Chris Franzen Interview

March 2, 2014

photo: Blabac

photo: Blabac

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.

 Off flat.

 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.

note graphic

note graphic

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

I have never lived in a skate house, and I never will.

Let me clarify–living in a skate house would be sick as fuck. However, my age precludes me from doing so. This is a fact. As one ages, the possibility of doing certain things quietly disappears over the horizon. Joining the Marine Corps. Doing the whole “Barcelona” thing. Even the quintessential cross-country road trip would require logistical planning comparable to staging the D-Day invasion.

During the time I skated the most and the best, I lived in one of those weird NYC living situations with a bunch of random people whom I never saw, except for the Asian “landlord” dude who rode his bicycle around the Columbia campus. It would have been fucking sick to live in a skate house back then. I started thinking about this topic because, in the aftermath of the Kalis EL, a particulary vivid account of an evening at the San Diego Alien House surfaced on the SLAP messageboard—I assume from CBI or Police Informer. So vivid and powerfully nostalgic was this story—the likes of which one rarely reads in skournalism—that it reminded me of that one scene in The Great Gatsby when Nick goes to a party at Gatsby’s house for the first time: Read the rest of this entry »

Before I get into this last part, let’s sum up:

Part One (exhibits A-G)

Part Two (exhibits H-L)

Part Three (exhibits M-Q)

Part Four (exhibits R-V)

Exhibit W: Axion

image courtesy youwillsoon

First of all, this exhibit was probably the most challenging to write. Why? Writing about the significance of shoes ain’t easy. Watson kills it at it though. Of course, there’s also that Made for Skate book, but that seems like more of a coffee table kind of thing (I may be wrong here). That dude Bobbito wrote a book that seems to focus more on the cultural implications of footwear, but I think I read it in B&N in like 15 minutes back in like ’04, so maybe it just had little blurbs or some shit like that.

ANYWAY, along those lines–sneakers and their socio-cultural implications–I recently had the following exchange with my brother, who doesn’t skate, never skated, wears Rainbow flip-flops most of the time, and is pretty much a total frat dude: Read the rest of this entry »