Shit To Sugar — A History of Trying to Make New York’s Chinatown Banks ‘Work’

The China Banks are some of skateboarding’s most hallowed ground. From being a pivotal filming location for Powell Peralta’s The Search For Animal Chin, to the site of Joe Valdez’s tricks that earned him a devoted cult twenty years after the fact, to the host of numerous NBDs, magazine covers, and even 2018 video part enders — there are few street spots in skateboarding that have been able to endure FOUR DECADES of continued innovation and history.

…but those are San Francisco’s China Banks.

New York‘s China Banks are perfect three-foot-high quarterpipe transitions, which are ideal for a city that didn’t begin getting a surge in actual skatepark transitions until the 2010s. They have gaps between them, a hip, and are the perfect size for anyone looking to have fun learning a transition trick on a natural quarterpipe. The only catch is, of course, that they are made out of perhaps the only surface less conducive to skateboarding than fire or water: cobblestones.

So why have our Chinatown Banks, constructed out of some of the worst possible material for skateboarding, endured as a kinda-sorta-maybe-could-be spot for the past ~twenty years?

You know how everyone has those friends that always find themselves in “project” relationships, where they try to see the best in the person despite countless red flags, and drain themselves trying to “fix” their significant other? That’s New York skateboarding’s relationship with the China Banks — I mean, have you seen the garbage we skate. We look at bad spots through rose colored glasses, thinking they’re mere steps away from perfection. We’re co-dependent on these bad spots; the plain trick on the bad spot just means so much more than if it’s a hard trick on a recycled plastic bench in a mall parking lot. Maybe if we approach them just the right way, and apply just the right tweaks to them, the Chinatown Banks will love us back.

Unfortunate for us, things don’t always work out as optimistically as we hope.

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The Brotherhood of the Tri-Color Camo Pants — An Interview With Stephen Lawyer

Intro & Interview by Frozen in Carbonite
Top Collage by Requiem For A Screen

From time to time, skating functions as a nexus point for a cultural #moment. Case in point: the old X-Large store on Vermont in L.A. — a locale squarely in the middle of a venn diagram of streetwear, rap, and what we now know as street skating:

1. Backed by the Beastie Boys, who used footage from Questionable in the video for “Time for Livin’”
2. Neighbored by Los Feliz School, home of legendary hip/bump/stairs etc.
3. Frequented by the most progressive World/Girl/Choc riders of the time, who, as Clyde Singleton noted in his legendary 20 Shot Sequence commentary, blew thousands of dollars on Pumas and “weird Ben Davis pants.”

The internet — or more specifically, the only thing on it that anyone cares about, Instagram — functions as the modern-day X-Large store. And in a few short years, Sk8mafia rider Stephen Lawyer has mastered this convergence by capitalizing on both the #attentioneconomy and Instagram-as-Content-Management-System.

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Where are you from, and how did you get into skating?

I’m from San Diego. I was playing hella baseball as a kid, and I saw some neighborhood kids skating. I got a board together and started skating to practice ‘n shit. And one day at practice I was just like “Man, I’m tired of this shit. I just wanna skate with the homies.” I quit baseball and here I am.

Who was most influential on your skating coming up?

I’m sure you’ve heard of Jordan Taylor. I was best friends with his little brother, and we always used to skate together. It was pretty dope watching Jordan and all the other homies do their thing. They had a crew called More for Less, and they’d always make videos and shit. We pretty much followed in their footsteps.

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Parisian Notes on Cons & Ben Chadourne’s Purple Video

Words & Photos by Zach Baker

It is wild to me that a person could ever get to a point in their given field where they could even consider the idea of making something perfect. In skating, I’m reluctant to say that it is even possible, given the subjectivity that is part and parcel of anything creative. Be it the way a person holds their arms, or the viewer’s disapproval of whatever “bullshit fuckin’ trap song!” was chosen — in 2018, considering the our varied and fickle tastes, no video is going to make everyone happy. I doubt that the people involved in the making of Purple had any delusions in this regard.

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Branding Masterclass — Trucks

Words by Frozen in Carbonite
Collages by Requiem For A Screen

Few choices in life communicate as much about their owner as the skateboard truck. Board companies vary by woodshop, clothiers get bought out by global conglomerates, shoe brands come and go at the mercy of the vicissitudes of fashion, but the Big Three (plus one?) truck brands remain with consistent brand narratives that — for whatever reason — synergize with the most mindblowing slogans in the culture.

With that in mind, and with no end in sight to the #trend of starting brands, we will deconstruct the marketing tactics of the Big Three (plus one?) truck companies, focusing on their most iconic and immortal slogans.

Join me, won’t you?

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