PHOTOS: AMY TORRES In my previous ventures out to cover some of the events that the Collegiate Skate Tour puts on, I have been lucky to cover them from ground level to get up close and personal to the shredding. This time however, sidelined by injury, I was fortunate enough to have watched this contest go down from a completely different vantage point: behind the judge’s table. Alongside a couple Astoria locals, we got to experience this stop of the tour from a unparalled point of view that overlooked the sprawling water-side park. From this spot, we got the experience of watching guys like Helaman “Hela” Campos go from signing up, to throwing crook nollie flips and absolutely ripping the course to retuning back to the podium to collect their hook ups. In my first experience judging a skateboarding contest, I might argue to say I had the toughest job out there in trying to make sure my papers would not fly away with the intense wind that descended on the course that day. Just kidding. All credit on this day goes to the student and non-student crops of skaters that came out and threw down regardless of the blustery conditions. This year’s stop of the Collegiate Skate Tour saw a bunch of new faces, along with a handful of familiar rippers who braved the rainy conditions last year. Bryant HS student, Brian Pascuaal seemed to use the wind to his advantage, flying around the course in his iconic durag. Meanwhile, internet-famous Humzea Deas showed up pulling clean front tailslide 270s to the tune of his name being called for the start of Heat 3. DC rider Derek Holmes also returned this year, making easy work of throwing back tailslides off the park’s shootout ledge. Lastly, coming back for more after his first place run last year, Andrew Valencia showed how familiar he was with the Astoria park by linking effortless lines together left and right. Perhaps most notably, Valencia even managed to hop to another board that got in his way, mid-grind. As if that weren’t enough, Valencia finished by shutting down the the best trick contest with a massive ghetto bird on the centerpiece gap. In the end, however, Heat 5’s Nico Ramos stepped up and put down an amazing set of runs to not only advance from his heat but to make it through to the semifinal and final heats. From what we saw behind the judge’s table, we had to give the win in the non-student division to him. From his blunt backside flips to his kickflip 50-50 body varials to his back 360 grabs off the platform gap, Ramos’ tech showing had it all. Unfortunately, the only hiccup on an otherwise easygoing contest was Joel Jones’ unfortunate injury in the middle of Heat 4. After an absent-minded bicyclist wandered onto the course, Jones hit the concrete and was rushed to the hospital to receive a handful of staples in his head. Though the contest resumed to close out an incredible afternoon of skateboarding, we would be remiss not to have kept Joel, who has come out to each and every stop of the tour since Fall 2013, in our thoughts. Since the event, a GoFundMe has been started to help cover some of the unexpected ambulance and hospital costs for Joel and his young family. We welcome and encourage any donations to be made here. After Saturday’s event wrapped up, Keegan Guizard led another installment of a College Readiness Workshop with the folks at the Harold Hunter Foundation which was actually the first to take place during the same week as the contest.Speaking on the experience, Guizard said, “The Harold Hunter Foundation is always helpful in making that happen and really brings the skateboarding community together for good.This workshop was a great opportunity to connect with young New York City skateboarders off the board after a great event in Queens.” Check out the action that went down here:
Over the weekend we hit up the local skatepark in my hometown area. The same old prefab ramps, still standing like a decrepit stonehenge, the ancient ruins of teenage years. Decades of harsh New England white-outs had left the blacktop a cratered moonscape. The blazing summers suns had faded the offensive and misspelled graffiti into nearly unrecognizable spray paint smudges. Overall, the skatepark was in one piece, just as i remembered it, except for one thing…
I love visiting skateparks, at home or abroad, not for the inventive array of obstacles, but for the culture. The petri dish that is the local scene, the faces, the names and the energy of the locals. Appreciating the power of the community that they have constructed. I am always fascinated by the drastically varying subcultures with the subculture. The microcosms contained within 60 square feet of tar and chain link fence.
I was welcomed with nods and smiles from the locals, as me, my brother and my childhood friends entered the park. I inquired of a friendly, smiling local, Jimmy, about the new wooden ramps and DIY ‘crete that speckled and encrusted the park. He happily obliged and told me that he was responsible for the ramps’ construction. I thanked him for provided them.
Within moments, my crew and theirs were skating together, bumping quintessential 90s hip hop anthems, bumping fists and cheering for each other. Everybody was boppin’ and basking in the warm autumn sunlight.
While cruising around in euphoric figure 8s, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, that Jimmy the friendly local, had deserted his skateboard, had turned his back and was excitedly fiddling with something. Figuring Jimmy was frantically rolling a blunt I was bewildered to find that instead of a gutted backwoods wrap, Jimmy was tousling around a wooden ball bound by a string to a wooden dowel.
In his right hand, Jimmy clutched what appeared to be a wooden double-sided hammer, although strangley the face of each hammer head was inverted, concaved, resembling a miniature cup or bowl. Above the dual hammers was a small cone that gently tapered into a blunted tip. A white string, anchored to the base of the handle, flailed wildly in the air attached to a red ball. This red ball, the size of a beer pong ball, had a small hole that tunneled through the entire diameter of the wooden sphere.
A boy on a BMX appeared, and joined Jimmy, and expelling a wooden ball hammer from his pocket. Within moments, the two were fully engaged, shouting and giggling as they spun and casted their balls on a strings, attempting to catch it with either of their hammer cups or to spear it throughout the hole with the tips of their wooden cones.
After observing for a bit, this mutated form of cup-and-ball, I asked Jimmy what the hell was up with that thing. He told me it was called “Kendama” a game originally played by drunken Japanese sailors to pass the time on long sea voyages. Now, according to Jimmy, Kendama-mania has swept the states from coast to coast.
Jimmy elaborated, comparing the cup-ball game to skateboarding. He said that you master certain tricks and then try to do your tricks consecutively in a row, like a line.
This game reminded me much of the hacky sack or even devil sticks sessions of my youth. Flinging an object through the air and trying to catch it, stall it, and then return it to flight. It also reminded me of a string-based perpetual-volley toys like the yo-yo or paddle ball. Even the strange design of the Kendama toy shocked and intrigued me like my first eye witness accounts of fidget spinners.
I’ve seen many fads come and go, toys that were just as fickly picked up as were easily discarded- only to be rediscovered on the dusty shelves of Goodwill. What intrigued me about this new bizarre low-tech gadget was that, it did indeed, remind me of skating. Not only was Kendama a strange looking simple-machine, but to play, you simply needed time and patience. Fine-tuning your motor skills and battling the constraints of gravity were the shared struggle of both Kendama and skateboarding.
Not only was this an light-hearted, nonsensical escape from the mundane pressures of modern living, this game, clearly, had no coach, no team and no opponents. You were free to practice and create maneuvers as you so chose. Not only could you choose how to play but you could also choose to share the play with others, whoever you wanted.
I watched these two young men play for vigorous 20 minute stints, taking breaks to skate and BMX and then returning to their ball string hammers. They practiced their extreme sports in tandem with their string contraption disciple in even increments.
This not only was like skateboarding, it was an intrinsic part of Jimmy’s skateboarding experience.
Kendama was just about enough of a part of Jimmy’s sesh as other peoples’ weed-smoking, shit-talking or dead-eyed staring into their smart phone.
My hometown friends scoffed at the ball string hammer game of the locals, and remarked that they avoided coming to this very park because of the pervasive Kendama culture. I disagreed and said that I enjoyed the locals using the space however they pleased. I felt confident that these young men were outcasts, just as we skaters are, and that they should be cherished just the same.
When I found Jimmy and his BMX counterpart, brought together in Kendama bliss, now filming each other with a GoPro, I was certain that this game, like many other bizarre rituals, are in fact skateboarding. Having fun, expressing yourself and progressing a skill, by means of offbeat physical rhythm, doing what you want, where you want, solitarily or socially, that is what skateboarding means.
The world is a skatepark and you can play whatever you want in it.
It seems like there’s more skate drama on Facebook this week. How utterly NOT surprising. Last week I started an experiment with Facebook. I wanted to see if I could limit the amount of time I spent on the site to about 15 minutes for the entire week. I also wanted to limit my personal page to one post per week. Of course, if someone directs me to something that I absolutely MUST see, then I won’t rule that out. I will continue to use the site for research – but I will limit that time as well. This decision grew out of a post on Facebook I wrote last week. I am beginning to feel that while the site definitely is a great communications tool (and I love the instant messenger and Facebook Live), sometimes Facebook just completely de-stokes me. I’ll admit I love the fact that I can put a post on my Concrete Wave FB page and try and drive folks to my site. But the reality is that the algorithms on FB seem to have the upper hand. Posts about Tony Hawk or dogs that skate seem to suck all the oxygen out of the algorithms. FB could give two shits about Concrete Wave. On Facebook, I am the product. Without going into too much detail, we have skate folks de-friending each other over politics – something that you are passionate about combined with politics is always a tricky combo. Facebook just makes it a combustible mix, leaving total carnage. And oh yeah, it can warp election results. Then again, that last item could just be fake news. You see where this goes? Brutal. How ironic. The vast majority of time spent with social media is making us anti-social. Then we have folks who post FB screeds that some might feel are justified and some utterly loathe. The only thing I can add to this is that much of the beefs on FB nowadays would have in a previous era been dealt with off line and dealt with in a vastly different manner. I realize that there is no turning back. Make no mistake, FB is a great way to publicly shame a malicious and uncaring company but I am not convinced it’s the best way to deal with individuals who have issues with someone they feel has wronged them. Here’s a prediction you can run with immediately. I bet if you ditch this column and go on FB right now, you will find at least one rather odd rant, outrageous comment or link. Now that you’ve returned, are you impressed as how telepathic I am! You know there are trolls out there. You know there is clickbait, and like me, you are feeding your addiction with every minute you spend flipping your screen. I began to ask myself several questions after last weeks column. Is social media making me feel like going out and skate? Is it adding to my enjoyment of life? The answer, in most cases is no. I dearly love finding out about my 150 or so friends that are truly a part of my life at any given moment. We talk on the phone, write emails and see each other at events. I also have to run a magazine, work on Longboarding for Peace, plan the next skate event and oh yeah, spend time with my family. Moving from 1 or 2 hours a day (yes, I confess to TWO HOURS a day writing pithy comments on FB) to 15 minutes per week is an incredibly liberating experience. Recently, I decluttered and got rid of a whole bunch of stuff. Collecting things for 5 decades and then either throwing it out or giving most of it away was all about finding a freedom through the idea of minimalism. It may not work for everyone and clearly, it depends on your stage in life, but I am here to tell you that when you minimize your time on social media, it feels just as liberating as disposing of an old pair of shoes you will never use. I am NOT saying don’t go on FB. I am merely suggesting that if you want to contact me I am now more available than I was last week. I challenge you to build real relationships, not just Facebook Friends. I furthermore challenge you to go on FB for 15 minutes per week. See where it takes you. More on Dunbar’s Number:
I was turning three years old in 1967 during the Summer Love. They tell me it was a great experience. They also say if you remember the 1960’s you weren’t really there. The Summer of Love brought us The Beatles “Sgt Pepper” Hippies and Hunter S. Thompson. And in case you wondered, skateboarding was absolutely dead.
If 1967 was about peace and love, 1968 would usher in a year of hatred and violence. In Chicago, cops beat anti-war protestors mercilessly. Race riots erupted after the assassination of Martin Luther King. In Vietnam the war raged on and the My Lai massacre took out hundreds of civilians. Bobby Kennedy was also assassinated. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Skateboarding was also dead in 1968. The good news is that Tony Hawk was born in May of that year!
Tony Hawk as a pre-teen It would take almost 5 years for things to start percolating with skateboarding. If truth be told, things didn’t really start exploding world-wide until 1974/75.
Fast-forward and we have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love. Not sure how else to say this, but it’s pretty crazy out there. Check out these headlines from yesterday and today. If it’s not neo-Nazi’s it’s freaking North Korea. And oh yeah, it’s pretty challenging these days to run a skateboard company. Did you know there are over 2,000 skateparks in the USA and yet we have the same amount of skaters as we did in 1988. And what about the Olympics? How are small companies going to compete? And what the heck is up with longboarding? It turns out that when the going get’s tough…Time to watch John Belushi from “Animal House.” I think this scene pretty much encapsulates where things are at. The only way forward through some of the turbulence we are faced with in our industry is through collaboration and some truly inspiring approaches. Collectively, the skate industry is made up some of the most intriguing and creative folks you’d ever want to work with. My decision is to vote with my time and ensure that the next 20 years are spent building hives of high fives and positive vibes. Stand by readers, advertisers and former advertisers, Concrete Wave has got its mojo back and as the late great Tom Petty said: By the way, just in case you wondered about what I feel about Richard Spencer:
Iain Borden – writer extraordinaire There is so much to appreciate about skateboarding, it’s almost overwhelming. From the entertainment it yields to the lessons it teaches us to the way it connects us to our surroundings to the culture it has spawned from a few decades of riding. But, if you strip all of those factors away and consider what makes skateboarding as sensational as it is, it comes down to feeling. It’s that feeling where the front trucks hit the ground halfway through a backside 180 and you pivot the rest of the way through. Or it could be that feeling when your eyes open back up after a slam and you realize your body is still resilient enough to have another go. And while it’s impossible to articulate those moments of bliss on the pages of a book, Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City, makes the most comprehensive attempt at it that I have ever read. By nature, this book is actually a study about architecture and the ways that skateboarders have begun a unique interaction with the urban and suburban cities around the world, more-so than it is a book merely describing what skateboarding feels like. However, the relationship here is driven, of course, by the skateboard itself and how the skateboarder takes a device first seen as separate to their natural existence and turns it into a part of themselves. In his own words, Borden explains how, “within the act of these skateboarding moves, the skateboard is less a piece of equipment and takes on more the character of a prosthetic device, an extension of the body as a kind of fifth limb, absorbed into and diffused inside the body-terrain encounter.” For example, let’s say you have never carved a wall of transition but still wanted to know exactly what it feels like. For that, you can flip to the third chapter. Here, you will find a description of every millisecond involved in a the physics of a kick turn, in an effort to describe the ways that the rippers of the early 70’s interacted with their newfound spaces of backyard pools, drainage ditches and full pipes. Beyond these spaces, the text tells the tale of how the bowl-oriented parks of the time were adapted from these previous forms of societal architecture. It then touches on the culture of DIY parks, the placement of mini ramps versus vert ramps, the use of wooden ramps versus concrete features and pretty much any other detail about the expansion of spaces that became designed specifically for skateboarding. From one location to the next, the text becomes a riveting history lesson on how the skaters of the world ended up riding in the different places we do without thinking twice about it. From there, the book goes far beyond talking about skateparks and maneuvers. It takes a look into skateboarding subculture and everything that constitutes it. It observes the clothing, the artwork, the roles of masculinity, the participation of women, race and other qualities that forms the subcultural identity of skateboarders. This particular section is important because it perhaps links yesterday’s skateboarding history to the present day skateboarder’s mindset better than anywhere else in the book. In referencing the pride skateboarders take in their subculture, Borden writes “as with many young adults, skateboarders have little sense of history, and indeed see ignorance of the past as something to be proud of in their celebration of themselves as a ‘pure beginning’” About a day after I read that quote, I was actually out in California visiting the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum and I asked Co-Founder Eric Terhorst what he thought of it. Simply put, he said people want to make things their own because they want to feel entitled to them. When asked if he agreed with this statement, Borden told us “Definitely. Skateboarding – or at least the act of skateboarding – is about doing things for yourself in the ways you want to do so. But I would also add to this that nobody – or no set of people – therefore owns or defines skateboarding, and no single form of ‘core’ skateboarding is ‘superior’ to or dominates over any other. Just as every human has, within the confines of law, the right to believe and act as they will, so skaters should express themselves through whatever skateboarding variant they might prefer. Indeed, if there is any hierarchy of the most ‘authentic’ or ‘core’ attributes of skateboarding, then I rate the qualities of openness, inclusivity, accessibility and freedom of interpretation over those of exclusivity, dogmatism or macho aggression. Skateboarding is best when it openly questions, challenges, explores, surprises and welcomes rather than when it is narrowly comfortable, judgmental, predictable, stable or exclusionary.” The simple fact is though, skateboarding’s subculture has become exclusionary throughout the timeline covered in this book and has become even more narrow minded in the time since this book was published. In one of the book’s most shining examples, the frequently contested controversy over skateboarding clothing is brought up. Here, Borden observes how the allure of wearing skate clothing is often rendered useless when it is, essentially, hijacked by non-skateboarders. He goes on to note how this process makes skateboarders realize that their identity is rooted in skateboarding itself, not it’s clothing. To a 21 year old skateboard writer surrounded by non-skateboarders who find that wearing a Thrasher hoodie is more of a fashion trend, rather than a means to pay homage to a premier skateboarding media outlet, this is a no brainer. However, in following up with Borden after my read, he went on to justify this notion in greater detail. After acknowledging both potential generalizations and exceptions, he explained that “The Generation X skaters of the 1990s are far more suspicious of brands, companies, clothing, fashion and style than are many of the more recent and younger skaters. So these older Generation X riders will still buy into certain brands – Vans, Antihero, Independent and the like – but require these brands to have a certain authenticity. The more recent Generation Y skaters are much more relaxed, more open to being hooked-up with different brands and companies. For them, heavily-branded and fashion-oriented outfits like Supreme and Palace can readily sit alongside ‘non-skate’ brands like Nike, just as skateboarding itself may well for them sit alongside and within other interests and activities. Skateboarding is of course very important to many new skaters, but it doesn’t perhaps quite as often wholly define these skaters as it did for their 1990s predecessors, and nor do these Generation Y skaters feel that they in turn own or define skateboarding in the same way that Generation X skaters can often get very territorial over who is or can claim to be a skater, or can ‘rightfully’ wear skate apparel.” On top of all the different avenues that this book covers, it’s most fascinating aspect is the emphasis that Borden puts on using authentic primary sources. With few scholarly sources to cite, he relied on “30 years now of looking at magazines, books, articles, DVDs, videos etc.” to compile the book. Even more thought-provoking is the fact that Borden not only pulled a massive amount of quotes from these sources but also gave them critical analysis throughout. In one specific example. Borden starts the fifth chapter by embedding a poem from a 1986 issue Thrasher that sounds like something a middle-schooler might have haphazardly strung together. Despite the noticeably amateur work, Borden treats the text just the same as he treats the words of philosopher Henri Lefebvre, who is featured throughout the work. Ignoring the poem’s lack of prowess, Borden draws parallels to legitimate commentary on spacial studies from the writings of a skateboarder whose thoughts made it into the magazine one day. It is this consideration and validation that Borden gives to the writers of the skateboarding world that makes this book so important to me. This is something that is acknowledged from the very get-go. In disclosing the lack of scholarly logic behind many of the works he cites, Borden states, “Although often highly intelligent in their articles and reports, particularly through their self-deprecating demeanour, these magazines are not highly theorized. Nor are they the products of professional journalists, but the products of skateboarders themselves who have become journalists through working on such publications.” This reliance on referencing “whatever they saw fit to say and publish at the time” gives purpose not only to all of the skateboarding writers out there but to those reading their work. From the product of a skateboarder themselves, I wholeheartedly encourage those reading this piece to get their hands on a copy of Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City before next spring. By that time, in May of 2018, Borden will be releasing “a massively revised/expanded/updated version of the book” that will be sure to live up to the original. I trust that neither read will soon be forgotten.
The oceanside community of Asbury Park, New Jersey has endured a roller coaster of ups and downs in terms of development and prominence for the town’s economic and cultural livelihood over the past couple of centuries. Most strongly effected throughout this period has been the town’s skateboarding scene.
At its peak, the 90’s are remembered as a time of international recognition from the skateboarding world, centered around Asbury Park’s Casino Skatepark. The park’s vert ramp, bowl and street section, in addition to the local Deal Lake Motel Pool, drew skateboarders and publicity from all over the world. Despite a decent run after Casino Skatepark closed down, the Deal Lake Pool eventually went under as well. Though the 2010 opening of Woodshop Skateshop tried to breathe new life into a waning scene, its demise led to another blackout for Asbury Park’s culture.
As of late, however, a complete resurgence has overtaken the town’s skateboarding scene at the hands of Forth Union. The collective formed as a testament to the town’s longstanding skateboarding heritage and seeks to rejuvenate the related artistic, musical and communal components that once made the boardwalk thrive. In devising the proper title for this fusion, artist Tim Ziegler explained “Generally speaking, the arts, be it music, photography, or fine arts, are constantly trying to push the envelope of expression, and build off of the foundation of the previous generation. Skaters work in much the same way, pushing each other to go bigger, and constantly come up with more inventive tricks and runs. So I chose “Forth” to convey their shared sense of movement and boundary pushing and “Union” to reinforce their coming together in one space.”
Forth Union’s efforts took root last year as they worked in conjunction with Redbull to renovate the famed Carousel into an interim space for the thrashing to resume. Now, a collection of banks, quarterpipes, stairs and, of course, Jersey Barriers surround a perfectly placed mini bowl that is attracting industry attention to Asbury Park, once again. This support will culminate in a grand opening set for Spring 2017 that will unite food trucks, retailers and skateboarders alike.
In the mean time, Forth Union will continue their work with some of skateboarding’s most noble nonprofits, including A.Skate and Boards for Bros, and will continue pushing for a free public skatepark in Asbury Park. Forth Union is also hosting a rad competition at the park next month which you can check out below:
Brad Edwards was a longboard pioneer, artist and a most excellent human being. His smile, grace and total stoke for skateboarding is something that I will never forget. Over the past 2 decades or so, I’ve met up with Brad on a dozen occasions. His family and friends who spent more time with him (than I ever could) know that Brad had a large heart. Ten years ago, Gravity Skateboards released FLOW – it’s still one of the best videos out there and way ahead of its time. A video from 2013 where Brad shares a little bit of his skate philosophy. Concrete Wave was proud to give Brad not one, but FOUR covers. With Mr. Tibbs – just over a year ago. Some thoughts from Facebook:FROM BILL BILLINGDevastated.
Brad was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.
At the beginning of the year when we did a gofundme to get the Old Bro ramp back in shape, all that money went to materials and Brad. He did all the labor. He was completely professional and showed up for work on time every day as if he was punching a clock. He cleaned up every day and when the money ran out, I had to turn him away. He insisted on doing more saying I paid him too much. I didn’t.
I’ve only known a few people who loved to skate as much as Brad, and he did it with more style than most of us could ever dream of.
A few weeks ago he had agreed to go to Egypt with me next month, to ride his skateboard. He was totally stoked on it and I knew we were going to have an amazing time. There is a big hole in skateboarding today and there is a hole in my heart. RIP my friend, you will be so missed. FROM ROBBIE LYONS
Not only did the skateboarding world lose a legend today, but the world lost an amazing person. Brad Edwards, it was an honor to work and skate with you for so many years, and to call you a good friend. I will never forget the fun times and great memories we shared.
You will surely be missed by people all over the world, and your legacy will continue to inspire so many. You were more than an inspiration to me, you taught me so much about skateboarding and about life at such a critical part in my existence and my gratitude for you will forever be owed.
RIP to one of the coolest, most humble, down to earth people I will ever know. He’s up there with Shane now, shredding all that heaven has to offer. Until we meet again one day, thank you Brad, for everything.
Geoff Edwards – Brad’s brother
Thank you all for your prayers and kind thoughts over past few days.
As many of you know Brad recently suffered a significant brain hemorrhage and stroke, and while he initially made a miraculous recovery and we thought he was well in his way to a full recovery, however, his condition rapidly deteriorated and he was unable to overcome the damage to his brain. It is with profound sorrow and broken hearts that we that we have to tell you all we had to say goodbye to Brad…
We know this news comes as a shock to all of you and be devastating to many of you that he called his family and friends, as it has been for us. Brad will obviously be missed by his extended family and freinds he has made all around the world, we all wish he was still with us ready to skate that next pool, bowl, and ditch…
For those that aren’t familiar with Brad’s entire story or least an abbreviated version, Brad was born in 1969 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and lived in Holliston, MA until our family moved to California the day after Christmas in 1972, which Brad thought was great because we had two Christmases that year (one on each coast). Brad grew up in the sleepy little town of Agoura, CA, and started skateboarding at the age four. Brad was always extremely active and involved in outdoor activities like soccer, cross country running, surfing and of course skateboarding. Brad graduated from Agoura High in 1987 and attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
Brad literally traveled the world skateboarding, surfing, and working for Gravity Skateboards for many years. Recently he has been involved a building skatepark in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Brad is survived by his brother Geoff and his wife Teri, sister Alison and her husband Tom and his five nieces and nephews (Zach, Jeremy, Peri, Wes and Tess), who affectionally called him “Uncle Rad”.
Details on memorial services will shared with all at a later date. We ask that in lieu of flowers or cards, if you would like to honor Brad’s memory you make a donation in his name to Saint Francis Hospital who provided world class medical care to Brad during his brief battle (details to follow).
As many of you know Brad was always a giver and as his final gift to the world was that he donated his organs that will potentially save the lives of 8 people, and tissue that will benefit as many as 75 additional people.
If Brad were still with us, we are sure he would want the lesson of his life to be, “Be good to each other, and make someone smile today through some small act of kindness, or even a smile”. And he would say the lesson from his death is to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis and take care of yourselves and each other.
Brad is off on the next leg of his journey to join his parents (Nancy and Paul), and all his friends and family that preceded him, and I’m sure looking forward to the endless perfect wave, and the ultimate skatepark!
We already miss you immensely, but until we meet again skate on little brother, skate on!
It’s Saturday and the weather is in a fine mood. Let’s hope the world won’t end today as predicted here. If in fact, we do make it through the day/weekend, take a peek on some of these fascinating videos/links. First up, Ellen Oneal is setting Reddit on fire. This is a fantastic shot from 1976 by Warren Bolster.Have a peek;Ellen Oneal – 1976 – Photo by Warren Bolster Next, the folks at Arbor have just dropped a very cool video Josh Stafford in the new Arbor video Josh Stafford and his dog Carver take a pull down to WSVT to break in a new Cucharon from the Arbor Whiskey Project’s new Legacy Series. The Legacy Series includes three modern takes on some of the Brand’s favorite old-school shapes, including the Martillo (hammer), Pistola (gun), and Cucharon (shovel) Concrete Wave TV continues to drop some rather intriguing videos. Thanks to our very own Ninja Master Lu, things are heating up! Take a peek below!And if that wasn’t enough, have a peek at my first video part in 17 years! Now that Silverfish has flown the coop, you might be interested to know the roots of the site. Take 15 minutes to watch founder Marcus Vorwaller discuss the history of this much-beloved site. Marcus Vorwaller – Founder of Silverfish, explaining how it all came about! And finally, while you’ve had a chance to enjoy these links, please take a moment to think about our friends in Puerto Rico. Hector Valle is a driving force in PR for the skate community and he sent this email today. It’s absolutely tragic what has happened and CW and Longboarding for Peace will be embarking on a plan to help support relief efforts. If you can offer a kind word of support to Hector and those dealing with this nightmare, I know it will go along way. Email Hector at firstname.lastname@example.orgPuerto Rico is completely devastated. The power grid is non-existent. Dear Family and Friends:
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers in the last couple of days.
Please see attached image briefly. It represents the damage Hurricane Maria imparted on the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, a US Territory. It compares to nuclear bomb detonation.
100% of the infrastructure was down as of the drafting of this message. No electricity, water, phone services, or internet. No bridges or roads, as they were taken down by the torrents of the rivers, or blocked by the trees, poles, and debris from destroyed homes.
No communications at all with loved ones, government agencies, or emergency services, as they will have to dig themselves out of the rubble first, then open lines of communication and transportation for the outside world to bring aide. That may take weeks, if not months.
Me and friends/colleagues/veterans from my small hometown on the NW side of the Island founded 2 non-profit civic organizations over a decade ago to aide in nation building programs (that could not be provided by the government down there), such as dog rescue, and lifeguard training to name a few. Our group members living here on the Mainland (various States), have started an effort to collect donations of any kind for relief operations to our small hometown of Quebradillas (Little Creeks). One of our members has secured a shipping container that we intend to fill with donations and ship straight where needed the most, to our small town. You can find us on-line as:
House of the Doggz
Pirata Surf Club
We do not know the specific needs as of yet, as we’ve had and no contact with anyone in our little town since the storm hit, but as soon we do make contact with our town’s Mayor or our Emergency Operations Management Center, we will have a better idea what their specific needs may be. We can anticipate they will need medicine, food, water, fuel, tarps, etc…
This is the worst catastrophe to ever hit our little Caribbean paradise, which is no more. Recovery will take months, if not years. May God bless you for caring. Please share this message with others, if you would, as many of you have been asking me what the situation is down there, and what you can do to help.
Hector R. Valle Sr.
Seven years ago if you asked me what was celebrated on September 21st I would have given you a blank stare and the following answer: “How the hell do I know what happens on September 21st? – I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday!” So what is happening tomorrow? Well, read on and I’ll give you the scoop. A great many things have changed since 2010 but looking back through that year, Concrete Wave was doing things that NO other skate magazine would touch. Here’s a sample: Here’s another example – do any of these folks look familiar? Damn you guys look so YOUNG!The fact is the IDEA of DOCUMENTING skateboarding from different perspectives is what makes it such a phenomenal sport/pastime/lifestyle or whatever noun you want to put in there. Before International Longboarder/Concrete Wave, pretty much all skateboard magazines in North America ignored much of what was happening in skateboarding during the mid to late 90’s. The exception of course is Juice Magazine who have done an incredible job blazing their own independent path for 75 freakin’ issues. Seven years ago, if someone were to tell you that Donald Trump was going to be giving a speech to UN as President of the USA, you’d probably think they were out of their mind. Seven years ago, I predicted a great many things within skateboarding. Here’s just one: In case you can’t read that…here’s the most significant part: A lot of folks thought I was out of my mind – but the time from 2010 to 2013 was clearly the “golden age” with demand far outstripping supply. Now, as the industry wonders about demand, participants, contests, media and the latest Facebook shenanigans, I am here to tell you that Concrete Wave is about to change ONCE AGAIN. Things change within skateboarding – that’s in its DNA. But sometimes you get so bogged down you can’t see the forest through the trees. I’d be the first to admit, there are times when I get bogged down as a publisher of CW. But after some serious soul searching, I can tell you, I am on a very different path than I was one year ago – and it feels great. I got my skate mojo back and I fully intend to utilize it. As a magazine, we’ve pivoted a few times. That’s what happens when you buy ink by the gallon and pixels by the terabyte. But one thing I’ve never waivered from: I promote the joy of skateboarding through all kinds of media – not just print. We did videos (CW TV) 17 years ago and we did DVD’s way before YouTube. And for the record, this site still stands – and it just celebrated 21 years on the web! We’re about to unleash some pretty cool things in the next few weeks. My mind has been restless to determine a path for the future. Oddly enough the answers were right there in front of me. A lot of folks will tell you it’s all about going with the flow. For me , it’s all about FLOW state. That’s what skateboarding gives me – I enter flow state. Not sure exactly what that is? Click on the link above! So, to bring this full circle, let me break it down like this: 1. The world is going through quite a bit of trauma/drama/issues right now (just like some parts of skateboarding) 2. Within the world of politics , extreme right and extreme right are severely testing the MODERATE middle. Extreme left and right just creates a circle of mistrust, instability and chaos(skateboarders know how to turn both LEFT and RIGHT in order to move forward) 3. The future is unwritten – Joe Strummer(so what are you going to do about it?) Seven years ago I did not know that September 21st is the International Day of Peace. If you dream of peace in this world, you can do several things: 1. you can skate for peace (or longboard for peace)2. you can roll for peace (thank you to all who did just that on September 16th) to celebrate the 21st3. you can have a role IN peace. The third one is tricky. Our actions define who we are. If you want to roll for peace, that’s awesome Kudos to you. If you want a role IN peace, that is a little more complex because you might face some headwinds from those who don’t quite get what you’re up to. In truth, five years ago, a few people thought that Longboarding for Peace was weird. They thought “search spark stoke” was kinda lame. Have a peek at an online at interview from Wheelbase Mag with James Kelly: Note: I have the greatest admiration for the work that Marcus has done with Wheelbase and I am glad he asked James about his thoughts on winning “Speedboarder of the Year.” But fast forward four years and James Kelly (along with Liam Morgan) has a 12 page story in Skate Slate. Have a look at Jon Huey’s final question: Like James, I view my role in peace as an integral part of who I am as a skater. I am mixing skateboarding with my desire to foster peace, balance and justice. Have a peek at the past five years worth of our work: I am proud of the work that James is doing. I am also very proud of Valerian Kechichian of the Longboard Girls Crew who is also doing great things for skateboarding AND peace! Here is Valeria in her own words:
Through all these years we’ve received thousand of emails of women and men around the world telling us how they started skating after seeing one of our photos or videos and how their lives have changed thanks to longboarding. How empowered they now feel. And even though not everyone became an avid rider, this feeling stuck in them and affected their lives in the most positive way. THAT feeling is exactly what we want to bring to people who need it the most. Work on how we feel about our Selves and hopefully help see more of the magic inside us. We’ve been empowering people through longboarding all these years. Now we want to take it to the next level.
Us humans have basic external needs like food and shelter and we have others just as important: Love, Self-esteem, respect, education, support… We want to work on these aspects and if possible, bring them to people in need.
So how are we doing this? We’re creating new social projects all around the world and we’re also partnering-up with existing ones actively supporting their initiatives through financial and material support, media coverage, creating mutual actions and directing our audience through personal involvement and/or donations.
What does this mean? It means watch how skaters worldwide find their role in peace. Watch how Concrete Wave changes over the next few weeks. Watch how we completely pivot and create something vastly different. And watch as others in the skate community define and act on their role in peace. Tomorrow is the International Day of Peace. Now that you know this, what will be YOUR roll/role? Twenty years ago, my pathway to publishing was through the act of skateboarding. Five years ago, my pathway to peace was through the creation of Longboarding for Peace. One month ago, I created Roll for Peace. I am about to combine all three elements and you’re invited on my journey. Yours in peace, balance and justice,Michael Brooke Yoni Ettinger helps a student at the Shuafat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem. Ps – High fives and positive vibes
I can remember the exact date I met Noel Korman of the Shralpers Union – March 11th 2011. It was a the world’s first longboard expo held in NYC. The folks at Bustin Boards had graciously allowed Concrete Wave to host the event at their new shop at the Lower East Side. The store (sadly, now closed) was to be called The Longboard Loft. It was just getting refurbished and the timing was perfect to host an event. Theseus Williams worked diligently to ensure that we had the space to hold over 35 companies and hundreds of skate fans. I am still not sure how it all came together, but it did! On that auspicious day, Noel put out his hand and said “I’m Noel Korman of the Shralpers Union and I’m here to help.” It was a surreal moment. I shook his hand and began to learn about the Union. Noel had single-handedly created a movement that encapsulated everything I loved about skateboarding and snowboarding – high fives and positive vibes. I was immediately convinced that Noel had a heart bigger than all of New York or New Jersey. Over the course of the 3 years that I knew Noel, I saw his incredible, larger than life personality affect literally thousands of people. As many of you know, Noel along with his girlfriend Alice Park passed away on December 6, 2014. It was a freak accident – a boiler in the building they were working at leaked carbon monoxide. As a result of these completely unnecessary deaths, Governor Chris Christie eventually signed a bill that made the use of carbon monoxide detectors compulsory in all commercial buildings. Why they weren’t there before is something that I will never understand. By the way, a number of people DIED of carbon monoxide poisoning after both houses in the NJ Legislature passed the bill. It was only after Christie finally signed the bill that it became law. Thankfully, it’s already having an affect.Noel with fans at the 2013 Vans Warped Tour. Noel’s message of “high fives and positive vibes” resonated deeply me with this past weekend and yesterday. We had over 5,000 people visit our booth at Buskerfest here in Toronto. We gave out a lot of “high fives” to stoked out kids. Below is the proof: Another freshly minted skate enthusiast. Luke Ayata One of Noel’s most trusted friends was Luke Ayata. Luke has worked tirelessly to spread Noel’s message. Over the summer, he announced the new SU website. Take a peek at what they have and please support their efforts. We need folks riding, not ripping on each other. We need spread some high fives and positive vibes. I also want to mention Ray Korman (Noel’s father) who I have become very close with along with Jeffrey Collins Harper who has spent hours working on graphics for the Union. Ray Korman Concrete Wave is proud to put the Union logo on our homepage.As things get crazier and crazier, I urge you to get out there and spread high fives and positive vibes. Please visit here to register for Roll for Peace.
As some of you may know, I am down here in California with my family. During this time, I get the opportunity to meet up with folks from the skate industry. As I am in transition from Publisher/Editor/chief bottle washer etc to just publisher, I still retain the right to give you some of my thoughts. Initially, I had plans to go to Baja, California, but decided that I needed to be in HB and Venice. So, without further ado, here is my take on the last few days outside San Diego county. My homebase in Huntington Beach was the private pad of Don “Fish” Fisher. Don is an industry vet with a true skater’s soul. We had a great time hanging out together. The first order of business was to meet up with “Dozier” the pit bull who belongs to his roommate Jason. Dozier tests the durometer on a Shark Wheel. On Tuesday night, we worked with HB Culture Magazine and had a booth at the farmer’s market in downtown Huntington Beach. We gave away dozens of stickers and magazines along with posters. Plans are underway to make this a weekly event for Concrete Wave. We definitely stoked out a number of folks. If you want to be a part of this experience, let me know asap Left to right: HB Cult owners, Don Fisher of CW Mag and downhill legend Chuey Madrigal. I had the opportunity to hang out with two key players in the skate world – Paul Schmitt and Jim Gray. Both have given blood, sweat and tears to skateboarding. Hearing their stories about former pros, business deals and outrageous behavior from people who should know better made for a truly amazing time. Roll for Peace is going to be promoting Paul’s Create-A-Skate project bigtime and we truly impressed with the Powerflex Wheels. Unlike most wheels that get introduced to the market through a fancy marketing campaign, Powerflex actually created something beneficial – a hub that absorbs and helps the wheel perform better. I am sure there are countless skaters that would benefit from these wheels. Indy shops…we need your support to help spread the message! The templates found in the Create-A-Skate program developed by Paul Schmitt.Steve Olson (left) is now working with a new clothing brand called Teen-Aged. We enjoyed beer and met up with George Wilson of Z Flex fame. Pictured is Jim Gray, Don Fisher and Paul Schmitt.This is the new Powerflex wheel. Its core is vastly different than other vert/street wheels out there. It can absorb bumps, cracks etc due to its durometer. If your local shop doesn’t carry them, have them contact Powerflex asap. One of the key highlights of the trip was the 75th Issue party of Juice Magazine. I’ve know publisher Terri Craft and assistant editor Dan Levy for a number of years. They are very creative, passionate people and it was great to see how many folks showed up to support their efforts. Juice Magazine is one of the last of the true independent skate magazines out there. CW salutes their efforts and looks forward to the 150th issue party. Thank you Juice for your kindness and great hospitality. Dan Levy, Terri Craft of Juice with skate legends Dennis Martinez and Brandon Cruz. Peggy Oki and Patti McGee. Patti is pointing to her just received LFP pin. Surf pioneer Christian Fletcher with Robert Trujillo of Metallica. Venice is second to Disneyland in terms of tourism. The strip on the beach is an unreal experience and truly should be on your bucket list. The problem for Venice right now is that Snapchat is taking over. They are spending millions bringing Snapchatters to work and live there. They even have their own security force. It is making locals nervous and I can see why. Huntington Beach is “Surf City USA” and has no issues attracting tourists. Although I have been in HB many times, I have never seen the “world’s largest surfboard.” So, in the spirit of being a tourist, we’ll leave you with these images! I want to thank Don Fisher for his kindness and we look forward to creating some great memories in the weeks, months and years to come.
Aluminati announces the addition of the Bullnose Deck to its line up. This is a 30” deck features 3/8 inch concave as well as channels to advance performance while maintaining strength, flexibility and uniqueness. The Bullnose deck shape draws inspiration from vintage cruisers but adds modern technology and is now available with any Aluminati graphic of your choice.For more information, please visit here: THE WORLD’S FIRST BULLETPROOF SKATEBOARD We received an email last week from Griffin Burke. At the age of the 19, he’s created a bulletproof skateboard that students can use as a shield to defend themselves in the event of a school shooting. “I was inspired to come up with a solution to this epidemic shortly after the tragic shooting at UCLA. My college roommate and I were discussing what we would do if caught in such a situation.” Griffin’s answer was to create the bulletproof skateboard. “It is the only viable protection for students” says Griffin. “Students already face enough pressure in school, worrying about a school shooting shouldn’t be one of them. My skateboard is only ½ inch thick but is capable of stopping a .44 magnum.” Griffin calls his board company Turtle Boards. So far, only one taker at Kickstarter.
ROLL FOR PEACE In honor of September 21, the International Day of Peace, we will be holding an event called Roll for Peace on September 16. Thanks to Luke Ayata of the Shralper’s Union and Sean Powell of Whatever Skateboards, things are rolling. Here is the facebook page:
We all know the name. The double ‘W’ that stands loud & proud in Newquay’s hustle and bustle.
Wooden Waves. From all over, skaters come together to shred the ramps and waves at our local skate park.
The park is home to some of the rawest talent in Cornwall. From Jake Sparam, sponsored by, and riding for, Pig city skateboards, Flavour and Etnies, to the young Finley McCormick repping Hoax skateboards 94′.
Wooden waves have been and will always be the birth place of pure knar and talent. Creating friendships, teaching valuable life lessons and breeding creativity within skateboarding. However. Our beloved wooden waves is to be transformed by the world renowned Maverick designs.
“The design for Newquay Skate Park has been drawn up to meet the needs of the local user group and serve as a facility for riders both nationally and internationally. The facility has been carefully organized into four separate areas; an endless street run, multi-combination snakerun bowl, retro-style amoeba pool, and BMX flowpark. The idea behind the facility is that all the routes around the skate park link up to form an enormous flowpark. We are beyond stoked that Newquay Council have chosen us to build the park – There’s still a lot of fundraising to do and contracts to sign before we can spray any crete, but we can’t wait to get stuck in!”
On Saturday the 1st of July, Newquay held a Cardboard to concrete fundraiser event in order to raise funds for the epic new park design. A huge shout out to Dave Rickard for his tremendous efforts and organizing the event. The event was a huge success and included all sorts of competitions, a sizzlin’ hot BBQ, a raffle with prizes kindly donated by local businesses and even some fancy dress! Not forgetting, live music too!
I caught up with Beth Applewhite, Newquay’s finest female shredder, proudly holding up the girls skate scene. Beth, 16 years old, sponsored by Diversion, stated that how she would like the new park to be more ‘family orientated’ and include a mini ramp in order for younger skaters to learn at a safe level. Beth hopes the new park will ‘bring people together’, including all kinds of ages and abilities!
Shortly after, Finley McCormick, one of Newquay’s most talented young skaters, sponsored by Hoax and hoping to be competing at a high level by next year, caught my eye as he dropped in with such style; I just had to have a chat with this little legend! – ‘Fin, what does Wooden waves need? What do you hope to see in the new Maverick’s design?’
‘We need a street plaza! A stair set would be incredible, oh and just some sick new ramps, anything concrete really! Wood isn’t too practical with Newquay’s weather!’
I think we all agree, a concrete structure is first on all our skate’wish’lists! You see, our skate park here in Newquay isn’t just a ‘park’ it’s a home. It unites us as skateboarders and the memories made here, will never be forgotten. In society today, we focus so strongly on the kids’ who never leave the house, attached to their screens and games consoles, yet the kids’ who are out from 9-5, shredding the tarmac waves and eating dirt for lunch, out in the fresh air all day, are forgotten and left behind in the modernising world. These kids’ deserve to have the latest concrete, when there are stay at home kids’ produced monthly with the latest modern designs, trapping them inside. ‘GIVE THE THE KIDS THE CONCRETE THEY DESERVE!’
Let’s get together and fund what will be, quite simply, one of the best modernizations in recreational sport Newquay has ever had!By Rocky Poole –
One of the greatest things about running this magazine has been to see first hand how the past catches up to the present. FORTY years ago, Wizard Wheels hit the skate scene and tons of kids just like me were enchanted by the prospects. The promise was captivating…MAKE TRACKS WITH WIZARD WHEELS. The wheels were supremely coveted and very hard to find in Canada. It didn’t help the wheel manufacturer had a fire and lost everything. The old wheel (left) with the newly improved version. These past twenty years or so has seen wheel technology really evolve. Kudos to all the companies out there getting creative with urethane. I am stoked to see something of my skate childhood come full circle. In talking with the folks at Wizard Wheels, this whole rebirth of the brand is a tribute to their grandfather – who years ago realized that skateboarding at its core was all about fun. For those of you who are interested in reliving this magical memory of your skate youth, a kickstarter campaign has started today.
The other day I got an invitation for the All One launch party. I had heard about them and was eagerly waiting to find out what Rob Rodrigues of SURE Skateboard School and Rodney Smith SHUT Skateboards were working on. This is a big deal for our NYC scene as over the years division on the streets and the profit margins of investors have been keeping us down. We needed the companies that were run by skaters so that we can tend to the actual needs of the streets. Who better to take the lead than Rob and Rod?The party was very well received as skaters from all generations and types were there to show support. Very impressive as we all know how hard it is to bring the NYC scene together. What exactly is All One?Rodney Smith- ALL ONE/ALL ONE UNIVERSE is a conscious awareness platform for those here on earth that desire or seek for a higher and broader truth/understanding as to why and what the heck we’re doing here on earth.All brought to you from some members of the skateboard culture and fashion community. Rodney, I know you have intensive history with the NYC scene. But can youtell our readers a little about yourself. I’ve been a member of the skateboarding community since my beginnings when I started skating in 1976. I had a great older 70’s east coast pro skateboarding friend and mentor that lived a few blocks away from my childhood home. He was adamant about keeping people skating, all because of the decline of skateparks and participation.. By 1978 I was well clued in as to what to do to keep skateboarding around and alive. By the early 1980’s I knew I wanted to be in the skateboard industry yet… didn’t know quit how to do that. After about three years I got sponsored, I also headed up and worked at a skate/surf shop through high school. I was a top amateur east coast competitive (NSA, ESA, etc…) street skater that made it to the proving ranks to become a pro around 1986/87.With the skate scene going through more popularity issues and current of the time struggling to make it as a pro I decided not to continue competitive skating and with some friends started a deck company and an east coast movement out of NYC. (Shut 1986 to ’92… Zoo York skateboards 1993 to 2008 then back to relaunch Shut)Rob Rodrigues, Rodney Smith and Ray Korman.
What brought you guys together to work on All One and what was the motivation?Rob and I had been knocking around some ideas for four or five years to create a new unique type of platform/company encompassing the skateboarding culture, skateboarders and the young at heart, at whatever age…whether skaters or not. What are some of your goals?20 years ago I started paying closer attention to the progression of skateboarding with a different look into the mind of skaters and how the changes in board sizes, double kick, Ollie’s etc… changed the way and rate skateboarding could progress. Let me not forget the most important part of this, that is the progression of the minds assisting these abilities along the way. Having had skate teams since the 80’s I’ve had plenty of time to observe and study people in a different way. I started looking at the science of skateboarding and to this day continue to have my mind blown as to the human capacity to have control over ones own reality. I’ve come to the realization that top end skateboarders are performing Magic and it goes much deeper then that but I won’t go into it now. Goals to look for from ALL ONE in general will be in regards to a specific type of nurturing message to skaters and skateboarding fans that…learning and understanding about oneself is your greatest asset when living in such a world controlled system. For example if skaters just want to skate then they need to be aware of what is going on in their “neck of the woods”… all as a precautionary measure to for instance, keeping the growth of skate parks and never have to fight to keep them. What should we be expecting to see next?Expect to see more information via social media, YouTube etc…with interviews of some brilliant minds in the esoteric world, biology,skateboarding, and the fashion world of people.With the diversity of NYC scene how do you hope to place yourself in the community?I am already a prominent figure in the world of skateboarding (As it is said by others and not by me…) and Rob in his own right as well. I have also been an amateur researcher for 35 years of the esoteric/conspiracy world so those communities are already built in All interested people right now can follow our Instagram all_one_rodney_smith and stay attuned to our line of clothing and accessories, *Click Here To Check Out The ALL ONE Universe Collection Proceeds from this product will go to existing and start-up, informational based web shows,networks etc…that currently have a connection and platform for the masses of the young at heart worldwide. As you can tell we are very ambitious about this journey. The time is now for all ready to wake up and get it right this time. Human being’s history and time on this planet is at a progressive growth (earth bound and cosmically), as well as on a downward spiral to a potential self-eradication from the planet. Here’s a statistic for you to think about….With over one thousand intercontinental ballistic missiles just in the United States alone, that can’t possibly make anybody feel comfortable about existing here on this amazing planet when”accidents” like Fukushima happen.
Slowly, but surely, the tour is getting underway. There is, after all, a method to my obvious madness. And luckily for me, the madness is paying off.
My biggest concern over this whole “Summer Tour” was, beyond everything else, my knees. My poor, aging, painfully disintegrating knees that my doctors would love nothing more than to slice open, cut out, repair, replace, and bankrupt me over. They’ve wanted to do this since 1995 (or so). Thus far, they have been unsuccessful in their attempts to persuade me that my money is best funnelled into their pockets. As you can see, my stubbornness knows almost no bounds. Twenty-two years I’ve held them at bay. And counting.
That understood, I had to move very, very wisely, lest I do any more permanent damage than I already have. Think big, start small. Begin in your own backyard, and radiate outward from there. My itinerary reflected this cautious approach: the beginning of my tour started right here in Phoenix, where I could “get my feet wet”, so to speak. But which is really code for “breaking my knees in, as slowly and as painlessly as possible.”
“My backyard”, however, is a certifiable concrete oasis. Just look at these pictures…! Can you freaking believe it…?! I can, because I’ve personally skated them. All of them. And I can tell you this: it hurts. Very, very painfully so. But it hurts really, really good. If there’s any kind of pain I can suffer happily, it’s the skateboarding kind.
This weekend was pretty typical of good things to come. There were twenty-two skateparks on my Metro Hit List. Yeah, you read that right: twenty-two skateparks. My God… back in 2008, I had to drive across two-thirds of Indiana to skate twenty-two skateparks; in Phoenix today, I barely have to drive across the damn valley. That’s insane. There was no way in hell I was gonna get to them all; Phoenix Metro’s gonna take me a solid month, all by itself, to fully cover and document. Overly ambitious, it was. I’m always guilty of being bold and brash, if nothing else.
Of the differences that I’ve noted between my 2008 Tour, and my current 2016 Tour thus far, that’s probably the most obvious one that stands out: just how many free, concrete, good-quality skateboard parks have been built in the last decade-or-so. Life is so awesome right now. It’s a great time to be a skateboarder. Even a fat, broken, and aging one.
Everything that’s poured out of concrete around here seems really huge. That’s a little bit startling to the lackluster-skilled old geezer in me. Rio Vista and Litchfield were downright scary; those massive beasts seemed like they were fifteen feet tall in the shallow end, for Pete’s sakes. And the “street” obstacles looked like something out of The Dew Tour, but strung out on steroids. The one thing I haven’t seen much of yet, are smaller terrains geared towards beginners. These skatepark designers and builders just go right for the gusto; I can only infer that their intent is to raise a nation of mini-me Danny Ways out here.
Hermoso Park here in Phoenix, and Hudson Park in Tempe were a little more kid-and-geezer-friendly. Those were fun (and memorable) diversions, because I still had the meager skills required to actually skate them semi-competently. Hudson was one of the very few “prefab” skateparks that I came across… I believe they were Woodward-branded ramps… that were put together so tightly that the resulting skatepark was actually a little bit hard to skate. But, not impossible. I did a frontside rock here that has to be the fastest frontside rock that I’ve ever slapped in my life; the board barely tapped the coping before I was turning out of it. I had to: the next ramp was just a few feet away, and I didn’t want to be caught totally off guard and wilson right onto my fat ‘ol ass.
Hermoso was a concrete mini-oasis that featured an extremely novel embankment that started at about three feet (or so) tall, and tapered all the way down to curb height. It was a slappy heaven on the short end, while the tall end made even stock tricks (like rock ‘n rolls) a real accomplishment. A feat that I did actually accomplish, by the way. And that I’m pretty damn proud of, to boot.
Apparently, the only tricks I can do that are worth writing home about, are rock ‘n rolls. But I’m fine with that. As Andy Mac once famously said, “As long as I’ve got frontside rocks, I’ll be okay”. I guess that means I’m okay, right…?
91 West was a pleasing diversion. That’s a rare, indoor skatepark out on the west side at 91st Avenue (hence, the name). They have a small, wood-and-Skatelite oasis that features… wait for it… air conditioning! And hot damn, it’s cold in there! But they also have a fun-as-hell little 3′-by-12′ mini ramp that’s built like a brick shithouse. You hardly have to pump it at all, it’s so damn quick. Great for dusting off the ‘ol bag of tricks (which I desperately needed to do) without killing yourself (which I desperately needed to avoid).
Ironically, a few of their ramps actually have cut-up little pieces of Skatelite that creates the sensation of skating over (very smooth) bricks. That’s pretty neat. I had to give them a big hand for creative thinking (and flawless construction) on that one. And the owner and the staff of the place were all really, really friendly and accommodating. Everything was super clean, and impeccably executed. I was impressed.
Phoenix is a real skateboarding paradise. Seriously. The skaters here – especially the older guys (which there are zillions of) are super cool. They’re personable, fun-loving enthusiasts. My kind of crowd. The funny thing is, I still don’t see too many skaters out and about in my travels. I’m blaming that on the weather, though, for the moment; it’s still averaging highs well into the 90s on most days here in the valley, even in late September. We can probably thank Global Warming for that; once again, we broke the record for most 100+ degree days here in Phoenix this year. A record we seem to break every single year these days.
I’ve been carefully documenting each of these parks, and sending my diligently-composed panoramics and write-ups over to Jeff at Concrete Disciples on a weekly basis. I think he might just be a little bit surprised at how much I’m getting done out here on the road. At 44 years old. And in “retirement” mode.
As for me and my skate-tour ambitions, well, I’m just getting warmed up. Pun totally intended.
Publisher’s Note – it’s easy to say “support your local skate shop.” It’s quite another to really get behind those folks working tirelessly to keep skateboarding moving forward by nurturing the next generation of riders. Joseph Burnham, the founder and proprietor of Kansas City, Missouri’s Burning Spider Stoke Company is a beacon to skaters world-wide. He’s also a great person. Remember “stoke” is not a commodity you can get online Stoke is a bi-product of skateboarding. And sometimes you gotta BUY the product at the LOCAL skate shop! We want to share skateboarding with as many people as possible. We love everything about it. There is instant feedback with skateboards. If you screw up. You get off balance. You fall. You then chose. You could just opt out. “Nope. Not my game. Not my kind of pain.” You can get back on, destined to fall again. “Yeah. I can do this. I want to do this. I have healed, and now I am stronger.” It is that decision almost every time we step on a board, or fall off. When we finish a session. When a good friend gets injured, sometimes bad. So if not for the support of each other in this otherwise completely mundane and often brutal world? Then why not devote that level of dedication to every decision we make? From the food we put in our bodies. The people we associate with. How we treat ourselves, and others. Where we spend our money in our community. How we invest our time and energy? It is with this we wish to fill our day. It is our absolute delight that we are able to serve such a rad community of people. From the companies that tolerate our perhaps bizarre system of keeping it all together, barely. To the people in our day to day that we get to encourage and watch grow. We have learned so much in these five years, and we are just getting warmed up. We instigate as much skateboarding as we possibly can, through as many channels as we can. We aren’t saying we are the best, only that in what our community has allowed us to build with their contribution, is a lot of fun, as well as rewarding. As we get things continually smoother and we learn a bit more there is no telling what kind of shenanigans are going to be going down. If you spent a month with us, it would all start off with either a first Sunday, or a First Friday. Photo: Joe B. In the case of June’s 2017 layout we would be talking First Fridays down at the Cross Roads. This is more of a Kansas City tradition really, but it gets us out of the shop early on a Friday night and we get to skate with our peoples. First Fridays is a gathering of all sorts of tribes. There are art galleries that have shows. Small makers collaboratives. Street performers. You name it. Oh and us. There is a really sweet free ride hill that cuts down one side of the whole shindig. Despite the sometimes heavy traffic we get in some pretty solid lines. We get to demonstrate what it is we can do. The crowd can get pretty pumped up so this is a lot of fun. Not to mention a great way to meet new people and give them a good example of the possibilities that skateboarding can offer. First Sunday brings the Indian Creek Push Trail series. This is now it’s second year and the band of regulars that push it are The Push Scouts. We have 3 distances someone can push. 25, 50, and 75 mile plans. Most of it is on trails, but the latter is a pretty sweet early start that rips through town. We have teamed up with the Shralpers Union’s local chapter to help with logistics and support, as well as Seismic, and Ultimate Directions for some gear at the end of the year. We keep track of our times on the trail to measure each persons progress. At the end of the year we present awards for Best 25 Mile Time, Best 50 Mile Time, and Best 75 Mile time. We also have a category for Most Improved in each of those segments. Mainly we just tell stories about all of the goings on on the trail and so forth. This has built a community that takes on a Father’s Day weekend event called the Knob Noster Knasty. This is a 69 mile per day two day fiesta smashed into a camping trip. You know we have a strong Shralpers Union Chapter so support is on point, planned out, and ready. It is a sunny little push filled with road kill, no see-um speed killing rocks, and a real nice challenge. There may not be any mountains to push up, but the uphill pushes go on forever, and the downhill sections are too short. Second Sunday we host our Stoke Clinics at Kessler Park. It is closed to cars on the weekends, and features are quarter mile downhill section, as well as a nice flat area. This makes it ideal to teach a really broad range of different skill levels and styles of skateboarding. We kick things off with a optional two hour push along Cliff Drive’s section of road that runs through the park for people wanting to build themselves up for the Indian Creek Trail or long distance pushing in general. Then at 12pm we bring as the shop’s collection of boards to the bottom of the hill and start teaching people what it is they want to learn. Photo: Joe B. Most of the boards were provided by Loaded Longboards, with wheels by Orangatang. The local chapter of the Shralpers Union teamed up with us to complete the decks the rest of the way. So people don’t even need to own a board if they want to try several different styles. We teach people from “never stood on a board before”, to working with our local group of regular riders to improve whatever it is they are wanting to improve. The huge range of riding styles, the huge range of riding skill levels, all the different styles of boards we bring out, and the 3 years of teaching these all come together to hopefully give people the best start to as far as they want to take it education we can possible offer. This location also is also used to host our annual, for the most part, event call King of Kessler. Which is the center event of a three event weekend including a swap meet (Third Friday), and our local Green Skate event (the Sunday After). King of Kessler is a triathlon of skateboarding styles. We kick it all off with a 5 mile push, then a Downhill race, and finish with a Free Ride segment. Each rider gets points for participation in each of the segments and how they finished. At the end of the day, the rider with the most points is crowned King of Kessler. The groms get to be compete for Prince, and the Shralpers Union keep on eye out for the most stoked high five giving person at the event so that we can hand them the Noel Korman Award. Third Fridays bring us back to the shop for our Swap Meets! We invite our community to hang out with us and buy, sell, trade their old gear like we had to do back before the internets. This was a bit of a scary leap for us, but as time has went on the benefits to us as a shop and more importantly the benefits to the community at large have kept these things going. I have had a few shop owners raise their eyebrow on this one for sure, but just bear with me for a few sentences. When I have customers that come in and they are looking for a set up at a lower price, those dudes are on a budget. Granted many of those new or budget skaters may not understand all that goes into a board and how price paid for a board can have an impact on quality. If they are on a budget, and it’s a firm one, and I don’t have a set up that is quality for the price those people will walk. It isn’t money the shop was getting anyways. Those customers would go to a discount internet shop or some corporate big box shop and then purchase a set up that is most likely not a very safe or fun option. Photo: Caleb Scott With the Swap Meets we can offer the budget or brand new skater a safe, quality, option. This takes old gear out of the B/S/T groups and on the road being used. Typically the person will then have budget dollars left over to get their used purchase fixed up with fresh grip. Most of the times fresh bearings, hardware, and other bits and pieces that otherwise would not have been purchased at all. The amount of information people get at the Swap Meet is huge as well. Instead of just one passionate person talking about skateboards, we have a huge chunk of community with different perspectives putting in their two cents as well. Let’s not forget the big thing for the sellers. Those dudes, peoples, our people get cash as well! Does that come back to the shop instantly? Nope not all the time, a lot of the time, but not all the time. That is ok though. We aren’t here to take all the money. We are here to keep our community as happy, as healthy as they allow themselves to be, and equipped with the best information and gear we can reasonably get. We want to curate our community to include as many different styles of skateboarding as we can possible facilitate. The rest of the month is typically now filled up with events from neighboring communities. Mostly being hosted by people that came to our clinics and other events when they started. These people are now stepping up and adding value and diversity to our community in ways that we can not do by ourselves. When the weekend isn’t filled up with something “official”, we like to get onto our local community group and get some sessions going somewheres somehow. Photo: Joe B. We take a special interest in the growing number of articles foretelling the doom and eventual irrelevance of the “Brick and Mortar” skate shop. We see the need for them increasing. Are we able to keep up with the internet guys? Nope. Our purpose is different, our effects can be felt in a different way. As the world gets faster and satisfaction comes at the speed of a clicking button, face to face real touching hugging feeling is lost. Getting to teach one on one with direct contact and the look of real enjoyment and sheer delight when you can coach someone to the right movement in skateboarding is like nothing you can find behind a screen. We are the guardians of where our industry is heading. The way in which we choose to serve our communities, the products we bring in and introduce to our friends. The causes we put our energy and focus into, and the manner we present them to our little corners of a shrinking world are all things that you and I control. Is it easy? Nope. It is down right heart-breaking work sometimes. We believe in what we do, and we aim to cultivate a ideal that with enough hard work, persistence, and love, all things can be built, and sustained in a way that anyone can be supported. We love the brilliant people we get to see on the day to day, our customers and riders. We love the vendors we get to introduce to our people. We do this because we love it. You want to know what the world needs? More skateboarding. If more people skateboarded, we wouldn’t have time to fight, be angry, and say stupid hurtful things on the internet. We would be so tired from a day filled with as much skateboarding as we could get, we would just fall asleep. Next day’s intent, facilitate more skateboarding, whether that is through a job or whatever the end intent would be to skate. Mix . Rinse. Repeat. That is our ideal day. That is our ultimate goal that we work towards. The rest, takes care of itself. Don’t believe me. It can’t work. Talk to me again in another 5 years. Shralp It. If you find yourself in KC – go visit and tell them CW sent you! Burning Spider Stoke Company1603 W 39th St
Kansas City, Missouri, MO 64111(816) 898-0122
This is from an issue that is how 13 years old. Thanks to Blair Watson for writing it.
Just spent a fantastic 24 hours in a very special place. You’ve probably heard about the epic skate scene here in Toronto and the world-renowned Board Meeting. What you might be a little less familiar with is the incredible scene that is growing just a few miles west in the cities that make up the western part of the “Golden Horseshoe.” According to Wikipedia: With a population of 9.24 million people in 2016, the Golden Horseshoe makes up over 26% of the population of Canada and contains more than 68% of Ontario’s population, making it one of the largest population concentrations in North America. This guy is a local named Tyler. The Hamilton Bayfront Cruise incorporates all skills, all ages and is all inclusive. I cannot say enough great things about the people of this scene. Rob Defreitas has been doing some very cool things with Bombora Boards. Meghan Guevarra (HBFC founder) and Rob (Longboard Haven) two architects of stoke here in the Golden Horseshoe. A huge thanks to Kyle who runs the legendary Farm for hosting this event. Meghan Guevarra, founder of the Hamilton Bayfront Cruise has done a phenomenal job of really creating an all inclusive scene. (and merci beaucoupe to Alex her partner!) Lots of great people in the Golden Horseshoe!Luis checks out the seating near the mini-ramp. From gentle cruises, to hitting some pretty challenging hills of the Niagara Escarpment, this part of the Golden Horseshoe has a platinum level of stoke! A special shout out to Quarter in the Bag. This band was the perfect way to ring in our 16th year. Thank you guys!Quarter in the Bag definitely are a band to be on the look out for. Check out what they sound like: I’d like to write more but, we’ll save this story for our September issue. Meantime it is definitely Hammer Time for Hamilton and area!PS: In the spirit of 100% skate everything, we were fortunate to have Mike T. a representative of SBC Skateboard Mag unleash the latest issue. It’s been a few years in the making, but SBC is back. Congrats guys!
You might have heard about the Mighty Mamas. They are a group of female skaters who embody the true stoke of skateboarding. Their love for skateboarding is truly infectious. This year, their Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama was a tribute to Di Dootson Rose. Di was featured last year in Concrete Wave. She was one of the key organizers of races in the 1970’s and her National Skateboard Review was the glue that kept things rolling on the grassroots side of skateboarding.The amazing thing about this event is these women come from out of state every year to skate together on Mothers Day. They have 14 years of this tradition. Women in skateboarding at it’s finest. It is the gift from Barb Odanaka for all these years.
I’ve been on tour for the better part of the spring and summer. If you’ve been reading my monthly tour articles on the Concrete Wave website, then you’ve probably figured that one out already. One of the most fascinating, yet totally depressing set of experiences that I’ve had so far on my tour have involved brick and mortar skate shops. It’s a subject that I’ve written several essays about in the last few months, although I have yet to publish any of them. It’s not exactly an easy topic to take on, because I know damn good and well that passions, both positive and negative, are immediately going to flare up. If you don’t believe me, then check out some of my recent Facebook posts to see those passions hard at work for yourself. On the other hand: I do feel like the subject does need to be discussed in an open and honest manner, sooner rather than later. If I didn’t, then I’d be shirking my responsibilities as a writer and as a journalist. Hopefully, nobody in their right mind would ever want that. Whenever I go into a skate shop on tour, I never go in there as “Bud Stratford, the Executive Director of Concrete Wave Magazine”. No way, that would be totally self-defeating; going into a shop as “some dude with a fancy-pants title” would not serve me well at all. They’d probably be pretty impressed by that, roll out a few red carpets, and schmooze me a little bit, just because of my “perceived industry insider” status. Don’t laugh: it happens. But that’s not really what I’m going for here. So in my world, the fancy-pants title is actually a pretty big hindrance. As a longtime industry analyst, I what I really want to see and experience is the same exact stuff that the everyday kid experiences when they go into a skate shop. That sort of real-world experience helps me to spot emerging trends and propose industry initiatives long before my analyst-insider competition ever could. Plus, the magazine is very “down for the people”, anyway. We genuinely feel like we work on the behalf of the everyday kid first and foremost, even if that means kicking the industry chaps in the nuts from time to time. We are, after all, The Media. That’s what we’re designed to do. Retaining my relative anonymity, and going in there as an everyday skater… or, at times, as an everyday dad window shopping for his skateboarding stepson… generally gets me that real-deal perspective that I’m looking for. Thankfully, I’m still relatively unknown and anonymous enough that it still works out the way I was hoping it would, almost every single time. I call this “mystery shopping”, because I’m not quite revealing who and what I really am when I walk into these places. As such, I suppose I am being slightly disingenuous about my true identity. However, it’s not really “mystery shopping”, as it’s commonly defined. Most “professional mystery shoppers”, at the end of the day, still work for the retailers that are paying them for their shopping experience and their feedback. My reality is way different. I’m not paid by anybody to do what I do. Not even the magazine; my summer tour has been completely self-funded, straight out of my own pocket. And I’m not just “playing the role” of a typical customer; I actually am a typical customer, through and through. Those are pretty big differences well worth keeping in mind. Through the eyes of an avid traveler There’s another huge difference between me, Mr. Aging Touring Skater, and the everyday average kid that might need to be mentioned. As a traveling skateboarder, skate shops are absolutely critical to the success of my touring endeavors. I look at them much like the average citizen might look at a gas station, I suppose; as a convenient place to stop, rest, recharge, maybe get directions relating to where I might find the local skateparks and skate spots. As well as being the best place to find insight and enlightenment about what’s going on, and what’s hot, in the local skate scene. Their importance really cannot be overstated, because there’s nobody else out there on the horizon that can really do the job. The local skate shop, when seen through the eyes of a roving journalist, can single-handedly make (or break) the local skate scene in much the same way that they can make or break a skate scene through the eyes of the average, everyday skater. The only difference between me, and them, is that I see it a few hundred times a year, all across the country. The average kid only sees it in terms of what’s going on in their immediate backyard, and in their local skate scene. So in that regard, the ‘ol brick and mortar probably isn’t so critical and/or crucial to the average kid as they might be to me, as an avidly touring skater. Or, just maybe, the more accurate reality is that the average kid doesn’t recognize the importance of a really good skate shop as quickly as I might. I might see it a bit more clearly, because I’ve seen hundreds of skate shops fail in my time. Far too many of them, just since my 2008 tour. As a touring skater, my travels have suffered the serious consequences. It’s just no fun at all to drive into a strange new town, knowing nothing at all about the skate scene… only to look in the phone book (or on my smartphone) for a local skate shop… find that there’s none around… and realize, to my sullen surprise, that there’s nobody around to help me out and about. A world without skate shops, in my world, is a super lonely place. But the average kid that hasn’t driven a few thousand miles in my shoes hasn’t experienced that loneliness, in quite the same excessively extreme way that I have. Maybe they’re lucky. Maybe they’ve always had a great shop in their community that still survives, and thrives to this day. Or maybe, they’ve never been lucky enough to have a local skate shop to lose in the first place. Or maybe they’re just unlucky enough to have a local skate shop that sucks so hard, they’d be far happier if it just died and went away. The Exceptions Of course, there are exceptions. Of course, there are still great skate shops out there in the world. They might be in the minority. But they do exist, and they do deserve credit and support. I’m not afraid of naming a few of the standout shops that I’ve come across this summer. Sidewalk Surfer in Scottsdale; Active in Tempe; The Sk8 Haus in Surprise; Freedom in Mesa; Beachcombers in Lake Havasu City… that’s the Top Five so far (in no particular order), while 91 West remains the standout private skatepark worth mentioning. I was up in Prescott last weekend attending a contest hosted by the local shop, the Prescott Skate Stop, that I was really impressed with; I keep hearing great all sorts of great stuff about that shop, too, although I wouldn’t know about any of it firsthand (they were, naturally enough, closed up tight last weekend because of the contest). I’m sure there will be a few more notable standouts by tour’s end. But so far, those have been the best of the best. They all shared the same best practices, of course. They were all genuinely super-friendly, knowledgeable, community-engaged scene activists with great product selections covering a wide swath of the skateboarding spectrum. Those are the timeless consistents. And they all do those “timeless consistents” really well, and really right. As a touring skater, customer care and service, local scene activism and awareness, and product availability and knowledge are critical keys to the success of my tour. It’s in these three areas, specifically, that I’m continually let down by the skate shops that I’ve been visiting this summer. The Biggest Bummer: Customer Care and Service This is, by far, the biggest disappointment of them all so far out there on the road. You’d think that a skater, working at a skate shop, would be the perfect situation. That skaters would have a natural tendency to look out for, and look after, other skaters. That skate shop employees would be the coolest, friendliest, and most helpful people in the entire world. That walking into a skate shop… any skate shop on the planet… would immediately feel more like “home” than home itself. You would probably like to think these things, and I would definitely like to think think these things. But that rarely happens for me, in practice, out on the road. That’s nothing less than absolutely f’n depressing. There seems to be this weird belief among skate shop owners… and especially among their cooler-than-you, shitheaded little skateshop employees… that skaters somehow thrive on being abused by the “skate shop cool club”. That it’s all part of some obscure hazing regimen, the price of “the dues” that every skater pays to be indoctrinated into the holy inner sanctum of skate core-dom or something. To top it off, this belief is remarkably widespread. It seems to happen at about eighty percent of the shops that I walk into these days. Which pisses me straight off, every single time it happens. Now, I’m not sure which sludge-for-f’n-brains thought this crazy notion up, or when this obvious lapse of reason and rationale occurred. But let me assure you, it is complete and total bullshit. Skaters are really not that unlike any other customer on the planet. They like to be treated kindly and respectfully, and taken care of, just like anyone else. I’m the customer, fucko. Nobody is cooler than I am. Maybe the problems are the shop employees themselves. Typically cheap, inexperienced, teenage labor working their first-ever “real job”, skate shop employees have never been the harbinger of efficient, fast, or friendly service anyway. Add to that the oversized entitlement and craptastic “work ethic” of The Millennial Generation, and it becomes really easy to see why my mystery-shops have been sucking so f’n hard on my summer tour. Local Scenes and Community Activism Every skate shop in the world that knows their stuff, and knows it well, should have these three things in their shop, at all times, readily at hand. These three things are: – A photocopied list of local skateparks, complete with their “proper” names, addresses, descriptions, and directions, that can be handed out to anyone who asks for it on a moment’s notice, – A city map, tacked up somewhere in the shop, showing where these skateparks are in relation to the shop (which would nicely complement that list that you just handed me), and – Another photocopied and free to hand-out list of all the upcoming skateboard community events, including the events that your skate-shop competitors and local skate activists are throwing, that are happening within a couple hours’ drive of the shop. That list should be made out three months in advance, and full of fun stuff to do, see, and experience at all times. If that list is lacking, then it’s high time to get crackin’ and get to planning some get-togethers. A lot of the shops that I go into will tell me, ad nauseum, about “how much they’re doing for their local skate scene”. Which is great and all, except for this tiny little tidbit of a practical problem: I’m not seeing much actual evidence of it, anywhere. When I go into a shop and ask their salespeople what they have coming up for local skate events… about eighty percent of them will tell me, point blank, “nothing”. Nothing…? “Nope. Nothing”. That, to me, is absolutely criminal. Events are not difficult, nor expensive, to put together. That’s total catcrap, a long-disproven fallacy. How hard is it to take three seconds to scribble up a quick flyer that says, “Hey! Let’s all meet at the park on Friday afternoon to skate! 5 pm, be there or be square!” Shit, man… I owned a skateboard company for ten years. We hosted skate jams every single week, hardly missing a beat (unless it was raining or snowing), for ten years straight. Ask anyone that skated in or around Concord, New Hampshire between 1991 and 2001; they’ll tell ya. And you guys (and gals) that run skateshops today actually have the audacity to try to tell me how “difficult and expensive” it is to throw a weekly community skate session? I’m sorry, I’m just not hearing your blabbering right now. It can be done. All you need to have is a caring disposition, some initiative, and a little bit of creativity. At the end of the day, though, a healthy, vibrant, and engaged community is still built on the shoulders of empowered, engaged, and encouraged individuals. If your salespeople cannot bring themselves to treat any given individual with common courtesy and genuine human respect, then I simply won’t believe your shop’s endless claims of “caring about the skateboarding community”. That whole “customer care and service” thing really cannot be overstated enough. Antisocial Media It’s not like brick-and-mortar skate shops aren’t trying. They’re just doing way too many of the wrong things, and not enough of the right ones. Every shop that I go in to, absolutely prides itself on their social media and e-tailer presence. They’ll talk about it for hours, like nothing else exists in the world these days except for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And that’s great as far as it goes, I suppose. Except for one teeny tiny little oversight on somebody’s part: I’m not a computer. I’m a human being. So ultimately, no, I’m not quite as impressed by your “virtual cloud-based internet friend community” as I am by your living, breathing, analog skateboarding community. Like most kids in the world today, I just don’t have the time anymore to follow 50,000 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram news feeds. When would I…? I’m always too busy using the internet to plan my next skate-tour itinerary. Besides, “social media” is turning into an antisocial cesspool of utter blah. There’s no redeeming humanity to be found there anymore (as if there ever was in the first place). Everybody is pretty much doing the same exact thing, in pretty much the same exact ways, on the same exact social media, as every other everybody in the world… which ultimately means that nobody really stands out anymore. The whole thing has blown its wad and gone straight to hell, as all good things must do eventually. Any skate shop (or skate company) that is relying on the quick and convenient laziness, and the quickly diminishing returns of social media to drive customer traffic to their door is about five years behind the times. It all seems so intrinsically self-defeating, really. Web traffic is only gonna naturally drive customers to web retailers; that’s a no-brainer. No matter how great your e-tail presence is, there’s still a million of those out there already, most of them better-stocked, better-staffed, and cooler than yours. So driving web traffic does not seem like it would be the smartest or savviest goal. Isn’t the goal of a brick-and-mortar retailer, in a perfect world, to drive foot traffic to the damn door…?! If so, then why in the hell are we relying on the web to do this in the first place? Why are we exclusively relying on a digital technology means, to pursue a purely analog ends…? Wouldn’t it be far better to build an exemplary shop that skaters (or even regular ol’, non-skateboarding people) would happily spend a few hours’ worth of drive time to experience firsthand…? An analog shopping tour de force? At that point, you wouldn’t really need to “invest in social media”. If you build a truly great skate shop, then everyone will be all over social media, talking you up on your behalf. If you feel like you need to be the Joe talking yourself up every sixty seconds on antisocial media, then I’d say you’ve got a real problem on your hands, buddy. The Competition As an industry insider, I hear a lot of griping from skate shops these days. Some of it is totally valid. At least, it is at first glance. There’s way too many e-tailers in the world; they have an unfair built-in pricing and inventory advantage (mostly due to the lower overheads, or lack thereof); they can offer free shipping and steep discounts because of the volumes they move (and accordingly, buy)… and on and on it goes. I’m not so sure that I’m buying that argument anymore. I don’t think that the internet is out there, actively stabbing brick and mortar skateshops in the back. I think that what’s really happening here are that the shops… through apathetic, abusive, or unimaginative business practices… are largely killing themselves. The only thing that the internet is really doing these days, is providing a readily available alternative. If I were an average kid these days, and I had to deal with this sort of bullshit that I’m dealing with on tour on a regular basis… well, I’d probably be spending the bulk of my time shopping online, too. Oh, wait! I am. I still do most of my skate-shopping with Mike Hirsch at SoCal Skateshop, who always treats me professionally respectful, and personally awesome. Or, thanks to the emerging direct-to-consumer trend, directly with the brands who have consistently treated me similarly kindly. It’s not like I’ve abandoned the “core retailer”; I still shop at good shops from time to time. I just have the luxury of freely and easily avoiding the assholes now. So, I do. The brick-and-mortar has a lot of competition these days. They like to blame “price competition” for that, but I think that’s a cop out. I haven’t really noticed if I’m personally paying more or less for anything by shopping online. I’m just getting treated better. That’s all. I suspect that most of your “everyday mystery shoppers” might be telling you much the same thing. Except they’re not saying anything right to your face; customers just don’t have the time or the energy these days for confrontation or explanation. They’re simply turning around, marching off, and voting with their feet. The Haters I have a pretty big ball sack. I’m definitely not afraid to take on haters and critics straightaway. And I was a bit surprised… but, not entirely shocked… to find that I had critics and haters, as I usually do, almost right from the get-go. Apparently, nobody likes some mystery-shopping asshole that’s totally unafraid to tell it like it really is out there; that sort of brute honesty is really dangerous, and could be a real threat. Of course, vested interests are going to want my ass handed to them on a silver platter. I get it. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna tell them to go stuff themselves anyway. One that I remember with particular fondness, I believe, summed up the sentiments of all of my detractors in one fell swoop. Thier memorable position was something along the lines of this: “You’re just playing the role of some jerk out on the road, doing mystery shops that the shops themselves do not particularly want, and definitely did not ask for, in order to create sensationalized content for the magazine. And that whole deal is pretty unfair to the shops, themselves.” That’s pretty close to the verbatim quote, actually. And I’ve heard that piss-poor talking point a few times already this summer. Here’s the reality of the world around us, bubbo: every f’n customer that has ever walked into a skate shop, by absolute definition, is a “mystery shopper” that the shop probably did not want, and definitely did not ask for. If that’s the attitude of your typical, modern-day skate shop, then the typical, modern-day skate shop should probably throw in the towel right this second, lock up their doors forever, start marching their hides towards Hell, and don’t stop for a single moment to look back. The customer is not the adversary or the enemy here. If you really hate the customer that much, then you’ve already lost by default. The Skateshop Of The Future Concrete Wave is the only magazine… the only media, for that matter… that is so consistently and militantly future-focused. Which is perhaps a little bit ironic, considering that we are generally perceived as a bunch of naive (or stupid) dinosaurs running an obsolete print magazine over here. Maybe the “common wisdom” isn’t quite as commonly wise as y’all would like to think it is, eh…? The skate shop of the future, in many ways, looks a hell of a lot like the dinosaur skate shop of the past. Nothing in this essay is particularly “new” at all; most of this stuff is the stuff that you used to actually find at skate shops, all the time, back in the day. It just went off the rails somewhere, for some reason. Perhaps it’s just generational; maybe it’s plain ‘ol entitlement, laziness, and apathy at work. Nobody cares about anything anymore anyway, why should skate shops be any different…? Whatever the case may be, retail isn’t going to survive… let alone, thrive… until we put this damn gravy train solidly back on track. And I suspect that it will take no less than a focused, persistent, consistent, industry-wide effort to make this happen. Make a note of that, IASC and BRA. The skate shop of the future, though, is going to be a little different from the skate shop of the past. It will start with excellent customer care and service, that’s for sure. It will be that community hub, scene advocate, event incubator, and foot-traffic destination that I dreamed up, and pretty much mandated a couple sections back. The employees will be product knowledge experts… “product geeks” might be far more accurate… that know pretty much everything about everything skate-related. They should already, because that’s one of the things that separates the legit from the fakes. If you know less than the average skater about skateboard stuff, then you’re on the outs. A lot of mall stores still fit into this category (although, to be fair, they seem to have gotten quite a bit better in the last eight years or so, which is a very real threat that’s well worth noting; Zumiez gets my “Most Improved” prize so far this season, as much as I totally hate to admit it… those bastards). The skate shop of the future will not be “the street-skating shop of the future”. That’s important to point out. Anybody can sell popsickle sticks and white-tablet wheels, so of course everybody does sell popsickle sticks and white-tablet wheels. That’s not differentiation, fellas; let’s get with the program already. And that’s not a skate shop to me. A truly legitimate skateboard enthusiasts’ lifestyle core retailer… memorize that one, because Harbaugh will be writing all about it in ten years or so… will carry the entire spectrum of skateboard hardgoods. Everything from street boards, to vert boards, to old-school shapes, to cruisers and longboards… which is generally where the best shops are at, right now, product-selection-wise… to slalom, freestyle, and downhill gear, which are forms of skateboarding that current core shops still tend to virtually ignore, for variously short-sighted reasons. If you don’t have some little bit of everything skateboarding imaginable, then you’re not a real “skate shop”; you’re a hopelessly opportunistic, lowest-common-denominator, un-original thinking, mass market profiteer. Would you like an energy drink to go with that assessment, good sir…? Truly legitimate skateboard enthusiasts’ lifestyle core retailers exist to give skaters options and opportunities to not just get the information and the products that they might want right here, and right now, today… but if they’re really smart and forward-thinking, they should also be showcasing the types of skateboards that skateboarders might well want tomorrow, as they grow bored with whatever they’re doing, grow older, grow stiffer, and inevitably grow out of popsickles and tablets. Education and enlightenment are important aspects of the core retailer’s mission, and keeping skaters engaged and motivated to think outside the box, do a little bit of personal exploration, try some alternative types of skateboarding, and discover some new fun along the way is strategically smart business. But you almost never see that in core retailers today. I certainly don’t. And that’s one of the biggest fails of them all. The customer is changing. Long gone are the days where “the target customer” could be easily pigeonholed as a twelve-to-eighteen-year old, white suburban male. Skateshops still almost exclusively market themselves to that derivative, not quite noticing that the future market is in girls and women of all ages; older people who want to recapture their former youth (which is, incidentally, every single “older person” on the fucking planet); moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters that want to share skating with their friends and family; and generally speaking, people all across religious, racial, economic, and geopolitical divides. It’s called “inclusion”, and Concrete Wave has been a longtime advocate of the concept. Consider yourselves warned: if your shop is not absolutely inclusive in nature, then you’re built to fail. Lastly: there is no way in hell that any brick-and-mortar skate shop will ever be able to have, in stock, today, at this moment, every single product that is available on the market today. There are far too many brands, making and marketing far too many individual items, for any shop to ever put them all on the walls. But the internet can do it, easily and effectively… and it does do it, all day long. How in the world is a small, independent, stand-alone skate shop ever going to compete with that…? Easy. The Industry is going to revolve. Not “evolve”, as in “evolution”. “Revolve”, as in “revolution”. First of all, we’re going to have MSRP’s all across the board, without exception, in the near future. If your brand or company does not yet have an MSRP structure in place, then you are about ten years behind; it’s well past time to get on top of that. Everyone… including the governmental powers-that-be… will eventually support, aid, and abet this idea, because the last thing that anybody in the world wants to see is a future where ninety percent of all retail space worldwide is boarded up and vacant, yielding urban and suburban blight, crime, decay, abandonment, and rampant unemployment on a massive scale. Nobody with any brains in their heads at all wants that, not even the government (which isn’t well known for being overly bright or competent, but does have a fantastic track record of being fundamentally self-serving and opportunistic). So, yeah, they will all eventually put their thinking caps on, and take a few sensible steps to avoid that. Making damned sure that retail is a valid, practical, and sustainable money-maker is a huge step toward achieving that aim. Then, we will have technology. The perfect marriage between technology and humanity. I’m envisioning small kiosks in every brick-and-mortar skate shop with little laptops on at all times, plugged into an efficient product portal somewhere, where every single skateboard item in the universe can be ordered immediately, through the shop, for home delivery… but with the added benefit of a fast, friendly, and helpful human standing right there, straight behind you, to competently and engagingly answer your 50,000 stupid questions in an inspiring and enlightening manner. What’s a spacer? Who’s Ty Page? What does a split-axle truck do? Where’s the local mini-ramp at? Sure, you can ask Jeeves any of this stuff, and that’s f’n awesome. But only living, breathing, thinking people can fill in all the gaps in your limited questioning that your inexperienced and unenlightened feeble little brain wouldn’t have even thought to ask. That’s the difference between people and computers. People, when they’re at their very best, can actually be perceptive and proactive, and answer questions that you didn’t even know… let alone, think… to ask. Computers can’t. So, there ya go. The gauntlet has now been thrown. The challenge to all skate shops, all across the country, accurately defined and fully articulated. The challenge for an entire industry to take up, and see through. This is everything that I want to see and experience, as a customer, when I’m out on the road checking out skate shops. When these things consistently materialize, that’s when I’ll finally be happy and content. And that’s when I’ll finally be able to f’n retire from this brutal business of skateboard touring, once and for all.
As some of you may be aware, I have recently decided to turn the editorial reigns of the magazine over to Bud Stratford. You can learn a little bit more about this decision in the fine print of our Summer 2017 edition (you can read online for free here)
This issue’s cover story is about my trip to Jamaica and it features Brady Brown on the cover. Brady is a local ripper who I met a number of years ago at the infamous Poop Chute here in Toronto.
It also features awesome artwork from Chris Dyer of positive creations.
I have decided to publish this issue on line right now because I wanted to ensure that EVERYONE was on the same page. Our subscribers and advertisers have their copies, but it takes time to trickle the mag out to the shops.I am still the publisher and will still have stories in the magazine, but our September issue will be the first for Bud as editor.
The time is now for new blood to direct and create a deeply inspiring vision for inclusion within skateboarding- that is where Bud and I agree 100%.Bud started skateboarding in the 80’s which means he has a perspective on things that are unique to mine.July 2017 marks 42 years rolling and tomorrow (June 30th) is the fiscal year end for CW.
The skate journey I started over 2 decades ago with the skategeezer homepage is about to take another “left turn in Albuquerque.”My sincere thanks to Wentzle Ruml IV Brady Brown Luis Bustamante and the SHRALPERS UNION for their support of this issue. This issue is dedicated to the people of Jamaica and in memory of Ty Page
Wishing you all high fives and positive vibes from Toronto, Ontario.
Stand by for a rather intriguing announcement coming soon.
Concrete Wave is heading down to the 40th anniversary party of the world-famous Kona Skatepark.We will have a full report in our September issue. Meanwhile, be sure to follow what we post on Instagram and Facebook. Jacksonville, here we come! Some awesome footage here:
While there might be big news regarding the Paris Accord, in the world of skateboarding, Loaded Boards and Paris Trucks are pleased to announce that Loaded has taken over global distribution for Paris Trucks.
Loaded states they’ve had a strong friendship with (Paris Truck owner) Joey Pulsifer for 10 years now and have always believed in Paris products and in Paris as a brand.
Loaded Boards is now providing Paris product to specialty shops and distributors worldwide via its Culver City, CA headquarters.
Paris Trucks will continue to oversee all product development and marketing of Paris products. Paris’ Pulsifer pontificates: “The future is looking bright for Paris Trucks, and we’re stoked to be working with our longtime friends and awesome people at Loaded.”