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Ian Twa

crooked grind pop out

Issue 112 May 2011 free


The Skate House Redefined words

Frank Daniello


Brian Caissie

A skate house is hardly unfamiliar territory. Upon entrance, it’s not uncommon to step into a dimly lit welcome-hall full of flick-tattered kicks, not to mention the pristine next-up pairs. There’s an immediate tobaccoinfused aroma from the low-lying smoke of a freshly snapped maul lingering. Amongst that, a tinny odor of bargain beer can bottoms coming from the living room where a heated skate video analysis, movie watching session or video game rampage is happening. The faint hiss in the background is telltale that someone is using the shower, which may also dub as an Athlete’s Foot petri dish. Stereotypically, this is all part of the skate house ambience. But all things considered, it’s the stimulating abundance of residents functioning amongst the constant influx of couch surfers that really ties the room together. In some regards, the Vancouver skate house dubbed 1611 East is a different beast with a more advanced palate. Monstrous in size, this compound’s resident-roster includes a Canadian skateboarding who’s-who – Ian Twa, Joey Williams, Bryan Wherry, Caine Cripps, Spencer Hamilton and Wade Desarmo included – as well as a lengthy DIY amenities list that keeps things interesting, regardless of the season. Each individual in this house brings something unique to the table, something that inspires everyday life amongst the collective. “Everyone’s got their own little harmony going on,” Spencer begins explaining. “Personally, I don’t like feeling too comfortable in my living situation because it doesn’t make me motivated. I don’t want to be chillin’. At this place there’s always something to do. It’s never boring. There’s six people living here and it’s huge so you don’t see everyone all the time, but there’s a common vibe when we’re together. The crew here is on point.” Concrete skateboarding


Joey Williams

switch frontside bluntslide to shuv

“Joey’s probably the house handyman – he made the herb garden on the roof and the vegetable garden. He does mad yard work and he’s always fixing stuff around the house.”—Twa

1611 East originally came together when Ian Twa was looking to find a place for himself, Bryan Wherry and Joey Williams. Invitations were extended to others once Twa found and signed the lease for the affordable and sizeable East Vancouver six-bedroom in April 2010 – a place that seems to have all the right ingredients for good livin’. “There’s four bedrooms upstairs, and that’s where me, Caine, Joey, and Spencer live,” Twa begins breaking down the floor-plan. “There’s two full bathrooms up there, a kitchen, a long solarium, computer room and a living room with a wood-burning fireplace. Downstairs we’ve got two bedrooms, and that’s where Wade and Wherry live. They’ve got their own full bathroom, a laundry room, a couple storage rooms, a kitchen, a dining room and a living room with another fireplace. Outside there’s a crazy patio on the roof, a front porch, a garage with a big driveway that fits four cars, and there’s a bit of a yard. It sounds kinda ridiculous, but the house is super big, which is a rare find in East Van.” Entertainment-wise, the upstairs region appears to be more analog in nature while the downstairs suite is nestled under the High Definition umbrella. “Upstairs is kind of interesting,” says Wherry. “There’s a Super Nintendo and we probably have all the best classic Disney movies ever made on VHS. A serious stack. There’s Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia, all of it. There’s also piles of VHS skate videos and movies like all the Rambos and Bloodsport. What should be written above our first House Rule (see p.63) is: ‘Bloodsport is a true story’. I keep tellin’ these guys [laughs]. Spence also has tons of documentaries on conspiracy theories and other Spence type shit [laughs].” Desarmo explains the contrasting technology downstairs: “When I moved in, those dudes upstairs didn’t have cable or anything. To live I need a nice TV, the NHL Centre Ice package with the Senators, and I need the Internet hooked up. My first week here, I got the whole thing set up.” Concrete skateboarding


“If you can’t talk shit, don’t even step to the ping-pong table or you’re gonna be beat before you even get there [laughs].” —Desarmo

matt daughters

Wade Desarmo switch feeble pop-over

The ping-pong room upstairs is a hot topic, Along with the familiar sound of a hollow, thermoplastic ball ricocheting off the wooden paddle’s rubber mounts, there’s the occasional vocal eruption that comes after a friendly taunt is challenged by a sick return from the opposition. “The ping-pong started up at the house when Trav [Stenger] brought over a little adjustable net and mini-paddles he got in Spain, so you could make a table out of anything,” Desarmo mentions. “We started playing on a kitchen table, the one that holds our records now, before we gladly accepted a proper ping-pong table. It runs everyday. Everyone who comes through thinks they have some game, so everyone’s got their own little beef [laughs]. I like playing Joey,” Wade continues, “and Twa thinks he’s good; he’s probably the best to beat [laughs].” Twa contributes to the pong beef: “Wade has definitely held his ground for a long time, but he’s been coming upstairs and losing a few games to me and other people, too. I don’t know, somehow he’s still holdin’ on and claiming the champ [laughs].” There are a few unique house rules to consider that involve alcohol and a ceiling ornament when it comes time to battle with the paddles. “If we’re drinking while playing, you have to put your beer on your side of the net; if the ball hits it you’ve gotta take a sip,” Desarmo clarifies the rules. “Oh, and the chandelier counts. If the ball goes off it and lands on the other side it’s legit. Sometimes you get that lucky bounce [laughs].” Concrete skateboarding


Spencer Hamilton

fakie bigflip

“We all live here because our lifestyles are on the same level and we all skate together. It’s always a fun sesh. There’s no downer around and everyone is motivated.”—Spenny

The Skate House Redefined

“We’ve definitely disposed of broken boards in the fireplace. They burn the best because they’re the worst for the environment [laughs]. I don’t think these guys even take the griptape off.”—Wherry

Aside from the ping-pong arena, there are even more rooms that host the various recreational activities that take place on the daily. “The house is getting better all the time and there’s so many people contributing,” Wherry explains. “The possibilities are endless. We can change any room into whatever we want because there’s so much free space. Upstairs we’ve got the turntables set up in the music room and there’s Caine’s recording studio. Wade’s got his hockey set-up downstairs to work on getting into the NHL in a few years [laughs].” “Hockey has kinda overtaken my life,” Desarmo says with a laugh. “When I’m not out playing I usually put the extra futon we have on its side in the empty dining room downstairs; I shoot at the mattress using practice ice, which is basically a smooth plastic board you put on the carpet. It’s so sick.” A spot that Spencer Hamilton frequents upstairs is the record room. Complete with Numark turntables, a mixer and a generous decibel output, this audio haven opens up to the kitchen and living room. House dwellers and guests intermittently place their vinyl selections on the motor driven platters to create a soundtrack that plays day in and day out. “I’ve never been one to buy a CD, but records feel right,” Spencer points out. “It’s like you’re gettin’ in on something, you know? I’ve probably bought a few hundred records or so since I’ve lived here, and I’m just gettin’ started [laughs]. Caine also has a bunch of classic rock and reggae, and my old roommate gave us about 300 records – all of them old ’90s and early 2000s rap. Most are gems, too.” Concrete skateboarding


gordon nicholas

Ian Twa switch front 50-50 to sidewalk gap

“Twa is the most legit dude in the house. He found the place and hooked everything up. He’s the BOSS.”—Spenny

Concrete skateboarding


Caine Cripps blunt to fakie

“In a group situation, everyone knows their talents and habits. If you need to talk cooking, you talk to Joey. If you want to talk hockey, you talk to Wade. If it’s art, you talk to Caine.”—Spenny

The Skate House Redefined

“My music studio at the house has a MIDI controller, an M-Box, a microphone, and turntables for sampling. I’ve been making some hip-hop beats for fun, and even had Brian Gautreau in there before to record some rhymes.”—Caine

“Wade’s dog Banks is around most of the time, and my cat Penny is in the house all the time. She’s a popular animal. Joey’s got a crazy Penny mural in his room [laughs], and Caine made a couple grip stencils of the cat from a photo Joey shot of her jumping this crazy roof gap.” —Twa

The stomach of the average wiry skater is often a bottomless pit emptied by a steadfast metabolism. But rather than dragging in oily paper bags of empty calories from a fast food joint’s value menu, the 1611 residents regularly enjoy home-cooked meals and have the skills to make it happen. “Everyone in the house enjoys cooking,” Spencer adds. “I’m the only person here who doesn’t eat meat on a regular basis, so one of the reasons why I like living with a bunch of fools who have different eating habits is you get to see different food and smell bacon in the morning [laughs]. I’ve learned a lot about cooking from Joey. On the resourcefultip, he has a cooking background and knows what flavours, herbs and spices work together.” Resident ripper, landscaper, manual cultivator and inhouse chef Joey Williams primarily takes on the house gardening and walks us through the yard: “I got a herb garden going on the roof – rosemary, thyme, two kinds of oregano, sage, parsley, mint, chamomile, basil, and some lavender for the sock drawer,” he explains while sipping a Hell’s Gate. “In the yard we’ve got a Rainier cherry tree, two Bing cherry trees and an apple tree. Last summer we had big expectations from our five tomato plants in the garden, but we only got one or two tomatoes [laughs]. We got a bit of lettuce, and a lot of hot Serrano peppers. This year’s garden will be way better.”

“In the summer there’s lots of grillin’ happening – heavy propane use. In the winter we’ve done a few slow-cooks with anything you can put in a huge pot and leave for hours – usually chili, beef shanks or curry.”—Joey

Concrete skateboarding


Bryan Wherry frontside 180 “It’s just friends, straight up. Everybody is having a good time all the time. When I’m not here I’m wondering, ‘What’s going on at the house?’ and I feel like I’m missin’ out on something.”—Wherry

Any high-morale skate house in a quiet neighbourhood with smooth frontstreet pavement and late night post-skate activities runs the risk of poor residential reactions. As Wherry points out, it was a rocky start when they moved in: “The lady across the street wasn’t really down with us at the beginning. I think she said something like, ‘Do you guys think you’re gonna move in and turn the front street into a skatepark?’ She didn’t want us skating because a specific spot on the street made her dishes clink and her dog go crazy. Then there was the whole Spenny roof incident and the ambulance picking him up while he was laid out in the driveway. I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, we just moved in’. That was definitely not a good look with the neighbours [laughs]. After I tore up my knee, the neighbours would see me on crutches and a few would ask, ‘Did you fall off the roof?’ But I think now they’re all down with us for the most part.” 1611 East would be nothing more than an oversized run-down house if it wasn’t for the creativity and character these dudes breathe into the place, which upgrades its status to a top-shelf structural specimen. And considering the fact that personality clashes might spoil a similarly extensive living situation, the crew at 1611 achieves residential success by coexisting well both on and off the board. “Living with a lot of people is the ultimate learning experience,” Spencer says. “It’s good to put yourself in this kind of situation because you learn so much more about people, even if you’ve already known them for a while. Everyone here has a common respect. Real recognizes real right off the bat, and that’s why it works in our house. But we’re not passive either, if you’re fucking up we’ll let you know.”

The Skate House Redefined Concrete skateboarding


Spencer Hamilton frontside smith grind

The 1611 Vinyl Tap: Spenny’s 20 1. “Octopus’s Garden” – The Beatles // Abbey Road (1969) 2. “Long as I Can See the light” – C.C.R. // Cosmo’s Factory (1970) 3. “Sabbra Cadabra” – Black Sabbath // Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) 4. “Eminence Front” – The Who // It’s Hard (1982) 5. “Oh Daddy” – Fleetwood Mac // Rumours (1977) 6. “Misty Morning” – Bob Marley and The Wailers // Kaya (1978) 7. “All My Love” – Led Zeppelin // In Through the Out Door (1979) 8. “Your Possible Pasts” – Pink Floyd // The Final Cut (1983) 9. “DWYCK” – Gang Starr // Hard to Earn (1994) 10. “Fire and Rain” – James Taylor // Sweet Baby James (1970) 11. “Brothers in Arms” – Dire Straits // Brothers in Arms (1985) 12. “Midnight Confessions” – The Grass Roots // Golden Grass (1968) 13. “A Thin Line” – Cormega // The True Meaning (2002) 14. “Telephone Line” – E.L.O. // A New World Record (1976) 15. “The Boxer” – Simon & Garfunkel // Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970) 16. “Vienna” – Billy Joel // The Stranger (1977) 17. “Gimme the Loot” – The Notorious B.I.G. // Ready to Die (1994) 18. “Spanish Train” – Chris de Burgh // Spanish Train and Other Stories (1975) 19. “Soul Rebel” – Bob Marley and The Wailers // Soul Rebels (1970) 20. “The End” – The Doors // The Doors (1966)

“It’s pretty rare when a month goes by and someone isn’t staying here from out of town.

Ian Twa switch backside nosegrind pop out

1611 East Extended Web Feature  
1611 East Extended Web Feature  

1611 East Extended Web Feature Concrete Skateboarding Issue 112