After the Death Race contest in Fallon NV and copious amounts of pizza and beverages, we headed to the “Old High School”. Talks about a 10 stair had the crew ready for more. The stairs out front, the flat gap, and the stair gap into the street got handled. Some of the crew got dealt as well. The sun started it’s way to the other side of the world and the day ended like it began, just a bunch of skaters hanging out shooting the shit. Good times and great people. These are the days. -ERL
After a solid 20 year run Blind and Ronnie Creager have parted ways. Ronnie is the last link to a time where Blind skateboards was actually a groundbreaking company. Although, Blind should have been dismantled as a company after Mark Gonzales left the brand. All of the key ingredients that separated Blind from other companies were missing. The entire roster from Video Days were gone, they all left after The Gonz split. No Jason Lee, no Rudy Johnson, no Guy, and no Jordan Richter. That Team was so unique and the vibe you got from Video Days was so good, it should have ended there. Nothing against Tim Gavin or Henry Sanchez, Pack of Lies was so good. Brian Lotti was such an innovator and kept that style through all the pressure flip madness. By the time Lavar McBride was on it seemed like Blind was just a completely different company. It might as well been World Industries 2.0 and again, this isn’t a knock against the actual team or the skating. It’s like watching your favorite movie then when the sequel drops, it’s not the original cast and they story is bad. Because the first movie made a lot of money they have to make a sequel. “Conan the Barbarian” is a good example. It was raw, brutal, bloody, violent, and rated R. The sequel was “Conan the Destroyer” and it was awful. Rated PG, soft, weak, and senseless. By making it not so violent and controversial it made more money. Gonz was the Barbarian and anything after was the Destroyer. Literally, think the Reaper character they use.
Mark Gonzales also started ATM Click and was rad. Then he left and they kept it going as just ATM. It wasn’t the same either, $30 boards can be found at Dumiez in every mall across America. The thing with Blind was they always had some of the best guys on the team. I’m friends with guys who rode for Blind and they are still killing it to this day. With Creager, he never stopped innovating or even came close to slowing down. Despite all the team changes, it was always “Yeah but, Creager’s dope.” and he would come through with that smooth style and tech degree from the early 90s. That OG feel that made Blind have some form of roots and a relatable past. That style of skating that reminds you of why people say he should have been on Girl or Chocolate. Style like that doesn’t get old no matter what the current stair count is.
Not every company can be Girl or Chocolate. They seem to have a game plan unlike any other skate company. It must be nice to be Gino, Koston, or Chico and jump in the van to go on tour with a company that turned 20 years old. The same van that has the Trunk Boyz in it. They cared enough to take away Guy’s Pro Model board until he got healthy. Even when times were probably not the best, they didn’t retire Gino for lack of footage. Want to talk about a family vibe? The Crail Camp has it on lock. Steve Caballero has been the face of Powell/Powell & Peralta for three decades. He has riden for them for almost 34 years. Along the way I’m sure he had plenty of offers to leave and he stayed loyal, even when Powell kooked it and took away his Pro Models for a couple of years in the late 90s.
20 years is a long haul in any career. Think of how many 90s pros have disappeared. Sometimes we get comfortable in our position in the work field and change is good. Change usually breeds new life and creativity in people to find something new. Skateboarding is no different. Hopefully Ronnie gets sparked up and drops something heavy on our heads to remind us of why he’s on so many skater’s top 10 lists. That board control, trick selection, and style separates the Kostons, Howards, Daewons, Mullens, and Creagers from the “whoevers”. It always has and it always will. -ERL
The high suggested 22 degrees was all the mercy we were going to get from Mother Nature. The snow had been scraped and there were a few options besides strictly parking garages. They are always dry but, the lack of sun is brutal. For the first time in a few decades my bushings froze up to the point where they might as well been made out of steel. No turning means no control and rickety style.
The rest of the crew had zero problems adapting their Speeders to the cold. Hot coffee, hot chocolate, and constant motion was the name of the game. As much as an indoor park would have been lovely, I felt better about skating in a frozen hell with a good crew. I’d rather suffer than get soft.
Winter skating takes me back to the day where you and your crew would skate no matter what. You would skate the curb spot by where the jocks hung out even though you knew there would be trouble. Skate a spot you knew you would have to run away from cops or security or you’d lose your board. The hunger of youth overpowers the excuses that comes with age. A mediocre day skating beats not skating at all. -ERL
Dustin Elliker edit.
1. Don’t skate. Don’t skate? Yes, all the hard work you laid out to get a sponsor has paid off and now you decide to take a break. All the boards your parents bought you and you broke, all the times one of your friends filmed you, and the hell you put yourself through to get to this point is no time to take a victory lap. This goes double if you’re a flow kid. Flow ain’t shit and never will be. You did something right so keep it up, no time for slacking. You basically caught the quarterbacks attention and he might ask you to prom one day, unless he finds someone hotter. Stay up girl or you’re back to staying at home Googling bulimia.
2. You’re a social media kook. Some company sends you free shit because your shop orders a lot of gear. Now your on the team right? NO. Don’t blow up the social media networks with how suddenly this company is the best. You just said last month that Billy Skateboards was the best. You are a product whore and will jock anyone for free shit. If someone gives you a free board you call them “Fam”. That’s short for family fool, you must have a sorry homelife. “Yo, here’s a some shoe laces kid.” “DAMN, THANKS FAM!!!!!!!”
Now that another company stopped sending you a board through the shop, you’re going to bag on them? You tweet that “you’re better off” or you “have moved on to greener pastures” which is total bullshit. Maybe you talk shit on dudes that are on the actual team because God knows you deserve that spot. Try putting a pic on Instagram of your old board in the trash can, that’ll let everyone know you’re a bitter asshole and to never ever watch your Youtube link.
3. Trading product for something hip. Billy Skateboards sends you 2 boards, three tees, and one set of wheels a month. They are a small company and the owner works a real job to keep his brand going. You are stoked to be getting free product but, your dream is to ride for Hook Ups. Even though you sent them 5 sponsor me packets and they always said “Thanks but, no thanks.” you won’t let the dream die. You trade in Billy Skateboards for some Hook Ups boards because you think somehow this will get you on the team. There is nothing better than seeing a kid who you sent a package to that you paid for with your hard earned dollars not riding any of it. Even better, riding a larger companies boards. To top it off, the kid doesn’t realize Hook Ups doesn’t even have a team. (Nothing personal, Jeremy Kline rules and so does Hook Ups) When you get your walking papers from Billy Skateboards you think the owner is a prick when in fact you are a kook.
4. Bringing your girl everywhere. You get invited on a team trip and your the only guy to bring his lady. Say goodbye to any bonding or guy time with the crew. If you think your better half is stoked to hear about others dudes sexual escapades, jacking off, fart jokes, or fucked up nicknames guys give girls then you got it wrong. Not only will there be weird tension but, are you that insecure that you can’t leave your chick at home? Try filming a trick and between every 5 tries you have to check in with the baggage making sure she’s not too bored. If you are the only one who brings a girl to go skate, you’re weird not everyone else.
Not going on trips to stay at home with a girl is just as bad if not worse. If she is expecting or ill then you get a pass. To duck out on a team trip to anywhere for a chick is lame, real lame. The company has been working with you and bringing you up through the ranks. There are kids that actually want to see you skate. Every girl is the one until she isn’t. You missed out on a trip to Australia because you wanted to play Mr. Cuddles and your sponsor doesn’t see how that fits in to your future with the team. It’s cool though, maybe when she’s blowing your friend you won’t have any regrets. Looks like she’s into skaters!
5. Forgetting your roots. You went from hometown hero to Johnny Big Deal and you seem to have forgotten somethings along the way. Suddenly your shop sponsor, your friend who spent countless days filming you, and your OG crew just got lost in the shuffle of your greatness. Better yet, you bash your hometown because you’ve lived in LA for almost a month.
Everyone likes a humble person and when you are younger it’s a hard trait to come by. If you have an interview lined up, remember the homies, remember the people who helped you out when no one else would, and most of all remember where the fuck you are from. Skateboarding is cut throat and there are so many dudes out there murdering it, you don’t want to head back home with your tail between your legs. Eating your own words is a hard swallow.
6. You get homesick. The reality of being a sponsored skater is that 90% of the action lies in California. The companies, the mags, the filmers, the photographers, and some pretty legendary spots are in California. The East Coast holds it down for their own by all means. The point is you have to make the move to where the action is. You couch surf, eat like shit, and make a serious run for your dream. When times get tough it’s easy to throw in the towel and head back to the comforts of home. Mommy and Daddy live there, all your friends do, that girl that never says no, and you are the hometown hero. Holy shit do people skate good in bigger cities. That talent pool is a lot bigger. Suddenly your crooked grinds on that rail aren’t so hyped when a kid 5 years younger than you just did it switch and kick flipped into it.
There is a comfort level at home that draws you back and then all your footage is from a skatepark or a basic spot no one cares about. The admiration you get from the locals isn’t enough to keep those packages arriving. Trips out to the big city become fewer and fewer then not at all. No worries, you gave it that old Community College try!
7. You’re over it but, not quite. You want to live the dream but, don’t want to be woken up. With all this free time it’s hard to ride a skateboard and keep up with the latest trends. A bicycle is a fun mode of transportation. Your sponsor doesn’t give two shits about all your photos peddling around town with a funny hat. The same can be said of your new found art projects, your motorcycle, alcohol/drug consumption, gun collection, wasted selfies, fantasy football leagues, or anything else you find more gratifying then riding your skateboard. Few people find themselves in an opportunity to get free product because they are good at something. There is a time to step away from being a sponsored guy and just be a skateboarder. In the end it will be more satisfying if you still love it.
8. Talking. You talk too much about yourself. You talk too much about others, as in name drop. You talk shit about anything and everything because you are dissatisfied with your life. To make matters worse, you say “what up” to people or shake the hands of people you talk shit about. Essentially you are a hater and that’s not just a tee shirt slogan, you are a sad person who doesn’t have many friends. The ones that you think are, aren’t. They tolerate you and that’s no way to live. You talk shit on the local shops cause they ain’t feeling you. The sad part is your skills might be up there but, that mouth just don’t stop.
9. Fake Till You Make It. Lie to kids. Tell them you are Pro. Tell them you were sponsored by companies that maybe sent the shop product to give to a team rider. Give that social media illusion that your big time. Leave product like the Pros do. Create you own fan page. Hell, get a pro model from a random company. These are all things to do to live the lifestyle of a Pro. It’s like wearing a fake gold chain. It ain’t real kid. You ain’t real kid. -ERL
There has been and will always will be the great debate, “IS SKATEBOARDING A SPORT?” and you are on one side or the other. The purest attest to the “fuck no” approach as the average person points out the obvious and agrees that it is. I’ve jumped the fence a few times in regard to the matter.
Skateboarding can’t be a sport. There are no rules. You can butt board and push with your face if you so desire. There is no written guideline to tell you otherwise. There is no practice, no regiment, and no uniforms. It is such an individual activity that is closer to art than sport. There isn’t a coach (minus Nyjah’s Dad) and you are not punished for a bad performance. You normally won’t see a team tryout in skating, and if you do it’s real kooky. You aren’t drug tested. Most athletes are not kicked out of their practice area by police and rent-a-cops.
Skateboarding has always been a sport. They make protective gear for it. There are teams and people get real upset when someone quits their favorite team. You become an amateur on a team and then go Pro as in professional. You follow your favorite Am’s career and get hyped when he gets the nod into the Pro Ranks. Once a professional you get paid to do so and that makes you a professional athlete. You also get endorsements and good ones at that, big money. Not only all of that but, you are performing on television and in arenas. Bob Burnquist fakes/milks injuries to win just like NBA players flop to get that free throw. Thousands of fans with signs rooting for you to win, to pull that big trick crushing the other team’s rider. Shoe deals with your own signature line are abundant. Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and more and more large sport shoe companies have a vested interest in skating. Just like Jordan, people are wearing your brand so unless your that jaded 80s punker dude still talking shit on Hawk, it’s obvious skateboarding has always been a sport.
What makes the sport of skateboarding special is it’s ours. Skating is our fucking sport. We weed out the kooks and protect it individually. It remains special in the heart of men pushing 60 and the youthfulness will always separate us from any other sport. How many high school football players still pad up and go hit the field in their 30s and 40s? None of them because they played football to fit in. They did it to get to the next level and maybe they did. That next level eventually led to a kind of unfulfilled feeling that made them lose that drive or what they thought was love. I’ve seen many a friend realize they didn’t have what it took to be a Pro Skater and slowly they “grew up” and skated less and less. They may have ran in a touchdown on the High School level and heard those cheers but, they couldn’t make the cut in the big leagues. If that is why they were still skating then that is why they also stepped away.
From the kid who just started getting his balance, to the kid ripping up the park, to the old guy slashing the bowl, that is what makes our “sport” different for anything else. We don’t practice, we skate. We don’t take one for the team, we skate. We don’t get a scholarship, we skate. Even when it’s all over and done and you retire from your team, you still skate. -ERL
Street League Kansas City has always been pretty much the best stop. Just the “Maltomania” vibe in that town is so damn crazy. The enthusiasm and excitement levels are genuine and the energy is real. This stop by all means offered the best skateboarding yet. Dylan Rieder was the stand out by making the finals and added a ton of speed and style by doing so. The end result was the same, Nyjah Houston won. What made this contest stand out from the others was Paul Rodriguez, Chris Cole, Luan Oliveira, and Dylan Rieder having stand out tricks back to back. They killed it! Hail Mary’s were thrown out and it will be a hard day to match. I had the best seat in the house for it all. Here are a few photos from Street League Kansas City. -ERL