Saturday, March 29, 2014

Talking Slappies With Jason Adams

The Kid at the Transportation Unit red curb invitational. 1st place. Time to start thinking about Street League

No trick can inspire cliched assertions like the humble, yet mighty slappy. In the deceptively simple act of throwing a grind on a curb without popping an ollie, some can find the essence of skateboarding. From there, the cliches just seem to pour out: It’s more than a trick, it’s an attitude...a lifestyle...a cult...insert your own philosophical sentiment here.

Among the greatest practitioners of the way of the slap is San Jose’s own Jason “The Kid” Adams. He’s perpetrated slappies in the darkest days of the flipped out 90’s, he’s thrown them down in video parts when no one else has dared, and, as decades of pro skating have taken its toll on his mind and body, it’s the slappy that keeps Adams stoked. I spoke with this slappy guru about the mechanics, magic and mystique of the slappy. We soon found ourselves probing deep into the tao of slap in a way only two curb-crunching fanatics could:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jimmy Wallace's Driveway (Part 1)

(Mine had neon green zigzags)

“Wait! I’m locked up again.”

Monty’s bike skidded to a halt in the gravel at the end of the driveway. He glanced back at me from the seat of his hot pink GT, a familiar look of exasperation on his face.  “The WD-40 is on the workbench. Hurry up. Jimmy Wallace built a ramp in his driveway.”

I ran into the garage and fetched the can. It was time to roll the boulder up the hill one more time...whatever leaning, ramshackle wedge of lumber remnants Jimmy Wallace had crammed together in his driveway would have to wait.

By summer 1988 I had been skating the same $50 Variflex for three years. At that point, the application of lubricant to bearings was more of a neurotic tic than any sort of real remedy for my board’s eternal lock-ups. The scrap metal spheres rattling around the grooves of my cheap wheels had degraded to the point that they could be considered a real locomotive force only by the broadest and most forgiving mechanical definitions. Nothing ever stopped the seize-ups, especially not wd-40, and deep down I knew it, but I would stick that little red straw in to the wheel and spray away anyway, the cut-rate lubricant pooling so deep that I could have lifted up my wheel and knocked back the ounces of WD 40 like Jack Daniels from a neon shot glass.

Sometimes the WD-40 helped a little. Sometimes

Monday, March 10, 2014


I made a promise to myself when I started this blog that I wouldn't do lazy, click-farming stuff like top ten lists. Whether memes fall into that category or not is up to cannier mine than me to debate. I love memes, and went a little crazy with them on facebook. Here's a full set. Share and enjoy.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Talking Popsicles And Pachyderms With Mike Vallely

In 27 years as a working pro, Mike Vallely’s impact on skateboarding has been nothing less than comprehensive. In pursuing his craft, Vallely has not only helped shape what people can do on their skateboards, but also the shape of the skateboards they do it on. Through his relentless touring, vocal advocacy, and plain old trucks-to-the-grindstone ethos, Vallely’s influence goes well beyond the tricks and video parts and deep into the mind state of skateboarding. As famous for speaking his mind, burning bridges and busting security guards as he is for busting bonelesses, Vallely has always seemed fearless, militant even, in his passion and pursuit of skateboarding.

But standing on the decks at the Skatepark of Tampa during the Tampa pro contest in 2012, He’s nervous.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

These Are The Days, They Always Were: Why Now Is The Best Time To Be A Skateboarder.

When I was a kid my dad used to tell lots of stories about growing up as one of 13 children on an Indiana farm. He’d usually trot these stories out when my brothers and I were bitching about something...which was a lot. I think what really pissed me off was that I always thought there was a bit of smug superiority in those stories. I always automatically thought he was going on about enduring farm life as a way to belittle my own lack of grit, and to extoll the superiority of his own hard scrabble childhood of waking at the crack of dawn, only wearing hand me down clothes and, yes, walking 3 miles to school uphill both ways. What pissed me off most of all though, was that, despite all of this supposed nostalgia for a life of rural poverty, my dad spent his whole life working his ass off to make sure none of his kids would ever have to live that sort of life themselves. It seemed hypocritical to me. If growing up that way was so much better, why weren’t we doing it? It was an easy way to intellectually negate the lesson he was really trying to teach me. I didn’t see what was really going on when dad would trot out the stories of 5 AM milkings and once-a-year mass family shoe shopping trips. Sure, there was a bit of of superiority and scolding in those bits of nostalgic musing, but the real reason those stories got repeated over and over again was to show us that things could be worse, and even if they were worse, we could survive them. Most of all, they were meant to make us appreciate what we had. Of course I was a sly, spoiled little shit, so all this was lost on me when I needed to learn it most.

So what the hell does this have to do with skateboarding?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beyond Go Skateboarding Day: Some New, More Festive Holidays For Skaters

Skateboarding now has its own quasi-holiday with Go Skate Day. Every year the occasion gets bigger and that’s pretty cool, on the other hand creating a special day for skaters called “Go Skate day” is kind of like a bunch of junkies getting together and declaring a “Go Shoot Up Day”.  After all, go skateboarding day is any day you’ve got time to skate...that isn’t raining...or that you are not in too much pain from the last “go skateboarding day”. Still, the precedent of a skateboarding holiday is great because it can pave the way for some better, more specific holidays for skateboarders. Here’s a few fesitive ideas I came up with, some holidays that commemorate more specific aspects of skate culture that I think need to be celebrated and cherished:

Janksgiving: Janksgiving is a day for skaters give thanks for all the sketchy, chunky spots that helped them learn to skate before they were good enough to rip their local park or hot street spot. Skaters are encouraged to re-visit the two-step staircases, strip mall curbs, and school/church parking lots they cut their teeth in as a way to foster an appreciation for their skate heritage. It is also a day of thankfulness for DIY skate parks, so hug your local cementhead and give him a bag of quikrete, then get to work. The day of appreciation peaks with the Janksgiving Feast, where you and your extended skate family gather together with whatever scraps of wood and other semi-skateable materials you can find, and then use them to build a new janky skate spot. After shredding it, you have a pot luck dinner where everyone contributes their favorite recipes from old Skarfing Material columns.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Editorial: WE DO NOT CRUISE!: Lot Lurkers Of The World, Unite and Take Over.

The mainstream of modern street skateboarding, if you define it by what the media is selling, has a pretty high barrier to entry. There’s something perverse in the fact that what we now call “street skating” has developed (devolved?) to a level where it seems as if you can’t drop your board down just anywhere and start doing it. Skateboarding has matured to the point where there’s no longer an expiration date on a persons’ skate lifespan, but it often seems as if the queue up to the street skating section of the subculture is blocked by a sign that says: “You must be this young or this skilled to enter.” Videos transmit the latest, most skull-perforating tricks and create an orthodoxy of what high-impact, terrain qualifies as a legit skate spot, and what tricks are “real”. If the ledge ain’t knee high it doesn’t count, and anything less intense than popping a double set or hitting a handrail at mach 12 is mere “cruising”. “Cruising” I hate that fucking term. Its called street skating, folks, even if all you’re doing is rolling down the block and floating up curbs. In some ways street skating is a victim of its own success: in becoming the pre-eminent cutting edge venue for skateboarding, modern street skating can seem narrow, highly specialized and, competitive. In short, street skating is in constant danger of veering away from all the things that made it so crucial to start with.