A Shop for All Seasons & Forever: Memories of Autumn

Written by Galen Dekemper.

Thanks to Rob Harris, Emilio Cuilan, Danny Weiss, and probably some other people for the photos.

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There is a tendency to consider things older than ourselves permanent into our future since we have no memory of a time without them. Autumn was in New York City before I was, and it had soldiered on for so long that I only imagined that it would continue to do so. Now the shop is closed. I will be thankful if this writing of Autumn’s death proves premature or temporary. Its rebirth is the Snackman’s number one prediction for 2012 and my fervent hope too, right up there with last year’s prediction of Slicky Boy switch nosegrinding a handrail. I feel the coming of both may arrive jointly, or once Slicky Boy’s rap or gambling money allows him to buy out the whole block of 9th Street, reinstate Autumn with the bowl on site, and start the Tompkins Deli back again too with a nightclub downstairs that will create its own Barmuda Triangle with Blind Barber and Lit. A resurrection of Autumn would be similar to the creation of Nobel Prizes once the living Mr. Nobel was declared dead in the press, that is a chance to live again more vigorously than ever before in the celebration of ideals, effort and truth, for all of which Autumn was a beacon despite its lack of extensive storefront signage. It existed in location and aesthetic right between Supreme and KCDC. The development of the gentleman skater genre owes much to Autumn. One time, this kid asked the Philosopher how to get to Autumn and Philosopher told him to stick around the TF till 7:30 then help carry the box back to the shop.

The first time I visited Autumn in 2004, I saw a shuttered storefront in daylight and thought it had gone out of business. In my life as a skater in search of skateshops, I have come across a vacant location more than once. In this case I came from Indiana and had the address of the old 2nd Street location. Then I read a sign that directed me to Autumn’s second and for now, last location that would anchor my location for much of my time in New York.

My first visit did not result in a purchase. Snackman is right, there was no complimentary massage at Autumn. I don’t remember who sat behind the counter in silence. I was free to browse as I wished. I wanted to buy a “Tino Is My Homeboy” shirt, but had not met Tino at the time, only seen him in videos. I wondered if that made me his homeboy, and once I was in the shop my conscience wouldn’t let me buy the shirt even though I was certain we would get along once we met. I was younger then and didn’t realize that at a store in a city where no one knew me no one would know who I knew. But then I figured everyone who knew would know. I didn’t think how Autumn would appreciate the money because Autumn was a shop that needed money to run. I picked up an issue of Vice for free. Anyway, I would be back and spend money there, though the Tino shirts had sold out by the time I met him.

In skate shops, it is acceptable behavior to sit all day reading a magazine. This is also a discrete way to monitor the comings and goings in the shop. There was the friendly repartee with the UPS man and the shop gave him a pair of shoes he had asked about. I saw Clyde Singleton out front and had to call my friends in Indiana to tell them. Patrick O’Dell was there sometimes and I saw Spanky. I had read Patrick O’Dell and T. Barrow’s writing about Autumn in magazines, how O’Dell had mail delivered there and Ted conducted gentlemen’s meetings in the back. Epicly Later’d was my laptop homepage before Quartersnacks emerged. Since I was too young for the Fish at the time, Autumn was my best chance to see the people who do things that are cool in New York on their daily grind.

The mid-point of this millennium’s first decade was in the heydey of the allover print t-shirt, and I purchased a rainbow shirt with diagonal striped colorful print and the black shirt with white stars all over it, the same one Flat Bar Dave had. Owner Dave Mims’ wife Kristen was working that day, before I knew her as Dave the owner’s wife, and I felt like this beautiful woman was giving me a homie deal because I wasn’t charged tax, but I was unaware of tax free shopping since I was new to the city.

I was sitting at the shop one evening, reading a magazine, when people were going to the Autumn Bowl and asked me if I wanted to come. We drove in Dave’s car with Alex Porta and Oscar. I couldn’t believe I’d been asked to tag along when I was quiet. Once in Greenpoint, we made my first walk down the alleyway type thing and walked on planks set down over standing water, then were in. Some other dudes were already there and the session was too heavy for me, so I dropped in and took a couple cruises through but ended up sessioning the mini ramp in the other room with Oscar. The last time I skated the bowl I did my first grind in the deep end. I guess the fact that the Autumn Bowl closed was proof that Autumn didn’t have the funds to maintain a Brooklyn outpost that was not a store, rather an amazing, beautiful hand wrought space that existed only for stoke, but then Autumn did the best things as much as it was able to and we all benefited from all of them.

My parents came to visit my first fall. We saw Dave walking through Tompkins Square and he stopped and introduced himself. My parents were happy to see that I was friends with quality people. It was easy to find quality people at Autumn. Paulgar sat behind the counter cool as can be with pomade in his hair, drinking iced coffee on a summer day when the shop was hot with no air conditioning, one fan running and the door propped open with the tail of a snapped deck. Grandpa would price things in his mind and was always generous. It was said that the whole city was on Autumn flow. I cannot wait much longer for Jilleen and Brengar to collaborate on the Autumn video that has still not come out. There was the Zero-style Grandpa pro model wearing his beanie that hung at the threshold to the back. Charles Chatov and Brett Land worked there some and called me the Prophet when I would come in there dazed from contemplating skate theory and needing an outlet. Brett Land’s doghouse made of skateboards was in the storefront for a while. The front window was also a first home to the world’s finest example of contemporary portraiture, Gigliotti’s study of Brengar with the popsicle. One time last year, I called the store and asked if Dharam was there. I knew he wouldn’t be, but wanted to keep his name on people’s lips and heard laughter over the line when Dave announced my question to whoever else was in the store.

My first board purchase from the shop was a dipped white 5Boro Virgin Mary board and I learned switch crooked grinds on the black flat box at Tompkins right after I set it up. I bought my first Zip Zinger there, then Jake Hanly and I kicked it in south Tompkins and watched The Virgins play. Many times I used the shop tools to assemble the hand me down boards that Roctakon offered. There was the board that had all of the photographs of girls blowing bubble gum and they were the girls I wanted to meet in New York.

One time at the Fish, Ted Barrow told me if I went up and talked to this girl she would kiss me. I walked up to her and told her I liked her dress. She said “Really?” I told her yeah, that the pattern was remarkable. Soon enough we had gone outside and were kissing. When I came back in to grab my board to leave, Ted focused my board in front of me. He then apologized and said he owed me a board. Three years later he told me to stop by the shop and there was a Workshop cruiser board covered in Aesthetics and Autumn stickers waiting for me.

At the end of my first school year in New York, before I left for Indiana for the summer, Jeremy Corley, he of the $100 haircut and small dog, said I could take a Slayer shirt on the house. I wore the black shirt often that summer and have used it as a pillowcase. There was the burning Church t-shirt in orange that I gave to a friend, The “Bela Lugosi is dead” t-shirt an ex-girlfriend took off me one night to have sex with me again anyway. The No-Beach t-shirt that I have managed to keep free of stains. The Morrissey in Supreme font t-shirts in black on black and white on white. The white Autumn hoody with the green circle logo on back I like to wear with the Orange Helmut Lang jeans I picked up from the 12 and A flea market when that was still running. Autumn sold the Palace t-shirts that help attract models. I gave my allover print horror movie t-shirt to this girl in Brooklyn maybe named Zoe after we made out one night at a party. There was the “Fuck The Police” t-shirt with Sting’s band on the front. Autumn had better vintage pieces at more reasonable prices than anywhere in the East Village, the only skateshop in the universe where you could find Yves Saint Laurent and Brooks Brothers collars. I bought my first Five Brothers flannel that I am wearing in my current Facebook profile picture from Autumn. On a number of occasions, I grabbed an extra layer before heading somewhere. One time I bought a longsleeve black metal band t-shirt and we were debating how much Dave should charge me. Someone pointed out that it would sell for $100 at Search and Destroy. Having seen Miles’s purchases there, I believed that. Dave ended up giving it to me for $25. On the front it had skeletons in electric chairs sitting down to the Last Supper. On the back it featured a baby’s head in a vice with the words “I was born alive. Isn’t that punishment enough?”

Much of the time Autumn didn’t have stickers, but when they did, they were great and generously distributed. They may not have had many shoes, but the shoes they did have were straight from Dave Caddo’s packages. The Chief in the frame watched you while you tried on clothes. Andy Kessler’s last shoes found a home at the highest point in the shop. There were few things better to do than moving the bench out front in pleasant weather and watching the girls walk past while assembling a board. No matter how inconsistent Autumn’s soft goods selection could have been, they always had boards and all the hardware that you needed to stay skating, which is the most basic and important definition of a skate shop.

Danny Weiss and I were in there with Miles on his 18th Birthday when Grandpa searched up a Deluxe catalog and Miles took the Anti-Hero eagle, added an American flag to its talons and we headed down to St. Marks for his first tattoo.

I was in New York most recently in November. I wanted to maximize my time in the city, so took the first flight in. No one was really stirring when I made it to the East Village with my bags before noon. I waited at Autumn until Dave rolled up to open the shop. He let me leave my bags there until I figured out where I would be sleeping.

Before the shop closed for good, the shop closed at 7:30. There were times in the summer when the box would have to go inside, when there was still prime shredding going on in late daylight at TF. In the winter, the box would be returned when it was dark before 5 and we hung around the shop because it was too early to go home and too cold to be outside. The TV didn’t always work, but you could crowd around the counter in back and watch whatever the employee wanted to see on YouTube. I remember Slicky Boy unsuccessfully trying to get Martin to play an A$AP song, but he obliged to look up another beat on the condition that Slicky Boy freestyle over it. There was the bathroom with a toilet paper roll on the truck where the wheel would go that was a preferred stop to the Tompkins facilities. Autumn gladly provided a venue for me to distribute my short stories. Roctakon tre flipped inside the shop and taildropped out of it. I have never been into the shop that Waka Flocka blessed on 11th Street because I always went to Autumn instead. This winter, I’ve been wearing the yellow Charlie Brown hat and my favorite black Autumn pants ever that I have in sizes 28 to 36 and keep wearing long after I have had to have all the top buttons replaced. Autumn was the place Jake Johnson returned to after his days spent wandering, where Lurker Lou saw him that morning as he finished painting the front of Autumn’s pull down screen.

My first winter in New York, after darkness shut down the TF, I was in a pizza shop up Avenue A with Ryan Chin. Mike Wright stopped in with a pair of I-Path Cats with a shearling lining, and said that we were eating where ABC Skateshop used to be. I had seen the video with Matt Rzeszutko’s part in it, but had no idea where the shop had been. We thanked Mike for the knowledge.

The last time I went to Autumn was on my last night of my most recent time in New York. I went over after the TF got dark with an hour to spare before meeting Liz to talk about Miles. Switch Back Ted had just set up a board and wanted me to confirm that one of the handsome dancing characters on the fresh Mike Carroll graphic looked like him. The Snow Man and the 12th Street Assassin stopped in, then left to play Uno. Jilleen came in and offered me a beer straight off. She was with Julian whose band the Morning Benders made Torey Pudwill’s song in the Transworld video. We set about kicking it, talked about when we listened to music on Discmans and how only the good ones had shock control, and I filmed them doing slappies on the box in the shop. I bought Jerry Hsu’s Decapitated Bart Simpson t-shirt, which Ted told me was a slim fit that I wouldn’t like. I had overheard him say this to someone else a few days earlier and knew this to be the case, but was buying the shirt for a friend and told him so. Martin was at the counter reading a pocket edition of a populist novel set in developing California. I gave him a crisp twenty in exchange for the shirt. Liz’s haircut took longer than expected, so I walked to the corner store and returned Jilleen and Julian’s beer favor as we continued to lurk. When Liz was finished, I left the store with the t-shirt that I would end up using as a scarf that chilly night. I said goodbye to everyone there, but did not know I was saying goodbye to the shop. I had no idea that less than two months later, as we celebrated Autumn’s 10th anniversary, the shop was set to close.

I imagined returning to New York in the spring and finding Autumn just as I left it that last night. Now I will return to a different New York. I am sure this closing will affect TF and world culture to some great extent. At least products can outlast the stores that produce them and I will treasure my Autumn product now more than ever. As Grandpa said in that interview, everybody is on the Autumn team. As 2012 begins, we have lost a beloved sponsor that I was proud to support. For now, Autumn can exist in products, words, video, our hearts and minds and Lurker Lou’s Autumn paint job still riding on the pulldown gate that marks where this skateshop Autumn once lived.

8 Comments

  1. autumn was the best, the bowl was sick too. fuck homage and those other “skate shops”

  2. homage had better coffee though

    but autumn was alright. fuck canada (and australia)

  3. Shit – now somebody’s got to pick up all those names off the floor. The homie can’t do it from Indiana.

  4. i hope somebody took a charcoal drawing i left there 3 years ago of anthony pops

  5. Referencing people by name is relevant when writing a well written story. As far as I’m concerned, Galen did the damn thing.

  6. the first release of the autumn video will only be available on on Blackberrys that slicky boy will be selling at tompkins. 200 cash fully loaded apiece


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