife we needed a blazing fast 28.8 hook up, which thankfully soon morphed into a mind numbingly fast 56.6. I searched out the Geezer and made you some sorta cheesy sales pitch to do graphics, cause I needed to be part of skating again. (the rest is history!– Ed)  What are some of your favourite skate memories from the rebirth in the mid to late 90’s?My favorite memories of skating are probably from ’80 to ’90. There were no other skaters in my area, or more to the point in my school in Jr. High. I started High School in 1980. There were a few skaters I had no previous knowledge of. As any old guy knows…in that period, if someone was wearing Vans…you started asking questions. Met a few guys, took me to a few spots, good times. Not a super tight crew by any stretch of the imagination. My hometown is blessed with an inordinate amount of good ditches for an otherwise bummer of a conservative little Texas town.  Ditches are still my main skate love. Skateboarder had died, Action Now came and went, I discovered Thrasher at a skate/bike shop in Waco, TX. (Ordinary Bike Shop) on a skate trip with my one go to skate friend in High School Larry Cook (R.I.P). Through Thrasher I learned of the Pflugerville ditch, the Big Boys, Zorlac, and all that was skate cool about Texas. The first trip I made to Pflugerville, I didn’t know where the ditch was. I drove around til I found a cop, I asked him about the ditch and he led me to it. (so cops don’t always suck kids). I witnessed the chaos of Craig Johnson ripping the ass out of the Pflugerville ditch, after all these years…that is still a magic memory. On my visit to Texas Tech (to potentially attend college). I witnessed skaters skating around the library on campus, rolling along, then suddenly in the air and rocking on benches…my first view of the ollie. What was skating in college like?College (’84-’89}. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…Art School, Skating, Bands, Beer, Friends, Fun (and all that can be implied). You could conquer the world or be crushed by it. Ditches, ramps, pools, the old Big Spring Park, first Powell videos…we were pirates. Then it blew up again. Mall shops, goofy fashions, soggy wood, dumb graphics, kids (that were better than me…by a long shot),it got corporate and dumb again. The bridge between adolescent and adult got shorter. Life slapped me around a little, I probably deserved it. There’s some ugly bits I won’t go into, but by ’90-’91 I was out of skating. My last set up was a Small Room Deck, with Sixtracks, and some sorta OJs or SC wheels. I did not want to let go, but it seemed there was no other choice. I was old and done. How did you deal with the fact (that hits many skaters at some point) that you weren’t going to be the next great pro?To be bluntly honest, I knew from VERY early on…I wasn’t a great skater, I barely scratched good, but I loved it. I loved everything about it. From grinds to road rash, it was all nirvana. I always wanted to be part of it somehow. I was the artist guy, the funny guy, the smart guy. I had a pretty good way of talking my way into, or out of, “situations”. I was allowed clearance into the higher ranks because of those skills. Didn’t matter to me, I was in, and it was good. Tell me about your entry into a new artist contest? Sometime in the mid ’80s (’85-’86) Powell had a contest for a new artist. Replace VCJ? Certainly not worthy, but willing to try. I submitted some pieces. The fact that we’re doing this, shows the outcome. Sean Cliver won it, and very deservedly so…still doesn’t make me not want to hate him a little. From that point forward, I knew if I was gonna be involved in skating, it wouldn’t be on a board. Learn more about Mike Moore at his website.  

Evening Music Break: Xombie

Evening Music Break: Xombie

  Xombie, a New York based group, is hard to define, so I’ll just call their sound “original”. The group’s latest album Super Cell (slated for release in June of this year) is solid from front to back. Xombie’s first single “Might As Well” is a great example; this great skate-soundtrack!     While calling them “punk” would be accurate, it would also omit their fluid Hip-Hop rhythms, the slashing guitar of Rock/Metal and the smooth bass of Blues. They seem to be a blend of every type of legit music rolled into one. Here’s the link to the complete album, check it out: https://soundcloud.com/xombienyc/sets/xombie-super-cell-full-album-1/s-OS7oo Simply put, if you jammed Zebra Head, Suicidal Tendencies and Bad Religion together with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work you’d be in the general vicinity of Xombie. As always, you are the best judge of what you like. Give it a listen and let us know what you think. Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time!    

Rolling for Noel

Rolling for Noel

  The infamous Dingo’s Den of Clifton, New Jersey.  I’ve been living next to the USA now for about 45 years. The truth is the more I learn about the States, the less I understand it. But there is no doubt that my life has been incalculably shaped by America.I am fascinated by every part of the country I’ve had the privilege to visit. Today I head off the USA once again. Noel Korman’s philosophy was all about spreading the joy. The unrelenting pace and intensity of New York City can be overwhelming to some. The fact is that NYC is best explored by skateboard with locals. Thankfully, I will be able to do just that starting tomorrow.I can’t remember how many times I’ve been to NYC, but each time the place gives me new insights and helps to put an extra snap in my stride. It is vibrant and explosive and each passing minute reveals something extraordinary. Our March 11, 2011 longboard expo remains one of my favorite skate memories. It was, as they say “a moment in time.” But I am not just going to be in NYC. I am actually landing in New Jersey and heading up to Clifton, the hometown of my very good friend Ray Korman. Since the passing of his son, Noel in 2014, Ray and I have formed a close friendship. It’s funny, because I only met Noel on 6 occasions. But there was something about Noel that left an incredible impression on you. Shralplin it at Kona Skatepark I have also forged a very close association and friendship with Luke Ayata of the Shralper’s Union. Luke turned 49 this week and we’ll be celebrating his birthday this weekend. Probably at Clifton’s notorious hot spot “Dingos.” New Jersey is probably where I’ll be spending the majority of my time. We are looking at doing a grassroots skate event in early June. A key reason for me being in NYC and specifically Central Park is a session that the Shralper’s Union and Longboarding for Peace are hosting called “Roll for Noel.” We’ll be meeting up at Columbus Circle at 2pm and heading out to ride for Noel and celebrate Earth Day. I am not sure how many folks are going to be there. But I know one thing, it will be an incredible experience and a great way to pay tribute to my friend Noel. If you can’t join us in Central Park, roll for Noel in your own way and shralp it!