by Josh Stewart
When it comes to skate videos nowadays, we’re all extremely harsh critics. It’s not our fault. Now that sixteen videos come out daily, skate spots are exploited, and skaters are overexposed, original videos become more and more rare. I recently wrapped up production of a video called Static; I’ve been filming it for almost two years. The main goal of the video is to cover skaters and parts of the country, specifically the East Coast, that get little attention from magazines and videos but are too unbelievable to ignore.
Producing a video on the road is difficult. As if filming and traveling aren’t hard enough, life feels it necessary to throw ridiculous obstacles at you on a daily basis. And it is these obstacles that cause you to live a life’s worth of experiences in one short trip. While filming for this project, countless road trips were made: Vegas, California, D.C., Miami, Philadelphia, etc. But it was the longest trip from Tampa through D.C. and on to California with Jacob Rupp, Paul Zitzer, Steve Brandi, Ed Selego, Joel Meinholz, and Sean Mullendore that really sticks out as being the best example of the video making experience. I am living proof of the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” because it was during the trip that I lost my pride, the title belt, Sean Mullendore, my lunch, my old nickname, and my concept of reality.
My Old Nickname
Our first stop on this trip was in Washington D.C., our nation’s capital. Although the presence of about fifteen different types of police in this city makes it hard to skate, the prevalence of skate spots makes up for it. I’ve never been to a city where the local skaters were more friendly or more underrated. But, unfortunately, whenever I’m around, everybody seems to get busted by the park police pretty quick. One of the local skaters, Jeremy Owens, has jokingly nicknamed me “the curse” due to the fortune he’s lost in boards confiscated by the police whenever I’m in town. Last time I was there we met up with about 30 skaters at Pulaski, and within half an hour the cops had confiscated every last board.
After picking up Jacob Rupp and Sean Mullendore in Washington D.C., we pressed on through states like Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Unfortunately, Sean developed a stomach virus the day before he met up with us and was now touring every bathroom in the southern U.S. The rumbling in his belly began to overpower the sound of the rental van engine, and after a “moving” experience in a Subway bathroom, he threw in the proverbial towel and had us drop him off at the bus station in Memphis. As we pulled away from the curb at the Greyhound station, we all shed a tear for Sean at the thought of the 36-hour bus ride awaiting him with only the tiny bathroom at the end of the bus for comfort.
Down one skater, we continued onto Albuquerque, New Mexico. The city of ditches treated us well, and we spent the entire first day skating mile-long ditches and exhausting ourselves at the “hot spot” school with all the banks and hips. The next day, after being banned from Motel 6 for events beyond my control, Joel tried to boardslide this curved rail at the University of New Mexico. While attempting to bail on one try, he missed his footing and tried to brace himself with his hand, and his arm ended up breaking back the opposite way. It was one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever witnessed. After two trips to the hospital, we dropped Joel off at the airport and mourned the loss of yet another fallen skater.
The Title Belt
After an extremely odd experience in Flagstaff, Arizona, which I can’t share in order to protect the innocent, we passed through Las Vegas for a night. While attempting to film at an abandoned building, we were approached by two overzealous security guards who insisted we were breaking the law and had to leave. We tried to explain that the building was abandoned and it really wasn’t anny of their business. They took this as an insult to their plastic badges, and before you could say “meathead,” I felt a Magnum P.I. mustache rubbing against my neck as one of them started to wrestle me for my video camera and photo equipment. As Steve Brandi jumped in and began to help, I noticed the second security guard approaching with his hand on his night stick. I realized that all my gear was about to get the security-guard smash. So I backed off and had to end up talking the idiots into giving me my gear back.
Then only half-hour later, while skating a handrail down the street, Ed Selego was assaulted by a doctor who was trying to wrestle Ed off the property. Ed gave him one warning, “You better let me go!” Fortunately the guy was wise enough to let go before things got ugly. After learning the hard way that wrestle mania was sweeping Nevada, we left the ring and headed for sunny California.
Just when you start thinking there’s nothing worse than security guards, you run into a concerned citizen. When we were passing through San Diego to pick up Paul Zitzer, we got kicked out of this busted spot we didn’t even end up skating. But as we were climbing into Paul’s car, this huge guy who must’ve been a kin to Captain Lou Albano came running out with a chair and started jabbing it at me through the passenger window. Paul couldn’t pull out because there was too much traffic, and I was on the verge of getting chaired in the neck. He finally got frustrated with poking the chair at me like a lion tamer and started to swing his fist into the half-closed window. Just as he got hold of the neck of my shirt and started to cock back to punch me in the face, Paul began to pull away. Unable to hit me in time the bastard resorted to spitting all over my face. Congratulations to Captain Lou for receiving this month’s Concerned Citizen Of The Month award.
My Concept of Reality
The trip continued on from California to Phoenix, Arizona and then back to Las Vegas. How we ended up going from taming the lion in San Diego with Captain Lou to flying in helicopters and shooting machine guns in Phoenix is beyond me, but our trip pretty much wound down in Vegas. And although we all experienced some crazy things during that three-week road trip: I think the most unbelievable thing I witnessed was the very last trick filmed on this trip. When Jake Rupp had explained what he wanted to try, I honestly thought it couldn’t be done. But, sure enough, not very long after, he was riding away from a frontside noseslide to fakie on a head-high rail with awful runway, no angle, and a terribly steep embankment. It was seriously an unbelievable ending to an equally unbelievable trip.
As I stated at the beginning, we are all very harsh critics when we watch skate videos, as we should be. With my experiences while filming for this latest project, I’ve learned that nothing comes easy in this business, and life really makes you earn every last bit of what you achieve. Skateboarding is hard, and the fact that it’s basically illegal nationwide doesn’t exactly help. So next time you’re watching the latest video, keep in mind what the skater had to go through just to get to try the trick, let alone land the damn thing. Because when the day comes that you’re in front of the camera and there’s a rabid dog gnawing on your foot, the security guard’s bouncing his night stick on the filmer’s head, and your board has seven cracks in it, we’ll see if the kids say the same thing about you when you finally make that trick with your sixth toe hanging a little off the corner of your board. “Man that kid is busted. This video sucks!”