What’d I Do?, Emerican Ams in Florida

A Motley Crew Indeed

Pretty much the whole team had eyebrows, well, except for Bryan Herman, I suppose. He had shaved his off the previous night. I had assumed that he'd either lost a bet or had them removed in some kind of Baker team hazing. Nothing could have been further from the truth; he did it himself. His uniformly cut hair and lack of eyebrows gave him the appearance of a bald chemotherapy patient sporting a wig. We were definitely a strange-looking group. Team

Manager Justin Regan had a thick mustache curled up at the ends with wax. For my part, I had a James Hetfield-style beard. Matt Allen looked like a miniature version of Boston's most infamous skateboard photographer Geoff Kula. Kevin “Spanky” Long and Leo Romero looked normal enough, but the rest of the lineup looked like this: Kula, Salvador Dali, Cancer Boy, and Wyatt Earp.

What We Did

One thing you notice right away when you travel with a group of younger skateboarders is the tolerance they have for repetitive jokes, movie quotes, and hotel-room wrestling matches.

I'm not sure where it originated, but the “99 bottles of beer on the wall” equivalent on this trip was a game called “What'd I Do?” The game went like this. One person would sing a song but replace all the lyrics with the words “what'd I do.” Then everyone else would try and name that tune. This game sounds like it might be an amusing diversion for ten or fifteen minutes on a long boring drive. Ten or fifteen minutes nothing! The game was constant. The only significant break in the endless What'd I Dos were the Dumb And Dumber quote sessions, usually punctuated with a rousing version of that “Mocking Bird” song, which naturally deteriorated into the “What'd I Do?” song. In fact, the words were used with such frequency that they began to replace other parts of speech such as expletives or even nouns. An exchange like “Pass me that skate tool if you please.” “Of course, I'd be delighted to.” Would instead sound like this: “Pass me the What'd I do.” “What'd I do.”

Sleep Equals Rest

In a rare break from the game, Herman became nearly philosophical as he contemplated the nature of sleep. “When you sleep, you rest. You're just out for days.” He continued. Somehow this random outburst struck the group as profound, and it too was adopted into the limited lexicon of the journey.

Life Imitates Video Games

We arrived in Miami on a Friday night. Our hotel was in the South Beach area, familiar to those of you with GameCubes, Xboxes, or PS2s as the happening end of Vice City with all the clubs. Damn, that Flock Of Seagulls song is good.

The hotel was right in the middle of all the action. Neon lights, omnipresent dance music, and effeminate—yet intimidating—Latin American thugs who seemed to be operating a prostitution outfit a few rooms down from us.

“Look, Kids—Big Ben, Parliament”

On Saturday we met up with Zero's Lindsey Robertson. Lindsey had recently moved to Miami from the Keys. His knowledge of the terrain was useful, if only a little vague. We spent a lot of the day driving around looking for a white stucco Hubba we'd seen photos of. We found the spot eventually, but Lindsey's method of navigation was basically like plotting a route with a spirograph.

Let No Man Bring You So Low That You Hate Him

Skate spots are rarely in ideal locales. Sometimes they're under the watchful eye of security guards. Sometimes they're within earshot of slumbering senior citizens, and occasionally they're in economically disadvantaged and predominately black neighborhoods. This isn't necessarily a problem, but if the spot is itself a monument to fallen black leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then ere're bound to be some residents who view the inevitable scuffing that results from skateboarding as an insult to the memory of this undeniably great man.

A motorist got out of his car to yell at Matt for riding on one of the huge marble monoliths. The man was so hurt. He kept yelling, “Don't disrespect us like that!” I felt really bad. I wanted to talk with the guy so he at least understood that the apparent irreverence was unintentional, but he got back in his car and drove off. Matt was put off and didn't want to skate anymore. I look at it this way, at least the monument isn't a forgotten relic. I can't think of what else would bring a bunch of mostly white kids into that part of town to read the inspirational words engraved in the marble. But then it's pretty easy to skateboard wherever you please and then justify it to yourself after the fact.

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Life on the road sure can get lonely, even for fifteen-year-old kids. On our last day in Miami, Leo was feeling a little randy, so he asked me if I would be willing to purchase a magazine for him. I obliged, much to the horror of a very pretty young lady in her early twenties. “My god, you're just a baby!” she said to Leo as she strolled past.

“I'm eighteen!” Leo cried back as she was walking away.

She stopped twenty paces away, “Well, why don't you come with me then?” she said as she smiled back and offered up a tongue-in-cheek “come hither” gesture. Of course, Leo had prior obligations and was not able to take her up on the offer.

Before leaving we had one more stop on the agenda, Big White. We'd investigated this rail the previous night and opted to return during daylight. Matt stepped up and knocked out two 50-50s and a precise-as-ice five-0 on the steep round fifteen-stair beast.

Go Bucks!

It was a lot tougher to shoot street photos in Tampa than it had been in Miami. For one thing, going out to shoot photos after practicing all day is like working overtime. Tampa has fewer spots available and most aren't quite up to par with those in Miami. Add to this the extremely vigilant police force that is acutely aware of the influx of out-of-town skate rats, and you have a recipe for disappointment and frustration. We made frequent trips downtown in the wee hours of the morning only to be booted out as rapidly as if we had faxed the cops our itinerary. As a testament to the work ethic of these Emerica ams, we managed to come away with some really good stuff to spite the odds. Herman in particular stepped it up on some rough terrain after having to sit out the rest of the trip with a rolled paw. Eight days of hobbling around on a very stiff ankle didn't seem to hurt his flick in the slightest.

On A Program

Andrew Reynolds and Jim Greco stayed in a hotel room a few doors down from us and joined us on a number of sorties. As most of the skate world now knows Grecs and Drew are clean and sober. They are very disciplined and committed to their new lifestyle and went as far as finding a local chapter of a support group to visit while in Tampa. They even brought Herman to one of the meetings. Bryan apparently has 30 days clean. Spanky on the other hand fell off the wagon and threw away more than 6,750 days after swallowing some sparkling cider following his victory. To make matters worse, he drove his miniature Ducati motorcycle around the course risking the lives of all present. Of course, being the resilient young buck that he is, he managed to pull his act together and bluntslide a ten-stair rail a few hours later. It was good to see that Spanky was back on the wagon and skating just as hard as ever.

Mind you, just because the kids weren't drinking booze doesn't mean they didn't get a little unruly. Now in their defense, the drywall in the rooms was of poor quality and the mattresses were worn out. But Justin and I managed to keep our walls hole-free and our beds didn't cave in. Justin and I didn't wrestle or jump on the beds. I guess we all cope with the stress of the job differently.

At the end of the ten-day trip everyone was pretty exhausted, or maybe it was just me. All the contest and generator action had taken its toll. I was run-down. I was looking forward to the plane ride home so I could catch up on sleep. Which is a good thing, because “when you sleep, you rest.”

 

Ollie Sidebar

After Matt had five-0'd the fifteen-stair rail, Herman offered Spanky a hundred dollars for a first-try ollie down the steps. Spanky eyed the jump for a minute, but decided to save his legs, ankles, and heels for the upcoming contest (history would show this to be quite a wise decision). I asked Herman if the offer was open to anyone. After he told me it was, I walked to the top to see how it looked. After some hemming and hawing I decided to give it a whirl. Justin made me arrange my flashes so he could shoot the photo. That made me realize just how slow I am at setting up. My sincere apologies to everyone I've ever worked with. It took a few hucks to ride away from one so I didn't get the hundred dollars, but I'm planning on collecting the money from having the photo published as my reward—sorry, Justin.

Captions

Matt Allen, five-0.

The little guy comes up with the biggest trick of the trip. Matt Allen five-0 on a very intimidating rail. Even the grown-ups were heard to remark, “Damn, what'd I do?”

Matt Allen, lipslide.

The ghost of Salvador Dali must have been on a vacation from his resting place in St. Petersburg. Matt tries to dodge the specter by lipsliding a steep rail.

Bryan Herman, hardflip.

It might be said that Bryan Herman has the best hardflips in the business even after rolling his ankle. Must have been the serenity prayer he said just prior to takeoff.

Bryan Herman, 360 flip.

Herman can 360 flip even with sweat stinging his eyeballs.

Spanky backside Smith 180 out.

This spot is called ADP, and there is an extensive list of ABDs, but no one hopped 180 out of a backside Smith.

Spanky, bluntslide.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Spanky bluntslides at 1:00 a.m., only hours after winning the hell out of the biggest am contest of the year. Did you see his line yet? This kid is classic.

Leo Romero, backside 180 fakie nosegrind.

Everybody's favorite stucco ledge. Leo skated this thing every single day we were in Miami.

Leo Romero, frontside salad backside 180 out.

Leo did a frontside salad to backside 180 before I could even measure the light. “Hey, Leo, can you give me one more?”

lity and the mattresses were worn out. But Justin and I managed to keep our walls hole-free and our beds didn't cave in. Justin and I didn't wrestle or jump on the beds. I guess we all cope with the stress of the job differently.

At the end of the ten-day trip everyone was pretty exhausted, or maybe it was just me. All the contest and generator action had taken its toll. I was run-down. I was looking forward to the plane ride home so I could catch up on sleep. Which is a good thing, because “when you sleep, you rest.”

 

Ollie Sidebar

After Matt had five-0'd the fifteen-stair rail, Herman offered Spanky a hundred dollars for a first-try ollie down the steps. Spanky eyed the jump for a minute, but decided to save his legs, ankles, and heels for the upcoming contest (history would show this to be quite a wise decision). I asked Herman if the offer was open to anyone. After he told me it was, I walked to the top to see how it looked. After some hemming and hawing I decided to give it a whirl. Justin made me arrange my flashes so he could shoot the photo. That made me realize just how slow I am at setting up. My sincere apologies to everyone I've ever worked with. It took a few hucks to ride away from one so I didn't get the hundred dollars, but I'm planning on collecting the money from having the photo published as my reward—sorry, Justin.

Captions

Matt Allen, five-0.

The little guy comes up with the biggest trick of the trip. Matt Allen five-0 on a very intimidating rail. Even the grown-ups were heard to remark, “Damn, what'd I do?”

Matt Allen, lipslide.

The ghost of Salvador Dali must have been on a vacation from his resting place in St. Petersburg. Matt tries to dodge the specter by lipsliding a steep rail.

Bryan Herman, hardflip.

It might be said that Bryan Herman has the best hardflips in the business even after rolling his ankle. Must have been the serenity prayer he said just prior to takeoff.

Bryan Herman, 360 flip.

Herman can 360 flip even with sweat stinging his eyeballs.

Spanky backside Smith 180 out.

This spot is called ADP, and there is an extensive list of ABDs, but no one hopped 180 out of a backside Smith.

Spanky, bluntslide.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Spanky bluntslides at 1:00 a.m., only hours after winning the hell out of the biggest am contest of the year. Did you see his line yet? This kid is classic.

Leo Romero, backside 180 fakie nosegrind.

Everybody's favorite stucco ledge. Leo skated this thing every single day we were in Miami.

Leo Romero, frontside salad backside 180 out.

Leo did a frontside salad to backside 180 before I could even measure the light. “Hey, Leo, can you give me one more?”