Summer Tour 2016/2017, Report Number Two: The Micro-Camper

Summer Tour 2016/2017, Report Number Two: The Micro-Camper

 I’m not too sure if there’s ever been a skateboard tour that has featured, of all the crazy things in the world, a homebuilt micro-camper. But, this one will! If you’re not familiar yet with my micro-camper, I’ll give you a brief synopsis to get you caught up to speed:  I designed, and built, my little camper about three years ago now. It’s built on a Harbor Freight utility trailer, and is made of wood… much like a skateboard ramp would be. It weighs about 700 lbs (or so), features a queen-size mattress (with a memory-foam pillow top), and tows easily behind my little Toyota Yaris. The same Yaris, by the way, that I took out on my 2008 Tour. Back then, the Yaris was brand spankin’ new. Today, it has a compiled a lovingly reliable 187,000 miles. I just realized that, by the way, as I was writing this paragraph. My, how the time flies.  The camper has been through a few revisions, and has had some press over at Tiny House Listings… Google “Bud Stratford camper” to find the articles, and they’ll pop right up, three articles in total.  Since I built it, the camper’s probably racked up well over 30,000 miles, and has been all over the western United States. You could probably build one for about $2500 or so; of course, I have a bit more than that invested in mine, with all the various revisions and rebuilds over the last three (or so) years. But even then, I’d be shocked if I had more than $3500 invested in the whole project.   Given that the Yaris still gets about 28 mpg while towing the camper, this is probably the most fun, functional, relaxing, and enjoyable way to experience the vast, wide-open wilds of America, on a threadbare budget. Whatever “vast, wide-open wilds” that remain, at least. And trust me, there aren’t that many left.  I know, because I’ve been looking. The camper was originally designed and built with long-distance snowboard expeditions in mind. Like, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for my annual pilgrimages to Mt. Bohemia. It didn’t dawn on me until quite some time later that this thing might actually work pretty well for summer camping, too. I can be a really short-sighted idiot like that, sometimes.  At first, I was a little disinclined to agree to, and follow through with, yet another overly-ambitious summer tour. I really didn’t think that I had it in me, and in any rate I suspected that the ‘ol knees would immediately protest and/or veto the whole shenanigans. But once I remembered the camper… all of a sudden, I was all about it. How much better could it really get, than to combine two of my favorite lifelong loves… skateboarding, and camping… into one big, epic adventure…?  I turned it over in my head a few times, and quickly realized that it cannot possibly ever get any better than that. The Tour was a go, and I was off like a herd of turtles.   

New NYC Skate Spaces

New NYC Skate Spaces

Sweet terrain at the new Golconda Playground.


Though the true essence of New York City skateboarding is rooted in the push down crowded streets and the hunt for spots scattered around them. The parks and shops that the city houses are top notch. To that end, Brooklyn has seen not only an expansive new public plaza, but also a new hole-in-the-wall skate space and full service shop open up over the past few months. To get a break from the dreaded crust of the East Coast, Concrete Wave set out for some smoother terrain at the new Golconda Playground in Dumbo and at SKATEYOGI in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

An amazing park under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.


Breaking ground in January of 2015, the effort to rejuvenate Golconda Playground was largely headed by NYC’s unofficial “Mayor of Skateboarding,” Steve Rodriguez. Now, the spot once dubbed “Fat Kid Spot” boasts 18,000 square feet of elements for skateboarders of all skill levels and disciplines. Two large pockets of different sized quarterpipes flank the park while a row of ledges runs along the side. A multitude of other features fill the center including hubbas, euro gaps, ledges, wall rides, stairs, a set of brick banks and even a pool. The best part is that its location under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway keeps most of the water from stormy weather out of the park.

SKATEYOGI is teaching the next generation.


Next, as school ended and the park began fulling up with kids, CW travelled over to revisit Kevin Banahan of SKATEYOGI to see the new space he can now call his own. Banahan’s “dream come true” features a miniature skate shop housing an assortment of NYC-based brands. In the back, there is a long corridor of modular ramps where SKATEYOGI’s after-school programs, group classes and private lessons go down. In an effort to fulfill his mission to spread the love of skateboarding to all ages in a fun and creative environment, Banahan’s new space gives skateboarding’s next wave of up and comers the perfect training facility. SKATEYOGI also hosts open skate sessions from 3-7PM on Saturdays, from 2-5PM on Sundays and from 6-7 during the week.

Wait, They Longboard?!

Wait, They Longboard?!

Like many of you, I am staring down 2017 with a mix of trepidation and excitement. I dread to see another world war but at the same time, I am excited for the future.  This upcoming year is going to be filled with an enormous amount of great things in skateboarding…I can feel it.  You want proof? Ok, Vin Diesel returns as Xander Cage the SAME DAY Trump is sworn in!    Without sounding too cliche, I have admit, change is difficult, but it’s worth embracing. Recently, my family and I changed our lifestyle. Nothing too radical but definitely different. We downsized from quite a large house to an apartment. On the plus side, no more worry about squirrels eating parts of my windowsill and no more driveway to shovel. At the same time, when you downsize, space becomes a premium. There wasn’t room for the boxes of magazines I had published over the years. My extensive skate quiver was also going to be a challenge to fit into our new place.  I spent most of November giving away most of what I had collected, bought, produced and/or hoarded in the past four decades. The joy of downsizing was matched only by the pain I thought I was going to experience through eliminating 90% of my stuff. It’s hard to say good bye to something you have truly given your heart and soul to. But, as Yogi Berra famously said: “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” Curiously enough, as I was going through my journey of minimizing, I spotted a documentary on this very subject on Netflix. Here’s the trailer: Minimalism is now playing on Netflix.The film resonated with me on a profound level. Minimalism isn’t about giving up stuff. It’s about embracing the things that really count. You don’t give up technology or clothing…you simply have less things. The old saying “less is more” is at the heart of a minimalist philosophy. At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “what the hell does this have to do with skateboarding?” Well, it turns out that one of the key people featured in the documentary is a skater. Ryan Nicodemus owns a Santa Cruz complete. His partner in the minimalist adventure is Joshua Fields Milburn. I am not sure if he skates, but his story is just as compelling as Ryan’s. I was so taken with the film that I wrote to the Minimalists (as they are known by). I explained that I ran a skate magazine and that I was intrigued to know more about Ryan’s skate background.  Pushing around Montana, Ryan’s hometown. The publicist got back to me pretty damn quickly and I had an opportunity to ask Ryan some questions. You’ll have to wait until our March issue to read them. Meanwhile, I encourage you to open up to the ideas of minimalism. You might be very surprised at what it can do for you.    Ryan only owns ONE longboard…but it does the job!   Learn more about a less is more lifestyle here.   

Great Skate Gift Ideas

Great Skate Gift Ideas

 Our associate editor Daniel Fedkenheuer has compiled a list of some fantastic gift ideas…all under $30. Happy holidays to all our readers and advertisers. I’ll be compiling my own list next week.Sk8ology – Click Carabiner Skate Tool – $12.99When you pack your car to the brim with boards and ramps, sometimes losing your keys and skate tool in the process is inevitable. For this, the world’s only skateboard tool designed to clip to your belt loops and bags is the perfect way to keep your essentials on hand.Available at:  Death Digital – Death Grip 2.0 VX Handle – $30This smartphone/GoPro handle combines the best of old and new school filming styles by fusing the classic feel of shooting VX footage with the ability to record on modern HD devices. It also features a shoe mount for external lighting options and a universal mount for additional attachments.Available at:  Lifeblood Skateboards – Lifeblood Slam Repair Kit – $19.95Every holiday season, my parents would slip a tooth brush into my stocking as a more sensible gift amidst the mounds of sugary candy. This all in one first aid kit has the same effect for the piles of presents otherwise consisting of new boards and shoes. Available at:  Monster Paint – Clear Spray On Griptape – $18For those looking to decorate the top plys of their decks and still see their creations, this awesome spray-on allows you to apply grip where you need it most. Each can holds enough to cover 5-6 40” longboards with two coats and takes just five minutes to dry.Available at: Andale Bearings – Marc Johnson Pro Rated Notepad Bearings – $29.95This box set comes complete with a notepad and pencil featuring art from Marc Johnson for your ever ending trick list and a fresh set of Pro Rated bearings and spacers to keep your ride smooth through the cold. Available at: The Board Pillow – $29.99For the groms on your shopping list who brave the cold to keep skating through the winter season, this pillow gives them something to warm up with as they continue to eat, sleep, skate. The washable covers feature graphics of everyone from Sean Malto to Christian Hosoi to Daewon Song.Available at: Shorty’s – Complete Finishing Kit: Tech Pack – $26.99This all in one kit is perfect for putting the finishing touches on a brand new setup. Equipping you with everything you need from grip tape to bearings and spacers to riser pads to anti-vibration silencers to a whole bunch of stickers, this pack has it all.Available at: – Genuine Parts Tool Kit – $24.95In relation to the last item, this second kit from Independent holds all the tools you need to assemble your setup and then some. In it, you can find a double sided wrench, a socket driver, a driver with attachments for flat, phillips and allen keys and extra hardware, axle nuts and kingpin bolts.Available at:  The Original Grip Gum – $5.99One of the greatest burdens I face on the East Coast when it finally warms up enough to hit the streets is the mess of sand and road salt left behind from the snow storms that cakes onto my grip tape. This cleaner removes the debris from your deck and keep it grippy.Available at: Powell Peralta – 2016 Holiday Ornaments 4PK – $21.00To round out this list, the undoubtedly most festive item is this 4 pack of Powell Peralta Holiday ornaments to add some stoke to the mess of snowmen and Santa Clauses on your tree. Available at:

The Karma Police Strike Again

The Karma Police Strike Again

 Three years ago we published a story about Troy Derrick. Troy is an RCMP in Vancouver, BC. His connection to skateboarding is a highly intriguing story which you can read here:  I promise you that you will find it fascinating. That’s the crazy thing about karma, it never fails to capture our imaginations. The reason why I am posting this story is that just a few days ago I found myself in one of the most extra-ordinary skate shops you’ll ever visit – Toronto’s very own So Hip It Hurts. Loaded to the gills with an incredible collection of goodies, the shop is a true jewel of Queen Street West. Upon entering the shop, my eye spotted this deck and I immediately got the reference. It would appear that Friendship Skateboard Company is taking a page from Welcome Skateboards and going for a vibe of  inclusion and fun. What a great take on a iconic image. Kevin Harris was instrumental in me putting together the book Concrete Wave. Hard to believe I’ve known him for almost 20 years. When I decided to do a post about this Friendship deck, it actually led me to this post which was written by Hippy Mike of Protest Skateboards and a fixture of the British Columbia skate scene. Three years ago I did not know Mike had written such an awesome introduction to the piece and I am so very happy to share it with you now. This past May, I finally got a chance to meet Troy at the Freestyle Round Up in Cloverdale. The Kevin Harris deck was first released in 1986, making this year the thirtieth anniversary. How very appropriate…or as I would say, pretty good karma. Watch Kevin blow your mind here – from Ban This:   

Nostalgia/Ephemera ain’t what it used to be

Nostalgia/Ephemera ain’t what it used to be

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!

The Evolutions DVD was released in 2006!

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.

10 Reasons to be Thankful

10 Reasons to be Thankful

I offer this list as a Canadian wishing my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving! 1. When you ship from Canada to the USA and the package gets there QUICKER than what they told you at the post office!  2. Trade shows in January in Long Beach – going from freezing cold to gorgeous heat   3. Knowing that more pumptracks are on their way – hello Miami! 4. Having friends in USA of all political stripes – and knowing that we can all agree that skateboarding is awesome. 5. Watching the NFL with my son on Sundays.  6. Realizing that the more I visit the USA, the less I understand it. Being at peace with the previous sentence. 7. Carlsbad, California – truly a perfect spot in an area of perfects spots.  8. Canadian Maple combined with American craftsmanship equals millions of happy skaters.  9. The incredible number of things that Americans invent…on a yearly basis! 10. The fact that Canadians and Americans share the world’s largest undefended border.  A sincere Happy Thanksgiving to all!    

Make Your Own 3D Printed Fingerboards

Make Your Own 3D Printed Fingerboards

With winter fast approaching, you might be wondering what you could do to pass the days. We hope this article will give you some inspiration to head down to your local library in search of a Makerbot! How to Make Custom 3D Printed Fingerboards What you’ll need: · 3D printer (if you don’t have one or want to buy one, many makerspaces and even libraries havethem)· Slicer software· Printer filament (I use PLA)· 2 fingerboard trucks with 5 mm x 8 mm bolt pattern*· 8 fingerboard screws*· 4 fingerboard wheels*· Mini Philips head screwdriver· Mini socket wrench (2.5mm) *Fingerboard parts can be ordered from  here: Steps: 1)   Open the custom fingerboard designer tool:  Since 3D modeling a custom skateboard can take a while, I created a tool to speed up the process. You can access this tool via (I recommend using Firefox or Chrome). Here’s a video describing how it works for the full-scale skateboard version, which is basically the same tool, except it uses larger numbers:  Simply change the numbers in each of the parameter boxes and click “Update” to render the new design. 2)   Generate a .stl file: Once you’ve designed a shape you like, you’ll need to generate a .stl file of the model. To generate a .stl of your board, click on the “Generate STL” button (leave the default settings). Then click “Download STL”. 3)   Prepare and print: Import your .stl file into your 3D printer software. Your settings will vary based on what type of printer you use, but you’ll likely need to generate supports, which add structure underneath the overhangs of your board (if you didn’t have supports, the overhanging features would fall down). It will probably take several tries and failed prints to get the settings right. Don’t give up! 4)   Finishing touches:Depending on your  printer, you may need to drill the  holes to fit  your bolts.  If necessary, use a1/16″ drill bit to drill them. For more into, click the photo below.  

Shop Profile: AZ-HI-AZ-I-AM

Shop Profile: AZ-HI-AZ-I-AM

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.

Filled to the brim with AZHIAZIAM gear


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.

Anyone remember Eppic Boards?

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.

View out the front of the shop window.


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!

Mike wonders if anyone get as high as he is...

Lost Girls Tribe – An Interview With Co-Founder Natalie Oaks

Lost Girls Tribe – An Interview With Co-Founder Natalie Oaks

I really enjoyed reading your manifesto and the founding of the Lost Girls Tribe. For those who haven’t read it, can you give us an synopsis?

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!

Candy Dungan has just joined the crew.

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.

Triad – Surf/Skate/Snow

Triad – Surf/Skate/Snow

As we roll into a colder season, give a thought to those lucky folks who live in California (and other places) who can surf, skate and snowboard all in the course of one day.  Dusters California decided to get a team together and celebrate the three terrains. The crew consisted of Dusters riders Tom Ryen, Justin Burbage and Malachi Greene, Cinematographer Brent Black and Dusters Creative Director Nano Nobrega. Tom is best known for his appearance skating and snowboarding in the Fuel Tv show “The Adventures of Danny & the Dingo.” Justin was born and raised on the east shore of Oahu surfing and skating all day every day and Malachi is a downhill machine out of Santa Cruz, CA.  Starting off the day at 7am, they headed to Breakwall, Venice Beach for a quick dip. The ocean was flooded with Los Angeleans from Burbank to PV, the conditions were glassy, but it was still a fun time nonetheless. After surfing was checked off the list, they moved east to skate one of San Bernardino’s most attractive skateparks, Fergusson Park.  From there, they headed up the mountain towards their final destination, stopping briefly for Malachi to get a taste of the gravel on the brand new Keen Downhill board. The Keen board - brand newOnce they made it to Big Bear Lake, the sun was long gone, but the gang still had time to get in a night session in at Snow Summit, ending the day with some icy carves and fun park features.   

What it Means to Belong

What it Means to Belong

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.

Evening Music Break


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.

Evening Music Break



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.

Skating to Halloween

Skating to Halloween

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.  



From the CW Archives: Rider Down

From the CW Archives: Rider Down

Hard to believe we’ve been publishing for 17 years. Every now and then, we’d like to showcase a story from our past. I am pleased to report that the person featured in this story is doing much better. But nine years ago,  John Van Hazinga was in a very different place. John had his life shattered by a horrendous fall. John in 2016We’ve reprinted our story from our Holidays 2007 edition. To learn more about John’s incredible ordeal, you can visit his blog. And if you find yourself in Burlington, Vermont be sure to check out his shop – Ridin’ High.   Check out this interview with John. It’s great to see he’s made a full recovery.  

Made in Venice Documentary

Made in Venice Documentary

Made In Venice is a documentary, directed and produced by Jonathan Penson. It features the inside story of the skateboarders of Venice, California, and their struggle to make the dream of a skatepark come true. The film is now being released nationally by award-winning indie distributor, Abramorama, following its sold out L.A. premiere. Watch a preview here: This feature-length documentary carries the viewer through the history of Venice to present day, as it tells the story of the decades it took a relentless crew of skateboarders, surfers and civic activists to convince the City of Los Angeles to build a skatepark in the area that gave birth to modern skateboarding. Made In Venice is not just a skate movie. It’s a tale of audacity, guts and hope filled with counterculture characters that overcame all obstacles to claim victory. Anyone that has fought for what they want can identify with this film. This is the story of visionaries that refused to give up the goal to build concrete terrain for future generations.The film captures the firsthand stories of 40-plus years of skateboarding in Venice that started with the Z-Boys, and continued with its legendary street skaters and the iconic Venice Skatepark. Never-before-seen Super-8 and early video footage, along with rare black and white stills, take you back to innovative demos on the Boardwalk and skating the walls of the Pavilion, as the Venice skaters pushed the boundaries of street skating and put it on the global map.As Dogtown and Z-Boys author and skateboarding’s resident historian, C.R. Stecyk III says, “Made In Venice is a step by step manifesto for skate/civic activism. It is a remarkable documentation of hard working visionary individuals transforming society.”Made In Venice features appearances by skateboarding legends, professionals, skatepark activists, skate icons and heroes: Jesse Martinez, Geri Lewis, Christian Hosoi, C.R. Stecyk III, Skip Engblom, Jay Adams, Jeff Ho, Aaron Murray, Scott Oster, Cesario “Block” Montano, Jim Muir, Tim Jackson, Ray Flores, Eddie Reategui, Eric Britton, Dave Duncan, David Hackett, Joey Tran, Pat Ngoho, Wally Hollyday, Jimbo Quaintance, Joff Drinkwater, Nathan Pratt, Solo Scott, Jamie Quaintance, Asher Bradshaw, Kiko Francisco and many more.

ModifyWatches X ConcreteWave

ModifyWatches X ConcreteWave

 Get 30% Off today on the Modify Watches X Concrete Wave magazine  Facebook: I teamed up with @modifywatches to design my own line of custom watches! Find my collection at ​ and use code ​CONCRETE30​ to get 30% off today! #wearyourpassion       Code valid through ​10/14/2016

The Editor Asks: “Hasn’t it always been okay to be a gay skateboarder…?

The Editor Asks: “Hasn’t it always been okay to be a gay skateboarder…?

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.


YNWH: “You’re Not Welcome Here”

YNWH: “You’re Not Welcome Here”

 YNWH: Skateboarding’s four most self-defeating words There’s this guy I know. Pretty well, actually. He runs a small microbrew skateboard company out of his garage. He personally hand-builds, hand-shapes,and hand-silkscreens every single skateboard that comes out of his ever-expanding workshop. He’s a true craftsman, an artist in every sense of the word.  Strange thing is, he’s not a particularly popular guy. At least, not insofar as his local skateboard community is concerned. Listening to him tell it, he’s practically hated. Or he thinks he is, at least. Apparently, he has been “blacklisted” and “86’ed” from more places than he can even keep track of. The local DIY… 86’ed. The local mini ramp… blacklisted. Special events, demos, and contests all over the region… banned. Intimidated out of his local coffee shop, even. There are a great many places where, apparently, he is just not welcome. In rare instances, he’s even been physically threatened and/or assaulted, just to insure that he would go well away, and never return. Why is this…? Well, it’s not because he’s a mean guy or anything; he’s actually one of the coolest chaps you could ever hope to meet. Pretty good skater, too. If I had to speculate, it’s more than likely because he’s a threat to the status quo. He’s a throwback to a time when skateboards were made with pride, by hand, and made to last. That’s a verboten paradigm in today’s world of disposable toothpicks. Shops won’t sell his boards, simply because they last too long. But kids keep on buying them anyway, directly from the craftsman himself, over and over again… which is a threat to the area businesses and brands that only peddle status quo. And, he talks. A lot. About deep stuff.Important stuff that the status quo definitely doesn’t want to hear, and absolutely does not want discussed or disseminated.  In short: he’s hated, because he’s a threatening outlier to their gravy train. A threat that has to be either entirely stopped, or at least effectively subdued.This case is not an isolated incident. Far from it, actually. For being as “forward-thinking”, “libertine”, “enlightened”, and “inclusionary” as we’d like to think we are as a lifestyle and a “culture”, the skateboarding world can still be a whole wide world of impenetrable andexclusive cliques, far too much of the time. Anything that steps outside of the accepted status quo does tend to get shunned, ostracized, belittled, or bullied. I’ve seen it happen, firsthand. Far too often, actually. Tony Hawk, of all people, comes immediately to mind. Hard as it may be for millenials to believe, Tony Hawk was not always the beloved skate superstar that he is today. In the early 1980’s, he was widely condemned for the highcrime of ollieing into his airs. Something that is so commonplace and accepted today that we take it completely for granted as an absolutely normal way toskate. But at the time? It was tantamount to high treason. It didn’t make him particularly popular with most of the “status quo”, that’s for sure; Duane even famously spit on him one time at Colton Skatepark, if I recall the story correctly. He got ridiculed and made fun of a lot for “cheating” at skateboarding. It must’ve really sucked. Duane’s spit is probably some pretty gnarly shit.  Nowadays, Tony gets the last laugh. He’s a skateboard superstar zillionaire that every kid (and many adults) love, respect, and admire. And the detractors learned a tough lesson there: never make fun of the future.  Unfortunately, skaters can’t remember tough lessons for a damn sometimes.  Women in skateboarding have had it pretty rough over the years. It’s true. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a female get “shamed” by guys for skateboarding, I’d probably be able to put the keyboard down, retire to Fiji, and drink Mai-Tais forever. Sometimes, it’s outright bullying. Other times, it’s a bit more subtle and understated. Nyjah Huston once opined, quite publicly, that skateboarding is not for girls at all. In many ways, our “culture” has been telling girls and women for decades that they’re just not welcome here. That they don’t measure up, that they don’t have what it takes. That this is a boys club, and a boys club only.  Thankfully, that perception is starting to change. But it’s been a very slow, and very painful process. It certainly hasn’t been particularly easy for anyone. Especially the girls.Patti McGeeMaybe this is just perception at work. Maybe it’s not as bad as it all seems. But when we, as an industry, actually have to produce and market a product that says “Girl Is Not A Four Letter Word”, then we certainly have a very real problem on our hands, not just a perception problem. A problem that, unfortunately, does not begin and end with the likes of Nyjah Huston. If there wasn’t a very real problem at work, then why would we ever need such a product, or such a statement, in the first place…? There are other examples. Listening to a lot of uneducated imbeciles telling me that I’m too tall and far too fat to ride skateboards has been a constant throughout my life. It’s true: I’m ridiculously towering, and a lot bigger-boned than I probably should be. Thankfully though, I’m not predispositioned to acquiesce to the perceptions of uber-ignorant and over-opinionated assholes trying to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. That’s a nice way of saying “Get Bent”, by the way. My stance has always been that if I wanna take my 300-lb ass out to go for a roll, well buddy, I’d like to see you try to stop me from doing so. Dumb dudes aren’t inclined to take me up on that, because they’re at least intelligent enough to realize that saying “no” to a hugely sarcastic steamroller probably isn’t the wisest of propositions. Being a giant of a fat skateboarder, then, definitely has its benefits. Yeah, my tre flips might be mob as hell, and getting my ass and my belly to properly stand up on a 5-0 isn’t quite as simple or easy as it used to be. But at least nobody picks on me for sucking at skating. Probably because at the end of the day, I can still knock you on your ass. And there’s not a damn thing that you’re gonna do about it, either. But my question is, who’s gonna stand up for everyone else? My buddy ain’t exactly a burly buffster that can drive over his detractors and knock ’em on their asses. He’s only about 5’5”, maybe 150 lbs wet, and half of that is probably tied up in his beard alone. He’s not the sarcastic steamroller that I am. And neither are most girls. Or the Tony Hawk geeklings of the world. And for that matter, neither is 99.999% of the population at large. I suppose that, given my giant-sized proportions, I could easily and happily play The Jerk, assume a fascist philosophy, and exclude anybody and everybody that I didn’t personally like (or even agree with) from my favorite spots and scenes. I could even enforce that fairly effectively, if I reallywanted to. I’d probably make a pretty brilliant bully, if I was inclined to be one. It might be nice to have spots all to myself and my crew once in a while without a zillion flailers, newbies, ego trippers, and skate-hipsters stinking the place up.  Problem is, that mindset fundamentally goes against everything that I think skateboarding should be about. In my world, skateboarding should be better than that. And being a guy with a lot of personal pride, I’m also a lot better than that. I don’t like everybody in the skateboard world. And I certainly don’t agree with everybody, either. But, I’ll tell ya this: everybody and anybody is always welcome to come skate with me, anytime they want. Because that’s the spirit of the whole thing. That’s what skateboarding should be all about. Anyone that doesn’t agree with that, in my world, isn’t really a skateboarder at all. They’re just being dicks.  The cool thing about being as cool as I am, is that I get a lot of genuine love in return from everybody. Even though I can’t skate for a damn, I still get invited to all sorts of swanky spots and scenes to skate, hang out, take it all in, and live it up. That’s kind of sweet, isn’t it…? Well, I think it is. If and when I actually stop and think about it for a few minutes, I’m forced to admit that my entire life has been the net sum of being invited, with open arms and smiling mugs, to all sorts of neat places for all kinds of cool stuff. I doubt that I would have ever had it so good, if I’d been a ginormous dick to everybody that I’d ever met. “Cool is a universal language”, that’s my mantra. And if you play the role, and play it well, then you’ll get to go really far in life. Kinda like I have, I guess. My buddy pointed something out today that I thought deserved to be noted. Encouragement is actually pretty damn easy to do. Hate, division, and exclusion, by comparison, seem like they would require an awful lot of time and energy to pull off. Being a walking bummer seems like it would be a lot of work. So, why in the hell do people do it…? Is it to protect their vested interests in being King Catcrap or something…? Maintaining an air of “legitimacy” among other hateful, divisive, and exclusionary jugheads? Maybe selling a few more units of product to a hopelessly jaded and cynical marketplace? I guess I just don’t get it. It all seems rather pointless to me. Lame never really got anybody anywhere, did it…? Not long-term, at least. Thankfully, The Industry has taken a few steps to combat this sort of horseshit. We do, after all, have those “Girl is not a four letter word” completes all over the place. They do promote girls contests and jams (finally), and there is (thankfully) a lot of ethnic and age diversityamongst our pro and sponsored amateur ranks as well. The Industry realizes that being less welcoming and inclusive usually means less hardgoods and softgoods sales to their target lifestyle market. The Industry, quite smartly, won’t tolerate sacrificing perfectly profitable sales to subsidize ingrained cultural idiocy. I’d like to see it taken a step further. Why can’t we have “Bullies are just dicks” ads, stickers, and completes…? That might be a swell seller. If anybody ever has the cajones to produce and market such a campaign, I’d get right behind it. I’m sure Mike would, too. Maybe if we could get Tony to wear a “Bullies are just dicks” shirt everywhere he went, then maybe somebody would start paying attention to the problem. I mean, who’s gonna argue with Tony…? Besides Duane..?Regardless of what The Industry does or doesn’t do, at the end of the day, when I die… and given my penchant for unhealthy livin’, that death probably isn’t all that far off… I’d really like the nine (or so) people that are actually gonna remember me, to remember me as a really swell guy that was always pretty cool to everybody. But especially to my fellow skaters.  Skateboarding has given me so much, and filled my life story with so many epic memories, that I figure it’s the very least I could do in return. Skateboarding would probably be in a way better place if more skaters actually thought and felt the same way I do, and stood their ground on it. Bud Stratford is probably the only moron on the planet that’s actually made a “career” out of writing highly principled essays about skateboarding. If you wanna tell this quack what a jerk he is, feel free to flog him on Facebook.

New York City – A Guide for Newcomers

New York City – A Guide for Newcomers

 The Broadway Bomb is almost upon us and if you’re planning on visiting the City to ride, here are some tips that will definitely make your experience that much better.  Use the bike lanesWhile the streets are ours to roam, the cars that dominate them will not stop for you. Thats where the bike lanes come in. Giving you a space free from cars from the street and free from the crowds from the sidewalk, skating the bike lanes keep you as close to the rush of the city’s streets in the safest way possible. Note: Bike lanes will save you from cars, but not from bikers. Don’t think that a Citi Bike rider will show you the same level of caution that a cab driver would.
Keep your eyes downThe streets in New York are crusty in the best of times. Add pot holes, metal plates and other trash and debris and you’ll get thrown if you cannot  carve around these obstacles in time. Big, soft wheels can save you from some of the smaller bumps and cracks in the road but if you’re running hard, small wheels, you especially need your eyes down.
Watch out for bystanders and passerby’sAt the same time, you need to spend an equal amount of time keeping your eyes up. To the tourists, you’re a street performer. To the locals, you’re a nuisance. Either way, most people will not get out of your way. Avoid the hassle of the Parks departmentThe parks department makes skating most of the city’s parks unskatable. At most of the city’s most popular parks, they are known to issue to summons to unwelcome riders. It’s best not to take the risk and to find a spot where skateboarding is either ignored or, even better, encouraged. Be aware that the skateparks turn into mob scenes at peak hoursThe skateparks in NYC are some of the most well constructed and well laid out parks in the world. However, from the late morning until there is no more light to see, these parks get insanely crowded.Steer clear of Times Square at all costsEverything that makes Times Square magical for tourists is everything that makes skateboarders dread riding in this area. Scores of people, the most congested traffic in the entire city and a lack of skatable street spots are far from a skater’s ideal NYC skateboarding trip to the city. Definitely best not to waste time here if you have a board with you.Skitch at your own riskThough skating through the city’s streets may feel like a video game, skitching through them like a character in a Tony Hawk game is extremely risky. Jeff Gaites, owner of Uncle Funky’s Boards, once told me a story of how he was left clinging to the side of a delivery truck after being lifted off his board while skitching downtown. Since then, that story sticks in my head as all the reason I’ll ever need to not give it a try.Know your surroundingsGetting lost could be a good thing. You’re never too far from public transportation that can get you back to a familiar area and you never know what spots lie around the corner. To that end, though, some areas are rough and not meant for the exploratory skater. If you go in with a plan and feel out the areas as you go, you’ll do fine. However, remain cautious of where you end up and who’s near. Travel lightly, take caution putting your belongings downWhile it’s also more comfortable to skate without a pack weighing down your back, it is best to travel lightly in a city where there really are no good places to drop your things while you skate. There have been countless stories of stolen bags and cameras gone missing. It would be wise to only carry the absolute essentials on your person to avoid becoming the next one of those stories.Don’t get intimidated by your fellow skaters but respect themIn a city this grand, expect there to be the best of the best. Expect the skaters that are “too cool” for you. Most of all, don’t be too put off by their skills to skip out on practicing your own. If you stay clear of their lines and respect their area as they respect yours, you’ll rarely have any issues with fellow skaters. If you have a board under your feet, you’re just as entitled to skate the greatest city in the world as they are. BONUS: If you have never seen this 2013 video of the Broadway Bomb, you’re in for a treat.  

The Ten Things That You Need To Know About Skateboarding Right Now

The Ten Things That You Need To Know About Skateboarding Right Now

(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.

Bobby Piercy at Catalina. Photo: Warren Bolster

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.

Neal Unger - 60 something.

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…

Isamu Yamamoto cranks out one wheeler. Photo: Jim Goodrich

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…?


Road Rage III

Road Rage III

If you are anywhere near San Diego on Saturday, October 15th, make sure you check out Road Rage III. The fun begins at noon and goes all the way to 5pm. It’s power lies in the local skate community. This is an all-day slide session, ramp jam, barbeque, and gravity pursuit of speed-crazed mayhem! Road Rager III is a downhill skateboarding event welcoming all skaters, all ages, all skill levels. Presented by and Bustin Boards, Road Rager III is the first in a series of three local collaborative Southern California community skate events.  For more info, visit their Facebook page.