What is it about aluminium? What draws you to it?
AlumBoards started as a hobby around 10 years ago. My father and family run a sheet metal fabrication business and always practice high standards for their customers who are mostly pharmaceuticals and large production factories, with the occasional projects in custom home design. Metal was a resource I always had at my disposal to be creative for my personal projects. The first longboard that I built for myself was an Aluminum pintail based shaped similar to a Sector 9 cosmic 2. It weighed over 10lbs and was half an inch thick and all hand cut with a band saw. It was great for sliding in parking garages and one to run away from when torpedoing downhill. Since then my personal goal was to make a metal deck that I would legitimately pick over my favorite wooden boards when going out to board on a daily basis. Aluminum became the material of choice after trying a variety of metals because it is lighter, doesn’t rust, naturally grips to the foot, and actually has smooth dampening effect like softer woods to make for a comfortable ride.
The Collegiate Skate Tour is truly making a difference
Every year, Collegiate Skate Tour Founder Keegan Guizard makes it out to New York City for one of four different events in the tour’s annual circuit. This year’s stop in Astoria, Queens was more inclement than expected, but served its purpose nonetheless: to encourage higher education for skateboarding youths.
Before the event, Guizard and I were able to chat before the rain to learn a bit more about how the tour started and where it is going. After a college career at North Carolina State, Guizard started a successful skateboarding club. It was praised for its support to the local community and Guizard sought to expand this positivity. As a result, the Collegiate Skate Tour was born as the first national contest circuit aimed at promoting college and skateboarding.
As an alumni himself and a full-time employee in the skateboarding industry, Guizard has seen that the opportunity for skateboarders to be successful in the professional workforce is present. With that end goal of success in mind, the Collegiate Skate Tour helps promote the idea that college is not only accessible but achievable. From there, the tour helps youths in pursuit of higher education realize the potential for college to propel and to conquer their life goals.
By the same token, Guizard is also aware of the financial hurdle posed by higher education and seeks to use the tour as an answer for that as well. Plans for the immediate future include a non-profit scholarship offered to dedicated, college-bound skateboarders.
Under an ominous looking sky, hundreds of skaters in both student and non student divisions descended upon a slick park to put on a show. With NYC local Billy Rohan on the mic, skaters hailing from Oakland University to UMass Amherst to all across New York, made the best of the wet conditions.
Over the course of the afternoon, skateboarding’s potential college proteges tore up several heats of jam sessions and a best trick contest, greeted in the end by product tosses and prize packages. On top of that, all left with the message that higher education is both attainable and achievable through skateboarding on the Collegiate Skate Tour.
A video recap of the event:
Next up is Carlsbad on November 12
What are some of the reasons you started Breezy Boards?
Brianna (Breezy) Enders: Skating has always been something that I’ve felt deeply connected to, a passion that was sparked the moment I first stepped on a board at the age of 10 and was fueled by the encouragement and support from my parents throughout my life.
Longboarding is everything to me; a creative outlet to express yourself with physical determination and unique style, a personal release to free yourself from the troubles and worries of daily life, a way to bond with others and bring people together and, for a few fun years, my main mode of transportation. The dynamic nature of longboarding – ranging from a truly personal, meditative experience, to a way to get around town without fighting for a parking space – is something that I’ve always felt compelled to share with my friends, family and colleagues. Breezy Boards is how I hope to tap into the minds and hearts of people on a larger scale, while submersing myself in my life-long passion to produce and distribute badass, shred-able boards. My focus for Breezy Boards is as simple as this:
1. Longboarding is good for the soul. I strive to provide personal insight, approachable knowledge and unique, quality boards to present people with the opportunity to fall in love with skating.
2. People are wonderfully talented, creative, passionate and driven. Since longboarding is such a versatile and inclusive activity, I believe that Breezy Boards is the perfect platform to promote the wealth of human capacity, with a focus on the local St. Pete, Tampa Bay and Florida communities.
3. Ventures, ideas and individuals thrive with human interaction. Establishing connections, developing relationships and sharing experiences is valuable and rewarding beyond measure. Breezy Boards fosters the importance of shared experiences and successes.
What have been some of the biggest challenges?
I’ve faced a few challenges in the startup phase that were off-putting, sometimes even debilitating, but taught myself to channel them into positive reactions and efforts. Initially, Breezy Boards was an incredibly exciting concept, with expansive possibility for growth and seemingly endless potential (and still is!) which was incredibly overwhelming for someone who was working full time through college and buried under a never-ending course load. The idea was ultimately put on the backburner, twice, before utilizing my studies in mass communications,
journalism and entrepreneurship to develop a solid foundation for the company. This invaluable tug of war of “What Breezy Boards could be” and “What’s the next step for Breezy Boards” taught me that it’s okay to dream big and have grandiose plans, but that I need to hone my focus on the execution of the next immediate task at hand, in order to be successful.
Another challenge has been a bit of a female complex. Although I am utterly confident in my industry knowledge and physical abilities, it always seems as if I have to answer 20 questions to prove that I’m worthy of owning a skateboard company and am capable of speaking intelligently on the subject. Honestly, it makes me love what I do even more, breaking into both the skateboard and business worlds as a headstrong, determined female presence, and fuels me to keep “kicking ass and taking names,” a favorite idiom of encouragement I often receive from Corey, my loving stepdad.
Launching Breezy Boards as a young female entrepreneur, fresh out of college, was a daunting task in itself and there have been some obstacles along the way, but the way I look at it, all of the taxing, draining or difficult tasks that I have to push through or find ways to overcome are all just part of the process. Breezy Boards is my conceptual child, a product of my personal passion, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to foster its growth and development, to see my vision through to its fullest potential.
What are some of the things you are most proud of as it relates to the company?
First off, I just want to say that I’m damn proud of the fact that I took the leap into business ownership, after years of toying with the idea for Breezy Boards. It’s incredibly humbling to have friends from grade school say “I remember back in middle school when you talked about having your own longboard company, and now you do!” I feel it was just a matter of time before I turned this dream into a reality.. and I couldn’t be happier with the steps I’ve taken to launch Breezy Boards successfully and the response it’s received from the local community.
The three things I’m most proud of, in relation to Breezy Boards: The Street Team, the Launch Party and the Adjective Dragon board collection.
The Breezy Boards Street Team is comprised of a group of genuine, respectable and selfless individuals who support Breezy Boards and its vision. Levels of participation and engagement vary, but that’s the beauty of the Street Team! It’s a platform that allows people to be involved with Breezy Boards and its on-going projects in whatever capacity they choose. Members have helped coordinate and run events, design graphics and event flyers, skate and model for the Breezy Boards Lookbook (which is currently in production,) and even helped grip and assemble the debut board collection in preparation for the Launch Party. I believe that the DIY and grassroots approach is the best way to appropriately convey the ideals and principles that are at the heart of Breezy Boards. Establishing and developing a team of like-minded individuals who are eager to contribute to the success of Breezy Boards has been truly humbling throughout the startup phase and I look forward to expanding the Street Team in the future.
With the help of the Street Team, Breezy Boards hosted an insanely successful and epic Launch Party on Friday the 13th at the local World of Beer in May, 2016. We partied into the night, celebrating the official launch of Breezy Boards with four local bands, a killer merch booth set up, local beers on draft, a logo-splattered photo op backdrop, locally-themed raffle prizes and pizza served from a freaking fire truck! It was the result of 8 months of planning and promoting, concurrently with senior classes, projects, finals and graduation, paired with a slew of “holy shit, is this going to happen?” moments, most notably just barely having the boards arrive in time for the event.. but it all came together for one of the most amazing, memorable nights of my life and am grateful for
everyone who played a part in its success. Oh yeah, and it was my birthday, too!
The Launch Party, in all of its festive glory, was not just a community event celebrating the initiation of Breezy Boards, it was also the first public display of the debut Breezy Boards collection, Adjective Dragon! This collection of boards is more than just your average run of longboards. Its shape was designed specifically for the local terrain, the city streets of downtown St. Pete, and features five original pieces of deck art created by individuals within the Tampa Bay area. The artists, sourced through word of mouth and social media campaigns, participated in an art contest that I hosted in October and November, 2015, for the chance to have their artwork printed on 20 of the 100-board collection. The results were astounding and I meticulously selected the top five entries to represent the debut line of Breezy Boards. The entire process and integration of local artists was a unique, fresh idea that I hadn’t seen before.
Tell me about one of your most memorable longboard experiences.
I have more memories associated with longboarding than could fill a pensieve (sorry, I had to get at least one Harry Potter reference in there) from skating the Island of Venice – where I’d skate through the open-air high school to get to and from my classes, cruise to the beach in between school and drumline or newspaper or whatever I had that day and hit up the little hospital parking garage or the north bridge with friends after dark – taking a stack of boards on the public busses up to Sarasota to hit the gnarlier spots with my skateboarder friends on the weekends, to exploring the city of St. Pete after relocating for college.
I did lots of dumb stuff, like try to street luge a crazy hill in a bathing suit, getting the wheel tangled in my hair and sliding bare-back down the pavement with my board attached at the roots. I’d skate through parks, kicking my board under a picnic table, length-wise and jumping up and running across the table top to land back on the board as it came out on the other side… Skating in dresses and tights to my fancy hostess jobs through college (eating shit once and working the full shift with a torn up knee, bleeding through the hole in my stockings without anyone noticing) and anger skating home from a shit serving shift, power sliding too hard and slamming my head on the curb, lying there concussed for a bit and then slowly skating my way back home.
The most pivotal moment was that first time Jeff Yarrington put me on one of his boards at the annual family 4th of July picnic in Maryland in 2002. With the nod of approval from my parents, he gave me a quick rundown of how to position myself on the board and sent me racing down the parking lot. I’ve been hooked ever since, truly and utterly consumed by my love of longboarding.
Who are some of the artists you’ve worked with?
Endorsing the talent and vision of local artists is an extremely important aspect of Breezy Boards and I make an effort to team up with and promote area artists for every project possible. This was the driving concept for the Adjective Dragon collection, which features original artwork from five Tampa Bay area artists. The lineup of artists, along with their winning board designs, are:
● Kelly Owen – Basic Dragon
● Dylan Haught – Fat Dragon
● Deanna Marinello – Mystical Dragon
● Jessica (Bam Bam) Sarlis – Nom Nom Dragon
● Cameron Miller – Unborn Dragon
Breezy Boards has also worked with local artists to create graphics and flyers, including Street Team members Dylan Carney and Kayla O’Brien , as well as local photographers Laia Gore , Casey Nelson and Alison Rosoff . I worked with my cousin, Darren Simons , to design and create the Breezy Boards logo in 2014 and have plans to continue working together on some exciting projects.
Website – www.ridebreezyboards.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/breezyboards
Instagram – @ridebreezyboards
Twitter – @SkateBreezyDTSP
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.
Last weekend Barcelona hosted its first Women in Board & Action Sports Conference. Over 50 women gathered from all over Europe to enjoy four days of inspirational conferences, networking, wakeboarding, skateboarding and dirtbiking. This was the 7th annual event.
The event kicked off with a webinar with Women’s Skateboarding Alliance’s Mimi Knoop and Mahfia TV’s Kim Woozy. There was a interesting debate about how to make yourself valuable and start a successful career in the action sports industry.
To wrap up the first day of conferences, Cameron Norsworthy from the Flow Centre, told the group what the scientific definition of ‘Flow’ is and how they use it to work with athletes and improve their performance.
The two day conference also focused on entrepreneurship, technology and content marketing. Delegates enjoyed some of the best facilities around the Barcelona Province: Saturday evening they wakeboarded in the Malamar Wakepark and Sunday they jumped on dirt bikes in La Poma Bike Park guided by local bikers Gemma Corbera and Laura Celdrán. They finished the weekend on a skateboard in the Skate Agora skatepark with JM Roura and Louisa Menke.
For more info, visit womeninboardsports.com
At a time in skateboarding when most people seem to be more frenzied about how our beloved lifestyle might be stripped from its counter-culture roots to become an Olympic spectacle, I took a two hour drive from North Jersey to South Philadelphia.
And on a crisp Saturday morning, I walked into a scene of people who seemed not to have a care in the world as to how the Olympic committee might interpret a kickflip differently from a 360 flip.
Instead, a couple dozen skaters all of ages and backgrounds were already warming up and rehearsing runs they’d practiced well in advance for the day’s event. Here, there were no national anthems, no ten stairs and no sportscasters detailing what was going down. Instead, Philly’s own AJ Kohn was behind the mic, warning the participants that they had only 10 minutes left before the 7th Annual Philly Freestyle Championships kicked off.
As I grabbed a seat to watch the action unfold, I must admit that even with my board in hand, I felt like a bit of an outsider to this scene. As a street skater who rarely even looks at spots unless there’s at least a curb or a parking block, and as an Instagram user who’s become familiar with the coverage from today’s modern skateboarding contents, I was completely unprepared to the level of skill I was seeing before me.
Some skaters had their songs planned out while others focused on setting up multiple boards for Daffy Manuals in their runs. While some chose the more stationary approach for their hand plants and rail flips, some skaters made use of the whole basketball court we were on to blast into some screeching powerslides. For the next several hours, I watched skaters from novices to pros, who travelled in from Colorado, California and even from Sweden to skate the flatground at Rizzo Rink. A bunch of talented, dedicated individuals in their own world, doing their own thing. And killing it.
A personal favorite skater of mine was Tim Morris. A teacher by day who has been working his way back from a knee injury took the 40+ Masters division by storm. After an impressive display of sweeping manuals and caspers, Morris landed himself on top of the podium of the Masters with a couple of impressive runs. I spoke to him briefly afterwards and he expressed concern over his knee holding up before the contest’s 360 spin competition was set to take place. Evidently, the injury was a non-issue as Morris ended up the victor of that phase of the competition too.
I drove back to New Jersey later that weekend but kept my outsider’s take on this contest as a beacon of hope. A beacon of hope for the potential that skateboarding’s core shralpers can still provide to a world dominated by “9-Club” scores and Olympic hysteria.
Check out the video below:
It’s Saturday morning, 11.00 am, the morning after a Friday night out in the town celebrating the beginning of the weekend. Newquay is a town in Cornwall, England. This is the town where memories are made; the reckless ones, the wild ones, and the ones that leave you beaten and bruised by the power of the hill.
Gathered today at the bottom of our favorite hill, located just off the main street in town, are the fellow longboarders living amongst the concrete waves of Newquay. As hills go, the one looming over us could be described as more of a gentle bimble; lush terrain, a sloping decline leading into a sweeping car park, a hill accommodating for all abilities.
Newquay is simply an incredible venue to hold a skate event. The sun shines at least once in the 2 months of our ‘supposed’ summer and today, is the chosen day for some ‘half decent’ weather! With the lack of breeze, speed wobbles will be simply carried out without the wind helping to throw us aboard and thane lines appear easily with the heated concrete. Sweat builds and the heat of the event rises.
As we reach midday, the adrenalin begins to bubble and the rise of the longboarders slowly takes place. To my right, is one of my closest friends and to my left, is the designated camera man of the day, complete with bubble wrap from head to toe and a hip flask of JD to calm his nerves as he watches us zoom down the hill. He’s also got a helmet of his own to protect his livelihood from us fellow adrenalin junkies flying off our boards and straight at him. Dotted here and there, are the many skaters in their personal domains, giving themselves individual pep talks, some clutching their boards, most likely giving them a one to one, asking for their wood to look after them and some distracting themselves by laughing off the nerves in the pits of their stomachs, man’ing up nicely!
With all the usual accompaniments that follow a downhill skating event; at least 30 cans of Monster Energy, 6 packs of cookies from the local Londis and various other necessities, we’re finally ready to begin the downhill spiral. Slide gloves, leathers and pads fitted securely, complete set ups at the ready, numerous skate tools lying at the side of the hill and spare wheels rolling around in the boots of cars.
Skaters are shredding in their very own individual way demonstrating their own styles. The down low, soulful, floor touching Zephyr wanna’be’s, the sketchy, quick speed freaks simply attacking the road and the calm collected, wary skaters obtaining levels of control as oppose to the few adrenalin junkies creating havoc on the hill. Ryan Beer, one of Newquay most talented boarders, begins to set the pace as his board violates the hill, speed ever increasing. Ryan throws in a stand up pendulum, thane lines appearing behind him, a trace of pure remaining stoke. ‘The outlines of adrenalin, the remainders of a successful shred!’ Shortly behind Ryan is Alf Underwood, another of Newquay’s talented downhill skaters.
Alf has his own unique style and his aggressive pumping and his striking skate stance sends him souring around the bottom corner, with an incorporated sit down slide to end his shred. Matt Houlton, fellow conformed short boarder to long boarder, a changed man as we say, tears up the tarmac shortly behind; leaving little, if any time at all for the camera man to switch from preview image, to take a shot. Matt simply cares about the road ahead, the free ride, the pure gnar and simply rides for the freedom. Matt skates a Hybrid board, combining short and long board into one. Matt adds a whole new element to the event.
All downhill events aren’t complete without their very own complimentary blood bath and you’re sure to leave with a few souvenirs! Plenty of scars, bruises and grazes left on your skin for you to brag about your battle damage to the ladies later on. Road rash smeared like crunchy peanut butter from head to toe, leathers holy and torn, wheels beginning to bite popped bearings and sweat dripping. It may all sound rather gory and unappetizing, yet that is what longboarding events are all about. They’re a breed of their own. They’re not glorified, they’re real!
As the day sweeps subtly to an end, all skaters gather at the foot of the hill, some beaten and bruised by concrete kisses and some just so simply full of stoke, all memories of road rash are erased and replaced with pure gnar. The sun is slowly setting and the tummies of fellow tarmac temptress’s rumble, so it’s a call to the local pizza joint, order placed, beers chilling in the fridge and boards safely tucked away in the boots of our cars.
We all know the drills, prizes are awarded and the trophies are handed out. Some more amusingly labeled than others and the faces of sweaty skaters show the pure enjoyment and adrenalin that was endured throughout the day.
‘Until next time…’
Got something to share about your scene? Send it up and we’ll happily spread the word.
I’ve known EG Fratantaro for close to 20 years. He was one of the founding folks at Sector 9. A while back he opened up Hand Plant in Laguna Beach. This kicks off a new feature here on our website.
What makes Laguna Beach so special in your eyes?
Laguna has strong roots in surfing and skateboarding along with its deep ties in art. Laguna Beach has always had a different feeling from the rest of Orange County. Its beautiful hills, incredible beaches and community vibe make it one of the best places to live on earth. We have nice hills to skate but no park yet, nut we are going too change that.
What were some of the reasons for you starting up a shop? Handplant was founded out of a need to have a truly hardcore skate shop here in Laguna Beach. There was nothing like it, still isn’t, and we wanted a shop that had a boutique feeling without being to fruity.
You were one of the pioneers of marketing and promoting longboards. What are some of your favorite memories of the times when most shops said NO, we won’t carry longboards.
Oh man there are so many of those stories. We literally paved the way and it wasn’t easy. Still to this day the hard core skate crew are still questioning it. But if you have the right product and family of friends to back it then you can make it happen.
If you ran the world, what are one or two things you would do in skateboarding to change things.
Shit I’ve been skateboarding for over 35 years now and I’ve watched it change and changed it as well. So as far as change, we’ll we did that when I worked at Sector 9. Only other change I would really want is for the companies to stay true, don’t sell out, it’s a lifestyle so deal with it or kick rocks. Oh and take it out of the Olympics, that’s shits whack!
Hello Eric, you are the founder and owner of one of the first skateshops in France. HawaiiSurf has a huge selection of skateboards, longboards and other boards and this is a place you can’t ignore if you are looking to ride a board. We have four questions for you.
1 and 2 Why a skate and surf shop in Paris and how did it all start?
It started in summer 1976. I had missed my graduation. I was 17, I was on vacation in Biarritz where I rode my skateboard. I had to find something to do after the holidays. Studying was not for me. Meanwhile, I got more and more addicted to skateboarding!
Going back to Paris, I met up with an architect who worked with my father and it was here I decided to start my skateboard shop.
In the beginning it was called the Skateboarder’s House. In Paris and in all of France, it was at the heart of the skate scene. People rode for fun.
I preferred to offer more advanced products coming directly from the United States. These include mythical boards from Gordon & Smith or Ampul for example. We also manufactured our own skateboards.
And then, one day, I left my surf board at the shop. The customers liked it, so I decided to diversify products by offering surfboards, and even Speed Sail and snowboards! This is how the Skateboard’s House became HawaiiSurf. And it worked!
Paris is a hub and there is a very large community of all kind of riders: surfers, skaters and snowboarders. Hawaiisurf was the only shop to offer their toys for their passion! The only difficulty was to be located on the outskirts of Paris. We have invested a lot in advertising, leaflets and press. We were everywhere when it was about gliding and riding a board!
3- How does Hawaiisurf differ from other shops?
Passion – without hesitation! This is the kerosene of Hawaiisurf! In the shop everyone rides: surf, snow, skate, longboard and rollerskates. We’re bad brats and welcome bad brats! This is what makes us strong! The difference between us and the other shops is that we created the trend and instilled it in France! We always were there vanguard! We were the first shop to import boards to France and to manufacture them. We were the first to market Burton in France
We rummage around the world to find the pearls. These include trucks with a brake that are from Australia, or the Rio skates in England. The products come from all over and come to us before the trend starts. Our guideline is boarding makes you sweat. This is carried by human energy and external elements: nature and the street! We made our choices based on that and the passion that drives us.
4- What is your best memory at the store?
Undoubtedly, the visit of Tony Alva! He is part of the guys who inspired me throughout my youth. In 2009, Ray Barbee and Paul Van Doren went down to the “cellar Momo.” This is the place in the basement of the shop where I store my collection of skateboards and surf.
They were like children! Their eyes shined from all the product I had collected. They found a Dogtown board I customized myself and they signed it. A unique space and a good time with brats!
(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…
Along with all the “-isms” that we’ve inherited from The Mainstreaming, we also have a shit-ton of new “rules” to follow, as well… as dictated by The Controlling Cliques, The Elitist Element, and The Mainstream Media (which includes every Tom, Dick, and ignorant, uneducated, and unenlightened Harry these days)… which only serve to pander to everybody’s desire to make a quick buck, and to massage everybody’s over-inflated egos and latent insecurities. “This is a skateboard. This is not a skateboard. This is a skateboarder. This guy is not a skateboarder. Skateboarding can only be done this way. You can’t skate that way. You have to skate this kind of board. You suck if you have that kind of board. You have to buy it at this shop. You can’t buy it at that shop. You have to do these tricks. You can’t do those tricks. You have to wear these shoes, shirts, and pants to be cool. If you wear those shoes, shirts, and pants, then you’re lame. You have to listen to this kind of music. You suck if you listen to that kind of music. You can only skate these spots. You can’t skate that skatepark. You can’t have that style. You can’t push mongo. You have to think like a clone. You cannot, under any circumstance, think for yourself…” And on and on and on it goes. So much for “unfettered freedom and colorful diversity”, huh…?
The problem with skateboarding is that it is, on a very foundational and fundamental level, a uniquely self-defining, self-determining pastime that ends up being an excellent… too excellent, perhaps… conduit for self-exploration, self-empowerment, and self-discovery.
Now, note how many times “self” appears in that sentence. Not, your parents. Not, your buddies. Not, your enemies. Not, your peers. Not, your aunts and uncles. Not, your teachers, principals, and guidance counselors. Not, your boss. Not, your girlfriend (or boyfriend). Not, the skateboard industry. Not, the skate shop down the street. Not, your skateboard hero. You. Yourself. Your self. You make these rules regarding when, where, and how you are going to engage with, and enjoy skateboarding. Not, somebody else. This used to be skateboarding’s common-culture core. Apparently, not so anymore.
As far as the “traditional media” of skate magazines and skate websites go… some are far too busy pandering to the unimaginative public with an endless cavalcade of NBDs and stair counts, to say anything of much meaning or merit. As such, we have the unprecedented situation where all mainstream skate media… and even, most “independent” media… and obviously, the vast majority of “social media”… are all utterly useless in terms of either education, or enlightenment. Skateboarding has inherited and embraced the greater society’s version of “mass media”, a paradigm that even greater society now considers largely untrustworthy, and in any rate, absolutely worthless. We’ve happily joined the Moron March to Mass Media Mediocrity. Yay for us.
My generation may have been the generation that actively pursued… and, largely prevailed in… “the mainstreaming of skateboarding”. But today, my generation is also the one that regrets this “progression” the most. We’re realizing that we’ve lost far more than we have gained in the exchange. I was just talking to Mark Noland (of Rancheros fame) about this, just this week… and of course, he totally agreed that this is a very real problem. But Mark and I are in no way alone in this assessment. Almost any skater of my generation… I dare say, virtually every skater of my generation… would, and surely will, say the same exact thing. As a generation of activist skateboarders, we got exactly what we wanted, and we achieved exactly what we set out to accomplish: we “mainstreamed” the shit out of skateboarding. But as a generation of hopeless idealists, we’re also now realizing that we have epicly screwed this pooch up. This thing that started out as ours, and ours alone, has now become “theirs”. Which makes it, by definition, not ours anymore.
But, y’know… we’re a smart, crafty, and inventive generation of skateboarders. We’re still the naive, idealistic, punk rule breakers and troublemakers that we’ve always been. Thankfully, we do still venture out into “the mainstream” from time to time, and leave our marks on “The World At Large”. Even I spend most of my time these days managing non-skate-related businesses… but true to form, much more in the spirit and the ethos of a well-run skateboard team, than traditional venture capitalist enterprises. Businesses that are “structured” around individual creativity, initiative, and self-determination… just like skateboarding used to be. Businesses that break the rules, and change the game for the better. Other skaters of my generation have also started non-skate-related businesses, and have even taken on the challenge of public service (and largely won, because that’s what skaters do). Skaters of my generation, as well as successive generations, do still leave lasting marks on the art world, as we always have (and always will). Skaters will continue to challenge the “outside” world to be more ethical, more progressive, more idealistic, and more accepting of colorful diversity than the world would otherwise be, if we weren’t here to carry the torch, and kick the ball forward. That is the lasting legacy of my generation of skateboarders. Hopefully, we’ll get it right this time around.
It’s really too bad that we unwittingly sacrificed the ethos and ethics of skateboarding itself, in order to make a positive difference in and, contribution to… the greater world at large. But even within the world of skateboarding, my generation is still keeping the embers of forward-thinking positivity, universal acceptance, colorful diversity, and enthusiastic encouragement afloat. Especially in the form and function of all these”old-guy skate clubs” that we’ve seen popping up all over the place… a few of which I’m a tee-wearing member and enthusiastic supporter of, myself. Groups of overly-idealistic skaters that are more than happy to let you run whatever you brung, be whatever you want to be, and enthusiastically encourage the diversity of thought and action that results from absolute and unfettered freedom. It may not exist everywhere within skateboarding just yet. But at least it still exists somewhere within skateboarding.
We’ve also spawned a shadow skate industry… completely of our own design and execution, as always. That one’s pretty exciting. While the corporate-owned skate brands (formerly, skater-owned skate brands) are firing American craftsmen, mothballing American woodshops, and sending our jobs, production, mores, and values overseas in the name of short-term profitability and long-term commonality and stagnation (the hallmarks of anything “mainstream”)… a few idealists of my generation have taken matters into their own hands, and independently started their own woodshops to make the quality, authentic-performance-and-individual-creativity-inspired skateboards that Our Industry used to make, in quantity, decades ago.
Authentic aged hardwoods, bulletproof glues, and real-deal, hand pulled silkscreened graphics (printed directly onto wood, not onto the cost-cutting mass-market efficiency of “heat transfers”) still exist out there for a discriminating, niche market of idealist skaters that demand nothing but the best, skate it with individual style, and refuse to accept the compromised catcrap that “The Industry” forces down the throats of otherwise unenlightened kids (that, unfortunately, have never known, or experienced, anything better). I’m sure that uncompromised-quality trucks, wheels, and bearings with true ABEC ratings (instead of outright lies and marketing hogwash) are sure to follow. Maybe someday, skaters will even resolve to support skater-owned shoe companies again. One can still daydream, I suppose…
So while the rest of the skateboarding world wallows in the oceans of mundane mediocrity, restrictive “rules”, and a whole host of hateful “-isms” that hold them back from true freedom and fulfilled happiness… skateboarding, as we originally intended it to be, is still quite alive and well, in our parallel world out on the peripheries of “popular culture”.
You’re welcome to join us, of course. Just as you’ve always been.
But please leave your restrictive rules, popular pandering, harsh hate, and mass-mainstream cultural catcrap at home.
They’re not welcome here.
Bud Stratford is a freelance writer and long-winded jackass that types exceptionally wordy essays about stuff that nobody really cares about anymore. If you’re one of his three or four fans, feel free to look him up on Facebook sometime.
Hello Jim. You have been shooting from the beginning of the second boom of skateboarding starting in the 1970’s.
1- Why do you love to shoot skateboarding ?
I love to photograph skateboarding because I love to skateboard. As a skater myself, nothing is more fun than capturing the energy and vibe that makes skateboarding so special. And as an artist, photographing skating is a natural expression of my passion for skateboarding.
2- How did you get into it ?
I started out as a skater, but after breaking my arm in a skate accident I took up photographing it while I was recovering. Over time, I skated less and shot photos more, which eventually developed into a career.
3- Did you ever stop shooting ?
I had to cut back on my skate photography after going to work as the general manager and team coach at Gullwing, and again during my time as managing editor at TransWorld Skateboarding magazine. After leaving the skateboarding scene in 1986, I continued as a photographer but didn’t start shooting skating again until decades later.
4- What is your best skateboarding memory?
There were so many over the years. Traveling and experiencing the worldwide skate scene while shooting for SkateBoarder magazine was amazing, and creating and managing the Gullwing team was really special for me since we became such a close family. But the most memorable times were with my early skate buddies while discovering and skating all the great skate spots, and trying to stay one step ahead of the cops in pursuit of our passion.
Photo by Olivier Dezeque
Follow Jim on
* The FK Cancer Surf and Skate Festival December 17-18
* The Guajataca Beach Clean-Up in March 2017.
* The Guajataca Lifeguard Corps Training for Summer 2017.
* An Oceans-of-Hope Foundation event for the Summer of 2017, to help their handicapped citizens and disabled veterans share in the joy of surfing.