I bought my first Thrasher in 1984. It was on newsprint paper and everything was in black and white. The cover featured Monty Nolder doing a gay twist on a ramp in St. Petersburg, FL.
Being an avid surfer, I had only just begun to skate. This was also the time when I began listening almost exclusively to punk rock. The skateboarding culture, particularly in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, seemed to blend the two (skating and punk) in a manner which I found instantly attractive. I immediately embraced the rebellious sprit, aggression, and self-expression which seemed to permeate the budding industry and the pages of Thrasher from cover to cover.
Entertaining columns like "Skarfing Material" and "Ask the Doctor," along with music reports and record reviews, were sandwiched around amazing photos of guys with flower print shorts and bleached bangs performing tricks I'd never dreamed of (but would soon try). I remember my excitement at the sheer possibilities presented by skateboarding for expression and aggressive release anytime, anywhere. For the guys featured in the pages of Thrasher, it didn't seem to matter whether they were skating a sprawling half-pipe, an empty backyard pool, or a two-block stretch of non-descript downtown sidewalk; they rode and conquered it all.
The music section prompted scores of my earlier punk record purchases. Being new to both punk and skating I'd use the magazine as an impromptu buyer's guide. I was introduced to such bands as JFA, Decry, Gang Green and Flipper through its pages. Later I would buy countless Skate Hock comps and videos. One could often receive a popular bands' latest release in return for a Thrasher subscription.
I marveled at the lack of pretension and the absence of any real profit motive of the skaters. The professional elite of the time were characterized as goofy, down-to-earth guys who just loved to skate. I remember names like Lance Mountain, Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Steve Steadham, Neil Blender, Jeff Grosso, Tommy Guerrero, Mark Gonzales, Christian, Hosoi, and Rodney Mullen. Living in Santa Cruz, there were local pros like Keith Meek and Rob Roskopp.
I skated as much as I could, spending countless afternoons at Derby Park watching locals like Alex Acevedo, Steve Yearsley, Ricky Stiles, and Troy Slider tear it up. I'd study their tricks and lines, then go back in the early morning when the place was deserted and practice emulating what they'd done. I began to improve.
There was an empty pool on Main St. (one block up from Beach St.) where we'd skate with no pads while DRI or MDC blared from a nearby boom box and Keith Butterfield, a local fresstyle pro sponsored by Vision, would practice his routines on the old shuffleboard deck near the shallow end. I made friends with Tony Hospital, an awesome skater who worked downtown at a pizza joint, and we'd often meet up randomly at some hip or curb; sometimes others would show up and we'd go off until the cops chased us away.
The better I got, the more fun I had at skating. Countless nights I'd wake up from bruises or with huge scabs on my knees and shins sticking to my sheets. Soon I had warrants out for unpaid skateboarding tickets and I was cutting school to go skate. I dreamed of being a pro or at the very least sponsored, but it wasn't to be.
Over the years, I've watched little kids like Israel Forbes and Ron Whaley, along with guys I've skated with like Jaya Bonderov, become rippers and turn pro. All the trends that have come and gone have left their mark on Santa Cruz and on me.
Bio Bob Stiles, while working at Go Skate, fortuitously saw the potential benefits of riding smaller wheels. Everyone thought he was crazy when he replaced his bulky Bones Cubic III's (the standard at the time) with a set of tiny freestyle wheels. A bunch of us followed his lead and, a short time later, Powell introduced "Rat Bones," a smaller wheel designed for street and ramps, and the industry hasn't looked back. Coincidence?
Being from Santa Cruz meant something as well. It was an unwritten law that you had to ride Santa Gruz decks, OJ's or Speed Wheels, and Independent trucks exclusively-and it helped to throw a Bl'ast! Sticker on your board for good measure.
Looking back, I know that skateboarding gave me a purpose and an outlet that was creative rather than destructive. I also know that there are few experiences more pristine than skating an empty parking lot or curb on a chilly October night. Today, as before, skateboarding represents the promise of youth, the defiance of convention, and the expressive possibilities of each person's unique, creative spirit.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||skateboarding changes|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2001|
|Previous Article:||CASWELL BERRY INTERViEW.|
|FLY LIKE A HAWK.|
|Vaquero. (Zine Thing).|
|Mongo intervention: how to save your friends from a lifetime of stank foot.|
|Subvert the dominant paradigm.|