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If the articles in this 30th Anniversary Issue teach you anything, it should be that skateboarding has evolved leaps and bounds over the past three decades. It should also make clear that key individuals—pioneers—served as central catalysts to these massive advances. Ray Barbee’s addition to the Bones Brigade in ’87 and subsequent appearances in Powell Peralta’s Public Domain (’88) then Ban This (’89) represent some of the most critical junctures in our short history. On the heels of Steve Steadham, Ray cracked the façade of what had been more or less up to then a white-bred pastime. He also showcased some of the first conscious line-based flatground street skating ever. And unlike the neon glam beach volleyball styles of the ‘80s vert scene, Ray’s casual attire and cruising lines through LA sprawl set the table for city kids of all stripes and colors to make skateboarding theirs in the two decades and change since.   

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Thursday
Mar202014

Bastien Salabanzi Interview: The Lost Part


Bastien's portrait from his Skateboarder Interview back in 2004, at the height of filming a part that would disappear for a decade.

All Photos: Oliver Barton | Words: Mackenzie Eisenhour

Lost footage has always been somewhat of a skate nerd wet dream. The prospect of something so incredible—so Eifel Tower monumental, had it appeared when first filmed—just sitting on a shelf for years almost makes the footage increase in enigmatic value. So much so that finally watching it feels like crawling into a pixel generated time machine; beamed off to an alternate universe of what might have been.

Has a part this good ever been held for this long? I can’t think of any off hand. There was the notorious Muska part from Welcome to Hell, but that part more or less surfaced only a short while later in Fulfill The Dream. There were recent rumors of a full Jovantae Turner part from Video Days, but that may be more wishful thinking than any type of actual completed part sitting in Spike’s analog tape vault. There was also longstanding gossip of full parts from the non Tim and Henry names of the ’92 Blind team (Guy, Rudy, and Lotti), but again, those may be more urban myth than reality. Last year’s talk of a Ty Evans blocked Marc Johnson part for Tiltmode also comes to mind, but that part was supposedly more on the “throwaway,” fun/dorking around side than a straight up game-changing NBD fest (That one from Marc was in Pretty Sweet.)

Bastien’s “Lost” Flip part seems truly unprecedented in terms of the impact the footage probably would have had at the time. Especially given that Bastien essentially went underground both sponsor-wise and geographically (returning to Europe) directly following it. These would have been serious groundbreaking (and possibly life/career arc changing for Bastien) NBD hammers back then—coupled with just how long it has summarily been mothballed (A decade!), and just how good it still looks today. Meanwhile, the entire Flip, Sorry saga is steeped in so much drama of it’s own that any footage from that era carries added weight regardless.


The Sacto triple set fakie flip was most definitely NBD back in '04.

With all that said, I really wanted to get Bastien’s take on how he felt to finally see it come out. I can only imagine how heavy the emotional ties to the footage are given everything that happened in his life since. I pictured the final release of this part as the symbolic cathartic resolution to that entire chapter of his life. And while I at first felt a slight hint of anger that the part hadn’t come out sooner, I think a big tip of the hat should go to Ewan Bowman and everyone at Flip for making the effort to finally put it out. In some ways, at this point, it might just have been easier to let sleeping dogs lie and let it die on the vine.

You’ll always hear people saying how good Bastien was in those early years, but you’ll really never grasp exactly how insane it was to watch him skate firsthand. He just did not miss a trick. It looked like he could learn anything within something like three tries. And he would be talking to you as he did it. I know everyone says this or that person was “the best.” But when people say it about Bastien—there’s almost a different type of intonation—they really mean what they're saying.

Here, along with Oliver Barton’s photos from Bastien’s ’04 Skateboarder Magazine interview (shot during the filming of the “Lost Part”) is his take on most of the things mentioned above. Now get this man a board sponsor.

This could be my favorite switch varial heel ever, barring any rendition by Keenan Milton obviously. Downtown LA.

How did it feel to see the “Lost Part” footage finally come out? I can only imagine it felt amazing.
Yeah for sure it was nice to see it come out, even ten years later. I never thought it would been seen so I’m stoked it's finally out there.

When did you hear about it? Did Ewan (Bowman) contact you before it went up?
Yes, he did. He sent me an email and told me he was working on the edit and wanted to put it out soon after the new year.

Who did you watch it with the first time? Was it like getting into a time machine?
I was home by myself the first time i watched it. Yes, it was like a good flash back moment. It did bring back a lot of cool memories. Definitely.

Could you remember specifically all the tricks in there? Was there anything you forgot about?
Oh no! Dude, I think I probably forgot half of the tricks in this part. I mean it was ten years ago you know.

Can you run down the day (who was there, how it went down) that you got the cab flip front board in Melbourne?
Well it was really late—maybe one in the morning when I skated it. I know that Ewan, Andrew Mapstone and a few local friends were there too. I didn't try it on any other rails because i thought that one would be perfect to try it on. I didn't do it right away. It probably took me thirty tries maybe more.


The backside nollie and Cab flip stair line.

Run down the session where you got the fakie flip at the Sacramento triple set.
It was during a night session during a skate trip in Sacramento with the Flip team. I was shooting with Oliver Barton at that time for the Skateboarder interview. I remember that a few tries before I made it my board fell right on the edge of the tail. I had to pull off a big piece of it off. I was pretty bummed about it. The run up to the set is slightly down hill. That really helps a lot.

What trick in the part brought back the best memory?

I don't have one in particular. But definitely all the tricks in Australia bring me awesome memories. It's one of my favorite trips I've ever been a part of. It was so much fun.

Had you tried to retrieve it over the years? Even just the cab-flip front board? Who was blocking it?

I thought about it. But to me it was Flip's footage and I didn't try to get it back. I don't think anyone was really blocking it, it just turned out that way.

Do you think your life would be on a different path if this part had come out almost 10 years ago? I don't think so but we'll never know.

How come you don’t do more backside 360 flips? The one in that OZ line was rad!

Thanks mate! I don’t know, I still do some here and there. Maybe I should do it more often. Haha!


Switch ollie blaster at the Sepulveda gap in West LA.

I noticed at the end of the part they had a clip of you sitting at Uni high. To me it was kind of a nod to Nyjah since his cab-flip front board there (on the Uni rail) was the second to last trick in his Fade to Black part. The same trick you did on the Melbourne Gold rail, 10 years later. Was it weird to see Nyjah do that trick?
No it wasn't. I saw him during Street League throwing some of those moves down so I knew he could do that trick. I was really blown away by the backside 360-kickflip lipslide. That's a very hard trick.

Nyjah kind of called you out in that Free Lunch thing saying you had told him you were going to beat him at Street League. What did you think when you saw that?
Not much really. He just misunderstood what I told him. I didn't mean it like that at all. He didn't see that I was joking. I would never say something like that seriously. But i guess he thought I was. No big deal.

When were your kids born in this whole series of events?

My first son was born in May 2008 and my second one in May 2010. It's the best thing that ever happened in my life. I love to talk with them and see my sons evolving, learning, playing, or laughing. Only parents can know how infinite is the love for our kids. They're my most precious things in this world. Lao will turn 6 this year and Jazz is going to be 4 years old.

With this footage out have you been able to finally make peace with everyone there (at Flip)?

The relation between Flip and I has always been peaceful. They will always be my first family when I first came to the states. Geoff (Rowley) welcomed me in his house like a brother. I have learned so much with all those guys. I have so many awesome memories traveling the world with everybody.


Nollie heel front boards back in '04 where no joke. Can't think of one before this one, nor have there been many since.

After Jart, have you been looking for a new board sponsor?
No I haven't. Thanks to Bud skateshop. They hook me up with their boards and they’re super good. I'll see what happens. No rush.

Would you go back to Flip if they asked you?

Never say never.

Are you still skating Street League this year?

Yes for sure. I'll be there and looking forward to it.

Who impresses you most in person at Street League?
Probably Shane O’Neill. Just because I had never seen him skate in person before and I was truly amazed by how much board control he has.

Who do you miss seeing everyday most from the Sorry days?

I was good friends with everyone from the team so it's tough to answer. I always had the best times whenever Ali was around though. It was non-stop jokes, laughing or playing guitar together. I love Ali.



The voodoo child staple: backside flip with classic Bastien form.

When was the last time you ran into Tom (Penny)?
I saw him last year in Munich during Street League and he stops by Bordeaux from time to time as well.

Whatever the circumstances, it must feel good to have that footage finally out. Are you moving forward with a positive outlook from this?

Well yes, it feels like a closed chapter sort of with this footage finally out. I'm happy Ewan put it out there.

Can you top that part?

No, I can't.




The Lost Part
, 10 Years later.

Thursday
Feb062014

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Steve Berra

Still a number of people to come from this with raw text. Here's everything Steve Berra had to say about it back in '03. Like Dyrdek, Steve has always had strong opinions (to say the least) and has never been afraid to voice them. I remember him being particularly passionate about this topic. Photo from The End. —ME

STEVE BERRA:

“Drugs are such a dissociation from what really is going on. It’s a disconnect with the real world. There’s such a social veneer on the planet right now anyways, that it doesn’t need to get any worse. Its like, ‘Hey, everything’s great,’ Meanwhile, we have a president that wants to go to war with Iraq and ignore the rest of the world. There are just so many things that are fundamentally wrong going on right now. I mean it’s already bad enough, we just don’t need something to dissociate us even further.”

“They come up with any other reason they can to smoke weed. You know, it’s part of one of the most insidious declines of our civilization. All these people are like, ‘Oh, it’s got nothing to do with me man, I just buy a little bit of weed.’ Well that weed comes from somewhere. People lie for drugs. People kill for drugs. Drugs are a huge, huge business, and they are built on the further degradation of people. Drugs aren’t designed to give someone a mellow high. Drug dealers are the lowest people on the planet. They enable someone else’s downward spiral. Everybody’s complaining about how the planet needs to change, but these guys want sit back and smoke a joint. I just have a little higher aspirations then that.”

“I looked up to this popular skater back in St. Louis when I was growing up, Warren Stevens. He was like a couple years older then me. I remember, it was right at the time when my other friends were starting to drink. One day I just asked him like, ‘Hey, you don’t drink?’ And he said, ‘No, I skateboard.’”

“I don’t agree with anybody doing drugs at all. Even drinking excessively to me is just wrong. I mean what is the one contributing factor to every skateboard premiere that ever got fucked up, closed down, or turned into a fight. The main contributing factor is alcohol. Take away the alcohol and those guys aren’t going to act that way.”

“We don’t need to further promote the dumbing down of our youth. Look, kids have a hard enough time dealing with the pressures of drugs and the angst of youth as it is. All that stuff is already out there. Its not like they’re going to discover it in a skateboard magazine, but we don’t need to contribute to it as pro skaters.”

“People can argue whoever the best skateboarder in the world is, but there is no doubt in my mind that Eric Koston is and always will be the best skateboarder that has ever lived. Everything he’s ever done, he’s done completely sober. There are specific other guys that I know that go out and do coke, smoke weed, or whatever—anything to disassociate themselves from the consequences, and then its easy for them to do what they’re doing, because they're totally out of their minds. Eric has to sit and see both sides of the spectrum because he’s dead sober. He has to overcome the knowledge that he could break his face. The same can be said about Jamie Thomas. They’re not some morons doing coke before they skate.”

“If I did drink, which I don’t, I would never show me drinking anywhere in a magazine or in a video. And I certainly wouldn’t talk about it. I mean everybody’s got a rough story, especially guys who skate, but I just don’t agree with promoting the further degradation of our society. I keep thinking everybody’s going to grow out of it. But then I go on some business trip to Italy or somewhere, and I see these 30-40 year old guys doing what I thought only teenagers did.”

“The reason why we have this image is because that image is promoted. Drug use exists in every other facet. I mean I stayed at Yale for four months. There were students at Yale smoking crack every night. I mean being truthful about it is one thing, but glorifying it is another. When you’ve got ‘Legalize Skateboarding’ made out into a pot leaf, you’re not really talking about skateboarding. Companies like Shorty’s, Hollywood, or Baker, I don’t respect those companies as much as I respect somebody like Jamie Thomas. I don’t think anything good comes from the things they promote. Even Birdhouse, look at what they’ve done since the departure of me and Heath. I mean talk about embarrassing—Tony Hawk, the all American boy is at the forefront of promoting 15-year-old kids drinking beers with their face at the crotch of a stripper. That’s terrible. I’m not saying that those kids aren’t going to drink. But, it’s a terrible ploy to try and sell boards. It's like you have two choices. You can either not take a stance like, ‘Well, it’s got nothing to do with me’, or you can take a stand against this. I mean have you ever seen a drug addict. It’s disgusting—somebody shitting on themselves from withdrawal. That’s not skateboarding.”



Berra's part from Birdhouse, The End ('98). Possibly also a commentary on drug use.

 

Wednesday
Jan152014

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Rob Dyrdek

Another collection of B-Side quotes from this. In fairness, I should mention that Rob took issue with some of this text when it went to print in '03. Also, keep in mind that many of his views may have changed further in the eleven years of "moguling" since. Regardless, Rob always voices strong opinions and I've always admired him for that. Photo: O'Meally —ME

ROB DYRDEK:

“The fact of the matter is that all pro skateboarders are somewhat psycho. Very rarely do you find a skateboarder that comes from some solid foundation. You go against everything to be a skateboarder. When you choose to commit your life to it, you’re pretty fucked to begin with. It’s the ideal types that tend to be drawn to drugs, people with destructive personalities."

“You have this ‘I don’t give a fuck’ mentality. You get a little older, and usually you’ll ease out of it. But If you can’t ease out of it, it takes you down. I can count so many of the skaters I’ve seen fall. I’ve seen weed sink skate careers. I’ve seen liquor destroy skate careers. I saw the toll it took on my skate career. It’s the innate destructive impulse that is embedded in anyone that chooses to dedicate their lives to skateboarding.”

"There’s way more normal kids in there today then there was when all of us guys came up. When I fuckin’ turned pro it was for nothing. I wasn’t turning pro with some big check in the mail. I was giving up everything. I was like, ‘Fuck it. This is what I’m doing. But I’m not getting enough money to live.’”

“The Piss Drunks brought this chaos and partying to the kids. I mean, they’re not the only dudes in skateboarding that ever partied. But it was the first time in a while that anybody went that heavily with it.”

“This is the 100% dead truth—I am a natural born partier. But I go on vicious sober streaks. In my older years, I’m not really into drugs. It’s too destructive. But I went through that period to rid my body of it. I would party every single night if I could. It’s just embedded in me. The party demon is always just beneath the surface. Every now and then rears its ugly head and is just buggin’. Sometimes it’s a wonderful experience. Sometimes it’s embarrassing.”

“Sure, someone like Andrew Reynolds is pretty fucking influential. But at the same time, look at the amateur kids they brought up. Those kids didn’t grow up wasted. No one influenced me to party. I just found it. Kids are gonna do what they’re gonna do. It’s just a matter of personal circumstances how deep you go with it. Some people take it to another level.”

“It’s a part of skateboarding as far as I’m concerned. It’s another thing that makes skateboarding better than everything else. We don’t have no fucking drug testing policies. There’s no one that's going to fine us or suspend us from riding our skateboards for doing whatever we choose to do. You don’t have to get up everyday and do something. It’s on you. If you want to go on a cocaine bender for two months, fine. Then you go on a sober streak for two months and kill it. The only thing that matters is that you hold it down on your skateboard to the best that you can.”

“It’s just a part of skateboarding and always will be. Just like when Jay Adams was around. It’s no different. There’s always going to be your straightedge dudes that hate it. There’s going to be your middle ground guys that dabble and stay in control. Then there’s going to be your full fucking psychos.”

 

The DC Video part from that same year with the skit that started it all.

 

Saturday
Nov302013

Jake Johnson: The Cinematographer Intv. B-Sides

I'd been meaning to post this Jake & Gilbert article from TWS's May 2012 issue for a while. I was talking to Adrian Adrid at Stoner the other day and while we were both fanning out on Jake Johnson (I also fan out on Adrian's frontside ollie in the link above), he mentioned Jake's interview from this so I figured I would post the scans of the mag version along with his full uncut text (Jake's got cut down about 600 words for the final print version. Gilbert's ran uncut.) With everything that the Workshop has been through since this came out I figured both these guys had only grown more relevant. Photos: O'Meally, Chami, Allan. —ME

Original Intro:

Sharing the second half of the last part of The Cinematographer Project—Alien Workshop’s heavy hitting duo—Jake Johnson and Gilbert Crocket both earned their professional stripes this past February the second their footage hit the screen at the 14th Annual TWS Awards in Hollywood. In addition to sharing “Going Pro” parts in Cinematographer redux, both rookies also originated and more or less reside and handle their business on the East Coast. Based in Pittsburg and Richmond respectively—both also seem content to operate outside the confines of the pastime’s standard designated urban playing fields—be they in California or even NY and Philly. Given Alien Workshop’s history of placing itself both geographically (Ohio) and conceptually (See any AWS video) outside the beaten path of the skateboard industry, we thought it would be appropriate to get both their takes on what it means to have your name on a skateboard in this last year of our Mayan lord, 2012. Is moving west still the time-tested prerequisite it once was? Or has the onslaught of Internet interconnectivity finally leveled the entire playing field? Is real street skating on the verge of a massive comeback, or are we unwittingly witnessing its death knell. Peppered with a host of tangent musings—from skydiving to OCD infused alcoholism—the following 10 questions each sought to answer these existential queries along with anything else that popped up along the way.

JAKE JOHNSON:

What happened with this skydiving situation? Was that your first time jumping out of a plane?

Yeah. It was. Crazy. I had been thinking about it for a long time and our first destination was Vegas. We met the dude that trained Bob Burnquist back in 2003. I figured if it worked for Bob. It was unbelievable though. Not only while we did it, but the whole rest of the day while we were skating we were just super confidant and not worried about anything (Laughs).

Are you still living in Pittsburg?

I’m still technically living there. But I’ve been away for like a month and a half.

What is the Map Masquerade tour?

Basically I bought a van that we’re taking on this tour across the country. You can follow us @MapMasquerade or go to asenseofdirection.org. It’s like a mini Workshop van and we have a bunch of friends along. We’re hiding all types of product along the way so you can follow the clues and find the treasure. It’s a conversion van too so I’m planning on living in this thing when I get out to San Francisco. It’s got a nice little bed in there and I have homies along the way to get showers and Internet and all that.

I was reading something about you saying the message of skateboarding was kind of stronger in the small town scenes and videos now? Is that something you seek out? Is that what this tour is about?

Yeah. Definitely. It’s something that I’m building my beliefs around. I want to do what I can to basically support them. I’m learning as I go in the industry that it’s a very fragile thing. I got dropped from Quicksilver last year after putting in all types of time and effort into trying to help legitimize the company. I’m realizing that I got to benefit from the money and support of those companies but in the end, my career is probably gonna last through the support from the core shops and the people who put their life and entire body, energy, and mind into skateboarding. Longevity’s not going to come from some board of trustees. For me, I’m just trying to go at it from the ground up. I want to see skateboarding grow for everybody and filter into our society, but not in a diluted way. I want to see skateparks and skateboarding everywhere but I want to see it done the right way. I think skateboarders have a lot more to offer than just entertaining people. I think we can innovate in a lot of ways.

I guess the million-dollar question then is what the actual message of skateboarding is then, right?

Yeah. I think it really comes from your experiences that you have in the act of skateboarding. They idea is that it develops along the way. That’s what I meant when I was talking about the message carried by the first generation of skateboarders. What they were representing was something entirely outside what society had ever seen, so it was a very destructive force in the beginning because it ran into so much opposition.

What does real street skating have to do with the message?

Basically, what skateboarders were trying to say was that nobody really owns property. We all kind of share it. You take a piece of granite out of the earth and make it into something to sit on, and it makes your business money—but you don’t actually own that rock. I think the message of skateboarders is that nobody owns any of it. When you use it, you become a part of it. You heighten your sense of awareness to reality. And that’s what gives skateboarders their leg up and an advantage. That’s what should give skateboarders their motivation.

So the act itself sort of gives you the message?

Exactly. But nowadays, it’s turning from that into more of a competitive thing, where skateboarders are trying to do it to impress an online community, or to impress a board of trustees. Skateboarding is an intimate relationship with your reality through challenging yourself to face the nature of it. To take a piece of wood and to go against gravity. Go against society. Go against what they define the uses of public space to be. The conclusions that you come to through your trials and tribulations along the way—security, and people that want to stop us—if you learn to maneuver around them more smoothly then we become more efficient beings and basically are evolving. That’s the message of skateboarding. It’s about bettering yourself through the act of riding one. 

Wow. It also seems like the same guy that wants to own the granite rock also now wants to own skateboarding, No?

Yeah. Exactly. They want to own it and regulate it. They don’t know it, but deep down they are afraid of our evolution.

I think kids see it though, even without understanding…when they see the real thing they know it, like—I want that.

Yeah. They feel it. I hope that they can still experience it the way they should. It’s gonna get harder and harder though. Bigger companies will stretch skateboarding further and further. I think a lot of people argue that basically as long as more people are seeing it it’s good. I think that’s false. I think it should be more of a less is more type situation. There should be more focus on less people. You can get a message out to all kinds of people, but they’re not going to make informed decisions unless they really understand that message. It might work in the short term. But in the long run it will come back to bite us. Skateboarding isn’t for everybody.

Beyond solving skateboarding—where you out at the Awards for The Cinematographer Project premiere?

Yeah. I was there. I was hiding in the corner somewhere but I was there.

How was it seeing that in completed form?

It was stressful. I was coming off the worst injury of my life. I put a lot of responsibility on myself when I’m filming. I feel like filming our interpretation of skating is really the only thing we have outside of doing it for ourselves. So it’s really important to me. I’ve had a lot of second thoughts and distrust for HD and the dynamic that goes with filming HD, so it was a tough project, and I really only had three months time to film.

What is the dynamic that goes with HD? What are the limitations to you?

The limitations of just finding a filmer with HD gear is one thing. Because he has to spend an enormous amount of money on it. Then it’s relatively heavy and a very cinematic piece of equipment. So if you’re spending that much money on it, you’re probably wanting to use it for higher end production. So your mentality is already more production based. Your tendency is going to be to stylize your footage. I think HD might cause kids to think there’s this standard they have to meet. It leads to a more planned out and structured approach to filming. They’re not just grabbing the camera and skating with a friend all day long. It takes over the session too much. It’s getting better now. The cameras are getting more affordable. And I watched Benny (Maglinao) do this and I came to respect his style and understand the medium. But I definitely don’t think that the VX is dead.

Do you think that the VX can make a comeback?

I hope so. I hope that I can be at the forefront of it. I’m trying to push that in my skating. I think a lot of people jumped on board the HD because the industry pressured people to do so. But I think there’s still value in the VX footage. Think about the prime of skateboarding in the 90s to 00s was translated to us through the VX. It’s not just nostalgic, but also the quality of the experience. The sound of the audio. The ability to get close into each spot with the fisheye and the Mark 1. It’s the emotion you get when you watch it. These things all made skateboarding the way we wanted. I think HD excludes certain people too by having standards. I still think skateboarding is translated through your own eyes, a filmer, or a photographer. For other people to experience skateboarding they need to have one of those options.  

HD tends to feel like something is being presented to you, whereas watching VX feels like you’re there with the skater. Like your one of the dudes in the trenches.

I’ve never heard it referenced like that but that’s exactly how I feel. I feel that HD puts a wall of glass between you and the skater. Like you’re watching something in a museum. Sometimes it just feels like a video game. And that’s where it disconnects me emotionally from the footage. I organized my whole life around skate videos—when they were coming out, what year they were released. My whole childhood was basically framed up by the anticipations and then premieres of these videos. I don’t know what kind of an affect the constant Internet updates will have on the youth. I know a lot of people are becoming keener with it, and they are able to take what they want from it and leave the rest alone. I just personally think it’s important to support people that create full length videos and have something physically come out, even if it takes a little longer. I think skateboarding is about patience. Good skateboarding takes time and you can’t rush it. There’s a lot of pressure now, especially for sponsored skateboarders just to produce. They’re being pulled in all different directions. I think they need to be left to develop their own styles. Each scene should develop their own style rather than all try and conform to the Internet. It’s a wash.

How does going pro feel now? How soon do you and Gilbert get boards?

They congratulated us on going pro after the part premiered at the Awards show. I gave Mike (Hill) some suggestions for graphics though. I gave him this book of really strange architectural structures. I told him to do something with a Geodesic dome or something like that. Hopefully within the next few months we’ll have something out. It still doesn’t feel like it’s happened. I guess that’s the corny, stereotypical answer but it’s true. It’s going to be strange to see my name on there.

Both Gilbert and yourself are from back east. Do you think you still have to move out west to make it?

I think that’s one thing that the Internet is really a positive thing for. That idea that I have to move to California to be seen is almost completely gone, I think. I mean, people still want to move to California. But the idea that you have to be there because the Industry is there has almost died out. I’m on tour with Marc Sucio right now, he’s from California so it doesn’t apply on that angle but you look at the following he got from putting out one part on the Internet.  

My generation was right on the border of the Internet. I got on Instant Messenger in 1998. I’d meet kids at Camp Woodward and then keep in touch with them on there. We’d transfer footage in these primitive ways and I’d meet up with skaters in person when I started taking trips to New York. That’s basically what helped me move to NY. I appreciate that side of the Internet a lot so I know it has its good uses. It’s when kids actually believe they can use the Internet to get famous that things turn ugly. Just skate. People will take notice if you’re good enough.

It seems like The Cinematographer Project kind of followed in the return to real city street skating. Like more dodging cars and rough spots with cool backgrounds and less schoolyard ledge combo stuff. Is that type of skating coming back right now?

I think it is. I think it got to a point technically where there’s not too many people that can really push the boundaries. You have your Nuggets and your Nyjah’s, or Marc Suciu. There’s a small group of people that have the technical ability to still innovate. Then on the big side, it really had already pretty much maxed out in the Jamie Thomas' day. It got to a certain point on both fronts where there’s just that much more you can do. So it starts coming back to style and spot selection. I think people that have interesting approaches to even basic tricks start to be what stands out. The visual experience is what skateboarding is all about. Finding those unique locations that incite ideas and emotions to the viewer—that’s the most important thing there is.

Where do you see people doing it right out there today?

Well, I think it’s really interesting in a business as top heavy as skateboarding, now you are seeing people from other countries that have the same passion for the message and are doing it in their own way. I really enjoy watching companies like Magenta, and Palace, and Polar coming up from various countries in Europe right now. I think it’s rad to see them get a little more stylish and creative then some of the big companies.

What pro would you like to model yourself after? Who carries the message, without starving?

I don’t know. I’ve been following Pontus (Alv) pretty closely for the last few years. I’m not sure what his financial state is but it seems like he lives a good life. He builds all these rad DIY projects and creates all these super unique skate spots and artistic installments. He gets to create his own videos, artwork, board graphics, and do it all from his own country. I would say if I could model myself after anyone, it would probably be Pontus. He takes what he does seriously and he gets to have ultimate control of what he puts out. What could be better? Actually, if I could really do it, I would become a hybrid of Pontus and Heath Kirchart. Heath is another guy that takes his skating seriously. He wants to make sure he helps push the limits of skateboarding. He handles everything on a very professional level. So if I could combine both of those things, that would be it.

I’d pay to see that hybrid.

I want to give skateboarders that sense that you can create your own world. I think that’s really the best thing skateboarding teaches people. I believe in my core that this world is a heaven and a hell. It all just depends on how you live it. What are you doing to create it?

Last question—do you think skydiving’s gotten too mainstream?

(Laughs.) Oh fully. It’s not about the spots anymore. It’s too commercial. They’re all jocks now.

 

 

The Cinematographer Project ('12) AWS part. Still so good.

 

Tuesday
Nov192013

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Eric Dressen & Tony Alva

Been a minute, but here are some more raw quotes from Skaters and Drugs. Short and sweet, this is what Eric had to say on the topic back in '02. I was a huge Dressen fan as a kid and was lucky enough to get to skate with him during the '90s West LA Hot Rod crew days and call him a friend today. I still don't think Eric gets enough credit for being as influential style-wise as he should. Easily one of the top 10 most influential styles ever in my book. Photos: Thatcher/Brittain —ME

ERIC DRESSEN:

“They should have been called ‘Drugtown and the Z-boys.’ All those dudes were all on drugs. Every guy I grew up with around there that was a pro skater was on drugs. It was everywhere. You’d eventually retire and then just get more fucked up. I saw it happen to every dude and it happened to me. I was terrible.”

"Just from the ‘70s, everybody did drugs. It was like the tail end of the hippie movement. Nobody thought drugs were bad back then. And then you basically become a rock star, and its sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. It all goes hand in hand."

"Christian (Hosoi) and I would go smoke a joint in the parking lot before all our runs. I never skated a contest where I wasn’t stoned. I remember being at the Munster Championship Contest in ’90 and Colby Carter and I were smoking before the heats or whatever and I kept winning all the qualifiers. Right before the finals I didn’t go smoke and I ended up getting second. Colby was joking around saying I would have won if I smoked more weed. He was probably right."

"Jeff Phillips won the Vision Psycho Skate contest on acid. It was like full strobe lights, 3D projection screens, the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing on the platform, and there’s Jeff skating amazing on acid."

"The new kids are headed for it. I don’t think they’ll be able to handle their drugs as good as we did."

 

Eric's part in Speed Freaks ('89).

 

Since Eric's was short and he mentioned Dogtown I figured I'd post Alva's full collection of quotes to corroborate Dressen’s story. The name for this site actually came out of the following TA text. At the time he said something like, “Deadhead hippie Rasta dude” and I remember thinking Dead Hippie would be a cool name for something. Also bare in mind this text is over 10 years old. I know for a fact that TA no longer smokes weed today just for the record. Photos: Friedman/Stecyk

 

TONY ALVA:

“We were like 70s, dude. So we were like acid, coke, Quaaludes, taking crazy pills like reds with a malt liquor. I think at times drugs enhanced the whole thing. Like back in the early punk rock days, it just made it way more intense. I mean when you’re that age, and especially back then, you could kind of get away with stuff like that. I mean that whole decade was a trip. But, if your taking acid for 20-30 years, dude, your brain is going to start morphing. If you have some weird shit going on, or you’re a little wishy-washy in the head, it can fuck you up big time.”

“A lot of people consider marijuana a drug and I disagree with that. There is a huge segment of the skateboarding population that use marijuana as an herb to better their lives and get in tune with their environment both physically and mentally. Once we erase the stigma that weed is a drug, skaters will no longer be labeled as druggies. By en large, the skateboarders out there are not using drugs like cocaine, heroin, and speed. That’s only in the extreme situations like with Jay Adams or Hosoi. Those are serious street drugs that will take you down no matter how baddass you think you are.”

“To them, stoners will forever be that unmotivated Spicolli type fuck up. They listen to somebody talk about the positive effects of marijuana and they automatically tune it out, ‘Oh, Alva’s talking bullshit. Alva just needs a crutch. He’s a Deadhead hippy Rasta guy. He’d have been better without it.’ They teach drug addicts to call it ‘marijuana maintenance’. But I’ll keep saying it. If you’re a spiritual person, marijuana can be extremely positive.”

“I just hope that people educate themselves and learn more about it. Legalization of marijuana has been a long overdue thing in the world. I get hassled so hard any time I go through customs because I have dreads and there’s a stigma to that.”

“The label is wrong regardless. As you find out when you really look at skateboarding, there are dudes completely on the other side who are completely straight edge. And they have to deal with the druggie stigma all the time. The key is to let everyone do their thing. Skateboarding is all about, ‘to each his own’. Fuck what anyone else thinks about us.

“To teenagers, drugs seem like some sort of adventure. Its just one of those things you just have to do to get out of your system. I’m a parent too, and I don’t advocate doing drugs to young kids. But if my kids ended up trying chemicals or something, the best thing you can do is communicate with them. Most parents did drugs at some point too so talk to your kid and pass on what you learned. The best and only thing you can do is talk to them.”

“Skaters are just tough motherfuckers to begin with. I think they just subject themselves to things almost as guinea pigs. It’s the ‘fuck it’ mentality. They’ll try anything. Overall, there were a lot of funny stories and good times that involved drugs but at the same time there was also somewhat of a negative shadow that got cast over it later. Too many of those dudes ended up wasting their lives chasing the dragon, trying to score another gram of coke, or just wound up dead. I think eventually, you know, all that shit just gets tired.”

 

Tony in Dogtown and the Z-Boys ('01)