Beginnings – The Big Red Books

Inspiration. Where do we draw it from? As skateboarders, often from the skateboarders around us. And more often, the roads that we travel.

But see, I don’t get out much.

The times where someone else, or even my own company is footing the bill for skateboard travel are few and far between. It’s not the fact that I’m not a photographer or videographer that has kept me from the road as much as it was the lack of time in the past. The Strength office was hectic, far from the lax attitudes of TWS, and judging by the stunned look on a competing skateboard magazine editor’s face when I told him I was heading back to work after I had chatted with him at a party one night, a skate editor stressing about his job seems to be unorthodox.

That’s where the Big Red Books come in. Sitting in my boss Skin Phillips’ office is an entire shelf of solid red-covered hardbound books. They look like the type of books stationed in the “reference” area of your local library. You know, the ones you never look at–not because they’re dusty, but they became dusty because no one ever looks at ’em. And it must have been that outer appearance that deterred those before me to pick the Big Red Books up and use them for anything but a door stop, ’cause I don’t think anyone was really worried about the bold “Do Not Remove These From the TransWorld Office” stickers that decorate the inside covers.

Inside these books is each year of TransWorld SKATEboarding magazines, the complete documentation of everything since 1983–over twenty years of skateboarding, and no skipped years. These Big Red Books have inspired numerous new columns and ideas, and they consume much of my time for the days that I make the 95-mile drive from L.A. down to Oceanside. And I’ve learned not to betray the Big Red Books.

In last issue’s Back In The Day, I assumed that Steve Douglas was wrongly labeled “Steve Reid,” but in reality, there was no transatlantic miscommunication at all. I ran into Steve recently, and he informed me that was the only photo he ever had in a magazine as “Steve Reid” before he changed his name. He was actually quite excited about the whole thing. I was a little less excited because I hate to make mistakes, but we all have to learn somehow, I suppose.

So while everyone else has their travel-expense accounts, Ping-Pong tournaments, and Climax Distribution mini-ramp sessions, I have my Big Red Books. They’ll continue to cause me to stay beyond regular office hours, or even return to the office after a little party, but that’s just fine with me. Besides the occasional misspelling of a skateboarder’s name, the only thing I dare assume is that the Big Red Books are always right.–Eric Stricker