ISSUE 124 / 2013 / FREE
50-50 TRANSFER [o] BRIAN CAISSIE
Planning a trip to Southern California crosses most Canadians’ minds during the winter season—it’s a fairly cheap getaway that almost guarantees sun day after day. However, planning a long weekend skate journey to SoCal with some friends and planning a 10-day trip to Los Angeles to shoot a full article are completely different stories. Let’s face it: L.A. County has been thoroughly beaten up by skateboards for decades. Nearly everyone who’s made it, or tried to, in the United States and across the globe has either visited or wound up calling the Los Angeles area home. Having an average of about 330 days of sunshine per year, this city doesn’t see much downtime in terms of skateboarding. Taking all of this into consideration, you’re left wondering: How the hell can a crew of Canadians roll through and get some unique coverage in a skate city rife with welldocumented ABDs and history? A tough question, indeed. About two years ago, Bryan Wherry started handpicking the first Canadian team to represent HUF Footwear. Over time it’s grown into a very solid squad, featuring the likes of Wherry, Mike Vince, Tyler Warren, Brett Gifford, Mike Fyfe and Zander Mitchell. In this case, they took it upon themselves to leave the frigid Canadian winter behind to try and find a different take on the “City of Dreams.” The following stack of pages consists of this amazing group of guys partaking in HUF Canada’s first out-of-country trip.
SKATE, SLEEP, BURRITO
The daily planner for this trip was simple: get up, eat, go skate, sleep. Pepper in a burrito or two, some beers to end the day, and that’s the trip in a nutshell. The effects of the schedule translated into a whole lot of time spent skating. None of us had ever spent much time in L.A., yet we knew what to expect, and in some cases we had spots and tricks already in mind; this made for a good feeling hopping in the van right off the plane. I could tell that the energy was high and it was going to be an adventure.
ZANDER’S THE MAN
Zander Mitchell started this trip (insert sarcastic tone here) “on a great note.” As Bryan Wherry mentions: “This guy is not responsible at all. Sometimes I think he’s from another planet, but he makes up for it with his skateboarding every time.” Zander arrived late for his flight in Montreal only to find out he couldn’t board the plane. From this point on, the rest of the day resulted in stressful scenarios to get him safely to our hotel in L.A. For those of you unfamiliar with the Nova Scotia native’s skating, he is a machine. Not in a robotic way, but he just doesn’t stop. And his trick selection is on point.
ZANDER MITCHELL BACK SMITH TO FRONT SHUV
“Zander’s the man,” says Tyler Warren. “He’s always sparkin’ lumbers right when everyone’s getting in the van to leave, but he will always get a trick at every spot and it will always be the best.”
MIKE FYFE SWITCH CROOK
Hollywood is an interesting place. It’s one of the few cities in the world where people have a predetermined thought or feeling about it long before they go there. We were happily set up at the Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel, right off Beverly and Fairfax. Attached to this hotel is a place called Swingers—a little diner-style restaurant with a good enough menu to hit every day or two and not get sick of it. With the moderate pricing and not-so-private dining, I wouldn’t have thought this was a place where you would run into a grip of random TV and film stars, as well as professional skateboarders. I guess that’s Hollywood.
Calgary’s Tyler Warren claimed the cover this issue, and the most nicknames on the trip. I’d say five-to-one compared to his teammates. Let’s make a quick list of some notable ones: Crazy T, Conscious T, Personali T, Big T, T Money… the list can go on. @kookfag (as he’s known on Instagram) is a character. He would hype up the van during the dullest of moments, and was quick to put on some new crazy rap that he knew every word to. Funny thing was, the only other person who knew every song he would play was Wherry, who was the oldest while Tyler was the youngest. “I could spend a lifetime writing a biography on him and it would likely fall short of capturing the essence that is Tyler Warren,” Mike Vince accurately explains. “I just couldn’t stop laughing at him, and occasionally with him.”
Prior to going on this trip, I had never met Mike Fyfe before, but knowing his brother Wade, I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect. That is until I talked to Wherry about Mike, and he told me about his first team manager encounter, which resulted in having to put Mike in a full nelson. “He’s usually keeping it really chill in his own world,” Crazy T says of Mike. “But you always wonder what he’s thinking under all that hair, and he will only tell you after you give him some beers.” Mike hosts a striking resemblance to Wade in many ways, with a similar calm, subtle humour that perfectly accompanies his skateboarding.
TYLER WARREN 50-50
Brett Gifford is raw with everything he does. He’s got no problem draining a few 24-ounce cans of Coors before bed, and retires later than anyone. “He is always awake,” Mike Vince confirms. “He doesn’t go to sleep, which I find a tad odd. Brett, does insomnia help with one’s flick?” Wherry adds: “He would still get up and skate hard every day, though. He also showed up with the worst haircut [laughs].” Brett usually gets up to a smoke and coffee before he eats anything normal. Judging by his track record on this trip, he bleeds at least once-a-day, and I think he wore the same clothes pretty much every day. All of these aforementioned personality traits got me hyped after seeing them grow from a one-day thing into his daily routine.
BRETT GIFFORD FRONTSIDE KICKFLIP
Let me start off by saying that Bryan Wherry is a fucking G. He’s quick to let you know what’s on his mind and almost everything the guy says is pure comedy, unless he makes you aware that he’s being real. He dubbed himself as the Suge Knight of skateboard team management, and I recall times where he would shamelessly tell his talent what he thought about their ideas for moves, or moves they’ve pulled in the past. “Bryan is the realist tiger,” says Tyler Warren. “He’s always dropping some knowledge, and isn’t afraid to call a sucker out. He knows what he likes and he’s honest—that’s why his shit is always so proper. Conscious mothafucka!”
BRYAN WHERRY SWITCH KICKFLIP
ZANDER MITCHELL VARIAL HEELFLIP
The weekends in Los Angeles open up a huge window of street skating opportunities. It was great to have fellow Canadian Spencer Hamilton down for the first few days; he directed us to a schoolyard just east of downtown with some classic spots. There we were, like a bunch of kids outside of a candy store, except this particular store had a large sign that read: “Absolutely NO Trespassing - Trespassers are subject to a $500 fine and 6 months in jail, or BOTH!” Just as the warning sunk in, boards started flying over fences and camera bags were getting passed like an assembly line. We were in there, cruising dense, smooth asphalt that can’t be found in Canada, with picnic benches as tall as my knees. Weekend heaven.
BRETT GIFFORD BACKSIDE TAILSLIDE
FRONTSIDE PIVOT GRIND 180 OUT
Mike Vince is proper. I think Tyler Warren explains it best: “He knows the difference between basic, solid trick selection and over-stylish milking it. His only flaw is that he thinks Winnipeg is sick and he hates Calgary.” This was Mike’s first time back to the “City of Lost Angels” since he lived in the area with his father back when he was in grade school. Our first day or two on the trip, Mike took it slow and mentioned to me that he was waiting for his spot to pop up. This is where L.A. schoolyards come into play. If you’ve ever seen Mike skate in person, you could imagine what kind of hurting he would put on a toddler picnic table sitting atop some ultrasmooth asphalt. After a long day, you could bet your dollar bills that Vince was the first guy showered and in a fresh kit that looked fully ironed.
Being the main man in charge of driving on the trip, I had to pay attention to road signs, whether they were exits off freeways or main streets running east to west and north to south. While driving around the downtown area you notice all these familiar names like Crenshaw, Wilshire, Rosecrans and Compton, and you get a feeling like you almost know the place. Now, we’ve all seen our fair share of classic L.A. gangster flicks, and we’ve heard N.W.A. and other ground-breaking West Coast gangster rap that’s shaped the whole genre of music. Being from Canada, though, we might not see the lifestyle this music portrays, nor acknowledge the fact that it does exist. Filming at a spot in what appeared to be a peaceful neighbourhood just east of downtown made it seem as though we were free to do whatever. That is, until a young 6’3” man covered in tattoos approached our crew, not liking how we were hanging out in his ‘hood. He proceeded to tell me the way he felt about us, and if I remember correctly it went something like: “Get the fuck out of my ‘hood you fucking white boy.” I almost
thought he was joking until he started throwing up gang signs and told us he’s calling the homies to sort us out. I think we all just shared our first time getting kicked out of a spot by a Mexican gangbanger. When it comes down to it, you never really know what you’re getting into when you travel to a new city to skate. Thanks to the folks at HUF, we were able to connect with Tyler Cichy, the American TM. We rolled around with him, some HUF employees and flow riders, like Massimo Cavedoni, in their big tour van for a few days. Without these guys, we wouldn’t have been able to see half the things we did on the trip. Until next time…
Follow the Signs HUF Canada in LA