It’s now early 2019 and like everyone we have a lot to look forward to in the coming year. Everyone is busy making plans and attempting to execute them. Generally, the first step in every year should be to take down your holiday decorations because you don’t want to be that neighbor. Good neighbors are there to lend a helping hand and help keep you in check. Neighbors build up communities and we should all strive to be good neighbors. While thinking about community I started thinking about the Southeast and our skateboard neighborhood, not necessarily Georgia, but the surrounding scenes. What videos or shops inspired me to want to be better, or at least got me excited to go skate. Here’s what I came up with:
12/12/1964 – 09/01/2017
Wakeboarding had existed for a few years before Chuck Morrow founded Ambush Board Co. and Buywake.com, but it was still a small, burgeoning industry. The products were being improved at a rapid clip with major innovations taking place in design, function, and construction for both boards and bindings. But, how wakeboards were being sold at retail was stuck in the dark ages.
Boat dealerships were the primary source of distribution for wakeboards until Chuck established Ambush Board Co. (https://www.ambushboardco.com) in the summer of 1997. Most boat dealers would relegate an unused corner of the sales floor to a few of mid-grade wakeboards and call it a “pro shop.” Enthusiasm for wakeboarding was rising, but the dealers at the time were more focused on selling boats than boards, and their knowledge of the products and of the sport itself were minimal at best. If wakeboarding were going to grow, it needed a focused, passionate advocate at the retail level.
Chuck founded Ambush Board Co. on the idea that all action sports were kindred and should be celebrated and marketed together. He brought wakeboarding, skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing together harmoniously under one roof. Chuck added products from the subcultural elements of action sports, including Punk Rock CDs, band merchandise, and indie collectables, and made them staples in his store. Most importantly, Chuck single-handedly rebranded wakeboarding and how it was viewed by potential new participants. Chuck separated wakeboarding from waterskiing and boating and aligned it with skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing. To Chuck, wakeboarding was an “extreme” sport that deserved the respect of the action sports community, and the community took notice. This ushered in a new era of legitimacy and respect for wakeboarding and helped the sport reach its new potential.
Chuck thrived on change and made it his personal mission to buck the status quo. He energetically looked for ways to improve on ordinary ideas and transform them into groundbreaking retail concepts. The Internet gave Chuck the vehicle to again alter the course of wakeboard retail when he launched BuyWake.com (https://www.buywake.com) in 2001, when online retail was still very much in its infancy. At the time, retailers were cautious to enter the online realm. Most websites were rudimentary virtual brochures and wakeboards were either being sold in brick and mortar stores or through mail order catalogs aimed at recreational boaters. BuyWake.com came to market with a fresh new way to buy wakeboards and brought with it a whole new attitude. The introduction of BuyWake.com and its “No Skis, No Tubes, No Bulls#!t” maxim solidified itself as a thought leader and tastemaker while simultaneously casting everyone else as kooks. BuyWake.com also blew the international market wide open by making it easy for riders purchase wakeboards overseas, thus creating a worldwide wakeboarding boom.
As the Internet evolved into a perfectly connected collection of individuals, ideas, and resources, Chuck sought to disrupt wakeboarding again, this time through simplification. To Chuck, the customary way of selling wakeboards online was becoming inefficient, slow, and costly in a rapidly progressing digital retail landscape. To combat his concerns and better serve his customers, Chuck developed what he called i2, an organized network of data feeds that bring wakeboards and riders closer together than ever before. Chuck’s vision was to lithely adapt to how, when, and where wakeboarders wanted to buy, and make sure their wants and needs were met with ultimate speed, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Chuck Morrow will be remembered for his radical approach to retail, unwavering beliefs, commitment to his principles, and his often brutal honesty with everyone around him. He strived to do his best and expected the same out of others. He compelled the industry around him to question conventional wisdom and demand more out of themselves and their respective brands. Chuck forever changed the way wakeboards were sold at retail three times in twenty years, while bringing Ambush Board Co. and BuyWake.com to the pinnacle of the wakeboarding industry. Chuck Morrow will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him, and wakeboarding will be forever grateful for his contributions.
Thank you Wakeboarding Hall of Fame for honoring our sports greatest athletes and the platform to tell Chuck’s story.
My first viewing of Bloody Chicken Boots
Rarely do I remember the exact moment I watched a skate video for the first time. That is unless I attended the video premiere, or the video made some sort of immediate impression on me. The impression doesn’t necessarily have to be good either, it can be bad too. With that, I do distinctly remember the first time I watched Ambush’s first skate video, Bloody Chicken Boots, and it wasn’t because the video was particularly spectacular.
I remember rolling up to the shop with some friends on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon sometime in 2001. This was Ambush’s old location, the one with the infamous three stair. Anyway, I was posted up on the couch, which sat across from on of those antiquated big screen televisions. You know the type…the old projection ones that have the VCR’s timecode burned into the screen. Admittedly, I was a little hungover from the prior night’s endeavors. Still, I had no idea a skate video contained the power to augment my hangover. Was it was the filming or the odd techno songs that caused my stomach to churn. Who knows? What I do know is that my first viewing of Bloody Chicken Boots was nauseating. This made the viewing permanently burned into my brain, just like the timecode burned into the big screen it played on.
Recently I noticed that BCB wasn’t online and it had been ages since I’d seen it. Seeing this opportunity, I set out to capture the VHS and expand Ambush’s digital archive. During my efforts, I watched it a few times and, surprisingly, it’s better than I remembered. The video holds a special type of nostalgia reserved normally for old awkward photos. The photos can sometimes be slightly embarrassing, but also rad. While digesting the video, I decided to reach out to some of the people involved in making it. After all, Blood Chicken Boots is now 16 years old, and what better time to get their respective takes on the video.
Q: Pretty hard to believe that Bloody Chicken Boots is 16 years old. When do you think the last time you watched it was?
A: Dude, I probably haven’t seen the video in about 10 years. So long ago. The random thing is that people still bring it up in the store, every once in a while. For one reason or another, the video stuck with them and they totally remember everyone’s part and the most random stuff about it. Crazy, right?!
Q: What was your initial perception of the video and your part?
A: First perception was, what is up with the name?! Me and Brian Hutch had just got on right [the Ambush skate team] before the video was to come out. It was Ryan Taylor’s baby as far as I know. But, Ryan is a rad dude and knows what’s up, so I had faith in him and the video. Music was mad crazy on most of the parts. I think that Ryan and the homies made most of the jams themselves, I could be wrong about that one. Regardless of the name and music, Ryan’s and Brian’s parts ripped!!! I have a lot of respect for those guys.
Q: If you had the chance to pick your music, what would you have ran with?
A: It would have probably been something by the band Fifteen. I was so into those guys back then. I was convinced that, if every person listened to their first couple of albums, that the world would be a better place. Those early songs by them are life changers, brother. A bunch of us got to see them here in Atlanta at the old Somber Reptile before they broke up. Randomly, when I was skating in SF, I noticed a flyer on a street pole that said Fifteen was playing a reunion show that night. We got to see them in their hometown. Funny thing was that to us they were THE band and we thought the show would be sold out. When we got there, there probably were only 50 people at the show, but we went ape shit. One of the best shows that I have ever seen.
Q: What’s up with that slam at the beginning of your part? Did you break your wrist or something? I always hated that it was shown over and over.
We’re all getting older and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it. The passing of time is a hard thing to come to grips with. It’s something that cannot be escaped or outran…and, apparently, it also flies when you’re having fun. I’m calling BS on the latter! In short, I believe, having fun is a vital component to staying young…at heart at least. Admittedly having fun all the time is easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot. What’s more fun than skateboarding? Nothing. This probably explains why we’re watching our favorite pros skateboarding for longer and longer. In no particular order, here is a look at some of my favorite “aging” skateboarders.
Bi-weekly, we get together for a marketing meeting. During these powwows, we lay out our marketing schedule and agenda, and discuss content. A LOT of times during these meetings we sit around figuratively throwing shit at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. A few months ago, sitting around the conference table discussing our marketing plans, it hit me. That little voice in my head said, “Hey, Ben! I don’t think anyone has ever analyzed every Thrasher Magazine cover.” And…without thinking, I immediately blurted this out to the group. Little did I know that this idea would
The full-length skate video has gone the way of the dodo more or less and without beating a dead horse I’d like to delve ever so lightly into one aspect I miss about full feature videos: the credits or after credits sections. Obviously, the intent of the credits is to acknowledge everyone who made the video possible, but they often serve as a platform for great B-roll footage and music. So, I’d like to take some time and give credit where credit is due for my favorite skate video outros.
Rhett Whatley has been mixing music for years.
Before there was a social media marketing team here at Ambush there was the lone wolf of the web, Rhett Whatley, who handled it all himself. Rhett graduated Kennesaw State University with a degree in Marketing while working at the shop (Ambush Board Co.) and our ecommerce companies (BuyWake.com/BuySkateShoes.com/BuySnow.com/CheapSk8Shoes.com). He helped our business establish an online persona and we continue to carry forward that mantle today. We are grateful for all the support and we promise to continue to support him and his music!
In his humble beginnings of sampling and layering beats he was good…I remember thinking, “Dude this is your third track you’ve ever made?” Fast forward and observing from a far, Rhett would lace me up with every mp3 he was making. At one point, I looked in my iTunes library under the folder I made for him and there was over 100 songs equaling 5 hours worth of tracks. Rhett has an extensive background in wakeboarding and competed on The Pro Wake Tour for a few years. I can’t remember the year, but back in the day he won the PWT in Portland. Immersed in wakeboarding his early music could be heard on such wake projects as “The Way” DVD. It’s pretty solid to be a rider in a legit wake video, but to have also done the soundtrack is literally unheard of.
Peep the trailer for “The Way” DVD from 2008 and listen to some of his early mixes:
The East Bay of San Francisco is home to punk rock legends Operation Ivy, Rancid, Jawbreaker, Crimpshrine, Fifteen, and the famous 924 Gilman Street venue. In the late 1980s-early 1990s, the scene was perfect for young punks as it centered more around the music and less around drugs and alcohol. The East Bay punkosphere served a larger purpose to give teenage outcasts a place to call home and stay out of trouble. If the L.A. punk scene was about aggression and destruction, the Oakland/Berkeley punk scene was about the community and its youth. One of the habitats most dominated by the punk rock youth was Telegraph Avenue, a swath of road that stretches from Old Historic Oakland to the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.
In the early 1990s, we lived in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area). It was too far from the coast to surf during the week, so on weekends me, my brother, and our circle of friends would proposition one of our parents (usually Chuck) to take us. Almost every weekend was the same thing: get up at the crack of dawn, drive to Pacifica, stop at Nor Cal Surf Shop for something that someone invariably left at home, surf, feast, and then drive home.
The aforementioned weekend was a little off. The fog was thick and the air felt colder than it actually was. My brother, our buddies, and I were all bundled up in hoodies and beanies, but somehow we were still shivering. It wasn’t exactly the same type of shivering like you would be doing if you were cold. It was almost a fearful shivering. No one forgot anything this time, but we decided to go into Nor Cal Surf Shop, anyway. We were stalling. For what? I don’t know.
The Law of Attraction centers around the belief that like attracts like. When you surround yourself with positive people and positive thoughts, great things happen. The Manhattan Beach Surf Club in the 1950s was prime example of the phenomenon, as it attracted two of the most legendary figures in the history of surfing. It was in this club that Dale Velzy met Greg Noll and taught him how to shape surfboards. Noll then passed his craft (and surf shop) on to Eddie Talbot in 1972. Eddie and his partners picked up where Noll left off and changed the name to E.T. Surfboards.
I don’t remember exactly when my twin brother, Eric, and I first went in to E.T. Surfboards, I just know we were young. We didn’t surf yet, but were hypnotized by the smell of freshly glassed surfboards, Neoprene, Sex Wax, and the salty air of nearby Hermosa Beach. The colors were intoxicating (this would have been the early 1980s in the height of the neon era). Our eyes would dart from Slime Balls wheels to Body Glove wetsuits to the airbrush jobs on custom Pat Ryan or Ronnie Williamson boards. We knew we couldn’t afford anything in that store, but we were determined to be a part of it.