Overdose: Pulling A “No-Show”

by Ed Templeton

Tour is always, without question, an overdose of people, places and things¿”things” being tour vans, time away from home, and skateboarding. Each person overdosed in some way or another on this trip. It’s easy to overdose on other people’s personalities, and tour brings out the extremes of personality in each person. After all, they’re crammed in a van with you, just like you’re crammed in a van with them. After spending a week with someone, their little quirks start showing up like neon lights. And some things people do crawl under your skin, until your politeness begins to be compromised.

This particular tour is the Emerica Shoes Australian Road Trip¿ a “supertour” of sorts on account of its ambitious attempt to get the entire Emerica team together for demos. Getting Barley, Senn, Reynolds, Templeton, Kirchart, Johnson, Bartie, Strubing, and Ellington together at one time for any reason is quite a feat, and I tell you now that feat failed. It did have one shimmering moment where it was close to perfection, but that only lasted about twelve hours.

Descending into Melbourne after a sixteen-hour plane ride was a welcomed event. Our plane eased down on the runway filled with a massive posse of Emerica Shoes-type lurkers, which included pros Marc Johnson, Donny Barley, Ed Templeton, Justin Strubing, and Erik Ellington; amateurs Aaron Suski, Paul Machnau, and Tosh Townsend; filmers Dan Wolfe, Mark Nesbitt, and Ricky Bedenbaum; TWS photographer Atiba Jefferson; and Emerica Team Manager Justin Reagan. Chris Senn pulled a “no-show” by missing his flight and never showing up the whole trip. Andrew Reynolds and Heath Kirchart would be meeting us in Sydney, and Australian shredder Chad Bartie would catch up with us shortly.

Our first experience in Australia was being sniffed by beagle dogs in the baggage claim. Sniffing Erik Ellington made the doggies very happy, and as we collected our bags each doggie agent brought his puppy over to Erik to get a sample of what a real druggie smells like. Needless to say, as our group tried to exit the baggage area, we were stopped and taken to a sterile inspection room. Each person in the group was thoroughly searched: every item of ours bags was taken out and felt or inspected, we were patted down, and our shoes were checked. Not one thing was found on any of us, though, as nobody was carrying anything remotely related to drugs. Ha ha, a waste of time!

We were picked up in no less than four mini-vans filled with even more posse members: an Australian filmer, three Aussie skaters, and two employees of Emerica’s distributor GSJ¿Tim and Mitch. Of the four vans, one was dedicated solely to carrying luggage, and one was filled with crazy Aussies who smoked and drank like sailors while driving. We called this the Stoner-Loser van. The other two vans were more mellow and driven by Tim and Mitch. I was in the Nerd van, because I don’t drink or smoke. However, the last van was filled with electronics freaks who buried their noses into GameBoys the whole trip, which I think is way nerdier. By the end of the trip, each van was stickered from roof to bumper with Emerica and cheesy truck-stop decals.

We then drove around Melbourne looking for our hotel. On the way, I saw a man drop down onto his face while walking along the sidewalk. Apparently, heroin is very popular in Australia, and people overdose in the streets all the time. I jumped out of the Nerd van and shook him a little as he turned blue and green, while his eyes rolled back into his head and he wheezed for air. The ambulance soon came and gave him a shot. When he woke, they pulled him up and shooed him along. After that we checked into the Causeway Inn in downtown¿around the corner from the Sailyards Skatepark where our demo would be.

Regardless of the fact that we were going to demo there the next day, everyone got together to skate the park. It was an asphalt area with poorly arranged metaramps. We all had fun despite the heat and the hundreds of kids. We were pleasantly surprised to see Jeff Lenoce, Dustin Dolin, Scotty the Lurker, and Baker video-mogul Jay Strickland. They were in Australia waiting for Reynolds to come for a Piss Drunx filming mission. On the grass near the park another man overdosed on heroin and the ambulance came to revive him from his blue color. We passed him and his crying girlfriend on our way out street skating. Jet lag wasn’t effecting us yet, so we skated into the evening.

That night Tosh, Aaron Suski, and I skated out and about looking for food. We settled on a Thai place on a street completely lined with restaurants¿each one packed with people and lights. I had a great feeling overcome me, one of deep thankfulness and joy about how great life was. I mean, I was in Australia, skating in great weather, eating great food with new friends. I felt blessed. After dinner we wanted to explore the city. We skated all around downtown Melbourne, checking out perfect spots. I didn’t see any “No Skateboarding” signs all night, and no security guards hassled us. We crossed a big river, the Yarra, which runs through the southern section of the city. The view of Melbourne from across the water filled us with beauty¿the reflections of the lights of the buildings wiggled on the dirty river. We watched street musicians and children playing in a squirty, unpredictable fountain. So far Melbourne seemed to be a paradise, and our first day was idyllic. We couldn’t wait to see what else Australia had in store for us.

The next day we got the group together with all the filmers and photographers and went to attack some of the spots we’d found the night before; bump to bar in the middle of traffic, big yellow bank in a park surrounded by children, handrails in front of a large corporation¿all shredded by the Emerica team before our demo.

An hour prior to the demo, we left for the hotel to freshen up. After gathering food, we skated up to the skatepark that was now bursting with skaters. There had to be 800 kids watching! We skated hard and the crowd’s cheers were flowing freely¿until it got too dark to skate. Some standouts early in the trip were Chad Bartie who ripped (as he does at every demo), and Aaron Suski, an Emerica amateur from New York. You will hear of him soon. But the trick of the demo went to Justin Strubing, who boardslid up, across, and down a ridiculous quadruple-kink rail.

I found a place to eat called Vegetarian Orgasm, and six of us went to go stuff ourselves. We then made our way to Flinders St. Train Station, where we’d found a nine-stair rail the night before. The place was bustling with people going to and from their trains so trying to skate was hard at first. Passersby started watching us and formed a big circle around the rail, which controlled the crowd perfectly. A police officer rolled up and informed us that if we got hurt it was our own fault, and he then turned and went away! The police let us skate this very populated public building, shooting our boards into the crowd as we slammed. They didn’t even care! Then some drunken skaters came up and asked to ride our boards. One of them tried to ollie the steps on my board and rolled both of his ankles. He smiled as he limped off to whatever nightclub he was going to.

We shot photos and filmed on the rail, while dodging the street druggies and lurkers who hung out in front of the station. The night was still young, and we were obligated to go to a nightclub called Metro, where they had a ramp set up just for us to skate. I went there with the fifteen-year-old Tosh and had to finagle his way in. Luckily, his name was on the flyer. We went in and checked out the ramp up high on a stage¿disco lights flashing, bad music blaring, drunk skaters skating, and beer on the ramp. We settled for people watching … and what a motley crew of freaks go to nightclubs and dance. It seemed kind of sad, actually. The skate back to the hotel was all downhill on smooth ground. It felt nice as our bodies ached from skating all day long.

The relentless morning came and another day was here, so off we went to Frankston, a suburb of Melbourne near the ocean. We had an in-store autograph session at a place called General Pants, then a demo on yet another asphalt area with metal ramps. This one was torturous. M.J. pulled a no-show for this demo, as we couldn’t find him before we left. Chad Bartie redeemed us all with a massive ramp fly-out to fence-jam back into the ramp. Tosh skated the rail until it was dark, while we all hung out and milled around signing kids’ shirts.

We ate some food with Atiba and Erik E. and conversed about money, contradictions, respect, and the changing times. Back at the hotel, most of the posse was sitting in the lounge drinking, relaxing, and watching End Of Days for free on lounge TV. Erik went on a secret mission with Atiba to the Flinders St. Station rail, and after a bit I went down there by myself to see how it was going. Erik was having a bad time with all the sketchers and people crawling all over the place. Later that night, my roommate Mr. Barley and I stayed up talking about relationships and old times until 3:30 a.m. Goodnight.

The beginning of the next day lagged until we met up with the rest of the group, who were already out skating. They were at a long cement ledge that went out straight over a double-set. Strubing and Suski were already tearing it up. Everyone started skating and the media crew covered all the action. I chose to go around shooting photos of people and views of Melbourne on our last day there.

Finally, we gathered everyone and packed into the vans for a drive north. Our destination was up the East Coast of Australia to the capital city of Canberra. The drive was filled with stunning views of Australia’s natural landscapes. As we drove through Victoria and crossed into New South Wales, the raw beauty reminded me of Africa. I spotted a kangaroo foraging for food on a ridge by the roadside¿contrary to the popular belief that kangaroos are hard to spot along the populated East Coast. The open fields around Canberra are the best place to spot them in the wild. Motorists in the east most often see kangaroos at night just before smashing into them with their cars. Completely surrounded by New South Wales is a province called ACT (Australia Capital Territory). It’s the same as our Washington, D.C. We drove into Canberra and located our hotel, watched movies, and found hidden porn mags in the fold-away beds.

At 6:00 a.m. the goddamned fire alarm went off. I sure as hell wasn’t getting up on account of some drunken Emerica rider and his lame-ass high school pranks. I was waiting for the hotel staff to get us up and make us go outside. They’d have to break the door down to get in. Finally it stopped, and I tried to go to bed, but the stoner losers in the next room had hip-hop blaring at 8:30 in the morning! When a decent morning hour came (11:30), I found out Donny was smoking a cigarette on his balcony and some smoke drifted into his room. The sensitive smoke detector went off and set the whole hotel alarm off.

We went to a mall. Malls suck in Australia, just as much as in the U.S.A. The team signed autographs for a couple of hours at another General Pants store. The rain came and wet the outdoor cement park we’d be skating that day. We went anyway to get a look at the brand-new park we couldn’t skate. The rain pissed down hard, and the kids waiting for us were soaked nicely. We threw out stickers and shirts and drove off leaving a sad bunch behind.

That night, everyone was restless because we didn’t skate all day. We took our aggression out on a local arcade¿B-ball-shooting competitions, air-hockey tournaments, and “money gone” into video games of all types. It wasn’t enough, though, so we got a posse together and went to a bowling alley. Ad, actually. The skate back to the hotel was all downhill on smooth ground. It felt nice as our bodies ached from skating all day long.

The relentless morning came and another day was here, so off we went to Frankston, a suburb of Melbourne near the ocean. We had an in-store autograph session at a place called General Pants, then a demo on yet another asphalt area with metal ramps. This one was torturous. M.J. pulled a no-show for this demo, as we couldn’t find him before we left. Chad Bartie redeemed us all with a massive ramp fly-out to fence-jam back into the ramp. Tosh skated the rail until it was dark, while we all hung out and milled around signing kids’ shirts.

We ate some food with Atiba and Erik E. and conversed about money, contradictions, respect, and the changing times. Back at the hotel, most of the posse was sitting in the lounge drinking, relaxing, and watching End Of Days for free on lounge TV. Erik went on a secret mission with Atiba to the Flinders St. Station rail, and after a bit I went down there by myself to see how it was going. Erik was having a bad time with all the sketchers and people crawling all over the place. Later that night, my roommate Mr. Barley and I stayed up talking about relationships and old times until 3:30 a.m. Goodnight.

The beginning of the next day lagged until we met up with the rest of the group, who were already out skating. They were at a long cement ledge that went out straight over a double-set. Strubing and Suski were already tearing it up. Everyone started skating and the media crew covered all the action. I chose to go around shooting photos of people and views of Melbourne on our last day there.

Finally, we gathered everyone and packed into the vans for a drive north. Our destination was up the East Coast of Australia to the capital city of Canberra. The drive was filled with stunning views of Australia’s natural landscapes. As we drove through Victoria and crossed into New South Wales, the raw beauty reminded me of Africa. I spotted a kangaroo foraging for food on a ridge by the roadside¿contrary to the popular belief that kangaroos are hard to spot along the populated East Coast. The open fields around Canberra are the best place to spot them in the wild. Motorists in the east most often see kangaroos at night just before smashing into them with their cars. Completely surrounded by New South Wales is a province called ACT (Australia Capital Territory). It’s the same as our Washington, D.C. We drove into Canberra and located our hotel, watched movies, and found hidden porn mags in the fold-away beds.

At 6:00 a.m. the goddamned fire alarm went off. I sure as hell wasn’t getting up on account of some drunken Emerica rider and his lame-ass high school pranks. I was waiting for the hotel staff to get us up and make us go outside. They’d have to break the door down to get in. Finally it stopped, and I tried to go to bed, but the stoner losers in the next room had hip-hop blaring at 8:30 in the morning! When a decent morning hour came (11:30), I found out Donny was smoking a cigarette on his balcony and some smoke drifted into his room. The sensitive smoke detector went off and set the whole hotel alarm off.

We went to a mall. Malls suck in Australia, just as much as in the U.S.A. The team signed autographs for a couple of hours at another General Pants store. The rain came and wet the outdoor cement park we’d be skating that day. We went anyway to get a look at the brand-new park we couldn’t skate. The rain pissed down hard, and the kids waiting for us were soaked nicely. We threw out stickers and shirts and drove off leaving a sad bunch behind.

That night, everyone was restless because we didn’t skate all day. We took our aggression out on a local arcade¿B-ball-shooting competitions, air-hockey tournaments, and “money gone” into video games of all types. It wasn’t enough, though, so we got a posse together and went to a bowling alley. Atiba was flaunting his new “Iverson” fake tattoo¿a big black panther down his forearm. We bowled and played air hockey into the evening. Back at the hotel, Mitch had found us Americans a good-old Huntsman spider on his balcony. Australia doesn’t play when it comes to big bugs and freaky animals. A Huntsman spider is about as wide as a tennis ball with big hairy legs, and it’s very common in Oz.

A morning game of SKATE was going on in the parking lot of the hotel, and unlike the previous day, the sun was out and shining brightly. I sat in the shade of a green tree with pink blossoms and watched huge white cockatoos fly by squawking noisily. There were all sorts of interesting birds flying around. The parrot-like galah with its bright green coat and vibrant pink chest also made its share of noise. Another bird we saw every day was the magpie, which has the qualities and size of a crow, but with white patches all over its black coat and a huge variety of vocal songs and calls.

Today we’d drive north up to Sydney. Our first stop was the park we didn’t get to skate the day before. We skated and filmed for hours, until Justin R. had a heart attack about us missing our in-store appointment in a town just outside of Sydney called MacArthur. We were a tad late to the mall, but big deal, the team was out doing their job¿skating! We then descended upon the city of Sydney¿home of the 2000 Olympic Summer Games. It’s a massive city that reminds me of San Francisco mixed with a Southern Californian beach town mixed with England. We checked into the Hotel Aaron, which was adjacent to Chinatown. Our rooms were dormitory style, five people to a room. My room had M.J., Strubing, Ellington, Tosh, and me. We went on a night mission skating downtown. The spot we skated had a traffic barrier down some steps under a canopy of trees filled with bats. Not just little bats, but big-ass fruit bats the size of large seagulls. The ground was covered in bird and bat poop. We shot some photos, then retired to our hotel room for a little water-balloon attack on the passing cars below our second-story window.

We had our demo at a place called St. Ives, a small cement park near Sydney, but not before going to the usual General Pants autograph session. General Pants is a generic store always located in a lame mall. I think they had something to do with paying for this tour. That would explain why before every demo we went there to “hang out.” Some of the guys would scam on the female employees¿ making the trip there sort of worth it. I gather that General Pants is a big account for Emerica in Australia, and so there we were each day signing shirts and posters for local mall rats. St. Ives was Barley and Strubing territory, and those guys tore shit up. Bartie, Machnau, and local Will Styles stood out as well. Local kids tried kickflips off of roofs for free shirts.

We wasted tons of time lurking around after the demo, and back at the hotel, Tosh and I had a massive towel fight. I welted his pristine fifteen-year-old skin with vicious whips from my wet-tipped rat tail. Tosh loved being abused and asked for it every five minutes. Even M. Johnson would open up a can of whoop-ass on him once a day.

A bunch of us got a cab ride down to Bondi Beach. Bondi is a perfect place where girls are not required to wear bathing-suit tops, a perfect six-foot metal mini ramp is right on the beach, and restaurants, bars, cafes, surf shops, and clothing stores line the strip. It was dark now, but there were lights on the ramp. We skated until all the restaurants closed, and had to eat the ghettoest dinner ever¿uncooked Ramen noodles, chips, apple juice, and candy bars. Tosh and I infiltrated the bar and saw legend Wade Burkitt. Jeff Lenoce was there on crutches given to him by a mean set of steps earlier that day. A bar employee sniffed out Tosh and roughly booted him out. It was my job to baby sit, so I left as well. We spent our time terrorizing the public below with water balloons, while the rest of the posse drank their troubles away. Eric