Michael Cornelius has granted me the SkateRock.com archives to publish and keep alive from his great defunct website that was an early Skate Rock news site in the early 00’s. Michael didn’t write all the articles himself, he also recruited former band members to contribute. This article is by Don Redondo from 2000…enjoy.
First of all, unless you are an old shool skater, you probably have never heard of Alan Gelfand. That’s OK, you have probably never have heard of Mike McGill either (hint: McTwist). Anyway both of these skaters were from Florida and both changed the way we ride skateboards…forever!
It was the late 70’s and my Alva deck had just been ripped off from the car wash I worked at. At that point I was skating with my lone buddy who still skated at the concrete wave. They had just added a (not even close) replica of the now defunct “fruit bowl” and we would go there and session at night. He was kinda anti mainstream skating so he rode a 44″ Sims longboard in the deep end and I would work mostly the shallow (the deep end had really bad transitions…ony good for one or two hits at most).
I still got the mag, but you could tell skating was dying…big O and Upland were there, but parks were now starting to close. So here is the new issue with this guy (Alan Gelfand) doing a no handed aerial on vert! He called it the “ollie pop” There was another Florida guy in the same issue doing a layback air out of a pool…and I though to myself…I can’t do this stuff…maybe it is time to quit like almost all of my friends had done. Most of them dropped out when pools started happening, but not me. That was the first time Gelfand almost got me. Part of it was my board just got ripped so I was bumming at the time to boot.
Turns out I went the “anti route”….me and my friend were in the skate shop and they had Lonnie Toft 8 wheelers for sale so I bought one on a whim. Basically it is two complete boards side by side…so it had 4 trucks and eight wheels. So I continued skating, even riding the thing in pools! If you know what you are doing, you can do long carves and get mondo one wheelers (with the other 7 out), but these boards are not much for straight back and forth…you know the ramp thing. By the way, Lonnie Toft invented the wide board…he had them so long ago that he had open bearing versions of them! Like Duncan and Malcom C. (also from Ventura) who had thruster surfboards years before they were “invented” Lonnie was so far out there that it never took hold and he never got the credit.
Fast forward to 79, when I decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona to go to college (and play in a punk band). As I am driving across the desert (I-10), bumming on not being able to surf for a while, in the middle of nowhere, I see the last row of the Ameron pipe sections (at that time the holy grail of skate spots).Added to that, when I get to Phoenix, they had this park called “High Roller” that I had seen in the mags…with PIPES! Two of them…nice ones!! The little one came out into a bowl and 3/4 pipe and the big one came out into BIG flatwall (as tall as the pipe). To make a long story short… I had to get another regular board. Luckily my good friend Brian gave me a Caster Chris Strople and a Duane Peters.
Anyway, I skated a ton in AZ; skated some big pipes, lots of pools, learned to ollie, and with JFA, went all over the country skating spots in every state.
Fast forward to the mid 80’s, I’m back in California and there are these street skate contests so I decide to enter one. Lucky me, I get my first look at Natas Kaupas. This is not going to seem like much to you now, but back then nobody ollied up onto a picnic table! I’m not even going to describe the things I saw him do (and later Mark Gonzales when he lived down the street)…but it is safe to say I was again thinking I can’t do this…I can’t ollie a fire hydrant. Alan Gelfand had reared his head again…but instead of thinking of quitting…I just stuck to pools and got into downhill, which almost nobody did back then.
Fast forward to today…I still have a few skates in the garage, but do more snowboarding and always more surfing. I did go down to the block in Orange CA and ride the combi pool. It’s still a rush to do big ass carves. So here I am dinking around in the garage and one of the local little kids sees my boards. He asked me if I still skate and I say sometimes…very next question is if I can ollie/kickflip. I say no, and asked him if he can. He looks down at his razor scooter and says no, that he has tried and does not want to skateboard because he can’t and his friends make fun of him.
Funny, in my day, you would not be caught dead on anything that even looked like a scooter but these things are huge now. The kids on my street who do skate can’t even really ride their boards, but are hard at work on really technical tricks until they get tired and basically walk the boards home. By the way, according to my brother, the board does the trick anyway. You just jump up, make a stupid face, and wait for it to finish!
So this time (third time I am thinking about Gelfand and these tricks I cannot do), I sit there and think how much skating has changed all due to one guy’s trick. I can’t ollie big vert or fire hydrants, but I am OK with that. The rest of that afternoon I rode around out front with that kid on the sidewalks and driveways. Just like when I started.
Learn all about Alan “Ollie” Gelfand at OllieAir.com.