Monday, December 7, 2009

Newsworthy: December 2009




Sunday, December 6, 2009

Agenda: Support Your Local Skate Shop



Editorial: December 2009


Interview: JJ Rudisill of Funhouse Skateboards



Here he is! The man of the moment...!


In today's day and age of self-centered skate-consumers and multi-million dollar skate corporations, it's refreshing to find that truly skater-run companies, true skater-artists, and true skaters still do exist out there, somewhere. JJ Rudisill is unique, in that he happens to be a serindipidous combination of all of the above, which pretty much makes him a modern-day renaissance man. Born and raised on southern hospitality, Pushead, concrete, DIY attitude, and punk rock, JJ is clearly a throwback to skateboarding's golden age, where there were no rules, no reasons, and no worries. At the same time, he's also serving as a beacon of hope for those that might be looking for something... or, more accurately, "someone"... truly genuine to support/befriend in this modern age of the bullshit fake and the homogeniously bland.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Get ready to have yourself a laugh or two, 'cuz JJ's also one hell of a funny guy, to boot. Hey, man: You've been warned. My ribs seriously hurt after doing this interview- that's how much he had me in stitches. These are the kinds of interviews that journalists (like, me) live for. Which makes me wonder why noone else has bothered to interview the guy before now. Sometimes, the best things in life are right under your nose. Never forget that.

(*Phone rings*)

Hey, Bud!

Hey, JJ!! How's it goin'?!

Good, good.

Hey, do you have time to do that interview real quick...?

Yeah, I think I have a little bit of time to spare...

Okay, hold on a sec... (turns on recorder). Okay... are ya still there?

Still here!

That beep that you hear, by the way, is the 'record' indicator on my phone.

That's cool, I'm used to gettin' that from the FBI.

So JJ, how've ya been lately?

Been swell. A little bit hot, but swell.

You've also been really, really busy. It's been hard gettin' a hold of ya, Mr. Rock Star.

Yeah, well, y'know... it's a full time job, bein' all rock-n'-roll.

Seriously though, what've you been up to these days...?!

I've been up to quite a bit! The company's goin' along and we're tryin' to keep the inventory rollin' and I'm figuring out which stretch Hummer I want. And how much of it's gonna be gold plated.


JJ's illustration for the Thrasher "Beer Slave" DVD; 2007

You just had that Canvas article in the new Thrasher, right...?

Yeah, I had a two-page article in the August 2008 issue.

You also had one in Concrete Wave a few months back, didn't ya?

Actually, that was last year, and that was my first public appearance. I'd like to thank Michael Brooke at CW and Kevin Convertito at Thrasher. They were terrific opportunities...pretty much top of the line for a skateboard artist.



JJ's skate-event flyers recall the earliest days of punk rock, when pen-and-ink flyers were far more common than they are today. An art's only "lost" when nobody practices it. Thankfully, JJ's keepin' it alive and well. These are from 2007 (Old Man Jam) and 2006 (Owl's Head Bowl Jam), respectively.

So, you've never actually been interviewed before by anybody, have you?

A time or two.

Oh, really?! I didn't know that!

Yeah, yeah. But, y'know... it's usually the police doing the interviewing. (laughing) I'm less chatty when I don't have the handcuffs on (laughing).

So, let me ask you this: Which came first?The skulls, or the skateboarding?

Uhhhhhhhh, ummmmm, let me see here... I'm gonna say, the skateboards came first. Just 'cause, you couldn't really get a skull on that California Freeformer plastic...


This is pretty representative of the "JJ style"; I have a postcard version of this one in my collection. "Suicide (Kills Everyone)", digital illustration, 2004

Right! (laughing) So, when did you actually start skating?

Well, I did the California Freeformer thing... so, I probably started in '76, or something like that. Smashing-into-grandma's-car-at-the-end-of-the-driveway style. I guess I just did what everybody did for the first few years, and I picked it up seriously, maybe... 1983 or so? On a Santa Cruz Street Skate, and Indys...

Lucky you...

Just doin' it. And, Powell Street Cubics. Not, the Mini Cubics. The Street Cubics.

Wait... so, you've been skating longer than I thought you have, actually.

I'm an old man.

How old are you...?!

Thirty-seven years old.


I thought it'd be pretty funny to throw this in, right in the middle of our "age" discussion; JJ's definitely a man that can appreciate a good pun. "Caveman", mixed media, 2004.

Ohhhhh...! You just started way young, then.

Twelve years old, or sumthin' like that.

Well, shit man... you and I are almost the same age, but I started skating in, like, '88.

Oh, no, no. I'm pretty sure that I had the Boneless One on lock by '83.

Oh, man...! The Boneless One. That's a trick you don't hear about every day...

I still got it, too.

You still got The Boneless?!!!

Still got The Boneless.

That's great. I wish I had the boneless, but, y'know... I never learned it.

I've gotta be in a foot and a half of transition, or less, but I got it.

Sweet...! (Laughter)

Learn it in the grass; that's my advice. Y'gotta start in the grass.

So, you've been drawing almost as long as you've been skating, right...?

I've been drawing longer than I've been skating, actually. My first art-award was a first-place ribbon in a North Carolina art contest, for a flower I made. I still have it, right here in the apartment. I won a string of small-time victories when I was a young man, and I've been tapering off ever since.

That explains why you have a southern accent, when we all know that you live in New York.

Yeah, y'know... we had to bail. My wife and I came up to New York to pursue work. Both our job possibilities down south petered out, so we came up here to see what New York had to offer.

So, how long have you lived up there in Brooklyn...?

About four and a half years here in sunny Brooklyn, New York.



Ahhh, more photo-caption puns. Above: "Times Square", digital illustration, 2003. Below: "New York City Astronout", mixed media, 2003. I promise, that'll be the end of the punnyness.

And, how long have you had Funhouse?

I've had Funhouse...uhh, technically speaking? Almost two years. But, our first inventory came in around May of 2007. So, it's been about a year, year-and-a-half or so with product.

You have all of your stuff made here in the states, right...?

Yes, sir! American made! They're currently made in North Carolina, back where I'm from. So, yeah... American Made, American Quality, and I don't see any reason to go elsewhere.

But, it's getting much, much more expensive to get stuff made here in the states, right? I mean, I haven't priced wood out lately, but I've heard that it's getting pretty pricey.

I'm sure it is. But, the way we do our business is that if quality costs a little more, then we'll pay a little more. We're not trying to be the cheapest guy on the block. We're gonna stand by our product, and try to make the best stuff out there. And, if that costs a little more to do... well then, what's three, four, or five extra bucks...

It's a couple of cheeseburgers to me.

... but, when it's under your feet? When it comes down to it, you've gotta trust that it's gonna be there for ya. That's the long and short of why we have them made where they're made, and we don't really care about the price as much.

So, what kind of people might buy a Funhouse deck...?

Well, we started obviously with an emphasis on the pool shapes, for what we figured might be the older riders... skaters like myself that were either hangin' in there, or that might be coming back to it with their children, or whatever. I couldn't find boards that I liked to ride. The reissues were fine, but... for one, they didn't have the concave, or the dimensions, or the nose. And, for two: They were just old, anyway. There wasn't really anything "new" about 'em. For the newer kids, we do the popsickles, and we'll keep doing those as long as they keep doing well for the youngsters and all.

It's hard to say who we are. We're trying to have a Funhouse skateboard in every available size and shape, so that no matter what you're into, hopefully you can find a Funhouse skateboard to go on. Cruiser, popsickles of various widths, all the way up to The Dripper 36" longboard.


JJ's Funhouse graphics clearly show his VCJ and Pushead infuences, but with an added bit of whimsy tossed in for good measure. This one's newest model, the Cherry Bomber. Look elsewhere on this very website to see how it skates.

Which of the boards do you personally ride?

I've ridden ride them all, at one point or another. That being said, I don't regularly skate anything smaller than a nine-inch. I use my Mini Puncher for the streets around here, when I'm shootin' down to the store. In the pools right now, I've gone through the Ticket Puncher, and the Big Fish, and settled in on the Cherry Bomber 2, which is a modified version of the original Cherry Bomber. And also, my Dripper longboard. So, I'm kind of all over the place.

So, you're a definite advocate of the Dave Hackett Quiver Theory...?

I was not a "quiver man" per se, and I don't really advocate necessarily... well, how do I put it? It's fun to skate different boards, but you can't dial in your style as good when you're mixing up wheelbases and lengths to that degree. Some skaters can do it, but it's a struggle... especially if you're trying to get all tricked-out. But, I looove different aspects of every board that I make, so I end up skatin' 'em all. Because, they're all fun.

Now, let me ask you this question: The graphics that you do on your boards are obviously ridiculously detailed. Y'know, you've got the main graphic going on... but then, inside of the graphic, you've got like, a hundred other little things going on...

Yeah, there's always a support crew for the main character. That's just an evolution of my style. I was inspired by guys like Pushead, and V. Courtland Johnson, and I guess I just internalized that to the point where I could kinda do the main-focus sort of graphic, but then I've always got a little imagination left over. I kinda consider them rewards for people that look at 'em close enough. Y'know, people spend a lot of money on these things, and they should get their money's worth. For me, those little details are some of what sets us apart.

Y'know, when I was a kid, I would scour Mad Magazine...and, if you look in the margins of Mad Magazine, you'll see some of the funniest jokes in the whole thing. So, that's just a reflection of how I grew up. If you put it in there, somebody's gonna notice. And, whoever is looking for that kind of detail, hopefully, will get rewarded for it. Give it back a little bit, from the people that inspired me to make something worthwhile, and stay dedicated to the craft.


"Cowpoke (Manifest Destiny)", digital illustration, 2003.

How many hours are there, in any given Funhouse graphic...?

Ahhhhh... whew! It's hard to say. Ummm... it really depends on how many times I re-draw the pencil stage. That's all a part of my mania, but I'd say an average graphic could take a week. Some of them even go to two weeks for a single graphic. And, those are 10-12 hour days. Not eight-hour days.

So, that would be between 40 hours and 80 hours. Per graphic.


Oh, wow.

I'd say that some of the simpler graphics... like, take the Mini Puncher for example. That was probably one of the quicker ones. Behind the scenes, what you see there are 15 versions of that little dude that sucked... (laughing)... before I got to that one. And then, obviously a lot of refinement on the illustration, before the actual line work. Then, you have the shape of the board, and a lot of other considerations before you begin breaking down the colors, and deciding whether you're gonna use spot colors, or a 4-color process. And then you have the borders, multiple-resolution files, and then the nitty-gritty of actual pre-press and pre-production... it's a lot of work.

So, all of your graphics begin as a hand drawing that gets scanned into the computer, and that's where the color separations are done...?

Typically, the process begins with sketchwork. I decide what the general shape of the board is gonna be, and that will influence the graphic a lot of times. So, I'll begin with a new board, and a new shape, and I'll just start drawing. It all starts with a 1"or a 2" sketch, really tiny, just with the bare minimum of detail. Usually, if I'm comfortable with it at two inches, then I feel like it'll work [enlarged]. I don't like to work "big", because I work big, the images don't get as distorted. Working small, their heads will get really big, and their eyeballs will get even crazier. If I begin by drawing big, then the art gets too detailed, right off the bat and loses focus. Small, then big, then add detail in small again.

Let's talk about this whole Do-It-Yourself thing. It seems like, at the end of the day, you're a really Do-It-Yourself kind of company. You know, you and I grew up with that. But, do you see that happening with this newer generation of skaters? It seems like they're not as... I don't know, what's the word I'm looking for, here...?

(Sigh) Skaters today... I call it the "MTV Effect". Look at the modern visual progression of skating through the prism of MTV, and you can see where I'm coming from. You started with Jackass on MTV, and peripherally you had Bam Margera, and all these jackasses runnin' around... it was pretty wild stuff. And it worked, especially for TV; they're stuffing Matchbox cars up their asses, and that was great. Then, Bam was the next thing... and, Bam's actually the cleanest guy out of the Jackass kids. Y'know, he does a few wild things here and there, but not to the extent that Jackass did. And then, from Bam Margera, we go to Ryan Sheckler. The cleanest-cut, ProActiv, white kid with the nice smile. And basically, he bitches about how he can't get laid...


... and, that's the kids that are comin' up! They're looking at Ryan Sheckler, and going "That's a skateboarder!" We didn't have that. Y'know, we didn't really have heroes. And, if you did have a hero, he was probably a still photograph in a magazine. I still don't know if my favorite skaters were assholes, or not. Because, I didn't meet 'em.

And, they weren't on TV 23 hours a day.

Right. Maybe I saw a little bit of video, or whatever. So no: I don't think the kids have the DIY ethic at all. I don't think they understand it. Some of them do. Obviously, some kids do, and you can tell who they are when you see 'em at the park or whatever. But mostly, they wanna be given something, or they think they're gonna be given something. They're not particularly interested in working for anything... including, keeping parks nice, or whatever. And, they're also really competitive in these really strange ways. Like, how they all wanna play games of SKATE...

I hate that game...

...and, they wanna have however many tricks, or whatever. They don't understand "doing it yourself", as meaning "I could make up a trick, myself". You know, Ryan Sheckler is never going to invent a trick. He's gonna do tricks, and he's gonna do them incredibly well, but he's not really in on the 'creative' aspect of skateboarding.


"Anne Frank (forPawPaw)", acrylic, 2005.

He's not like a Rodney Mullen, or somebody like that...

Right. And, that's what I thought of when you asked about DIY, that's the type of thing that I think about. When you ask that, you're asking "Well, what are you creating, yourself...?" And the kids today, they aren't creating very much. I'm not raggin' on them, but I mean, look around. Look at skating, look at anything. There's just not a lot goin' on.

So, who were your immediate influences, when you were growing up?

Well, I was fortunate enough to have Pushead in his prime. And, he skated. And, he was also an artist. I pretty much followed that line of thinking: That you could, and should, be both. Be creative in my skating, be creative in my artwork. But, I also quickly realized that I was gonna be a much better artist, than skater. As hard as I tried at skating, I never got particularly great at it.

Right. That's the thing that I never got, either. But today, there's all this pressure to get really good at it. Like, everyone forgets that the whole deal is to really love what you're doing first, and maybe, get good at it second.

And, a lot of that is caused by sponsorship. I don't know how many sponsorship videos I get from kids, where all it is, is two kickflips off a curb, and a note saying "I wanna be sponsored!" And, they haven't even given thought to the fact that I would probably sponsor pool skaters or whatnot. They're missing the point of skating, the worst part is that, they don't even do their skate history homework. I'm not particularly impressed by it all. But maybe when I was their age, I was a big fat dumbass too.

Well, our influences were those guys like Pushead, so we just sorta figured it out. Maybe we just had smarter role models...

Think about how Pushead had his own mail-order and stuff, for his own shirts, and everything else, right out of his house. I grew up buying products, that shipped them from their homes, with their own handwriting on the package. And, I loved it! The humanity of it.

It was like, more personal. Or maybe, more personable.

Right. To me, a "hero" is not... my heroes are not people that, you might put on a pedestal. My heroes are people that talked to me. That wrote me letters that said, "You're in a shit town down south, but it looks like you're tryin' to do your thing". And, they encouraged me to keep going. And now, here I am. That came from both the punk rock scene, where bands would write me back... and, that meant a lot. And also, from skating.

You'd think that, with this modern age of the Internet, it'd actually be easier to cultivate that sort of thing. Instead, the Internet seems to have turned into a sort of Bullshit Zone.

The Internet is just like... when you're a little kid, and you're tryin' to ask a girl out, you'd try to write a love note or something. Because, that's where you got your gusto up, right...?


That's what these forum people are, pretty much. They're gettin' their gusto up, and they're all ready to talk big, and do this or that. But, a lot of it is really irrelevant, when you're just typing...

Typing is kinda, not really the same. don't have any emotion when you're typing. Because, you're just typing! I wanna meet people, and talk to people. That's so much better, and that's why I encourage people to come on up, and talk to me about my art, or just about skateboarding. You can't skate and type at the same time.

One of the things you mentioned, is that you used to mail-order from Pushead. Now, today, we have Internet skate shops. What's your stance on that whole deal? Because, it seems like one of our major debates right now, in the industry, is "what is the future of skateboard shops...?" It just seems like, they're dying...

Right. That, obviously, is a huge, huge issue for everybody that deals with a skateboard, no matter what side you're on. I guess that, first, I'd like to clarify that I don't really... I don't really know what the rest of the skateboard industry is up to. I don't know what they're particularly worried about, I don't really know how their sales are, except that they're probably a little down. I try to ignore the 'greater world of skateboarding', and just focus on the skateboards I'm making, and the stuff I'm doing here.

That being said, when it comes to the shops... we don't deal with too many of the shops. Being a newer brand, many shops won't even return our calls. Or, some of them are taking such a beating right now, that they're not bringing in any new product at all. So, most of the shops that we work with, I feel like they really understand skateboarding, and are concerned with much more than just earning a dollar. They're either skaters, or they're very in tune with the various aspects of skating. It's rare that a shop would just order a popsickle from us, for example. But, we're not really in that many shops. It's just a few.

So, most of your sales are actually done online...?

Well, the truth of it is: Mostly, we just don't have "sales"...


... that's just, a nice, blanket statement...

(More laughing...), if you don't really have sales, then, you don't really worry about 'em...


... but, we do do a little business through the shops. And, some of the shops do some volume. But, most of the time, it's smaller numbers, and we keep small numbers here, and we move out small numbers, so it all works out just fine. We also sell a lot, just by hand. There's a big skate community in Brooklyn... pretty much, when people see our stuff, they buy it. Which is why the limited number of shops that we're in, tend to do a lot of re-ordering.

What I wanted to say... because, it's the truth... is that, our best customer in the New York City area (not including New Jersey)... but, our best NYC shop is Blades Board And Skate. Blades is actually a chain store. It's not a Zumiez, but it is a two-store operation in New York. And, typically, you would consider it more of a mall store. With that being said, they've bought more decks, pound for pound, than any skate shop, anywhere...

So, why can't you sell more stuff, through more "hardcore"skate shops...?

Because, 90% of the shops that we approach won't even return our calls, or write a return letter! Even some of our local, "hardcore"skate shops won't even talk to you, unless you're a major brand, like a Zoo York or something. We've tried to contact a number of shops... I send them all personalized letters, explaining who we are, and what we're all about, and the quality of our stuff. But, we never hear back. Only about five percent of the shops that we write to, ever even bother to write back.

But, Blades did.

Yup. Blades did. So, I'm actually getting most of my support and sales, from the most corporate of shops. Because, they gave me a chance. The buyer looked at our stuff, he took a chance... and, they hung it right over the register. Now, people come in from all over the world, and all over the country... and, they see the boards. And, they like them. So, they take a chance, they buy them, and they go home happy with them.

That actually brings up a good point that I wanted to ask you about. It seems like, maybe 15 years ago, most skateboard companies were actually owned, and run, by skateboarders. Whereas today, more and more often, that's just not the case anymore. More and more skateboard companies are owned by a board of directors, or a whole bunch of shareholders, or by some dude that maybe used to skate, but can't be bothered with it anymore. It just seems like...

Or, a surfer...

Right. Or: A Surfer. Which, y'know... whatever. But: What is happening to this concept of, a skateboard company, that serves skateboarders, that's run by skateboarders, and that supports skateboarding? Where is that going...?

Yeah, well... I think that it's still probably here. There are still other small, solid companies like ours, and they're making good products, and they're struggling to get it out there. But, they're there. And, they're probably the most critical part of the thing.

But really, I could care less what happens to skateboarding. Because, I'll always have my skateboard, y'know? I'll make my own, and I'll always skateboard, personally. So, if my business dies? Or, there's just no more kids in the world, or whatever? It doesn't matter, I'll still make skateboards and whatnot. The corporate stuff is what it is. And, if people are buying corporate stuff instead of your stuff, you just have to deal with it. It's like, how the best-looking guy in your school usually dated the best-looking girl. You could sit there and get all pissed off about it, but it's never gonna change anything. Stealing the girl with your sincerity or sense of humor is where the interest lies. I just concentrate on making the best stuff that I can, and I don't worry about them. I do feel like there should be more companies like me, and there's room for it. And, I feel like the corporate guys will eventually bail out of it. They were in it before, and when the money goes, they go. And, that's fine.

And then, all that will be left, will be skaters.

Yeah. It's kind of like, the blank phenomenon. If you wanna set the whole interview on fire...


You won't get any complaints from me...

My stance is: Bring 'em on! What do I care? If kids wanna buy a blank board, and ride it, versus a different company's printed boards, then they should do that.

Instead of making a huge ado about it.

And, that's all there is to it. Kids should do exactly what they wanna do. They should have a blank board available, because I would rather have a blank board, than 85% of the piece of shit graphics that are out there right now! The quality, whatever... whatever your money buys you, is what you should skate. Whatever you think is a good deal for you. If you can't afford a Funhouse, or you think "This is retarded, I'll never pay that!", then fine: Don't buy it. Buy whatever makes you happy. If you can't afford it? I can understand that. Or, if you can get two shitty decks... or, even two okay ones... for that kind of money? Then, go for it.

The last thing we would wanna do, is stop a skateboarder from skating. If blanks are a part of the market, or a big part of the market, then that's fine. Other companies just got worried, because they weren't doing shit for graphics. They have no identity for their brand, past whoever's skating for them... and, they just don't know what's goin' on. So, of course a kid bought a blank graphic, versus a Ryan Sheckler signature down the whole board... who gives a shit about that?! It just turns kids into billboards.

They become fashion plates, instead of skaters.

That's why I say, bring on a blank. I'd rather see a kid on a blank, than turning them into a damn big-ass advertisement, because they paid this ridiculous amout of money to basically advertise for this company... and, the kids think they're gettin' a deal?! Twenty-five bucks for a company t-shirt, and they put it on, and they're basically advertising?! They're gettin' pimped out! They're walking advertising, and they overpaid for the product?!

If some kid walks into a shop, and puts a blank next to one of my boards, and buys the blank... what does that mean? That means, I didn't do a good enough job on the quality, or a good enough job on the art. It's not their fault, and I'm not mad at that blank board sittin' there. But, some companies get mad about that shit! They're mad about it. I'm like, "Well, make a better skateboard!" That's what the market wants, so give it to'em.

I'd rather see a kid skating on a blank, than not skating at all.

Right. That's it; that's all it comes down to. I want people to look at my stuff, and be inspired enough to buy it. But, if they don't, and they buy a blank? Then, I say: Grab that board, get out there, and get skating!


"Dishwasher", digital illustration, 2001.

Is there anything else you'd like to add...?

Oh, I don't know. Probably, just say "thanks" to people. For me, my skating and my artwork were always nurtured along by somebody else. There's always been someone else there for inspiration, ever since I was young. Skaters that were older, that took me under their wing, and showed me the ropes of punk rock, took me skating, and told me when my bushings were too ragged out, and had to be replaced... and, all these other lessons of life. They know who they are, and I'd like to thank them. I'd also have to thank my wife, Cari, who is the brains behind Funhouse. And, of course, much of the capital...


... she's amazing. I don't know how many wives would let their husbands try and do what we're doin'. And, at the same time, since she got behind me, a lot of good things have happened, like being in Thrasher...

It seems like, as a skater, one of the first things I look for in a girlfriend... is a huge, overabundance of patience...

That's it...! (Laughter...)

So, all you kids out there?! Stop looking for the blonde bombshell, and just look for someone that's really, really patient...


... because, we kinda require that.

Yeah. And, I'm a gnarly 'ol skateboarder, on top of being a freaked-out artist. So, she's got both ends of the spectrum to deal with. But, she does a terrific job, and she's a pretty saavy lady.

So, how long are you going to keep skating...?

As long as I can. I mean, how old can you really get...?

Alrighty, JJ. I'm gonna turn off the recorder now. Say "bye" to the world, buddy!

"Goodbye, Cruel World....!" (Laughter)...

If you have a few minutes kickin' around, take a sec to check out JJ's websites, and


Self-Publishing Kicks Ass...!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

OIS Session at Major Taylor


For several years now, this has been my getaway, my sanctuary... and in many ways, my home. Is the end of an era near...?


The face wall, with "The Widowmaker" in the center, clearly illustrating the extent of the recent tagging.

This week, the guys agreed that we should have today's session at Major Taylor, as it is at risk of being shut down pretty soon. Apparently, Marian College is buying the property that the skatepark sits on... property that's currently owned by the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department. Marian wants to buy the property for it's Velodrome [bike track], golf course, walking trails, et cetera... while the skatepark, on the other hand, is slated for demolition [as always], due to "liability concerns". Now, tell me this: Why in the hell is it that everything else in the recreational world is an "asset", while a skatepark is almost universally considered a "liability"?! It's as if noone could ever possibly get hurt racing a bicycle around in a circle at breakneck speeds or something...


The crew at 8:30 in the morning... just after sunrise... and, maybe a shade over 30 degrees Fahrenheit. These guys don't fuck around. They're as hard as hardcore gets.

Bart, Cody, Chris, and Chuck were already on hand when I arrived, fashionably late as usual. Mike, Jason, Brian, and a bunch of other heads checked in as the morning progressed. It was definitely freezing, and the wind damn near took your breath away... but, it was still a good time. Fer sure.

Bart told me that the winter sessions will more than likely be held up in Muncie, where Bart got the rights (and, the keys) to skate a tubular new 'secret spot'. Oh, wait: Make that, an indoor tubular new 'secret spot'. Let's chalk up a few more genius-points for our fearless ringleader, shall we...?!


Bart had the keen foresight to bring a kerosene-powered jet heater along with him, for us all to warm our hands over. I swear, dude thinks of everything! Seriously. That's probably why he's the ringleader, and we're not.



Brian's kid brought along this gem of a find, right here. A 1988/89 Sims Kevin Staab, complete with Tracker Ultralite Sixtracks, stacked Cellblock risers, rails, and Vision Blurrs. The graphics are way, waaaaay off registration... and, the whole complete is perfectly color-coordinated... which makes it look like it may have been a factory second, probably set up as a budget complete by some mail-order house back in the day. I think the kid said he scored this for like, eight bucks or something. Buy of the day, right there.

The whole session had a sad and subdued feel over it. At least, it did for me. As I did manuals all over the place, all morning long [because, they're always a good time], I realized that these might be the last manuals that I'll ever do at my own, home park. It made me not really want to leave. Ever.

Now, I'm just a little doubtful that "liability concerns" are the sole reasons for Marian College to want to de-burden itself of our beloved skatepark. The truth is, over the years, Major Taylor has been taken completely for granted by the locals... tagged, littered, defaced, destroyed... it's a skatepark that we all use, and many of us abuse... but, noone ever wants to take care of. Or, take any responsibility for. Even if that means doing really basic shit like, leaving it as you found it, or picking up after your own goddamned self.

Everyone, let this be a lesson to ya: Nothing good lasts forever. If you treat a good thing badly...? It doesn't even last half that long. Let's face a few fun facts here: Major Taylor was built in 1999 [or so]
. Considering that it's only 2009 now... you quickly realize that this concrete park was clearly designed and built to last several decades. Maybe even longer than that. Yet: It will probably survive to see only one. What a damn shame...







The many, many examples of graff that you'll find on the walls of Major Taylor. It's good shit, and I'm certainly not the one to get all preachy about censoring self-expression. However: Maybe jeopardizing our skatepark, in hindsight, wasn't the wisest of ideas? Huh...?


Now, here's a sad state of affairs, right here. Note the trail of trash. Also note that, there is a waste receptacle a scant 10 feet from where I am taking this picture. Note that a whole lotta somebodies were too fucking lazy to put the trash, in the waste receptacle. Fuckin' Indy, man. No sense of civic pride or personal responsibility whatsoever...

After the sesh at Major T, Bart, Da Crew, and I made the short dash over to the nearby Soap Box Derby hill at 30th and Kessler. I'd seen it before on my way to and from the park, but I never even thought of stopping and skating it. Thank Gawd that Bart thinks for the rest of us, huh?! All week long, I was getting these reminder e-mails: "Don't forget your longboards, guys!!" Well, this was why. Bart, being the Club Brains, even brought along a Landyachtz Evo, complete with Bear trucks (With 10mm axles!), and Hawgs wheels. A board that I subsequently asked to borrow, and that Bart gracefully loaned. What an all-class guy. He also brought along a few other longboards, too. Just in case anyone managed to forget theirs... or, maybe they don't own one in the first place. That Bart. What a champ.

The downhill sesh was fabtabulous. Cody decided to shine the pre-bomb walk, and just blindly barged it. I blindly dropped in right behind him, and the rest of the gang followed a few seconds later. There were some pretty nasty cracks in the run-out section near the bottom, but we managed to get over 'em in one piece. It's not quite "fun" if there's not a smidge of "scary" tossed in for good measure, now is it...?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Product Review: Skatekings "Slasher" wheels.

Since I have had nowhere to hang Product Reviews in quite some time, I decided to just do it right here on my blog...

Several months back, Skatekings sent me a set of their new Slasher wheels. They are 60mm tall, about 38mm or so wide, 98a duro, and they have an offset core... not, centerset. This does a few things: One, it shifts the bulk of the wheel over the axle nut, protecting it from hitting curbs, the ground, or anything else that would otherwise bash it to bits. Secondly, it gives you a little more "grind room" on the truck, as more of the hangars are exposed than would be with a centerset wheel. Lastly, it changes the flex pattern and sliding qualities of the wheel, as the protruding "lips" are allowed to deform more than on a centerset wheel. The rule is that, offset wheels tend to grip a bit more, and it takes a bit more work to break them into a slide. Skatekings compensates for this by using a relatively slippery urethane, so the wheel still grips well, but slides very, very easily.
Almost too easily, at first.

Here they are!

The wheels are extremely fast. They allowed me to get to places in bowls, that I have never been able to get to before. Even with plain 'ol, greased Quickies, they were ridiculously fast wheels. They were really slippery at first, until the outer skins got roughed up a bit. Then, they were just right. Perfect, really.

Another view...

Would I buy another set of these, or recommend them to others? Absolutely, on both fronts. They did not flatspot, they wore evenly, and they allowed me to do stuff that I'd never in a million years thought that I'd be able to pull off. That, is the mark of not just a good skateboard product... but, a great one. The only bummer was the sketching around and the slipperyness, while I was waiting for them to break in. Which is common on many other wheels, anyway. So, that's manageable enough. And, for what you get out of 'em, in the long run... it's definitely worth the patience.

The test unit: A Real Aces III prototype, with Indy 169's, 1/2" risers, and greased Quickies.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another OIS Session

The crew.

This morning, the OIS [Old Indy Skaters] got together for another fun Saturday morning session. Lucky for me, I was invited, as I have been for the past few weeks. Of course, I went. I'm no dummy!

The weather was sunny, but very, very cold. Still, we still had a pretty good turnout nonetheless. I shot a few rolls of film (color, as well as 1-hour process b&w)... but, more importantly, I finally remembered to get the mandatory "crew shot". Here it is!

Pictured (from left, to right) are:

Some little kid that wandered into the photo;
Tim's daughter (I'm awful with names);
Bart, The Ringleader;
Tim, The Tornado;
Kiley, The Awesome One (Bart's daughter);
Cody (Fucking ripper, holy shit, this guy's nuts!);
and Chuck, the newest addition to Da Crew.

Notably missing are Jason (probably working at his shop, Straight Up Skateshop), and Ron, who has been MIA for a couple weeks now.

These guys come in from far and wide to get together and skate once a week, as a group. Great-ass people, fun times, lots of laughs, rain or shine, wind or cold, healthy or sore, male or female... and, maybe best of all: Welcoming vibes all around.

To me, that's what "hardcore" should be.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Richmond Loop; November 27th, 2009

Today, I went on an extended trip to Richmond, Indiana and back. My itinerary took me through several small towns that all had skateparks that I wanted to document for the guys at Concrete Disciples. Here's how my day unfolded:

I actually got up before the crack of dawn, which was around 6:20 am. I can never sleep very well before a big adventure. Insomnia and excitability strike again...! Happens every time, I swear it does.


First stop: Lawrence, Indiana's skatepark. The last time I went, it was waaaaaay too crowded to skate. But, 8am on a frigid, 30-degree morning is much, much more accomodating. Unfortunately, the place was locked up tight. Uh-oh! So, I called the number on the bottom of this here sign, to see if the Parks Dept. dudes would unlock the place. Well, this number here goes to the Police Dept., not the Parks Dudes. Whoops! So, as I stood against the fence, trying to explain why I was calling the Police at an ungodly hour... lo and behold, the fucking door I was leaning on just up and falls open! "Never mind, officer. I'll just go on my sorry way, I guess." I hung up, laughed aloud, and barged my ass in there.


The open door, lock still right in place. Weirdness.


The bowl was pretty fun. A little slippery, but fun.


Now, don't ask me why they bothered to fully light up a skatepark, that [apparently] isn't open at night. Waste of money? Or, merely an invite to break in during dark hours, too?


All skaters, remember: Leave Only Urethane, Take Only Pictures! That's code for "Leave shit the way you found it". I subscribe to good manners, and thus, I locked the place up tight before I left. Skateboarding rewards good karma points. Seriously.


Between Lawrence and Fortville, Indiana. You find the most random stuff for sale along the side of the road, including this windmill and caboose.


McCordsville, Indiana. I found this perfectly skateable double-sided curb, right in the middle of town. I thought of de-flowering it, until I realized 1. I'm not 16 anymore, and 2. It'd probably be more noble to leave it for some local skater to discover, wax up, and break in. Go get 'er, guys.


McCordsville, Indiana.


Fortville, Indiana's skatepark.


A composite view of Fortville's skatepark, giving a panoramic perspective for the guys at Concrete Disciples.


Downtown Fortville, Indiana.


Here in Indiana, we have these things that I call "Cornfield Housing Projects". Some farmer runs low on working capital, sells off some fields... and, in come the housing developers, building houses faster than buyers can line up for 'em. A visual blight on an otherwise idyllic landscape, between Fortville and Lapel, Indiana.


Lapel, Indiana.


Lapel's skatepark... oh, man. What a joke this is. I have a personal rule, that I skate every single skatepark that I visit... regardless of it's age, condition, or size. But, this was just too much to deal with.


Oddest thing was, as I was walking the periphery of the park, I began to see depth markers and "No Diving" stencils painted on the concrete, when I realized... there's a pool buried here! Maybe Lapel should have shined the prefab shitstacles, and dug whatever this is out of it's earthly grave, instead.


Downtown Lapel, Indiana. This is a holding silo for corn destined for an ethanol processing plant.


If a caboose isn't quite up your alley, maybe you should try this '60s era crane on for size. Between Lapel and Anderson, Indiana.



Anderson's skatepark. Very good for such an economically depressed town, but very "street-plaza". Great for the kids, I'm sure. But, nothing for me here.


A sign of some pretty heavy-handed police spying tactics at the Anderson skatepark. Kinda weirded me out a little.


There used to be a skate shop right next door to the Anderson skatepark called Life... but, no more. Maybe if Steve Berra had materialized in time to deem it 'cool', and stolen a few G's of their cash... maybe, they would have pulled through...


Anderson's remaining skate/bike shop, Bikes 2 Boards.




Upon walking in, I was visually fly-tackled by hordes of antique and classic bicycles, literally all over the damned place. Charlie Peters is the proprietor, as well as the collector responsible for the hundreds... literally, hundreds... of classic bikes in the store. He took the time to give me a little tour of his collection, and man, was I ever bowled over senseless. Total craziness. There must be a few hundred G's worth of shit in those rafters. And, the skateshop was pretty cool, as well...


New Castle, Indiana's disaster of a skateboard park. Seriously? It's not even safe to approach, let alone, attempt to skate.



Documenting the disaster.


More blight in New Castle. This time, in left-for-dead convenience-store form.


Next stop: Hardcore Sports, on Broad Street in New Castle. If you think the skatepark is in bad shape, you should see downtown New Castle. Vacant storefronts all over the place. Hardcore is one of the few remaining businesses, and as always, the place looks sharp as a tack...


... inside, as well as out. Best part of the place? The vibe is even better than the aesthetics.


The skate area is small, but always well-stocked, clean, and organized. I love these guys!



There's actually two shops in New Castle. Hardcore, which is a bit more "bike". And Imagine, which is a lot more "records". And posters, and band tees, and hair dye, and everything else music-lifestyle. Like the guys at Hardcore, though, Mike at Imagine was a real champ. Different flavors, but still, all good.


Instead of doing Richmond, then Connersville, I decided to do Connersville first... just because, time was running low, and it was closer to New Castle. This park was in an awful state... better than New Castle, but not a whole lot more. And, fucking bikers everywhere. This one wasn't worth skating, either....





... but, this one always is! Richmond, Indiana's most excellent (and, fun!) outdoor skatepark. Fun lines everywhere, great bowl, not a whole lotta kids, and the three skaters there were hella cool. Always remember: Being Cool Truly Is A Universal Language.


Last stop of the day: Boards Inc, in downtown Richmond, Indiana.


Dave Wetherell, the manager of the place, and really nice guy.


The first thing that I noticed: The vintage skate logos everywhere. Immediately, I felt right at home. And, it felt really, really good.



The park looked killer. I might add: All of those ramps are surfaced with three layers of 1/2" sanded Birch plywood. Wow. Amazing.


Especially this, right here. If I hadn't wrecked myself skating Richmond's outdoor park so much today, I might have had the energy to give this a whirl. But, there's always a next time. So, next time it shall be.