Hair has been having quite a moment in skateboarding. Mid-line hair flips are now acceptable skate video etiquette, and even encouraged in some circles. Skaters show up to their barbers with magazine cut-outs of their favorite handsome pros. Some people have entirely supplanted the act of skateboarding with doing their hair. And when spring hits, at least one-third of your friends are getting their heads bleached.
Yup, we’re just comfortable being open about how our hair looks…but aren’t we avoiding the elephant in the room? Skateboarding remains a blonde and brown-haired activity. Redheads are shunned by our superficial skateboard society.
A 2010 viral video revealed that “gingers have souls.” It turns out that they have tricks, too. However, the closed-minded skateboard industry treats even the most talented redheads with with a degree of disinterest otherwise reserved for flow riders wearing Flex-Fits and skating handrails in former Soviet Bloc countries without adequate mail systems. It is time that we acknowledge how redheaded skateboarders are unforgivably underrated. The ignorance must end.
Chapman has been producing skateboards for over two decades. This makes them the longest-standing northeastern skateboard company, in addition to one of the few remaining places where you can produce a deck that comes with a “Made in the U.S.A.” emblem. Their Deer Park, NY headquarters doubles as something of an east coast skateboard museum. Everything from the first Zoo decks, Supreme artist series boards that resell for thousands of dollars, to one-offs that were never mass-produced line their walls. If someone started a skate company on the east coast these past twenty years, they probably dealt with Chapman.
We asked Gregg Chapman, one of the company’s founders, to take us on a tour through the building, and share the stories behind a select few of his favorite boards.
Photo by Seu Trinh
Watching Jim Greco go from what he was in Baker 2G to the darkslides and oddball trick selection in the Deathwish video has been really fun. The dude is one of the most interesting pros going today because he never fails to switch it up with each new part, in a completely unexpected way. You can tell he studies old videos for inspiration, and creates his own approach to tricks most stopped doing years ago. We figured he might be a good candidate for our favorites series. The commentary is quick, but he’s the first to choose a non-Video Days Gonz part, which is rad ;)
Keep up with what Greco has going on and grab some gear over at HammersUSA.com.
Space in New York is a precious commodity. Lots rarely sit vacant, building foundations are never left undone, and an open area seldom exists without a security booth watching over its perimeter. The Volcano was an isolated incident. D.I.Y. in New York peaks at the B.Q.E. lot, where a few pillars form quarterpipes and banks, which then get backed into by trucks every few months and ruined. A wide open space is too precious for developers to neglect, and neglect is how every great D.I.Y. story begins.
Shorty’s is the most recognizable D.I.Y. spot the the greater New York metropolitan area today (first brought to the world’s attention by Fred Gall’s “Scum League” series), and it sits in an abandoned warehouse amid an industrial zone outside the city. The nearest train station is a thirty-minute skate away. Skateboarders need to go quite far to be left alone these days.
The spot was started by a bunch of locals living not-too-far-away, in the most ramshackle skate house imaginable. After eyeing the space, the original plan was to cement a few barriers and see how much they could get away with in incremental doses. The volatility with these sort of spaces is high: there’s never such thing as a truly “abandoned” space. All it takes is for one person with oversight to get pissed off about it. Luckily, that *knock-on-wood* hasn’t happened. Shorty’s began with a small volcano in February 2011, and has bloomed into three walls of obstacles.
Photo by Jared Sherbert
As you continue skating into adulthood, your friends become your favorite skaters. Sure, there’ll always be a few select favorite pros, but once you reach past that thirteen-year-old-self’s dream of getting sponsored, and realize life as the next Eric Koston probably won’t happen, inspiration begins to come from those around you. Your friend’s kickflip will probably get you more hyped than even Wes Kremer’s*, because it’s right there with you, every time you skate.
Jake Johnson is sponsored and rather good at skateboarding. Yet he abides by a similar process in selecting his favorites. There’s just something special in watching parts of someone after actually knowing how they skate in real life.
*Singling out Wes because he initiated a three-way-tie with Lucas Puig and Bobby Worrest for “Literally Everyone’s Favorite [Pro] Skater” after that ten-minute raw footage clip.