An Interview With Ross Norman

November 30th, 2017 | 7:23 am | Features & Interviews | 6 Comments

Photo by Corey Rosson

Words & Interview by Frozen in Carbonite

The American archetype of The Cowboy as a metaphor for an “outlaw” lifestyle is around 150 years old. The New Jersey classic, “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which just flat out states “I’m a cowboy” is probably the least subtle example of this. Ross Norman’s 2008 Last of the Mohicans part, on the other hand, is more cerebral. The juxtoposition of the Highwaymen classic “Silver Stallion,” and Norman’s technical-yet-relatable #lowimpact skating stood out in a sea of women’s jeans and Modest Mouse edits.

Through the sands of time, the Mohicans part developed a cult following — devotees including Hjalte Halberg, who stated on the record that he stole all his tricks from Norman. Recently, the dude made a comeback of sorts, going pro for The Vacation and branding himself as a North American plaza specialist, an almost impossible job description. Indeed, based on the current state of North American plaza skating, one could even call him a desperado or some shit.

So we caught up with one of your favorite skater’s favorite skaters to, A) get into what he’s been up to for the past decade, and B) shed some light on one of America’s last standing organic plaza spots.

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

I was born in Torrance and then moved to the Santa Ynez Valley, which is near Santa Barbara, CA. That was when the Powell SkateZone was open. I started going there in 1992 when I was twelve years old, and saw some contests that got me stoked on skating. Kinda started from there, and skating street after that place closed.

How did you link up with Joe Perrin and all those Florida guys?

I skated for Status Skateboards back in the early 2000s, and Mike Rosa was on the team. He’s from Orlando and skated for Westside, so he knew John Buchanan, Dowd, Renaud, all those dudes. I met Rosa on the first Status tour — it was a two-month tour that Van Styles talked about in that Nine Club interview. We went through Florida, so I met Renaud and Nix when they were like fourteen or fifteen — like, tiny little kids. And Josh Dowd skated for DNA, which was the sister company to Status. Dowd moved to Hollywood, Rosa and 80s Joe were staying at his place, and I’d always go and stay with them. Rosa and 80s got their own apartment, and I basically lived on their couch for years.

Who was most influential on your skating coming up in Santa Barbara?

The Church of Skatan guys were the local rippers. Dylan Gardner was kinda like the hometown hero dude. He skated for Neighborhood and was in magazines. He was super sick in the mid-to-late 90s before he got all hesh. I learned nollie flip nose slides just because he did them. But I grew up on 20 Shot, Trilogy, early 411s — all the classic mid-90s videos. L.A. was really close, so I Iooked to that kind of skating as being influential. Gino, Pupecki, Pepe, Welsh… those dudes were and will always be my favorites.

The Ethos of the Forbidden 14 With Dana Ericson

November 8th, 2017 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 51 Comments

Words & Interview by Frozen in Carbonite
Photo by Lee Madden

“A man must have a code.” — Omar Little and/or Bunk Moreland, The Wire (HBO, 2002-2008)

You might remember the Code of Hammurabi from 9th/10th grade world history or some shit. Long story short, it functioned as the first written code of law in the history of human civilization.

Four thousand years later, from a socio-anthropological perspective, skate spots — and more specifically, the almost-extinct inner city plaza spot — are mini-civilizations with their own dignitaries and codes.

Love Park — don’t push mongo. Embarcadero — don’t get in Mike or Henry’s way. Along those lines, Boston’s Eggs has developed its own code, a central component of which is the infamous “Forbidden 14.” When I first heard of it, it took me back to the days of vibing anyone that did a street grab or railslide. On the other hand, when you saw someone with a nose and tail worn down to the wood grain and a pristine graphic in between, you knew they weren’t fucking around.

When I referenced it here, a substantial amount of #engagement erupted in the QS comments section. So, we hit up Eggs local and Alltimers rider Dana Ericson to shed some light on one of Eggs’ most elusive and #controversial hidden codes.

For the culture.

Frozen in Carbonite Presents — Song of the Summer x Video Part of the Summer 2017: The Summer of Angst

September 27th, 2017 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 7 Comments

Words by Frozen in Carbonite

I turned 40 this summer. Eschewing a crazy-ass party, trip or any other type of midlife crisis-type behavior, I kept it mellow and went out to my local™ bar. Street skating over forty is unknown territory, but if you manage to stay fit, there’s what I call the Reggie Miller Effect: one’s physique remains essentially static, but one’s capabilities — whether because of reflexes or vision deteriorating — decline exponentially. It’s all about managing expectations. 360 flips might flip slower than in the past, but maybe one adds backside nosegrind reverts on small ledges to the repertoire. Other summer activities function in a similar manner; one might not be able to make it to OVO Fest, but maybe one could chill at one of those tiny New York hotel pools with a bag of tequila taped to one’s thigh.

This #frame gives one hope heading into the fall A.K.A. skate season. Indeed, while this may be the first S.O.T.S. x V.P.O.T.S. post without a part from an according-to-Hoyle physical release, at press time, we were still digesting the 917 and Traffic vids, plus anticipating the release of Sabotage 5. So with an eye towards hoody season, let’s take a look back at the songs and video parts that fueled summer ’17.

Skateboarding & Color Coordination — A Retrospective

September 6th, 2017 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 5 Comments

A #NYFW Special Report

Words & Interviews by Frozen in Carbonite
Photo Collages by Requiem For A Screen

Skating writ large prides itself on a “no rules, bro!” ethos. #Menswear, an entity with which skating has become increasingly intertwined of late (via Vogue Skateboarding Magazine, etc.), has all kinds of rules. No black belt with brown shoes. No wearing white after Labor Day. One’s tie can’t go past one’s belt. Skating has no such faux pas — except for MAYBE brand-mixing — i.e. one can’t wear a Venture shirt if one is skating Indys or Vans socks if you’re wearing Nikes.

But what if I told you that skaters have curated their own sartorial code for decades — painstakingly color-coordinating their shoes, shirts, hats, and even spots? However, the modern-day thrift store aesthetic has left color-coordination by the wayside, even as color-blocking seemed to make a comeback last year, or some shit. So, in conjunction with New York Fashion Week, enjoy this retrospective of color coordination while you’re waiting to get into the Wang party or whatever.

First Take — The New P.J. Ladd Video Part

August 17th, 2017 | 12:44 pm | Daily News | 17 Comments

Words by Frozen in Carbonite

Reclusive geniuses are an endangered species these days. In the current era of personal branding and ever-flowing #content, this state of affairs renders new material from one an #event — like that one new Harper Lee book or, as I referenced here, a hypothetical new Salinger novel.

After the Plan B video came and went with a single solitary trick, the long-awaited P.J. Ladd street (i.e. not filmed in a private indoor T.F.) video part occupied a mental space somewhere between Chinese Democracy and the Menace video.

Indeed, if I were in a barstool conversation with, say, Chuck Klosterman, the easiest way to convey what makes P.J. Ladd such an icon would be to say “He’s like the Brian Wilson of skateboarding” — an archetype-shattering, somewhat eccentric genius. However, once you shatter the mirror once — via a Pet Sounds or a PJLWHL — you can’t put it back together. That impact is one-time-only. What made PJLWHL so insane was that it was technically mindblowing and viscerally relatable (ledges alongside piles of snow, shredded Accels) at once. It was as if the exponential progression of Embarcadero — achieved collectively by Sanchez, Carroll, et. al. — had been recreated in one mind. Also, just like Brian Wilson inspired a legion of followers (like the dude from Spiritualized, etc.), Ladd created an entire genre of Boston ledge-tech assassins.

So, after a decade and a half, the most realistic expectation — as with Wilson’s 1980’s solo record — is quality work.

Which brings us to the outline of the part itself. Tricks, spots, and fits.