Words by Tim Martinez
Photos by Seu Trinh
Videography by Joe Aivizian
When I was asked to serve as Jart Skateboards' tour manager, I couldn't refuse (especially because they were paying me). The Jart tour consisted of six of Europe's finest pros headed to Los Angeles for three weeks. Since I’m a native skater of the L.A. area for too many years to mention, I knew we'd have a blast skating some popular spots and unknown gems, like the 60 Freeway banks we used to skate in the 80s (it's funny how spots regain popularity).
The first task of managing and arranging the tour was to find adequate lodging for the team. Let me start by saying that finding affordable housing for six skaters ain't easy, especially in and around the Hollywood area.
(SIDE NOTE: if you're planning an L.A. skate trip, stay in Hollywood because it's central to everything and chances of getting robbed and shot are a lot lower.)
So with the wonder and ease of Craigslist I was fortunate enough to find a nice/brave lady named Donna who more than obliged us renting us two rooms in the downstairs of her Hollywood Hills house, a.k.a. mini paradise.
[This photo was taken minutes after seeing twenty cops and two gangsters go heads up. The ghetto bird was flying extremely low and it would mess with most people's concentration. Bastien Salabanzi just happens to know exactly what and how to do it. Kickflip Backside Tailslide in a few tries and without insoles.]
I think the house was a little too amazing because everyone got real comfortable there and it became next to impossible to drag the skaters away from the pool table, swimming pool, view of L.A., garden, comfy bedding… you get the picture. Throw in a couple of dancing show girls that were occupying the upstairs(which would venture down for a swim occasionally) and you've got a recipe for some heavy chilling.
Once the pad was situated I called up Seu (our TWS photog) and asked him if he was down to hang and shoot some photos of our tour. When he asked, "Where are you touring?" I replied Los Angeles. We both immediately started laughing because no company makes a tour of just Los Angeles (although with the amount of spots in L.A it totally makes sense). In the 90s, an L.A. tour consisted of taking the bus from USC to Lockwood to the Santa Monica Courthouse. I knew Seu was good for the trip because he's an L.A. veteran with a deep bag of spots.
[Anyone that has ever been to this ditch in Burbank will know that it is a cheese grater and close to vertical. I hope everyone has a chance to see this monster and recognize how gnarly just rolling in is. Ivan Rivado throws a whopper of a Frontside 360 in this beast.]
So we had legit housing and a great photographer. The only thing left to do was pick up the team. However, it seemed that the good 'ol boys in Texas weren't so sure about letting Eero, Ivan, and Bastien into the country and held them up in customs for a bit. Fortunately, they eventually let them get on to Los Angeles albeit a few hours late. Welcome to America!
The team consisted of JM Roura (Pro/ EU Team Manager), Eero Anttila, Ivan Rivado, Orlando Acosta, Bastien Salabanzi, and JP Troullier. I must also mention that Danny Gonzalez officially became the first American pro for Jart somewhere near the beginning of the trip so he popped into the scene as well.
Thus we come to the skateboarding portion of our story. There is something really refreshing about hanging out with a bunch of European skaters (in and outside of America). It's probably that they're not warped by corporate America. It's almost as if skateboarding mainstream culture hasn't infiltrated their skate life (I can pretty much guarantee most of these guys don't know about Sheckler‘s new rap album). These dudes just skate.
[Orlando Acosta was like a kid in a candy store here in the U.S. Him being the kid, the spots being the candy. A sweet trick on a very old spot: Frontside Late Shove-It.]
I remember the first day skating, we hit downtown. We skated in the blazing heat and these dudes were demolishing every damn spot we hit. I could tell that they were amped on skating in L.A. They just wanted to schralp (yeah I said it, schralp)!
Due to the fact that 99% of the readers are unfamiliar with Jart’s pros, I'll briefly fill you in on each. First off, Roura. This poor guy blew his knee out four months prior to the tour, but being the TM he punked it and came out to support and manage the team. He is also a beast and couldn't stay off the skateboard. He shredded way harder than I did and my knee is fine. He was jamming on the mini, tailsliding banks, and he even threw a crail on the famous Ramada banks. Then we've got Ivan, or as we like to call him "heartthrob". Mainly because he looks like he belongs in a teeny bop magazine with his perma tan, refusal to ever wear a shirt, and extremely white teeth (sounds gay, but true). Ivan eats spots for breakfast. Put one in front of him and see what happens. San Pedro watch out. Third on the list is JP Troullier. The dude is asleep at the wheel. He looked damn good every time he flicked his board. Proper with a capital Pop. I'd have to say though my favorite was Orlando. He easily had everyone on the team by a few years but he skated and ripped like he was the youngest pouring with blood sweat and gnar everywhere! Have you heard of Eero? Are you really good at skate video games? Well Eero is that good at skateboarding. Does this guy miss tricks? Doubt it. Finally we had Bastien. There is nothing I can write that would justify the amazing talent of this kid. Super nice guy and a real pleasure to watch murder spots. Good to see Bastien killing it as hard as ever. Oh, we can't forget Danny. Again, it's hard to put words to his skating. Just always expect the unexpected from him. All in all the Jart team is force to be reckoned with, as I am sure you will find out in the near future (big plans).
[I don't know what possessed us to roll out to Norwalk in the blazing heat mid day, mid summer. Ivan Rivado battled heat stroke to claim the coveted Backside Nose Pick. (This should also explain the pantless filmer in the background. No funny business here).]
I can't forget to mention our filmer Joe Aivizian who was nicknamed “Ecuador” even though he’s Armenian, go figure. Joe's antics kept the mood light and smiles on the faces, usually.
As far as spots are concerned, I'd like to state this as an actual statistic for the records. We checked out a minimum of 10 spots a day for 20 days straight. You do the math and ask yourself if you've ever skated that many spots in your life.
I think the most “L.A. experience” we had was when we were skating the handrail at Hazard Park near downtown (Hazard as in one of the oldest gangs in Los Angeles). Needless to say the park is sketchy. So there we were setting up the cameras, warming up, and skating. All of a sudden the ghetto bird gets really low right overhead and two gangsters appear from the bushes and start fighting. Seconds after the fight begins, close to 15 police officers tackle the two guys while some lady with five kids comes running down the hill screaming at the cops. Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After everything had settled, some random gangster kid rolls up on us and starts sweating us, talking mad sh-t, and threatening us. He leaves and then reappears only to apologize and then he bounces out again. Once everything blew over and the cops and gangsters were out of sight Orlando kickflips boardslides the rail and Bastien kickflip back tails it. How's that one for the books?
[Orlando Acosta conquers the Highland Park bump. This is one of those spots that gets gnarlier and grimier over time. Frontside Alley-Oop Kickflip.]
I guess the thing that surprised me the most about the Jart team is that not once in 24 days did anyone want to hit the town partying. Which is a testament to how fresh the house was, but also a reflection of how motivated these guys were to skate. It could also be that they got so stoned every night they couldn't even talk much less stroll down Hollywood blvd and try to mack it to some random birds in broken English.
Fortunately no one was seriously injured. Bastien however awoke one morning to find he had a swollen knee and he couldn't even walk on it. After a doctor visit and some reassurance that everything was cool he went home early to his one-month old son for some chilling and recovery.
To say the trip was a success is an understatement. Everything was perfect. We got to rep the team and the brand, hand out free product, hit skate parks, street spots, famous spots, new spots, and we got tons of footy and photos. What more could you want from a tour?
Oh, by the way Jart (or Jarto) means “crazy” in Basque – I'm sure you're all wandering. Now stop asking, these dudes are mucho Jart!
[Eero Anttila cracking the Hardest Flip of all.]