joshua g says:
"Werd dank mucho props son. east coast lifer here, thanks for peepin the story and big ups for the vote up!"
Ever wonder what it would be like to just kick it with your favorite pro's in the industry? Hang out in a sick place full of nothing but skaters like you? Walk home with more free product then your arms can carry? and be a part of the most fun and exciting skateboarding annual event in skateboarding? NOW YOU CAN!
Head on over to the link posted below and take a vicarious trip to the tampa pro thanks to skateboard.com and myself. Were taking you behind the scenes and hanging out with your favorite people. check the link to the Vicarious Travel to the Tampa Pro out, and if you enjoy'ed the story and photos THEN RATE IT UP!!! enjoy!
A VICARIOUS TRAVEL TO THE TAMPA PRO 2009
***See Part 2 of this blog for more photo's of Hijinx!!!
Before we even begin this epic journey I would like to take a moment to thank a few people who made it all possible; first and foremost Nate Sherwood and the crew at Skateboard.com, Ryan Clements (You truly are master of the madness), Brian Schaefer, Rob Meronek, 24/7 Skate shop in Brevard county, And my wife Samantha for trekking with me and being the best photobot/ skate rat companion I could ever ask for.
As you draw closer to Tampa, tired and weary from the travel you notice something small, But it alone is enough to get you pumped. Vehicles begin to become more and more frequently adorned with skateboarding stickers and decals, every gas station and fast food joint is littered with board wielding, skate rats, complete with thrashed shoes, heavily skated decks and the look of sheer excitement in their eyes. You sail down the street closing in on the location you'll be camping (preferably the Days Inn on Melbourne Blvd.) and at every fork in the road skaters from far and wide are cruising the streets. You are here...but the events don't start until bright and early tomorrow so what do you do? Fret not weary traveler, for Tampa is full of seedy joints to drop your hard earned cash and liquor is never more than a stones throw away. We opted to attempt to double our drinkin' funds and hit the Seminole Casino which was a bust, however the thrill of flicking a lit cigarette onto the ground of a multi million dollar establishment is somewhat sweet. A fair warning to those who have rarely come into contact with crackheads, lurkers, beggars, and general shady individuals...Tampa's home population is filled with these and If you don't know how to handle yourself I would advise you to travel in a moderately sized group if possible. Fending off sketchy crackheads is not easy, but with solid practice you too can learn to avoid them with the speed and finesse of the most silent of ninja's.
As the sun blasted it's way through our janky hotel rooms blinds it felt as if chlorine was being dumped into our eyes by the truckload. 8:45am we were posted up outside SPoT(Skate Park of Tampa) awaiting the opening of the doors with the guys from Concrete Wave who were here to cover the Vert event. From the very start of the day your rubbing elbows with your favorite pro's, Film Bot's, and industry peeps. The beauty of the Tampa Pro is that everything is accessible and no one person is on any higher of a level than another. It honestly is and always has been more like a convention, or gathering of friends than it is a contest. As soon as the doors open you walk into one of the most perfect and immaculate shops your eyes have ever seen. If you don't have access to any real local shops, or your local shops a bust you need to think about hitting up Skateparkoftampa.com and placing an order for anything you need. Not only do they ship on the same day and have tons of product selection, but they stuff your package with a grip of free product, stickers, DVD's, magazines and love. It's almost like a surprise goodie bag with every order. As soon as we stepped over the thresh-hold SPoT went from a pristine and quiet haven to all out semi controlled chaos in a matter of minutes. Ryan Clements hooked us up with our press passes and it was time to get to work....Kinda. A lot of people may have a different concept of work then we did on this trip so I will break it down for you. If your definition of work is Bro'ing down, Consuming free adult beverages, Hanging out with good people and getting tattoo'ed with Torey Pudwill while explaining to him the pro's and con's of a menthol cigarette...than YES, we did tons of work!!!
As people started filling in and spreading out all over the park the energy level was ridiculously high for it only being around 9:15am. Chaz Ortiz was already out on the course flowing around "warming up". If you call frontside bluntslides down the concrete ledge followed by massive frontside flips and full cab's down the stiars "warming up". The atmosphere was dope and we took the opportunity to hang out and speak to a few guys. Sean Malto was hangin' out supporting his fellow GIRL riders and friend Mikey Taylor who competed in his first pro contest this weekend at SPoT. Constantly floating between the main course and the mini course with the bowl the areas separated by a midway were full of kids getting a quick convo and sig from their favorite Pro's. At an event like this you meet some of the best people on earth and starting up a conversation is as easy as mentioning a trick or skater your stoked on. Through out the day we had the opportunity to snap ton's of photo's and speak to a lot of different guys. Red Bull girls equipped with backpacks loaded down with ice and product were on the scene providing a much needed energy kick whenever a few too many shots started to slow you down. I noticed the crowd all kind of shifting and turning around and as we looked behind us it was a head-to-toe tatt'ed Antwuan Dixon super hyped. I snagged him for a quick photo and he showed the camera some middle finger love. However I can say I'm one of the few who got a few words with him and a photo during the event because only a few minutes later he was escorted off the property and eventually banned from SPoT for good this time. I'm not going to go into the details of what went down because in the end it doesn't really matter much and your can probably hear all the he-said-she-said bullshit on another site.
Unfortunately that event wasn't the last time the authorities would poke their faces into the SPoT that day. Karl Watson, pro skateboarder and overall positive dude unfortunately took a deck to the face and had to receive a lil' medical attention for a broken jaw and cheekbone. It was a freak accident and we all pray for a speedy recovery Karl. No more than a few hours later he was back at the SPoT smiling and keepin' it lighthearted. Toward the end of the day Eric Koston took the time to have some fun with a few of the groms out on the mini course. The Qualifiers were loaded with bangers and I am definitely glad not to have the responsibility of scoring so much amazing talent. The skaters were all super diverse and the course this year was kind of a back to basics layout with a twist. The new concrete ledge and the tech center were well used and the stairs/ hubba/ handrail were blowing minds for days. The beer was on tap and free thanks to PBR and the grills were manned and ready to rock later in the day. The day's events at SPoT were coming to a close but it was no where near over. ON TO THE TAMPA PRO PARTY with Ghostface Killah and Raekwon!
The Venue at the Ritz was off the hook and multiple bars were serving drinks to the thirsty crowd of skaters. However the free beer ran dry pretty quickly (we were thirsty) and it was on to Vodka and Redbull's (had to keep the energy level high ya know?). the music and show was ridiculous and hanging with Torey Pudwill again was a pleasure. Butteryass Donovan Strain was in attendance with his lovely lady on his arm and he stopped to have a few words with us which was dope. Everyone was psyched and the press passes had us up close and personal with the members of Wu Tang. On the way out my wife took a moment to profess her love to Erica Yary from Active and I may have done the same...things were a little cloudy at this point. Shout out to Erica Yary for being super down to earth and taking a few moments out of her ridiculously busy schedule to hang out. On the way out we stopped to have a word with Mark Appleyard and Lindsey Robertson who were posted up outside the Ritz enjoying some of the Ybor City air. As you walk the strip every establishment is lined with industry peeps, pro's, and skaters all just hanging out.
Finally getting back to the hotel you may think your ready for bed....you were wrong. The party is only at halftime and it's about to kick off the second half now. The Hotel is alive with music, lights, booze, skateboarding, and general debauchery and a lack of jhonny law. A local on the floor below us was riding his longboard around the perimeter of the hotel with an air horn helping people to realize that the party was not yet over. We took this opportunity to engage in a little more adult beverage "sampling" and finally stumbled in to bed around 4 or 5am.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed at the SPoT @ 9:30am we were ready to go to work...I think. We met back up with Mikey Taylor who was somehow already skating and laughed about the prior night's events. Torey Pudwill showed up later and immediately decided he was going to destroy the park in practice. We both agreed that the FREE tattoos being done thanks to Atmoic Tattoo's was just too good to pass up. After deciding what we were getting it was time for the needle and ink son! Torey got the crail board from the crailtap logo on the inside of his bicep and I opted for the Large SPoT logo on my forearm since it is going to be my last time coming to this event before I move over seas. It has been a major part of my life since I was 13 years old and I will miss and love it forever. Clad with fresh tatt's and bandages it was time to watch the finals. Great runs by everyone and I have to say that Jereme Rogers is a machine. With no practice or skating at all the entire weekend he dropped in and pulled off one of the most incredible spontaneous runs ever. Greg lutzka was steady Killin' the course as well as Chaz Ortiz, Paul Rodriguez and tons of others. Best Trick was centered around the Tech center and hammers were flying around all over the place. Karl Watson made sure to duck as he wanted to avoid a hammer to his freshly fixed dome. At one point I felt pity for the tech center getting slaughtered with reckless abandon and was forced to look away. The sound of the crowd roaring after each hammer was served up steamy was tremendous and shook the walls of SPoT.
The product toss was an all out mosh pit as always and I caught a limited edition SPoT cap to the face while it was traveling mach 90 like a shuriken of death, THANKS RYAN CLEMENTS!!! Tons of great product was launched at the crowd and quickly devoured whole. They announced the top 12 and gave out special awards while we all crowded around the pyramid and Greg Lutzka, Paul Rodriguez, and Chaz Ortiz were takin' home the fat cardboard checks in that respective order. Along with money and prizes going to the top 12, Riders were also awarded for fan favorite, random kickass tricks, Just for showing up awards, and a multitude of other on the spot handouts. The 100,000 dollar purse was spread out well and everyone had a complete blast.
I want to take the time to use this spot for a couple thank ya's and shout outs so bear with me and definitely check these people out!
JoeVarricchio over at SHRED SHED in Lake Worth Florida. Your shop has been a staple in my life since I was a 13 years old. You continue to spotlight some of the best skateboarders in south florida to date and run a shop that caters to real, true skateboarders. It was a pleasure seeing you this weekend and I hope the shop only continues to grow into everything you could ever hope it to be. If your in palm beach county and tired of getting your shit from a shop full of people that have never stepped on a board than hit Joe up or stop by the shop @ 1101-B North Dixie Highway LAKE WORTH, FL 33460.
Ali Amos is a career skateboarder. She lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps skateboarding and also happens to run one of the largest parks and skate camps in the world known as the Black Pearl. It is 64,000 square feet of pristine flowing terrain in the Caiman Islands and is basically heaven on earth. She has poured every ounce of herself into this park and it is readily visable. You will not be disappointed so check out www.Blackpearl.ky or shoot them a call at (345)947-4161.
Nate Sherwood for your undying dedication to skateboarding and never taking anything too serious. We only get one life on this earth so let's not stress over it and have some fun, walk a mile in Nate's shoes and it will be the most fun and interesting mile you have ever walked.
Ryan Clements for being master of chaos and crowd control. You were super slammed busy all weekend with the event so we didn't see much of each other, but much respect and thanks goes out to you.
My wife Samantha for being my road buddy and going absolutely wild this weekend. It's truly rare to be able to say your wife is your best friend and mean it. Much love.
Skateboard.com and 411vm for motivating kids around the world to get out and skate!
25 RANDOMS FROM MY FACEBOOK.
1. From age 11-13 I was completely fucking homeless...thanks mom!
2. As social as I am in groups or at an event, I'm a complete fucking social recluse who prefers to be alone, or spending time with the wife.
3. The military made me hate america
4. The military made me hate myself for a while.
5. Skateboarding saved my life when I was young.
6. I am more emotionally "cold" then I would like to be but I'm working on it.
7. I find a new fault about myself every day but could really care less to do fuck all about it.
8. I procrastinate everything, even taking a piss.
9. I think it's bad luck to "break the seal" until at least the 5th drink.
10. Watching my son get super stoked on everything skateboarding makes me just want to hug him.
11. Every time we go anywhere my son always gets something..even if it's something small, Because I never got even the most basic of things when I was young.
12. I look at my child as an opportunity to right all the wrongs in my childhood to a fault. I spoil him because I never knew what it was like to be spoiled or have nice things.
13. I love to get lost with the wife and son, Just randomly traveling looking for interesting people, places, skate spots, cool shops and shite.
14. I am leaving the country in may for good. I will be opening a skate shop/ cafe in the very near future.
15. I want to be involved with skateboarding in some way, shape, or form until I die.
16. I get bummed out when I see how many of my friends and people I looked up to in school have quit skateboarding and were swallowed whole by the "daily grind" and a 9-5.
17. I miss having a crew of people so vast that there was always someone to go skate with, and always a spot with people skating, no matter what time it was.
18. My wife is the only woman in the world that will ever put up with all my OCD like behaviors.
19. I wear a shoe lace for a belt because falling on a hard leather belt on your hip sucks, and it's always ace to have a backup lace for when the one your wearing blows out.
20. I kept the same wallet for 7 years, when it finally dissentegrated and I had to replace it I felt like I lost a friend.
21. Sometimes I think that I should have done better in school, then I look at where I am in life, and I look at where the people who did well are and I think to myself...."I'm glad I was a fuckup!"
22. People who take themselves too seriously are pure fucking comedy and I can't look them in the face without wanting to bust out laughing or do a "serious face".
23. Action photography and many different forms of art blow my fucking mind. I can stare at a piece of artwork for hours just wondering what state of mind was the artist in when this work was conceived.
24. I secretly like Arcadefire and MGMT. shhhhhhh
25. I don't speak to a single person from high school or the military regularly, and not because I don't want to, but because I don't know how to...I am a completely different person now, as many people are. And I'm a fucking procrastinator.
My wife and I were at the TF late last night as I was warming up, and getting back into it after my horrible ankle injury. The coolest thing about this session was that my 2 year old son was there, my wife was there, and the film bot. This was the first time he has ever seen me really skate. we have pushed around and stuff, but this was the first time he got to see me throw down a couple hammers and really skate some good terrain. I noticed that seeing how stoked my 2 year old son was on skateboarding kinda fueled me. I felt like tricks were coming back super natural and I was landing stuff pretty damn clean for a guy just coming off the injured list. His eyes were just lighting up and he was going nuts, clapping and cheering from the seats on the sidelines. The wife had to damn near snag him because he just wanted to charge out there with me.
Later that night when the little man passed out we were just reflecting on the day and we got to talking about how receptive he was to skateboarding, even as we were putting him to bed his last words as we tucked him in were "We gonna skate tomorrow daddy?!", I kinda just nodded and said "definately buddy" and he smiled and got comfy. Kids are just intensely receptive to skateboarding. It's the motions, the sounds of trucks on metal and concrete, the snap and flips of the board, the speed, and motion of it all. It got us to talking about when I was growing up skating. Just about how I felt I would be much farther in skateboarding "career" wise, if I had only had supportive parents. To take the story back a bit and give you some insight on what I mean by this; My mother was incarcerated when I was about 12. she was locked up for a total of 13 years. So I got sent to live with my father just as I was beginning to fall head first into skateboarding.
Needless to say he hated it, and thought it was a total waste of time. He bashed it openley and constantly, He asked me repeatedly to quit and take up racing, his childhood hobby. He preffered me in the garage tinkering with junk cars rather than out skating. I paid for my own decks, school clothes, shoes, and everything else my self with the little bit of money I made bussing tables. I was the epitamy of a skate rat. I would skate anything and everything. When I got injured I had to hide it, we had no medical insurance and his hate for skateboarding coupled with me getting injured would have unleashed his wrath. So I skated hard, and I worked hard to put hammers down every time the film was rolling. I broke an ankle filming for a shop video "Children at Play" and had to suck it up and go home and hide it. bandaged it up and laid in bed faking sick. When I finally picked up my first shop sponsor at 16 It was very difficult because he wouldnt let me travel at all with the team. So at 16 I left, moved in with my best friend and his family accepted me with open arms and embraced skateboarding. I was able to travel, film, skate as much as I wanted, enter contests, and as long as I promissed them I'd stay and finish school they helped me out any way they could. I owe the Evans family everything for saving me and keeping me on the straight and narrow.
Just imagine if I had that kind of support from day 1. I know I'm not the only one with unsupportive parents, skateboarding is much more mainstream now so I'm guessing the number of young skaters who are in my former position are much fewer, but I gurantee they still exist. Kids that want to travel to far away spots with their friends, want to take part in contests, want to have new gear but can't afford it. It bums me out to see stuff like this. You unsuppotive parents need to wake the fuck up! Your missing the train here big time, skateboarding will save your child from becomming another fucking junkie, another useless member of society, it will keep them in shape, active, and generally happy. It will surround them with like minds and create a social atmosphere that's condusive. Compromise with your young grom, give him/her goals to achieve in order to recieve reward if you have to. For example: "Get at least a B in this class, or bring this grade up from a D to a B and your mother and I will buy you a new complete, or some skate shoes." The point is, BE FUCKING SUPPORTIVE. Your child could be doing a million other far worse things than skateboarding so fucking embrace it.
And to the skaters out there with supportive parents who help you out, you are very lucky. Don't take it for granted because there are others who would die to be in your position. And remember to be understanding when a kid from your crew has unsupportive parents, it's not his/her fault they are limited. Help them out if you can and keep them skating. when they have so much negativity at home the last thing they need is to have more of it when they are trying to escape and skate their problems away. I was fortunate enough to be on both sides of the spectrum and trust me its not easy when you have providers who just dont understand, or just don't care.
A few months ago while I was still injured we had a young woman come by to pickup an item we were giving away via craigslist. she pulled up in a really beat up truck and she was a young mother of 2 small boys roughly ages 6-9. they came in through my garage entrance and sitting against the wall were two of my completes that were in really good shape. thier eyes fucking lit up and they asked if I could skate and do a few tricks. I told them I was messed up pretty bad but they were free to push around if their mom was okay with it while we loaded the washer and dryer into her truck. she said thanks for the help and for letting her boys play with the boards and told me how much they loved skateboarding. I asked them what kind of boards they have at home and they said none, but they love to ride thier neihbors board when they can. I handed each one a board, one of which I think I skated once and told them to ask their mother if they can have them. She looked at me kinda puzzled and I just nodded to her that it was okay. she thanked my wife and I profusely and teared up a little bit as she got back into her truck with her two ecstatic boys. they were so stoked and were bouncing all over the place in the cramped seats of the truck.
As they drove away I just thought of how much fun they will have. How much they will love skateboarding and wondering how long they would stick with it. I think about the two little groms from time to time and just hope that in some small way I impacted their lives by providing them with a couple good boards and kind words. It's funny how after so many years of skating, so many adventures and expieriences, its the small things that really make their mark on you. It's the small gestures of kindness that sets skateboarding apart from the pretty harsh world we live in these days.