Andrew Reynolds - Ai Weiwei Arcade Fire - Mike Mills Coco Ho - Julian Assange
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30 A n d re w R e y n ol d s 40 ARCADE FIRE 44 J oh n J ose p h 48 M i k e M ills 50 T he L ast Ta b oo 56 S torm S u r f ers 58 A i WeiWei 62 Progress 70 S u r f R e v ol u tio n 74 I ND I E M A G S 76 S q u atti n g
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Andrewâ€™s Art Cover star andrew reynolds has dispensed with most of his possessions, but the things that matter still hang on his wall.
1. That’s a photo of Animal Collective, shot by Atiba [Jefferson]. Their
7. I was in Sole Tech headquarters and they had a bunch of prints of a team
music is in loads of skate videos, like the Alien Workshop movie Mindfield.
shoot from about twelve years ago, back when the team was Donny Barley,
It reminds me of a lot of music I used to listen to as a kid, just weird music
Ed Templeton, Erik Ellington and myself. There were some prints that Ed
you can’t really put a genre to, like The Dead Milkmen – they're this weird
had signed, so I grabbed one because it was a funny time for us.
punk band and they kinda sound like New Order. 8. That’s Ali Boulala. He’s got a cast on. We were on a European trip and 2. That’s an iPhone photo of me and my daughter, Stella. We were at a
he was hurt – he was always hurt. Patrick O’Dell gave me a print of him
restaurant and it was all foggy outside. She had a really cool leather jacket
because he knows we’re close friends.
on, so we took a photo because I thought it looked really cool. 9. That’s a contact sheet of portraits of Antwuan Dixon by Atiba before he 3. I’ve been shooting photos with Atiba since I was about seventeen.
had any tattoos on his face. He's one of the greatest skaters to ever skate. I
I met him on a Birdhouse tour. We were both at the same point of our
have it up there to pay homage to him when he was just a young skater. He
careers back then, just getting started. As a present, he put together a
was clean-cut, clean-shaven – well, he probably didn’t have to shave – but
collage of all the stuff we've done together. It's not all the stuff, but just a
that was only like three years ago. The transition from that to now is just
collection of photos he thought were really cool. I never wanted to put a
three years of madness; it’s happened really quickly.
skate picture of myself up on the wall, but he gave it to me as a gift, so I thought I would do it for the first time. I feel like I’m old enough to do it now.
10. That’s me and Stella over at Atiba’s place. We walked over there to hang out and he had this backdrop set up and was like, ‘Let me just get a portrait
4. That’s Erik Ellington. A couple of girls from Europe came over when we
of you guys.’ We are making the same exact face. I’ve got a lot of pictures
were living in LA and wanted to make a book on skaters and take photos of
of me and her because that's everything. She’s definitely one of my
a bunch of us. I never heard from them again, but one day I got a package in
the mail with a stack of prints in it. It was all really cool stuff so I don't know why they never did anything with it.
11. A kid that did graphics for Baker gave me that. It says, ‘Thanks for letting me do some Baker graphics.’ I don't remember his name.
5. That’s a painting that Mark Gonzales gave me back in 1998. It’s really special to me because he's the originator of what street skaters do. I let him
12. Jerry Hsu took that photo. It’s probably my favourite. It’s two little kids
borrow my car one night in San Francisco. He needed it to go somewhere
just cruising in this little pink Mustang. There’s nobody around. One of the
so I was like, ‘Here, take the keys.’ The next day, he came back with the car,
kids has got his arm out of the window and they are just hanging out. It’s
he’d got it washed and he gave me a painting. I was like, ‘Yes!’
so awesome. Every time I look at it, I smile. Jerry has a hard time getting his tricks; he slams a lot, but he’s a really talented guy. Andrew Reynolds
6. My daughter and Neckface are friends, so sometimes they draw together. He just did that with crayons, little kid-style.
Read the full cover story with Andrew Reynolds on page 30.
© 2011 NEW ERA CAP CO., INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Jamal Edwards, IntErnEt BroadcastEr, FoundEr sBtV
Open your eyes and listen up. Get ready to name-drop these next big things.
Ishmael Butler has always been out on a limb. As lead MC with rap crew
If the image that cemented the legend of Dennis Hooper was the faded,
Digable Planets, he won a Grammy for ‘Rebirth of Slick’, the single that
braided biker jacket of Easy Rider, it’s a different kind of look that suggests
threw a warm, jazzy spanner in the overly serious early-nineties works.
his son, Henry, is more than ready to follow in the old man’s footsteps and
“Hip hop for girls,” sniffed G-funk fans, cracking open a forty to the sound
blaze a new trail.
of Warren G.
As Enoch in indie maestro Gus Van Sant’s tragi-whimsical Restless,
Years on and his new outfit, Shabazz Palaces, sounds like nothing else
Hopper Jr is rocking a kind of Edgar Allen Poe angle of peculiar cool.
around. Dense to the point of impenetrable, boasting tracks with absurdly
Hanging out at funerals, falling in love and dealing with issues way beyond
long titles, they marry the bass-heavy sonics of London clubs to the bop-
his age, Enoch is nothing if not a man of his mixed-up times.
rhyming rhythms of his old outfit. But if you think Ishmael, now known as
And just as Dennis arrived to mark the point where one era gave way to
Palaceer Lazaro, has been shopping for ideas from dubstep, you’re wrong.
the next, so Henry, all of twenty-one years old, has the look of a man on the
“I still don’t really know what it is,” he says. “Often there’s spirituality
threshold of something new and great and uncertain.
going on, not in the corny sense, just different sounds becoming popular.
He may only have a single feature under his belt, but he’s already learned
So maybe it’s that, but it’s not a direct thing of listening to dubstep and
how to command the camera. In Restless, he holds his own opposite Mia
wanting to make music that sounds like it.”
Wasikowska (and she’s no slouch in the face-of-her-generation game), all
As if to underline that this is unchartered water, they’ve signed to Sub
aloof charisma and self-confident charm.
Pop for their Black Up debut, the first hip hop act on Seattle’s alt-rock titan.
Drop-out, refugee, maverick – this isn’t your usual tale of industry
But he rejects the notion that this is hip hop for indie kids: “Hip hop is a very
privilege. Hopper drifted from art school to Berlin and back before
wide form, it’s an umbrella under which different sounds can fit.” He hasn’t
ending up in Hollywood, ready to take a shot at the big time, but only on
always found a place though, and admits to lean times since Digable's mid-
his own terms.
nineties demise: “I often get by on the bare minimum, but I’ve always had
“You can very easily be turned into a commodity,” he once said. But
access to recording equipment. It’s a calling, it’s never occurred to me to
Hopper doesn’t look the type to play any games. Don’t expect it to be a
stop. There’ve been times I probably should've pursued something more
smooth ascent up the career ladder – there’s something dangerous in those
stable to provide my basic needs. But I wasn’t able to do that.” Steve Yates
flashing eyes. He is, after all, his father’s son. Matt Bochenski
Photo: Tristan Ceddia / nevernow.com.au
Joe Dunthorne is sitting in a funny little office-cum-writing hole that is, in
In 2008, a young Australian artist, who spent his days working for clients
fact, an old tube train in Shoreditch. The scene is almost ‘Dunthorne-esque’
like Coca-Cola and Nike, opened his first solo show, Boolean Values, at
– an aesthetic, all duffle coats and heart-shaped shades, that was captured
Monster Children Gallery in Sydney. Three years go by, and Elton John is
for posterity in the film adaptation of his breakthrough book, Submarine.
buying up his work from PRISM Gallery in LA. Now, we’re not saying this
That book was hailed “the sharpest, funniest, rudest account of a troubled teenager's coming-of-age since The Catcher in the Rye.” But if his
because we’re down with ‘Rocket Man’ or anything, but it’s a pretty good insight into Jonathan Zawada’s meteoric rise.
new novel, Wild Abandon, follows suit, it certainly wasn't intentional. “I don't
The past few months have been something of a whirlwind. Having
approach my writing with themes I want to explore,” explains Joe. “I tend to
packed up his home in Sydney and moved to LA with his wife, Zawada is
start with a voice, a character or a story, then run with it. In [Wild Abandon],
buzzing with a new lease on life. “The success of the PRISM show and the
I was drawn to a story of a modern commune, torn apart by its founding
support I get from that gallery definitely has a lot to do with the move,” says
members breaking up. I wanted to avoid this tired idea that communes are
Zawada, who insisted we do our interview at 8am as his mind “dries up” by
still part of the hippie movement: drugs, sex, and all the other clichés.”
five. “I've been focusing more on my art practice and reducing the amount
As well as being a celebrated Faber New Poet, Joe, now twenty-nine, is
of commercial work I take on. While I really enjoy working on commercial
one fifth of slam poetry collective Aisle 16, and last year he and Nick Hornby
design projects, it can be very difficult to do art and design at the same
helped found Ministry of Stories, a writing centre for young people. “There
time – they require very different approaches.”
are so many good young British novelists about, like Ross Raisin, Evie Wyld,
And as he moves ever deeper into the gallery world, with his signature
Richard Milward,” says Joe. “And an even bigger swathe of fantastic poets
psychedelia firmly in tow, Zawada’s star is sure to rise. That’s what happens
– Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Emily Berry.”
when your work hangs alongside a Warhol and a Lichtenstein (thanks to
These may be changing times of iPad story-worlds, but thanks to
PRISM Gallery’s latest group show). Just don’t ask him to define where he
contemporary beats like Joe, the printed word is safe for now. “It sounds
fits in. “I don't know really. I guess all of my art has come from ideas and
a bit reductive, but I just enjoy the process of [writing],” says the author,
concepts rather than specific mediums or aesthetic pursuits. Design has
whose new book has already been optioned by Warp Films. “In poetry,
always been my outlet for aesthetics, while my art has been my outlet for
there's a pleasure akin to solving a crossword clue in getting the right word
ideas. I never went to art school though, so I don't know what umbrella term
in the right place.” Shelley Jones
it would fit underneath.” Kieran Burke
Slow Burner Rune Glifberg celebrates a quarter of a century in the skateboarding game. Text Ed Andrews & Photography brian fick
Rune Glifberg is a busy man. It's late June in his home city of Copenhagen
makes sense that I can be here again. Now all we've got to do is battle the
and he's hosting a Silver Anniversary skate event to celebrate his twenty-five
weather,” laughs Rune, his words soon backed up by bouts of torrential rain
years in skateboarding. Rune is juggling compère duties, signing autographs
interspersed with sunshine.
and ironing out the creases, all while finding time to do our interview. He
At thirty-six years old, Rune is one of many skateboarders who are still
may be in demand, but the real star of this event is the newly redeveloped
legitimately pro well past their twenties. “When I turned pro, you were a
Fælledparken skate park, 4,500 square metres of concrete that Rune has
dinosaur at twenty-five, but nowadays you can stay relevant for longer,” he
helped nurture to fruition with the help of US park builders Grindline. It's
says of his own longevity, something he attributes to being a slow burner. “I
absolutely massive, and with a diverse mix of banks, transitions, pools,
didn't go ballistic trying to progress; I just worked at trying to get better at a
ledges, rails, stairs and a halfpipe in the works, it's in keeping with Glifberg's
steady pace. If you go too hard, you get hurt a lot and don't learn anything.
professed “skate everything” ethos.
Skate a raw pool for a week and it feels like your ankles are going to fall off.”
“The past month, I've been completely consumed with this project,
Rune may have seen a lot of change since his first skate outing in the
but this place is important to me – it's where I learned the foundations
summer of 1986, but his mindset is set firmly in the present. “In the last five
of my skateboarding,” says Rune, gazing nostalgically around the site of
years, the return of transition skateboarding has been the best part,” he
the skate park he grew up with, which – alongside the influence of fellow
says. “And not just halfpipes, mini ramps and bowls; you flick through skate
Copenhagen pro Nicky Guerrero – helped open his eyes to the possibilities
mags and see street skaters riding natural transitions and building their own
of skating transitions.
spots. It's great, it makes skateboarding well-rounded and pros are now
Rune may have moved to Southern California in the early nineties to pursue his skate career, signing with the then fresh-faced Flip Skateboards and entering a wealth of mainstream vert comps, but he hasn't turned his
picking tricks from the seventies, eighties, nineties and so on.” And as luck would have it, Fælledparken looks set to accommodate every nostalgic trick in the book.
back on his homeland. “I try to visit about five or six times a year, but I'm getting ready to come back. Now that we have this world-class park, it
Skate with your heart not your feet
Super Freak Beyond the hype of the surfing world, Über-grom Jack Robinson is still just a kid. Text Jed Smith & Photography Jimmicane/A-Frame
In the pre-dawn darkness of remote Indonesia, the yacht creaks and a
West Australia’s other favourite son, Taj Burrow, has been similarly
rope clangs against the mast. Out towards the bow, the tiny frame of Jack
impressed. “Every time I’ve seen him surf he’s blown me away. He’s got
Robinson sits alone, peering into the darkness.
freakish talent,” Taj says. Jack’s competitive record is equally impressive.
“It’s pumping out there. Look at this one,” he says as I approach, before
By the age of twelve he’d claimed all three divisions of the West Australian
the unmistakable crack of water against reef and the gentle ‘phwooosh’ of
titles (the under-twelves as an eight-year-old, the under-sixteens aged ten
air out the end of a tube confirms it.
and the under-eighteens aged twelve), and kicked off 2011 with wins in
It’s day one of Jack’s first trip to the Mentawais and he’s been awake all night at the prospect of surfing. When the sun pokes over the jungle
the under-sixteens divisions of the coveted King of the Groms contest at Snapper Rocks and the Taj Small Fries event at Yallingup.
in a few minutes time, we will see six to eight feet of Indian Ocean fury
But his success has also raised concerns about the ethics of rearing
marching towards the reef in front of us. And a crowd of onlookers will
a child into a surfing super-athlete. His parents recently came under
learn whether the most heralded junior since Kelly Slater is worth his hype,
heavy criticism from the Australian press for removing him from school to
or, what it sounds like when a child, who's forty hours from home, screams
concentrate on surfing. But if Jack is suffering, he’s not showing it yet. “I’ve
for his mama.
got the best life in the world. I can’t believe it,” he says back in Indonesia,
At thirteen years old, Jack is already one of the most recognisable
before leaping theatrically overboard and making his way into the lineup.
surfers in Australia. He’s twice been the subject of major bidding wars
When a bomb morphs out of the horizon, sending a boatload of South
(Quiksilver’s won both times, recently extending his contract for another
African businessman sharing the lineup with us scrambling for the channel,
three years), and the plaudits continue to come from the sport’s best.
Jack paddles deeper. As the lump lurches, his tiny arms spin furiously,
“Apart from having an unbelievable amount of talent, he has a crazy
pushing his forty-one-kilo frame over the ledge. With a blank expression
amount of feel for the ocean and the lineup,” says Modern Collective star
and eyes slightly narrowed he takes off, plunging at the coral before a deft
and Margaret River local Yadin Nicol, who has watched Jack’s development
drop-knee, grab-rail bottom-turn pulls him up and into the tube. A cheer
over a number of years. “He can position himself in a lineup of pro
from the boat a few seconds later signals his safe exit.
surfers and know where to be when the best wave comes. I haven’t seen anything like it.”
The businessmen return to the lineup. “Fucking unbelievable!” exclaims one. “For a second there, I thought he was dead for sure.”
SPRING SUMMER COLLECTION 2011
Get Serious Kenya’s youth are shaking off apathy thanks to a colourful, rabble-rousing blog. Text Sarah Bentley & ILLUSTRATION Anna DUnn
Kuweni Serious (KS) is more than just a blog – it’s a movement.
hilarious series where readers describe their ideal Kenya, including dream
With a name that means ‘let’s get serious’ in Kiswahili, the collective is
scenarios like self-filling potholes. But Kuweni Serious take action in the
on a mission to politically re-engage Kenyan youth so they can actively
real world, too. Take, for example, 125/100 – a project that saw students
shape their country into the place they want it to be.
from Nairobi University running technology workshops with a hundred
“The problem is we behave like tenants of Kenya,” writes the collective in one of many passionate posts. “We have let the older generation tear
and twenty-five girls from low-income communities in Kibera and Baba Dogo over the course of a hundred days.
this country apart. […] We have let them fool us into thinking we’re not
“It’s interesting to see how a conversation turned into a blog, which
fit to run this country. So we hide in our alcohol, in our religions and on
then turned into full-time work,” says Gichinga down an erratic London-
the internet as if there is some other Kenya we shall move to when this
Nairobi phone line. “By bringing kitchen-table conversations into a
collective space, it’s helped spur action.”
Their slogan – ‘Fighting the evil forces of apathy. Join us.’ – is aimed
Suffering in Africa – as witnessed in the current food crisis gripping
at a national audience, but it could be a rallying call for politically
Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya – is the singular narrative many
disengaged youths around the world. It may come as a surprise, but
global citizens base their entire understanding of the continent on. Instead
middle-class Kenyan youth, according to KS, have to shake off the same
of appreciating the multiplicity of stories that colour this sprawling land,
culturally vacuous trappings – Lil Wayne, Prison Break, MTV, Facebook
most people’s engagement with the continent is limited to an ineffectual,
nihilism – that encage Western kids, in order to refocus their energies
annual donation to an international aid behemoth. It’s a trend Kuweni
towards social change.
Serious would love to see reversed.
Leading the charge in this reshuffling of priorities are friends Rachel
“Do some research,” urges Gichinga. “Before you get all your friends to
Gichinga, Jim Chuchu and Mbithi Masya, all in their mid-to-late twenties.
donate old T-shirts to send to the naked people of Africa, find out if your
With backgrounds in filmmaking, music and art, the trio founded Kuweni
assumption actually holds true. Is raising money in the West to give the
Serious in 2009 after a “random conversation” about youth apathy.
poor kids of Kibera toys really going to have an impact? There's power in
As the friends chatted, they realised how much the events surrounding the December 2007 presidential elections had eroded their faith in their
the collective – find out what else is being done, by whom, and how you can strengthen their impact.”
own political system. When Mwai Kibaki was declared president, the
So what’s the KS take on the current food crisis? “Early warning
streets erupted in protest as supporters of Kibaki’s opponent, Raila,
systems were in place to alert the government – yet they did nothing,”
claimed the election had been rigged. Ethnic violence soon followed –
says Gichinga. “We can't still, in 2011, be asking for donations to feed
but when the powers that be did nothing to quell it, many Kenyans were
already starving people – it's a band-aid on a bullet hole. Why hadn't we
left feeling angry and abandoned.
built up our food reserves? Why hadn't we worked with humanitarian
“That was a huge wake-up call for us,” says Gichinga. “There's nothing quite like seeing firsthand what you've long suspected; that your government doesn't care about you.”
agencies in advance? It’s one hundred per cent unacceptable.” Although they can’t solve the food crisis, KS are empowering Kenyan youth to hold their leaders to account for such catastrophic incompetence.
Two years on, the friends’ frustration has birthed an online space
They’re encouraging everyone – kids, teens, young adults – to work
where Kenyan youth can gather to engage in advocacy, activism, social
together and come up with their own solutions to social problems, with
enterprise and citizen journalism.
or without government support.
Site highlights include: a regular vox pop that asks people on the
“Bureaucracy in Kenya is slow and unproductive,” says Gichinga, who
street, “Do you think your vote counts?”; Soma Hiyo Something, a
planned to work in government until she became privy to its tardy pace.
pithy comic strip that encourages Kenyan youth to read the proposed
“Better to work this way – with your peers – and actually get things done.”
constitution for themselves instead of “making up your mind based on what your parents, friends and/or lovers think”; and Kenya X-Treme!, a
LET’S FIX KENYA!
Poor Quality Education Solution Train more teachers to a higher standard and make the profession a more rewarding career choice to attract the best talent. Governance Solution Kenyans need to demand more of their government and hold them accountable. More advocacy, protests, civil disobedience and mobilisation. Inequality Solution This is what's making us fight. Everyone needs to play their part in addressing this – at home, at school, in the workplace and on the street.
Kuweni Serious have a pretty good idea of how to make Kenya an even better place. Slums Solution Nurture the low-cost housing industry. Offer support and incentives to low-cost housing providers so more enter the market. Food crisis Solution Long-term agriculture planning and fundraising initiatives like Kenyans4Kenya. Use the money and clout they’ve recently accrued to prevent future famines.
Back to School Incubus return to class and graduate with a brand new skin. Text Gemma Freeman & Photography Brantley Gutierrez
Five years felt like a lifetime for Incubus. After a fifteen-year cycle of
makes me want to sit down and just play single notes. Studying made me
“write, record, promote and tour,” the shape-shifting, Californian rockers
want to step back, clear the field and start from the most basic forms of
embarked on a half-decade hiatus. Now, having immersed themselves in
structure. […] We tried a different way of writing, and it felt really good.”
the infinite canons of musical history (and made some art, solo albums
Incubus have come a long way since those chaotic, garage-kid days.
and babies along the way), the Calabasas-born quintet have regrouped
Ever since 1999’s Make Yourself, they’ve segued towards the melodic
on new album If Not Now, When? – a softer, somewhat more staid sound,
ballads of anthemic rock. But a level of ornamentation still haunted them
focused on the rules of classic pop.
– until now. For the first time, there's a sense of space in the Incubus
“Everything’s changed,” explains guitarist Mike Einziger, sitting
sound, which emerges as refined, timeless pop. So, are they worried
backstage at The Forum in London, with bassist Ben Kenney, before the
about how this stripped-down outpouring will be received? “It evolves,”
band’s comeback gig. “We’re not in that old comfort zone and are all in
says Ben, who joined the band from The Roots after playing in Mike’s side
new places. [Before this record] I was at university, Ben was making tons
project, The Time Lapse Consortium. “People have been surprised by our
of music, [frontman] Brandon [Boyd] was focused on painting then made
new directions in the past, but they just needed to look back two or three
a solo record, José [Pasillas], our drummer, made a baby. […] But that
albums – our sound always takes new turns.”
chaotic mixture of elements is breeding something new.”
“That’s what creating music is all about – figuring out what inspires
Incubus began as a bunch of precociously talented teens who
us,” adds Mike. “But we’re still a pop band, still writing music in the
played overtly funked-up, bongo drum-fuelled rock. Inspired by Mr
popular format. We don’t have a mission statement to change this and
Bungle, Primus and Faith No More, their infectious energy brought
bust down all the doors.”
some much-needed light to the embryonic nu-metal scene. But how
Despite being a self-proclaimed science geek, Mike believes the
does a band with roots in a transient genre stay relevant when they make
greatest lessons lie in history. “Being in my thirties and discovering
the big ‘comeback’?
classical music for the first time was a trip,” he says. “The biggest thing
For Mike, the answers lay back at school. “Studying music history had
that I learned is that you can spend your entire lifetime studying music,
a huge effect on me,” says the guitarist, who is currently enrolled as a
but you’ll never get anywhere near discovering it all. Music is a gift that
grad student at Harvard University. “Listening to composers like Chopin
will give forever.”
or Bach for the first time – when people talk about complexity in music, just listen to them. The structure and intellectual weight behind their work
If Not Now, When? is out now on Epic Records.
© 2011 adidas AG. adidas, the Trefoil, and the 3-Stripes mark are registered trademarks of the adidas Group. Silhouette Int. Schmied AG, adidas Global Licensee. © 2011 adidas AG. Le nom adidas, le logo trèfle et la marque aux 3 Bandes sont des marques deposées par le Groupe adidas.
all originals have the look
All photos: Andrew Reynolds at home in Studio City, Los Angeles.
Andrew Reynolds has spent sixteen years indulging in the spoils of a bejewelled life in skate. But The Boss has decided it’s time for a c h a n g e . N o w, h a v i n g s h a k e n o f f t h e s h a c k l e s that have been weighing him down, he’s learning that the simpler life is, the better it gets. Interview Ed Andrews Photography Lou Mora
’ve got some clothes so I can protect myself from weather. I have
Reynolds started accumulating these now-discarded trappings of
a house to sleep in, a car for transportation, a skateboard for
success when he turned pro for Birdhouse at the age of seventeen – just
entertainment – that’s it.” Andrew Reynolds is speaking on the
eight years after he first tuned into skateboarding by way of a Vision Psycho
phone from his new house in Studio City, Los Angeles. But ‘new’
Stick commercial on MTV. He was still living among “a load of rednecks”
in this context doesn’t mean bigger and better; it means smaller,
in his humid, swampy hometown of Lakeland, Florida, at the time. But as
simpler and more streamlined.
soon as he graduated high school (to make his mum happy), he flew off to
There have been some big changes in Reynolds’ life of late.
the SoCal skate Mecca of Huntington Beach to “smoke weed and fly off shit
After a sudden epiphany and a bout of “spazzing out”, the
all day long”. By 2000, he had quit Birdhouse to start his own company,
thirty-three-year-old skate millionaire has done some serious
Baker Skateboards, and “represent raw street skating”. Although he flirted
downscaling and sold up his six-bedroom mansion, complete
with a few comps here and there, Reynolds stayed true to Baker’s raison
with its own skate park, in the Hollywood Hills. He’s moved to
d'être and concentrated on filming over the next few years, constantly
a far more modest two-bedroom apartment – just enough room
seeking out stairs to throw himself down and impress his fellow skaters
for a single dad and his five-year-old daughter – and adopted an
with – which he did in Baker 3 and Baker Has A Deathwish.
atavistic approach to his possessions. In the space of a few short
But this life of much pain and little reward is traditionally not for the
weeks, he’s sold his once-beloved Cadillac to fellow pro skater
thirty-plus, as the body and mind start to reject the punishment over time.
Dustin Dollin, thrown out “three quarters” of his clothes and
Reynolds, however, refuses to give in. With the help of exercise bikes,
shoes, and offloaded his entire jewellery collection, except for a
swimming pools, protein shakes and ice on aching joints, he pushed himself
diamond ring that once belonged to his mother and now sits on
harder than ever to film what he considered to be his “best ever” part for
his little finger. And he’s feeling a whole lot happier for it, too.
Emerica’s 2010 team movie Stay Gold, and walked away with a segment
“It was some sort of cleanse, just realising that you don’t need
that more than stood up to the new generation on the team. Reynolds, it
any material things. At the moment, the less I have, the happier
seems, is still living up to his moniker ‘The Boss’. “I don't really think I’m
I am,” he says with a liberated tone. “It’s like a list of chores you
in any sort of spotlight,” he says, comparing himself to skate superstars like
have to do; when they are done you feel relieved. I have less
Tony Hawk, Paul Rodriguez and the up-and-coming Torey Pudwill. “I’m
furniture, a less expensive car and less of a house to clean.”
not that type of personality. I don’t really attract that much attention.”
Flashback to a few weeks prior to our phone conversation,
What do you put your success down to? Frontside flips and staircases?
and I’m about to meet up with Reynolds and some of the Baker
I dunno [laughs]. Maybe there’s something about me that the kids can
team in Paris during Emerica's The Outsiders Tour. Reynolds
relate to. I’m just a skate rat, the same as them. When I watched parts of
is here with his band, The Goat – in which he plays guitar
Jeremy Wray, Pat Duffy and the guys doing big shit growing up, that’s what
alongside Shane Heyl on vocals, Kevin ‘Spanky’ Long on bass,
would make me go, ‘Argh!’ and freak out when I saw it. So I was like, ‘Man,
Beagle on drums and Atiba Jefferson on keyboards – who are
that's what I want to do.’ I didn’t think I could invent tricks. Some guys
due to play La GÂitÉ Lyrique as part of the Public Domaine skate
like Eric Koston will be the first one to do a trick on a handrail. It’ll be the
exhibition. The day before the show, they go for a skate around
first one ever and the most tech-est thing, but I can’t physically do that so I
the city with me and Thrasher’s Mike Burnett in tow. “I’m just
just thought, ‘Man, I’m going to fly off gaps and do big kickflips and stuff,’
cruising for a few days,” Reynolds tells me as we wait for the
because that’s what I know how to do.
Metro, having made his way down to the train almost entirely on his board, tapping each of the overhead signs that lurk just
Is that why your video parts are mostly stairs? Yeah, I try to throw in other
above his lithe 6’ 2” frame. Despite expressing a lack of ambition,
stuff, too. I grew up skating on everything and I'll skate whatever everyone
he pauses before entering the station with Frappuccino in
else is skating. But when I was little and I came across a big gap in my town
hand to inspect a ten-plus stair set on the side of Boulevard
that hadn’t been ollied over, then I was like, ‘Man, I wanna do it.’ It’s just to
PoissonniÈre, seemingly drawn to its scary dimensions like a
prove something to myself. I think, ‘I wonder if I can do this?’ I want people
moth to a flame. It is a perfectly natural reaction for Reynolds:
to see it and like it.
these things made him. Is looking good while you skate important to you? I try. I don’t know if you Now that you’re established in skateboarding, do you feel less pressure?
watched the bonus section [on Stay Gold] where I was tweaking out about
I always want to do crazy shit on my board, you know what I mean? If I have
every trick I did. It shows the tricks I keep going back and doing again and
an idea for a trick, I want to do it. But I feel now after [Stay Gold] and being
again, as I didn’t like the way they looked. It’s really important, actually.
a little bit older, some pressure has been lifted. Before the video, I felt like I
If I had it my way, I’d only do it one time and then never do it again. But
still had to prove something; I had to make [Stay Gold] really good.
sometimes I don’t like the way the first one looks.
The first stop on our impromptu skate around the city is the
There’s an air of minimalism about Reynolds – that distinct ‘no
Parisian neighbourhood of Batignolles, which boasts a newly
nonsense’ vibe. Perhaps it’s the green Florida T-shirt that he’s
refurbished city park complete with a giant concrete wave
worn for the past few days, or the fact that he doesn’t seem to
sculpture. The spot wasn't originally built for skateboarding,
speak unless he has to, but everything he does feels controlled
but it drew the crowds of the clacking unwashed nonetheless.
and precise. Emotions, when they do appear, are fleeting,
Reynolds wastes no time in charging at the edifice, casually
flickering only briefly over his deadpan face. His movements,
carving its near-vert surface before jumping off his board,
likewise, seem stripped down to their bare minimum; there’s no
walking up the wave and looking for a drop-in. A few minutes
fidgeting in his six-foot-plus frame – coffee is stirred slowly,
later, he’s quietly rubbing a bleeding palm on the trunk of
water is sipped methodically, everything else is still. And his
a sapling, having been taken out by a small drain cover. The
skateboarding simply repeats the pattern: relatively simple
Altamont de facto team manager, Fred, skates off to get
tricks, executed perfectly with nonchalant style. Reynolds is
bandages while Reynolds carries on skating regardless. After a
a man who appears to be in control of everything he does – and
makeshift medical job, he starts filming a line on the wave with
he’ll keep doing something until he feels he’s done it right.
afro’d cameraman Beagle, launching into a big frontside alley oop followed by a kickflip to fakie on the second hit. After
It seems that everything you do is very deliberate and thought-out.
the best part of twenty attempts and a few grunts and throaty
Would you say that’s true for how you approach skating, too? Yeah, I guess
snorts of frustration, they’ve got the shot.
so. If I’m just out cruising, I just go and skate, but I look at filming a video part or putting out an interview totally differently. I’m not just going out
“That one’s going in the video,” says Reynolds.
skating for fun; I'm creating something for everybody to see. It’s like a project. It’s something that has to be, like, thought about down to every last
“Stick it on the internet,” suggests Shane.
little thing. Like, if I’m making a movie, I want it to be absolutely perfect so that it’s something I can be proud of and remember for the rest of my life –
“No way,” he replies, feigning disgust.
something for everybody to have.
â€œI don't have any kind of mental problem. It's just that if I'm about to jump off something that's as tall as a one-storey building, then I s t a r t t o g e t n e r v o u s a n d d o s o m e s o r t o f r o u t i n e .â€?
So are you quite conscious of your image? I don’t really care about [image]
sets of threes, or repeatedly checking landings and ramps.
off the board, but I want the skating stuff to look good. If I’m watching a
At the time of the video’s release, he admitted this behaviour
video and I see something sketchy about a skater, I’ve seen it and other
extended outside of skateboarding and that he could often
people see it. I hear when other people are watching videos and they’re like,
be found locking doors obsessively and frantically cleaning.
‘Ah, he put his hand down,’ or this or that. And I think, ‘That’s not going
Over the years, OCD has become one of the first things people
to happen to me.’
think of when talk turns to Andrew Reynolds. But The Boss refuses to let the label stick.
How is your body holding out these days? If I stretch and take care of myself, I can skate every single day. Some days I just drink coffee, sit around
When did ‘The Madness’ first start? I don’t even know. It only really
and skate a little bit, but usually if I’m serious about skating, I’m doing all
happens when I’m on top of something I’m about to try and I’m really
types of shit. I ride an exercise bike, I stretch every day, I drink water, take
nervous and scared. I start tapping on stuff. Maybe always, I don’t know.
vitamins, have protein shakes and all types of stuff, every day. In skating,
It’s something to clear my mind, I guess.
it’s not common knowledge, but I tell younger kids all the time, ‘You better start stretching now, because you are gonna get sore and gonna be hurting
Have you ever spoken to a professional about it? No, I don’t have any kind
later.’ But you only start doing it when you realise that your skating depends
of mental problem. It’s just that if I’m about to jump off something that’s
on it. [...] If someone told you, ‘You can skate for ten more years if you just
as tall as a one-storey building, then I start to get nervous and do some sort
stretch,’ you'll be like, ‘Well, I love skating so, yeah, I’ll do it!’ I don’t care if
it's some jock thing; I’m going to stretch so I can skate. Does it manifest in any other parts of your life? Not really, because I’m Andrew Reynolds was given the Mafia-inspired nickname ‘The Boss’
never really that nervous. I’m never really as worried as when I’m about
by fellow pro Jim Greco during the height of the Huntington
to jump Wallenberg Four [a large stair gap in San Francisco] or something.
Beach days because he was the first to start displaying his
That’s scarier than anything I have to do on a daily basis, so I don’t have
newly-made wealth. But the moniker has taken on a new meaning.
any reason to be stressed.
As the owner of Baker Skateboards, part owner of Baker Boys Distribution and creative director of Altamont Apparel,
You mentioned in the video that you sometimes have to lock a door three
Reynolds has evolved into an industry player. But he didn’t
times in a row. Is that still the case? I haven’t been doing it lately. I think
exactly apply for the position. Although he likes to “come up with
I’ve just kind of lightened up. Keeping everything really neat and clean was
the creative stuff”, Reynolds, it seems, is all about delegation.
a big part of all that personality, but at some point with my daughter, there were markers and food all over the floor, and I think I just gave up. I have
How did Baker come about? It began in Huntington Beach. I was skating
a van and it’s a dump. I quit. Occasionally I’ll do a big straighten-up, but
with Jim Greco and Erik Ellington who skated for Zero, Dustin Dollin who
honestly I don’t have the time to go and make sure about all those things. I
rode for Stereo, and Elissa Steamer [who was on Toy Machine]. We just
make sure the doors are locked – I don’t want some crazy person coming in
thought, ‘We skate together every day and we all party – man, we should
the house – but I don’t really tweak out too much.
start something together,’ and somehow we made it happen. I look back now and see that we brought back a whole type of fad; Baker was punk. It
Have you grown out of it, then? I think so. I was skating [the other day] and
was [about] holes in our clothes and partying – we didn’t care.
it was taking me a long time to do this trick, so I started tapping a bit, doing the one-two-three stuff, but like, that was just skateboarding.
How does running your own company change your life, day to day? I’ve always just counted on hiring the right people to make the company
“The thing about Andrew is that he likes his coffee – he has like
run smoothly. I’ve never really been much of a businessman. I try to stay
five cups a day,” says Thrasher editor-at-large Mike Burnett, as
as far away from that as possible. I don’t like business and I don’t like to be
we wait outside Grand Boulevard Metro station for Reynolds
involved in that side of things.
and crew to emerge from their hotel. After about an hour, Reynolds appears clutching an apple, an orange and a big bottle
When you go on tours, what’s your role in the group? Are you in charge?
of water. After a few words of greeting, he skates off to find
Nope, not at all. I’m just on the trip as a skateboarder. I don’t want to be in
the nearest Starbucks for his habitual fix. Back in his younger
charge. I don’t want to do anything. I just want to hang out and skate.
years, he was part of the notorious hell-raising Piss Drunx crew, alongside the likes of Dustin Dollin and Ali Boulala, but
Does the ‘hang-out-and-skate’ lifestyle ever get repetitive? Nope [laughs].
a five-a-day coffee habit is the closest Reynolds comes to over-
No way! How could it? It’s like the best thing ever. I feel like that’s the goal;
indulgence nowadays. He’s been sober since he was twenty-four
that’s what you put all the hard work in for, so you can get to a place where
years old, and thanks Alcoholics Anonymous for the privilege.
you can just chill and skate. But still, when [Mike] Burnett tells me there’s a Thrasher article [coming out of a trip], I don’t want to be in charge of what's
What made you stop drinking? Um, cocaine – just messing with hard drugs
going on, but I’m like, ‘Damn, I want to get a photo for the article!’ That’s
and not being able to stop. My drinking was way out of control; I couldn’t
more what's on my mind. It gives a sense of purpose. I want to shoot a photo
drink one beer without ending up blacking out and doing drugs. It would
that looks cool for the article so I did my job at least.
happen over and over again. Probably from like seventeen years old to twenty-four, I just didn’t know how to control my intake of drugs or alcohol.
In 2007, Patrick O’Dell made an Epicly Later’d documentary
It just happens to certain people. You are either that way or you aren’t that
about Andrew Reynolds’ OCD-like behaviour – something
way, you know? I smoked weed like my life depended on it. Then one day,
Reynolds likes to call ‘The Madness’. It manifests as several
I woke up and I knew it was a problem. The hard stuff – I knew I shouldn’t
be messing with it.
What helped you focus on getting sober? Sobriety is not the same as
How do you spend your time outside of skating? Right now, I’ve been
anything else I’ve ever done. If I take one week off from skateboarding or
trying to figure out where to hang different paintings and stuff in my new
a month off from stretching, then I’m not going to die. The way that I felt
house. I go put the artwork up, look at it and then be like, ‘Nah, I don't
when I was drinking and doing drugs, it wasn’t like I was just going to take
like it there.’ The majority of the last couple of months have been about me
a couple of days to get better; [I was] gonna die. You will crash your car,
worrying about what my house is going to look like, and just taking my kid
end up in jail, kill somebody. There was no other option for me. It’s not
to the water park. That’s pretty much all I do: hang out with my daughter
something that I can think, ‘I’ll give it a week and see how it goes.’ It was
and skate. That’s it.
like, ‘No, this is serious!’ I guess it’s the most focused I’ve been on anything ever. Every single day of my life I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to stay away from
How has being a father changed your life? It’s definitely made me
that stuff, hopefully for the rest of my life.’
appreciate getting to travel and be out with everybody. Before, I would go on every tour and do whatever. Now, the tour is the holiday; there’s no
Have you put your energy into other things since you stopped drinking?
responsibility and I just go skate a park all day. I appreciate getting free
Yeah, I think like anybody who gets sober, you do other things because
time on tours and skating more than I used to. I’m a single dad. I have a
there’s so much time devoted to getting drunk. You have to, so you don’t get
nanny who helps me, but when [your kids] need to eat, go to bed, get to
bored and want to go out and drink and do something dumb. It's all things
school and go play with their friends, that’s it – your stuff doesn’t matter.
that make sense. Instead of getting a six-pack of beer and sitting around,
Going to the skate park doesn't matter. It’s like, ‘Oh well, I’ve got to do
I’m going to practise the guitar for a couple of hours or go skate, draw, do
what’s important here.’
a grocery shop or something. You spend your time doing quality things. What has skateboarding taught you about life? Probably to not give up Is staying sober on your mind a lot? I don’t think it ever goes away. It’s
so easily on things. If there’s something you really want, but you fail, keep
something you have to work at. Right now, I’m eight years sober, which is
trying until you get it. Be patient. Also, feeling like nothing is really out of
not that long compared to my whole life. I don’t really think about it that
reach. If you focus on one thing hard enough and put all your energy into it
much right now, but I’ve seen many people have ten-to-fifteen years sober
– like, if I said, ‘I want to be a good painter or a photographer,’ and I decided
and then they forget about why the whole thing happened and think they
that today and tried as hard as I do at skateboarding, then I’d probably be
can drink a beer or smoke weed and then it all falls apart. You have to stay
okay at it. I think anyone can do that.
on top of it, because sober people relapse every single day. It’s always in my head; I’m constantly reminding myself that that life is not for me. Rarely do
As you get older, is staying relevant in the industry difficult? I don’t really
I even want to go have some drinks, smoke weed or do drugs. I don’t even
care about that anymore. I look at Tony Hawk and Lance Mountain and
have time for it. I don’t know when I would fit that in. I'm too tired at night!
they still travel – they still have a board and shoes out, skate and have fun.
It doesn’t make sense for me anymore.
I just watched a video on the internet of Mike Vallely killing a contest! If no kids know who I am, I don’t care. I’ve had my time. I’m not trying to be the
The most poignant of Reynolds’ many tattoos sits on the back of
young new skater out; I just wanna skate and if I can still have a job doing it
his hand where, in basic handwriting script, the word ‘Stella’
and make money out of it, then I’m going to do it.
appears. He explains that he’s cut down his time on the tour to just twelve days, on account of not wanting to leave his
What would have to happen for you to walk away from skateboarding?
daughter for too long. “I blacked out and just made sure she was
Nothing. As long as I can skate, I’ll be calling up Erik Ellington [co-
taken care of, I don’t really remember,” he says of the time she
founder of Baker Skateboards] and saying like, ‘Do you want to play a game
was born, clearly taken by the love-fuelled anxiety that comes
of SKATE somewhere?’ It’s just what we do. It’s like telling an old blues
with parenthood. “I just took care of her because I had to.”
musician to stop playing guitar: it’s not going to happen
Adrian Rubi-Dentzel 41
Arcade Fire went back to their roots and returned with a film that speaks of the future. Text Adam Woodward Photography Eric Kayne
hen you’re at the top, to look back is to
in on the unpredictable frontiers of youth, giving context to
fall behind. Yet taking stock can often
Butler’s melancholic lyrics (“First they built the road, then they
act as a tonic for the perspective shift
built the town / That’s why we’re still driving round and round”)
brought on by success. Just ask Arcade
while interweaving his own fears and obsessions. The twist is
Fire’s Will Butler. “There are kids who
the parallel reality in which the film unfolds: a concrete dystopia
came to my birthday parties throughout
where communities are controlled by a military state. This
my entire youth that I haven’t seen
tonal shift from carefree reminiscence to claustrophobic social
even once in my adult life,” says the multi-talented player of bass,
For Will and the rest of the band, watching Spike set the
like a totally separate, distant part of my life, but I’m constantly
scene was an unexpectedly illuminating experience. “Seeing
reminded of how many things I’ve forgotten about. This film felt
the infrastructure that’s in place when you come to make a film,
like a way of remembering the things that I’ve lost over the years.”
it was kinda like, ‘Wait a minute, is this really how movies get
This catalytic moment of self-reflection came during the
made?’ It felt quite structured, but it was also quite liberating. It
making of Scenes from the Suburbs, a nostalgia-tinged thirty-
was a semi-punk rock production; a lot of it just felt like we were
minute short film inspired by the band’s Grammy-winning 2010
bumming around with our friend Spike making a movie.
album, The Suburbs. Shot across two hot weeks in Austin, Texas
“The most striking thing about the project,” Butler continues,
– not long after frontman Win Butler and wife Régine Chassagne
“was just how natural it felt and how much fun the whole
had finished laying down vocals in their Montreal home studio
experience was. I mean, I’ve never had a day job, so it feels totally
– Scenes is a love letter to brothers Win and Will's far-away
normal to me to just goof around and do funny art projects all day.
Houston childhood. “It came from a place of wanting to write
I’ve never really had a taste of the real world so in that sense it was
about that life,” explains Butler, “while still being young enough
easier for me to connect with this as a project. It was like, ‘This is
to remember it, but being old enough to have some distance from
life,’ you know?”
it. We wanted to get that down while we still had the chance,
This organic, sociable tone seeps through every frame of
because writing a song or making a film about the suburbs when
Scenes, as kids surf pavements and cruise down vacant streets
you’re fifteen is very different to when you’re twenty-nine.”
on pushbikes, BB guns slung over shoulders. But while Jonze’s
These days Arcade Fire are more likely to be found occupying
sincere lens captures the uncertainty and isolation that underpin
awards stages, sold-out stadiums and the tops of album charts
growing up – much like it did in his 2009 adaptation of Maurice
than sleepy Midwestern cul-de-sacs. While this may add to the
Sendak’s beloved 1963 picture book Where the Wild Things Are
novelty of Scenes, Butler reveals that memories weren’t the only
– Butler affirms that it was the presence of youth alongside the
driving force behind the project: “We’ve always wanted to do
young-at-heart that bolstered the on-set harmony: “We cast
visual stuff and we’ve never quite had the time or the money to
Scenes in a really personal way. We went around all these skate
do it properly, but the other thing is that we just really wanted to
parks and schools and interviewed a ton of kids and we decided
work with Spike.”
on what personalities we liked.
Scenes not only marks the band’s first step into filmmaking
“None of the kids were actors, they were just kids, and I had a
terrain but the beginning of an artistic kinship with small-town
really strong reaction because normally when you see teenagers,
USA’s favourite creative son, Spike Jonze. Visiting the band in
and you’re at the age I’m at, they seem foreign. I don’t often relate
New York in the spring of 2010, as The Suburbs was just starting
to the average teenager on the street, but I really related to these
to take shape, Jonze politely declined the invitation to direct a
kids; they didn’t feel like random kids who just wanted to be
music video for the title track in favour of something a little more
in a movie. I really connected with them and agreed with their
ambitious. After making an instant connection with the album’s
viewpoints, and they were really funny – it was great hanging
concept, Jonze’s hyperactive mind took hold and within a matter
out with them. It definitely restored my faith in kids. Making a
of a few short weeks a script was fleshed out and a location picked.
great album will always be priority one, but this got us in a totally
Amplifying the themes from The Suburbs, Jonze has honed
commentary sees Scenes ring out like a warning shot.
guitar, percussion and synth. “I’m not on Facebook, so that feels
different headspace, which I loved.”
He drinks beer because it tastes good. Concrete turns him on. His other girlfriend is his skateboard. His surf after cleans the wounds.
F O L L O W
T H A T
P U N K
C r o - M a g s f r o n tma n J oh n J o s e p h wa n t s to ta k e y o u o n a s t r oll th r o u g h th e L ow e r Ea s t S i d e to r e d i s co v e r i t s d ow n ‘ n ’ d i r t y r oot s . Te x t J o n C o e n Photography Bryan Derballa
ohn Joseph understands that oral history beats anything
on their luck. I don’t like explaining this to my tours while they walk in and
ever written in textbook spiel. For the past three months,
out [of the shelter].”
the Cro-Mags frontman has been inviting the public to
John Joseph McGowan was born in this city and it’s amazing he hasn’t
join him on a walk through the Lower East Side – or, more
died here. For Joseph, the walking tour is an extension of his autobiography
accurately, a stroll through his past. Assuming the mantle
Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, published in 2007. According to the book, his
of historian, storyteller and professor of punk, he’s found
father, a gritty Irish welterweight, turned to alcohol and lumping up his
a way to educate the masses about New York City’s pre-
own family, leaving his wife too unstable to care for young John and his
gentrified past. It’s a lesson too good to miss.
two brothers. Joseph was taken away by social services and moved to Long
He has our tour group meet at the Cube, a geometric eight-foot
Island where his childhood became a punchbowl of hardships – a heinously
steel structure at Astor Place. There are a dozen of us – six Euros, six
abusive foster family, crime and a ghetto orphanage in Rockaway Beach.
from the greater New York area – and judging by the low-level chatter,
By fourteen, Joseph had been failed by the system one too many times and
everyone seems aware of our tour guide’s past. Talk turns to his place in
decided he was better off on his own. Then came his first experience on the
punk history, multiple arrests and, of course, the militant brand of veganism
Lower East Side.
he follows to a tee.
“I was a heroin mule for a couple guys in Rockaway,” says Joseph, leading
But this isn’t your standard walking tour. It’s The History of Art, Crime,
the group down the sidewalk. “I would come into the city to cop for them and
Drugs and Punk Rock on the Lower East Side. Nobody’s wearing pleated pants
run it back to Rockaway. There was a Polish neighbourhood and they said I
and a fanny pack, not even ironically. Instead, we’re a carefully cultivated
looked enough like a little Polish kid that no one would give me a hard time.”
mix of Chuck Taylors, tattoos and Black Flag T-shirts. History, in this
Joseph formed Cro-Mags in the early eighties with bassist Harley
context, revolves around desperate junkies, long-gone punk clubs, and the
Flanagan. Colliding hardcore with metal, they were known as one of the
spot where our tour guide was once stabbed in the shoulder by a crazed
hardest bands to come out of NYC. They toured relentlessly and enjoyed
Puerto Rican gangster. This is John Joseph’s Lower East Side. For the next
decent record sales, but never made any money – a fact Joseph puts down
three hours, he will show us how it’s morphed from a graffiti-covered world
to poor management. Nevertheless, Cro-Mags reached legend status off the
of violence, sex and three-chord progressions to the trendy consumer-driven
back of their intense live shows, and the fact that he and Harley, who were
district it is today.
all but brothers for a time, had a personal war over rights to the band’s name.
Joseph’s accent is so classic New York you almost think he’s faking it.
Thirty years since Cro-Mags formed, European concert promoters have
People in Manhattan don’t talk like that today, but then again, most of them
reportedly offered sixty thousand dollars a show for an original Flanagan/
didn’t grow up in New York. And they certainly didn’t sleep in creepy porno
Joseph lineup – but they refuse. “I just can’t do that anymore with someone
theatres to escape snowy winter nights on the street. “The experiences I
who has to be the centre of attention,” says Joseph.
had to go through were tough, because I was institutionalised in very bad
He leads the tour east to a region formerly known as Alphabet City,
neighbourhoods,” says Joseph. “It put me in touch with a lot of dangerous
explaining the seventies nicknames: Avenue A you were “Adventurous”;
people and situations. The streets were wild and crime-ridden. My very first
Avenue B you were “Bold”; Avenue C you were “Crazy”; and any white boy
year on the streets was ’77. You had the blackouts, [serial killer] Son of Sam
who made it as far as Avenue D was “Dead”.
and drugs. The city was in chaos because it was broke. The cops were getting laid off. You name it; it was going on. You just had to watch your back.”
There were no boutiques in this neighbourhood thirty-five years ago – no double mocha soy lattes or wine bars. Mad hellholes tend to attract creatives
Joseph leads the crew down the infamous Bowery, an integral part of
and criminals alike, and while the seeds of punk rock were growing through
Lower East Side lore. Cutting north/south through Lower Manhattan, the
societal cracks in London and LA, a sordid version was spawning on the
Bowery was known as a lewd place long before the CBGB’s awning became a
Lower East Side. Joseph, possessing tendencies both bohemian and bruiser,
rock ‘n’ roll landmark. Bordered on the west by Five Points, the Bowery had
was drawn to it like a fly to a rotting transvestite corpse. He knows the junkies
been a dirty haunt since the 1800s (think Gangs of New York). Over the years,
who killed Sid’s Nancy. He knows what crack can do because he ripped off
it became lined with bawdy saloons, unemployment agencies, whores, tattoo
his best friends and family to get high. He knows about dirty cops and gang
parlours and flophouses – a place where the homeless, crazy and addicted
members because he fought both. “Now you have all these ‘supposed’ punk
mingled and met. According to Joseph, the “reviving” of the neighbourhood
dudes here with [tattoo] sleeves up to their necks who don't scare anyone,”
has displaced many such unfortunates. “I like to point this out from
says Joseph. “I chuckle at that shit. They have the look, but they didn’t really
over here,” says Joseph, directing our attention east across the Bowery.
earn it or live it. It’s a watered-down version. The old-time punk rockers were
“There’s still a shelter over there where you can see a few guys who are down
crazy. It’s a different animal now.”
Adrian Rubi-Dentzel 45
During the tour, locals are not shy to interact. An annoyed yuppie spouts,
“I tell everyone to check out the website Iskconirm.com [a purist Krishna
“Excuse me, foreigners!” An older Spanish fella gives Joseph a fist-bump,
revival movement]. Prabhupada means ‘one who leads by example’. He was
building on street cred earned back in the day. A strung-out waitress comes
the most humble. Prabhupada was the one who slept on the floor, fed everyone,
out of Paul’s Da Burger Joint with her own twisted tales.
and renounced materialism. I still chant every day, read Prabhupada’s books
And the stories keep coming. John explains how he once lived below a Daniel Rakowitz. He remembers when the eccentric artist had Monika Beerle,
and associate with devotees. I owe everything to Prabhupada. Without his teachings, I would be dead. It’s not a religion; it’s a spiritual process.”
a Swiss dance student, move in with him. Soon, her mother notified the school
In accordance with his strict vegan lifestyle, Joseph points to several of the
from overseas that she hadn’t heard from her daughter in weeks. Apparently,
Lower East Side’s original vegetarian joints. The Cauldron, said to be run by
the girl tried to leave Danny, and he wasn’t having it. Joseph tells the tale of
witches, is long gone. But Angelica Kitchen, which used to feed leftover vegan
Danny boiling her body and feeding her to the homeless people in Tompkins
food to the street punks, is still there.
“When did people start equating eating an animal that’s been tortured
We stop off at the former Studio 171A, where Jay ‘Dublee’ Williams
its whole life with manliness?” asks Joseph. “Be a ‘real man’ and eat beef?!
recorded the Beastie Boys’ first album. Joseph recounts how, while living
Are you going to be a real man when you get into your forties and fifties and
at the studio on Avenue A, he became a part of the wider Bad Brains family
they’re ripping your colon out of your ass? And then you gotta take all this
when they recorded the Roir Sessions. The four black dreads from DC who
medication, and you’re walking to the fucking pharmacy every day like some
played powerful, fast hardcore, punctuated by beautifully soulful reggae,
feeble bastard? They’re brainwashing us to eat that food. Nobody’s going to
not only revolutionised the New York scene, they helped define American-
tell you not to eat that shit. This shit’s making you sick and the drug companies
style hardcore. Although he was originally drawn to the violence of punk in
are making billions.”
the seventies, Joseph became more deeply involved in the scene in the early
This rant is the focus of his second book, Meat is for Pussies: A How-To-Guide
eighties, when he went AWOL from the US Navy in Virginia and fell in with
For Guys Who Want to Get Fit, Kick Ass and Take Names. It’s a title that was
the Washington DC punks. Returning to the Lower East Side, he started to see
sure to get attention and has drawn the ire of feminists. “It says right on
punk more as a community and an outlet for activism.
the cover, ‘For dudes.’ It’s not for them!” yells Joseph. “But there’s nothing
John ‘Bloodclot’, as he became known, stops us at every address that once
misogynistic about it.”
hosted raucous slam pits and historic rock moments. He remembers the
Through research, philosophies and menu ideas, the book dispels the
Ramones at CB’s and Black Flag at the Peppermint Lounge. “I don’t need to
stereotype of the skinny, unhealthy vegan. His theories, which link an over-
“Back then, punk rockers would stab you in the face with a fucking bottle.”
go to fucking Wikipedia for this shit,” he says. “I lived it.” His memory is solid.
processed American food industry to pharmaceutical companies, are eye-
The only time he refers to his notes is to rattle off the artists that played each
opening. Recently, though, he has become linked to a more controversial
venue: Public Enemy at the Ritz; Patti Smith performing with the St. Mark’s
belief: that the Japanese tsunami was the Karmic comeuppance of that
Poetry Project. He missed The Clash at the Palladium because he was serving
nation’s raping of the seas. You have to wonder if Karma works like that.
eighteen months in upstate New York, but saw them plenty at Bond’s Casino. Some are still venues under different names. Most are sushi bars.
“I was talking about collective Karma,” says Joseph, who insists that the quote, taken during his March interview with blog Approaching Oblivion, was
If Joseph majored in history at the University of the Streets, his minor was
taken out of context and run through the internet mill. “It’s not that I have
in gentrification. This is one of the most famously yuppified neighbourhoods
anything against Japan. The whole planet is killing animals. The whole planet
in the world. He laments a culture caught in the crossfire of Mayor Rudolph
is getting ready for a big dose of Karma. But whatever it takes for the masses
‘Rudy’ Giuliani’s war on crime in the mid-to-late nineties, and when he
to wake up. People think they don’t have to face responsibility for our actions.”
describes how the desperate economy is now causing the criminal element to
So, what’s next for a hardcore frontman looking at fifty? There’s a Cro-
threaten the new loafer crowd, there’s a subtle excitement in his voice. “But
Mags Australian tour, another book in the works, two screenplays, and he’s
there are two good things to come out of the changes to the neighbourhood,”
currently training for the first New York Ironman triathlon. He also claims
he concedes, without missing a step. “I don’t have to worry about my mother
that fake Krishna gurus have been sending goons after a West Coast friend.
walking down the streets here anymore. And there are more places to get
He wants to fly to LA with a “mob of his own hooligans” to see if the hired
health food now.”
muscle will step to him.
Joseph is in better shape than most guys half his age. He was practicing
He finishes the walking tour at what used to be Max’s Kansas City.
yoga twenty years before the rest of New York, and now hosts a weekly “plant-
Alongside a closing anecdote devoted to Iggy Pop – who apparently used to
based Cro-Mags urban training session” with Nike. In the early eighties,
get into a giant bag and have the bouncers throw him down the stairs for fun –
Joseph was introduced to healthy living as part of a package deal with
Joseph wraps things up on a characteristically chipper note: “The first time I
spirituality. And while he follows the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, a founder
went in here, I got my head kicked in. Back then, punk rockers would stab you
of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, he’s less enamoured
in the face with a fucking bottle.”
with other chapters of the faith.
This walking tour is anything but pedestrian
A History of Sadness
Mike Mills may be showing Hollywood how real films are made, but he's still an outsider in his self-made world. Te x t A d a m W o o d w a r d A r t w o r k E d Te m p l e t o n
Together with Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine,
I love old Hollywood through the teens, twenties
Geoff McFetridge, Spike Jonze, Ed Templeton,
and thirties because it was being invented then;
Thomas Campbell and a handful of other like-
it was like this whole new entrepreneurial world
minded artists, Mills helped form the Beautiful
that was just being discovered. It’s a little bit like
Losers, an avant-garde DIY collective who pooled
coming from skateboarding, being a part of these
their respective subculture roots to form an
cultures that were born from punk.”
impromptu global trend. Mills’ good friend and
By his own admission Mills is “obsessed with
fellow artist Aaron Rose brought the Beautiful
history”. So it’s fitting that his new film – while
Losers to the fore in his 2008 documentary of
progressive in its scale – revisits a chapter of his
the same name, but the seeds of the movement
personal narrative. Mirroring a traumatic and
were sown back in 1992, when Rose’s Alleged
transformative period in Mills’ life, Beginners
Gallery opened its doors in Manhattan’s Upper
focuses on a father-son dynamic that’s altered by a
East Side, giving the world its first taste of their
revelatory autumn moment. After the death of his
wife, Christopher Plummer’s character comes out
riter, filmmaker, music video director, graphic
By the time Alleged had run its course in 2002,
as gay and dedicates his last days to discovering
designer, Mike Mills’ creative roots stretch like
street culture was seducing the masses. Changing
a new kind of love, much to the surprise of his
contour lines on a map. He’s flexed his transmedia
the world was never their MO, but the Beautiful
only son (Ewan McGregor). It’s been eight years
muscles for over two decades, collaborating with
Losers had done just that. With the blueprint set
since the death of Mills’ father, who also came out
everyone from Beck and Moby to Air and Sonic
for the next generation, it was time to go home.
in his twilight years, but the process of bringing
Youth and shooting ads for Nike and Levi’s and
For Mills, that meant going back to Los Angeles.
this intimate vignette to life has not only given
a host of other high-profile brands. He’s been to
Despite being born in Berkeley some 400 miles
him closure, it’s inadvertently strengthened his
Sundance and back with his 2005 directorial debut
up the Golden State shoreline, Mills has long felt
bond with his wife of two years, fellow artist and
Thumbsucker, grabbing a clutch of awards en
a deep spiritual connection with LA. It’s here,
filmmaker Miranda July.
route. Now the one-time skate punk is taking on
of course, that the foundations were laid for the
“There’s a long streak of melancholia in my
Hollywood with new film Beginners. Yet success
industry Mills is currently dallying with. Although
world,” reveals Mills. “Often when I’m sad, I make
in its various guises has left the shape-shifter an
he hardly embodies the Hollywood dream,
things to get out of it; it makes everything more
émigré in his own art scene; shunned by the alt
his creative outlook is informed by cinema’s
emotionally vivid when you’re sad. Because this
crowd, not yet embraced by the mainstream.
particular story was written in the hotness of
“I do art stuff, I do graphic stuff, I do film stuff
“I live in Silver Lake,” explains Mills. “It’s far
grief, it very much comes out of that place. But as
– none of these worlds cares about the other one;
away from the beach and Santa Monica and the
much as it’s about grief, it’s also about love. New
they don’t take care of you,” he says. “It doesn’t
whole film industry, but it’s also within two minutes
love can really rattle you, it can really bring all
help me in the film world that I did a Beastie Boys’
of the big film lot where [director] DW Griffith
your ghosts out into the open, it can bring all these
cover, and the Beasties don’t really care that I did
made Intolerance. There’s a big Blockbuster video
shitty sides of you to the surface – all these parts of
a film. Because I do films, the whole art world kind
store there now. In the other direction, literally
you that are really unsettling and unresolved. Real
of pooh-poohs me, like I’m too commercial. The
two minutes away, is Walt Disney’s studio where
love, real intense love does that, and being with
film world considers me [to be] kind of an aberrant
Mickey Mouse was first drawn and animated.
Miranda reminded me of that. It reminded me of
thing. The graphic world doesn’t really embrace
That’s a supermarket now. It’s kind of amazing:
the power of real love.”
me because I do too many things. But I’m okay
everywhere I walk it’s like, ‘Well, Charlie Chaplin
must have walked here; Buster Keaton, DW
While he might not belong to a specific clique,
Griffith, all these people must have walked here.’
Mills keeps what he calls his “creative family” close.
But it’s all invisible now. I’m always looking back.
Beginners is in cinemas now. mikemillsweb.com
The Last Ta b o o Why are there so few gay skaters? HUCK catches up with Tim Von Werne, whose career was cut short under a veil of ‘controversy’, to find out if skateboarding is stepping away from the closet and allowing more pros to be out and proud. Te x t P a t r i c k W e l c h Photography Nick Ballon
The interview was done, we shot a bunch of pictures to go with it, then the guys who were the business managers for Birdhouse got hold of it. They read the article and were like, ‘Absolutely no, this is not going to happen.’ When they were shutting down the article, they were like, ‘We have absolutely no problem with you being gay – it’s just about how it will be viewed in middle America. We feel bad – we just can’t do it.’” I’m sitting outside a pub in Clerkenwell, London, talking to Tim Von Werne about his previous life as an openly gay sponsored skater. Tim is someone whose name constantly crops up in any conversation about gay people in skateboarding, whether you’re trawling magazine message boards and YouTube comments or talking to some of the biggest names in the business. Originally from Miami, Tim was an am for Birdhouse Skateboards at the end of the nineties, but his career was cut short in 1998 when his sponsor pulled an interview in Skateboarder magazine in which he talked about his sexuality. It’s one of those rare sunny Saturdays in the capital and Tim, now a scientist living in London with his husband of ten years, is relaxed and jokey, yet pensive at the same time. He talks about his sponsored days with the kind of fondness people have for old friends, tinged with the sadness of a relationship gone wrong. “I understood why it didn’t get run, but it sort of marked a turning point in my relationship with Birdhouse – and possibly skating in general. It was just after I broke my ankle, so I had to take some months off anyway, but [the incident] definitely reduced the amount of time I spent skating. It became pretty clear straight away that if they weren’t willing to print the article, and if I wanted to be a professional skateboarder, I may have to think about going into the closet, which I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing. I’ve never been ashamed of being gay and I wouldn’t want to have to start feeling that I needed to be.”
“If we think we are so progressive or even countercultural, we should have been past this twenty years ago.” The word ‘closet’ brings to mind a bygone era – hankies in denim pockets,
O’Dell, too, thinks the lack of openly gay pros and ex-pros is the result of
guys loitering in raincoats and blatant homophobic vitriol on the front-
protectionism on the industry’s part: “I’d say the heavy demographic is high
pages of the tabloids. Maybe it’s beer-induced optimism, maybe it’s the
school and that if someone is known as the gay skater, that would probably
sunshine, but from our vantage point, outside this pub in one of the world’s
hurt sales.” He continues with an anecdote about his school days: “This is
most liberal quarters, the concept of ‘the closet’ seems almost retro. Haven’t
so stupid now, but I remember seeing a Jason Lee board with David Bowie
we left that all behind? If not society, then what about skateboarding? Surely
on it and I remember thinking it was cool, and someone was like, ‘He's gay.’
the cool, creative, enlightened world of skateboarding has gotten past all
And I was like, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t get that then because that’s the gay board.’
that? Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s totally stupid in retrospect, but at the time I was like, ‘I should choose
Curious, I decide it’s about time someone started asking, ‘Where are all the gay skaters?’ As the only openly gay pro of his time, Tim was a solitary
one of these other boards, because I don’t want to show up at the park with the gay board.’”
figure back in the nineties. Surely that should have changed by now? “If
So why don’t kids see being gay as just another colourful stripe in
we’re talking top professional level – the ones I know of that are commonly
skateboarding’s diverse tapestry? We’ve got artsy skaters, jocky party-boy
understood to be gay – there are about four,” says Tim. “But I don’t feel
skaters, hip hop thug skaters and hesh rock skaters, but nowhere among
comfortable giving peoples’ names.”
that cultural mix are there any skaters who just happen to be gay. Carnie
I can’t help but respect Tim’s reticence, but at the same time it gets me
thinks this gap speaks of a wider problem: “I don’t think homophobia is any
thinking: why, in this day and age, are we still whispering about the ‘g’ word
more specific to skateboarding than it is to youth culture, especially that
as if it’s some kind of dirty taboo? If it’s common knowledge within the
specific age group. I think it’s more of a cultural issue that homosexuality
industry that some pros are gay then what's stopping them from being open
among young men is considered a weakness.” Andrew Reynolds, who was
with the general public, too?
Tim’s old teammate on Birdhouse, explains that part of the problem is
Later I talk to Ed Templeton, pro skater, artist and the man behind Toy
that the gay stereotype doesn’t fit into the “tough guys, falling, bleeding”
Machine skateboards, who tells me he knows of Jarrett Berry – another
image of skating. And Brooke tends to agree: “Skateboarding is funny in
name that constantly comes up on the blogosphere – who featured on the
that it’s a macho thing to do. It’s got that attitude like, ‘I’m gonna throw
cover of Big Brother’s ‘Gay Issue’ in 2002. He says he knows of plenty of
myself off forty stairs, I’m not pussy-footing around here.’ It’s like you’re
top level female pro skaters who are openly gay – something that ex-Big
this gladiator and you’re going out there with your sword. It’s presented as
Brother editor Dave Carnie also confirms when he points me towards two
an overwhelmingly masculine thing to do.”
big names. “There are others, too, but I’m not at liberty to say. That choice is theirs to make,” adds Templeton.
A father of four, Brooke thinks that while today’s teenagers are more enlightened than their parents’ generation, they might still have
Bryce Kanights, an ex-pro skater-turned-photographer says he can think
preconceptions about what it means to be gay: “If they know people who are
of seven skaters – ams, pros and ex-pros – who are gay, but not out in a formal
gay or have family members that are gay, it’s not a big deal, but they may still
way. Patrick O’Dell, photographer and the brains behind VBS TV’s Epicly
equate gays with being weak – that fairy, mincey, pansy kid of thing. I hate to
Later’d series, tells me he can think of six or seven people who are not out.
say this, but I think it’s going to take time.”
Although I was clear when talking to people that I wasn’t looking to
I speak to Sophia Le who agrees that the road to acceptance is a long
publish a tabloid-style list of closeted skaters, the phrase ‘off the record’ was
one. Sophia lives in the San Francisco area, skates and is gay. We talk about
used constantly. No one, it seems, is keen to break the code. Tim explains:
Sophia’s experience as a female skater and the recent interview in Canadian
“All of their friends and everyone they hang out with and skate with knows,
skate mag King Shit with transsexual skater Hillary Thompson, which
which is how everyone in the industry knows, because these things get
Sophia sees as a progressive step. “Skateboarding has definitely grown
around, but it’s just not publicised. I’d like to the think the reason it’s not
up a lot and matured and is becoming more accepting, but it’s a slow and
publicised is because people are okay with it, but I think I’m a bit cynical;
long process with anything that has discrimination [within it]. It takes so
[I think] the reason it’s not talked about is because people don’t want it to
many baby steps. First, it’s like let’s accept other cultures and ethnicities
be talked about.”
and then let’s accept women, to a certain extent. And with anything that
And why don’t people want it to be talked about? Michael Brooke, editor of Canada’s Concrete Wave magazine, says: “One of the key challenges
is male-dominated, I feel that it’s always gay men that are the last to gain acceptance,” she says.
is that you’re dealing with a youth market and that is a precarious thing
There’s a resigned frustration that comes through in her voice, the same
from a business standpoint. There are a lot of people in the business side
frustration that echoes in the words of the next guy I speak to. Steve Olson,
of skateboarding who don’t really want to sponsor an openly gay skater
legend of the West Coast seventies skate scene, party animal and father of
because they don’t want to rock anybody’s boat. The typical street skater
Girl Skateboards’ golden boy Alex Olson, is not one to sugarcoat things.
kid is between ten and twenty years old, with a big bulk being fourteen to
Between weirdly long telephone silences and borderline lunacy (“Sorry, I
sixteen. It’s kids who drive the business in terms of buying the stuff and
was just looking for my lighter… Sorry, what was the question again? I’ve
swamping the pros for autographs, and I think it’s a very sensitive age in
completely lost my mind...”), he laments skating’s closeted culture. “I think
terms of your masculinity. I get the feeling that they aren’t closed-minded
it’s pathetic to be honest. It’s 2011 and it’s like, ‘Who cares?’ Who really,
people; they’re just people that are scared they’re dealing with such a
really cares?” he says, before hammering the industry with a loud grunt.
dynamite issue.” Kanights agrees: “I think the underlying problem with
“The skateboard world is run by idiots – they’re all just greedy, money-
acceptance is that it’s a youth-driven activity.”
It’s easy to blame it on the industry. But I know that, aged fifteen, I was rolling around South Bank doing little, squirty kickflips and calling
convicted of any offence in connection with the incident, but Swindell got fifteen years for second degree murder.
everything ‘gay’. Fast-forward three years to when I came out and it becomes
Patrick O’Dell tells me about an incident ten years ago where a skater
apparent that teenage insecurity and inexperience is much of the problem.
who was rumoured to be gay left a tour after somebody said, ‘Oh, I heard
O’Dell agrees: “I think as a fifteen-year-old I was probably homophobic.
you were a faggot.’ “It turned into the hugest fight with three skaters being
I think if I met a gay person when I was fourteen, I’d be weirded out. It would
extremely homophobic and the others sticking up for him,” says O’Dell.
be easy for me as a thirty-four-year-old to go like, ‘You guys are dumb, you
But while these incidents paint the worst possible picture of sections of
guys are a bunch of uninformed little homophobes,’ when they haven’t had
skateboarding, Tim points out that, while on Birdhouse, “there was no one I
the experience to shape their opinions. Some fourteen-year-old writing on
met when I was skateboarding or that I have ever talked to in skateboarding
the message boards in Ohio probably just hasn’t met any gay people.”
who ever had a problem with me being gay”.
But it’s also not okay to lump the blame on kids. In an era where
Still, as Sophia Le points out, coming out professionally is a leap into the
information about every possible lifestyle is just a Google search away,
unknown. “I feel like for the gay athletes who want to come out, you need to
shouldn’t we give young people more credit? Might they be more open-
know that there is a safety net out there for you to do that. Of course, there
minded than we think? For Andrew Reynolds, ignorance has nothing to
will be those who pioneer, who go out there and do it anyway, but to get
do with age. He recalls how, as a teenager coming down from Lakeland,
there you also need that support from the industry.”
Florida, he was pretty nonplussed by the whole issue. Upon finding out Tim was gay, he simply thought, “Wow, really? That’s a trip.”
So is that safety net there? Templeton thinks so: “I would support my riders in their choice [to come out], certainly. And if they wanted to be the
I talk to Dr Nigel Jarvis, a senior lecturer at Brighton University who has
person whose mission it is to talk about it and bring it forward, then Toy
explored masculinity issues in grassroots-level sports in the UK and Canada.
Machine would be there to help.” But Templeton also stresses that a pro’s
He says that while sport is “one of the last bastions of homophobia” in
decision to not come out isn’t just about them wanting to protect their
society, younger people are more relaxed about sexuality than their parents’
careers. “Not everyone has an axe to grind or is a willing banner carrier. Any
generation. “It would be quite interesting to look at the ages of business
gay skater who decided to come out as gay and be public with it would end
people in that industry,” he adds. “They may have an old-fashioned view
up being ‘The Gay Skater’. Everything he or she did after that would be seen
that gay athletes or pro skaters turn off young consumers. A lot of people
through the lens of them being gay. I can easily understand the reasons for
making decisions could be basing them on a gut instinct that could be quite
not coming out.”
outdated. Do they have evidence to back that up?” But surely being ‘cool with it’ should be the norm? Shouldn’t skaters be capable of taking this all in their stride? In the shift from being a bunch of
Dr Nigel Jarvis agrees. “The problem with a lot of athletes who come out is that you’re still front-page news. You need to be a strong character to withstand constant questions about your sexuality,” he argues.
reprobates screeching around Santa Monica to becoming a multimilliondollar industry backed by some of the world’s biggest brands, has skating lost some of its maverick spirit?
few weeks after our first meeting, Tim and I catch up
“Yes,” offers Steve Olson, “and no.” Indeed, most people I speak to agree
at Mile End skate park, East London. It’s eight in the
that while skating has changed, sections of it have stayed true to their
morning but, weirdly, we’re not alone: there’s a session
alternative roots. “Some elements of skateboarding have retained their
going down among a small group with a mean age of
‘fuck-you-we’re-different’ attitude and they’re growing,” says Brooke. Carnie
about thirty. In between Tim lamenting his terrible
agrees: “The female skate scene is getting much bigger. […] It reminds me of
nineties shoes (“They look like moonboots,” I tell him.
how skating was in the seventies and eighties, when there was no hope of
“Oh, thanks,” he laughs) and showing me pictures of his
making a living out of skateboarding. Nobody liked you. […] The girls are
new puppy, it’s apparent that he still has it; doing frontside airs in the bowl
like that and they’re shoved off to the side.”
and lofting massive pop shove-its over the hip. We sit down for a breather
Brooke agrees that there are more open-minded pockets within the
and I ask him what would’ve happened if that interview had been published
world of skate. He thinks that longboarding, while rejected by the core, isn’t
all those years ago. “Had the article gone ahead, and if there hadn’t been
prone to the same exclusive clan mentality that plagues street skating – you
a massive backlash, I would probably still be skateboarding, just because
can wear whatever shoes you want, you can dress however you want, you
of the amount of exposure it would’ve gotten,” he says. “Looking back,
can be a girl and no one cares. “Uniformity and conformity, that mould, is
I should’ve pushed to get it printed. Tony [Hawk] wanted to do it and
being broken by the world of longboarding,” he argues. “Whether it’s down
I think he was looking for me to push for it, too. It could’ve done a lot for
to its inclusive nature or not, longboarding grew forty per cent last year.”
But it’s not just the brands worrying about profit that are keeping closet
And what about today? Could an openly gay pro do a lot for
doors shut. According to Kanights, blame – if that’s even the right word –
skateboarding now? The panel thinks so. “Skateboarding needs things
also lies with skaters who don’t want to come out for fear of a drop in board
like that to keep it fresh, to keep it interesting and to keep it weird.
or shoe sales, which comprises the majority of their income. “The reason
Skateboarding should be weird,” says Carnie. Templeton adds: “Let’s get
why ‘x’ pro doesn’t come out as gay is that he won’t sell any boards and the
this stupid debate/experiment over with. If we think we are so progressive
company will be threatened by it,” says Kanights.
or even countercultural, we should have been past this twenty years ago.”
But is this all really about money? Possibly not. Kanights tells me he
Finally, outspoken as ever, Steve Olson chimes in with: “If I were gay I’d be
believes pros are reluctant to come out not just because it’s a commercial
like, ‘Yo, I am flaming, hear me roar!’ I would love to see some out-of-control
risk, but because it’s a social one, too. So, is there genuine, deep-seated
homosexual skateboarder come out, like some outrageously over-the-top
homophobia within the ranks of pro skating? “I know there are some openly
drag queen who’s like, ‘I’m skating for Judy!’ And you’re like, ‘Give it, girl!’
homophobic guys out there who are pro skaters,” he says.
And he’s like, ‘That’s right, bitches!’ and goes and does like a triple set.”
It reminds me of an incident in 1993 in which pros Danny Way and Josh Swindell were involved in a fight outside a bar in Los Angeles with a man
“Would that be the true spirit of skateboarding?” I ask. “Totally.”
who was allegedly propositioning Swindell. The Los Angeles Times reported that the victim’s face was “beaten beyond recognition”. Way was never
No one at Birdhouse was available to comment on this piece.
Photo: Andrew Chisholm
A n o t h e r
D i m e n s i o N
B i g - wav e s u r f i n g j u s t g o t b i g g e r , n o w t h at T o m C a r r o l l and Ross Clarke-Jones are slaying monsters in 3D.
Photo: Rodd Owen
Te x t C o l i n D e l a n e y
Co-director Chris Nelius explains: “We’re
At forty-five, he’s still going strong. “When I got
influenced by good feature docs like Touching the
smacked by the lip the other day, I felt ninety-five,
Void. And we’ve got really good characters that we
but generally when I see these guys aged twenty to
believe in who are at a critical point in their lives.”
thirty, it doesn’t mean anything. I’m enjoying my
“It’s a buddy film,” adds producer Marcus
surfing now more than ever.”
Gillezeau. “It’s a tale of two dads in their forties.
As partners, they admit to being an odd
They’re at the age where anyone else would be at
couple. Ross is happy with a reliable but dinged-
the peak of their career, but these guys are at the
up board; Tom’s gear must be perfect. And as a
twilight of their second career.”
psychological test in the first TV series helped
Tom Carroll may be the ‘two-time world
reveal, Tom faces his fear through rationalisation,
champion’, and Ross Clarke-Jones the ‘slayer of
while Ross just takes the plunge. But in the water
monster waves’, but with Storm Surfers the pair
they need to be in sync. “You need to have a
are uniting and going back to their roots.
chemistry as there’s no time to talk,” says Tom.
“It was 1984-85,” explains Tom. “We met each other doing a movie called Mad Wax.” Laughing, Ross adds: “He was a two-time
“Communication is about a movement, or even a grunt, like a dance partnership or doubles on the tennis court – almost like a sixth sense.”
world champion. I was a two-time loser. I was in
When we meet on a rest day, Ross uses the time
the top thirty, but my passion was to do well in
to unwind in the rainy mountains, hiking through
Hawaii, which I did in my first year at nineteen.
mud up to his knees. Tom goes grocery shopping.
I was soon labelled a big-wave surfer, but it wasn’t
But as soon as the swell is up they’re back together,
much advantage when you’re in one-foot surf.”
side-by-side. “Like bulls at start-gates, we’re just
“We hooked up in Hawaii and noticed we both liked to ride bigger waves,” continues Tom.
frothing to get out,” says Ross. “But usually we can’t because the cameras aren’t right.”
“There’s a camaraderie between two people when
Storm Surfers isn’t just about unknown surf
it’s bigger; there is machismo involved. We turned
territory; it’s about unknown 3D territory, too.
he ocean has dropped to an icy four degrees. It
into a little team of guys who like to challenge each
“The scale of the film is such that you physically
mirrors the sky’s marbled, stormy gloom. Without
other in nasty conditions.”
need to be in two places at once,” says co-director
warning, the sea lurches up and rips through the
The current chapter in the Carroll/Clarke-
marble canvas with a great, white tear. With a
Jones story kicked off in 2008, when the pair took
force that could pull limbs from a torso, the wave’s
on Tasmania’s mythical Dangerous Banks for the
Carroll admits he wasn’t a fan of Avatar, then
lip pitches, sending a forty-foot barrel into the air.
first Storm Surfers. By then, Ross knew 6ixty Foot
adds: “But I think for this, because we can slow it
Justin McMillan. “Shooting in 3D is twice the effort in every way to shooting in 2D.”
Ross Clarke-Jones lets go of the rope that
Productions co-directors Chris Nelius and Justin
down and see the natural form and action in the
pulled him into the wave. As he starts his descent,
McMillan well, having worked with them in 2003
water, 3D is ideal.” Yet, unlike Avatar’s controlled
a freak side-chop bumps the jet ski that towed him
on The Sixth Element: The Ross Clarke-Jones Story,
studio environment, Storm Surfers has to unfold
in, sending the driver, Tom Carroll, back onto the
narrated by the late Dennis Hopper.
in raging storms. With twenty-five members
wave. As if in slow motion, all 670 kilos of man-
Shooting for the 3D film is set to last throughout
of crew, a thousand kilos of equipment and no
August, or until surf forecaster Ben Matson runs
second takes, the whole endeavour is a logistical
“He turned directly underneath me,” says Tom.
out of waves. So far, they’ve taken on Tasmania’s
nightmare, especially when you throw excitement
“He had no idea I was there and that I was coming
Shipsterns, Sydney’s Northern Beaches and the
into the mix. “To have two guys with Attention
down on him. It was a really scary moment. I hung
NSW Central Coast, where they were joined by
Deficit Disorder is hard,” adds Julian. “It takes
on to the jet ski as long as I could, trying not to
Brazilian big-wave prodigy Maya Gabeira.
about five minutes to get a 3D camera on the
and-machine comes tumbling over the falls.
It’s a huge undertaking, but with over fifty-
cameraman’s shoulder and, in that time, they’re
“He almost killed me!” adds Ross. “But with all
five years of big-wave surfing between them, Tom
the stuff that was going on, I won’t hold it against
and Ross are more than prepared. Experience is
But the footage is worth it. Thanks to specially
him. He had a helmet on with voices in his head.
a good thing, but what about age? “At forty-nine,
built cameras – mounted on boards, boats,
He was trying to operate the Air Knife that blows
your body doesn’t heal as fast,” concedes Tom.
helicopters and carbon rods attached to the
the [camera] lenses free of water. And he was trying
“And I want to be around a lot longer to play with
surfers – the audience is deeper in the barrel than
to make a commentary through the microphone.
my grandkids. I’ve had to pull back a few times in
I’d like to think there is an unspoken connection
the last year where Ross would’ve gone. He fully
“We’re not against nature,” says Tom. “We’re
between us, but sometimes it gets disconnected.”
respects my decisions. Sometimes we rag on each
just trying to understand ourselves in the wild
other, but it’s all in good fun. For Ross, he’s gung-
elements. If I put myself against her, I’m in trouble
ho – he’s always been that way.”
because she’s a lot stronger than me. But if I
After twenty-five years of friendship and a fourteen-year tow-in partnership, Australian bigwave surfers Carroll and Clarke-Jones have faced
“I hated competing,” adds Ross in agreement.
their fair share of surprises. But nothing could
“I’d rather be at one with the ocean, excuse the
prepare them for that day, on the Margaret River
cliché, surfing bigger waves.”
‘set’ of their new film Storm Surfers 3D.
off. It’s really frustrating.”
work with the water, I’ve got a much better chance of survival.”
In 1999, after twelve years on the ASP Tour,
Storm Surfers 3D, the TV series, will air on Sky3D in
Like previous episodes in the Discovery
Ross left the competition ring in search of bigger
the UK in early 2012. The movie will be released later
Channel series, in which the pair hunt down the
things. Over the years, he’s tamed eighty to
world’s biggest waves, Storm Surfers 3D is not a
ninety-foot beasts, surfed a tidal surge on the
surf film – it’s a documentary.
Amazon River and taken on a Japanese typhoon.
SPEAK NO EVIL In one of the first interviews since his detention by c h i n e s e a u t h o r i t i e s , a r t a c t i v i s t Ai W e i w e i t e l l s HUC K a s m u c h a s h e c a n a b o u t w h at i t m e a n s t o b e ‘ f r e e ’ . Text John Sunyer I l l u s t r a t i o n C h r is G all
i Weiwei is a difficult man to interview. It’s not that he’s
“It’s well-known that torture in custody is rampant in China,” says
difficult to talk to. He’s just incredibly careful about what he
Phelim Kine, a senior Asia researcher with the New York-based Human
says. That’s what happens when you’ve just been detained by
Rights Watch. “The Chinese regime uses criminal and thuggish methods to
your government for nearly three months without being able
silence dissent. […] It’s becoming distressingly routine for the authorities to
to tell anyone where you are.
pay absolutely no attention to the law. Since mid-February, they’ve thrown
In early April, Ai’s persistent criticism of the Chinese government
the rulebook out the window.”
led to his disappearance somewhere in Beijing. His arrest for unspecified
Plain-clothes security officers follow Ai everywhere. He must ask for
‘economic crimes’ was part of a vicious crackdown on dissident artists,
permission to travel outside of Beijing. He is banned from using Twitter
writers and lawyers by the Chinese authorities, who feared an Arab
or blogging. His passport remains seized. And yet he has not been formally
Spring-inspired revolt. Then on June 22, eighty-one days later, Ai reappeared
charged. “Ai Weiwei is in limbo,” says Kine. “He’s in a legal grey zone,
which is exactly where the Chinese authorities want him.” To combat this,
In one of the first interviews since his detention, Ai opens with an
says Kine, the high-profile campaign for his emancipation must continue.
apology; he explains he can’t tell me about the conditions of his release. “I’m
“It’s only when there is long-term public pressure that conditions begin
out, I’m home, I’m fine,” he says on the phone. Not free, but “out”, which can
mean something closer to house arrest.
PEN International, a worldwide organisation that campaigns for
He explains that he is still producing art, although he has to “digress”
freedom of speech, has seen its Chinese centre take on fourteen new cases
from the more political aesthetic that made him China’s first global art star.
– including Ai Weiwei’s – in the last six months. “We’ve been contacting the
“Please understand that I can’t talk about what kind of art I’m making now.
families and lawyers of detainees, appealing for donations for humanitarian
It reflects my current position,” he says, before trailing off mid-sentence.
and legal support through our website internationalpen.org.uk and
In July, Ai accepted a teaching post at the Berlin University of Arts that
publishing some of the banned works,” says executive secretary Yu Zhang.
he’s yet to take up. Is leaving China his only hope? “It will bring out my
Ai won notoriety for destroying Chinese antiquities to create new works,
creativity and give me the chance to work with young people. But it’s hard
a comment on the denial – and indeed destruction – of China’s rich cultural
to know when I can go,” he says, cagily.
history by this and previous governments. There’s the daring picture of his
The interview lasts for about fifteen minutes, but most of what Ai says is
wife, Lu Qing, lifting her skirt to reveal her white knickers as she stands in
unprintable. At the end of the call, I ask him if he wants to leave China and
front of an iconic Chairman Mao portrait at the gate to the Forbidden City in
what he thinks about the Chinese dissidents that have already left. “I never
Beijing. Equally provocative is ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’, a triptych of
wanted to leave China. But I am not allowed to talk to the media about this
photographs in which Ai is seen casually dropping a two-thousand-year-old
at all,” he says. “Please understand you can't print this. I think I’m allowed to
vase to shatter on the ground. And in 2000, he seriously tested the patience
say that I’m happy for them and everyone else who makes their own choices
of the Chinese authorities when he co-curated an exhibition in Shanghai
and has the freedom to feel liberal.” And with that, our conversation ends.
called Fuck Off. The show included a series of photographs called ‘Eating
These blank spaces speak volumes in their own way. Anything you want to know about Ai – his birth in 1957 to outspoken poet parents living in
People’ in which another artist is seen cooking and eating what appear to be aborted human foetuses. Authorities promptly closed down the show.
Beijing; his twelve years in America surrounded by the Warhol-influenced
In an interview with Ai in 2010, I asked what it felt like to be both one of
art scene; his expertise at blackjack, prolific twittering, and the emergency
China’s most recognisable artists and one of its highest-profile critics. “It
brain surgery he had to undergo to repair a burst blood vessel, reportedly
would be easier if there were other artists with the same influence as me to
caused by a severe police beating – it’s all just a Google search away. But
share the burden,” he said. “There is so much attention on everything I do,
what happened during his detention is anyone’s guess.
but it’s my job. I have to do this.”
“The censorship machine is invincible. Sometimes it can be impossible to fully resist and oppose.” I also asked if there was a distinction between his art and activism.
to criticise the regime, but I am an independent writer. I want to be the witness
“Sometimes my work is political, sometimes it is architectural, sometimes it
of history and speak for all of the Chinese people who feel suppressed,” he
is artistic,” he explained. “I don’t think I am a dissident artist. I see them as a
says, adding that his writing is the most important thing in his life.
It is, however, becoming more dangerous to speak out. In his new e-book,
The severity of the recent crackdown has led many to agree. Dozens of
Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair: Chronicling the Reform Movement Beijing Fears
artists and writers that support Ai’s call for freedom of speech have been
Most, Perry Link investigates China’s ‘stability maintenance’. This includes
imprisoned in the last five months. Given the authorities’ bullyboy tactics
monitoring people – disgruntled workers, religious believers – in order to
and the constant threat of prison, many have been forced to choose between
stop ‘trouble’. Link writes: “In 2010 China spent 514 billion yuan on ‘stability
the insidious force of self-censorship and exile: stay silent, or leave.
maintenance’ – more than it spent on health, education or its social welfare
Take Murong Xuecun, the pen name of Hao Qun. The thirty-sevenyear-old is considered one of the most famous authors to have emerged in
programmes and second only to the 532 billion yuan it spent on the military.” This year, the stability maintenance budget is at a record high.
contemporary China. In his damning and unflattering portrait of modern
But exile – whether forced or self-imposed – has its problems. “It has
China Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu, we follow three young men beset
been very clear for more than a decade that exiles lose their influence inside
by dead-end jobs, drugs, gambling debts and whoring as they struggle to
China,” Link explains in an email, before listing sixteen famous dissidents
make their way in Chengdu, the country’s fifth most populous city.
who never regained the attention they once commanded after they went into
Murong attempts to sidestep the absurdities of the censorship system by
exile. “I have also seen cases in the last two years [of dissidents] who have
using his “powers of obfuscation”. In other words, he writes about sensitive
rushed back to China just so that they won’t be barred from going home when
subjects without putting damning words onto the page. This is a heavy burden
something sensitive is approaching.”
for a writer to carry. “The censorship machine is invincible. Sometimes it can be impossible to fully resist and oppose,” he says.
For the fifty-eight-year-old Chinese writer Ma Jian, this warning comes too late. Ma, author of the acclaimed Red Dust and Beijing Coma, has lived
But Murong remains defiant. In 2010, a non-fiction work, The Missing
in the UK with his partner and translator Flora Drew since 1997. Staying
Ingredient, about going underground to uncover a fraudulent business
in China was never an option. “Whenever I put pen to paper, I was always
scheme, won him the People’s Literature Prize, but he was unexpectedly
glancing at the door, waiting for the police to walk in,” he says.
barred from making an acceptance speech. Instead, in a bold riposte to the
Although his works are banned on the mainland, Ma has visited
Chinese authorities, he mimed fastening a zip across his mouth as he waited
“hundreds of times” since he left. But in July, he was barred entry without
on the podium to collect his award.
receiving any official explanation as to why. His situation is indicative of how
The New York Times later published Murong’s planned acceptance speech
things have deteriorated since the crackdown in February.
in which he declares: “I am a proactive eunuch, I castrate myself even before
“It reminds me of the repressive period that followed the Tiananmen
the surgeon raises his scalpel. Our language has been cut into two parts: one
massacre of 1989,” says Ma, who wrote an explosive fictional account of this
safe, and the other risky.”
period in Beijing Coma, which tackled the horrors of how Chinese security
Chen Xiwo, a novelist and professor of comparative literature, puts it more simply: “Unless you keep your mouth shut, you’ll come under pressure
forces killed up to seven thousand students and supporters who had been demonstrating for democratic reform for over six weeks.
very early,” he says. In 2007, Chen launched a legal case against China
According to Ma, there is a new sense of “dread and trepidation”
Customs for confiscating copies of his own short story, I Love My Mum, which
whenever he speaks to his Chinese friends on the phone. “Their voices sound
were being delivered to him from Taiwan. The novella centres on a disabled
knotted and strained. They’re terrified of being overheard saying something
man who is in an incestuous relationship with his mother and, at her demand
they shouldn’t,” he says, his voice straining. “But I won’t let any of this alter
and using a whip she provides, beats her to death. Censors quickly labelled
the way I think and write.”
the book “antihuman”.
I can’t help but think back to a party I attended last year at Ai Weiwei’s
Some Chinese dissidents are prepared to leave China to fully pursue their
studio on the outskirts of Shanghai. While an ankle-deep mound of sunflower
right to freedom of speech. The Chinese writer, poet and folk musician Liao
seeds captivated visitors at London’s Tate Modern, Ai was under house arrest
Yiwu has spent much of his life in and out of Chinese prisons, largely because
back in Beijing. The Chinese government had ordered the demolition of his
he insists on describing the realities of Chinese life in unrelenting detail as he
new £750,000 studio because of complications surrounding the planning
sees it. The German edition of his memoir, The Witness of the 4th of June, is
permission. Ai organised a party to “celebrate” but was banned from
finally set for release this August.
attending. The party went on without its host.
The book was supposed to be published in April, Liao tells me over the
Under a hazy blue sky, with five hundred people feasting on local
phone, with his friend, Yeemei Guo, as our interpreter. “I received very
delicacies, like river crabs and steamed buns, one lady carefully unfurled
serious warnings that if my book was published, I would ‘disappear’ for a
a poster. She gathered another protestor standing nearby and gave them a
while and be put in some kind of jail,” he says.
corner to pull tight for the cameras. The ubiquitous face of Ai Weiwei shined
On July 6, Liao fled to Berlin – after being denied an exit visa seventeen
back. Part of the right side of his head was shaven, revealing scars from the
times and forcibly taken off trains and planes by the authorities – to tell the
emergency operation he underwent, allegedly after the police beat him. “The
“ordinary story of Chinese people”. His self-exile means he is now safe and
state media don’t report our protests,” she said. “They can threaten us all they
feels liberated. “I’m finally free. It feels like I’m dreaming. It is not my life goal
like, but we won’t go away.”
Organic cotton t-shirts Artwork
In the Wa k e o f Progress Some people refuse to stop learning from the past. Text & Photography Mike Belleme
Since the Industrial Revolution, our obsession with progress has hurled us into a perpetual state of change and adaptation. Technology and knowledge become obsolete almost as quickly as they emerge. But as we constantly strive for a bigger and better future, we donâ€™t often stop to think about what we are leaving behind or forgetting along the way. In these three stories, photographer Mike Belleme explores the minds of people who are looking for something solid to hold onto in the whirlwind of human progression â€“ some kind of timeless knowledge, some kind of connectedness in a world that increasingly isolates us from each other and the resources that give us life.
Firefl y Ga t h ering For some of the attendees at Firefly Gathering in Hendersonville, North Carolina, the primitive skills they learn are simply a novelty or fun way to spend a weekend. For others, the skills that are taught and shared are part of daily life and survival. And if the predictions of many of the primitivists at Firefly are accurate, the imminent collapse of civilisation will soon make these skills a matter of life or death for us all. If there is one theme that seems to permeate all aspects of the gathering it is connectedness. “It’s all about rooting ourselves deep into the earth and into our connections with each other,” says Natalie Bogwalker, one of the founders of Firefly. “When we look all around us and people aren’t interacting with each other [because] they’re, like, looking at their iPads – they’re all like robots: half-human, halfmachine. It’s really creepy to me.” At Firefly, the human connection is sacred as is the connection with all things that live or provide life. Tanning a hide and making buckskin shorts is hard work and making fire by rubbing sticks together is frustrating and tedious, but the result is a profound understanding of natural materials. This basic skill was once shared by all humans, and according to Bogwalker, it’s time we remembered that. “Firefly is here to stave off the amnesia of modern technocratic culture,” she says. Matt Hansen, one of the teachers at Firefly, has spent years living in the woods in wattle and daub huts, gathering his own food without the use of money or cars. Hansen believes that technology should evolve in a responsible way. “It needs to be interacting with an ecology, not just people. Without that there is not going to be any human progress.” With his vast understanding of the way the natural world works, and the way humans are affecting it, he does not fear the collapse of civilisation as many do. “I’m way more scared of civilisation continuing as it is for twenty more years than for a collapse situation,” he explains. “I embrace that idea. It’s necessary.” fireflygathering.org
Adrian Rubi-Dentzel 65
S ham an Hill Culture and languages are among the most tragic casualties of progress. Shaman Hill, the home of the Tiberi family, is a reservoir of cultural activity where on any given day you may see Alex and his wife Claire – along with their horse trainer, Ron, and any number of other medieval enthusiasts – armoured from head to toe practising jousting, horseback-archery, hatchet-throwing and swordsmanship. Alex Tiberi decided to take his fascination with Central Asian medieval arts and technologies to the next level when he moved from California to a large plot of land in rural North Carolina. He has spent the last few years creating a space where the community he’s cultivated can indulge in these ancient arts. Alex explains: “When you start to try to do things the way people used to, you learn why they did it and how they felt about it, and how that can enrich our lives today.” Walking into the Tiberi household is like entering a museum. Exotic antique furniture of darkstained wood and eclectic artefacts create a heady yet tranquil atmosphere. The Tiberis’ interest in Asian culture and history goes far beyond a hobby or pastime; the study of old Eastern wisdom governs their entire perspective on what it means to be human and interact with the world. Practices such as Chinese medicine, calligraphy, massage and tea ceremonies help them to “really focus on one thing at a time instead of ten thousand,” explains Claire. The next phase of the plan for Shaman Hill is to make it a centre for learning and a gathering place for people who share a passion for Asian arts and medieval history. The Tiberis already arrange lessons and seminars led by jousting and horseback-archery experts from across the country. For Alex, this quest to gain and share lessons from the past is an act of preservation. “I have really reflected on this medieval attitude that the amount of knowledge in the world is always a constant,” he explains, “and that any time something is learned, something is also forgotten.” shamanhill.com
The Fa m il y Fa r m Environmentalist Frank Vogler and his family are straddling two seemingly contradictory worlds. From their home in rural Tennessee, Frank and wife Carrie run a building consultancy business that aims to help landowners “mimic the efficiency and genius of our natural ecology, replacing wasteful and damaging technologies with practices that are simple, sustainable and economically viable”. By providing “a nexus between Old World wisdom and emergent technology”, the Voglers are embracing the connection with the natural world that primitivists strive for, while maintaining the global connectedness that modern society offers. Six years ago, the Voglers moved to a 302-acre plot of land, miles from the closest road or store. Their life on the farm is reminiscent of that enjoyed by eighteenth-century early settlers to the Appalachian Mountains, who came to create homesteads on cheap land. Running their land development business from home, however, requires the use of smartphones, computers and a whole lot of travel. But Frank believes modern technology can be effective when used responsibly. “We find it encouraging that people use our website as an environmental resource,” he explains. When the Voglers first moved to the overgrown plot, they literally had to start from scratch, clearing a spot to build a house and hiking in with building materials. They spent the first five years without electricity or running water, during which time they also raised their son Silas, now four. “Along the way we began to listen to ourselves, and the land, a little more deeply,” explains Frank. “We began to trust that we knew what we were doing.” They now use an off-grid solar power system and have cleared nearly thirty acres into usable farmland. Silas attends preschool in the closest town and loves playing with other kids, “especially girls”, says Frank. But at home, his rural upbringing is somewhat unorthodox. He has had his own hatchet since he was two, and enthusiastically volunteers to chop wood, gather eggs and work in the garden. “I think Silas is having an enviable childhood and will carry it with him for all of his years,” says Frank. In the future, the Voglers envision other families moving out to share the land and responsibilities and create a sense of localised economy and community. Frank proclaims: “This is the path imagined by Thomas Jefferson when America was learning to crawl.” voglerllc.com
R E B E L Y E L L W h e n t h e W o rl d T o u r k i c k e d o f f i n s p r i n g t h i s y e a r , s e v e n t ee n f e m a le s u r f er s s e n t o u t a b a t t le c r y t h a t s i g n a lle d t h e b i r t h o f a n ew g e n er a t i o n . Te x t S h e l l e y J o n e s Photography Ben Roberts
It’s Monday, March 7, 2011, and the world’s pro surfing community is
been talking about the ‘golden generation’ coming through. But why is this
gathered in Snapper Rocks, Queensland, Australia, for the first events of
paradigm shift happening now? And why at all?
the ASP World Tour – The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coasts.
According to The Sociology of Sports by Tim Delaney and Tim Madigan,
With the men’s round four out of the way, the girls have been centre stage
“Every social movement needs trailblazers” – those disruptive personalities
all day, blasting through the quarters and semis in a toxic display of airs and
that shatter barriers. In women’s pro surfing, you could argue, it was the
barrels. Now sitting in the lineup for a tense final is Hawaii’s Carissa Moore
Margo Obergs, Lynne Boyers and Debbie Beachams of the seventies.
and Tyler Wright from New South Wales, both the playful side of twenty.
Margo, for example, is widely regarded as the first female pro surfer, taking
The beach is hushed. Everyone’s eyes are on the water.
the title in 1977 when the International Professional Surfers (a governing
With fourteen minutes to go, Tyler slots into a heavy Superbank barrel
body that pre-empted the ASP) introduced a female division to its World
and is about to shoot out to victory – you can almost hear the judges’
Tour. These were women who surfed at a time when the women’s liberation
scorecards flipping up – when suddenly Carissa, utilising her priority,
movement was still in its infancy. They went big with dignity even though
drops in on Tyler and cuts her ‘perfect ten’ dream short. The crowd goes
bikini contests on the beach attracted more crowds than their heats, which
nuts. Carissa wins the heat. In fact, fast-forward four months and at
were put in the worst conditions between the men’s rounds – something that
eighteen she’s won enough heats to become the youngest ever ASP Women’s
still happens today. Debbie Beacham, particularly, campaigned tirelessly
for equal rights for female pro surfers, eventually joining the ASP board in
But this strategic show of surfing prowess was not just a sign of Carissa’s
1982 to that effect.
imminent world title; it was a sign of the times. Women’s professional
As a result, there was a boom in women’s professional surfing in the
surfing is in the throes of a revolution, and these young renegades are
nineties. Legends like Layne Beachley, Lisa Andersen and Rochelle Ballard,
bustin’ down the door every time they step up to a comp. For the first time
to name a few, grew up with these powerful role models and took women’s
in surfing, equal opportunities and support across the gender divide are
surfing to the next level. Brands soon caught up, launching women’s ranges,
becoming commonplace. In fact, after the landmark high performances
and finally sponsorship money started to trickle in. But there were still only
at Snapper and then Bells (the following event in Victoria, Australia), the
a handful of names dominating the World Tour and, although women’s pro
industry put a megaphone to female pro surfing and the rebel yell has
surfing had evolved, it was still playing catch-up to the men’s in terms of
reverberated around the world. Everyone – man, woman, media, fan – has
style and tricks.
Onlookers watch the final heat of the Swatch Girls Pro France, Seignosse, June 2011. 71
Roxy groms and friends cheer on Sally Fitzgibbons, the soon-to-be champ.
“I think this revolution will be remembered, it’s kind of like a Bustin’ Down the Door time.”
Seeing Steph Gilmore shake up the status quo made others realise they could do the same and the Tour this year – with four rookies all in their teens – is reflective of that demographic shift. Courtney Conlogue, a natural-footer from California who has just finished an impressive seventh in her first year, enunciated her respect when we caught up at the Swatch Pro in Hossegor, France. “I definitely look up to Stephanie Gilmore and what she did from her Rookie year on,” says Courtney, a diverse athlete who also competes in track and field. “Getting four world titles back to back is really impressive. You have to have respect for that! And she’s done a lot in the surf industry for women.” Hawaii’s Coco Ho, currently ranked sixth, is quick to agree: “My brother always used to say, ‘Make sure you surf like a boy.’ And when I saw Steph I was like, ‘That’s what he’s talking about! I have to surf like that.’ She’s so strong yet graceful, and so easy to watch. I just love everything about her.” These girls may have role models, but they’re becoming more and more radical as to where they’re setting their sights. World ‘number two’ Sally Fitzgibbons explains: “There’s some amazing women’s talent at the moment and we look for inspiration within our sport, but to go bigger and better it’s great having the guys there to look up to. That’s the direction I want to take. It’s great to have people paving the way and inventing new moves.
That is, until 2007, when a sparky young Australian surfer called
Women’s surfing and men’s surfing are both so original, but there are
Stephanie Gilmore – then aged just nineteen – trounced long-time
definitely crossovers. They have their own separate identities, and it will
contenders like Sofia Mulanovich and Silvana Lima and made history by
continue to go that way, but our sport is definitely blossoming and kind of
becoming World Champ in her rookie year. This was a defining moment – a
reaching new heights.”
change in consciousness for women’s pro surfing – and the world title is now,
And the world is definitely starting to take note. Building on the
quite literally, anyone’s game. “There are a lot of really good women surfers
momentum of those first World Tour events, Nike released their all-girl
now,” says current champ, eighteen-year-old Carissa Moore. “They’re really
surf movie Leave a Message in May – the result of two years filming in some
pushing the limits of the sport and keeping up with the guys. I like where our
of the world’s best waves in Indo, Mexico, Hawaii, Australia and beyond –
sport is going. It’s exciting.”
and it has been touted as ‘the best female surf movie of all time’. In a giant
Sally Fitzgibbons (right) and Sage Erickson (left) are all smiles out of the water.
display of fins-out badassness, the Nike team – including Malia Manuel,
given the worst conditions and this will have a massive effect on how they
Monyca Byrne-Wickey, Lakey Peterson, Carissa Moore, Coco Ho and Laura
perform. Similarly, the women’s prize purse is substantially less than the
Enever – fly, snap, float and barrel their way through twenty-four minutes
men’s. Some brands feel that the real money in female surfing comes from
of high-performance shredding that will blow your booties off. “Yeah, I
promoting a fetishised lifestyle image that mostly revolves around male ideas
think everyone’s starting to see us now,” says Coco about the reaction to the
of the female form – boobs, butts and beachy hair. There’s little doubt that
movie. “Nike gave us that platform to show the world and through events like
encouraging women to be viewed as objects perpetuates the idea that they can
Snapper and Bells, people are starting to be like, ‘Oh my god!’ It’s really good
be treated as objects. But as interest in women’s pro surfing (the action in the
for the world to recognise and give us attention. And it’s no disrespect to the
water, not the bodies on the beach) increases, these embarrassing digressions
girls from the past, because they definitely paved the way for us and gave us
should fade away, sponsors should flock and the crazily talented, fearless
the Tour we have now. […] But you know what? I think this revolution will be
rippers should get the respect they deserve.
remembered, it’s kind of like a Bustin’ Down the Door time.”
“In five years I think the heats in women’s surfing are going to be so
Eager to see women’s surfing recognised on a global scale, the pros are
amazing and it’s just going to be so much more progressive and fun to watch,”
also taking inspiration from social movements in other sports. “[Women’s
says Coco. “There’s definitely a problem at the moment where the girls event
tennis] did a great job and it shows what can happen when you have equal
will come on and all the guys will leave the beach. But that’s changing. I
sponsors for both [genders],” says Sally. “It’s similar to surfing in the way
remember at Snapper, Kelly Slater’s girlfriend texted me like, ‘Yeah, me and
that there was an era – of the Martina Hingis types – who were winning aged
Kelly watched, you were ripping!’ And it just makes you feel so much better,
sixteen, and then that group of women grew up the sport, you know? I think
like, ‘Cool, they’re actually paying attention.’ It keeps you psyched. […]
that’s the same in surfing. We have this great group of girls coming on, who
It’s just this generation. We’re all feeding off each other and pushing each
are all super young, but we will grow the sport.”
other, and I think that’s why it’s at where it’s at today. Everyone surfs really
Courtney Conlogue agrees, citing seventies tennis champ and founder
progressively. It’s totally changing, and we’re stoked about it.”
of the Women’s Sports Foundation Billie Jean King – a staunch advocate
And the hype isn’t dying down any time soon. “At Snapper, it was
against sexism in sports – as an inspiration. “I look up to people outside of
the women’s event, not the guy’s, that everyone was talking about,” says
surfing like Billie Jean King and what she’s done for women’s sports,” says
Courtney, still Champagne-soaked from her third-place spot on the
Courtney. “I actually wrote a letter to her two years ago – like, ‘Hey, how can I
podium at the Swatch Pro in Hossegor. “This whole next generation –
improve women’s surfing?’ – because I didn't know which direction to go, and
especially these rookies who just qualified for the Tour – really show where
I got a letter back with some advice and stuff. It was really cool.”
women’s surfing is going. We’re all really supportive of each other and we
Of course, there are still battles to be fought in this emerging mainstream sport. When the men’s and women’s competitions coincide, the women are
definitely see that the previous generation helped us with that. Now we’re just trying to push the limits even further.”
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A l l p h o t o s : S c e n e s f r o m t h e s q u a t a t G r o w H e a t h r o w.
Gimme Shelter S q u at t e r s h av e l o n g b e e n w r i t t e n o f f b y s o c i e t y a s h o m e - i n t r u d e r s a n d va n d a l s w i t h o u t a c a u s e . B u t t h at b l a c k - a n d - w h i t e n a r r at i v e i s a d e c e p t i v e h a l f - t r u t h . N o w, a s t h e UK g o v e r n m e n t c a l l s f o r s q u a t t i n g t o b e c r i m i n a l i s e d , HUCK b r e a k s d o w n t h e w a l l o f m i s i n f o r m a t i o n a n d d i s c o v e r s a far more colourful world. Te x t O l l y Z a n e t t i P h o t o g r a p h y C h l o e D e w e M a t t h e w s
ou know it’s no ordinary Thursday when, at 7am, your home is stormed by forty police officers. Of the seven people who live at Grow Heathrow – an abandoned market garden that has become a squat and hub for environmental action group Transition Heathrow – only one was up and preparing for work. At the sight of the police, he ran to wake the others. “Twenty of them came in through the back and the other twenty through the front, breaking the lock,” explains Joe, an activist who has been with the campaign since it began. “They said they were looking for items to be used for criminal damage. We were held, surrounded by police. Usually, when places are searched you’re allowed to have one person walking around with the police, watching what they’re doing, but this time that wasn’t allowed.” In light of such heavy-handed tactics, one may be forgiven for assuming that this squatted site in suburban London was, in fact, some kind of criminal den. The reality, however, is somewhat less dramatic. Grow Heathrow began life in March 2010 as a campaign hub for opposition to the nearby airport’s expansion plans. When those plans were shelved, the campaigners joined forces with local residents and turned the site into a community garden – a place where people gather to grow plants or host meetings about the impending peak oil crisis, in the hope of becoming “a beacon of community strength and a great example of how to live sustainably on this planet”. Dangerous stuff, right? And yet, on the morning of the swoop, the officers turned the site over. But as Joe explains, it was never clear what they were searching for: “They didn’t leave stuff as they found it, they left it upturned, like the spaces where people sleep – there were clothes scattered everywhere. It was complete intimidation tactics. They were fascinated by spray cans they found in the corner of one room, I think because paint has been used in a recent protest. It was pretty comical, actually, because items to be used for criminal damage could be anything. We’ve got all kinds of gardening tools, for example.” A couple of hours later, with no arrests and nothing seized, the officers left.
Adrian Rubi-Dentzel 77
Of course, this was no ordinary Thursday. It was the Thursday preceding the Royal Wedding. Though the connection was denied by the Met's
homes of hardworking families. Of course, it would be naïve to insist that all squatters are angels, but one-sided stories never give the full picture.
press office, few believed the timing was mere coincidence. As Joe later
Although breaking and entering is a criminal offence, squatting itself,
discovered, Grow Heathrow were not the only ones visited by the cops that
in England at least, is not. But that may well soon change. In March,
day. Across London, several other sites were raided. Their only link was their
Conservative MP Mike Weatherley called for a debate on squatting in the
mode of land tenure. Rather than being owned or rented by their occupiers,
House of Commons by tabling an Early Day Motion (EDM) stating, “This
these spaces were squats. “It was political policing,” says Joe. With a wider
house believes that squatting should be criminalised.” The movement
clampdown on squatting underway, it seemed like they'd been targeted.
gathered pace when Prime Minister David Cameron announced a consultation into criminalising squatting, which began in July. But from the outset, the issues have been muddy. While Weatherley was
quatting is the occupation of a building or plot of land that
tabling his EDM, the Arab Spring was gaining pace. Under NATO, the UK
the squatter doesn't own or have permission to use. It’s a
was formulating plans to intervene in the Libyan struggle against Gaddafi.
diverse phenomenon that exists across the globe, from the
Just seven days after being tabled, an amendment was made to Weatherley's
miles of shanty towns surrounding megacities like Mumbai,
motion that read, “At end add: ‘With the exception of the squat in the house
to autonomous communities like Christiania in Copenhagen.
of Saif al-Gaddafi in North London.’” In a high-profile move, campaigners
For some, squatting is a way of getting a roof over their
had taken over a house belonging to the Libyan leader's son, in a symbolic
head; for others, a squat can be the base for social, cultural or political
attempt to seize the assets of the despotic regime. For the first time, the aims
activities. In European cities like Athens and Paris, squatted buildings,
of policy makers and squatters seemed to tally. But instead of recognising
which would otherwise be left vacant, are hubs of alternative arts and music
this, the criminalisation movement pressed on.
communities while the Berlin scene is now so renowned it’s mentioned in
Back in the forties, however, squatting garnered wide support. As Andrew
most guidebooks. In the UK, cultural figures like filmmaker Derek Jarman
Marr explains in his History of Modern Britain, World War II air raids had
and Joe Strummer were squatting when they produced some of their best
seen half a million of Britain’s twelve and a half million homes completely
work. Hell, even Richard Branson has squatted in his time. One could argue,
destroyed, with a further three million badly damaged. Servicemen arrived
then, that socially and culturally we owe squatting a great deal. Yet today,
home to find they had nowhere to live, yet some buildings lay empty. A
it’s something of a dirty word – a phenomenon that, generally speaking, is
movement originating in Scunthorpe looked set to challenge that when, in
frowned upon by society. But why?
July 1946, forty-eight families descended on an empty army encampment
For starters, squatting runs counter to the idea of private property,
and set up home. Their actions were repeated across the country until,
which over time has become pretty hard-wired – an Englishman’s home is
come autumn, there were an estimated 45,000 squatters across the UK.
his castle, and all that. Our obsession with private property might, bizarrely,
Yet it wasn't until September that they hit the headlines. In a move
be the result of escalating sheep prices in the 1400s. As livestock values
coordinated by the London Communist Party, families who converged
rose, many farmers turned previously common land into private fields to
with their possessions on London's Kensington High Street were helped
protect their animals. Land – once a resource shared by everyone – became a
into empty mansions and apartment buildings owned but unused by the
commodity that could be bought and sold or passed down through families.
city's wealthiest. Banners summed up the mood: ‘Homes for Everybody
With that, land ownership became synonymous with wealth, and remains so
Before Luxury for the Rich.’ The establishment, though sympathetic at the
to this day. But squatting, one could argue, didn’t become the real bad guy
outset, soon hardened to the squatters. Within days, police who had been
until the press waded in. If you believe everything the tabloids say, squatters
passing food parcels into squatted buildings were charging at supporters
are antisocial vandals whose sole aim is to sponge off the state and wreck the
on horseback. The movement paved the way for a similar family housing
“We were people who didn't want to get squeezed into the mould that was available to us a t t h e t i m e .”
Although hardly commonplace, the squatting scene in the seventies was pretty big. Consequently, it set two major precedents that still stand today. The first is outlined in The Squatters, a dramatic account of the London Squatters Campaign, written by Ron Bailey. He discusses a particularly violent eviction by Redbridge council bailiffs, which the Campaign later questioned in court. As well as condemning the bailiffs’ actions, the case set a vital legal milestone. Squatting was recognised as a form of building occupation and squatters couldn’t just be thrown out by force. Due legal process would have to be followed and a court order needed for any eviction to take place. By comparison the Squatters’ Handbook, the second development of the seventies, seems less significant. But as Richard explains, it certainly wasn’t: “In the first house I lived in, there was this guy called Andrew Ingham. He wrote and illustrated this whole book about how to look after the systems and services in a building and called it the Squatters’ Handbook. It doesn't sound
campaign in the sixties and seventies fronted by activists like Ron Bailey of
like a big thing now, because today we can read all that information on the
the London Squatters Campaign.
internet, but back then it was all closed-shop unionised stuff. Nobody would
In the seventies, squatting began to take on a vibrant countercultural
tell you how to wire a house, make the gas work. It was secret information
edge. Neoliberal ideologies at the heart of capitalism were taking hold.
held by people who’d done apprenticeships in the trades. The Squatters’
While many people opted for humdrum jobs and the illusion of future
Handbook was a crucial little key in the whole thing. It was really big news.”
wealth, others came to see squatting as a way out. Richard, now living in
Updated, and distributed by the Advisory Service for Squatters, it remains
a housing cooperative in North London that he co-founded with friends in
essential reading today.
buildings they’d previously squatted in, recalls his experiences: “We lived
So, what is the process of setting up a squat really like? Lucy, who’s
around the park at Crystal Palace in these big 1840s houses. They were huge,
involved in the green movement and squats with friends in a London pub,
ten or fifteen-bedroom buildings and the local authority couldn’t afford to
talks of her experiences: “We spent a long time searching for places, cycling
convert them into flats. We had three originally. We had licences from the
around areas we thought we might like to base ourselves, looking for empty
Greater London Council, which meant we could stay without being hassled
buildings. We found one place that we were really keen on. We watched it for
until they needed the places back. As time went on, we squatted virtually
quite a while, so we knew it was empty. We did some research, found out who
every house surrounding the park. They were seriously good partying
owned it, what the situation was.” In the end, that didn't work out, but soon
houses, and people did so much. People from Croydon College of Art got
another place fell into their laps. To keep within the law, Lucy notes, that
involved. A whole group of animators lived there. There was this guy called
squatters can't break into a building. Instead, unsecured windows and doors
Graham Jackson, an amazing animator who worked with Pink Floyd doing
are the way to get in. Once inside, the next step is to change the locks and
the animation for The Wall. Houses had different themes: there was a house
stick a Section 6 notice – which outlines their legal right to squat – onto the
of jazz musicians, a house of artists. I suppose it could be seen as a load of
main access point of the building. Once occupied a squat can never be left
hippies sitting around getting stoned all day, but a lot of really creative things
empty, because the owner can retake possession if no one is in.
happened there. We were people who didn’t want to get squeezed into the mould that was available to us at the time.”
Pressed on the tabloid narrative that squatters take family homes, Lucy is sceptical: “For me and my friends, if a building is in frequent use, we do
want to squat there. It’s when buildings are sitting empty, neglected, that’s
organisations and businesses. Occupying a building in Bloomsbury, central
what we’re looking for.” It’s a pragmatic approach. Opening a squat is hard
London, they used the space to run classes and lectures, ranging from
work, and moving somewhere that you’re likely to be kicked out of doesn’t
everyday subjects like French to seminars on radical history, as a comment
make sense. In fact, the process is often more transparent than one may
on the way in which education has become commodified.
think. “The place we’re in now is going through a planning application,” adds
And this is where things start looking fishy. A change in the law
Lucy. “Realistically, they’re not going to be able to do anything for another
surrounding squatting may well stifle such political activity and could even,
six months, so we would argue that us having it as our home in the meantime
as geographer Alexander Vasudevan recently argued in the Guardian, be
is better than it sitting empty.” In situations like that, many squatters contact
used to criminalise demonstrations more generally. Recalling UK Uncut's
the building’s owners. Rather than skulking around attempting to avoid
occupation of upmarket food store Fortnum & Mason in March in protest of
detection, in Lucy’s experience it’s often better to get a dialogue going. Just
alleged tax avoidance, he suggests that “[a] criminal ban on squatting could
as squatters like Richard got licences from the council back in the seventies,
very easily be ‘retrofitted’ in order to police and proscribe the fundamental
many property owners today can be persuaded to come to an agreement.
right to protest”. This is a very real concern because, apart from appeasing
Speaking to a BBC journalist in July, Ken Clarke, the Secretary of State
property speculators, there’s little else new squatting laws could actually
for Justice, outlined his opinions on squatters: “They’re all being portrayed
achieve. As NL, who blogs for the widely respected site nearlylegal, writes:
by the lobbyists as if they’re all starving, last-resort homeless people.
“Much of the public rationale for changing the law […] has been based
I don’t know, you might know better than
upon calls to protect homeowners from
me, how fashionable it is nowadays to
squatters. As I’ve previously discussed,
go into a squat for a bit if you’re young.” Incredulous, he added: “Some of them have jobs!” As neat a sound bite as this may seem, can the line between so-called lifestyle squatters and the homeless be so clear? For many, squatting is simply a means to an end. “I’m involved in lots of voluntary community projects,” explains Lucy. “If I had to work full-time just to pay rent, I wouldn’t be able to do that.” But
squatters are homeless. As a recent report from the charity Crisis points out, these people tend to slip below the radar; they are the ‘hidden homeless’. Crisis estimates that while there may be only around 700 rough sleepers on the streets at any
“Criminalising squatting does nothing to tackle the underlying issues faced by homeless people, and that is their homelessness.”
this is simply wrong. Whether the error arises from lazy ignorance or a deliberate obfuscation
continues: “It is a criminal offence under Section 7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 to occupy a property where there is a ‘displaced residential occupier’ (where the property is someone’s home) or a ‘protected intended occupier’ (someone about to move in to live there).” In most cases, the only buildings which sit empty for long periods are ones owned by speculators, for whom bricks and mortar are just assets to be kept until the price is right to sell. And as Paul from Squatters Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH) points out, using the risk to
one time, around 800,000 people across
homeowners to justify the criminalisation
the country are homeless or vulnerably
of squatting is not only morally ambiguous,
housed, of which around 10,000 squat
it’s wrong: “The real issue is not that
regularly. In fact, thirty-nine per cent of homeless people have squatted at
squatters are some big social problem; the real issue is the housing crisis.
one time or another. It's an astonishing stat, especially given that, according
People make money on property speculation while others are homeless, and
to figures from the charity Empty Homes, in 2009 there were over 725,000
house building isn’t happening right now just because it doesn’t suit the
houses lying unused in the UK, of which nearly 325,000 lay empty in the long
market. We can’t criminalise our way out of a housing crisis.”
term. As Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said in a press statement in July: “Criminalising squatting does nothing to tackle the underlying issues faced by homeless people, and that is their homelessness. If the Government
ack at Grow Heathrow, the tomatoes are ripening, and the
really wants to end the misery of squatting – for those who have no other
campaign is still in full swing. The future for this squat and
option – it must provide better housing and support, not criminalise some
others around the country is uncertain. There are powerful
very vulnerable people.”
voices calling for criminalisation while the public is at
Squatting isn’t just about housing. For most political movements, a
best indifferent. But whose interests are being prioritised?
physical base is their most important asset. The location can be symbolic
According to Joe, the answer is clear: “The problem has
– Climate Camp often pitches up next to dramatic sources of pollution, for
always been access to land. One per cent of the population
example – or it can be a matter of logistics. Like Grow Heathrow, the Really
own ninety per cent of the land in Britain and land ownership is a powerful
Free School has followed this course.
thing. Whether for housing or for community spaces, we need to claim
The Really Free School, as the name suggests, emerged as a reaction to the
space by other means. Very strong laws already exist to protect homeowners
Conservative government’s education reforms, which will see a significant
from squatters, this latest proposed criminalisation only serves to protect
rise in university fees and the advent of new schools funded by religious
property speculators and unscrupulous landlords.”
Stick around for a few more pages, soak up a few more perspectives and, hey, who knows – you may even put down this mag having learned something new. And if you like what you read – or even if you don’t – why not drop us a line sometime and let those thoughts come tumbling out your head? This mag is nothing without real people, and you’re a real person, right? Speak to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the importance of information? Why does it matter what we do and do not know? This July, Democracy Now hosted a conversation between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and rock ‘n’ roll philosopher Slavoj ŽiŽek to discuss the impact of WikiLeaks on world politics, the release of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, and Cablegate – a leak of the largest trove of classified US government records in history. As Assange explained his rationale for sharing this knowledge with the world, ŽiŽek helped contextualise why any of it mattered. The result was an exchange that helps shed light on an era marked by phone-hacking, censorship and misinformation. These are just some of the highlights.
ASSANGE: “It has been my long-term belief that what advances us as a
ASSANGE: “We should always see censorship as a very positive sign, and the
civilisation is the entirety of our intellectual record and the entirety of our
attempts toward censorship as a sign that the society is not yet completely sewn
understanding about what we are going through, what human institutions are
up, not yet completely fiscalised, but still has some political dimension to it – i.e.
actually like and how they actually behave. […] And at the moment, we are
what people believe and think and feel and the words that they listen to actually
severely lacking in the information from the interior of big secretive organisations
matters. […] And in the United States, actually, most of the time, it doesn’t matter
that have such a role in shaping how civilisation evolves. […]
what you say. We managed to speak and give information at such volume and
“We need a Cablegate of the New York Times, actually – all the stories that
of such intensity that people actually were forced to respond. […] So, I think this
have been suppressed and how they’ve been managed. And once we start
is one of the first positive symptoms I’ve seen from the United States in a while,
getting that sort of volume and concretise and protect the rights of everyone to
that actually if you speak at this level, the cage can be rattled a bit, and people
communicate with one another, which, to me, is the basic ingredient of civilised
can be forced to respond. In China, the censorship is much more aggressive,
life – it is not the right to speak. What does it mean to have the right to speak
which, to me, is a very hopeful symptom for China. […] At the moment, the
if you’re on the moon and there’s no one around? It doesn’t mean anything.
Chinese government and public security bureau are actually scared of what
Rather, the right to speak comes from our rights to know. And the two of us
people think. […] Censorship reveals something that is positive about a society,
together, someone’s right to speak and someone’s right to know, produce a right
and a society with no censorship is in a very bad state.”
to communicate, and so that is the grounding structure for all that we treasure about civilised life. And by ‘civilised’ I don’t mean industrialised. I mean people
ŽIŽEK: “Do you know that about two or three months ago, a Chinese
collaborating to not do the dumb thing. […]
government agency – I don’t know which – passed a law that formally prohibits
“From being inside the centre of the storm, I’ve learned not just about the
in public media – they mean press, books, comics, TV, movies – all stories which
structure of government, not just about how power flows in many countries
deal with time travel or alternate realities. Literally. I checked it up with my
around the world that we’ve dealt with, but rather how history is shaped and
friends in China. The official justification was that history is a great matter. It
distorted by the media. And I think the distortion by the media of history, of all
shouldn’t be left to such trifling games and so on. But, of course, it’s clear what
the things that we should know so we can collaborate together as a civilisation, is
they really are afraid of: for people to even imagine alternate realities, other
the worst thing. It is our single greatest impediment to advancement.”
possibilities. Now, again, to repeat your point, I think this is a good sign. They at least need the prohibition. With us, we don’t need a prohibition, most of the
ŽIŽEK: “Why [are the Iraq war logs published by WikiLeaks] important? Because
time. If somebody proposes a radical change, we simply accept this spontaneous
the way ideology functions today, it’s not so much that – let’s not be naïve – that
everyday ideology, [even if] we all know what our economic reality is like.”
people didn’t know about it, but I think the way those in power manipulate it. Yes, we all know dirty things are being done, but you are being informed about this obliquely, in such a way that basically you are able to ignore it.”
ASSANGE: “[On the role WikiLeaks played in the Arab Spring:] The argument that has often been used... is that you just tell the people what’s going on, and then they’ll be angry about it, and they’ll oppose it. But actually, the real ASSANGE: “[The Iraq war logs] provided a picture of the everyday squalor of
situation is much more rich and interesting than that. [Once you leak cables that
war, from children being killed at roadside blocks to over a thousand people
document corruption] the population starts to know, and they start to know in a
being handed over to the Iraqi police for torture, to the reality of close-air support
way that’s undeniable, and they also start to know that the United States knows,
and how modern military combat is done. […] So, as an archive of human history,
and the United States can’t deny what was going on inside Tunisia. [...] The cables
this is a beautiful and horrifying thing, both at the same time. It is the history of
about Tunisia were then spread around online, in other forms, translated by a
the nation of Iraq… during its most significant development in the past twenty
little internet group called TuniLeaks, and so presented a number of different
years. And while we always see newspaper stories revealing and personalising
facets that sort of – that everyone could see; no one could deny that the Ben Ali
some – if we’re lucky – some individual event or some individual family dying,
regime was fundamentally corrupt. It’s not that the people there didn’t know
this provides the broad scope of the entire war and all the individual events - the
it before, but it became undeniable to everyone, including the United States.”
details of over 104,000 deaths.” ŽIŽEK: “[WikiLeaks pushed us] to this point where you cannot pretend not to ŽIŽEK: “Many of my friends who are sceptical about [WikiLeaks say], ‘So, what
know. […] You pushed things in a very formal way, to a point of undeniability.
did we really learn? Isn’t it clear that every power, in order to function, [has]
Nobody can pretend that WikiLeaks didn’t happen… this is the moment of truth.
collateral damage? You have to have a certain discretion – what you say, what
WikiLeaks is an event, not only because of what exists as in itself, but because
you don’t say.’ […] Maybe we learned nothing new, but, you know, it’s the same
nobody can ignore it; it changed the entire field. The point is not to allow it to be
as in that beautiful old undersense fairytale The Emperor is Naked. The emperor
renormalised, to remain faithful to it.”
is naked. We may all know that the emperor is naked, but the moment somebody publicly says, ‘The emperor is naked,’ everything changes.”
To watch the conversation in full, visit democracynow.org or frontlineclub.com.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Klaus Merz
San Sebastian-based surfwear brand TWOTHIRDS made a
As a new brand, tradeshows like ISPO [in Munich] are an exciting platform
splash at the ISPO tradeshow this year when it hosted an
to present all of our influences. We want to have a dialogue with the people out
alaia-shaping event in among the corporate stands. Why?
there – with other brands and the media – and tell them there's more to us than
Because by partnering with eco-friendly shapers Hidden
just fashion; there’s also activism.
Wood, they sent out a message that needs to be heard:
We donate ten per cent of profits to Oceana – the world’s biggest NGO
brands must do their bit to save this planet we call home.
dedicated solely to protecting the ocean. It hurts, but if you really mean it, it has to hurt. We don't want to have a passive role. To really create change, you need to change policies. That’s what activism is all about. In Oceana, we have found
I started TWOTHIRDS with my partner Lutz Schwenke about two and a half
a very serious organisation comprised of scientists and lobbyists. The scientists
years ago. The ocean has given us so much our whole lives; we wanted to find
gather information and then the lobbyists go to the European Parliament or
a way to give something back. I grew up in Haiti and the Dominican Republic,
Washington and push through concrete policies. It’s a very effective setup,
and at the age of twelve my mum started studying marine biology, so I lived on
and it’s essential to support it. For every euro we give to Oceana, we get an
an island, surrounded by water.
explanation of where it’s spent and what policies were pushed. They’re very
The name of our brand is TWOTHIRDS because two thirds of the planet
transparent as an NGO, which is important.
is covered in ocean. Everything we do is ocean-minded. We don’t just focus
I don’t know if a brand has the power to change the world, but we can
on the negative aspects like pollution; we celebrate the good things, too. Our
contribute. And consumers have a lot of power and an important role in
latest project is the Bluefin Artist Series featuring Emil Kozak and Kristian
society right now. Sometimes you can have more impact as a consumer than
Hammerstad, inspired by the endangered Bluefin Tuna. Last year we created
as a voter. So, I do think the more aware and smarter consumers get, the more
artwork with Catherine Egan, an artist from San Francisco, in the form of a wave
they are going to push brands to have an environmentally focused philosophy.
created with plastic bottles.
And I think that’s really the way to go. Sergio Penzo
Is nicking a TV a political act? It's a question I've asked myself a few times when
But I also don't buy the ‘mindless violence’ arguments of the kind that Boris
reflecting on the sight of a kid who can't have been any older than his early
Johnson alludes to. Everyone has a mind. Those who rioted must have somehow
teens, lugging a plasma screen almost as wide as he was tall through the streets
justified what they were doing to themselves, however illogical that reasoning
of Hackney, east London.
might seem to others. If we want some hints, it would be wise to look at the social
The nights of August 6, 7 and 8 – as riots spread across London and further
or economic situation of those involved in the disturbances – the situation that
north – were altogether bizarre. In my area alone, a sandwich shop, with its
Boris Johnson is so determined to ignore. It surely comes as no surprise that
windows smashed in, stood guarded by riot police next to a bank that escaped
events were confined almost entirely to the less affluent areas of London, and
completely unscathed – no obvious anti-capitalist sentiment there, I guess.
to cities with relatively high levels of poverty like Manchester and Birmingham.
Up the street, a takeaway, the only building not barricaded by shutters, was
What unfolded on the streets over those few days was horrific, but as calm
overflowing with a masked but evidently hungry crowd. East London's hipsters
returns, we need to start asking why it happened. Considering the social and
were unusually thin on the ground; telltale white headphone cables were
economic status of the rioters certainly doesn't mean excusing their actions,
nowhere to be seen and almost all the bikes I saw had fat tyres and gears. Bins
but it is part of a bigger picture we need to look at if we have any hope of
were on fire, shops were smashed up and riot police were blocking the streets.
understanding them. Smashing windows, stealing stuff, and chucking bricks at
So, was all this political? Journalist and race activist Darcus Howe thinks
the police are not things most people would ever do. That's not because for fear
it was. Speaking to the BBC, he suggested that many, particularly black, youth
of punishment, but because we understand that society only works if we follow
felt alienated from society at large, picked on by police and routinely stopped
its rules. People will moderate their own behaviour and police themselves,
and searched. What we saw on the streets was a response to that. “I don't call it
because they can see that it's in their interest to do so. What took place over
rioting,” he said. “I call it an insurrection.”
those few days was indicative of that social contract breaking down. By rioting,
London mayor Boris Johnson isn't convinced by that argument. “It is time
by so obviously breaking the conventions of normal society, a group of people
that people who are engaged in looting and violence stop hearing social
have shown their disaffection with that society; they no longer see a reason to
and economic justifications for what they have done,” he told a member
moderate their behaviour, to play by society's rules, because it seems that society
of the public while being escorted around damage in similarly riot-hit
isn't offering them anything back.
So, back to the original question: is nicking a TV a political act? Probably
In fact, neither is right. An insurrection is described as “an act or instance of
not. But that doesn't mean there isn't a need for a political response. If there
rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against a civil authority or an established
are people who feel so alienated from society that they need to express it in
government”. It implies an at least marginally coherent social movement, some
such dramatic terms, then we are all faced with a big problem. Making the
kind of unifying cause around which its participants have gathered. From
perpetrators feel ’the full force of the law‘ or the similar platitudes brandished
what I saw on the streets, this didn't seem to be the case. Sure, there was a
in interviews by police chiefs and politicos, might in the short-term salve public
pretty obvious demographic – mainly but not exclusively young; mainly but not
outrage, but it's no long-term solution. There are big questions everyone needs
exclusively non-white – but there's a big difference between a demographic and
to ask about the society we live in. Why are there people who think it's okay to
a political movement. I don't think this was an insurrection.
disregard its norms? And what should we do about it? Olly Zanetti
13th, 14th, 15th October 2011 Riverside Studios, London SuRf/ fiLm/ ARt/ CuLtuRe A CeLebRAtiOn Of the CReAm Of COntempORARy SuRf CuLtuRe fROm wAveRiding’S mOSt exCiting CReAtiveS, bRinging tO the CApitAL thRee nightS Of inteRnAtiOnAL SuRfing’S hOtteSt ReLeASeS, independent feAtuReS And uK pRemieReS.
COme heLL OR high wAteR LOSt AtLAS /Sight | SOund the StiLL pOint /finnSuRf StOKed & bROKe / fiRSt LOve fighting feAR /SpLinteRS
dir. Keith malloy
dir. Kai neville
dir. mikey detemple
dir. taki bibelas
dir. Aleksi Raij
dir. Cyrus Sutton
dir. Claire gorman
dir. macario desouza
dir. Adam pesce
pLuS: Q&A’S with fiLmmAKeRS Of nOte And LegendS Of the SuRf / the ShORtieS - the beSt ShORt fiLm pROduCtiOnS fROm bRitAin And iReLAnd’S LeAding SuRf fiLmmAKeRS pReSented by nAtiOnAL tRuSt / pOp up ARt exhibitiOn And mORe ... fOR pROgRAmme And tiCKet infORmAtiOn, CheCK Out the webSite:
www.LOndOnSuRffiLmfeStivAL.COm IN ASSOCIATION WITH: PRESENTED BY
C R E AT I V E
London Surf / Film Festival is a we are the fold production
One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. But with early detection, it can be prevented. Shaney Jo Darden, founder of the Keep A Breast Foundation, has embarked on a profound mission to raise awareness among her peers after the loss of a close friend.
Ten years ago a friend of mine, the artist Margaret Kilgallen (who was married to Barry McGee), died of breast cancer, aged thirty-three. Margaret had survived cancer when she was younger, but it came back when she was pregnant and her death hit our community in a big way. We wanted to do something to raise awareness, because we were shocked that cancer was affecting young women and that people didn't understand the disease: it's not just hereditary. It felt like most campaigns were so ‘old lady’ and all about pink ribbon – nothing really resonated. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and founded Keep A Breast. I came up with a concept for an exhibition where the artists painted breast casts instead of canvasses and we were really blown away by the reaction from the street, art, surf and skate communities. It was just going to be one exhibition to raise money for the Asha Kilgallen-McGee fund (supporting Margaret's daughter) and the Breast Cancer Fund in San Francisco, but it snowballed and we ended up making it an annual thing. Keep A Breast absolutely, one hundred million trillion per cent, has the power to make a difference. Our travelling education booth is on the road all year educating people face-to-face about breast cancer prevention. Our belief is that cancer can be prevented through lifestyle choices and awareness. We work with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and they're the leading group of scientists that research the environmental links to cancer. In fact, we launched a new campaign this year called Non-Toxic Revolution, designed by Shepard Fairey. It's about identifying all the toxins and chemicals in your everyday life that you can remove to decrease your risk of cancer in a very dramatic way. I'm so driven by truth and fairness. It drives me crazy that there are products on our shelves that are not safe and that people have no idea about it. The government and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are approving all these chemicals and we have to police them ourselves these days. Many kids have told us about the impact we've made in their lives. Some teenagers have found lumps in their breasts, and have thanked us because they never would have known to check before they met us. It's important to get young people talking about something that has been taboo. People tell us they're going home and talking about breast cancer with their families thanks to Keep A Breast. They want to make positive changes in their lives and the lives of their whole family. They want to change the cleaning products and detergents that their moms use. Teens today are totally different from any other generation. They're born activists. They were born knowing that they have a responsibility to make a difference. shaney jo darden
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Kimmy Mcatee
Check in to the
music world of
Bongani ‘Bongs’ Ndlovu is a surf instructor at the Isiqalo
Surfing is a well-sponsored sport nowadays and brands invest millions into
Foundation in South Africa’s Western Cape. As a peer
creating a market for their products. Much of that sponsorship money still seems
coach on The Waves for Change programme, Bongs uses
to end up as flashy cars and gadgets. I think there are many poverty-stricken
surfing’s positive energy to encourage young people to
communities in South Africa for whom that sponsorship money could serve a
talk about the social and health issues they encounter in
better purpose and I hope to become part of a movement that opens surfing to
township life, such as HIV. A year ago, Bongs could barely
a wider audience.
paddle out. Now he spends his days helping others feel the transformative power of stoke.
At Isiqalo, we are learning how we can use surfing as a metaphor for the problems that face us. We focus on HIV and AIDS, but there are many more issues that we face here in South Africa and that we are learning to face together. Most of the young adults that join our Waves for Change surfing course
As I sit here and write, all that comes to mind is the smile I created on a child’s
arrive thinking they have come just to have fun. Many are blind when it comes to
face today after they caught their very first wave. Being the author of a child’s
knowing the facts about HIV and AIDS and prefer to think that HIV has nothing
smile is my daily mission as a surf coach with the Isiqalo Foundation and it is far
to do with their life and will never affect them, despite the fact that by the age
more fulfilling and rewarding than creating a new scientific theory. Here in the
of thirty, twenty-five per cent will be infected by the virus (according to current
ocean, smiling is a spontaneous reaction that seems to affect everyone and can
be transferred faster than HIV or AIDS, the virus we are here to tackle.
Our motto at Isiqalo is ‘Bananas’, the shaka sign that surfers throw to each
Surfing has been the highlight of my year to date and it has really helped me
other seemingly at random. To us Bananas is community; standing together to
develop and grow. My name is Bongani and I am nineteen years old. I grew up in
face our challenges. ‘Protect, Respect, Communicate’ is another motto, as is
a Durban township and I feel sure that I was predestined to become a surfer. My
written on our surfboards.
family had a ritual of going to the beach on New Year’s and I’d watch the guys riding waves between the famous Durban Piers.
Today, I see those same boys and girls that first came to our course leaving as leaders, respectful of their fellow community members regardless of their HIV
I must admit, however, it wasn’t love at first sight. Initially, through the
status, knowing that no matter what has been troubling them they can talk to
culture I encountered at the beach and in the media of the time, surfing seemed
the members of their community and are equipped with skills to make the right
like, what I can only describe as, a sport for the ‘superior’ race.
decisions. They know their status and, we hope, will continue to test regularly
My love for surfing only started to develop in my adolescent years when I could freely express myself without fear of being judged. I had no surfboard, nor means to get to the beach, but I longed to experience the tranquility and stoke every surfer shows as his board planes over the clear waters.
while encouraging others to do so. And they can surf. Slowly but surely South African surfing is changing and champions will come out of our community. All across South Africa I see more and more boys
Initially, I thought that surfing would make me cool among friends; that it
and girls picking up surfboards, either off their own backs or with the help of
would make me stand out. But soon I realised that surfing could be something
community-driven projects. The make-up of surfing in South Africa is changing
more. Today, together with my family at Isiqalo who introduced me to surfing
and through Isiqalo we have the potential to use this wave of enthusiasm for a
one year ago, my goal is to redefine surfing as a sport to make a lasting impact
greater purpose, to fight HIV.
on the society I grew up in.
And it all starts with that first wave. Bongani Ndlovu
First st in in SURFING S SU URFING NEWS NEWS First
www.surfersvillage.com Rider: Tim Boal / Photo: Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Photofiles / Design: ID
1. The author of Submarine turns his offbeat lens onto commune life for his sophomore novel, Wild Abandon. We feel a movie coming on. joedunthorne.com 2. designer kate ruggiero hand-makes these sweet little bikinis from her home in hawaii so that we can all have a piece of oahu beach life, wherever we choose to swim. madebygypsy.com 3. This callto-arms UK Friends of Bradley Manning flyer greeted us at the entrance of the Troxy, East London, the only venue that was prepared to host a conversation between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek. Former US Army soldier Bradley Manning is accused of “aiding the enemy” – a capital offense that could lead to life imprisonment – for allegedly leaking classified military documents. ukfriendsofbradleymanning. org 4. archaeologist-turned-poet toby martinez de las rivas is just one of many emerging talents that have been supported by faber’s new poets programme. and this year,
Joe dunthorne is picking up the gauntlet (or is that pen?) toby helped throw down. faber.co.uk 5. Badges from Scene Nomad, an events-based social network that encourages members of the LGBT community to organise events outside the ‘gay scene’. It’s for anyone with wider interests – in surfing, art, music, food – who refuses to be defined by their sexuality. scenenomad.com 6. deluxe edition cd/dvd of arcade fire’s The Suburbs. concept albums don’t get more captivating than this, thanks to Spike Jonze’s ability to bring subtle sensibilities to life on screen. arcadefire.com 7. London’s Spitalfields Market was transformed into a skateboarding Mecca this August for the Vans Downtown Showdown, and this tastylooking broadsheet helped bring the event to life. vans.com 8. professional snowboarder Jussi oksanen and partner brad kremer understand that “choking landﬁlls with billions of plastic bottles is lame”, so they created this stainless steel,
reusable bottle to chip away at mindless waste. mizulife.com 9. In Drawings from the Film Beginners, published by Damiani, eternal outsider Mike Mills shares the doodles and digressions that informed his latest slice-of-life film. damiani.com 10. raise awareness for breast cancer every time you shred, thanks to this taboo-bashing collab between mystery Skateboards and keep a breast. keep-a-breast.org 11. Liao Yiwu fled to Germany to escape the increasingly intense crackdown on artists by Chinese authorities. His work has been systematically banned in China, but his latest book, God is Red – a story of the Christian persecution during the Communist era, drawn from interviews with ordinary Chinese people – is being published by HarperCollins. harpercollins.com 12. huck caught up with cover star andrew reynolds while he was in paris for the Public Domaine: Skateboard culture exhibition, held in the airy surrounds of the gaîté lyrique. gaite-lyrique.net
HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...
Published on Sep 5, 2011
HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...