October 28, 2010
Festivus: Street League
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2010
It’s a little surreal finding yourself sitting in an arena full of screaming kids, watching some of the most amazing skateboarders on the planet going berserk on a custom-made street plaza and competing against one another for their share of millions of dollars … really.
Ask anyone who was at Street League—a pro, an industry dude or a fan in the upper level who’s been skating for half his life—they’ll share the sentiment, because none of us (people who’ve grown up with skateboarding) ever expected to be in this position.
No matter how popular, rich or mainstream skateboarding gets—or how much we should be used to it by now—skateboarding always feels like a small little bubble for the lifers.
There’s always going to be something a little “black sheep” about being a skateboarder, despite how much Target or Toyota tries to get their hands in the till. We didn’t start skating so we could get a reality show and a Bentley.
Our shit is grounded.
The cool thing about Street League though, is that it’s OUR thing. I’m confident not too many skateboarders have an issue with Rob Dyrdek representing them and hosting a contest series. And if you do, then could you please propose a current and more favorable option? A sports network? A soda company? C’mon dude. If Rob is running a contest instead of those kooks, you gotta be at least a little bit thankful.
While the Street League hype was building, many of us heard Rob talking about how the format and scoring system would “keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last minute,” which is probably something most die-hard skateboarders would have trouble accepting … that is, until you witness the last few minutes of a Street League event and you are sitting there screaming, with an arena full of kids, watching some of the most amazing skateboarders on the planet going berserk and competing against one another for their share of millions of dollars.
Did you see the finals in Arizona? Cole vs. Nyjah vs. Malto vs. Pudwill vs. Nugget? Those dudes got gnarly, culminating in a long-overdue win for Nyjah.
Did you see Chaz miss a $150,000 crooked grind in Ontario? Or, to take a more “glass-half-full” approach—did you see Malto’s $150,000 backside overkrook in Ontario? Pretty exhilarating.
As for Vegas, well, Shane O’Neill is the man and what isn’t memorable about anything in Vegas?
Obviously, being out on the streets watching someone like Brandon Westgate or Dennis Busenitz do their thing is equally, if not more raw and exciting than a contest. But, love ‘em or hate ‘em you have to accept that skateboarding has many co-existing realms to it and big money contests are now one of ‘em.
So why not make each realm as bat shit crazy and thrilling as the next? If we can elevate every aspect of skateboarding to the level of the Pro Tec Pool Party, Dylan’s Gravis part or the last few minutes of every Street League event, our little bubble will be an even better place to live in.
October 13, 2010
New Jack: Justin Figueroa
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2010
Interview conducted March 4, 2010
“They say there's gold but I'm lookin’ for thrills”—a lyric from Pink Floyd’s “The Gold It's In The … ” is tattooed across Justin Figueroa’s forearm. Fitting, considering he’s declined offers from companies in order to be where he wants to be, rather than skating for the company that pays the most. Admirable indeed. But when you’re hand-picked by Andrew Reynolds to be a part of Baker, Emerica and Altamont, like Figgy was—you’re more than admirable—you’re downright golden.
Figgy isn’t the kid that knows he’s golden though. And that’s what makes him amazing. For example, if you were to say to him, “Hey Figgy, you’re amazing!” He’d smile really big and respond with something like, “No way fool, you are!” Then go back to figuring out how he’s going to break into his car because he locked his keys inside it … again.
You have some epic classical music for your ringback tone …
That shit’s whack. Fuck that. It’s someone else's phone. My phone … I went into the ocean with it. Yeah, I fucking blew it.
You forgot it was in your pocket?
I just walked in there.
Keeping your cell phone in your pocket kills your sperm and gives you ball cancer.
Shut the fuck up. I’m gonna put my shit on a necklace.
You’ll probably get chest cancer.
We should just delete them from our lives. It’ll save us all some stress.
How about all this earthquake drama lately?
Dude, we’re all finished. It’s happening. Who does all those predictions?
I remember hearing all that shit he predicted back in the day.
I read that the earthquake in Chile shifted the Earth’s axis and now the days are shorter by a micro-second.
So we’re just our way to a horrible fate?
Exactly. If a tsunami hit Orange County, would you be safe in Irvine?
Dude, I’d probably be the first one to die. I have shitty luck. I’ll probably just fucking hang on to a palm tree. Hold on for dear life.
You still working on the Emerica video?
Hell yeah. It’s been long and torturous but it’s coming along.
Are you nervous?
Fuck yeah. I just hope I get everything I wanna do.
Is it more about you being happy with your part or that the team and the kids out there are stoked?
I wanna do what I wanna do. I dunno if everyone else is gonna like it. Fuck it.
Slash picks on you on tour, huh?
Everyone does. I’m just that fucking cool I guess. I get everyone’s attention.
If you had to be stranded on an island with one of your crew, who would it be?
Fucking Jon Dixon and some Jack Daniels.
I hear he’s the hero of your crew.
He ain’t no fucking hero!
Everyone looks up to him. Admit it.
He’s better than anyone out there right now—in more ways than one. He came on the last Baker/Deathwish trip and fucking killed it. He’s so gnarly. People don’t even know.
If you could hang with any person who’s passed away, who would it be?
Shane [Cross]. I seen his sister over at David Gonzalez’s house and we drank and played guitar all night. There are pictures of Shane everywhere. That shit is heavy.
I hear you guys have a good time over there.
Hell yeah man! We both have Gibson SGs. I bring my amp over there and we just play all night.
Do you guys give each other black eyes?
That’s fucking gay.
What’s this I hear about piss drinking
That’s some Colombian shit …
You lock your keys in your car a lot don’t you?
I’m blowing it all over the place. My shit is whack right now. I gotta get my shit together.
You used all your 2010 Triple A visits already and it’s only March?
Pretty much. I shouldn’t be allowed to have a car and responsibilities. I’m gonna blow it.
Why do you blow it? Are you just excited and distracted?
Too much fun goes down when you’re skating and shit. But I’m not holding back. I don’t really give a fuck.
Are you a bad driver?
It’s hard to say. No. I was doing good for a couple years but I got in a crash recently. Ran a red and got T-boned. It wasn’t too serious.
So that one was your fault?
Dude, I was just mashing it. We were on our way to a Pink Floyd show and I was right by my house and I didn’t know if my shit was green or red.
Statistically speaking, most accidents happen within one mile of the home.
Yeah, someone told me that right after it happened. It’s true!
What song you were listening to when you crashed?
Dude, I was probably looking around for my iPod.
Did skating all those flatbars in your driveway that your dad built you as a kid shape the way you skate now?
Hell yeah. All I had was flatbars. I didn’t know what else to do. I can skate a rail. Everything else is way harder.
How does your body feel?
My body feels jacked right now. I feel 80 years old. I’m too tall and my back is fucked.
You’re gonna have to start skating tranny to keep yourself out of a wheelchair.
I know! I was just down at the etnies park like four days in a row skating those bowls with my fucking G.I. Joe helmet on.
You looked good in it. What happened to your glasses?
I just got over it because it’s another responsibility to remember.
Keys, a phone and glasses. That’s way too much to handle.
Dude. Holy shit.
Who do you think is the best dude on a skateboard right now?
Probably Jon Dixon. Without question, Reynolds has been better than everyone and is still better than everyone. He is gonna have the absolute best part and blow everyone’s mind. Peter Ramondetta won a contest in SF the other day and that was fucking gnarly. Those are my three right now.
What would you say is the gnarliest thing you’ve seen done on a skateboard?
I don’t wanna blow the last trick in the Emerica video, but let’s just say “the last trick in the Emerica video.”
I heard you’ve been getting into tattoos.
I just got two new ones last week. I got one of the flying bats from Wizard of Oz on my arm, and on my other arm I got this goblin guy hanging off the 13th floor of an elevator shaft. Hyped.
You have a Goofy tattoo?
Yeah, on my leg. It’s just high jinx shit. It’s funny.
What do you think there’s not enough of in skateboarding?
I dunno. Pro hos?
Who is underrated right now?
Daniel Lutheran. He’s flow for Toy Machine. That fool is about to come-up.
How about your “unknown skater” web footage?
That was when I rode for Powell. Deville was hooking me up with mad shit and I wanted to ride for Birdhouse. I just let him know, like, “Hey man, I can’t go on with this, I have other opportunities and thanks for everything.” You know?
So he threw all the footy that I’d gotten with him over a year and a half on YouTube and a bunch of websites—with no name on it—nothing. I was just a little kid and he was talking shit to me—getting payback because I left.
When something like that happens and you’re so young, how does it affect your view of the skateboarding industry?
It’s like trial and error. I learned how people can be about certain stuff. Everyone’s different and every company is different. I was just trying to hang out with my friends and be on Birdhouse and he was a complete asshole about it. He definitely helped me out with a lot of shit and I thank him for that, but he totally tried to make a little kid cry. We’re cool now, though. Everyone’s grown up and shit.
I couldn’t find that clip, but it’s got the 21 stair nosegrind, right?
Yeah, it was mad hammer spots.
El Toro is 20, right? Do you think it would have been easier to nosegrind that?
No way. That 21 has bushes on the side and wood at the bottom. It’s not as gnarly as El Toro.
While you were a kid skating in your driveway, did you ever think all this would happen?
Dude, hell no. I feel like it’s all being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. I’m completely shocked now that we’re talking about it. It’s crazy. Cannot believe it. So hyped.
What are you up to for the rest of the day?
I’m gonna kick it and play my guitar.
I hear you’ve got Sabbath songs on lock.
Dude, I fucking try. In my room all day and all night. So fun.
Who’s your favorite guitar player?
Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath. Truly. He’s the best because all the other rock ‘n roll bands just copied their shit. He fucking created it all. He
Wasn’t he missing some fingers?
Yeah. A couple of the ends of his fingers are missing. I don’t know what happened exactly but he used to put metal caps over his fingers and a lot of their sound is from those metal caps.
That’s all I got. Over it yet?
Sounds good dude, I’m psyched! Don’t make me look too fried.
Don’t worry, nobody wants a genius skateboarder.
Yeah, exactly. That’s boring as hell.
Okay I’ll let you get back to Irvine now.
Irvine. Fuck Irvine.
October 13, 2010
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, November 2010
In 2001, Glen Coy was a senior in high school when he and a couple friends decided to open a skate shop.
“For some reason, my family went along with it and gave me a huge loan. I don’t know what they were thinking,” Coy jokes.
Almost a decade later, Coy and staff are strictly skate and still holding it down at Epidemic. They spent their first year in a small 600-square-foot spot in Cathedral City, California, then upgraded to a 4000 square foot location in the center of town a year later.
“It was so crazy looking at that much empty space and thinking we could fill it up with product. Now we’ve practically outgrown it again,” says Coy.
“When we opened I had no future plans,” Coy continues, “I had to take things into my own hands and make shit happen. We’ve realized that most of the kids around us are in the same situation. We always listen to them and try to give them the opportunity to make their lives better and get things going. We just wanna give our employees and riders the chance to do as much with the shop as they want.”
According to Coy, the Cathedral City skate scene is doing well at the moment and there’s a really strong skateboard community thanks to the Palm Springs Skatepark.
“We have the best kids from the area on our team,” Coy says. “But the park is only open from 3-8 pm on weekdays, which is a bummer because it limits us with doing special events. The city is really tough to work with but we’ve done a couple best trick contests there with over 500 kids at each one—some of the best nights ever.”
Epidemic is currently working on a new shop video that will be released for their 10-year anniversary and hosts an annual camping trip to the local mountains with Emerica.
“We invite anyone that wants to follow us to come camping and skate the local park for the weekend,” says Coy.
The 110-degree summers are tough for Epidemic’s business, but what compensates is the fact that Cathedral City turns into a tourist trap snow/ski resort in the fall, winter and spring.
“We try to only carry product were proud of—and a wide range of it so every person that walks thru the door can find something,” Coy explains. “Skate retail in California is so tough. There’s a shop on pretty much every corner and no one our age has seen tougher times than right now. You just gotta be smart and run a tight ship. Everyone that works and rides for Epidemic has grown up around it and made it what it is today. It’s such a huge part of all our lives. Customers love walking in to the store and seeing people they know working and know they can get the best service.”
Unlike many shop owners, Coy’s goal for ten years from now isn’t necessarily to open a bunch more shops. In fact, he’s thankful to just have one.
“I’d love to help the local kids live the dream of opening their own stores, Coy says. I guess that’s my main goal.”
68802 Ramon Road
Cathedral City, CA 92234
September 3, 2010
New Jack: Ben Hatchell
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, October 2010
Interview conducted October 2009
After surveying many powerful and important people in the skateboarding industry, the general consensus is that Ben Hatchell’s part in Powell’s 2009 release, Fun, is officially awesome and ridiculous.
In 2008, Ben won Tampa Am Vert and placed second in Street. In the last two street-centric decades of skateboarding, that’s not something many up-and-comers like himself (or even pros) have accomplished. In 2009 Ben won the Make-A –Wish bowl contest. Early this year he placed second in Tampa Am Street … again.
He will cab flip a pyramid nearly every try and never misses blunt kickflips out. Pretty enviable, kinda like Ben’s newly-acquired spot on the Zero team is.
"Ben's in his own world, he doesn't get caught with who's done what and what's cool like most people in his position. He just simply wants to skate with his friends in Virginia, which is admirable. I've never seen anyone be so mellow, yet so gnarly. I just hope his body can hold up to the carnage he has in store for it."
So Ben, I hear you didn’t even know you had an interview coming.
I don’t have a "New Jack" do I?
You do actually.
Really? Shit! That’s awesome. I probably should’ve known that.
You get super bummed if people mistake you for being from West Virginia, huh?
Yeah, I mean, I’m not trying to talk major shit on West Virginia, but if you’re from Virginia you know it’s just redneck territory over there. Inbreeds and stuff … so you probably shouldn’t go down there.
Do you know that Virginia is considered the Internet capital of the world?
Really? I had no idea.
Do you know what the official beverage of the state of Virginia is?
Really? That’s weird.
Do you drink a lot of milk?
Not really, I probably should though.
Do you know what the state bird of Virginia is?
I’d have to guess the Cardinal.
You’re right! Where did you get your nickname?
Oh man. Big Black Benjamins? I used to try to act hood and it just kind of stuck.
I think a lot of white people went through that phase. Does skating vert enhance your street skating?
For sure. Whenever you skate ramps you have to be more in control because you’re going so fast.
In 2008, you won Tampa Am vert. If you were to enter that same vert contest today, would you win?
I haven’t ridden vert in a while. I’m probably rusty. The closest ramp is like three and a half hours from me.
You and Powell broke up not too long ago …
I guess. I was talking to a few different people who were throwing offers my way and told Powell about it and they weren’t too psyched, so they let me go. I wasn’t repping the brand as hard as I should. I’m still friends with all those dudes though.
I heard you were at Woodward doing pressure flip melons down a triple set when they first hooked you up.
Yeah, I used to do some circus tricks. But then Deville (Powell TM) told me I wasn’t allowed to do those anymore.
Could you still throw one down if you needed to?
Probably. I’ve been doing them forever.
And so how did Zero come about?
After the Powell thing ended, Deville and Jared (Bones Wheels TM) sent some of my footage to Jamie Thomas and he started flowing me some boards. I don’t know if I’m officially on yet, but I’m working on a part for the next video and I’ve been going on trips. It’s pretty cool.
Is it true you didn’t really grow up watching many skate videos or reading mags?
Yeah. Deville would sit me down to school me with a bunch of skate videos and I thought they were crazy.
He gave you a bunch of homework to do?
Yeah, I guess.
If you’re not watching videos or reading mags and websites like most kids, how do you learn about skateboarding?
I guess it came from my friends. I hung around a whole bunch of kids that were really good. Eventually I watched all the videos and just had a better idea of what I should be doing.
Do you think not knowing what’s out there had a positive effect on your skating? Maybe you weren’t limited or inhibited by knowing what’s supposedly “cool” or not “cool”?
Maybe it made me skate a little differently, but if I didn’t watch skate videos and learn a bit, I’d probably still be doing pressure flip melons.
Good point. What’s your favorite YouTube video of the moment?
“Scarlet takes a tumble” is pretty funny.
Is that the one with the fat chick dancing on the table?
Yeah, that huge chick is singing the song and all of a sudden she put’s her foot on the edge of the table and it flips over and she eats shit.
Just floundering around on the ground moaning … that’s a good one.
How about the time you were out in Cali and woke up to a hundred missed calls from your girlfriend?
Oh man. Long story. I was dating this girl and we were having some problems and she blew my phone up one morning. 117 missed calls. Then, the following day, and I have no idea how this happened, but I had 117 missed calls again. I dunno if she picked that number specifically or something. It was weird.
117 calls two days in a row? Is she psycho?
No, we were in a fight. She was super pissed and trying to break up or something.
And you have a thing for Hannah Montana?
Yeah. She’s hot.
Is that why your girl was jealous and called you 234 times?
I guess. Sometimes I’d get mad at her and tell her Hannah Montana is hot and she’d get kinda bummed.
Do you like Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus better?
Um … they’re both hot, but I think she might be hotter when she’s Hannah. I’m kind of into blondes. What do you think?
I think I’ve only seen her as Miley Cyrus but she’s cute for sure. Maybe I should Google it right now.
You probably should. She looks good as a brunette. But the blonde is hot and she looks good with a bunch of makeup.
Okay I see her now. I think she’s hotter as a blonde, but cuter as a brunette.
Yeah, I could see that. She’s a lot more wholesome as a brunette.
And you were in a movie with her?
Yeah. There was a weekend where they were trying to film a vert scene on the Santa Monica pier. They were trying to get Andy Mac to do it but all the pro vert guys were at some Dew Tour that weekend and they called me as a backup.
Were you psyched?
Yeah, at first when they called I was like, “Oh these guys are trying to make fun of me for liking Hannah Montana.” But they were actually serious about me doing the movie. It was pretty cool. They paid me for it and I get residuals off it too.
Nice. And you were in the same makeup room as her?
Where are you getting all this info?
It’s my job to know these things before I talk to you.
Yeah. I was getting my makeup done and her and the cast from the TV show were in there.
So did you chill with her or anything?
She was like, “Hey how are you doing?” And I was like, “I’m good, how are you?”
Amazing. Is she as pretty in person as she is on TV?
I actually think she’s prettier in person. She’s hot.
So for the smith grind ender of your Powell part, you could’ve moved that garbage can at the bottom of the rail but you chose to leave it there?
Yeah, I was about to move it and then I was thought to myself, “Nah, don’t do it.”
That’s pretty raw. What’s something that bums you out about the skateboarding industry?
That everyone thinks you have to live in California to make it. I’ve heard that from almost everyone I’ve talked to.
There are so many dudes that don’t though. Malto, Zered, Kerry, Westgate …
Yeah, but everyone I’ve talked to says you have to either live in California or stay with friends out there.
It’s definitely harder, but I’ve seen people do it. Just gotta keep killing it and put your time in out here. I’m out of questions, what else you got for me?
Lemme think … I’m chillin' with my friend Doug right now, he’s trying to get me to go skating somewhere.
Put him on the phone.
Is Ben a slob or a scumbag or anything like that? Does he shower?
Nah. He’s super picky about showering. As soon as he finishes skating he goes and takes a shower. He doesn’t like to stink.
You never know when you’re gonna run into Hannah Montana, right?
Ya. You never know man. That’s his girl.
So what’s something about skateboarding that makes you the happiest?
It’s just what I love to do. I just go out and do it.
August 3, 2010
Pro-Tec Pool Party 2009
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, September 2010
You know how sometimes you listen to a song that you’ve liked for years but for some reason, on that given day it sounds and feels better than ever and you play it for hours?
You know that feeling of excitement leading up to something you’ve been counting down the days for? Whether it’s a holiday weekend or a night with friends, you simply can’t wait for it to get underway as you head out the door.
You know what its like to get all cheery inside when you look at photos of old friends, family and good times and wish you had it all back?
You know that semi-orgasmic release caused by punching a wall or screaming or beating the piss out of your skateboard when you can’t land a trick?
You know that feeling of being in a plane and the gnarly turbulence begins and you clench the armrests and seriously think you’re going to die but then it all smoothes out and the adrenaline and fear leaves you feeling like you’ve been electrocuted?
You know that thing that causes you to involuntarily jump out of your seat when your favorite team or player scores the winning goal with only seconds on the clock?
You know that feeling when the lights go on at a concert or club and you were having such an amazing time that you don’t want it to be the end of the night?
Well combine all that, multiplied by thousand or so people feeling the same way, in one big warehouse with a Combi pool and the entire living legacy of pool skateboarding gettin’ buck because they waited for this moment all year—and you have what’s known as the Pro Tec Pool Party.
What you need to know is that Cab, dressed in all yellow and completely on fire, dethroned five-time Pool Party champ, Chris Miller, who is still ripping as hard as ever. Bucky Lasek repeated his win combining old, new and everything in between. Dude is real good. Jeff Grosso was in the zone all day, culminating in a record-breaking, face-melting 28-block boardslide.
Ben Raybourn went padless and apeshit. Lincoln went high. Duane Peters went to hell and back and stayed on his board the entire time. Red went out of the bowl and into the crowd. Alex Perelson went silent but deadly, Rune went smooth, Pedro Barros, Nolan Monroe and Josh Rodriguez went young and restless. Fuck man, we aren’t leaving any names out for any reason than it would take all week to recount how insane this day was. Lance Mountain, Omar Hassan, Lester Kasai, Dave Duncan … the list of epicness goes on and on.
The phrase “you had to be there” rings more true for the Pool Party than any event in modern day skateboarding. You haven’t been there yet? And call yourself a skateboarder? Pathetic. If someone were to put together an edit comprised simply of spectator reactions during the day and show it to you, with no skating at all, you’d be begging to get to this thing. Do what it takes to witness the Pool Party at some point in your life and prepare to be annihilated in the best way possible.
August 3, 2010
Storefront: Allied Board Shop
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, September 2010
In the spring of 2006, Crispin Barraza abandoned running Asylum skate shop in Oceanside, California to open Allied Board Shop in nearby Escondido. His goal was simple: To have a down-home skate shop that supports skateboarders, where they could cruise in, chill, watch a video and talk about skateboarding.
Catering to mostly core skateboarders in two locations, one in Escondido and one in cyberspace (alliedboardshop.com), Allied’s “skateboard and shoe walls speak for themselves,” according to Barraza. “We have everyone to beat when it comes to selection and pricing.
“Skateboarders from Escondido a pure street,” Barraza continues, “No fancy skateparks here. We also have really good pools and ditches, but that shit’s kept under wraps. Allied supports the scene the best it can. We have signings and video premieres, but more importantly, we have everyone’s back. If you blow out a bearing or need some hardware, we got you covered.”
So else what separates Allied from the pack? “We’re definitely not down to censor what we carry in the shop,” says Barraza. “Someone might come in and want a board with a baby with a pentagram on its head. And if that’s what they want then they’re gonna get a board with a baby with a pentagram on its head. There are enough people and companies trying to stop us from skating or exploiting us, the last thing you need is your local skate shop doing the same. It’s rad when you set up a customer with exactly what they need and they are happy and shake your hand. That’s respect and that’s why people come back to Allied. I see shop owners that don’t skate and I wonder how the fuck can they look at themselves in the mirror. I would feel like a piece of shit mark. If you can’t relate to your customers then you’ve already lost. The bottom line is, core shops have the biggest influence in skateboarding. We create our own wind and through us educating our customers, we keep the ship sailing straight.”
Barraza’s passion is evident. “When you do something you love you never work a day in your life and I love this shit. Being able to fly the flag of a core skate shop knowing that we are true to skateboarding and going skating with the team or to different events is cool because we’re all fans of skateboarding. And getting to skate with some of the best is an honor.”
No shop would be complete without it’s share of drama and excitement. In Allied’s case, there happens to be an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting hall nearby.
“We are always fighting with those burnouts,” says Barraza. “One time this lady from one of the meetings wanted to try on a pair of shoes. She was all wasted and followed me into the back of the shop. I turned around and she had her top off acting all sexy and shit. That’s one way to earn a discount, I suppose.”
Allied Board Shop
2335 East Valley Parkway Suite F
Escondido, CA 92027
July 6, 2010
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag August 2010
“He's really good for skateboarding, even if skateboarding doesn't know it—everyone loves him,” says Matt Eversole, brand manager of enjoi skateboards.
“He’s like, borderline crazy,” says Jerry Hsu. “Old-fashioned crazy—really quiet … and then he just fucks you up.”
Not much more really needs to be said about Clark Hassler. However, there are volumes to be spoken about him. When asked how he feels about interviews, Clark explained that it’s simply a minuscule sample of how he’s feeling on a given day and at a certain time, that’s captured for a single magazine article. So please don’t think this is the end all-be all of Clark, because, believe us when we tell you, it just barely scratches the surface.
Put bluntly, if Clark doesn’t pique your interest, you might wanna check yourself for an active pulse.
So you’re in Atlanta filming for the new Nike video?
Yeah. There’s gonna be three different videos or something like that. Like, seven dudes per video if you include the foreigners—Wieger and Louis. Just kidding.
We just had an earthquake in Cali.
No way! Daniel Shimizu just had a dream that there was a big-ass earthquake and I’ve been having dreams about the end of the world where I’m trying to find land ‘cuz it’s all water. Chet Childress is here and had some apocalypse dream last night. What the fuck is going on?
You heard about how terrorists can put explosive gel inside breast implants and airport X-ray machines can’t detect it?
No. Holy fuck. I’ll be on a plane tomorrow. Gotta look for those fake tits! Actually, I already do anyway.
Since it’s Easter Sunday, do you adhere to any religious beliefs?
I was never raised religious, but I always looked for Easter eggs. I wanted the candy and liked the hunt. I liked getting the biggest egg. The other kids are jealous and you’re just eating your chocolate, like, “Fuck you. I won.”
Just like the real world. The guy with the nicer car, the bigger house—the biggest Easter egg—wins.
Find the biggest egg. Look under every rock until someone gets lucky.
You had a connection with Rocco growing up?
Yeah, my father and him were homeboys back in grade school. One day Rocco was like, “Bring him by and get some shit.” That was the day 20 Shot Sequence came out. I went to World and got it, a mini and some Duffs. They’ve hooked me up ever since.
enjoi is mostly San Jose dudes but you’re from LA and living in New York. Do you feel at home with them?
Definitely. They’re awesome. I’ve known Matt Eversole since my first enjoi trip, right after Marc Johnson started it. They are my homies.
What’s the scariest thing about living in New York?
The way friends consume narcotics. Just hoping homeboys stay alive and shit.
When did you move there?
I never really made a choice to move there. In 2007 Todd Jordan asked me to come hang out with him in New York for a while, so I lived on his floor for six months and never left. Being there helps my head. Being around people all the time and not being in the car—ever. Just pushing around, skating in traffic so fast—where if you mess up you’re gonna die. The whole vibe is just rad. The people I skate with in New York are my favorite people on Earth and that’s what keeps me there. I like to bike around too. I got a mountain bike from a crackhead for 30 bucks.
Damn, you came up. So did he.
It’s pretty sick. Miami Vice colors—turquoise and orange. I also love hanging out with my friend Jorge. He’ll be in Manhattan but also in Brooklyn at the same time.
How does he do that?
He just has the ability to be everywhere at once.
Speaking of that, what’s this whole “outer space” thing with you? I heard you went through some portal on the way to a titty bar in New Jersey once.
I never tried to do that. A lot of unexplainable stuff just happens, you know?
Totally. Ever see any ghosts?
Yeah, last night. The apartment we’re staying at in Atlanta is haunted. Jason Hernandez was like, “Clark, that door just moved.” I’m sitting there in his room and the fucking door opens and closes again. Twice. Then, later on, I’m lying there and I swear to fucking God something was standing in the door looking at me. Chet’s been sleeping in another room and he says he saw somebody too—a shadow in the hallway.
Are they bad ghosts?
They’re not bad. Not demon-type shit.
They’re just like, hanging out.
They’re just there. When people start talking about ghosts, my eyes start watering up and I get this weird feeling in my body.
After my dad passed away I swear he spoke to me in a dream I had. It was super-real and scary.
Holy shit. I just got that feeling in my body. The night my dad passed away I didn’t know he was already dead. He came to me in my dream and told me he had to go. I was in sixth grade. The next day in school they called me into the office during third period and told me he passed away. I was like, “Holy fuck.”
It seems there’s only certain people these things happen to.
Happens to my mom all the time. I get it from her.
Something like that. My mom is on some other level shit. I’ve never met anybody who’s seen the shit she has. She’s always been like that. It’s insane. She doesn’t do drugs or anything. I was just talking to her tonight. Like, “How the fuck am I supposed to live in this world when none of these people can even understand what the fuck I’m trying to say? They just look at me like I’m crazy ‘cuz I see shit differently.”
I’m not special or nothing, but if anyone heard the stuff we talk about they’d probably put us in a psycho ward.
You pulled a chick at Burger King because she sensed your good vibes?
She didn’t sense my good vibes; she was just a fucking whore.
Oh, well that’s a vibe too. A couple people said they’ve communicated with you for long periods of time without ever talking. Is this a special skill you have?
It just kind of happens. It’s just one of those things.
Not talking for a whole week at someone’s house?
No, I talk. I just think people take shit overboard.
That’s the outer space thing being blown out of proportion again?
Everyone communicates without talking sometimes. But it’s definitely blown out of proportion: “The first time I met you, you didn’t talk for two weeks, dude!” Yeah right, well then where the fuck were you? I fucking talk all day. What is this, some fucking sci-fi movie?
Good because I’ve been wondering if I’m supposed actually interview you or just read your mind.
Oh hell no. That’s a bunch of fucking bullshit.
Get angry, Clark.
I’ll fucking talk your ear off! [Laughs]
What bugs you about the skateboarding industry?
People saying, “Yeah, we’re gonna do this.” And then nothing happens. It’s just like, “Alright, don’t even fucking talk to me if it’s not even gonna fucking happen. I could go on but I don’t want people to get upset.
It’s funny how easily they get upset in skateboarding. What keeps you from just peacing out and throwing it all away?
Not sitting behind a desk. Fuck, I think everybody who skates is about to toss the shit in the garbage. Bunch of fucking bullshit right now.
A bunch of fuckin’ babies.
A bunch of babies who can’t take a fucking joke. All this bullshit. “We’re a company like this.” But when it really comes down to it, you’re not. So quit fronting, you fuck.
People in skateboarding think they’re original but most of ‘em look and skate the same. The real weirdos—the people who don’t play the “game” right get shut out.
It’s true. “We’re soooo progressive but we’re still doing fucking tricks from 1993 on a ledge that’s one inch taller. And we use lots of wax because we’re a bunch of pussy ass fucks.”
Right? We’re doing lipslides on ledges and all these combos but we can’t even push. Ugh.
Does skating come naturally for you? I see some footage of you that’s technical and super smooth, and then I see other footage that’s totally sketchy and spontaneous.
Some days you feel like you can fucking do anything, you know? Other days you can’t do shit, like, “What the fuck is going on?” That’s what’s awesome about it.
I read a quote from you: “Happiness is easy. You choose to be sad you soft ass pussies.” Do you consider yourself happy?
Happiness is easy. Everyone is just addicted to being sad.
What was the last really funny thing that happened to you?
It’s usually just a fart.
Nice and simple. I admire that. A fart is always funny.
That shit never gets old. A fart and a dick and balls.
It’s just timeless. Do you have the desire to turn pro?
I’m trying to finish this part so I can hopefully go pro. I feel like this is the last chance for me. I’m 26 …
Jose did it!
I can’t be man am for fucking ever. Time to grow up and handle some shit.
May 26, 2010
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, July 2010
With the final countdown to Stay Gold underway, the Emericans recently embarked on one last filming mission to China. Upon returning home to Los Angeles, Kevin Long battled illness, a broken phone, video deadline stress and more than three days of jet lag-induced insomnia and deliriousness.
Not so good.
You see … these kinds of distractions interfere with Kevin’s agenda as a professional skateboarder. He’s got a lot going on, both on the board and off it. His quest for un-boringness makes him one of the more interesting personalities in skateboarding today. Every pro is a good skateboarder in one way or another, but not every pro is the type of person you want to be friends with. Kevin possesses a special kind of magnetism and he’s a tremendous asset to our present day microcosmic skateboarding situation.
Any good stories from this China trip?
Atiba just blowing my mind constantly. He decided to introduce the renegade shotgun to China. Almost every day he would grab a beer, have the translator gather the crowd and show them the renegade. But it wasn’t well-received—just crossed arms and frowns.
You’d think they’d be impressed. I always am when he does it.
I think they were just absolutely confused by the whole situation.
Any good meltdowns?
Braydon melts down quite a bit. Van heckling gets to him. He just always has something to say so he gets put in the line of fire and gets mad. But it’s all in good fun.
You guys are in the last month of filming Stay Gold, what’s the stress level like?
The pressure is so apparent—in the air at all times. It makes things difficult because your head is all over the place, thinking of the big picture too much. Obviously it helps motivate you to try as hard as you can and try things you wouldn’t normally try, but it takes away from what would come out naturally.
My personal approach to skating comes from just being disorganized in my own head. I kind of go with the flow, hope things work out and sort of float along. But at this point in a project I’ve got to curb that and make real plans, which is very hard for me. It’s impossible to not be affected because whether we like it or not, we could make or break our careers at this point.
Does having a two knee surgeries change your skating at all?
I never did that mindfully, but after a year of not skating, it took so long to get strong enough to jump down things, so I guess my approach certainly did change. You want to stay relevant even if you physically can’t jump down a sixteen.
What’s it like not skating for a year?
I found plenty of distractions so it’s not like I had a massive void, but at the same time, I’d never not skated for that long. I was constantly thinking about skating while I was hurt, but I didn’t realize how much I actually need it—whether I’m paid to do it or not, until I was able to skate again. I don’t see as clearly without skating.
You have a Goat tour coming up, right?
Yeah, from Atlanta to New York with Bad Shit.
Are you more natural as a skateboarder or a musician?
I love music, but I’m definitely not a very good musician. I’m not trained but I can sort of get by with my ear.
I’ve always wondered why you don’t live in New York City. You seem like that kind of dude.
If it weren’t for skateboarding, I would’ve moved to New York a long time ago. I love the feeling of that city and the seasons, but it would absolutely not be good for my productivity. I definitely see myself there in the future, but for now I just want to skate as much as possible.
How about a statement regarding the makeup video that surfaced on the Internet last year?
Oh God. Well, first I’d like to say, “I’m sorry” for anyone who had to see that. It’s not exactly something that I walked away from fist pumping or anything. I had no idea it was gonna turn into even a fraction of what it became, but I understand how completely shocking it is.
Basically, a mutual friend of my ex-girlfriend asked me for a favor. “It’ll be really quick, no one will see it, blah, blah, blah.” Famous last words.
While we were filming, I was like, “I gotta get the fuck outta here. At least no one will see this.” I washed my hands of it and swore I’d never do that kind of favor again.
Months later, I start getting texts like, “Yo, what the fuck?” So I watched it and I couldn’t even get through the whole thing. Just totally fucking … my bad. I can’t even excuse it. There’s been a great amount of hate coming my way for that and I get it. Whether you respect my skating or not, it’s a pretty jacked situation. I would make fun of me if I saw it.
What’s the story of Reggie the giraffe?
I just like animal statues and I got this big giraffe at the swap meet years ago. I kind of name everything Reggie because that’s the fake name I give to people I don’t want to talk to. So people see the giraffe in my apartment and think I’m obsessed with giraffes and suddenly I’m getting all kinds of giraffe stuff. Now I look like the crazy giraffe dude.
Tell us about the Morrissey show where security beat you up.
That’s kind of embarrassing too. I think there’s some Internet video of that one. I was with a bunch of friends at the Hollywood Bowl show and everyone was jumping up on stage. I never had the urge to do that, but that particular evening I was drinking too much wine. So Dustin Dollin got on stage and was like, “You gotta do it!” I got into skater mentality, like dodging security, ya know? So I got up on stage and got tackled by security. I don’t know what I was thinking. The guy fully took me outside and hit me and shit. I was like, “Alright dude. I’m sorry! I’m not trying to be a crazed fan or anything.” He roughed me up in the parking lot.
Damn, Dollin got a hug and you got pummeled.
Yeah, it’s pretty gay.
Say you made it through—did you have a plan to hug Morrissey? Do you ever see those people that make it on stage and security doesn’t come right away and they just stand there pumping their fists or trying to get a reaction from singer? It’s so embarrassing.
That’s why I never wanted to do that in the first place. I have no business up there. I’m not seeking a hug that badly. In my drunken head it just became a challenge. It was fun but I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking. Everybody does stupid shit.
Except your life is documented.
Sometimes my life goes viral.
Can you still cry on command?
I haven’t done it in a while. I must have fucked up tear glands or something. My eyes are always watery when I skate so I can just do it.
Has Morrissey ever made you cry?
That’s another weird one. I get labeled a Morrissey fan way more than I really am. I guess I skated to him and stuff but I’m not some obsessed Morrissey fan.
I’ve never really quite understood why Morrissey became this huge thing in skateboarding.
I don’t get it either to be honest. I dig the music and stuff but it’s not something that I would full-heartedly stand behind, like, “That’s my shit!”
I heard Cat Power wrote a song about you.
Shit, I dunno.
Did you break her heart?
No, definitely not. I’ve actually heard that quite a few times but I doubt there’s a song about me.
So who’s the most un-boring person you know?
Shit … the Jeffersons are pretty un-boring. They’re such enigmas. I can never know where their angle is because they’re just into everything. They’re such weirdos. They’re fucking aliens to me and I love being surrounded by that.
Aside from being talented, they are such good examples of guys who are cool to everyone and it pays off for them. I try to learn more of that from them.
And the fact that they’re genuinely sweet dudes and their passion is very sincere. Like, when a song comes on you see them both pushing each other out of the way to do air bass. It’s like, “These dudes care about this so much. They’re having more fun than they’ve ever had in their life!”
That kind of enthusiasm comes every day for them from the weirdest shit. Seriously, it’ll be some random video game or music and I’m like, “I dunno where they store all this passion!” I don’t understand it, but it’s contagious.
I heard Matt Eversole’s girl accidentally sent you a photo of her tits.
That was pretty hilarious. She lives with Jerry. You know Blackberry Messenger … you’re just constantly firing off photos to your friends. It’s so easy to pick the wrong person and mess up. I’ve always hoped a girl would accidentally do that. It’s a bonus I’ve been awaiting for a long time.
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