An Interview With Jamal Smith

August 17th, 2016 | 10:33 am | Features & Interviews | 9 Comments

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Photo by Nathan Éthier-Myette

Words by Zach Baker

Becoming a professional skateboarder seems pretty tough. You have to get really good at it, but it’s not about who’s the best. Everyone is too good for us to tell the difference at this point. The people who sustain themselves in skateboarding the longest are those with charisma and moxie — “something else.”

Jamal Smith has been exemplary in this regard, pretty much since the invention of YouTube. He finessed himself into the public eye with the Tornado Spin trick tip ten years ago. But, as evidenced by his Sabotage 4 opener, the new Palace clip, his pre-Glory Challenge pseudo-prize fighter Instagram campaign, and most importantly, getting on Stingwater, the dude has been especially feeling it as of the past year or so. I checked in with him outside of the Glory Challenge trying to roll a joint in the wind. He had just suffered a heart-wrenching loss to Wade Desarmo — but he was fine with it. His phone was blowing the fuck up. They both won.

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You just skated against defending titleholder Wade Desarmo in the the Dime World Championship Game of S.K.A.T.E. What was it like going into that for you?

It’s all about theatrics. At the end of the day, if you can put on a good show, it doesn’t matter who comes in first or last. But I mean, of course I wanted that $150,000 or whatever the fuck these Dime niggas are joking about. I was nervous as fuck though. I know I can’t kickflip and this nigga has all the kickflips.

When you saw the kickflip, what was going through your mind?

It was like everything went in slow motion. I felt every drop of sweat running down my face, I saw all the reactions, all the eyes on me. I had to turn inward, and I knew I was fucked.

You rattled off a couple tricks, right?

Yeah, because I’m that nigga. You spin to win. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.

Do you hope to battle him again next year?

Hell no. I’m just trying to smoke everybody else’s weed and watch motherfuckers huck their bodies down the biggest gaps onto swords and numchucks.

You live in Philadelphia?

Yeah, I’m originally from Ohio. I lived there until I was like 11. Then I lived in Massachusetts, and I lived in Ithaca [New York] after that.

Why’d you move around?

My mom passed when I was 11. I was a ward of the state, which meant I had no legal guardian and I had to stay in Ohio until I found someone who would take care of me. At the time, my sister was living in Massachusetts and took me in. I lived in Northampton, some weird little area in Western Massachusetts.

Did you start skating there?

Yeah, I want to say that I was maybe 14 when I started to really get into it. 11 to 13, I was on my Rocket Power shit, riding rollerblades, bikes, whatever the fuck, I didn’t care.

Embracing Unreality — The 2016 Dime Glory Challenge

August 10th, 2016 | 12:43 pm | Features & Interviews | 12 Comments

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Words and Photos by Zach Baker

“I love Montreal so much, but every time I come here, I’m such a piece of shit.” — Jersey Dave

Skateboarding is all spectacle, but I understand that you’re up in arms about the International Olympic Committee treating it like the highly-commercialized mainstream sport that it is. You’re asking “how can you even judge skateboarding? It’s art, bro.”

Dime, in the Canadian tradition of being smarter, funnier and better at skateboarding than us, addressed this dilemma long before Tokyo 2020 was even a discussion. But still, we’re here deciding which kickball court to skate piles of refuse in, pleading, “how could they do this to us? This isn’t the 200 meter backstroke…this is skateboarding!” Yes, aside from the fact that smoking weed makes you better at it, skateboarding has very little in common with competitive swimming.

As descendants of the land that brought us the Montreal Screwjob, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Robert “Sluggo” Boyce, the Dime boys recognized what the future of skateboard events could and should look like. Let me tell you, it looks a lot like professional wrestling.

An Interview With Antosh Cimoszko

August 3rd, 2016 | 9:52 am | Features & Interviews | 2 Comments

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Photo by Antosh

Throughout the 2000s, it seemed like the majority of Canadian skateboard media making it over the country’s southern border was from Vancouver. British Columbia was the most common lens through which we observed Canada’s often superior breed of skateboarder. Ironically, as Canada became a shining beacon of culture, #views, sorrys and glory challenges for Americans throughout the 2010s, Vancouver took a backseat to the country’s eastern cities.

Antosh’s videos and the extended family behind the elusive Clubgear umbrella have been one of our main portals into the Vancouver skate scene as the east has taken the spotlight. The spots from Baby Steps might be capped, but the spirit remains strong.

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Where are you from and how did you get into skateboarding?

I’m from a town called Tsawwassen that’s 45 minutes outside of Vancouver. There’s downtown Vancouver and there’s greater Vancouver, which can be almost two hours out. I started skating with a few of my friends around grade three, doing airs off a piece of plywood on some bricks, skating a flatbar and whatever else in my friends driveway. A couple of years ago, I moved downtown and started filming way more, and not leaving downtown as much.

Would you venture out to the city when you lived in Tsawwassen?

I’d go downtown when I was 12 or 13. I remember the first time we went, this homeless lady came running towards us yelling and asking if she wanted us to see her masturbate. Downtown Vancouver used to be a bit more recognized in bigger skate videos, like all the Girl dudes would come up and skate it a lot before everything got capped. Once those spots started getting harder to find, people started skating differently.

It feels like when I was growing up, the focus on Canadian skateboarding was always in Vancouver. In the past few years, it feels like it moved towards Toronto and Montreal. Did that actually happen or am I making it up?

Vancouver definitely seemed like more of a hub for skating a while back. I’m not sure if it had to do with everything getting capped or people realizing there were more spots in Toronto and Montreal, but honestly, Vancouver doesn’t have spots. You just have to skate whatever. It’s hard to find a ledge in Vancouver. If one pops up, it’s there for a week, and then it gets capped. Things get built here in a way that understands people are going to skate on them, so they make it harder.

There used to be a larger crew here, but it feels like everyone moved to different areas these past few years. A lot of dudes are from Calgary, and move to Vancouver because it’s pretty close, but eventually shift out east. Montreal was always the place to move to but more people are moving to Toronto now, too.

Five* Favorite Parts With Gino Iannucci

July 13th, 2016 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 4 Comments

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Photo by Jonathan Mehring

Dropped the ball on this series as of late, but what better way to spark it up again than with the guy people would rather watch push? Save one seminal ledge skating part, Gino’s picks were completely unexpected, transition-heavy and refreshing. He even called back a minute after we got off the phone to say he couldn’t just list five and had to add one in (it’s the one from 1997 by the way), hence the asterisk next to the five.

Always open to requests for Five Faves, and thanks for bearing with us as we begin to pull the Quartersnacks Editorial Department off the Fall-Off List ;) ♥

Related: An Interview With Gino Iannucci (2012)

Skate Spot Porn: Pietrasanta Skate Plaza

June 8th, 2016 | 10:46 am | Features & Interviews | 3 Comments

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In tune with the QS tradition of taking off to Europe for the first weeks of June, office related tasks have been taking place in Italy for the past half week. The first day brought us to Pisa, from where we drove 45 minutes to the Pietrasanta Skate Plaza, a skatepark where every obstacle is made out of the world’s best marble.

The marble mined in the Apennine Mountains along the Tuscan coast of Italy is the marble they used for The Pantheon, Michelangelo’s David, and what your favorite rapper’s floors are provided that he’s not a liar (i.e. they’re probably from Home Depot.) The city of Pietrasanta, located at the bottom of the Apuan Alps, is half covered with marble studios, each of which have several acres of gated land displaying gigantic cubes of potential ledges.

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Pietrasanta is a town of just over 20,000 people, so we’re talking like a regular day at Tompkins when there’s a box. In 2012, they had a measly 50,000 Euros (~$55,000) to build a skatepark, except instead of constructing the 11th worst park ever built, they came up with a creative solution. Through cooperation with the local government and the main staple of the local economy, Marco Morigi, a beacon of hope for forward-thinking skatepark designers, mulled through the marble yards in Pietrasanta, collecting donatable scraps of rock that could yield skateable obstacles. The 50,000 Euros would then only be spent on pouring the concrete for the floor, and for foundations under the marble.