Doing Nothing

I promise this blog will not just be pictures I post of myself, but there’s a global pandemic going on, I’ve been home with a sinus infection, and it’s been raining all the time, so I’ve been looking through a lot of my old pics from my dear departed Texas Longboarder site. I think I’ve realized that some of the pictures of me skating are those in which I’m really not doing anything. Just skating around, carving. They almost always look better than when I’m doing a trick. Arm position can make a shot look good, I’ve learned, but the knees really make a difference. I think all the really classic photos from skateboarding history prove this. Show me some good knee style and I’ll show you an excellent picture.

On my beloved Gravity Mini-Carve a few years ago, at a now defunct hill. Click for full-size.
In a parking garage at Baylor University, on a Gravity Bamboo spoon kicktail 42″. Click for full-size.
A few years ago on the much appreciated Bustin Boombox. A video capture. A fun session. Click for full-size.
On the Bustin Boombox back in about 2013, with some experimental filters. Click for full-size.
Back at my poor old hill a few years back. Click for full-size.

FS360 Podcast: Ep2

In this episode David compares traditional flatland freestyle with longboard dancing, and we talk about this video from our blog (you might want to skip the first couple of minutes). Bob remembers the early videos of Adam Colton and boards of Longboard Larry!

Speaking of Adam Colton and Adam Stokowski, HERE is one of those videos, from 13 years ago, that really started the longboard dancing craze. Frankly, I still like the way the Adams do it. They are riding the homemade boards that led to the Longboard Larry Oldschool Dancer.

Notes on the first podcast

When I listened to the first episode of the podcast, I was first shocked at how terrible I was at choosing my words. I mean, damn, I couldn’t even think of the words “skid” and “plate” for crying out loud. After listening to all my hemming and hawing, it was a reminder of why I like to write. I can revise a draft as many times as I like, and if I pause to try and think of the right word to type, you can’t hear the pause like you can on a one take podcast.

The other thing that I thought about after listening to the podcast was that I don’t really know anything about longboard dancing (although I talked about it like I do). I mean, what exactly is longboard dancing? Is it freestyle skateboarding adapted to carvy truck longboards? Or is it different. I mean, I can do freestyle footwork on a 40 inch board, but isn’t longboard dancing. So, I started doing some in-depth research. Well, maybe not that in-depth. I started watching some longboard dance videos, like the one below, on the Youtube.

 

Watching longboard dance videos got me started watching some trick tip videos. Those trick tip videos got me trying some new moves at my local freestyle skatepark. Now, I have no desire to become a dancer, but I have to say, the moves are challenging.

A Deck Rant

Unlike my Frontside360 counterpart, Bob, I’m more unreasonable when it comes to a traditional skateboard shaped longboard deck. Sure, I have drop down/drop through boards (two of them), and I enjoy them for what they are. They are great push machines not meant to flip or ollie. In truth, I find “street” tricks done on a board like that to generally be clunky. If you see me on one of my double drops, you’ll see me putting a few miles on my legs. Period.

So, when I want to trick skate I’m looking for something different. I’m looking for kicks on both the tail and nose. I’m looking for a semi-symmetrical to symmetrical shape. I’m looking for a stretched out skateboard. But I’m not looking for a dancer per se. At very nearly 200 pounds I’m not looking for high flex. I’m not looking for fiberglass. I’m looking for a long skateboard that I can slappy grind should I want. I’m looking for a board I can ollie should I want. I’m looking for a board that isn’t so long that I can’t throw down some walk the dogs.

I found this board several years ago.

The board in the picture is a loco 37 hybrid longboard skateboard deck made by Landyachtz. Why aren’t there more of these types of boards?! This is a Brad Edwards style board. This is a Jesse Parker style board. This is a do anything deck. You can do some freestyle tricks, street skate, cruise, carve, skog, and do some “dancing” moves all on a board like this.

I woke up a couple hours early this morning, and I was searching for the next board like this I could ride. While this thing has given me some good years I know it won’t last too much longer. But none of the “major players” in longboarding really offer a deck like this. Arbor has one, but I can’t find just the deck (I don’t want a complete). Globe has one but the same issue applies (and I’m not sure about Globe’s quality). Landyachtz doesn’t seem to offer one anymore. Gravity has completely screwed up their choices and their website kept sending me to something really dodgy. So, no good choice there and now I need to scan my computer.

The only place I seem to be able to find a deck like this is through funbox distribution, so I guess my next hybrid longboard will be a blank. That seems a shame to me.

2 Boards – a comparison and a truck rant

Gullwing Split-Axle trucks from the mid-late 1970s. Click for full size.

A few weeks ago Eric Sanders sent me a pair of the new Paris V3 trucks. I refrain from calling them “reverse kingpin” or “RKP” trucks, because the kingpin isn’t really reversed on this style of trucks in any way. It simply goes under the axle, rather than up more or less straight. This of course allows the truck to turn much more tightly. In the old days, the first trucks I remember having this geometry were Gullwing Split Axle trucks and Speed Springs. I’m not sure which came first, but we’re talking about 1975, so this idea isn’t new. The next ones I remember were the Variflex Connection trucks, in the late 1970s.

In the modern era, the Randal-II was the only truck with this geometry when I began riding long skateboards in the early 2000s. I know Randal had been making their trucks for a while even then.

Mid-1970s Speed Spring trucks, by Innovative Designs, Inc. Click for full size.

My point — this is not a new kind of geometry. So all these Johnny-come-lately truck makers haven’t really invented anything. It was all done before. Way before.

BUT, I have to say, being a tried-and-true Randal man for lo these many years, these Paris trucks are really quite nice. For one thing, the parts all fit together quite well. When Paris trucks first came out I thought “Pah! A Randal-II copy, and probably cheap Chinese-made crap.” I can’t really say I was right, since I never saw or tried them, but I’ve heard reports that the first two versions of this truck weren’t that good. Not horrible, but just nothing to make me want to change from Randal-IIs for. A few things I like about them. Like I said, the parts seem to fit together correctly. The stock bushings are actually good. No need to change them immediately, and the bushing seats are molded correctly for them. The ends of the hangers are well-faced, providing a proper surface for your speed washers and bearing to press up against.

Late 1970s Variflex Connection trucks. Click for full size.

So yeah – nice.

Correction: these are actually the Paris V2 trucks. But obviously I like them. They’re good!

If you want to great writeup and specs on the Paris V3 trucks, check out this description on Tony Gale’s Offset Skate Supply. Tony does the BEST and most detailed product descriptions on the internet.

One thing to mention. As Tony says in the above link, the Paris baseplate is oddly shaped, and the very front of the baseplate and the pivot actually sit out in front of any normal riser pad. So a normal riser, in other words, does not support the entire baseplate. At first this is a bit disconcerting, but when I look at my Randal-IIs, the pivot is ALSO not supported. It sticks out in front of the baseplate! It just doesn’t look weird because the baseplate itself is a standard rectangular shape, with the pivot itself protruding from the front. When I realized this I decided not to stress out over the weird look of the Paris baseplate hanging out there.

Baseplate/pivot comparision. Randal-II on left, Paris V3 on right.

Anyway, I had no board to put these newfangled trucks on, so I ordered a Zenit Judo deck from Muirskate.com . It’s a “dancing” deck. Now as you will know if you know me or you’ve read any of my rantings, I am sometimes critical of the “dancing” trend. In fact, it is one of the reasons I suggested to the Mighty Thornton that we start this site. Now, I’m always glad to see anyone enjoying themselves on a skateboard, but I just don’t personally like the dance “style” that has evolved over the last 15 years. It’s just not my thing. Hate on me at will, but that’s how I feel. On the other hand, there aren’t a lot of longboards available now in what I’d call a stretched classic skateboard shape, so I thought I’d give this a try. See? I’m not unreasonable.

Paris V3 180mm trucks with 50 degree baseplate. You can see the well-faced hanger ends. Click for full-size.

This board is 44″ long, has very very mellow concave, rocker, and nose/tail kicks, and is symmetrical. For a bit deck, it is light. It has fiberglass outer layers, and a carbon fiber “stinger” buried in the middle of the plies to stiffen it up. So I like that technology. These nose and tail are long enough to get the job done. I set it up with the Paris V3s and some old but unused Metro Motion 70mm 78s wheels. 1 thin riser under each trucks. I took it out.

It’s a snappy setup. My personal gravity well bestows upon me about 215 pounds of weight on planet Earth, and it is stiff enough under my mass. It flexes, but it’s not saggy or bouncy. I would have to say they got the flex “just right”. I can see how a “dancer” would really enjoy this board. I think it is versatile enough to have a variety of funs on it, the Paris trucks provide very responsive and sharp turning. I barely had to adjust the trucks. After about 15 minutes of skating I tightened them a bit. That’s saying something. I feel like the 70mm wheels are a bit big for my needs, so I’ve ordered some smaller wheels (63mm). I think they will help a lot. For one thing, it will lower the board a bit and make it easier to push, and it will make it lighter.

Here’re some shot of the new board beside a couple of others for comparison, with notes in the captions. Sadly the Bustin 42″ Boombox is no longer in production. It’s a very good board.

Zenit Judo, next to my 42″ Bustin Boombox, next to my Alva Metallic Rocker (34 x 10.75 w 17.5″ WB).
Zenit Judo next to Bustin Boombox. Judo has shorter wheelbase, but is longer overall due to longer nose and tail. it’s a lot narrower too — again — designed for “dancing”.
Bustin Boombox on the right. You can see the slightly lowered mid section (lowered about 1/2″ about 2″ being the trucks), rocker, and concave. That plus smaller wheels = easier to push. Each board is very unique and has its strengths.

 

Riding with Soul #3

Riding with Style #1 featured some footage of Brad Edwards, but Brad needs to have his own post. Honestly, Brad should have a series of posts (and that could happen, I suppose).

Brad skated everything on a longboard, and by longboard I mean a long skateboard, and by that I mean a early 90s-ish shape stretched out to 40 inches. And he made it look good. Good?

He made it look great. Cross-step backside 50/50 grinds on transition, bert shove-its, and long floating backside disasters. Watching Brad skate was inspirational to me when I took up a longer skateboard.

Riding with Soul #2

I can’t think of longboarding without thinking of Tom Sims (1950-2012). Tom may not have invented longboards, but he is largely credited as being the first person to market longboarding as an offshoot to typical skateboarding in 1975. Pictures of him longboarding are classic skateboard images, and he exudes style.

This is from, of course, a time when the longboarder skated with the skateboarder and there weren’t two separate subcultures for both. In fact, Tom Sims (and Sims Skateboards) sponsored some of the most influential skaters of all-time including Hosoi, Hawk, Rocco, and Andre.

Watch how he moves in the following video clip. sure, it is cheesy 70s television, but watching him skate is worth sitting through the interview:

Riding with Soul #1

My friend John Armstrong was sponsored by Gravity Skateboards until they got sold off and ruined a few years ago. Not mad at Bream, the former owner. He did a good job with it, and I’m sure it was hard to do. He made some great boards and sponsored some great riders, like John.

I’ll be posting more of John in the coming weeks. Best dude ever, and so good on a longboard. Watch this video. He’s the guy with the shaved head. Best style. I’d rather watch John flow around than any of the current-day dancing wankery. So, so good. Look how John carves on that 42″ Mini-Carve. And of course, that is the late Brad Edwards — World’s Greatest Longboarder – there ripping along side him.

Watch and learn, kids. Watch and learn. It’s about the soul and the flow, and not a bunch of ridiculous urban attention seeking hipster bullshit.

Back on the Longboard(s)

I’m stealing this post I made on another blog to get some content started here….

I’ve had some interesting interactions regarding longboard riding recently with the great Eric Sanders that have got me thinking.

For many years I rode nothing but longboards. When I came back to skating in 1998, after an eight year absence, the longboard made sense to me. It was just weird enough. In those years longboards were mostly shaped like a normal board, just longer. Jim Gray, of Acme, sent me a 48″ kicktail board to ride. I rode it exclusively for at least two years. Back then the main companies were Gravity, Sector 9, and a few others. The “best” longboarders were good on all terrains. The boards were good for ramps, ditches, flat, or hills. Anyway, back then I got my first longboard set up — a World Industries 44″ plank with Indy 166s and some 92a Spitfire wheels. That was my first longboard, and it was pretty good. I started going to a local Austin ditch and met the guy who would be my longboarding mentor, Clark Lee Walker. Dude had style like I’d never seen before. Tall and lanky, he would compress on those ditch walls, do killer lipslides, and fakie 360 laybacks. Clark was and is rad!

Between now and then things have changed a lot. For many, longboarding is synonymous with downhill. To some, it is about the current “dancing” trend, which is kind of like freestyle on a longboard, incorporating fluid and sometimes complex board walking moves, and all too often a lot of feet off the board running around twirling the board (clearly I don’t think much of this, but whatever). It’s hard to find a good longboard these days that is shaped like a normal board (and by normal, I mean a shaped oldschool board that is stretched). That bums me out.

This is kind of a rambling post, isn’t it?

For the last 5 years I’ve hardly been on a longboard. Various reasons, but mainly I’ve been doing mostly freestyle and ditch skating. But these talks with Eric, and listening to his views on things have made me think a bit more about the long skateboard.

I went back and watched some of my old video clips and realized how much those years of riding the longboard have informed and influenced the way I do everything else now. So anyway, here is a clip for a few years ago. I had just gotten this board, and was taking it out for a test spin. Bustin Boombox (no longer made), Randal-IIs, Rainskates Mid-Tsunami wheels. I can see even in these clumsy efforts to connect carves on this board how it has influence the way I think about everything else. I feel like boards like this should not be ridden like you would a typical board. Maybe if it was a scaled-up regular board, but this board is really a carving board. When you start doing kickturns on boards like this it looks awkward and crappy. I think the goodness comes when you keep the wheels all on the ground, use the loose trucks to turn, and move your body around on the platform.

Anyway, at the risk of once again posting video of myself, here’s that video of me on that Boombox. Just wanted to use it to talk about carving. This is a flat parking lot. I was trying to do carving turns while moving around on top of the board, and do figure-eight kind of lines all retaining good speed. I know there are probably better boards out there now for this kind of thing, but I do like this deck. It has a nice rocker, which I think feels awesome. I don’t care too much that it is heavy. The weight makes it flow a lot better, and it dissuades me from treating it like a freestyle board. At this very moment I don’t even know what I’d buy anyway.

Edit: Wanted to add this outrageous opinion. I think flipping the longboard is dumb. I think riding a longboard like a newschool board, or attempting to, looks horrible. Hate me at will.