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This week’s Photographic Memory features John Rattray and a back disaster on a wallride somewhere in Aberdeen, Scotland at some point in the summer of 2001. It was already past midday when I set off from London, England on the 540 mile drive to Aberdeen, Scotland, but thanks to Aberdeen's northerly location it was still light out when I rolled into town at 11:00 p.m., the exact moment when Scottish pub's licenses to sell alcohol expires. The streets were full to the brim with rejoicing Aberdonians celebrating the whisper that calls it's self "summer" that far north. John was one of the rejoicers, so after a garbled conversation on my trusty Nokia 3310 that led me to the centre of town, it was little surprise when my first sighting of John gave me the impression that he was going to have trouble standing up, let alone skating.
Staggering up to the car and welcoming me with the nonchalance of greeting a friend who lived down the street, John said that they'd built ramps in an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town and with a belly full of chips and white pudding he would be back to Olympian status, ready to rumble. No rest for the wicked. The location of the warehouse was pretty epic in a movie clichéd way of depicting a dodgy back alley car park: nestled beside some dark granite archways, the answer to why some of the cars were rocking swiftly answered itself when I realized how many used condoms were scattered on the ground, there was a lot of passion in that car park.
The photo itself was shot with a 110mm lens on a Mamiya RZ67, a huge beast of a camera which I'd mistakenly bought to shoot skating with based on a rumor that Rick Kosick had used one to shoot Kareem's backside flip Big Brother poster in the World Park and the alleged fact that Mike Ballard had used one to shoot the color photo of Rick Howard grinding the rainbow rail in the DC desert feature in one of the first rebirth issues of Skateboarder magazine. Those two photos are immense. Unfortuately for the Mamiya, this is one of the only skate photos I shot with that bulky camera, I truly loved it but eventually my heart (and biceps) belonged to Victor Hasselblad. I have to say that 110mm lens is some of the sharpest glass on the planet, you can zoom in dumb far on the washing machine, so chomp on that EOS whatever your number is (just kidding CMOS fans, cool your sensors).
If you're wondering why his red shirt looks so saturated and vibrant it's because it was shot with the now defunct Kodak E100vs (which is a bit warmer than the still-standing-after-all-this-time Fuji Provia) and VS went ballistic with reds. Rest in peace Kodak E100VS. Anyway, John was right, the chips and white pudding worked their magic and he casually back disastered the wall ride after a couple of wobbly attempts, and the die was cast for yet another amazing trip in Scotland, it truly is God's country up there. John was predominantly filming for Dying To Live around this time but he also put out a part in a video he made with his friends called H'Min Bam, the maker of which Alex Craig went on to create Machotaildrop with Corey Adams. If you can't manage to watch the whole thing (you'll be missing a Stu Graham part) John's part starts at 24.35. I'm guessing it could well be his personal favorite and features a lot of the spots that he grew up skating like the multi-story car park mannys and the mini ramp from which rumor has it he drank flat bottom water as anointment from the Skate Gods. Enjoy.
Photo & Words / BARTON