Ironicaly my trip to the Golden state at the end of the summer has resulted in fairly severe slackening of my motivation to skate. The quality of the terrain in the UK is the issue. The last pool I skated in the states was this one (below). Eleven feet deep, perfect transitions , silky surfaces and pool coping. I left my favourite skateboard here due to fuzzy headed exhaustion but looking back I can n’t help but feel this was prophetic.
There are no pools or bowls that come close in comparison in the UK. The combi bowl at Shoreham is the nearest in terms of quality and dimensions by some distance.I think a few months out will do me me some good.Boarding on water will as always be my escape and focus.Come on Huey the hyped ‘hurricane’ has only sent some wind blown unsurfable waves. We know here is more in your locker!
I love this photo of Skip Engblom. You can just feel the caress of the cool water with the merciless Californian sun beating down from above.
I skated a few minutes at the B bowl on some new Cortech wheels this afternoon. Even the extra ‘whoosh’ that they gave me was insufficient to keep me cool. I retreated to the shade of our garden and the house. A relaxing swim in the early evening finally doused the flames.
My friend Mike is a talented skater but no one could claim that he is tall. Jelly (the pictured skater) promised he would take a picture of Mike in front of the deathbox at the Shoreham bowl when he pulled off that elusive backside rock n roll. Mike wore his pointy red Protec helmet and red shorts to complete the occasion.
All of the above is a lie and probably libellous. The truth is I do n’t really have a coherent explanation for this strange scene. I snapped it as it happened during our visit to the temple that is the Shoreham bowl.
Four hours or more drive to the chalice of skate beneath the duggs of the South Downs took its toll on me. I started the session feeling sluggish and out of sorts. Des, Jelly and Mike all carved around the bowl grinding the hallowed coping but somehow there was a lack of momentum. An hour or two into the session I found myself installed on the bench after an unsuccessful attempt to capture the action. Then , when my camera was still in hand, I glanced vacantly across the bowl only to be presented with the sight above. I took the photo and then the scene disappeared forever more. The Gnome was placed back in its polythene carrier bag and Jelly wandered back to his skateboard to wait for his chance to drop in. Des landed a big frontside huck and the session grew wings , as the drinks manufacturer says. I tried to get a quick explanation from Jelly but it made no sense.
The boys went to town. Des with ever higher airs, Jelly with slides and ollies and Mike with frontside rock n rolls, the aforementioned backside rock and a perfect 3 foot above the coping fs air. Almost precisely a year ago Mike,Oakley and I visited this spot. In my write up I made a rash statement about pulling an aerial the next time I visited. Guess what folks, I actually did and multiple times too! The return of this manoeuvre after an absence of four or five years gives me a ridiculous amount of pleasure.
Now the rush of yesterdays proceedings has passed I gaze at this photo with almost complete incomprehension. What the hell was he up to? All I can offer are observations on the component parts. Obviously the most important part of this picture is the railings (I despair:Ed).These fine examples of park furniture tell you so much about Shoreham skatepark and the skater framing the gnome. The railings at first sight are ordinary but take a look closer and you can see that just that little bit more effort and thought has been put into their design and installation.The rectangular section spindles below the lateral curve accentuate the wave form by being just that little bit thicker than the circular section spindles above. The thicker spindles more resilient to the knocks from bikes, skateboards etc than the lighter ones above. Function and form. The pleasing mixture of cross sections of the top and bottom rails draw the eye to the curve that ghosts around the bowl. The standards are sited on plates, levelled without packers. Some care was taken here. Jelly had a huge influence on the quality of the design and build of the best bowl in Britain. He cares. He brushes up and collects litter before and after every session. He works tirelessly on the Shoreham Skatepark group to make events happen, lighting to be installed and even palm trees to be planted (soon).Care has been extended even to the deathbox* which has been painted out to mimic a real one. He talks and joshes with the local kids. Then again, the world can see he has appalling taste in socks. It is unclear if the Gnome is a regular skater or a professional. Jelly was not going to take the chance of failing to record his visit just in case he is famous. In all the hubbub I’m unsure if it was the Gnome or Mike that pulled the Andrecht.
*”A deathbox is the square cutout towards the lip of a pool, normally for the filter. If you don’t nail your grind across it, you’ll find out why its called the deathbox”
Mike and I had a good session at a miraculously dry and sunny Rock Park yesterday. There were no boundaries broken (and no bones:Ed), no new manoeuvres, no extensions to existing abilities and a good time was had. We chatted to Mikes mate who had brought his kids down to play on their scooters. He is an ex skater of some ability but has for one reason or another let it go. At one point his son exclaimed, in the way that only the innocent can.
”Dad, you should hang your head in shame”
He meant that his Dad was not participating or giving it a go. Of course by the time the boy starts to approach teen age years he will have changed his attitude and will just thank the lord inwardly that his father is not embarrassing him. Nevertheless, from out of the mouths of babes and all that. The cherub has a point.
You have to keep on doing the stuff the drives your mojo. The alternative is not to do it and to let the mojo wither and die.
TA (Tony Alva-pictured above) skates and surfs still with aplomb into his mid fifties and beyond. Probably not an ideal role model in lots of ways but I would guess that his mojo fires pretty well. I’m taking mine to XC in Hemel next weekend.
This blog will just have to keep on rolling, now where did I put that mojo?
It’s three days shy of a year and a hundred posts since this blog rolled into digital existence. The original idea was to write the odd vignette and supplement with photos and commentary when the muse,Demelza, had other things on her mind. Yes, you are right she has either gone on a long surf trip or decided there are more receptive surfer/skaters out there.
Motivations for this strangely obsessive activity have always been kept firmly locked away in the cupboard daubed ”embarrassingly self referential introspection”.
Like most locked cupboards though it is just too tempting not to take a peek inside. The creaky butt hinges and the peeling paint to the cupboard doors give a clue to the history of these hidden items. A musty smell wafts from the interior.The odours of perishable memories blend with still intact but shelf worn fantasy. The background tang of reality makes the aroma not unpleasing to the nostrils for some.The puzzling thing is that the cupboard is empty for the most part. A few objects catch the eye. The boards are leant in a corner colours faded from ding repairs, coping worn, muddy and slathered with dirty wax. They have seen some action and will take it’s rider on more adventures yet. Even that yellowing clear 7′ 6” gun, hung from the rafters, is only resting, waiting for the day to revisit it’s Basque river mouth homeland. On the dusty floor is some yellowed notebook paper. The paper is ruled in the way that school exercise books used to be. The pages are liberally dotted with ink blots and creased but each side is covered with clumsily formed fountain pen script. It is the writing of an unengaged youth. Scrawled under dim lights whilst looking out of the window where real and imagined things are happening without him.The possibility of endless adventure ignored inside because of the bland two dimensional appearance of exercise book paper. The detritus of the modern man/child is distributed along the other walls. There are wetsuits bright enough for a clown, technical bikes shrouded in dirt and a Banksie picture covered in cellophane carelessly placed next to the spare parts. It is a quiet place, unenhanced from the intrusions of friends and family.
So much for motivation. Demelza, I’m coming to find you!
I was sad to learn of Tom Sims recent death. One of the true innovators in the world of us boarders. His skate products were always on my wish list but I never got to own a Taperkick deck or a set of Pure Juice wheels. He really pushed the limits on long equipment as you can see above. It takes a leap of imagination to do the same thing down a mountainside on a board without wheels but he made it catch on.
I had a John Sablosky deck. How cool was I ? (Ed:Was there such a thing as cool in 1979?)