March 2, 2014
The genesis of this interview took place about five years ago, when Chris emailed me after reading this post.
In the years between then and now, a certain subdivision of skate nerdery concerning who has done what over a Cali picnic table flourished. A legend grew of someone switch 360 kickflipping over one.
A few months ago, Chris posted a sequence on his instagram account of him switch 360 flipping over a picnic table. It was as if a new dead sea scroll was unearthed. It seemed like a good opportunity for an interview, both about the trick and about LA County. The video has earned status as one of the most celebrated #lowimpact vids ever, yet its creators are still shrouded in mystery.
In the following interview, Chris tells his story, provides a perspective into the inner workings of the industry around the turn of the century, and elucidates a window back in time to a definitive era in Los Angeles.
Where are you from and how did you get into skating?
I am from Breckenridge, Colorado and I started skating in 1985. I remember being infatuated with skating after seeing the movie Back to the Future.
Describe a typical day skating in LA in the late 90′s when the pit, USC ledges, etc. were all active spots.
Skateboarding’s funny; no matter where you go, it’s super territorial. My prospective was heavily clouded with drugs, but I remember it always having a heavy overtone of competition at all the popular spots. If you were able to ignore the competitive aspects and just enjoy the actual moments skating, it was amazing.
February 1, 2014
Originally posted on Memory Screened:
To Gabriel Rodriguez, the board graphic world opened its door upon a biblical revelation. Not for him, but for his then-boss Natas Kaupas.
“My mom is Catholic”, he explains on the porch of the house he grew up in, in Mid City LA, “she had a huge mantle with Jesus on it. My room used to be on the back, so once Natas came over and had to walk through the house. When he saw that picture, he was like, ‘That is gonna be your first graphic.’ I was like, ‘Really? Fuck yeah, no doubt!’ I thought it was cool. I was a little more religious back then than I am now, so I was a little scared cause we were gonna be skating on, you know, desecrating the face or whatever.”
Using His almighty compassion, Mr Christ didn’t seem to mind and led Gabriel to a quality vs. quantity-driven career , until a few life struggles confiscated it. But that’s another story… For now, a quarter of Powell’s “LA Boys” has better reminiscences to focus on: dig through his 42 pro-models to pick his five favorite ones.
January 12, 2014
“Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become.” -Mary McGrory
You don’t have to be an MIT physicist to deduce that New England has been killing it lately. Exhibit A: The World Series win. Exhibit B: the Patriots’ continued status at the top of the AFC East, fueled by a series of improbably last-minute comebacks, Brady’s superhuman confidence and Belichick’s analytic genius (more on this later). Exhibit C: The rise of Eggs as the most chill street spot on the East Coast and possibly in the United States (more on this later as well). Even the Celtics and Bruins have won championships in the past few years.
The only victory left for New Englanders is an honest-to-G*d Patrick John Ladd video part. For a board company video. #Physical or iTunes.
December 25, 2013
In 2009, a Crailtap employee told me that Smyth was working on an EMB book, or some shit. The status of said tome remains uncertain, but, until its completion, the recently released FTC Book is as close as we’re gonna get.
If one sat down to write a book about #local skate shops as “thing,” odds are that certain narrative motifs would emerge: owners mentoring local rippers, older dudes vibing, rivalries with other local shops. Some dudes achieved success via the #industry, some dudes flamed out and cultivated drug problems, some dudes faded out of skating and got a job working construction (via Springsteen, natch). And of course, some dudes quit at their peak to “get really into cars.”*
Indeed, these types of stories are as old as the hills to anyone who came up in a community with a local shop. However, in retail and most other ventures, timing is everything. FTC differs because its ascendance coincided with that of A) a series of new, cool-as-fuck companies B) innovators who, seemingly as an afterthought, were inventing a new genre of skating every afternoon and C) SF’s status as skate Mecca, with hometown heroes nationwide buying beaters and making the pilgrimage–Welsh most notably, but I’m sure you know one or two who made it or didn’t quite get there. From this anthropological standpoint, it’s import resonates to this day, as variants of the plaza skating culture continue to thrive and replicate. Case in point: Stalin.
And the videos. I can’t remember when/where I first saw the first one; probably out in front of Supreme. If you haven’t watched Finally in a while, it’s probably the most low-impact vid ever; the biggest drop is probably Carroll’s ollies that gap at the Wallenberg upper playground. Penal Code, canonical at this point, continues the oldies/beats/breaks/some regional hip-hop school of music supervision from Goldfish; pretty sure it was the first time I had heard “That Lady” since Paul’s Boutique. It was definitely in heavy rotation out in front of Supreme for a couple years. To paraphrase Meza, these videos maintain #relevance because of their organic, skating-the-same-spots-every-day-with-our-friends vibe–a vibe that is hard to fake via orchestrated high-five lifestyle footage.
For obsessives such as myself, The FTC Book takes the reader into a wormhole that was previously only accessible through apocryphal tales and early SLAP, which seemed more plugged-in to the EMB scene than Thrasher–a rivalry of sorts detailed in the book itself. It also answers quantum-level skate nerd questions like “who first started skating suede Pumas?” and “Did Jovontae Jeans actually exist?” Along those lines. the street-level economic details of the scene, via the infamous tab book, are also interesting as fuck. Does any other shop still maintain such a system? More importantly, do any currently-active skate spots keep the tradition of the open-air product market alive?
ANYWAY, the core of the book is its interviews; every notable EMB affiliate contributes a narrative, save Henry Sanchez. As the best dude out from 1991-1994, it would be fascinating to hear his take, but you know how that goes…
One question remains, though: if Carroll had skated to “Limelight,”would Serge have skated to “La Villa Strangiato”?
You can obtain The FTC Book here or at any FTC store in the US, Japan, or Spain
*is this a “thing” all over the country? worldwide?
PREVIOUSLY: Lonny Peoples Interview
September 17, 2013
In the dead of night, a Bell AB-212 descends onto the heliport of David Guetta’s Ibiza compound. A slim, tall African-American lady descends the stairs onto the tarmac. Her hair is styled in a mullet, or some shit.
A few minutes later, another helicopter lands, transporting a Caucasian female with an aggressive platinum blonde hairstyle. She looks like she could use a sandwich.
Neither has any idea why Mr. Guetta has summoned them. A few minutes later, when @mikewillmadeit, French Montana, Future, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Pitbull, and Katy Perry ascend the helipad stairs, everything becomes clear.
Their mission, should they chose to accept it: craft The Song Of the Summer 2013.
This did not happen, but it kinda did…
July 31, 2013
“Remember how cold it was when you took the bus up to Montreal?”
“Winnipeg is colder.”
The above is an excerpt from an internet discussion between me and my homie in MTL. I think I had mentioned that Winnipeg seemed like a tight place to live, based on a)various Green Apple-affiliated videos I had seen b) the plaza that was one of the first ones that seemed to replicate Barcelona architecture and c)the return of the Jets.
He went on to describe a bleak, economically devastated metropolis where native gangs rule the streets at night. Based on Supper’s Ready and Modern Love though, Winnipeg appears to be a spot-filled metropolis where the particularly Canadian sense of humor–via SCTV/ Bill Murray–flourishes in skate vid form. Read the rest of this entry »
Triple Threat Book Review: “Infinite Crab Meats” by Byron Crawford, “Life”–the Keith Richards autobiography, & “Better If You Don’t Come Back” by Joseph DeMough
June 16, 2013
Infinite Crab Meats by Byron Crawford
One of the fun mental games we like to play at this web site is “Would [historical figure ] have skated?” I have created a spin-off: “What would [historical figure] have become had the internet been around?” Think of it like “Modern Seinfeld” in reverse, or some shit.
ANYWAY, do you think Bukowski would have been #Bukowski had the internet been around back then? Instead of blindly mailing off poems and short stories to pulp mags and periodicals, would he had started a blog—at the very least, a tumblr devoted to chicks with prominent calf muscles?
#comingsoon : Triple Threat Book Review: “Infinite Crab Meats” by Byron Crawford, “Life”–the Keith Richards autobiography, & “Better If You Don’t Come Back” by Joseph DeMough
April 23, 2013
The homie Galen has the skate book review game locked down. However, the following three things recently happened at the same damn time. First, after a year and a half, I finished the Keith Richards bio, which I had borrowed from my old man. Concurrently, @byroncrawford (one of my two favorite currently active writers) came out with a new book and hooked up an e-copy. A day or two later, Fat Thumb Publishing hit me up about reviewing Better If You Don’t Come Back – probably the first novel that addresses skate culture in a micro sense. So there you go. Check back in a week, I guess? This post is taking an extra long time cause I actually have to read stuff instead of formulating a thesis based on a video with some crooked grinds ‘n shit.
February 18, 2013
“What are you, some kind of masochist?,” as the one-shot intro to Pretty Sweet appeared on a drop-down screen at a local bar.
My friend posed this question to me after I told him that I had still not seen the vid almost a month after its digital web-based release. There is a good reason for this.
My 2001-era heavy-as-fuck tube tv had died, so I acquired a high definition tv as a replacement. Knowing that the release of Pretty Sweet loomed, my other friend recommended a blu-ray player because of all the aps that come with it, like Netflix and shit like that. So I had this whole new setup–just a chill place to watch physical skate vids, the NBA, and “Girls”(natch). I mean, if this is the last vid part for Carroll and them, I’m gonna watch it on my own terms, not like some suburban tri-state area hedge fund manager watching pRon in his upstairs office.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.