Step into a fresh classroom full of uniformed strangers, how do you pick where to sit? Set up next to the one guy who you think might skate? That's what Garth Mariano did when he saw Matthew Evans sitting in his first class for year nine. Turns out this move was an integral part of their paths. This seating arrangement would go on to send ripples of rad across the planet for many years to come. Beyond the board and its community the fellas had shared interests in design and music. Shortly after high school they ended up launching the first two Butter Goods tees, complete with graphic homages to J Dilla and Jazz. Before long, they were putting out regular clothing ranges primarily inspired by 90s skateboarding and the renaissance period of jazz. Instead of jumping onto the typical model and forming a "dynamic skate team" they did things differently: putting out homie footage and mix tapes. They were more into supporting the creative types in and around their immediate friendship group. Soon though, that community had grown to include some of the most flavorsome skaters on the planet. There has never been a formal list made, but if you are on, you will know. You get these little emails. These little invites to a new place. Out of nowhere you will be given the chance to escape work for a few weeks and basically step into a world. Late last year that world was Melbourne and oh what a squad it was… – Morgan Campbell
Alex Schmidt is ace at spotting spots right next to the spot. It is so refreshing. When we were skating Melbourne Museum, Alex found this hairy gate Ollie to tackle at this grandiose parkside mansion. I say hairy because there were impalement issues—spikes on top of the gate. All he needed was one shaky Ollie off the limited run up and he could have become a human shish kebab. How would you feel if you were about to skate a really sketchy spot and you were greeted at the gate by a black cat? It didn't just walk across his path, but it threw down a catty seduction dance for Schmidty. After witnessing a few feline 360's and getting a couple of face slaps with the tail, Alex leapt the tall gate free of incident. Good luck curse.
Ben Gore introduced me to a new definition of salty. From my experience in Australia "getting salty" refers to the act of surfing. But Ben Gore uses the word salty to explain his demeanor. He reckons he is a bit of a sour puss. But I disagree. The poor guy was pretty much crippled with hay fever for the whole Melbourne stay. On a bung head scale of one to ten, Ben was ringing in at a solid eleven. Some days he had to stay inside in fear of a pollen attack. Despite having fire hydrants for tear ducts he remained chipper. He was also quite lucky. A month after the trip nine people died from thunderstorm asthma. Which is basically a pollen tornado. Even the flowers are gnarly down here.
Even though the weather was often against us, the authorities and the general public were quite the opposite. We barely dealt with any cops or security the whole time and oddly enough people would often give us gifts for skating their property. Phil Marshall seemed particularly good at instigating the gift giving. He skated a road gap where he was landing on some poor bloke's doorstep. What does the fella do? Comes outside and gives us a bowl of apples. Another time we had gathered outside a closed pub, where Phil wanted to skate a mondo picnic table in a line. I didn't like the chances, as the pub was about to open. Next thing you know the manager comes out with a jug of beer. "Can we skate your table?" "Sure mate, as long as I can bring you more beer!" Boom. Four jugs and a couple of bowls of chips later and Phil got his line.
Taylor Nawrocki and I connected instantly over two things: our love for fizzy water and our respect for the Australian marsupial known as the wombat. You guys always ask us whether we have pet kangaroos or hang out with emus? But when is the wombat going to get some love? Wombats basically look like a furry barrel tipped over then given some stumpy legs. They can be fierce and are known to bowl over humans in a single charge. I find they are also essential in describing skate spots. There are two general types of street tranny: banks and wombats. Banks are either banked or slightly transitioned. Wombats are less friendly: They are always convex and are a lot harder to land into than a bank due to their general roundness. Despite their challenging disposition, they fall under one spot rule: If there is street tranny at your spot you must hit it. Or in other words, "If one is at a spot containing a wombat, one must utilize that wombat in the skating of that spot."
When street skating was young, the guys who stood out were just as much artists as they were skateboarders. Young buck and ultimate nice guy Casey Foley is one of those. Casey's passions are life, skateboarding and photography. If he isn't blazing through a spot or astonishing bystanders with his first try flatground game, he is off in the distance documenting the splendid quirks of street life for Ducktales (his zine). He also has an encyclopaedic knowledge of 90s rap.
Alex Campbell is captain humble, hard worker, ultimate fiancé and father of three. Get him on a skateboard and he instantly melds into a beast. Imagine you've successfully mixed Julien Stranger and Nate Jones and then thrown in a seasoning of Busentiz. Even the world's greats are baffled when witnessing Alex first hand. He has everything: the speed, the flips, the poise, the power and the rawness. Same goes for Ben Gore, right? Imagine seeing them skate together—high velocity bandits just leaping over everything insight. There were a couple of sessions where they were so deep in the zone that everyone else was sidelined with astonishment.
With the power of a wildebeest and the touch of a ballet dancer, Mike Arnold is a pure sensation on the board. We all know that a tall skater coupled with a great style makes for happy eyeballs. We all studied Mike's skating in the couple of years leading up to the trip but all we had really seen was a mini Mike through an iPhone screen. Real life Mike is much more impressive. His well-honed eye, his finely tuned feet and his general disregard for gravity make him one of the most exciting skaters I have personally ever witnessed. This guy is a proper showstopper. New favorite.