It had a lizard wearing a football jersey on it–a Mario Rubalcaba New School. That was my first real skateboard; a birthday present from my dad. I got it exactly 12 years ago today. Along with an electric guitar. But once I learned to ollie, the guitar was retired to the closet. Now I’m 24 and I’ve been skateboarding for half my life. And skateboarding, more than anything else, has made me who I am. I’m not just a skateboarder and I don’t even skate all the time, but skateboarding has still permeated every facet of my existence since that day.
The following are photos that document the way skateboarding extended through my life. Most of my best experiences on a board went undocumented. Roadtrips with friends, skating through downtown at night, walking miles through the hood to get to our secret skate warehouse. That was before digital cameras, before I took pictures of everything I did. That was the best.
This is really embarrassing. But rad because I was wearing a tye-dyed skate shirt before I even started skating. I got a Thrasher when I was in kindergarten too. It was all leading up.
This is my friend Corey Haun. We started skating together in Florida. The board in the back was my cousin’s Plan B.
After skating Florida for a year, I moved to North Carolina. This five-stair was at the church at the top of my street.
I ollied over my brave friend off the stairs. I think we were using a disposable camera that my mom got with her Marlbolo Miles.
Kickflipping a three-stair downtown the summer after eighth grade.
This was the gap at the bank where everyone skated. On any given day in 1995 there’d be ten of us schralping the curbs and ollieing the wall.
The only photo I have from Vance. This was the best spot in the center of downtown. It was our EMB. Shortly after this photo, the bust factor got pretty high.
The board with Bart Simpson dressed as Gene Simmons from KISS was my favorite board ever probably. A Mike Carroll Girl. I sold it to some hesher for ten bucks after skating it and woodburning a NIN logo on the tail.
I skated my first contest at the Salvation Army in ninth grade. I won. Orion Hunt (far right) came in second and Leo Swain (my left) came in third. Leo is in jail for shooting someone to death and Orion Hunt was shot in a drive-by but survived. Crazy how things turned out.
Vic Blue gave me this photo yesterday. I guess it was the first time we met. This was a contest from when I was fifteen. It was the biggest contest I’d ever entered and somehow won first. A traumatic experience occurred minutes after this photo, but I’ll probably never tell you about it.
Since I began skateboarding I always dreamed of going to San Francisco. It was the skate mecca. Finally, when I was 15, I made a trip. I grinded the infamous Hubba Hideout my first day.
The Jersey Barriers were still up then.
Ollied three-quarters of Wallenburg. Also did the Gonz gap at EMB my last night there. It was torn down by my next trip.
Skateboarding in NC through the rest of high school consisted of this skatepark on the roof of a parking garage. Everyday.
This was the family. I was skating Cairo’s first pro-model board. Now he’s a good friend.
As soon as I could, I moved to California. Going to Berkeley was means to an end. I just wanted to skate. This was my first day as a CA resident. I met Allen Ying who was visiting from New York. He shoots for Slap Magazine now.
I grabbed melon on all my ollies for years. Someone should have said something.
Loved the handrails. This was on campus at Berkeley during my Welcome Week.
This is Elias and I at 3rd & Army when they still called it the New Spot. Elias was one of my heros when I first visited and now signs my paychecks.
My first summer after college, we premiered a skate video called Monkey at a theater in Asheville. We packed the theater and I got really nervous during my part. I tried shooting a film still to keep my mind occupied.
There were a couple years of undocumented skateboarding and college life. The summer after sophomore year I worked at Woodward Skatecamp in Pennsylvania.
This was our crew. We skated everyday for ten hours, but still made time for riding horses and the ropes course.
For my junior year of college, I studied abroad in New Zealand. It was maybe the best six months of my life. The skateboarding was so rad and everyone was incredibly friendly. I made friends with a photographer named Craig Langton. This backside 180 was the first of many photos we shot.
This was sketchy because there was a kink and it dropped me off at a wall. Somehow I made it through.
We shot this with the lights of a Mitsubishi Mirage that I bought for $250 out there.
The first photo I ever had in a magazine and the first photo Craig ever had in a magazine. We got the cover of New Zealand’s biggest skate mag.
It was in the grocery store and at the airport. Totally weird. Fifteen minutes.
There was a best trick contest in a ballroom in downtown Christchurch. I won $500NZ for first. I don’t really know how that happened. New Zealand is a magical place.
Another photo by Craig. This one landed in the other NZ magazine.
The scene in NZ was really small so it was easy to meet everyone involved. I shot this photo with the editor of Manual, the artsier skateboard magazine.
The cover to this calendar for the magazine came out the same time as the Skateboarder cover. Glory days.
Back in California for the remainder of college. Atreau and Jacob moved out for a semester.
Three of my favorite people to skate with–Atreau, Jacob and Alex Klein. The courts were the best, may they rest in peace.
Many afternoons were spent skating on the island or around 510. Home away from home away from home.
NC folks came to visit. That always nice. Keep ’em coming.
The Bancroft Bombers crew circa July 4th, 2003.
I’d get a good photo every now and again.
My milkshake melted.
I finally got a digital camera and started taking it skating. This was a mission to San Bruno with Cameron.
I graduated college and went to Europe with the Bancroft Bombers. It was such a rad trip. Fireballs, stolen wallet, Fondo, Maoz falafels, Spanish Steps, Le Dome, etc.
We had a full-fledged posse.
Barcelona has a special place in my heart.
I turned 22 in Paris. Ten years rolling (see griptape).
Things weren’t quite the same after Europe. I got wrecked and stepped off the board for awhile. Getting back on, I was a little wobbly.
But I didn’t lose much.
Still got all my favorite tricks. I just have to hold off on the handrails.
Skating tubes, easy impact.
Winter skating in North Carolina.
I made friends with a street urchin while skating a monument in Cambodia. It’s nice taking skateboarding around the world.
14.july.2006. Twelve years later and still rolling.
It’s not the same and I’m not the same. But that’s okay. I still love skateboarding and it’ll always be there. Keeping me forever young.