The label of being a “skate rat” has been thrown around for years at the seemingly unproductive skateboarders of society. To most, the typical skate rat serves no purpose but to spend their weekdays patronizing the skatepark and their nights and weekends infiltrating corporate America’s hidden street spots. In a more constructive light, crews like the SK8RATS, have added a more positive connotation to the slang since 2004 by showcasing some ripping footage from guys like Sebo Walker and, one of my all time favorites, Cory Kennedy.
Now in 2017, we find yet another iteration of the infamous “skate rat” moniker, this time being interpreted as a pun in the illustrations scribbled from Dustin Ammons’ pen. As he puts it, “Honestly, I just love terrible puns. The worse they are, the better they get. I’m not the first to make skate rats and I doubt I’ll be the last, but I do like that I’ve kept them relatively proportionate to an actual rat.”
It is this commitment to the joke that makes Ammons’ work so enticing. One scroll through his Instagram reveals dozens of these things. There are skate rats gripping their board on the curb, battling the presence of pebbles and, most notably, busting tricks over the coping on transition pieces and sliding their way through on ledges made of cheese. “It’s hard to go wrong with cheese ledges and skate rats”, he adds.
In the spaces around the misadventures of his beloved skate rat, Ammons uses the platform to express his opinions on a variety of other hotbed topics that beset modern day skate rats. Included in these topics are the proper terminology for longboards, implications of corporate influence in skateboarding, the importance of a poser-free skate scene and of course, the PSA that snaking on scooters is starkly unacceptable. Also included in the mix are some seamless looking collabs with guys like Eric J. Eckert (aka @idrawmazes), who was just recently featured on the Concrete Wave site. Though all come off with the same lightheartedness as the skate rats’ casual shredding, these works do hint at a more formal purpose behind the seemingly mindless doodles.
“I definitely would’ve lost my mind without art”, says Ammons. Currently pinned down by a lingering knee problem in his early 20s, the art provides a way to stay involved in the skate world, even if unable to physically go out there and be able to emulate some of those wallies and nose bonks that his illustrated skate rats have on lock. As as another 20-something year old, documenting this story with a set of crutches beside him, awaiting a second knee surgery, I can wholeheartedly sympathize with Ammons. His ability to continue finding ways to resonate with the skate community is admirable, no matter how many sessions of physical therapy lay ahead.
As for the rest of the skate rats across the world, whether out there chomping tranny or confined to knee braces and recliners. the skate rats on the pages of Ammons’ work are here to stay. With the exposure they have already received, Ammons is still taken back by it, noting, “It’s so weird, but in the best way possible. Like, to have a person on a different continent enjoy my stuff still blows my mind.” For this growing worldwide collective, the best way to keep up with the skate rats from Ammons’ pen is to stay glued to his ever growing collection of work over on Instagram.
I can remember the exact date I met Noel Korman of the Shralpers Union – March 11th 2011. It was a the world’s first longboard expo held in NYC. The folks at Bustin Boards had graciously allowed Concrete Wave to host the event at their new shop at the Lower East Side. The store (sadly, now closed) was to be called The Longboard Loft. It was just getting refurbished and the timing was perfect to host an event. Theseus Williams worked diligently to ensure that we had the space to hold over 35 companies and hundreds of skate fans. I am still not sure how it all came together, but it did! On that auspicious day, Noel put out his hand and said “I’m Noel Korman of the Shralpers Union and I’m here to help.” It was a surreal moment. I shook his hand and began to learn about the Union. Noel had single-handedly created a movement that encapsulated everything I loved about skateboarding and snowboarding – high fives and positive vibes. I was immediately convinced that Noel had a heart bigger than all of New York or New Jersey. Over the course of the 3 years that I knew Noel, I saw his incredible, larger than life personality affect literally thousands of people. As many of you know, Noel along with his girlfriend Alice Park passed away on December 6, 2014. It was a freak accident – a boiler in the building they were working at leaked carbon monoxide. As a result of these completely unnecessary deaths, Governor Chris Christie eventually signed a bill that made the use of carbon monoxide detectors compulsory in all commercial buildings. Why they weren’t there before is something that I will never understand. By the way, a number of people DIED of carbon monoxide poisoning after both houses in the NJ Legislature passed the bill. It was only after Christie finally signed the bill that it became law. Thankfully, it’s already having an affect.Noel with fans at the 2013 Vans Warped Tour. Noel’s message of “high fives and positive vibes” resonated deeply me with this past weekend and yesterday. We had over 5,000 people visit our booth at Buskerfest here in Toronto. We gave out a lot of “high fives” to stoked out kids. Below is the proof: Another freshly minted skate enthusiast. Luke Ayata One of Noel’s most trusted friends was Luke Ayata. Luke has worked tirelessly to spread Noel’s message. Over the summer, he announced the new SU website. Take a peek at what they have and please support their efforts. We need folks riding, not ripping on each other. We need spread some high fives and positive vibes. I also want to mention Ray Korman (Noel’s father) who I have become very close with along with Jeffrey Collins Harper who has spent hours working on graphics for the Union. Ray Korman Concrete Wave is proud to put the Union logo on our homepage.As things get crazier and crazier, I urge you to get out there and spread high fives and positive vibes. Please visit here to register for Roll for Peace.
If you think about it, skateboarding is like a maze a lot of the time. Right?
You set out at a clear starting point. But to reach that coveted ending, is chaotic. From the literal twists and turns of our unsanctioned streets to the metaphorical dead ends, constituted by pebbles, snapped plys, and chronic mental fatigue, the similarities between skateboarding and hand drawn labyrinths are comparable. However, Eric J Eckert, better known to the professional skateboarding world by his Instagram shorthand @idrawmazes, fuzes the skateboard and the maze together differently.
For Eckert, skateboarding and maze drawing started out as trivial pastimes in his elementary years until being taken more seriously in and around his college years. From there, skipping class to go skate and knocking out a new maze on the daily opened up the floodgates. As the mazes started popping up on Twitter, they began to go from being solely linear creations to ones featuring well-known celebrity faces. As traction grew, he noticed the most love coming from none other than us – the skateboarders of the world. With the positive responses and interactions from the skate community, Eckert shifted his focus more centrally towards skateboarding. When he took the work to our beloved breeding grounds for sharing of Instagram, “it was the perfect showcase and the exposure went nuts” in Eckert’s words.
A first look at Eckert’s work hearkens back to a story that just that went live for CW earlier this year on skateboarding’s first coloring book: Color-X. In it, the prospect of interacting with skate photography in a new light is discussed. In a similar sense, these mazes too celebrate the complexity and difficulty that go into the skating and shooting for a successful photo in a way like the coloring book does. In Eckert’s case, adding his own personal element of the mazes is even better because it allows for a personal connection to both the skater and the photographer being showcased.
Speaking of these pro skaters, the level of pure stoke and appreciation has been nothing short a dream come true. Guys like Chris Cole have stepped away from the floodlights at Street League to show his maze some love. Chris Roberts made enough room on the set of his ever-popular podcast, The Nine Club, to display one of the mazes (next to the switch flip to switch manual, of course). T-Puds actually stopped slaughtering the flatbars of the world for long enough to pose in Eckert’s collab shirt with Hellaclips (even though he probably could have done so in the midst of a crazy looking dipped backside smith anyway). Hell, even Danny Way took time away from hurling himself through the sky to give away a copy of his maze. To Eckert, seeing the pros hitting the like button is enough to fan out over, but seeing the pros with their hands on it and even requesting mazes is a whole different ballgame. Judging by the amount of exposure in the eyes of the industry, it’s safe to say Eckert is playing that game well.
Perhaps the most rewarding one for Eckert was getting to do a graphic for the always creative boys over at Enjoi Skateboards. As he put it himself, “When I started really making mazes that were focused on skating, my end goal was to get a graphic made. Enjoi was by far my favorite company, so that was my hope, but I never actually expected it to happen. Then one day they hit me up and it still feels like a dream. I have that board with Louie’s signature hanging in my living room, and I still look at it every time I walk by.” Make no mistake, though, Eckert stands by the claim that seeing his graphics put to good use is better than hanging them as mere decorations. “I love the interactive nature of skate graphics in that people can appreciate what’s gone into it, but then they actually get use out of it”, he added.
The maze does not end here for Eckert though. With plans to keep riding the wave until it fizzles out, he intends to formalize his attempt at the world record for largest hand drawn maze. He has been unofficially successful at this feat twice, covering his home office once and a covering sizable mini ramp another time, but was rendered ineligible for due to technicalities. So long as his supply of Sharpies runs deep, it’s best to stay tuned to @idrawmazes on Instagram to see where the story goes from here.
Hribernik Boards was created in Richmond, Virginia by me, Susan Hribernik. I have been a colored pencil artist, a photographer, and a graphic artist for many years. I fell in love with skateboarding, and so my art went with it. The boards are all made of Canadian maple, and screen printed in California. Some of the designs are made from a created computer graphic, while others are hand drawn by myself. I have been testing out various shapes, to see what works best, and will continue drawing and creating for the next board. Hribernik Boards are made to ride.
Have you ever wonder what happens to kids that are too young to go to jail?
Located in the Mexican Caribe, near to the border of Belize theres a small city called Chetumal where The System for Integral Family Development (DIF for their spanish acronym) offers an option for Quintana Roo’s underage law infractors to avoid facing a serious sentences in youth jail.
The place is pretty much like a school that they can’t leave, with unarmed guards and scheduled activities. Parents of many of these kids choose to leave them in this facility for up to one year, often as a punishment for their actions that can go from stealing, gangs, drugs and fights.
We met up with 11 kids and 3 girls from 10 to 17 years old. They were super friendly and excited to have skateboards in their basketball court. Some of them had skated before so it was easy for them to learn tricks, for the rest that didn’t know how to ride a skateboard it was a challenge, but after some fear overcoming and a few falls they started flowing comfortably through lines.
After the session we shared snacks while we watched Get In The Van 2 full length video by Landyachtz Longboards and had a conversation about how passions and interests can uplift you from any situation. This opportunity of exchanging stories allowed the kids and skaters to learn from each other by generating an environment of empathy and freedom of being imperfect and that is okay to make mistakes, since it is one of the best way to learn something. The constant involvement of activities that foment understanding, listening and sharing are one of the main actions that might bring us closer to a real and sustainable peace.
I would like to thank Pauilna and David Andrade from Jóvenes del Siglo XXI, Ruben Martínez from Backside Skate Shop, Marisa Smith from Barracuda Board Co and Lea Philibert our first french volunteer for all the help in this workshop. I’d also like to thank Correctional Director Yamili Gómez for the Invite and the opportunity to skate with the kids.
As some of you may know, I am down here in California with my family. During this time, I get the opportunity to meet up with folks from the skate industry. As I am in transition from Publisher/Editor/chief bottle washer etc to just publisher, I still retain the right to give you some of my thoughts. Initially, I had plans to go to Baja, California, but decided that I needed to be in HB and Venice. So, without further ado, here is my take on the last few days outside San Diego county. My homebase in Huntington Beach was the private pad of Don “Fish” Fisher. Don is an industry vet with a true skater’s soul. We had a great time hanging out together. The first order of business was to meet up with “Dozier” the pit bull who belongs to his roommate Jason. Dozier tests the durometer on a Shark Wheel. On Tuesday night, we worked with HB Culture Magazine and had a booth at the farmer’s market in downtown Huntington Beach. We gave away dozens of stickers and magazines along with posters. Plans are underway to make this a weekly event for Concrete Wave. We definitely stoked out a number of folks. If you want to be a part of this experience, let me know asap Left to right: HB Cult owners, Don Fisher of CW Mag and downhill legend Chuey Madrigal. I had the opportunity to hang out with two key players in the skate world – Paul Schmitt and Jim Gray. Both have given blood, sweat and tears to skateboarding. Hearing their stories about former pros, business deals and outrageous behavior from people who should know better made for a truly amazing time. Roll for Peace is going to be promoting Paul’s Create-A-Skate project bigtime and we truly impressed with the Powerflex Wheels. Unlike most wheels that get introduced to the market through a fancy marketing campaign, Powerflex actually created something beneficial – a hub that absorbs and helps the wheel perform better. I am sure there are countless skaters that would benefit from these wheels. Indy shops…we need your support to help spread the message! The templates found in the Create-A-Skate program developed by Paul Schmitt.Steve Olson (left) is now working with a new clothing brand called Teen-Aged. We enjoyed beer and met up with George Wilson of Z Flex fame. Pictured is Jim Gray, Don Fisher and Paul Schmitt.This is the new Powerflex wheel. Its core is vastly different than other vert/street wheels out there. It can absorb bumps, cracks etc due to its durometer. If your local shop doesn’t carry them, have them contact Powerflex asap. One of the key highlights of the trip was the 75th Issue party of Juice Magazine. I’ve know publisher Terri Craft and assistant editor Dan Levy for a number of years. They are very creative, passionate people and it was great to see how many folks showed up to support their efforts. Juice Magazine is one of the last of the true independent skate magazines out there. CW salutes their efforts and looks forward to the 150th issue party. Thank you Juice for your kindness and great hospitality. Dan Levy, Terri Craft of Juice with skate legends Dennis Martinez and Brandon Cruz. Peggy Oki and Patti McGee. Patti is pointing to her just received LFP pin. Surf pioneer Christian Fletcher with Robert Trujillo of Metallica. Venice is second to Disneyland in terms of tourism. The strip on the beach is an unreal experience and truly should be on your bucket list. The problem for Venice right now is that Snapchat is taking over. They are spending millions bringing Snapchatters to work and live there. They even have their own security force. It is making locals nervous and I can see why. Huntington Beach is “Surf City USA” and has no issues attracting tourists. Although I have been in HB many times, I have never seen the “world’s largest surfboard.” So, in the spirit of being a tourist, we’ll leave you with these images! I want to thank Don Fisher for his kindness and we look forward to creating some great memories in the weeks, months and years to come.
Aluminati announces the addition of the Bullnose Deck to its line up. This is a 30” deck features 3/8 inch concave as well as channels to advance performance while maintaining strength, flexibility and uniqueness. The Bullnose deck shape draws inspiration from vintage cruisers but adds modern technology and is now available with any Aluminati graphic of your choice.For more information, please visit here: THE WORLD’S FIRST BULLETPROOF SKATEBOARD We received an email last week from Griffin Burke. At the age of the 19, he’s created a bulletproof skateboard that students can use as a shield to defend themselves in the event of a school shooting. “I was inspired to come up with a solution to this epidemic shortly after the tragic shooting at UCLA. My college roommate and I were discussing what we would do if caught in such a situation.” Griffin’s answer was to create the bulletproof skateboard. “It is the only viable protection for students” says Griffin. “Students already face enough pressure in school, worrying about a school shooting shouldn’t be one of them. My skateboard is only ½ inch thick but is capable of stopping a .44 magnum.” Griffin calls his board company Turtle Boards. So far, only one taker at Kickstarter.
ROLL FOR PEACE In honor of September 21, the International Day of Peace, we will be holding an event called Roll for Peace on September 16. Thanks to Luke Ayata of the Shralper’s Union and Sean Powell of Whatever Skateboards, things are rolling. Here is the facebook page:
We all know the name. The double ‘W’ that stands loud & proud in Newquay’s hustle and bustle.
Wooden Waves. From all over, skaters come together to shred the ramps and waves at our local skate park.
The park is home to some of the rawest talent in Cornwall. From Jake Sparam, sponsored by, and riding for, Pig city skateboards, Flavour and Etnies, to the young Finley McCormick repping Hoax skateboards 94′.
Wooden waves have been and will always be the birth place of pure knar and talent. Creating friendships, teaching valuable life lessons and breeding creativity within skateboarding. However. Our beloved wooden waves is to be transformed by the world renowned Maverick designs.
“The design for Newquay Skate Park has been drawn up to meet the needs of the local user group and serve as a facility for riders both nationally and internationally. The facility has been carefully organized into four separate areas; an endless street run, multi-combination snakerun bowl, retro-style amoeba pool, and BMX flowpark. The idea behind the facility is that all the routes around the skate park link up to form an enormous flowpark. We are beyond stoked that Newquay Council have chosen us to build the park – There’s still a lot of fundraising to do and contracts to sign before we can spray any crete, but we can’t wait to get stuck in!”
On Saturday the 1st of July, Newquay held a Cardboard to concrete fundraiser event in order to raise funds for the epic new park design. A huge shout out to Dave Rickard for his tremendous efforts and organizing the event. The event was a huge success and included all sorts of competitions, a sizzlin’ hot BBQ, a raffle with prizes kindly donated by local businesses and even some fancy dress! Not forgetting, live music too!
I caught up with Beth Applewhite, Newquay’s finest female shredder, proudly holding up the girls skate scene. Beth, 16 years old, sponsored by Diversion, stated that how she would like the new park to be more ‘family orientated’ and include a mini ramp in order for younger skaters to learn at a safe level. Beth hopes the new park will ‘bring people together’, including all kinds of ages and abilities!
Shortly after, Finley McCormick, one of Newquay’s most talented young skaters, sponsored by Hoax and hoping to be competing at a high level by next year, caught my eye as he dropped in with such style; I just had to have a chat with this little legend! – ‘Fin, what does Wooden waves need? What do you hope to see in the new Maverick’s design?’
‘We need a street plaza! A stair set would be incredible, oh and just some sick new ramps, anything concrete really! Wood isn’t too practical with Newquay’s weather!’
I think we all agree, a concrete structure is first on all our skate’wish’lists! You see, our skate park here in Newquay isn’t just a ‘park’ it’s a home. It unites us as skateboarders and the memories made here, will never be forgotten. In society today, we focus so strongly on the kids’ who never leave the house, attached to their screens and games consoles, yet the kids’ who are out from 9-5, shredding the tarmac waves and eating dirt for lunch, out in the fresh air all day, are forgotten and left behind in the modernising world. These kids’ deserve to have the latest concrete, when there are stay at home kids’ produced monthly with the latest modern designs, trapping them inside. ‘GIVE THE THE KIDS THE CONCRETE THEY DESERVE!’
Let’s get together and fund what will be, quite simply, one of the best modernizations in recreational sport Newquay has ever had!By Rocky Poole –
A great road trip only happens when the destination is unforgettable and the journey is unpredictable. Arbor set out to skate some of the worlds best ditches. Along the way life provided memories that will last a lifetime. We hope you’ll enjoy the trip through the Southwestern United States, and the time Arborspent exploring the endless turns that only New Mexico could provide… To learn more about Arbor Skateboards visit here:
Toronto Girls Longboarding’s FUBU (For Us By Us) is in its 6th year this August 26th and 27th! This annual skate event involves two days full of different skating activities and competitions, in which the only participants are female (or identify with being women). The weekend revolves around building community for women in the sport, and allows ladies to test their skills in a supportive, low-pressure environment. Activities for the event include a cruise, dinner and a party, a downhill race, slalom, a dance contest and a push race, so riders of all styles can get their kicks in. Participants come from all over Ontario and the States to join in on the fun, and there are usually about forty women in attendance. Guys are, of course, more than welcome to join us at the party and to watch the competitions and show their support! If you or someone you know is interested in coming out to this event contact me directly. This event is the largest all-women skate event in North America. Vaclav
The event that almost didn’t happen was a huge success this past weekend with over 50 riders racing down the long scenic Kings Gap Road. Heats of 6 riders charged downhill while negotiating slippery road
conditions early in the morning which took out many competitors. The top 3 riders from each race would move onto the next round. Juniors DH
The open division was led by Pennsylvania’s own Scott Hurdleston who finished first in nearly all of his heats, including the finals. Stim Trucks rider/owner, Gary Enright was tough to beat as he made his way to the finals and placed 2nd overall. Leunam Segure fought his way into the finals and made it onto the Podium in 3rd place.
1st- Scott Hurdleston
2nd- Gary Enright
3rd- Leunam Segure Open Finals
The junior division(17 and under) had 6 registered riders so we did a 3 race point system, all 6 riders raced together in 3 runs, 1st place got 5 points, 2nd place got 4 points and so on. Ohio rider Troy Dycus dominated the Juniors, winning each of the 3 races. PA local, Hayden Knott placed 3rd in his first race and then fought back to take 2nd in the last 2 races, clinching 2nd overall. Rian Ciano just made 3rd place with 8 points, Ben Brown was close behind with 7 points.
1st- Troy Dycus
2nd- Hayden Knott
3rd- Rian Ciano There were some spills.
The grueling uphill Push Race presented by Carve 4 Cancer Foundation ended the competition Saturday. 2014 winner “Charles” yet again took 1st place with a strong pace that no one could match. Close on his heels was 1st place downhill rider Scott Hurdleston. Finishing off the podium was event
host, Rob Wheeler. We raised $150 for the carve for cancer foundation!
2nd- Scott Hurdleston
3rd- Rob Wheeler
All photos from Dave Gammon (Photography)
While sitting in the office I get an email about the NYC premiere of the Made in Venice movie. Meeting Jesse and the director Jonathan Penson was a unique experience in itself as they turned out to be very passionate people who are focused and goal driven.
Jonathan used every skill set to get this amazing project of the ground and finished. He spent years dedicated to getting the right footage from the right people for the right reasons. He was able to put together a story that even a non skater can appreciate while staying true to a skaters point
of view. It’s not an easy task to pull off in the tightly knit world of skateboarding to interview the OGs. He was able to tell Jesse’s story while giving the audience an inside glimpse as to how passionate and driven skaters are.
Jesse Martinez takes the spotlight in the movie. The decisions and struggles of one man over three decades are revealed in such a way that you have no choice but to respect it. When I sat down with him for the interview I was overwhelmed at how humble he was for such a huge personality. He was true
to the game and had the same passion that a teenager would. He was more excited to have spent time with Rodney Smith and crew the night before rather than the all of the hype of the premiere. What blew me away was how he felt about the response of the community to the movie. His main concern
was to get the respect of the San Fransisco, Los Angeles and New York skate scenes. He wanted the respect of the streets where his peers had put in work just like he had. He certainly got our respect as he inspired us beyond belief.
The movie shows how difficult the struggle can get while following your passion and trying to do the right thing for your community. I don’t want to give away too much but i will never look at the skatepark in Venice the
same way again. This is as real as it gets.
One of the greatest things about running this magazine has been to see first hand how the past catches up to the present. FORTY years ago, Wizard Wheels hit the skate scene and tons of kids just like me were enchanted by the prospects. The promise was captivating…MAKE TRACKS WITH WIZARD WHEELS. The wheels were supremely coveted and very hard to find in Canada. It didn’t help the wheel manufacturer had a fire and lost everything. The old wheel (left) with the newly improved version. These past twenty years or so has seen wheel technology really evolve. Kudos to all the companies out there getting creative with urethane. I am stoked to see something of my skate childhood come full circle. In talking with the folks at Wizard Wheels, this whole rebirth of the brand is a tribute to their grandfather – who years ago realized that skateboarding at its core was all about fun. For those of you who are interested in reliving this magical memory of your skate youth, a kickstarter campaign has started today.
The other day I got an invitation for the All One launch party. I had heard about them and was eagerly waiting to find out what Rob Rodrigues of SURE Skateboard School and Rodney Smith SHUT Skateboards were working on. This is a big deal for our NYC scene as over the years division on the streets and the profit margins of investors have been keeping us down. We needed the companies that were run by skaters so that we can tend to the actual needs of the streets. Who better to take the lead than Rob and Rod?The party was very well received as skaters from all generations and types were there to show support. Very impressive as we all know how hard it is to bring the NYC scene together. What exactly is All One?Rodney Smith- ALL ONE/ALL ONE UNIVERSE is a conscious awareness platform for those here on earth that desire or seek for a higher and broader truth/understanding as to why and what the heck we’re doing here on earth.All brought to you from some members of the skateboard culture and fashion community. Rodney, I know you have intensive history with the NYC scene. But can youtell our readers a little about yourself. I’ve been a member of the skateboarding community since my beginnings when I started skating in 1976. I had a great older 70’s east coast pro skateboarding friend and mentor that lived a few blocks away from my childhood home. He was adamant about keeping people skating, all because of the decline of skateparks and participation.. By 1978 I was well clued in as to what to do to keep skateboarding around and alive. By the early 1980’s I knew I wanted to be in the skateboard industry yet… didn’t know quit how to do that. After about three years I got sponsored, I also headed up and worked at a skate/surf shop through high school. I was a top amateur east coast competitive (NSA, ESA, etc…) street skater that made it to the proving ranks to become a pro around 1986/87.With the skate scene going through more popularity issues and current of the time struggling to make it as a pro I decided not to continue competitive skating and with some friends started a deck company and an east coast movement out of NYC. (Shut 1986 to ’92… Zoo York skateboards 1993 to 2008 then back to relaunch Shut)Rob Rodrigues, Rodney Smith and Ray Korman.
What brought you guys together to work on All One and what was the motivation?Rob and I had been knocking around some ideas for four or five years to create a new unique type of platform/company encompassing the skateboarding culture, skateboarders and the young at heart, at whatever age…whether skaters or not. What are some of your goals?20 years ago I started paying closer attention to the progression of skateboarding with a different look into the mind of skaters and how the changes in board sizes, double kick, Ollie’s etc… changed the way and rate skateboarding could progress. Let me not forget the most important part of this, that is the progression of the minds assisting these abilities along the way. Having had skate teams since the 80’s I’ve had plenty of time to observe and study people in a different way. I started looking at the science of skateboarding and to this day continue to have my mind blown as to the human capacity to have control over ones own reality. I’ve come to the realization that top end skateboarders are performing Magic and it goes much deeper then that but I won’t go into it now. Goals to look for from ALL ONE in general will be in regards to a specific type of nurturing message to skaters and skateboarding fans that…learning and understanding about oneself is your greatest asset when living in such a world controlled system. For example if skaters just want to skate then they need to be aware of what is going on in their “neck of the woods”… all as a precautionary measure to for instance, keeping the growth of skate parks and never have to fight to keep them. What should we be expecting to see next?Expect to see more information via social media, YouTube etc…with interviews of some brilliant minds in the esoteric world, biology,skateboarding, and the fashion world of people.With the diversity of NYC scene how do you hope to place yourself in the community?I am already a prominent figure in the world of skateboarding (As it is said by others and not by me…) and Rob in his own right as well. I have also been an amateur researcher for 35 years of the esoteric/conspiracy world so those communities are already built in All interested people right now can follow our Instagram all_one_rodney_smith and stay attuned to our line of clothing and accessories, *Click Here To Check Out The ALL ONE Universe Collection Proceeds from this product will go to existing and start-up, informational based web shows,networks etc…that currently have a connection and platform for the masses of the young at heart worldwide. As you can tell we are very ambitious about this journey. The time is now for all ready to wake up and get it right this time. Human being’s history and time on this planet is at a progressive growth (earth bound and cosmically), as well as on a downward spiral to a potential self-eradication from the planet. Here’s a statistic for you to think about….With over one thousand intercontinental ballistic missiles just in the United States alone, that can’t possibly make anybody feel comfortable about existing here on this amazing planet when”accidents” like Fukushima happen.
I had originally intended to do my Yuma trip in the fall, when the weather turned cooler and far more skate-friendly than the typical summertime highs of 118 degrees would allow. Renee, however, had immediate plans to make a weekend trip to retrieve her father’s ashes, and asked me if I would like to come along for the ride. She was aware that I had a tour itinerary already well-planned and ready to go, and offered to be my skating sidekick for my intended misadventures. In addition, she offered to foot the bill for a swanky hotel crash pad for the weekend, if I would pick up the dinner-and-gas tab… an offer that I heartily accepted. Thus, I happily traded the hardships of camper living for plush amenities like a cold pool and a king-size bed for this brief leg of my overly ambitious summertime tour. We were up and at ’em bright and early on Saturday morning for our long haul to bordertown. The itinerary could not have been more packed with diversions. We would be spending the bulk of our time driving straight through the heart of Arizona’s military-industrial complex, a huge swath of southwest desert that have been historically earmarked for training bases, and bombing and gunnery ranges. From the moment that we left the confines of Phoenix, we would be traveling back in time through the widespread and rampant abandonment of World War II and Cold War homefront battlefields. Above: Gila Bend Welcome Sign and RF-101C Voodoos, Gila Bend, Arizona.Saturday, July 8th, 2017. We were in Gila Bend at 7 am sharp. Roadside America had a few fun features on our itinerary. There was the offbeat humor of the “Welcome to Gila Bend” sign that boasted 1917 inhabitants, five old crabs, a metropolis of solar panels, and… curiously… a Volcom Stone advertisement. There were the staunch (but clearly aging) gate guardians at the Gila Bend Municipal Airport, a pair of RF-101C Voodoos that served the bulk of their overseas operational lives together, and were destined to spend their retirements forever married, standing side by side at the entrance of the local municipal airport. There was a massive chunk of the World Trade Center, installed at the main street city park as a 9/11 memorial. And there were several fabricated steel dinosaurs that had been crafted by a local artisan, and prominently peppered throughout the city at a bevy of gas stations and convenience stores. But the real prize of the morning was stuffing ourselves full of breakfast at The Space Age Restaurant, a stylistic and architectural throwback to the Mercury and Apollo missions and the moon-man hysteria of the 1960’s. The ham and swiss omelets here are out of this world. Pun totally intended. Above: Space Age Restaurant exterior and mural detail, Gila Bend, Arizona. Above: 9/11 Memorial Park, Gila Bend, Arizona. Above: T-Rex at Eddie’s Tire Shop, Gila Bend, Arizona. You can’t see Dateland Auxiliary Airfield from the interstate. From car-window level, the long-abandoned runways and tarmacs are shrouded in thick desert vegetation. Interstate 8 bisects the property; if you keep your eyes wide open and alert for a brief few-tenths of a mile, you might pick out the concrete foundations of the former barracks just beyond the shoulders. A little to the north, though, the runways still remain baking in the sun, left lying undisturbed since they were decommissioned in 1955. The problem is that, in order to see them at all, you have to be either “practically standing on top of them”; or, literally standing on top of them. I’ll give you intrepid guys and gals one guess to figure out which plan I was going with this weekend… Above: “Or lost out there, far away on the road, those lights…”. Dateland AAF, Dateland, Arizona. There are prominent signs at the peripheries of the property that warn of exceedingly grave consequences to trespassers. Death could be imposed as a punishment; these fellows clearly weren’t f’n around. Renee was a little bit nervous, naturally enough. But I wasn’t. I’m a skateboarder and an avid urban explorer; trespassing is old news to me. Above: Concrete bunker, Dateland AAF, Dateland, Arizona. Up ahead, just off to my right, I spotted a series of large, plastic orange spheres suspended on the power lines that paralleled the road; those were the telltale signs of a nearby runway that I was looking for. Undaunted and unperturbed, I steered the Prius straight onto the old bituminous runway… the “asphalt” has since been reduced to loose gravel aggregate from idly baking in the desert sun for well over seventy years… and proceeded to give her the grand tour of the property. North American B-25J Mitchell, the bomber type that was stationed at Dateland AAF. The place was astronomically huge. The runways approached nearly a mile long apiece, and the tarmac easily held five or six solid city blocks’ worth of real estate. Thanks to my exhaustive research and encyclopedic knowledge, I was able to point out where every hangar, workshop, mess hall, and latrine would have been in 1944. The only building left standing, however, was a sand-filled concrete bunker that had been used to sight and test-fire the fifty cals that were stuffed, sometimes eight to twelve at a time, into the noses of B-25 Mitchell bombers. On the south side of the property was a humongous (and apparently, quite prosperous) date farm, with rows of irrigated date palms standing tall and strong against the bright, blue morning sky. The five-dollar date shake that we bought at the exit-ramp gas station was almost sickly-sweet, the fruit fibers stubbornly clogging up our skinny straw all the way to Yuma. Deterrents to adventure abound everywhere. The Bridge To Nowhere was only exceptional in the depth and breadth of its multitude of posted-paranoia warnings. First were the threats of criminal trespassing charges to all that might dare to encroach the peripheries of the property. I just left Dateland, buddy, where I could’ve died; I’m not particularly afraid of your pansy-pants little signs anymore. Next, there were sobering warnings of unsafe and deteriorating road conditions immediately ahead. Apparently, these blokes have never driven around on an abandoned airfield. Then, there were pointed engineering assessments regarding the inherent instability of the bridge itself. Bridges aren’t safe, big deal. Lastly, there were… the bees. Bees…? Are you f’n serious right now…? Well, the sign was certainly trying to look serious and impressive enough, I suppose. But after running the gauntlet of far more frightful dangers, I really couldn’t be all that bothered by the highly unlikely threat of some stinging insect invasion. It seemed like some sort of sick bureaucratic joke, or a governmental attempt at a merry prank. There wasn’t a single bee anywhere in eyesight or earshot, for Pete’s sakes. The spindly little guardrail that was left to stop us was no match at all for my tall legs, although Renee did need a bit of a helping hand to circumvent it. Above: Tiny Church (Loren Pratt’s Little Chapel), US 95 north of Yuma, Arizona. You’ve probably never seen a gun that can lob a small nuclear bomb a mile across a battlefield. I sure as hell haven’t. But this cannon can. They don’t really call them “small nuclear bombs”, of course; that would sound needlessly crass and inhumane. The notion of firing nuclear bombs in such close proximity to our own boys’ boots on the ground would seem foolhardy at the very best, and downright stupid at the very worst. These, right here, are not “small nuclear bomb tossers” at all; they are, in military-jargon-speak, “tactical nuclear weapons”. It’s a perfect example of what our government names stuff when they want to do something really unwise, but make it sound mindlessly bland in an effort to minimize our imaginations into thinking that they’re actually doing something quite noble in our better interests. These guns have been fired, of course, but never at any foreign army or enemy. The only places where these toxic shells have ever fallen is in the desert wastelands of America, also known as the Yuma Army Proving Grounds. Sure, the baking desert sun might be absolutely relentless. But there is still no hell quite like a crowd of loud, annoying, uncivilized foreign tourists. We had passed them in their rental SUV’s, moping along at a cautiously annoying twenty miles per hour, several miles back. If I could have run them off the road into some of that “unexploded ordinance” that the roadside signs continually warned us about, I certainly would have. Now they were right behind us, clogging up the narrow wooden pathways of the Castle Dome Mining Museum. Where are those tactical nuclear weapons when you really need them…? Renee and I were in a hurry. We were trying to stay one step ahead of the tourist crowd at all times. The temperature hovered in the 110’s, and the sun was high and bright in the desert mountain sky. A slight breeze stirred up dirt and dust that blew through the buildings of this long-abandoned mining ghost town. Besides the tourists and the sole gatekeeper/host/tour guide of the property, the town was completely uninhabited. The only “humanity” to be found on the premises were a series of creepy mannequins, dressed up in period-correct costumes. Every room you entered and every corner you turned, you ran the risk of running straight into one of these un-human characters. Or, a foreign tourist. Same difference, I guess. This place was consistently full of silent surprises. It was hard to imagine people living like this out on the far fringes of the desert. Tiny one-room shanties with small spring mattresses filled the nooks and crannies of this bustling commercial micropolis. There was no air conditioning, little ventilation, few signs of running water, and no showers; it must have been a personal perspiration and hygiene hell. Yet people persisted, and even prospered, out here on the high desert for over a hundred years, right into the mid-1970’s. The tour guide made sure that we didn’t miss the perfectly preserved 1971 Pontiac GTO clone-convertible and the Porsche 911 lovingly protected by the last of the shanty-sheds at the far peripheries of the property. Apparently, the last remaining residents of Castle Dome had remarkably refined tastes in sports and muscle cars. Above: Kennedy Skatepark, Yuma, Arizona. Kennedy Skatepark was quite a surprise. I’ve never seen a skatepark quite like this in my entire life… and trust me, neither have you. It’s a huge, but sparse, outdoor facility that appears professionally built in some places, and nightmarishly amateurish in others. The bowl was hardly skateable; the Skatelite-surfaced mini-ramp, however, had been built solidly enough that it was still a heap-ton of fun, even in its rapidly deteriorating state. The most remarkable feature, though, was the mellowly graded downhill ditch that ran right through the middle of the park, and terminated at a wide-rimmed bowl at the bottom. This was carving nirvana, and a once-in-a-lifetime skating opportunity for Renee. Here was a place where she could learn all of the basics of carving and pumping in an immensely enjoyable way, and at a bare minimum of risk. It was far too hot to skate it mid-day, of course, so we decided to come back the following morning instead when the temperatures would be far more manageable. In the meantime, she had some immediate skateboard upgrading to do. The local brick-and-mortar skate shop, Bordertown, was just a few blocks away. We went in to get some harder bushings for her brand-new Santa Cruz cruiser complete; the stock bushings were a wee bit too soft and unstable for her tastes. The salesman was immensely friendly and helpful; she really liked him a lot. So much so that she impulse-bought a couple pairs of Vans lo-tops before she left. Most skate shops would never see much of a market in the middle-aged mom demographic. Even fewer would take the time (or the energy) to walk a gal like Renee through the finer points of durometers, barrel bushings, and cup washers. But thankfully, Bordertown is a little bit smarter and more positively enlightened then most skate shops Renee has experienced thus far. And they’re winning. That quick $6-to-$60 upsell was swift, silent, and deadly evidence of that. My next two stops, the San Luis and Somerton skateparks, were largely for the benefit of Jeff Greenwood at Concrete Disciples. Both are agricultural towns that reside deep in the heart of boundless cotton fields that extend far over the distant horizon in every imaginable direction, just north of the US-Mexico border; again, skateboarding exists in the most unlikely of places sometimes. I got lost far too many times trying to find the parks, which gave Renee a few mad fits and spontaneous chuckles. The parks weren’t great. They weren’t even particularly good, if I had to be totally honest about it. But searching them out and documenting them for Jeffo made for a fun afternoon of hijinks and high adventure. “Renee really picked a great one this time. This hotel is the bee’s knees. We drove, walked, hiked, and skated for about fourteen hours straight today through the hottest and sandiest hell that I could have ever imagined, and we’re both sweaty, filthy, and bone tired. But our room features ice-cold air conditioning, crisp white linens, and by far the biggest bed that I’ve ever laid my eyes or my ass upon. Just outside our window, there’s an olympic-sized amoeba pool ringed by tall palm trees and gas grills. The sounds of splashing water and the smells of burning beef are far too tempting to resist. We came, we saw, we cheered, we changed straight into our swimming gear, and now we’re gonna run to that pool as fast as our tired feet can carry us.” – from my journal Our dinner destination was a swanky Italian joint in Yuma’s historic downtown district called “Da Boys”, a mafia-themed pizza and pasta emporium. The garlic-brushed and cheese-baked breadsticks came with both traditional and meat marinaras for our dipping and dining pleasure; we scarfed through several bowls of each, trying to determine which one was our favorite. By the time the pizzas materialized, we were stuffed… but they looked so damn delectible, we ate them up anyway. We tried to walk off the fat-and-carb overload by strolling around the city center, enjoying the nightlife and the history, but to no avail. That big ‘ol bed was beckoning loudly, and we were so exhausted that we weren’t in any real position to argue. The game is on. It’s Sunday morning, and Renee and I back at Kennedy Skatepark, gearing up to get down with some early-morning carving. There’s a low-hanging cloud cover that is keeping the sun’s rays at bay, and the temperatures remarkably mellow. Renee looks a little bit unsure about this whole inclined-wall business, but my enthusiasm is undeniably infectious. Within minutes, she’s following my intrepid lead and warily rolling into the ditch for the first time. She turns up and across the opposite wall, confidently cruises through the flat, and swiftly steers herself back up to the platform as if there’s nothing to it at all. What can I say? She had it in her the whole time. The gal is a natural. “The Hell Hole” is an apt nickname for the Yuma Territorial Prison. Being an inmate here must have super-sucked. There’s a long list of dubious “crimes” that could have landed your unfortunate ass here… polygamy, armed robbery, murder, or being a rebel-rousing union organizer among them… and very few ways out. Tuberculosis, heat exhaustion, exposure, and insanity claimed a number of lives here; the testimonial graveyard sits high on a bluff overlooking the meandering Colorado River. The steel-matrix reinforced concrete and stone cells held up to six men apiece sleeping on steel beds; a small steel bowl served as the communal toilet, and the daily diet consisted of simple bread and water. Yet this prison was considered the height of “humane” and “sanitary” for its time. I’d hate to see what the inhumane and unsanitary prisons looked like. Above: Guard tower, Yuma Territorial Prison, Yuma, Arizona. As I was busily buying up my usual piles of postcards for friends and family back home, I found one that depicted the gate guards at the Marine Corps Air Station. “Gate Guards”, if you don’t know, are those old airplanes that are mounted up on pedestals outside your local airports and military bases. MCAS Yuma seemed to have quite a quiver of ’em standing outside their gates. I asked the sales guy for directions to where I might find them in person. “Oh, they’re not there anymore. They’re long gone. Have been for years.” “Are you sure about that…?” This sounded like pure horseshit to me. “Sure am, sir!” “Are you positive…?!” Sorry. It still sounded like horseshit. “Sure as the day is long!” “Well, alrighty then”. I put the postcards back in their slat. That would end up being the biggest mistake that I’d make all weekend. Above: Ocean To Ocean Bridge, Yuma, Arizona. Above: Southern Pacific 2521, Yuma, Arizona. Above: The “stealth” shot, and the art. F-4B Phantom II, MCAS Yuma, Yuma, Arizona. The final mission of the day was to go check out the validity of our postcard salesman’s assertions over at the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. For some reason, I had my fair share of suspicions that this fine fellow might be completely full of catcrap; once an air base puts up a multi-million dollar “gate guard”, they are generally disinclined to take it down for almost any reason. As we drove over to MCAS Yuma, my suspicions proved to be immediately founded. The planes were there, alright, baking away in the desert sun, exactly as I expected to find them; you could see them standing proud at the gates from nearly a mile away, for pete’s sakes. F’n postcard salesmen. If you can’t trust them, then who in the hell can you trust in this world anymore…? Having found my favorite quarry of the bunch… an F-4B Phantom II… I casually approached the perimeter fence with Renee in tow, quietly stuck the lens of my camera through the chain link fence, and silently started to frame up and focus on my beloved subject for my shot. Just as I started to do this, I heard excited shouts of “Hey, sir! Sir! Sir…!!“ from far off to my far right, in the general vicinity of the guardhouse. I knew right away that those voices were probably directed at me, and that I was probably in some sort of trouble. That happens a lot in my life, so I’m getting pretty used to it by now. I just wasn’t sure exactly why I was in trouble this time around. But I was definitely about to find out. Renee and I were immediately detained by the Marine Corps. In the nicest of possible ways, of course. We certainly didn’t feel threatened or anything, just slightly perplexed. We were on a public sidewalk, after all, taking pictures of an obviously public display in a pretty public place. So, what in the good grace of God could be the problem…? The Marines kindly explained that the angle I had chosen to shoot my beloved Phantom also had the potential to divulge “potentially sensitive national secrets”. Put another way: it was the stuff behind the Phantom (that I hadn’t really noticed) that was causing Renee and I our immediate grief. Ahh. I see. Well, would our kind Marines consider maybe escorting me to a slightly less sensitive spot to take my touristy photos…? Is that a possibility, fellas…? Their initial answer was a pretty solid “No”. Renee immediately started to protest, but I held her at bay and encouraged her to be patient (and quiet); arguing with heavily armed guards is never a smart strategy. And besides, I could feel that my perpetual good fortune was about to kick in. Just then, somebody important… I’m not sure who he was, exactly, but he certainly seemed like somebody you really wouldn’t want to f’k with… came on over and asked the guards what in Sam Hell was going on. The Marines explained the situation, and Mr. Important quietly advised them (in hushed tones) that it might be in their better interests to escort me about the place. I have no idea why this happened, by the way; I’m certainly nobody “important” at all. But I got my escorts, and I got my way, so I definitely wasn’t gonna be the halfwitted dumbshit that raised any protests at this juncture. The Marines were remarkably fine chaps. They seemed a little hesitant at first… but once they asked me what my story was, they thawed up quite a bit. That story, by the way, is that I have traveled all over the country taking photos of F-4 Phantoms, and have amassed quite an impressive collection of ’em. So, naturally enough, anytime I travel and come across another one, that becomes my big mission of the day. Simply put: I’m a Phantom Phanatic. Apparently my guards were, too, because once they heard my story, they suddenly became a hell of a lot nicer, and infinitely more cooperative. I got a lot of great snapshots that I was pretty proud of. It was a really grand time, and I’d like to thank them profusely for not throwing me in the brig or the pen. The best shot of them all, however, was the very first one that I had silently taken through the fence. Thankfully, nobody had heard the shutter click in all the hubbub; if they had, my camera might well have been confiscated by Uncle Sam Himself. And it was a great photo, definitely the best of the whole bunch. So, yeah, I was justifiably proud of my well-honed, punk-rock sleuthing skills. Quiet cameras are still the best stealth measures that money can buy.
AJ Kohn has been running The Skateboard Academy of Philadelphia for a few years now. As usual, I’ve been carefully watching what he’s up to from afar. I make a habit of watching AJ quite carefully at all times. Surely, you’re asking yourself “why” right about now. Here’s why: because he’s always right on the cutting edge of what skateboarding needs, and needs today, to grow and to move forward in a positive manner. That’s the sort of far-forward-thinking that I wish the rest of the industry would take up from time to time. But for AJ, that’s an everyday mission. As AJ has carefully polished and perfected his newest project, I felt like the time had finally come to introduce it to the world at large. World, meet AJ Kohn, forward thinker par excellence. Mr. Kohn, please take a few moments out of your busy day to tell us all about what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it: The Pied Pipers of Skateboarding The idea to have a “skateboard academy” stemmed from running multiple contest series, skating, and demoing at Love Park and throughout the United States in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Everywhere I went, kids wanted to learn how to skate. And I was one of the only people who was willing to teach them. These weren’t isolated incidents in my neighborhood, city, or state; they literally happened everywhere as I traveled the nation with the United Skateboard Association (the Beast of the East/Grom Series tours). A good friend of mine, Rodney Watkins, was also experiencing the same phenomenon everywhere he went, so its true beginnings were out on the streets and in the neighborhoods that we visited and skated. We started moving towards the concept of The Skateboard Academy as an organized venture in 2006, when I organized a skateboard club called “Gear for GROMS” at Southward Community Center in South Philadelphia. That is where the idea really started to become more flushed out, and became a viable reality. Here’s our instructor, Mr. Kohn, with a classic casper. Mark Cline photo. Humble Beginnings At first, our space was a wooden half-basketball-court sized “multipurpose room”; we were granted the use of that tiny space 1 day a week, for 2 hours per day.
The center was looking for something innovative to engage the youth in more physical activity, and The Skateboard Academy was on the schedule on a week-to-week basis to prove the concept. Once they saw the level of interest and how the kids responded to us, we were given a schedule of 10 kids per 10 weeks, and we provided this service- free of charge, for 6 years straight- at this location. While at this location, we (myself and other volunteers) attracted the attention of several non-profits that started to see and understand the concept of what we were doing, and helped us not only acquire new locations, but also the basic funding from which to run our programs. Initially, all of our “seed capital” was straight out of our pockets; our contacts in the industry helped us make it into a reality. One of the groms, Shamsaddin Saalam, blunt to fakie. AJ’s raisin’ ’em right. Mark Cline photo. The Ball Starts Rolling
As time rolled on, we started getting small write-ups in local neighborhood newspapers, and ultimately we got the attention of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department. The non-profits we worked with took us as far as they could, so when Parks and Recreation approached us to do a 4 stop contest series called “The Philly Cup Series” in 2012, we jumped at the opportunity (and the challenge) of meeting (and exceeding) their expectations. We kept the contests tightly run, professional, and family oriented, offering four divisions (12 and under, 13-15, 16-18, and Open) to see what level of talent existed, and where there were gaps and potential outreach opportunities to under-served skaters. Parks and Recreation was very community- and family-focused, so they wanted to keep it as accessible to everyone to participate as possible, while also serving as a vehicle for the kids to get a healthy lunch and adequate hydration throughout the day. This approach really brought the people in the neighborhoods out to support the youth, and the development of free, public skateparks in those areas. It’s been 5 years since we started the contest series. Nowadays, we visit 5 neighborhoods per season, rotating through different neighborhoods each year. As the contest series has grown, developed, and matured, we’ve also added 8-and-under, and over-40 divisions. Arjun Shah, stacked-obstacle vertical bean plant. Mark Cline photo. “One location in particular, Rizzo Rink, had a day camp of 120+ kids… and by the end of the summer, everyone in the camp had tried skateboarding at least once. And each day I was there, I had a group of about 90 (or so) kids that would regularly participate. The response was that intense…!” Good News, Bad News It was the success of the contest series that proved to the Parks and Recreation Department that this was something that would be beneficial to the neighborhoods. In 2013, the city hired me to run the first official Philadelphia skateboard summer camp programming which was made up of only 4 willing locations to host skateboarding camps/clinics. I would do a demonstration for the entire day camp, and then ask the spectators how many of them wanted to learn how to skateboard. At the time, I traveled with 12 complete skateboards and 12 helmets in one of those fold-out shopping carts. However, once on site, I was finding that I had to frequently split the kids into groups or sessions to accommodate all of the demand. One location in particular, Rizzo Rink, had a day camp of 120+ kids… and by the end of the summer, everyone in the camp had tried skateboarding at least once. And each day I was there, I had a group of about 90 (or so) kids that would regularly participate. The response was that intense…! The following year, I received a call from the head of programming for the city of Philadelphia. She started the conversation by stating, rather abruptly, “I have good news, and some bad news”. I immediately felt a pit in my stomach developing, and was hoping and praying that it wasn’t over. I did all that I could, I could see the potential, and I was horrified that it might all come crashing to a screeching halt. “The good news is that we want you back for another year!” That was great! But then, I waited… “The bad news is that we have over 50 recreation centers who want your programming!” This was the best case scenario that I could have ever imagined! But then the question became, how in the world would we be able to facilitate that amount of demand? It ended up being surprisingly easy to accomplish. The city hires close to 1,000 youth workers a season to help with everything from working at pools, to maintaining park trails. So, to help alleviate my manpower problem, they added skateboarding to the official roster of summer offerings. What that meant, was that we were able to actually hire 6 youth workers (and 1 other adult worker) who would teach and develop our skateboarding programs at 40 centers citywide, and be sanctioned seasonal city employees. Additionally, the city had a budget for equipment. With that funding at our disposal, we were able to purchase 25 complete decks and helmets for the program in our first year. I provided all of the obstacles; I had previously built a basic, portable skate park for demos, as well as for my former “Gear for GROMS” programs that could transported, set up, and skated almost anywhere. AJ cares about the kids. Imagine what this industry could accomplish if we got behind these sorts of programs all across America…? Shamsaddin Saalam, acid drop. Mark Cline photo. Growing Into an Indoor Facility Each year, we continue to grow and tweak our offerings to make them better, to offer more options, to serve a wider audience, and to facilitate growth. In the summer of 2016, the city allowed us to hire 2 more adult head councilors and up to 8 youth workers, so that we could offer 2 full weeks of skateboard camps in addition to our rotating roster of 40 clinic sites, which is now made up of over 75 locations citywide. The addition, the skateboard summer camps brought students from all over the city to a centralized location to learn, make new friends, and have fun through skateboarding. Our limit was 50 students per week, and we were totally booked with waiting lists for both weeks within hours of making the announcement. Needless to say, we had to increase the amount of on-hand equipment to 50 completes and helmets to accommodate everyone, just in case they didn’t have their own equipment. The city also invested in its own portable and modular ramps; with the help of a handful of locals, Ramp Tech, and a few grants, we were able to purchase an additional system to facilitate the growing student base.
As soon as the camps were over, parents started asking for a safe place to bring their kids to continue learning the new skills they learned, and to utilize all that new equipment that they were suddenly buying at their local skate shops. At the time, I was working on my building my own events space with some friends and a modular training facility that I would teach private lessons at from time to time. We had 6 students at first who were really into it, so we started doing weekend lesson/sessions. As word spread, it grew pretty quickly; we now have between 12 to 20 students per lesson session as we offer two, 3- hour lesson session times each day. Additionally, we also run endemic and non- endemic workshops/events, skateboard birthday parties, et cetera. We recently added a healthy snack bar, and we’re currently building an in- house skate shop that only brings in brands that support what we do in the city with our camps, the Philly Cup Series, and other community engagement. Arjun Shah, nosepick. Mark Cline photo. The Results So Far: At this time, we are serving over 2,000 youth each year in the city of Philadelphia in the summer alone. Many of them are new skateboarders!
We are running skateboard summer camp programming for the city of Philadelphia, Roslyn PA, and at a sleep-away camp in Maryland, as well as clinics for the Girl Scouts of PA this season. We are able to hire a dozen seasonal workers in the city, including many youth workers who we also train in civic duty and trade skills such as basic carpentry, masonry, design, and painting to help us keep up and improve our area skate facilities citywide. We also hired 4 additional head instructors for our other camps outside of the city. This year is also the pilot year for our first-ever traveling summer camp that is based out of our indoor facility, which travels the local metro area. This coming school year, we are making a return to after-school skateboard programming with backing from parks and recreation to hire and train workers to manage the programs and building/storage of our 5 additional modular portable park systems. In the fall into the beginning of winter we will be running our popular Thrashing Thursday night community lesson / sessions and Ladies Nights that bring girls and women of all ages out to skateboard, roller skate and hula hoop the night away in a safe and supportive environment. The Reason: The reason why Rodney and I started doing this… and continue to do this… is that there was a void in educational, family-oriented skateboard programming for the youth and adults. What this ultimately facilitates is the growth of everything that is in or around skateboarding, and those who participate. I see so many fruitless debates of “what skateboarding is”: some say it’s art, others say it’s a lifestyle or a sport… but the ultimate truth is that it is all of the above! It is a way to bring to bring individuals of all creeds, colors, economics etc., and people of different communities together to strive for something more. And it all comes down to what you do, and bring to the table as an individual. We’re fostering the free exchange of ideas, and common understanding through a piece of wood and four urethane wheels. This is why we do it. For the love of community, and for the love of skateboarding. You can see what AJ’s up to on the world wide web at theskateboardacademy.com. If you (or your brand) would like to make a contribution toward helping this noble cause, AJ Kohn can be reached at email@example.com.
Slowly, but surely, the tour is getting underway. There is, after all, a method to my obvious madness. And luckily for me, the madness is paying off.
My biggest concern over this whole “Summer Tour” was, beyond everything else, my knees. My poor, aging, painfully disintegrating knees that my doctors would love nothing more than to slice open, cut out, repair, replace, and bankrupt me over. They’ve wanted to do this since 1995 (or so). Thus far, they have been unsuccessful in their attempts to persuade me that my money is best funnelled into their pockets. As you can see, my stubbornness knows almost no bounds. Twenty-two years I’ve held them at bay. And counting.
That understood, I had to move very, very wisely, lest I do any more permanent damage than I already have. Think big, start small. Begin in your own backyard, and radiate outward from there. My itinerary reflected this cautious approach: the beginning of my tour started right here in Phoenix, where I could “get my feet wet”, so to speak. But which is really code for “breaking my knees in, as slowly and as painlessly as possible.”
“My backyard”, however, is a certifiable concrete oasis. Just look at these pictures…! Can you freaking believe it…?! I can, because I’ve personally skated them. All of them. And I can tell you this: it hurts. Very, very painfully so. But it hurts really, really good. If there’s any kind of pain I can suffer happily, it’s the skateboarding kind.
This weekend was pretty typical of good things to come. There were twenty-two skateparks on my Metro Hit List. Yeah, you read that right: twenty-two skateparks. My God… back in 2008, I had to drive across two-thirds of Indiana to skate twenty-two skateparks; in Phoenix today, I barely have to drive across the damn valley. That’s insane. There was no way in hell I was gonna get to them all; Phoenix Metro’s gonna take me a solid month, all by itself, to fully cover and document. Overly ambitious, it was. I’m always guilty of being bold and brash, if nothing else.
Of the differences that I’ve noted between my 2008 Tour, and my current 2016 Tour thus far, that’s probably the most obvious one that stands out: just how many free, concrete, good-quality skateboard parks have been built in the last decade-or-so. Life is so awesome right now. It’s a great time to be a skateboarder. Even a fat, broken, and aging one.
Everything that’s poured out of concrete around here seems really huge. That’s a little bit startling to the lackluster-skilled old geezer in me. Rio Vista and Litchfield were downright scary; those massive beasts seemed like they were fifteen feet tall in the shallow end, for Pete’s sakes. And the “street” obstacles looked like something out of The Dew Tour, but strung out on steroids. The one thing I haven’t seen much of yet, are smaller terrains geared towards beginners. These skatepark designers and builders just go right for the gusto; I can only infer that their intent is to raise a nation of mini-me Danny Ways out here.
Hermoso Park here in Phoenix, and Hudson Park in Tempe were a little more kid-and-geezer-friendly. Those were fun (and memorable) diversions, because I still had the meager skills required to actually skate them semi-competently. Hudson was one of the very few “prefab” skateparks that I came across… I believe they were Woodward-branded ramps… that were put together so tightly that the resulting skatepark was actually a little bit hard to skate. But, not impossible. I did a frontside rock here that has to be the fastest frontside rock that I’ve ever slapped in my life; the board barely tapped the coping before I was turning out of it. I had to: the next ramp was just a few feet away, and I didn’t want to be caught totally off guard and wilson right onto my fat ‘ol ass.
Hermoso was a concrete mini-oasis that featured an extremely novel embankment that started at about three feet (or so) tall, and tapered all the way down to curb height. It was a slappy heaven on the short end, while the tall end made even stock tricks (like rock ‘n rolls) a real accomplishment. A feat that I did actually accomplish, by the way. And that I’m pretty damn proud of, to boot.
Apparently, the only tricks I can do that are worth writing home about, are rock ‘n rolls. But I’m fine with that. As Andy Mac once famously said, “As long as I’ve got frontside rocks, I’ll be okay”. I guess that means I’m okay, right…?
91 West was a pleasing diversion. That’s a rare, indoor skatepark out on the west side at 91st Avenue (hence, the name). They have a small, wood-and-Skatelite oasis that features… wait for it… air conditioning! And hot damn, it’s cold in there! But they also have a fun-as-hell little 3′-by-12′ mini ramp that’s built like a brick shithouse. You hardly have to pump it at all, it’s so damn quick. Great for dusting off the ‘ol bag of tricks (which I desperately needed to do) without killing yourself (which I desperately needed to avoid).
Ironically, a few of their ramps actually have cut-up little pieces of Skatelite that creates the sensation of skating over (very smooth) bricks. That’s pretty neat. I had to give them a big hand for creative thinking (and flawless construction) on that one. And the owner and the staff of the place were all really, really friendly and accommodating. Everything was super clean, and impeccably executed. I was impressed.
Phoenix is a real skateboarding paradise. Seriously. The skaters here – especially the older guys (which there are zillions of) are super cool. They’re personable, fun-loving enthusiasts. My kind of crowd. The funny thing is, I still don’t see too many skaters out and about in my travels. I’m blaming that on the weather, though, for the moment; it’s still averaging highs well into the 90s on most days here in the valley, even in late September. We can probably thank Global Warming for that; once again, we broke the record for most 100+ degree days here in Phoenix this year. A record we seem to break every single year these days.
I’ve been carefully documenting each of these parks, and sending my diligently-composed panoramics and write-ups over to Jeff at Concrete Disciples on a weekly basis. I think he might just be a little bit surprised at how much I’m getting done out here on the road. At 44 years old. And in “retirement” mode.
As for me and my skate-tour ambitions, well, I’m just getting warmed up. Pun totally intended.
I’m J.J. Hulsey. I grew up in Detroit, MI. Green Bay, WI. And both sides of Kansas City.
I create one of a kind artworks that are eye catching, fun, hand drawn/painted, and have more soul than Bobby Womack when he is lonely! (Ok, maybe I took that a little far!)
I’ve worked as a mechanic for 10 years while also producing art. I tattooed for the last 3 years, and I now want to get into the graphic design field.
As far back as I can remember I’ve been into skateboarding, graffiti, and hot rods. I’ve had works shown in several local shows in the K.C. area which lead me to my tattoo adventures.. Found out some of the guys I worked for, were into a life that was totally not where I wanted to be. Not to say that I didn’t learn great things from them, I just wanted to go in a different direction.
Basically, I just want to be where my heart is, and that’s skateboarding and art! Through my young days as a punk rocker, I’ve always believed in the D.I.Y. aspect of skater owned and operated companies. So I’m not in it for the money, but who wouldn’t want to be able to make a living doing what they love!
Contact info: JJ Hulsey
Publisher’s Note – it’s easy to say “support your local skate shop.” It’s quite another to really get behind those folks working tirelessly to keep skateboarding moving forward by nurturing the next generation of riders. Joseph Burnham, the founder and proprietor of Kansas City, Missouri’s Burning Spider Stoke Company is a beacon to skaters world-wide. He’s also a great person. Remember “stoke” is not a commodity you can get online Stoke is a bi-product of skateboarding. And sometimes you gotta BUY the product at the LOCAL skate shop! We want to share skateboarding with as many people as possible. We love everything about it. There is instant feedback with skateboards. If you screw up. You get off balance. You fall. You then chose. You could just opt out. “Nope. Not my game. Not my kind of pain.” You can get back on, destined to fall again. “Yeah. I can do this. I want to do this. I have healed, and now I am stronger.” It is that decision almost every time we step on a board, or fall off. When we finish a session. When a good friend gets injured, sometimes bad. So if not for the support of each other in this otherwise completely mundane and often brutal world? Then why not devote that level of dedication to every decision we make? From the food we put in our bodies. The people we associate with. How we treat ourselves, and others. Where we spend our money in our community. How we invest our time and energy? It is with this we wish to fill our day. It is our absolute delight that we are able to serve such a rad community of people. From the companies that tolerate our perhaps bizarre system of keeping it all together, barely. To the people in our day to day that we get to encourage and watch grow. We have learned so much in these five years, and we are just getting warmed up. We instigate as much skateboarding as we possibly can, through as many channels as we can. We aren’t saying we are the best, only that in what our community has allowed us to build with their contribution, is a lot of fun, as well as rewarding. As we get things continually smoother and we learn a bit more there is no telling what kind of shenanigans are going to be going down. If you spent a month with us, it would all start off with either a first Sunday, or a First Friday. Photo: Joe B. In the case of June’s 2017 layout we would be talking First Fridays down at the Cross Roads. This is more of a Kansas City tradition really, but it gets us out of the shop early on a Friday night and we get to skate with our peoples. First Fridays is a gathering of all sorts of tribes. There are art galleries that have shows. Small makers collaboratives. Street performers. You name it. Oh and us. There is a really sweet free ride hill that cuts down one side of the whole shindig. Despite the sometimes heavy traffic we get in some pretty solid lines. We get to demonstrate what it is we can do. The crowd can get pretty pumped up so this is a lot of fun. Not to mention a great way to meet new people and give them a good example of the possibilities that skateboarding can offer. First Sunday brings the Indian Creek Push Trail series. This is now it’s second year and the band of regulars that push it are The Push Scouts. We have 3 distances someone can push. 25, 50, and 75 mile plans. Most of it is on trails, but the latter is a pretty sweet early start that rips through town. We have teamed up with the Shralpers Union’s local chapter to help with logistics and support, as well as Seismic, and Ultimate Directions for some gear at the end of the year. We keep track of our times on the trail to measure each persons progress. At the end of the year we present awards for Best 25 Mile Time, Best 50 Mile Time, and Best 75 Mile time. We also have a category for Most Improved in each of those segments. Mainly we just tell stories about all of the goings on on the trail and so forth. This has built a community that takes on a Father’s Day weekend event called the Knob Noster Knasty. This is a 69 mile per day two day fiesta smashed into a camping trip. You know we have a strong Shralpers Union Chapter so support is on point, planned out, and ready. It is a sunny little push filled with road kill, no see-um speed killing rocks, and a real nice challenge. There may not be any mountains to push up, but the uphill pushes go on forever, and the downhill sections are too short. Second Sunday we host our Stoke Clinics at Kessler Park. It is closed to cars on the weekends, and features are quarter mile downhill section, as well as a nice flat area. This makes it ideal to teach a really broad range of different skill levels and styles of skateboarding. We kick things off with a optional two hour push along Cliff Drive’s section of road that runs through the park for people wanting to build themselves up for the Indian Creek Trail or long distance pushing in general. Then at 12pm we bring as the shop’s collection of boards to the bottom of the hill and start teaching people what it is they want to learn. Photo: Joe B. Most of the boards were provided by Loaded Longboards, with wheels by Orangatang. The local chapter of the Shralpers Union teamed up with us to complete the decks the rest of the way. So people don’t even need to own a board if they want to try several different styles. We teach people from “never stood on a board before”, to working with our local group of regular riders to improve whatever it is they are wanting to improve. The huge range of riding styles, the huge range of riding skill levels, all the different styles of boards we bring out, and the 3 years of teaching these all come together to hopefully give people the best start to as far as they want to take it education we can possible offer. This location also is also used to host our annual, for the most part, event call King of Kessler. Which is the center event of a three event weekend including a swap meet (Third Friday), and our local Green Skate event (the Sunday After). King of Kessler is a triathlon of skateboarding styles. We kick it all off with a 5 mile push, then a Downhill race, and finish with a Free Ride segment. Each rider gets points for participation in each of the segments and how they finished. At the end of the day, the rider with the most points is crowned King of Kessler. The groms get to be compete for Prince, and the Shralpers Union keep on eye out for the most stoked high five giving person at the event so that we can hand them the Noel Korman Award. Third Fridays bring us back to the shop for our Swap Meets! We invite our community to hang out with us and buy, sell, trade their old gear like we had to do back before the internets. This was a bit of a scary leap for us, but as time has went on the benefits to us as a shop and more importantly the benefits to the community at large have kept these things going. I have had a few shop owners raise their eyebrow on this one for sure, but just bear with me for a few sentences. When I have customers that come in and they are looking for a set up at a lower price, those dudes are on a budget. Granted many of those new or budget skaters may not understand all that goes into a board and how price paid for a board can have an impact on quality. If they are on a budget, and it’s a firm one, and I don’t have a set up that is quality for the price those people will walk. It isn’t money the shop was getting anyways. Those customers would go to a discount internet shop or some corporate big box shop and then purchase a set up that is most likely not a very safe or fun option. Photo: Caleb Scott With the Swap Meets we can offer the budget or brand new skater a safe, quality, option. This takes old gear out of the B/S/T groups and on the road being used. Typically the person will then have budget dollars left over to get their used purchase fixed up with fresh grip. Most of the times fresh bearings, hardware, and other bits and pieces that otherwise would not have been purchased at all. The amount of information people get at the Swap Meet is huge as well. Instead of just one passionate person talking about skateboards, we have a huge chunk of community with different perspectives putting in their two cents as well. Let’s not forget the big thing for the sellers. Those dudes, peoples, our people get cash as well! Does that come back to the shop instantly? Nope not all the time, a lot of the time, but not all the time. That is ok though. We aren’t here to take all the money. We are here to keep our community as happy, as healthy as they allow themselves to be, and equipped with the best information and gear we can reasonably get. We want to curate our community to include as many different styles of skateboarding as we can possible facilitate. The rest of the month is typically now filled up with events from neighboring communities. Mostly being hosted by people that came to our clinics and other events when they started. These people are now stepping up and adding value and diversity to our community in ways that we can not do by ourselves. When the weekend isn’t filled up with something “official”, we like to get onto our local community group and get some sessions going somewheres somehow. Photo: Joe B. We take a special interest in the growing number of articles foretelling the doom and eventual irrelevance of the “Brick and Mortar” skate shop. We see the need for them increasing. Are we able to keep up with the internet guys? Nope. Our purpose is different, our effects can be felt in a different way. As the world gets faster and satisfaction comes at the speed of a clicking button, face to face real touching hugging feeling is lost. Getting to teach one on one with direct contact and the look of real enjoyment and sheer delight when you can coach someone to the right movement in skateboarding is like nothing you can find behind a screen. We are the guardians of where our industry is heading. The way in which we choose to serve our communities, the products we bring in and introduce to our friends. The causes we put our energy and focus into, and the manner we present them to our little corners of a shrinking world are all things that you and I control. Is it easy? Nope. It is down right heart-breaking work sometimes. We believe in what we do, and we aim to cultivate a ideal that with enough hard work, persistence, and love, all things can be built, and sustained in a way that anyone can be supported. We love the brilliant people we get to see on the day to day, our customers and riders. We love the vendors we get to introduce to our people. We do this because we love it. You want to know what the world needs? More skateboarding. If more people skateboarded, we wouldn’t have time to fight, be angry, and say stupid hurtful things on the internet. We would be so tired from a day filled with as much skateboarding as we could get, we would just fall asleep. Next day’s intent, facilitate more skateboarding, whether that is through a job or whatever the end intent would be to skate. Mix . Rinse. Repeat. That is our ideal day. That is our ultimate goal that we work towards. The rest, takes care of itself. Don’t believe me. It can’t work. Talk to me again in another 5 years. Shralp It. If you find yourself in KC – go visit and tell them CW sent you! Burning Spider Stoke Company1603 W 39th St
Kansas City, Missouri, MO 64111(816) 898-0122
This week’s submission is American High, a group out of Sacramento, Ca. Their March 18th, 2017 release “Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement” is a fluid and rhythmic trip. The production quality on this album is top-notch, having been recorded at the infamous Pus Cavern Studios in Sacto, the same studio where the 7 Seconds albums were created. ‘Bones in the Attic’ is a great road trip/ hanging out with your Bae type of album. While flowing through you’ll catch nods to Slightly Stoopid, R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven… a pretty cool mix in my opinion.
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!