The oceanside community of Asbury Park, New Jersey has endured a roller coaster of ups and downs in terms of development and prominence for the town’s economic and cultural livelihood over the past couple of centuries. Most strongly effected throughout this period has been the town’s skateboarding scene.
At its peak, the 90’s are remembered as a time of international recognition from the skateboarding world, centered around Asbury Park’s Casino Skatepark. The park’s vert ramp, bowl and street section, in addition to the local Deal Lake Motel Pool, drew skateboarders and publicity from all over the world. Despite a decent run after Casino Skatepark closed down, the Deal Lake Pool eventually went under as well. Though the 2010 opening of Woodshop Skateshop tried to breathe new life into a waning scene, its demise led to another blackout for Asbury Park’s culture.
As of late, however, a complete resurgence has overtaken the town’s skateboarding scene at the hands of Forth Union. The collective formed as a testament to the town’s longstanding skateboarding heritage and seeks to rejuvenate the related artistic, musical and communal components that once made the boardwalk thrive. In devising the proper title for this fusion, artist Tim Ziegler explained “Generally speaking, the arts, be it music, photography, or fine arts, are constantly trying to push the envelope of expression, and build off of the foundation of the previous generation. Skaters work in much the same way, pushing each other to go bigger, and constantly come up with more inventive tricks and runs. So I chose “Forth” to convey their shared sense of movement and boundary pushing and “Union” to reinforce their coming together in one space.”
Forth Union’s efforts took root last year as they worked in conjunction with Redbull to renovate the famed Carousel into an interim space for the thrashing to resume. Now, a collection of banks, quarterpipes, stairs and, of course, Jersey Barriers surround a perfectly placed mini bowl that is attracting industry attention to Asbury Park, once again. This support will culminate in a grand opening set for Spring 2017 that will unite food trucks, retailers and skateboarders alike.
In the mean time, Forth Union will continue their work with some of skateboarding’s most noble nonprofits, including A.Skate and Boards for Bros, and will continue pushing for a free public skatepark in Asbury Park. Forth Union is also hosting a rad competition at the park next month which you can check out below:
Brad was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.
At the beginning of the year when we did a gofundme to get the Old Bro ramp back in shape, all that money went to materials and Brad. He did all the labor. He was completely professional and showed up for work on time every day as if he was punching a clock. He cleaned up every day and when the money ran out, I had to turn him away. He insisted on doing more saying I paid him too much. I didn’t.
A few weeks ago he had agreed to go to Egypt with me next month, to ride his skateboard. He was totally stoked on it and I knew we were going to have an amazing time. There is a big hole in skateboarding today and there is a hole in my heart. RIP my friend, you will be so missed.
Not only did the skateboarding world lose a legend today, but the world lost an amazing person. Brad Edwards, it was an honor to work and skate with you for so many years, and to call you a good friend. I will never forget the fun times and great memories we shared.
You will surely be missed by people all over the world, and your legacy will continue to inspire so many. You were more than an inspiration to me, you taught me so much about skateboarding and about life at such a critical part in my existence and my gratitude for you will forever be owed.
RIP to one of the coolest, most humble, down to earth people I will ever know. He’s up there with Shane now, shredding all that heaven has to offer. Until we meet again one day, thank you Brad, for everything.
Geoff Edwards – Brad’s brother
Thank you all for your prayers and kind thoughts over past few days.
As many of you know Brad recently suffered a significant brain hemorrhage and stroke, and while he initially made a miraculous recovery and we thought he was well in his way to a full recovery, however, his condition rapidly deteriorated and he was unable to overcome the damage to his brain. It is with profound sorrow and broken hearts that we that we have to tell you all we had to say goodbye to Brad…
We know this news comes as a shock to all of you and be devastating to many of you that he called his family and friends, as it has been for us. Brad will obviously be missed by his extended family and freinds he has made all around the world, we all wish he was still with us ready to skate that next pool, bowl, and ditch…
For those that aren’t familiar with Brad’s entire story or least an abbreviated version, Brad was born in 1969 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and lived in Holliston, MA until our family moved to California the day after Christmas in 1972, which Brad thought was great because we had two Christmases that year (one on each coast). Brad grew up in the sleepy little town of Agoura, CA, and started skateboarding at the age four. Brad was always extremely active and involved in outdoor activities like soccer, cross country running, surfing and of course skateboarding. Brad graduated from Agoura High in 1987 and attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
Brad literally traveled the world skateboarding, surfing, and working for Gravity Skateboards for many years. Recently he has been involved a building skatepark in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Brad is survived by his brother Geoff and his wife Teri, sister Alison and her husband Tom and his five nieces and nephews (Zach, Jeremy, Peri, Wes and Tess), who affectionally called him “Uncle Rad”.
Details on memorial services will shared with all at a later date. We ask that in lieu of flowers or cards, if you would like to honor Brad’s memory you make a donation in his name to Saint Francis Hospital who provided world class medical care to Brad during his brief battle (details to follow).
As many of you know Brad was always a giver and as his final gift to the world was that he donated his organs that will potentially save the lives of 8 people, and tissue that will benefit as many as 75 additional people.
If Brad were still with us, we are sure he would want the lesson of his life to be, “Be good to each other, and make someone smile today through some small act of kindness, or even a smile”. And he would say the lesson from his death is to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis and take care of yourselves and each other.
Brad is off on the next leg of his journey to join his parents (Nancy and Paul), and all his friends and family that preceded him, and I’m sure looking forward to the endless perfect wave, and the ultimate skatepark!
We already miss you immensely, but until we meet again skate on little brother, skate on!
To many in this complicated era of skateboarding we find ourselves in, technology and skateboarding are like oil and water. On one hand, the old school diehards and their loyal descendants seek to protect skateboarding subculture through an outspoken rejection of current technologically driven trends. With this, topics of rejection include everything from shooting in HD, releasing shorter bouts of footage and, perhaps most hotly contested: being an active presence on Youtube.
On the other side, we see a more slaphappy group of younger skaters who see no harm in mixing in some skate clips to a 10+ minute video of themselves vlogging. While either side is still every bit acceptable, perhaps a more interesting position to consider would be the middle. In this tech inclined vs sub-culturally protective dispute, a group of absolute rippers exist that serve as the case study for a balance between using Youtube to their advantage while backing up the strategy with seemingly casual and creatively empowered skateboarding. The homies in this group are the guys of Majer Skateboards.
To those not a part or of the Majer’s massive Youtube following of over half a million subscribers or who have somehow missed some of their wildly viral creations, the following video should give you an idea of the caliber of skateboarding and style of video that Majer puts out on the regular.
To shed some light on the years before this video dropped, we have to start the story back in Chicago in the months before brothers Eddie Gonzalez (aka Freddy Kruger in the above video) and Jacob Gonzalez would move to Texas. Then, he was regular skating at the Warp Skatepark with local ripper and future pro, Chaz Ortiz. By the time the pair were in South Texas, Eddie began tearing it up with, now teammate, Rick Molina while Jacob began linking up with one of skateboarding’s most underrated Am’s, Mikey Whitehouse. Adding their cousin, Angel Ramirez to the mix, the acrostic-dubbed MAJER crew was born on a trek home from the skatepark one night.
As we start to get the gist of the Majer crew’s tone, allow me to fill in the gaps regarding what exactly makes them different from the other skateboard-centric content creators on Youtube. From a content perspective, their videos are consistently over the 10 minute mark, as with most other Youtube content creators today, so as to double their ad revenue. However, that time is predominantly filled with skateboarding, straight through. And often technically unheard of skateboarding at that. Their videos typically take the form of a Battle Royale between teammates, a street mission or, most frequently, a refreshing perspective on the flat ground game of S.K.A.T.E. As filmer Jacob Gonzalez puts it, these videos are some of the easiest to come up with and film, considering they are the warmup of choice for the crew. In these clips, you might find Mikey Whitehouse pulling some ridiculous body varial out of his unending bag of tricks or see 10 year old JP Garcia progressing far beyond his years. Unconcerned with winning or losing, JP says the influence of his older crew is a huge help to his progression. Not for nothing, but we’ve seen him hold his own and get some letters on some of the eldest members of the crew too.
While these sorts of videos are common with other skate-centric Youtube channels that have been dubbed as “kooky” by many, filmer Jacob Gonzalez’s take on their position justifies the difference. “We want to be seen as hardcore skaters” he said, in contrast to the more kid-friendly tone that such other channels strive for. That being said, the quality of skating in their videos is far from kooky and is rivaled to the footage some of the today’s top Pro’s.
However, it is still important to note that his brother, Eddie Gonzalez credits such pioneers of Youtube’s skateboarding presence, including the hugely successful, Andy Schrock, to Majer’s success. In addition to having Schrock and a host of other popular Youtube content creators pop up in their videos over the years, Majer is similarly in the arena of competing for views within Youtube’s ever-changing algorithm. To wage this war, they too have claimed use of “clickbait” titles to lure viewers. In fact, it was their original Halloween-themed edit titled “Lil Wayne Skateboarding” that Eddie Gonzalez claims launched them to their first bout of national recognition. Where the Majer crew excels, as articulated by Eddie Gonzalez, is the way they back their titles up. Even though you may not see the real Lil Wayne skateboarding, you’ll see the guy dressed as him bust out a huge kick flip footplant in the midst of mind blowing NBDs and creative approaches to skatepark setups.
As it currently stands, though, Majer’s future was best summed up in our interview with brother, Jacob Gonzalez. In their quest for legitimacy in the eyes of the skateboarding community and independence from the confines of Youtube, Majer Skateboards is actively carving their own path. To longstanding supporters, the “Majer Crew” only recently adopted the moniker of Majer Skateboards recently, after beginning their sale of decks. Also new to the Majer Skateboards agenda is the deadline for their first full length video. Editing it along the way, only 2-3 months of filming remain before they drop it in the street skateboarding’s house of dreams, The Berrics. With the humbling support of Steve Berra, the group is set to move another step closer to their goal of legitimacy by being able to add a “real” skate video, as put by Gonzalez, to their rap sheet.
Of course with new territory will come new challenges for the young crew. Among these obstacles is the balance between stacking clips in the streets for the full length while still producing content for their Youtube following at the skatepark. This comes coupled with the unfolding battle of the amateur team getting older and requiring to spend more time on real life responsibilities. Well, perhaps the only one immune to this one at the moment is 10 year old JP Garcia. As I made sure he had time for my interview, Garcia, over a bowl of cereal, advised me he had all the time in the time in the world. After a recent trip to the “heaven on earth” of Camp Woodward PA, he told me that the opportunities he’s enjoyed in skateboarding have feel like a blessing and clearly shows no signs of slowing down for the future.
All things considered, the Majer Skateboards squad does have the world in front of them and are poised to take it over. “We got a good start and are closer than ever now” Eddie Gonzalez assured. As the group is taking things one step at a time, the best way to keep up with them is to join their Youtube following and see where the journey will take them next.