Posts Tagged ‘silverfish’

During the waning days of Silverfish, I accumulated (by copy/paste) the contents of many dozen threads and discussions.  What I found to be very interesting, going back through the years, were the postulations and predictions of how skateboarding would evolve over the years, and looking back at how skateboarding actually did evolve.  Take, for example, the question posed in 2002 about where skaters thought skateboarding would be in 20 years (2022):

User LoNgSkAtEr asked: What would 20 years from now be like with skateboarding?  20 years earlier, as we call oldschool, they were using weird looking boards. I know that longboarding takes place after oldschool style, but I’m talking about how that boards 20 years ago look different than the mostly used “popsicle board”.  So what I’m asking is…20 years from now, are we going to be considered oldschool by the new aged skaters? and will they think that the boards that we now use look very weird to the ones that they will be using? What do you think the boards will be like in 20 years?

 

User Preacher7thDay responded: Functionality is never out of style.  As many communities are now putting in skateparks with bowls, pools, and lots of vert, many of the popsicle decks (which have no personality at all, in my opinion) are being found to be useless.  Alas, along comes the Dogtown movie. Now, we are seeing Oldschool shapes again with Alva, Bulldog Skates, Factory 13 and others. To skate the real stuff, you need a beefy stick. If you are a one trick wonder and spend more time with your board tucked under your arm than under your feet as you walk around looking for stairs to hop, then you could always go to Sam’s Club and get that $29 thing I saw last night.  At least it had two sets of wheels. Longboards on the other hand, have been a defining factor in serious skateboarding from the beginning. Guys like Barfoot, Sims, Economy, Lonnie Toft, and others jammed the concrete waves on longer boards to our amazement. Let’s not forget Bruce Walker from Florida! What we will see in 20 years is a lot more equipment, but as this is America, a lot will be junk. That is what happenned in the seventies.  Companies came and went overnight. My suggestion? Support the companies with a good reputation for quality and longevity, give some dollars to the new guys who have the guts to roll out new sticks, trucks, and wheels, and don’t forget the oldschool guys and gals who are the true Apostles of the urethane wave. 🙂

Interesting bit of prophecy bolded above…When the thread was posted in 2002, traditional street decks were on the narrower end:  Between 7.5″ wide and 7.75″ wide.  Narrow boards made it easier to flip faster, and do the complex combos that were en vogue at the time.  Over time, this trend evolved, and by 2009 or so, traditional street decks were trending wider; 8″ or larger, to meet the demands of “bangers,” or one-trick hits off of large obstacles.

Secondly, I’ve posted about this before, but there was a HUGE proliferation in new skate and longboard brands between 2008 and 2012, and several of those brands rehashed failed ideas from the 70’s and 80’s.

User ol’dude posted:  The most immediate change I’m seeing is the latest addition to “pool” boards; Formica. That’s right, boys and girls, now your Mom’s kitchen isn’t any safer than Dad’s workshop. Formica bottoms on two companie’s boards. (That I’ve seen. There may be more.)  8)

Formica and other composite laminations were more than a flash in the pan, but not the long-lasting trend that he expected.  I myself built a board or two using formica, but I couldn’t reconcile the insane stiffness that formica added, which was the big complaint from bigger brands:  It took any and all “feeling” out of the board.

User Docter M:  20 years from now, we’ll definately be old school, and damn proud of it. i think the actual design of the skateboard won’t change much for a long time to come. the biggest advancement in the design will be the equal nose and kick on shortboards, which only two people on this earth endorse. longboarding will continue to be the soul of boarding. trucks will get even better, wheels will get lighter, and griptape will become grippier. the designs will also get even more…eh…retro (?) than they are right now.

 

and i’ll be a skategeezer… so… yeah

He definitely nailed the gear aspect.  During the longboard boom of 2008-2013, we saw fantastic new advancements in truck technology, wheel technology, and even griptape.

 

Now, this thread was bumped in 2012…halfway through the 20 years posted in the initial thread:

User Simboarder:  i think the skateboard evolution is exponential , materials and hardware will always evolve , but i think we are running out of shape possibility..

i think the next step would be something like :magnetic frictionless bearings, build in speedometer or effective and very light braking systems

Gravity experimented with an on-board speedometer, and it proved to be a gimmick.  Frictionless bearings were experimented with at one point as well, but proved far too expensive for most skaters.

My first response, from Silverfish:  It’s funny…20 years ago today, people were rockin’ the popsicle stick board.  20 years before this thread was started, kicknoses were fairly rare.

Anyway, 20 years from now, I see board shapes stabilizing and reaching some kind of static equilbrium, much like shortboarding did 20 years ago.  It’s already happening in today’s market; just look at all the 38-40″ symmetric dropthrus and drop-decks on the market. Whereas the pintail used to be the “default” shape that every company out there made, nowadays, it’s the symmetric dropthru.

Over the past 20 years, skateboarding has sort of evolved itself into a corner…I know I’ve mentioned this in other threads, but due to the inventive nature of skateboarders in general, most everything that can be done on a skateboard already has been done.  There are only so many ways a board can flip, and there are only so many positions to put your hands in when you grab the board…the only thing left for skateboarding to do is to go bigger.

We’re at an odd time in longboarding right now, where things are being re-invented into longboarding, and it won’t be long at all before longboarding stabilizes and evolves itself back into regular skateboarding.  I was just reading a thread about how longboarding has staying power on college campuses, simply for the cruising aspect, so I think longboarding is going to be around for a good long time, just for the convenience of kicking around short distances.  But, downhill and freeride will eventually be legislated out of existence, and forced back underground in the near future.

Reflecting on my post above, and going back to what Preacher7thDay said above, yes, skateboarding did go bigger.  I’m glad my prediction of “longboarding folding back into skateboarding,” didn’t come true, but at the same time, that would’ve been far preferential to the eventual death of both sports.  And, unfortunately, downhill and freeride have been legislated to near extinction.  In the hotbed of Southern California, the City of Malibu got the ball rolling in banning skateboarding down the mountain roads; several other municipalities in the area followed suit.  One of Governor Sarah Palin’s key points was a statewide ban on skateboards in Alaska (never went through).  In Michigan, many private subdivisions had “no skateboarding” bylaws passed, due to the unfortunate actions of some longboard crews (leaving ‘thane lines everywhere, spray painting their logos on the roads, etc.).

User snozzboarder55:  i was looking through some old Skateboarder Mags the other day from the late 70’s. the impression i got is that the progression of skating is very cyclical. there were a bunch of “innovations” that i saw in these mags that were “innovative” a few years ago, or that people are trying now.

if you think about it really, the technology of skating hasn’t changed a whole lot since then. they’ve just cleaned up some areas. expect skating to change but not leap into the future.

and epic bump!

Not a lot to say here, just reflecting on how similar the 70’s were to longboarding in 2012

User Irwin:  It’s pretty cool to find this thread and realize we are already halfway to “20 years from [then].” I just hope that foolish people never cause DH and Freeride to be ‘legislated out of existence,” as Bucksaw87 fears, and I think it is important to mention that we are not helpless in the matter. We (at least we Americans) live in a country where the government takes far too many liberties at federal, state, and local levels, and those in power act unilaterally with no respect for the wishes of the people. I have always refused to involve myself with politics, and don’t want to get up on my soapbox,  but if my municipality tries to keep me from using my streets to longboard (remember, they belong to us, not the government) is the day I go to war.

We need to be careful and make sure that we do not give bureaucrats reason to ban our sport, and if we come up against opposition we need to bear in mind that (at least in the US) we are not doomed – bureaucrats hate doing work, and sometimes all you need is properly organized resistance and to sustain it until they get tired of you and give up.

Wear a lid and don’t be an asshole, and hopefully we will not revisit this thread in another ten years and commiserate about how a few reckless fools ruined the best parts of our sport for us.

PS does anyone know the status of the proposed longboarding ban in Vancouver?

The key point in this post is bolded above:  Don’t be an asshole.  We’re already in a nanny state where busybodies can ruin our fun, so don’t give them a reason to.  When a cop shows up to your skate spot, remove your helmet and gloves, greet him with a warm handshake, and ask what the problem is.  Respect goes both ways.

User dxo has doubts about longboarding being legislated out of existence:  I wouldn’t be so sure. Cliff Coleman said that downhill will be an Olympic sport before long. I think we can thank guys like Mischo for making sure the sport can’t be ignored. I think it’s coming. Sure, municipalities are going treat it like any other skateboard. That’s just part of the game. And really, anything is better left underground anyway. But serious downhill is here to stay…and since every downhill race has an associated slide jam, I would say it has the same potential to be a recognized sport.

Many “sports” like figure skating and such are just like skateboarding, in that they are expressive and really come down to style and form. It’s all about the swag. The difference between and 8.75 and a 10, ya know? Plenty of people can freeride, but can they do it and look like James Kelly or Fernando Yuppie? These guys are artists. They don’t just ride. Freehide, baby. 😉

How many people said skateboarding would be “legislated out of existence”? I’m sure quite a few and I’m sure many worked diligently toward that goal. We’ve all heard of “No Skatebaodring” cities and towns. But, that’s not the norm. The norm is every town is finally giving and and building kids a skatepark. And as long as we keep working the transportation angle and get longboards treated like bicycles, then we could expect similar accommodations…ie: access to bike lanes, etc.

The cup’s half full. Actually, the cup runneth over. 😉

Yes, they’re opening up freestyle skateboarding as a trial sport in the 2022 Olympics, but there’s the issue of the entire sport collapsing.  Skateparks are closing, longboarding is all but dead, the online shops that were once a core part of our community are shuttering.

My response to DXO:

…skateboarding has been legislated out of existence…once in the 70’s, and another time in the 80’s.  Insurance got too high to support skateparks, so the skate scene died in the late 70’s. The same thing happened again in the late 80’s and led to the street revolution.

So yes, it’s already happened…and is already happening again, but this time aimed towards bombing hills.

 

User distractingphoenix:  Well we’re already half way there. We’re going to need quite a bit of progress to electronically controlled boards.

I certainly won’t be buying electronically controlled components. Most of the thrill of skating is being able to adjust to whatever the environment throws at you, not sitting back and letting the computer do the work. I particularly dislike those who put motors on their bikes or skateboards. Defeats the purpose of having a manually powered mode of transportation.

I’m guessing the furthest we’ll progress is have carbon fiber components, like the board and trucks. It shouldn’t be too hard to come up with an easier, more efficient way to create carbon fiber within ten years. I hardly think the wheel’s going to be reinvented, or ditched altogether.

This is the greatest thread bump I’ve ever seen. Hopefully there’ll be another one in ten years and we’ll check our progress.

Surprising that he picked on electric boards.  Even as of 2018, electric boards are holding steady.  They haven’t seemed to die as hard as manual skateboards have.  We’ll see where we are in 2022, I guess.

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On September 21, 2017, the website Silverfishlongboarding.com went dark.  It’s not the first skateboard forum to go bye-bye, and it won’t be the last.  But, I’ll be honest, it was hard for me.  I wasn’t involved in running the site at all, but Silverfish was my very first introduction to longboarding, something that’s become a vital part of my life.  Hell, people know me as “longboard guy,” and that’s something that can’t be faked.  I’m not super skilled or anything, but longboarding is something that I’ve grown up around, and something that I’ve taken from college adolescence into post-graduate adulthood, all the while having my loving wife at my side, encouraging me the whole time.

Sometime between the 28th and October 3rd, even Google removed any links to Silverfish from their cache.  Whoever said “The internet is permanent” is only partially correct – the Internet is only permanent if anyone cares enough to save and backup all that data.  The thing with Silverfish is that the site dated to the year 2000…the site in its most recent iteration began a couple years later in 2002.  So, there’s over 15 years of information that went *kaput* in the blink of an eye.  Sure, there were millions of posts of drivel, asking which wheels were best for sliding, or if I can cruise on this board, but an online community like Silverfish is deeper than that.

A community like the one that grew around Silverfish transcended longboarding.  Relationships form, local skate crews used to congregate there, events were organized, people even fell in love and developed romantic relationships using Silverfish.  That’s not to mention the humongous exposure that brands got through word-of-mouth, product demos, and genuinely stoked users.  There were brands that existed solely within the confines of Silverfish, and while that’s not necessarily a long-term sustainable business model, people made a frickin’ living selling boards on this one website!  There were at least 2 brands I can think of offhand whose owners actually quit their 9 to 5 jobs to make boards full time!

I’ve been in contact with the owners of Silverfish for years…again, the relationships that form are pretty real.  I’ve got at least one of ’em on my phone, and the other on a few other sites.  Looking through texts and emails to me, as well as a few “in memoriam” pieces that I’ve read, it seems like the site’s demise was a long time coming.  I’ve touched on the longboard EXPLOSION of 2009 a little before, and that brought about dozens of new companies.  I liked to say that everyone and their duck had a board, truck, or wheel company.  With that came most of these brands looking to establish an online presence – what a better tool to use than Silverfish?  By 2009, they had over 10,000 daily page views, and at their peak, over 100,000 active users (making it, for all intents and purposes, the largest skateboard site on the whole internet).  Some of this was due to the great recession, no doubt.  Cabinet makers could keep their carpenters busy during the downturn by cranking out boards; machine shops could keep their employees busy knocking out precision skateboard trucks; urethane manufacturers could keep their guys busy by producing small batches of wheels.  Once the Recession was over, and they could go back to doing their own thing, they dropped longboards like a bad habit.  As a result, brands folded, and advertising dollars to Silverfish decreased.  As revenue decreased, so did the support for maintaining such a huge infrastructure…as support decreased, malware and spam attacks increased, which drove away page views, which drove away ad dollars, and repeat ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Reddit were also exploding in popularity, and forums in general were declining…I mean, who wants to remember a different username and password for 18 different forums when you can just go on the Facebook that you’re already checking 48 times a day and check on those 18 different interests in one stop?  The problem is that Reddit and Facebook don’t have the history, nor do they have a meaningful way of organizing what they have like a forum does.  And, in my experience, pseudo-celebs don’t really respond on Facebook or Reddit…I can’t tell you how many movers and shakers of the sport and industry I personally dealt with either by private message or in the chatrooms at Silverfish…most of whom have generic corporate accounts set up on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and don’t get involved personally.

It blows.  It blows hard seeing the former largest skateboard site on the internet just evaporate into the ether.  But, with that, I’ll close with a few inspirational quotes from the owner:

We knew the best wheel for sliding all along, but people have to find it for themselves.

The sage, Longboard Buddha, once said “A tree spends 100% of its lifetime in a static environment and only after its reincarnation as a deck is it allowed to move at fast speeds. When allowed, the wood will give thankless service if allowed to flow”

A strange phenomena I’ve noticed is the trend of “educated idiots,” as I like to call them:  The kinds of kids who half-assedly do online research on longboards, get half a clue of what they’re looking for, and then take that half a clue as absolute gospel.  They come storming in, dropping buzzwords du jour, asking about the trendiest products, and airing their seeming snobbery all around.  Case in point:  The “Absolute Best For Sliding” board guy from yesterday…and some kids today.  These kids know just enough to be dangerous, and just enough to raise my blood pressure.  I try to be as helpful as I can; I’ve had enough poor experiences at skateshops to know what not to do, so I try to do the best I can for everyone.  But, the “Educated Idiots” just won’t have any of it.

It was one kid’s birthday, and he was in with his friend.  I have no idea of their names, so for the sake of the story, I’ll call birthday boy “Esposito,” and his friend “Wilhelm.”  Esposito comes in and says “I want a Tan Tien,” so I grabbed him one, and he said “No, the other one!”  I grabbed one for him, the right one this time, and him and Wilhelm start chattering like chipmunks on cocaine about what the hell to put on the board.  They covered EVERY damn aspect of the board, from the width of the neck at the drop-through, to the brand of griptape on the kicktails (and whether or not the kicktails would hold up, because a large dude posted on a skate website about one breaking).  They ask me which trucks to put on, so I tell ’em…then they argue with me.  Because, online, the boards have Grizzly trucks.  At this point, I’m just like “Whatevs,” so I slap some Grizzlies on there for Esposito…it’s his money, and I’m just the shop monkey.  Wilhelm and Esposito start chattering about wheels next.  Esposito tells me he wants some Orangatangs for sliding.  I ask if he wants any other wheels, by doing my salesman job and pointing out that Orangatangs are not the end-all be-all of longboard wheels, and that he could save between $10 and $20 by choosing other options.  Wilhelm interrupts me and tells me that I’m wrong, and that purple Orangatangs are the best wheels for sliding, and that’s that…He read it on the aforementioned skate website.  Then, the kids started arguing over bearings.  I just gave up trying to give them cheap options by that point, so I showed them the most expensive bearings they had…again, Wilhelm chimed in (once again, citing the skate website) and saying that these other bearings (Bones Super Reds) are the best.  By this time, I was extremely irritated at this kid’s know-it-all attitude, but I wanted to give Esposito what he wanted, so I bit my tongue and kept working.  I told the kids that I was a frequent visitor to the site, and that the bushings on Esposito’s trucks weren’t the best…One more time, Wilhelm corrected me saying that I didn’t know what I was talking about, the skate website was wrong in this case, he had the trucks, and the bushings were AWESOME!  I couldn’t take the stupid anymore, so I just hunkered down and kept assembling the board.  Then, old Wilhelm dropped the biggest nugget of idiocy I have seen at the skateshop to date.  He specifically called out the skate website by name (named after a common household pest; see the tags of this post if you’re still stuck) by saying “Loaded boards are the best.  People who hate on them on S********h are just jealous because they can’t afford the best board, and I can.  They haters say they’re too expensive, but they’re just jealous.”

I nearly shat myself right then.  It was all I could do to not blow up at Wilhelm’s supreme idiocy, so I just gritted my teeth, smiled at the kids,and handed Esposito his board, sending them on their way with a “Have a great day!”

I know as a shop clerk, the customer is always right.  But that doesn’t mean I have to bend at the whim of every customer.  Yes, they’re right in that they know what they want in a board; it’s not on me to convince them otherwise.  It’s my job to get them the board they want, and the board they’ll have the most fun on.  And yes, Esposito and Wilhelm really wanted a damn Loaded…for the name and presumed prestige.  But, it really bugs me how unreceptive some people can get when presented other (better, cheaper) options, especially when I can physically prove right then and there in the shop that the alternates are better and/or cheaper.  Thanks again for letting me rant, internet.  I really appreciate it.