Big things have small beginnings. Prometheus, bro. Photo by Jay Maldonado.
This piece originally ran in Nike’s “Go Skate Day” ‘zine that was distributed during the accompanying weekend in June. The initial idea was a “History of Go Skate Day,” and there’s really no way to tell that story without it originating at Metrospective, a website that many of the kids skating that weekend likely never even heard of, as it existed mostly from the late nineties until maybe just shy of ten years ago. Quartersnacks, and many local-centric websites have since followed in its footsteps (whether they know it or not), so here is an important chapter of how the skateboard internet began.
Today, it’s hard to imagine skateboarding without the internet. But in the not-so-distant past, you had to buy VHS tapes to see who-did-what, know someone to find the new secret spot, and hear about events through word of mouth or paper flyers. In the mid-nineties, Bryan Chin began the first New York City skate website as a school project. That site would become Metrospective.com, one of the first great independent skateboard websites. On it, you could wait patiently as your 56k modem loaded an eight-second clip from the Brooklyn Banks, map out a midtown mission if you were a tourist, or see who was who from Sunday’s Newport session (“I was the white guy with the blue hat whose board went into the water.”) The New York skateboard community had an online home where everyone was connected — the kids who never left Brooklyn now heard what happened downtown each weekend. Metrospective became the backbone for the first All City Skate Jam in 2002, a virtually sponsor-less event that sought to mend a skate scene fragmented by 9/11 and all its heightened security, and eventually evolved into what you may now know as “Go Skate Day.”
Where are you from and how did you get into skateboarding?
I was born and raised in Queens. I started skateboarding with my friends from school when I was 13 in the mid-to-late eighties. Skateboarding was much more colorful then, with crew names like the Plaid Fish Tribe. The sickest trick I ever saw was a boneless off the top of a truck or a wallie off a tree trunk.
What was skateboarding like at that time?
I skated with a lot of people, some you probably never heard of like Peter Sarne, Benny Guerra, Paul Moix, Jay Gonzales, Rick Pham, Paul Leung and later the Rodneys [Torres and Cooper], and even later Jay Mallolly, Karim Frezno. Basically all of the Queens locals over time. There would be the OD crew [OD was a skate shop on the west side of Manhattan, near Jacob Javitz Center], the Skate NYC crew [East Village skate shop], the Benji’s crew [Lower East Side skate shop], and we were the Queens crew. Everyone would meet at the Banks and then all the crews would go to Seaport, World Trade and the rest of downtown, then skate up to Astor together around sundown, and then go to midtown from there and break night. The only events back then were the HiBA and Banks contests or occasional demos at Danny’s ride-a-way.