Skateboarding and the Olympic$

Thoughts on the subject by two dudes with sometimes varying opinions.

Figgy getting in the spirit for the Olympics! LOL

Perhaps foretold by Neal Hendrix a suspended USA Skateboarding executive committee member who is not to be named, et al., in Atlanta in 1996, skateboarding is now an Olympic sport.  Skateboarders are a seriously opinionated lot…and there is, of course, a dearth of opinions on the topic all over the place.  Most of these opinions are predictably negative.  We’re not that interested in calling people kooks or offering up vapid generalities.  Instead, we’d like to talk about a few specifics.  Paradoxically, though, we’ll start with the most elemental question:

Should skateboarding be in the Olympics?

Eric E.:
Yes.  I feel that there are three reasons that this is even a question: Read More >

Sesame: The Contest #5 Photos & Video Recap is Live!

As told by Matthew Goodison-Orr

The morning of March 23rd was clear, with a promise to be sunny.  The temperatures promised a beautiful Spring day.  At Brook Run Skate Park, tables and chairs were being set up, pens and clipboards put out, signs erected.  The music started to fill the air.  Sesame: The Contest was being held.  This would be the 5th contest in the series hosted by Christian “Drizzy” Hanna.  Soon, the skaters would roll up to the tables to sign up for the beginner or advanced divisions.  Drizzy is busy filming a few of the skaters for the highlight video shown here.  The skaters are warming up and practicing their tricks while sizing up their competition. And then Drizzy slowly skates out, megaphone in hand, and announces the start of the contest. Immediately the park clears out, he thanks everyone for coming and calls out the first 3 names. Read More >

Boards and Breweries

Peter Raffin, Skateboarding, Beer, Shotgunning
Peter Raffin knows it!

It comes as no surprise to hear “Beer and Skateboarding go together like PB&J,” or as a true “Millennial” might say, “Avocado and Toast.”  Most of age skateboarders would probably agree with this.  Responsibly sharing a couple of brews with the homies amid a mini ramp session is great and it’s no secret.  It’s a trend made clearer when you see bigger brands like Brixton collaborate with Coors Original, 686 partner with Pabst Blue Ribbon, or the fact your favorite Street League pros will retire fruitfully off their windfall craft beer investments.  More so, it wouldn’t be a stretch to draw parallels between the craft beer renascence of recent years to the boom in small, independent skateboard brands currently taking the industry by storm.  Seemingly every time you blink a new skate brand is created.  With this in mind, it makes total sense for me to pair my favorite local brews with my favorite independent skateboard brands.  What’s not to love?  Boards and Breweries.

street league, saint archers, paul rodriguez, nine club
Saint Archer’s Money.

Creature Comforts’ “Tropcalia” and Blvd Skateboards

For a couple years now beer aficionados living in the Southeastern United States have raved about Creature Comforts’ Tropicalia IPA for its balanced, fruit-forward, hoppy flavor.  Often times, this IPA can be hard to find in the wild, and the same goes for a BLVD skateboard deck.  The beer gets it’s name “Tropicalia” from the Brazilian artistic movement that arose in the late 1960s.  Much like Creature Comforts’ affinity for a smooth, aromatic, citrusy IPA, BLVD shares an equivalent palette for skateboarding.  Look no further than their team’s pro roster for a heavy, stylish, and super smooth Brazilian style.  With guys like Rodrigo Petersen, Danny Cerezini, Carlos Iqui, and Tiago Lemos skateboarding for BLVD, it’s easy to see why I would pair the brand with this stellar IPA.

Monday Night Brewing’s “Dr. Robot” and Sour Solution Skateboards

Hailing from Atlanta, Monday Night Brewing has continued they’re expansion over the past several years, quickly becoming the brewery of choice for me.  Their year-round offerings consist of anything from a killer scotch ale aptly named Drafty Kilt to a Belgian-style wit named Fu Manbrew.  Monday Night’s lineup not only boasts humor, but depth.  Just don’t let Monday Night’s variety be mistaken for a weakness.  They didn’t spread themselves too thinly, and in my opinion, any of their beers would be another breweries breadwinner.  The same can be said for the eclectic Euro brand Sour Solution, which has an as extensive team that excels at whatever terrain lays ahead.  All-terrain riders like Barney Page and Oscar Candon both kill it in the streets and park, while Gustav Tonneson and Albert Nyberg’s approach may make you question their planetary origin.  For example, take Free Skateboard Magazine’s latest cover:

Barring, maybe, Rodney Mullen, who would have thought to Casper slide a wall?  NO ONE.  Furthermore, who would have thought a Casper could look so cool?  Well, again, NO ONE.  I have been proven wrong by Albert’s feat.  So, when it came time for me to pair Sour Solution with a brew from Monday Night, I decided to pick one I thought Monday Night would fail with.  That beer would be the new blackberry lemon sour Dr. Robot.  As apprehensive about it as I was, I’ll happily admit, for a sour, it’s great!  Kind of like Albert Nyberg’s Free Skateboard Magazine cover.  So a sour brew for Sour Solution.

Reformation Brewery’s “Stark” and Isle Skateboards

I’m often stuck in what I’ll coin as “beer Groundhog Day” where I’ll continuously drink the same two or three types or styles of beer ad nauseam.  Truthfully my go-to beers are normally pale ales, IPAs, and maybe a pilsner or two.  What beer always breaks this cycle?  If you guessed a strong porter, then you guessed right!  Just down the highway in Woodstock, GA, is Reformation Brewery and their Stark porter is a thing of beauty.  This beer is dark and full of robust character that hints of toasted malts and chocolate.  Since porters first were developed in London in the 18th century, what better brand to pair this porter with than with London’s very own Isle Skateboards.  Isle’s visual offerings tend to be dreary, but entrenched in strong, powerful skateboarding through unique tricks and spot selections.  Good on ya, chaps!

Red Hare Brewing’s “Long Day Lager” and Scumco & Sons

Has it been a long day? Maybe it’s been a long week. Either way, celebrate the beginning of summer with us tonight at the brewery! We’ve got live music and food for our Longest Day party, 5:30-8:30! #redharebrewery #longdaylager Read More >

2017: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

2017 is nearly a wrap and for the first time in ages I feel that collectively we can all breathe a slight sigh of relief.  Why?  Well, we made it out of the dumpster fire that was 2017, guys.  While that is reason enough to tie one on and celebrate, let’s not get too excited.  Regrettably, 2018 is revving up to be just as turbulent.  Whether it’s the constant barrage of bad news or social media overload, it’s apparent that it is harder to focus now more than ever.  Like many, my mind has was cooked by 2017.  So that’s my excuse for why my very cliche year-end “best of” or “listicle” may be missing some very noteworthy things.  With that said, in no particular order, here are somethings that made some crumby days brighter in 2017.

The Atlantic Drift series by Jacob Harris Read More >

Amazombie Apocalypse – The Clash Between Amazon and Action Sports

As Jeff Bezos scours the United States looking for a place to plop a second Amazon headquarters, I started thinking of how deeply addicted we as Americans are to Amazon. It started with the seduction of big discounts, intoxicating convenience, and the opportunity to buy anything capitalism has to offer under one domain. Now, Amazon has become the gatekeeper of all that is sold online and the place we as consumers go when we want to do the least amount of shopping and still get the best (at least, we think it’s the best) deal on the planet. I started looking inward as to whether or not Amazon’s outright dominance of all things ecommerce is a good thing for us in the long term. I mean, there’s a reason they call shoppers who buy exclusively on Amazon “Amazombies,” right?

Ambush Amazombies

In full disclosure, we at Ambush Board Co. absolutely offer a large percentage of our catalog on Amazon, but is that the right thing to do? We experience successes and failures on Amazon just like every other retailer.  I just wonder if this is healthy for us (and everyone else) in the long term.

Before we go any further, I feel compelled to illustrate how products actually get catalogued on Amazon. The most basic answer is: marketplace sellers (such as Ambush) list their products. Retailers pay a hefty per transaction commission to Amazon in exchange for visibility and sales on their site. Seems like a good deal, right? Well, in many senses, it is. The whole world has adopted ecommerce and an incredibly huge number of web shoppers are using Amazon as their sole source for online purchases.  Amazon has hit such a critical mass that retailers are almost forced to sell on Amazon. Shoppers are abandoning specialty retail websites at such a rapid clip that, in order to keep their products moving, retailers have become chained to Amazon. For many, many specialty retailers, Amazon is their primary source or revenue.

So what? Revenue is revenue, right? Those specialty retailers should be happy that Amazon affords them the opportunity to sell on their site, some might say. Not so fast. Amazon actually pits its specialty retailers against themselves. The more units retailers move on Amazon, the more eyebrows they raise at corporate headquarters.

Ever wonder how Amazon selects which products it decides to sell and ship itself? Ever wonder what happens to the original sellers once Amazon takes control of the distribution of that product? Amazon uses the data it collects from its marketplace sellers to find popular items that are creating a buzz on their site. Amazon then moves in and corners the market on those items. And, it doesn’t do this through friendly competition; it does so by boxing out the original sellers that had success with the products in the first place. Amazon then creates an artificial environment where the only option to buy is from Amazon itself. So, when an up-and-coming skate shop in Middle America is having success selling its merchandise to the world via Amazon, those sales make a huge contribution to that shop’s overall success. If one of their products is profitable enough, Amazon will block said skate shop from making those sales and put a major squeeze on their business, regardless of the investment that business has made in that product or in its ability to sell the product. Whether or not the shop can survive the pinch is of no consequence to Amazon. They will do whatever it takes in the pursuit of bigness.

The manufacturers of your favorite brand are partially to blame. Amazon can only decide to gate retailers if they have the products to sell in the first place, and they can’t get the products unless the manufacturer sells it to them. I don’t blame manufacturers for being seduced by Amazon, either. The allure of one of the sexiest companies in the world offering untold sums of money to sell your products has got to be nearly impossible to turn down, especially given that most manufacturers don’t readily recognize that, once Amazon makes its pricing demands, there isn’t much actually there for the manufacturer once the product has been produced and shipped. For some manufacturers, though, an order from Amazon is the difference between barely surviving and extraordinary short term success. The manufacturers simply taking the cash now over long-term viability. But, that fleeting moment of short-sidedness can have grave consequences.

Amazon does not need to make money in the short term. They are so cash rich that they even set aside hundreds of millions of dollars just to harm to a company it sees as a threat (look up what it did to Diapers.com). Amazon simply considers taking losses on the sales of a specific product, brand, or category a small price to pay in the conquest of a market segment. They also view it as a small investment that they will see a massive return on once they have become the monopoly of their wettest dreams. They can discount deeper, and for a longer period of time, than everyone else. While the extreme markdowns sound good for the end user, they, along with Amazon’s gating tactics, will eventually push all specialty retailers away from Amazon. And, due to their total domination in all aspects of retail, the ruthless combo will drive specialty retailers out of business, as well. What will likely remain is a massive megalopoly where all skateboard, wakeboard, and snowboard merchandise is completely sold and shipped by Amazon and all board sales are totally devoid of any level of passion or tacit knowledge of the products or culture in general. This, in turn, commoditizes the very foundation from which we base our entire existence and vaporizes our sense of community.

Where does our industry go from there? Who will nurture it and help it grow? Will Amazon bring a demo to your town? Will Amazon sponsor the next rising am skateboarder? Will Amazon put on the next WSL event? Will Amazon film Travis Rice’s next project? I seriously doubt it.

I am cautiously optimistic that we will never get to that point. Amazon seems to have realized what a race to the bottom truly means for itself in the long run. It seems that they also recognize that they could very well be the kind of organization that 21st century anti-trust law is designed to protect us from. Plus…I’d like to think that it can only get so far using its current bully tactics (at least in our industry). Manufacturers are gaining the foresight to realize that, although it is beneficial for retailers to sell on Amazon, its increasingly unhealthy for them to sell to Amazon directly. And, authenticity, product knowledge, service, and a lifelong dedication to board sports are becoming more important to consumers than just price. If we as board sports retailers can show our customers that embracing retailers that embrace them is key to having a thriving culture to call our own (in addition to offering the the best price and service we can possibly), we will move into the digital shopping age where specialty retail is special again.

This is by no means meant to be a definitive treatise against the monolith. I just want to give people some food for thought. What do you think?

 

Dusting off the VCR: Bloody Chicken Boots at 16

Bloody Chicken Boots Title Screen

 

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.

Stormy Pruett

Stormy Pruett at the 40 Yard

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. Read More >

Winter Skateboarding in Georgia

It’s not uncommon to hole up inside during winter.  The days are short, cold, and for us in Georgia, the days are actually, well, pretty mild.  As I write this today Tuesday, January 17th 2017, I can’t use the weather as my excuse not to skate.  It’s currently 72° and cloudy in beautiful Kennesaw, GA.  Admittedly, it’s unseasonably warm.  Still, I find myself counting the days until spring.  For your information, spring is 61 days, 14 hours, and 9 minutes away.  Look at the forecast for the next 10 days.  Despite some rain here and there, it’s definitely not too bad, eh?

You’re crazy if you aren’t stoked on this forecast.  Time to move the beanies, sweatshirts, and jackets back to storage?  Maybe not quite yet…because, out of the 61 “winter” days left, more than likely we’ll experience a couple more cold snaps and inclement weather that may render the streets “un-skateable.”  I’m by no means a meteorologist, but I’d guess it’ll be due to negligible amounts of ice or rain.  (Knock on wood!)

Then why is it so hard to skate  when the thermostat drops below 50?  When this happens I’ll be the first to declare,  “Oh’ no it’s too ‘cold’ out today”…and hit up the couch.  However, I have learned to put the winter blues into perspective, which helps  stave off the “winter weight” I’d otherwise pack on.  Think of all the skateboarders who skate through much harsher winters or wish it were slighter warmer so that they could.  Hell, I wonder how much money is spent annually by skateboarders escaping the grips of winter?  That’s a survey I would like to see!

In this clip from @dimemtl someone is skating Peace Park in Montreal at a reported 3°.  For their own sake I hope that is in Celsius.  Regardless, it still was wayyyy colder there than it was here today.

https://www.instagram.com/p/_PyUyvDYZZ/?taken-by=dimemtl

If that clip didn’t make you feel like you’re blowing it, remember last winter in Philly?  While a lot of us sat in our warm homes, offices, or skateparks, flocks of skateboarders made their final pilgrimage to Philadelphia in hopes of getting their last sessions in at Love Park!  Some of those days it was freezing and they skated well into the night, and I remained inside and watched as a digital spectator, which isn’t nearly as fun as actually skateboarding.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAaVTFOEkC2/?taken-by=bobbytenderloins

Still not motivated?  Just watch Quartersnack’s 2015 winter montage.  Yep, that white stuff floating around in the sky and accumulating on the streets is SNOW!  Enough snow that would make me pray it was 43° out.

With all these cats enduring the frigid cold, I think I can look past my marginally frozen bushings, numb fingers, and runny nose long enough to grab a jacket and hit the streets.  That is only if ol’ man winter actually decides rear his face again.  Regardless, I  personally plan to at least try to seize each and every last dry day this winter, because once the heat and humidity comes, I’ll be singing a different tune! Read More >

Ambush x RAW Artists Deck Series

 

What if there was no such thing as a skateboard graphic? Would it matter to you if you and your squad all had the same plain, natural wood deck? If skateboards had no graphics, would they still have a soul? Would they tell the story of your favorite pro? Would they still celebrate your favorite video part, ad campaign, or Instagram account? What would a deck with no graphics say about you and your skateboarding? How would anyone know where you have aligned yourself within the skate industry? Would people be making jokes about how lame “Skater X” is over there with his obviously lame brand board?

Thankfully, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where art and skateboarding go hand in hand. We live in a world where skateboards tell stories, share in our culture’s rich history, and convey a brand’s message. For better or worse, we live in a world where skateboard graphics speak volumes of who you are, who your favorite skater is, what clique you belong to, and with whom you share common values and attitudes. And, if that’s what it takes to draw out all of these beautiful, funny, disgusting, and thought provoking graphics, I enthusiastically embrace every bit of it.

Ambush teamed up with RAW Artists to bring you a stunning collaborative series featuring graphics from some of RAW Artists most creative talent.

 

RAW Artists is an international independent artists organization that gives artists the resources and exposure to launch their respective art careers. RAW’s Senior Showcase Director, and former Ambush employee, Dayna Melton has long been one of the top talent evaluators for up-and-coming artists. Dayna curates art shows throughout the country that bring underground painters, printers, sculptors, performers, musicians, photographers, chefs, makeup artists, and jewelers to art enthusiasts in cities like San Francisco, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and, of course, Atlanta. When Dayna proposed the idea of Ambush and RAW collaborating on a series of skate decks, it was an obvious no brainer. The project was a go and Dayna went to work on what she does best: find talented artists.

 

Toby Johnson
San Francisco, CA
Age: 27
tobiasjohnson.com
instagram.com/tobjofasho
facebook.com/Tobiasjohnsonart

Ambush RAW Artists Toby Johnson

Toby has been creating art since he was able to hold a pen. His passion for art is matched only by his obsession with skateboarding. For the past 15+ years, Toby has fused the two into a lifestyle balanced between the streets and the studio. Toby’s art career started to take off as a graffiti artist in the eclectic neighborhoods of San Francisco. He has since evolved into a commissioned muralist painting the walls of various storefronts throughout the city.

To Toby, skateboarding and art are intrinsically connected. He gets the same feeling of pride and stoke from landing a new trick as he does from creating a new piece. Toby aims to get a reaction, positive or negative, from both his skateboarding and his artwork. And, he thrives on how both cultures share the same virtues of creativity, rebelliousness, and progression.

+*1+*

Skateboard Camp with Ambush Board Co.

When you’re a kid…summer is the best!  No school means sleeping in and having plenty of time to catch up on non-scholarly pursuits.  Whether it’s playing video games, watching TV or going to skateboard camp, it’s easily every kid’s favorite time of the year.  However, today is July 15th…and, with July almost being half over, most kids in the metro Atlanta are will be back in school in a couple weeks.  With that being said, one of our favorite things about summer is being able to host a skateboard camp at Swift-Cantrell through the city of Kennesaw.  What skateboarder doesn’t enjoy sharing the love of skateboarding with the next generation of rippers?

The camp has been going strong for a few summers now and it’s great to see some of shop’s riders braving the heat to teach. Not only are the campers stoked to learn the basics of skating but equally they are excited to learn about the culture. Here’s a glimpse into life as a camper:

Also, since camp is so awesome, I wanted to get some perspective on the camp from the instructors on what they love and hate about camp.

Bobby Henson

  ollie at foundation

The best part about skate camp is the kids and how fast they progress. It blows my mind every week how new and clueless most of the kids are to skateboarding and how by the end of the week they know how to do all the basics and even a few tricks. Some of the best highlights are the different ways each kid celebrates when they do something new and have been trying to learn for a awhile, that they never thought they would ever land. For example, one camper always wanted to drop in on a quarter pipe and once he landed one and rolled away he just screamed, with his hands doing rock on fist in the air. 

Wesley Lembo

backside smith grind

Skate Camp is awesome because my friends and I get the opportunity to literally cultivate the upcoming generation of skateboarders. I love getting to be hands on with each kid, and try to push them to try things that they maybe never thought they could do. The worst part is the heat. Everybody feels it, but I love just encouraging everyone to stay hydrated, to drink water, and to work at their own pace. Every kid is unique, and can offer something different to the camp experience. Between seeing new faces and old from week to week. I can easily say that skate camp is one of my favorite things that I get to be a part of. Read More >

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