Category Archives: skateboarding

The New Thing

Trying something new today.

I am not a morning person. Never have been. But today (Tuesday) is my day to work noon – 9pm at the library. So if I don’t get up early and so something, my whole day is wasted on work. So I set alarm for 6:30am, was up and getting my coffee at 6:55, and I’ll go skate from 9am – 10:45am.

We’ll see how this goes. Never been a fan of skating in the morning, but hell, I want to skate. I think that if I just go to my practice spot to skate, without a lot of expectations of learning new stuff or “really ripping”, I might enjoy it. If not, at least I was awake.

People whose skating makes me want to go skate at inappropriate hours

A few people who make me want to skate.

A little Peace

Well, my trip to the Paderborn freestyle contest got cancelled due to some family health issues. Its a bit complicated, and private, so I won’t go into the details, but everyone is OK. Or what passes for OK these days, which I really can’t bitch about too much because it could be a lot worse, and of course having your skateboarding vacation ruined is a total first-world white person problem and I’m fully aware of that. There are people in the world who are hungry every day. But I’m still disappointed, and even though I “did the right thing”, it was in fact the only thing I could do, and my spirit still kind of feels like it has taken quite a beating. The only good thing to come of this was the early return of my wife from a research trip, so she could help me, which was much appreciated. She is truly the caregiver of the caregiver, and keeps me upright when I could easily fall. I simply cannot thank her enough, or show my appreciation enough. Getting to spend that last week with her was the only thing that kept me from going nuts.

So no awesome trip with my friends in England, to the mother of all freestyle contests in Germany, to camp, skate, and forget about the world for a few days. This is kind of a big thing for me, because even though I’m a person with an easy life, a good job, a great wife, a loving mom, and good friends, I really needed some relief. Instead I got more stress, more bullshit.

Yeah, I’ve venting a little.

I finally got out to do some skating last night, a week after the whole thing started. I was tired. My “soul felt heavy”, or something like that. But I was back at my practice spot, now with another year before the next Paderborn contest, so I skated. In the summer I don’t go out to skate until about 7:30pm. It’s just too hot before that. I don’t even mind the heat, its the blazing brightness of the sun. You can almost feel every beam of sunlight blasting against you. But in the evening you just get a nice, good sweat going. I plugged my computer speakers into the outlet, plugged in my iPod, and skated. I did my best to empty my mind of everything but the music, the board, and the spot.  You gotta find your shelter where you can.

OK, enough bitching. This is the last anyone will hear of this.

Street Skating

As I’ve been working on a new zine for the last few months (Man! It takes a long time to do a good one!), and as that zine is about skateboarding on natural, found terrain (mostly) and flatland freestyle, and in particular a very non-ollie-oriented version of street skating, I’ve been thinking a lot about street skating lately.

When I started skating, most of what I did might be called “street” skating. There was no skatepark. There was our neighborhood, which consisted of sidewalks, curbs, alleys, banked driveways, and school parking lots. We didn’t even have ramps. We did have Skateboarder Magazine, and a couple of other magazines to show us what was possible, but the terrain depicted in those pages was out of our reach. We learned tricks — any tricks — on the terrain available. I was naturally drawn to flatland freestyle, as there was a big school parking lot three blocks from our house, but tended to adapt freestyle tricks to other terrains.

When a skatepark opened not too far away the summer before 7th grade, I began going there once per week. Now, that’s not enough to get good at riding skateparks very quickly. It didn’t help that for half the time between 7th and 10th grade I was on some pretty terrible equipment. Now, it was not terrible by those days’ standard, but boards didn’t really start showing advancement into forms that helped, rather than hindered, until I was at least a year into my skating life.

All that aside, once a week at the skatepark, but skating every day, makes you a street skater by default. I did freestyle, but the street was always there.

As skateparks began to die, the skateboard industry, via Skateboarder Magazine, began to push “street skating”, as well as DIY halfpipe skating. Then Skateboarder mutated into Action Now, and then disappeared entirely, to soon be replaced by Thrasher, which did a good job of covering the once again underground activity of skateboarding, which included a lot of street skating.

But street skating, really, has always been the “real” skateboarding. I say that because for most of the history of skateboarding, most skaters had only sporadic or infrequent access to skateparks. Most did their thing on the terrain available to them every day — the streets and secret spots. While the skateboard industry and media, during the boom of the 1970s, tried to transform skating into a respectable thing to do, confined to skateparks, with organizations and authority figures, that was never the reality for 95% of skaters.

As the 1980s progressed, the flatground ollie allowed skaters to go skate the streets with greater efficiency. We’d always been able to go up curbs, but now a more graceful method of getting up and down higher obstacles existed. A new generation of skaters came up, worshiping the Gods of Vert, but doing most of their skating in the streets. As the decades passed, and street skating became the most popular form of skating, vert and freestyle tricks were adapted to the street (as they’d always been). Heading in the 1990s, the impossible became the commonplace. To be a “good” street skater came to require more and more risk, balls, and injury.

But what is a good street skater?

Regardless the tricks done, I would contend that a good street skater is simply a person who can gracefully skate in the street – be it a suburban cul-de-sac,  or a New York City thoroughfare — flowing through the environment, using it’s elements, and enjoying himself/herself. It has nothing to do with hand rails, flips, or whatever. It’s about flow through the environment, and THAT is what the real beauty of modern street skating is. That is the real gift of the street ollie. It matters not if one can slide a handrail, grind a ledge, or 360 flip a 6-set. A good street skater becomes one with the environment at hand. The rest is just fluff.

End of rant.

 

American Waste

I discovered American Waste Skateboards on Luchaskate Podcast. Dude is doing handmade boards, which is cool.

Anyway, this video was really well done. I liked it. It is gritty and real, and the street skating is accessable. It isn’t rushed. It doesn’t try to “blow your mind”.  But it did make me want to go out and skate.

Skate Blog(s)

Connecting with one blogger (Kyle Duvall of the Parking Block Diaries) a few months ago has resulted in meeting some good people online. I found David Thornton, and was on his Luchaskate podcast, and I’m enjoying his writing and his podcast. We’re going to trade some actual physical copies of our zines.

Then a yesterday I connected with Chris Sedition, of Concrete Existence. He’s been writing a while, and yesterday he began chronicling his own life in skateboarding more biographically. It’s a really good read, and I agree with Chris that reading the stories and tall-tales of everyday skaters is a lot more interesting than reading a pro biography.

It’s great to be connected with some really smart new people. The artists, writers, and musicians I’ve met through skateboarding continue to blow my mind. And it’s so good to have some cool shit to read!

 

Banked Freestyle

A lot of this is nothing that any freestyler today would call “freestyle”. I think there is one kickflip, and maybe a shove-it in here, some toe spins. Lots of sliding and 360s.

This was a big contest that included banked slalom as well as bowl riding in a massive vertical bowl.

When I see this video, it makes me feel like I am living a few decades to late. Actually, I was around back then. I was 15, and not in the right place.  By this time, I was pretty good, and to some extent, this is how I skated. Weird for  landlocked Texas geek to ride this way. I think I still kind of skate like this.

Anyway, with regard to the term “bank freestyle”, maybe these days “bank riding” might be more appropriate. I don’t know. Anyway, this is cool. There is very little footage of Peralta skating banks, or any of these guys for that matter.  In my mind this is “true” bank skating, if such a thing exists.

My friend Gumby commented on the Youtube page to help identify the skaters.

1978 California Free Former Professional Bank & Bowl contest. Nov. 24-26, 1978 – Runway skatepark, Carson CA. Covered in Skateboarder magazine, March 1979 and CBS Sports Spectacular. Video in order – Stacy Peralta, Mike Weed, Dennis Martinez, Ty Page. Results – 1st Weed, 2nd Peralta, 3rd Page. Awesome!

A couple of things that were notable to me. At 1:07, Mike Weed does fakie 360 into a kickflip to fakie into a fakie 360. Really, really smooth stuff. Then at 2:36, Ty Page does slide to fakie, fakie 720, pirouette into a 540, then toe spin into 540, all amazingly fluid.

Anyway, check it out.

On a Podcast

Well, it was a rainy, cold, shitty weather weekend, but on Sunday I had a really good time talking to David Thornton for his Luchaskate podcast. I’ll post up a link when it comes out on New Years Day. It was fun being on the “other side” of the process, and just talk and have fun with a good conversation. David is a smart guy – a writer – so he’d done some research and was prepared to talk about freestyle.

Toward the end of the recording session, we talked about bearing spacers. I hope that isn’t too boring. If he cuts it out, I totally understand. I used to think bearing spacers was the most nerdy pet-peeve to be obsessed with. Then I met slalom skaters. I felt better about myself.

2015-12-22 20.27.12Oh, so last week I went to practice freestyle in a parking garage. I skated for less than five minutes and broke my rear kingpin. I had just replaced it back in September. My trucks were really tight. I fixed it yesterday, and changed to a softer bottom bushing and soft risers.

Wish the weather was better. Winter kind of sucks. On the other hand, I enjoy sitting in my warm house and being warm, reading, and getting fat.

Common Criminals

Over the last year I’ve been communicating with two guys who write about skateboarding. It’s been very enjoyable, since I do the same thing.

First dude is Kyle Duval, of the Parking Block Diaries. Kyle writes for the Ride Channel. He is, arguably, the only person who produces quality content there. Five months ago he interviewed me for an article about Skate Zines, since I am co-publisher of Broken Fingers freestyle skateboarding zine. The article was finally released yesterday — here it is. Kyle did a really good job of assembling a number of interviews into a coherent, readable article of significant length. I’m glad to have been a part of it. Thanks, Kyle!

The other guy is David Thornton, of Luchaskate.com. David writes, and also produces a Luchaskate podcast. We’ve been corresponding a bit, and it’s been fun. I while back he published a book called “Common Criminals” – an anthology of skate stories mostly by common skaters. It’s a quick read and enjoyable. I read it on my Kindle, but will get a hard copy for my collection.

 

Luchaskate

A while back I discovered this website and podcast, Luchaskate, run and produced by skater David Thornton.

David is three episodes in on his podcast, with a three part interview of Lew Ross, of Fickle Skateboards. Lew makes small, high-quality batches of boards. He is also quite a character. Dude can talk.

Anyway, if you like listening to people talk about skateboarding, you might wanna give this a listen.