Monthly Archives: April 2013

Flame Boy vs Porn, Suicide, and Racism

It’s hard to describe to young bucks that there was a time in skateboarding where Blind and World Industries were so in demand. It wasn’t always parent friendly cartoon characters battling each other. My friends and I would call to see when the “World Boxes” were arriving and would be waiting to see what new graphic was out. All the brands out of the World Camp overproduced new graphics, so by the time a catalog came out they already had newer boards out. Shop owners hated it. We loved it. A lot of the time a new board was waiting in that box that was never seen before. Sometimes, that board was too raw to be on the board rack at all. More often than not actual Shop owners couldn’t seem to find to find a spot next to their Hawk Skulls, McGill Skulls, O’Brien Skulls, or Zorlac Skulls for Crack Pipes, Napping Negros, or Satan. Mom’s weren’t too thrilled seeing altered Romance Novels or White Girls sucking on Chocolate Popsicles let alone a busty brunett fucking a giant spark plug. Skaters on the other hand were stoked. Steve Rocco pushed the envelope and with Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas, and Rodney Mullen by his side World was unstoppable.

The Natas Challenger board actually offended me. I thought it was in poor taste because that event was a major impact on my life at the time. How dare Rocco poke fun at a national tragedy! In retrospect I was as guilty as the moms pissed about the Randy Colvin board. Pearl necklaces and poorly drawn vaginas were ok but, the Challenger was off limits? Not by a long shot. The Lynch Mob board was probably my favorite because it confronted rasism head on by using ALL of the no no words. To say the World Camp was ahead of the rest of the skateboard companies is not fair. They were light years beyond them. A small independent company changed the format of skateboarding and the big companies had to fight to survive.

There will never be another time like this in skateboarding. It was such a drastic change and it was so raw that it was a one time event. The riders, board shapes, graphics, advertising, videos, and business ethics out of World Industries camp was genius. If people didn’t like it, they were probably old fucks afraid of change and losing control of “their” industry or Bible Thumping weirdos. As bad as the 90s got, they were one of my favorite timelines in skating. Hate Rocco? More like Hail Rocco. -ERL

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World Spring 1991

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Blind & 101 Spring 1991

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Liberty Spring 1991

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World & 101 Fall 1991

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Ghetto Wear Fall 1991

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Blind & Liberty Fall 1991

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World 1992 Spring

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Blind & Plan B Spring 1992

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101 & World Spring 1992

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Blind, 101, & World Spring 1992

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World Spring 1992

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Makes and Breaks

There’s always been a certain mentality you require to stick with skateboarding. Just like everything else, it’s easy to start. Buy or borrow a board and figure out the basics, pushing, balance, and how to turn. Once you get the basics it’s time to learn the tricks, small ones at first because it’s all new still. Back in the day was great, often times you “made up a trick” and gave it some odd 80’s name. The purity of not knowing what had and had not been done yet was golden. They say “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt” and that saying applies so much to skateboarding. One day it happens, you finally slam violently on cement and get hurt.

Getting broke off proper while skating changes the course of a lot of skaters. People figure out that skating is not easy, slamming can wreck you for months, and parents aren’t too thrilled about ER visits. There is so much dedication and mental warfare to overcome while trying to land a trick you got hurt trying previously. Sometimes you reach a mental barrier you can no longer cross. I broke my ankle during a trip to San Francisco that got in my head and stayed there, I was scared. That fear stuck with me ever since, although I still continue to break and tear parts of my body skating. If you truly Love something eventually it’s going to hurt you and if you really do love it, you can’t quit.

This is Mitch Haight ollieing a gap that no one knew was a gap until he did it. He might have been scared to try it but, Mitch has that mentality that allows him to overcome fear and doubt. It’s that drive that has him ripping Reno apart. Is the risk worth the reward? It is by all means to us, it’s everything. – ERL

Boom. Dane Haman photo.

Boom. Dane Haman photo.

Flip a Coin

In the 80s and 90s there was never a bigger example of taking sides than the Hosoi vs Hawk debates. Tech or style? Power or precision? Flow or difficulty? These things were part of taking sides for or against two of the most popular skaters of the day. For whatever reason, you had to take a side. I took Christians side although, I didn’t dislike Hawk. You know who did? Kooky punk rock dudes rebelling against the poster boy of innovation.

Around that same time Natas Kaupas and Mark Gonzales were changing the way we rode our skateboards in the streets. By changing I mean rewriting how it was done. The blue print that Rodney Mullen created was being used by Natas and Gonzales to challenge what could be done while “Street Style” skating. Take a mix of Vert and Freestyle moves to the streets and you’ve got a blank canvas for anything and everything. It was a time like no other in skating. There will never be period like that again where so many tricks were created. Plus there was this guy with a different name and a tough looking graphic. A name like Natas on the bottom of a board with a panther? Parents were confused by it and skaters were lined up for it.

Everything was changing right under their feet.

Even though the Gonz and Natas were on the same page during the street skating movement, they positively had their own unique styles. Just that time in skating allowed so much creativity and spontaneity that you could make a trick yours. There were no rules stating tricks had to be done a certain way because they hadn’t been done yet. The door was wide open to anything and nothing was really considered uncool.

I wonder if Natas could.....yeah, he could.

I wonder if Natas could…..yeah, he could.

The thing about both Natas and Gonz was no one really took sides. You never had to choose between Gonz or Natas. It was hard to compare their skating against each other even if you wanted to. How can anyone judge that type of creativity or invention? What they did was so special their individual styles complimented each other in such a way that it pushed boundaries. Me and my friends looked at a trash can or picnic table and said, “I bet Natas could ollie that.” or “I wonder if the Gonz could board slide something that high?”.

Natas had that surf style background and flowed through the streets. Gonz, to this day I can’t describe his style. It was just rad Gonz style. I think Natas never really quite gets the proper recognition he should. The kids just don’t know. Older guys get what he did and how far ahead of everyone he was. I think after he broke his ankle so badly in 92, he didn’t get the opportunity to keep pushing it like Gonzales did. Any Natas sitings were that much cooler and the few clips he had on Element was a sight for sore eyes. The Gonz just keeps on killing it and innovating to this day.

Before Duffy took it to the next level, Natas made it possible.

Before Duffy took it to the next level, Natas made it possible.

Natas briefly rode for my wheel company and expressed concerns based on not having any interest in demos, filming, touring, and limited exposure in ads. I could of cared less, I had Natas Kaupas riding for my team and that was the same dude I had on my walls as a kid. The same pictures are now on the walls of my shop. Skateboarding keeps evolving but, you have no future without a past. The tricks are bigger and kids see the past getting more and more distant. Style will always be what separates legends from “that one guy”. -ERL