Feeling a little better today, maybe I'm getting over this post-traveling depression. Every time I come home from an amazing trip I get into this depressed state, get all screwed up, can't sleep, can't face reality, don't want to go to work, don't want to do anything really. It comes from being out there, traveling, having the time of my life, every time, and not having to face any of the pressures of everyday, so-called normal, responsible life. It's hard to take that plunge, though, and just live that life, traveling all the time. I'm not sure that it would mean as much to me if I did it all the time, and so I savor the times when I can travel and live nomadically, even if it's for short stretches at a time. I'll face the depressions and, like everything else, learn how to deal. Of course, this time, there was some other factors adding to the maelstrom in my head, having to do with a beautiful girl... an especially wonderful girl who just lives too damn far away.
Now playing: Hot Snakes "Suicide Invoice"
I've decided/realized that stories about L'Espuina de Pollo are useless, because the spot itself isn't what makes it interesting or fun, but it's the people who gravitate consistently to the spot that kept me and plenty of others interested while we were there. L'Espuina de Pollo, also known as L'Espuina de Pollo Loco, or the Chicken Corner, is this little 4-way intersection in Barcelona, about 2 blocks off La Rambla (La Rambla is a very wide sidewalk, sort of like a boardwalk, that runs from near the center of Barcelona down to the harbor, about 1.5 miles or so, and is infested with street urchins, performers, artists, scammers, hookers, and everyone else you could imagine). Somehow, at the Chicken Corner, there can be 100 skaters and girls standing around drinking beer and playing guitar and shooting the breeze until 5 in the morning. It's a little intersection of alleys, nothing special about them that attracts the skaters or anyone else, but named such because there is a large broiler in a restuarant on one of the corners where they cook chickens during the daytime. Kitty-corner to that there is a graffitti of a chicken that actually looks more like a bat or a mouse with wings. Keep in mind this is an alley, and the distance between the two corners is maybe 20 feet or so. Real small. Barely wide enough for a large car to fit through, but more than enough room for a bunch of skaters to lodge for the night, buying icy cans of beers from street vendors for 1 Euro. Plenty of girls going by, plenty of good times had by all. But maybe it's one of those places you have to visit to appreciate.
Last summer Justin Strubing was in Barcelona to skate and he met a girl named Ingrid. He decided to stay in Barcelona for two months, which prompted various phone calls from his Dad, brother, etc. Well, after numerous visits by both Justin and Ingrid to meet family and all that stuff, Justin and Ingrid have decided to get married! We'll let you know when the happy occasion goes down, but for now, congratulations, guys!
Back From Europe II Check Out
Where to begin? First, thanks for the kind emails from those of you who asked when the next updates to this silly little journal will be posted. I knew a few people read it but had no idea I'd get that much response after being gone. Makes me wonder if I should keep the personal stuff out of here, but when poeple write that that's the stuff they like, it makes it a little easier.
Stories for the next few days will hopefully include L'Esquina de Pollo, more details about Justin Strubing getting engaged(!), a rant about Jason Dill, Herman and Spanky stories, how I got arrested in an Italian train station for skateboarding, more stories about how much people hate Americans just for being Americans, Tales of La Rambla, and more... thanks for your emails, and keep 'em coming. For now, here's a taste.
I usually don't say blatant hellos to people, but am very glad to have met a kindred spirit of mine from Germany named Florian, whom my friends in the Faction introduced me to on this last trip. It was great to get to meet you, Flo, I'm psyched! Also psyched on seeing the Faction in Dortmund, on a big stage with great sound and a great response from the kids. Got to spend a little time with the band, too, which always means a lot to me with them. Plus, it was good to see them get so psyched about a show.
I think I have a new favorite skater. Dustin Dollin is so amazing. I wrote about him after my trip to Australia in November, but every time I see this kid he's so much fun to hang out with, he raises more hell than everyone, and he's always laying down the skateboarding. And while he may be a hammers kid, he also skates his ass off with no cameras, whether it's manuals, ledges, stairs, or whatever. And it's always amazing.
The list of "pro" skaters in Barcelona right now comes down to people who enjoy skating and aren't just collecting a paycheck. There is so much stuff to skate in that city it is unbelieveable, and there are so many untapped spots that the locals protect, like any smart skaters would, that just get randomly discovered every time someone gets lost. Among the skateboarders reaping the benefits right now are Ed Templeton, Diego Buchierri, Jamie Thomas, Caswell Berry, Austin Stephens, Spanky, Bryan Herman, Enrique Lorenzo, Nilton Neves, Justin Strubing, Kenny Hughes, Terry Kennedy, Jason Dill, Wes Lott, Jessie Van Rockout, Adrian Lopez, Chris Cole, Tim O'Connor, Eric Koston, Rick McCrank, Rob Dyrdek, Anthony Van Engelen, John Rattray, Ali Boulala, Frank Gerwerstein, Arto Saari, Dustin Dollin, Lee Smith, Paul Shier, Satva Leung, and more that I can't even think of right now. Plus there's all the London guys like Lev, James, Richard, Alex, and more who are there on their own time living the life. And of course there are the nameless faces of people from Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and other places unknown who were there at the spots, skating, having fun, enjoying the act... Hats off to all of these guys for chillin' and having fun, while still putting the time in on their skateboards and keeping it real.
Back From Europe Randumbs Check Out
July 7: I have a flight today at 3pm. LAX to Paris, then onto Lausanne, via Geneva. Hopefully no bombs, or mysterious packages at the airport.
July 6: Went to the airport today to try to fly to Europe, and basically got sent home (OK, it was my decision, but man, was it sketchy there!) because there was a bomb scare in the international terminal at LAX. My flight was at 840pm, and at 6 o'clock they weren't allowing anyone in the terminal. I'll try again tomorrow.
Bomb Scare Check Out
July 3: I've spent the last few days in the company of three new freinds who've been really amazing. It can be really hard to invite people full-on into your life and have things click, just like it can be tough to take that plunge into someone's life, but it's been great. And I can always tell the character of someone when my sister Laura likes them, and she loves Rob, Beth and Carolyn, so I know they're good people. There's something about having warm people in the house that makes me feel really good. Anyway... today is Magic Mountain... tomorrow fireworks.... fun!
Beth and Carolyn and Rob Leave Check Out
My new friends Beth, Carolyn, and Rob arrived tonight. It's going to be a good week full of photos, phun, and phlexible hours. Tijuana, Magic Mountain, Hollyweird, backyard barbeques, a little skateboarding, and lots of beach time, too... good times!
This band I'm in is recording next Tuesday so I'm sure I'll be a little stressed about that. But it's far better to have too much to do than not enough. If I'm nervous now I wonder what I'll be like next week.
For those of you who have been asking about the Los Olvidados CD that I wrote about fenagling a copy of last summer, the wait will finally be over. July 8th Alternative Tentacles will be releasing a three CD series of Punk Skate stuff. Besides Los O's "Listen To This" there will be the Drunk Injuns discography CD "From Where The Sun Now Stands I Will Fight No More, Forever" and last but certainly not least in my book, Free Beer's "The Only Beer That Matters." Start the Ark, buddy! Now the first two JFA records need to be re-issued and the key elements of the skatepunk roots will be available again. I think some planets should be aligning soon. More info here.
June 28 Randumbs Check Out
A great, amazing book that I've had for a while but that never ceases to grab my attention is called "The Journey Is The Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon." This is a collection of journals from a young photo journalist who was raised in Kenya but also spent some time in Southern California. He has a sense of humor and design that looks like it could be right out of a early 80's skateboard 'zine. And somewhere along the line Ed Templeton must've either seen these journals and photos or else been psychically connected to Dan Eldon: the similarities in design style are too similar to not be spooky if he hasn't. And Dan's photos are the perfect examples of what I think a documentarian should shoot: they capture the human element in whatever stage it exists. It's not always pretty, but it's not always ugly either, and there's a state of grace or beauty in even the things we traditionally think of as ugly.
Dan Eldon and three other photographers from Reuters and AP, were killed in July, 1993 by a throng of angry and distraught mourners after a bomb killed many religious leaders and respected elders outside Mogodishu, Somalia. The book is well worth checking out. It's published by Chronicle books.
Dan Eldon Check Out
I've been trying to get Todd Congelliere to come skate for a while, but he's always too busy. So the other night I finally went and saw his new(er) band Toys That Kill, and they're so good. Live, they come across like an energetic Rocket From The Crypt mixed with Green Day before they hit the big time. And there's still some of that raw punk rock thrown in, too. Anyway, I got their CD, and although they sound a little more bubble-gummy on some of the songs, it's really, really good. If you've ever heard Ann Barretta, think Ann Barretta and RFTC mixed with new things and more humor and you've got Toys That Kill. And they played with this amazing band called The Rolling Blackouts who I'll definitely check out again, too. Garagey and fun, sort of reminded me of The Mummies without the toilet paper and old sheets.
Went to a couple of new parks yesterday. La Habra has been open about a month, and although I fear that it's doomed for helmet and full pads sessions in the future, they currently use discretion about who to let in without a helmet. All kids who are sketchy don't get let in without a helmet, but he'll let the older guys skate if they show up without one. Anyway, the park is a good sign that maybe they'll all start getting better soon. It's got a 4 foot deep square pool with four round corners, pretty evenly spaced, and a fun street/flow area. There are a couple handrails, a 6 foot quarterpipe, and the rest is a combination of banks and trannies that makes for good hips and easy speed. There is a little spine int he middle, a small hubba, and a bank to rail on both sides of the park, one round, one square. Both of those rails are really long, maybe 30 feet, and they're approachable from the end, too, so you can grind them then go into the bank. All in all a pretty fun park. Go now before it gets too crowded--we had a great session yesterday. It's on Idaho north of La Habra Blvd, south of Whittier Blvd.
After that we went to the new Monrovia park. Rumor has it that Ben Schroeder designed this park, but I have the feeling that he designed something taller and it was chopped down at the building stage. The main trannie feature here is actually really cool. It's a bowl with a fairly big shallow end, about 3-4 feet deep, wide open with decks. Then the middle section has three pump bumps that are a little too close together, but they're still rideable with speed, especially if you're moving sideways rather than straight over them, Then the deep end opens into a bigger bowl, with a coupleof 5 foot tall walls connected by short corners, and an escalated section that gets up to about 8 feet tall but is hard to get speed for. In the middle of the pump bumps is a big taco shaped wall that builds then drops into that escalated section. The entire thing has coping, and the lines are there, but the good ones are hard to find. That alone makes it worth skating. There is also a small street area that is fairly well designed, with a cement jump ramp to picnic table, a hubba or three, a double set of stairs, and various rails and flat bars. It's small, though, and it seemed like speed was hard to get. Still, especially for transition skaters, the park is a lot of fun. It's just off Mountain Ave a little north of the 210.
New Skateparks Check Out
Garry Davis here. My nephew Jon is visiting from Cincinnati for a while, so I picked him up at the Santa Ana train station today and brought him back to Marks' house in Orange to session at the backyard ramp for a spell. I was sitting on the patio watching Jon warm-up for a while when a few old-timers started showing-up, most of whom I wasn't really familiar with. There was former Hell-bow owner Jimmy Arrighi, a couple of his friends, and then (you won't believe this) Neil Blender walked into the backyard. A half-hour later, Lance Mountain and Lance Jr. arrived, followed after that by Ed Templeton. I don't think you understand how the mere presence of these legendary individuals all in one backyard at the same time officially stamped the day with the label of "epic".
Neil ripped the ramp apart with obscure moves of yore like smooth tail-taps, layback tail-taps and fakie ollies on the extension—not to mention long lip slides, funny little airs, Smith-grinds and the highlight of the day: a buttery Hand-out with effortless re-entry. He is a crack-up, as always, and I'm glad we got to chat for a while. Lance Mountain powered his way around the ramp with his long-running intimate knowledge of transition and Ed flicked frontside nose-blunts, front-truck grinds over the spine and tons of other amazing stuff—with an overall fast and solid command—on every surface. My nephew Jon was on-edge all day, rippin' all kinds of grind variations like laybacks barely touching the coping with his hand, switch-crooks, non-traveling tailslides and many more.
At the end of the day, Ed, Lance Jr. and Jon played a game of S-K-A-T-E on the King Rail out in the front driveway. All three participants were getting rather "tech" at times. Ed was in command with his usual solid self. Jon blew me away with a frontside nose-blunt slide. Lance Jr. ended-up taking top-honors, knocking Ed out with a kickflip frontside boardslide. He's so fun to watch, especially when he barely makes it out of a trick all sketchy and goofy with his body contorted in a funny pose. He reminds me of his dad a lot (especially while street-skating). Lance Jr. was wearing bright green old-school Vans and looked like he was actually enjoying himself, laughing and having fun—something that often seems to be sorely missing in the serious tone of today's skateboarding world. Everyone began to trickle away after the game of S-K-A-T-E. To say the least, it's not exactly every day that a session like this goes down (maybe back in the '80s it would have been more common, but certainly not now). You have to appreciate it while it lasts—I know I sure did. I still can't believe it all happened. The true spirit of skateboarding shone on this day. It's hours later and I'm still feeling kind of dazed. Now back to Mark...
From Garry Davis Check Out
Trivia: on which Clash song from the first record do the Clash pay direct homage to the Ramones?
Hint? They use an exact line directly out of a well-known Ramones song. First person to write the correct answer wins 5 free CDs from Goldenrod Records. Within USA only.