Monthly Archives: September 2012

Experimental Marketing

Once upon a time before the video star, you had to be a pretty heavy contender in the contest circuit to be considered for a Pro Model. Top 10 I recall was the cutoff to make the jump for Amateur to Professional. It makes perfect sense because it shows how consistent you are and maybe how good your skating evolved from first getting sponsored. There were some guys that you could clearly see were the next Pros and there where the guys who kind of leveled off. You earned it in a way that was more raw than the video star. Don’t get me wrong, video parts are stellar. I mean the David Gonzales part just dropped, it’s insane. Next level madness from the current generation that is taking it to another plane of rawness. The Girl/Chocolate video is coming and they have never put out anything less than excellent. Back to the point, the early 80s and 90s skaters had to compete to show the goods. If they a bad day there was no chance to comeback the next day and retry it. Skate good, land your run, and you were on the way to getting your own model as a Pro.

Mike Vallely experimenting with a shape.

I was curious about what boards the Ams would ride. I know it had mostly to do with the shape and what they liked. Did the company ever suggest what graphic they rode to promote a current Pro? It makes sense that the bigger companies might try and do that to sell more of a certain product. If that was the case, I bit. If I had a certain Am or Pro I liked, I would ride their gear. I emulated John Lucero and Jeff Grosso’s sticker jobs. Seeing them skate for different companies and putting each others stickers on their boards just seemed cool. Neil Blender and Lance Mountain did the same thing. Supporting your friends doing what you love is the goods. Then being the golden age of skate graphics made it that much more memorable.

They had me at Experimental

I remember how stoked I was seeing these Powell & Peralta Experimental stickers. Ray Underhill came up with an idea for a graphic for future Pros to have on their “experimental” shapes. When Powell & Peralta were on top, all I thought was one of the Bones Brigade was getting a new shape and graphic when I saw this design. Talk about hyping up the next Pro. It was even cooler when an Am had one, a new Pro model and graphic was in the future. Once you saw a rider that had it on his board, kids would ask the shop owners when the new “whoever” Pro Model would be at the shop. In turn the shop owners would contact their sales reps asking the same question. Powell & Peralta were the only ones doing it this way. On occasion you would see someone riding a blank board with stickers on it but, that was pretty dull in comparison. Just like Rome, Powell & Peralta eventually fell. Some of the guys who had the experimental graphic left for better things. Jim Thiebaud left and turned Pro for SMA with one of the most sought after graphics of all time. DC Comics ceased and desisted his very first Pro Model. Vernon Courtlandt Johnson was responsible for some of the most legendary designs at Powell and I still wonder what VCJ would have drawn up for Jim. It was great to see him finally draw up a graphic for Jesse Martinez 20 years in the making. The memories these old boards are like pictures to me. Remembering where I was, what tricks I was doing, and all the friends involved. Glory days each and everyone of them. -ERL

Ray Underhill before the Cross and Chain graphic. RIP.

Lance Conklin earning his at the Am Finals Reno NV.

Mystery shape from Jim Thiebaud.

I had it and even then the shop guy said not to skate it, DC Comics was going to kill it.


From the Lot to the League

The day started off pretty standard, I was sitting in the parking lot of the Amazon Distribution Center in Fernley NV waiting for my shift to start. I would listen to music and prep myself for another 10 hour shift while watching the most unique humans walk by. Temp workers are an interesting species to say the least. You get all sorts of people looking for a quick paycheck or a second try to work themselves into a better financial scale in life. I myself worked outside of my skate shop because I knew as long as I worked, I’d never have to rely on taking money from the shop and it would be self sustained. I would make quick calls to my distributers during 15 minute breaks to make orders. On 1/2 hour lunch breaks I would call the shop to see how things were going and what needed to be done. The job was hell and running the shop in increments added to the stress of working at Amazon during their busiest season. After my shift was over I would drive to Classic to see how the day went and rush home to eat and go straight to bed. I excelled at my job and was made a supervisor who audited the docks, the last place to insure packages would make it to the correct destination. Everyday I would see the sun go down faster and had a hard time skating let alone making sure Classic stayed on point.

On this particular day I had an email from an old friend, Rob Dyrdek. Rob for whatever reason had always had my back since we first met in 96. Sometime around 2004 he fought hard for me to become the DC Shoes Team Manager. A position I had for about an entire day before a friend of mine, Heath Brinkley was offered the job. That’s where the majority of my grey hair came from. The bad news was I lost out on my dream job, the good news being I had free shoes for the next couple of years. Rob asked me if I would be interested in a job at Street League that he lined up. I was invited to go to the finals in Las Vegas the year before and was sold, seeing it in person is a whole other level of rad. When I had a chance to call him he explained the job to me and that I would be traveling to Seattle, Kansas City, Phoenix, and New Jersey to keep the show flawless. Rob knew I was friends with or acquainted with most of the Pros in Street League so it was an easy transition although I had never worked on live television. After a phone meeting with Brian Atlas, I discussed the proposition with my girlfriend of quitting my job at Amazon to start touring with my friends and get back into the side of skateboarding I was in before I moved back to Reno. Being the amazing person she is, Megan agreed it was a no brainer. I was ecstatic when I left that parking lot the last time. Although I pulled the trigger early and was hurting for those last few paychecks I should have waited out.

I’ve always been afraid to fly. That being said, I was the first person on the scene of an airplane crash out in Fallon NV and about a year later saw an airplane crash right in front of me at the Reno airport. Although they were both Cessna prop planes, those images were heavily burnt into my brain. My first stop for Street League was in Seattle WA and would you know it, I was flying in on an Alaska Airline turbo prop plane. Why would it be any other way? My cherry was getting popped back into the ways of flight and it was hell all the way there. I’m sure the flight was actually a smooth ride but, I was a mess. I made it there, took the transit to my hotel, and made my way to the arena to check out the scene. I saw Rob and the first thing he said was, “Eric Lantto are you ready for the most stressful job in Street League?” and I replied “You know that I am”. He introduced me to the crew and staff, the ESPN guys, and I went to check out the course. It seemed like it was a lot to take in but, I was in my element the moment I got off that plane.

The next morning I met with all the guys I would be working with. I had become friends with Paul Rodriguez and Mikey Taylor from the City Stars days. Actually when I knew Paul was becoming PRod and he was on the verge of blowing up I cornered him in the elevator. I told Paul if I ever saw him even if it was years from then and he didn’t talk to me I was going to put the hurt on him. He said, “I know you will Eric” and from that day had always stayed the same person. Paul has never let his success change him as a person, true blue and a loyal friend. The same goes for Rob, money and fame has not changed the person who did a demo in the back of Addiction Skate Shop on a quarter pipe. Rob was a Reno fixture there for a few years. I met all the other guys and broke down how the contest was going to go with me on board. The contest went well, I made one mistake and made sure to never send anyone out of order again. No matter what though, I still fanned out on Koston….I mean it’s Eric Koston right?

From Seattle we had three more stops and I was hooked. I did my job well and I was working with the best skateboarders surrounded by 15,000 screaming fans. I built solid relationships with a lot of good people. Working out tricks and runs with Malto, Mike Mo, Chris Cole, and Paul were some experiences that are golden. Street League is my perfect element and I never took one stop for granted. I ruptured my achilles tendon four weeks before Kansas City and had food poisoning the night before my flight and I knew there was no way I was going to throw in the towel. I limped around stage and the walk back and forth to the hotel was murder but, there was no way I’d miss out on a KC trip. Kansas City rules, and Malto’s fan base there is insane. Thousands of fans screaming “Let’s Go Malto Let’s Go!” and holding up signs dissing the other Pros was amazing. Sean is another guy that is true blue. I met him once at the Phoenix Am contest years before and he remembered my name and was genuinely stoked I would be touring with them. Every stop we would time his run together and discuss different tricks. I say that in a manner of graciousness, I take all of these experiences with such grateful attitude. I have always worked with and been involved with this side of skateboarding and now that I’m older, I appreciate it so much more.

My last stop was August of this year in New Jersey and as I write this I’m decompressing from the high I get from being involved with such a great organization. The job is fast and stressful, there can be no mistakes on my part. That is the element I thrive in, it’s something I have never taken for granted and each year has been better than the previous. I am able to tour the country with my friends and witness guys puling tricks that could be video part enders first try. With all the money on the line and being surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, it’s still just skateboarding and the guys are having fun skating. The misconception of some of the guys I work with is just plain funny to me. I’m honored to be around some of the most respectful and talented skateboarders ever. To me it is like one big Shred Sunday and the vibe is the same. A solid crew of skaters getting together to shred on the weekend. It’s all skateboarding and that’s why I’m involved 100%. I’m counting down the minutes to next year, from what I hear it’s going to be the best one yet. Thank you Rob Dyrdek and Brian Atlas for the opportunity to shine. -ERL

In the eye of the hurricane. Forrest Locke photo.

Game face with the best guys doing what we love. Forrest Locke photo.

Shred Sundays

Shred Sundays is something that started out a little over two years ago. A simple idea to get more people involved in skating outside of the confines of the skate parks. There was always about 5 – 8 friends that showed up and were down for the cause. Through the magic of social networking more and more people kept asking about it and always said, “It looks like you guys are having so much fun” and I would agree. Everyone started out skating because it was fun, bottom line. Every Sunday we meet at Classic Skate Shop and map out spots that are fun, raw street, ditches, ramps, and spots that are sometimes a bust. That’s what you get rolling the dice street skating. There’s no clicks, no one uppers, no cool guys, and no bad vibes. We snap photos for Skate NV and just skate. It goes down every Sunday all year unless it’s snowing and often times we find a dry spot regardless. This past Sunday was one for the books. A ton of friends, cool spots, a boom box, and some brews. Check it out someday and bring your crew. Skating at it’s finest with some damn cool folks. It’s not Shred Somedays, it’s Shred Sundays! Bring it! -ERL

Getting down for the get down.

Oh God! Why Can’t My Boyfriend Skate Still?!

“I quit being a quitter” is something I heard from Jeff Toland a million times back in the day. Jeff always had some witty and brilliant one liners. Since then I’ve used the same line and it made more sense the older I became. What started as something funny to say about drinking, drugs, and any particular bad habit became a view on skateboarding for me. Mostly due to all of the random, “I used to skate” stories I would hear from older cats. “I used to skate until I fell and broke my elbow” or add any other body part has been like a broken record player as they say. Follow that up with a quick “I quit being a quitter” and the conversation would be short. Obviously there are dramatic injuries that keep you off your board and some that can make you have to hang it up for good. That being said, there’s basic hard slams, broken this or that, and black out head slams that you deal with as a lifer.

When I first started skating it was on an up swing as far as popularity goes. A lot of people were into it because it was the newest thing to be a part of. Once I got hooked that was all she wrote. In a years time skateboarding died. The popularity just plunged and the 20 plus guys that skated the year before shrank down to maybe 5 of us. To top that off, the guys who quit decided the rest of us who kept skating were deemed “skate fags” and other colorful terms. Skate fags, skate and destroy, and the always popular “skater faggots!” were shouted from monster trucks driving by. To add insult to injury, we would often find our ramps and props ran over by these same guys who used to skate. That was the 80s and most of the 90s until the X-Games came along and made things acceptable amongst the general population.

Throughout the years skating I was never that guy who considered trying to become sponsored. Don’t get me wrong, being sponsored looked like a great plan. Talent wise I didn’t have the juice, true story. Kicking around mongo and skating everything was how it went down. Mini ramps, vert ramps, pools, street, hills, curbs, and just about anything we could find. I always had an interest the industry side of things. Advertisements, production, team management, and R&D had me curious and that’s where I ended up. Being shop sponsored and entering contests was always fun though, I still like contests to this day. I’ll run into old friends and they’ll ask if I’m still skating which I can only reply, “yep, usually three or four times a week.”. Their response is usually odd, almost disappointed in a way. Almost like they saw a piece of their youth go away when they quit skating. Life won and now they cling to memories because it was time to be an adult.

Growing up in a time period where you were hated because you rode a skateboard has certainly gave me a chip on my shoulder. Something about the cobwebbed skateboards suddenly appearing at the local skateparks rubbed me wrong. There were people showing up in droves now that it was easy. Where were you for the struggle, when there were no parks and we had to build our own spots? I fought for my scene and my friends when a truck load of dudes pulled over just to kick a skaters ass. All the SODC, 293, live4die4, and Reno Zoo guys get what I mean. Reno was rough business for a long time. Skin heads, jocks, cowboys, and wannabe gangster dudes looking to start shit with some guys skating down town. Shit was hectic and at the same point it was worth the fight. Pride heals a hell of a lot slower than a black eye.

Now days I look at how big and accepted skating is and I can’t help but smile. The more the merrier and now it’s more than ever. No matter what chip I carry on my shoulder skating will always be the same. It’s the best thing around and there will always be a brother-ship because it hasn’t changed that much. We will always be kicked out of spots, be outnumbered in sketchy situations, and forever be harassed by Cops. Reno has always had such a strong scene and it’s gotten stronger. Gone are the days where you could tell who skated by their shoes, but the actual feeling will always remain. Thanks to all the guys who fought the good fight when the road wasn’t so smooth, it’s been a hell of a ride. Thanks for taking the lumps, J.T. Gurzi, Dirt Collins, Ozzy Alvarez, Erik Jensen, Beau Bevier, Deejay Saurus, Kelly Haugen, Mark Carlisle, Jake Griffin, Toby Riley, Dean Christopher, Scott Waters, Greg Janess, the SAPS, John Ludwick, Justin Hay-Chapmin, Chris Williamson, Corey Etchinek, Rod Roland, Kyle Volland, Scott Brown, Spencer Benavides, Beau Shaver (RIP), Britt Del Carlo, Andy McKennie, Bryan Nolte, Tony Hospital (RIP), Ray Henderson, Chris Carnel, Daryl DiBattista, Lee Elmaker, Tim Loesch, JD, Ian James, Boozer, Chris Steurer, Daryl Pierce, Jeremy Bradley, Chris Eidem, Steve Stubblefield (RIP), Jimmy Allred, Steve Schmitt, and anyone else that stood their ground. The stories we’ll always have are well worth the scars to back them up.   -ERL

On to the next big thing.

On The Wall with Jared Isenberg

At some point everyone has opened a Thrasher, Transworld, Power Edge, etc and saw a picture that floored them. There’s going to be that one shot that made it on the wall above all others. There may have been an entire wall covered in pages pulled from magazines or posters but, there is always one that will stand out 20 + years down the road. I asked five people from Aces Tattoo to recall their favorite image of all time and discuss why it made such a memorable impact. Five skaters, all different ages, different generations, and unique personalties sharing their favorite photos that made it on the wall. Next up is Jared Isenberg.

1. Jared,  this is a tough question because skating is so unique and styles reign supreme in so many different eras but, what photo would you say is your favorite of all time?

Gonz -Thrasher cover September 1986.

2. Describe what it is about the image that made it your favorite, although it is a Gonz photo so it’s going to be a keeper.

Gonz was my idol. Look at that shit, Indy Boneless. Rad! This photo single handedly made me stop using rails, not to mention he’s riding my favorite board of all time.

3. Is this photo more about the trick at the time, the actual photography, or a blend of everything?

It’s not the trick really. I like the yellows and blues! I love the movement of this photo.

4. Was the Gonz your favorite at the time or was it purely based on the photograph?

Fuck yeah. Hands down fave, tied with Rick Windsor who never got enough coverage.

Even then he was changing everything.

Even then he was changing everything.

5. To even mention Windsor is rad, underground ripper. How about an of the older advertisements? Was there one particular skate ad that made you run out and buy it up?

No ad ever made me buy anything but, the World/Blind ads in the late 80s early 90s ruled. Especially the Powell one, “Dear George”.

I have that ad on the wall at the shop!  Thanks Jared, everything Gonz is the right stuff. – ERL

On The Wall with Jake Griffin

At some point everyone has opened a Thrasher, Transworld, Power Edge, etc and saw a picture that floored them. There’s going to be that one shot that made it on the wall above all others. There may have been an entire wall covered in pages pulled from magazines or posters but, there is always one that will stand out 20 + years down the road. I asked five people from Aces Tattoo to recall their favorite image of all time and discuss why it made such a memorable impact. Five skaters, all different ages, different generations, and unique personalties sharing their favorite photos that made it on the wall. First up is Jake Griffin.

1. Jake, it’s a tough question because skating is so unique and styles reign supreme in so many different eras but, what photo would you say is your favorite of all time?

This took all of about five minutes for me to choose this photo, the one of Matt Hensley doing a frontside ollie on the underside of a freeway overpass bridge. 

2. Damn, great shot. Legendary for sure, what was it is about the image that made it your favorite.

The thing about the photo is pretty much the danger involved, not to mention it shows the kind of “seek and destroy” attitude that helps define what skateboarding is all about. There’s the risk of Hensley himself shooting off the side of the bridge to a most certain death and there’s the possibility of his board shooting out into unsuspecting traffic. It just looks like the whole lot of those dudes were having a fucking blast on the bridge that day.

3. Is this photo more about the trick at the time, the actual photography, or a blend of everything?

It’s a bit of both, any Hensley trick in a magazine back then was a treat…even the basic ollie. As for the photography, Sturt took (takes) some of the best pictures in the business. I dig how he incorporates the danger involved in skating…and none more dangerous than this one, or at least it’s perceived that way. 

4. There was nothing safe about this one, gimme danger! Was Matt Hensley your favorite at the time or was it purely based on the photograph?

Hensley? Hell yes he was one of my favorites! The dude was a beast, not even in the gnarly sense either, he just oozed skating and style. I remember each time a new issue of any skate mag would come out I would dig deep, hoping there was something new from him. I can honestly say that I rocked the cut off cargo shorts and royal blue tee because of him, but on the same token I never fell into the chain wallet craze that he seemed to influence.

5. I thought it was cool he rocked the chain wallet because Jason Jessee did and then influenced everyone because of it. How about an advertisement? Was there one particular skate ad that made you run out and buy it up?

I was never really influenced by ads in skateboarding. I was usually broke all the time so buying into advertisement was never really an option as much as trying to get a hook up was. Fortunately I had a few friends who worked at shops or a friend who actually worked at H-Street who would kick down product, which was awesome because at the time H-Street was the shit.

H-Street was the business until it wasn’t, thanks Jake. Great choice. -ERL

The simplicity of style and danger comes through with a legendary shot by Daniel Harold Sturt.

You Still Skate?

I recall a time where most of my troubles could be solved a lot easier in my younger years. Solved might be a strong word for the situation. More like,”temporary solution” fits the bill. From Jr High I could grab my skateboard and blur out any form of teen angst that I had building up. I imagine this was a common outlet for most kids my age and obviously stands true to today. I saw it as a better outlet than partying or hanging out in a parking lot looking for fights.

If your parents were fighting, grab your board and go skate. Troubles at school or with your girlfriend? Go skate! The focus and energy it takes to ride your board and learn a new trick takes hours, days, and weeks. It was an amazing distraction indeed. You were going to get some lumps and have to figure out what you were doing wrong to avoid the slam. The problem was still there when you were done, you just took a positive break from reality with a few scrapes and bruises to think about.

Problems gain stature with age. Bills, foreclosure, divorce, unemployment, stress, and death are things we have to deal with now more than ever. Get a break and dust off that old friend you’ve left in the back of the garage because you’re “too old”. The utter challenge of reclaiming some old moves will be liberating. You’ll also be surprised how many other old bastards are at the skatepark getting some therapy. If you’re afraid you’ll fall, you will. Just as in life you have to pick yourself up and learn from your mistakes. I can’t think of a better way to live. All of the young bucks out there, keep pushing. Live fast and live long! -ERL