Friday, August 18, 2017
It's Heath. What else do you need to say?
It was raining cats and dogs last night so I felt fine with a day off from skateboarding. If it had been dry, I would have felt bad about watching a dreadful pre-season football game.
Congrats to enjoi on winning King of the Road.
Up next is two weeks of random stuff from 2011. I went with the suggestion of picking out things I liked over developing any sort of theme.
Skateboarder - January 2007 Volume 16 Number 5
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Enjoy the silence.
This trick was in BA's shared part with Gino Iannuci in Nike's Nothing But The Truth video from 2007. I really like the part from Reese Forbes in that flick.
Chops has a cool list of top five video parts over at Quartersnacks.
The first day of skating in new shoes went well last night. I knew my old kicks were getting bad, but I didn't realize how bad. It's so good to have grip again on ollies.
Slap - December 2007 Volume 16 Number 12
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Crimson was Kris Markovich's company after he left Blind in the mid 2000s. It did not last too long and Kris soon started the Given. The graphics featured a lot of his own art. The team included Richie Belton, James Atkin, Danny Scher, Anthony "Ragdoll" Scalamare, and a few others.
Charlie is from Louisiana. He has ridden for H-Street, G & S, Scarecrow, Hollywood, and Crimson. Charlie also served as a team manager for several companies over the years. Currently he is involved with Preservation Skateboards out of New Orleans.
I threw out the pair of shoes I had been skating in for the last four months when I got home last night. They smelled really bad. The left sole was down to the insole by the toes and the duct tape wasn't sticking. The heels were worn out, but that was more from daily wear for the few months I wore them to break in. Did I mention they smelled really bad?
Skateboarder - October 2007 Volume 17 Number 2
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
The Vertical Vampire goes horizontal across the channel at Kelly Belmar's backyard bowl.
Wasn't there a 411 spot check on this pit and Chicken's pool?
Congrats to Nora Vasconcellos on turning pro for Welcome.
A reader emailed about CCS catalogs so I'm going to do another week of those after Labor Day. It will be three from the early 1990s and then one from later on for comparison purposes.
Slap - November 2007 Volume 16 Number 11
Monday, August 14, 2017
Friday, August 11, 2017
You never really associate the idea of caught clean with a no-comply kickflip, but it does happen. Retired Foundation pro Mike Rusczyk was way ahead of modern skateboarding in the way back when. My 43s are still mostly good, but my no-comply game has dropped off as of late. I can get the perfect pop over the curb, but I usually can't make myself jump back on while the board is in the air. Getting old sucks.
The photograph is by Brian Gaberman.
Skateboarder - August 2007 Volume 16 Number 12
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Switch Flip Physics.
Danny is from Santiago, Chile. He got into skateboarding in the early 1990s. He even spent a year in Canada for school as a teenager where he got to see guys like Alex Chalmers and Rick McCrank shred the parks of Vancouver. Danny would end up moving to San Francisco and turning pro for Think. He later moved to Miami, Florida. Venture and Nike also sponsored him.
The photo is by Dan Zaslavsky.
Slap - November 2007 Volume 16 Number 11
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
The Big City.
City was a branch of Street Corner Distribution that was approximately around from 2005 to 2010. Street Corner was the overall company for Think, Venture, and Hubba Wheels. They went with a more metropolitan look for City. The team included Dave Bachinsky, Josh Matthews, Jeremy Reeves, Russ Milligan, Alex Klein, Tony Montgomery, and Jimmy Cao.
Eduardo is from Moreno Valley, California. He was also sponsored by Split Clothhing, Independent Trucks, Hubba Wheels, and Lucky Bearings. His favorite spot was downtown Los Angeles with his iPod. Switch 360 flips were his warm-up trick of choice, which means he had some serious skills. I don't recall if he ever went pro.
For the information: Skateboarder - July 2007 Volume 16 Number 11
Slap - October 2007 Volume 16 Number 10
Monday, August 7, 2017
"It's a good excuse to hurt myself. It's like suicidal yoga. When I skate I forget about all the people I don't like and the people I do like. It's anger management."
I always liked this quote from Chris in the Dysfunctional book, mainly for calling skateboarding suicidal yoga.
Vert Is Dead fully endorses feeble grinds on small transitions.
I think I remember how to do this thing. So are Lakai and Anti-Hero making real life DVDs of their new flicks? Kevin Rodrigues has apparently left Polar for probably Hockey. That bummed me out a little, but things change over time. I decided on two weeks of random 2007 stuff from Slap and Skateboarder for the new content.
The photo is by Allen Ying.
Skateboarder - January 2007 Volume 16 Number 5
Friday, August 4, 2017
I figure I'd take a break from former spots to post a place you can actually skateboard at in town. The park was installed in August of 2004 and has more or less survived the 13 winters since. It is starting to show some age with cracks in the pavement and chipping of the ramps, but the concrete is holding up fairly well. There are lights at night and Lake Erie makes for a nice background, except for when there is a nasty breeze blowing across the lake.
In the early days, the place would get packed. Nowadays, it's almost weird if a lot of people are there. There used to be a ton of guys coming down from Buffalo and the surrounding areas to roll around. A young Jake Donnelly would often show up to skate back when he was in high school. His town is about a half hour away.
I go here nearly every day. There's a small group of BMXers who are regulars. They're all a bit older and just want to ride their bikes so they aren't a problem. They usually pick up their trash so that helps. Lately, a few of the kids who grew up skateboarding here have been riding more so that's a plus. There's the usual random freak scene children that wander by from time to time, too.
If you end up here, just don't move the parking block. Thanks.
I'll think of something for next week. There was a computer upgrade at the Vert Is Dead headquarters and I haven't attempted to do any serious scanning since the update. I will definitely do another week of old spots in the future. I've got to check my archives and hit up some friends to see about pictures from the ramps we used to roll around on.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
One summer night in late July a bunch of us were skateboarding here. It was the same week the county fair was in town. In the distance I see this kid pushing down the street towards the bank. It looks like he's got one of his shirt sleeves rolled up. Once he gets to the spot, it turns out he had his shirt sleeve rolled up because he had just gotten a Blind Reaper tattoo at the fair. His upper arm was wrapped in cellophane and he didn't want to mess up the new ink.
The bank used to offer more to skate than it does currently. There was a long manual pad that ran the length of the building, roughly where the flowers and shrubs are now. It ended where the parking lot meets the sidewalk with a small drop so you could do tricks off the end. It varied in width from maybe two feet at the thinest in the back to about ten feet at the widest so you had options to practice skating on two wheels. It was pretty cool. There were some waxed up parking blocks, too. For the life of me, I don't remember where the parking blocks were exactly. I also don't remember what bank had their branch here since it changed ownership in the early 2000s.
There was also a set of stairs. The runway was rather limited, but it was something to jump down. I imagine somebody bonked their nose or did a caveman onto the tiny rails at some point.
This odd ledge was there, too. It was on a slight incline so that added a degree of difficulty to tricks. It's not a square edge either so that didn't help. I know I liked to do frontside 50-50s up it, for as little up as there is. The right side still has a decent coat of wax, but we only ever skated the left side. Kids these days. Not that I've seen any kids skating here in a long time.
The bank is an example of what happens to architecture as the years pass. Things change and are simplified so skateboarding isn't even possible due to a lack of anything creative in front of a building. Although I doubt the designers for a small town bank ever even considered skate proofing a spot. I suppose there is a still a little gap over the flowers and the curb would be fine with a thick coat of wax. This was a fun spot back in the 1990s and a lot of late night sessions went down here. The bust factor was minimal, which I find odd now because the police station is literally across the street. You maybe just want to think twice about getting a tattoo at the fair.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
In retrospect, I might be the only person who actually liked skateboarding here. I think a couple of friends had gotten kicked out a few times because they went when it was open or the cleaning staff busted them so that soured them on the place. The spot was kind of lame, due to overly slick blacktop and a lot of small rocks at times.
The highlight for me was the heavily waxed up curb between the two light poles. I know I did a ton of slappy boardslides, tailslides, and noseslides on that section of sidewalk. There was also a curved curb that you can see in the top two photos that was sort of neat. I maybe got a noseslide or two on that.
The Gynecologist's Office had a manual pad, too. I'd hit that up for a quick manual during my skateboard around the town phase of the early 2000s. There were always the no skateboarding signs so I never wanted to stick around here very long. The surface of the parking lot deteriorated over the years and all the wax was gone from the curb so there weren't a whole lot of reasons to stay.
I probably skated here every night during the summer of 1994. I'd show up at like 1:00 AM, roll for thirty minutes, and then bail. I never got busted or anything. It's funny because the police station is so close to a spot that is posted for no skateboarding and they never said anything.
This technically isn't a gynecologist office any longer, as it just changed owners and purpose. As a spot, the manual pad is probably still good, but the parking lot is complete crap now and nothing has wax on it. I'd say keep driving if you happen to cruise by the building.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
This spot was named after the now defunct grocery store Bell's. The store changed over to a Quality in the early 1990s and is currently a Save A Lot. The skateboarding mostly happened in the parking lot on the other side of the plaza that was between the store and a bank. There were a couple of curbs, a tiny little two stair, flatland, and some shopping cart racks that a few brave souls got boardslides on with the aid of a launch ramp. Occasionally a bench or flatbar would be put down the stairs for added excitement. For vague reference purposes, the grocery store would be to the left from the bottom photo.
These are infamous Bell's stairs, which are located at the very left edge of the second photo. I'd like to see Jaws try to tame this beast. I swear they've sunk into the ground over the years. In the early 2000s, I would usually park my car in the downtown and skateboard all around the city. I would never linger long at one spot so I'd get in an ollie up and down the stairs, plus maybe another trick or two before moving on.
In the mid 1990s, the bank remodeled their drive-thru and created a gap between the two parking lots. It is a fairly small gap, but just big enough to mess with my head. I really hope I ollied it at least once. I just remember the bails. The remodel included a pair of steps by the bank's backdoor that was skateable. The step has since been skate stopped by the addition of an orange pole.
There were a couple of parking blocks at the spot that were somehow moved across the street to a vacant building's parking lot. This spot became known as the Bell's Curbs. There was also a weird gap to go with the parking lot and the curbs. The building was eventually repurposed for a mental health facility so it is done. The old curbs we used to skate became part of the neighboring church's parking lot. They lasted up until the early 2000s before being replaced.
An added bonus of this area was the pavilion. If it was raining or maybe even a little snowy, you could get in some tricks under the cover of a roof. We would sometimes take a bench to the pavilion to give it some variety. I skated it a couple years ago on a warm and rainy December Saturday. It seemed a lot smaller than it used to be.
Even though it hasn't been Bell's for roughly 25 years, I'll still call this place the Bell's Plaza. You could probably get away with skating it today, even though the parking lot is in kind of rough shape. Anything at the bank would be questionable. I don't think we ever got hassled much and this was a staple of the local skate scene for much of the 1990s.
Monday, July 31, 2017
This week Vert Is Dead takes a haphazard look at a few of the spots I grew up skateboarding at around my town.
I figure the local college is a good place to start. The campus features the usual variety of stairs, ledges, rails, and other assorted skateable architecture. More than a few things have changed over the years due to construction and renovation, but this plaza designed by I.M. Pei has remained relatively unchanged. The long standing rumor is that Pei had created this layout for a desert climate and simply used the plans when he got the contract for work in the New York State University system. He's designed buildings for other colleges and he repeats some of the same elements as found here. Some of the buildings and surrounding landscapes have taken a beating from the cold and snowy winters we get.
There have been varying degrees of legality regarding skateboarding at the college over the years. The current policy is that students can skate for transportation purposes only. They sell cruiser boards at the bookstore so my running joke is that every freshman is issued a little plastic skateboard upon matriculation. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was hit or miss. Some days the university fuzz would give you the boot and other days you would get in a full session without hassle. The glory days of the college were from 1998 to 1999 when skateboarding was LEGAL on campus. A few of the students put in the hard work with the administration to secure the right to roll. I was away at graduate school at this time so I don't know the finer points of the deal. I just know that I took advantage of it when I was home on breaks.
This plaza was pretty functional and gave you a variety of things to skate. I'd usually start a line by ollieing off either three or four of the stairs, then grind the curved ledge of the amphitheater, and circle back around to hit the bottom step. That step was waxed, along with a few sections on the curved ledge. You could also get tricks off the ends of the ledges. There is a lot of flatground, too.
I don't really remember any specific highlights from this spot. It was always a fun time with a bunch of people skating since you could cruise around with a number of different obstacles in one place. I liked the stairs because you could get warmed up on two stairs and progress up. There used to be more runway with only one handrail, but a recent remodel doubled the rail count and took away some of the space. I think my friends Paul and Pat both 50-50'd the ledge on the left by the long set of stairs in the top photo. They said it took a lot of wax and they kept having to duck to avoid the tree that was smaller twenty years ago. My friend Mike would bust out these killer wallrides, too. Finally, this spot was featured in a local cable access commercial for Jolt Cola that a few of my friends skated in. I imagine the ad was a project for somebody studying TV production.
I haven't skated the college in ages and I'm guessing the bust factor is fairly high for non-students. There are security cameras everywhere now and that was something that wasn't there back in the 1990s. Good luck if you happen upon the place. And I don't know you if you end up needing bail money.
Friday, July 28, 2017
Over on the corner, there's a happy noise.
I finally cracked and gave into the world of Powell Peralta reissues. The Nicky Guerrero was too cool looking to pass on. I had the t-shirt way back then and I always liked his skateboarding.
The Chrome Ball Incident continues the quality work with recent interviews featuring Dan Drehobl and Ray Barbee.
Shout out to friend of Vert Is Dead Jason Rothmeyer on his Halfway to the 90s video part he just put out at the age of 45. I like all the slappy tailslide variations.
Work has still been hectic and my brain is somewhat toasted. I think we're maybe hitting a lull before the back to school rush kicks in. I'm going to take some time this weekend to sketch out some general future plans for the site.
Behind the scenes production note: When I was finding stuff for DC and Capital, I saw Forbes and marked the page in the mag. When I went to scan it later, I realized I got Israel and not Reese. Oops.
Thrasher - April 1996 Volume 16 Number 4
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Let the good times roll.
Jen is from Deland, Florida. Her first board was a Schmitt Stix deck with Indys and Cockroach wheels. She grew up skateboarding in the Daytona Beach area before moving out to California in the early 1990s. Jen is currently sponsored by Indy, 187 Pads, Etnies, and Urban Decay. Some of here favorite skateboarders are Steve Alba, Danny Way, Rune Glifberg, Peter Hewitt, Cara-Beth Burnside, Mimi Knoop, and Vanessa Torres. She shreds pools and ramps. Jen was inducted to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2016.
Thrasher - October 1996 Volume 16 Number 10
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
"I remember Ben Sanchez calling and being, like, "Hey, man, I had a great time but I'm just calling to say I'm going to do this next thing," and we never wanted to suggest to anyone that it's time to move on." - Rick Howard
Ben was an OG Chocolate ripper from SF who filmed a few solid video parts and had some ads before moving on to the next stage of his life. I'm pretty sure he works as a mechanic.
For Rick's quote: Thrasher - July 2017 Volume 38 Number 7
Thrasher - February 1997 Volume 17 Number 2
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Two for Tuesday.
It is a rare sighting of Andy Roy up on a handrail paired with obscure ripper Sean Young. Sean is doing some type of backside 5-0 layback. It's kind of a bummer the sequence ran so small.
Thrasher - February 1997 Volume 17 Number 2
Monday, July 24, 2017
Don't shave your eyebrows.
The Grossman gets inverted at Max Schaaf's ramp. I like how the mural by Mark Gonzales is poking out in the background. It's also interesting to note that Jeff is riding a popsicle stick, instead of the shaped board you see him on today. I don't really recall anybody making boards that weren't popsicles in the 1990s. I'm sure there were probably a couple of companies, but nothings coming to mind.
Thrasher - April 1997 Volume 17 Number 4
Friday, July 21, 2017
One thing I noticed and neglected to mention was how there was the Shorty's logo in a bunch of Capital ads. I don't think that happened with any other company. I'm guessing it might have been some sort of distribution deal to go along with all the guys on Capital riding for Shorty's. Maybe it was the first collaboration in the skateboard business.
It will be random mid 1990s stuff for next week. I'm working on getting pictures of local spots and former spots. The plan is a week of anecdotes about places I grew up skateboarding at that are now paved over and completely unskateable. Since this will involve a little more writing, I'm thinking I will try to get as many photos of different spots as possible while the weather is nice and do more with this theme in the future beyond just a week in early August. I'm intrigued about doing some sort of then and now type thing, too. I haven't quite figured it out, but I think pairing scans of what I liked at the time compared to what I like now from the same time period would be interesting.
Julius Reeves took the photograph.
Thrasher - September 1997 Volume 17 Number 9
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The first tour Andy ever went on as a sponsored skateboarder was for B.B.C. when he was a teenager. They gave him a bus ticket to meet up with Bill Danforth out in the country and then they drove around in Bill's van doing demos at shops. In an old interview in Strength, Andy said about the tour that Bill was cool and responsible.
The photo is by Pete Thompson.
Thrasher - June 1996 Volume 16 Number 6
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
"I've got much pride, I'm from D.C."
This is a sick photo. I like how Capital used a lot of horizontal layouts for their ads. They look cool scanned in and free from the vertical constraints of the printed page. Carlos is goofy footed so this might be a frontside flip.
Geoff Kula snapped the picture.
For the quote: Thrasher - March 1994 Volume 14 Number 3
Thrasher - February 1996 Volume 16 Number 2
Friday, July 14, 2017
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Vert Is Dead takes a brief and incomplete look at Washington D.C. over the next seven business days.
Brian is from Mansfield, Pennsylvania, lived in Ithaca, New York, and moved to the Washington D.C. area in 1985. His mom gave him a skateboard for Christmas that year and he has been rolling ever since. His first sponsor was Intensity Skates, which led to getting hooked up by H-Street. Brian had some tricks in Hokus Pokus. He was doing ollies and boardslides on some giant benches in DC. This helped to put the East Coast on the radar of the West Coast focused skateboard industry. Over the years he has ridden for several different companies, including One More Skateboards, People, and Circle A. Brian is also interested in painting and playing music. He went to school with Chris Hall and grew up skating with Sean Sheffey.
Thrasher - November 1996 Volume 16 Number 11
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Brian is from Columbia, Pennsylvania. He rode for Goodtimes, Black Label, and Anti-Hero. He was also on Rob Erickson's Landspeed Wheels. I don't think Brian ever turned pro. He had parts in assorted Anti-Hero videos, as well as a few tricks Dan Wolfe's Eastern Exposure series. Along with Tim Upson, Brian was involved with the Hardtimes Manufacturing board company, but I'm not sure if that's still around.
I've got Capital stuff scanned and ready for the end of the week. The DC stuff will carry over into next week. I'm also figuring out what local spots, or rather former spots, to take pictures of for a feature on where I grew up skateboarding. That will be the first week in August.
The photo is by Rob Erickson.
Thrasher - May 1996 Volume 16 Number 5
Monday, July 10, 2017
Flying through the air like Dominique Wilkins.
Brian is from Duluth, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. He was sponsored by the Black Label before switching to Torque, the hometown brand run by former Schmitt Stix rider Thomas Taylor. Brian also rode for Thunder, Spitfire, and Vans. He attended UC Berkeley to study chemical engineering and I believe he is currently a doctor. Back in the early 1990s, his favorite tunes included Cypress Hill, Bad Religion, Gangstarr, and the Beastie Boys.
Sean Dolinsky did both the photography and design for this ad.
Thrasher - June 1997 Volume 17 Number 6
Friday, July 7, 2017
Ernie Torres and Dan Drehobl.
East Coast Blackout.
Deluxe also used the mix and match approach for their crew. Ernie Torres, JT Aultz, and Darrell Stanton were riding for Real, Dan Drehobl represented Krooked, and Tony Trujillo was the Anti-Hero. Jasin Phares served as team manager, Gabe Morford was the photographer, and Dan Vellucci was the filmer. Former World Industries and Black Label pro Randy Colvin was their mystery guest. After getting off to dark start in NYC because of the east coast power outage of August 2003, Deluxe blazed a path of destruction to first place that went through Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Boulder, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, Novato, and San Francisco.
Ernie was the team MVP. He also took the biggest rail, backside lipslide, and kickflip honors. Drehobl got a blindfolded pivot to fakie and did a frontside air on a M-16 that was used for the cover of the DVD. TNT wore the same clothes for the entire trip and made the front of Thrasher with a roll-in at the sea wall in Chicago. JT checked off the ledge tricks and "pretty much made out with a bag lady"* for a 50 point bonus. It didn't hurt that Darrell Stanton was in the zone and killing all manner of stairs, rails, and switch tricks.
I think what made the first King of the Road special was the surprise element of it. There really wasn't all that much social media back then so it was basically done in secret until the new issue of Thrasher showed up in the mail on a cold winter day. The accompanying articles chronicling each team's adventures were well written and provided a lot of information to digest. It got you in the mood to hit the road and go skateboard once the snow melted.
The final point tally:
1st: Deluxe - 2,830
2nd: Tum Yeto - 2,790
3rd: Volcom - 2,710
4th: éS - 1,440
* The quote is from Michael Burnett.
The pictures are by Gabe Morford.
Thrasher - January 2004 Volume 24 Number 1
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Adrian Mallory and Ethan Fowler.
Tum Yeto went with a mixed team that picked riders from their different board companies. Foundation pros Ethan Fowler and Gareth Stehr were on board, as was Toy Machine's Diego Bucchieri. Adrian Mallory was an am on Pig Wood at the time and Johnny Layton was a 17 year old getting flowed boards from Toy Machine. He was officially added to Ed's Monster Squad after the trip. Josh Beagle was the team manager, KOTR creator Michael Burnett put himself in the van as the photographer, and Jeff Morris ran the video camera. Scott Bourne was their mystery guest. He was the overall KOTR guest MVP with eight tricks plus the Daewon Song Award for most rigged up set-up for rolling off some plywood on sawhorses into the deep end of a pool. The Tum Yeto van started in Miami and cruised westward through Jacksonville, Atlanta, Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Lawrence, Denver, Reno, Tahoe, and Walnut Creek before dropping the video tape off in San Francisco.
Since this whole trip was Mike's idea, his story of their journey across the country is a joyful tale chock full of highs and lows, skateboard trivia, concern over whether some of the challenges were in bad taste (focus a stranger's board for example), and a smidge of drunken antics.
"This is an appropriate time to insert an Animal Chin message where we learn that the fun we had is our true reward. That's true and all. We did have fun. But on that last night, exhausted from two weeks of skate action, what we really wanted was to win."
The photos are by Michael Burnett.
Thrasher - January 2004 Volume 24 Number 1