made in the uk ÂŁ3.75 vol. 04 issue 020 Apr/May 2010 RODNEY MULLEN by Glen E. Friedman
38 Multi-dimensional polymath of skate.
70 The single Stroke steps out alone.
48 Surfing siren steps behind the lens.
74 Jamie Brisick sticks out his thumb and catches a ride.
50 Skateboarding cinema just got good.
78 Behold the latest skateable works of art.
54 Patagonia forefather gets big business thinking green.
80 New boards, new movie, same green politics.
60 The sport of kings comes to the Bay of Bengal.
84 Punk is alive! And it’s killing time on London’s streets.
The Kids of Hate and Love Homemade Style 88 Factories are out. Cottage industries are in.
photography: Niall O’Brien.
64 The ups and downs of a Californian skate shop team.
Dusty Payne Carissa Moore
Lister vs. Frost
Mullen’s Darkslide The Arctic Challenge
Dirty Oil Day19 Dum Dum Girls ED TEMPLETON
Salt and Wax Music Movies Games Books
photography: MARK LEARY.
8 bÊO¼Y¡U¤sssgÀ¸ÎÎVÈÈÈ¡8 bÊ¡O
,±Á¼|b´Fb|Y¼|bOÁ±¼8¡ 3|8¼,ÊYb´´Yb¼|bF8±±b´|´ÈFÁ´b´´¡n|b È8¼´¼|8Çb8tY8Át|8YOÈ8¼¼|bO´b¦ÁbOb´ n 8 |b8Çt 8Y 8 ´|8ÈV ±8Í±~´|8± ±bbnV ¼|8¼®´ |´ ±b±t8¼Çb¡ Çb¼|Át|¼ ´±b¼¼Ê|b8ÇÊn±¼|bFb8O|V
¼|b¼±Á¼|´V,Ê´|8Çt8F8´¼VÁ´¼8Êt8±ÁY¡3b ¼8 b ¼|b ´8b 8±8O| |b±b¡ Ï¼|Át| Èb®±b Yb8Y ´b±Á´ 8FÁ¼ ±YÁOt 8Y ±¼bO¼t Á± ±Obb´´ Ç8¼´V Èb®±b88FÁ¼|8Çt8t±b8¼¼bÈ|bYt¼¡
,Ê3|¼8 b±¼|b ~+¼±b¼O|(±´8¼O 8±Y´|±¼
Publisher Vince Medeiros Editor Andrea Kurland Global Editor Jamie Brisick Skate Editor Jay Riggio Snow Editor Zoe Oksanen Music Editor Phil Hebblethwaite Latin America Editor Giuliano Cedroni European Correspondent Melanie Schönthier Online Editor Ed Andrews Staff Writer Shelley Jones
Designer Victoria Talbot Design Assistant Anna Dunn Words Mike Belleme, Kieran Burke, Ruth Carruthers, Shannon Denny, Tim Donnelly, Michael Fordham, Gemma Freeman, Niall O’Keeffe, Dr Neil Messenger, Jay Riggio, Mark Sankey, Cyrus Shahrad, Olly Zanetti Images Erik Aeder, Mike Belleme, Niall O’Brien, Dave Chami, Sam Christmas, Ben Frost, Tom Frost, Devon Howard, Infomen, Tuukka Kaila, Mark Leary, Lozza, Anthony Lister, Guy Martin, Fred Mortagne, Mark Nisbet, Ysanya Perez, Tero Repo, Jiri Rezac, Pasi Salminen, Cyrus Shahrad, Tommy Solstad, Ed Templeton, Hilary Walsh, Jeremy & Claire Weiss
Translations Markus Grahlmann Advertising Director Steph Pomphrey
Published by The Church of London 8-9 Rivington Place London, EC2A 3BA +44 (0) 207-729-3675
Advertising Manager Dean Faulkner
Distributed worldwide by COMAG
Assistant Publisher Anna Hopson
UK distribution enquiries: email@example.com
Editorial Director Matt Bochenski
Worldwide distribution enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website Director Alex Capes
Printed by Buxton Press
Managing Director Danny Miller Subscription Enquiries email@example.com Editorial Enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Enquiries email@example.com
The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team This publication is made with paper from sustainable sources. Huck is published six times a year. © TCOLondon 2010
Marketing Enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org
photography: MIKE BELLEME.
Editorial Assistant David McNamara
Creative Directors Rob Longworth Paul Willoughby
Every time a board is pushed, ollied, flipped and spun, a complex equation of physical forces are put into play. In honour of our cover star, Rodney Mullen, a man who has pioneered more than his fair share of these equations, HUCK takes a closer look at the science behind his signature darkslide. Much of the angular momentum required to rotate the board around its long axis is also generated during this final push off from the ground. This trick requires a vertical force of about three times the skaterâ€™s bodyweight.
Some of the energy required to do this comes from the elastic recoil of the board and the impact of the tail hitting the ground.
The horizontal velocity of the darkslide is directly affected by friction and the mass of the skater. (Note: a lighter skater will generate less fiction but a heavier skater will have a higher starting momentum.)
The darkslide is a demonstration of Newton's Second Law of Motion: the rate of change of momentum is directly proportional to the net force causing the change. This can be written as: F = (mv-mu)/t m is the mass of the skater and board. F is the force used to produce the jump (from the spring of the board and the impact with the ground). t is the time over which it acts. u is the vertical velocity before leaving the ground. v is the instantaneous velocity on leaving the ground.
The board is obeying the law of conservation of angular momentum which states that its angular inertia and angular velocity must remain constant unless an external force or torque is acting.
Sliding along a concrete edge would generate more friction than on steel or wood. The coefficient of friction between wood and concrete is about three times as great as that between wood and steel (the difference is much greater if the steel is wet).
The skater would have to hit the edge with greater horizontal velocity to get the same slide distance on concrete compared to that achievable on steel.
Compiled by ed Andrews and dr Neil Messenger. illustration by infomen. Special thanks to Dr Neil Messenger, Lecturer in Biomechanics at Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Leeds. www.leeds.ac.uk
Once airborne, the skater can do little to control the speed of rotation except to stop the rotation before regaining contact with the ground so the success of the trick is almost completely predetermined before the skater leaves the ground.
Peetu Piiroinen, winner of the 2010 Arctic Challenge.
BACK TO BASICS The Oakley Arctic Challenge returns to humbler times. Text Andrea Kurland. Photography Tommy Solstad Five days after the Olympic circus rolled out of Vancouver, a very different
says Terje. “But I feel like slopestyle has stagnated, and we can do a lot
breed of contest is rolling into a very different place. Over the following
more. The level is high and we should be pushing it.”
weekend, Oslo will play host to the world’s top snowboarders, who will
Pushing the evolution of snowboarding may be a driving force, but with
take the antagonistic notion of competition and turn it on its head. There
prodigal rider Kevin Pearce still recovering from a brain injury he endured
will be no ill-fitting cling-ons – no hot-dog-peddling, energy drink-swilling
trying to tame the infamous double cork in January, Terje is keen to see
corporate marketeers. Why? Because this is The Oakley Arctic Challenge,
‘progression’ redefined as more than just superhuman spins: “There are so
Terje Haakonsen’s vision of what a snowboarding contest should be.
many technical tricks that never get shown [at the Olympics] as people go
It’s been twelve years since the renegade pioneer refused to be party to snowboarding’s Olympic debut. Within a year, this simple ‘hell no’ became
for glory runs… Shawn [White] may have to do back-to-back 1080s, but sometimes his best trick is a 540 when he goes really big.”
a statement of intent when Terje invited twelve riders to his Norwegian
And it’s not just snowboarding that would benefit from a return to
homeland to experiment with a new generation of event. A decade on from
humbler times. This weekend, much like Terje’s foundation Greener Events, the
the first fully-fledged contest, The Arctic Challenge is still the only event
overriding message is think before you consume – with every morsel of food
backed by a rider on the Ticket To Ride (TTR) circuit.
onsite organic, sugary soft drinks ostensibly banned and recycling workshops
An invitation to ride here is worth its weight in gold. “It means so much,”
where trashy retail tents should be. Terje explains: “I hate when people are,
says American Mark McMorris. “Especially when I got the email from Terje.
like, ‘Oh, you’re eating organic food.’ C’mon! I’m eating normal food and you’re
He’s a legend.”
eating commercial food. It’s pretty silly how that’s flipped upside down – it’s
As a ‘laboratory for snowboarding’, innovation is what The Arctic
really important for riders to be part of that progress, too.”
Challenge is all about. Experimental formats have seen the bar raised
By the time Sunday rolls around, progress and humility are the order of
to all kinds of crazy heights (see: Terje’s record-breaking 9.8-metre air
the day – thanks to an unassuming Finn who modestly takes gold. “I really
out of 2007’s quarterpipe) but this year, it’s slopestyle’s turn under the
didn’t expect to win here,” says Peetu Piiroinen, whose performance will
microscope. Shunning the ‘because I say so’ format that delivers fate with
see him crowned TTR world champ. “Now I can take it easy and maybe
a single score, every obstacle will be rated by a dedicated judge – with two
drink a beer.”
judges looking out for that intangible thing called flow. “It’s a hard thing to be a judge, and I don’t think it can ever be perfect,”
The Arctic Challenge is sponsored by Protest, www.protest.eu.
59Fifty - MLB Basic with Outline Apparel - Genesse Zip Through Hood - Core Glaze Tee
Death Beat. Photography: Dave Chami.
By The Sword. Photography: Mark Nisbet.
Ettala. Photography: Pasi Salminen.
Atreebutes. Photography: Lozza.
Think the life of a travelling pro is all about the ride? Then these enterprising new ventures will make you think again.
www.atreebutes.com You’d think Swiss pro snowboarders Freddie Kalbermatten and Nicolas Müller had enough on their proverbial plate – what with their never-ending mission to log fresh footage with Absinthe Films while spreading the Green 3.0 gospel. Well, apparently not. Having waved farewell to their former clothing brand Arcus, the industrious pair have reincarnated the concept. With a more considered approach – aesthetically and ethically – the fashion-forward, organic-cotton brand Atreebutes was unveiled in February. “The world has changed. We wanted a new approach and philosophy – a new brand and mantra,” explains Müller. “I drive a bio-diesel car, shop in organic stores and think about everything I consume, so I wanted to apply those ethics to our company – which Arcus wasn’t. I wanted to do it right. I can’t put my energy into something I don’t believe in one hundred and ten percent.” So where did the name come from? “I liked the word attributes and its definitions, but not how it looked,” Freddie explains. “So we played around with the letters, and came up with the double ‘e’. Our designer, Christian, created the typography, making the ‘ee’s a mirror image to symbolise myself and Nico working as partners.” The hand-and-fish logo was also carefully created, but are open to interpretation. “My personal favourite is that it symbolises consideration in everything we do,” says Müller. “Via the water cycle, all our waste ends up in the ocean somehow. But if we live a considered life, we’re stoked and the fish are stoked too.” All very worthy, but still – where do they find time for such a virtuous endeavour? “That’s a question I ask myself every day – ‘How does this actually work?’” laughs Müller. “But somehow it does – it’s not always fun and easy, but everything you do in life should be towards building your own vision. So it’s all good.” Gemma Freeman
Despite being one of the busiest and most in-demand pro skaters in the biz, Corey Duffel recently launched a clothing brand that’s about as homemade as it gets. After being sidelined with an injury, Corey decided he wanted to attack a project that would allow him to express his creativity and connect with his fans. The result is the DIY T-shirt and hoodie venture Death Beat. “I want to keep this very personal,” explains Corey. “I want to give the fans who might not get a chance to hang out with me a chance to at least get something very personal. With every order I include some stickers and a personal note that I write to them.” Without any silk-screening experience and nothing more than a couple of hand-drawn logos, Corey bought some equipment off eBay, watched a few YouTube tutorials and dove in. With the help of his girlfriend, Rachel, Death Beat was born – with every item lovingly silk-screened, packaged and shipped by Corey, straight from his garage. www.ettala.com
And it’s not just the designs that contain a little piece of Corey – the name does too: “Death is just something I’ve always been mesmerised with,
Eero Ettala, the not-so-old ‘old guy’ standing on top of the Winter X
and beat is the soul of music – the rhythm I feel inside. I thought combining
Games slopestyle podium in January, has hit the mainstream. Thanks to
the two things I care about would represent who I am.” Jay Riggio
his latest venture, the twenty-five-year-old has added a new string to his pro snowboarding bow – that of reality TV star. In his reality TV series Tracking Eero on Fuel TV, the Finn goes globetrotting with the likes of Nicolas Müller, Terje Haakonsen and Danny Kass – hitting rails in Russia or the Hokkaido backcountry in Japan. Unlike the usual five-minute film section, the show follows him around all winter, capturing every aspect of pro snowboarding life – including the good, the bad and the gross. “My worst memory is when I flew from New York to Japan,” says Eero. “We went partying the night before and it was an early morning flight. I got wasted and slept for only two hours before heading to the airport. It was a thirteen-hour flight and I had to puke four times!” Gross antics aside, the best part of the project for Eero is getting “non-snowboarding people to understand there is more to snowboarding than the X Games and the Olympics.” So what’s it really like having a cameraman follow you around 24/7? “Well, it was kind of weird at first,” laughs Eero, “but I got used to it fast,
and I could tell the guys when to leave me alone.” Zoe Oksanen “I think what’s really cool now is a lot of skaters are taking ownership of skateboarding again,” says East Coast skateboarding pioneer Mike Vallely. “We’ve kind of ventured out into the corporate world and that will continue, but now there’s a little bit of reclaiming going on.” And Mike V is one enterprising dude who is flying the flag for DIY projects everywhere. Despite hitting forty this year, the father-of-two has just launched another self-made project, a new band called By The Sword, comprised of his old Revolution Mother bandmates and Throwdown bass guitarist Mark Choiniere. But despite exclusively playing Black Flag tribute sets, Mike V insists they are not a cover band. “I feel such an affinity to that music I feel like I can be a good conduit for it,” says the all-American crooner. “I’m not an actor playing the role of something, I live and breathe the music… I feel connected to it… And in 2003 when they did their reunion I was invited to be guest vocalist.” That reunion may have ‘missed the mark’ but By The Sword, in comparison, are spearheading a hardcore revival. Mike explains: “A lot
of people have contacted me from all over the world saying ‘we want this too’. So I’m trying to find a way to get it out there to more people.” And with his self-proclaimed ‘soldier spirit’, there is no doubt he will www.deathbeatsite.com
succeed. Shelley Jones
SURF TILL YOU CAN’T KEEP YOUR E YES OPEN. DREA M OF SURFING. THEN SURF SOME MORE. ISLAND PROTEST MAKES TRIPS TO THE SHORE OBSOLETE. PROTEST TO GET THERE. PROTEST.EU
RIDER: LARS MUSSCHOOT
The dirty truth
Our addiction to oil is killing the planet – and Alberta’s tar sands are dying proof.Text Olly Zanetti. Photography Rezac/Greenpeace Canada has played a shrewd green game. During the Bush years, the
literally washed out of the sand, using enormous quantities of water
United States became the world's environmental whipping boy because
heated to very high temperatures. In its extraction alone, oil from tar
of its obstinate refusal to engage with the eco debate. With rolling
sands creates between three and five times more greenhouse gases
landscapes of pristine wilderness, Canada was the good guy. But that
than conventional oil production.
image, it seems, was little more than a veneer. In north-eastern Alberta,
The landscape is left scarred – but that’s only the start. Waste water
something of a “horror story”, in the words of campaigner for Greenpeace
full of chemicals from the extraction process is stored in enormous toxic
Canada Mike Hudema, is quietly unfolding. Thanks to the largest industrial
lakes called tailings ponds. Although both government and industry
project on the face of the planet, over one-million acres of land have
refuse to collect statistics, evidence suggests that toxins are leaking
already been cleared, causing devastation that could potentially reach an
from these ponds into the river system. Of course, animals and fish are
area the size of England. The Athabasca tar sands are, as Mike puts it, “the
harmed, but so are people. But as we see in Leslie Iwerks's documentary
ugliest face of our global oil addiction”.
Dirty Oil, a local doctor's attempts to draw attention to the pollution's
The extraction of oil from this area of Canada is nothing new. The tar sands have been exploited since the late 1970s, but the scale of
effect on human health sees the authorities doing everything they can to silence him.
extraction has multiplied exponentially in recent years. The reason?
A big issue, contends Greenpeace's Mike Hudema, is that the Canadian
As oil stocks dwindle elsewhere, and the price of oil reaches over
government has strong ties to the industry. “Our prime minister, Stephen
$100 a barrel, the huge cost of getting oil from tar sands has become
Harper, is the son of an oil executive. He's from Calgary – the epicentre of
the tar sands companies’ headquarters.” But Mike sees hope. Communities
Unlike conventional drilling, where a pipe pumps oil from reserves
worldwide have been united in opposition to tar sands development. “If
deep below the surface, oil from tar sands is dissolved in sand that lies
we say no to this project, it will be a clear signal of the direction the
just beneath the soil. To get at it, the earth covering is cleared and the
people of this planet want to take.”
sand, which is in layers up to sixty metres deep, is extracted by diggers the size of houses and moved off site on a conveyer belt. The oil is
Stop the tar sands by visiting www.greenpeace.org.
This is it
Los Angeles’ hottest new gallery is more than just a space - it’s a skateboarding love story in full bloom. Text Shelley Jones. Photography Jeremy & Claire Weiss
“I was pretty lost after high school,” says Jeremy Weiss, one half of husband-
skate,” she says. “We found this world that made sense and felt inspiring.
and-wife photography duo Day19. “All I wanted to do was skateboard, go
It had been just the two of us forever and now we had this family that kept
to punk shows and snowboard in the winter, and photography gave me
growing. I consider myself very fortunate to have met so many amazing
a way to connect those things and make it seem like I actually had some
people that have shaped my life and continue to do so.”
kind of career path.”
It is this “family” that the Weisses have chosen to photograph for
It is a good time for Jeremy and Claire, his partner in life and work,
their ongoing Polaroid project, one of many personal ventures, including
to reflect on the milestones in their lives, because they, along with four
’zines and books, that they continue to create alongside commercial work
friends, have just established another rather monumental one. It’s called
for the likes of Converse, Smirnoff and Nokia. And although the project
THIS and it’s a new gallery-cum-community space that they set up in
features reels of recognisable faces – Alicia Silverstone, Slash and Britain’s
February to showcase the work of creative friends like Geoff McFetridge,
own Cat Deeley to name but a few – the snap-happy duo didn’t set out to
Aaron Rose and Andy Jenkins. Simply put by the Weisses, “It’s a big
be marketable. Jeremy explains: “I don’t really see a difference between
empty box to do cool shit in.”
our personal projects and everything else… we go about it all the same
“We got thinking about how we got to where we are today, at the
way… [The Polaroid project] came down to wanting to get portraits of
Semi-Permanent convention in Australia last Fall,” says the super team,
people we think are doing cool shit in the world. It’s almost like collecting
now in their early thirties. “And it’s always been about friendships, the
baseball cards. It’s a great way to meet people you look up to.”
people we meet who introduce us to this or that and we get a job or a
They may spend a lot of time looking up, and forward – to more
great photo or whatever, it always comes back to our friends. So as soon
exhibitions, Polaroids, ’zines and perhaps teaching in later years – but
as we got back to LA we started talking with some friends – Dan Monick,
Jeremy and Claire are never more proud than when they’re looking down
Aaron Farley, Luis Felipe Farfan and Justin Van Hoy – about opening a
at their two-year-old son, Eli. “He makes the world seem magical,” says
place of our own and that’s what THIS is: a place where we will have art
Claire. “I already know he’s a kind, opinionated kid so there is no doubt in
shows, movie screenings, talks and lectures, and whatever else we want
my mind he’ll achieve many amazing endeavors.”
to do at the time.”
And perhaps Eli will follow in the footsteps of his community-conscious
It hasn’t been an easy journey to get to where they are – Claire only
parents, who have dedicated their lives to photographing together –
stopped waiting tables two years ago – but it’s a path littered with
refusing jobs that don’t take them as a two – after falling in love over
friendship. “I can trace everything that has ever happened in my life back
a skate shop counter. “I think I was attracted to Claire because of her
to skateboarding,” says Jeremy passionately. “I have met so many people
oversized Girl Skateboards tee,” says Jeremy as if it was yesterday, not
because of it, I was turned on to all this music, I met my wife because of
fourteen years ago. He remembers, “Heather grey, with a blue logo.”
skateboarding, seriously, everything.” And although Claire doesn’t skate herself, it was the culture that inspired her too. “My friend Kimmy and I
would sit on curbs for hours, smoking cigarettes and watching our friends
Top row left to right: Geoff McFetridge, Artist/Director. Audio Science Clayton, Kid. Jason Lee, Actor/Photographer. Second row left to right: Natasha Khan, Musician (Bat For Lashes). Anthony Pappalardo, Skateboarder. Shannyn Sossamon, Actor. Third row left to right: Jack Black, Actor/Comedian. Aaron Rose, Curator/Editor (ANP). David Lynch, Filmmaker.
Left to right: Dee Dee, Jules, Frankie Rose and Bambi.
FUZZ AND STUFF HUCK talks gigs, records and style with the Dum Dum Girls.Text Shelley Jones. Photography Sam Christmas The great writer and feminist icon Sylvia Plath once said: “Everything
Dee’s self-proclaimed ‘girl gang’. And their shared passions don’t just
in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the
imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” For centuries women have fought for a voice in which to express
themselves but, now that voice has been established, do all women have
The girls all love vinyl. “Amoeba record store is huge,” gushes Dee Dee. “You
the confidence to use it? And are there people willing to hear it?
can sell records there and trade. My parents are very musical, and I started
Standing in the grimy basement of Dalston’s Bardens Boudoir, in
listening to records at a really young age but [playing music] wasn’t really
London, I’d say that support for girls, in the punk scene at least, has
anything I did until my late twenties, because I was very shy. It took me a
never been better. Boys, girls, losers and cool kids are all gathered,
while to get over my fear and figure out how to be in a band.” But as soon
hushed, with their gazes entwined towards the stage. And at the centre
as she stopped doubting herself, the vision came together seamlessly.
of it all a raven-haired girl in Pippi Longstocking tights sings through lo-fi distortion. She is Dee Dee and, when she founded Sub Pop’s latest
signing Dum Dum Girls, who are currently in London as part of a UK tour,
“It’s our right to look however we want,” says Dee Dee at criticism for their
she found not only a voice, but a vibrant underground community.
coordinated garb. “We all have similar styles and we all revere a lot of the
In their own words, Dee Dee and her band – a drummer, guitarist
sixties girl groups like Shangri-Las… it’s fun to pay homage to that sort of
and bassist from Brooklyn, San Diego and Austin, respectively – take us
look.” But the vintage outfits from stores like Red Light in Seattle are more
through some of the places and things that brought them together.
than just aesthetic. Dee Dee explains: “It just helps us feel [united], and to have some confidence. I’m not terribly confident, so if I get dressed up and
in the mindset that this is our girl gang, then it’s a lot easier for me to play
“The Smell. Or Spaceland. Or Kasbah in San Diego,” says Dee Dee of
the songs.” And anyway, they’re proud to assert their femininity in a once
her favourite venues. “My house,” adds Frankie Rose from behind dark
male-dominated scene. “I wish I’d had that,” says Dee Dee looking more than
glasses. The two met over the Internet because they liked each other’s
comfortable in her own skin. “It didn’t seem possible when I was younger.”
music – Frankie was in The Vivian Girls back then – and after a brief stint as the drummer of Crystal Stilts she jumped at the chance to join Dee
Dum Dum Girls’ I Will Be is out now on Sub Pop.
We A cti v i s t M E R C E D E S HE L N W E I N S HO T B Y C HE RY L D U N N www. we s c. co m
Ed Templeton’s life reads like a How To guide to being cool. I mean, just look at the facts. Pro skateboarder: check. Seminal skate company owner: check. Respected artist: check, check, check. Not bad for a self-confessed “white trash kid” who never finished high school. Right now, the Toy Machine founder is busier than ever, thanks to a string of prestigious art shows about to be unleashed on European soil. With at least three books already pencilled in for a 2010 release and countless more creative endeavours stashed up his paint-splattered sleeve, can life get any cooler for Ed Templeton? Apparently so. Says Templeton: “The best way to make something happen is the first step. I started doing
Interview: David McNamara. Artwork: Ed Templeton.
the things I wanted to do and participating in the community. After ten or
twenty years pass of you being a part of your community – art or skate, whatever – you are one hundred percent part of it. Time and sticking to your guns is what makes people. So I encourage skateboarders or anyone to reach for whatever it is they want to do. It may not be good, but there is no way of knowing unless you stick your foot in the water.” Ed’s new exhibition ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid’ will run at The Elms Lesters Painting Rooms, London, April 6-18. The book is available now from www.morelbooks.com. A mid-career survey of Ed’s work ‘The Cemetery of Reason’ will run at S.M.A.K in Ghent, Belgium, April 3 - June 16. Ed also has another new photobook, The Seconds Pass, available from April 1 on www.seemsbooks.com. For the full interview check out the HUCK spring mini-mag out now everywhere.
SOLDIER XXL Germany’s first big-wave charger heads out into no man’s land. Interview Melanie Schönthier. Photography ERIK AEDER Doubt can kill you, if it kills your self-belief. When winter storms cross the
fly to Hawaii, helicopters are circling above the lineup – it’s chaos. It’s no
North Pacific and unleash their full power on Hawaiian shores, if you’re in
longer about fun – it’s about catching a wave and surviving. The reward is a
the water, there’s no time for second thoughts. You either take on waves
happiness that you keep for weeks, sometimes even months.
that are seven-storeys high – or you lose your bottle and risk your life. One man in the lineup never has a doubt, despite hailing from a country that’s
During the winter you live in Hawaii, but you spend your summer in Germany
land-locked on three sides. Meet Germany’s Sebastian Steudtner, a big-
despite the lack of waves… The distance helps me focus even more on surfing.
wave charger from a swell-deprived land.
During this time I live in a kind of tunnel and work out like a maniac, six hours every day – cycling, running, strength and training camps with the Croatian
You moved from Germany to Hawaii as a sixteen-year-old windsurf pro. How
ski team… I want to challenge myself every day. This overwhelming will keeps
did you make the leap to big-wave charger? I qualified for my first world
me motivated. So does not having any big waves for six months.
cup after ten months but soon realised that contests are not my cup of tea… Then I met Nelson Armitage, who was a well-known big-wave surfer
Have you experienced any localism in Hawaii? I had to earn the Hawaiians’
in the seventies. He showed me tow-in surfing.
respect with actions, which is normal there. The one who surfs the biggest wave or jumps from the highest cliff, and doesn’t put up with everything
Why do you prefer tow-in surfing, using jet skis, to paddling into big waves?
but still acts with respect, will be accepted.
I want to experience the biggest force in the world, water, in its most extreme form. I never feel more alive than when I let go of the jet ski rope...
How does it feel to wake up in the morning knowing that you will surf
It’s a great feeling to master an extreme situation with the best strategy
waves as tall as buildings? I think going to war must feel similar – you don’t
– to cover the shortest distance with the jet ski, to rescue someone in the
know what to expect or if you will survive, but you know you will give your
fastest way and to surf the most extreme but safest line on the wave. It’s a
best and accept the consequences. Either you will be killed or experience
bit like being in the military – it’s about discipline and efficiency.
some of the best moments of your life.
Sounds more like work than fun... When the waves are fifteen metres, it
A documentary about Sebastian Steudtner is due out this summer.
becomes hectic at big-wave spots like Jaws. Surfers from all over the world
ÂŠ 2010 adidas AG. adidas, the Trefoil, and the 3-Stripes mark are registered trademarks of the adidas Group. Silhouette Int. Schmied AG, adidas Global Licensee.
I AM TIGER Hear me roar. Before it’s too late, that is. Text Ruth Carruthers. Illustration Paul Willoughby Here’s something to think about next time you are tucking into a bowl of Frosties
is used in the production of thousands of everyday foods and cosmetics.
and Tony the Tiger is grinning back at you from the cereal box: according to
In Indonesia, the tiger’s native habitat is cleared and replaced by palm
WWF, there are only an estimated 3,200 wild tigers left in the world. That’s five
plantations and road networks, forcing tigers into fragmented pockets of
percent of what their population would have been one hundred years ago.
isolation, making it difficult for them to find food or a mate.
Since time immemorial, tigers have been a regular fixture in folklore
“Tigers are being persecuted across the globe. They are being poisoned,
and a firm favourite with marketeers selling everything from cars to beer.
trapped, snared, shot and squeezed out of their homes, but there is now
In a poll conducted by Animal Planet among 50,000 viewers from seventy-
real hope that this trend can be reversed,” says Diane Walkington, head of
three countries, the tiger was voted the world's favourite animal – beating
species at WWF.
even man’s best friend, the pooch.
With 2010 being the Chinese year of the tiger, WWF have taken the
But it seems mankind doesn’t love the tiger as much as he says he does.
opportunity to launch their Year of the Tiger campaign, and are confident that
Or maybe we love them too much? People covet their skins for decoration,
they will be able to help governments of the tiger range countries double tiger
lust after their bones for medicine and cage them for entertainment value.
numbers by the time the next year of the tiger rolls around, in 2022.
In fact, there are more captive tigers in Texas than there are in the wild.
"They have set the bar high, and we will do everything possible to
Out of nine subspecies of tiger, three are already extinct, one hasn’t been
help them reach it,” says Diane. Plus, in September 2010 there will be a
seen in the wild for twenty-five years and the remaining five occupy only
global tiger summit in Vladivostok, Russia, to agree tiger recovery plans,
seven percent of their historic range across thirteen countries, including
international policy and trade control methods.
China and Russia. The Asian medicine market is a tiger’s biggest threat, with poaching of both them and their prey, forest clearing and climate change falling close
In China, the tiger is the sign that keeps away a household’s three main tragedies: fire, thieves and ghosts. Let’s hope these efforts can keep tragedy away from the tiger.
behind. Tigers may be under direct threat from poachers and loggers in the East, but this activity is driven by demand from the West for palm oil, which
Disposable heroes are made every day, but true pioneers come along once a generation. In the world of modern skateboarding, that man is Rodney Mullen - a self-confessed maths geek who changed the course of history with the tricks he invented in the dead of night. In an exclusive interview, the standalone intellect opens up about his troubled childhood, battles with anorexia and boundless fascination with the physics of our universe. Interview Ed Andrews Photography Tuukka Kaila
was switching in and out there a bit,” says Rodney Mullen,
huge fear of having to give it up.” It was this fear of getting hurt and
eyes watering and bloodshot with dark half-moons draped
losing the sport he loved that pushed Rodney to obsessively practise
below. The guy’s tired. And he looks it. But still, he musters
tricks alone in the parking lot of his local haunt, Inland Surf Shop.
on – shaking hands, posing for photos, signing his print-
After owning a skateboard for just over a year, he was taken to a
perfect signature onto shoes and skateboard decks in Urban Chaos
contest by Inland, his first sponsor, who had entered him without him
in London’s Covent Garden.
knowing. Waiting in the wings, little Rodney was unexpectedly called
At forty-three, Rodney Mullen isn’t just another veteran pro on
on to perform. Not wanting “to look like an idiot”, he did his routine
another skate shop tour. In a world dominated by one-dimensional poster boys, this pioneering innovator is about as multi-dimensional as it gets. He’s a prodigal skateboarder who single-handedly invented the staple tricks in every pro’s arsenal (something he claims makes him “feel connected to others somehow”); a businessman behind such seminal companies as World Industries; a self-confessed socially awkward maths geek who chose the life of a pro skateboarder over a maths and bioengineering degree; and a former-anorexic prone to bouts of suicidal depression who grew up in a Florida farmhouse under his father’s strict hand. He may well be one, or some, or all of these people. But right now, amid his duties for long-time sponsor Globe, he’s just a guy in need of caffeine after a long transatlantic flight.
and won. Freestyle contests were very much the norm for young skaters at the time and, with his mastery of flatland tricks, Rodney was no exception. By 1980, he was winning contests throughout Florida and had caught the eye of local Powell Peralta Bones Brigade member Tim Scroggs. Later that year, team manager Stacy Peralta called up the Mullen household requesting that young Rodney fly out to California to compete. After another victory, he was signed on as a fully-fledged member of the legendary team. The rest of Rodney’s high school days were spent studying hard during the week, and touring as a child skate celebrity at demos at the weekends – doing something he calls “a little dog show for me, running around and doing my routine”. As Rodney’s skating developed, he didn’t just learn new tricks – he invented his own. In 1981, he took the basic mechanics of a halfpipe
ohn Rodney Mullen was born in Gainesville, Florida, in
ollie and transferred the trick to flat ground, inventing a manoeuvre
1966 but the real birth of the man that Rodney is today
that would change the course of skateboarding history. As veteran
can be traced back to New Year’s Day, 1977. In the spirit of
pro and former Bones Brigade teammate Mike Vallely says, “The
the season, his father agreed to let him have a skateboard,
birth of modern skating starts with Rodney Mullen. The flatland
but added a caveat: Rodney had to promise to wear a helmet and
ollie is the beginning of everything.” Over the following years, more
pads, and would have to stop when he finished high school or if he
tricks went from being a figment of Rodney’s imagination and a spin
got seriously injured.
of his homemade fingerboard to staples of every skater’s repertoire:
“If there’s anything that would characterise my skating, aside
the kickflip, heelflip, 360 flip, fingerflips, underflips – even switch-
from being low orbit and wimpy, it would be that I would always
stance skateboarding was all Rodney’s doing. Mark Gonzales, a street
have to fight to hold on to it,” says Rodney of this cast-iron mould
skating pioneer in his own right, goes so far as to describe Mullen’s
placed on his character. “So I still hold skating so close to me with a
influence as “probably one of the biggest on street skating”.
After finishing high school with excellent grades and
through every subtly refined movement. He spins, manuals and flips
dominating the freestyle scene, Rodney moved away from home
the board with gentle grace and flair as if his bodyweight were near
to study biomedical engineering and maths at the University of
zero. It’s a precision as technical as it is creative – a product of three
Florida. But in his fourth year, the pressure of family relations,
decades of fear of failure and commitment to perfection.
studying and touring began to take its toll. After being pestered
This impromptu session doesn’t last long. The gates are flung
by his “only friend” Steve Rocco to move to California and invest
open and the fans swarm in. Within minutes, Rodney is consumed
in his fledgling skate company, World Industries, Rodney finally
in a hive of bodies yet still exudes a gentle warmth and an almost
took up the offer, wrote Rocco a cheque and left Florida behind.
presidential ability to interact with the public, sharing tips on
Following some hostility at his involvement in this trouble-making
heelflips with enthusiastic groms less than half his size.
new company, he left Powell Peralta to fully commit to World.
“It trips me out that people are so good to me,” Rodney
With Steve as the anarchic visionary and Marc McKee churning
tells me later, as we seek shelter in a grubby games room housed
out antagonistic board graphics, the company picked fights with
beneath the quarterpipe. Despite his apparent enthusiasm for the
the establishment and pissed off many in the skate industry. It also
meet-and-greets, he appears relieved to be away from the throng.
became a powerhouse: a symbol of youth, rebellion and core skate
Overhead, the crack of urethane on wood cuts through Rodney’s
culture, boasting an impressive roster of skaters including Mark
soft and obliging voice. I can feel my mind racing with all the things
Gonzales, Jason Lee and Mike Vallely. Ever loyal to Rocco, Rodney
I’ve heard. “Peculiar” and “super-intelligent” are some of the words
simply describes his role as the “glue that held things together” and
thrown my way in the past hour in reference to Rodney – alongside
that he “stopped a lot of bad things from happening”.
mutterings of his straight-laced nature and detailed knowledge of
But by the late eighties, the skate world was changing. Lawsuits
the Russian alphabet, too.
were shutting down skate parks and freestyle was going out of fashion.
It seems difficult to match the Rodney sat before me to the
Many at Powell and even Rocco himself tried and failed to persuade
character painted in his autobiography, The Mutt: an awkward
Rodney to abandon this dying flatland art. But never one to follow
outsider riddled with self-doubt and occasional bouts of suicidal
the crowd, Rodney refused, dismissing the general consensus as “too
depression. Perhaps maturity, marriage or money in the bank has
concocted, too manipulated” by the desire for more board sales. Then,
been a mellowing force. But hints of an inner discomfort – the
by way of a one-dollar bet with Steve Rocco, Plan B Skateboards
burden of deep thinking – still surface now and then: when he picks
founder Mike Ternasky took it upon himself to get Rodney into street.
up his skateboard and lays it across his lap, gripping the wheels
By tapping into Rodney’s complex psyche, Mike helped Rodney film
with an adolescent unease; or when his voice seems to break at any
his part for the 1992 video Questionable. After a resounding cheer at
mention of the past.
its premiere – and having won thirty-four out of thirty-five freestyle contests over his career – Rodney was now a street skater. In the years that followed, Rodney applied his business acumen to a string of new ventures – the A-Team, Enjoi, Almost to name a
But if there’s one thing about Rodney that already rings true, it’s his sheer intelligence and untainted humility: his ability to contextualise and critically assess his place in skateboarding and the wider world – and a reluctance to claim what is rightfully his.
few – and used his engineering know-how to develop new products
It may seem hyperbolic to call him a hero, but in the eyes of so
like Tensor Trucks and Uber Light Technology skate decks. As
many, that’s exactly what he is. In a world saturated by false deities,
well as pushing the evolution of performance hard goods, he also
Rodney’s earned his place in history because of the things he’s said
made a few bucks along the way, selling World Industries in the
and done. Regular guy or legend, one thing’s for sure: few people
late nineties, with the final share changing hands in 2003. But this
have had as big an influence on modern skateboarding as the man
cautious multi-millionaire shuns the “bling culture” of modern
they call The King.
skateboarding, feeling more at home in a parking lot alone at 1am – his green Toyota parked a few blocks away so as to “blend in” with
A kid outside just called you his hero. How do you deal with
the homeless locals in his hometown of Hermosa Beach.
being placed on such a pedestal? I just skate, nothing more than that. So when people say I’m their hero, I think if only they knew
he day after the signing, a refreshed-looking Rodney
that I’m nothing more than just a bit more skating than them. I
arrives at London’s Bay Sixty6 skate park in Ladbroke
go through phases where I feel like a fraud but in the end you just
Grove. He’s already signed a stack of autographs
accept it at face value. They are just really glad to meet me, the
on the way in, and appears to be benefiting from a
best I can do is show them that I’m normal. I always appreciate
good night’s sleep. “I think I’m just going to chill now,” he says in
it because I used to think it was going to end any day soon. What
his Floridian drawl, rounding off each sentence with a slightly
bums me out is when I see guys who carry themselves like they’re
nervous lilt. As his Globe teammates charge off to skate transitions,
better than everyone else. I think, ‘Dude, you’re a fraud like me.’
Rodney simply rolls into the middle of a wide, shallow ramp. Arms delicately poised right down to his fingertips, he immediately falls
Has your attitude to meeting fans changed over the years? When
into a natural rhythm – an unmistakable flow and focus that seeps
I was young and coming out of a dysfunctional family, all I had was
skateboarding. Suddenly I’m being flown around the world and people
freestyle, you aren’t skating any obstacles so you never look up and
are asking me for my autograph and I had no idea what to make of
you barely roll. When I started street skating, it was ridiculous.
that. I was always grateful for it but more so terrified, it was so foreign.
There was a huge learning curve. I would be constantly ploughing
I was twelve years old but in my mind, I was more like an eight-year-
into things like I was blind. I wasn’t used to judging timing and speed.
old. I remember physically throwing the pen saying, ‘I’m no different
I was already known for being a pro, so people thought I would be
than any of you, I just want to skate with you’ and running away.
really great. I sucked at street. It was so hard because I was terrified to even practise in public, but Mike Ternasky tapped into the fact
Did the attention make you feel validated? No, it just made me
that skateboarding defined me. Filming with Mike for Questionable
crazy. I was just a messed-up kid. Things around the house were
– he took it seriously, feeding you protein powder in the morning,
pretty weird sometimes. So when I flew to California, I was just
like Rocky. When I got into it, I knew I was committed so I knew I
some little hick kid. I didn’t really relate to anybody; I didn’t talk
couldn’t look stupid when the video came out. On the night of the
to anybody. I just didn’t want to fail; I was afraid to lose. That’s what
premiere, I sat next to him. The crowd cheered at my casper slide
it boiled down to. I was so in my own world. I didn’t feel connected
and he put his arm around me and said, ‘This is where it starts. This
to any part of skateboarding. I just thought, ‘When you get back on
is the beginning.’ That was like a starter pistol to me.
that plane to come home, don’t let him think you are a loser.’ Do you regret the demise of freestyle? No, not at all. I regret I understand you suffered from depression around that time…
that I was too stuck in my ways to leave freestyle when Powell
Well, it was how I grew up, household circumstances. I was just
asked me to. It felt too corporate, too money-motivated. I didn’t
disorientated because skating was the only thing that kind of gave
look at [street skating] like it was just a natural evolution of where
me a voice and I felt connected to – something that was part of me.
freestyle was going. Jake Phelps from Thrasher asked me how it
I had a way to express myself that was unique. Everyone’s got to
felt to be the founder of modern street skating, that’s as legit as it
have their thing, right? And I found it in skateboarding. As I got
gets. It makes me uncomfortable, but at the same time I think that
older, I started to mature and got a better picture that other people
just means that everything I was doing in freestyle – that I made
and families aren’t like this. People make fame and being popular
up – evolved into street skating. It was just the groundwork. It was
into a big thing and you realise there’s nothing there. That it doesn’t
a natural progression of where it was meant to go.
answer any questions. It’s sort of a letdown. Your loneliest day is getting everything you thought you wanted and realising that it
Watching you skate just then, you seem to have this natural
didn’t make any difference at all. There were a lot of issues at the
rhythm and focus. Where does that come from? There is rhythm
time and I’ve always had pretty heavy existential struggles.
everywhere and I’m not conscious of it – I’m just doing it... I think a lot and skate in isolation so that it doesn’t break my internal
Was anorexia a part of that? My sister went through it, from the
rhythm. When people skate in social circumstances, there is broken
nature of how the family was. I can’t explain it after seeing what
rhythm. At skate parks you can skate more, but the flipside is, when
happened to my sister. She was legit, the real thing, she was wasting
everyone else is at skate parks, you feel self-conscious and just do
away to nothing to the point that they were afraid she was going to
the same things over and over. It’s less intuitive – you’re just training
die. I didn’t carry it as far as she did but I definitely carried it. In
robotically. It’s not such an interior reflection of you.
a way, it’s some form of getting control over your life. It’s the only thing you could control. It was a manifestation of what was going
I understand you used to time your skate sessions with a
on inside our house.
stopwatch for exactly two hours. What was the idea behind such self-discipline? It’s not because I’m so structured that I have to be
After your days of freestyle and touring, you went into street
this way or that way, or that I’ve got to be better. That’s a huge part of
skating. Did you feel like you had to consciously change your
it but the whole time thing, it’s more representative of ‘don’t be weak’.
style when you made the transition? That was embarrassing,
That’s how I look at it. It may be overstated but that’s a lot of who I
man. I changed the way I approached my tricks, but you can’t really
am and what I expect from myself. Like, on a rainy day, or when you
change your style. You can just evolve into what you are doing. With
feel tired or a little bit sick, the guys I respect are the ones who go
“I get joy when I’m doing what other people aren’t doing – Expressing myself the way other people don’t.”
“Your loneliest day is getting everything you thought you wanted and realising that it didn’t make any difference at all.” out and do it anyway. Not because I think I will get better – it’s just a
what it was all about. I’ve always been drawn to the system of it – how
commitment to what’s made me. Skateboarding helped me discover
coherent it is, how much it intertwines. It is an edifice. It’s woven
who I was and become who I always wanted to be. Just free. The time
like a beautiful language – and it’s eternal. It sounds corny, but I’ve
stuff is just a commitment to that.
always had a profound sense that there is a God out there who made everything. I can understand it better, and it helps me see the beauty
Were the tricks you invented the product of a conscious
in things. As with skateboarding, we are creating a language, an art
decision to be innovative – or were they happy accidents that
form out of nothing. We get booted out of places – I was told not to
just happened as you skated? I tell the story of the kickflip all the
skateboard because I would turn into a bum – but what we are doing
time because I feel uncomfortable with people saying I’m so creative.
is harder, and gnarlier, and more real than what we see on most sports
It’s not that. With the kickflip, I just learned flatland ollies and was
channels with guys making millions of dollars. Ultimately, that makes
getting them pretty high. I spazzed out on one and kicked it away
us rich. This has always resonated with me; this is why we are alive.
from me; it flipped perfectly and landed on its wheels. That was a total
I want to look around and have that sense of marvel; to understand
accident, but it was a cornerstone of skateboarding. But the truth is:
that things are a little bit more complicated than they told me in high
I think about it all the time; what I want to do, what I want to do to
school. The fact that there is rhyme and reason to the universe gives
make it different. The thrill is in the chase. Just doing what I know
me significance as a person. Even if I die with nothing, I’m richer
how to do, that’s not really fun. I think about it constantly, you know?
than most people around because I’ve paid attention to that stuff.
My wife often says, ‘What are you doing with the fork, honey?’ Do you see yourself as a creative person or a logical thinker? Do you think your interest in science and maths has helped
Split-brain theory suggests we’re either dominated by the
you master the physics of skateboarding? Well, you definitely
left side of the brain or the right – right-brain thinkers being
don’t need to know any science to do what I’m doing. For example,
lovers of logic, physics and maths, while left-brainers are more
Daewon [Song] has a fantastic sense of physics – the subtleties of
creative, emotional types. What do you make of all that? Well,
pressure and stuff. He is a master but he’s not going to sit down and
that sort of segmented thinking is detrimental to us all. That’s just
talk any physics with you. It’s mechanical, but some people just do
part of the natural balance of the corpus callosum between the two
it intuitively. Ronnie Creager, he does textbook nollie hardflips but
hemispheres of the brain. Without the other side, you are nothing.
I don’t think he knows what he’s doing. It just happens somehow.
I remember being in maths and people used to poke fun at girls
I’m not like that. I think it through. Yeah, I’m analytical about it but
because girls for the most part aren’t that good at maths. All guys
everyone has different approaches and that’s just my process.
have jokes about the logic of women. But talk to a woman – get a wife and you’ll think, ‘Oh my gosh, how come she is always so right
Is that one of the reasons why you like to skate alone – so that
about stuff and I’m not? Yet I’m ten times more analytical than she
you can focus in on that analytical approach? It’s a lot of things
is.’ Obviously these things take more than being analytical and,
with me. I think it’s the way I grew up. My time alone – it’s been my
likewise, anyone who has done proofs in mathematics and can read
voice. I talk to myself like crazy so firstly it’s embarrassing for me to
those things – there is a majesty of creativity in these proofs that
skate with other people. But mostly, it’s always been that time when
is stunning, that only mathematicians are privy to. I’ve devoted
I felt most like me. I love skating with other people but that’s not
thousands of hours to being able to read some of these proofs so I
something I’m going to do all the time. It’s just a treat when I do it.
have the same appreciation of the beauty in some of these equations. There is a synergy between the two sides of the brain. That’s how
What is it about maths that you find so fascinating? There are a
and why we are built – unity of diversity, bringing many into one.
lot of things. I don’t want to sound pompous but it’s a language that
we use to describe nature. The greatest minds in the world do their
So do you approach your skating in a very non-linear way? It’s a
best to articulate what nature does using this language. Even at an
good word to describe it but holistic is better, and synergistic even
early age, I couldn’t understand exactly what that all meant but I got
better. The totality of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
In your autobiography, you thank Jesus. What role does religion
in engineering? Rather than frame it from engineering, even though
play in your life? My wife says people don’t know you until they know
I used a lot of that understanding and background, the origin was this:
all your thoughts about God. The term religion bums me out. I can’t
in terms of Tensor, the company grew and we realised that everyone
go to church, I’ve got issues. I’ve got issues of non-conformity built
could make trucks, not just Indy. They wanted to do trucks so they
into me. Suddenly, when I’m in a group, I feel uncomfortable. Period.
said, ‘Rod, you’re an engineering guy, you can talk to those guys. Make
I get terrified of talking about it because suddenly I’m the kook
up a truck!’ Indy’s are the most amazing trucks – I rode them for eight
telling people they’re going to hell. I hate that crap. It’s a personal
years – and I didn’t feel I deserved to make a contribution. If you
thing and I get so scared about talking about it in public. This guy
don’t have anything good to say then shut up, right? I didn’t feel it was
at HBO once said to me, ‘Your skating is like a prayer.’ That was the
legitimate to just build another truck like an Indy. I thought, ‘How can
coolest thing anyone’s ever said to me. That’s what it is for me.
I do it differently?’ The way I skate was flip tricks – setting up your feet and landing. Things like nollie hardflips are pretty awkward set-ups.
You say you have issues of non-conformity… I’m not sitting here
You don’t see people go really fast on bumpy street spots doing those.
with a Mohawk claiming to be some crazy non-conformist punk guy.
I wanted to build a truck that would help you do those kind of things
But yes, I am to fault. I have problems fitting in. I’m a complete owl.
better. I wanted to build a truck that doesn’t turn that well because
I go to sleep when the sun comes up. I’m out of step even if I try not
that’s going to help me. If you want that other truck, it’s already there.
to be. That’s detriment to me, that’s detriment to my wife. It hurts
I don’t feel I deserve a place by copying someone else. That is the value
me in my social interactions. But it’s a blessing. I’m not trying to say
I’ve always got from skateboarding – to be part of something bigger
that makes me better – saying that just makes me sound like a kook. I’m not comfortable doing what other people are doing because
I understand that you recently had problems with your hip that
that’s taking away part of my identity. That has always been my case
threatened your skating. Could you tell me more about that? It
with skateboarding. I look at magazines where other pros reel out
was the most dramatic thing. Some scar tissue wrapped around my
their favourite pros and I’m not there because, really, I don’t fit into
femur and pelvis and clasped together, pulling my femur into the hip
skateboarding. How do you think I feel to give my life to something
socket. It was calcifying and was going to be the end of me walking
when I’m not really part of it? It doesn’t feel good. But what do I
normally. I don’t want to be that guy that milks it so I was planning to
expect? I skate like a goofball. I could do the things people do on
disappear. Doctors told me they couldn’t give me surgery and the only
videos, but the moment I try, I can’t get into it because it’s not me.
way to fix it was to break it, and that’s a very violent process. The bones
There’s no point. I get joy when I’m doing what other people aren’t
had already started to fuse together so I had to physically put enough
doing, expressing myself the way other people don’t.
pressure on myself to break my own bone. I did that for an enormous number of hours. I stuck my leg in the wheel well of a car and grabbed
You’ve seen skateboarding go through so many changes. What
the bottom of the frame and tweaked and tore as much as I could. My
do you make of the current state of skateboarding? Skating is one
wife couldn’t be around me. After two and a half years, I broke the
of the greatest blessings I could have. It’s been with me longer than
scar tissue and some of the bone. When I did break it, it scared me to
any friend I’ve had and I hold onto that. It’s the most precious thing
death. I heard it break and after the nausea and the adrenaline, I was
to me, so when I look at other skaters, I know that to get to where
lying on my garage floor at three in the morning screaming with my
they are, they have to love it like I do. However, nowadays big stuff
face covered in snot and tears. I just thought, ‘I can skate!’
makes great photos. So if you look at how pros skate in the magazines, that’s not how they skate every day. It’s a misrepresentation. It leads
switch off the voice recorder and we sit there, listening to
people to believe that is normal. I mean, how can that not diminish
the cracks of urethane overhead. Rodney seems content just
your career lifespan by skating like that? By doing those things, it
to hang, asking if he has given good enough answers. I sense
ultimately takes away what is most precious to you. So I think it is unhealthy and uncool… I see great skaters and their ankles and knees are ruined. They become ashamed that skating got taken away from them before their time. So in that way, I can be critical of the hype because it takes away what is most precious. Skateboarding is such a gift. But I still love to watch these stunts; I get so stoked. It’s a hare-
an unwillingness to go back out to the crowds, but after a few minutes we leave. “Oh my god,” a loud kid shouts as he leaps out in front of Rodney, grasping his hand. “Hey, how you doing?” Rodney’s face lights up and greets him like an old friend.
and-the-tortoise thing. The hare is going to end up bummed out. I
After our conversation, it seems strange to see Rodney flipping
look at so many skaters who are in a daze because they’ve worked so
back into this presidential mode. But then it isn’t really flipping at
hard for so long and now it’s just gone. If they are skating for x number
all, it’s just another one of the dimensions that lurk within him. Yet
of years, they don’t recover for three times x years.
as I leave the skate park, I can’t escape the feeling that you could spend a lifetime with the man, and only just scratch the surface
You’ve helped develop new products such as Tensor Trucks and Uber Light Technology decks. Did that stem from your interest
+33 558 49 89 70 INFOEUROPE@GLOBEINTLTD.COM
CAPTAIN JAKE CHANNEL CROSSING MOTLEY TEAL AVAILABLE NOW MARK APPLEYARD CHRIS HASLAM JAKE DUNCOMBE DAVID GONZALEZ RODNEY MULLEN RYAN DECENZO LUAN OLIVEIRA LOUIE LOPEZ KNOW MORE WWW.GLOBE.TV
united by fate
Longboarding's queen of style Kassia Meador spreads her wings beyond the waves. Text Gemma Freeman Photography DEVON HOWARD
“Surfing’s my artistic form – it’s my life. I need to do
discovered Malibu at sixteen, then went to summer
something creative every day otherwise I freak out,
school in Calabasas in ’97 where she spent her
afternoons cross-stepping and nose-riding Surfrider
Kassia Meador is buzzing. She’s firing articulate
Beach, Malibu, following the area’s heritage of style –
answers at jet speed, a media veteran of the interview
hands low, body poised – and falling into the footsteps
game. Sporting tomboy cut-offs, a vest and huge
of Hawaii longboard legend Rell Sunn. “I still have that
dark sunnies post-surf, she’s about seventy percent
same feeling when I go in the water now,” she explains.
focused – politely fending off interruptions from
“It was always a special occasion when we went to the
friends and other impatient hacks.
sea, and I loved it from the start.”
Perched in a corner of the riders’ area at the Roxy
After winning the first contest she entered, the 1997
Jam, Biarritz, the twenty-eight-year-old and I sit in
Roxy Wahine Classic, Kassia was offered sponsorship
the eye of the contest. While we focus on banter, the
by Roxy on the spot. Two years later she turned
finals wrap up behind us with Kassia’s close friend
professional and started competing worldwide, helping
Jen Smith winning the event and the ASP Women’s
to set up the first-ever stand-alone ASP Women’s World
World Longboard title. She’s now being carried,
Longboard Championships along the way. With an easy
crowd-surfing style, towards us by a rowdy throng of
charm and obvious passion, Kassia was picked up by
excitable fellow contestants. You can almost sense
MTV to star in the reality series Surf Girls at nineteen,
the concentrated fusion of oestrogen and adrenalin.
followed by more TV work for the likes of Fuel TV and
But without Kassia – dubbed ‘Surf High Priestess’
her own female-focused film project, Fashion, in 2004.
by some, style icon by others, and known for her
Eventually she moved to North County San Diego for
graceful, ballet-like log riding – it’s likely none of this
more consistent surf, buying a house in Oceanside and
would have happened.
focusing on her own film sections – including 2009’s
Kassia grew up skating in Westlake village, in California’s Conejo Valley, but didn’t start surfing until she was fifteen while on a family holiday. Hooked, she
Dear and Yonder from Villa Villa Cola, RVCA’s You Scratched My Anchor, and the Thomas Campbell triptych – The Seedling, The Sprout and The Present.
“I knew I was always going to be a surfer, but never
photography a few years ago when she broke her foot,
pros for artistic ambassadors – freesurfers who also
thought I’d turn professional,” she explains. “I surfed
she’s consumed by image making – creating surreal,
dabble in pursuits like art, film, fashion and music –
because I loved it, then all this unravelled around me. I
large-scale photo-based artworks via a combination of
elite athleticism isn’t aspirational enough. You need to
now know that, from the beginning, this is what I was
print, paint and fine art techniques. “I shoot Polaroid
join the boho intelligentsia too; get a taste for obscure
meant to do; I was meant to pursue surfing and be a
because there’s just that one chance to get the shot,”
indie, vintage clothing, Vonnegut and Vogue; weave
part of it – to be here now, talking to you.”
she says. “It’s a lot of fun – I like working with large
each aspect of your lifestyle into a conscious creative
projects and being hands-on.”
tapestry, wearing your personality on your sleeve.
But describing herself as ADHD, Kassia was never going to focus her many talents on just one profession.
In just a year, she’s exhibited work worldwide – in
“Style is everything,” says Kassia. “How I dress,
Now there’s an added dimension to her freesurfing
Japan, San Diego and at the Tribeca Grand in New
how I surf, how I live my life, the cameras I use, the
experience – that of a travelling photographer, artist
York – all thanks to famed artist, writer, filmmaker and
photos I shoot... They all reflect my personality.”
and designer. “I love everything about Japan,” she
photographer Thomas Campbell. “Thomas has been a
For her latest endeavour, Kassia is creating a fine
enthuses. “It’s a beautiful place where they embrace
big inspiration – helping me think more professionally
art photography book with friend and mentor David
the surf culture and lifestyle… Like me, they’re not
rather than being like, ‘Yeah, I take photos sometimes.’
Mushegain, set for release early 2011. “We’ve got some
worried about surfing as a sport or contests. Indonesia,
He was instrumental in giving me confidence. ‘You’re
interesting images already, and this year we’re going to
New Zealand, Mexico... every scene is different. In
a nerd – they’re good,’ he’d tell me and I was like,
just as many places. I learn a lot from him, and we’ve
California, they support individualism – longboards
‘Really? You think they’re good?’ I can be unrealistic
such contrasting styles that we create completely
and people that like to get weird, like me. But waves
and scatty, wanting to do everything. But Thomas
different images. It should all work wonderfully
are waves – as long as you’re with a good group of
helped me stay focused, he was like, ‘You need to chill
friends, you can be surfing anywhere.”
– this stuff is amazing, but you need to relax.’”
So what exactly does ‘art’ mean for Kassia? “Art’s a
The friends that have contributed to her myriad of
Alongside Alex Knost, Joel Tudor, Dane Peterson
creative extension of yourself. Taking photos, surfing,
creative projects are now Kassia’s greatest inspiration.
and Chris del Moro, Kassia is very much a part of
painting, singing, dancing, laughing – all of it is art, if it
In the last year, she’s worked with Donald Takayama
Thomas Campbell’s crew of wave-riding creatives.
comes from within.”
on her latest model for Hawaiian Pro Surfboards – “the
Together, they’re cultivating a considered subculture
best noserider I’ve ever ridden” – and has designed an
that adds a hypermodern twist to the clichéd surfer
The Roxy Jam returns to Biarritz on July 10-14, 2010.
edgy signature collection for Roxy. Now, after studying
stereotype. As more and more brands swap athletic
Skateboarding celluloid enters a surreal new realm, thanks to a Scotsman, a Canadian and a touch of fate. Text Jay Riggio Photography FRED MORTAGNE
It’s no secret that the world of dramatised skateboard
John Rattray, Frank Gerwer, Rick McCrank and the
movies has forever been a train wreck. Movies like
legendary Steve Olson, Machotaildrop paints one of
Thrashin’, Gleaming The Cube and The Grind have
the most unique, dreamlike visions of skateboarding
gone down in history as downright laughable in
ever imagined. In a bizarre comedic world,
the very sore eyes of most skateboarders who have
skateboarding is not simply the reserve of a renegade
seen them. It’s hard to sum up what’s wrong with
youth; instead, it’s a universal phenomenon where
them. Could it be that skateboarding – all natural
skateboard professionals are cultural icons, groomed
spontaneity and unapologetic lifestyle – is simply too
like royalty and living like kings in a whimsical castle.
elusive to contain in a plot-driven format? Probably.
When young Walter Rhum (Anthony Amedori) is
But something groundbreaking has happened.
chosen to ride for the best skate company in the
A fictional film about skateboarding has been
world, Machotaildrop, he is suddenly transported to a
made, and it isn’t just really fucking good – it’s
lavish estate where team riders are bred for greatness
downright beautiful. It’s called Machotaildrop
by a strange god-like figure called The Baron. Paired
and, uniting comedy with a thematic undercurrent
against Blair Stanley (Rick McCrank), the company’s
that explores corporate corruption and the loss
hottest rider, Walter rises to stardom but soon finds
of innocence, it’s a genuine tour de force of
his dreams tainted by the exploitive practices of the
skateboarding cinema. The brainchild of filmmakers
Machotaildrop mega-corporation. Sounds simple?
Corey Adams and Alex Craig, Machotaildrop is the
Well, it’s not. Packed with wonderfully absurd
first, and quite possibly the last, great skateboarding
characters and subplots, there are enough surreal
movie of our generation.
twists and turns to keep even the savviest Herzog
Alex and Corey were awarded a cool one million
film snob engaged.
dollars to fund a new project after their short film,
Harvey Spannos, won the Fuel TV initiative, The Fuel Experiment. The result was Machotaildrop – the duo’s first feature film and most ambitious undertaking yet. Utilising a cast of pro skating notables like
But as intricate and fantastical as the film is, the account of how a Scotsman and a Canadian came to make a skate epic in Hungary is in itself another story. Here, filmmakers Alex Craig and Corey Adams take us on that journey. 51
The Ride That Binds
dove headfirst down his stairwell. It was at this point I
Corey: For me it was also Apocalypse Now that
realised we could probably work together effectively.
made me look at films in a different way. It was
Growing up on opposing sides of the globe, it’s
the closest thing to taking LSD that I had ever
safe to assume that Scotsman Alex Craig and
Corey: We actually bombed that hill with about
experienced without actually doing it. The feeling I
Canadian Corey Adams would never have met
seven people on one skateboard. I think we only
had after watching it was pure euphoria. There was
without the binding force of skateboarding.
made it half way down. Alex had shown up with a
something about the way the images and sounds
few other Scotsmen to visit my roommate – I was
melded together that seemed to hypnotise you.
Alex: I grew up in a fairly remote part of Scotland and
working a shit job at the time and decided to quit
I would sit in my bed as a teenager late at night
started skateboarding when I was fourteen. The road
and go on an adventure with them. He then came
watching it over and over. Then I discovered Hearts
that led up to our house was always covered in cow shit
back to Vancouver a few years later and I had just
so I had to learn on a tiny cement patio in the garden.
broken my jaw. He arrived and greeted me in the
Later we moved along the coast to a village where
hospital. When I got out we went to the casino with
there were some other kids and a patch of smooth
twenty dollars and put it all on black – by the end
tarmac. So we propped up a piece of plywood on some
of the night we were up about $250. We took that
of Darkness, which is the making of Apocalypse Now, and seeing them in the jungle going insane making that film really appealed to me. The struggle that went into making that film, it just doesn’t happen these days.
old stones and then it was on.
money and dressed Keegan Sauder in the same wolflike headpiece that I donned years before and made
Corey: When I was twelve years of age, I went to see
a film called Of Wolf and Limb.
a parade in a place called Fort Langley, which in the 1800s was a major export route for salted salmon in cedar barrels. It was during this parade that I witnessed the live act of skateboarding. It had nothing to do with
The Apocalypse Is Now
Even though one short film won it all and led to a fully funded, big-budget feature, the duo’s ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ filmmaking
the parade itself, just a kid around the same age as me,
Influences in the world of filmmaking are as
dressed in filthy ragged clothing and skin painted with
vast as the universe itself. But for these two
dirt. He launched off a curb mid-parade and that was
artists, inspiration proves to be eerily fateful
Alex: Harvey Spannos was the winning film of The
it. I instantly wanted to be like this boy. The grime of
when the topic of a Francis Ford Coppola
Fuel Experiment and the reason why we got to
his being and the way he flew through the parade like
masterpiece comes to light.
make Machotaildrop. We shot Spannos in Canada and Scotland in 2005. I think it’s around forty-five
it wasn’t even happening was an awakening for me. Alex: I remember watching Apocalypse Now when
Meet And Greet
minutes long. It was pandemonium.
I was about sixteen and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. I was never interested in films or
Corey: Machotaildrop barely got finished. It was
TV or anything before then and I remember being
kind of a shock for me at first to have that kind of
A collaboration is born with the aid of some
in shock that a film could affect me so profoundly.
money to make a film with. Added with the fact that
treacherous hill bombing, whiskey and a little
Then later on Alien Workshop’s Memory Screen
I had just broken up with a girl I was with for seven
something known as fate.
came out and it was the first skate video I saw that
years, and my Nana, who was the most inspiring
went way beyond skating and into this super rough,
person in my life, decided she was done with earth.
Alex: I met Corey in 1999 when I visited Vancouver
tweaked abstract realm and I loved it so much. And
All this in one week. It was a crazy time. I was used
the first time. We drank a bottle of whiskey and
through that I realised that it was possible to make
to the $250 casino-winning budgets. So I decided
bombed a hill in the pouring rain. Later on, Corey
your own videos with a VHS camera and two VCRs
I would hire a few ‘legitimate’ film people, like
donned a wolf-like headpiece and a leather vest and
and so I began making shitty home videos.
producers and such. Unfortunately, the producer,
who was a wonderful gal, just had all these textbook
slowly diluted by the Western obsession with order
end up having a skateboard chase scene – I don’t
ideas about how a film was made. Alex shows up
and control. Maybe it’s all the energy drinks making
even remember how that came to be.
from Scotland and things are strange because
them paranoid? It’s kind of gross how popular those
we’re getting pushed down this road of textbook
designer poisons are over there. I ended up getting a
Corey: The mistake all those films made was to try
filmmaking, which can lead to the soul of your
taurine addiction while we were shooting.
and show some kind of essence of skateboarding.
film being sucked out. So I call the producer and
It’s like trying to take a photograph of a horrible
tell her things just are not working out and we can’t
really make a film like this. Unfortunately when she goes, she takes every person she is associated with
stench. You really just have to smell it to know what it is. That is why we dressed the stench up in fanciful costumes and ridiculous locations, so that in hiding it
along with her. We are supposed to be shooting in
Filmmaking is a risky old business. If anything
amongst these things some kind of truth may appear.
a week and have now lost our entire crew. Me and
can possibly go wrong, chances are it will.
We were always talking about films that were as far
Alex decide we are going to buy a few plane tickets
away from skateboarding as possible. We wanted to
to Bangkok and shoot the film there – I still wish
Alex: A feature takes a longer time to develop and
distance ourselves from the world of ‘extreme’ and
we would have done this but something stopped us,
it takes a lot of energy to pull off. It’s heavy going,
adrenaline-charged SoCal metro-sexuals, and show a
not sure what it was. So having lost the crew we had,
mentally. You get caught up in the process and we
more sensitive side to these athletes.
and needing to shoot in a week, we decided to hire
were taking a lot of risks each day in our choices so
a bunch of friends to help us. With no real schedule
it ended up being fairly stressful. As far as obstacles
or budget worked out, we started shooting. The
go, we had many. One of our lead actors, Brian
final result of all the madness that ensued after that
Blessed, had some kind of heart attack on his first
day. We had to persuade the Slovenian government
More Than A Feeling
to allow us to shoot in a world heritage site. We
It may not be the highest-grossing film
had to bribe various Hungarian gypsies, charter ex-
of all time. But who cares, you won’t
list goes on.
in the editing. When we were writing we had some pretty grandiose schemes that we were never able to bring to life just because of the logistics of it all,
Alex: We’ve had a pretty positive response so far.
Corey: Everything at one point or another became
It’s only played at a few film festivals so we get a
an obstacle. Including ourselves.
lot of people asking us how they can see it. We’re
Alex: Yeah, I think we always had a good idea of how it should feel. If anything it got tamed down a bit
see skating in Avatar.
Soviet airplanes and find a posse of amputees. The
The vision for Machotaildrop was more intuition than conscious thought.
The Avatar of Skateboarding
planning on getting it screened in a bunch of cities
The Cheese Factor
over the next few months. You can keep an eye out on the Facebook page. I’m not sure what the website address is. Machotaildrop something or other.
Shunning the tried-and-failed skate flick
or people telling us it couldn’t be done or it wasn’t
formula, Alex and Corey attack uncharted
Corey: The best criticism so far has to be, ‘I would
safe. I also realised for the first time how different
territory, going where no other skate film
love to go to Ape Snake park, just not the one Corey
a skateboarder’s perception of what is safe differs
has dared to tread.
and Alex have given us.’ The best comment is, ‘Machotaildrop is the Avatar of skateboarding.’ That
from your average Hungarian. I always presumed that people from Eastern Europe still had common
Alex: We were aware of the cheese factor in all films
sense, which is one of the reasons we wanted to
made for kids and tried to stay away from doing the
shoot there, but I think they’re unfortunately being
obvious, as far as all that was concerned. But we did
statement is just so bizarre, I love it www.machotaildrop.com
A young Yvon labours over his prized piton collection.
The calm rebellion of Yvon Chouinard is inspiring a new generation of environmental custodians to stop talking, and start doing. Interview Michael Fordham
Yvon Chouinard – blacksmith, climber, surfer,
created is about to delve wholeheartedly into the
Is that ‘hardcore’ authenticity still possible with a
fly fisherman, Zen prankster – is arguably the
European surf market with a new line in wetsuits. The
huge business like Patagonia? Well, I’m interested in
most successful businessman in the history of the
man himself, meanwhile, has been advising corporate
the ‘Generation Y’ effect… In a world of almost infinite
outdoor industry. He has created in Patagonia a
America on how to tread a lighter environmental
lifestyle choices, Generation Y activism is about
company that remains on the cutting edge – not
path – but he remains deeply pessimistic about the
young people knowing their own inner priorities and
only of technology and design but in the ethical
future of the planet.
vowing to live by them, even in the face of adversity.
values it practises and preaches.
Still, fresh from a lunchtime yoga class before
So Generation Y, as opposed to Generation X and the
Chouinard was always a pioneer. Born in 1938
sharing a wholesome meal in the corporate café, he
boomers before them, applies to kids born between the
in Maine, he moved to Southern California with his
listens carefully to my questions, answering them with
years 1980 and 1994. It is this generation’s consumer
French-Canadian family as an eight-year-old and
a relaxed but passionate delivery. One thing that sticks
activism that makes them a unique challenge for
became a surfer in the earliest days of that coastal
out about the man’s personality is this: he is unafraid
marketing. Generation Y consumers don’t just want to
sub-cult. An interest in falconry soon led him to the
of sustained, fathomless silence.
buy brands, they want to buy into what a brand believes
vertically oriented delights of climbing, and he would
in. They flock towards brands like Red and Livestrong
go on to play a vital part in the evolution of North
Where does surfing fit into the broader Patagonia
that spark movements. Some are social movements –
American alpinism, inspiring a move away from the
project? Well, I’ve been a life-long surfer, since ’54
the success of sweatshop-free and socially responsible
high-impact use of hand-forged iron pitons toward
or ’55. It’s been a life-long passion. I like to make
clothing is making clothing brands like Timberland,
lightweight, removable protection. He picked up
things that I use myself, and I wanted to diversify the
American Apparel and Patagonia must-have items for
influence from Eastern philosophy, and made a killing
company. Being dependent on mountain sports is
Generation Y. So anyway, this new generation is calling
along the way – manufacturing and marketing the
kind of a dead end these days. You know, as I’ve been
bullshit on a lot of stuff that marketeers do. They don’t
products that enabled him and his contemporaries to
quoted saying before, it’s never going to snow again.
believe in advertising, they won’t listen to advertising.
explore the mountains in a less-harmful manner.
A lot of the first descents and ice climbs I’ve done
So it fits right in with us, right now we’re having the best
From its roots in the early seventies, Patagonia has
around the world no longer exist. I wouldn’t want
year we’ve had in years. I personally love recessions.
pioneered sustainability as a legitimate business aim.
to own a ski area!... The thing with making clothing
The highly successful One Percent For The Planet
for climbing is that you need a lot of stuff. Fact is,
That was my next question – how has the downturn
non-profit organisation that Yvon co-founded afforded
you don’t need any of that shit for surfing. All you
affected Patagonia? I love a recession because it kills
the company something of a cult following, while a
need is a wetsuit. You know, Kelly Slater can’t surf
the competition and drives people to buy things that
self-imposed ‘environmental audit’ cemented their
any better with a pair of $60 surf trunks than he can
last a long time. They stop being silly in their fashion
commitment to using non-toxic, sustainable resources.
with cut-off jeans. The whole surf industry is built
choices. They start buying practical things, and that’s
By applying the principle of ‘cause the least amount
around caps, T-shirts, sweatshirts and very expensive
where we are. It was a good time to get into surf
of harm’ to an otherwise hypocritically depletive
surf trunks, which are totally unnecessary. It’s been a
too, for the same reasons. That’s why I encouraged
industry that was (and largely still is) encouraging us
dilemma for us, because we want to make authentic
my son to build his surfboard business [Fletcher
all to love the planet to death, Patagonia as a brand
stuff. I don’t want to make stuff that people want
Chouinard Designs], because the only things you
has become somewhat iconic amongst a generation
but don’t need. That’s the problem with the world.
really need for surfing are a wetsuit and a surfboard.
who see themselves as environmental activists –
Everyone’s buying stuff they don’t need. How do we
He’s making surfboards that are as good if not better
even if that activism is encoded solely through their
break that cycle? Plus, no large company has ever
than any in the world right now – performance-wise.
broken into the surfing market, they’ve all started
And as far as durability and strength goes they are a
from scratch, you know, because otherwise you don’t
hundred percent stronger than polyester urethane
have that authenticity.
boards, and they are non-toxic into the bargain.
When we meet at Patagonia HQ in Ventura, California, in the summer of 2009, the company Yvon
When the only pitons available leave scars in the mountain's face, a conscientious climber is forced to forge his own.
What’s the blank made from? Well we make our
every surfer wanted to buy a Patagonia down jacket
time respecting them. I mean, there’s a few that are
own blanks. They’re out of a Styrofoam, but it’s a
in silver. I realised at that point that a down jacket
really good guys and stuff, but the real soul of the
closed cell extruded Styrofoam – we’re the only ones
is actually a surf product, especially in November in
sport are the Rastas [Dave Rastovich], who don’t
making boards out of this stuff – then we glass them
Scotland or something, when you get out of the water
compete and, you know, he should, he’s worth way
with a non-toxic epoxy. So anyway, they’re very high-
and there’s three inches of snow on the ground, and
more to Billabong than any of their competitive
quality. That’s given us the authenticity required in
your hands are so cold you can’t even put your key in
surfers, because he’s where surfing is going with
the surf world. And now we’ve built the wetsuit, too.
your lock, you want to wear something warm. And so
Generation Y. This generation have all had courses
We didn’t just want to build another wetsuit like
I realised I didn’t have to make T-shirts, sweatshirts
in environmental stuff starting in grammar school,
everybody else. They’re all made in the same factory in
and caps – I realised I could get into the surf industry
and they’re very aware that we’re destroying the
Taiwan, you know, it doesn’t matter what brand you’re
by selling multifunctional clothing. I’m not interested
planet and these people, these people who represent
buying, they’re all made out of the same materials and
in the fourteen-year-old girl or the seventeen-year-
surfing’s soul, are their heroes.
the same unsustainable processes. So we researched
old boy. I’m more interested in the one-percenters
materials, did a lot of homework and came up with a
who are serious surfers and who don’t follow fashion
Do you think that surfers will ever evolve into
better neoprene, and better wool for the inside. We
and don’t want to buy something that they only wear
a group of custodians for the environment that
put the wool throughout the whole suit too, not just
one percent of the time, but something that they can
they exploit and enjoy? Well, I mean, that’s the
on the trunk areas. So our 2mm is warmer than your
wear all the time.
ideal, I’m not sure whether these guys actually live
normal 3mm. I think that the suit is probably the best
it out in their lives. They talk a good story, but I So in this search for an authentic aesthetic and
haven’t seen any effect of what they’re actually doing.
authentic products – is this where people like
I hate to say that. Ninety percent of the American
But your core market is still the outdoor market.
the Malloys, Lopez and Wayne Lynch come in?
people consider themselves environmentalists. But
Do you think the two, surfing and ‘outdoors’, are
Yeah. We call them the ambassadors rather than
you ask them how that translates into their everyday
becoming the same thing? Well, it’s interesting. We
sponsored surfers. I wanted to work with people
lives and it all falls apart. Have you changed your
took a trip to Chile a few years ago, with Gerry Lopez,
that symbolise the soul of the sport. I don’t like
light bulbs? Do you volunteer? Have you changed
the Malloys and Jack Johnson. Out of this trip came
the idea of professional surfing, or professional
your life at all? Do you do anything? I mean, you are
an article for Surfer magazine. In the article there
climbing for that matter. Professionalism doesn’t
what you do, not what you say. And that’s the state of
was this photo of Gerry wearing one of our silver
belong in those sports as far as I’m concerned, and I
environmentalism these days.
down jackets. Suddenly that became a surf item, and
look at who the professionals are and I have a hard
thing we’ve ever made in this company.
So many people in America consider themselves
Photography: Tom Frost.
Superman Yvon outside the Tin Shed, where the first generation of Patagonians drilled hexes, assembled ice axes and slacked off when the surf was good.
“That’s the problem with the world. Everyone’s buying stuff they don’t need. How do we break that cycle?”
‘environmentalists’, yet at the same time a study just
good eye. He’s got a good sense of how design works
came out that concluded that protecting the planet
with the designers here and he helps them come out
is number nineteenth in Americans’ priorities!
with the right product. These guys test our wetsuits
[Laughs]… That’s where we are in America. This
and give us feedback on that so to be sponsored by
generation, the baby boomer generation and even
us means you have to do some work. And Gerry, we
Generation X, is totally fucked. It’s not going to
published his book and sent him around to do book
do anything. It’s the Generation Y, these young
tours – he’s become a good speaker. He was terrible
eighteen-year-old kids that are in college right now
at first, but we helped him put together a slide show
and are studying environmental sciences, they’re the
and it sold a lot of books.
ones that are going to make a difference. How do you stay motivated to do business when Do you think the people Patagonia welcomes
you could easily just take off forever and climb,
into its fold can make a difference, too? Well,
surf and fish? Well, I enjoy it. You can’t travel all the
Chris Malloy can have a big influence in his films – a
time. You’d burn out, plus you’ll end up in karmic hell.
really big influence. I mean, maybe he doesn’t change
I’m a real pessimist about the future of the planet. I
his life too much, but maybe he can really influence a
mean, there’s absolutely no reason to be hopeful at
lot of kids through his films. All it takes to make a big
all. But I feel a responsibility to do what I can about
impact on a kid is to have Kelly Slater walking down
it, and doing what I can means using this business as
the beach picking up a piece of paper and sticking it
a resource with which to influence other companies.
in a trash can. You don’t say anything, it just shows
That’s why I stay in business. I don’t need any more
something positive. Right now you go along surfing
money, I mean Christ, if you look at my car, the way I
beaches the day after a swell and there’s just trash
live my life, you’ll know the way we live is very simple.
everywhere. That’s all it would take. These guys can
Money is not a motivator at all. In fact, I give most
wield a big influence. We get hit up to sponsor surfers
of my money away. What motivates me is pessimism
all the time. But we don’t sponsor people in the same
about the world. I love the natural world, and I want
way as a conventional surf company. Dan Malloy
to protect it. I mean, it sounds corny, but that’s the
gives us a lot of feedback on clothing. He’s got a really
reason I stay in business.
“You can’t travel all the time. You’d burn out, plus you’ll end up in karmic hell.”
they’re not going to buy from. That’s the first step.
nothing you can do with the toxic waste. You could
The second step is to look at every single product
save a tremendous amount of energy just through
that they sell in Wal-Mart stores and assess the ones
conservation, and you can replace all that fossil fuel-
that are of toxic ingredients. If there is an alternative,
generated energy with wind, sun, waves and tidal
then they will buy from the alternative. I mean, that’s
power. I mean, the city of San Francisco figures that
a huge commitment and they could truly change the
it could power the entire city with tidal power at the
world by doing this. I made the keynote address
mouth of the bay. And they don’t even have big tides.
when they announced this new policy to their 1,200
Look at places in the UK and France, they have fifteen-
buyers in Arkansas, and they announced at that time
foot tides all year round. Then there’s wave power.
each buyer would have to work in this way and if they
Chile, for example, could power the whole country
did it there would be reward – because it’s a lot more
with wave power. In the north they have sun 365 days
work for a buyer – and if they didn’t want to do it,
a year; in the south they have high, high winds, and
they said, ‘I’m sure you can find a job somewhere
the potential for wave power is phenomenal. Nuclear
else.’ So it is a serious commitment.
energy just represents a lack of will and imagination. We’re still subsidising coal, we’re subsidising oil. Get
So where do governments come into this? Have
rid of those subsidies and then you’ll see people start
you had a sit-down with Obama yet? No, I haven’t
recycling, and it makes sense to recycle, and it makes
had a sit-down with the President. But we can’t save
sense to go to alternate energy. You don’t even need to
the world without the government, that’s for sure.
subsidise this alternate energy, I don’t think. But you’ve
Over the last eight years, we couldn’t do anything
got to get rid of the other subsidies.
really, so we just gave up on government, just went
I know you’ve been influenced by Zen Buddhism
around them. But Obama’s administration gets it.
The problem is, though, that we won’t get to play
and the nothingness at the centre of the Zen
The big question today is, okay, if we go to a green
in our cars, jump on our airplanes and enjoy the
philosophy. What happens when you go? What
economy, is it going to bankrupt the world? Is it going
environment that we love. You know what? There
is your ambition ‘post-Chouinard’ for Patagonia?
to crash the whole economic system, because it’s all
won’t be planes in the air twenty years from now.
I’ve told my family to basically sell it when I go – get
been based on cheap energy and oil for the last 150
To keep those things from falling to earth, there’s
out of it. And it may be that our work will be finished
years. Now we’re saying we have to get away from that
no known technology that will keep them up there
when I’m gone. The world doesn’t need a clothing
and we have to get away from the idea of consuming
without petroleum. They’re not going to be running
company. And if we can be successful and influence
and discarding endlessly. So what’s going to happen?
on hydrogen, I can tell you that. They won’t be running
large companies to get greener then our work will
What we’re saying is, ‘Look, if you turn your business
on electrical power. America has put all its subsidies
be done. We’re working with Wal-Mart right now,
green, you’ll make more profit than you ever have, like
into airplanes and automobiles and roads. We should
the world’s second largest company. They are the
we are right now.’ At the top of this One Percent For
have a high-speed train from San Diego to Vancouver,
eleventh largest economy in the world. It’s hard to get
The Planet organisation that we helped create, there’s
Canada – it’s a straight shot. Our passenger trains are
your head around but there are only ten countries on
well over a thousand members now. I was just looking
going slower than they did in the eighteenth century!
the planet whose economy is larger than the annual
at the figures recently and the top six companies on
But you know what’s going to happen, is that we’re
turnover of Wal-Mart. We’ve been influencing them a
the program are all having the best year they’ve had in
not going to get in an airplane and go to Tavarua in the
lot. Right now, we’re working with them to create a
ages. And that’s the lesson that business has to learn.
future – we’re going to have to live with the break that’s
manual for how to make and market environmentally
We have a big role in society right now, to prove that
close by, which means we’re going to have to protect
and ethically responsible clothing. We’re working with
green business is good business, and in fact if you
it. If somebody goes to destroy that surf break there
them to communicate how to identify all the fibres
don’t do it, you end up like General Motors and Ford,
are going to be a lot of surfers that go crazy. They’re
– which ones truly are green, and which ones aren’t.
these stupid-ass big companies that resisted every
not going to allow that, because that is all we have,
It’s going to include methods of computing your
change that came along.
because we can’t fly to Tavarua anymore. It’s the same thing with a little local stream that’s polluted – if I
carbon footprint when making clothing, calculating water usage, the impact of various dyes, etc. It’s crazy,
If you’re so pessimistic about the baby boomers
want to fish, I’m going to have to clean this stream up.
but nothing like that exists at the moment. In the
and Generation X doing anything about emissions
I mean, people talk about eating locally as being vital,
process of creating this user manual and them aiming
and climate change, what do you make of nuclear
but it’s not just eating locally that’s important. We’re
to work closely to it, Wal-Mart are truly trying to
power as a potential source of relatively clean
going to have to do our sports locally, we really are.
become a greener company. We’re constantly sharing
energy? It’s awful. Economically, nuclear power makes
Everybody thinks there’s going to be some technology
information because we constantly have to educate
no sense whatsoever. It has to be heavily subsidised by
that emerges that’s going to transport us all over the
ourselves. And, you know, it’s working as far as our
governments, even insurance companies won’t touch
world with no carbon emissions. That’s not going to
mission statement goes: one, make the best clothing
it, so the government has to insure the businesses
happen. And you know what? You’ll get used to it. I
possible; two, cause no unnecessary harm; three, use
in case the planet blows up. So that’s a huge risk to
think I need somebody to tell me to stop travelling.
business to influence other companies.
take. The government have to guarantee loans to
If someone was to tell me, ‘No, you can’t do that,
They’ve made a commitment to look at all
create the infrastructure to create the power, because
because there isn’t any oil left and you’re destroying
their suppliers and do an environmental and social
no bank is going to lend them money. And there’s
the environment,’ I’ll say, ‘Okay’
assessment of each company they work with, and
very little uranium left in the world, so we have to
the companies that don’t come up to their standards
trade with unstable and suspect regimes. And there’s
BEST BRANDS. BEST BUYERS. BEST BUSINESS. BEST BRANDS. BEST BUYERS. BEST BUSINESS.
W W W. B R E A D A N D B U T T E R . C O M
Surfing is a source of bemusement to local kids, who watch as Rashid loads his board and then chase the car all the way to the beach.
The entrance to the Bangladesh Surf Club is a doorway to escapism on a street otherwise blighted by poverty.
the wave-riding reveries of Hawaiian Kings REAch the jungle-lined shores of Bangladesh. Text & PHOTOGRAPHY Cyrus Shahrad
At 4pm on my second day in Bangladesh I wake from
Hills marks the start of a sprawling jungle spiked with
a jet-lag slumber in a paint-peeling, fly-infested hotel
ancient temples and traced by tigers.
room in Cox’s Bazar. I flip on export strength Indian
My destination is the Mermaid Café, which the Lonely Planet guide glowingly describes as serving ‘quite possibly the best food in all of Bangladesh’, as well as having ‘an odd surfboard or two that it will rent out’. The latter statement I’m able to dismiss immediately; the only board in the building is broken in half and dramatically nailed to one wall. I seat myself at the bar and order a mango juice, and while it’s being made I ask the barman about the surf club. He reaches for a pen and scrawls a phone number and a name on the back of a napkin: Mr Jafar Alam. The name I already know. It was Jafar who ten years ago returned from a holiday in Hawaii with a surfboard and a determination to begin riding the waves that broke almost against his front door. His obsession drew first the ire and later the admiration of locals, and soon kids were swarming the shoreline to marvel at the way their softly spoken neighbour was able to hover god-like in the mouth of the wave. Seeing the potential for a small revolution, Jafar contacted his friends in Hawaii, and a charity was established to begin sending unwanted surfboards to Bangladesh. It was with these boards – all dings and peeling stickers and turning yellow from exposure to the sun – that Jafar founded his Bangladesh Surf Club, offering boys and girls a chance to escape their impoverished backgrounds and find a rare moment of communion amid the tumbling waves. “Will he mind me calling?” I ask the barman. “Oh, he is not here.” He sets my mango juice on the bar, a cardboard lid in place to keep off flies. “In Hawaii. Surfing.”
MTV as I dress, marvelling at its garish adoption of Western norms – the ads for skin-lightening creams, the reality shows hell-bent on breaking up relationships – before stumbling downstairs and out into the sunlight, blinking away a shimmering band of gold where the ocean meets the sand. Within seconds I’m set upon by a swarm of sinewy rickshaw drivers, their arms and legs so lean that it’s hard to tell where man ends and machine begins, their colourful carriages decorated with religious icons and the faces of national film stars. I muscle past them and press along the promenade – past tin shacks selling bottled water and strung bunches of black bananas, past shop fronts hung with dried fish carcasses spiralling in the sea breeze – and down a few stone steps to the sand, which burns my feet through my flip flops. Running over 120 miles, Cox’s Bazar is the longest unbroken sand beach in the world, and draws a great deal of wealthy Bangladeshi tourists as well as the occasional Westerner, the latter attracting hordes of sun-blackened beach children with gap-tooth grins and arms strung with seashell necklaces for sale. I keep to the far side of the beach and watch as men and women wade out into the warm blue water fully clothed to preserve their religious dignity, screaming with excitement as wave after wave rears up and over them. A safe mile from the madness of the main beach, wiry fisherman can be seen dragging wood-framed nets into and out of the water, a practice that hasn’t changed in centuries. Behind me, beyond the five-star hotels and flash restaurants, the lush fringe of the Chittagong
Rickshaws remain the preferred mode of transport in Cox's Bazar, though models featuring surfboard racks are yet to be invented.
“Tourists call this a pleasure resort, but it is not a pleasurable place to live without money. That is why we surf.”
three boards from the clubhouse poking out the boot of his battered hatchback.
Half an hour later we’ve parked up and weaved a path through the last of the sun loungers. The waves
We take the long route to the beach so that Rashid
are rolling in nicely, suitably small given the summer
can point out the side of Cox’s Bazar that tourists
months (they reach double overhead in winter), but
never see. Doors flap uselessly on to the street where
clean and consistent, and the lapping shoreline that
there are doors; gaping entranceways frame women
meets my feet is warm as bathwater. We attract a few
rocking wailing babies where there aren’t. Palm trees
stares as we attach our leashes – local fishermen may be
shift over rusted corrugated roofs, and bare-chested
used to the sight of surfers, but for tourists this is still
men shuffle up the street bent double by sacks of rice
a carnival of confusion – but it’s attention that Rashid
or bundles of scrap metal.
and Kamrul seem to savour as they begin paddling
“There is nothing for us to do here,” says Rashid. “Tourists call this a pleasure resort, but it is not a
out and beckon for me to follow, my board decidedly lopsided from a sizeable ding on its belly.
pleasurable place to live without money. That is why
We duck dive wave after wave, each face a
we surf. It allows us to forget all of this and enjoy
funnel of pink reflected from the setting sun, before
emerging out back in a moment of calm and sitting in
Rashid describes how he wakes every morning at
silence to take stock of the skyline. The sand appears
5am to surf the high tide with members of the club
to stretch like time itself from the past on one side
before they scatter to their respective service industry
towards the future on the other, with the present
Jafar Alam may be notable by his absence, but
jobs in the hotels and high-rise apartments of the
somewhere in between, a cluster of glass and concrete
it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of loitering
promenade. Rashid works for a deckchair company;
monstrosities on the verge of being reclaimed by the
outside the Bangladesh Surf Club for a local to guess
Kamrul washes dishes in a restaurant. After work they
jungle looming overhead.
my intention and lead me to the house of rider Rashid
meet again to surf the evening tide, and afterwards
As I’m paddling for my first wave Kamrul calls
Bappy, whose father welcomes me like a family
gather around the television in Kamrul’s living room
and asks which football team I support, and I lie and
member and serves sweet, milky chai while we await
to watch The Billabong Odyssey (another gift from
say Chelsea, just to annoy him. One moment there’s
his son. When Rashid finally returns from work – a
Hawaii) and plan surf trips they know none of them will
a chorus of horrified jeering, chants of ‘Manchester
Bangladeshi Baywatch extra in mirrored sunglasses,
ever be able to afford. Kamrul asks where I normally
United’ and ‘Rooney, Rooney’; the next, their voices
boardshorts and artfully tousled hair – he phones a
surf, and I say Great Britain. He says that’s top of his
are lost against the rush and babble of the breakwater
friend, Kamrul, who ten minutes later turns up with
list, and I tell him not to bother.
as it lifts and carries me home
CHECK OUT WWW.ONEILL.COM/HYPERFREAK EXPERIENCE THE HYPERFREAK IN 3D & ENTER THE ONLINE COMPETITION FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A TRIP TO
THE O'NEILL WORLD CUP OF SURFING IN HAWAII.
Broken boards, shattered spirits, run-ins with the law. Making a skate video is an uphill battle – but it keeps you coming back for more. Text & Photography Mike Belleme
Twelve years, two shattered elbows, one skateboarding ticket and thousands of dollars worth of shoes and boards later, I can’t help but ask myself: ‘Why do I do this?’ Over the past year, I have explored this question through the lens of a camera. In this project, I document the efforts of Push Skate Shop’s team in Asheville, North Carolina, as they put together their first skate video. These are the kids of hate and love – two strong words for two strong emotions. But it’s this dichotomy – pain and tension versus adrenalin and stoke – that unites every skater and keeps us coming back for more. Filming for a video pushes all the emotions and tension that goes into skateboarding to the extreme. The process generally takes two to three years of constant work. Getting a two-second clip for a video part often involves returning to a spot four or five times. When filming, a skater constantly pushes themselves outside of their comfort zone trying a trick until their body simply won’t allow them to try anymore. The list of struggles when making a video based around street skating is daunting. To start with, it’s not legal. Tickets are given out, boards are taken, skaters are even arrested and brought to jail. Between cops, security guards and business owners, finding a place to skate for more than twenty minutes is a task in itself. These struggles – combined with injury, broken boards, and the difficulty of the tricks being attempted – are just some of the reasons why making a skate video is such a battle. So back to the question at hand, ‘Why do we do it?’ Well, because that battle is what we live for. When a skater finally makes the trick, gets the clip, conquers their fears and beats the odds, the feeling is indescribable. The need for this feeling is what makes us keep going, walking back up the stairs for one more try. The rush that a skater gets from hitting up a spot late at night, lighting it up and getting a trick before the cops show up is all part of the experience. The sense of community in skateboarding is one of its biggest assets. We’re in a club and all members of the club, internationally, have a bond that ties us together. Over the course of my twelve years of skating I have become a part of a network of likeminded people that extends across the US and even overseas to Europe. In any major city in the States, I have a couch to crash on and, if I don’t, I know someone who does that can put me in touch. When people come to Asheville to skate, the Push team welcomes them with a place to stay and we try to make sure they skate all of the best spots. The same happens when we travel to other cities, which happens frequently especially when working on a video. When I think about the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met through skating, it makes the negative aspects seem trivial. It’s a labour of love. It’s a labour of hate. www.pushtoyproject.com
vii. 1. Caroline came down from her apartment threatening to call the cops, but eased up when we promised to be careful. ii. All kinds of spots spring to life at night. Rorey wallrides behind a steakhouse after business hours. iii. Justin (centre) stresses out while struggling to film a variel flip over a handrail, despite having logged more footage than anyone else. iv. Nohe smashes his board to bits but returns to the spot with a new board and nails the trick on film. v. JT and Adam are from the Carolinas but now live in New York. Push riders regularly crash at their Brooklyn pad. vi. Matt is given a ticket for illegally skating and is permanently banned from all public parks including Asheville’s only skate park. vii. Charles’ griptape reads, ‘We are the kids of hate and love.’ Nohe chills by the board he broke trying to film a wallride. viii. With no health insurance and a low-paying job, Rorey nurses a hip injury with prescription pain killers bought from a friend.
ix. Molnar ended up with five staples in his head after he fell into a fireplace drunk on his birthday. x. Justin frontside boardslides a rail to warm up at the spot before trying to film a trick. xi. Skating gets placed on the back burner when Brunt (right) and Rorey (left) get sidetracked partying with friends in Atlanta, GA. xii. Luke tries acupuncture on a foot injury that took him away from skating for six months. xiii. Push Skate Shop owner Rob Sebrell (left) and crew scout out a spot on a filming mission to Charlotte, NC. xiv. George falls trying to kickflip a gap. xv. Rob ignores the â€˜skateboarding prohibitedâ€™ sign after returning to a spot he got kicked out from under the cover of dark
Between a hazy past and hyped-up future, Julian Casablancas steps out alone and finds room to breathe away from The Strokes. Interview Niall O’Keeffe Photography YSANYA PEREZ
Many great bands comprise one person who seems
This is you putting your own name on the record
I definitely had more freedom to do that, so it came
to resonate with the masses a little more than the
and being the focal point. How does the song-
out more like that just because I didn’t have guitar
rest. Take The Strokes. Despite the stellar line-up,
writing differ from The Strokes? Were there a
players waiting to play, you know what I mean?
one figure stands out: Julian Casablancas.
lot of pent-up ideas awaiting execution? I didn’t
After the New York quintet went on hiatus in
think like that before I started at all, but it was
Obviously the other members pursued their
2006, a succession of solo records has confirmed
definitely nice to be able to explore any possibilities
own projects. Was there a competitive element
the power of the big JC. The soft-rock of guitarist
I desired, y’know? With the band there’s definitely
that crept in when you saw what they were
Albert Hammond Jr inspired some indifference,
a little more... definitely parameters, whether it be
doing? I would say no. Not really. I mean, I don’t
while bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fab
what instruments people play or whether it just be
know, maybe subconsciously in my mind. But I
Moretti made similarly inoffensive records as,
people’s opinions. To be honest it was really fun to
don’t feel that.
respectively, Nickel Eye and Little Joy.
be able to follow an idea without being told it’s a bad songwriter,
idea. Not to say that I didn’t have bad ideas that I
How do you see the future in terms of keeping
Casablancas finally made a solo foray in late
scratched along the way – probably half of them
the two things going? Has the first one whetted
2009 – and delivered a lesson in humility to his
were. You know what? More than half. Probably
your appetite to do more solo records and
moonlighting band mates. Simply, Phrazes for the
eighty percent of what you do is not good. I think
continue that in parallel with the band? Possibly.
Young was the best record a Stroke had delivered since Room on Fire in 2003. Opener ‘Out of the Blue’ set the tone. After a burst of sci-fi synths, a Strokes-like jangle of guitar cued a trademark Casablancas vocal: half languid drawl, half anguished croon. The song told a story of soured success and thirst for vengeance, over the sound of various Strokes shifting in their seats. Over its eight-song span, Phrazes for the Young offered a rich mix of breezy melodies, complex time signatures and eighties-sounding keyboard riffs. Yet lyrically, it was a consistently downcast affair: ‘11th Dimension’, for example, found Casablancas muttering about “bootleggers and vultures” before deciding to “forgive them – even though they are not sorry”. One wondered how happy Casablancas was with life in The Strokes. The band has since reconvened to start work on a new album ahead of dates in the summer. Phrazes for the Young implied that they may have one or two issues to work through, and an interview with Casablancas ahead of its release deepened that impression. Sure, he was dismissive of questions on intra-band competition or difficulties – but also strikingly enthusiastic about the “freedom” that comes with working solo.
editing is probably the biggest part of it...
I mean, it could go a few different ways. It might get
absorbed in the band – or vice versa! I’m kidding. You’ve always been famously exacting with The
But I think I’ll always want to play Strokes shows
Strokes’ records. Did the same obsessive drive kick
and do Strokes records or whatever, but... it’s not
in with this record or did you feel less pressured? I
only me in the band.
would say it’s similar, or maybe even more pressure. You know, I think it’s not just that I’m obsessive...
Looking back, did you find it stressful when
It’s a desire to get everything right, for everything to
The Strokes blew up and became so famous?
be perfect, to be ready – yeah, that does take a lot of
Did being under such intense scrutiny wear
work. Maybe that’s obsessive, I don’t know. It’s time
you down after a while? I wouldn’t say so, no.
consuming for sure. But I think it really pays off in
Sometimes if you’re touring and you do a lot of
the end. Some people say, ‘You’re never happy’ or ‘The
interviews, it can be psychologically weird. You
record will never be finished until it’s ripped out of his
know that it’s going out to a wider view of people
hands’… It’s not like it’s never finished for me. I just
and it’s, like… It’s the questions that state facts to
think it’s taken a while to finish the ones that I’ve done.
you, over and over. It’s always like, ‘So, this record
I mean, I’m done with it, I’m happy with it. I can’t say
is so hard – are you aggressive because of this and
that about all the records I’ve done, because we’ve had
this and that?’ And about the same record, the next
deadlines and it was ripped out of my hands.
interview will be, ‘This record is so soft. Are you going soft now? Is it because you’re married?’ It’s
Is there a particular Strokes record that you wish
constantly having to be told what everyone thinks
you’d had more time with? Yeah, I think the last
about you. After a while, it’s like the opposite of
one, maybe, we could have worked on a little more...
what I would imagine psychiatry would do. Building up a bunch of ideas…
Was the solo record a chance to explore different
To be honest, touring – the travelling and the
musical influences? Clearly, some of it’s written on
playing and all that, that’s never been a big deal. I
a keyboard, there’s more eighties-sounding stuff…
always find I don’t mind that. It’s not a big deal. It’s
“if you play music with people for that long, there’s a certain musical chemistry.” just, sometimes the energy level dips below having
and then… It’s more complex than it seemed to me, but
Is that something you take pride in or do you
that constant drive of wanting to play music all
maybe I’m being overcomplicated. If people want to
view those kinds of statements with a jaundiced
the time, so you just – in your free minutes – start
see it that way, and people want to think it was so, I’m
eye? That sounds insane to me! But I love it.
watching TV just to decompress, and you go six
not going to dispute it, either. Again, I’m not a good
months without writing a song… That kind of thing
eyewitness because I don’t remember things so well.
of success you get is great.
Do you have a lot of material stockpiled for The Strokes’ next album? Yeah, yeah, we’ve got a
gets me personally frustrated. But… No. Any kind Was that because of the alcoholic intake at the
stockpile of stuff we’ve got to go through. Soon as I
time? I think a little bit of everything. In general,
can get everyone ready to go! I’m ready to go.
Obviously you were seen as leading lights of the New
I’m hanging out with people and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah,
York scene of the early part of this decade. When I
I saw that person three weeks ago’ and they’re like,
Is it always tricky to get those five personalities in
spoke to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs [in April 2009], Karen
‘That was two years ago.’ So I don’t trust my own
the room together? It has been, yes. It has been lately!
O said she’d moved to LA because she was grieving
memory. With some things I’m good. Faces: I can
the death of that scene. Do you feel that there was
remember random faces from ten years, twenty
Do you find the way the business has changed hard
something there in New York that you now miss, or
years ago, but my time memory is very weak.
to get your head round – the shift to downloading, the focus on live shows rather than records…? Do
was that never on your radar? Um [pauses]… What was on my radar was, I think, a small group of friends
Did shows change a lot when you cut out the
you feel you can go with it or is it something you
– I wouldn’t call it a scene, you know what I mean? It
drinking? You gave up alcohol a few years ago,
want to rail against? I think it’s been good. I think that
wasn’t like everyone had a certain kind of outfit and
right? Yeah... I think it made the behaviour a little
it’s good that there’s not that thing where there’s ten
haircut and always went to a bunch of different venues.
less whatchamacallit – it’s like a Catch-22: it’s like
albums that the record industry loves. There’re so many
To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t remember it so well!
you perform way better, technically, but don’t act as
different bands and so many ways to get heard, and the
I always thought they were trying to make more of a
kind of reckless, which people obviously love. You
Internet helps people have so much more eclectic taste
scene than there was, to be honest. But having said that,
walked onstage and you tripped and people kind of
as they’re able to get their hands on a lot of music. I
whatever little there was has changed.
liked that… But then at the same time, you get that
feel like there’s a lot of good stuff coming out. There’re
Manhattan has pretty much moved to Brooklyn.
wasted and the songs sound pretty terrible. So it’s
more good bands I think than ever in my lifetime, so I
I think Brooklyn is pretty much the centre of new
weird. Musical people will be like, ‘I thought the show
don’t think you could argue that it’s a bad thing.
music. I feel there’s more of a scene now, there’s so
was pretty terrible.’ And then tone-deaf people will be
many bands in New York and LA, everyone’s like,
like, ‘That was AM-AZ-ING!’ So it’s really, like, you’ve
With the freedom that you’ve had with the
‘Have you seen this band and that band?’ I don’t
got to pick your poison, and I think I’ve – well, I guess
solo project, do you think that going back to
remember that so much. Other than the Yeah Yeah
I’ve chosen not poison. That’s a terrible analogy, but I
the band full time is going to be, initially, a bit
Yeahs and us, and maybe like the Liars – but I didn’t
think you get naturally high if the music is really good,
challenging? No. I think it will be fine. If anything
even see the Liars that much – I don’t know. I mean, I
which is maybe even more kind of... I don’t want to say
it’s the other way round – that intuition…
guess The Walkmen too. But these weren’t people that
pure, but it feels better. Does that make sense? You know each other well enough by now, I
I personally hung out with, you know what I mean? In hindsight I can think of bands from New York
Do you foresee the different things you’ve done
guess. Yeah. I think if you play music with people
from that time that were cool. Maybe they all hung
on Phrazes for the Young carrying through to
for that long, there’s a certain musical chemistry.
out, I don’t know. When we first started there was a
what The Strokes do in the future? I think the
bunch of bands that no one really would know now, you
band will probably simplify things. And I think that
Do you see yourself ultimately ending up as a
know? But I wouldn’t say that ever grew into a scene.
sometimes that’s a good thing. It depends where I’m
Leonard Cohen figure, performing rapturously
We came out of that bunch of bands but I think we
at really, I don’t know. I think the point with the band
received shows to adoring fans the world over
came on so strong from the beginning that we would
is that it’s more of a group effort so I do the singing
while in your seventies? Um – I don’t know. I don’t
kind of… It’s not like we would make enemies, but I
part and the general music directing but I won’t really
think so, maybe. I mean, it’d be fun to do it for fun,
think people were like, ‘Wow.’ I think people were
tell people what to play. Maybe that’s been a problem
but I don’t know – I guess I would see that as ‘still
sometimes surprised at our vibe. So sometimes that
that’s made people go off and do solo records!
in my job’ perhaps. Is that weird to say? Still in my
can cause a little bit of competition. Because we’re all
friends and we started different bands and we’re like,
A lot of people are talking about The Strokes as
‘Yeah, go dudes!’ We’re playing with these guys tonight
the band that defined the noughties, musically.
Phrazes for the Young is out now on Rough Trade.
An adventure-hungry pro surfing veteran heads to the Hawaiian Island of Molokai with no expectations, a curious mind and an overriding urge to hitch a ride. Text & Photography Jamie Brisick
’d heard much about Molokai: that it was
traffic lights and no buildings over two storeys high.
ahead,” then added that, “You’re lucky you have
sleepy, that the locals were friendly and
I drank a scrumptious banana, mango and
hospitable, that it was one part of Hawaii
pineapple smoothie at Outpost Natural Foods, asked
that had yet to be spoiled, thus I should get
a Crocs-wearing customer for directions to Hotel
Sis drove a raised brown Chevy Blazer and wore
there as soon as possible. I also heard that it was fully
Molokai and learned that it was two miles east. I
a white baseball cap and mirrored sunglasses. She
hitchhikable, which was enticing.
walked out to Hwy 450, stuck out my thumb, and got
was portly, soft-spoken and a mother-of-three. She
picked up by the second car that passed
waved to every car, person and dog that we passed,
If travel is about immersion, tossing yourself to
friends in Hawaii. This will be an important refuge for you when things get worse.”
worlds other than your own, then what better way to
John was a pony-tailed, Rutger Hauer look-alike
experience the Friendly Isle than by thumb? It was
who not only pulled his dusty Toyota Sedan into the
a whimsical decision, made late at night in a blurry
parking lot and dropped me off three steps from the
When I asked her about Molokai, she smiled and
state, but it was one I intended to stick to.
Polynesia-themed check-in counter, but also handed
pointed her finger downward. “My favourite place is
me his business card and told me to call should I need
right here,” she said.
I arrived into Molokai Airport on a sunny Friday morning, marched straight past the rent-a-car kiosks
anything during my three days on Molokai.
and exuded a satiated calm that suggested strong pakalolo.
“Do you get to the other islands much?” I asked.
and taxis, and turned right on the airport loop, where
From there it was one interesting encounter after
“No need,” she said, and added something about
a colourful sign greets arriving passengers with,
the next. Crystal wore a maroon hospital gown and a
the other islands being overpopulated. “In Oahu they
‘Aloha. Slow Down. This Is Molokai. Mahalo.’
white sun visor.
don’t even wave at drivers,” she grumbled. “It’s like
I aimed my thumb in the direction of town, and
“Excuse my face,” she said as I climbed into her
got picked up by the third car that passed. Roger
grey Sedan with various skin creams scattered about
drove a gold Nissan pickup, had long grey hair, and
the centre console. “I have skin cancer.”
the Mainland!” ‘Aunty’ had a pockmarked face and rotund body. She drove a rusted-out, mid-eighties Dodge Dynasty
was warm and chatty. Over the red rolling hills of
She looked to be in her sixties, and had swollen
with stalactites of loose fabric falling from the ceiling.
Hwy 460 he told me that Molokai was like stepping
eyes and purple scabs on her nose. She said she
I suspected something was slightly off when her
back in time, that the people here were incredibly
worked as a herbalist, and moved to Molokai “right
friend, a pinched-faced, toothless woman of about
self-sufficient and militantly anti-development.
after Woodstock”. She told me that “Molokai taught
thirty, was riding in the backseat not the front. She
me about forgiveness, made me get over my own
nervously twirled an unlit Kool between her fingers
stuff ”. She said that she hasn’t been “off-island” for
and asked if I had a light.
“Molokai folks don’t like change,” he said, as we passed a grove of spindly palm trees. He was kind enough to give me a brief tour of
three years and that she has no desire to leave. With
I have been on middle-of-the-day drug runs in
Kaunakakai, Molokai’s largest town, which consists
a kind of conspiracy theorist’s conviction, she said,
Oahu and there’s a certain nervous anticipation,
of an L-shaped strip of a dozen or so mom-and-pop
“Canada, the US and Mexico are going to get into it,
a flickering of eyes and looking over shoulders and
businesses. It was refreshing to see no chain stores, no
and there’s going to be some really heavy, dark times
peering into houses with menacing big trucks parked
The battle for sovereignty is an ongoing one in Hawaii,
Jonathan Socher is the affable owner of Big Wind Kite Factory.
and Molokaians are at its forefront. They are fiercely
He loves introducing stressed-out mainlanders to kiting. “The
territorial, and make their opinions known on bumper
taut string releases all their inner pressure, they’re staring up at
stickers, T-shirts and signs placed in front of their homes.
the sky, wind whipping – it's a wonderful thing,” he says.
in front and blurting out, “Finally, those fuckers are
enchanted forest I arrived at Mana’e Goods &
Molokai’s fierce community activism could be
home!” that these girls clearly exuded. Nevertheless,
Grinds, a small convenience store/drive-in along the
glimpsed along the scenic stretch of Hwy 450, where
they went out of their way to drop me at my destination.
coastal road. I ordered a chicken katsu plate lunch
it seemed every tenth house was fronted by a protest
and sat down with it under a patch of trees. All was
sign. Most displayed a hand-painted, crossed-out
going well, the greasy, BBQ sauce-drenched chicken
windmill, in reference to the proposed wind farm on
here is something introspective and old
tasted splendid, until a primer grey 4x4 with a big
homestead land. One read, ‘Beware of missionaries
worldly about hitchhiking. It demands
bloody dead pig draped across the rear bed parked
dressed in green.’ Another, ‘Look. No touch!’
patience, humility and a willingness
not twenty feet away from me. Hunting, I would
to dive into conversation with people
soon discover, is huge on Molokai.
There were also startling contrasts. One lily white, well-kept home had a giant cross presiding
you’d never speak to otherwise. It also inspires a
From there I caught a lift into Halawa Valley,
over the garage. In the driveway was a mini van
peculiar self-consciousness. You see yourself as your
which is believed to be one of the earliest Polynesian
decorated with a similar cross on the hatch, and the
prospective ride might. Are my pants zipped up? Is my
settlements in Hawaii, dating back as early as 650
words, ‘1 cross, 3 nails, 4-given’. Directly across the
body language too humble/desperate/cocky? Have I
AD. It is impossibly lush and Edenic, with the
street, a neglected house suggested Satan’s workshop.
successfully veiled my inner serial killer?
double-tiered, 250-foot Moolua Falls on one side,
Rusted-out cars and discarded household appliances
And then there are all the oddities you find
and a cosy nook of a white sand beach on the other.
littered the overgrown front lawn. An Everlast heavy
strewn about the side of the road. At 45 mph all
The beach was nearly empty, save for a Hawaiian
bag hung from a tree, surrounded by a circle of plastic
looks fairly clean and well maintained, but on
family playing a leisurely game of touch football at
lawn chairs, a five-gallon Igloo beverage cooler, and
foot it’s a bit like taking a magnifying glass to your
at least three BBQs. Next to it was a small pen full of
kitchen floor. I saw countless beer cans, li hing mui
Molokai is thirty-eight miles long and ten miles
(salty dried plum) wrappers, and Menehune water
wide, with a population of about 8,000. With the
The other thing I noticed is that it was exclusively
bottles. I saw a kid’s hand puppet made of Popsicle
exception of Niihau, it is the only island where
locals who picked me up. The modest, sun-faded
sticks and pipe cleaners, a Bartles & Jaymes wine
Hawaiians are the majority. It also has the highest
jalopies were on my team. But the shiny, spankin’
cooler bottle that looked to have been discarded
unemployment in all Hawaii, but the locals I spoke
rent-a-cars whizzed on by as if I were invisible.
around 1986, and a fingerless black leather glove
to didn’t seem too worried about it.
pit bull pups, yelping away.
That night was Aloha Friday at Hotel Molokai,
of the Michael Jackson sort. In a half-mile stretch
“We’d much rather stop the mini malls and the
and over a glass of Longboard Island Lager I watched
I saw a narrative: first a six-pack of Heineken and
condos and 20,000-square-foot homes,” explained
Na Kupuna, a band of a dozen or so ‘aunties’,
Coors lights, then an empty condom wrapper, then
Kolohe, an effusive, born-and-bred Molokaian who gave
sing smooth, lilting Hawaiian folk songs to the
a squashed pack of Marlboros.
me a lift back from Halawa Valley. “Preserving Molokai
accompaniment of guitars and ukuleles. Often a
is far more important than bringing over jobs.”
hotel’s presentation of the indigenous music is
Shortly after walking through a kind of serpentine
Aloha Friday at Hotel Molokai. This gorgeous woman hula dances from a seated position, her cane resting against her chair. While her lower body remains stationary, her arms flutter through the air like waves, telling stories, spreading a distinctly Molokaian brand of pixie dust.
watered down and mildly offensive, but this was
on the side of the road I realised that this was foolish:
the real deal. One stately senior citizen in a peach
I was hitchhiking to spite myself. If I was headed to
I followed them through a tunnel of trees to
dress and fashionable cowboy hat couldn’t stop hula
an unpopulated, touristic destination, and tourists
Kauleonanahoa, also known as ‘the phallic rock’. It
dancing in her seat.
didn’t pick up hitchhikers, then I was fighting a losing
needs no explanation, other than the fact that it’s
battle, swimming against the current as it were.
about the size of a VW bug, and that, according to
Saturday morning started out well. I woke to a
said one blonde paddler with a tattooed shoulder.
cacophony of crowing roosters and barking dogs,
I crossed the street, pointed my thumb in the
legend, if a woman visits with offerings and then
hit the Kamehameha V Highway at sunrise, and got
direction from whence I came, and got picked up by
spends the night, she’ll return home pregnant. I
picked up almost immediately by the first car that
the fifth car.
should also mention that the paddlers took turns
passed. Three middle-aged men in a beater Sedan
I rented a $49/day Toyota Echo from the affable
were headed to the same place I was. We arrived
agent at Hotel Molokai and beelined for the Kalaupapa
together at Kanemitsu’s Bakery, a Molokai treasure
Lookout (I’d long since missed my mule ride).
that’s been in the same family for nine decades.
posing for pictures, turning the rock into a sort of trophy horse. I then headed west to Papohaku Beach, a three-
The view was spectacular. From a cut-out in the
mile stretch that’s billed as the longest and most
I ordered a buttery croissant and a cup of coffee,
thick forest of the Pala’au State Park, I gaped over the
pristine in all Hawaii. From the car it looked idyllic:
which I lapped up from a bench across the street,
edge of a 1,500-foot cliff to the Kalaupapa Peninsula,
calm turquoise water, virgin white sand and not a
and duly noted the Hawaiian’s strong affection for
where the homes, structures and church of the
single person in sight. But the moment I opened
the jacked-up 4x4, often with ‘In Loving Memory
former leper colony can be seen from a kind of bird’s
the door I understood why. The wind was whipping
Of...’ stenciled across the tinted rear window. I saw
eye view. It is a curious piece of land. Not only was it
at full gale, the sand like pins and needles against
a decked-out Honda CR-X, an early eighties rust
created when lava erupted from the ocean floor, but
bucket of a Mercedes-Benz, and heard Peter Tosh’s
it sticks out literally in the shape of a thumb, and sits
‘Legalise It’ blaring from an iridescent blue/purple
at the base of the world’s highest sea cliffs.
I drove through the old plantation village of Mauna Loa, built in the twenties to service the
Kalaupapa is Molokai’s biggest tourist attraction,
Dole Pineapple Company. Dole left Molokai in the
And then things took a turn for the worse. I was
which is ironic considering that, in the late 1800s, no
seventies and the town has a desolate, abandoned
headed north, hoping to reach Kalaupapa Lookout in
one dared go near the place. I was hoping to see it up
feel. The Town Cinemas, Molokai’s only movie
time to take a guided mule ride down to the renowned
close but there were signs forbidding ‘unaccompanied
theatre, was boarded up, as was the Molokai Ranch,
leper colony, when it suddenly occurred to me that
hikers’ from making their way down the switchback
KFC and Libby’s Drive In. But Big Wind Kite
not a single car had passed for over forty minutes.
trail. I did happen to meet the New Hope Paddle
Factory was open, and Jonathan Socher, the white-
There were cars headed the opposite way, into town
Team, a crew of eight vivacious female outrigger canoe
bearded proprietor, was gregarious and hospitable.
for the Saturday farmer’s market, doubtless, but my
paddlers, who were as entranced by the vista as I was.
He told me that “kite is good therapy”, and that
direction looked bleak. After two hours of standing
“There’s something else you should check out,”
one of his greatest pleasures is taking stressed-out
Toyota truck at seven in the morning.
Situated conspicuously along Kamehameha V Highway, this is the stuff that never makes it into the tourist brochures. But this is Molokai – warts, palm trees, nationhood activists, luaus on Sundays and all.
“Not only is there nothing on Molokai,” he quipped, “but there’s huge amounts of it.” businessmen kite flying and watching “the tension in
salad. It recalled the old saying, ‘Hawaiians don’t eat
included a Congregational Church, Church of God,
the string release the tension in their body”.
till they’re full, they eat till they’re tired.’
Sacred House of New Jerusalem, Kingdom Hall of
I told him I’d been to Halawa Valley and
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Kalaupapa Lookout, and asked what else I needed to see or do on Molokai. He told me to relax. “Not only is there nothing on Molokai,” he quipped, “but there’s huge amounts of it.”
Day Saints, Church of the Nazarene, Calvary Chapel n Sunday morning I returned to
and Seventh-day Adventist Church. Butted so close
my hitchhiking. In less than five
together as they were, I was reminded of a food court
minutes standing on the side of the
in a shopping mall.
That night I had dinner at Kualapuu Cookhouse,
Kamehameha V Highway, I caught
Molokai is fascinating in its simplistic, unhurried
an old plantation house turned into a casual, Hawaiian-
a lift with a young mom and her cherubic son in a
way. There are moments when it looks and feels
themed eatery. The menu was distinctly Molokaian: ‘If
beater pickup. I rode in the back alongside several
like ‘The Land of the Lost’, completely cut off from
you’re in a hurry,’ it read at the bottom of a list of fish
bags of recycled newspaper. The sun was balmy, and
the high-tech, celebrity-obsessed, dollar-driven
and meat dishes, ‘you’re on the wrong island.’ I asked
the wind smelled of the sea and plumeria flowers.
Mainland. And then there are other moments –
my grinning waiter what he recommended and he
We passed One Alii Beach Park, where an
specifically at Molokai Pizza Café where the tables
said that the hamburger steak was a favourite. It was
extended family was gathered around a picnic table
are filled with bucket-sized Cokes, X-large pizzas,
tasty. It was also the biggest plate of food I’ve eaten
under palm trees. We passed a black sand beach, where
and XX-large people – when it could easily be the
in the last decade: two ginormous patties covered in
a large tattooed man frolicked in the shorebreak with
Midwest, albeit with darker skin. Most of all, it’s
mushrooms and onions and slathered in rich gravy, two
a small child on his shoulders. Most memorably, we
great to know there are still places in the world where
scoops of sticky white rice, a mountain of macaroni
passed a half-mile long strip called ‘Church Row’ that
you can stick out your thumb and catch a lift
Top Row: Lovenskate Drink Tea Get Rad. Enjoi Whitey Panda. Chocolate Kenny Anderson. Element Timber City. Girl More Mary. ClichĂŠ Sean Cliver. Bottom Row:
Almost Ăœber Light. Santa Cruz Jason Jessee Aquarius. Girl Mo Money, Mo Problems. Solitary Arts Piano Pinner. Blind The Blind Video. Dark Star DeCenzo Chopper
Big-mountain charger Jeremy Jones ventures out of the safety zone into greener pastures new. Interview Zoe Oksanen Photography TERO REPO
Jeremy Jones has been a tad busy of late. When we
to reach. I am now finally doing exactly what I want to
catch up in February, he’s just returned from a trip
do with movies, boards and more.
to Capitol Hill where, as the founder and face of Protect Our Winters (POW), he met with lawmakers
Protect Our Winters, the non-profit organisation
and Congress on the issue of climate change. Now
that you established in 2007, seems to be gaining
the big-mountain charger is back on home turf
momentum, what with your recent presence on
in Tahoe for a few days before heading to Europe
Capitol Hill to discuss the issue of climate change.
to showcase his new snowboard company, Jones
Did you get a good insight into the political forces
Snowboards, at goliath trade show, Ispo. But before
shaping an issue so close to your heart? It was intense
the political activism and entrepreneurial duties,
to see the inner workings of democracy on Capitol Hill.
Jeremy was venturing into newfound territory in
The people we met with had a strong passion for making
Antarctica, clocking up numerous first descents on
the country a better place to live and put everything
previously untouched peaks while filming for his
they had into their job. Their passion for democracy is
mould-breaking, two-year movie project, Deeper.
very similar to my passion for the mountains.
It’s exhausting – just thinking about the exploits of one of the most multi-faceted athletes of our time.
What is POW doing on a daily basis to educate
And yet, at thirty-four, Jeremy shows no signs of
people about climate change? Climate change is a
fatigue. In fact, it’s like someone put dynamite in his
complex problem, and Protect Our Winters is fighting
snowshoes as Jeremy continues to push snowboarding
it on many fronts, from getting formal education
into entirely new and untapped territory, showcasing
into schools so future generations learn about both
it as a survival sport and driving the renaissance of
the problems and the solutions of climate change,
freeriding around the world.
to supporting alternative energy projects, protecting a very volatile part of the Atlantic rainforest, and
It seems like you’ve entered a new phase in your
rallying our base to support key policies.
snowboarding career. Not only have you left long-term sponsor Rossignol to create your own
Jones Snowboards is carving out a new niche
snowboard brand, you’ve also upped your political
in the snowboard world as a producer of purely
presence with POW and pushed backcountry
freeride boards. Five years ago, that could have
exploration into a new heli-free realm. Are all
been a risky endeavour, but it seems that the
these things the outcome of a conscious decision
world of snowboarding is rediscovering its love for
or are they part of some subconscious evolution?
freeriding. Why do you think that is? The average
It is an evolution. With everything in my life I am
age of snowboarders goes up every year. The sport is
trying to gain more and more control of my world,
maturing and riders are learning that there is more to
surround myself with very passionate people and
snowboarding than just the park. It is important for
reduce my impact on the environment. I always knew
snowboarding to inspire these people to stay in the
I wanted to take my snowboarding further away from
sport by offering innovative products for riding the
crowds and into the vast unridden zones that are hard
whole mountain. The other growth I am seeing is with
Jeremy Jones dropping into a 55-degree couloir in Livingstone Island, Antarctica.
“I always knew I wanted to take my snowboarding further away from crowds and into the vast unridden zones that are hard to reach.” split-boarding. Split-boarding is free once you have the
You are Snowboarder’s eight-time Big Mountain
night because the days were twenty-one hours long.
set up and riders are realising that great snowboarding
Rider of the Year. Having become synonymous
We would have huge days on snow hiking lines, and
and solitude are both lying right off the side of the
with the backcountry, does urban riding seem
then get back to the boat and watch these never-
road – if they are willing to hike for it.
like an entirely different sport? Urban riding is at
ending sunsets as we passed by the best mountains
the other end of the sport but the ethos is similar
in the world while watching whales.
Having always been involved in the development
to freeriding in the sense that, like freeriders, urban
of your boards with Rossignol, was starting
riders are not relying on resorts to get their fix and
You seem to be spending a lot more time hiking
your own board company an idea you secretly
there are no rules or guidelines to where or how they
and have even camped thirteen-thousand feet up
harboured for a long time? Up until a year ago, I had
ride. It is important for snowboarding to embrace
in the mountains to avoid being dropped off by
not given it much thought. I was looking for change. I
all facets of the sport. Recently, I’ve met a few split-
helis or sleds. Is this the way forward for you now?
wanted to be surrounded by people that had the same
boarders that have pretty much been involved in
Now that I have realised that world-class freeriding
level of passion for the sport as me and I really wanted
every aspect of the sport from urban, to pipe and
can be done without a heli or a sled, it has opened up
to give freeride boards the attention they deserve. It
park and now splitting, and I’m envious of those
the world to me. Everything is in play now whereas in
became clear to me that, in order to achieve my goals,
riders that have literally experienced it all.
the past we only had access to about five percent of a mountain range. My hit list of lines is now endless. So
I needed to start my own company. How do you feel about park kids who can put
my focus is on these areas. But I don’t want to claim I
There will always be cynicism surrounding
down a double cork yet can barely snowboard
will never get in a heli or use a sled again.
snowboard and surf companies’ claims that their
their way to the kicker? I call that ‘the lost art of
goods are environmentally friendly, as ultimately
the turn’. It is sad because I often see established
Do you ever go to drop in on a line and think,
we all know the products we use can’t be entirely
pros who want to evolve into freeriding but they
‘I’m not really feeling this right now’ and want to
green. How far can you actually go in attaining
have a bad turn and you cannot hide a bad turn when
bail? ‘Live to ride another day’ and ‘Just say no’ are
carbon neutrality in the production of snowboards?
filming freeriding. It is really only a problem in the
two things I say to myself hundreds of times when
All snowboards are toxic. We are committed to evolving
US. Every mountain in the US has a sick park with
I am looking at riding a serious line. If at any point
the manufacturing process and the materials we use to
its own lift so that kids never have to find their own
something does not feel right then I step down.
make a much less toxic snowboard, but I do not see us
jumps. In Europe it is much more raw and the riders
When stepping in to serious lines I need to turn all
making a one-hundred percent carbon neutral, cradle-
are much more well-rounded and can ride anything.
these no’s into yes’s. If I turn nineteen no’s into yes’s
to-cradle snowboard anytime soon. The other message
Guys like Nicolas [Müller], Gigi [Rüf] and Wolle
but the twentieth comes up short, then I step down.
we want to get out is that snowboards have a much
[Nyvelt] are good examples of this. One of the only
longer life than people realise. Many riders are buying
guys in the US that can hang on that level is Travis
How does your wife cope with the dangerous
new boards to have the latest graphic. This is why we
Rice and that has a lot to do with the lack of a park
aspects to your life? My wife has a lot of trust in my
have simple graphics that we hope will not fall out of
at his home mountain, Jackson Hole.
snowboarding, but it is still very hard for her. The
fashion like a lot of the flavour-of-the-month graphics
one downer about riding these lines on foot is that
do. We reduce our product’s footprint as much as
The trailer for Deeper, your movie project due
it takes a lot more time. Even if I am filming at home
possible and then offset the rest by giving one percent
out this Autumn, is pretty dramatic. Should we
in Tahoe it usually takes a night or two of camping
of sales to Protect Our Winters.
be expecting a lot of drama in the movie? The
to get a shot. For Alaska, my trips are twice as long
whole movie will not be as dramatic as the trailer. In
and I am out of touch most of the time. Using helis,
With all the big companies putting their marketing
parts of the movie, we are riding very critical lines in
I got to a point where I could shoot a video part in
budgets into freestyle and contest riders, we were
hard-to-reach areas making what we are doing very
two weeks if the conditions were right.
excited to see Jonaven Moore’s name listed as a
dramatic, but there will also be some fun-loving,
Jones Snowboards rider. Do you plan to create a
full team of backcountry riders? Helping up-and-
Finally, we have to ask: does it drive you mad if people mix you up with Jeremy Jones, the rail
coming freeriders find a platform to show their skills
You’ve been blogging about your trips to places
dude? I do not get that much, but it does happen.
is very important for the sport and us as a brand. We
like Antarctica, which in particular sounded
It is something I have grown up with and has never
have a small team of freeriders that ranges from up-
like an unreal experience. How did it compare
made me mad. Jeremy is an awesome rider
and-comers like Ryland Bell to legends that are still
to your experience of remote parts of Alaska? It
charging like Jonaven Moore. You will see some fresh
was nature on acid. There was such a high density
faces in my movie, Deeper, as well as the established
of sick terrain surrounded by wildlife everywhere. I
chargers that the snowboard media has passed up.
was so wired during that trip that I could not sleep at
Photographer Niall O’Brien is capturing the superpowers of a renegade community of New-Age punks. Text Shelley Jones Photography Niall O’Brien
“If I could have any superpower it would be flying, that would be so good,” says a sixteen-year-old punk kid called ‘Turkish’. “Just to be able to go anywhere you want at any speed you want and you could just, like, feel the air rushing past you. Just do whatever you want.” That was four years ago, and although most of us will lose the conversation of our youth to time and memory, Turkish’s will live on, immortalised by documentary filmmaker and photographer Niall O’Brien. But Niall never intended for his short-film project to last this long. He explains: “I wanted to get a group of kids together who had something in
But something changed, on an expedition to
common, skateboarding for example, and chuck
explore a derelict mental asylum, when police
them in a room, record a dialogue and that would be
turned up in search of the trespassers. “I kind
my piece… So we asked the kids what superpower
of gave myself up for them, and that was a huge
they would like and two of the kids, Turkish and
breaking point in our relationship… Twenty
Sul, started talking about flying. The way they
minutes after we broke into the place the police
talked about it was really beautiful, the way they
came and I basically hid [the punks] in a room
described it was kind of like escapism.”
and said, ‘Hey, look I’m a photographer’ and I got
Niall was so fascinated by the kids he met one
arrested… Suddenly they were ringing me to come
afternoon on Camden High Street that he kept in
and hang out and they were telling me things and I
touch with them on MySpace and began meeting up
became fun. Up until then I was a thirty-year-old
with them on their home turf in Kingston, South-
guy hanging out with a group of kids, and they were
West London, always with his camera ready and a
suspect, you know?”
fresh roll of film. “I remember trying to get in with
For an outsider, in both age and background –
the cool gang in school and it kind of felt like that…
Niall was “hip hop through and through” growing up
But at the end of the day all I give a shit about is
– gaining the access, intimacy and trust embedded
taking pictures and the fact that they were ignoring
in his portraits is extremely rare. But once Niall
me was to my advantage. They were doing their
had proved himself to the hotheaded youths, “a
own thing and I was literally the fly on the wall.”
gate opened” to an entire community, however
“These kids are not fashion punks. They live and breathe it, but in a way that’s so unconscious and understated. They just don’t give a shit.” dysfunctional, of disenfranchised kids, like the
uniform. In that respect it’s not fashion, it’s the
gypsies came up asking for money. One minute
punks he met in Berlin through his young British
same thing every day. They don’t get up and figure
the kids were begging for money to get a beer or
muses. “Berlin punks are quite hardcore and the
out what studded belt they’re going to wear, it’s so
whatever, and the next minute they’re giving that
minute you have a camera they’re like, ‘Fuck off.’
unconscious. It is what it is… These kids are not
money to the gypsies, because they know where
And here’s me, I don’t look anything like them…
fashion punks. They live and breathe it, but in a way
they’re from. They know they’ve got families and
but the kids just said, ‘Don’t worry he’s with us’ and
that’s so unconscious and understated. They just
stuff, and they know these people don’t.”
that was it. For two weeks I was hanging out with
don’t give a shit. They don’t care about anything.
For Niall the project is nowhere near finished
punks from Israel, Mexico, America, Hamburg. I
They couldn’t be arsed to go to a punk gig. They’d
and, citing Larry Clark’s Tulsa as an inspiration – “It
was in these five-storey squat parties; massive big
rather spend the money on cans of beer… and that’s
was seven years in the making” – he wants to immerse
desolate areas with desolate buildings, like this shit
pretty punk in itself.”
himself even further by moving into a squat with the
you couldn’t even find, these locations, and they
As the rules of punk are kind of ‘there are no
punks and photographing them twenty-four hours
would set up a barbeque, with their dogs and their
rules’ the kids self-govern themselves and, despite
a day. But what’s the drive, the motivation, behind
rats – they all look fucking amazing.”
the antisocial rap they often get in society, Niall
this life-absorbing project? Says Niall: “It’s about
But for the kids in Niall’s photos, it is most
has found a lot of their morals to be pretty sound.
youth and reliving my youth and capturing youth…
definitely not about the look. “They make this huge
“A lot of their morals are quite hippie-ish. They all
It’s there, it exists, why shouldn’t it be captured? I’m
statement but they don’t intend to, it’s almost an
wear vegetarian Dr. Martens and they’ll never rob
captured by beauty all the time… I try to find the
anti-statement. You look at them and you think
from a local store – they’ll only steal from Tesco
beauty in things.”
fashion, hair, jackets but they’ve been wearing
and Sainsbury’s, you know. A lot of their attitude is
those same jackets for the past three years, it’s their
thought out. I was in Berlin with them and these
carbon-fuelled There’s a revolution brewing, people. And its name is DIY. So forget rising up and is industry cottage of breed factories and mass-produced tripe - a new e little innovativ these world, tter cookie-cu a in ty personali fighting back. Armed with the sheds, visits HUCK home. at stuff making and basics to back going are guys their mark. kitchens and spare rooms of five backyard innovators quietly making
TEXT SHANNON DENNY PHOTOGRAPHY GUY MARTIN
“There’s a lot of art and lifestyle and travelling and experimentation that goes with surfing,” says shaper Mark Roberts. “Being able to modify and build your own equipment is quite a big part of it. It was a backyard industry that turned into a big industry, and now it’s started to become a backyard industry again.” By way of example, Mark crafts his Glass Tiger boards in a shed. “Being a one-man band aids innovation because you can literally just go off on tangents,” he says. “In surfboards generally there’s a set formula, which for a long time was polyurethane foam and polyester resin. What I’m trying to do is break away from that a little bit. I think there’s a lot of scope to experiment with different materials and techniques that haven’t been applied yet.” With a background in 3D design and boat building, Mark’s main medium is wood. “Surfers are connected to the environment in quite a nice way. When you’re in the ocean it’s quite intimate with nature, so you do feel a little bit responsible,” he explains. He uses local oak and ash for rails, and poplar, beech or birch laminates for decks. “Wood is a beautiful material. A lot of times when you make a surfboard you’re using manmade materials to do something that natural materials can do quite well on their own.” So what does the future hold for Mark and his fellow DIY innovators? “At the moment there’s a lot happening. I feel like there are a lot of people like me just working, whittling away and coming up with something very different.”
Mark wears Jeans Etnies, T-Shirt Howies, Shirt Insight.
six-foot and a real boy shape. r find a readymade wetsuit to fit. “I’m Newquay’s Elsie Pinniger could neve shoulders, let in water and and waist says. Men’s suits gaped around the I’ve always worn boy wetsuits,” she was nothing on the market there d foun too short and girlish. “I just kept her cold, but female versions were baby blues, all very flower y,” she for the teenage market – pinks and for my age group. The designs are all plain, really black. So I designed it.” says. “I just wanted something really seven years as a surf instructor, enge, with a pedigree that included She was perfectly poised for the chall top soft furnishings firm. “I put Curl and a day job sewing for the area’s freelance stints in marketing for Rip to make.” making stuff myself – stuff I wanted all those things together and started cks but also for her flawlessly ts in the water not just for her cutba Before long she was getting complimen its in a workshop five minutes from over a year ago she started Neon wetsu fitted retro-flavoured suits, so just seams. y busy running up suits and gluing down Fistral Beach. Here she stays constantl she observes. “Once you tell them familiar with because it feels safe,” “A lot of people buy brands they’re g something that’s different to havin t abou ed want they get so excit they can have almost anything they the market. It’s really nice to be , like I did, that you just can’t get on everyone else. People want something able to provide that.”
e dress Neon, Jeans Howies.
Elsie wears Handmade & Homemad
Wax has a way of working itself off your board and into the water, where it can harm organisms that make the ocean their home. It’s this sad fact that inspired Paul Hill to launch Hills Organic Surf Wax three years ago. “With surfing you’re connected to the planet a bit more. It’s a natural phenomenon, the ocean. It’s always around you and you’re more aware what lives and dies in it,” he says. “I wanted to do something to lessen my footprint.” The hub of Paul’s cottage industry is his Pembrokeshire kitchen, where he blends virgin coconut oil, beeswax and pine resin according to his own formula. “I’m not a chemist or anything so there was a lot of trial and error. We’ve had exploding wax, wax all up the kitchen – you learn as you go along,” he grins. Paul has a bit of a punk ethos, so the explosions and errors are well worth it. “You get quite a buzz when you see someone buying a block of wax and using it. You think, ‘I made that in my kitchen and someone’s surfing on it!’” he says. “What we do is all natural, it’s our own process from start to finish and everything is lovingly handmade. There’s a part of me in every block.” And while surfing has brought him closer to nature, the homemade wax enterprise has brought him closer to surfing. “When conditions are not good you just stay inside and make a load of wax. When conditions are good, you go and test it!”
Paul wears Jeans Alotment, T-Shirt Insight, Hoodie Finisterre .
As adept upcyclers, Chris and Katie Hartop are practised in the art of envisaging new uses for redundant objects. Keen to lend resources, otherwise destined for landfill, a new lease of life, they launched an initiative called Oddsocks. “We came across a bit of fabric one day and thought, ‘That would make a good board sock,’” Katie says. Seeing a bright future for the cast-off orange curtain, the couple bought some unbleached canvas sailcloth. “We wanted something that was eco-friendly without too much of an impact,” she explains. In line with their make-do-and-mend attitude, she then sourced a used sewing machine. “It’s not electric, it’s a handwound one. It cost about fifteen quid on eBay. The lady who had it was in her eighties, and it used to belong to her grandma!” Armed with ancient machinery, reclaimed fabric and eco canvas, Oddsocks has been crafting drawstring surfboard bags for about two years. “We try and make each one as different as possible,” Katie says. The bags – which Chris describes as “one-off pieces of art that just happen to be functional” – suit surfers who ride hand-shaped sticks and like a bit of individuality in their kit. “Surfing for a lot of people is about soul and headspace and originality. I don’t see that mass production of anything can provide originality and personality,” says Katie. And she claims that’s not the only benefit handcrafting has over assembly line gear: “If you’re enjoying what you’re doing it shines through in the end result.”
Katy wears Hoodie Etnies, Chris wears ShirtPatagonia, T-Shirt Seed, Jeans Alotment.
g beanies during a ski season in Born in Quebec and raised in Florida, Kikine St-Jean started crochetin the hat,” she says. “I think I’ve make to myself taught I Chile. “Someone taught me a few stitches and for me to do.” thing perfect a was it so me in streak creative a always had offering twelve style options These days she makes bespoke beanies for board riders around the world, number of rows of colours,” the to down c, specifi really be and any combination of fifty colours. “I try to what they wanted, exactly exactly get and own their design can they that fact she says. “People like the what they had in mind.” in thirty minutes. “I don’t want While a single beanie at first took four hours, she can now produce one I don’t want to get to where beanies. the making me with it keep to like “I’d to be huge,” she says though. much.” somebody else has got to make them – I don’t think I’d like that very have it any other way. “I just love Being a one-woman show keeps her constantly busy, but she wouldn’t something I love doing so much.” doing from money some make actually can I it. Honestly, I feel so lucky lot of people buy into the name “A ion. competit corporate the from apart work her sets passion This of K Beanies. “It’s your own rather than the actual product,” she says, in contrast to the crafted quality special.” be to got That’s it. hat – you designed www.kbeanies.co.uk
Kikine wears T-shirt Quiksilver Women, Beanie Kbeanies.
1267$56 “A HORRIBLE ALBUM THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LISTEN TO. AND I MEAN THAT. I DON’T HAVE EARS. PUT ME BACK IN THE DIRT.” – AN EARTHWORM
ENJOYED BY ALL LIVING THINGS WITH EARS. Introducing 1% For The Planet: The Music Vol. 1, featuring Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Jackson Browne, and more. All proceeds beneﬁt 1%’s continued efforts to make the planet a more beautiful place. Visit music.onepercentfortheplanet.org to listen to exclusive tracks.
Lister vs. Frost Artists takeover.
A philosophical approach to imperfection.
Plugging in and rocking out.
Photography: Mark Leary.
Back Pages The
Jack Johnson d is back an he’s all p. u d e k n u p When you think of Jack Johnson,
built-in microphones, around with built-in microphones, around
enough that you can. In Brazil,
Bay how it is... But even people
you don’t think ‘punk rock’. You
recording ideas ideas on on with me and recording
for instance, how can we expect
who were opposed to a hotel
think daydreams, palm trees
then bringing bringing camping trips and then
them to when they are struggling
going there originally have now
and campfire sing-alongs – and
would build build the ideas to life. I would
for equality? It’s a good
accepted it. I’m sure if five new
that’s not very punk.
guitar and and the drums and bass guitar
argument. The bottom line of
ones went in, the next generation
Thing is, deep down, Jack
vocals –- itit was was really really garage-y. garage-y.
the book is that we need to help
in however long will just get used
Johnson is punk rock. Punk rock
vocals from from It sounded like the vocals
these countries out economically,
to it. Still, most people who live
as fuck, in fact – even without
the Strokes The Strokes and it came out like
get them to a place where
out there and a lot of the tourists
the tattoos and leather uniform.
found a a way way to to garage rock. We found
everybody has the luxury to think
who come to Hawaii agree that
For starters, the guy is truly
of energy energy hold on to that kind of
about the environment on that
it is nice to have a place that
Odo, name Nicolas Le DIY. Hereal built his two recording
a freelancer, stuffOdo thatknows we and As [added] the stuff that we
he already plans to take There ishas level. a lot of truth to it.
represents that natural beauty
Borgne,with has his come longhands, way studios ownabare
the importance of takingtones. on acoustic tones. I already do with acoustic
his artwork directions. There are a in lotnew of things that “I
of Hawaii still, it’s nice to have
from writing graffiti the streets to record songs heon wrote for
jobs as and when ititended up. Ilike likewhere where endedthe up.offers
would end like to up oil painting could uptake happening where
those pockets. Because a lot of it
of Bayonne. He currently works albums released through his for
come in. But far from bowing
in the future,” he says. “And I’d people start community gardens,
has been developed on Oahu, it
one of surfing’s most own record label. Herespected speaks
What people who to the about powersthe of commerce,
also like to locally, work on authoring grow food come at it from
makes logical sense not to create
brands and this year he will host for progressive out social and
arealso expecting the Jackto he sets time aside
and angle. creating a children’s book.” that I think it would be
another Waikiki on the opposite
his first ever solo exhibition. environmental change. He helps
formula? A concentrate on personal work. Johnson acoustic
If Odo the balance healthier forkeeps the environmental
side of the island. I’ll definitely
Le Borgne adopted the the children from the Hawaiian
musicians will listen toOdo tones, This see lot ofDecember
between business and creativity movement to be re-framed as
keep doing what I can to support
moniker Odora after tagging neighbourhood he grew up in,
people, when hosting first ever solothey show but mosthis
going, more than likely to be a thingthey’re that wasn’t so much
the idea of not [developing]
it onone the he walls of his native city the never left. He stands
listen to music,after they developing either like at Spacejunk,
worth the wait. David about money. WhenMcNamara I talk about
there. There has been a lot
but latercorporate shortenedgreed, it to Odo for against and
it or they relationship don’t. I’m curious. The a strong with the
the solar panels on my studio,
of positive preservation work
convenience. he’s swapped holds the richNow, accountable.
one centre, song that sticks with people arts which boasts no
www.spacejunk.tv sometimes people say, ‘That’s
there. Some of the battles have
spray cans Remind youfor ofwatercolours anyone? Theto
fromthan the first is ‘At Or With less fourlisten galleries across
great that you can afford it.’ I
definitely been won.
create intricate worlds Clash? Stiff Littlefantasy Fingers? Minor
has the electric France. “I presented my work to Me’ which
understand that aspect. But I
and mystical creatures that he Threat? Bad Brains?
morefor curious than Spacejunk in 2008 a series of guitar… I’ll be
feel that’s dangerous. Anybody
Do you see yourself as
believes macabre HUCKpossess took the“amaestro of surf
seethe how people group shows,”tosays twentymost people
who can afford it should go
politically engaged? What are
edge”. Ittodidn’t take long for melody The Bowery in New
far,amazed it seems at alright. five-year-old, how react to it. Sostill
ahead, take the time to do what
your thoughts on Obama?
companies notice Le Borgne’s former to York, home of CBGB and
quickly an offer to fly solo came
they can with it. But there are so
He’s from Hawaii and we get
unique talent. “Iof work forrock, Billabong the birthplace punk to
Do youin. think the ‘green’ rolling “I was totally surprised
so many other aspects that has many other aspects that have
protective of each other, so
as aabout freelance graphic designer,” talk his new release, To The
movement has been hampered when Jérome Catz [Spacejunk
more to do with where our food
I’ve got his back. But I’ve kind
says because Le Borgne.for “I create Sea, the firstdesigns, time in
by the financial crisis? There founder] asked me to do my is
is coming from. Hopefully things
of disengaged from it. I’ve
illustrations T-shirts and his eighteenfor million album-selling
thatsolo danger in Ienvironmentalism first show. was thinking I’d
will get re-framed through the
been writing and stuff. Before
typographies. I also work for career, Jack Johnson is rocking.
thatone we in are2012 getting associated do or 2015!”
the election I was sucked into
Billabong’s marketing department,
with ‘if you can afford it’. But Spacejunk will host an
What dotheir you look thinkbooks.” people creating people will will
there mayatbe some positives art show mammoth winter
Saving the neighbourhood
mine met Bob Dylan and his
make of youBillabong, rocking out Besides Le on this this
that come out of this… sports tradeshow ISPO There 2010,
seems more realistic than
only advice was, ‘Don’t read the
record, withscored big guitar solos Borgne has a bunch guitar solos
is a great book I read which is rumoured to called feature
saving the world. What’s
newspaper or watch the news.’
and the like? It’s gonna fun of commercial deals thatbe are gonna be fun
Break Through Michael Odo’s artwork,by but the artist is
happening on the North
It has been frustrating to watch,
for mytomusician to likely leave hisfriends bank balance friends to listen listen
Shellenberger and Tedabout Nordhaus, remaining tight-lipped any
Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, on
but who knows, it could have
to. For the first time I took guitar looking pretty healthy. “I’ve took guitar
who also wrote theproject: manifesto involvement in the “I really
the development front? Your
been worse. Tim Donnelly
solos – afor lead, solo, whatever worked other brand namesyou whatever
The Death of Environmentalism. can’t say much about that for the
home is always tricky because
you call it.had I’veDivision had guitar suchit. as Cell and PTB,” call I’ve little little guitar parts
Their whole that to ISPO moment. I’vetheory never is gone
there’s always politics involved.
To The Sea is out June 1 on
parts before, but not likeOne this.of he says. “I recently designed before, but not like this.
environmentalism, the whole and right now I’m only thinking
But politics is in everything. With
Brushfire Records, and the
One oftrophies the fun for challenges of some the the fun challenges of EuroSima this record
concept, something you think about myisone-man show.”
the growth of the Turtle Bay
worldwide tour kicks off in April.
this record taking thiscover little Waterman’s Balllittle andfour-track the was taking was this
about when you get to a place Though Le Borgne has not
Resort, I think most people in the
four-track thing, battery powered for thebattery Hawaii Surf catalogue.” thing, powered with
where you are comfortable yet completed his first exhibition,
the community like Turtle the Turtle community like the
reading everything. A friend of
If you dig
TO THE SEA check out…
Mason Jennings The Honolulu-born troubadour, now touring Blood of Man on Johnson’s Brushfire Records, has gathered a loyal following with his simple-yet-catchy melodies over eight albums. www.masonjennings.com
Beth Orton BRIT Award winner and Lilith Fair favourite Beth Orton has carved a career out of tearinducing elegiac love songs and is currently touring the US and working on her fifth studio album. www.bethorton.co.uk
Ben Harper Johnson’s close friend is a two-time Grammy Awardwinning blues rock icon and devoted political activist. Harper is currently touring White Lies for Dark Times with his new band, Relentless7. www.benharper.com
Iron and Wine Samuel Beam’s folk ditties – including that Postal Service cover – often find their way onto movie soundtracks and hit US TV shows but it’s Dorset they’ll light up this summer for the End of the Road Festival. www.ironandwine.com
G Love and Special Sauce The alternative hip hop blues style, currently touring Long Way Down, were one of the first signings to Brushfire Records and feature in Johnson's surf documentary, Thicker Than Water. www.philadelphonic.com
Photography: Hilary Walsh.
collective with a laid-back
Kapow by Ben Frost.
Other artists appearing at
Kicks N Canvas…
INSA British street artist INSA has a thing for the ladies – and feet, it seems. His signature print, featuring magenta high heels, should make a fitting statement when he customises a pair of Nike kicks at this forthcoming London event.
Goldie Seminal drum and bass artist Goldie has been a prolific force on the UK graffiti scene since the early eighties and took part in Britain’s largest graffiti battle alongside Massive Attack’s Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja. Expect wild style tributes and some old-school skill. This man is a veteran.
Mr Jago As a founding member of the Scrawl Collective, Bristol’s Mr Jago has earned his fair share of kudos. His more recent work is like a graffitiinspired fine art dream – as if Expressionism collided with spray cans in some futuristic land – while classic Mr has a robotic twist.
Dan Baldwin Dan Baldwin’s caustic i-Tattoo by Anthony Lister.
collages are full-blown narratives of the painterly kind. Disney characters dance with crucifixes, skulls and clowns play with kittens and birds. Baldwin’s world is mad and bold, so prepare your eyes for a visual assault.
Australia n artists Anthony Lister and Ben Frost go head to h ead. Anthony Lister’s art scares the
that was brought up in the last
Picasso and Matisse, Cubism
or barely even see them, so it
shit out of me. Not only because
ten years to somehow describe
and all the motions and
sort of glorified the fact they
it’s like the dream of a deranged
what is happening, but I think
vibrations of the collective
were famous. So I think maybe
Walt Disney meets Charles
everybody is coming out of
aesthetic consciousness. It’s the
as a separated Western entity
Manson, but because behind
that now and trying to distance
101 monkeys thing. But at the
we’re almost even more brain-
this uncooked aesthetic lies a
themselves from the past five or
same time, when you’re making
washed – at least I think I was,
truth. Ben Frost’s imagery is just
work around people you are
being an Australian raised on
plain evil. It’s pop culture in all
Lister: It’s like ‘metal’ music or
inspired by, as much as you find
American television. It was so far
its whored glory, illegitimate and
‘bestiality’ in porn – once it’s got
familiarities with their work, only
from my reality it had this aura
smutty. But it’s the message that
a title then it’s got an identity
you as an artist will survive twenty
of this extra-far, out-of-the-way
makes their pieces so prodigious.
and it’s part of fashion so it can
years of either accepting or
challenge – which is maybe
It makes you stop being lazy and
wear out. Personally, it doesn’t
dismissing influence. Ultimately,
even more of an attraction.
compels you to think. Hailing
really matter to me, as long as
it’s about the work – your line will
Frost: I agree, I think it’s that
from that forgotten state of
there is a real community of
always come through. As hard
disillusionment of getting older
Queensland on Australia’s east
artists, you know. Whether it’s
as you try to replicate or be in
and meeting that famous band
coast, Lister and Frost are at the
Surrealists or Dadaists it’s just
on something, it’s got to come
and they’re just normal people
forefront of the so-called lowbrow
a group of people that make
naturally and this is what I admire
and it’s like something in your
art movement – a dirty aesthetic
about your work, Ben.
soul crumbles when you realise
that’s being welcomed off the
Frost: I don’t think anyone
HUCK: So where are Ben Frost
that. It’s almost as if there’s no
street and warmly embraced by
champions a cause unless they
and Anthony Lister going?
hope left in the world.
international galleries. They’re
are desperate to be a part of
Lister: I see Ben Frost going to
Lister: It’s almost like seeing
not big fans of staying inside
something. I don’t think you or
your dad cry or have sex with
the lines. So instead of doing
I are desperate to be a part of
Frost: Yeah, I’m going nowhere.
the dog, and you’re like, ‘No, it’s
something conventional like
anything – we have always tried
Lister: I’m going to the shops to
interviewing them, we kicked
to be a little outside of what’s
get more beer.
Frost: What, having sex with
back, relaxed and let them
Frost: I think it’s interesting that
Lister: I just try to be like Ben
Anthony and myself came out of
Lister: We started on dogs,
Frost as much as possible.
Brisbane with a bunch of other
we’ll finish on dogs. Kieran, you
Lister: How’s it going, Ben, how’s
Frost: Doesn’t everybody?
crew. Being Antipodeans it drives
can call the interview ‘Dog Eat
[Laughs] I mean, I’ve got a
you harder. It’s an Australian
Dog’. I would love to be the guy
Frost: Yeah, it’s good. Actually
studio here, with five or six of
thing – we feel like we need to
that writes the headlines on
we just cut its balls off. He’s gone
us and we’re all trying to do
newspapers. Kieran Burke
really paranoid and weird.
the same thing but in different
Lister: It’s funny, I was having this
Lister: Why did you cut his balls
ways. I think it’s about the
conversation with a guy in a bar
Anthony Lister and Ben Frost
education of an artist and how
last night and we were talking
will be painting live at Kicks
Frost: Ah... Just because he’s
they perceive what’s going on
about how far away the dream
N Canvas presented by
getting way too intense.
with other artists and how they
was when you were living in
SoleHeaven at a secret London
Lister: Ben, what are your
fit into that. If an artist is smart
Australia. If you had a favourite
location, April 8-25.
thoughts on being pigeonholed
they will try and be different to
band or favourite skateboarder,
in the whole lowbrow street art
the fact that they existed was so
Lister: And I think this has
so far far from from your your reality, reality, youyou could
Frost: I think that was a term
happened over time with
could write never neverthem writeathem lettera letter
If you dig
Photog ra Mark Le pher a capture ry the min s u of a su tiae r everyd fer’s ay life.
SALT AND WAX check out…
44 Photographs – Trinidad Stephen Gill, Nobody
This book, put out by Stephen Gill on his own publishing imprint Nobody, features
Mark Leary is an ordinary kind
the various characters, both old
images of ‘radness’ the average
forty-four loose C-type prints
of guy. He’s hugely talented –
and young, that make up the surf
surfer rarely comes across. Not
within the shell of a 1964
don’t get me wrong. But when
community and contradict the
everyone can do 360 airs or
publication. Get one of
it comes to taking pictures,
surfer stereotype. Look at me –
ride tiny thrusters, but glamour
115 signed and numbered
this award-winning British
I’m the wrong side of thirty, a bit
sells – if the magazines were
copies while you can.
photographer has an eye for
overweight and have been living
full of cruddy days, nobody
the ordinary – only he manages
in London for fourteen years.
would buy them. However, this
to make quotidian details look
That’s diminished my surfing
emphasis can influence people
Early California Surfriders
anything but mundane. In his
opportunities, but I still love to surf.
and not always in a good way.
Doc Ball, Pacific Publishing
People seem to forget surfing
If you’ve got a thing for
second book, Salt and Wax, Leary captures the essence
You must have met some
is about fun and being an
yesteryear, surf photography
of UK surfing through his own
interesting people through
individual. You do not have
doesn’t come more classic
modest and benign style, by
creating the book…? The
to look a certain way or be a
than this. John Heath ‘Doc’
documenting the workaday
two most inspirational surfers I
certain age, you can be any
Ball’s archives may have
situations surfers come across
photographed were a belly-
age and ride any board – an
been washed away in a
in their daily lives and the broad
boarding eighty-year-old woman
air matt, a belly board, long,
flood in 1964, but this 1946
cross-section of characters
called Dot, and Gwynedd
short or whatever and be
epic is his enduring tomb.
that make up today’s surfing
who was the first Women’s
whoever. I wanted to capture
tribe. HUCK caught up with the
British Surfing Champion in the
the reality of being a UK surfer,
pragmatic lensman in Newquay,
sixties. Dot is the most stoked
the everyday minutiae of life.
Cornwall, to get under the skin of
and enthusiastic surfer I have
The book is about what makes
Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s
surfing’s less glamorous side.
ever met and Gwynedd, who
a surfer smile – like the smell
LeRoy Grannis, Taschen
must be sixty-plus now, virtually
of wax, a good forecast for the
When LeRoy Grannis picked
What was the inspiration
ran off to go surfing while I
weekend or the anticipation
up the surf documentarian
behind Salt and Wax? I was
was photographing her. She
while driving to the beach. The
gauntlet in the sixties, he
visiting a friend at his office in
wears an ill-fitting old wetsuit
book celebrates the sacrifices
quickly became a hallmark
South Devon and he had a
and two swimming caps to go
so many of us make to fit surfing
of California’s Gidget-era
surfboard leaning against the
surfing, so she is far from your
into our lives.
scene. This iconic collection
wall in his office. On impulse, I set
average Roxy girl. But the first
up my camera equipment and
wave I watched her catch she
Do you think surfing in the
archives to retrieve a capsule
photographed the scene. When
bottom turned beautifully, then
UK is special? I have family in
of a time before the fall.
I developed the photo, I really
gracefully walked to the nose
Queensland, so I have been
liked it and decided to do other
of her longboard as she surfed
lucky to spend a lot of time there,
similar shots. I had been living in
the wave with style and class,
surfing the points of Noosa.
Tracey Moffatt, Institute of
London for fourteen years and
shattering my expectations.
I’ve also been to Costa Rica,
Morocco and all over mainland
For political punch and issues
whenever I come back from a
dips into his personal
surf trip, I have to dry my wetsuit
Do these images of ordinary
Europe but there are places in
aplenty, Tracey Moffatt should
and store my board somewhere,
folk and everyday scenes
Scotland and Cornwall I would
be your artist of choice.
so that provided the opportunity
carry a deeper comment
not swap for anywhere else. I am
In this definitive collection
to take more photos like the
on society? Over the twenty
spending more time in Cornwall
she pulls her favourite
one in the office. After those
years I have been surfing, the
now, I find the landscape so
subjects – gender, class, race,
first few shots I started to realise
mainstream surf media has
beautiful, and the light so
colonialism – together with a
there was a story to be told. So
inspiring but, most importantly, I
I moved on to photographing
and glamourised surfing with
get to surf more. Mark Sankey
Photography: Mark Leary.
the black kurtkeys vile Childish Brothers ProdigyV2/Co-op Matador AsThe a solo Black artist, Keys Kurtgot Vile,so who good. day-jobs Realising as thethat guitarist the in grungy, indie rockers bluesy The two-piece War On Drugs, thingiswould a singer-songwriter lead them straight who sounds downasa cul-de-sac, if he was breast-fed they went The classic Velvet Underground rhythm‘n’blues and with Richard their Hell. last, Danger He’s rough, Mouse-produced electric, fervent,album from Philly and but they’ve drawls expanded like a New Yorker, on that andidea only here, if you with ripped equal off allsuccess. the gorgeous Album sonic number slop six that begins he muddies with a his gospel-style songs withbanger would you called hear‘Everlasting something approaching Last’ that Bon front-dude Iver. It’s a deserved Dan sings signing in falsetto, to thethen excellent they Matador move onto Records John after Lee Hooker-like a lower-key debut boogie, in 2008 scorching – least trad not because rock and you’llvintage hear him soul. sayIt’s “sheeeeeeit” beautiful like stuff, he’s allClay recorded Davis in at The theWire. legendary Great record, Muscle and Shoals Kurt Vile studio is actually in Alabama. his real name. Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and The Staple Nice. Phil Singers Hebblethwaite cut many of their best tracks there and their spirit has rubbed off. Brothers is as tight as a nun’s proverbial: there just isn’t a bad song on here. Phil Hebblethwaite listen
the Melvinscolor awesome
Massa Hypnos Chicken Switch Ecstatic Ipecac Peace An it ain’t broke…’ trio album originally (now On ‘if paper, a Melvins remix is a from reallyDetroit annoying andBrooklyn) whose take on the Stooges, Sonicrockers Youth and psych rock is in unnecessary idea, but these sludge inspire and, mlace, done In their ownand way, they’re a goodwith way,feral andpower. often most mental foul. PH actually quite arty, but never at the expense of being raw and loud. This third album doesn’t piss around with the formula. There are long, wig-out tracks here, sharper attempts at Dinosaur Jr-like college pop, and you again end up delighted that someone got it right, as Beavis once said. PH
kid sister Pens
Hey Friend What Ultraviolet You Doing?Asylum De Stijl Some from when Vice magazine says on the bumph that You fear dude the worst albums get chronically delayed comes Pens’Rebirth), debut that they’re bestofnew (see Lil with Wayne’s but in thethe case Kid British Sister band Take a bow, although youth (thearound. only artist with ‘Kid’buddy, in her because name that’s any good), counts for something, it The never excuses making all’s turned out a-okay. best stuff on here Hoxton is pure bunkum of an order high as this. Forbeats thirty coupled seconds, Chicagomusic – throbbing jukeas and hip-house are okay live,clumsy but theirbut record is so intensely thestyle. half withPens Melisa’s slightly super-cute rhyming hour of your you lostatlistening to it. Avoid, dog shit.but PH A couple of life attempts pop flop, but you like can’t help really like her nonetheless, even if you sense she’s missed the party. PH
Monster Head Room Souterrain Transmissions One of those lo-fi, sunshiny bands from people who are hi-tech and don’t see much sunshine. You know the thing – jingly jangly-sounding and suited to computer speakers, but actually quite reedy and thin. Still, much to enjoy here from the Sacramento natives: Beach Boys harmonies, Phil Spector-inspired production and classic candy pop/rock songwriting about going to the grocery store and doing acid, not necessarily at the same time. At an hour long, though, you end up drowning in treacle. PH
PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS
TUESDAY 29 JUNE
CARDIFF INTERNATIONAL ARENA WEDNESDAY 30 JUNE LONDON O2 ARENA
BUY ONLINE AT LIVENATION.CO.UK
029 2022 4488 / 0844 856 0202 JACKJOHNSONMUSIC.COM / BRUSHFIRERECORDS.COM NEW ALBUM ‘TO THE SEA’ DUE JUNE 1 A LIVE NATION PRESENTATION
tetro Director: Francis Ford Coppola It’s crazy to think that Francis Ford Coppola’s reputation as a giant of American cinema rests on just four films produced back-to-back in the space of seven years, from The Godfather in 1972 to Apocalypse Now in 1979. And then? Nothing. Creatively speaking, at least. Coppola’s career seemed destined to dwindle into insignificance, but his reinvention with Tetro shows the return of the artist we thought was lost. Black-and-white, shot in Buenos Aires with Vincent Gallo and doe-eyed newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, Tetro is a smokily beautiful family drama about two half-brothers uncovering the painful secrets of their past. Irresistibly romantic, this is Coppola at his poetic best. Matt Bochenski
Director: Noah Baumbach Indie noodler Noah Baumbach has made yet another selfconscious cine tone-poem with Greenberg, the story of a middleaged carpenter (Ben Stiller) who falls for his brother’s young assistant (Greta Gerwig) while house-sitting in LA. The dialogue is deft, the acting sharp and the milieu well-observed, but if you’re not already a fan of Baumbach’s digressive, navel-gazing style you’ll probably wonder what all the fuss is about. MB
the killer inside Me
Director: Michael Winterbottom You can imagine how Michael Winterbottom secured the funding for this one: ‘Hey guys, I’m gonna make a movie with hot young stars Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. Ker-ching!’ Thing is, this tale of an apparently ordinary young man in fifties America is based on a story by Jim Thompson, in which a Southern sheriff explores his capacity for violence. Cue Alba’s face being pummelled into mush and Hudson getting kicked in the stomach until she wets herself. It’s provocative stuff that offends almost as much as it intrigues. MB
the brothers bloom
Director: Rian Johnson Remember Brick? Seems like a lifetime since that 2005 school-set noir launched the career of spunky young auteur Rian Johnson. His second effort is a consummate conman movie that’s been sat on a distributor’s shelf for two years. That’s usually a bad sign, but despite some narrative hiccups this all-star thriller (featuring a swoon-inducing role for Rachel Weisz) is a solid yarn with charm and energy to burn. MB
Director: Rachid Bouchareb It was Days of Glory that put Rachid Bouchareb on the map, even though that 2006 North African war movie was grossly overrated. Now he’s back with London River, a film that uses the backdrop of the 2005 terror attacks in London to tell a contemporary tale of loss and identity. It’s all a bit liberal and right-on, while never getting to grips with the complex truths of a multicultural city and its inhabitants. MB
Red Dead Redemption Xbox 360, PS3 Set in the American frontier at the turn of the Twentieth Century, Red Dead Redemption is like Grand Theft Auto reworked as an epic Western, with cowboy hats, horses and sheriff badges galore. Playing as outlaw John Marston, you must choose how to survive in this brave old world, either as a bounty-chasing do-gooder or crooked bandit. Whatever you choose, gun-slinging is still very much the order of the day. With an awesome slo-mo Dead-Eye targeting system and a real-time physics engine that sees your enemies react differently to each shot fired at them, it’s a helluva way to let off a few rounds and pretend that you are Clint Eastwood and John Wayne all rolled into one. Danny Miller
Skate 3 Xbox 360, PS3 Taking you to the fictional city of Port Carverton, Skate 3 sits as a very natural progression to this hugely successful series. But now your aim is to start your own skate company and sell one million boards [evil chuckle]. You must build your empire via online cooperative gameplay, by creating a team of skaters, building parks and completing challenges to get exposure and sell, sell, sell. But when it comes to the actual gameplay mechanics, it’s very much just a tweaked version of Skate 2, only with new spots, new outfits and pro skaters like Andrew Reynolds and Josh Kalis lurking about the place, talking street. Gnar. Ed Andrews
Streetfighter IV iPhone This is just the sort of thing you want in your pocket. Although the classic beat ‘em up has been scaled down for a screen not much bigger than a postage stamp, it retains the responsive controls necessary to rumble with the best of them. It also boasts the fantastically outlandish anime visuals that made its bigger brother so appealing. It may only have eight playable characters and no real unlockables but when you’ve got Chun Li and Ryu, and a twoplayer option via Bluetooth, who needs ‘em? Ed A
Splinter Cell: Conviction Xbox 360, PC Super-stealth killer Sam Fisher is back, and on the hunt for his daughter’s killers. Even without the backing of his former malevolent government agency employers, he still slips from simple vengeance into another terrorist plot. This latest incarnation of the stealth-based action series has given Sam superhuman powers that allow you to execute your enemies with flair and finesse using a new markand-execute control system. With video cut scenes and mission prompts projected onto the grimy backgrounds, the game feels more like a brutal post-modern new media thriller, and the addition of cooperative missions and multiplayer gives you good reason to return to it after you’ve saved the day. Ed A
Street Level Sue Kwon, Testify Books As a collection of twenty years worth of work from New York photographer Sue Kwon, Street Level offers more than just a portfolio – it’s a vibrant and insightful celebration of New York City itself. Each chapter of revealing and uplifting portraits explores the characters populating the different neighbourhoods, from shopkeepers and tree surgeons in Brooklyn to boxers and Baptist ministers in Harlem, with a few famous faces dotted in between. It’s an exhaustive capsule of America’s most cosmopolitan streets. Ed Andrews
DIY Album Art: Paper Bags & Office Supplies J. Namdev Hardisty, Mark Batty Publisher This muted insight into J. Namdev Hardisty’s private record collection throws a spotlight on the DIY ethic that drove early nineties North American punk and hardcore. The result is a healthy reminder that the best things in life are usually homemade and that the digital era can never replace music you can hold in your hand. With original covers from influential DIY labels Gravity and Bloodlink, it’s essential viewing for hardcore fanatics and aspiring independent label owners looking for ideas. David McNamara
London Calling Barry Miles, Atlantic Books Barry Miles takes on the hefty task of exploring the countercultural trends that have emerged out of London since the Second World War. It’s a pretty comprehensive effort too, with the author drawing from the worlds of art, music, literature and fashion. Everything from Teddy Boys to New Romantics; the Krays to Vivienne Westwood; and Dylan Thomas to Jimi Hendrix is given its place in this metropolitan petri dish through firsthand anecdotes, journalistic studies and some solid factual myth-busting. Ed A
Hunt and Gather Tina Ziegler, Mark Batty Publisher This 148-page foray into the uncharted world of contemporary ‘new art’ not only highlights forty exciting emerging artists like JShea9 and Catalina Estrada but exists as a document of Ziegler’s three-year journey discovering them. With one objective – “to discover new art and share it with the community” – Ziegler found artists that inspire her personally and tells their story through striking full-bleed spreads and intimate first-person quotes. Expect a dark, anime-inspired aesthetic balanced with softer pieces of a more whimsical nature. Shelley Jones
There’s Nothing Wrong With You (Hopefully) Michael Sieben, Gingko Press Opening this curious A5 hardback for the first time is like finding a forgotten old sketchbook. It is in fact a collection of wonderfully dreamtup creations by Thrasher staff writer Michael Sieben, and with little writing – just a short paragraph describing Michael playing jokes and wearing funny pyjamas – it is happy to exist totally ‘reason’-free, much like the skateboarders and out-of-step critters it depicts. SJ
SUPREMEBEING FOR LIFE
FIND US AT THE FESTIVALS PARTYING WITH CHAI WALLAHS THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER WHAT’S GOING ON? WWW.SUPREMEBEING.COM/SB4LIFE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
A retr specti musio n the pe g on ve of imp rfection by Jamerfection, ie Bris ick.
Photography: Jussi Oksanen.
I first heard the term ‘wabi-sabi’ when I was thirteen. It was the late seventies and I’d recently gotten a brand-new Dogtown skateboard. It had a sinister-looking Dogtown cross on the bottom, hand-carved wheel wells and a sleek, double-ply kicktail. I was ecstatic. I covered it with shellac to keep it from fading, carefully applied grip tape and took it for a test run at my friend’s backyard ramp. It felt magic under my feet and, as I kickturned at the top of the quarter-pipe, I instantly knew it was the best skateboard I’d ever owned. That night I cleaned it with an old T-shirt and slept with it right next to my bed. And then the next day, while trading runs with some of the neighbourhood skaters at the same ramp, a longhaired stoned kid lost control and ran into me, tearing a three-inch chunk out of my new Dogtown skate. I was devastated. Skateboards inevitably get scuffed up, but this broken piece, lying haplessly on the ground, may as well have been my severed finger. I rode home distraught, my mom and dad consoled me and my oldest brother helped me glue the broken piece back on. “Wabi-sabi,” said K.D., our eternally barefoot, yoga-practising friend, when I showed him my damaged board the next day. “What?” “Wabi-sabi, man. Like, welcome the imperfection. Life is fleeting, transient – and so is your skateboard.” I should mention that K.D. wore Jesus robes, urinated outdoors because “every time we flush a toilet we waste a gallon of water,” and was prone to three-day LSD trips. I shook my head and skated off, bewildered, wondering what language he was speaking. At any rate, I would not hear the word wabi-sabi for another twenty years. This was right around the time graphic designer David Carson became involved with Trip magazine in Brazil. My good pal Vava Ribeiro, a Trip photographer, and I were trying to describe Carson’s random, haphazard aesthetic.
“It’s like, if he were to set a cup of coffee on a photo and the cup left a round stain, that round stain would be incorporated into the piece,” I said lamely. “Wabi-sabi,” declared Vava. And a few days later he presented me with a book titled Wabi-sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence. The words wabi and sabi do not translate easily. Wabi connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs. Wabi-sabi is equally difficult to put into words. It represents a comprehensive Japanese aesthetic centred on the acceptance of transience. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the ‘Three marks of existence,’ i.e. impermanence, suffering and ‘not-self’. “If an object or expression can evoke a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi,” goes one definition. “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect,” goes another. The most iconic example of wabi-sabi is the Japanese tea ceremony, in which the pottery items used are often rustic, not quite symmetrical and simple-looking. In more colloquial terms, wabi-sabi is ‘warts and all’: it embraces flaws; it happily reveals history, wear and tear. When you hang a photo in your bathroom and the steam causes it to curl at the corners, this is wabi-sabi. When the paint chips off a door or a spider spins a terrific web in the corner of your garage, or grandma’s teacup has little hairline fractures from three generations of use, this is wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is optimistic. It’s seeing beauty where less imaginative sorts might see blemishes. It’s also malleable. When a few drops of olive oil splatter your freshly pressed dress shirt at lunch, this is not sloppiness, but rather magnificent imperfection. When a schoolmate carelessly steps on your spanking white sneakers, leaving a greyish stain, this is time accelerated. And when a klutzy kid tears a chunk out of your beloved, brand-new skateboard when you’re thirteen and innocent – this is preparing you for the real world, where things inevitably fall apart. Leonard Cohen says it best: “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
(photographers, clockwise from top left) Jeff Johnson, Danny Moder, Danny Moder, Jeff Johnson, Scott Soens, Jeff Johnson, Danny Moder, Devon Howard, Scott Soens (center)
DESIGNED BY DAVID BENEDEK
Published on May 25, 2010
Published on May 25, 2010
HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...