Wednesday, February 23, 2011

True Crime Story...

(NOT mine and my brother's room. My little sister's room circa 1978)

Earlier this week I linked to a post over at ‘Trina Likes Wine’ which had inspired me to jot down a fond childhood memory that had me laughing out loud in its retelling. Trina it turns out came from a large family too and I’m pretty sure her childhood stories will fill her blog pages for years just as mine has.

Well, Trina has done it again. Her latest post about rooming with her sister bubbled up another one for me. Yes, my brother and I fought occasionally like Trina and her sister, but the funny story has nothing to do with fighting.

In 1976, we were living in Newport News, Virginia while my father was stationed at Fort Monroe. As a family of seven living off post these were lean times, but none of us kids were aware of it (I mean who didn’t eat Hamburger Helper every night back then, right?) and it was an idyllic life we lead for the most part. One of the family sacrifices made to austerity was that we didn’t go on ‘vacations’. Meaning, we NEVER went to the beach for a week, or went to Disney World, the Grand Canyon, etc… What we did do when dad took time off of work was drive to my grandparents house in Raleigh North Carolina in an unairconditioned station wagon for week to 10 day visits. The quintillion hours it took to get there sucked pretty bad. My grandparents neighborhood was full of old people and was stiflingly boring, but us kids made the best of it. We did love seeing our grandparents, but given our sheer numbers and the giant dog that we dragged along I wondered if the feeling was mutual. Whatev’s…

It was during one of these trips that my parents were informed by the neighbor kid who was feeding the cat while we were away, that somebody had burgled and ransacked our house the previous night and one of them needed to return right away. I remember my mother being very upset on the phone about the whole idea of criminals being in our house, you know, the whole violation of space thing. I didn’t get it then, but I do now of course. Little did she know that my brother and I were going to add to her anxiety in the coming twenty four hours.

My grandfather picked up the tab for the immediate airplane flight my mother took back to Newport News to meet the police detectives who were waiting for her to determine what items had been taken and sort the whole thing out. When she arrived police cars, detectives, and plain clothes cops were everywhere taking fingerprints and interviewing the now throngs of neighbors who had collected at the end of the driveway out of curiosity. The lead detective on the scene greeted my mother at the garage and gave her the run down: more than one perp broke out a window on the backdoor, probably teenagers looking for beer/pot money, etc… He then proceeded to walk my distraught mother through the house to help his team of detectives determine what was missing. They stopped, acknowledged, and walked past the desk in the living room which had been dumped over and papers strewn all over the place. The strong box which was stored under the desk had been open and a bunch of coins were missing. Mom said that there was a detective dusting for prints, and my mother commented that what they got couldn’t have been much, at least from the desk and strong box. The detective said that the burglars did most of their damage to mine and my brother’s bedroom. “Oh really, why would they do that?”, my mom exclaimed. He went on to deduce that the damage and mess they made ransacking our room indicated that they seemed certain something of value must have been in there.

My mother’s face went ashen as they made the turn at the top of the stairs and entered our room, not by the thought of criminal psychopaths having invaded our family space and violating our bucolic suburban security, but for a different reason entirely.

See, my brother and I weren’t, shall we say, particular about how we kept our room. As a matter of fact, if I’m being honest here on a regular basis our room looked like one of those people you see on the A&E Channel’s “Hoarders” show. My mother had to tell the detective that they need not waste anymore time combing this part of the “crime scene” or dusting for prints, that nothing of value was being scoured for in our room by determined criminal perpetrators, unless my Kiss ‘Destroyer’ album constituted something of value (actually, Kiss ‘Destroyer’ has tremendous value because it to this day kicks so much major ass, but it could have easily been had for $5.99 at any record store at the time).

The neighborhood teenagers who were eventually caught made off with a bunch of silver dollar coins which they exchanged for quarters to play pinball at the local 7-11 and perhaps a few pieces of my mom’s jewelry if I remember correctly, but since my brother and I had cleverly and fortuitously employed what we now referred to as the ’Chaos Concealment Method’ to secure all of our valuables we suffered no losses during the burglary. I guess we should have told our mom to use that one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Two Guys Live Shakedance...

A couple of years ago thanks to Facebook, my brother was reconnected with an old high school chum from the big brain set. Jim was also an enthusiastic music aficionado and guitar player who I’d bump into from time to time at some of our post high school heavy metal vomit jams in my friend Brian’s basement. Solid chops, always quiet, but a true gentlemen long before any of us every knew what the word meant. At some point in the mid eighties, both my brother and I lost touch with Jim as he headed down to study engineering, or math or something, at Georgia Tech we would discover following our reconnection.

Apparently that wasn’t the only thing he studied. Turns out Jim immersed himself way deep into traditional blues guitar. I don’t know how well he did with fluid dynamics, or numerical methods, but the man certainly mastered Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin' Hopkins at the post doc level during his tenure as a Yellow Jacket undergrad.

As we were also to discover, Jim cofounded his post college band The Urban Shakedancers, an almost signed/missed it by that much, popular local band whom I had the pleasure of hearing countless times following my recent arrival to Atlanta in the spring of 1991 and on visits prior. My newly minted friends would take me to see these guys whenever we could since their own high school friends were band members as well. The thing is… I had no idea that was Jim playing guitar and was stunned to realize that the two of us were in the same room MANY times during that era and never managed to reconnect. My buds and I were pretty big Shakedancer fans to be sure.

My brother and I find all this out while attending our first show by Jim’s current band The Breeze Kings. The two of us sat there in awe while the crowd was up on their feet dancing like 50 years had not passed. I’m telling you the joint was jumping. Guys twirling girls around their waists, throwing them into the air, etc… it was a sublime moment. And Jim’s band? Two words: Fucking SWINGIN’ Jack!!! (okay that’s three words). My brother and I immediately picked up both of the BK’s CD’s and they’ve been in heavy rotation since in both our households.

A few months later, I mentioned to Jim in passing that one of my old friends owned a club down in Five Points that had a good vibe and decent house system. I thought it might be a good place for the Breeze Kings to play. It was summertime and with school out, Five Points retreats into a much mellower scene than it has during the semesters as club owners leave the doors open to air their places out from nine months of merriment that are stuck to the floors. Jim thought that perhaps it might be a good opportunity to work on their duo act (him and Carlos) that they were tuning up for gigs where the bread wasn’t sufficient to justify the whole band. During my reconnection with my old club owning friend, I discovered he had an old long unused 16 bit ADAT recorder stuffed in the house systems rack that he swore ‘worked’. I tossed out the idea to Jim of recording the performance which was met by a sort of “What the hell…” response.

It took some doing to get it all to work that night (the ADAT actually had dried vomit on the transport, I kid you not!), but I managed to capture two long sets of The Breeze Kings Lite that night. The next order of business was to dump it up to the hard drive in the studio and make thumbnail mixes for Jim and Carlos. I had the discs lying around waiting to drop in the mail when my brother next came to visit from Ashville. He and I typically stay up into the wee hours playing and rapping about music, so I tossed the BK demo into the player for him to taste. After three or four tunes he said, “Ya know what? That sounds like a record, can you burn me a copy without Jim getting pissed?” I listened to it a couple more times in the following weeks and came to the same conclusion myself. Turns out Jim and Carlos thought the same as well. Thus, this whimsical little tune up session on a hot summer weeknight in Five Points Atlanta (with the aid of Jeff Bakos mix and Chris Griffin mastering job) became the Veritone Records release “Two Guys Live”.

This record stands as one of my proudest accomplishments as a behind the board wannabe dude. I’ve worked on countless projects in my studio and others and this one simple truth always manages to prove itself: The best moments captured on tape come when you’re not even trying.

The Breeze Kings ‘Two Guys Live’ is a collection of some mighty fine moments. Take the chance, go to their website and pick up a copy. If you wanna get off your feet, pick up a copy of “You Got To Bring Some to Get Some” too. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

For the fun of it...

I think it was almost five months ago when my long time friend Bryan said to me, “Dude, you should join this Christian band I’m playing bass in”. “You know Joyce Gruschow? Well, she made this record up in Nashville and she wants to put a band together to do some shows behind it”, he added. I was aware of the record since Joyce and Michael had asked me to record a five song demo for it a year earlier, but that wasn’t going to change what my response was, “Why on earth would I want to do that?” He quickly responded, “Come on man, it’ll be fun.”

My concerns were many, but not least of which was the glaring fact that contemporary lite Christian music is really not my thing, but the caliber of musicians already recruited, including Bryan who is quite the accomplished player, was WAY above my ability. I could easily envision getting the stink eye from any and all of them as I stumbled my way through a myriad of arthritis inducing “hard chords” while dragging the whole sound into a garage band style morass. “Ah, no thanks…” I said, clerverly deducing that Bryan himself had been asked to join, and knowing him all these years, could not say no and just wanted a partner in his self created misery. I suspected he reported a different response back to the fledgling members of Joyce’s band, that my response was something closer to say, “Maybe”. This was confirmed when piano player Mike Fleisch pulled up to my house while I was leisurely applying a coat of wax to my car on the next sunny Sunday and said, “Why weren’t you at practice today?” So with EXTREME trepidation, I agreed to attend ONE rehearsal. The extent to which I had been played was revealed to me when, once Joyce determined she wanted three part vocal harmony, I was sent out to recruit my own sister Cindy and was dispatched to her place to deliver very the same pitch Bryan had speiled to me, her response was a familiar “Ah, no thanks…”. Ole Mike Fleisch paid her a visit as well and low and behold there she was nervously standing behind a microphone at our next rehearsal.

Flash forward to last night and there we all were, Pat and his sister Cindy along with all the members of Second Chance, Joyce Gruschow’s backing band in the opening slot for the “Your Not Alone Tour" on their Peachtree City stop at the Fredrick Brown Amphitheater. My friend Bryan was sort of set up in front of me during our performance and although I couldn’t see his face from my vantage point, I’m certain he wore a satisfying smirk at the success of his little scheme. Well played sir.

My first surpirse came as we worked through the first couple of twice a week rehearsals. It was after one of these rehearsals that it suddenly dawned on me what I had been missing all these years. It had been so long that I forgotten what it felt like. That being the enjoyment and satisfaction of playing music with real live people. That may sound funny to most, but for the last twenty years, any playing I did was to machines and/or pre-recorded tape in the studio. My personnel studio work through those years has all been small to elaborate overdub projects. Once I learned my parts well enough, and thanks to some of the kindest, patient, and encouraging musicians I've ever known, I found myself really experiencing that satisfaction long lost and the band sounded better and better with each passing rehearsal.

All this preparation was for our first gig as the opening act for the before mentioned tour. Regardless of genre, most bands first gigs usually take place in a small bar or restaurant. Nope, not ours. Ours was going to take place on the stage of an amphitheater with a huge stage and professional sound and lights. Nervous? It’s not a strong enough word, and after hearing all the tour bands sound check, I felt like I’d funneled five Red Bulls.

Anchoring my immediate fears early in the day was the mear fact that we were an opening act, and having worked a few crew jobs in my time, I’m familiar with how crappy the opening act is treated with regard to their setup, monitor sound, performance time, etc… hell, most of the time they don't even get fed. You wonder why opening acts sound like crap most of the time? It’s not by accident I assure you. But this was a Christian tour and the sound company catered to churches large and small. When I asked to hear more piano in my monitor during sound check I braced myself for some snidely punk guy at the monitor console to breathe a heavy sigh and mutter, “everybody’s a rock star…” before reluctantly turning the knob, but instead what I got was a quick and pleasant, “Yes sir”. That was the way it was all day. Pleasent, polite, and upbeat people everywhere.

As the date drew near, amongst the various worries were making sure our set stayed within our allotted time, but as we took the stage after the first band had cleared out and the stagehands had set our stuff up a new terror gripped my spine: NOT blowing it in the first song, an up tempo number the sort of features my guitar. As luck would have it, I fobbed a crucial part in that first tune and in the horror of fumbling the chords, I bit the hell out of my tongue which is still killing me as I type this. I managed to get back on track and finished the song following the rule that we all work by: when lost, stop playing until you know where you are and jump back in at the begin of a measure.

Then something amazing happened. With all those people cheering and while getting setup for the next tune, a calm fell over me and from that moment on I felt not an ounce of nervousness. Not just that, I was as relaxed as if I was by myself in the comfort of my home studio playing to tape. I began having the time of my life and made no major mistakes for the rest of the show (at least any I immediately recognized, the tape might tell a different story). No matter, we finished with our big epic number and the crowd responded well. I really cannot remember the last time I had so much fun. As rewarding: Watching my sister experience the magical gypsy like circus of a real professional live concert production. Naturally, I immediately began to feel guilty about enjoying myself while countless people had been working their asses off all day, for months really, and we really did nothing more than show up and play our set.

My mother and father somehow managed to keep secret the surprise visit of my youngest sister who flew down from Maryland to join my brother and my other sister to see the show. The after party at our house was EPIC, the last guest calling it a night a 2:30 AM. It was simply a perfect day from beginning to end.

I’ll be honest, some of the adoration that goes on at these shows is still a bit weird for me as a long fallen Catholic, but my wife, my kid, mom, dad, brother, sisters, and many of our friends turned up for the event. I hope we get to do it again real soon. More pictures up on my Facebook page if you’re interested.

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Joyce and all the members of the band who convinced me that this was something I wanted to do, and that includes my wife. When your head is as thick as mine, sometimes it's hard to concede that someone knows better.

Lastly, it may sound cliché, but a hearty thanks to every member of the crew and to the Knights of Columbus for their tireless work on this show.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Jersey Shore...

Molly Moo here and I’ve got to apologize for waiting this long to post, but it’s been go, go, go since we hit the road this past Sunday. Dad rented a big dumb Chevy from Enterprise and it afforded me and my friend Katie lots of back seat room to stretch out in and do what I do best, and that’s sleep. Dad decided to take us all the way to Aunt Michele’s since we were making such good time. I enjoyed the ride and all the smells along the way, but my seatmate did not feel the same. She seemed to ask quite frequently, “How much longer is it going to take?” I don’t know what her big hurry was with all the good smells we were able imbibe in. It did kinda suck when we stopped for foods though, meaning their food, not mine. I got left in the car while THEY went in and ate dinner! Didn’t get to mooch a single morsel and boy was it hot! They did feel sorry for me and I used my saddest eyes to get as many treats as I could possibly sucker away from mom, dad, and the kid.

We arrived in Frederick MD around 10:00 pm and my people enjoyed a chat with Michele, Eric, Ethan while Newman the beagle and I caught up. He’s an older and wiser hound whose mooching skills are unparalleled. We turned in at a decent hour and departed the next day for last little bit of the drive to Grandma’s house in Paramus NJ (we’re returning to Newman’s on Saturday for a proper visit). I positive that MASSIVE amounts of treats await me!

One of the objectives we’re committing to on this visit is to get Grandma connected to the internet. Mom and Dad scored her a killer Mac laptop and fixed her up pretty good. Me, I’m going to teach her all my mad interweb surfing skillz so she’s as much a pro as I am. Grandma had Verizon scheduled to install their most AWSOME FiOS

triple play package and my main man Matt from Verizon showed up on time and got the place wired with the glorious fiber optic service by lunchtime (one of my favorite times of the day!). There were a whole lotta other things daddy had to fix and mom played Neesy Nash with grandma while they purged a HUGE pile of junk that grandma insisted for many years was “still good”. A trip to Goodwill was embarked on and even THEY wouldn’t take the rabbit ear equipped television she had been holding onto because “Somebody could use it”.

Mom and Dad got to see Headshot Zod for an evening at Smith Bros. in Ridgewood leaving me home yet again. They always seem to stay out WAY too late with this Headshot character.

Grandma is really excited about being connected and is responding well to my instruction. She sends and receives email, surfs the web, is already enamored with FaceBook, and will be fully capable of unloading her digital camera on her own before we head back to Maryland tomorrow morning. We are VERY envious of the smoking fast WiFi network grandma has in her house now.

Yesterday they left me at home with grandma and took an impromptu trip to the Jersey shore with bro and sis in law. Dad says they drove right by the recording studio he worked at while in college (Rich, had we had firm plans, we’d have called and hooked up, but we will be coming back in the fall and will hit your guys place for sure). The kid said the water was freezing, but they all headed out for dinner at Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse and it must have been quite a meal given the scraps brought back for me. Dad was rubbing his large, but shrinking belly.

So, today I’m walking grandma through a few more tutorial sessions on the computer, we’ve aunt Fran who loves me coming by, and dad, mom, and Katie are taking grandma out for a nice dinner tonight (they’d better be bringing me back a nice little bag because after all, I’m on vacation too!).

Tomorrow we’re off to MD for golf, uncle Schmoopie’s birthday, Bad Company concert, and much associated merriment and foolishness I’m sure. I’ll try to get another post up if my buddy Newman will do me a solid and let me borrow his laptop. Ah... Vacation!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Taking Chance

Before I shut off the computer and go home for the long weekend, I’d like to offer a reminder to anybody interested that HBO will be airing ‘Taking Chance’ Sunday night at 9pm EST. I know all of us will be thinking about and thanking our friends and loved ones, with us still or not, who are serving or have served in defense of our country this weekend. There are two reasons I highly recommend ‘Taking Chance’ to you all. First, it is an extremely powerful, well written, and acted, true story of an American families sacrifice.

The other reason is that within this story being told by a Marine military escort, we see in the mirror another story that plays out every day, right now, and it goes largely unacknowledged. You get the idea of what I’m talking about the first time our Marine notices the landscaping crew working around the building in which Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps’s body is being loaded into the hearse for the first portion of his journey home. The simple act of reverence this crew of strangers pays as they stop working, remove their hats, and stand at attention is profound.

We live in a time of extreme cynicism and doubt. Our media purveyors exploit this and never leave alone an opportunity to ‘expose’ us to all the many wrongs that exist in America today. As similar scenarios akin to what Chance’s Marine escort witnesses on the first day of journey play out throughout the film, what is affirmed for me is a rejection of the portrait our media paints of us Americans, that we are in fact an overwhelmingly decent people. It affirms for me a continued rejection of doom saying prognosticators and loud mouth talking heads that we simply give far too much weight.

American’s are NOT those people, they are the ramp workers at the airport who stop and remove their hats, they are the anonymous drivers of the cars who turn on their headlights and get in line behind a military hearse. They offer a kind word to a soldier in uniform at an airport, pay for a soldiers meal, offer him/her their seat. You cynics go ahead and mock all you want. While I’ve known my fill of folks to the contrary in my life, it’s this overwhelming majority of people I speak of above that I recognize as American.

Watch this film if you can and a heartfelt thank you from the Phillips family for all those who are serving and have served, with us still, or not.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We’re going to throw this ball of string around…

Yesterday we had some fun here out on these here innerwebs riffing about corporate improvement seminars and after reflecting on it a bit I kinda felt bad about all the disparagement and stereotyping I was posting via iPhone, so… actually, I don’t feel bad about it at all. It was even more a waste of time then I originally thought. I can’t comprehend a bigger waste of money and time as these things are. No, I don’t want to stand up in front of a class and play/act workplace scenarios, no, I don’t want to take my shoes off and get into a circle, no, I really don’t want to argue with a customer care employee during a breakout session over a case study involving something I know everything about, and he/she knows NOTHING (“now, now, Mr. Phillips, everybody’s opinion in the group matters and should be given equal weight…” No, actually it doesn’t you van down by river living, Red Bull guzzling moron who is passing herself off as an instructor. Do you actually buy this crap you’re pimpin’?). As a matter of fact, the only way I got through the DAY LONG EVENT was that I balanced my seething hatred for the instructor and my fellow participants by imagining how great a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch the whole thing would be. This method worked out so well that when at the end of the excruciatingly painful session when the instructor did what?.... That’s right, predictably handed out the piece of shit book that nobody will read, I had to suppress out right gut busting laughter. I actually had to excuse myself when she followed that up by handing out a fucking LAMINATED (!!!) cheat sheet that we were advised to hang prominently in our cubes (see photo). So funny, and at the same time so sad. Your comments helped get me through the day too of course (thank GOD for the iPhone!). Maybe this Facebook/blog thing does have value after all (Suck it haters!).

From the volume of comments it’s obvious we’ve all had to sit through these things at one time or another and it’s cool that my little declining revenue, buggy whip making company thinks well enough of us remaining employees to spent a crap load of money on shit like this, but perhaps the outright resentment I feel is just another sign of me getting old. I never enjoyed these deals before, but I don’t recall wanting to eat a bullet after one like I did yesterday either.

So, as a result of my successful employment of the ‘Think of the Saturday Night Live sketch this would make’ method of getting through it, coupled with my infinite desire to pay it forward, (because let’s face it, that’s the guy I am, right?), and this groups uncanny knack for mocking people to the point of earning a express ticket to hell, I thought I’d up the stakes here (This will be fun kids!)

I ask that you first recall the last time you got stuck in one of these seminars. Then, use all your well honed powers of shallowness to disparage and stereotype an individual or aspect of your experience. Doesn’t have to be a person, could be an incident, or the wreched sandwich platters, etc… Here’s one off the top of my head…

I remember actually being flown into our Washington DC headquarters for the day for one of these things years ago. Following eight hours of a particualrly horrible mind numbing presentation involving paradigm's and synergy's, I went to return my car at the Hertz Dullas Airport location and was dangerously late for my flight home. As I was getting myself out of the car, I was also struggling with this stupid fucking pile of binders of worthless charts, graphs, and acronyms I was never going to read EVER. It was cold and windy and I was dreading lugging all this shit onto the bus, through the terminal, security, those crowded piece of shit people mover trams they used to have at Dullas, anyway… As I was handed my receipt from the future terrorist and rental car associate, I happened to notice that in the trunks of all these returned cars that were open as part of the car return MOP were stacks of the same binders that I was barely managing to balance under my arms! I did what anyone would have at that point. Like the CIA field operative wannabe I am, I nonchalantly waded through the line of returned cars on my way to the bus and tossed all my crap into one of the open trunks without drawing a bit of attention to myself. Beauty!

The people watching at these things can save your life using this method. The overzealous young employee who is totally into it, the hovering HR sponsor pacing like a prison screw around the room making sure you’re taking it all seriously, the executive that was forced to attend who doesn’t do shit but gaze at his Blackberry all day, etc… I could make any and all of these folks funny for a sketch. Drop your ideas in the comments here, or on Facebook and don’t forget to fill out your course evaluations before you leave…

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Legacy of Warren Bolster...

Inspired by a recent conversation…

One spring morning in 1976 while our family was living in Newport News, VA, my dad stopped the fully loaded family truckster in front of the Ft. Monroe PX. We were about to embark on a family journey down to see my grandparents in Raleigh NC, and as was the routine, we each got to load up on magazines, candy, and crap to occupy ourselves with for the next six hours. It was there that I pulled the very first issue of Skateboarder Magazine out of the rack. It was not just MY first copy of the publication, but it happened to be the very first issue produced. I never missed another.

I had by then attached my sister’s roller skate wheels to a crudely crafted piece of plank, and may have already move on to a cheap K-Mart plastic skateboard with urethane open ball barring wheels. Most of what we used our primitive skateboards for at that time was to carry us to the 7-11 to steal penny candy and play pinball. Any ‘tricks’ we mastered I’d learn from friends during recess at the penitentiary like Catholic School I was attending in sixth grade which had finally let out for the summer. That issue of Skateboarder Magazine changed EVERYTHING in my life for the next seven years or so.

The medium of photography is a strange thing. Without being armed with an academic background in appreciation for the art form, photos can still leave lasting impressions without the observer even being able to fully grasp why. Like great music, great photography can satisfy and amaze you even as one matures intellectually and emotionally, you just begin to figure it out, not what you were missing necessarily, but rather the nuisance you couldn’t quite articulate previously while being so mesmerized by a particular piece of work. This is the center of my ever growing appreciation for the work Warren Bolster and the team who put together Skateboarder Magazine those few years, and why a six hour car ride in an unair-conditioned station wagon packed with six other people and a dog flew by like ten minutes.

A couple of years ago while Googling my random thoughts, I enter Warren Bolster’s name in the search box and was excited to discover a collection of his work in coffee table book form and ordered a copy immediately. It didn’t take long to discover why those photos were so appealing to me as a sixth grader, and as a teenager in high school, and as an adult years later. Every one of them is simply AMAZING! Bolster was already a master surfing photographer before being asked to start Skateboarder Magazine and his entrenched surfer style dominates the photos that filled the early issues. The colors are just unreal, but it’s his ability to capture the beauty of movement that sets him apart from anyone else. There were other staff photographers at Skateboarder that were master surf photographers in their own right as well, but Warren was the one who translated the majesty of the ocean to the world of concrete and asphalt better than anyone else by a long shot and the distinction was immediately recognizable.

As a young skater in my own right, I instinctively had an appreciation for the microsecond long pressure points being captured in those pictures, the wooden tails slapping the coping of a swimming pool, or the last remaining translucent red wheel clinging to the top edge of a vertical plywood ramp, the grinding of light alloy metal trucks against a curb. Pure crystallizing moments of intensity captured perfectly for civilian eyes to witness. It wasn’t just the then unimaginable acrobatics of prehistoric vertical skating either, because long before the boys in Santa Monica jumped into empty neighborhood swimming pools, they were honing their craft and writing their poetry on the dirty streets of drought ridden Southern California. Warren plies his skills at capturing these ‘Moments’ in these other skate disciplines equally well. When downhill skating became the next nation to conquer, Warren made guys rolling down a hill look as exciting as the first time the rear wheels of Tony Alva’s Zephyr deck lifted off the coping of a pool ushering in the age of weightless skateboarding.

As fearless (crazy?) teens, we followed these trends back east like brainwashed Al Queda members. “Did you guys see Guy Grundy on page 32 rolling down La Costa Hill standing up at 55 mph? Let’s give that a try on Stony Lonesome Mountain tonight!” And why the fuck not, right? These photos are what we hypnotized ourselves with during study hall instead of reading ‘Mrs. Mike’. They inspired us to emulate the west coast created madness the first chance we got. As an adult who has supposed to have gained my senses long ago, looking at the pictures now I wonder how these photos didn’t inspire EVERYBODY to take a skateboard down Stony Lonesome Mountain, they’re that good.

I’ll sound like old man winter grousing about how everything was better way back when, before money corrupted everything, etc… but Warren’s photos also capture what has been long lost to the sport of skateboarding today (hell, we’d get offended if they called it a ‘sport’ back then!), and that’s the violent elegance transformed into the grace of movement born from its surfing forbearance. I have a deep admiration for the contemporary purveyors of skateboarding and can’t get enough of the aerial acrobatic insanity that they pull off at such soaring heights these days, or the endless nut racking stunts the youngest of kids are performing using nothing more than an ordinary picnic bench, but it’s connection to surfing has all but faded to obscurity like Bill The Butcher’s grave. Surfing was where it all came from back then. Skateboarding is what they did on flat days. Perhaps that didn’t hold true for us Eastcoasters, but we knew the deal. Now, along with snowboarding, one can learn to skate without even having the slightest appreciation for the mystery of ocean surfing and the associated ancient rites of the culture. This is what Skateboarder Magazine was able to accomplish and package into a box for export using brilliant photography and honest creative scribe (at least for those of us who spoke and understood the language).

I remember as skateboarding became more popular and mainstream (i.e. no longer relegated to long haired teenage degenerates and suicidal rock n rollers) other publications became available. Me and my crew made no time dismissing all of them as weak ass shite. The “how to” articles, cheesy photography, the contest results, Leif Garrett doing nose wheelies, etc… Fuck off. Who gives a shit about any of that? Not us. If you are lucky enough to find an old issue of Skateboarder Magazine or ever get your hands on Warren Bolster’s book, you’ll see and know instantly exactly what I mean.