For COCI #6 we check in with Jason Carney, who's Check Out in our June 1991 issue featured his backside lipslide on the School W rail in San Diego. Shot by Dan Sturt, footage of that very trick had been featured almost a full year prior in 1990's H-Street promo, Not The New H-Street Video (NTNHSV) and was—as far as I can discern—the first footage to appear of a back lip on a rail. Having long since hung up his pro model after runs with H-Street, Planet Earth, and Maple—and holding down the SD scene with his shop Slappy's Garage—I was lucky enough to sit down for a conversation with one of my all time favorites.
“The back lips Jason Carney did at School W, I think that same back lip in the H-Street video is the one we're all thinking about. The one shot at School W was the first one on a rail.” -Guy Mariano
This is the extended text from Jason’s page in our Nov./Dec. 2017 issue.
Do you remember the first time you saw this Check Out (June 1991)?
Oh yeah. That point in time was probably some of my fondest memories. I was still working but any chance I got—no matter what time of day or night—we were skateboarding. It feels like it happened yesterday.
Was the Sturt photo shot around the same time as NTNHSV (90) or after?
I think so. He probably shot it about six months before. Back then the magazine used to take a little time to come out. It was actually used for an ad in Poweredge first. The first photo I ever had was in Thrasher. That was ollieing over the School W fence. They spelled my name wrong though—Jason "Convey." Then I had an ad in Poweredge that was like a fake National Inquirer story with a color version of the Sturt photo. Then there was also the Trick Tip of the Bag Lady thing.
Yeah. The Bag Lady Trick Tip actually came out before the Check Out (TWS March 1991). Which made it even crazier. I had some questions about that but just as far as back lips—The back lips in NTNHSV are the first back lips I can think of on a rail. When did you first try them and what was the process? Had you heard of anyone else trying them?
All that happened without cameras or anything. We would skate School W—session it. It was just natural progression. You would session the flat bar there and then eventually take it up to the handrail. We would get baked, smoke some dirt weed and go in and session it. People would migrate different ways. Everybody was getting their licks in. I didn't have a trick list or anything. It just was like, "Well, I'll try and do all the tricks I can do on the flat bar." That was like front board, front board shove it, then eventually getting to back lips. The hardest part about that rail was getting around the corner. It had a walkway that you kind of had to turn into real quick. But it happened naturally. It wasn't like, "Oh nobody has done this. This is gonna buy me my fame and glory."
Jason’s part from NTNHSV and the Next teaser (1990) with a slew of NBDs including the first back lip on a rail.
Did people trip on it? Had you guys seen anyone try one?
I mean it went over good. I think for me personally I was happier doing a front board shove-it.
Yeah. On that same rail, you also had the front board shove and the one-foot front board. Were those pretty much NBD as well for '90? I had never seen either.
Yeah. I mean it's like how you can watch a kid nowadays skate a twelve-stair comfortably. They can run down the rail if need be. They're trained for different things now. But it was the same for us there (School W rail). We got used to pulling the trigger gettin' off the top of those stairs and after a while it became like skating the flat bar. Just regular sessions. Sal (Barbier) and Eric Koston would be there skating that thing real good. People got fired up and things just happened. Mike (Ternasky) had sent Dan (Sturt) out there to shoot an ad. Next thing I knew I was just standing at the trade show later, H-Street had like the end of the row corner booth and they were premiering the video (NTNHSV). There I was.
Three months before the Check Out you had the Trick Tip of "The Bag Lady" which was like a Losi grind on a rail. How did the "Bag Lady" get named? Was it intentional or like a fluke back lip?
It was the same deal. I could do that trick on the bar then I did it on the rail. Because I had already shot the other (back lip) photo by then. So I was like, "All right, let me see if I can hook my truck on there." Couple tries. Got it. Then I didn't really know if I had gotten the sequence because back then you couldn't look at it. You had to wait for it to get developed.
That's true. On the old film sequence there's a good chance it wouldn't even catch the frame where you're grinding.
Exactly. So I didn't know. But fortunately it came out. I do want to clear up the name part though right now. I knew it was a Losi grind. I never called it a Bag Lady. I absolutely would never try to claim that as something different.
Where did the Bag Lady name come from?
Sturt wrote it all… "Come around the corner like the cops are chasing you…" or whatever. He wrote it all. I didn't see it until it came out in the mag. Then it kind of stuck. I've jumped on people's Instagram posts even lately where they're arguing about trick names and told them straight up, "That's a Losi grind." But a generation took it as a Bag Lady—which is still cool. I like that name. But it was never an intentional slight to Alan Losi or anything.
Regardless of the name, that trick was nuts to see as a Trick Tip in March 1991.
I was just hyped it came out as clear as it did. The first time we went to shoot there with Dan, he had this huge 4 by 8 sheet of plywood with aluminum foil all over one side. That was his flash. That was how he lit up the rail. So he had this thing behind him and he's shooting straight up. This is my first time shooting with anybody and Sturt was an intimidating looking dude. He shows up in his Ford Escort with no passenger seat—just full of gear. So I came around the corner to hit the rail and it's like Back to School ('86) where the dude is flashing him on the high dive from the stands with a mirror. I came around and right when you Ollie, the light just blinded me. I kicked my board away and Dan kind of got on me. I think he got a little respect for me that day because I stood up for myself and just told him to move back a little. I didn't really have a choice. It would blind you.
The colors sure look good in the sequence. When was the last time you saw Sturt?
I see him around here and there. Every time I see him I try to take a picture because it's like seeing Big Foot. I'm a big fan though. Dan and Grant Brittain are the two dudes that I owe my life to as far as getting me involved in skateboarding.
I know you were early on back tails on rails too. Did you ever back tail that School W rail?
I back Smithed the School W one. But as far as back tails, the first one I did was the one in the Gullwing ad (see above). That was on like two hours sleep. There was no footage either because back then you either had the photographer or you brought the video camera. That's one of my favorites though.
I know this could be another ten-page interview but briefly—did you go from H-Street to Planet Earth to Maple after this era?
Yeah. I went from H-Street to Planet Earth then to Maple and that was it. It might have gone six/eight months longer than should have.
Was there ever talk of you going to the OG Plan B?
That was on the table to some degree I just didn't want to jump team to team. They had a vote. Mike (Ternasky) mentioned it to me. I never pursued it. I never really hung out with those dudes. Mike T mentioned what it (Plan B) was going on and then they just came out with it. I never said no or anything. But he had mentioned like, "Hey, we might be starting this 'super team' this and that." I told him I didn't know if I was 'super team' worthy. When it came to filming too, I just had two left feet. I got a few things out. But I could be having the best day where I felt like the biggest gust of wind couldn't blow me off my board—then you get out the camera and the most basic tricks-set up tricks would get difficult.
It changed the vibe.
It changes everything. And it goes both ways. I know dudes that weren't the greatest skateboarders—weren't that polished—then the camera came out and it was like these people went in a fucking phone booth and put on their superhero costume.
Some people skate better with the pressure. Some people go that way and other people go the other.
I went the other way. I watched skateboarding pass me up. I watched the younger kids coming in—doing everything bigger and better—and I was okay with that. I wasn't trying to hang on. I see people try to change their image and hang on in any way they can to still be relevant. I just had other interests at that point. I had a job by then that was paying me good money. All I had to do was get up and go to work and then I could skateboard in my free time—just like when I was a kid. I need that structure. It makes me want to skate more just sitting at work. When I don't have that, I tend to turn into a pile of shit just like a lot of other people. Once I didn't have a pro board anymore on Maple—about a week after that I got back to work—I didn't skate for a little bit. But that next session, when I finally skated—I probably had the best session and skated the best I had skated in maybe six or seven years. There wasn't anybody standing on me. It was like being a kid again. I love skateboarding more now than ever.
Is Slappy's Garage your main source of income now?
That's it. I don't need too much. I have some cars that I work on. I slowly put money into them. But I love the continuity of the shop.
Do you have a favorite Sturt photo of yourself?
I think my favorite is the one on the long rail (see Gullwing ad above). I like the (big rail) bail shot too. Only because I made it out alive (laughs). I have that one hanging at my house.
How do you feel looking back?
I had my run man. I'm thankful for skateboarding and I'm very fortunate that coming out of Ramona and a lot of debt that my shop (Slappy's Garage) downtown has some traction again. It's feeling good. I'm in a spot now where I just want to steer these new kids in the right direction. A lot of these kids have no clue as to why they should be on a skateboard. They think there's a pot of gold after they lipslide the twenty stair. All there is at the end of that twenty-stair is sore heels, bruises, sprains, and bumps and then next week you gotta go out and top it.
Jason’s part from Planet Earth’s Animal Farm (1993). In the dark winter of ’93 uber tech, Carnie might be my favorite rendition of power progressive. Shove it late triple flip sold separately.
When kids come in and tell me like, "I'm gonna quit my job, I'm gonna quit school. I'm gonna focus on skateboarding." I tell 'em, "Think about it like this—you're not getting anything from anybody. Even if you're getting a little bit of product. There's nothing worse than being broke, and being hurt, and then you get bitter. You feel like skateboarding owes you something. It doesn't produce. And then you're bitter at skateboarding now. The best thing to do is find a profession early in life that you like to do and skateboard for as long as you can as a hobby. You'll enjoy every minute of it as opposed to having to perform and feeling any kind of pressure." That pressure is debilitating at times. It didn't work for me.
And you gotta go top it the day after like you said.
It used to be that you could get a little bit of shine off stuff here and there. But now, these kids have so much content in front of them every day. They don't care what happened two days ago let alone two months or two years ago.
Big ups to Jason and everyone at Slappy’s Garage. Scroll down for a bonus scan of his Dec. 1994 TWS interview. Click all images to enlarge.
Follow Jason on Instagram: @slappysgarage
Stay tuned for more COCIs.