Before photography, skateboarding was everything. It was the first thing I ever felt really good at and I let it define me. I even wanted to be pro, although I would’ve never admitted it at the time. When it came time to go to college, I picked Berkeley because it was the close to San Francisco, which had all the best skate spots at the time. I’ve been skating for 17 years now. For at least 10 of those years, there was nothing else that consumed so much of me. Part of me wonders if I’d be further along in life if I didn’t spend all my free time in empty parking lots. But the better part of me knows that what I learned from skateboarding is invaluable and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Last weekend I had a day off and went skating. I left my phone at home and went out with my buddy Vic. We skated all day and pushed to every destination. With a career and adult obligations, I haven’t skated like that since before moving to New York four years ago. It felt like I was 15 again. When I got home, rather than catch up on the emails I amassed while gone, I decided to digitize old skate parts I made over the years. Nostalgia is a strange and addictive emotion. Here are some of my favorite parts from 1999 to 2003.
I think I like this one the most. It was 2003 and I was watching Donnie Darko a lot, hence the song. I’d just bought a Sony Handycam with money I won in a best trick contest. My buddy Jacob begrudgingly filmed everything. We both worked at the 510 skate shop and I’d wake him up early to film tricks before work. I think I did the front blunt on the handrail at 9am. I was always pretty serious about skateboarding but this was probably the peak.
This was part of a video we made called “Monkey” in 2000. It was the summer before I left for college and I was on a serious hometown hero kick. It wouldn’t be long before San Francisco put me in my rightful place. The final “Monkey” video was over an hour long and laden with embarrassing Bam-style skits (think CKY, pre-Jackass days). The whole thing was painful to watch even then.
This is from the spring semester of 2002. I was a sophomore in college and should have been investing myself in literature or girls. Instead, I couldn’t wait for class to end so I could take the F bus to SF and skate all day.
I spent my junior year of college studying abroad in New Zealand in the second half of 2002. Everyone in NZ’s skate scene was so nice and welcoming. But I guess not a lot of people were skating handrails there at the time. I ended up on the cover of a magazine and a calendar because of it. It was a dream come true. My mom still has a poster of the cover hanging in her office.
All this was from the winter holidays in 2002. I’d just returned from New Zealand and was hoping to keep up the momentum of my skating. It was just becoming summer in NZ when I had to fly back to a brutal winter in North Carolina. Because of the cold and lack of spots, I only skated skateparks that month.
This was the first video I ever made back in 1999. My dad haggled with some folks at yard sale and came up on a free 8mm video camera. It was big enough that you could mount it on your shoulder and had its own suitcase. I did the original edit between the video camera and a VCR. There was no music and I filmed a piece of paper with my name on it for the title. It ran 11 minutes, most of which was from a junky skatepark we had on top of a parking garage. I sent a copy of the video to Think hoping they’d sponsor me. They mailed back the VHS with a sticker for trying. This week I re-edited the video for the internet, cutting out the worst of the worst footage and adding songs I really liked when I was 17.
Even now with so many other fulfilling aspects of my life, nothing quite compares to the feeling of landing a really good trick. I don’t think anything ever will.