Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saying Thanks to the Mall Shop?

Back when I was 12 years old, I had a favorite skateboarder. I still have a favorite skateboarder today, although it’s difficult to narrow it down to one skater. Before, there was only one. No doubt he’s a heck of an accomplished skateboarder, and I spent too many hours playing his video game. That’s right: my first favorite skateboarder was Tony Hawk.

There’s a simple reason Tony Hawk was my first favorite skateboarder: he was the only professional skateboarder I’d heard of. I was 12, all of my knowledge of skateboarding came from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and damn straight I wanted a Birdhouse for my first skateboard.

At least I have the guts to admit my wholly ignorant skateboarding roots. Sure, Tony Hawk’s an incredible skateboarder, but if your mom had to pick a favorite skateboarder, she’d probably pick Tony Hawk by default. If she can even name another pro skateboarder, then she should be wearing one of those corny World’s Coolest Mom t-shirts with pride.

Well, I never ended up getting a Birdhouse, but I did stick a Tony Hawk sticker on my first deck. Tony Hawk isn’t amid my favorite skateboarders today. Yet I have to wonder, although I credit an early friend with getting me into skateboarding, if I didn’t spend all those hours playing Pro Skater would I have had something, as sad as it sounds, so able to pump me up to skate? When I went to the mall, you can bet I was drooling over the mall skate shop’s limitless shoes and skate stuff while rocking a DC hoodie that was probably purchased right there at … yes, Zumiez. (Oh, forgive me for my sins!)

That was a past life. I was just another skateboarding pipsqueak yet to receive any sense of skate education. In a funny way, though, I’m glad for those past ideologies. I’m glad I spent hours playing Tony Hawk’s videogame, and, yes, I’m even glad I was able to shop at mall skateshops. Essentially, I was one of the millions of young, clueless skateboarders, too blind to care or even notice where (my parents’) money was being spent—yes, I’ll take that deck please, Mr. Zumiez! Oh, and it comes with free grip. Mr. Zumiez, you’re so thoughtful!

As damning as it is to say, I don’t regret those days. I don’t even regret my former uneducated actions—at least not in full, and I’m not just pleading age-related ignorance. While this is taking an incredibly optimistic outlook, there is some benefit that mall skateshops, corporate skate companies, and overpaid mega-star pros bring to skateboarding: they’re single handedly capable of getting the young masses into skateboarding.

It would be great if every young skater could come to skateboarding through organic means, such as stumbling into a legit local skateshop, buying a made-in-the-USA board, and idolizing local skaters, instead of pros who have their own TV shows and Cadillacs with their initials embroidered on the headrests. The truth is, most kids will probably buy some discount board from Zumiez, start following The Berrics, and then make sure even their socks have some corporate skate-company logo on them. 

That’s how most younger skaters start off, and if that’s what gets them into skating, then that’s what gets them into skating. No skateboarder who actually cares about skateboarding itself should be spending a cent at a mall skateshop. No skateboarder who’s actually delved into skateboarding’s history should limit his favorite pros to today’s hammer-dropping, get-rich-quick, sponsored-by-Zumiez charlatans. Nascent skateboarders, however, cannot and should not be blamed. If skateboarding were still as independent and underground as it was in the days well before I started skating, I would have probably never become a skateboarder; I honestly might have seen skateboarding as too polarizing to really get involved with. It was the mainstream mall store and big-name, hot-shot pros that drew me to skating. In this, I am hardly unique.

This is where I have to give a smidgen of credit to the lambasted world of corporate skateboarding. I, and millions of others, would have never picked up a board without the lures that corporate skateboarding spends millions to implement. Don't get me wrong. I’m not saying thanks to Zumiez. In fact, it can go shove a flat bar up its ass. Mall skateshops are money-sucking murderers of independent skateshops, and super-corporate skate companies do more damage than good. Still, although it's taking a generously optimistic, look-on-the-bright-side view, the influence of these sell-out skate conglomerates can't be denied.

It is the hopes of all real skaters that those drawn to skateboarding through these mass-marketing influences quickly wake up and realize where they should really be spending their dollars and which skaters and shops they should really be supporting. However, skateboarding or all forms still has a pretty decent learning curve to it, and so does learning about and supporting bona fide skateboarding. In the end, we can't deny that skateboarding is awesome, even as it moves farther and farther away from its roots. As their absolute sole benefit to skateboarding, big, pseudo skate companies and mall shops are still spreading skateboarding; sure, they're going about it all wrong and want kids to get into skateboarding just so they can fatten their wallets. But if that's what it takes to get some kid to choose skateboarding over some lame-ass hobby or unfulfilling other sport, then let him buy his first board from a store located next to a food court. He'll regret that first purchase eventually—but he won't regret choosing skateboarding.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Editor Speaks: What Skateboarding Teaches Us


As skateboarders, sometimes I feel that we’re better than non-skateboarders—in certain ways, at least. I don’t mean better in the sense that we can look down on others (and let’s be honest, we’re usually the ones looked down upon); it’s more of a silent, perhaps unrealized appreciation for our own abilities. Yes, we learn new tricks and techniques after years of skating, but there are other lessons worked in as well. Even the best could hardly stand on a skateboard when just starting out. Feet are made for walking and running, and that stick with four wheels is about as awkward a mode of transportation as they come—but we’ve mastered it, and hey, that’s an accomplishment to be proud of. 

Keep skating for a couple of years and you’ll inevitably learn a few tricks and maneuvers, and herein lies skateboarding’s most prominent virtue: patience. I know a lot of people who used to skateboard. You know a lot of people who used to skateboard. They all quit because a few months spent cruising the driveway didn’t turn them into their icon, Tony Hawk. The extent of their abilities halted at some ground-scraping shuv-it or off-balance rock to fakie. I don’t want to hate on the quitters, but I do want to recognize those who stuck with skateboarding. At this point it’s cliche to say that skateboarding is cool so long as you’re having fun. I kept skating for as long as I did because I kept fun ahead of frustration. There was a fairly steep hill in front of my house; it took me years to build up the stones to bomb it. And as for the street skating rite of passage of learning to ollie, that too was a years-long endeavor. But the whole time, I had a blast.  

In terms of being a sport, skateboarding champions its non-competitive aspect. Yes, we have downhill races, freestyle showdowns and Maloof Money Cup-like spectacles, but at its core, skateboarding is you versus you. So how do you win at skateboarding? I’d say you never do. The best skateboarders, no matter their preferred styles or types of skating, actually can’t do everything; there are just too many tricks and styles to master it all. It’s this breadth that skateboarding offers, though, that keeps us humble. With so many new tricks, so many records being broken, any good skateboarder can only stand in awe at what he can’t do. Skateboarding has offered its share of virtuosos, yet no two are alike. This helps explain why so many great skateboarders are so modest; it’s not so much that the next guy can do it better, it’s that the next guy can do something different yet equally impressive—and often with more style. Besides, skateboarding will never have to distill “the best” down to who has more goals or wins, because such qualifications are left to sports that actually give a shit about labeling “the best.” 

I don’t think any of us would appreciate our abilities on a skateboard or how fluid and free it feels to ride if those skills were innate. I’ll be celebrating ten years on a skateboard in April, and wow, there’s still a plethora of tricks I can’t do and a whole host of big ramps I’m still too afraid to ride. Yet my abilities have inevitably grown after ten years. (My maiden voyage on a skateboard carried me from one side of the kitchen to the other.) Here, skateboarding proves an apt example of the age-old saying: hard work pays off. If it weren’t for those thousands of hours spent on a skateboard, I’d still be rolling around the kitchen floor (well, maybe at least the driveway).  

Skateboarders learn more than a few virtues through our chosen activity, but let’s be realistic: we skate for fun, not to build our credibility as upstanding citizens. But I’m able to look back and appreciate picking up a few life lessons along the way. At its core, skateboarding is four wheels riding over the pavement, an act so simple that I have to wonder what’s kept me coming back for so long. Perhaps it’s these deeper, hidden values that help pull us back. And as we get older and skate on, there’s one more virtue practiced, one that older skaters only continue to build: dedication. 


Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Editor Speaks: The So-And-So Syndrome

This weekend, I wrote this little piece for Michael Brooke at AXS Longboarding Business. Knowing full well that it's probably gonna get edited down to size, and that the "bad words" (ie, the "fun ones") might just disappear, I decided to throw it up on the 'ol blog for posterity:

One of the best things about being a retiring skate-industry consultant is getting the “thank you” calls from clients (and friends) from far and near, graciously thanking me for my help over the last five years. Last week, I got one of these calls from a guy that I wouldn’t necessarily call a “client”, per se. Rather, it just-so-happens that he owns a small skateboard company. And I just-so-happen to be a skate-industry consultant. But really, we’re just friends.

In any rate, this guy gave me a call last week to thank me for my help, anyway. Which is always nice. But in this case, it also left me a little bit perplexed.

“What’d I do…?!”, I asked. Because I honestly didn’t remember doing much of anything special at all, outside of maybe buying him a cold PBR once in a blue moon.

 “Well, you did a lot for me, actually. You always pointed out the importance of not listening to ‘the haters’… but instead, listening to my own head and heart. You were always telling me to do whatever I wanted to do, not what everybody else wanted me to do. So, thanks for that! It totally worked…!” Well, I’m paraphrasing, of course. But that was basically the whole convo, right there.

“The Haters”. Oh, yeah. This is actually a very, very common problem across this industry. It can also be called “The ‘No’ Men”, “The Un-Friendly, ‘Friendly’ Competitors”… or, my personal favorite, “The So-And-So Syndrome”. The skateboard industry is sort of weird that way. Everybody’s always afraid to do anything that doesn’t somehow sit right with all of the So-And-So’s out there. Even if So-And-So is one of your competitors, or your mortal enemy. And if it doesn’t make So-And-So happy, well then, maybe it’s just best not to do it at all.

For my part, I’m not entirely sure where this “So-And-So Syndrome” originated, or why it’s so pervasive in our industry, or across our community culture. Is it because teenagers are intrinsically insecure, and overly sensitive to peer pressure? That might explain away the “cultural” aspect of this, but it certainly doesn’t jive very well with “the industry” side of things, where our leading skateboard companies are [generally] owned and operated by [hopefully] mature and enlightened adults. For some reason, though, it just doesn’t always work out that way. Even at the industry level, our “industry leaders” are oftentimes much more apt to act like insecure teenagers, than bona-fide men living in a hyper-competitive world. I do work in other industries quite removed from skateboarding, and while the So-And-So Syndrome might exist in some insignificant-to-imperceptible form, it’s still nothing quite like the over-the-top peer-pressure experiences that I’ve perpetually had to deal with, within the skateboard industry.


Kilian Martin is the perfect example of somebody that live's by nobody's rules, except his own. His only limits he recognizes (if he has any at all) are those that limit his own imagination. Where would Kilian be if he skated "the way everybody else does", or "the way he's 'supposed' to"...?

Even better question: Where would skateboarding be, without Kilian...?!

If you're so narrow-minded that you can't appreciate the invention and imagination of Kilian Martin, then you just suck...

Regardless of the source, the So-And-So Syndrome has been a particularly menacing problem that I’ve fought hard to neutralize amongst my clientele for the last five years. Whenever the So-And-So Syndrome pops up in a conversation- and it always does- I always like to ask my clients a few questions, to illustrate the true nature of the problem. “Hey, do you mind if I ask you a few things really quick…?”

“Sure! Shoot.”

“Okay, here goes: Is So-And-So, by any chance, putting food on your table every night…?”

“Uhhh… no?”

“Is So-And-So paying your mortgage, or your rent…?”


“Is So-And-So saving up for your retirement…?”

“No…?” You can usually start to see the light bulb going off, right about now. If you can’t, then you’ve got even bigger problems than you originally thought.

“Is So-And-So fucking your wife, or raising your kids…?

“Hopefully not…!”

“Well then, why in the hell does it matter what in the hell So-And-So thinks about anything…?! After all, So-And-So apparently ain’t doin’ anything good for you…!”

Yes, it’s a really funny argument to make. Yes, it always gets at least a chuckle- maybe even two. Unfortunately, it also happens to be true. That part ain’t always so funny…

At the end of the day, I’m a huge believer in the merits of the competitive spirit, and of the relentless pursuit of individual liberty. Competition, after all, brings out the very best of our industry, and of our leaders. Competition brings us technical progress, better manufacturing practices, more consistent quality control, and more value for the consumers… who also happen to be “the skaters” that we should really be worried about over here. Because that’s who we’re all really working for, right…? The skaters, and the customers…? Not, the fucking So-And-Sos.

But as my clients will happily attest to, there’s also very real value in turning your back on “the haters”, and doing whatever you think is right, or whatever makes you happy. And I hammer that home, every chance I get. Because long after the sales are tallied, the balance sheets are compiled, the stocks are re-valued, the market share is determined, the awards are won, and the props are given… the bottom line is that if you aren’t happy with the outcomes, then none of it was really worth a damn. And make no mistake: You’ll never find any measure of true happiness, if you insist on perpetually living your life based on what’s gonna make your enemies and your competition happy.

That said, I would challenge everyone across this industry… from woodshop operators, to brand managers, to advertising and sales executives, to distributors, to skate-shop owners, all the way to team riders, sales reps, and skate-shop employees… and even all the way through to the skaters, themselves… to maybe stop for a minute, put your thinking cap on, and take a cold, hard look at why they’re doing whatever they’re doing. And more importantly, who they’re doing it for. And then, make some changes until they’re completely satisfied that whatever they’re doing, they’re ultimately doing it for themselves, and nobody else.

If we can make that happen, I’m certain that skateboarding will be in a far better place than it currently sits, today. In fact, I can damn near guarantee it. And I just-so-happen to have the happy clients (and friends) to prove it.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012


“Kids are what they read…”

This is a quote that I’ve said to myself, and others, more times than I’d like to count in my life. I say it often, because it happens to be true. Granted, maybe it should really say, “Kids are what they read, see, and hear”, given that so much information is conveyed via audio and visuals these days (skate videos, etc).

Still, regardless of the finer aspects of the argument, the basic premise still holds true. Kids don’t form their own thoughts and opinions about the world around them (as much as they’d like to believe that they do). Kids, as it turns out, are horribly incapable of thinking for themselves. Rather, they tend to inherit the bulk of their worldview from the media that feeds them. Whether that “media” comes from their parents, their church, their school… or, in the case of most skateboarders, the magazines, YouTube, messageboards, their peers, and videos… the premise remains the same. Kids are merely a reflection of whatever they’re being told. As such, their outlook and vision really depends on who they’re choosing to listen to, and what that influence is ultimately telling them to think.

As a skateboard businessman, this is all very interesting to me. Most skateboard businesspeople think that their ultimate job is to sell skateboards to kids. And the more skateboards that we sell to kids, the more successful we think we are. Which is a typically American, short-term, and overly simplified view of the nature of our business. The truth is that, if you own a skateboard company today… and, you think your job is to buy skateboards at price “A”, and re-sell them at price “B”… then, you’re probably hopelessly lost, and more than likely on the verge of running yourself straight out of business.

The fact is that most “skateboard companies” today, aren’t really “skateboard companies” at all. Because when I think of a “skateboard company”, I think of an entity that actually manufactures a skateboard product. But as we all know, most “skateboard companies” today don’t manufacture a gawddamned thing. Instead, they outsource the tedious work of actually creating a saleable product to some lowest bidder somewhere, with very little regard to product quality, and even less regard toward product innovation. Well, shit. If these “skateboard companies” don’t exist to manufacture skateboards, then what in the hell do they manufacture…?

If we look at the genesis of most skateboard companies, we realize right quick that what they’re in business to manufacture aren’t really skateboards at all. What most “skateboard companies” actually manufacture, is media. Think about it: What’s the prime concern of any start-up skateboard company today? Is it developing a better concave, utilizing a new material, or implementing a better construction? Nope. Typically, the first order of business of any start-up skateboard company is to come up with a name. Because the name is all-important to conveying an image, or a vibe. Once that’s nailed down, it’s time to tie that in to some artwork, and begin building a team that reflects the company’s values and outlook. Then once we have a team, it’s time to start shooting some advertisements, and begin work on the all-important [promotional] video. And lastly, once all that has been accomplished, it’s time to begin whoring ourselves out to the magazines, and maybe even to the television networks, so that we can insure that we get some coverage for ourselves.

Name. Image. Vibe. Artwork. Team. Advertising. Video. Coverage. These things are not skateboards. They have nothing to do with skateboards. It’s all media, guys. Media is what makes the skateboard industry go ‘round.

Most small skateboard companies that I deal with are, on one hand, completely aware of the role that media plays in their businesses. Most of us, after all, are direct results of “the skateboard media” of a bygone era. Think of those ‘80s era Thrashers, and you’ll see the mindset that most small-company-owners of today have. Independence! Discovery! Travel! Adventure! DIY! These aren’t values that we invented; they’re values that we, as kids, had rammed down our throats by guys like Larry Balma and Fausto Vitello. So yeah… we all intuitively understand the role that media plays in the life of the average skater.

On the other hand, most small-company-owners today are also blissfully unaware of how to engage the media, and to use this simple truth to their advantage. Some of the reasons for this are simple. For one, the skateboard mass-media of today is increasingly becoming small-company-hostile. It’s not like it was in 1991, when I started my small company. In those days, all skateboard companies were “small companies”. And skateboarding was a lot smaller back then. In those days, ad rates were still fairly reasonable, and generally accessible for most small companies. Magazines were begging for business during the recession, and thus the small companies had a lot of sway in the relationship.

But today, skateboarding is obviously huge. And the nature of the media has changed. Ad rates are now entirely out of the question for any company that doesn’t have a three-gazillion-dollar-a-year advertising budget. And as far as magazines are concerned, if you can’t pay, then you can’t play. Of course, the big fish like to prebook their choice ad spaces months in advance, effectively elbowing out a lot of their competitors. And as far as the “industry politics” go, the magazines are no longer the voices of journalistic independence that they once were. Instead, they’ve become just another cog in the companies’ media agenda, saying whatever it takes to keep those ad dollars rolling in, the overhead covered, and the bills paid.

“Kids are what they read”. The simple truth is that, if you’re not playing by the mass media’s rules, then you simply don’t exist. True, the internet has leveled the playing field somewhat. True, we all have our websites that do get some traffic. True, there are still messageboards that haven’t become fascist regimes in the hands of overzealous moderators and overly politicized administrators [yet]. True, the blogosphere gives us a readily searchable voice where we can, and will, say whatever the hell we want. And all of these things are really, really great. But still, I have to ask... how effective are these means…? And, how many kids are actually reading these things in the first place…?

While it’s true that we do have some media on our side... that being, the media that we create for ourselves, using the tools that we have at hand... I’d have to say once again that it’s the mass media that the kids tune in to the most, and latch on to the hardest. So while it’s true that we do have “media”, I’d have to say that the problem is that we still don’t have the “mass” working in our favor.

What am I getting at here? Here’s what I’m getting at: Small companies need to work together to create a truly mass media that advocates for their points of view, their business interests, and their legitimacy. “Legitimacy”, after all, is a huge buzzword in skateboarding today. If you’re not “legit”, then you’re just fucked. Again, the key question becomes, “what’s legit”…? Well, for most kids, whatever the mass media says is “legit”, is probably pretty “legit” for most kids. But I find it strange that companies like Element, Deathwish, and Baker are somehow seen as “legit”… even though they don’t really make anything at all, and what they do manage to churn out sucks ass… while Danny Creadon, Mike Money, Kirb, and Lew Ross… guys that I perceive as being “fully legit”… don’t even get a mention in a sidebar article somewhere. I’m sorry, but that’s just stupid. That alone goes to show how wayward the mass media has become, and how badly we need a massive alternative to the mass-minded mediocrity that we’re saddled and cursed with today.

There’s another old adage that I tend to live by, and it says this: “Trying to organize skaters is a lot like trying to herd cats”. Have you ever owned cats? Have you ever tried to herd them? Or even, try to get them to do something simple and/or useful for your benefit? Believe me, as a cat owner myself, I can tell ya that it’s damn near impossible. But still, I’d take that any day over trying to organize skateboarders, and mobilize them toward any sort of common cause. Skateboarders, like cats, are a mighty independent and ornery bunch. Even if you try to talk perfectly sensible sense at them, they’re still likely to do whatever the opposite of your perfectly sensible advice is.

But somehow, somewhere, and some way, at the end of the day... if we all want to see small companies survive and prevail in the marketplace… and, I think that we all do… then small companies, en mass, are going to have to come together, and start working toward this common goal of building a small-company-friendly mass media. Because as of right now, the bigger companies have a virtual monopoly on bullshitting the kids, with nothing on the horizon capable of neutralizing the threat.

Of course, for a mass media to work practically in the favor of small companies, it’s probably gonna have to have certain attributes that will be largely dictated by the kids that it’s aimed at. It’s going to have to be free for the readers (because kids erroneously think that everything’s free these days). Which means that it’s going to have to be affordable (since we’ve established that the kids won’t be paying for jack shit… and given the small advertising budgets of most small companies, neither will the manufacturers). Yet, this media will have to be widely accessible (so that anybody can read it), and more than likely mobile (so that they can read it anywhere). Which probably adds up to a web-based paradigm (since only the internet can offer true cost-effectiveness, on a widely accessible and mobile platform). And the companies themselves will be responsible for generating the content, as well as promoting the media to potential readers.

If this all sounds familiar, that’s probably because it is. I’ve been saying this for years now. And indeed, Everything Skateboarding still serves as the working prototype for many of these concepts. Everything Skateboarding, at the end of the day, was neither a total success, nor a total failure. Rather, it was shades of gray that we all learned a lot from. I think that the companies did see that it would be in the better interests of all small companies to contribute to, and widely promote, a web-based mass media paradigm that serves their needs, and promotes their agendas. It's definitely cheap (free), widely accessible, and totally mobile. However, we never really did get the engagement (contributions) from the advertisers that I really wanted to see. And nobody (including myself) ever promoted it.

The reason for the failures are easy to see: Companies still perceive that their “job”, so to speak, is to perpetuate a passive engagement with the media. And in the past, this might have been true. The job of any company, as it relates to the media, is pretty much to pay the advertising bills, shut up, and get the hell out of the way while the magazine editors, writers, and photographers do the heavy lifting of putting a magazine together, editing it, promoting it, and selling it to the kids.

But in the future, this will no longer be the case. The monetary constraints alone will kill the bigger part of this paradigm. And what the money doesn’t kill, the ethics will. After all, is it really ethical in a 2012 world to cut down trees, transport them to a mill, where various chemicals and machines turn them into paper, that ultimately gets printed with highly biased propaganda that’s bought and paid for by a few mega-corporations with deep pockets, long agendas, a very narrow profit perspective, and no accountability whatsoever...? Is this the machine that we really want feeding our kids the information that they’re going to build their lives around for the foreseeable future…?

In the future, small companies will be forced- by circumstance, and necessity- to have a much more active engagement with the media. Instead of paying writers and photographers to create content, why not cut out the profit-police middle men, and just do it for ourselves? We can save time, headaches, and a whole load of bullshit in the process. At the end of the day, I’d rather hear 100 small company owners telling their stories, than hear 10 mega-corporations and a handful of editors bastardizing theirs. True, small company owners might not be the most skilled writers and photographers in the world; if they were, they would probably be writers and photographers, instead of small company owners. But I don’t think that small company owners should be at all shy about engaging the media, and making the effort to make content contributions. At least small-company owners are real. And I still believe that reality counts for a lot these days.

At the end of the day, though, this is not necessarily my fight to engage, or win. I retired from the world of small-company-ownership in 2001. These days, I’m just a writer that doesn’t own anything. It’s not my war to wage, and I’m not particularly concerned if small companies ultimately win, or lose. In a very real sense, it rests in the hands of small company owners to see the fight through, learn how to collaborate effectively, and figure out how to build a mass media that truly works for them. I’ll help out in any way I can. But really, all I want to do is read it. I’m sick and tired of the mass-market bullshit. And it would be really refreshing to read something interesting for a change.

Make it happen, guys. The world is waiting.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Board Meeting! (*Update*)


Hello, everybody! Just a reminder: The Board Meeting is just about a month away...! If you haven't made your travel plans yet, you may wanna get on it!!!


Just a few notes and reminders:

Websites of note: Ollie's Skatepark,; The Wildwood Inn,


The deadline for table and chair rentals was this past Saturday (March 10th). If you still need tables and chairs, hurry up and e-mail Bob at Ollie's at Tables and chairs cost $40, plus the $18-per-person entrance fee.


If you're looking for accomodations, we have a group discount available at The Wildwood Inn, which is about a mile and a half from Ollie's Skatepark. When calling in your reservation, use promo code "OLLI" for the group discount. It's a fun-looking place, and the perfect sort of crash pad for after-festivity festivities.


We have a Facebook page...! Search "The Board Meeting", and ye shall find it. Like us, send us messages, or fan out on everybody's favorite social media portal (of the moment, at least).


We have a few fun events scheduled throughout the day's festivities. We have a freestyle demo (thanks to AJ Kohn at One, Greyson Ashton, and friends), and freestyle tutorials happening throughout the day. We have an afternoon old man skate jam happening on the micro-ramp for all of those company owners, sales reps, and skateshop owners to get some skate-time in. And, Lew Ross at Fickle is hosting an invite-only, post-show shindig at his mini-ramp training facility. Contact Lew at, and make friends with him fast...!


Speaking of Lew: He had the great idea last weekend of maybe inviting a few bands to this thing, for additional entertainment value. If you know of a band that would like to play this thing, please e-mail Mr. Lew posthaste.


Lastly: Due to an unforseeable scheduling nightmare (that I had about an icicle's chance in hell of getting out of), I unfortunately won't be able to attend the show. However, worry not! Mr. Lew has graciously volunteered to act as my stand-in on the day of the show. I met with Lew last weekend at Ollie's, took a walk around the facility, and imparted upon him my vision of the layout, and the overall schedule of the day's events. I'll still be here, organizing things behind the scenes, right up until showtime!

If you have any questions, gimme a holla! You know the drill: Lates!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sometimes, you've just gotta ride...


Changes In Our Advertising Policy


Here at Everything Skateboarding, we like to always be totally open and transparent about everything that we do around here. That said, I decided that it was time to make a couple of announcements, regarding some really basic changes to our advertising policy.



In the past, we've requested that all submitted ads were sent in as .jpg file format images, that we would then linked to whatever website that the advertisers specified (as illustrated above, with these Rooftop and Big Mess ads). The main reason for this policy was that the dumbass publisher (that's me) had only "very limited" html experience, and not a lot of time on his (my) hands to go mucking about with a whole buncha fancy-pants programming jargon.

One thing that will never, ever change is out steadfast support for small, independent, skater-owned skateboard companies. These companies truly are the "core" of our industry. A lot of big-ass corporate money machines like to go around, claiming how "core" they are while they're peddling their mass-manufactured, and mass-marketed bullshit. Somebody, somewhere, needs to stand up, push aside the mass-money hogwash, tell it like it really is, and support the "true core" of skateboarding.

However, with the advent of YouTube advertisements (that truly double as "content"), the "advertising" game has changed dramatically. Even better: Embedding these "ads" into Everything Skateboarding is remarkably easy, and trouble-free.

So now, when advertisers submit an ad to us, they can simply send over a YouTube link to the video they'd like posted, and we can take it from there. YouTube does offer a few different "encoding" methods... but for the moment, I personally prefer to stick with the "old" embed code, to maintain continuity across the entire site.

As always, all ads are still absolutely free "to dudes we like". However: In the future, preferential treatment will be given to advertisers that make tangible contributions to the site. This is our way of thanking the many people who have volunteered their time, energy, and ideas in order to make ongoing contributions to the movement that is Everything Skateboarding.

Most publications (online, paper, or otherwise) rely on advertising dollars to generate content. But we've discoverd that it's actually a lot more fun to have the advertisers contribute their own content, in the form of articles, interviews, photos, video clips. Some of our advertisers have gone so far as lending a helping hand with promoting and executing our various initiatives, or promoting Everything Skateboarding to a wider audience.

In this regard, Everything Skateboarding is starting to act much more like a traditional "zine", while also promoting greater transparency throughout our industry. This ultimately helps kids to better understand who, and what, they're supporting when they buy a product from one of our advertisers.


Here's a perfect example of what I was describing in the last paragraph. A couple weeks back, Mike Niemann (of Cockfight Skateboards) sent over a bunch of pool-skating photos for us... including this one of him, smithing it up at Wave's. Here at Everything Skateboarding, we think it'simportant that kids understand the difference between a company that "says" that it's "owned and operated" by "skaters", versus a company (like Cockfight) that actually is owned, and operated, by skaters. Not the marketing-gimmick version. The real-deal version.

The entire staff here at Everything Skateboarding is fundamentally committed to keeping this a true no-bullshit zone, where money serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Rather, this is a movement based entirely on ideas, creativity, and communication that we hope will make a lasting and positive mark on the world of skateboarding. And, if it doesn't...? Well, at the very least, we're having some serious fun with this.

And at the end of the day... just like skateboarding... "fun"is all that really matters.

Bud Stratford
Grand Poohbah
Everything Skateboarding Magazine


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In Her Own Words: Lynn Kramer


In the annals of skateboarding history, there is no woman that has dominated skateboarding in the way that Lynn Kramer has struck "The Fear Of God" into the world of slalom skateboarding. Ever.

This is a bold statement that, I'm quite sure, will ignite it's fair share of debate and controversy. Many skate-historians will surely point to such luminaries as Laura Thornhill (in freestyle), Carabeth Burnside (in vert), Elissa Steamer (in street), or even Brianne Davies (in downhill), and state that these women broke down many barriers in their respective heydays, and paved the way for other women to follow. And I'm not gonna argue with that one bit. These women truly did make vast and important strides toward making skateboarding a much more gender-neutral pastime, and shattered many a glass ceiling along the way.

However, note that I carefully chose to use the word "dominated" in my introductory paragraph. Which implies not only respect among men... but also, fear. Fear that "the boyz" might just get their puny little asses thoroughly mauled by the female contingent. Laura Thornhill, Carabeth Burnside, Elissa Steamer, and Brianne Davies... these women were, and still are, respected. Respected for the ground they broke, and the hurdles they had to overcome to pave the way for future generations.

But, "feared"...? That, my friends, is something altogether different. Most guys that I know, probably wouldn't be too petrified of having to go head-to-head with a Carabeth Burnside, or an Elissa Steamer... or even, a Brianne Davies... in a competitive setting. If for no other reason, than out of either ego, or out of arrogant ignorance. Because for all the ground that they broke, the final lesson has always been that although they can run with "the guys"... it's still pretty difficult to imagine actually getting beaten up by one of these women. If not, impossible.

"If you’ve been to any major race in the past few years, you’ve certainly run into Lynn. And, you’ve probably been beaten soundly by her. She’s "The Queen", no doubt about it...!"

- Fatboy

But a few years back, I was hanging out at one of Kenny Mollica's "Buckeye" races, quietly lurking in the timing tent (which is truly the place to be, at the climax of any slalom event- take my word for it, kids), and watching the brackets fall when, all of a sudden, some dude looked over my shoulder... noticed that his next challenger was Mrs. Kramer... and forlornly sighed something to the effect of, "Oh, my gawd! I have to go up against Lynn...?! Shit! That's it. My life is now officially over." And, I just kicked back and laughed my ass off as I realized, for the first time ever, just how scared the "average guy" is of having to meet Lynn Kramer... and, go head-to-head against her... on a race course. I laughed, because I suddenly realized that there's a whole contingent of fully-hardened slalom racers that apparently feel the same way. And I laughed because I was so, so glad that it wasn't me that was about to get my ass kicked.

Simply put: Racing Lynn Kramer is a proposition where somebody loses- regardless of their gender- and Lynn wins, almost every time. That's probably why she's a nine-time World Champion, and still harder to beat than ever.

When future generations of skate historians finally get their act together, and write the complete and comprehensive history of skateboarding... I think they'll end up agreeing with me on this one. No woman, anywhere, has dominated any field of skateboarding, more than Lynn Kramer has dominated the world of slalom.

Our slalom editor, Fatboy, recently turned in this crafty interview that illustrates the "lighter side" of Lynn Kramer. That is, the side that we only get to see when she's not busy chewing up dudes on the hill:


Our gal...! Photo by Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings.

Why skateboard racing? Why not bullfighting? Or, ice fishing? Or, something else?

I already tried those, but failed miserably.

Are you real gear conscious, or like me: “F@%K it! I’ll just run what I have bolted up”?

In my head, I am overly gear conscious. But in reality, my husband is the one who makes sure I have extra axle nuts, and I'll ride any wheels the Brown Bomber throws at me.

Tell me one weird fact about you that folks might not know?

If I told you, then they would know.

Why won’t any of you race in a skirt, like me?

We only need one skirt in slalom.


Note just how far back "the competition" is in this photo. WCS 2011. Photo by Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings.

Are people generally surprised when you tell them you race skateboards?

My customers love it! I used to be afraid if they knew I was taking time off their project to go skateboard, they wouldn't take me seriously. But when I play up the whole World Champion thing, they love it.

Pie or doughnuts? And, what flavor?

Maple Bacon doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon.

What was your first car?

Audi 5000.

What was the approximate date that CMC first hit on you?



A picture of speed. Morro Nationals, 2008. Photo by Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings.

Which discipline do you prefer: TS, GS, Hybrid?

Not hybrid.

What’s your most memorable skate moment?

Beating Judi [Oyama] by .007 seconds combined in the Tight Slalom at the 2003 Worlds in Morro Bay.

Do you also skate:

A) Downhill?

Yes, but only if I have to.

B) Ramp?


C) Park?


D) Ditch?


E) Freestyle?

Not so much...

Are you stoked that more girls are racing these days?

I would be stoked if more girls were racing these days...


Same 'ol story: Lynn skates, and the guys watch. 2010 Nats. Photo by Maria Carassco/Sk8Kings.

Regular, or goofy? Normal push, or Mongo?

Goofy all the way.

Favorite pizza topping?

Artichoke hearts.

Favorite race to attend?

There was one Sizzler that held top honors for a long time, until I went to my first Farm.

Ever think about doin’ roller derby?



Being a world-class, world-champion skater means lots of camera-time, and fat guys from Jersey chasing you down to do interviews. WCS 2011. Photo by Maria Carassco/Sk8Kings.

Is David Beckham really that dreamy? Posh was really cute in the day, but now she looks kinda fake and plastic. Ginger was always my favorite!


Favorite skater to watch?

Chris Miller.

To race against?

Jonny Miller (no relation).

Favorite cartoon character?

Emily, Stewy, and Wile E Coyote because he always gets smashed, burned, or otherwise mutilated, but never dies.

Do you watch the X-games, or who gives a shit anymore?

If they're on.

Do you snowboard?


Any other sports?


Do blondes really have more fun?

I had fun being blonde.

Favorite bands/music?

80's Punk.

Dumbest thing you remember doing back in school?

Pouring beer into an empty coke can, and taping over the top. I never even made it to school before my parents smelled it.

Does your Mom still give you shit about skating/racing, like mine does?

I was never allowed to skateboard growing up because my dad was an orthopedist. He thought it was just a way to pay the bills until they came to see the 2004 La Costa Open. Then he told me "Wow, that's really a sport. And wow, you're actually good at it." Now, my mom likes going to races.

Furthest you’ve traveled for a race?

Czech Republic. Twice.

Would you prefer male racers to treat you as an equal, or as a lady?

Equal what?! I kick most of their asses. Then after the race, they may open the door for me.


Reading, gardening.

What do you do for a living?

I'm a Mechanical Engineer. I try to convince people (such as yourself) that they can make more skateboards for less money, if they have a CNC router to help them. Then after they buy the router from me, we help keep them running.


Make it "World Champion of Slalom Skateboarding", and you'll have it right. Sure, she might smile a lot off the course...


...but on the course, she's all business. Maria Carrasco/Sk8Kings photos.

Ever ridden in an ambulance?


Ever wear KISS makeup?


Would you ever wear shoes that hurt your feet because they looked cool?

Not on purpose.

Is anything (car, laptop, refrigerator, etc.) in your home covered in skate stickers?

Most everything.

Do you look at things (curbs, ditches, hills) differently than others because you skate?

Of course.

Favorite skate t-shirt?

All my shirts that Chicken made.

Skate companies that have been cool to you?

Sk8kings, Khiro, Timeship Racing, Nitro, Pocket Pistols, Abec 11, Fibreflex, Turner, 3dm/Seismic, Dregs, Sector 9, Radikal, Pleasure Tools, G&S, Powell-Peralta, Oust, Airflow, Skaterbuilt, Asphalt Playground, and Indiana.

Racers/Skaters that have been cool to you?

All slalom skaters are cool.

Fatboy (the writer) is a great chap that also owns a small company called "Longboards By Fatboy", which can be found at

Maria Carrasco (the photographer) is a lovely lady that also runs the day-to-day at Sk8Kings, which can be found at

Lynn Kramer is a kick-ass slalom racer. But you knew that already, 'cuz you just read the interview.

And Bud Stratford... the guy that art-directed the piece, and wrote the intro... is still an asshat.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Upcoming Events:





Support Our Advertisers...!














Thursday, January 5, 2012

Aperture: Cockfight North Carolina Tour


A couple weeks back, we sent an e-mail over to Mike Niemann (at Cockfight Skateboards) that basically said:

"Hey, Mike? Help...! We haven't run any good pool photos in a while. Y'got anything kicking around...?! Bests: The Empty-Handed Editors..."

As always, Mike was more than happy to help. So without further ado, let's all take that long-overdue break from a whole weeks' worth of "boring industry-speak", and check out what Mike and the guys sent over:


Adam Young (of Roger Skateboards)
Backside Smith
John Falls photo


Chris Schlag
Brett Roper photo


Brett Roper photo


Jesse Davis
Brett Roper photo


Mike Niemann
Frontside Smith
Wave's Bowl
Brett Roper photo

Thanks, guys. You're the best.