Meet Phil. Phil is a real man who skates. Besides being a father, husband, music-maker and entrepreneur, Phil also works hard at the local hardware store. There he trades in traditionally manly things, such as tools, nuts and bolts. Hard things. When we started working on this short piece Phil was 37, and he was coming to terms with the stark realization that it was probably his last chance in life to finally kickstart his dream career as a world-renowned professional skateboarder. Now Phil’s 40, and he runs a small, independent, board brand — Fixer Skateboards.
The thing is, if at the age of 37 Phil had followed the herd and pursued the standard pro path, riding for a bigger brand, like Girl, it would have been too obvious, and even worse than that it would have certainly oppressed his creativity. We do well to remember that the biological clock stops ticking for no living being and not a millisecond can be wasted executing someone else’s vision. So Phil didn’t pursue a big brand endorsement, he got a job at the hardware store, and now thanks to its modest size, running his Fixer brand on the side really allows Phil the artistic space he needs to continue to grow and contribute to the culture as a genuine devoted dreamer of dreams, and a formidable professional skater man.
One of the perks of parenthood is lying to your kid.
“Dada! What’s that?” Ivor asks, straining in his seat to get a better view of the wood mill, a huge plume of white vapor billowing skyward from its chimney stack.
“That, Ivor…is a cloud factory!”
We’re in Scotland for a rare summer visit and we’ve deplaned from KLM flight 929, Amsterdam to Inverness, on May 28th 2016. It’s Ivor’s 3rd birthday and he is psyched. But my bag is stuck in Holland and as we talk to the KLM agent about lost luggage retrieval it suddenly dawns on Ivor, his birthday present is in that bag. He throws his head backwards with the sudden, jolting, seizure-like movement of a lamb in a slaughterhouse. It’s a reaction of utter mortal fear. He emits a blood-curdling scream full of pain and suffering. Philippa struggles to hold him. During these moments he’s like an umbrella in a hurricane.
“NOOOO!” Philippa yells. “Stay calm. We’ll get the bag. You’ll get your present. One day you’ll do this freak out thing and I won’t be able to hold you. You’ll be smashed on the floor and that will NOT be good.”
I’m not sure Ivor can hear these words amid his screams and sobs.
“Waaahhhh waaaaaannnntt maaaaaaaaa peh sent!” he yells through bubbling snot and tears.
The KLM agent lady doesn’t understand what he’s saying. She can’t comprehend his garbled three-year old language. She stares. I stare. Ivor’s a mess. Think fast, how do we solve this problem? Yes, the first-world quick fix: cold hard cash! “We’ll go to Sainsbury’s and see what toys they have, ok?” This is not a lie. This is a sacred promise that must be kept. An oath. Ivor’s face begins to return to normal.
“Awwww. It’ll be ok, wee man.” says the agent lady, smiling, calm and professional. She looks at her screen, taps in a code and looks up at me. “Can you fill out this form please?”
I keep a keen eye on worktrucks & job sites when I’m riding. That’s mainly because of the woman who got decapitated. Sad story. She was just minding her business, walking to work, or the shops or wherever, when she strolled by a construction site & bzzzzsssswhoosh! A saw blade came flying from where they were cutting a pipe and she was gone. Her body on the pavement, her head in the road. Ever since then I’ve made sure to maintain a healthy distrust of men in hardhats operating heavy machinery.
I’ve always likened the end of a pro skate career to the description of vampire death given by Cory Feldman’s character in The Lost Boys, Edgar Frog, “Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them.”
Sometimes a vampire will implode and similarly sometimes an old pro skater, who never got involved with a marketing agent, who’s sponsors have revised their strategy, or gone out of business, might panic and decide it’s high time they capitalized on the haunting beauty they can surely craft out of their innate musical talent. Talent they’ve been roughly developing in Waffle House parking lots for the last ten years. And so we did.
We recorded 3 melodic stories that spilled from the soul and the resulting sound, that poured almost automatically through fingertips and larynx, is manly, rustic and inspiring. The accompanying bespoke lyric cards have been exquisitely illustrated by Melbourne based Salvador Gnarly. They are little things of beauty.
Dragons and Things tells the story of a young boy who finds himself in a battle that he must win or relinquish his childhood. And the rest.
Worf Sails his Boat imagines the lovable serenity-challenged Klingon Chief of Security as a young boy in Belarus. The story explores the reasons why security officers are often such assholes. It’s not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.
Each time a young pro throws a shoe release party it sends a nostalgia filled tear cascading down my cheek. My breast swells as I recall the time The Predatory Bird released their first and only shoe. It was a Gravis.
So, to the matter at hand:
In a move that bears all the hallmarks of a classic creative hiatus – but without the dangling pizza slice of future resurrection – Burton recently canned the Gravis and Analog skate programs. Sources indicate that this move was strategically designed so that focus could intensify on the Burton brand itself. Collateral damage included the freeing up of talented video assets manager Russell Houghten who quickly set to work building the necessary equipment to bring to life this cartoon from The New Yorker magazine.
Whether this resourceful ingenuity casts Russell in the idealistic light of the young American political left is beyond the scope of this skate/gull based blog. What we can extrapolate is that Russell is a fan of both pizzas AND remote control helicopters; he is not alone. Further analysis of the Gravis termination can be found here.
It’s unlikely that liberal bias in the media was on Chris Cole’s mind when he signed off on the Omit Clothing logo. Whatever the reasoning it’s highly possible that in the lead up to the recent presidential election you may have missed a slap forum thread titled “Bye Bye Omit Apparel”. I certainly missed it until a rumour of the brand’s demise circulated at an empuddled Portland street spot.
Whether you like the mode d’Omit or not we’d be briefly disheartened if yet another brand that attempts to sell through skate retailers but actually does support some epic skateboarders, Peter Ramondetta for example, had failed. We wish them well but if true then it raises the question, especially in this fiscally uncertain era, if the Omit business model can’t work then what possibly can?
The genteel folks over at Thrasher Magazine have been kind enough to print a short Predatory Bird Comic story each month with the experimental title of… The Predatory Bird.
It’s become a morbid tale and in the first 3 parts there is heavy, unimaginative use of the word fuck.
Whether Peter Greenaway’s violent unknown event had any bearing on what we in the skate world now know as ‘The Creative Hiatus‘ – or The C.H. – is difficult to say. What we do know is that up until The C.H. occurred I masqueraded as a pro skateboarder representing skate footwear brand éS (generally believed to be pronounced “ess” as in chess or less or mess Continue reading The Bear Necessities