Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What you should be talking about when you're talking about "Old School"

The term "old school"gets thrown about a lot nowadays. Old school tricks. Old school boards. Old school style... It's a term that's crossed the rubicon of cliche and gone straight on to meaningless. So much water has flowed under the bridge, "old school" is now a term that equally applies to a backside boneless or a front foot impossible. The term "old school" is so relative its easy to clown yourself using it casually. So your $100 Powell Caballero dragon re-issue is an "old-school" deck? Let me introduce you to my bro over there whose first plank was a Bahne Fibreflex back in '78.

Refer to decks, tricks, styles, music as "old school" and  I'll probably tune you out, but there are some legitimately "old school" concepts that we should all be talking about much more. These are things more relevant than pointed noses and no-complies. You want to talk about :"old school" let's talk about about old school skate culture, and I'm not talking about Jim Phillips graphics, flipping the bill up on your Suicidal Tendencies hat, or paint penning a bad approximation of the Rat Bones logo on your griptape, either. The term "old school" ought to be trotted out only in instances where it can really matter, instances where it refers to values and practices that are getting lost in times when skateboarding is more accessible and more codified.

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 Dao 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 for and pursuit of skateboarding.

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Dirtiest Words In Skateboarding, Part 1: Progression

When I was in my early twenties, back in a time when skaters still had to contend with the question of “how old do you have to be before you have to quit skating?” my best friend answered the question by asserting that he would “never quit” as long as he was “...having fun and progressing...”

I was always cool with half of that answer, but why quit when you are having fun, even if you are not progressing? His succinct answer all those years ago gets to the root of an identity crisis that plagues skateboarding even more today, and it’s all wrapped up in that one word: progression.

My lack of talent and general sensibilities make me a pretty egalitarian guy when it comes to riding, I’m not sure I’m comfortable, even in this age of cruiser trendiness and longboard ubiquity, with making distinctions between “true” skaters, and whatever else the rest may be. Ultimately, we’re all skaters, but being equal doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Writing a journal article on quantum physics and writing a sonnet in Iambic pentameter are both writing, but they are not the same thing. This is why, in other human endeavors, we create new language to distinguish between even the most subtly different of things. The skateboarding community has yet to develop a really good language for its increasingly diversifying facets. Right now, with the space between skating’s different genres becoming so broad, skaters, at least those with their hearts and minds in the right place, are struggling with how to talk about what they do and how to differentiate their own identities as skateboarders from that of others without stepping on the increasingly sensitive hamburger toes of their peers.