I am in the process of a giant clean up. I am finding things that I hadn’t thought about in ages. Here’s something I found from a decade and half ago! This was well before YouTube. The Evolutions DVD’s were free (shocking for the time) and were a staple of many shops. I figure hundred of thousands of people have seen the footage and I am quite sure the companies that put their videos on the DVD got their money’s worth!
What’s curious about ephemera is that it has a not-so-subtle way of creeping up on you. The web seems to intensify things. This morning I was doing research on festivals in Ontario (we are working on something pretty cool) and up cropped a link on Heatwave. I was 16 years old when this festival hit Bowmanville, Ontario. Take a look at the line up:
Sadly, The Clash didn’t wind up performing. From eye-witness reports, we hear the Talking Heads blew the crowd away. The festival had about 15,000 or so additional gate crashers meaning that 100,000 people enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately, the gig lost over a million dollars. While I wasn’t able to get to the festival, I did manage to pick up a poster for a buck at the CNE at the end of August. This was 36 years ago and I can still remember purchasing it….damn, that’s crazy….er, nostalgic!
I proudly displayed the poster in my bedroom for several years and even brought it with me when I moved to Toronto to attend college. A quick search led to me a site that is now selling a reissue of the poster for quite a pretty penny. Ah, the price of nostalgia!
Over the course of the next few months, Concrete Wave is going to be releasing something rather special items. We are going to make available some classic covers of the magazine and we hope it triggers some sense of nostalgia.
Music has always played a huge role in my enjoyment of skateboarding. Back in 1980, punk had pretty much imploded and in its wake came New Wave. Love it or loathe it, this new sound still sounds pretty freakin’ great three decades later.
Here’s Elvis Costello’s full set at Heatwave.
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!
Our story starts off in a freezing cold A-Frame in Government Camp, OR with me and the two other OG ladies who thought up Lost Girls. We decided that we didn’t fit the traditional description of women in Govy (or in general), and that we’d have some fun by calling ourselves “Lost Girls.” The name stuck, and we ended up forming a tribe, a movement of people who are pushing for a new kind of action sports community and a new way to see women under the larger umbrella of modern culture.
Here’s a quote from the Manifesto that sums it up pretty well: “We are quirky, dirty, weird, funny, wild, adventurous, athletic, and we ain’t no basic bitches. We are the warrior class; we take our scrapes, breaks, and bruises as a badge of honor. In a world where some pay thousands of dollars for cosmetic surgery, we are proud of the scars.”
When it comes to women and action sports, it seems to me a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, action sports are about individuality and freedom. On the other hand, females are woefully under reported in media and there is still very much an “old boys network.” What are your thoughts?
It’s a really interesting contradiction that stems from upbringing and culture. Boys are told, “go for it!” and when they fall, “you’re ok. Get up and do it again.” Girls are told “be careful,” “don’t get hurt,” and we are often influenced to be perfectionists.
A bunch of people seem to be seeing what’s going on, and that’s so important to change anything. At first, I thought I was mistaken or crazy, but then others were raising the same questions. Why don’t you see women featured on many ski and snowboard websites? Why are a lot of women’s clothes, skis, and snowboards so unappealing to us? Why is there a huge discrepancy between numbers of men and women in the park? Why doesn’t anyone make ski boots that fit small feet?
Fairly recently, gender equality has become a topic of many conversations in our country and the world. People don’t believe something is possible until someone does it. We’ve been told that women are never going to get there. That our bodies aren’t strong enough, there’s no market, that it’s too dangerous, that there’s no way the same number of people will want to watch a woman’s edit as a man. That “she’s good, for a girl.”
I can say that I’m not so sure about that based on the response I’ve gotten. Apparently there’s even a big, burly skater dude who rocks one of our trucker hats on the regular. I look forward to the moment when the “old boys” become our fans.
Tell us about your latest endeavour with the ladies longboard team.
I see an opportunity to support athletes, and create content in the downhill longboarding/skating world. I hope that watching the ladies on our team will encourage others to get into it!
We recently got a handful of us together for a day and shot footy for our first edit at a few locations in Colorado. It included the girls rocketing down Ute Pass and our filmer skating right behind them with his dslr. I was shooting with the drone. It was a group effort, and so cool to have the guys out there helping us!
I personally am a beginner to longboarding, and I felt like I progressed so much in just one day. I’ve found this to be true when you get a group of stoked people together with different ability levels. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the edit turns out and filming more with these badass ladies!
In a world where so many females are photoshopped mercilessly, one of the things that struck me about Lost Girls is that you’re not afraid to get dirty, get bruises and the fact that you’re proud of the scars. How does this message into your media collective?
Body shaming and body image issues are so important to address. I think fake images give the impression that we’re not real people, or that our outer appearance is so important that what we look like isn’t good enough. I don’t want to live in a society where the ultimate accomplishment for a woman is to have clear skin or a gap between her thighs. I do want to live in a world where women aren’t afraid to create, explore, make things, and play.
I wanted to portray this attitude in our recent photo shoot for our 16/17 lookbook. So, I asked our team to become “models.” Instead of makeup, we put charcoal war paint on our faces. For part of the shoot, we skated around an alley in Denver.
I think there needs to be an example of media out there that’s not influenced by societal pressures to show skin to get noticed. We value respect over likes on instagram. I want to show women of all ages and walks of life that strength is beautiful.
What specific things can the network of event promoters, shops and media do to cultivate more women in action sports?
The network that comprises our industry could do so much more. Everyone could begin by caring, asking more questions, and making less assumptions. Event promoters could bring on more women employees or contract ladies to help them see what will and won’t hit the target for their audience.
Shops can begin by seeking out more and higher quality options for women that don’t have the pink tag price. I custom designed our Lost Girls hoodies partly because I couldn’t find what I wanted on an existing clothing rack. The idea is to feel warm, comfy, and bad ass in what you’re wearing.
Media holds the key to creating the consumer base for event promoters and shops. With more quality movies, edits, articles, publicity, and the right outlets, more of the world will see what we do. The more the world sees it, the more people will get stoked and want to join! Maybe the “old boys” haven’t realized that they’re relying almost solely on half of the population!
If suddenly $2 million fell into your lap, what would you do to promote The Lost Girls?
Oh man! I would go all out! Film equipment is extremely expensive, as well as travel, so that’s a no brainer. Sure, a RED camera and a helicopter would be awesome. An urban movie. Summer in Australia and winter in Japan.
We could set up a scholarship fund to get women filmers, photographers, and graphic designers the equipment they need. We could have contests and awards for athletes.
A TV documentary series about women going on adventures around the world, doing and teaching action sports, and helping the communities they visit. A good friend of mine and I have an idea in the works to do a long distance skate trip all the way across Cambodia. Being able to just go do it without trying to raise funds would be great.
Or what about a whole line of custom clothing with featured art from talented ladies? The possibilities are endless, and the current struggle is real. But even if I have to work full time as a busser to make Lost Girls successful, that’s what I’ll do. Ultimately, it’s not about the money because it gives life greater purpose.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add? Plans for the future?
I’m blown away by the amount of support we’ve had, and the amazing people who often work for nothing to make Lost Girls possible. With the new longboard team, and plenty of plans for skiing and snowboarding this winter season, I think this is going to be our best year yet.
I’m currently teaming up with artists to work on the 16/17 line. We’re going to have several runs of limited edition hoodies, and I’m also working on hats, pins, patches, long sleeve shirts, and more! Our kickoff party for the season is happening in November, and we’ll have more info on our website and social media soon.
Farther into the future, I see us creating a network of women all over the world who are getting together at their home mountains, beaches, or skate parks and progressing the sport. I also see us becoming a media outlet that utilizes retail sales to generate high quality content.
The most important thing, though, is to shred together and have fun, always.
Welcome to a new feature that gives you insights on what it truly means to be a skater. These are personal stories that we know will resonate with you. If you have a story you’d like to share, email us. We’d be happy to get it up on our site!
It’s something that everyone was yearned and hungered for at least once in their lifetime: belonging. It motivates us to become who we are, to pick up an identity and stick with it. Without it, we get lonely and we seem to lose track of both who we are and what goals we want to achieve in the long run. We lose sight of what’s important and we start to wander off into places that have no meaning.
I’m no stranger to this lack of belonging, having grown up as a slightly strange kid in the public school system; my first many years of school were filled with awkward conversations with my classmates and weird crushes on girls and some kind of strange social tension that I could never seem to relieve. My radically academic upbringing left me undeveloped (to put it nicely) in terms of social skills and I never really did discover the meaning of a close friend until I entered high school last year, at the ripe age of 16.
Here, I made it a goal to become outspoken, less awkward; to become someone that people could relate with and hang out with without feeling weird like many of my past acquaintances may have at many points of our shallow friendships. Well, it kind of worked, I developed some very fun friendships, went to my first parties, got my first kiss, and had my first late-night conversations in a circle-of-bros around a backyard fire. But that didn’t work out; I had a scuffle with some guys towards the end of the year and that all kind of turned into a burning pile of ash and smoke. This turned me into a licorice-flavored rotten Jello filled with little solid pieces of misery and loneliness and longing for a place to belong.
That summer, I was fresh out of things to do. Utterly bored. Unused. I didn’t have a girlfriend; I didn’t have any friends to hang out with. Slowly, people started departing and I was undecidedly left to myself for the coming two months of summer. My previous plans, my list of things that I wanted to do that required more than one person? Gone. Scrapped. And I was imaginatively, completely helpless and depressed about it.
And then I bought a skateboard. It was a very hot, sunny day, and my family decided to take my brother and me to the little homey town of Banff, where I bought a small Sector 9 Wedge skateboard for a small investment of $170 dollars (my whole life savings at that point). I then spent the next month learning to push, to carve, to stop and on the way to the final goal of the mastery of the cruiser skateboard, also had my first falls and injuries.
I had a few mentors along the way, but there wasn’t really anybody who was outstandingly amazing at the sport. They just invited me out to go cruising along the riverwalk or maybe come over for a round of video games and go out and push along the creek for a bit. You know, the really simple stuff. I never thought of this as anything beyond casual hanging out. Nothing to really poke the mind or emotions, nothing that would really invoke any feelings of being any more wanted than a bit of company here and there.
But I was still hooked. Not onto the cruising with other people notion, but to the feeling of rolling over paved ground. I felt free of the confines of any social expectations that I and other people had forced upon me for so many years; I was on a skateboard, and I was alone, enjoying rolling over the little bumps and bruises in the ground, and I was okay with that.
It felt blissful.
And this turned into an addiction for me; a way for me to relieve stress when I had it. I remember so many nights when I hopped out of bed, put on a jacket and jumped outside to skateboard at 2 o’clock in the morning because something was bugging me. I remember that I pushed myself to exhaustion and when I came back in, I could sleep soundly and forget about what was bothering me.
It’s strangely therapeutic, really. I’m sure other people have different reasons why they skate. Some people just find it fun, some people are just really good at it. I know people just like to skateboard because it’s something they can work on. But for me, skateboarding was always an obsession for me because it was the only respite I had in a schedule of heavy workload and emotional strain.
And this pushed me deeper and deeper into the sport. I started to experiment with different gear. I bought my first longboard; it was a Dusters Kosher Glow in the Dark; something that I went to my local store to buy because I decided after reading some articles and guides that I would indeed need something longer if I wanted to go faster. This was kind of the start of what would eventually lead me to the greatest thing about longboarding. But
I’ll get to that in a bit.
I got this longboard and I started to ride it instead of my little cruiser board. I rode it obsessively. To school, to the hospital, to the grocery store. I even rode it down my short little street just to get mail! I seriously think that I just didn’t walk anywhere for a while. That longboard became my legs. And I started to upgrade it. I went on these weird longboard sites and got all these different types of weird tips and tricks, stuff that would actually lead me on an extremely wrong path filled with really bad information and lots of wasted money, but fuel my passion it did, and I was okay with that. I got the wrong bushings, tweaked it around, got some new trucks (Caliber IIs, my first RKP trucks), and put those on. I got new wheels (Free Willies; I slide those to this day), and rode that for a while.
Then, I discovered some online communities, such as Silverfish and Reddit’s /r/longboarding, which is the one I go on the most. When I discovered this online community, I was like, “wow! There’s more of us! More people who love what I do!” and I was absolutely blown away. I spent hours and hours on the live chat, with people actually guiding me in the right direction. They told me to get the right bushings. They told me to get a new board, and new wheels that were much faster.
Funny thing about this forum is though, that I met one of my better skating buddies on there. He picked me up on the site and he pointed me to my local scene’s Facebook group, and that’s really where the juicy stuff starts.
When I entered this group, I was met with outstanding friendliness from all parties.
My pleas for help with sliding and downhill were met with people coming from all over telling me they could help out; that there were clinics here at this time, and that there was a race going on at this place. But most importantly, I was invited to this one weekly ride that we do every Saturday night, by one of the better skaters in the group. He messaged me personally and he told me that there was a nice, easygoing run every Saturday that he really wanted me to be at. He told me that people were friendly, that people were totally okay with me being there! And so go to the ride I did.
You know, in these many months that I’ve been skating, I’ve never really found anything more beautiful than what I felt that first night. For the first time in months, I felt supported. People were pushing me forward, propelling me constructively and building me back up from the mess that I was a few months ago, when I first bought that skateboard. I felt wanted again, that people were genuinely excited to have another person there that was skating. I finally felt that cohesiveness with a group of people that I’d been searching and yearning and working towards for years.
I felt like I belonged.
If I was to tell a prospective longboarder something about this community, it’s that this community has the power to make you feel amazing inside. In this community, you’ll find a passion that you can share with many other people, and through this shared passion, you’ll also find brotherhood; a scattered family that knows when to come together when it matters. An incredibly diverse group of people where not one person is left out and not one person is looked at for their flaws. Indeed, it’s a group of people where everyone has something to offer.
And I feel that I have something to offer every time I go skating on Saturday night.
And you can bet that I’ll be skating this Saturday too.
Torrion Dedmon is an R&B artist hailing from San Diego, Ca. and is smooth as they come. His new single “Down (My Love)” is a great example of how talented this man is. Dedmon’s sound is simultaneously sensual and contemporary while retaining a classic r&b feel.
“Down (My Darling)” is Torrion’s follow up to his 2015 releases “Go Down” and “Champagne Problems”, all of which show the chops of this incredible talent. Real R&B artists seem to be a rare commodity these days. Torrions writing and delivery are dead on, his music reminds me of a combination of Al Green and Chris Brown. If you’re spending the evening in with your Honey, spin this…you can thank me in the morning.
Ultimately you are the best judge of what you like. We encourage our readers to give a listen and leave a comment letting us know what you think. Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time.
Eagle I Stallian “Reckless Gods”
Eagle I Stallian is a experimental-electronica duo based in Montreal, Canada.
Their new two song EP “Reckless Gods” is a catchy and bumping set of tracks featuring seemingly endless loops of drum machines and synthesizers. You won’t necessarily find anything mind-blowing here but the production quality is good.
The first track “Poseidon’s Dead sounds like Michael Jackson vocal samples intertwined through out and is what you’d expect to hear at a late-night dance club. Track two, “Gates of Hades” has a little more unique sound with bongo’s and spoons mixed in.
Ultimately you are the best judge of what you like. We encourage our readers to give a listen and leave a comment letting us know what you think. Thanks for reading (& listening), see you here next time.
We’ve got a story in our November issue about products that allow you to be seen at night as you ride.
But as things draw closer to October 31st, we wanted to shine a light on Aluminati’s Skateboards latest tribute to Halloween. Aluminati has teamed up with Sunset Skateboards to offer three Halloween cruisers powered by Sunset Flare ™ LED wheels.
Aluminati’s cruisers are crafted from recycled aircraft-grade recyclable aluminum in Southern California and feature endless graphic options and clear grip.
The three Halloween designs, Ghostly, Grab Bag and Jack are now available exclusively on Aluminati’s website. They each feature self-powered Flare™ LED Wheels give over 100,000 hours of light without any batteries.
An essay on Brian Anderson, gay skateboarders, our inclusive culture, and mainstream ignorance.
This week, I caught wind through my Facebook news feed that Brian Anderson had “come out” as skateboarding’s first openly gay, professional skateboarder. This news flash was immediately picked up worldwide… no joke… by “the mainstream media”. The New York Times covered it.
Rolling Stone covered it. The Independent covered it. The Guardian UK covered it. A whole host of LGBT media sites covered it, as might be expected. And then, I had those thirty or so Facebook flashes, reminding me of it (just in case I lived in a cave, and I somehow managed to forget all about it for a few brief seconds). Brian immediately became a beloved bellweather for the movement, as he well deserves I suppose. He is, by all accounts, a really great guy and an incredible skater. Regardless of whatever his sexual orientation might be.
Which led me immediately to this question: Why in the world is this even news…? What’s the story here…? Is this really, “new” news? Or, is it just “new” to everybody that’s not actually a skateboarder…?
irst of all, I was kind of surprised that the story line was that he “finally came out”. I was only surprised by this because I had either taken for granted, or dumbly assumed, that he had actually “come out” eons ago. I mean, I knew he was gay. Most people I know, knew he was gay. I’m pretty sure that most of the industry knew he was gay. But just to be sure, I made a few calls and conducted a quickie survey.
“Hey, did you know Brian Anderson was gay…?”
“When did you find out…?”
“Oh, I don’t remember. Maybe, 2009 or so…?” (By the way: most of my respondees all found out Brian was gay around the same time, which I found peculiarly interesting.)
“Oh, okay. Just checking. Thanks.”
If the fact that Brian Anderson was gay was some sort of “closely guarded secret”, well then, I guess it has to rank up there as one of the worst-kept secrets in all of skateboarding. Because it really wasn’t much of a secret to anybody. Anybody that I know, at least.
Maybe the real story was just how quick Brian’s “sudden announcement” was embraced by the rest of the skateboarding world. But then, I wasn’t really surprised by that either. Skateboarders are well-known to be a subculture that pretty much openly accepts everybody, regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, economic standing, or any other divide that you could possibly conjure up. Skateboarders pretty much see the world in terms of either skaters, or non-skaters… and that’s it. Why they would pick this week to suddenly ostracize some poor skater for some wholly insignificant reason, is just a little bit beyond my imagination. Now if Brian rollerbladed, that would be a different story. That, my frenemies, would be the end of the entire world. But, gay…? Meh.
It’s not like Brian is the first openly gay skateboarder, either. Maybe that’s why this isn’t really “news”. I clearly remember Jarret Berry, who graced the cover of Big Brother’s “Gay Issue” in the mid ’90s… which was, of course, a “taboo” that was charcteristically approached in Big Brother’s nonsensical, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) manner. Big Brother even crossed out the “g” so that it read “Bi Brother”, which made them all apparently gay by association. And then we have their subsequent project, Dickhouse Productions, which uses the gay-pride rainbow as their corporate logo. But I don’t remember any skate movement to go burn down Big Brother’s offices in a fit of homophobic rage, or any skate-related movement to boycott Jackass The Movie. Maybe Jarret remembers it differently. But as far as I could tell, most skaters were pretty supportive of the whole shebang. It wasn’t even really “news” then, either. It was just another issue of the usual Big Bro hijinks.
I guessed the mainstream media also conveniently missed the Mike Carroll “NAMBLA” board non-controversy, while they were at it. I never really understood the whole point of that one… maybe Mike’s been trying to tell us something… but in any rate, nobody really seemed to make much of a ruckus about that one, either. If that wasn’t your vibe, well, there was always the Randy Colvin “Censorship” model that you could rock, just to prove to everyone just how hetero you were. Unless you were a girl buying that board, of course. But I’m clearly overthinking this stuff. Because to most skaters’ credit, nobody really thought much about any of this in the first place. They just bought boards, and skated them. Because that’s what skaters do. They don’t think. They just skate.
The Mainstream Media might be surprised to hear that there are not only gay skaters, but there are lesbian skaters too. And transgender skaters. Skaters don’t fear any of these things. Skaters, really, don’t fear much of anything at all. Any group of nutbags that will happily slide down a 30-stair handrail on their gonads, and not think twice about how much that might actually hurt, probably isn’t gonna give two tiny craps about your wee little homophobias.
There were gay skateboarders even before Jarret, naturally enough. Jarret wasn’t the “first”. He may have been the “first” to get on the cover of a major skateboard magazine in assless chaps, but that certainly doesn’t make him the very first gay skateboarder ever. They’ve always been here. I knew some personally, in fact. Great fellows. Funny guys. Great skaters. I don’t remember a single instance of anybody (besides ignorant non-skaters) ever giving them any grief at all. Shit, I don’t even remember it being a significant point of conversation. We were too busy talking about skating to worry too much about unrelated trivialities.
Maybe it’s all because I’m a by-product of the ’80s. In the ’80s, of course, we were all gay. And Satanists. And freaks. I’m not lying, that’s the God-honest truth. Any skater that grew up in the ’80s will surely remember some jackwagon driving by, yelling “Skater Fag!” at the top of their lungs. That happened pretty regularly, actually. Virtually every day. Skaters… all skaters… regardless of whatever our actual sexual orientations might have been… were seen, and labeled, by the “public at large” (ie,”the mainstream”) as being gay as hell. So when an actual, bona-fide, true-blue, gay skater came along… it was like, “Oh really, you’re gay? Big damn deal. So are the rest of us, bubbo. Join the club.”
So, yeah. Brian came out last week, and spilled the beans on a secret that everybody basically knew, anyway. And he got a lot of genuine love and sincere support from his fellow skaters for having done so, as we all knew he would long before the fact. Commendable? Sure, I suppose.
But, newsworthy…? Not really. What justifies a big headline for the rest of the non-skating world is just another ho-hum, run-of-the-mill day in the life for us.
Maybe that’s “the story” that the mainstream media should be spinning. And maybe the rest of the mainstream world could learn a few things along the way about tolerance, acceptance, solidarity, and community from us lowly “gay skateboarders”.
For additional reading, check out this story from HUCK Magazine circa 2012.
(Versus the two things that I really want to write about.)
by Bud Stratford
A skateboarder is anybody that rides a skateboard. And we all know what a “skateboard” is, because we ain’t stewpid…
Skateboarding is supposed to be fun,
Skateboarding is for everybody and anybody (whether everybody and anybody agrees with that or not, is an altogether different matter… but, more on that in a bit). And,
Skateboarding is all about whatever you want it to be. You have a brain and a body of your own. So, use ’em. And don’t let anybody tell you any damned differently.
So, there you go. “The Ten Things You Need To Know”, edited down to a grand total of four completely obvious, self-evident, and unarguable truths. Essay, complete…! Well, almost…
What I do have in front of me today, though, are two things that are bumming me… and, a lot of my skateboarding allies and cohorts… out. Those two things are “The Rules”, and “The (Increasingly Frequent) Discrimination”.
Skateboarding… for better, or for worse (mostly worse, as we’ll soon see)… is now completely and fully “mainstreamed”. Of course, the “mainstreaming” of skateboarding probably makes The Industry pretty darn happy, overall. The more people that skate, the more skateboards that The Industry sells. And that’s probably pretty cool for The Industry. But not so much, for our skateboarding culture.
Yes. There was a day when we had “a culture”. We’ve always had our own culture. At least, we used to have our own culture. Back in the day… God, I feel old now… our culture was a pretty positive and accepting set of rules and ethics. “The Four Rules” that I just listed a few paragraphs ago were pretty much it… the total, comprehensive, and complete set of “the rules” that all skateboarders… or, maybe more accurately, all skateboarders that were worth a shit… lived by, and accepted as unalienable fact.
Every other rule that could be imagined, extolled, espoused, articulated, agreed upon, and decreed to be “law”, pretty much existed to be broken. Because that’s what skaters did. We broke rules. Except “The Four”. Because those were sacred.
Skateboarding, almost exclusively, was that thing that “freaky kids” did. That thing that moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, guidance councellors, teachers, and principals really didn’t understand all that well, and didn’t really want to care all that much about. And that was perfectly a-ok with us, actually. The great thing about being uncared for and misunderstood was that it allowed us a huge amount of unfettered freedom to write our own rules, and create our own parallel worlds, well outside “the rules” of mainstream mediocrity. Which is exactly what we did: we created an entire ethos, and a set of “rules”, that rebelled against the “mainstream” of “popular culture”. And when I refer to “popular culture”, please keep in mind that I use the word “culture” very, very loosely. In my world, “Popular Culture” should really be renamed “Chronic Catcrap”. But that’s just my personal interpretation of it. Of course.
Twenty years ago, there was no ageism in skateboarding. The reason, of course, was stupidly simple: old people simply didn’t skate. “Old” people would never even consider taking up skating… too dangerous to life and limb, they thought… and even skateboarders themselves never really skated much after, say, the ripe old age of 25 or so. At that age, most skaters simply quit skating, and moved on with their lives. They got girlfriends, cars, jobs, perhaps a post-secondary education, careers, wives, kids of their own… mistresses, vices, habits, ulcers, and whatever misery that mainstream mediocrity has in store for us as we become old and broken shells of our former, idealistic and exuberant, fun-filled selves. Skateboarding was thus relegated to “that fun thing that I used to do”, before life caught up with us and got in the way of the good times.
There was also no racism or sexism in skateboarding, back in my time. Mostly because skateboarding was the exclusive pastime of white, suburban (or urban), lower-to-middle-class boys. Of course, there were exceptions to the rule… and there have always been exceptions to that rule… but, not that many. And of course, we wholeheartedly supported those few exceptions. Because troublemakers just love breaking rules, right..?
There weren’t that many “types” of skateboarding to enjoy, either. Many forms of skateboarding… slalom, barrel jumping, longboarding, and to a great extent, freestyle… had melted away from their former heydays of the 1970’s. My generation had vert, street, mini-ramp (which was a common middle-ground compromise between vert and street)… and, in the darker corners of the peripheries, the backyard pool scene. “Skateparks”, as we know them today, didn’t exist; those were another anachronism that had died off like the dinosaurs in the early 1980’s.
But, my generation was the first (and perhaps, the last) of “The Great Skateboarding Idealists”. We were, in a great many ways, “The Greatest Generation” of skateboarders. I’ll fight that with anybody, and win, hands down.
First of all, my generation was the first generation that didn’t quit skating, en masse, at the ripe old age of 25. For whatever reason… probably because we were, by nature, punk rule breakers and chronic troublemakers… we just didn’t see the point of giving up something that we beloved so immensely, to conform to somebody else’s definition of chronic catcrap.
We were also the first generation to wrestle control of The Industry away from “The Old Guard”, and start fully independent companies. This made for a much more directly skater-run-and-influenced industry than skateboarding had ever seen in its (rather short) history. And the number of companies (today, known as “brands”) that we breathed life into was stunningly staggering. Realizing that, my generation of skateboarders was the first generation that made serious and effectual efforts to take skateboarding “mainstream”, as we realized (subconsciously, at least) that the existing “pie” was only so big, and therefore would only support so many companies/brands.
And lastly, my generation was the first generation to take a hard, long look back in time, and start digging up some of the treasures that our predecessors had long left in the dust. Forms of skateboarding that had been long considered extinct were brought out of the literal woodwork, and renewed with an enthusiastic vigor.
I must say that our intentions were noble enough. My generation, being “The Great Idealists”, held lofty ambitions of invading the mainstream, and re-making it in skateboarding’s image. There were ample precedents for this; we had actually been doing it, with some success, for decades. It’s a well-known and well-documented fact that skateboarders have influenced the artistic realms of music, photography, graphic design, writing, publishing, architecture, and film (among a whole host of other creative pursuits); if we can launch a full-scale invasion of the art world and prevail, why couldn’t we do the same thing to the greater society at large…? Again, I think this was a very subconscious effort on most of our parts… but, there were a small handful of extreme forward-thinkers that did consciously realize the immense potential, and actively pursued that potential quite deliberately.
Of course, things don’t always go quite as we plan. And there are always unintended consequences that could never be predicted, nor accounted for. I don’t think that any of us really thought about what might happen if skateboarding was invaded by the mainstream, instead of vice-versa. And only once the Pandora’s box of “mainstreaming” was cracked open did we realize… much to our own horror and dismay… that there was no do-over, turning around, or going back. We really thought that companies like Airwalk, Vans, Vision Street Wear, Limpies, Eight Ball (later Droors Clothing, later still DC), Etnies (and Emerica, and eS…), et cetera, would take over the fashion world, and put the rest of the world to shame. It never really dawned on us that The Mainstream Corporate Hegemony might either kill these companies outright… or, conversely, actually buy up these brands with their bottomless corporate capital reserves, strip them of their founders, their teams, their visions, their souls, their ethos, and the rest of their defining characteristics… and toss them into some Payless Shoe Bargain Bin somewhere. Vans, for some reason, has been allowed the freedom to buck the trend, stay somewhat true to its roots, and continue relatively unobstructed and unfettered. But the rest are either long gone, or are mere shadows of their fomer greatness. Even relatively recent upstarts like Fallen (gone) and Lakai (struggling) are not immune to the cycle of death and destruction under the mainstream bulldozer blade. But Nike, Converse, and Adidas are thriving in the skate shoe market. Unintended consequences. Damn them all.
Thankfully, the skate hardgoods brands are still ours. Mostly. But even they have been more than happy to compromise their ideals, jump onto “mainstream mores”, and increasingly outsource their production to third-world sweatshops in the name of increased profitability and market share. So much for “quality products”, “honest business ethics”, and “human dignity”, I guess…
The same has happened to us culturally, of course. While we do shed a tear or two over the demises of skate brands, the demise of skate culture has been far more damaging and depressing. With the Mainstream Invasion, we’ve also been inundated with Mainstream Mores on a cultural level absolutely unprecedented in our history. With the influx of females into our culture (an astoundingly good thing for both our culture, and our industry), we’ve also seen a wave of sexism infiltrate our collective ethos… probably best represented by “skate superstar” Nyjah Huston, and his epicly ill-advised “girls shouldn’t be allowed to skate”diatribe.
With more minorities skating than ever (another astounding sign of progress for our culture and our industry), we’ve also inherited the likes of Corey Duffel, and his epicly ill-advised “trashy n**ger” monologue.
With more “old” skaters skating than ever, we’ve also seen a huge wave of agism washing over our social, online, and print media, openly questioning why these geezers (“Barneys”, in the skate vernacular) really have to take up so much open space at our skateparks… the free, public skateparks that our “old geezer” generation fought tooth and nail for (and prevailed in successfully securing) for the benefit of future generations of skateboarders everywhere, mind you.
Of course, with the invasion of new and diverse forms of skateboarding that have (thankfully) been brought back from the dead, such as slalom, freestyle, and longboarding… we have also allowed “skate-ism” to run rampant throughout our “culture”. That is, of course, active discrimination against other skaters based on what kind of skateboarding they might (or might not) enjoy.
And I might add… just because, this is the one that I personally witness the most often of all… “Able-ism”, which I would define as “discrimination based on one’s ability to skate ‘good’ or not”.
I never really thought I’d ever see the day where I’d be sitting at my laptop, and writing about so many types of skater-versus-skater discrimination, and how much of it is currently running through or scenes and our culture.
Skaters are supposed to be fighting the world, and winning. Not, fighting each other and losing. Which makes me wonder, and wonder often, what in the hell are we coming to…?
STAND BY FOR PART 2…
Anyone who takes the time and dedicates themselves to hosting an event should be revered in our community. The logistics to host a city approved event are mind numbing and, most certainly, frustrating for the host. The same goes for the smaller outlaw events which are the bread and butter for most emerging longboarders and a place where the competitive spirit is mildly on hold, friendships are forged and talent improved.
Several months ago, Concrete Wave editor, Michael Brooke and I visited the first permanent Velosolutions pump track in the United States. At the time, it was solely managed by Ride Brooklyn Bike Shop as the Brooklyn Bike Park. Since then, Joner Strauss’ Skateboarding Supercross (SBSX) has stepped in to implement a stage of rebranding as this organization has taken over the management of the park.
To provide a bit of context, the idea of Skateboard Supercross came around six years ago as a byproduct of the International Distance Skateboarding Association. After partnering with Velosolutions, they are primed to take over the premier Brooklyn, USA location in an effort to sustain and deliver the experience of riding the pump track.
Enter new manager and professional competitive distance rider, Colby Cummings. The Portland, OR native is a self proclaimed “longboarder through and through,” here to get to know the community and build SBSX’s academy-style league with its members.
In a virtual sense, Skateboard Supercross acts as a networking platform with the potential to become a worldwide phenomenon. While still in its developmental stages, its mobile application connects Velosolutions’ other two permanent US tracks (in Leavenworth, WA and Oklahoma City, OK) and letsriders compare the fastest times logged at each track. This close relationship will confirm who the top riders of each track are and will clarify the metrics and objectivity of what makes a rider victorious.
Velosolutions Pumptrack Brooklyn operated by SBSX – the official video:
In a physical sense, the Cummings and Strauss are looking forward to programming a never before designed league with an A-Z path of progression for skateboarding. The league will be established from the bottom up and will provide the events needed to make use of the track’s prime location. This space is, as Strauss called it, “a community anchor that has yet to be showcased.” In the same way that Skateboard Supercross was influential in helping Velosolutions construct its pump tracks in a way more conducive to skateboarding, they seek to invest in the youth by creating a community that is conducive to learning how to ride and experience the magic of balance.
Strauss hopes that SBSX will give skateboarding and more specifically, longboarding, the educational foundation it’s never had. Looking comparatively at other mainstream sports, most have a sustainable future because of the educational programs in place that breed its future participants. Similarly, SBSX plans to broaden their influence with the help of Velosolutions to construct more pump tracks across the nation. Through the interconnectedness of their app, Cummings and Strauss believe they can help overcome the cyclical pitfalls that skateboarding has fallen victim to.
Above all, Cummings and Strauss advise that anyone wishing to experience the feeling of pure stoke, regardless of age or skill level, come to the track to try their hand at it.
If you are looking to get involved in the movement, you can access the SBSX database they have created to help local skaters become local ambassadors. Visit their website here.