Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered is a visual exploration of youth rebellion through skate culture. The exhibition will explore popular 20th century subcultures in new works by 34 artists/collectives from France, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Using the skateboard as a primary medium, each work challenges existing stereotypes by

reconstructing a new narrative through different creative styles and visual expressions.

 

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered was first commissioned for the Aliwal Urban Art Festival (AliwalUAF) by Arts House Limited (AHL), as part of Singapore Art Week 2016. It travelled to Urbanscapes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 23 April – 8 May 2016, where nine Malaysian artists were added to the lineup.

 

In 2017, the Singapore Embassy to France invited curator Iman Ismail and AHL to present the exhibition at the Urban Art Fair in Paris. Nine French artists from Paris.

 

Here is a sample of the work that was showcased. As you can see, it exceptionally creative. Here’s hoping that the work will eventually wind up here in North America!

 

 

        

Beercan and Casey Neistat

Beercan and Casey Neistat

Casey Neistat  Kudos to Beercan Boards who hit the publicity jackpot with Casey Neistat. The company specializes in aluminum boards made from recycled beer cans. But they also do great work with laser printers. Their custom grip tape work is pretty damn cool. Casey proudly shows off his collection of custom goodies, including a board from Beercan.  The video has reached over 1.2 million views in less than two days. 

OASIS Skateboard Factory

OASIS Skateboard Factory

The Toronto District School Board has an unusual school located downtown. I’ve had the privilege of working with Oasis for a number of years. I am proud to publish this story   When Skateboarding Meets Video Games By Jessica The world is boring. Every day is the same trudge through work or school and all of your decisions are controlled by your parents, teachers or other authority figures in your life. This may not be how it is in reality, but many teens do feel this way about their lives. One stereotype of teenagers is that they are impulsive so adults try and take control of their lives and make decisions for them. Is it any wonder why teenagers struggle for some feeling of agency? This is the sort of things both skateboarding and video games can fix. Both of them offer a sense of rebellion against authority and taking control of your own life and decisions, finding meaning and purpose and escaping from that grey everyday world. The parallels may not seem obvious at first. Skateboarding is usually done outside while you usually play video games inside. We also see videogames as more of a mental sport while skateboarding is a physical one, although this is not always the case. As a person who has always been passionate about video games and who has used them as a coping mechanism, I can see parallels between what I get out of video games and what people get out of skateboarding. For me, video games have been about leaving behind this life and going into another’s, becoming a hero. I am given so much more power than in my physical life, I know that I’m important now and I become proud and confident. Skateboarding can have the same effect. At first you may be quiet and aloof, doing little to interact with others, but as soon as you’re on a skateboard, you transform. You are no longer unsociable, you are now loud and confident, you’re no longer you, you’re the Skateboarder. As The Skateboarder you have so much more power and can do so much more with your body than you could do before. With becoming another person, you lose the restraints of your old self and gain a new identity around other people. In these new identities, you find purpose. It’s easy to find purpose in these two activities because they give you reachable short term and long term goals that revolve around you succeeding. In video games, you have to complete levels and defeat enemies, while the long term goal could be defeating the villain or saving the world. With skateboarding, short term goals include trying new tricks and getting better at them while long term goals could be contributing to the subculture’s community. Giving purpose makes people feel motivated to keep living and to continue trying to get better regardless of failure. For a long time society has seen video games and skateboarding as inherently dangerous for teenagers and children, leading them to lives of apathy and laziness. Of course, they’re wrong. Society consistently overlooks the positive effects of skateboarding and video games and how they can aid teenagers and children with their mental health. From these different outlets, it’s possible to find the meaning, purpose and identity that teenagers can ground themselves in and find some sort of peace.  

Vans Pool Party 2017

Vans Pool Party 2017

 Dan Bourqui has put together a great video of the highlights of the competition.  

2017 VANS POOL PARTY 
FINAL RESULTS

Pros
1st  Tom Schaar
2nd Cory Juneau
3rd  Clay Kreiner

Legends
1st  Steve Caballero & Lance Mountain (Tie)
3rd Tony Magnusson

Masters
1st  Andy Macdonald
2nd  Chad Shetler
3rd Lincoln Ueda

 Dave Duncan announced and again pretty much lost his voice. The level of skating was pretty much like it always is – completely off the charts!  Steve CaballeroThis gentleman is from Tribo skate mag. (Brazil)   

Hover Skate VR

Hover Skate VR

Skateboarding finally has its first Virtual Reality video game and it’s called “Hover Skate VR”.  John Hinton, a skateboarder from Florida, developed it independently. The game is controlled with your hands and you can learn and master 250 skateboarding tricks. As its name implies, your skateboard is hovering instead of rolling, only touching down for grinds and slides. You’re in Virtual Reality world, so why not, right? As you make your way around various cityscapes, the terrain features lots of ledges, rails, and stairs.  In the pro shop you can pick which shoes you want to wear, or deck you want to ride. Hover Skate VR has teamed up with Dan MacFarlane to bring Mentality Skateboards to the game. As you virtually walk around the pro shop you can hand pick a Mentality deck off of the shelf while the “Skateboarding Realms” video trailer plays on the shop TV screen.  For the soundtrack, Missouri skateboarder and music artist Jonathan Toth From Hoth has contributed songs off his skateboarding themed album “Sick Boys” to keep you in full on skate mode as you play.     “It’s fun and challenging like real skateboarding” says Jeremy Eyring, a skateboarder and avid player of the game. Hover Skate VR is played on PC only and requires a HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift VR headset. While it’s still a work in progress you can get early access and give feedback as it is perfected and built upon.  John Hinton says he plans to add a new skatepark level to the game in the near future.  Get Hover Skate VR here.

Why Do We Fall?

Why Do We Fall?

Why do we fall?  is a series of portraits of hurt skaters after a fall. The first idea was to reuse skateboards given by the curator of the show. I chose to cut the boards to paint on it and to use the scraps to make shelves for the paintings and frames for the drawings. Concerning the paintings, I used oil-paint on the wood of the boards, which was a first for me. I tried to show off the blood and the bruises without being too gory and to find a way to summon colors who were not there on the reference images.

 

The different pieces, together, are showcased like on a podium. I wanted to celebrate something else than glory and gratification, to highlight the ungratefulness of the discipline and the perseverance (or sometime madness) of the skaters. I think it takes a lot of courage to go back on a board after falling.  Dan MacFarlane It wasn’t easy to find good pictures of hurt riders but I managed to get a nice collection with some thorough research. I wanted to depict them right at the moment they look dazed or stunned, suffering from the pain but still numb from the shock. Even the ones looking right at us are trapped in a state of confusion with a blank stare.
I hope to paint and draw more of these in order to make the installation grow for the next shows.
Speaking of the show, it’s ending today as I write this. The exhibition is at its third edition, it debuted from Singapore, then extended to Malaysia, reaching Paris this spring. With each iteration adding approximately 10 artists from the hosting country, we were a total of 34 artists to display our work.
 For more info visit Sy’s website and check out cannotbeboardered.com

Skateboard Palace – Jamaica's First Skate Shop

Skateboard Palace – Jamaica's First Skate Shop

Concrete Wave and Longboarding for Peace along with Bombora Boards headed down to Jamaica last month. The experience was truly epic and we’ll have a feature story in our Summer issue. One of the people we met on our trip was Steve Douglas, the co-owner of Skateboard Palace. The shop is Jamaica’s first skate shop and it’s already gaining quite a following. Camille Pandohie Douglas is the shops director.The shop stocks a variety of well known brands. These include FLIP, Santa Cruz, Creaure, Mob Grip, Independent, Bronson, Bullet, Krux, OJ’s, RICTA, Korna King, Primitive, DC and Globe. Steve has plans to carry more brands as things progress The shop  established the first skateboard program at the Kingston YMCA which has resulted to the first Skateboard Camp starting in August 2017. Together, Steve and Camille have formed the JAMAICA SKATEBOARD FEDERATION. They are now affiliated with the Olympics. Their mission is to put skateboards into all the schools of Jamaica as an official activity  Concrete Wave had a chance to catch up with Steve in his shop at 98 Molynes Road.  What is your background? ?STEVE DOUGLAS: My background is Jamaican – born a Kingstonian. I went to school in both Jamaica and US.Did you skate as a kid?Yes I did skate as a child and that was fun , now I also skate for fun and also work hard in the business skateboard industry business to make sure each child in Jamaica can also skate. Music is a part of your background, right?I got involved in music for a long time. Worked with the best in Reggae and Hip Hop Music. Got involved with Bone thugs and Harmony from working with Bizzy Bones and Sammy Park.  How did you start the shop?I had the vision to open the first skateboard store in Jamaica for a long time and I was selling skateboards from my office and doing deliveries to customers to sell a skateboard or accessories. The first major brand who reached out to me was FLIP skateboards.What’s the response been like?The response from the shop has been more than what I expected. Jamaica loves skateboarding from all ages. Many parents come in the store and thank me for opening the store and giving their children the opportunity to go outside and skate and enjoy being active. Many customers are amazed and can’t believe it is actually here in Jamaica and many customers from all over the world. We have visitors from Sweden, Argentina, Germany and beyond. All are very impressed with the store and say its one of the best shops they have been to. Where do skaters ride in Jamaica?We have a lot of skaters in Jamaica and they skate over by our shop in our skate area and also at the university’s. There is a place in Bull Bay to skate and we are going to build the first skateboard park in Jamaica.What is your message to the skate world on behalf of Jamaica?On behalf of Skateboard Palace Ltd, we want the skateworld to know that we have embraced the love of the sport and the lifestyle in Jamaica. Skateboarding has changed many youths lives in Jamaica and will continue. Work together to develop the sport all around the world and share our great experience of skateboarding. Inspire the world and guide our children in a positive environment. Shred on Jamaica, Shred on World!   

Kona Celebrates 40 Years

Kona Celebrates 40 Years

Next month Kona Skatepark is celebrating 40 years. If you live anywhere near Kona or the east coast, plan for a massive road trip.  We will be featuring more on Kona, but for now, pencil in these dates. Take a look at the amazing schedule.    Banked Slalom with the legendary Steve Olson and David Hacket?! Done deal!  

Summer Tour 2016/2017, Report Number One: The Basic Overview

Summer Tour 2016/2017, Report Number One: The Basic Overview

I turned 44 this past summer. I have long since retired from my heydays in the skateboard industry. My last Summer Tour happened all the way back in 2008. If you read the encyclopedia-long article in Concrete Wave Magazine about my trials and tribulations, then this will probably sound pretty familiar to you. But, most of you probably haven’t. No worries; just keep on reading, and I’ll fill you in. It’s quite the story. Hopefully, you won’t be too terribly disappointed. Back in 2008, my very lengthy (and very exhausting) “Summer Tour 2008” around the central United States included the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and a few bits of Wisconsin. The goals of the tour, at the time, were as follows: – To write (and photograph) a feature article for Concrete Wave Magazine (obviously), – To document the skateparks that I visited, both in writing and in photos, for Jeff Greenwood over at Concrete Disciples (so that they could keep their skatepark database up-to-date), – To do market research for a few of my consulting clients, – To “mystery shop” skate shops across the midwest… including both Zumiez, and independent, brick-and-mortar skate shops, – To talk to independent skate shop owners about their day to day struggles, on behalf of my clients. And to give them constructive feedback, based on my mystery-shopping them, – To promote the brands that “sponsored” the tour, to the kids that I met along the way… and lastly, – To get the “average skater on the street’s perspective” of where skateboarding (and the skateboard industry) were at the time. The really remarkable thing about that tour, is that it looked nothing at all like most skateboard-industry-sponsored summer tours. First of all, I went completely solo on my tour; there was nobody else out there on the road with me. There were no pro skaters, no sponsored ams, no filmers, no photographers, and no pro-hoes. It was just me, my Econobubble of a car, my road map, a few cold Cokes, my skateboards, my camera, and my portable tape recorder. And a shit-ton of product to give away to kids, if and when I came across them. Stickers, mostly. But, I did give away a dozen or so completes on tour as well. And quite a few decks and wheels. Which was all very cool of my sponsors to provide. And of course, I left a small army of happy kids in my wake. I also went to places that no industry-sponsored skate tour would ever consider going to. I spent so much time out in the distant boonies of skateboarding, it was literally insane. I skated parks in the middle of lifeless cornfields in central Illinois, miles away from civilization. I skated things in Ohio and Indiana that barely qualify as “skateparks” at all. I stopped at, and skated, more shitty skateparks on that tour then I had ever seen in my entire life. And I had this crazy, self-imposed rule that said that I had to skate every single skatepark that I visited. Even if it was almost entirely un-skateable.  But then, there were also the really epic ones as well that deserve a nod. Grinding real pool coping in Paducah, Kentucky at 7 am was a special treat. Carving tight lines at the South Bend skatepark immediately comes to mind as a particularly precious time that I’ll probably never forget. I remember taking a run on Lew’s mini ramp, and having Weston Vickers say to me, “Man, you spoke”. This is why skateboarders tour: to skate new and memorable stuff. In that regard, I’m just like anybody else.I also did stuff that, for the most part, very few (if any) skateboarders would ever consider doing. I slept beside grain silos and railroad tracks. I spent a week in Amish Country in northeastern Indiana, learning about their peculiar (but admirable) lifestyle. I attended a bluegrass festival in western Kentucky. I slyly used my Concrete Wave press credentials to get pit passes at a vintage drag racing event in Brownsburg, Indiana; God, my ears are still ringing from that one. My car was nearly blown away in a tornado. I explored an air museum at length that was situated on a federal Superfund cleanup site; I was only advised of this, of course, after I had already paid my admission. The airplanes contained therein were the ghosts of relics that seemed to have been completely forgotten by time. I got stranded in a flood in Terre Haute. I was honored to sit in the pilot seat of a B-17 Flying Fortress and an F-4J Phantom II. My trip took me through miles of America’s agricultural heartland, and hundreds of small farm towns, doing things, enjoying experiences, and making memories that very few other skaters will ever live. I’m a super lucky guy in that regard. Mostly, what I remember are the people. Both the skaters, and the non-skaters. If and when you ever explore the world alone, you quickly find that you’re never really lonely. There’s always somebody, somewhere, ready and willing to give you a little wisdom, a couple laughs, some solid directions, or a helping hand. I came through it remarkably well. I remember it quite fondly, actually.   That tour ended up becoming the fabric of my summer. And that fabric, in turn, became a lot of the “me” that I am, today. That tour shaped a lot of my world view surrounding skateboarding. I learned that there’s a lot of stuff out there to explore, just waiting on you to get up, get moving, and to trip on it at the most serendipitous of times. And although I’d seen about six states in total… including at least a hundred shops, and probably two hundred skateparks in the short span of about eight months… it was still just the tip of the iceberg.  This year will be almost exactly the same. Same purpose, same itinerary, same goals. But, with two major exceptions:  First: I live in Arizona now. Not, Indiana. So, this year’s tour will be a southwest tour, not a midwest tour. Secondly: while I spent the majority of my midwest tour sleeping (very uncomfortably, in retrospect) in The Econobubble… eight years later, I’m happy to report that I have a very handy, and very cozy micro-camper that I can tote around with me on my adventures. I’m pretty excited about that one, actually. Grain silos, railroad tracks, and tiny cars don’t exactly make great beds. Having a plush, queen-size (and very, very comfortable) Sealy Posturepedic readily available everywhere you go (no matter where you might end up going) would make you pretty damn chipper, too, if you were as old and broken as I am.   

Rolkaz Collective – Performance Meets Nature

Rolkaz Collective – Performance Meets Nature

Made solely of natural hemp and flax fibers bound together in high performance plant based resin, these new decks are all about getting back to nature.  Sustainable in both design and manufacturing, to reduce the environmental impact their Kickstarter campaign begins today.  It’s definitely worth checking out. With optimized shapes, refined construction and a premium riding experience, these hemp decks provide an innovative alternative to traditional maple. Rolkaz Hemp skateboards are an innovation in terms of processes and materials researched, tools invented, technologies used and design perfected to create the unique hemp skateboard.  They worked really hard to replace traditional skateboard materials with their sustainable alternatives to design the construction that they envisioned.  Visit rolkaz.co for more info.

The Editor Speaks: Something Always Beats Nothing

The Editor Speaks: Something Always Beats Nothing

 Something is happening in Phoenix. It’s very difficult to put my finger on it precisely, or to articulate it accurately… but yes, something is definitely happening here. The independent activist skaters are starting to take over. And a collective, comprehensive skateboarding community is starting to slowly take shape around them. Phoenix is a really strange place. Being a relative newcomer here, it has taken some serious time for me to acclimate and adapt to my new surroundings. I’m a long, long way from home, and Phoenix feels extremely foreign to me. So please, as you read through the rest of the essay, keep that in mind: I’m totally new to the area. These are the experiences and observations of “The New Guy On The Block”, not one of the diehard Phoenix locals. Phoenix did not strike me as being immediately “friendly” or “welcoming” when I first rolled into town. My first impression of the place was that it was every man for himself out here, which fits in well with the whole “wild west” vibe and history, I suppose. There are a million skaters… they’re everywhere, you simply can’t avoid ’em… but very little to no “comprehensive skate community”, as we would define it back on the East Coast. Even when I would reach out to people, I oftentimes found them rather aloof, disengaged, and less than accommodating. They didn’t seem to like outsiders very much. Or maybe they just didn’t like me very much, because I’m an old, ugly, and opinionated fatass. That’s always a possibility, right…? The Gray Beard Crew kinda saved my life. That’s Phoenix’s “old-guy skateboard club”, if you didn’t know. They meet every Sunday up at Union Hills for their “Sunday Morning Mass”, which is a real hoot. Best “church” I’ve ever attended, hands down. Adam Richards is the ringleader of the gang, and he became my first friend here in town, along with the rest of the guys. I wasn’t too terribly surprised by any of this, though. Indianapolis also had a well-organized old-guy skateboard club (the Old Indy Skaters, headed up by Bart Kelley), so that felt more than normal enough. And skaters that came out of the ’80s generation still tend to be a little bit more community-minded and “aggressively accommodating” than the Millennials have become. So, no, I wasn’t at all surprised to find forty-something-year-old kindred spirits at the local skatepark. And to Phoenix’s credit, being a forty-something-year-old-skater here is also a completely normal, socially accepted paradigm. There are literally hundreds of ’em here in town. So that was a total bonus. Adam was the spark that got a lot of wheels rolling. I remember the first time he told me about his ideas for his SkaterCon event. That was a real trip, man. It sounded like an astronomically huge endeavor, one where the chances of success seemed slim at best. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, pulling something that ambitious off might be a mighty big challenge”. But outwardly, I was totally supportive of it. It sounded rad as hell, so of course I thought it was a great idea. Adam, to his credit, isn’t the sort of chap that’s scared off by a bit of hard work, or a seemingly insurmountable challenge. He put the thing together, along with a whole gang of dedicated volunteers, and it was awesome. It went off without a hitch, or even a blip; Adam and his crew really knocked it out of the ballpark, right on the first swing. It immediately became “The Event Of The Year” here in Phoenix. Of course, you can read all about it in this month’s magazine. Or, you can read all about it for free at Issuu. The choice, as always, is all yours. Inspired by Bart and Adam, I decided to help out a little bit by brainstorming a few events of my own. I really missed Bart and his fuck-all, go-for-it attitude… and Bart had a real penchant for thinking up super-spontaneous, “why-the-hell-not” sort of ideas. I was at The Wedge a few weeks later skating with Stuart Anglin… one of the diehard Phoenix locals… and I asked him when the last time was that The Wedge saw a really big skate session? His reply was that The Wedge probably hadn’t been sessioned since the late 1970’s, maybe the early ’80s at best. “Duuuuuuude! We totally have to get a session going down here! For old times’ sakes, if nothing else…!” And with that spontaneous outburst, an event was born. Nothing as outwardly ambitious as Adam’s SkaterCon, of course. But, a fun little skate jam nonetheless. Everybody came and had a grand ‘ol time. Which is always the whole point of putting these little events together in the first place. Content with how The Wedge event came out, I thought up another go-for-it little event called “CitySkate”. Again, this one was directly inspired by Bart and his Old Indy Skaters longboard cruises. Those were a heap-ton of fun, and I really missed going to them… so, why not just get up, get going, and throw one together myself? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? Eleven people showed up, so maybe it was a total fail. But…! Those eleven people had the time of their lives, and are kicking me in the ass to do a few more of ’em around town this summer. So maybe it wasn’t as big of a fail as I thought it was. Besides, it was still a ton fun. Which is still the whole point. I went to a mini ramp contest at Garrett Cafficus’ Wasabi Ramp last weekend, over in Tempe. Garrett and I met at SkaterCon a couple months back… that’s the great thing about Adam, he has a way of getting like-minded people together in the same place, at the same time… and we’ve become fast friends ever since. Just a couple weeks after meeting Garrett, he sent me a really welcoming email, inviting me to a contest at his ramp that “a couple of kids are organizing”. That event was also really ambitious, and a heap-ton of crazy fun. You can read all about that event here at the Concrete Wave Website, because there’s a full story about that one as well. After the contest, I was standing around chatting with Terrel, one of “the kid organizers” that Garrett had told me about. Terrel’s probably in his early 20’s, so he’s clearly of the Millennial generation that guys my age tend to look down upon as not being quite from the era of the “Golden ’80s”, when men were men, and skateboarding was at its very best. But the funny thing was, the Wasabi contest totally felt like something straight out of the 1980s. It was a total do-it-yourself, beer-and-pizza fueled, knock-down, drag-out, backyard skate jam. Actually, now that I think about it, it wasn’t “just like the ’80s”. In some ways, it was even better than the ’80s…! At some point in the conversation, I asked Terrel what his biggest worry had been as he was pitching in to put the whole event together. His answer was immediate, and kinda funny. “I was worried that nobody was gonna show up!” I took a long look around the huge, raging crowd that was surrounding the ramp… a crowd of super-happy kids with smiles plastered all over their faces… and I let out a big’ol belly laugh. “Looks like you didn’t have much to worry about, buddy…!” It’s funny, because when Adam was working on SkaterCon, and I was working on The Wedge and the the CitySkate events… those were probably our biggest concerns, too. Having a great idea is the easy part. People have great ideas all the time, all day long. Putting them into action isn’t too terribly difficult either, once you make that critical first step (which is always the most important part). The hardest part of any ambitious endeavor, though, is inviting everybody… especially if “everybody” includes perfect strangers that you’ve never met before… and then worrying all day and all night long, wondering whether anybody’s gonna show up. But if you build it, they will come. Sure, it sounds totally cliché. But clichés exist for a reason: clichés are clichés because they’re generally true. Adam and Terrell have proven that the “if you build it, they will come” theory still holds water, time and time again. The best advice that I could ever give to some kid (or, some adult) that’s thinking of putting together a homegrown skateboarding event, is really simple: F’n Do It…! Do not let the fear of failure stop you. Do not let The Negatroids and The Naysayers discourage you. Do not let the lack of industry support get you down. Find yourself a couple of like-minded nuts… if all else fails, Mike and I are always here to help… and make that shit happen! Something Always Beats Nothing. As long as you’re doing something positive, and doing it for the right reasons, then you’re automatically winning by default. The only way you can ever truly “fail” at life, is to sit around on your hands and your duff, and do nothing at all. That strategy has never done a damn thing for anybody. By the way: If you do manage to pull of an event, be sure to send in an article. Mike and I like to stay up on top of these things. Lastly, I’d like to extend a big ‘ol Thank You to four Phoenix locals that helped me out with the coverage for all these events. They are Jessie Pena, Oliver Whitelaw, Estevan Corrales, and Taylor Cohen. They’re all photographers, and together they contributed the carefully crafted photos that made my articles a little more engaging and far more compelling. I really hope they enjoyed shooting all these homegrown skate events, because I suspect they’ll be pretty busy and in demand this summer. The event calendar and The Newsletter are filling up fast. The independent activist skaters are starting to take over, and the future looks really, really fun. See ya out there somewhere.  Bud StratfordExecutive Director,Concrete Wave Magazine       

Events: Wasabi Ramp Jam

Events: Wasabi Ramp Jam

 It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve been to a knock-down, drag-out, backyard mini ramp battle. Come to think of it, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a backyard mini ramp at all. But Garrett over at Gator Skins gave me a friendly heads up a few weeks back that a couple of kids were organizing a contest at his mini ramp, and suggested that I might wanna make my way over there and check it all out. It sounded like a whole buncha fun. So, I went.  Liam Pace, back lip during the heated practice sessions.  I arrived on the scene promptly at 5:00 pm, as instructed. I was a bit surprised to find a friendly kid at the gate, asking me for my ID. Naturally, I had left it in the car… I rarely keep anything in my pockets when I’m skating a mini ramp, because it all invariably falls out every time I stake a healthy slam, which is practically every damned run these days. But then I gave it a second thought, and asked this friendly bloke what on earth I need an ID for, anyway…? “There’s a keg in the backyard, so I need to stamp you if you’re over 21”. “Ah! I see. Well, what do I do if I’m a fat, bald geezer with a gray beard that doesn’t drink…?” The kid took another look at my face, realized that I’m probably well over 50, and stamped my hand. It was kinda flattering to get carded, though, I must admit. I went in, and made my way over to the water jug to get my fat ass drunk on hydration.   Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a smith grind. Max Ruhland.  The turnout was humongous. I was shocked. There were a bunch of tents crowding out Garrett’s backyard. Active Rideshop was there; Uncle Skate (the charity) was there; Good Shit Board Company was there; Lifestyle Skateboards was there; and, surprisingly, Spinelli’s Pizzaria was there, delivering free pizza for everybody. That was a really nice touch; whoever thought of inviting a pizza place to be an event sponsor was a total genius. That pizza was damn good, too! I was starving! Thanks, fellas. Garrett is a super gracious host. Almost as soon as I’d wiped the pepperoni grease from my beard, he was toting me all over the yard, introducing me to everybody as if I was somebody important or something. The atmosphere was very positive, very uplifting, and extremely welcoming. Garrett made sure that everybody had all the pizza, pop, and beer they could ever want, and all the cold water they needed to survive in his desert mini-ramp oasis.  Peter Grannis, frontside grab nose stall to frontside 180 out. Pete does weird stuff like that. That’s why he’s so cool.  Checking out the practice session raging on the ramp, it was clear that some real heavies had come out of the woodwork for this. Jay Lauf (a recent Phoenix transplant from Evansville, Indiana) was on the deck, and accounted for. Liam Pace from Tucson was making his mark, as he has been doing quite a bit lately. But there were also a lot of rippers that I’d never seen before, tearing apart the ramp and/or shaking it into the ground. It was already pretty clear that this was gonna be an epic event.    Dudes were just flyin’ around everywhere; Garrett’s ramp is ideal for popping huge airs. Liam Pace and Max Ruhland enjoying some airtime. Photos by Estevan Corrales.  The first thing that happened was the “Worst Board Contest”, where the skater with the most chewed-up and splintered skateboard got a brand new one, just for needing it. Again: I’m not too sure who thought that up, but whoever did is a real sweetheart. The winner was pretty damn stoked on his new stick.  Noah Johnson, crail. Photo by Estevan Corrales.  The contest “format” was cleverly loose and uninhibited. The contestants were broken up into five-man jams, which got ten minutes per group to put down their runs and get in their tricks. There were no “rules”, there were no individually timed runs… and for the competitors, there was no need to be “conservative”, hold back, or fear taking a fall or a slam here and there. They were scored on their overall performance in the jam session (mainly based on the crowd response); getting creative, taking risks, trying new tricks, and snaking were all heavily encouraged by the judges and the spectators. That allowed for something that you almost never see at a skateboard contest: spontaneous progression.  Huge. Max Ruhland again. Photo by Estevan Corrales.  It’s absolutely impossible in this sort of scenario to give you, the reader, a full and accurate account of what transpired, because everything happened so quickly and so randomly. There were a few standouts, though. There was Mr. Creative, Peter Grannis, who was clearly the “revert king” of the evening, doing stuff like frontside-grab nose stalls and nose bonks, tail stall reverts, chink-chink reverts, and switch frontside grinds. There was Mr. Early Grab, Chase Herman, who did early-grab frontside airs to early-grab rock fakies, holding on to his board the whole time, right through the flat bottom and up the next wall. Liam Pace, The Smooth Operator, was locking in frontside nosegrinds across the whole ramp, cleanly nollie-popping out of them, and sliding backside lipslide reverts for a dozen feet or more. And then we had The Killer, Jay Lauf, with his classic, bulletproof style, taking basic tricks to insane extremes at full throttle, just like he always does.  Jay Fairman, aka “Chi-Town”, manhandles a bean plant. Photo by Estevan Corrales.   “The Third Heat” deserves a special group shout-out, because they were by far the most intense and uninhibited heat to watch; I had to go smoke a cig after spectating that one, just to process the awesomeness that I had just witnessed. There was one kid there, dead set and determined to stomp a backside smith to backside big spin out. The problem was that there was so much ripping going on, it was actually hard to keep track of it all. If you were paying attention, then you didn’t have the time to stop and take notes; if you stopped to take notes, then you were probably missing out on something really great. The two standout tricks of the evening were Liam Pace’s ollie up to a 50-50 stall on the handrail, grabbing frontside, and then landing in a disaster back on the platform. He also did footplants to fakie up on that handrail as well, taking out the Spinelli’s Pizzaria banner a few times in the process. But the official “Best Trick” contest winner went to Brandon Tran, who spun a sparkling-smooth tre flip to fakie that would have made Daewon pretty damn proud.  Terrell, one of the organizers, on the mic.  Before I left, I finally had a chance to meet up with the “kids” that Garrett had referred to as the organizers of the whole shebang, Terrell Ward and Edward Brown of Lifestyle Skate Company. It was funny; I asked them what their biggest fear was in throwing the event, and their answer was wondering if anybody was gonna show up! That was a laugh; judging success by the turnout, I’d have to say that they really didn’t have much to worry about at all. They were great, humble kids that are just super stoked on giving back to the community. They want to do more events like this one, and I really hope they do.  The Swag-Toss Craziness.  I could tell you who “won” the contest, but I’m not going to. I really hate the “scoring and judging” aspects of contests, and I really don’t believe in making “winners” and “losers” out of skateboarders. Here’s the important part, right here: Everybody had a really great time. Everybody was there to dole out hugs, high-fives, back pats, and yells of support for everyone else. Everybody left Garrett’s backyard either smiling, or laughing. Everybody made a few new friends along the way. And nobody is going to forget this event for a very, very long time (if they ever forget it at all).  Post-event stoke. Photo by Taylor Cohen.   You can hate me all you want for standing solidly on my principles, but I’m gonna stand solidly on my principles anyway. If you really need to know who won, f’n Google it. As far as I’m concerned, everyone that showed up won, and everyone who stayed home lost. That’s the simple fact of the matter, and I’m stickin’ right to it. Thanks again for the invite, guys. See ya the next time around.    

Summer Camper Tour 2016/17, Report Number Nine: Maricopa and Casa Grande, Arizona

Summer Camper Tour 2016/17, Report Number Nine: Maricopa and Casa Grande, Arizona

  Yes! Dreams definitely do come true. I’m a believer. And you would be a believer, too, if you were standing in my shoes right about now. At this particular moment, my shoes happen to be standing on a slab of dusty, clay-crusted, wind-blown dirt out in the scorching desert badlands of Maricopa, Arizona. It’s hot, of course, as it usually is here. The sun is scalding my skin, and the sand that the brisk wind is kicking up is sticking to the sweat beads on my face, and running into my eyes. It’s extremely irritating, and wiping them dry with the sleeve of my dirty t-shirt doesn’t seem to be helping my vision very much. This pity party might not seem all that impressive to you. But wait just a second, because it gets better. My toes are pointing directly into the depths of a massive ditch complex that’s about eight feet deep, and must easily measure at least a hundred feet long (if not more), with long, mellow walls, and a humongous hip off to my right. Better yet: there’s nobody around for miles to even notice that I’m standing here, let alone to kick me out of the raging fun times that I’m about to enjoy. Pinch me quick, buddy, because I must be dreaming this up. It absolutely, positively cannot get any better than this. I wipe my stinging eyes dry one last time, and roll straight in to the time of my life.  Ditch dreams, Maricopa, AZ The adventures are still out there on the horizon somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. The trick is to dedicate yourself to seeking them out, and living them as thoroughly as possible. It doesn’t take much, really; a reliable econobubble, a micro-camper, and a full tank of gas can get you remarkably far in life. “You’ll never know until you go”; that’s a truism that never fades, no matter how far our beloved technology pushes us forward. Unfortunately for us, the real outcome of our underwhelming technological progress these days is that we spend far more time sitting on our fat asses than ever, going nowhere at all, living vicariously through a handheld screen in a lowest-common-denominator, mass-manufactured “reality” that, ironically, is not at all real. It’s a two-dimensional existence of emptiness, a faux facade of life. My goal this summer, more than anything else, is to unplug from the virtual reality of our wireless world, and to go experience real-reality, as it was meant to be experienced. As always, I decided to take the dirty and dusty road far less traveled in order to free myself from this modern technological prison that most of us are more than happy to chain ourselves to, and immerse ourselves in. Desert retirement oases like Maricopa, and sprawling agricultural tracts like Casa Grande probably don’t show up on the radar of too many touring skateboarders, which is precisely why I picked them as my next targets of opportunity; there was a pretty solid chance that I’d be skating something along the way that very few skaters, if any, had ever seen before. Let alone, skated. The allure of virgin concrete is what ultimately led me down this long and lonely desert byway, just a couple hours south of Phoenix’s suburban hell. As always, my good friends at Concrete Disciples led me toward the skateparks, while Free Campsites and Roadside America were instrumental in filling in the gaps with interesting suggestions for extremely adventurous, non-skating diversions along the way. My imaginitive whimsy guided the steering wheel all along my itinerary, as it usually does. No matter how pre-planned the adventures are, there’s always plenty of room for deviation and discovery along the way.   Copper Sky Skate Plaza, Maricopa, AZ  Copper Sky Skatepark in Maricopa, strangely enough, is remarkably similar to Cesar Chavez Skatepark back in Phoenix, which I just skated earlier this morning to warm up the ‘ol muscle bubbles a bit before my long drive into the desert. It has a very “street plaza” aesthetic and feel to it, with a few dozen well-designed and excellently-executed, hybrid “urban” obstacles efficiently packed into it’s rather diminutive space. It’s clean, clever, and functional; a skilled street-skating urchin could easily have hours of fun here. But for a bowlriding fellow with a Santa Cruz Bevel under his feet, it’s a bit lacking. There is one line, however, that a dedicated dinosaur (like me) can thoroughly enjoy. It happens to be frontside for a regular footer (like me), and culminates at a five-foot-high, tightly-transitioned quarterpipe with real-deal pool coping on top. That’s a rare treat that I almost never seem to find at most “street plaza” parks, so I’m thinking that I’m a pretty lucky chump today. Thankfully, that good luck stays solidly in effect through my first frontside grind, right when I needed it the most. You’ve never heard an Indy 215 bark as loud on a frontside grind as mine just did; it was so startling that the screeching sound itself almost pitched me straight off my board, and right onto my elbow. Somehow, my back foot forced the truck through the gritty aggregate, reeled it in, and rode it out in a squat, my Vans high tops barely clinging to the deep-dish concave of my trustiest pig. Little did I realize just how much damage years of BMX-peg abuse can do to concrete coping. My good fortune frankly astounds me on a fairly regular basis. But after closer inspection of the coping that nearly killed me, I decided that it might be best not to push my luck any further than I already have today.                 The Moffles Auto Parts Man, Phoenix, AZ               Mystery Castle, Phoenix, AZ                 Roadside America has been extremely kind to me as of late. The Moffles Auto Parts Man (a mascot made entirely out of junk) was impressive enough, in a “gee whiz” sort of way, while The Mystery Castle (a residence made entirely out of junk) really took junk art to a whole new level. But hands down, the Dwarf Car Museum in Maricopa featuring 5/8ths scale, fully-functioning little hand-built automobiles (made out of junk) really took the prize of the day today. The brainchild of hobbyist Ernie Adams, the dwarf cars started as affordable little dirt-track race cars for the amateur racing enthusiast. Later, Ernie started building “cruising” dwarfs for himself to enjoy, as a fun way to whittle away his retirement years. Each car is completely hand-crafted, and can take upwards of 10,000 hours each to construct. They’re not for sale, never have been, and never will be; Ernie still owns every Dwarf car he’s ever built, and he still parks them in the giant steel building behind his house. The museum, like most museums,  has a very explicit “hands off” policy… but if you get to the museum on a slow day when Ernie’s in a generous mood, you just might be able to sit inside one of the Dwarves and check it out for yourself. If you’re still a disbelieving sort of doubting Thomas, he might even be more than happy to fire one up, and let the little headers do the rest of the talking. Ernie’s an amazingly talented and creative specimen of a human being. I’m glad I spent a couple of hours with him today, learning all about his inspiring little car-creations.                      It’s hard to tell just how small they are, but the last shot gives a bit of                scale. Dwarf Car Museum, Maricopa, Arizona.  Some skateparks really do defy rhyme or reason. The smaller the city, the more mysterious the aims and the ends seem to be. I’m at Casa Grande’s kink-sink of a skatepark bowl… a generally fun, if slightly sketchy skatepark that sits directly beside a far more popular set of soccer fields that are hosting a healthy contingent of hispanics this fine and sunny afternoon. The intermittent screams of soccer joy are wafting across the bowl, as I stand near the shallower end of the snaking run, scratching what few hairs are left on my head. There’s a handrail… a very steep, and very intimidating handrail at that… that starts at the foot of a steel picket fence, and ends at the sloping wall of a small pyramid. How you’re supposed to get on to, or off of this handrail without killing yourself is an absolute mystery to me. There’s no discernable runup, and there’s certainly no clear runout anywhere in sight. But the kink-sink bowl is enjoyable enough, with it’s expansive control joints and extremely irregular coping that either sticks out way too far, or doesn’t stick out at all. It’s not a “purely enjoyable form of fun”, per se… but the steep challenge of skating it, and skating it semi-competently, is a form of “fun” in of itself. If you’re not the type of chap that can appreciate an “extremely challenging brand of fun”, then being a road dog probably isn’t the skateboarding life for you. Even the three sullen scooter kids that were here when I arrived have moved on to the greener pastures next door, where soccer moms, dads, and kids are squealing and screeching an afternoon of soccer summer fun away.   Casa Grande’s kink sink, Velocity Skatepark  Every time I swing through a new town, I try my best to learn a little bit about the local history. If you’re not going to put your travels into some sort of sensible historical context, then what’s the damn point of even going? Besides, I could certainly use a reprieve from this scorching sun that’s chafing the skin on my arms and neck for a few minutes, and allow myself a little bit of air-conditioned creature comfort. The Museum of Casa Grande was just what the doctor ordered. Even better, it was just a few blocks from the skatepark kink-sink that just killed what little was left of my knees.                                  Museum of Casa Grande, Casa Grande, Arizona.   Casa Grande exists because somebody decided that it was high time to take a summer break. It’s true; I swear I’m not making this up. I’m staring at a sign in the museum that’s making all this abundantly clear and concise. They were building the Southern Pacific railroad from Yuma to Tucson when the summer started it’s usual desert sweltering. So some foreman somewhere decided to take a summer off, and resume construction the following fall, when things cooled off a bit back to “tolerable” levels. This is, after all, the Sonoran Desert, so that strategy seems more than sensible enough to me. The original name of the town was “Terminus”, as in “the end of the line”; it was only later that the railroad execs changed the name to honor the nearby Hohokam ruins. Casa Grande means “Big House” in Spanish, which is humorously sarcastic, considering that the town started life with only three buildings and five residents, and was nearly abandoned within twenty years of its settlement. Irrigation and agriculture were Casa Grande’s saving graces, and even today it’s the Cotton Capital of the world, populated by more dairy cows than you could ever count on a single road trip.       Red Rock Skatepark is only open to the “official residents” of this brand-new, bustling housing tract way out in the middle of this former-farmland nowhere. The gatekeeper guardian is supposed to enforce this restriction, along with all the other rules on this long litany of fine print that’s outlined on an official-looking sign that’s riveted snugly to the solid steel fence. The problem is, I really can’t be bothered with reading this much blubbering bullshit in one standing. Thankfully, the gate-guardian isn’t here to enforce anything right now. The gate is unlocked, and the door is swinging open and sqeaking in an extremely inviting manner. The only people around are the two little kids inside the park that are learning to push themselves around, and some sort of loud family-fun festival that’s happening a couple hundred yards away. Seeing an open opportunity to break a few rules and steal some fun, I casually saunter in as if I owned the place. The pool is steep and deep. It’s between six to eight feet tall, and achieves true-vert status almost everywhere. The transitions are extremely abrupt, which jars the tired ‘ol knees mercilessly. But the coping has a shockingly smooth, almost buttery glide to it that contrasts with the harshness of the curved concrete. I climb out of the shallow end and walk all around the perimeter, examining the coping closely, and I swear I can’t find a ding, a dent, or a scratch on it anywhere. It’s as if the bowl was just poured and trowled yesterday. I look over at the kids playing in the corner with their bargain-basement skateboards, and I wonder why in the hell a housing authority would build something so massive, and so difficult and intimidating to skate, for little kids of such limited skateboarding ability.     My campsite is about nine miles from the interstate. The interstate is about fifty miles from Tucson, and seventy miles from Phoenix. On my way to the campsite, there were road signs warning of “open range” conditions. Cows cavort freely out here, munching the miles away on their great journey to nowhere in particular. I’m not sure that you could get any further away from civilization, than I am right now. Camping in the open moonlit desert is quiet, and creepy. Coyotes yip and yap close to the camper, loudly celebrating their kills in a manner that drives the fear of wild straight through my lonely heart. A whoo of an owl pierces the thin walls of my cozy little abode, while the light of the moon slices its way through the vents, casting sinister shadows that slowly but steadily march toward my sleeping-bag cocoon, silently advancing upon my sense of security, safety, and sanity. The temperature drops pretty precipitiously out in the desert once the sun settles in for the evening, and a quiet and comfortable calm rolls in a few hours later, immersing me in a deep and satisfying slumber. The hours tick by uninterrupted, all ten of them. I never sleep as soundly as I do in the cozy confines of my camper after a long and satisfying day of skating.      There’s a sign in front of me that is quite clear in its intent. The Ostriches will bite, and Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch is not responsible for accidents caused by your lack of a fear gear, your sense of high adventure, or your distain for cautionary common sense. I look at the Ostrich that’s almost exactly as tall (and heavy) as I am, and it looks back at me, straight-faced and waiting impatiently. In my hand are a few tidbits of green animal feed that resemble tiny bird turds. This is, after all, the stuff that bird turds are made of, so I’m rather amused (but not all that surprised) by the resemblance. Presently, I have two choices to choose from. I can dump the food down a small chute that empties in a feed bin, from which the ostrich can nip at its feed well away from my fragile fingers. Or, I can slowly hold the food out to the fence, and let the Ostrich crane its neck over, and peck the feed right out of the palm of my hand. The sign recommends slow and steady movements at all times, for all parties involved. However, it fails to point out that the Ostriches are really hungry, and they don’t read instructions very well. Slowly, steadily, he cranes his neck down, gently gesturing toward the pellets… and then, quite suddenly… snap! In a flash, three of my tasty little fingers are knuckle-deep in his blunt beak. It doesn’t really hurt all that much, but it does startle me fully awake. I decide to head toward the bunnies, instead. They seem softer, and far safer than I imagine the stingrays are going to be.      Skateboarding and urban exploration, naturally enough, have a lot in common. People that excel at sneaking into schoolyards and backyard pools, quite naturally tend to excel at sneaking in to almost anywhere. This former landing strip is becoming increasingly notorious for the over-enthusiastic tribal police that thoroughly enjoy terrorizing, arresting, and extorting trespassers that wander unawares onto the property. “Their property” is the former Williams Auxiliary Airfield #5, now known as “Gila River Memorial Airport”. What we’re supposed to be remembering out here in the boonies is far beyond me. The only things that exist out here are some long-abandoned runways and tarmacs that have since deteriorated back into the native sand and gravel, and a few long-forgotten Douglas DC-4 and Lockheed Ventura airframes that sit perched on their weak knees (or, in a few cases, square on thier tails) in sad states of gutted and graffitied dereliction.     These few old airplanes, however, are fast becoming a powerful magnet for geocachers, visual artists, and urban adventurers. The motion sensors embedded at the entrance insure that the tribal police are on site to apprehend intruders within moments of some adventurous punk penetrating their prized property. Because they have the legal authority to immediately seize assets and impound vehicles as “evidence”, it’s probably a pretty steady and reliable revenue stream for the tribe’s overlords. One that they are surely quite keen on perpetuating, so long as less enlightened intruders are stupid enough to roll (or stroll) right through the main gate. The trick, it seems, is to avoid that main gate at all costs; to not bring too many valuables with you; and to park far away from the reservation perimeter, and well out of their jurisdiction.    Now, I’m not saying that I did any breaking and entering this weekend. Oh, no, not me! The Magazine certainly doesn’t condone these sorts of shenanigans, and neither do I. All I’m saying here, is that I somehow scored some really well-composed and colorfully saturated photos of airplane abandonment on my way home from my skateboarding misadventures this weekend, and I think they came out pretty damned spiffy. Nothing more, and nothing less.   

Engaging New Skate Obstacles

Engaging New Skate Obstacles

Dan MacFarlane – fastplant nosepick. American Ramp Company is launching a new “Pro Ops” signature series of obstacles for skateparks worldwide.  Their new team of professional skateboarders have been given two different signature obstacles each for the series. The team is Dan MacFarlane, Willy Santos, Joe Moore, Ronson Lambert, Shaun Hover, Jud Heald, and Sierra Fellers. From Dan MacFarlane’s bank to wall that looks like a snapped skateboard, to Jud Heald’s recliner, the obstacles aren’t your usual run of the mill skatepark fixtures.  “That is the intent, to introduce and contribute something different to skateboarding” says Dan MacFarlane. “These obstacles also help you invent new tricks and combos. Tons of Never Been Done skate tricks and combos were happening on them!”  MacFarlane was initially signed on as a pro team rider but the ARC President Nathan Bemo liked his obstacle ideas, so he assigned MacFarlane to help design the whole series as well.   American Ramp Company’s Pro Op Team MacFarlane has pushed out two videos about the Pro Ops series on his Facebook that have received an enthusiastic response from skateboarders everywhere. The first video is a tour of the ARC warehouse where prototypes of the Pro Ops obstacles are placed throughout as the other pros are skating and workers are welding. MacFarlane tells about the obstacles in detail as he makes his way around. The second video is a fun skate video titled #WelcomeToAmerica which documents Joe Moore’s original skating on the Pro Ops obstacles and his overall experience during his visit from Leeds UK. While they are iPhone shot videos, a newer professionally shot video is in the works showcasing the team skating their Pro Ops obstacles. American Ramp Company began in 1998 and since has installed over 2,500 skateparks in 37 countries. ARC currently installs around 200 skateparks annually and specializes in high quality skatepark construction out of every build method including steel and concrete. Keep up with updates about the Pro Ops series by following American Ramp Company and the Pro Ops team riders on their social media.

ARC Pro Ops team announcement

Dan MacFarlane Pro Ops announcement tour

Joe Moore #WelcomeToAmerica    

Carving Out a Better Future

Carving Out a Better Future

 

 

 

 

Rob Strand enjoys a moment of peace.

 

Two years ago I was lost. I had left my career track with a breakup-induced broken heart and the realization that I was working my life away for a cause that was not my own. I fell into depression. There was so much noise inside my mind. I knew something was wrong. The distractions of weed, alcohol and Tinder “dating” provided some instant gratification, but could not  begin  to  heal  the  fundamental  wound  inside  me.  I  found  sanctuary  in  surfing  and longboarding. During that period of cloudy confusion, a year of entire days carving down the hills  and  alleys  of  El  Segundo,  California,  longboarding  kept  me  going  and  became  a fundamental part of my identity. Later on, after moving back home to Minnesota for some familial care, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. A huge part of what brought me back to health is the practice of skating. 

 

I first started skateboarding in rural Minnesota with two friends after elementary school let out. It  was more for companionship  between the three of us, less because I felt driven to do it alone. We would compete with each other. We pushed each other to see who could do an ollie first,  then a pop  shove-it,  and a kick  flip. It was about friendship, and finding  a sense of belonging.  Immersion in the skateboarding  culture  followed,  and soon I had the pages of Thrasher and Transworld Magazines plastered all over my bedroom walls. I was enthralled. I kept regularly skating throughout high school. Skateboarding gave me purpose, friendship and energy. 

 

As  a  son  of  an  engineer and  a  school-teacher,  college  was  next.  Skating  dropped  off completely. Rugby and industrial engineering studies filled the days. I graduated and joined a large corporation as an operations manager in training. Thus continued a path that was set out for me but not my own. A good job, great salary, moving around the country from flour mill to flour mill became my way of life. Managing 24/7 operations was rigorous and exhausting. I realized, nearly four years into my career, that I wasn’t gaining any energy from what I was doing. I was failing to find motivation and enthusiasm for Life, as I had when I was a younger skater. 

Aerial carving.

 

The realization that I was following a career path that was draining the stoke from me, along with the collapse of a relationship, drove me out of work and into the greatest depression of my 27 years of life. I walked away from that path, and I was lost. Work had brought me to East Los Angeles, far from home in Minnesota. I was fortunate enough to have a cousin and her family in town,  and  they  offered me  a  place  to  find  refuge  and  a  table  topped  with  good  food, surrounded by two little kids and their loving parents. My cousin’s husband informally told me about a surfboard builder in town named Tyler Hatzikian. 

 

I went to Tyler’s shop, introduced  myself to his wonderful wife, Katherine, and soon began working retail, part-time for a craftsman I came to admire greatly. It was in that shop where I discovered Carver skateboards. There were a couple of demo boards. “Sure, take one out, have some fun!” When I hopped on that board and skated down the small alley behind the surf shop, I had no idea about the magnitude of the change that was beginning in my life. I became hooked on longboarding. Surfing the streets became my every-day dedication, a practice I was fully committed  to. I skated for hours in the morning, and hours in the afternoon. I skated at night, late, when the streets were so quiet I could have sworn I was back in rural Minnesota.

 

 

Rob says that skateboarding has led to a deep connection with himself.

 

I had never set foot on a longboard before that time. Sensations of snowboarding came to me when I was carving down hills of concrete. I could move like the surfers I loved to watch, the turns became my obsession. I grew to Love the point at which my wheels would break loose, a feeling that became so intimately known on each board and surface. It’s  like knowing  the friction  point  at which the clutch  of a car you’ve driven for years engages each gear. The sensation becomes part of your body, imbedded within the memory of the muscles used to activate  the  slide.  I  could  wax  poetic  about  a  single  turn  and  all  the  physiological  and psychological activity that occurs when I’m skating, but I would hopelessly digress. The point is, I’m obsessed.

 

Skating was my therapy. All the rage, all the anxiety and even old wounds of lost love could be put into the background just by walking up a hill and carving down it (over and over and over again). Surfing was there for me too, but as any surfer knows, you can’t really surf every single day in most locations. What started as a flat-day-only  activity became an everyday practice, and I committed  myself to riding faster, turning smoother, and learning how to navigate the lines that my mind would draw on any hill, alley and driveway. This gave me such a positive outlet, and I soon saw my life changing from the inside out. I learned about dedication, about sticking to something and watching your hard work develop into skill. I developed an immense passion for the streets and I could express that passion by riding, pouring sweat and blood into them. Most important of all though, I learned presence of mind. I could focus, find the moment and open it wide, expanding time as I perceived it.

 

Being a manic-depressive person, I live at the far ends of life’s spectrum. With a mind like mine, it’s difficult to find balance, and I’m often lost in fantastic dreams about the future and dark corners of the past. Skating brings me to the here and now. When I’m riding, I know exactly who I am. Funny thing is, I think there has been a direct translation between physically finding my steady balance on a skateboard, and finding that same capability in life’s varied situations. Every time I got into a sketchy spot on a hill, went too fast, lost control, and then pulled out of it unharmed by focusing my attention and listening to that instinctive survivalist voice in my head, I gained a measure of confidence. I can find that voice in life. The practice of skateboarding increases my ability to listen for it, and notice it when it’s  needed. Stressful situations can become less tense, I can breathe and think more critically and independently of external circumstance.

 

In California I dove deep into longboarding. It was an every day, all day practice. The dry, sunny environment fully supported it. The scars I’ve got from learning to ride are inexorably tied to the growing pains I’ve had while learning to deal with depression, my hypo-manic moods, and life’s situations in general. I know pain, and I know bliss. I’ve found plenty of both on a longboard, and  have developed an intimate understanding of how in skating there is so much Life, and in my Life there is always skating.

 

I would like to tell you that I’ve got it all figured out now. I’ve found a career that gives me energy, paid off all my debts, enjoy every-day balance and total control of my moods, and live free of depression and any symptoms  of mental illness. However, such nonsense is utterly untrue. What I am able to say honestly and whole-heartedly is that my life situation is better. Six months of sobriety have brought me a more focused mind with fewer distractions, and sharper skating. Dietary discretion and wholesome cooking has brought me a cleaner body, healthier gut and happier disposition. No more Tinder “dating”,  I’ve found my partner and best friend.  She understands  me. She knows  how  important  skating  is to  my  well-being,  and encourages me to go out on the days I appear to be lacking the energy.

 

I started skateboarding as a way to connect with my close friends in elementary school. Over time, it became a way for me to connect with myself and find out who I am. It became an integral part of my treatment plan to restore and maintain mental health and general well-being.

PUSHING THINGS FORWARD IN 2017

PUSHING THINGS FORWARD IN 2017

 

Back in the 1970’s during skateboarding’s second boom, the push to hit 60 mph was a big deal. John Hutson, Guy Gundry and a number of legendary skaters gave it their all at places like Signal Hill. Most folks were amazed to see skaters hitting 50 something mph. When Gary Hardwick (RIP) hit 63 mph in 1998, it started a domino affect.

 Gary Hardwick hit 63 mph in 1998. That’s Mark Golter in the yellow leathers.

 

Gary’s timing was excellent as longboarding began its ascent. The truth is that it’s taken almost two decades to bring the technology to where racers are comfortably hitting speeds once thought inconceivable. Drop thru decks, precision reverse king pin trucks and lightening fast urethane have all done their part to increase speeds.

 

2016 will go down as quite an astonishing year politically. But there was another astonishing thing that happened in skateboarding. When Erik Lundberg edged out Mischo Erban’s fastest speed on a skateboard, people were pretty thrilled. It was less than .5 of a kilometre faster and yet the feat was overshadowed only a few months later by Kyle Wester. Kyle laid down a blistering 144 KPH (89.41 mph and blew Erik’s and Mischo’s records right off map. You can see a video of this incredible feat.

Will Kyle Wester hit 90 mph in 2017? Don’t bet against it!

 

As we enter 2017, the question that is on many people’s minds is just how fast can the next record holder go? But it’s not just skaters who are intrigued by the prospects of speed. The bar has been set very high and it will take an extraordinary effort to push things forward but there is no doubt in my mind that we will see someone hit over 90 mph. It’s only just a matter of time…and pure guts!

Faceplant Boardriders Plans for 2017

Faceplant Boardriders Plans for 2017


Faceplant Boardriders will be hosting four longboarding events this year with competitions like downhill racing, freestyle aka slide jam, slalom racing, push racing, boardercross racing, highest hippy jump and big air.  Event organizer Rob Wheeler has been hosting longboarding competitions in the Mid-Atlantic States since 2012.  “Going to Slide Jams got me into the sport and community” says Rob, “I try to mimic that laid back but competitive vibe I felt at those events.”  All of Faceplant’s events are in there 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th generation!  Ricky Wheeler, co-owner of Faceplant Boardrider’s says “Our events are safe, fun and organized so that we get invited back to each venue every year and continue to grow our longboarding community in size and skill.”
 The first event of the year is the 4th annual Bethlehem Jam on Saturday, July 8th.  This event is held in Faceplant’s hometown headquarters so they go all out.  This event starts out with the intense Boardercross time trial race where riders charge down the coned course going off ramps, on and off sidewalks, slalom sections and technical high speed turns.  The rest of the day is dedicated to a classic slide jam where some of the best longboarding tricks and slides of the year go down here!  Each year we have to ask permission from the residents on the hill and they are stoked to have us back again this year in the middle of Summer! King of Kings Gap on Saturday, August 12th is the next Faceplant event and is fairly new.  Rob helped organize the very first event here in 2014 and he has stepped up to be main event organizer this year.  The event grew in 2015 but last year they could not secure enough pre-registered riders to have permission from the venue so it will be in its 3rd generation.  This event features a 5-6 minute downhill race where riders in heats of six reach speeds of 30-35mph as they navigate down the long smooth scenic course.  After downhill racing finishes, riders start at the bottom and see who can endure the 2+ mile uphill push race!  All proceeds from the push race are going towards Carve 4 Cancer foundation!Next is the 5th Annual Rip the Elwood on Saturday, September 9th.  Held at the beautiful Elwood L. Crossan State Park which looks like it was made for longboarders.  They start the day with the technical Downhill Time Trial Race on the skinny path that weaves down the face of an open field hill.  Right next to it is the long, straight Slide Jam hill that gets loaded with features.  This event also features Boardercross Racing, Hippy Jump Contest and Longest Slide competition.The grand finale is the 6th annual Skate the Cape Shred Festival on November 4-5th.  This event takes place in a picturesque and historic state park in Southern Delaware that has miles of paved bike paths. Riders come from all over the East Coast to have a skate getaway where they meet other riders, have a great time camping out around the bonfires, and having some fun competition among each other for 2 days full of events.  Day one features Downhill Racing, Small Wheelbase Racing, Slalom Racing and an Enduro Push Race.  Day two starts with the Boardercross Race, Hippy Jump Contest and ends with the Slide Jam.  This is also the last stop of the Faceplant Freestyle CupLongboarding Series where the top riders in Open and Junior division take home cash! For more info visit their website.
 

Evening Music Break: Kill The Precedent

Evening Music Break: Kill The Precedent

  If Kill The Precedent (KTP) sounds familiar, it’s because we covered their killer first EP “Dialogues With the Dead” about a year ago.   With the release of their second album “Some Version of the Truth”, this Sacramento based Industrial-Punk band comes out swinging with another solid album from front to back. Check out the single “Two Way Mirrors” here:   KTP’s dual lead vocalists paired with their thick rhythm section and searing guitar work make this truly unique band a cut above. Probably the most surprising thing about “Some Version of the Truth” is how different it is from ‘Dialogues’. So many bands nail their first album and fall flat on their sophomore effort, or simply re-make the same sounds over and over. KTP doesn’t take short cuts and it shows –in glaring, glorious fashion. These guys should make any serious fan of the infamous Sacto. Hardcore scene proud. Checkout the full album below and get pumped for your next session!KTP -Some Version of the Truth 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!