I met up with Mike Jones, owner of AZHIAZIAM Skate and Surf Shop when I visited the notorious Jonny Miller up in Morro Bay. As you will soon discover, Mike has parlayed a terrific name into a retailing success story.
You have a pretty cool background – a surfer who went into the Navy. You wind up in Japan as a biological warfare specialist. How do the two relate?
Coming from a long line of veterans in our family, I decided I would like to serve also, so I figured the Navy would be the best choice, being a surfer and wanting to travel the World and catch waves. It was a four year surf trip, where I worked very hard for months at a time, then I would find myself in some far off land surfing obscure waves in the middle of now where. I was very lucky that I was able to bring my surf and skateboards everywhere we went.
How did your shop come about?
I never planned on having a shop, I started making AZHIAZIAM stickers, then people started asking for shirts and hats, so I made shirts and hats. After about a year of selling the stuff out of my van and bedroom (people would actually come to my house and shop in my bedroom, I had a couple racks of clothes that I screen printed all of the clothes in my bedroom also.) Over time it started getting weird, people I didn’t know showing up asking to buy stuff, sometimes late at night and randomly during the day. I realized I needed an actual spot to sell the stuff so I could have my privacy back.
We know that Moro Bay has an incredible skateboard museum and is the near the home of Jonny Miller. What else is cooking in your town?
The hills and the waves! We have a ton of good surf here and a couple of really fun hills the local guys like to bomb. Other than than, great skate parks all around, Los Osos, Cayucos and San Luis Obispo all have insane places to skate.
Online shopping is continuously growing and its impacting many shops. What do you feel independent board shops need to get customers excited?
Keep it fresh and original, if you are buying the same brands that everyone carries online, your piece of the pie is small. If you have a cool local brand in your area, try to snag it and pump it up!
I have had the pleasure of knowing Ron (aka “Fatboy”) for over a decade and a half. At one time he ran a company called Longboards By Fatboy. Ron and I caught up at Surf Expo this past January. Just recently he told me about a new venture he had cooking. An email led to an hour long conversation about the industry and I thought “time for an interview!”
What do you have cooking Ron?
I’m currently working with a new longboard company called Jersey Boards. It’s a line of entry level price point longboards with real features that even a seasoned skater can appreciate. We have pintails, drop downs, drop throughs at a price that is competitive with mass market but with skate shop quality.
I worked very hard with the factory to make real boards, not just crap you pick out of a catalogue and slap a skull graphic on. The woods are good, they hold up to my fat butt – one of my requirements. The trucks turn, something 90% of the boards in this price range fail to do. I found a cool RKP design and we went back and forth DOZENS of times over the bushings. They kept fighting me that I was asking for too soft of a durometer, but I hate when I see people bailing when they should just be turning. And it’s especially important for girls and younger skaters who just don’t have the body mass to make most price point boards turn all that effectively. And for full figure folks such as myself, we can tighten the trucks.
And let’s not forget the wheels – big and soft, so they grip and roll over everything. That’s what new skaters want. They’re not pulling 50ft standies yet. Most of the time it’s transportation or getting the stoke of carving. I put a lot of sweat into these boards, I actually rode prototypes which most product managers at this level don’t/can’t do. You should see the faces on the factory reps when I’d grab a board and take off through the parking lot in a suit! I’m really proud of these boards, in fact I took a couple with me on a skate safari to Albuquerque. Jersey Boards have been ridden at Indian School!
Why do you believe it’s so difficult to convince buyers to see act upon new trends in skateboarding?
After all, you knew about longboarding many years before retailers finally picked up on the idea
The problem with most buyers is that they have someone to answer to above them, and those people like to play it safe. They tend to buy RE-actively instead of PRO-actively. They will wait till they are sure that something is more than just trending before they commit.
Mass market buyers tend to be 1-2 years behind what may pop up on our radar. The buyers go to the trade shows to see what’s hot so they are at least exposed to what they may be looking to carry next year. They are becoming much more savvy these days – they actually know who Tony Hawk is. Regular skateboard sales are very flat and have been for the past 3 or 4 years. But longboards are trending, especially cruising and DH/Freeride. I don’t know that they will overtake regular skateboards anytime soon, but they are no longer the buck toothed red headed stepchild of the skate world. This mostly applies to the mass market, but even in the skate shop world I’m starting to see at least a few longboards in shops these days whereas a few years ago I would be laughed out of most skate shops by even mentioning the “L” word.
What are some of the other challenges facing cultivating new ideas within action sports?
Well I think with current media and the instantaneousness of life, people have kinda seen it all and are a little numb to traditional action sports – unless it’s a crazy extreme example. Oh, a backflip on a BMX bike….borrrrring. Back to back face high McTwists…………gee, what’s on Velocity? I see it on Facebook, friends that don’t do action sports only send me something when it’s waaaay over the top – like Roger Hickey breaking 100mph or some triple backflip on a motorcycle. Because they’ve seen the other stuff already and they’re no longer impressed. I mean, did you ever think a 900 would illicit yawns in our lifetime?
We’ve witnessed SO many cutting edge action sports milestones, and yet they keep coming, that envelope gets pushed and pushed. Whew! I’m so glad I’m not 15 – I’m scared to death of a 10 step! I just about wet my pants when I looked down the drop in on the Mega Ramp at Camp Woodward – I don’t have the stones for that kind of commitment. And yet there’s little kids tearing them up.
I watched a documentary on freestyle motocross and it’s the same there – these guys are crippling themselves to be competitive. I work with a bunch of guys who race DH Mt bikes, their GoPro footage makes me lightheaded. Hey, I’ve ridden bikes down ski slopes for years, but the trails and drops these guys hit on the race circuit are insane. I’d be afraid to walk down some of them. And one of them does Urban DH which is racing down city streets – down rickety staircases, ramps that launch them 20 feet up a wall where they bounce off and continue down the course, huge gaps. They even race in shopping malls – down the escalators, over jumps that throw them 30 feet up, and they do backflips.
If you ran the skateboard world, what would you do?
Gee, THAT’S a loaded question! Well there’s always that conundrum – do you wanna make skateboarding popular and more mainstream and get everyone involved? Or do you wanna keep it underground and just play skateboards with the fun people? Obviously the former makes more sense financially – more skaters keeps me in hookers and blow. The latter makes me nostalgic and all warm and fuzzy, back when you cheered each other on to get better. The real essence of skateboarding, in my opinion.
Then there’s the whole rivalry thing between the various disciplines under the skateboard header. Can’t we all just get along? Meh, it doesn’t work in real life, why would it work in the skate world? And as skating gets bigger, that divide will just get worse. Remember when you were a kid and the neighborhood kids would play whiffle ball or whatever? It was just for fun. Sure there was smack talking, but it was good natured and you would genuinely be happy for that kid that finally got a hit or made a good catch. Then you started playing Little League and fun wasn’t good enough.
The first mountain bike race I ever did was in the 80’s. It was a couple dozen people and the prizes were tires or gloves or whatever. I remember one guy got a flat and like 3 of us stopped in the middle of the race to help him fix it. Then we kinda staggered our restart afterwards to “make it fair”. These days there is doping in races at the amateur level.
If I could wave a magic wand, I’d make all skaters understand this silly progression and division crap and learn from it and instead go back to that stoke, that first time you landed a trick or went faster than you thought you could or even just went down the street and didn’t fall. That feeling and how cool it was. Now impart that upon all skaters regardless of discipline. Instead of hating, accept and support each other.
We’re skaters dammit, not everyone can say that. 90% of the world can’t push a board down the street and glide without ending up in the ER. It’s a pretty cool brother/sisterhood and we should treat it as such. I’ve met some amazing people through skateboarding, many became very close friends, and that is because we all have that fire inside and we all saw it in each other.
What is it about long distance skateboarding that gets you fired up?I grew up street skating in the 80’s and 90’s as a kid. I always felt a personal connection with my skateboard, whether I was pushing around town to skate spots or shredding in a skate park with friends. I always got this unexplainable feeling of freedom on the skateboard. As I got older the short board was put away and I stopped skating. I joined the Military and after that became a firefighter. Then all of a sudden in my mid 30s I discovered the Longboard and instantly fell in love with it. The nostalgia and feeling I use to get as a kid riding my skateboard all returned to me. I used my longboard every day to commute around Miami Beach and was approached one day by another longboarder who told me they where hosting the first every outlaw push race “South Beach Bomb”. I entered that event and won it. I was hooked! I looked for other races and found the Skate IDSA was the sanctioning body for legit organized races and started competing. Competition and love for riding got me in shape but I realized that distance skating was bringing so much more to my life that just that. There was mental and spiritual aspect to it all and it came in my life at the right time. I found that skating distance gave me time to think, disconnect and meditate. It was the perfect recipe for getting the stress out of my life in a healthy way. The last thing that really gets me fired up is the friendships and people I have met doing this sport. I away said that the recipe that makes up a Distance Skater is 1 part Skater, 1 part Athlete and 1 part free spirit hippy. So the pusher you meet out there are very cool and influential to say the least. Video from CNN profile: What is some of your advice for those skaters intrigued by what you do but are a little overwhelmed?So first off I would tell them to just come out to the event and have fun. Experience it, take it all in and ride to your hearts content. The only pressure at 24 Hour Ultra Skate is the pressure you put on your self. Pick an easy goal like making 100 Mile Club or the 150 Mile Club and grow from your experience. NEVER BE AFRAID TO FAIL! The best lessons in life are from the ones you did not accomplish. Its makes it that much sweeter when your get determined and come back stronger next year. It shows you that you worked hard and eared it. How the hell did you skate over 300 miles in 24 hours? I mean that’s not human, is it?!My peers starting calling me “La Maquina” The Machine, due to my uncanny ability to hold the same pace from start to finish in a 24-hour event. But I hurt, tire and cry like any human during this endeavor. It’s all just happening on the inside. I truly thought that the 300-mile barrier would not be broken for a few more years. I have set the 24-hour record for the last 4 years and I felt I was reaching my limits at 285 miles. I was sure that one of the “Youngblood’s” as I call the next generation of Distance Skaters, would reach it in a few years because they are growing and pushing this sport by leaps and bounds. But to my astonishment this year we did the unthinkable and 3 riders surpassed the 300-mile mark. Eric “Danger” Palmer hit 305.1 in Miami Ultra. Rick “The Dutch Destroyer” Pronk completed 307.3 at the Dutch Ultra this summer and I currently hold the World record at 309.5 in 24 hours.To put it in perspective, you have to skate at 13 miles an hour non-stop for 24 hours to hit those distances. And some how we pull it off. If anyone is interested in checking out the world rankings for all the 24 hour ultras that happen around the world head over to Pavedwave.org and check it out. We call Pavedwave the bible of Distance Skating and if you hit the 200-mile club in a sanctioned Ultra you get ranked. Tell us the craziest experience you’ve had while pushing in an ultra marathon.Truthfully the craziest stuff in Ultra goes on between you ears. Its just as much a mental endeavor as it is a physical one. Somewhere around the 18th hour when it’s the darkest and hardest part of the night you mind will start to mess with you. The skeletons come out of the closet in the forms of self-doubt, questions of why, and the thoughts of just quitting. Your mind will tell you anything it can to try and convince you to stop. So battling your mind along with exhaustion and sleep deprived hallucinations can really bring you to tears. But if you stay the course, dig deep within yourself and find the resolve to make it to sunrise the next day, the Sun rays peeking over the horizon will melt all those emotions away and you’ll realize nothing but glory awaits when the clock strikes 24 hours and you have eared your passage as an Ultra Skater! Next up: the 2017 Ultraskate in Miami.
For a number of Canadian skaters who grew up during the 1970’s, seeing a shot of a fellow countryman in SkateBoarder Magazine was a huge deal. Alan Harrison was one of the those skaters who excelled at both freestyle and vert. His ability got him the attention of the SkateBoarder staff on a number of occasions.
I had a chance to meet up with Alan back in May at the world freestyle championships at the Cloverdale Fair.
1. How did you wind up in SkateBoarder Mag back in the late 1970¹s
During the summer of the 1979 Canadian Championships, the late great Rick Ducommun of GNC skates (now Skull Skates ) brought up Tony Alva and Steve Olson to wow the Canadian audience and crank up the intensity at Seylynn Skatepark’s ” Expression Session”. I grew up in North Van and Seylynn was my 2nd home. There were a lot of awesome skaters, loud music and great energy there that day; especially with TA , Olson, and SkateBoarder Magazine’s photographer Jim Goodrich. Most of the intense energy was at the bowl where we had built a makeshift wooden extension also where Jim had set up his camera equipment.
2. What are some of your favorite moments from the Vancouver scene back then?
Back in the mid 70’s to early 80’s, we had to hunt out and find skate spots; any interesting incline was key. There was the Granville street bank, The Davie street ramp, the East Van Ramp which Corey Campbell ruled. In North Van there was Kilmer bowl a concrete kiddie pool. The weird indoor skatepark in Burnaby called the Skateboard Palace and of course Kevin Harris’s backyard ramp.
The short lived Nelson street ramp in Vancouver’s west end was a massive wooden half pipe painted with rubbery paint which ripped your skin off when you fell. Tom “Wally” Inouye skated there, and really ripped it up. We did have some awesome gnarly skaters from Cal come up and skate with us at the Palace. Shogu Kubo, Steve Olson and Jimmy Plumer.
With the Ripping Squad with did all sorts of demonstrations and skating shows with our portable half pipe. One of my top ten moments would have to be when our team would do the half time entertainment at the Vancouver Whitecaps games. 25,000 people, lots of screams. Our half pipe was on top of a flat bed trailer. Sometimes we would run out of time and end up skating the half pipe on the truck while driving around the perimeter. I remember the truck suddenly stopping and Simon Addington got a lot more air than he bargained for.
I was very tight with the entire Ripping Squad. Niko Weiss, and Paul Addington were closest in age to me. Also on the squad was Rob Leshgold, Mike and Rich Lien, Kevin Harris, Mike Blake, Simon Addington, and Dave Crabb. Corey Campbell was also an incredible skater back in the day who liked to snake our Ripper demos. On rainy days (which never happens in Vancouver) I would bus out to Richmond and do freestyle with Kevin, Mike and Lyle Chippeway. In the later years, I skated with the late Don Hartley. Don was known to most people as the mad carver, He had a beautiful fluid style. I really miss him.
3. Did you ever think about pursuing a career in skateboarding after things died down?
After breaking my left leg two years in a row, at the Richmond Skate Ranch, I slowed right down and changed my career path. I got into doing computer graphics in a big way. I always was into drawing and had a fine arts background but lost interest until I took a computer art course at Emily Carr in 1986. That course changed everything. I was hooked and became a Computer graphics artist and have been in the film/tv/games industry ever since. Things went full circle when I was working at Electronic Arts and got to work on the amazing game SKATE.
4. You’ve got yourself a pro model board. How did things come together for this?
I met Rick Tetz in Cranbrook BC while I was with the CPASA ( The Canadian Pro Am Skateboard Association ) helping Monty Little run the regional championships. During the freestyle event, there was this guy using nunchucks, and swords; and skating. He had mad skills. This guy was combining martial arts with skateboarding. Who knew? That was Rick! After Rick moved to North Van, he and I would hang out and do freestyle in his underground parkade.
In the beginning of August this year, Rick connected with me on Facebook and pops the question: “Hey Al are you interested in designing your own board?” I was blown away. Very stoked, and honoured. I ‘m now riding again. Thanks Rick!
Hello Eric, you are the founder and owner of one of the first skateshops in France. HawaiiSurf has a huge selection of skateboards, longboards and other boards and this is a place you can’t ignore if you are looking to ride a board. We have four questions for you.
1 and 2 Why a skate and surf shop in Paris and how did it all start?
It started in summer 1976. I had missed my graduation. I was 17, I was on vacation in Biarritz where I rode my skateboard. I had to find something to do after the holidays. Studying was not for me. Meanwhile, I got more and more addicted to skateboarding!
Going back to Paris, I met up with an architect who worked with my father and it was here I decided to start my skateboard shop.
In the beginning it was called the Skateboarder’s House. In Paris and in all of France, it was at the heart of the skate scene. People rode for fun.
I preferred to offer more advanced products coming directly from the United States. These include mythical boards from Gordon & Smith or Ampul for example. We also manufactured our own skateboards.
And then, one day, I left my surf board at the shop. The customers liked it, so I decided to diversify products by offering surfboards, and even Speed Sail and snowboards! This is how the Skateboard’s House became HawaiiSurf. And it worked!
Paris is a hub and there is a very large community of all kind of riders: surfers, skaters and snowboarders. Hawaiisurf was the only shop to offer their toys for their passion! The only difficulty was to be located on the outskirts of Paris. We have invested a lot in advertising, leaflets and press. We were everywhere when it was about gliding and riding a board!
3- How does Hawaiisurf differ from other shops?
Passion – without hesitation! This is the kerosene of Hawaiisurf! In the shop everyone rides: surf, snow, skate, longboard and rollerskates. We’re bad brats and welcome bad brats! This is what makes us strong! The difference between us and the other shops is that we created the trend and instilled it in France! We always were there vanguard! We were the first shop to import boards to France and to manufacture them. We were the first to market Burton in France
We rummage around the world to find the pearls. These include trucks with a brake that are from Australia, or the Rio skates in England. The products come from all over and come to us before the trend starts. Our guideline is boarding makes you sweat. This is carried by human energy and external elements: nature and the street! We made our choices based on that and the passion that drives us.
4- What is your best memory at the store?
Undoubtedly, the visit of Tony Alva! He is part of the guys who inspired me throughout my youth. In 2009, Ray Barbee and Paul Van Doren went down to the “cellar Momo.” This is the place in the basement of the shop where I store my collection of skateboards and surf.
They were like children! Their eyes shined from all the product I had collected. They found a Dogtown board I customized myself and they signed it. A unique space and a good time with brats!
Hello Jim. You have been shooting from the beginning of the second boom of skateboarding starting in the 1970’s.
1- Why do you love to shoot skateboarding ?
I love to photograph skateboarding because I love to skateboard. As a skater myself, nothing is more fun than capturing the energy and vibe that makes skateboarding so special. And as an artist, photographing skating is a natural expression of my passion for skateboarding.
2- How did you get into it ?
I started out as a skater, but after breaking my arm in a skate accident I took up photographing it while I was recovering. Over time, I skated less and shot photos more, which eventually developed into a career.
3- Did you ever stop shooting ?
I had to cut back on my skate photography after going to work as the general manager and team coach at Gullwing, and again during my time as managing editor at TransWorld Skateboarding magazine. After leaving the skateboarding scene in 1986, I continued as a photographer but didn’t start shooting skating again until decades later.
4- What is your best skateboarding memory?
There were so many over the years. Traveling and experiencing the worldwide skate scene while shooting for SkateBoarder magazine was amazing, and creating and managing the Gullwing team was really special for me since we became such a close family. But the most memorable times were with my early skate buddies while discovering and skating all the great skate spots, and trying to stay one step ahead of the cops in pursuit of our passion.
Photo by Olivier Dezeque
Follow Jim on
We have been following you for a long time now and we have always loved your style and bag of tricks. It’s been 5 years since you got on the cover of CW and we have 4 questions for you:
1- Why did you start skateboarding ?
My older brother and I both did BMX and he wanted to get out of it and start skateboard so naturally little brother tagged along.
2- How do you feel before a run in a competition?
I try not to over think anyone one trick, just clear my head and let it happen.
3- How do you keep yourself focus ?
You’ve got to just love skateboarding itself, then you don’t have to worry about focus to much, things will happen when the time is right.
4- What is your best skateboarding memory?
There is no stand out moment for me or prize yet that has a defining impact, it’s just everything about skateboarding, its my escape and some of my best times have just been small sessions with friends.
Follow Cory on:
Your work is almost, actually not almost, but everywhere. You started painting those characters on the covers of magazines, ads along with collaborations with bunch of brands. You are French and you got a huge amount of exposure in skateboarding in only few years. We don’t know how you did that, but we have 4 questions for you:
1- Why combine skateboarding and painting?
Skateboarding is the best thing ever ! I can’t see my life without it. To be honest with you, skateboarding gave me this need to paint. I remember when I was a kid, I wasn’t interested by the brand but more about the graphic.
2- How do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from everywhere, from where I eat to how I make love. If you open your eyes and you take the time to see what is around you, you will feel me.
3- What is your goal ?
My goal is to bring something special to the world. I don’t want to come out with something that you see everyday. It’s weird to say but come on, what’s the point to be transparent with no goals in life? I’m currently traveling the world, I need it so much, I can’t stay to one place more than 2 months.
4- What do you dream about?
I would love to paint a plane or a building, I have big dreams and want to achieve them.
Follow Lucas Beaufort on:
Facebook : Beaufort.lucas
Instagram : @lucas_beaufort
website : www.lucasbeaufort.com
Portrait by Francois Marclay
Hello Bill, I remember to meet you years ago, you were for me just an “old” guy riding a skateboard. But seeing you riding and enjoying it, I learned, you were not an “old” skateboarder, you are a truly inspiring skateboarder and an “old” bro. Skateboarding is like something you share with love with every skateboarders.
It has been now 10 years since we talked about the OldBro on Concrete Wave, so let me ask you 4 questions:
1- Why do you love skateboarding ?
I love skateboarding for so many reasons. Mostly because of the friends and relationships I’ve made along the way. There have been so many experiences and amazing good times that skateboarding has given to me that I feel I could never repay the debt! I have tried by giving back in every way I can. I started a skate program in Egypt that has got hundreds of kids on skateboards for the first time that would have never had the chance before. We built the first and only skate park in Egypt and I am very proud of that and the guys who helped make that happen. I’ve never skated in a single skateboard contest because I never felt the need to prove anything to anybody when it comes to skateboarding. I’ve always only ever done it for one reason, because I love it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. I honestly feel like I could never give back enough to make up for what skateboarding has given me.
2- How did you start skateboarding ?
I started skateboarding for real in 1972 when I was 13 years old. I had ridden around on one either on my knee or my butt for as long as I can remember but when I was 13, I started surfing. I lived about a half hour inland in Arcadia CA. but my mom would take us to the beach every weekend and then every day in the summer, my mom loved the beach. I started surfing and knee boarding and just couldn’t get it out of my head, so when I was stuck in Arcadia I just always wanted to get that feeling of surfing! So we would “sidewalk surf” it was driveways and hills, then ditches and reservoirs then empty pools and finely in 1976, it was skate parks! I skated everything and kept surfing too. I got a job at Skatopia in 197, in Buena Park and moved to Newport Beach, then in 1978 I moved down to San Diego’s North county and helped build and worked at the Del Mar Skate Ranch until 1980. I’ve been fortunate to have made friends early on with the Dog Town guys, the San Gabriel Valley crew, the IE crew and the Down South crews. And we are still friends today, forty years later.
3- What does Old Bro mean ?
Old Bro comes from the Old Bro bowl that was built by a group of Old Guys in 2006. I went to a Skatopia 30th reunion and was talking to a bunch of guys, some I had known for thirty plus years and some I had just met, and we said how we should build a skate spot that we could all enjoy. I had a big backyard just blocks from the beach and the Old Bro was borne. That day people who I had just met, wrote me checks or committed to funds or materials and we started building. My wife Pat was always on board with the whole idea. We built a really fun bowled in mini ramp that was featured in CW that year but we were soon forced to sell the house, so we had to cut the ramp up and move it to our new house. Once again my wife was adamant that any home we bought, had to have room for the Old Bro. So we moved the ramp and soon people from all over the country and the world came to skate “the Old Bro” soon those became “Old Bro sessions” and the “Old Bro Crew” started growing and people started referring to sessions all over S.D.’s North county as “Old Bro Sessions” no matter where they went down.
I soon realized that Old Bro was more of a feeling, a vibe or a way that you referred to your long time friends and acquaintances and stopped being about the ramp. It is now a brand and sort of a movement. a way that we all just connect with one another. I talk to guys all over the country and the world and we instantly connect because, we are Old Bro’s.
4- Do we have to be old to be old bro ?
Ha! no. you don’t have to be old. I often say that everybody has an Old Bro, or is one, or knows one. If you are a 14 year old kid but you have a buddy that you’ve known since you were 6, well he’s your Old Bro! or you are a 30 something dude and you’ve got a friend form collage or you have this friend that was a friend of your old man’s, or that 14 year old looks up to you, you either are, have, or know an Old Bro, and you are an Old Bro to someone. And this goes for any type of activity, not just skating because it can be so many things that bring us together and make us appreciate our Old Bro’s.
Thank you my friend Tibs for asking me these questions, you are truly an Old Bro.
Follow the OldBro on
Facebook: the Old Bro Group page