We all want to take a bite of the Big Apple, but most of us are content with a summertime fling in the city that birthed skitching, skrellys, and hip-hop. The threat of the brutal winters, high cost of living, and fast-paced lifestyle keep the majority of skaters and the skateboarding industry alike tucked safely away in California. In contrast, Theories of Atlantis distribution have planted themselves directly into the streets of New York City where a lot of their riders also reside. You'd be hard-pressed to find any companies more plugged into raw street skating than Traffic, Polar, Hopps, Magenta, Isle, and the Static video series, which I quickly bore witness to pushing through the city 12 hours a day with them for a solid week. Here is a glimpse of the characters that make up the Theories family, so grab your board, stand clear of the closing doors, and meet me at Hoyt and Schermerhorn at three o'clock on the dot.
Photos & Intro By Dave chami
Captions by Josh Stewart
NYC is definitely not the easiest city in the world to just scrape by, so it tends to be welcome territory for hustlers. And Hopps Skateboards am Dustin Eggeling has made hustling an art form. Be it selling crap on eBay, packing boxes for the TOA web store, barista'ing at restaurants, or even doing some modeling work, Dustin is willing to do whatever it takes to survive in this city. As long as it doesn't require waking up early or having to be on time.
In every generation, the East Coast seems to produce a handful of skaters with inhuman pop. And Traffic Skateboards rider Brendan Carroll is a continuation of that tradition. Brendan works for a moving company in NYC and carries pianos and couches up five- to six-story walk-ups during the day and then gets out skating/filming at night. Perhaps that's what it takes to build your ollies up to beast mode. If that's the case, I'm good—I'll stick with my Chihuahua pop.
There's something about Luke Malaney's skateboarding that just screams East Coast. Perhaps it's his blue-collar vibe, but I can picture Luke chopping down trees somewhere in Alaska or fighting bears in the Rockies. Yet, on a skateboard, he moves with a grace and finesse that makes for a really interesting dichotomy of styles and a perfect fit for Ricky Oyola's Traffic Skateboards.
I've known Kevin Coakley since he was a little kid coming down to Tampa to escape the Boston winters with his mom. Now, well over a decade later, he's living in NYC and has his own pro model on Traffic Skateboards. Kevin is a product of the old model of filming: working on a video part for years, saving and refining his footage to craft a heavily thought-out edit. Kevin is an art handler by day, moving expensive art from galleries to the houses of wealthy collectors. Then at night he goes out filming, slowly building up the footage that will result in his own art, a properly crafted full video part.
If you want to pull the most potential out of a skate spot, Ben Gore is the perfect skater for the job. Not only does he skate at a million miles an hour and have textbook form, but he also understands the intricacies of choosing the right tricks to complement the spot and the flow and rhythm of a well-choreographed line. And once he lands the trick and I inevitably film it like shit, he never has a problem filming it two or three more times so I can finally film it right…almost never.
Hopps Skateboards rider Steve Brandi grew up the son of a famous tennis coach and the brother to a professional tennis player. Steve's early talents on the tennis court proved that it was in his blood and that his destiny seemed to be already laid out for him. That was until the fateful day when he picked up a skateboard—and put down his racket. Fifteen years later, he finally dug his dusty tennis racket back out of the closet and reconnected with his roots. Now he's a pro tennis instructor by day and a pro skater by night.
Connor Kammerer is a NY local who's been part of the Magenta crew for several years now. Working as a Japanese translator for Delta Airlines, he's able to travel freely and be a part of Magenta trips and events around the world at his own convenience. An amazing job that seems like the perfect opportunity for a skater except for the one tough obstacle: learning Japanese.
There's something beautifully tragic about filming with Jahmal Williams. Although you'll likely capture one of the smoothest and most stylish clips you've ever filmed, it will never capture the poetry of watching Jahmal simply push through traffic in between spots—bobbing and swaying between cars and flowing like a seasoned jazz musician improvising with his instrument. There are some things that will never translate through video, and that's perhaps the beauty of a rare skater like Jahmal in that you know that you're witnessing something the majority of the world will never experience.
Don't get me wrong, skating in NYC is an incredibly fun experience, but filming and shooting photos in NY is generally a nightmare. In a city that has become the go-to travel destination of most skaters over the past few years, finding a spot to film an original clip on can be nearly impossible. So that makes Jon Nguyen's perfect NY week all the more impressive, managing to film a clip nearly every day before he flew out. This was my first time getting to meet Jon, so when he stacked so much footage, dropped the mic, and hopped on a plane, it left us all staring off into the sunset and wondering, "Who was that man?"
After our first season as the US distributor for Polar Skate Co., Pontus Alv asked if I had any suggestions on a skater for them to flow in the US, and Aaron Herrington immediately came to mind. I had just started working with him on his Static IV part, and he seemed a really solid fit for the new Swedish brand. It was my first time helping a skater officially get on one of the brands we distribute. Now, three years later, not only is Aaron pro for Polar, but he was also the recipient of the TWS Best Rookie award. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but can I maybe get to hold the Best Rookie award for like one month out of the year? Or maybe 10 percent of your sponsorship checks? Aaron? Hello?