As this pile of flesh and bones carries my soul around the Sun for its 50th trip, I have started to ponder some shit….like I have been on a useless wooden toy with wheels for 42 of those trips. After doing the math, that is 84% of my life. I spent a little (I mean a real little) amount of time reflecting on that 84% and what comes to mind is some of the greatest hits I have taken on my fascist killer. Nothing too major, but some good stories nonetheless. I can’t remember what year or how old I was for each but here we go……
- Road Rash Mustache – I couldn’t afford a whole new set up so I borrowed a Variflex Eric Grisham model with those goddamn backwards trucks from a kid at school who was already over skateboarding. My buddy Ken and I were driving back home from PV Mall where I won a high school art contest to get my ribbon. We were passing through Thunderbird and 7th Street, long before those hills were developed but had paved roads…I decided I wanted to bomb a hill on that Variflex – at night – no protective gear. My bro didn’t skate and he was going to follow me down driving my car to pick me up at the bottom. I had no idea how to bomb a hill. I didn’t know to carve it, I didn’t know how to control my speed, I just jumped on that thing and went straight down. Ken said I was pushing almost 40mph when the speed wobbles pitched me to my face and I pretty much scorpioned face down in a massive skid. After that shit got sketchy in my memory. I had a massive concussion and just ripped half my face off. My eyes were hamburgers with contact lenses floating around in there somewhere. I blew out a third hole in my nose right down the middle. I had a complete road rash mustache that complimented my ultra swollen and scabbed up lips. I still have scars on my fingers where my flesh peeled away. I think I was in intensive care at the hospital for a week, suffered some memory loss and really pissed my folks off when I got back on the useless wooden toy all bandaged up, ready for more.
- Taint That Bad – “Back in the Day” there were no mini-ramps or skateparks with small, low transitions to where it is really easy to learn how to drop-in, which is THE fundamental skill you need if you want to skate a vert ramp. The only way to learn how to drop-in was to drop-in on a 10 foot tall ramp. Now I am not ashamed to admit this, I was scared to death of trying to learn to drop-in. So much can wrong fast and this one time at Julio’s Ramp in Mesa I learned a deep, personal lesson of the perils of dropping-in. I had tried several times that day and had come close. I thought I had finally made it, got to the flat still rolling and then proceeded to backseat so hard my momentum carried my sliding ass up the opposite transition and off the side of the ramp where I pretty much straight legged sacked myself where my left leg scraped the edge of the plywood from the back of my knee all the way up to my taint. I had a massive bruise, torn skin on the back of my thigh and a goddamn scab brewing on my taint!!!!! Mike Alvic fell off the deck laughing his ass off.
- Left Elbow #1 – In AZ I skate all year long and includes during the day in July and in the night through the two winter months we have here. This was especially cold night at the Wedge. I was layered pretty good and just a normal skate. I slipped out at one point and slammed my elbow but no blood, no foul…keep on skating. When I got home and started to peel my layers off, I realized there was a massive gash in the tip of my elbow that no band aid was going to cover. It was so cold I hardly bled. Tips of elbows are very difficult wounds. When do you not bend your elbow? NEVER! I had to go in twice for stitches because they kept pulling out and pretty much ruining my skin around it to where they had to go through some good stuff to keep ’em in there.
- When Two Becomes One – When you go on a skate trip with Brian Pino it’s never just a skate trip. It’s like a victory tour of all the amazing things he has built to shred. This trip was no different. We went to Ryan Sheckler’s training facility in progress and Lance Mountain’s backyard masterpiece that Pino had recently finished. Lance asked for no cameras because he was in the middle of filming his part there. He had a broken arm so just hung and watched. This was an early Sunday morning after a long night of raging but we were all pumped. Halfway through the session I dug deep on a frontside carve in the deep and pitched myself off. I landed on my feet but straight legged halfway up the transition. When I landed I felt a major POP in my back. It hurt, but I was in Lance Mountain’s backyard so I blew it off the best I could from that point on. I assumed I just strained it pretty good and continued to skate. After that sesh, we hit Monrovia and I drove my car back to AZ. I didn’t say shit to anyone and just went about my life. A few weeks later it was still sore and I went to help Pino dissemble the Cowtown Ramp at the old warehouse. Shit started to hurt bad and I finally went home and told my wife I was hurtin’. Well shit, X-rays revealed I compression fractured two vertebrae by 50% each, hence losing mass of a whole vertebrae. I had waited so long there wasn’t shit to do but sit and wait for 6 months of no skateboarding and tons of physical therapy. Take care of that shit, kids!
Left Elbow #2 – This was one of those time we had some heavies in AZ, master photographer MRZ and his wordsmith Christian ‘BLKPRJKT’ Cooper were in tow and I was the pool host. This was a huge day for AZPX because these dudes were here to help put my small skateboard brand on the industry map and want to shoot our heavy hitter. To no surprise, the heavy hitter couldn’t ‘make it’ to the sesh for one reason or another and there I was with the bail gun now pointed at me to get the work done. Ben Dixon navigated us to a classic Tempe ‘Steep & Deep’ with Kool Deck coping. Remote lights went up, MRZ told me what to do and the work had begun. I got some pool riding skill. Nothing like worth talking about but I can hang in a heavy sesh. Somehow I found a photo worthy line in this jacked up shitpit which was a sort of back smith super slash grind that locked in and covered some distance. BLK got stoked so we started working on it. I hung up twice trying and second time, straight to the left elbow and a blood blowout down the pools waterfall but we got the shot! That night was another trip to hospital this time with a big drainage needle before the stitches. I think that is the day I finally earned Dixon’s utter respect. Love ya, Ben!
- Rusty Nail Bomb – Where I come from, if you want to skate, you need to jump fences. This one time was no exception, I think it was during the State Route 51 pre-excavation in the Jungle. We were leaving this hole and when I went to hop the dilapidated wood fence, a slat fell off and landed below me with a rusty nail sticking straight up. This happened all in one motion and when I hopped down I landed directly on the nail which went through my shoe AND foot. My shoe quickly filled with blood and Alvic almost wouldn’t let me in the car. A young Ryan Swick was freakin’ out as Matt Risteau poured blood out of my shoe like he was dumping a cup of coffee. A nice tetanus shot and some gauze shoved up my foot hole and I was on my way.
- Left Elbow #3 – I don’t make it out California much, but when I do, something usually happens and this was no different. Not 10 minutes out of the car deep in the Inland Empire at an early DIY spot, I fell first run right to the ol’ left elbow. Goddamn thing bled profusely the rest of trip and stitches were no problem when I got home since it never started to heal.
- Oops, I Shinned it Again – We all have given ourselves shinners while skateboarding. It fuckin’ hurts and is a rite of passage. One night at the Wedge I managed to give myself a shinner that must have been on my perfect sweet spot because it blew open an eight stitch gash that soaked my beige Dickies red and freaked the kids out at the park. Man that’s a shitty place for stitches.
- Left Elbow #4 – I work close enough to Union Hills skatepark to where I can go sneak a 15 minute sesh in on my break sometimes. This time, I rolled into the street area, tried to ollie the split pyramid and caught by back truck up on the split….right to splitting my elbow wide open and you guessed it….more stitches….this is why you will always see me with at least a left elbow pad on when skateboarding.
- Knee Kapped – As I wind down this article, my number 10 ain’t all that bad and I have to look back I am relatively lucky to have skateboarded this long with only these ‘minor’ injuries. One of my favorite memories from skating Lennyland every Tuesday night is when I hung up on a Fakie Disaster and landed directly to both knee caps at the same time. I think chopping off my head would have hurt less, but the pain subsided after a few weeks and I was back at it.
Thanks a lot for taking the time learning about how clumsy I am. I have more than 10 but I will not bore you no longer. I’ll get back at ya’ in another 50 with a new list. By that time I am thinking that my brain would be hooked up to wires and I’ll be rollin’ the universe for the next continuum on my virtual Shred Sled. No regrets, it’s the life I chose and the one thing I have never given up on or lost interest in.
Thank you Skateboarding!