May 7, 2010
Milestone: Ray Barbee
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, June 2010
“When someone’s heart isn’t in something, you can see it. They’re just going through the motions. I don’t want to be that person,” says Ray Barbee, now pro over twenty years, reflecting on the thought of eventually retiring from professional skateboarding.
“My good friend Salman Agah once said, ‘Skateboarding is like food. You just keep eating until you aren’t hungry anymore.’ I’m just not done yet,” continues Ray. “And I’m not ready to be done.
“I had a friend named Randy Smith who was a big influence on me when I was a kid,” Ray says. “He just looked so good when he skated. His style was kinda loose—like a ragdoll. So when I met with Sean Cliver to do my first pro model graphic I told him I wanted a ragdoll and that’s what he came up with.”
Ray’s not one to over-analyze things—especially skateboarding—and doesn’t believe that there’s anything overtly specific or magical that contributed to the beloved, timeless and classic nature of his Ragdoll Powell Peralta pro model.
“Honestly,” he laughs, “I don’t have an answer for that one. It was probably just the timing and everything to do with street skating being so new back then. It was also Cliver’s first graphic, so maybe the new style of artwork had something to do with it too.”
Ray’s positivity is as sincere as can be. It’s humble and inspiring. It’s not politically correct or contrived to avoid offending anyone—Ray just perpetually sees the glass as half full. And his ability to let things exist as they are, why they are, see the good in them and just go with the flow is one of many endearing qualities about him.
“He has such an appreciation for what he’s blessed with that it's contagious when you are around him,” says photographer Anthony Acosta.
“Growing up in San Jose in the ‘80s and early ‘90s,” says Salman Agah, “if you didn't know who Ray Barbee was, chances were you didn't skate. Tales of Ray’s fast feet and continuous smile were rampant then. Ray is one of few pros that I looked up to growing up, who wasn't a total disappointment when we finally ended up meeting and skating together.”
“In the 80's I was asked by a magazine who the best skateboarder in the world was,” says Don Brown, pro freestyler during Ray’s rise to skate fame. “My reply,” Brown says, “‘the one with the biggest smile on their face.’ Which would mean that Ray Barbee is the best skateboarder in the world. But he better keep that smile going because Theotis is catching up fast!”
“It's no wonder he's always smiling,” Acosta continues, “He focuses on the good things and not the negative things. He has peace, which is transparent in his skateboarding, his music, his photography, his perspective on life and the way he interacts with people.”
Barbee’s entire career has been humble, classy and steady. Perhaps it’s a direct result of being so content. There’s never been a “comeback” or “Barbee overkill” any sort of or overrated-ness. Only consistent good ‘ol fashioned respectable, stylish and innovative skateboarding along with some positive vibes to go with it.
“I think what makes Ray Barbee a legend, is that 21 years after Ban This, people still want him to be a part of skateboarding,” says Josh Friedberg, photographer, videographer and founder of 411 Video Magazine.
“Guys like him need a home. They need to be in skateboarding and we are stoked to allow him the opportunity to be himself,” says Ryan Dewitt, Element team manager, who coincidentally roomed with Ray on King of the Road 2005—prior to him riding for Element.
“He just happened to be Element’s mystery guest; hopped in the van and it was awesome,” says Dewitt.
After The Firm disbanded, Ray was spending a lot of time giving guitar lessons and playing for the campers at Visalia skate camp. Since Element is a big part of the Visalia program, Ray ended up connecting with them there and got on the team.
Element recently released a 20th anniversary Barbee board with Sean Cliver that features a new version of the Ragdoll graphic. And last year, Ray’s long-time shoe sponsor, Vans, re-released a series of four classic silhouettes and styles to commemorate his 20th anniversary of professional skateboarding as well.
Even though Ray can’t even remember his last magazine interview (yes, its been a long time), or the public perception may be that they’ve seen more of Ray Barbee the musician than Ray Barbee the skateboarder in recent times, he’s consistently logged skate mag coverage over the past five years. He appears in EA’s SKATE 2 as a playable character and had parts in This is My Element and Brian Lotti’s 1st & Hope, which, due to the nature of how it was conceptualized and filmed (groups of skaters performing semi-unplanned lines throughout Downtown Los Angeles), was a striking parallel to the famous Ray’s famous shared street segment of Powell Peralta’s Public Domain, where the skateboarding masses got their first glimpses of him.
But before Ray came to be known for his street skating, like so many other skateboarders from his era, he often skated vert and backyard ramps.
“Ray was a local at our ramp, the Mush Ramp, in Cupertino, California,” says Dave Carnie. “I always liked when Ray showed up. He had an unusual, yet pleasant, vert style. And, although I might be remembering this entirely wrong, I like to believe that Mush Ramp is partly responsible for his street career, because one day he was trying to learn body jars and he locked up or over-rotated or something and ate shit and broke his arm. After that, we didn’t see him at the ramp much. Next thing you know …”
Seems like fate wanted Ray off the vert and out on the streets. And rightfully so, because part of what makes him so admired and so legendary by so many people is the very fact that he epitomizes the “just get on your board and go skate” ideology, as seen in Public Domain, Ban This, La Buena Vida and 1st & Hope.
Despite our current era of “travel to a spot, set up, film a trick and go home,” you’ll still find that droves of people gush over Ray’s old video parts and seemingly-improvisational style of simply cruising down the street on his skateboard. Yet, to the contrary, today’s skate media and industry—magazines, photos, videos, contests, top pros and hot ams—seldom reflect or portray that admiration with their actual output. Hammer time still ensues in the majority of what we see, support and produce.
Perhaps more importantly though, is that a very common and complimentary reaction to any Ray Barbee footage is that of “Damn, that part makes me want to go out and skate!”
In his episode of Epicly Latr’d, Ray explains that he and his friends weren’t the first people to skate the streets the way they did, but rather, that Public Domain just brought all that was happening at the time—the street skateboarding movement—so-to-speak—to the masses with that segment.
“We never claimed to be making up anything because we figured somewhere, someone else was stumbling across the same things. We were just like, ‘Hey, let's try this,’ and kept going with it.” Ray says of his early says of street skating with friends in an interview for 1st & Hope.
“One time,” says enjoi Brand Manager, Matt Eversole, “me and Erik Olsen (Bones Swiss Team Manager) skated down the street with Ray and it felt like we were in a Powell video. We both heard the song from his part in our head.”
“Ray’s no complies are to die for,” says legendary street pioneer and pro, Garry Davis.
“Ray was always down to skate new spots,” says his friend Richard Mulder, “not your typical go-to spots that people seem to migrate to. We would just find stuff.”
As much as skateboarding changes fast today—it’s always been that way—even for someone as casual as Ray, admitting that once Ban This began filming, he felt more pressure to put out an actual video part because it was his first part without any other skateboarders in it, as opposed to the previous video, Public Domain, which was filmed in only three days and where he shared the stage with Chet Thomas, Steve Saiz and Eric Sanderson.
“In the early 90's, I would trip on Ray because he was already an established pro skateboarder who could get whatever he wanted for free, but he would ride the same Swiss bearings for years!” says Mulder, reminiscing of early memories of Ray. “I was always shocked to see him ride all of his stuff ‘til it was done and finished. He just wore things out like any 12-year-old would, kind of like Kenny Anderson does. And he will literally wear a piece of clothing for years, especially a button-down that he finds fitting.”
“What era of skateboarding would you most like to revisit if you could?” I asked Ray.
“Right now!” He replied emphatically.
Two simple words that speak volumes. Ray respects, loves, appreciates and honors his past and everyone involved in it, but also yearns to experience the now to the fullest.
And most currently, “the now” consists of photography. Ray’s been taking classes at Long Beach Community College and his lab instructor invited him to be a part of a photo show. So for the last few months, he’s been feverishly working in the campus darkroom preparing.
“Back in the early 90’s,” Ray recalls, “We were in New York on a Vans tour and I told Joe Brook I wanted a camera to document the trip and he helped me pick one. I remember just having so much fun shooting. And I always thought, ‘Man it would be so cool to learn photography.’
“About a year ago it just came to a point where I got so tired of all these digital cameras doing everything for me and I grabbed my wife’s old Pentax K1000 that she had from, I think, high school.”
Ray’s taken a particular liking to black and white photography.
“Black and white excites me,” he says. “I think just from skateboarding and growing up around so many great photographers and creative dudes like Tobin Yelland, Gabe Morford and Jon Humphries, it has molded me regarding how I like to see things. I went into photography already having an idea, aesthetically, of how I wanted things to look.
“I always viewed skateboarding, and even life, like the seasons,” says Ray. “I think if most average people, myself included, are excited about something, they become passionate about it. They become motivated and hard working and go for it. Music, photography, skateboarding … for me the big common ground is just getting excited and going for it.
“How many people have you talked to in your life that are like, ‘Oh I always thought it would be cool to play drums,’ he explains, and I’m always like, ‘Why didn’t you?’ And they’re like, ‘No time’ or whatever. I’ve just never been like that. At some point I just gotta break down and do it. The only difference between the cat that’s doing a bunch of things and the guy who is only doing one thing, is the cat that’s doing a bunch of things just went for it—geared it out—and that’s how I’ve been with photography lately.
“All the time I think, like, ‘what am I doing blowing a whole day in the darkroom? I need to get this Mag interview done! I need to do a new album! I gotta go spend time with my wife and kids!’ But it’s come to a point where I’ve realized that I’ve got to honor it—like a reverence. That’s how everything that I’ve gotten into started. That’s how I enjoy life and do what I’m able to do. One of the biggest goals in life is to enjoy what you do for a living because you have to work.”
“It’s life. It doesn’t ever slow down,” Ray says. There’s not enough time in the day to do everything.”
An interesting notion coming from an accomplished professional skateboarder, musician, artist, husband, father and now photographer, who’s got the same number of hours in a day as the rest of us. But come to think of it, that’s the stuff legends are made of.
May 6, 2010
Storefront: Supreme LA
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, June 2010
Since first opening its doors in New York City in 1994, Supreme has never had a problem being cool. Seriously … the name is cool; the logo is cool; the location is cool; they’ve always been affiliated with cool people and cool brands. In fact, Supreme was so cool right out of the gate that they pretty much set a new standard in skateboarding retail and became a direct influence for so many of the “skateboard boutiques” and skate shop/skate brand collaborations that have become so commonplace today.
But Supreme is more than just cool and more than just retail—always has been. With five shops in Japan and a location in Los Angeles that opened in September 2004—a decade after the NYC store, the shop has become a brand and the brand has become a vibe. Or maybe the vibe became a shop and the shop became a brand—actually, come to think of it, any combination of those three elements in any order is almost applicable.
“We don’t have a team,” say Curtis Buchanan, Buyer and Manager for Supreme LA. “It’s more of a neighborhood vibe—a community of skaters who we support and they support us. We hook up pros and friends around Los Angeles like Eric Koston, Alex Olson, Spanky, Braydon, A.V.E., Dill, Neckface and Atiba and Ako Jefferson.”
The decision to open in Los Angeles almost six years ago was pretty much a no-brainer for Supreme. “Los Angeles seems to be the skateboard capital,” says Buchanan. “The time felt right and we wanted to offer something that wasn’t currently available but without stepping on other local skate shops’ toes.”
Other than the vibe, what separates Supreme from the rest of the pack (and keeps them consistently ahead of the pack) is somewhat shrouded in secrecy. Often imitated but never quite duplicated, the crew over there is a bit tight-lipped about what makes Supreme tick … but then again … isn’t that mystery and elusiveness part of what makes ‘em so cool? A few things we do know, however, are that Supreme has a bowl in the shop for the homies to session, hosts poker nights every now and again and produces their own line of clothing, which, to no one’s surprise, is quite successful.
“Supreme was the first store to do what we do,” says Buchanan. “We never imitate or flip to a trend. We have a loyal skate clientele who love new product and we just try to sell and make cool stuff consistently.”
But even Supreme isn’t invincible. They have their challenges like anyone else. “There are tons of pro skaters in Los Angeles, so it’s easy for kids to get product from them and avoid buying from shops at full price,” says Buchanan, “but consistently providing and making a good product helps, so thanks to Girl, Chocolate and DLX for all the rad shit they make.”
Put simply, according to Buchanan, Supreme’s goal has always been, and always will be, to support skateboarding.
“You get out of life what you put into it,” he says. “Everyone runs a business differently and there are many paths to success. You gotta learn from your own mistakes. Don’t open a shop unless you truly love skateboarding and are willing to accept the good with the bad.”
Supreme Los Angeles
439 North Faifax Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90038
May 5, 2010
Contenders: Kevin Terpening
Words: Rob Brink
TheSkateboardMag.com, May 2010
April 4, 2010
Festivus: Damn Am / YBAm Awards
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag May 2010
One of the coolest things about The Skateboard Mag and Skatepark of Tampa’s YBAm / Damn Am awards is the fact that you might actually win (or get nominated for) an award that you don’t want to win. Like … that’s soooo cool. Seriously, how often does that happen in life? Being scared to win an award? So awesome.
Just imagine you’re sitting there at Tum Yeto Headquarters in San Diego during the infamous bi-annual ASR/Crossroads week, amongst hundreds of rowdy skaters, industry peers and friends gunning for the “night of their lives;” with a buttload of cameras rolling and everyone and their mother with itchy Twitter fingers, and you hear Brian Schaefer, in all of his scratchy-voiced, Natural Light-buzz-induced glory, shouting, “Okay, so up next is the “Never Gonna Win” award!”
And then droves of drunk people cheer for a moment …
“Uh oh, I hope that’s not me” is probably a thought that runs though a more than a few people’s minds.
I mean, if there’s ever an award you don’t want to win, it’s gotta be the “Never Gonna Win” award, right?
Well, come to think of it, last year’s “Most Annoying” award, won by Chris Troy, could possibly rank as the number-one award you don’t ever want to win. But let’s worry about this year for now because last year is soooo last year.
Contrary to most award show-type scenarios, it almost seems like being announced runners-up for the “Never Gonna Win” award, like Marius Syvanen and Abdias Rivera were, is a blessing compared to actually being the recipient of the award, as Ben Gore was. Congrats, Ben! According to “the industry,” you’re never gonna win!
Thank God some people still have a sense of humor these days.
But come to think of it, we’ve all heard the story of the ‘ol “Tampa Am curse.” Some might say you gotta avoid that one for sure. In that case, “never gonna win” could be a good thing. One less thing Ben, Marius and Abdias have to worry about.
There was also a time, long, long ago, when “winning” and skateboarding weren’t always words that belonged in a sentence together. People were often heard saying things like “Yeah, I don’t really care if I win. I just want to have fun.” Or, “Skateboarding isn’t about winning, its about having a good time” and things of that light-hearted, motivational, inspirational nature. I mean, yeah, maybe when it was Hawk vs. Hosoi vs. Gator vs. Lance vs. Cab in the early 80s or whatever … there was some friendly rivalry, but for the most part, skateboarding has never been about “winning.” Dare we throw out the “isn’t that part of what makes it cool” cliché? But it’s true.
Quite frankly, these days, skateboarding could use a bit more niceness and smiling and hugs and sensitivity. Which, in my opinion, makes Theotis Beasley’s award—Best Attitude—the most admirable of the evening. And it seems to be working for him. Take note, kiddies. Get off the message boards and back on your skateboards.
So congrats, Theo, for being amazing! And congrats Luan and Tyler, for winning the entire year of 2009. And congrats Ben and everyone who won an award—whether you wanted to win or not—you earned it!
• Team Manager of the Year: Rodney Johnson
• Most Improved: Shawn Hale
• Just for Showing Up: Caesar Fernandez
• Zumiez Overall Destroyer: Clint Walker
• Tampa Am Winner: Luan Oliveira
• Damn Am of the Year: Luan Oliveira (1st place Damn Am Costa Mesa and 1st place Tampa Am)
• The Skateboard Mag’s YBAm: Tyler Bledsoe
• Never Gonna Win: Ben Gore - Runner-ups: Marius Syvanen, Abdias Rivera
• CanadiAm: T.J. Rogers
• EurOK: Youness Amrani
• Done Growed Up: David Loy
• Better Hardflip Than You: Lacey Baker
• Pro Before You Know: Nick Merlino
• Mad Snaps: Luis Tolentino
• Little Big Man: Louie Lopez
• Came Out of Nowhere: Mark Suciu
• Best Attitude: Theotis Beasley
• Most Entertaining: Andrew Cannon
• Best Black Dude: Norman Woods
• Best Mexican: Paul Flores
• Gratitude Award: C.J. Tambornino
• You Choked: Mike Thompson
• Winner of Every Practice: Evan Smith
March 7, 2010
Damn Am of The Year: Luan de Oliveira
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag April 2010
“I can only imagine being one of the other skaters who made the finals at Tampa Am ‘08” says SPoT’s Ryan Clements, “I would be thinking, ‘Fuck, well, at least I can shoot for second place.’”
And that might just be the simplest and most effective way to sum up why Luan de Oliveira was singled out by the SPoT crew as 2009’s Damn Am of the Year. It’s the type of sentiment you often hear out of many pro’s mouths prior to entering contests against Chris Cole or P-Rod.
And like Cole and Paul, Luan is blessed with the gift of seemingly being able to win a contest at any given time, assuming he chooses to. What adds insult to injury (or possibly just adds envy) is that huge-ass grin on his face the whole time he’s doing it.
It’s a good grin, though. Hell, you’d be grinning too if you could flip your board in and outta ledge tricks like that. Or have such pop and flexibility that everything you do is stupid high and caught really well. Or spin with such control that you’ve contributed to the standardization of bigger spin flip trick variations skateboarding.
Most of us can only fantasize about what its like to roll around for five or so minutes, trying trick after trick, with a difficulty level of 11 on a one-to-ten scale, and not miss one of them. Luan lives that fantasy. Yes, if you were Luan, there’d be plenty to smile about. Don’t be mad—be thankful. He’s out there progressing and evolving the whole of skateboarding for all of us to enjoy.
The story is fairly simple: In 2007, a virtually unknown skater from Porte Alegre Brazil, Luan showed up in Lake Forest, California at GvR and won it. All anyone knew is that Flip had already snatched him up and he was on éS flow. Had someone looked him up on the Internet around that time, all they might have found was a self-filmed video from 2006 of a shirtless Luan skating a janky-ass ledge in Brazil doing every backside tailslide variation known to man in one session. It’s impressive. Check it out.
A few months after GvR, Luan won Tampa Am ‘08. Then, in 2009, his part in Flip’s Extremely Sorry might have lead one to dub Luan this generation’s Rodrigo TX or this generation’s equivalent of PJ Ladd in Wonderful Horrible Life. Power, style, control, jumpability, technical prowess, new tricks—a from-out-of-nowhere skateboarding machine with an ability that’s almost hard to comprehend through video alone—but we sure do want to see more of it.
Then Luan won Damn Am Costa Mesa and Tampa Am ’09—becoming the only skateboarder in the 16-year history of Tampa Am to win it twice.
After seeing the caliber of Ben Hatchell’s runs at Tampa ’09, everyone in the place knew that if anyone were going to beat Ben, it would be Luan and only Luan. If Luan were skating in the Pro with the very same run, he would’ve won it. Seriously. The dude is scary good. Come to think of it, Tampa Pro is coming up. And as most of you already know, Luan is the newest pro for Flip skateboards. It’s only right. Having him return to Damn Am or Tampa Am in 2010 just wouldn’t be fair to everyone else … although the three-peat would be worth talkin’ about. But then again, so would winning his first Tampa Pro contest after back-to-back Am wins.
It’s no secret that Brazil is known for producing tons of amazingly talented skateboarders. To the point where we’ve become a bit desensitized to it actually … maybe even bitter. The “Oh, he’s just another great skater from Brazil” mentality is one we’ve all experienced at one time or another. Luan breaks that mold. It’s kinda hard to hate on him without sounding like and angry, jealous douche bag because you’re baggin’ on the happiest-looking dude on a skateboard right now.
We can sit here yappin’ about Luan and why he was chosen as Damn Am of the Year ‘til we’re blue in the face, but really, that new pro model board of his does most of the talking, now doesn’t it? Oh, and those back smith to tre flips out don’t hurt either. Congrats, Luan. Looking forward to seeing what you bring to professional skateboarding this year and beyond.
March 3, 2010
Festivus: Johnny Romano Skate Jam for Make-A-Wish
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, April 2010
If Johnny Romano were here and writing this article, he probably wouldn’t waste time coming up with a clever title or theme for it. He probably wouldn’t sit in front of a blank computer screen for days, toiling over how to write it from a unique perspective or give it a good “hook.” He probably wouldn’t worry about who the audience is and how to attempt to give them something they’ve never read before. He wouldn’t worry about if readers would make it through the entire article or not before flipping the page. In fact … he probably wouldn’t worry at all, because in skateboarding, at 11 years old—or any age for that matter—what’s really to worry about?
Instead, Johnny would most likely get right to the point and give you a recap of his experience at the 13th annual Make-A-Wish skate jam at Southside skatepark in Houston, Texas. He’d probably talk about how eager he was during the days leading up to the event, knowing that many of his favorite pros, supporters and friends from all over the country would be rolling into town and that he’d be able to skate around with them.
He’d probably tell you about all the autograph signings from Adio, Black Box, DLX, Sole Technology and World Industries, as well as seeing and meeting some of the biggest name pros in skateboarding. Guys like Andrew Reynolds, Ryan Sheckler, Dennis Busenitz, Steve Berra, Chris Cole, Sean Malto, Kenny Anderson and Jamie Thomas—all in one place to raise money and awareness— and all in the name of skateboarding.
He’d probably gush about the impromptu game of SKATE between Billy Marks and Cole. He’d probably tell you that Luis Tolentino won the overall Destroyer award, Ben Hatchell blew minds and won the bowl jam, James Hardy won the drop ledge jam and Chris Cole won the tech center jam. With that, he’d probably make extra mention of Chris Cole’s frontside 270 to frontside noseslide on the ledge, which, safe to say, no one’s ever seen done before.
Johnny would then probably mention Brian Schaefer and Ryan Clements sporting some steezy Stetsons, how he sunk Anthony Schultz’s girlfriend in the Spitfire dunk tank, collected lots of free stickers and shwag from all the sponsors and ate lots of hot dogs and Fritos. He’d also have lots of great things to say about the premieres of Slave’s Radio-Television and Zero’s Strange World videos.
To conclude, Johnny would thank everyone involved. South Side, South Shore, Make-A-Wish, SPoT, all the skate companies, pros ams, media, friends, family, spectators—everyone—for coming and uniting and helping and sharing a little bit of themselves for a greater good. And even if that greater good hadn’t been him at one time … Johnny would be supportive and thankful just the same … because that’s what real skateboarders do—they circle their wagons and look out of their own.
1. Ben Hatchell
2. Tony Cervantes
3. Raney Beres
1. James Hardy
2. Davis Torgerson
3. Andrew Pott
1. Chris Cole
2. Daniel Espinoza
3. Joey Brezinski
March 2, 2010
3 Minutes With Tyler Bledsoe
etnies.com, Jan 2010
Top three places to eat in Portland:
1. Taste Tickler
3. Cadillac Cafe
Top three best cheeseburgers:
2. The Habit
Top three reasons to not leave Portland:
Top three things to do when it rains/snows:
1. Department of Skateboarding
3. Call of Duty
Top three Burnside rippers:
1. Mike chin
3. Brent Atchley
Top three reasons to visit California:
2. The beach
Top three other cities to tour:
2. New York
Top three tour roomies:
1. Oliver Barton
3. Lucas Puig
Top three Alien graphics:
1. Any OG graphic
Top three Alien Videos:
3. Memory Screen
Top three Alien riders of all time:
1. Lennie Kirk
2. Jason Dill
3. Heath Kirchart
Top three Portland skaters:
1. Matt Beach
2. Mike Chin
3. Craig McKendry
Top three etnies shoes:
1. The Portland
2. The Portland
3. The Portland
Top three favorite tricks to do:
3. Frontside flip
Three skaters with a good hurricane grind:
1. Brian Anderson
2. Mike Carroll
3. Kenny Anderson
Top three favorite videos:
Top three favorite skaters of all time:
1. Guy Mariano
2. Gino Iannucci
3. Andrew Reynolds
Top three bands:
1. Pink Floyd
2. Jimi Hendrix
3. Rolling stones
Top three movies:
2. A Clockwork Orange
3. Dumb and Dumber
Three favorite non-skate pastimes:
2. Call of Duty
Top three things you are afraid of:
Top three books:
1. Mr. Nice
2. Any Hunter S. Thompson
Top three things you could be doing instead of this:
January 25, 2010
Year's Best Am 2009: Tyler Bledsoe
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, March 2010
Ask anyone who knows Tyler Bledsoe and they’ll tell you that on the rare occasions he actually does speak, it’s usually the funniest, most epic utterance of the day. They’ll also tell you how gifted of a skateboarder he is… which is no bullshit. In fact, despite it’s complimentary nature, is still probably an understatement.
Tyler is a simple young lad who is wise beyond his years… both in life and in skateboarding, which is something that could serve us all a little better, should we be able to achieve such an enlightened state of being. Since we have him being a little chatty for once, lets just get to it, shall we? Ladies and gentleman, we present to you, The Skateboard Mag’s 2009 Year’s Best Am… Mr. Tyler Bledsoe.
Tyler! Whatcha doing?
I’m just chilling at home… a little sick.
No, not yet.
Do you get bummed during winter?
I used to. But I appreciate the wintertime now because I was in California for so long and they don’t have seasons. I like the rain now.
How does it feel to be Year’s Best Am?
It’s kind of a surprise. I didn’t even know I was in the running for it. You just randomly told me. I thought you were joking. I’m stoked.
I heard you have your own place now.
I just moved in this month. It’s cool. I’ve lived on my own pretty much for the last three years… just being on trips and stuff, so it wasn’t that big of a change. I’m still pretty close to home and go there all the time.
When you need food or something?
Yeah. Cleaning supplies and all that.
“Hey mom! I’m hungry.”
Call her ahead of time to get dinner cooking.
Does having your own apartment trigger the OCD at all?
When I leave it kinda freaks me out. I’m afraid something’s gonna happen and my place will catch on fire. That’s the thing that triggers the OCD.
So when I see you pull the hotel room door closed five extra times… that gives you the comfort that a disaster wont happen?
Yeah, exactly. I don’t get all paranoid if I do it five times. I’ve actually overcome it a little bit. But it was pretty gnarly for a while.
What were the worst things you did?
Just checking everything before I leave… the sink, the locks, the light switches… everything.
I’ve been there. But as I got less stressed about things it started disappearing. Also being busier and not having so much free time…
Yeah, that actually happened with me. ‘Cause I would have to leave somewhere and I couldn’t spend 10 or 15 minutes checking the shit so I’d have to learn to block it out.
What’s your favorite thing about your new apartment?
Just being able to be lazy and not do anything.
Watching Curb Your Enthusiasm…
Yeah. Pretty much 24/7.
What’s your favorite episode?
This one called “The Carpool Lane.” Larry David smokes weed with his dad and a hooker. It’s pretty epic.
While driving in the carpool lane?
He picks up this prostitute so he can use the carpool lane on his way to a baseball game then ends up buying weed for his dad for his glaucoma or something… then he bugs out.
Do you have any new YouTube videos to recommend?
I’ve been watching a lot of faceplant montages. Those are always pretty entertaining.
I heard you were vegetarian for a while?
I was never a vegetarian. I’ve always been down for meat.
Most people have all these harsh rumors going around about them… but the one about you is that you used to be a vegetarian.
I haven’t really heard anything too crazy about me. I’m sure it’s coming though.
Why you don’t like swimming?
Ever since I was young I didn’t really like water. I’m down for hot tubs but not swimming or jumping off cliffs. I was a good swimmer, but I just don’t go into the water.
I’ve lived next to the ocean for three years and I’ve never been in it. I just don’t think it’s necessary. I just sit there and look at it.
Yeah. I’d rather just chill on the beach. Of all the times I’ve been to California I’ve never been in the ocean.
I heard you and Lucas room together on Fourstar tours and play SKATE a lot. What trick can you always get him with?
He has pretty much every trick. I think the inward heels are his weakness. That one gets a lot of people though.
What changed for you after Mind Field? Are people recognizing you more?
That was the first real video I’ve had a full part in. It was a pretty big change… a little overwhelming and weird. Everyone knew who I was almost overnight. But I think it’s a good thing.
What are some of the advantages of you being “the quiet guy?”
You don’t have to talk to as many people. It’s more entertaining to just observe.
Do you just sit back and watch all of us loud people run our mouths and act like total assholes?
Yeah. That’s the whole point. It’s like watching a TV show.
The real Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Exactly. Also, people listen to you more if you’re quiet and all of a sudden you say something. Most people talk and it goes in one ear and out the other.
Wasn’t there a phase where you almost got booted off Alien?
Yeah. There was a weird period where I almost got kicked off of everyone because I was up in Oregon and didn’t really know what I was doing. I hadn’t really had any coverage and Alien didn’t know what I was doing up here.
So you got a call from someone telling you you’re blowing it?
Yeah, I got a warning. Like a six-month trial period…
That’s kind of cool. Instead of just getting cut.
Yeah it was good ‘cause it got me motivated. I was like, “Shit, I need to do get to Cali again and do something.” It all worked out in the end.
What’s the secret to holding a hurricane grind for so long? The people wanna know.
Haha. I think you just pretend it’s a feeble grind and hold it as long as you can… except you’re going backwards.
Two months from now everyone will be able to hurricane 50 feet.
That’d be sick!
I’ve seen you compared to Guy Mariano a few times. Perhaps the way you guys skate ledges or something?
He was a pretty big inspiration for me. One of my favorite all-time skaters, so I kinda relate to his skating I guess.
When was your last big meltdown?
About two weeks ago.
There was a week where I couldn’t land anything. I think I freaked out every day. It was kind of a big blur. I tried to block it out of my head. I was cursed.
I’ve seen you battle for a trick, melt down, land it perfect then sneak away into he van and still be bummed.
Well, just because I land it doesn’t mean I’m not still pissed that it took so long. Or if it’s something that I can usually do easily and it takes me two hours I’ll be pissed even if I do land it.
What bums you out about the skate industry?
All the gossip and shit. It gets kind of old. That’s what’s nice about being up here. I never hear anything about the industry up here. If I do it’s like a month and a half late.
I remember being a kid who couldn’t get enough skate gossip. Now when I don’t hear it until two months later I’m kind of proud.
Yeah, that’s how I was. I would check all the skate sites and videos when I was younger… now I could really care less.
Do you think that’s better for your skating creatively? All those influences or standards or “rules” are absent from your mentality… No barriers.
That’s exactly what it is. If you watch skating all the time and know the tricks everyone is doing, you’re gonna start doing those tricks too. Or you’re gonna copy what’s happening. But if you don’t watch, you don’t know what’s going on and you’re just gonna try and think up your own shit to do.
Otherwise you just end up doing impossibles and crails.
Yeah, and turn that into the next hot shit.
How about your fake ID mishap?
That wasn’t one of my finer moments in life. We went to some random street in L.A. and you just go up to these sketchy dudes. We didn’t even get out of the car… they just came up to us like, “Fake IDs? Fake IDs?”
I was like, “Shit. That was easy!” I put down all my info. But I was nervous, ‘cuz it was sketchy and I fucked up on the date. It said I was 20, not 21. I got another one made but it cost another 60 bucks. But I could’ve had a fake 21st birthday if I wanted with the 20-year-old ID though. That was the only good thing.
How about when you puked spaghetti and meatballs all over the tour van in Tampa? That’s my favorite Tyler night.
I ruined my Ninja Turtles shirt that night.
You threw it in the bushes. I kinda wanted to save it for you, but it was covered in…
I got too much puke on it. It’s okay. It was worth it for a good story.
About 20 people told me I wouldn’t get a word out of you for this interview.
I think I’m getting better at interviews. Plus, I’m sipping on a White Russian so I think it’s helping. Yesterday I had a White Russian and watched The Big Lebowski.
You have the life! This interview makes me wanna move to Portland.
Yeah, I’m just trying to keep it pinnacle right now.
The cover shot:
"Letter from the editor" portrait:
January 25, 2010
Festivus: Tampa Am ‘09
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, March 2010
This year’s Tampa Am contest may have been the most incredible Tampa Am ever … seriously. “Why?” you ask. Well duh! Obviously because all sorts of history was made!
As you all know, Luan Oliveira won. And that makes him the first person to ever win Tampa Am twice! History in the making! You should be excited. One might assume that after two Tampa Am wins, he won’t be am too much longer, eh? Or maybe he’ll win next year as well! Three-peat history! Luan beautifully flipped his board really fast and high and spun around a lot. That kid sure has one hell of a pre-trick windup. Hit pause next time you are watching his footage and check it out.
You know what else? More history was made when Ben Hatchell took second. Yes, indeed, Ben is the first person to ever get second place at Tampa Am twice! Insane! Furthermore, not since Daewon has someone exerted so much authority over the blunt kickflip out. And Ben’s cab flips … fuggitaboutit!
This year, for the first time in history, there was a high ollie contest at Tampa Am. Luis Tolentino made history by tying the history-making high ollie world record of 44.5 inches set by Danny Wainwright in February of 2000. Whoa … that record is ten years old and no one’s beaten it yet? That’s historic in itself! Possibly even sadly historic. Can someone just do it already? Beating his record would mean more history could be made! And we all like making history, don’t we? Lots of history. Historical amounts of history.
Alongside high ollie record-matching history also came high jinx history. You see … there’s this guy, Stalker Steve. He’s a local down in Tampa and shoots photos. One can only imagine why his name is “Stalker Steve,” but that’s beside the point. Anyway, a challenge was posed to him—the challenge to jump, on foot, over the high-ollie bar at 44.5 inches.
Steve accepted, crowds gathered, chants began, and Steve approached the bar at a speed not unlike that of a 101-year-old Galapagos Island giant tortoise and ultimately achieved a vertical leap of approximately 1.6 inches as he crashed through the ollie bar. It didn’t appear Steve put much effort into his attempt, but I think he did, and that’s what made it amazing. Hats off to you, Stalker Steve, for allowing us to laugh with you. Lord knows we all need a good guffaw or two these days.
Could anything possibly trump the aforementioned history made by Luan, Ben, Luis and Steve? Well, how about local Skatepark of Tampa femme fatale, Sierra, having a historic increase in size to a certain area of her anatomy? Now that’s some history that we can all enjoy. In fact, let’s just go ahead and shut this one down by awarding Sierra and her new boobs “the most important historic event of the Tampa Am ’09 weekend” award.
January 21, 2010
Mike Anderson: Behind the Ad
Words: Rob Brink
esfootwear.com, March 2010
Was this a spontaneous session or did you plan this spot and trick?
I wanted to skate the pool but I didn't know I was gonna do feebles.
Where do front feebles fall in your hierarchy of favorite tricks?
They’re fun sometimes.
Where’s this spot?
My friend Squeak’s house.
What’s the 7-10-1975 stand for?
That’s Art’s pool. Squeak’s uncle. 7-10-1975. RIP.
How come you didn’t shoot a fakie thruster for the ad?
My knees couldn’t get stylish enough.
Are big-cuffed jeans back in style or were they just too long for your legs?
Are they in style again? Awesome! Woooo Hooooooo!
You have a Krooked Square One colorway now. Tell us about that.
éS asked me to do a colorway and I was really stoked! Really wanted that Krooked logo on it. RIP Van Wastell.
How about the custom insoles and photos?
At the time, I was spending a lot of time with my friends in my garage after Van passed. Just had a lot of good memories together. The other insole is just random funny and cool photos of Van.
So when’s the baby due?
According to the baby tracker, how big is she now?
Says she’s as big as a head of lettuce (18 in, 3.2 lbs)
Tell us the story of going to Paris. It’s kinda romantic. Skateboarding needs more romance I think. You and Daisy can start a revolution.
A romance revolution? Well, I was in Europe on The Great éScape tour for a few weeks before Daisy flew out. She a 4D ultrasound while I was gone, so we decided to have the doctor write down the sex of the baby and seal it in an envelope so we’d open it in Paris together. We planned to open it under the Eiffel Tower, but were too anxious and did it right when we got to the hotel. It’s a girl!
How has the journey to fatherhood changed you?
I’m trying to learn how to be a better man. I want to raise my daughter to be a good person. I definitely try to think twice before I do stupid shit now. I’m really excited. I’m sure I’ll have a better answer for you in a couple months.
What’s been the best part?
What’s been the hardest or scariest part?
She doesn't like daddy.
Are you bitter at Nieratko at all for getting your girl pregnant?
Stoked he convinced me to not wear condoms... yes. Bitter? No.
Does he get visitation rights?
Just saw him today. His baby boy isn't allowed near my daughter!
Any plans to get married?
Very personal questions, huh?
Have you practiced changing diapers yet?
I changed my little brother and nephew’s diapers a bit.
Are you working on any interviews or video projects at the moment?
Skateboarder interview just dropped and I think I’m filming for an éS video.
Any talk of going pro? It’s gotta be coming soon, no?
I’m actually not sure.
Who are your favorite skaters at the moment?
Jake, Justin and Aaron.
What’s the best thing about riding for Krooked?
What’s your favorite thing about the Gonz?
Favorite YouTube video of the moment?
“Stop betraying me!” And Aaron Loreth.
New Years resolutions for 2010?
To make it to 2011.