“What’s in the future for Zoo York? Airplanes? Asteroids?”
Over the past several weeks, Zoo has been releasing videos to celebrate the company’s twenty-year anniversary. Beyond an admittedly sorta sick return to Astor Place since a decade-and-a-half hiatus, a recent episode featured the team visiting the Chapman warehouse, where a lot of their board production has taken place. Considering there isn’t a gallery to browse through early Zoo graphics available online anywhere, it’s a fun trip back to simpler times to when a two-color graphic board was considered an anomaly.
And thus, your average mid-twenties to mid-thirties skateboarder is inevitably left with 411 “Industry” YouTubes as a vehicle to reminisce on old companies’ primes (e.g. this isn’t the first time in the past month where an “Industry” section has provided the exemplary five-minute glimpse of a company we were once in love with.) Who would have thought that the “expanding” promises uttered twenty years ago would amount to such a far-off result? Either way, try and find someone who doesn’t have this section on their shortlist of 411 favorites.
Name brand New York skate houses are a dying breed. The Green Diamond no longer bears the green awning after which it was named, many prominent Dobbin Block personalities have moved on, and only one of the residents at 21 Spring Street maintains an interest in skateboarding. As of March 31, the Chapman House in Long Island City is no more. The property was bought out by a holding company, and all of the residents were forced out.
42-68 Hunter Street began as a home base for the Chapman team during the Short Ends days (the video that featured Jake Johnson’s first part.) Almost five years have passed since its release — Brendan Leddy is in the U.S. Air Force, Luke Malaney is currently on a half-year-plus hike from Georgia to Maine, and Jake, as you may know, is a pro skateboarder. Justin White’s New Thirsty video was also born out of this three-bedroom apartment. While filming for it, Jersey Dave willingly spent every weekend sleeping on the kitchen floor, even if there were beds or couches available. Miles Marquez lived out a considerable portion of his hick phase in this house, and even the current incarnation of Quartersnacks (i.e. the consistently updated one you see today) was built out of the apartment during a 2010 sublet. It was the crash site for dozens after late-night midtown sessions, or the next best thing to sleeping outside after staying at Enid’s too late (a 15-minute skate down McGuinness and across the Pulsaki Bridge.) Most of those times never wound up on video or in photos.
No one knows if the building is getting torn down or gutted out, but it will likely take a turn towards the “renewed” face that Long Island City had adopted during those five years. There’s no chance a couple skateboarders would be able to afford rent there again.
Throughout the past month, NY Skateboarding has been posting Number Nine Skateboards’ 1995 video, Another Number on a part-by-part basis every week. Number Nine is the company that became Chapman later in the decade, sponsoring the likes of Billy Rohan, Jake Johnson, etc., and eventually becoming one of the most prominent skateboard production houses in the northeast.
While this site is no stranger to celebrating voyages to the past via old videos, the first few installments of Another Number weren’t as appealing as you’d expect a “lost” nineties New York skate video to be, due to the fact that over half of it is filmed in an indoor park. Unless you’re mainly concerned with what shoes skaters wore in 1995, a mostly indoor-set regional video isn’t exactly going to cue you into the environment around skateboarding in that given time. Today’s final installment drifted away from the otherwise artificially lit settings found in the remaining portions of the video, with a rarely seen part of crowd favorite, Frank Gerwer. Best of all, it is mostly filmed in Manhattan, and not a park. The ending back tail over the Burritoville double-set on 46th Street first appeared in 411 New York Metrospective, but much of the footage is otherwise seldom seen.