Hey Tampa... let's party.
I've been waiting to confess this to my bosses at Thrasher for awhile. Every month or so I call somebody over at High Speed and ask for a package of shirts, sweatshirts, patches, buttons, stickers; whatever. I usually call a different person each time, so they don't catch on. I don't think they care what I do with the shirts really, but I think I'm supposed to be giving them to like the hot crew, dudes like Brian Wenning or something. I do some of that, but what I do with most of them is give them to bartenders. I drop off a shirt or two every once in awhile and I'm assured at least a week's worth of free beers. I figure they'll be rep'ing the shirt behind the bar all night and that's tons of free advertising right there. Now, I'm talking bartenders at places here in New York like Max Fish or Sweetwater, total skate bars. I love skate bars. People usually complain, "Aww man that place is a total sausage fest" or whatever, but I figure it's a good place to chill with the homies. At least when girls are there, they're cool and you can talk to them, and they aren't some skanky sorority chicks that ain't having nothing to do with your smelly skate-shirt wearing ass. That's the thing--in Tampa there was this skater douche bag trying to convince me to go to some over-the-top slut bar. I mean, you ain't getting laid dude. Those chicks are not going to talk to you. Forget it. If you want to look, go to a strip club. The trick is in almost reverse percentages. You can't walk up to a crew of chicks and expect one to break off from her friends for your ass. No man, you have to find a chick with a predisposition towards a guy like you--skater chicks or punker chicks or indie rock chicks, whatever. There are exceptions; some guys got game and get with any girls they want, but trust me, if you've gotten this far into an article in a skate mag, odds are you aren't one of them. Whatever. I'm trying to segue into an article about the Tampa Pro Contest and I'm having some trouble. The problem is that everything I wanted to write a bout is top secret or something. "You can't write about our pro skater friend making out with all those chicks" or "You can't write about what Carrie was doing" (who you may remember from my most epicly later'd Tampa article). I got all kinds of dirt. These edicts were not made from above, but just from friends trying to look out for other friends. I guess those are the breaks, and this was a professional skateboard contest after all.
Tampa Pro 2002
Where the Tampa Am contest generally consists of a couple hundred kids running around losing it and staying out past bed time, the pro event is a much calmer deal. Most of these guys have been doing it for years and are basically there to handle their business and see old friends. The street course is a little mellower, as the pros aren't on the same kind of kamikaze flail mission like some of the ams are. The pros have done this before. They warm up a little and do their run. They all have their tricks; consistency is the key. The ams are trying to get noticed.
"Oh my god! There's Nate Sherwood!"
When I flew in on Thursday, I saw Andrew Reynolds at the airport and he was nice enough to take me to I-Hop and then to the skatepark. Luke Ogden wasn't to be in town until that evening; the room was in his name, so I had to wait over at the park with all my stuff.
When Andrew got out of the car, he excitedly exclaimed "Oh my god! There's Nate Sherwood!" I headed over to see what the deal with that dude was. If you've been paying attention, he was the guy that had the Vision ad doing a 50-50 that was both 360 pressure flipped in to and out of.
An introduction was completely unnecessary. He saw me coming and was like "Hey, what's up dude? Do you ever wish you had like a claw, and when you did tricks you could use it to stay in the air? Oh, you take photos? That's so cool! I wish I could do that! But this film is so expensive! Sometimes when I'm shooting a sequence with my friend and I don't land it I feel so bad! I took some photos once! They didn't come out! Yeah!"
Whenever I saw him that weekend he would look over at me with the hugest smile and yell something like "Yeah, Getting some pictures today? Cool man! No way!"
I've never seen a weirder and happier dude.
This year my job was easy. We had four Thrasher photographers on hand. I know that's overkill but that's how we're operating these days. If my photos come out sucking, we have three other dudes filling the slack.
First off there was Luke Ogden, the photo editor, basically holding it down. Luke is kind of my boss so I was afraid to be a total wasteoid around him. I'd find myself trying to act professional. At one point I had been drinking, and he was telling me about f-stops or some shit, and I just sort of nodded in agreement the whole time. Luke was definitely holding it down on the street course; I just stood back and let him work. At one point during the vert finals, me and Chris Pastras were sharing some beers on the deck of the vert ramp while Luke was slaving away getting the shots. But Luke liked to hang back at night, so I considered it my duty to go get the debauchery photos.
Shelby Woods was there. He's our official thug photographer. He holds it down with the skaters everyone else is afraid of. Jon Mehring was the other Thrasher guy; we stole him from SLAP for the weekend.
The best moment of the weekend for me was late Friday evening, seeing the course deserted except for Mike Carroll, Scott Johnston, Chany Jeanguenin, Mark Gonzales, and Eric Koston. I've never seen a radder crew in one spot in my life. The best was seeing those guys get gnarly on the big wall; you just don't expect it when Koston and Carroll bust back-to-back transfer Smiths on par with the gnar crew. And watching Gonz cannot be explained. You can see decades of style in even his simplest tricks. I was too awestruck to get any pictures; fortunately, Luke was there to handle it.
The Semi-finals were fun-Let me think:
You could actually see the alcohol sweating from the blood streams of Alex Moul, Tony Trujillo, and Fred Gall. They smelt like the floor of a bar. Fred got dead last for his post-inebriated efforts. Gonz choose to wear a helmet when he skated the street course (although he didn't wear one when he tried to ollie late-hippie jump the coping that goes across the channel on the vert ramp).
Nate Sherwood was allowed to continue busting 360 pressure flips in his run for a full five minutes. Chris Cole was ripping and looking rather punk; he must ride for Zero now. I offered him a Thrasher Carrie/ pentagram shirt, but he said no and showed me a ring he was wearing with cross on it. "What, are you married?" I asked. He gave me a dirty look; "Oh, you're Christian, I get it, sorry." That was my moment to exit.
Finals on Sunday
The finals were on St. Patrick's Day itself. I think that has something to do with Patrick Melcher's 12th place finish. The luck of the Irish was with him--I mean, he ripped, it's just easy to say that.
Colt Cannon got 11th.
Stefan Janoski came in 10th; I like the way he slumps his shoulders, as if he's just lurking through his tricks. He seems like a little weird. I like that shit.
Kenny Anderson got ninth.
Matt Beach looks like he's 17 but I think he might be in his mid 40s, I'm not sure. He did some pretty sweet frontside kickflip lipslides for eigth. I hear his part in the Firm video is going to be amazing.
Rodrigo TX got seventh.
The entire place booed when they called up Carlos de Andrade for sixth place. At first I thought everyone hated him or something, but I think they thought he should have won.
Paul Rodriguez is making everyone look bad at fifth.
Kerry Getz is hilarious to watch; he just gets so pissed. At any moment you might find him throwing his board repeatedly into a wall behind the ramp or hear him mumbling "I'm sick of this shit" between runs. I wonder if when he lands something really clean, does he get happy or just less pissed? All his perfectionism has made him one of the best. He earned fourth.
Caine Gayle and Andrew Reynolds finally broke the golden ticket curse by coming in third and second respectively. Now, I've always been pulled by two trains of thought on the touchy subject of drugs and alcohol. On one side you have guys saying that the media and the industry is turning a blind eye, if not encouraging rampant drug abuse in skateboarding. So in effect by writing about it I'm endorsing it. But there is another side, the side that says I'm a journalist and I should write about what it's like to be around a bunch of pro skaters. Should I just lie and tell you that we go on skate trips and just sit around in the hotel all day watching cartoons? I'd rather just talk about what goes down. But sometimes kids are reading this and thinking, "I'm gonna go out and get drunk everyday just like the Baker dudes, that's my goal in life." When I wrote the Baker article I talked about drinking so much because, aside from the ams, that's what they did all day. It was the truth. But right now, I would like to co mmend Andrew Reynolds on at least three months of sober living. That dude is one of the nicest people I know. He always has time for kids and he's a smart businessman, but he was a nightmare of a drunk. Just yelling everywhere, being insane. I thought the whole time, "This guy is the one of the best skaters in the world, if he didn't spend all day drinking and acting crazy, he would be unstoppable." Well, he's been laying it down lately. A Thrasher interview is coming soon, and he nailed his Tampa runs. A second place finish with Koston. How appropriate is that? The two most deserving pros right there at the top. Eric Koston won it, there is nothing I can say.
Before the finals Brian Schaefer and Ryan Clements organized a betting pool on who the top two placers would be. Everyone threw in $20 and the total came out to about $500. My bet was Andrew Reynolds and Tony Trujillo. Unfortunately, Tony was in pile mode. Good looking out TNT, you flicking wipeout! Sam Smyth of Girl skateboards won. He yelled over and over, "I was the only one who had faith!"
At night everyone goes to Ybor. One option is Masquerade--a bar with sort of a dive half where most of the hessian type pros lurk-- the kind of place you can sit slumped over the bar if you feel like it or get in a game of pool. The other half is a giant maze of a club that makes it feel kind of empty; I tended to stick to the slummy half.
The other spot in Ybor is the Empire. It had a VIP room with free drinks for just about anyone who was at the contest. This is one of those really loud booty bars. I enjoyed the balcony. Occasionally a woman would walk by with a try of these florescent drinks in vials. Fred Gall just bought the whole tray and we would sit there and slurp them all up. I have no idea what they were, I think it was mostly sugar.
Saturday night was the St. Patrick's Day parade in Ybor, so there were hoards of drunk-asses in green stumbling around. I love St Patrick's Day, my name is Patrick, I'm Irish, I drink a lot. It's the holiday made for me.
Best trick this year was held on the big vert wall. You could transfer up to it from both directions or go straight up and do a trick.
Freddy Gall managed to silence the critics with a transfer crooked grind which may not have netted him any awards, but was epic nonetheless.
Caz grinded across the whole wall and ollied into the bank, nailing a photo chump in the process. I swear he was about to punch the guy.
Chris Senn took sixth with a half-flip to rock to half-flip, whatever that's called. I'm sure it has a name somewhere and Phelps is going to call me and say "O'Dell, You're fired! That's called a flipped-bird!" or something. I can be pretty clueless.
Patrick Melcher loved this wall. He kept doing frontside tailslides reverting down almost the entire wall all weekend. He got fifth for a nollie backside tailsilde revert.
Dan Drehobi did the dumptruck into fourth.
Aaron Suski did the frontside tailslide backside revert with his patented smooth style for third.
Chany Jeanguenin got second with a backside lipslide revert and a sugarcane revert.
Mike Vallely won it with a wall jam revert. I liked watching him skate in circles in the empty spot where the vert ramp used to be before his run. He'd just keep going around in circles looking so pissed: that's how he would get psyched up. His winning trick was pretty sick, but I liked watching him get pissed more.
After the contest we hung out with our new official Thrasher girl Carrie. On our last trip some of the crew stole a video tape she made, and it got...sorta circulated. I felt bad 'cause people kept going up to her and saying "Nice video," but she was relatively cool about it. Alex Moul, Frank Gerwer, Carrie and I headed back to the Milner to throw a little pool party. I made Nate Sherwood pressure flip into the pool for a sequence. The party got pretty rowdy, but was unfortunately cut short by the police.
We spent the rest of the night wandering around the hotel and partying with random crews. The best was when I ran into the Baker guys, Jay said he was mad that there were no pictures of him in the Baker article. He told me I had to get a picture of Jeff Lenoce in front of his new car in the next Thrasher and if I didn't, I would never be allowed to shoot with his crew again. I promised I would, but failed to actually get around to taking the photo. Let's hope he's forgiving.
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|Date:||Jun 1, 2002|
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