Seven Plies Of Separation by Oliver Barton

By: Oliver Barton

Pete also made friends with a homeless guy called “Gary From Kent.” Gary introduced himself as a rally-car driver-I don’t know too much about the sport of rally driving, but if Gary is anything to go by, they seem to be a colorful lot.

You wouldn’t believe how annoying the sound of a skateboard hitting the ground is when you’re trying to sleep-the bad karma from our years of irresponsibility finally caught up with us.

Three hours, four chocolate croissants, and one can of ice tea down, we were lead to the pink hubba in the park, armed with little more than thumping headaches and a Golden Arches bag.

The Australians might own the barbecue, but France had just put in a strong bid for the title of World Picnic Champions.

Seven Plies Of Separation Theory

Pete Eldridge and friends are the subject of Ollie’s thesis.

Words and photos by Oliver Barton

When asked what the best aspect of professional skating is, a typical response from a skater is “the traveling.” But what is it about traveling that’s so good? Reasons can include visiting a girlfriend abroad, avoiding people who’re looking for you at home, a legitimate excuse to cut school, or simply the opportunity to live off per diem (per diem is a monetary daily allowance) for a few weeks. But generally speaking, fresh spots, different cultures, and meeting new people are the main motivations in setting skate sail.

It all looks good on paper, but skate trips overseas normally involve traveling in large groups, which often make outsiders view you as intimidating to approach-not to mention it’s like one big security blanket from which you’re reluctant to venture. Plus everything has to be done as a group, so the “meeting new people” response is somewhat foiled.

When venturing under the group scenario, oftentimes your guide will be a middle-aged bloke who used to skate but now works for a local distribution company-most likely his spot knowledge is outdated. On top of that, local skaters aren’t too keen on taking a team of pro skaters to their best secret spots to watch everything that they and their friends have filmed over the last six years get demolished in a single hour-long rinsed-out session. Fair enough, and that’s the reason why the same tramline spots tend to appear on most trips abroad.

The partaking in different cultures could be experienced, but you’ll be signing autographs, demoing at skateparks, or trying to find griptape for the majority of your spare time. As for food culture, good luck finding an indigenous restaurant that everyone can agree on. So that leaves us with girls (the less said about that the better), school (you’ll have to catch up on work when you get back), and per diem. Well, I can’t argue with per diesel because sushi definitely tastes better when someone else is paying.

In an ideal world, travel would be some friends and a car with no itinerary other than leaving point A on one date and arriving at point B on another. You could turn up in each town, meet all the locals, eat where they eat, skate where they skate, sleep where they sleep, and generally get a better slice of their lifestyle than the usual paid-for-by-the-companies-and-distributors-mega-touring excursion allows.

Based on these ideals, the idea was spawned for Pete Eldridge and me to travel from London to Barcelona via Paris and Lyon-a couple of complete write-offs behind the wheel of a car with no objective other than skateboarding, seeing Europe, and maybe shooting some photos on the way. We couldn’t find anyone stupid enough to give us per diem money and admittedly we slipped in Paris when we stayed in a hotel, but apart from that, we stuck to the rules and had an epic time full to the brim with new faces, places, and belly-bursting good food and culture. For the benefit of the responsibilities out there, here’s a somewhat edited account of what happened …

Of the average 24 inches of rain that annually scade on London, scientific research has proven that the majority of this rain will fall the moment you step out the door to skate. True to form, the first four days of our week in London were washed away in a rain-soaked, piled-out blur of midday television and late-night trips to the Texaco gas station in search of Gingster’s pasties, three-day-old sandwiches, and salt-and-vinegar crisps. The situation was getting so grim that we considered ditching our four-city plan and going straight to Paris the next day so we could at least skate something, but Friday evening gave London a glimmer of hope when the heavy black clouds relented long enough for Pete to sail a kickflip over the Barbican Street bump. Where Blueprint had managed Waiting For The World, we were having a tough time shooting Waiting For The Weekend.

Saturday morning announced its arrival with a change of luck-although thick gray skies threatened, dry ground befriended. “Beggars can’t be choosers, innit.” Despite the upturn in the weather situation, it still took three or four hours and five or six cups of tea before we made it to the car. Eventually we drove to East London and the Liverpool Street train station-home to an uncharacteristically perfect double-set with a characteristically fast bust. Chris Massey and Nick Jensen had been watching the patterns of the security guards and figured out their patrol routes. I don’t know how or why, they just love to lurk. Fortunately, the knowledge of lurk scored us a rare five minutes, just enough time for our Aussie sidekick Andrew Brophy to chalk up a hardflip before the men in fluorescent green coats stepped in and stopped the fun. The squad now had the fuego, but apparently our five minutes at the Liverpool Street doubles had cashed out our spot karma for the business district. So after four hours of constant “Go and do that somewhere else before I call the police,” we moved to Central London.

Only a few miles west, the tourists and weekend warriors were out in full summer force. We all knew that the pubs close at 11:00 p.m., so we only had ourselves to blame as Nick Jensen swerved between nightclub security, drunk Canadian snowboard posses, and old men toting young women in an attempt to skate a wheelchair access ramp in Covent Garden. Eventually the crowds parted, the ramp was switch ollied, and Pete let a really drunk girl fall over really, really hard when she tried his skateboard. Pete also made friends with a homeless guy called “Gary From Kent.” Gary introduced himself as a rally-car driver-I don’t know too much about the sport of rally driving, but if Gary is anything to go by, they seem to be a colorful lot. At one point in the conversation Pete asked Gary why he chose to sleep rough in London when he could stay at his mom’s house in Kent, to which Gary replied, “London is like a madness, whenever you try to leave it, you always get drawn back”-words that would echo in my brain as we packed practically everything we’d brought with us into our Ford Escort.

One psychedelic dinner later and we were waving good-bye to Massey, Nick, and Brophy in London, and hello to Luy-Pa Sin, Vincent Bressol, and Thibaud Fraudin in Paris. As the sun shone on us in Paris, we spent day one and two at Le Dome (okay, a tramline spot but a local hangout nonetheless) with Luy-Pa and friends, who provided Cordon Negro Cava and 57 games of SKATE played on marble so perfect it could make a grown man cry. Pete ceremonially dumped his London wheels and set up some 49 mms.

Apart from making it to Paris alive, our other main achievement was that we had posted up in a hotel next to the Bercy exhibition center, the gray-marble-block spot where Andrew Reynolds flipped the big five. On the night of day one, we slipped into the land of Zs and congratulated ourselves on having a window that overlooked one of the best spots in the world. We were living like we were on a DC Shoes tour. The only problem with sleeping next to Bercy was the kids who came and practiced outside our window at 10:00 a.m. You wouldn’t believe how annoying the sound of a skateboard hitting the ground is when you’re trying to sleep-the bad karma from our years of irresponsibility finally caught up with us.

Speaking of catching up, Paris was where Pete caught up with his chocolate consumption, falling headfirst into Kinder Bueno chocolate addiction. I was scared that he’d get physical with anyone who dared say that Kinder chocolate was not master of the realm. Well, it never got that bad, but he was definitely feeling Kinder and tried any and every product donning its logo. Thanks to his sweet tooth, Pete’s dentist will be buying a new BMW this year.

Whilst Pete was sending the candy maker’s stock price through the roof, Luy-Pa clocked serious minutes on the cell trying to buy a G4 computer from a friend of a friend. “How are you getting a G4 so cheap?” I asked. “It fell off the back of a truck,” came the reply. Funny how it’s not just the skateboarding that survives translation. We cruised about for the rest of the week and stayed an extra day because Paris is such an incredible place and we felt like it. We even saw Giovanni Reda and the Emerica team getting driven about in a tour van.

By this stage, people in Lyon were awaiting our arrival, and we had lost our map that would give us directions to get there. Luckily, Luy-Pa knew of a hidden spot next to the freeway that would take us to Lyon, so we killed two birds with one stone and followed him through narrow winding streets more complex than any maze that could ever be constructed at Disneyland. Luy-Pa made a magic ankle potion of Antaflex skate spray and Tiger Balm and gapped up to back tail on a high marble ledge before waving us on our way to Lyon. It was time for him to track down his stolen gigabites.

Four hours later we arrived in Lyon to a sky lit with firework displays, loud drunken mobs filling the streets, and people driving the width of town leaning on their car horns. Apparently the local soccer team had won a large chunk of silverware, so the entire city had decided to go mental. In the middle of the madness we found Alain Boglio, an Aussie who lives in Lyon and runs everything behind the scenes at Clichà‡. Al’s version of taking us under his wing was dragging us out to a disco boat (what sick mind would think to put a disco on a boat?), where we would stay until the chocolate croissants from the bakery over the road could be experienced alongside normal people who were on their way to their nine-to-fives. Three hours, four chocolate croissants, and one can of ice tea down, we were lead to the pink hubba in the park, armed with little more than thumping headaches and a Golden Arches bag. On first glance, the Perrache ledge is a hubba made in heaven, but closer inspection will reveal some serious war wounds from a never-ending battle to keep the skateproofers from skateproofing it. The ledge looked as rough as we felt, but a stomach full of McFresh salad was enough for Pete to switch five-0 it before his McFlurry ice cream could melt in the heat. We were doing well.

Lyon was without a doubt the best stop on our journey thanks to the hospitality extended to us by the Clichà‡ family-nothing beats being taken in and looked after when you’re on the road. Getting to skate midweek during the day can be pretty hard in Lyon, and since it was going to be one of the hottest days of the year, Jeremie Daclin decided that we should have a picnic instead of a skate. It all sounded a bit midlife to us, “but when in Rome … ” So we got in the car and followed Jeremie. An hour out of Lyon, we arrived at an abandoned transitioned swimming pool surrounded by grass and a large oak tree that provided the necessary shade for a picnic. The back of Jeremie’s car opened and out came bottles of red wine, twist-off Kronen beers, and a quiver of baguettes alongside an assortment of cold meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The the kids who came and practiced outside our window at 10:00 a.m. You wouldn’t believe how annoying the sound of a skateboard hitting the ground is when you’re trying to sleep-the bad karma from our years of irresponsibility finally caught up with us.

Speaking of catching up, Paris was where Pete caught up with his chocolate consumption, falling headfirst into Kinder Bueno chocolate addiction. I was scared that he’d get physical with anyone who dared say that Kinder chocolate was not master of the realm. Well, it never got that bad, but he was definitely feeling Kinder and tried any and every product donning its logo. Thanks to his sweet tooth, Pete’s dentist will be buying a new BMW this year.

Whilst Pete was sending the candy maker’s stock price through the roof, Luy-Pa clocked serious minutes on the cell trying to buy a G4 computer from a friend of a friend. “How are you getting a G4 so cheap?” I asked. “It fell off the back of a truck,” came the reply. Funny how it’s not just the skateboarding that survives translation. We cruised about for the rest of the week and stayed an extra day because Paris is such an incredible place and we felt like it. We even saw Giovanni Reda and the Emerica team getting driven about in a tour van.

By this stage, people in Lyon were awaiting our arrival, and we had lost our map that would give us directions to get there. Luckily, Luy-Pa knew of a hidden spot next to the freeway that would take us to Lyon, so we killed two birds with one stone and followed him through narrow winding streets more complex than any maze that could ever be constructed at Disneyland. Luy-Pa made a magic ankle potion of Antaflex skate spray and Tiger Balm and gapped up to back tail on a high marble ledge before waving us on our way to Lyon. It was time for him to track down his stolen gigabites.

Four hours later we arrived in Lyon to a sky lit with firework displays, loud drunken mobs filling the streets, and people driving the width of town leaning on their car horns. Apparently the local soccer team had won a large chunk of silverware, so the entire city had decided to go mental. In the middle of the madness we found Alain Boglio, an Aussie who lives in Lyon and runs everything behind the scenes at Clichà‡. Al’s version of taking us under his wing was dragging us out to a disco boat (what sick mind would think to put a disco on a boat?), where we would stay until the chocolate croissants from the bakery over the road could be experienced alongside normal people who were on their way to their nine-to-fives. Three hours, four chocolate croissants, and one can of ice tea down, we were lead to the pink hubba in the park, armed with little more than thumping headaches and a Golden Arches bag. On first glance, the Perrache ledge is a hubba made in heaven, but closer inspection will reveal some serious war wounds from a never-ending battle to keep the skateproofers from skateproofing it. The ledge looked as rough as we felt, but a stomach full of McFresh salad was enough for Pete to switch five-0 it before his McFlurry ice cream could melt in the heat. We were doing well.

Lyon was without a doubt the best stop on our journey thanks to the hospitality extended to us by the Clichà‡ family-nothing beats being taken in and looked after when you’re on the road. Getting to skate midweek during the day can be pretty hard in Lyon, and since it was going to be one of the hottest days of the year, Jeremie Daclin decided that we should have a picnic instead of a skate. It all sounded a bit midlife to us, “but when in Rome … ” So we got in the car and followed Jeremie. An hour out of Lyon, we arrived at an abandoned transitioned swimming pool surrounded by grass and a large oak tree that provided the necessary shade for a picnic. The back of Jeremie’s car opened and out came bottles of red wine, twist-off Kronen beers, and a quiver of baguettes alongside an assortment of cold meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The Australians might own the barbecue, but France had just put in a strong bid for the title of World Picnic Champions. With a half bottle of wine in his stomach and the other half strewn about the front of his white T-shirt, Pete frontside ollied and melon grabbed over the sluice gate in the swimming pool. But the highlight of the picnic was when J.B. Gillet’s board was repossessed mid-skate by a full-sized Doberman-bite marks and slobber stains are reasonable excuses for griptape madness.

The next day saw new grip and a revitalized J.B., who was hard at work on his Clichà‡ deluxe DVD part: filming lines, grinding rails against walls, and generally performing skateboard tricks in the most proper fashion possible. Get the DVD-watch and learn.

After stalling in Lyon for an extra day, we procrastinated further and did not actually make any headway into the six-hour drive to Barcelona until midnight, which is pretty impressive since we thought we would leave around 10:00 a.m. Perhaps demo deadlines can be good? Probably not, the new plan was to get a couple of hours driving under our belts, stop at a motel near the border, and finish the drive through Spain in the morning.

With a mere two hours’ drive time chalked up, we pulled off at a brightly lit service station-a comfortable-looking bed was displayed atop its sign, but when we pulled around the back to the motel entrance, the place was completely derelict. We should’ve recognized it as a sign and driven back to our beds in Lyon, but we got back on the freeway in good faith that there’d be another motel just down the road. It was another hour and a half of almost falling asleep at the wheel before we finally spotted another bed logo on a service station sign. At least there were some lights on in this one, but it was so much more trife-the ladies of the night moving among the fleet of eighteen-wheelers, not to mention the plethora of pikeys aimlessly wandering about the carpark. As a general rule, more than eight pikeys grouped together in a semi-lit carpark is not good news.

I was about to ask Pete what he thought we should do, but he was focused on something hiding in a bush next to one of the hotel windows. A squint of the eyes revealed it was indeed a person and not just our brains misidentifying an inanimate person-shaped object, so the decision was made to buy some coffee and gun it for Barca nonstop. The roads were clear, which proved well for our sleepy-eyed laziness behind the wheel, but we made good time and arrived alive in Barcelona just as our new roommate, Paul Shier, was coming home from an early-morning jog.

After our first day, which was a complete write-off thanks to the night before, we had time to cruise with Paul and skate MACBA, but because we had stayed in each of our stop-offs longer than planned, Pete’s 49s had barely kickflipped out of a steep bank and into a three-lane freeway before he was packing his bag for Philly-an immediate agenda to hit the road for a monthlong Bootleg U.S. tour.

In the blink of an eye, our three weeks had vanished. Undoubtedly the worst part of traveling is that for all the happy hellos, there have to be sad good-byes. Pete wanted to change his ticket and stay in Barca, but J. Strickland declared that the fat lady had sung and it was time to break up our dynamic duo. As Pete climbed to a cruising altitude of 50,000 feet, I felt a bit cursed, considering we’d come all that way from London and it was still raining. Still, Frank Sinatra did not dance to get to the other side of the floor, and what was a little lightning at the end of the day? Well, in answer to that question, I suppose that depends if you were me, sitting stationary in a concrete building on the ground, or Pete who was cabined in a metal sausage flying directly into the storm with nothing more than a life jacket under his seat.

In a TransWorld interview some time ago, when a young Brian Wenning was asked what was the best thing about skateboardingg for him, he offered his friendship with Ian Reid: “Skateboarding can see beyond language, race, nationality, and class-it sees all men equal.” Or maybe it read more like, “That a white kid from Jersey can be friends with a black kid from Brooklyn.” Either way, Pete is the white kid from New Jersey, and I’m the … well … I don’t really have the credentials to fill Ian Reid’s shoes, but nonetheless, for the last few weeks skateboarding had straddled the Atlantic and introduced two pretty different people living 5,000 miles apart, carrying us both across Europe on the same premise. With this in mind, I therefore present this article as an illustrated scientific thesis on the seven plies of separation theory. Who knew that skateboarding could be so “ejucationalist”?

tralians might own the barbecue, but France had just put in a strong bid for the title of World Picnic Champions. With a half bottle of wine in his stomach and the other half strewn about the front of his white T-shirt, Pete frontside ollied and melon grabbed over the sluice gate in the swimming pool. But the highlight of the picnic was when J.B. Gillet’s board was repossessed mid-skate by a full-sized Doberman-bite marks and slobber stains are reasonable excuses for griptape madness.

The next day saw new grip and a revitalized J.B., who was hard at work on his Clichà‡ deluxe DVD part: filming lines, grinding rails against walls, and generally performing skateboard tricks in the most proper fashion possible. Get the DVD-watch and learn.

After stalling in Lyon for an extra day, we procrastinated further and did not actually make any headway into the six-hour drive to Barcelona until midnight, which is pretty impressive since we thought we would leave around 10:00 a.m. Perhaps demo deadlines can be good? Probably not, the new plan was to get a couple of hours driving under our belts, stop at a motel near the border, and finish the drive through Spain in the morning.

With a mere two hours’ drive time chalked up, we pulled off at a brightly lit service station-a comfortable-looking bed was displayed atop its sign, but when we pulled around the back to the motel entrance, the place was completely derelict. We should’ve recognized it as a sign and driven back to our beds in Lyon, but we got back on the freeway in good faith that there’d be another motel just down the road. It was another hour and a half of almost falling asleep at the wheel before we finally spotted another bed logo on a service station sign. At least there were some lights on in this one, but it was so much more trife-the ladies of the night moving among the fleet of eighteen-wheelers, not to mention the plethora of pikeys aimlessly wandering about the carpark. As a general rule, more than eight pikeys grouped together in a semi-lit carpark is not good news.

I was about to ask Pete what he thought we should do, but he was focused on something hiding in a bush next to one of the hotel windows. A squint of the eyes revealed it was indeed a person and not just our brains misidentifying an inanimate person-shaped object, so the decision was made to buy some coffee and gun it for Barca nonstop. The roads were clear, which proved well for our sleepy-eyed laziness behind the wheel, but we made good time and arrived alive in Barcelona just as our new roommate, Paul Shier, was coming home from an early-morning jog.

After our first day, which was a complete write-off thanks to the night before, we had time to cruise with Paul and skate MACBA, but because we had stayed in each of our stop-offs longer than planned, Pete’s 49s had barely kickflipped out of a steep bank and into a three-lane freeway before he was packing his bag for Philly-an immediate agenda to hit the road for a monthlong Bootleg U.S. tour.

In the blink of an eye, our three weeks had vanished. Undoubtedly the worst part of traveling is that for all the happy hellos, there have to be sad good-byes. Pete wanted to change his ticket and stay in Barca, but J. Strickland declared that the fat lady had sung and it was time to break up our dynamic duo. As Pete climbed to a cruising altitude of 50,000 feet, I felt a bit cursed, considering we’d come all that way from London and it was still raining. Still, Frank Sinatra did not dance to get to the other side of the floor, and what was a little lightning at the end of the day? Well, in answer to that question, I suppose that depends if you were me, sitting stationary in a concrete building on the ground, or Pete who was cabined in a metal sausage flying directly into the storm with nothing more than a life jacket under his seat.

In a TransWorld interview some time ago, when a young Brian Wenning was asked what was the best thing about skateboarding for him, he offered his friendship with Ian Reid: “Skateboarding can see beyond language, race, nationality, and class-it sees all men equal.” Or maybe it read more like, “That a white kid from Jersey can be friends with a black kid from Brooklyn.” Either way, Pete is the white kid from New Jersey, and I’m the … well … I don’t really have the credentials to fill Ian Reid’s shoes, but nonetheless, for the last few weeks skateboarding had straddled the Atlantic and introduced two pretty different people living 5,000 miles apart, carrying us both across Europe on the same premise. With this in mind, I therefore present this article as an illustrated scientific thesis on the seven plies of separation theory. Who knew that skateboarding could be so “ejucationalist”?

boarding for him, he offered his friendship with Ian Reid: “Skateboarding can see beyond language, race, nationality, and class-it sees all men equal.” Or maybe it read more like, “That a white kid from Jersey can be friends with a black kid from Brooklyn.” Either way, Pete is the white kid from New Jersey, and I’m the … well … I don’t really have the credentials to fill Ian Reid’s shoes, but nonetheless, for the last few weeks skateboarding had straddled the Atlantic and introduced two pretty different people living 5,000 miles apart, carrying us both across Europe on the same premise. With this in mind, I therefore present this article as an illustrated scientific thesis on the seven plies of separation theory. Who knew that skateboarding could be so “ejucationalist”?