I’ve often wondered about the impact of The Great Recession on longboarding – in Local Flavor, I touch on a few Michigan-based hardgood companies that existed at the time. Companies like Rey Trucks, famously, began production during the Great Recession as a way to keep their guys working and to keep money flowing during the downturn (and ceased production when their main business picked back up). Chicago Longboards was a cabinet manufacturer who, likewise, turned his efforts into longboarding to keep some money flowing. Malibu Longboards, out of Grand Rapids, MI, was run by a husband and wife who were experienced in far-East supplier relations, and were able to leverage that into their own longboard brand. Zealous Trucks and Confederate Trucks were both designed by out-of-work engineers. Tactis Skateshop was started by a financial guy.

Rey and CLB were implemental in bringing affordable, high-performance gear to the marketplace – Rey with their CNC trucks, and CLB with their composite-based boards. Zealous and Confed had groundbreaking innovations in their trucks – Zealous had an infinitely-adjustable kingpin, making their hangers usable on any RKP baseplate, and Confed had easily-replacable axles. Plus, Zealous was able to transition into being the bearing powerhouse that they are today. Tactis (and you gotta go back to 2009 for this) spread the stoke by sponsoring guys like Calvin Staub, Keith Henderson, and Peter Ramirez (Immortalized in the Cash L3wis song, Skateboard King).

But, we saw this play out in the Gearsplosion of 2009: Everyone and their duck was selling longboard stuff during that time. Small time board builders were coming out of the woodwork, the floodgates were opened on far-East companies selling private-label bearings, urethane manufacturers such as AEND loosened up minimum orders which allowed a ton of wheel brands to enter the market (using stock shapes and urethane formulas). While the brands above were important and influential, there are other variables at play.

Locally to me, around West Michigan in the summers and around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the school year, we had scenes reminiscent of the 70’s drought leaving pools wide open for skaters to go vertical…though, instead of empty pools, we had winding ribbons of asphalt weaving through the undulating terrain of subdivisions that weren’t filled because of the crashing real estate market. There were skate crews tagging culs-de-sac in subdivisions like Summerset West in Georgetown Township, Shiras Hills in Chocolay Township, and Odovero Hills in the City of Marquette. Other areas around Boyne City became Michigan Downhill hotspots. Elsewhere in the country, abandoned industrial parks became locations for outlaw races. Countless other subdivisions sat as empty monuments to man’s materialism, and promised miles of smooth pavement where skaters weren’t likely to be harassed by neighbors or police. The only reason I feel comfortable in naming specific subdivisions in this post is because I know they’re nearly 100% filled…as of this writing in 2021, and having skated a bunch of ’em while they were being built in 2007, 08, and 09.

I’d like to offer the supposition that The Great Recession was at least part of a factor in the longboard boom of the late 2000s and early 2010s – as shown above, a sudden glut of hardgoods pulled the top end up, while the bottom end was girded by plenty of openly available terrain to utilize.

Thoughts?

Well, this is unique

Posted: 2021-02-19 in Uncategorized

I wrote a review of the Venom Skate Podcast a few years back, and wrote in there about a “hot take” that the first guest had about the urethane at AEND Industries used to make skateboard wheels. The assertion was that Abec11’s Classic Thane was the same stock formula as what Seismic used – any differences were due to dyes and coloring. I’ll attest to my own experiences that both urethane formulas feel different, though the podcast said otherwise.

Through Teh Intarnetz, the supposition listed in my previous entry landed under the eyes of one Mr. Dan Gesmer, owner of Seismic Skateboard Products. Says Mr. Gesmer, “Absolutely not true. Same factory, but customized formulations that are distinctly different.”

As I’ve stated before, it’s not my aim to stir up shit. It was, but I’ve changed and so has my focus. Life’s too short to hate. I simply found it weird to have gotten a statement directly from a skate industry expert on an incorrect statement I’d written about.

Peace, love, and powerslides
xoxo
-Shopmonkey

I bought this a few years ago with the intent of learning some flatland freestyle maneuvers; footwork and such to help improve my balance and physical awareness on the board. Decomposed has a great thing going, and they’re super helpful in guiding newbies into what they need to get started.

Longboard Review

How long have you ridden the board

2 years

What is your setup like?

Royal 4.0 Trucks, Speedlab Moonshine Siren wheels, Toy Machine T-Sect bearings, Shake Junt griptape

Typical Session Discipline

Flatland freestyle, dinking around the driveway, mostly 70’s style footwork

How much did you pay?

$45ish

Where did you purchase it?

eBay

What were the strengths of the deck.

Great shape, great construction

What were the weaknesses?

The board was advertised as 7.5″ wide, but actually measures out at a full 7.625″, a full 1/8″ wider, which is where I ran into difficulties in getting a wide enough truck/wheel setup

Similar decks you have ridden?

Capital/East Coast Skates Chessboard, with how wide it is it’s also similar to any of several street decks I’ve ridden

Would you recommend it?

Yes

 
There’s a few oddities with this board – noted above, the width discrepancy. Also, I have no idea what sort of finish or clearcoat is on this board, but I’ve noticed that the griptape peels up, and stickers on the bottom sorta “melt” into the finish, making them difficult to remove.

Royal Trucks Review

Posted: 2021-01-30 in Gear Reviews

Purchased from a discount bin at Zumiez, I originally bought the Royal 4.0’s for a mini cruiser, although these days, they’re living on a Decomposed freestyle board. The axle width is 6.5″, and the hanger width itself is 3.875″

Equipment Review

How long have you ridden them?

8 years

What Setup are you running them on?

Originally on a handmade board with UFO wheels, as a 70’s sort of knockoff. Currently sitting on a Decomposed Yoyo deck with Speedlab Moonshine Siren wheels.

Typical Discipline?

Flatland Freestyle

How much did you pay for them?

I don’t remember…on clearance, so it might’ve been in the $30 range

Where did you buy them?

Zumiez

What are their weaknesses?

They were sold as 4.0″ wide, but the hanger width is only 3.875″, which makes it a little tricky to dial in on a freestyle board.

What are their strengths?

They turn quickly and snappy while using soft bushings. Because they don’t have a bushing seat casted into the baseplate and rely on cup washers to hold the bottom bushing, they’re incredibly easy to tweak. Cupped washers give you a little more rebound on the back end, flat washers give you a little more initial lean-in, flipped cup washers enhance the turn all the way through. Royals are generally pretty good, though a touch underrated in the grand scheme of trucks.

What similar equipment have you ridden?

Tracker Midtracks, Tracker Fulltracks, Bennett 4.0’s

Would you recommend them?

Yep.

Video Games

Posted: 2020-11-29 in Uncategorized

Like so many other 30somethings, one of my first exposures to skateboarding was through the Tony Hawk Pro Skater videogame series. The 90’s were a pretty magical time with things like the X Games bringing extreme sports to television on a regular basis; videogames like 2Xtreme and Cool Boarders making extreme sports simulations attainable as a playable feature; and the whole World Industries domination of skateboarding as portrayed in the movie The Man Who Souled The World, talking about how Steve Rocco usurped the whole-ass industry. Big Brother magazine gave way to Jackass on TV, which was tangentially related to Viva La Bam and the Camp Kill Yourself series, which spawned a band. Everything was exciting, high-flying, dramatic, and most importantly, EXXXTREME!

The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series captured the essence of the exiting, extreme, high-flying drama in a way that earlier games hadn’t. You could watch the X Games on TV, then go play as those skaters in a video game, and the game *felt* like you were controlling characters on the TV broadcast. To this day, over 20 years later, the Warehouse level still feels exciting – smashing the glass, rolling down the big hill, then doing a sick grab and getting the “Over The Pipe” and “Secret Room” gaps while grabbing the hidden VHS tape in the secret room. THPS2 introduced combos; building up massive lines by doing reverts into manuals and carrying on without bailing. THPS3 introduced flatland tricks, giving you time to rack up more points while manualling. By THPS4 and Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG), a mechanic was introduced to get off of your board, and an element of free-roam was introduced as a storyline.

The point is, though, that each of these progressions felt epic. The climactic trick in THUG, for instance, was doing a trick over a helicopter. Ridiculous, sure, but words cannot describe how amazing that sequence felt as a player! Then, Activision stuck with that formula for a while, releasing THUG 2, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, and a few other games.

Out of the wings, Electronic Arts debuted the Skate series in the mid 2000’s. Focusing instead on realism and being a true skateboarding simulator, Skate gave the player precise control on tricks. It was no longer just tapping “X” to do an ollie, you had to move the analog joysticks in a certain way back and forth to have your character move his feet to do an ollie in the game. You couldn’t just hit Circle and do a grab, you had to manipulate your character’s arms. You couldn’t just hit Square to do a flip trick, you had to use both joysticks while in the air to move each foot individually. This amount of control was, once again, revolutionary.

While the Tony Hawk series was aimed at synthesizing the extravagance and spectacle of extreme sports, Skate was aimed at putting the player in the game. There are reasons that people who actually ride skateboards are drawn to the Skate series: It feels less fantastic, and more real.

With all that being said, I miss the extreme over-the-top feeling of the Tony Hawk series. While I can truly appreciate the real feel of the Skate series, and it is incredibly satisfying to play, there was just something about jumping over a helicopter or flying totally over a halfpipe.

I dunno…I recently got into playing Rocket League and got to appreciating the feel of high-flying aerial maneuvers, and missing the feel of that in skateboard games.

This is an article I’ve wanted to explore since 2005 and 2006 when I was a staff writer on the Jenison High School newspaper. We’d have pitch meetings with every issue, and go over the articles that were to be featured, length and word assignments, and which articles would be written by whom. I’d always pitch articles about urban myths and legends, but consistently got shot down in favor of current events and topical articles such as sports games, school spirit events, and local youth events throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. The urban myth that intrigued me the most was the one of a hardwood roller rink under the floor at Field’s Fabrics, that was still intact. Questions bounced around my head: Tarry Hall was only a few miles away – were roller rinks popular enough in the 70’s to sustain 2 businesses that close to each other? What was meant by “under the floor” at Field’s – did they build some joists or supports to raise the current store floor, or did they just carpet over the hardwood? How does one go about seeing this hardwood roller rink? 

After graduation from high school, I went to college, and got heavily involved in skateboarding and longboarding as hobbies. My main exposure to the sports were through online sources, such as discussion boards, forums, and other forms of social media. The question still smoldered in the back of my mind, until the knot began unraveling: I’d found a group of “old guy” skaters, affectionately referred to as Fossil Night at the Modern Skatepark in Grand Rapids, and the forum that they maintained. They’d posted a list of old skateparks that used to be in the area, that some of the guys skated at “back in the day.” Wind, Waves, and Wheels skatepark was in Rockford; Purple East had a skatepark in Grand Rapids; Cosmic Wave in Kalamazoo; and The Astro Speedway in an unspecified suburb. I was curious about the stories they told. Wind, Waves, and Wheels had moved to 29th Street in Kentwood and became more of a lifestyle shop; Purple East became a headshop; Cosmic Wave was in Kalamazoo and I couldn’t find two cares to rub together about Kalamazoo; but what the heck was the Astro Speedway? 

While it wasn’t an obsession, it was a favorite topic of mine to Google during late nights in college. Through the wonders of Teh Intarnetz, I met a guy on the chatrooms at Silverfishlongboarding.com named Chris Yandall, who had spent a decent amount of time in the Grand Rapids area during the 1970’s. Stoked like you wouldn’t believe, Chris loved sharing stories of “the good ol’ days” especially with youngsters like myself. It was through a conversation with him that all these pieces began falling into place: He mentioned the Astro Speedway, and said that it now housed a JoAnn Fabrics in Jenison. It clicked as I realized that he’d actually meant Field’s Fabrics, and that the rumored hardwood roller rink under the floor was actually a concrete skatepark in the basement of the store! 

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself working with a young lady who had just recently married into the Field’s family, and confirmed that as of 2013, the skating terrain was still intact, though most of it had been filled in with sand. I was floored. This time frame coincided with when I started my skateboard blog, and the Astro Speedway moved from mere fascination to insatiable curiosity. It wasn’t a full-on obsession yet, as I didn’t have a Pepe Silva-esque corkboard with yarn and diagrams, but I learned to do some deep dives using Google’s search engine in conjunction with a few other online search tools to find some nearly-forgotten primary sources (in the form of magazine scans and old blogs). 

That’s how I got to where I am today. Reaching out to several sources on Instagram, I found myself in contact with one Michael Early. Mr. Early was generous enough to spend about a half an hour on the phone with me, sharing his stories of skateboarding in and around West Michigan in the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, Michael and a buddy, Jon Bishop, designed and built the Astro Speedway. 

He talked of the big names that had skated at the Astro Speedway throughout the years: Wentzle Ruml, IV, of Dogtown And Z-Boys fame; pioneering skateboard photographers Glen Friedman and Ted Terrebone; the Sims Skateboard team, including Brad Bowman, Bert LaMar, Doug DeMontmorency, and Dave Andrecht; the Haut Skateboards team (Haut being the H in NHS Distribution, of Independent Trucks, Santa Cruz skateboards, Creature Skateboards, and many other brands); and the early Variflex team including 1980’s Skater Of The Year, Eddie “El Gato” Elguera. 

The park itself was set up with the main pool in the center area. Michael mentioned that when it was initially dug out and built, it was a little shallow, so they added some vert pieces to the outside making it a sort of ¾ pipe. When he visited the store a few years back, it was still there, and looked like the vertical pieces had simply been broken off and pushed into the pool before being covered in dirt. There’s another, smaller pool in the back that he said was still useable. This confirmed what my former coworker had said; that crews simply filled in the skatepark with sand or dirt when they converted the building to a retail store. 

During one of the online conversations I’d had with Chris Yandall, he mentioned an outdoor snake run in Grand Rapids during the early-mid 1970’s, in addition to the several indoor skateparks in the area. Michael elaborated on this, and said that while he didn’t specifically remember a snake run in the area that Yandall mentioned, there was a pretty solid skate scene all around the midwest: Astro Speedway, of course, being in Jenison alongside several others in the greater West Michigan area; but also out east in Detroit, Flint, and Columbus (OH); west into Chicago and Wisconsin, where the infamous Turf skatepark was housed in Milwaukee. Bill Danforth (“Mr. Hate,” “The Nomad,”) was from Detroit, and had skated in the Great Lakes Skateboarding Association contest in 1979 at the Astro Speedway. Also on Alva’s skate team were a couple other guys from the Midwest: Steve Dread and Jesse Neuhaus, both from Chicago. Between the east coast/west coast rivalry, there was a remarkably robust skate scene right in the Midwest. 

The skateboard industry is notorious for its heavy swings – ebbs and flows that create epic boom/bust cycles. By 1983, the Astro Speedway had closed down in the midst of one of these infamous industry declines. Michael Early moved to San Diego, CA, where he currently lives and operates Pool King Skateboards as well as Alva Skateboards. 

Shared blog with tulipcitydispatch.blogspot.com

Works cited: 
Early, M. (2020, August 11). Astro Speedway Skatepark [Telephone interview]. 

Kingston, Malakai. Michael Early Pool King Founder/Owner. 2007, web.archive.org/web/20100917145156/www.poolkingskateboards.com/michaelearly.html. 

Murphy, Jim. “BILL DANFORTH.” Juice Magazine, 8 Nov. 2014, juicemagazine.com/home/bill-danforth/. 

Yandall, C. (1979, April). National Skateboard Review, 3(12), 3-4. 

A dual project done in collaboration with Tulip City Dispatch

Now, skateboarding is mostly a West Coast thing that spilled across the country, and took root in major metropolitan centers across the country.  I’m a history nerd, obviously, with huge amounts of skate nerd thrown in.  I’m the kind of guy who would ride my boards around college parking lots with pockets full of bushings and various other pieces of hardware, just to feel the tangible differences between each one.  It goes without saying that the nerdery runs deep.
This post is not intended to be a full article, but more of a gauge of interest, and a collection of thoughts – there are a lot of small things to cover, and I’d love to exercise the connections I’ve made over the years to find out more.
First up, the Astro Speedway.  I graduated from Jenison High School in Jenison, Michigan.  There was always an urban legend of a skating rink hidden under the floors of Field’s Fabrics.  Turns out this was the rare gem of an urban legend that is mostly true.  While it wasn’t a roller rink, there was a skatepark named The Astro Speedway.  Sadly, most of the links I had saved are now dead (“tHe iNtErNeT iS fOrEvEr” my left foot, all this information is unrecoverable).  But, I did find a .pdf detailing a 1979 skateboard contest at The Astro Speedway, hosted by Chris Yandall (RIP, man).  While the magazine listed above says that The Astro Speedway was in Grand Rapids, that’s the nearest metro area.  This book lists Astro Speedway as being in Jenison.  An old forum post mentioned “A Joann Fabrics store in Jenison,” but there isn’t one there, and a former coworker who married into the Field’s family did confirm to me, that there is indeed, a filled-in skatepark underneath her in-laws’ fabric store.  Another source had to be accessed by the Wayback Machine, but it has actual pictures of The Astro Speedway!
A tangential rumor I’d love to pursue was given to me by Yandall, on the forums at Silverfish.  Unfortunately, he passed away before I had a chance to ask him more:  He said there was a snake run somewhere on the site of East Kentwood High School that was still intact enough to skate on, as of 2009.
I touched on this in a previous article on Board Life, but there was one point between 2010 and 2013 where you could build an entire longboard based on Michigan-only companies:  REY Trucks out of Muskegon, Milk Surfer or Zuma wheels out of Grand Rapids, there was a military-inspired griptape company out of Detroit, any number of bearing and hardware importers from across the state, and dozens of board manufacturers.  Related to this, there was a fairly major longboard race through Holland, following most of the Holland Half Marathon route that drew international attention by way of Concrete Wave Magazine.  In keeping the focus on West Michigan specifically, I’m choosing to not explore the downhill events around Boyne and Marquette, the Michigan State University parking garage longboard scene, and the Metro Detroit slalom scene.
Pro Skateboarder Josh Kalis grew up in the Burton Heights area of Grand Rapids, and had some videos shot on the Calder Plaza, and on the site where the Van Andel Arena would go on to be built.  I think one of the designers (or possibly owner) of Neff snowboard clothing was involved in GR skateboarding around the time Kalis was, but I’m drawing on the vaguest recollection of a faint memory.  Again, as I’m just spitballing ideas, this might be worthy of looking in to.
A more general idea I had was about the history of the skateboard scene around Holland, Michigan.  The Skate Casa inside RIT Music was started up as a summer job for the owner’s daughter sometime around 2004 or 2005, and still leads the way in local goods and services.  Westshore Board Sports sold longboards during the longboard boom of the late 00’s, but specialized mostly in surf, paddle, and skim boards.  There was a full-on skateshop on James St. west of US-31, but I never had the pleasure of visiting them.  My scope of history begins in roughly 2007, but there’s gotta be a lot of stuff that happened before that…like the decade of the 90’s…and the decade of the 80’s…and the decade of the 70’s…  The big news over the past 15 years circled around skateparks at the County Fairgrounds, and at Columbia Park near Downtown.  There was a plywood prefab park somewhere south of Downtown, but I never skated there and don’t know where the precise location was.
With all of that being said, I’ve got a general roadmap and some ideas laid forth.  Drop me a comment if you’d like to read more about this!  I sense this series will be more about personal interviews than bookworming at the library.
Peace, love, and powerslides!
-TulipCityDispatch and Board Life Blog

SKATEFULNESS WITH DAN AND DAVE

SKATE

FUL

NESS

WITH

DAN

AND

DAVE

 

c’mon, let’s go.

Skatefulness With Dan And Dave is my favorite new skateboard-related podcast!  It centers around Mike Vallely’s brand, Street Plant, and the community involvement associated with the brand and their diehard fans, the Street Plant Battalion.  The coolest part is that, because of their association with the Battalion, they call up and interview one loyal customer per week.

It’s hard to articulate the stoke oozing from my speakers when this podcast is on.  Straight up, you’ve gotta have a quantity of stoke in order to publish a podcast.  Skatefulness is definitely in the same vein as Frontside 360, moreso than The Venom Skate Podcast or The Nine Club.  There’s a lot less insider knowledge required than there is with more specialized content.  I won’t say it’s totally beginner friendly, as there is a little barrier to entry, but Skatefulness is very welcoming and mellow.

It’s right there in the title – a portmanteau of “skate” and “gratefulness.”  Hearing these stories of real skaters, their struggles, and how skateboarding has helped them through dark or hard times exudes a low-key, smoldering hope.  It’s there, it’s tangible, but it’s not in your face.  Through the Mike Vallely interviews featured in the show, I feel like I’ve grown to know the man more than “just” an angry vegan, or the guy fighting off 4 other guys, or the antagonist of Paul Blart Mall Cop.  Mike’s emotions are human, and he expresses them as best as he can.  That’s what the Street Plant brand is about, and that’s what Skatefulness showcases incredibly well.

I’ll be honest – the format is a little dry, and it took me several episodes to fully get into.  But, I’m glad I put in the time to listen, especially after reflecting on my own skate journey here.  This podcast truly inspires joy and inspiration.

I didn’t expect to be able to squeeze 8 entries out of that story!  All that I set out to accomplish was basically tell 3 separate stories:  Pre-skateboarding, college years, and post-college skateboarding and how I’m learning to skate with my old man body.  The wild focus on gear wasn’t what I expected to get into, though I suppose, the sheer amount of gear I’ve owned is as important to my skateboard journey as the friends I’ve made and the good times I’ve had.

I had to go back and edit one of the posts – said something I probably shouldn’t have, and upon reading back upon my older posts, I realized that there are some patterns of general negativity, judgemental behaviors, and juvenile attitudes – to be expected, I suppose, from a blog that was set up to express the frustrations and drudgery of part-time retail work.  But, I hope I can impress upon the readers that it’s not my intention to actively spread negativity.  This is just my own opinions from exploring the world around me.  While I don’t want to go back and edit out all the negativity, I’m striving to remain more and more positive this year.  Seriously, I can furnish a picture of my 2020 New Years’ Resolutions if you want to see that I’m actively trying to better myself.

I’ve addressed this before – I spent a LOT of years with a lot of hate in my heart, and that manifested itself in my refusal to see “outside the box” of a scarce few companies, and made me nearly completely gloss over the biggest skate boom in 20 years.  I try to live a life without regrets, but one of the things I do regret is closing myself off so much.  I was stubborn and bullheaded, and because of my own preconceived notions, couldn’t keep my head on straight and see the forest for the trees.  It was cool to be a diehard fan of certain brands, but I definitely took it too far.

In light of that, please, leave a comment directly (or email me…pretty sure my email address is available on here) if there’s anything misrepresented or factually untrue, and I’ll do my best to correct it.  If anything comes across as too inflammatory or abrasive, let me know as well.

We’re all in this together – both with the skate industry downturn, and with the CoVid-19 economic shenanigans, and I’d love to pledge to my readers, and internet buddies that I’ll do my best to brighten up the corner where I sit.

Thanks, guys!  Please keep on reading, and let me know what you want to read

Peace, love, and powerslides
Shopmonkey/Knuckleduster

This blog sat dormant for most of 2014 for a host of reasons.  I just got married during summer 2013, so there was a lot of adjustment between Q4 of 2013 and Q1 of 2014, finding a house to live in, getting used to that whole “living with a girl” thing, finding a job, etc.

After moving into our new house in November 2013, we began combining our household equipment and other worldly possessions.  Something I hadn’t done in years was gather all of the boards I owned into one location for a picture:8908EDF8-C655-4290-8027-D0DCC91FCC88.jpgLeft to right, back row:  Moose Pool board, Indy 169’s, Earthwing Slide A’s; Earthwing Superglider, Bennett 6.0 Front, Indy 149 Rear, Bennett Alligator wheels; Earthwing Supermodel, Randal 180’s; Earthwing Butterballs; CLB Eleanor, Randal 180’s, Earthwing 76mm Superballs; TVS Lady Cruiser, Randal 160/DH’s, Abec11 Flashbacks; Homemade Darren Lott “Gumball Machine” street luge, Veloz trucks; Seismic Blastwaves; Pavel Downhillbilly Ditch Board, Randal 180’s, Abec11 Pink Powerballs; Neversummer Deviant, Bear Grizzly Trucks, Neversummer NSA Wheels; Dregs Race (owned by Biker Sherlock, raced by Dane VanBommel), Randal DH trucks; Abec11 Flashbacks; Tunnel Comp, Other Planet Trucks, Abec11 Retro Freeride wheels; Sector9 Race, Indy 169’s, Sector9 GOS wheels.  Standing on edge are an LVBC 8.5″ blank on Gullwing Street Shadows and Spitfire 80HD’s; and an Alien Workshop Josh Kalis on probably Indys and Spitfires.  On the floor, left to right:  Homemade 70’s cruiser, black Krux, and those damned Jelly wheels that I said I got rid of in Part 4 or 5; Hobie Skitch Hitchcock World Champion, ACS trucks, loose-ball urethane wheels; Element Ray Barbee, Element Phase 2 trucks, Element All Terrain 95a wheels; way in the background is a Creep Show Superhero deck that eventually got set up on Paris Street Trucks and Orangatang Onsens; in front of that is a Dregs Mini (from the same collection as the Raceboard pictured above); and a 70’s Hardwood blank with Tracker Midtracks and OJII wheels.  Not pictured are a matching homemade 70’s board, a Dregs/H-Street Pool board (on Stage 3 Indys, and Gravity Super Slider wheels, rounding out the Dregs collection I purchased); that Flip Tom Penny from a few entries back; and I swear there was another street/trick setup – that summer, I’d stopped by a local skatepark and gave 3 completes to some stoked skater kids; the Element, the AWS, and a third one that wasn’t the Flip.

All these boards – and I bought a new one to celebrate the new job I’d acquired:  A Sk8kings Maximus, that I’d been drooling over since the board debuted in 2007:  A 36″ monstrosity done only the way that Sk8kings can.  A behemoth of a slalom board that I set up on a Bennett front/Randal rear combo with atomic yellow Abec11 Zigzag wheels.  Sk8kings are great folks, they’ll be in regular contact making sure you’re getting the exact right board for your situation.  The board came with the appropriate wedged risers for my exact purposes.

First time I had it out, July 7, 2014, I went to a mile-long paved path to try it out.  Everything was going good until about a quarter mile from the end:  A small pebble had wedged itself underneath the kingpin of the Bennett truck, in the exact right spot to cause the board to screech to a halt, and send me tumbling to the pavement.  I landed on my left wrist and write elbow, severely lacerating my elbow, and leaving a pool of blood on the pavement, and also running down the skate deck when I picked it up.  I walked back home and got a ride to the emergency room:  4 stitches in my elbow, and they X-rayed my left wrist.  Diagnosis was a broken scaphoid.  They scheduled me for an emergency surgical consult, as that bone doesn’t have a lot of blood flow and has a hard time healing on its own.  I was put on a no-exercise order, as any amount of blood flow could hamper healing.  No lifting any weight of any kind, and they even dissuaded me from walking around the neighborhood.

Oh, that new job I just started?  Yeah, they dropped me on my ass.  On top of that, they kept battling my unemployment claim, saying I was “disabled” and couldn’t work, despite my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist saying I could do anything they wanted me to, so long as it didn’t involve lifting weight; and there was a lot of light factory work, even office and design work, that could’ve been done.

Anyway, I just had surgery, and all the emergency medical expenses that came with getting stitched and X-rayed, and had just lost my income, and was being battled on my unemployment claim to boot.  Thank God for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, for you Fox News types), for offering my wife and I the chance to have gotten insurance, thereby reducing my bills from $13,000 to $3,000.  I was able to take out a line of credit and get on a payment plan, but still had to find some way of paying the bills.

Funny thing was that the orthopedist pegged me right away as a boardsport enthusiast – my injury is dreadfully common in young men in their mid to late 20’s, as they’re not used to their less-bouncy adult bodies, and carry on skateboarding, snowboarding, etc.  He recommended some gloves that motorcyclists wear, with some plastic skidplates on the palm:  More or less describing the exact same slide glove I’d normally have worn.  I told him that, and he began laughing.  He’d never heard of such a thing, being made for the explicit purpose of skateboarding.

…And that was my 2014.