20 Years Later: The Coliseum 99' Video Reunion

Then and now - Coliseum founding fathers Matt Roman and Arty Vagianos.

Then and now - Coliseum founding fathers Matt Roman and Arty Vagianos.

This past Saturday in Wakfield, MA a crowd of old friends and skateboarders gathered to watch and celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Coliseum Skateboard Super Store’s 1999 skate video.

Anybody that visited the Coliseum during the 1990’s or early 2000’s knew that it was a special place, due in large part to owner-operators Matt Roman and Arty Vagianos, who encouraged hi-jinks and built an amazing community of skateboarders.

Coliseum entered the periphery of 'mainstream' skateboarding through the release of PJ Ladd's Wonderful Horrible Life in 2002. The video released to critical acclaim, and was widely regarded as the greatest independent shop video of all time. It catapulted the careers of not only those directly involved with the video, but served to inform the taste of countless others in the Boston area, and beyond.

The 99’ video, alongside a few copies of The 02’ video.

The 99’ video, alongside a few copies of The 02’ video.

It can be argued however, that there perhaps would be no Wonderful Horrible Life without the existence of the 99' Video, so it only made sense to honor the 20th anniversary of its release with a banquet-style reunion, a stone's throw away from Coliseum's original Melrose, MA location.

In attendance from the Coliseum team on Saturday were Colin Fiske, Dave “king of freestyle” Vey, Brian Leary, Southie, Dave Kordan, Arty Vagianos, Matt Roman, and John “Baby Schizo” Tracy.

Beyond OG riders and owner-operators, the event brought together a deeper crew of former shop locals, their friends, and younger skaters who continue to draw inspiration from the shop that gave so much to Boston skateboarding.

A big thank you goes out to Brian Leary and Butchie for putting this event together!

Additional thanks to Alex Gagne, Coliseum's original photographer who documented the shop's golden era, along with the reunion itself this past weekend.

Without further ado, here's a recap of the events that unraveled throughout this momentous occasion.

What reunion celebrating the Coliseum 1999 Video would be complete without a screening of the Coliseum 1999 video? Fiona Apple outro? I’m sure tears were shed.

What reunion celebrating the Coliseum 1999 Video would be complete without a screening of the Coliseum 1999 video? Fiona Apple outro? I’m sure tears were shed.

The Romans! Peep that mint condish Coli shirt!

The Romans! Peep that mint condish Coli shirt!

Schizo has entered the building. 99% of Boston-based skateboards looked like this in 1999.

Schizo has entered the building. 99% of Boston-based skateboards looked like this in 1999.

Aaaaaaaand we’ve got some pizza.

Aaaaaaaand we’ve got some pizza.

Right: Wild Will, Left: Chris Valone, whomst tried to kickflip it but it was SO MOBBED.

Right: Wild Will, Left: Chris Valone, whomst tried to kickflip it but it was SO MOBBED.

Fancy Lad overlord Nick ‘Big’ Murray, whose decorated professional skateboarding career can all be traced back to the shop.

Fancy Lad overlord Nick ‘Big’ Murray, whose decorated professional skateboarding career can all be traced back to the shop.

Speaking of Fancy Lads…..ladies and gentleman, The Fiske!!!!

Speaking of Fancy Lads…..ladies and gentleman, The Fiske!!!!

‘Anyway, here’s Wonderwall’ - Tom Tweak

‘Anyway, here’s Wonderwall’ - Tom Tweak

Shea and Vey, a.k.a. The King of Freestyle. ‘Some of us failed, but Vey will get classic footage here.’

Shea and Vey, a.k.a. The King of Freestyle. ‘Some of us failed, but Vey will get classic footage here.’

Southie and Kordan. No wedgies were given throughout the course of this experience.

Southie and Kordan. No wedgies were given throughout the course of this experience.

‘And you get a Coliseum Sticker, and you get a Coliseum Sticker - everyone gets a Coliseum Sticker!!!’

‘And you get a Coliseum Sticker, and you get a Coliseum Sticker - everyone gets a Coliseum Sticker!!!’

Don’t fuck with The Larry.

Don’t fuck with The Larry.

Brian Leary and Bryan Wright - these two dudes busted their asses to make this happen. Cheers fellas!

Brian Leary and Bryan Wright - these two dudes busted their asses to make this happen. Cheers fellas!

Arty and Hector Gill of ‘Boston Massacre’ fame. This guy can switchflip.

Arty and Hector Gill of ‘Boston Massacre’ fame. This guy can switchflip.

Billy D and John Tweak - zoom function really comes in handy with that 02 Coliseum shirt.

Billy D and John Tweak - zoom function really comes in handy with that 02 Coliseum shirt.

Schizo, and his signature Coliseum bat.

Schizo, and his signature Coliseum bat.

Smiles all around.

Smiles all around.

The #eggsreport Art Show Digital Recap

If you missed the #eggsreport art show that opened the other weekend at Orchard, we have the special privilege of hosting this digital recap for anyone unable to make it out to the gallery. Below is Delaney's #eggsreport instagram compilation as well as our good friend Ian Browning's write up for the #eggsreport zine. We have also sprinkled in some of the photos that were contributed by Liam Annis, Ray Echevers, among others. If you would like to purchase a zine, they're selling for ten dollars with all proceeds going to any and all future Eggs maintanence. We'd like to thank everyone involved in making the show and the zine happen and if you like what you read, which you would only dislike if you actually could not read, be sure to follow Ian on his twitter @ibrowning for more of his work.

Skateboarding in cities is often defined as much by the spaces where it takes place as the tricks being done. From historic spots like the Brooklyn Banks to recent upstarts like MACBA, iconic spots are often synonymous with our perception of what skateboarding is like in other places.

Boston has some famous spots—people far from new england know Jerry Fowler’s yellow barrier by the library, and the Windows ledges are burned into skateboarding’s collective consciousness because of PJ Ladd. It’s also a place where you can walk past a virgin ledge that people haven’t bothered to wax because they’re too busy skating better ones. Casual observers may not know this, but it has always been a plaza city. Locals cherished Copley and later Aquarium in their heydays—meet up spots where you could film tricks or end the day skating flat, possibly sneaking a beer without much trouble.

In 2004 the state bulldozed a parking lot on Nashua Street as part of a plan to clean up urban blight from the Big Dig. With Aquarium unskateable before five almost entirely because of a cop known by the locals as The Samurai, sessions gravitated over to the West End. The fences had come down at Nashua Street Park—a pocket of green space nestled in no man’s land, bordered by a jail, a hospital and a bridge. A few ribbons of asphalt cut through the grass, flanked by long, knobbed, granite ledges and joined by a small plaza in the center.

Jonathan Bonner, a Rhode Island—based sculptor and artist, was commissioned to provide art for the park. Looking to add something that would bring texture and provide seating, he added a golden spiral reimagined in Chelmsford granite, also using the stone to make orbs that mimicked falling drops of liquid. “I wanted something relative to the water,” he explained, but John Wisdom felt like they looked more like eggs.


It’s difficult to say who introduced Eggs into the scene in Boston. The Zakim bridge offered vantage point that showed under construction, drawing the eyes of countless skateboarders. Most of the people I talked to didn’t have any idea who was the first to skate the spot, but Lee Berman and Dana Ericson both had theories, both originating in the North End.

“I would say Matt Thompson is definitely the first one to skate Eggs,” Berman said. Thompson, a Connecticut transplant studying at Suffolk, was in the habit of looking for mellow spots to skate in lieu of sharing Aquarium with a heavy crew of locals. “When I moved to the North End I started exploring other areas,” he said. “I was actually out with Lee one day and we came across Eggs. I had skated flatground in the past and I told him that the ground here was really sweet.” He also addressed Berman’s assertion that he was the first to skate there, saying that it was impossible to prove. “I would never claim that,” he said. “I have no idea who else was there.”

Dana Ericson recounted Travis Reitano, also a resident of the North End, telling him about a new spot: “He actually told me that he had found a spot better than Aquarium and I fucking laughed in his face.” Reitano was living in a skate house where Ed Driscoll was crashing on the couch. Driscoll “never wanted to take the fucking bus or train anywhere,” he said, “so we’d skate everywhere.” They were introduced to the spot on trips to and from the Charles River Benches, but he couldn’t be sure if he was the first person to actually skate the spot: “I don’t know. I’d say one of my earliest memories of Eggs is rolling through and trying to get a little tailslide in between the skate stoppers,” he said. “I give most of the credit to the Wisdom brothers because they actually took the knobs off.”

In those days Zander Taketomo was working on City People 2 and keeping a watchful eye for new spots to film. He had gotten word of the spot from his dad—an architect—and went on a night mission with Gavin Nolan, John Wisdom and Tommy Wisdom check it out. “All the knobs were still on and we took a couple off to test it,” he said. “Originally we took the ones off at the curved ledges that were closer to the hospital but not the main spot that people skate... After that, I feel like we didn’t really skate there all that much.” He also offered the only definitive claim about the early days of the spot: “I’m not personally taking any credit for the spot, but we were definitely the first people there that night to take knobs off.” They came back periodically, but at that time, Aquarium was still that crew’s go to spot.

Between word of mouth and its location in the middle of a skate route between downtown and the Back Bay, the park was starting to see action in spite of the knobs. Dan Zaslavsky shot the first skate photo at the spot during that era for Kevin Coakley’s One In A Million interview in Slap. Coakley was trying full cab manuals on the low ledges closest to the water, the only skateable ledges at the time. He got the trick, but it came at the expense of his board shooting out into the river. Some DCR workers in a boat offshore rescued it for him, but it was only a matter of time before skaters started throwing something else in the river—skate stoppers.

“It looked like it would be the greatest spot in the world if it didn’t have the knobs on it,” Justin Yaitanes said, “so went to try and take them off.” Yaitanes, CN and Tom Garafalo headed out, equipped with a crowbar, hammer and screwdriver one day around dusk. They got to work on taking knobs off of one of the benches by the JV ledge. “We’re hitting it with a hammer and having a crowbar there and you can hear it— it’s super loud,” CN said. “All the sudden we hear ‘HEY’ and we look back and see a cop and he’s booking it. And it’s a state patrolman and we start booking it and everyone runs their separate ways.” Yaitanes got away from the cops pretty easily, saying that it was pretty similar to getting kicked out for skating. It was also probably easy because the cops were chasing CN across the drawbridge to the Museum of Science.

“I hucked my crowbar in the river because I was thinking that if I got caught with it, it would be way worse,” he said. He hid behind a bush on the museum grounds, but it wasn’t long before flashlights crept up on him. Playing dumb, he explained that he had only run because they were chasing after him. “They took my name down and nothing happened. We came back and started skating it the following week.”

That crew only got one knob off, but it was the beginning of open season on liberating the rest of the ledges. The Wisdoms and Gavin Nolan were responsible for clearing off the main ledge up top after a session on one of the side of the out ledge. “We had a long day waxing [the ledge up] and shredding the ledge that no one skates because all the other ledges were knobbed. We were like, shit, we gotta get all these knobs off—this is gonna be our new spot,” Tommy said. “We came back later and took the knobs off of the main ledge on the top.” As news of the spot spread, so did the knowledge that it was possible to make the ledges skateable with a few swings of a hammer or the hanger of a truck. It’s tough to write a list of people who risked a confrontation with the state police to clear the ledges, both because of the sheer number of knobs removed and because some people didn’t want to go on record about doing so, but Pete Mahoney, Romek Rasenas and Brian List all deserve a mention for their efforts in the spot’s infancy.

The main ledge, approachable from both sides from smooth plaza granite, was heavily sessioned in the early days. “It wasn’t that long before people took off the first knobs,” Ray Echevers explained “but it was like like that for a while. The other ones didn’t come off [right away]. People just started really slowly.”

John Wisdom’s ollie from block to egg in CP2, probably the first trick filmed at the spot, went down around that time. “The ledges weren’t broken in,” he said, “so it wasn’t really a good spot yet.”

Gavin Nolan said the City People crew skated there in the early days, remembering a time when the bike path was new. “It wasn't as rough or beat up yet,” he said, “people were skating up top more and the ledges on the bike path a lot.” All the while, the scene at the park kept growing—something he said was inevitable. “I think it was just really obvious to anybody that it was one of the best places to skate in the city.”


Nashua Street Park was designed by Halvorson Design, a firm responsible for a handful of plazas around Boston. Some of them are knobbed or are otherwise unskateable, but they’ve also drawn the plans for the plaza around the Federal Reserve and the ledges over planters in the seaport. “Our firm is really good at three dimensional landform resolution, so i’d like that what we came up is very pleasing on all levels,” Cynthia Smith, the principal landscape architect behind the park, explained. She said the park was designed with the idea of maintaining a view of the river from Nashua street, while providing different levels for that the paths the run along the Charles. The ledges act as retaining walls, continuing the pathways cut out of the banks of the river. The bike path runs parallel to the main ledges, insulating them from people leisurely strolling on the path closest to the water. The plaza in the center connects the two, but is also fittingly designed as a place for people to sit and chill.

The skating was initially focused on the ledges up top in part because the granite took a lot to break in. “It was kind of a frustrating spot to skate at first. That main ledge was all that people would skate,” Devin Woelfel, better known as Waffle, explained. “You had to wax the shit out of them in order to make them grind at all.” As it started to really get broken in, some locals stashed a crowbar in a bush, making it even easier to continue deknobbing the spot. That crowbar cleared, amongst other ledges, both the home and away team benches, the downhill curved ledge and the JV ledge. People started gravitating away from chilling on the wooden benches between the main and downhill ledges, Dana said, eventually cementing the home bench as the place to put your keys and skate flat: “it just evolved into skating down there more.” Slowly but steadily, other ledges got worked in.

As the skating was moving to different ledges, word of the spot spread organically, bringing new skaters and likeminded crews. “We were all hanging out at True East and my friend Andrew Cuoco told me about this sick new spot,” Andrew “Squeaks” Whittier said. “I was kinda confused about where it was and what spot they were talking about, but when I went I realized that I had been there a year beforehand. All the knobs on it and I thought ‘shit, this would be the best spot in the world if it was skateable’ and then it ended up being skateable.” With Aquarium locked down, Eggs became the go spot to meet up. Squeaks mentioned seeing a lot of Aquarium heads like TC Mulhern, Coakley and Danny Carvalho in the early days, with locals like Waffle, the Wisdoms, Dana, Brian Delaney and Gavin establishing residency at the spot as well. “I just remember seeing John Wisdom and pretty much everyone that was skating for RAW, with Ray filming,” David Milliken said of his first trip to the spot.

Local videos like City People 2 made an impact across the northeast, bringing crews in from out of state. “All we really wanted to do in the early 2000s was skate flatground and ledges,” Armin Bachman said of the scene in Albany. He organized a trip to Boston to film for B Block: Hood Rules Apply, explaining that “Eggs was the main spot we wanted to come out for.” Footage from B Block turned Andrew Petillo, a Jersey-based filmer for Habitat onto the spot. Petillo brought Steve Durante, Fred Gall, Kerry Getz, Guru Khalsa and Ed Selego to Boston to film in 2007, fixing a few cracks around the main ledge with bondo and getting handful of clips. Some ended up in Origin, but others went to webclip that came out around the same time as PJ’s part in Plan B’s Superfuture. It’s impossible to say which came out first, but whichever one did, it’s likely the first footage of pros in the park.

Despite humble contributions to international skate media, the Eggs proved a fixture in local movies beyond CP2. From Subterranean to Shape Deuce, skaters and filmers from across New England were coming to the west end to leave their mark. All the while the locals were still learning new tricks and filming there, with the younger generation was getting involved: David Milliken filmed and edited most of Dana Ericson and Friends, including new heads like James Nickerson, Curt Daley, Squeaks, Thompson Bond and Kevin Coughlin in the mix.


Despite the almost universal appeal of a spot like Eggs to similarly minded subcultures, it’s rare to see BMXers or scooter kids roll up to the spot. “The meet up spots are usually the same for everyone. Copley, AQ and Harvard Square are the first to come to mind,” said Kevin Botsch, a long time member of the city’s BMX community. “I tell all the BMXers that ask about Eggs to not even bother. There are a million other flat ledge spots in the city, why go fuck with the skaters and their spot?” Tommy agreed with the sentiment that pegs should probably stay out of the park, and definitely off the ledges: “bikes, obviously, are a huge no no,” he said, acknowledging that strength in numbers is a major factor in enforcing that. “As soon as there were more of us [than them,] it was kind of the lay of the land.”

Besides a hard “skaters only” policy, locals otherwise foster a culture of respect over an established set of rules. Waffle, a transplant from Cape Cod himself, explained that there wasn’t much truth to rumors about locals vibing newcomers “Anyone that has actually spent two weeks there and paid respect to people that were there before them,” he said, “they’ll probably tell you everyone was cool.” The scene at Eggs is a far cry from famous spots of the ‘90s, where fights broke out at Love Park and EMB locals focused weekend warriors’ boards.

Liam Annis, a recent addition to the cast of regulars at Eggs, didn’t get vibed when he started skating there, “but you had to skate there a bunch to become used to the squad.” Going there on a consistent basis, he explained, you meet everyone else who is doing the same. In Boston’s tight knit scene, hometown heros come through on the weekends, often without acknowledgment from the locals. Respect is earned through the filter of time. Spot seekers, technical plaza skaters and heads doing circus tricks all share a common bond, formed by running into each other on the streets year after year. Mark Wagner, better known as Iceman, had just started skating ledges when he moved back to Beacon Hill and started going to Eggs every day. “I could do maybe 50-50s and boardslides,” he said. “One of the first people who started to say what up to me was Dana Ericson,” who Iceman had seen skating the Underground ramp when it was open. He quickly got to know Brian Delaney and Waffle too. “One day I just came with a giant candle,” he said, explaining that he was fascinated with wax around this time. “Waffle gave me the name Iceman and somehow it stuck.”

Plenty of the older heads who skate Eggs will tell you about the influence of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s and the impact that watching Pier 7 footage and Photosynthesis had on them. Because generations in skateboarding come in five year increments, a new generation of kids whose first exposure to Love Park may very well have come up on YouTube are skating the spot as well. Gavin, using Myles Underwood and Benny Tenner as examples, explained how the culture established by the first generation was making an impact on the youth: “It’s funny, they used to dress differently,” he said. “I came back and they had baggier pants—you could totally see that the spot had had an effect on them.”

Myles, whose introduction to the spot was in Zoo York’s State of Mind, first skated there at ten years old after going to the Dew Tour at the Boston Garden. He didn’t start skating there until a few years later, showing up alongside Lee Berman and getting used to the scene. Being with Berman gave him a bit of a pass so he didn’t feel uneasy showing up at first—“I wouldn’t say [I was] vibed out, but I was not as comfortable as I am now.” It took about a year for him to feel like a part of things—getting to know people that were well over 10 years older than him, like Ariel Pearl, in the process. He said that he still skates there “probably every day,” branching out on weekends. “I mostly just stay there,” he said. “You don’t have to hit anyone up— you can kinda just go and know everybody is going to be there. I just like to skate flat. It’s a cool meet up spot where everyone is.”

Almost all the Eggs locals interviewed mentioned the spot’s cast of regular characters as one of the it’s best aspects. Dave Milliken pointed out that in addition to “the same five people there all the time,” different crews were constantly rotating through—“there’s just always good vibes with people.” The scene isn’t solely comprised of skateboarders though. Back in the day lurkers would creep over after getting out of jail, but lately a street dweller named Bones has shown up a lot. Milliken and Mike Williams met Bones skating Copley back in the day, saying that he was always drinking vodka and always hyped on their skating. “He was always a mystery,” he said. “We just started seeing him at Eggs, just walking through and saying what’s up. Recently he’s been coming and hanging out for the session, just being the hype man.”

Outside of people quickly passing through on a jog or riding a bike, nothing else really going on besides skateboarding (and skateboarders hanging out.) New skaters are rolling through and becoming regulars, and some, like Nickodem Rudzinski and Brian Reid, are figuring out new ways to skate the spot.

Still, it seems like the rest of the city doesn’t know that the park even exists. Pedestrian traffic trickles through, but hasn’t increased much. The police don’t even seem to care. I was skating Eggs in 2012 and a state trooper said that “people are still calling [about skaters,] so I guess we’ve got to keep coming over,” shrugging his shoulders as if to acknowledge the frivolity kicking us out. Skaters romanticize Love Park for its “run, skate, chill” ethos, but the Philadelphia Police Department’s anti-skate vendetta isn’t shared by the Massachusetts State Troopers who patrol Eggs.


I’ve been trying to figure out what it says about skateboarding in Boston when, across the river from a monumental 400,000 square foot skatepark, there are 20 heads skating a spot that’s well over 50 times smaller. Skateboarding is full of stories about repurposing underutilized space—Eggs is more relevant for the culture that grew up around the spot. How many public spaces have their own fiercely-loyal users, regardless of the season? Squeaks recounted being at Eggs one frozen evening with Jonah Miller, Dion Grant and Waffle: “It was the dead of winter—one of the coldest nights I’ve been out skating. Waffle was bundled up with a sweat suit over his clothes—none of us could skate because it was so cold. He was just hauling ass. I think he learned back 180 fakie 5-0 half cabs on the ledge that night.” Is there a hallowed tennis court somewhere in Cambridge where people shovel snow in the dead of winter to get their fix of backhand serves? It seems doubtful.

There are so many different factions beneath the blanket of skateboarding. The skatepark, designed to be a destination for New England and beyond, is built to appeal to all of those different styles. Eggs will never be that—it’s an altar where inner city skaters worship the gods of style. Sure, skate tourists may roll through, but the majority of the people at the park are locals carrying a torch that used to burn at Copley and Aquarium.

When I asked Waffle what he liked most about the spot, he had trouble putting it all into words. “I’ve met my closest friends there,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot of shit there—I’ve seen so much shit go down there, not skate-wise but just in general with life’s dramas and friends and shit. People getting in trouble, people doing good, and people falling out of the scene and coming back. People always come back to Eggs.” He’s right. Any day it isn’t raining or covered in snow, you’ll find people skating flat near the JV ledge. They may or may not be regulars you know, but the home team bench will be covered in half full water bottles, cell phones, coffee cups and lighters, and there’s a pretty good chance that the session will last until it’s too dark to skate.

Words By: Ian Browning (@ibrowning)

Photos By: Ray Echevers, Liam Annis, and Alex Gagne.

Trivia Night Recap

Here is the brief recap of our second Skate Trivia Night, courtesy of Vans, Orchard, and Biddy Early's Pub. We'd like to thank everyone that came out, whether you participated or not, we appreciate you all trekking through the rain to nerd out and drink a little bit with us. Apple Tom and Matt Gannon's "93 'Til Infinity" Team were yet again the victors, taking home the top prize, but only by a mere one point. "Darkslide of the Moon" finished a close and honorable second, taking home a smaller prize, with less bragging rights. DAD Clothing provided the last place prize to Michael Chew and company, a gift bag featuring a Stone Cold Steve Austin piggy bank, a scratched and very used CKY DVD, and two sheets of Penny griptape. Honestly would have thrown the game had I known the Stone Cold piggy bank was up for grabs. Again, we appreciate every person that came out, all of our sponsors for providing the prizes/beer and of course, Biddy Early's Pub for being so down to host something like this, you guys are rad and we cannot thank you enough. We hope to see all you nerds again very soon!

-Staff

P.S. - Special thank you to Chew for the photos.

Guest Post: Anthony Pappalardo - An Existential Crisis and Gino Iannucci

"At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don't care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all." - Ann Landers

There’s no parallel between Gino Iannucci and the Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ann Landers, but as I enter the advanced age of 40, the pen name’s quote gives me feelings. When you’re old and a bit hungover, anything can trigger a melancholy miasmic jab to your gut. A crushed milk carton, finding a phone number in a coat you haven’t worn in years, the lint and sand, wedged behind an old sticker you’ve never stuck anywhere, and of course Gino Iannucci: Male Model. Wait, what? Yes, back in February Iannucci surfaced in some dapper Eidos Napoli gear, designed by designer Antonio Ciongoli who confirmed to me via email that he pushes switch mongo. Strange, but worth an Insta follow.

In the passing months, Iannucci has appeared in my feed in various sweaters, coats, hats, and other age-appropriate things, eliciting a neurological reaction from my 40-year-old brain that reminds me of my mortality and the fact that there is life after youth, but it’s a very different existence. I do not get these emotions when I see a member of Team Handsome juxtaposed against a model with skin made of cream, wearing designer clothes, while making a pensive face. No. Eli Reed? Never. Nor does this bit of sadness enter my non-existent soul when I see Mango wearing this multi-brand, norm fit in Vogue. It’s just different, man.

These are young folks, being young. They make us hopeful and we envy their talents. These boys will continue to evolve, devolve, go sober, fall off the wagon, get married, divorced, injured, learn, be stubborn, and all kinds of other shit. They are not from Long Island. They are not 42-years-old. They have style, but they do not yet have the creases in their faces that read “life.” Gino has that lifestyle, a forever icon, constantly making you gaze into photographs, wondering where he got his footwear, what outlet mall he ravaged for his Nautica gear, just how long your braided leather belt should hang, and if you could possibly pull off a sweater vest. No, you can’t, BTW.

GINOS (1).jpeg

Yes, Gino Iannucci in a $325 wool cardigan will occasionally send me into an existential crisis. I don’t do epiphanies or succumb to depression, but the thought of the heroes of my youth—the Carrolls, Howards, Breneses (is that a thing?), Kalises, Marianos—will soon stiffen up, and roll slowly towards the latter half of their life. Memories will get dull, hair thin, as they begin to resemble a skit they once filmed in their primes. Of course, being close in age turns the lens towards myself. I was not blessed with the sprawling finesse of Gino Iannucci, the origami-like hand posture of Michael Carroll, or the fleet-footed, boundless ability of Guy Anthony Mariano. My transition might be to actual transition—the old guy at the park, a bit doughy, scratching out a pivot to fakie, making the youngsters cringe, hoping they won’t have to call 911 if I snap a bone. No matter how many Tired edits Thrasher posts, I would rather pursue the romantic route Iannucci’s navigating, instead of plomping around on a football shaped skateboard, sloppily stepping off my board, before lurching a foot back on, thinking my No Comply was as graceful as Ray Barbee… well, at least not on video.

Losing your physical ability as an older person is scary and that crushing fear is even more toxic in a skateboarder. The foam roller, that extra 18 minutes of stretching before a session, the additional two weeks every ankle roll needs to heal. Pro, flow, or regular joe/josie, we lose tricks, but never the feeling.

I often take a walk to clear my head, during these confusing moments, yet find myself even more introspective, as I pace the industrial streets of Greenpoint, that brush against East Williamsburg. I think of my neighbor, also named Anthony Pappalardo, still in his 30s, envious of how much life is left in his knees, jealous of all that he’s accomplished, and wishing could have logged just one minute of footage as good any of his full parts, knowing that even at my peak physical condition, it wasn’t a reality or possibility.

And the boys whizzing through the streets of Brooklyn, logging footage for a webclip called “Rind,” “Squelch,” or “Dollar Slice.” The glut of European decks, neatly stacked at the Theories of Atlantis warehouse, a few blocks away, that I’ll never skate. The brown marble ledge I slowly lose the ability to ollie up to, convincing myself a slappy noseslide is an acceptable replacement for a Welshian ollie up and pop out. Sad. I won’t lie, that shit is depressing.

Mariano, Iannucci, and myself are Italian Americans, and to paraphrase/butcher what Reda once said in an episode of Epicly Later’d, “Who do you think Brayden gets along with better on Baker? Terry Kennedy or Ellington? He gets along with both, but he relates to Ellington more.” The takeaway is that I have an affinity for all Italian American skaters of my era, and secretly wonder if Carroll is part Pisano himself, since we both share a striking, Roman nose.

Us Eyetalians are prone to heart disease and other health problems, due to our heritage and bloodline. As the space between Snuff and my next milestone grows further, I’m reminded that I’m running out of birthdays, and more tragically, running out of Iannuccian Pushes to fawn over.

I’ve always said that one of the highest plateaus a human being can reach, is doing something so poetic, so poignant, so magnanimous, that your achievement becomes a cliché. Hyperbole so commonly used in our diction, yet it doesn’t diminish the accomplishment, but rather it crystallizes it in the culture.

So, here stands this deity of New York Cool. The patron saint of quality over quantity, brimming with so much confidence, that he’d make a young Steve McQueen self conscious, now means something different to a fellow skater, just a few years younger, embarking on the next part of life.

But the flame has not dimmed. There’s a flicker, in both those little sparks of footage, sprinkled upon us from the heavens and his residence on a #smallbrand that’s both fucking awesome and Fucking Awesome. Stoic, solemn, he faces what we fear and leads in ways that will always make other jealous.

The Sean Connery of skateboarding, by way of Italy, kinda.

I’d rather watch Gino push than get old.

Malden Skatepark DIY Fundraiser Recap

So sorry for the delay with this. A few weeks back, we were asked to help with the Malden Skatepark DIY Fundraiser, a contest and fundraiser hosted by the Malden Skatepark Coalition, Melissa Clark, and yours truly. Comparitively, our job was pretty minimal. Dave Begonis, Melissa, and a handful locals put in a tremendous amount of work helping set up tents with food, raffle tickets, product for sale, and a DJ (sadly, he was not ollied, s/o to J. Kasper though). We have so many people to thank, first and foremost, we'd like to thank every person who came out for the event, whether it was to help, participate in the contest, or just sit around and shoot the shit, your presence was greatly appreciated. My goal was to get everyone who came something, so I'm very sorry if anyone left the park empty-handed, we were very grateful for every person who just showed up.

Again we'd like to thank Melissa and Dave for all of their incredible hard work in putting this thing together. A very special thank you to Vans, Patriot, Orchard, Cornerstore, RAW, and Pete's Pigs, who provided an incredible amount of product for us to give away. When the dust settled, we were able to raise almost $2,000 for maintenance and upgrades for the park, we could not be more humbled by your donations, big or small. We'll leave some of the photos (courtesy of Mike Tucker) below, with the rest on our Facebook page if you'd like to post them yourself and show your friends how hard you ripped (sat). The video recap (courtesy of Jesse Ciulla) is below as well, a special thank you to him for filming for us that day. Again, thank you all, we'll see you next year!

Baby Dave, holding down the registration tent.

Baby Dave, holding down the registration tent.

THE PEANUT GALLERY

THE PEANUT GALLERY

Called for the 360 flip, this dude had it done less than a minute later.

Called for the 360 flip, this dude had it done less than a minute later.

Chris Roberts would be proud, dude.

Chris Roberts would be proud, dude.

Fuck it, why not?

Fuck it, why not?

Donny didn't skate in the contest, just ollied the whole thing 'cause he was bored.

Donny didn't skate in the contest, just ollied the whole thing 'cause he was bored.

This dude fucked the picnic table up all day, frontside bluntslide

This dude fucked the picnic table up all day, frontside bluntslide

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND PARK RACE

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND PARK RACE

Product toss craze.

Product toss craze.

Skateboarding in the Olympics: A Call for Indifference

The many media outlets have been saying a lot about our little thing getting mixed up in the Olympics sometime soon. You see it on almost every major website, magazines usually run an op-ed article or two about it, big name professionals weigh in on it, both for and against, etc. I’ve noticed, particularly in the blogosphere, that any article written about this sensitive subject seems to cause quite a stir. There are some who fully support skateboarding’s inclusion in the World Games - it is, after all, a global activity and there are many who would love to see their native countries represented for not only their talents in track and field, but skateboarding as well. It’s also worth noting that the wealth of unrecognized talent outside of the United States is staggering; Canada and Brazil alone could sweep that shit in multiple categories (Pedros Barros for transition gold, easy). *

I think I’m already getting ahead of myself here. You, dear reader, are probably snickering at your computer screen right now. You’ve probably already stopped reading this and have begun commenting mean things about how core you are and how the Olympics can fuck off, etc. If you know me personally, you’ve probably started a text with a ton of angry emojis. Please, if you can, please hold out a little bit longer. We’re only just starting here.

Now I can understand some of the backlash that comes with a topic like this, major change in skateboarding is not without some harsh criticism, especially when it comes to categorizing skateboarding as a “sport”. But I ask, how long did it take before no one cared about Nike coming back? Despite all of Consolidated’s best efforts, the Swoosh prevailed, and that didn’t really seem to bother anyone. It’s like the human race’s relationship with Drake: we used to hate him, we used to cringe at every punch line he’d croon and yet, somewhere, sometime, we just decided that it was actually ok to like the dude. We certainly haven’t forgotten that we hated him, but accepting him hasn’t destroyed our street credibility (we had none to begin with, but we didn’t lose any). My point is that once something is normalized in skateboarding, anyone against it will either just accept it or reach a point of indifference. Regardless of where you stand, the vocalized hatred of that thing will cease. If we get to the Olympics, it will only be a matter of time before Thrasher has live streaming coverage of it, because despite all that Thrasher stands for, they gotta sell magazines, and sooner or later people are going to want them to weigh in. Sad, but true.

Personally, I don’t support skateboarding in the Olympics at all. But this little rant isn’t about whether we are for or against it. It’s about indifference. Instead of trying to stand on a soap box of right or wrong on this topic, I’m offering a shrug (¯_(ツ)_/¯, if you will.)

Here’s how I feel: what could the Olympics do to skateboarding, and subsequently, do to ruin skateboarding, that hasn’t already been done? I don’t see how the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics means anything to the state of “real” skateboarding. To me it seems like it’d just be another contest that would come up every four years...barely noticeable in comparison to how many times Street League blows up my fucking explore page on Instagram every few months or so. And honestly, dudes that are committed to Street League have a way gnarlier schedule than a pro skater looking to compete in the Olympics. You could have a full video part under your belt in a real video (real videos average timeline 4-6 years) and go off and do the Olympics worry free. I have no idea what the payout on winning a gold medal in the Olympics would be compared to SL, but I can imagine that endorsements from Subway post gold medal win would allow you to live quite comfortably.

To me, the “Skateboarding in Olympics” convo/blog articles could do without the doomsday sentiments, the idea that our thing being officially classified as sport would cause some type of core implosion. The people this actually affects are a tiny percentage of skateboarders across the globe, i.e. the ones that would be willing to participate in it. It is highly unlikely that skateboarding’s core values, if they still exist, would be jeopardized at all. Would Brad Cromer disappear off the face of the earth? Would Skate Jawn stop printing issues? Would Ishod stop putting out 15 parts a year? Probably not. I mean honestly, what’s the difference between the mega ramp and a huge ski jump? Yes, materials/danger/Danny Way, but other than that they’re pretty much on the same pedestal entertainment-wise. It’d just be another contest, with another batch of energy drink logos being worn all over so-and-so’s body, another slew of redundant and not funny contest commentary, topped with arbitrary scoring that I will never fully understand. Sounds like something that already exists, huh?

So the next time you see an opportunity to jump in the fray of ignorant comments about skateboarding belonging/not belonging in the Olympics, just remember that it probably is going to happen whether you like it or not, but how it could ever make itself unique to skateboarding’s current contest circus is unclear. You don’t want to see skateboarding in the Olympics? Shut the t.v. off and go skate outside. Problem solved.

*Images taken from Google and stuff :)

The Varial Flip, Revisited

It’s no secret that the varial flip, like the no-comply, has found a new acceptance in the #current world of skateboarding today. Even when QS decided it was worth appreciating two years ago, there was still a hesitation in accepting it with such open arms. How did we get where we are today? Was it Sebo Walker? He’s varial flipped high and low, and even with griptape that looks closer to Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, it’s rare to hear even the corest of #core skaters gripe about his gear/trick selection. Hmm, I don't know, varial flip acceptance is a little bit older than young Sebo.

Well maybe it was the members of New York’s Most Productive Crew™ ?

An affinity for trick selection and style, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that their refined varial flip implementation has eased up judgement of the trick, especially given the high amount of coverage we’ve seen from those dudes lately (always open to more, btw)

Or could it have been the Fancy Lads, who paid homage to the once shamed trick in their "avant-gnar" style?

Perhaps Sir Stevie Williams inspired the Dirty Ghetto generation to varial flip with their heads held high? They already heart the haters, certainly they could withstand a few jabs about a little varial flip, couldn't they? I don’t know, man.

Despite these potential leads, it’s still totally unclear to me when it became cool again...but I’ll say this much: I’m really glad it’s back.

You see, it wasn’t so long ago that a young Kevin Romar was trying to make a name for himself at Thrasher’s Battle at the ‘Berg. A spry young fellow, Kevin began hucking himself into the mix by lofting varial flips down the infamous San Francisco behemoth. Upon doing so, he was vehemently booed, and even publicly shamed by the Phelper himself. Funny that this was such a dark time for the varial flip, it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, but seven years in skateboard time can feel like an eternity. A lot can change in seven years...people can change.

Now I don’t necessarily feel bad for Kevin Romar, I’ve never thought much of his skating (sorry Kevin, nothing personal) but I’d be lying if I didn’t think the man had a good varial flip. For him to have been booed at the Wallenberg contest isn’t because he was doing it gross: it’s because the varial flip paradigm hadn’t yet shifted. That was 2009. What happened to us? When did our groupthink go from boos to cheers? Where is this article going?

Well, it’s going back. Back to a time when the varial flip still caused a sour comment in a game of SKATE, or an "ah, yuck" when watching so-and-so’s new part...I'm talking about 2003. We were over a decade away from varial flip acceptance and despite a wealth of anti-varial flip sentiment, there was one v-flip that seemed to sneak right under our hateful noses. A varial flip executed so well, that the seemingly impossible plight of skateboarders who regularly seek flip trick perfection was, for but a moment, achieved. While everybody talks about the hardflip, the frontside flip, the backside smith grind...I’d like to talk about Mike Carroll’s varial flip in Yeah Right!. Yes, I know. Another skate blog talking about Mike Carroll, AGAIN. Please stop rolling your eyes, and listen as I set the scene.

He switch flips up, he turns around, and then it happens. He unleashes the most out of this world varial flip skateboarding had ever seen. When this part came out, I was too young and ignorant to think that what I was watching wasn’t as significant as I clearly see now. The speed, the back foot, the flick...guys, it’s actually perfect. I’m not undermining what happens after the varial flip either - he backside smith grinds the fucking shit out of that rail - only the way that Carroll can, of course. I just feel like watching his part again, I saw something I hadn’t seen before. I felt like Seinfeld, entranced by the power of the black and white cookie.

If people could have just looked to that varial flip, would we have ever been so critical of its place in skateboarding? We would have still been critical, as we should always be, of this thing that we keep so near and dear to our hearts...but that varial flip could have solved wars, man, that thing was beautiful.

What am I saying here? What does this all mean? Why have I spent so much of my life thinking about a dude looking really cool in cargo pants? Why am I asking so many questions in this article? Maybe because anyone that’s been skateboarding for a long time, and specifically those who have accepted that this will not be a career of any sort, live for the little things that make this hobby of ours so great. It’s not how about big the handrail is, or if the trick is ABD at that spot, but about how cool Reynolds throws down his board, Cardiel's hands after the noseblunt, Julien's backside powerslide, or how insanely good Mike Carroll can varial flip. He took something that would make people cringe and turned it into fucking art. You think it’s a coincidence that every skateboarder names like the same three people in their all time top fives? (Cardiel, Heath, Carroll, etc.) No, skate blogs will never get over Carroll so long as skateboarding still takes place on four wheels. Who gives a shit about anything else, style matters and that's the only constant skateboarding will ever know.

And next time you think a trick looks stupid, see if Carroll did it...trust me, he did.

DISCLAIMER: After explaining to my roommate what I was writing about, he very casually said "Oh, you must have saw that new Skateline." Confused, I went over to the Thrasher site and low and behold the latest Skateline is partly dedicated to the topic discussed above. Now I really like Gary's show a lot, in no way do I mean disrespect, but this piece has nothing to do with Skateline...HOWEVER, I did re-watch Carroll's part the other day because Thrasher posted it to the "Classics" section, so yes, in a way Thrasher is part of the reason why this got written, just please don't think I was piggybacking Gary's segment on varial flips...great minds just think alike ok? :

A Look Back: Six Newell

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5fXveI-jD8]


Just to be clear this is not a VHS Review because, well, not a VHS. There are some videos out there that just aren’t really like the rest. Your Chomps, Tent City’s, Man Downs, etc. etc. I would put Six Newell in this category. A video with high re-watch value because it not only gives you great skating, but also makes you feel like you’re part of the crew, and SMLTalk staff felt that this deserved to be recognized.

A brief history lesson - Six Newell is the house in San Francisco where this crew lived (it’s the address) The crew consisted of Nate Jones, Matt Milligan, John Barker, Elissa Steamer, Dave Duren, Frank Gerwer, and Peter Ramondetta. Though most of the crew were well-known in the industry, they still felt like the unsung heroes of SF, the ones who really held it down while everyone else was just there for a second to film a hammer. They were legit, and you could tell by the friends section. Everybody wanted a clip, even Ocean Howell, but we’ll get to that later.

A few things to note about this video before we dive in:

  1. Contender for best #spotmodification in a video.
  2. Contender for most pick-up-your-board-and-run-up-stairs in a video.
  3. Rare case of the skating carrying the soundtrack, rather than the other way around.
  4. No names to tell you who is skating. If you can’t tell by the face, you should know by the style.
  5. Nate Jones might have the best backside flip of all time.
  6. Ocean Howell.

Nate Jones

Pop up count 1

Alright, first part, Nate Jones.  King of backside. Back tails, back 180’s, backside noseslides, backside flips, SWITCH backside flips. Specifically wanna talk about this line where he is wearing the long sleeve under the short sleeve. Damn that is the most 2004 look right there. Okay, this part is 99% smooth lines, but in one line Nate just randomly hucks an insane backside 180 down what looks like a 40 stair, washes out back to regular and calls it a day. Fucked. Nate is the first to pop his board up and throw a trick down a set, but I assure you, he will not be the last. I don’t know how long this fence spot was there for, but that back tail is insane. This is the fence where Gonz had the Thrasher cover where they claimed it as a 5-0, but you could tell he was just popping out of a 50-50. That’s what I love about skateboarding, how fucking stupid it is.

Nate Jones

Matt Milligan

Pop up count 2

Okay so here’s the thing. I don’t know who picked the song for this dude (probably him) but I can’t even tell you how mad it makes me. It sounds like when you leave a video game paused or on the opening screen and some dumb fucking beat just loops. Over and over and over. Luckily for the jackass who wrote this song (probably him), Matt’s part is actually really good. He has a killer frontside noseslide, puts a new spin (pun intended) on the pop your board up and run up the stairs, and does possibly the most gangster varial flip noseslide on a ledge. Hood up baby. This part also introduces us to the most insane spot modification ever, at the three up three down in SF. Yes, they turned it into a hip. Last thing I wanna say about Matt Milligan is that he does his frontside bigspins like a front shove revert, something that was only acceptable in 2004. Not before, not after. Strictly in the year of 2004.

Spot modification

Random clip of drunk Dollin? Sure, throw it in the video. Random super 8? Sureee, throw it in the video.

John Barker

Pop up count 3

The best part about John Barker’s part is that this is basically his skate career right here. He has a really good switch flip, skates to a crappy song, and has nice hair. That’s the beauty of this video, though, it’s not about the skating, it’s about the lifestyle, brah. But seriously –

Elissa Steamer

Elissa

Elissa is such a fucking G. Boss switch frontside noseslide, hand completely on the ledge. Love it. There’s nothing quite like having a clip of a hill bomb where the filmer passes you. In all seriousness, though, her part is dope. Gotta love quick 180 up switch flip down.

Friends section

Okay so this probably a runner up for best friend sections all time. Heavy hitters in this one. Pete Eldridge, Ernie Torres, VAN WASTELL (RIP), Keith Huf, Darrell, many others, and, the one and only Ocean Howell (SOTY15).

I really just want to talk about Ocean’s clips in this.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5fXveI-jD8#t=933]

^^ Ocean's part at 15:05 ^^


He seriously sent in a solid 45 seconds of footage, which really could’ve (should’ve) been its own part. The one line in Barcelona could be the takeaway from this video. Front 5-0, then backside 270 to tail, back to fakie. Look – at – the – arms - folks. He sold 5,000 pairs of iPaths with that section.

Moving along through the friends section we see some Matt Field footage. Then all of a sudden Matt got really good. Long backside 50-50 on a ledge, pop out super nice. Front tail HUGE pop to fakie, then a giant fakie flip. Wait. No. That was Reese Forbes. Sorry Matt, not sure why they put Reese’s clips right after yours but damn. Tim O’ Connor’s clips are gold and Omar’s ender is insane.

NEXT

Dave Duran

Pop up count 4

If anybody didn’t fit in this video it’s this dude. Knocks the tooth out of a homeless dude. Skates to a song that was used in a 411. Has kind of a weird style. Sets up a shopping cart at the 3 up 3 down #spotmodification. Insane switch mongo. I’m hating too much on this  guy. He is roasting varial flips and actually does one of the better front 5-0 bs shove out mid-ledge I’ve seen. Damn another varial flip. Fakie varial flip. Damn this guy is on another level.  One more board pop up  for good measure, back three down the set this time. Yes.

Pop up count 5

GERWER

Gerwer

Come on. Has there ever been a bad Gerwer part? This dude was the first to kickflip Wallenberg. Whenever I think about that I always feel like he was underqualified for it, but in reality, he’s just a fucking madman and I love him. Okay pop up the board, backside flip down the set. What’s the count on that? Damnit, Mohawk Gerwer was the best. This part is just a reminder that he can do it all. Switch tre? Yup. Straight no comply before all you trend babies were even born? You know it.

Pop up count 6

“aint no woman like the one I got – French toast can make it bettah” – Frank Gerwer

 

Peter Ramondetta

The king of the nose manual nollie flip out at his prime. The thing about Ramondetta is that he was no bullshit. Everybody is popping their boards up and walking up the stairs to skate down the second set. Ramondetta’s not about that. Instead, he gets a piece of plywood to make a euro gap up the first set. Daddy don’t fux with no board pop ups. Oh sheeeeeeet we got a Boston spot. Government center double set, uh yeah, Ramondetta pop shoved that shit. I swear all of these random party clips scattered throughout the video are just Gerwer. I feel like Gerwer was just at the house all the time partying whether or not there were other people there. Getting towards the end of the part Ramondetta does the unthinkable. I actually had to re-watch to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. He does a flatground nollie bs shove. No pop. Yes, boys and girls, if you put your heart and soul into it, you too can go pro. Just kidding, because in reality this dude is a boss, and you are not.

Ramondetta

Credits

Well, that’s it, show’s over. Roll some more random super 8 with an artsy instrumental song. The most Photosynthesis-inspired credits section of all time. The weird thing about this credits section, though, is that it’s not even a credits section. It’s just random clips, and instead of rolling the names now they wait and do it afterwards, with a black screen, so that you definitely don’t watch it. But if you do, you will find the most typos/misspellings. Here are some for your enjoyment:

“Matt Fields”

“Van Wastel”

“Omar Salizar”

“Denis Busenitz” (how on earth do you spell the first name wrong, but get the last name correct?)

“editied by”

Alright so what'd we leave off at for the pop up count? Wait. No fucking way. 6? Like...6 Newell...coincidence? I'll leave that one up to you.

-Dave

Gil Scott-Heron: How to Stand Out

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I was listening to some Gil Scott-Heron the other day, and started doing what I always do when I'm listening to any musician I love - looking up interviews with them. You might know Gil for his career as a singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, activist, perhaps for his title as "the Godfather of rap" or maybe a little closer to home, as the guy whose song was used for Nate Jones' part in Real to Reel ("Gun"). Anyhow, I was browsing youtube and stumbled on this interview: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6y-yEMLEBk]

I love listening to Gil talk, because even the speech in his regular conversation has a certain rhythm to it. There is a reason aside from personal interest, however, that I'm posting this interview to this particular site, and that's because I think that the point he makes is quite relevant to skateboarding today.

"I can't tell who's singing. That's what really bothers me, is that I don't know who it is. What I like about music and the kind of music that I like is the kind that like, hey, 20 seconds into the tune you know who this artist is because there's something unique about him or her..."

And then...

"It don't have no substance, so you can produce a lot of them very quickly, but they just as quickly lose their flavor. Ya know, just as quickly as something is number 1 this week you never heard of the people next week 'cause there was no substance."

I just think it's funny how no matter what medium you work with or craft you're expertise is in, there are overwhelming similarities and overarching truths that exist simply because of the human condition.

I certainly can't tell you what makes a musician distinguishable from the rest, but I am pretty sure I can tell you what makes a skateboarder stand out. When it comes to skateboarding, all we want is to watch a part that makes us want to go skate. Think about the guys who have been capable of putting out multiple parts like this. Louie, Cardiel, Gonz, Carroll, GT, MJ, etc. etc. you know the guys. So what makes them stand out? Yes of course they are insanely good at skating, but so are all of the "best insta skaters" (I fucking hate even typing that, and I am certainly not going to link some dumb fucking article).

What makes these guys stand out is that we know them. We've watched them grow up, seen the credits sections of the videos, watched them on tour. We've camped with them, partied with them, and been to all of their birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. We know their parents, girlfriends, favorite colors, what pajamas they wear to bed, and that secret spot where they're ticklish.

In a nutshell, maybe the reason why nobody cares about you even though you're insanely good, is because your b-roll consists of you either gripping your board, on your phone, or smoking weed. All things that I am guilty of, but come on, there must be something else that you do to spend your time off the board. I'd rather see a clip of you eating a nice turkey sandwich. I love turkey sandwiches. Get some fresh lettuce on there, a juicy tom, bulky roll, maybe even some avocado. But instead all you do is bore us with your unrelatable skating, and worse yet, your even less relateable supplementary footage.

Anyway, If you're butt-hurt or need consolation, I'll be at the deli.

Dave

RIP Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

Revisiting Rosa: A Tribute to Skateboarding's Long Lost Icon

rosa1.jpg

I normally try to avoid making sweeping generalizations about skateboarders, ("we're like individuals who all do the same thing, man") but when we're not gabbing about what AVE's upcoming part will be like or quizzing each other on what Gang Starr song Koston skated to in "Falling Down", we're usually telling stories about chicks and sex, some of which are true, most of which are totally embellished and or completely made up. Maybe it's our lack of skill on a skateboard that forces us to overcompensate with our tall tales: "Nah I didn't end up trying that handrail, but I TOTALLY had a foursome last night...nah I mean I watched a threesome on a porn site but like, you know, I was there..."

So much of this ridiculous banter goes on throughout a day of skateboarding, I began to do some soul searching about where my love for skateboarding, and my animalistic curiosity for the opposite sex, first crossed. This search brought me all the way back to nine year old me, a me that had several imaginary friends and wrote the damn book on how to rock a chill bowl cut. Yes before the Hubba girls, the Duffs girls, before Erica Yary or Leanne Tweeden, and long before any hot chick would be caught dead in a Thrasher shirt, there was Rosa. Shorty’s Rosa.

rosa2

Skate magazines felt less filtered back then, every page was a titillating surprise, introducing me to subject matter that Mom would normally disapprove of. How was she to know? It’s a skateboard magazine: just skateboarding in there. Boom, waddya know, fuck you Mom, there’s people smoking weed, somebody using words starting with "C" and ending in "T",(that's "CAT" for our younger readers) and sweet chicks like Rosa baring it all. Now I was a relatively mature 9 year old, I had been lucky enough to see Titanic in theaters (boom again, fuck you Mom!) so I had some understanding of what a woman with no clothes on was like, though it took me some time to figure out why Leo Dicaprio was so sweaty and if he was indeed the winner of the wrestling match they had inside that car below deck.

titanic

But something was different about Rosa’s nakedness...it was something much more profound; her nudity was criss-crossing with something that was already very close to my heart. Dude, do I wanna fuck my skateboard? I knew I loved skateboarding and post-Titanic viewing, I knew I loved a nice set of tits...how did they know to combine the two? Here’s an ad with no skateboarding in it, just a beautiful woman covered in hardware, and all I know is that I NEED Shorty’s hardware. It made me feel like a chick like Rosa only fucked with dudes who rocked Shorty's...I never saw hot chicks in Monkey hardware ads.

"What does this all mean?!?" cried my nine year old self, the matter being well beyond the expertise of even the smartest of my imaginary friends.

“Ya, duh bro. Sex sells, bro. The advertising industry uses sex as a means of tapping into the biological and emotional aspects of our sexuality to convince us that buying their product will fulfill any messages they may be trying to convey, bro. Like we’re all just slaves, bro..”

rosa3

Yeah cool, you were a freshman in college once (or graduated college and checked out the wiki page on sex/advertising ;) ). It’s a tired cliche, sex is an obviously effective advertising technique. However, Rosa and Kate Winslett were my first introductions to sex and they stirred something in me I had never felt before. They’re less like objectified sex pawns of the film/advertising industries and more like an old neighbor who I caught changing in the window. Nostalgic memories of a very pervy and curious time in my life.

So what's the point you ask? Why have we revisited skateboarding's long lost vixen? You're probably a little bummed you know so much about my sexual development. The point is this: we must celebrate this beautiful icon the same way we would have if she had been a professional skateboarder. Her impact on the psyche on this once 9 year old boy will never cease to be significant, she will always remain my first and only love.

Rosa, if you're reading this, thank you for your time in skateboarding. Had it not been for you or The Muska I don't know who I'd be today. You may have saved me from myself.

rosa4

Special thanks to Kate Winslett's titty and Rosa if you do read this, that number still good to call? Any chance for an interview? Get lunch? Pen pals? Anything?