Monday, July 31, 2017

The College.

This week Vert Is Dead takes a haphazard look at a few of the spots I grew up skateboarding at around my town.

I figure the local college is a good place to start. The campus features the usual variety of stairs, ledges, rails, and other assorted skateable architecture. More than a few things have changed over the years due to construction and renovation, but this plaza designed by I.M. Pei has remained relatively unchanged. The long standing rumor is that Pei had created this layout for a desert climate and simply used the plans when he got the contract for work in the New York State University system. He's designed buildings for other colleges and he repeats some of the same elements as found here. Some of the buildings and surrounding landscapes have taken a beating from the cold and snowy winters we get.

There have been varying degrees of legality regarding skateboarding at the college over the years. The current policy is that students can skate for transportation purposes only. They sell cruiser boards at the bookstore so my running joke is that every freshman is issued a little plastic skateboard upon matriculation. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was hit or miss. Some days the university fuzz would give you the boot and other days you would get in a full session without hassle. The glory days of the college were from 1998 to 1999 when skateboarding was LEGAL on campus. A few of the students put in the hard work with the administration to secure the right to roll. I was away at graduate school at this time so I don't know the finer points of the deal. I just know that I took advantage of it when I was home on breaks.

This plaza was pretty functional and gave you a variety of things to skate. I'd usually start a line by ollieing off either three or four of the stairs, then grind the curved ledge of the amphitheater, and circle back around to hit the bottom step. That step was waxed, along with a few sections on the curved ledge. You could also get tricks off the ends of the ledges. There is a lot of flatground, too.

I don't really remember any specific highlights from this spot. It was always a fun time with a bunch of people skating since you could cruise around with a number of different obstacles in one place. I liked the stairs because you could get warmed up on two stairs and progress up. There used to be more runway with only one handrail, but a recent remodel doubled the rail count and took away some of the space. I think my friends Paul and Pat both 50-50'd the ledge on the left by the long set of stairs in the top photo. They said it took a lot of wax and they kept having to duck to avoid the tree that was smaller twenty years ago. My friend Mike would bust out these killer wallrides, too. Finally, this spot was featured in a local cable access commercial for Jolt Cola that a few of my friends skated in. I imagine the ad was a project for somebody studying TV production.

I haven't skated the college in ages and I'm guessing the bust factor is fairly high for non-students. There are security cameras everywhere now and that was something that wasn't there back in the 1990s. Good luck if you happen upon the place. And I don't know you if you end up needing bail money.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Israel Forbes #6.

Over on the corner, there's a happy noise.

I finally cracked and gave into the world of Powell Peralta reissues. The Nicky Guerrero was too cool looking to pass on. I had the t-shirt way back then and I always liked his skateboarding.

The Chrome Ball Incident continues the quality work with recent interviews featuring Dan Drehobl and Ray Barbee.

Shout out to friend of Vert Is Dead Jason Rothmeyer on his Halfway to the 90s video part he just put out at the age of 45. I like all the slappy tailslide variations.

Work has still been hectic and my brain is somewhat toasted. I think we're maybe hitting a lull before the back to school rush kicks in. I'm going to take some time this weekend to sketch out some general future plans for the site.

Behind the scenes production note: When I was finding stuff for DC and Capital, I saw Forbes and marked the page in the mag. When I went to scan it later, I realized I got Israel and not Reese. Oops.

Thrasher - April 1996 Volume 16 Number 4

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jen O'Brien.

Let the good times roll.

Jen is from Deland, Florida. Her first board was a Schmitt Stix deck with Indys and Cockroach wheels. She grew up skateboarding in the Daytona Beach area before moving out to California in the early 1990s. Jen is currently sponsored by Indy, 187 Pads, Etnies, and Urban Decay. Some of here favorite skateboarders are Steve Alba, Danny Way, Rune Glifberg, Peter Hewitt, Cara-Beth Burnside, Mimi Knoop, and Vanessa Torres. She shreds pools and ramps. Jen was inducted to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2016.

Thrasher - October 1996 Volume 16 Number 10

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ben Sanchez #3.

"I remember Ben Sanchez calling and being, like, "Hey, man, I had a great time but I'm just calling to say I'm going to do this next thing," and we never wanted to suggest to anyone that it's time to move on." - Rick Howard

Ben was an OG Chocolate ripper from SF who filmed a few solid video parts and had some ads before moving on to the next stage of his life. I'm pretty sure he works as a mechanic.

For Rick's quote: Thrasher - July 2017 Volume 38 Number 7

Thrasher - February 1997 Volume 17 Number 2

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Andy Roy & Sean Young.

Two for Tuesday.

It is a rare sighting of Andy Roy up on a handrail paired with obscure ripper Sean Young. Sean is doing some type of backside 5-0 layback. It's kind of a bummer the sequence ran so small.

Thrasher - February 1997 Volume 17 Number 2

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jeff Grosso #8.

Don't shave your eyebrows.

The Grossman gets inverted at Max Schaaf's ramp. I like how the mural by Mark Gonzales is poking out in the background. It's also interesting to note that Jeff is riding a popsicle stick, instead of the shaped board you see him on today. I don't really recall anybody making boards that weren't popsicles in the 1990s. I'm sure there were probably a couple of companies, but nothings coming to mind.

Thrasher - April 1997 Volume 17 Number 4

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pepe Martinez #2.


One thing I noticed and neglected to mention was how there was the Shorty's logo in a bunch of Capital ads. I don't think that happened with any other company. I'm guessing it might have been some sort of distribution deal to go along with all the guys on Capital riding for Shorty's. Maybe it was the first collaboration in the skateboard business.

It will be random mid 1990s stuff for next week. I'm working on getting pictures of local spots and former spots. The plan is a week of anecdotes about places I grew up skateboarding at that are now paved over and completely unskateable. Since this will involve a little more writing, I'm thinking I will try to get as many photos of different spots as possible while the weather is nice and do more with this theme in the future beyond just a week in early August. I'm intrigued about doing some sort of then and now type thing, too. I haven't quite figured it out, but I think pairing scans of what I liked at the time compared to what I like now from the same time period would be interesting.

Julius Reeves took the photograph.

Thrasher - September 1997 Volume 17 Number 9

Thursday, July 20, 2017

John Igei #2.

D.C. Aesthetics.

The picture is by Ryan Gee.

Thrasher - October 1996 Volume 16 Number 10

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Andy Stone #2.

Professional Engineer.

The first tour Andy ever went on as a sponsored skateboarder was for B.B.C. when he was a teenager. They gave him a bus ticket to meet up with Bill Danforth out in the country and then they drove around in Bill's van doing demos at shops. In an old interview in Strength, Andy said about the tour that Bill was cool and responsible.

The photo is by Pete Thompson.

Thrasher - June 1996 Volume 16 Number 6

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sean Mullendore #3.

Ethan Fowler t-shirt.

Pete Thompson was the photographer.

Thrasher - March 1996 Volume 16 Number 3

Monday, July 17, 2017

Carlos Kenner.

"I've got much pride, I'm from D.C."

This is a sick photo. I like how Capital used a lot of horizontal layouts for their ads. They look cool scanned in and free from the vertical constraints of the printed page. Carlos is goofy footed so this might be a frontside flip.

Geoff Kula snapped the picture.

For the quote: Thrasher - March 1994 Volume 14 Number 3

Thrasher - February 1996 Volume 16 Number 2

Friday, July 14, 2017

Chris Hall.

Underworld Sneaker Collector.

The photo is by Pete Thompson.

Thrasher - January 1996 Volume 16 Number 1

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Brian Tucci.

Capital City.

Vert Is Dead takes a brief and incomplete look at Washington D.C. over the next seven business days.

Brian is from Mansfield, Pennsylvania, lived in Ithaca, New York, and moved to the Washington D.C. area in 1985. His mom gave him a skateboard for Christmas that year and he has been rolling ever since. His first sponsor was Intensity Skates, which led to getting hooked up by H-Street. Brian had some tricks in Hokus Pokus. He was doing ollies and boardslides on some giant benches in DC. This helped to put the East Coast on the radar of the West Coast focused skateboard industry. Over the years he has ridden for several different companies, including One More Skateboards, People, and Circle A. Brian is also interested in painting and playing music. He went to school with Chris Hall and grew up skating with Sean Sheffey.

Thrasher - November 1996 Volume 16 Number 11

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coco Santiago #4.

Flipping at the Fort.

Tobin Yelland was the photographer.

Thrasher - January 1996 Volume 16 Number 1

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Brian Seber.


Brian is from Columbia, Pennsylvania. He rode for Goodtimes, Black Label, and Anti-Hero. He was also on Rob Erickson's Landspeed Wheels. I don't think Brian ever turned pro. He had parts in assorted Anti-Hero videos, as well as a few tricks Dan Wolfe's Eastern Exposure series. Along with Tim Upson, Brian was involved with the Hardtimes Manufacturing board company, but I'm not sure if that's still around.

I've got Capital stuff scanned and ready for the end of the week. The DC stuff will carry over into next week. I'm also figuring out what local spots, or rather former spots, to take pictures of for a feature on where I grew up skateboarding. That will be the first week in August.

The photo is by Rob Erickson.

Thrasher - May 1996 Volume 16 Number 5

Monday, July 10, 2017

Brian Chung #2.

Flying through the air like Dominique Wilkins.

Brian is from Duluth, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. He was sponsored by the Black Label before switching to Torque, the hometown brand run by former Schmitt Stix rider Thomas Taylor. Brian also rode for Thunder, Spitfire, and Vans. He attended UC Berkeley to study chemical engineering and I believe he is currently a doctor. Back in the early 1990s, his favorite tunes included Cypress Hill, Bad Religion, Gangstarr, and the Beastie Boys.

Sean Dolinsky did both the photography and design for this ad.

Thrasher - June 1997 Volume 17 Number 6

Friday, July 7, 2017

King Of The Road 2003: Deluxe.

Ernie Torres and Dan Drehobl.

East Coast Blackout.

Deluxe also used the mix and match approach for their crew. Ernie Torres, JT Aultz, and Darrell Stanton were riding for Real, Dan Drehobl represented Krooked, and Tony Trujillo was the Anti-Hero. Jasin Phares served as team manager, Gabe Morford was the photographer, and Dan Vellucci was the filmer. Former World Industries and Black Label pro Randy Colvin was their mystery guest. After getting off to dark start in NYC because of the east coast power outage of August 2003, Deluxe blazed a path of destruction to first place that went through Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Boulder, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, Novato, and San Francisco.

Ernie was the team MVP. He also took the biggest rail, backside lipslide, and kickflip honors. Drehobl got a blindfolded pivot to fakie and did a frontside air on a M-16 that was used for the cover of the DVD. TNT wore the same clothes for the entire trip and made the front of Thrasher with a roll-in at the sea wall in Chicago. JT checked off the ledge tricks and "pretty much made out with a bag lady"* for a 50 point bonus. It didn't hurt that Darrell Stanton was in the zone and killing all manner of stairs, rails, and switch tricks.

I think what made the first King of the Road special was the surprise element of it. There really wasn't all that much social media back then so it was basically done in secret until the new issue of Thrasher showed up in the mail on a cold winter day. The accompanying articles chronicling each team's adventures were well written and provided a lot of information to digest. It got you in the mood to hit the road and go skateboard once the snow melted.

The final point tally:
1st: Deluxe - 2,830
2nd: Tum Yeto - 2,790
3rd: Volcom - 2,710
4th: éS - 1,440

* The quote is from Michael Burnett.

The pictures are by Gabe Morford.

Thrasher - January 2004 Volume 24 Number 1

Thursday, July 6, 2017

King Of The Road 2003: Tum Yeto.

Adrian Mallory and Ethan Fowler.

Second Place.

Tum Yeto went with a mixed team that picked riders from their different board companies. Foundation pros Ethan Fowler and Gareth Stehr were on board, as was Toy Machine's Diego Bucchieri. Adrian Mallory was an am on Pig Wood at the time and Johnny Layton was a 17 year old getting flowed boards from Toy Machine. He was officially added to Ed's Monster Squad after the trip. Josh Beagle was the team manager, KOTR creator Michael Burnett put himself in the van as the photographer, and Jeff Morris ran the video camera. Scott Bourne was their mystery guest. He was the overall KOTR guest MVP with eight tricks plus the Daewon Song Award for most rigged up set-up for rolling off some plywood on sawhorses into the deep end of a pool. The Tum Yeto van started in Miami and cruised westward through Jacksonville, Atlanta, Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Lawrence, Denver, Reno, Tahoe, and Walnut Creek before dropping the video tape off in San Francisco.

Since this whole trip was Mike's idea, his story of their journey across the country is a joyful tale chock full of highs and lows, skateboard trivia, concern over whether some of the challenges were in bad taste (focus a stranger's board for example), and a smidge of drunken antics.

"This is an appropriate time to insert an Animal Chin message where we learn that the fun we had is our true reward. That's true and all. We did have fun. But on that last night, exhausted from two weeks of skate action, what we really wanted was to win."

The photos are by Michael Burnett.

Thrasher - January 2004 Volume 24 Number 1

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

King Of The Road 2003: Volcom.

Dustin Dollin and Remy Stratton.

Recreational Vehicle.

The Volcom squadron for King of the Road consisted of Caswell Berry, Javier Sarmiento, Rune Glifberg, Dennis Busenitz, and Dustin Dollin. Remy Stratton handled team management duties, Scott Pommier snapped the photographs, and Trevor Prescott worked the video camera. Their mystery guest was Arcade pro Jay "SAD" Stephens. They rolled through Boston, Newport, Skatopia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Denver, Albuquerque, and Santa Nella on the way to SF.

Rather than use the standard Ford Econoliner van, Remy opted to rent the crew a giant RV. It made the drive comfortable, except for the time it broke down on the road to New Mexico. In addition to hucking his carcass around on his board, Dustin handled archiving the video footage from each day. The Volcom team hung out with Sid "The Package" Abruzzi in Rhode Island and Dustin got tattooed by former Alva pro Fred Smith. They were also the victim of a firework attack from the éS team during their stop at Skatopia in Ohio. Caswell and Javier tied for team MVPs with 18 tricks each. Caz also took home the most stairs ollied with 18 and the biggest channel transfer at Skatopia. They came in a very close third in the contest.

Scott Pommier took the photos.

Thrasher - January 2004 Volume 24 Number 1

Monday, July 3, 2017

King Of The Road 2003: éS.

Alexis Sablone and Rick McCrank.

With Thrasher doing their King of the Road reality television show again, I thought a quick look back at the inaugural run of the contest was in order.

The first King of the Road took place in August of 2003. Thrasher editor and photographer Michael Burnett came up with the idea to have four teams race across the country and earn points for doing skateboard tricks along the way. There were points awarded for silly antics, too. It's kind of like a combination of the movies Cannonball Run and Midnight Madness. The teams had a list of cities they had to stop in with specific challenges for each burg. They were free to stop wherever else they wanted along the way as well, but they all had to end up at the Thrasher office on August 30th.

Deluxe, Tum Yeto, Volcom, and éS all fielded squads. The teams were made up of five skaters, a team manager, a photographer, and a videographer. Since this was a new venture, the teams often picked ams or flow riders as their representatives to go with a couple of seasoned pros. They were also assigned a mystery guest. Everybody had to meet up in Denver on August 25th to pick up their guests.

There was a trick list with point values for different maneuvers and terrain. The tricks were broken down into three categories of hard, harder, and hardest. A rock-n-roll in a backyard pool was a hard trick worth ten points where a 360 flip to pivot fakie on transition over five feet tall would net 50 points. The idea was to make it challenging, but also include tricks that people could get to keep the contest fun. Points were awarded based on video documentation. Bonus points were awarded for the highest and longest tricks. There were also challenges like the Billy Rohan Challenge for the best trick blindfolded or the Daewon Song Award for most rigged set-up. Finally, more points could be earned for doing stuff like getting a Thrasher tattoo, skating naked or making out with a person of the opposite sex over 30. We lived in tamer times back then.

The éS team consisted of Eric Koston, PJ Ladd, Paul Rodriguez, Alexis Sablone, and Rick McCrank. The late Tony Evjenth was the team manager, Luke Ogden was the photographer, and Scuba Steve Chalme was the videographer. Their mystery guest was the dearly departed Harold Hunter. They started in Philadelphia, hit up Pittsburgh, Skatopia, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Milwaukee, Denver, Boulder, and Salt Lake City on the way to San Francisco. They were shocked that the Volcom team visited Skatopia of their own volition.

After a two week break, I'm back for a day and then taking tomorrow off. Have a good Independence Day.

The photos are by Luke Ogden.

Thrasher - January 2004 Volume 24 Number 1