Conspiracy Theory

This is a good rumor. It’s up there with the one about the kid’s guts exploding after simultaneously eating Pop Rocks and drinking Pepsi.

Kevin Harris, the former freestyler who skated for Powell-Peralta and was ranked second in the world, supposedly heads a special anti-skate task force in Vancouver, Canada. He travels around with a SWAT-like team, finds a skate spot, and renders it unskateble. Harris’ diabolical actions know no bounds. People as far away as Europe have blamed him for ruining their spots. Soon, you’ll see his face on wanted posters in skate shops. Skaters will be encouraged to shoot on sight.

“It’s bullshit,” says Moses Itkonen, who has known Harris his whole skating life and recently attended a council meeting for a new skatepark with him. “I can’t see him doing anything like that. Anyway, the way they wreck spots in downtown Vancouver is with surveillance,” he says. “They have people on rooftops taking pictures. They’re researching us. I see them all the time. They learn quickly, and now some of the architects use the knowledge in their buildings.”

As a rumor, it’s laughable. Harris sounds like a James Bond villain. Anybody who knows him recognizes how generous he is toward skateboarding. But Spencer Fujimoto, apparently unable to separate fact from fiction, exploded in a fanatical rant in a recent Slap magazine interview. Never mind that he’s never even met Harris; he sounded like a TV evangelist fighting Satan. According to Fujimoto, Harris had to make money after his Richmond Skate Ranch (training grounds for Colin McKay, Sluggo, Moses, and thousands of others) closed, and heading the Vancouver task force was the way to cash in. He called Harris “a hater” of skaters, and commented that, “that dude hated on us.” Fujimoto, obviously prone to exaggeration, couldn’t have put a bigger foot in his mouth.

Harris is anything but a “hater” (does anybody speak proper English anymore?). From 1978 to the present, Harris has attended at least 60 council meetings to open skateparks and fight anti-skate laws. He personally funds Concrete Powder, a free, Canadian skate magazine. To keep it free, he pitches in money and has spent 150,000 dollars since it started in 1992. He also kept the R.S.R. open for four years after it began to lose money. “I just thought the skaters should have a place to skate,” he says. “The only reason it closed down was because the building’s owner wouldn’t renew the lease.” He lost over 300,000 dollars on the R.S.R venture. Sounds like a real “hater.” The reason he can afford these financial loses is because Harris and his wife, Audrey, own Ultimate Skateboards, the largest skateboard distributorship in Canada. Ultimate is worth millions. Fujimoto’s claim of, “he’s got to make his money somehow,” couldn’t be further from the truth.

Stacy Peralta, former mentor of the Bones Brigade, laughs at the accusation. “Come on, he did a skateboard demo at his wedding – you don’t love skateboarding more than that. There’s no way anybody could accuse him doing this for money, because he skated for so long for no money.” Freestyle wasn’t exactly a lucrative professsion.

When contacted, Fujimoto fessed up to never having met Harris and claimed to have heard the rumor from certain pro street skaters who used to call Vancouver home. He wanted to make sure Harris received his sincere apology.

The fact that anybody would believe it still strikes friends of Harris as ridiculous. “It doesn’t make any sense,” says Tony Hawk, who’s known Harris since the 80s. “Skateboarding gives him his livelihood.” But Hawk does think it sounds pretty funny, and likes the originality of it. He can even reach into the recesses of his mind and find a plausible James Bondish motivation for the bad, evil Harris. “The only reason I could imagine him doing this would be if the skate industry killed his whole family. If all the CEOs of all the companies and all the skaters raided his house and wiped out his whole family,, then he’d have a reason to hate skateboarding.”