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:
The 5th Catalyst – The Extreme/X Games – 1995By the early 1990’s, skateboarding was in free-fall and the industry tried to figure out what had caused the crash. In a meeting in January of 1994, a group of skateboard executives pointed out the obvious:
- Too many pros
- Not enough diversity – too much emphasis on street skateboarding
- Too much focus on the hardcore skaters – not enough focus on fun for all By 1995, ESPN 2 had launched the Extreme Games and while some in the skateworld bemoaned its commercial sensibilities, there was no question this was going to impact skateboarding. The visibility was huge and Tony Hawk (after a decade and half of being a pro) finally got the fame he so richly deserved. By 1999, skateboarding was on fire once again. The focus was mostly on street skateboarding, with a bit of vert and transition. On the horizon was another genre within skateboarding – Longboarding and in 1999, I launched the publication International Longboarder.
The 6th Catalyst – Dogtown and Z Boys Documentary – 2001Although this film was released in 2001 at the Sundance Film Festival, it didn’t get major attention until 2002. The film features the dramatic stories of skate pioneers the Z Boys and was the breakout hit at Sundance . The film was the first time that skateboarding’s rich cultural history was explored and it lit a fuse. The documentary effortlessly meshed the Southern California surf experience with the punk rock ethos that dominated the late 1970’s skate world. Four years after its release, Vans (who had helped finance the film) found itself on a complete rebound financially. It opened up people’s eyes to the roots of different types of riding and captured people’s imagination. It brought in a lot of former skaters and sparked tremendous interest in the history of skateboarding.
Hello Jim. You have been shooting from the beginning of the second boom of skateboarding starting in the 1970’s.
1- Why do you love to shoot skateboarding ?
I love to photograph skateboarding because I love to skateboard. As a skater myself, nothing is more fun than capturing the energy and vibe that makes skateboarding so special. And as an artist, photographing skating is a natural expression of my passion for skateboarding.
2- How did you get into it ?
I started out as a skater, but after breaking my arm in a skate accident I took up photographing it while I was recovering. Over time, I skated less and shot photos more, which eventually developed into a career.
3- Did you ever stop shooting ?
I had to cut back on my skate photography after going to work as the general manager and team coach at Gullwing, and again during my time as managing editor at TransWorld Skateboarding magazine. After leaving the skateboarding scene in 1986, I continued as a photographer but didn’t start shooting skating again until decades later.
4- What is your best skateboarding memory?
There were so many over the years. Traveling and experiencing the worldwide skate scene while shooting for SkateBoarder magazine was amazing, and creating and managing the Gullwing team was really special for me since we became such a close family. But the most memorable times were with my early skate buddies while discovering and skating all the great skate spots, and trying to stay one step ahead of the cops in pursuit of our passion.
Photo by Olivier Dezeque
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