If you consider yourself a skateboarder, then you should be interested in skate-trivia, old & new stories, obscure facts, rumors, etc. This page will be updated every week, or every couple days, or whenever I or contributing writers can remember random facts or stories.
And so we begin. . .
There’s that spot. The dream spot. . . Maybe it’s not even real. Maybe it is. Maybe it was only there for a couple weeks, a couple days.
Backyard swimming pools are a prime example of the dream spot. Almost every town has, or has had, an empty pool.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, back in around 1985, or 86, a house became abandoned. It was a strange house, it was large, one story, on top of a small hill. It wasn’t really in a neighborhood, It was far away from the other houses that were scattered around in the desert in that area. it was an older custom-built house, possibly from the 50’s. And in the back yard, was a swimming pool of epic design. It was shaped like the number 8, but with an extra round part, in the shallow end. The deep end was around 9.5 or 10 feet deep. Some people claim to have found, and skated this pool in around 1985. But this story is about how I found (re-found?) this pool in around 1986-87. As a kid, I used to ride around on my bmx bike, or walk, or skate, and explore all kinds of random stuff in the deserts in Vegas. One day, I had my board, and was walking by the strange abandoned house on top of that small hill. My skate-mind was just beginning to develop, but I KNEW that there would be an empty pool in the back yard. So I walked on back. And there before me was the pool. It was over a quarter full with disgusting, black, smelly water, and had all kinds of random items thrown in, including a shopping cart and a bunch of tumbleweeds. I thought this was pretty cool. I could see that the transitions of the pool were really good for skating. So over the next couple weeks, me and a couple friends went back to the house over and over, almost every day. We brought buckets and brooms, and cleaned the pool out. I had told a couple other random skaters about the pool while we were cleaning it out. So basically right when it was clean, people started showing up to skate it. My friends and I called it “The Sludge Bowl”, because of the rotten black sludge that was in the bottom of the deep end in the drain. It smelled REALLY bad. And for the first few weeks whenever someone would accidentally roll over it, the smell would seep out and make anyone around almost puke.
So the pool was around for years. But after the first year or two of skating (I can’t remember exactly when) a crew of older guys who would always skate the pool came by one day and spray painted “Blue Tile Lounge”, in the shallow end in a nod to the Blue Tile Lounge scene in the Search for Animal Chin skate video. And from then on, it was just called “The Blue Tile Lounge”.
The skating went on there for YEARS. My friends and I witnessed MANY insane sessions go down. We saw local rippers like Frank Atwater, Paul Smith, and Steve Wagner kill it constantly. And every now and then, top Ams and Pros would show up to skate. The best footage I am aware of is in the Gullwing trucks video “Inside Out”, where Chris Miller, Frank Atwater, Lee Ralph, and Kele Rosecrans skate it and KILL it! Over the years, the house and pool got more and more wrecked by visitors. Eventually, all the coping in the deep end got smashed out, and even a corner of the pool where the mid section met the deep end. But like all things, eventually it met it’s demise.
I can’t remember the exact year, sometime in the early 90’s. Maybe 93? The house and pool got bulldozed, and a senior living center or some crap got built on top of it.
Oh well. Nothing lasts forever. . .
You’ve done it, I’ve done it, your friends have done it, and the pros have done it.
Sometimes, skating alone is the greatest feeling. It’s just YOU and your board.
There’s no interruptions, no distractions. You can completely focus on skating, on learning a trick. Or you can just roll around, and focus on something else that’s happening in your life.
I’ve found that skating alone when there are problems in my life has helped me to look at the problem in a different light. And usually the problem turns out to be not as bad as I thought it was. But enough with the psychological aspects. . .
I’ve skated alone when it was my only mode of transportation, I’ve skated alone to learn a new trick, and I’ve skated alone when I didn’t even want to, either because friends didn’t show up or because I didn’t know anyone at the spot.
I actually don’t mind skating alone most of the time. There’s no one around to get in my way, I don’t have to wait my turn to skate something, and although I DO like talking to friends about skating or whatever, when I’m at a skatespot I want to SKATE, not socialize. We can talk after the skating is done.
Now don’t get me wrong. . . There are definitely times when skating with friends or other people is great. How much fun would a contest be if there was only one person skating? And a game of SKATE just ain’t happening solo. Then there are those heated sessions, when the excitement level is HIGH, and people are just feeding off each other’s skating. I’ve been in dozens of those sessions over the years and YES, they rule.
Most of the time when I’m skating at a skatepark, I usually just tune people out and pretend that they aren’t there anyway. If I’m focusing on a line, or just a single trick, I can’t be thinking about little Johnny coming out of nowhere on his scooter and running into me. And that’s ANOTHER reason why skating alone is good. No collisions with other people.
Then on the other hand, if you’re skating alone and you get hurt, you might just be stuck there. So bring your phone to call the ambulance, haha.
And that brings up another point. These days, with cellphone video cameras and GoPros and every other video camera, with a little effort and creativity you can set them up on tripods (or even your hat, or a rock) and film yourself skating. No filmer required. And NO, I don’t think that’s the BEST option. A friend (or if you’re REALLY good or lucky, an actual filmer) can get those angles and the follow-cam that you can’t by yourself.
But in the end, even in a crowd of skaters at a ramp, or at whatever spot you’re skating, it’s just you and your board. No one else is going to do a trick for you. And no matter how much a friend or whoever might give you tips on how to land a trick, YOU are the one who learns it in the end. And you learn it for YOU.
Biting tricks. . .
You know when you’re skating, and you’re trying a trick over and over and OVER and over again, and you just can’t land it, then someone who you’re skating with starts trying the same trick??? That’s called BITING. And it SUCKS.
REAL friends don’t BITE your tricks. It’s an un-written law.
It’s common courtesy that if you see someone struggling with a trick, YOU don’t try that trick at the same time, unless you ASK! Don’t be an asshole!
Yes, ask your friend if he (or she) would mind if you try it too! They’ll get stoked! Then as you try it together, you’ll learn it quicker.
This term popped up in the early 90’s. My friends and I would always be out skating, and if one of us was trying a trick and someone else started trying it, we’d say “stop biting my trick!”.
The term stuck, and still to this day we say it to each other.
This ALSO applies to biting people’s STYLES. Which seems to happen quite a bit these days.
I just wonder if the younger skaters even know about this anymore. . . ?
Do YOU? Or is there a different term for it now?
To be honest, skating has changed quite a bit over the last 20 years, skaters have become more polite to each other. I’ve only seen someone biting someone else’s trick a handful of times over the last couple years. . .
And that’s a good thing.
Be polite, don’t BITE.
And then, we have. . . The Pillow Face.
Pillow Face could just be a nickname, or it could be a term for using a catpiss-soaked old pillow that’s been sitting outside for a year on your porch as the perfect device to deliver silver Krylon spraypaint to your face zone during a huff-fest. Or it could be both. Some people will just never know. . .
Why, when certain people are on a bender, do they insist on further pushing the boundaries and mixing all kinds of substances? Because. Pillow Face.
You ever pay the Fiddler?
If you lived in Las Vegas back in the late 80’s & early 90’s, you just might have.
There was a crew of guys, some called themselves “The New Breed”.
If you were a bit younger than these guys, or even if you KNEW some of them, you wouldn’t want to get caught alone with them at a skatespot. Things got rather ugly and demented for a while there. It even rubbed off onto the behavior of other skaters, such as my friends and I.
I can’t name any names, due to semi-illegal activities, but this odd behavior was performed by several well-known and sponsored skaters during that time.
It started simple, with contests for the wearing of T-shirts the longest without changing or washing them. I remember having marked 45 days on one of my favorite shirts before it became just TOO disgusting to continue wearing. And this went on through the Vegas summers. It gets REALLY hot there in the summer, you sweat A LOT.
The clothing contests went on to underwear, and socks.
This is rather un-hygenic. Some friends even swapped underwear with each other to UP the grossness factor.
The original crew of guys had a rumor going on about them, that they would partake in circle-jerks on cookies. What’s that you say? Don’t ask.
One of the other rumors was of these guys fiddling unsuspecting skaters at skatespots. Fiddling is a term for being. . . . well, I just can’t go into too much detail here.
My friends and I heard about the fiddling, and found it rather funny. So it became common for us to gang-fiddle unsuspecting victims at skate spots, or at parties. One such incident which occurred in the parking lot of a grocery store we used to skate resulted in one of our friends feeling rather violated so he went home crying to his mom. Sorry bro.
Once again, if you don’t know, now you know. Don’t ask.
This fun and demented behavior went on for a few years, then faded into the stories of the past.
But don’t think that it’s ever TRULY over. There might still come a day when you have to pay the fiddler. And it ain’t pretty.
The struggle is REAL.
If you’ve skated for more than a year or so, you know how hard it can be sometimes.
You might see some kid doing tricks, landing with ease, and making it look easy. Then YOU go and try the same trick, but it’s NOT easy. Sometimes, it’s the most difficult thing you’ve EVER come across.
And every person is different.
One trick that YOU might be able to do with relative ease, might take another skater a hundred tries to even come CLOSE to doing. And if you don’t understand this, you’re an idiot.
That’s why sometimes it’s ok to watch skate contests, to see just how crazy it really is for a pro skater to do some of the hardest tricks invented, in a run, while being judged and timed.
Even they, the best skaters in the world, have a tough time sometimes.
When I was younger, and had only been skating for a year or so, I already KNEW how hard skating was. And how frustrating it could be. I would get angry, and would sometimes stop trying a trick, just give up, and go home.
One day I was out skating with a friend of mine at a fun spot, it was a perfect bank to wall. We were skating for a while, when a group of older skaters who were really good showed up and started skating with us. One of the guys was Steve Wagner, aka: The Mangler.
He was having a crap time. Not skating as good as he knew he could. He tried a trick over and over until he finally lost it.
Then something magical happened.
He started angrily throwing his board around, and then focused it.
I had NEVER seen anyone do this before.
To intentionally break your board, was CRAZY.
It didn’t register in my young mind. That that was possible. That that was an option. (And this was YEARS before Rubbish Heap, where they focused Rodney’s board and gave him a street deck to skate.)
This instantly showed me that skating WAS hard. And that other people had a hard time and got pissed too.
It also showed me that skating was a release, in more than just one way. And very few people understand this. The average person standing there in that parking lot that day watching some guy freak out and throw his skateboard around and then break it in half sure as shit didn’t understand.
But I DID.
And I loved it.
And that was just the first time I saw it happen.
Since then, I have witnessed MANY skaters lose it and freak out over the years. Throw your board around. Smash things with it. Even punching yourself in the head was ok. I saw several people do that, and it made total sense to me.
Because most of skateboarding is a mind game. You trick your body into doing things while you’re skating that aren’t natural. It’s WAY more involved than any “sport”.
It’s like magic.
And YOU control the magic, or at least you attempt to.
So when your control doesn’t happen, it’s ok to get pissed.
This ain’t some stupid game that you play with a ball.
This ain’t church.
This ain’t school.
There are no rules.
Go out and skate. Have fun. Or get pissed.
And if you see someone getting pissed, let them be.
Whatever floats your boat.