A Storm’s Brewing – The Osiris Tour

Few people pass up the opportunity to go on tour, because it means days, if not weeks, of the rock-star life: being shuttled around from place to place, knowing your food and lodging will be ready when you are, having all your needs met in an instant. Well, not really, but that’s the most common, preconceived notion among those who have never spent ten or more days traveling around the country in a van with a group of friends. In fact, things rarely work out as planned when you’re on the road: highway exits disappear, compass directions change at random, money runs out, the car breaks down, and the most trivial things suddenly become fodder for a brawl (who sits shotgun, what music to listen to, etc.)

So why get in the van in the first place? Truth be told, it’s all done for the experience and the chance to face the unknown. To quote Nietzsche, “That which doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”

And so with these thoughts in mind, I leapt into the van, joining my So Cal pals Chad Knight, Dave Coyne, Dave Mayhew, Kanten Russell, Tyrone Olson, Dan Connelly, Rich Brazis, and NorCal claimer Jerry Hsu, all traveling with Osiris honchos Todd Ballard and Brian Reid and filmer Mark Nichols of D-TV fame for a trip across this great land of ours. The following is our story.

June 19 – I met the guys in Melrose, Massachusetts at the Coliseum Skate Shop for the demo, which had nearly 200 kids in attendance. We hung out and chatted with Brian Reid atop one of the vans, while the guys warmed up. We met Osiris sales/promotion guy Todd Ballard, who later admitted that at first he thought I was a skate groupie or something. Kanten saved the demo by backside 180ing a parking lot gap over a fence before the police showed up to put an end to our fun.

June 21 – Mad props go out to Chris Rice at Eastern Boarder for hooking me up with an eleven-hour ride to Fitchburg. Without his New Hampshire hook-ups, this story may not have been possible. Eastern Boarder is the New England skate Mafia for real, yo! Don’t front.

I missed a mini-ramp jam on the shop’s indoor pipe, but arrived just in time to see Mayhew getting tech and Kanten going big on a fine, shop-supplied pyramid. Dave Coyne sustained injury number one trying to frontside 180 to fakie nosegrind on the fresh steel coping, but managed only to slice his leg open instead. Nonetheless, he was stoked to go to the hospital to get stitches, because he got all the ice cream he could eat. That night we found the hotel that would act as HQ for the next few days.

June 22 – We traveled out to the Chatham Skatepark to put on a demo with some of the Invisible/Sixteen guys. Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in, and the rain and fog shortly after. Not looking forward to a damp evening in the city, we were all relieved to see the sun shining as we pulled into the hotel parking lot.

That night we took a brief tour of Boston’s finer skate spots and everyone was stoked. Dave Coyne provided some comic relief at the MIT rail, warming up with a bomb drop in near-total darkness and sort of doing a bong-hit to bail instead. Ask Sam Hitz if you don’t know what that trick is. The city welcomed the Osiris crew by supplying us with an unheard-of, leisurely, eight-person session at Boston City Hospital’s brick volcanoes for 40 minutes. Even when we were finally kicked out, we felt vindicated.

June 23 – Indoor skatepark day at 8-Ball in Bellingham, Massachusetts. Two locals skated the bowl while Kanten tried to backside flip transfer from the street course into it. As a bonus, Donny Barley stopped by and we made plans to meet the next day.

That night we cruised through the city some more, and spent two hours checking out a mere sliver of what Boston has to offer in the way of great skate spots. Coyne went off on Boston’s own Hubba Ledge, K-grinding it, backside 50-50ing it, backside five-0ing it, and blowing everyone’s mind by backside Smith grinding it after only a few triesDave Coyne rules.

June 25 – That night in Boston, Dave Mayhew sacrificed a shirt and three gallons of sweat to his own deity – the God of Nosebluntslides. Josh, who gave the impression he was tired and didn’t really want to skate, came through with a huge ollie off a brick structure the size of a small house over six marble stairs and onto a brick landing. Impressed but not to be outdone, a drunk sailor on shore leave tried to ollie down four stairs in full dress uniform, and succeeded only in providing a few laughs for the crowd that had gathered.

June 27 – North Smithfield, Rhode Island. Again, once the ramps were set up, the rains came. But Josh Kasper and a few locals persevered, while the rest of us took shelter in the U-Hauls. Afterward, we headed to a new indoor skatepark in Providence, Rhode Island, called Skater’s Island. The closed session we attended wasn’t bad, but it’ll be pretty hectic when it opens. The park’s most original feature was its indoor bowl, with a five-foot rectangular shallow end that drops into a ten-foot bowl, kind of how the Cambridge Pool is set up – definitely not your average skate basin. There was a raging hesh sesh going on, with Barley showing style despite having a few companions in the close quarters. Tyrone wanted to do an invert, but instead dropped in and took someone flat out. He was left just standing there.

June 28 – Groton, Connecticut. The demo was in a parking lot in front of 200 or so people. There was a guy named Tito with a Hummer (the car), but no one knew this, so the whole time Mayhew was chiding Tyrone – whose nickname happens to be “Tito.” This guy was getting pretty bummed. Two girls swam across a lake for Josh’s board, except the water really wasn’t as deep as we all thought, and in the middle they were wading through a swamp. Regardless, on the other side of the bridge – where we had our post-demo BBQ – was a sign claiming the water was contaminated.

June 29 – We decided to go to New York City for the day because no one had been there before, and everyone was down for checking it out. After stopping by Priority Records to meet the Boot Camp Click, we started our day at Brooklyn Banks. After obtaining the requisite flicks, we stormed the city for more skatable turf. While driving around and seeing virgin landscape everywhere, we were amazed at all New York City had to offer to a disciple of the four-wheeled seven-ply.

July 4 – Independence Day in the Nation’s Capital. We drove forever to get into the city. We didn’t have to park too far from Pulaski and skated the smaller park across the street, because Pulaski is such a bust and it was filled with holiday revelers. While waiting to hook up with some of Mark’s friends, D.C. OGs Hojin Chang and Carlos “Pooch” Kenner showed up and talked for a while. Toronto’s Corey Shepard was also there, somehow waiting to hook up with the Balance tour. Both Daves (Coyne and Mayhew) and Tyrone skated the long-ass mellow choppy ledge by the seventeen stairs. Then we went to the infamous gold rail two blocks away.

Dave Coyne led a pack of us to skate these impossible pebble-coated rails at a double-set while the others went to secure beverages for the evening. After getting some mind-boggling good footage, we watched the fireworks with about a million other people.

July 6 – Demo at Phillip Galls’ indoor roller rink/skatepark-for-a-day, complete with disco balls, laser lights, fake smoke, and all the politically correct dope jams you could think of. As we were setting up ramps, a school bus full of kindergartners showed up to rollerskate, but had to be turned away at the door.

July 7 – Huntsville, Alabama. Although I tried to get at least one photo at every demo, today wasn’t very successful. It was 102 degrees in the shade with 98.6-percent humidity. After the demo, the shop owner remarked that it wasn’t even hot, but to our non-southern souls, it was a scorching meltdown. In fact, it was so hot, we almost lost Mayhew.

Mayhew attempted a kickflip nose manual transfer on a makeshift pyramid we’d assembled that bridged the gap between the two outdoor hockey rinks. Well, when Mayhew landed in the other rink, he started sinking into the molten tar – much like the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous era succumbed to the La Brea Tar Pits. However, due to the quick thinking and action on everyone’s part, we were able to pull Mayhew from the murk while his board sank to meet the slow, suffocating fate of his ancestors.

After the demo, the shop owner took Josh and I to the local “Leap of Faith,” which, aside from being ridiculously tall, had tree branches in the way of the ollie and a runway that made Boston’s pothole-riddled streets look smooth as silk.

July 8 – Memphis, Tennessee. We skated an indoor park in a strip mall. All the kids were stoked on Coyne, who was killing it. Local Adrian Lopez-alike had all his tricks down as well. That night we drove to Oklahoma, watched karaoke in our hotel bar, then went to a biker bar ’til close, and almost got kicked out of our hotel because some of the tourmates decided to have a shaving-cream fight throughout the second floor at three a.m.

July 9 – Tulsa, Oklahoma, Skater’s Haven. Today’s demo was held inside a vacant garment store, with three hard-rock bands and a bunch of techno DJs spinning platters. It was our last official demo, and it showed as everyone was extra reluctant about loading the ramps back into the trailers at the end of the night. Pete Lehman hooked up with us to skate for a bit on his way to Visalia Skate Camp.

July 11 – Albuquerque, New Mexico. We went to a shop to set up boards, then went to skate UNM, except a dozen kids were following us, so very little was accomplished. We jetted off to New School to shake the tail and get some work done. Everyone got something here. Josh almost got taken out hardflipping over rail into bank, but only because the rubble at the bottom sent him sprawling across hot, jagged rocks. Mayhew nollie flipped over the rail into the bank, Tyrone frontside heelflipped it, and Chad frontside flipped it.

After this session, we met up with new Transit am Rocky Norton for tour number two of UNM, and this time we got tons accomplished. Tyrone fully sessioned and destroyed this tall inch-wide sign that directed people to the “Science and Engineering” pod. Hmm … Do I detect a Roswell influence here? Rocky threw himself off a slanted roof and over some stairs on the fourth try in the dark and blew us all away.

7/12 – We decided to skip the Phoenix Skatepark despite meager protests from a few; we would’ve arrived there at noon with the sun baking us into crisps. Everyone was homesick, so we barged it to San Diego. Things were going well, until we got a flat tire two hours outside of Diego, and had to wait forever in 110-degree heat for AAA to show up and save us. A sigh of final relief swept over everyone as the tow truck pulled into the parking lot and we realized that this six-week cross-country-and-back tour was finally over, at last. Home sweet home.

meltdown. In fact, it was so hot, we almost lost Mayhew.

Mayhew attempted a kickflip nose manual transfer on a makeshift pyramid we’d assembled that bridged the gap between the two outdoor hockey rinks. Well, when Mayhew landed in the other rink, he started sinking into the molten tar – much like the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous era succumbed to the La Brea Tar Pits. However, due to the quick thinking and action on everyone’s part, we were able to pull Mayhew from the murk while his board sank to meet the slow, suffocating fate of his ancestors.

After the demo, the shop owner took Josh and I to the local “Leap of Faith,” which, aside from being ridiculously tall, had tree branches in the way of the ollie and a runway that made Boston’s pothole-riddled streets look smooth as silk.

July 8 – Memphis, Tennessee. We skated an indoor park in a strip mall. All the kids were stoked on Coyne, who was killing it. Local Adrian Lopez-alike had all his tricks down as well. That night we drove to Oklahoma, watched karaoke in our hotel bar, then went to a biker bar ’til close, and almost got kicked out of our hotel because some of the tourmates decided to have a shaving-cream fight throughout the second floor at three a.m.

July 9 – Tulsa, Oklahoma, Skater’s Haven. Today’s demo was held inside a vacant garment store, with three hard-rock bands and a bunch of techno DJs spinning platters. It was our last official demo, and it showed as everyone was extra reluctant about loading the ramps back into the trailers at the end of the night. Pete Lehman hooked up with us to skate for a bit on his way to Visalia Skate Camp.

July 11 – Albuquerque, New Mexico. We went to a shop to set up boards, then went to skate UNM, except a dozen kids were following us, so very little was accomplished. We jetted off to New School to shake the tail and get some work done. Everyone got something here. Josh almost got taken out hardflipping over rail into bank, but only because the rubble at the bottom sent him sprawling across hot, jagged rocks. Mayhew nollie flipped over the rail into the bank, Tyrone frontside heelflipped it, and Chad frontside flipped it.

After this session, we met up with new Transit am Rocky Norton for tour number two of UNM, and this time we got tons accomplished. Tyrone fully sessioned and destroyed this tall inch-wide sign that directed people to the “Science and Engineering” pod. Hmm … Do I detect a Roswell influence here? Rocky threw himself off a slanted roof and over some stairs on the fourth try in the dark and blew us all away.

7/12 – We decided to skip the Phoenix Skatepark despite meager protests from a few; we would’ve arrived there at noon with the sun baking us into crisps. Everyone was homesick, so we barged it to San Diego. Things were going well, until we got a flat tire two hours outside of Diego, and had to wait forever in 110-degree heat for AAA to show up and save us. A sigh of final relief swept over everyone as the tow truck pulled into the parking lot and we realized that this six-week cross-country-and-back tour was finally over, at last. Home sweet home.

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