Lights, Camera … Skateboarding: Notes from the Tony Hawk tour.

Lights, Camera … SkateboardingNotes from the Tony Hawk tour.

Being the nice corporate robots they are, ESPN procured a super-plush bus, a camera crew, and an expense account in order to take Tony Hawk and a revolving cast around the country to skate demos, play video games, jump out of sixth-floor hotel windows, and eat thousand-dollar dinners. The following are excerpts from Tony’s travel journal on clubtonyhawk.com.¿J.P.

June 18, 2000Mission Valley We boarded the bus for our five-minute drive to the park. As we approached, the crowd looked pretty thin. We had to sit on the bus until they had cameras in place to record our grand entrance. We finally got out and started skating street with a few of the locals. Suddenly the park was full of spectators. Willy was ripping the flat bar above the pyramid and Andrew was throwing frontside kickflips with ease. I was having a hard time getting used to my taped-up ankle and dealing with the heat. We skated for nearly an hour and then I headed over to the vert ramp. Bob Burnquist and Shaun White joined in and we had a brief vert session while trying to fight heat exhaustion … We then signed autographs for nearly everyone in attendance and finally left the park 5 hours after we arrived. This was longer than we had planned, but the crowd seemed appreciative.

After returning to the hotel, I finally removed the radio microphone from my shirt and exited the camera world to have a Father’s Day dinner with Erin and Spencer. It was the first of many long days to come.

June 19, 2000San Diego / Hollywood / Ventura Left the hotel at 8:00 a.m. to make a private Flowrider session in Vista. This particular Flowrider is a smaller bank-style wave intended for bodyboarding. We were allowed to stand, tackle, acid drop, and tag-team during our unrestricted session. Riley even tried to surf the contraption. Letting us have free reign proved to be problematic as Sal (ESPN host) dislocated his shoulder and Ian (ESPN tour director) went to the hospital with a broken collarbone. The production staff has more injuries than the skaters do at this point. We left, got lunch and planned our next destination: the Playboy Mansion.

Playboy has a group of girls that participate in sports like mountain biking and snowboarding, so they have been donned the clichéd Playboy “Extreme Team.” These very girls greeted us as we drove up to the mansion and they proceeded to give us a tour of the grounds. They showed us Hef’s collection of exotic pets, including peacocks and monkeys. We were even invited to swim in the infamous “grotto” pool to which we didn’t hesitate …

June 20, 2000Ventura / Vegas Woke up at 6:30 to make a radio interview scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Drove to Santa Barbara in one of the rental production cars with Trent (who has a camera on me every waking moment). We pulled up to KJEE on time, did a short interview and drove back to Ventura in time for a training session in the pool à la Barry. Got my ankle taped up and boarded the bus for Skate Street.

As we pulled in, the crowd was lined up around the corner with a sizable audience already inside. We exited the bus and went straight into a street demo. The crowd was pumped and all of the skaters rose to the occasion. Access Hollywood was on site covering the event and they were surprised at the level of excitement in the place. We skated street for nearly an hour, took a break and did a shorter vert demo. The crowd was lining the deck of the vert ramp, making it difficult to concentrate while waiting for a run. Kids demanded that I give them my board/pads/helmet/watch/shoes/kidneys/soul every ten seconds before I dropped in and briefly escaped their grasp. I finally quit skating due more to mental than physical exhaustion. We took another break and held the best trick event on one of the fun boxes on the course. Danny Way showed up late, but managed to pull a 360 flip to frontside 50-50 all the way across. Billy-Joe, one the locals, made a perfect kickflip noseslide during the 10-minute jam. In the end, Andrew won it with a frontside kickflip up and over the ledge to the flat. I was merely a spectator in the whole thing. We all went outside for a lengthy autograph session and got on the bus headed straight to Vegas.

June 21, 2000Vegas We were invited to be guests of the Treasure Island pirate show, so we were scheduled to get back on the bus. It took way too long to pull everyone away from the tables, so we got to Treasure Island just as the show was to begin. We were originally told that we would actually get to be part of the show¿in costumes and all. We took this as an invitation to go crazy on the boat and jump into the water at the end (just as the actors do). We were wrong on all accounts¿they told us we could watch from a V.I.P area and meet the actors afterwards. This didn’t sound like an exciting segment for the show, so we politely declined. Rooftop took it upon himself to make things interesting and did a backflip into the water as we walked away. Rick and Jason Ellis took it a step further and jumped onto the pirate ship as the actors were preparing for their show. As they took battle positions, the actors panicked with priceless looks of surprise. As the thespians went to get security, Rick and Jason jumped off the back of the vessel into the stormy sea below. We all ran across the street and scattered into a nearby mall with the three scalawags soaking in their clothes. We went to the food court and ate in hysterics before going back to the hotel and getting lost in the casino time warp.

June 22, 2000Vegas … We took a break and went to the vert ramp. It was the smallest vert ramp I have skated in a while with more flat bottom of any other big ramp. Needless to say, it took a while to get used to. Rick and I did some doubles without incident, and Jason tried to bomb-drop from an eight-foot high platform. He tried it over and over, slamming onto his elbow and hip until he finally gave up. By the end, a collective wager was up to $600 for a make. We gave him part of it just for the effort and abuse. This park wasn’t suitable for a best trick event, so we went straight into lengthy autograph session.

We all ended up in the casino where our invincible winning attitudes were shattered. By the end of the night, I lost everything I had won and Andrew had 3 dollars to his name. There is a reason they give out free drinks while you sit at a table: it impairs your judgment.

June 23, 2000Vegas / Lake Mead / Salt Lake City Got on the bus at 8:00 a.m. where everyone else was passed out in back. We had to get Willy from the airport¿he flew to San Jose for the new Vans Park opening and missed yesterday’s demo. He also left us with some hefty room charges on his hotel bill. As payback, we made him do a back-foot kickflip in order to get back on the tour. We also forced him to buy us breakfast at McDonald’s to make up for his ridiculous room charges. It was fun watching him squirm as we all ordered and turned to him for payment …

June 24, 2000Salt Lake City We spent most of the day in the hotel doing wrap-up interviews for the first week of tour. We left at 5:30 p.m. for our scheduled demo at Real Ride Skatepark. The crowd was huge as we walked in and the street demo was exciting. Willy and I had a double-flip retro session where I landed a double 360 flip for the first time in seven years. Andrew and Kris went through an encyclopedia of flip tricks over the course of an hour. Took a break and went over to the vert ramp where my sickness took over my abilities and I struggled to stay on tricks that I can practically do in my sleep. Every time I waited on the deck, my head would go numb and my lungs were working overtime. I finally gave up after landing a 720 and went back to the bus while wheezing and hacking worse than ever. After cooling down, we did an autograph session and finally left the park at 10:30 p.m. Went back to the hotel, cleaned up the bus and got packed. Our flights leave early and I can’t wait to get home for a few days.

July 7, 2000Mall of America, Minneapolis Flew in last night with the whole family for a promotion/demo to launch the first line of Hawk Shoes. We checked out The Mall last night and it is way too big. It is basically a mini-Disneyland with a surrounding three-story shopping Mecca. There are supposedly plans to expand it and include apartments next year, making it a virtual city of its own. “Hey, where are you from?”

“Mall of America, born and raised.”

They rented the Red Bull vert ramp for the occasion, so there were no worries about ramp quality or limitations. Spent the morning in the pressroom doing various local interviews and then headed over to the ramp for our scheduled demo. Upon walking in (flanked by security guards), the crowd was overbearing¿estimated at 15,000. The ramp was set up in an open area so that people could see it from every level. The railings were packed on every floor and the notion of a post-demo autograph session was virtually impossible … We skated for about 40 minutes, but it was rough with only three of us filling the time. I tried a couple of nines because the ramp was optimum size, but it wasn’t quite wide enough for the necessary carve. The MC was calling me out to make it and I started to feel like I was committed by default. I tried to stick one, but the straight-up-and-down spin just doesn’t quite work for a safe landing. After slamming hard on my side, I gave up. I would have probably shot off the side of the ramp and taken a few spectators out if I had actually made one, so slamming may have been a blessing in disguise.

July 8, 2000Jacksonville, Florida We took a slight detour to a local children’s hospital where we planned to visit some brave kids. The paparazzi was a little much for this type of situation, so only Danny Way, Rob, Riley, and I went. We visited a few kids that were going through chemotherapy and we were amazed at their positive approach to everything. One asked me where his copy of THPS2 was as soon as I walked in, as if I was a video game vending machine. We also visited some young heroes diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, all who had better attitudes toward life than most pro skaters that I know. Our hospital visit went longer than planned, making us a half-hour late for our scheduled 3:00 p.m. demo. It was well worth the trip.

The crowd at Kona could only be compared to a rock concert. They had pre-sold 3,000 tickets, and estimated that at least another 1,000 showed up. Wading through the mob toward the street course was a challenge; autograph requests were literally shoved in front of my face while I was simply trying to keep track of my son’s whereabouts. We skated the street course for about 45 minutes, where Brian nailed the hardest tricks over the pyramid and Ellis did a backside nosegrind on the biggest extension. I was stoked on doing a crooked grind down the main handrail and not rolling my ankle again. Alex was trying to do a kickflip Indy 360 over the launch box as we neared the end. He finally tried to stick one and ended up folding his foot so that his toes touched the top of his foot. This marked the end of our street session and the beginning of his rehabilitation.

There has been an ongoing dare with Sal to drop in on a vert ramp, and it seemed that this was the day. A collective $420 was raised for the bet and Sal rose to the occasion. His first few attempts were hopeless (he wasn’t really trying), so he went and warmed up on the mini ramp. When he returned, he had the fire in his eyes. He started making it to the flat bottom using my board, but finally decided that my trucks were too loose. I keep my trucks tight, but I forgot about the approximate 50-pound weight difference when I offered it to him. He finally got the hang of it on Danny’s board and made one perfectly to a supportive crowd. The rest of thent back to the hotel, cleaned up the bus and got packed. Our flights leave early and I can’t wait to get home for a few days.

July 7, 2000Mall of America, Minneapolis Flew in last night with the whole family for a promotion/demo to launch the first line of Hawk Shoes. We checked out The Mall last night and it is way too big. It is basically a mini-Disneyland with a surrounding three-story shopping Mecca. There are supposedly plans to expand it and include apartments next year, making it a virtual city of its own. “Hey, where are you from?”

“Mall of America, born and raised.”

They rented the Red Bull vert ramp for the occasion, so there were no worries about ramp quality or limitations. Spent the morning in the pressroom doing various local interviews and then headed over to the ramp for our scheduled demo. Upon walking in (flanked by security guards), the crowd was overbearing¿estimated at 15,000. The ramp was set up in an open area so that people could see it from every level. The railings were packed on every floor and the notion of a post-demo autograph session was virtually impossible … We skated for about 40 minutes, but it was rough with only three of us filling the time. I tried a couple of nines because the ramp was optimum size, but it wasn’t quite wide enough for the necessary carve. The MC was calling me out to make it and I started to feel like I was committed by default. I tried to stick one, but the straight-up-and-down spin just doesn’t quite work for a safe landing. After slamming hard on my side, I gave up. I would have probably shot off the side of the ramp and taken a few spectators out if I had actually made one, so slamming may have been a blessing in disguise.

July 8, 2000Jacksonville, Florida We took a slight detour to a local children’s hospital where we planned to visit some brave kids. The paparazzi was a little much for this type of situation, so only Danny Way, Rob, Riley, and I went. We visited a few kids that were going through chemotherapy and we were amazed at their positive approach to everything. One asked me where his copy of THPS2 was as soon as I walked in, as if I was a video game vending machine. We also visited some young heroes diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, all who had better attitudes toward life than most pro skaters that I know. Our hospital visit went longer than planned, making us a half-hour late for our scheduled 3:00 p.m. demo. It was well worth the trip.

The crowd at Kona could only be compared to a rock concert. They had pre-sold 3,000 tickets, and estimated that at least another 1,000 showed up. Wading through the mob toward the street course was a challenge; autograph requests were literally shoved in front of my face while I was simply trying to keep track of my son’s whereabouts. We skated the street course for about 45 minutes, where Brian nailed the hardest tricks over the pyramid and Ellis did a backside nosegrind on the biggest extension. I was stoked on doing a crooked grind down the main handrail and not rolling my ankle again. Alex was trying to do a kickflip Indy 360 over the launch box as we neared the end. He finally tried to stick one and ended up folding his foot so that his toes touched the top of his foot. This marked the end of our street session and the beginning of his rehabilitation.

There has been an ongoing dare with Sal to drop in on a vert ramp, and it seemed that this was the day. A collective $420 was raised for the bet and Sal rose to the occasion. His first few attempts were hopeless (he wasn’t really trying), so he went and warmed up on the mini ramp. When he returned, he had the fire in his eyes. He started making it to the flat bottom using my board, but finally decided that my trucks were too loose. I keep my trucks tight, but I forgot about the approximate 50-pound weight difference when I offered it to him. He finally got the hang of it on Danny’s board and made one perfectly to a supportive crowd. The rest of the crew flanked him on the flat bottom and Sal left with a perma-smile.

July 9, 2000Jacksonville / Atlanta Woke up to a door knock somewhere around 9:00 a.m. Upon answering it, I found Bam, Morgan, Matty, and Rob waiting to get in. Bam wanted to jump from the top story of the hotel into the pool and our room¿on the 6th floor¿was in the perfect place. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and set up my digital camera just in time to witness the stunt. Bam climbed onto our railing while yelling at Barry (in the shallow end of the pool) to “ice this!” and jumped down to the 8.5-foot deep end. He landed and barely got his head under water before emerging victorious. Erin stayed in the room the entire time, refusing to watch and worrying for his safety. Riley thought it was cool and mused about doing it himself. Yeah, right.

July 10, 2000Atlanta Woke up, had a typical East Coast Waffle House breakfast and joined the others for a pool workout. Got our stuff together and headed to our demo at the Extreme Sports Park in Duluth. The place was not too crowded, which was actually a relief after all of these overwhelming turnouts. We found out later that they could only let 400 people in due to fire codes and turned away anyone else that showed up. The street demo went very well, highlights included Brian doing frontside bluntslides and a kickflip to five-0 on the handrail. Riley did a backside 180 off a 5 foot deck to an appreciative crowd. As we were winding down, Danny tried a 360 method over the launch box, bailed and badly twisted his knee. He took a break and realized that the damage was severe enough to get an operation. Brian’s wife was also scheduled for surgery the following day due to pregnancy complications, so he and Danny caught flights home.

July 11, 2000Atlanta / Winston-Salem / Wilmington We left and flew to Wilmington, arriving to the hotel at almost the exact same time as the bus (that was also carrying my family) at 11:00 p.m. Everyone was excited when they arrived because our first show from this tour had just aired on espn2. It will be broadcast on ESPN again if anyone missed it. Went to sleep somewhere around 1:00 a.m., only to be woken up by a screaming Sal in the hallway an hour later. Apparently Rooftop and Bam had dismantled his bed, putting his box springs in the bathroom, his mattress over the window and all of his towels in the toilet. They even changed his clock, making him an hour late to a morning production meeting. We were less than compassionate to his situation, mostly because I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. for a live TV interview. It was another sporadic night of sleep.

July 12, 2000Wilmington / Raleigh / Richmond Woke up at 6:00 a.m. for a live local TV interview to promote our demo. Returned to the hotel, slept for an hour and woke up for another interview with CNN. They are doing a profile and wanted to get a glimpse of life on the road. As our demo hour neared, we got word that the Eastwood skatepark in Wilmington was not quite finished … We skated the very small street course (half of it uncompleted) for nearly an hour, took a break, and got on the vert ramp. Bucky flew in to take Danny’s place, so this was his first stop. After he, Anthony and I took two runs each, the rain kicked in and our demo was instantly finished. We went under a tent and signed autographs for over an hour, noticing a serious lack of respect from demanding kids. I could have counted the number of thank-yous I received on one hand, and heard many complaints about having to wait too long for signatures. Hey … I’m there just as long as they are. I left there more frazzled than I’ve been in a long time.

July 13, 2000 Richmond / Hartford / Providence We made one stop in Baltimore and met Bucky’s mom for a crab feast and pulled into Hartford somewhere around 9:00 p.m. We were then handed passes to a Foo Fighters/Red Hot Chili Peppers concert and led backstage so that we could watch from the side. The Foo Fighters were great and we mingled a bit after their show. They sai