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    Illustrator
    When Artist Greg Higgins was tapped by Andy Howell to create Mike Vallely’s “Mammoth” graphic for New Deal back in 1991 it was supposed to be a joke. The image Higgins came up with, however, turned out to be something more than a symbol of extinction and surrender. Instead Higgins created an icon of Vallely’s strength and resilience. Higgins continues to create art inspired by his roots in a time when BMX and skate culture was intertwined, and his images are a vital part of Street Plant’s roots.
  • 09/28

    Before they celebrated him as an athlete,
    they called him a geek
    He was that weird, lanky kid
    obsessed with Skateboarding
    A total nerd, a loser

    Even the skateboarders hated him
    He was different, a freak

    In an age of style, he focused on tricks
    For that, they spit in his face
    But he was resilient

    1985, Del Mar Skate Ranch:
    They tried to break him
    But instead they made him
    Opposed on all sides
    He Skated through the gauntlet
    And he came out on the other side
    The Greatest Skateboarder in the world

  • Born into a concrete jungle,
    A synthetic prison.
    Bound by asphalt, powerlines and right angles.
    Lost in the overwhelming crowd of hunters and gatherers:
    Hunting for parking spots,
    Gathering worthless possessions.
    Trampled in the sweating scramble for profit and domination.
    A slave to the clock.
    But through a crack in the asphalt glacier,
    Something new appears:
    Street Skating.
    The redefining of Everything.
    The Bloom in the wasteland.
    A Street Plant.
    Skate. Create. Enjoy.

  • Open Hearted Texas Tour (2017)
    w/ Kristian Svitak, Joey Jett and Mike Vallely.

    We came from Florida, Brooklyn, Portland, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Long Beach and Japan to meet in Houston, TX — Open Arms and Open Hearts. Our Common Ground: Art, Music and Skateboarding. From there, well, Anything Is Possible!

    No corporate initiative or marketing strategy, just Friends Coming Together to Express their Love for the Peaceful Arts: In-Tune-Ment. What started as a Dream has become a Community: The Street Plant Battalion.

    Once Houston was pinned on the map, we reached out to Friends in Austin, Dallas and Wichita Falls, TX as well, with a simple idea: Skate, Create, Relate and Enjoy! And this became the Open Hearted Texas Tour 2017.

    Much Love and Thanks to the Street Scoundrels Houston Chapter, Josh Yelley, Tommy Luna, Dan Panic, Apparition Skateboards, 4DWN, Deviance Skate Supply and EVERYONE we met and spent time with on our tour. Thank You for Your Love, Support and Friendship!

    Filmed & Edited By: Rob Wallace.

    Music:

    R.RING “Cutter”
    Ignite The Rest

    Music Provided By:

    SofaBurn Records

  • Sitting on curb with you
    In a sea of asphalt
    Under a grove of street lights
    Illuminating the night

    Into the wee hours
    Sweat drying
    Blood congealing
    Our Parking Lot Sanctuary

    Just you and I, Talking Deeply
    While they sleep
    As a few cars pass by
    Going nowhere

    The strip mall blues
    Answered with chipped concrete
    Splintered wood and urethane graffiti 
    Out here Night Blooms Something Real

    Sitting on a curb with you
    Talking Deeply
    Our Parking Lot Sanctuary
    Flowers of the Street

  • 04/15

    The first time I met Jay Adams
    I was living in Huntington Beach, CA.
    It was 1990.

    I didn’t know who he was.

    He came to my house with Tony Roberts.
    He said he wanted to meet the kid
    who had told the skateboard industry to Fuck Off.

    That was me?

    He was crouched on the sidewalk,
    outside my Lake St. condo —
    Like a great warrior, relaxed yet ready.

    He eyed me up and down.
    I was scrawny, bad skin, shy.

    I could tell I didn’t live up to the image.

    He looked wild.
    Completely untamable.
    Dangerous.

    I didn’t understand what he wanted,
    why he was there.
    He made me uncomfortable.

    He shook my hand like it meant something.

    Later, Tony tried to explain to me who he was,
    why he had wanted to meet me.

    I didn’t get it.
    I didn’t care.

    In 2009, I was vacationing with my family
    on Oahu.

    We traveled to the North Shore to eat
    at Cholo’s.

    As we were being seated,
    I noticed Jay Adams carrying chips and salsa over to our table.

    He was a bus boy.

    I kept my head down, I didn’t want to be recognized.
    I didn’t want him to see me, seeing him.

    By this time, I knew all too well who the hell he was
    and having him bus our table didn’t live up to the image.

    He recognized me.

    He crouched down next to my seat —
    Like a great warrior, relaxed yet ready.

    He told me how much he loved my show DRIVE on Fuel TV
    and that what I was doing was in his estimation “the real deal.”

    He shook my hand like it meant something.

    It did.

    It meant something to me.

    He went back into the kitchen and came back
    with a bowl of guacamole.

    He discreetly slid the guacamole onto our table and kept walking
    as if busy or distracted by something else.

    Jay Adams had just flowed us some guacamole.

    It was one of the coolest, most meaningful things that has ever happened to me.

  • Skate. Create. Enjoy!

    At Street Plant we Value the Art Of Skateboarding, and so we put the Artist First. We could never make logo boards, blanks or “team boards” because we believe that a Skateboard Deck is a Canvas for the Artist and that it should be adorned with Artistic Expression and Infused with Purposeful Energy. Where so much of the Art in Skateboarding has been suburbanized through the corporate filters, we are seeking a Deeper Connection with the Artists that we work with, to design Skateboard Graphics that Inspire Creativity and that Elevate the Senses.

    In that Spirit, every now and then, we host a Garageland Art Jam, to let the Artists we work with cut loose on some Hand Painted designs. Very early on, Greg Higgins was the catalyst for these Sessions, and so it was great to host him here in Garageland once again for another Jam Session.

    Watching Greg work, having close proximity to the process and getting to dialogue with him throughout these Sessions has been a real Honor.

    Greg Hand Painted 10 different Boards on this visit and they are all available for purchase now. For more information or to purchase one of these Boards please email me here: (SOLD OUT)

    mike@streetplantbrand.com

    Thanks for your support!

    — Mike V

    Video: Rob Wallace.

    Music: Mr. DNA By R.Ring w/ Kristian Svitak.

    Music Provided By:
    SofaBurn Records

  • 03/11

    jason adams copy

    As the 90’s came to an end, a band out outlaws came together and the Label Kills era began.
    No one personified that time any greater than The Kid, Jason Adams.
    It was anything goes, and Fuck You if you don’t like it.
    Today we see a lot of skaters riding in that spirit and skate brands built upon that ethos — It’s an option and it’s beautiful.
    But in 2001, it was unlicensed, unsanctioned and exactly what Skateboarding needed.

    The Kid

    He rode out of San Jose, California
    Just another kid out on the trail
    And although he was reserved and shy
    With his trusty skateboard at his side
    Anything in his path he would assail

    Now, times were slim throughout the territory
    But The Kid rode on just the same
    And the wire came alive
    With the legend of his ride
    Townsfolk everywhere spoke his name

    He never answered to the pundits
    And he never set out for the fame
    He followed his own radar
    That’s what made The Kid a star
    East and West of The Rocky Mountain Range

    One day he was captured by a posse
    Bounty Hunters cornered him up in those hills
    They focused their lens on him
    And that’s where a new era begins
    One we all know as Label Kills

    He rides out of San Jose, California
    Just another kid out on the trail
    And although he’s reserved and shy
    With his trusty skateboard at his side
    Anything in his path he will assail

  • 02/23

    Gonz

    The first time that I saw him
    It was as if he had just materialized
    An animation moving through the parking lot
    Mythological, untouchable
    His limbs like paintbrushes
    His board a puppet on strings

    He invited me to join him in a jam session
    He carried me in his rhythm
    I felt his radiation

    The second time that I saw him
    He carved a maze out of the concrete
    And dared me to follow him
    I took to the path earnestly
    And where I lost the trail
    He would reemerge and usher me onward

    I felt privileged to dance behind him
    To study his choreography
    To linger in his shadow

    The third time that I saw him
    The weather had changed
    New pedestals were being erected
    He mocked the passing storm with indifference
    In a sort of spontaneous performance art
    He tuned way down, where no one could follow him

    Where others became frustrated and confused
    I paid close attention
    I knew I was in the presence of a genius

    The fourth time that I saw him
    We became friends
    He opened up his world to me
    He let me hang out where no one else could belong
    And he ran up a several hundred-dollar phone bill on my dime
    Then pissed himself laughing on my parents couch

    He lived on the edge of insanity
    Inspiring me daily
    And writing the future with each breath

    The fifth time that I saw him
    We were both survivors of something
    He was gracious to my wife and daughter
    But his eyes were still wild
    And as we stood together in some new arena
    I simply thanked him

    I thanked him for what was
    I thanked him for what is
    I thanked him for what will be

    He’s the poet that wrote our masterpiece

  • Stacy Peralta

    He wasn’t the first professional skateboarder
    But he was the first to give real substance to the title
    And then he found others that he could mentor and encourage
    And he formed a Brigade of talent, character and positivity

    And as his Brigade did the circuit
    Amassing trophies and accolades
    He was in their corner — A manager, a coach, a friend
    But his dreams went beyond the moment
    Into the future

    He picked up a video camera and he shone a light
    Focusing in on what he valued
    And on what he believed in
    Fun, creative and expressive skateboarding

    And these videos were distributed like contraband
    Transmitting secret and vital information
    Easily decoded by teenagers who hadn’t yet
    had the misfortune of growing up

    And through this, his Brigade grew
    Out into the backyards and the streets
    of little towns and cities all around the world

    Searchers all of us
    And the search was also our destination

    We were skateboarders
    And we knew who we were because he had the insight
    to frame the very foundation of our identity
    And he laid that foundation with love and care
    And we became better people for it

    He wasn’t the first professional skateboarder
    But he was the first to give real substance to the title

  • Vallely Heart & Fist. Photo: Rob Wallace.

    Vallely Heart & Fist. Photo: Rob Wallace.

    When my first Pro Model Skateboard came out in 1988, it had great significance. A lot of Heart, Blood, Guts and Soul were channeled into the making of that Board. For over a year, I fought every inch of the way, mile after mile, against great opposition to make the Vallely Elephant a reality: My Reality. I was 17 years old and I stood in unflinching defiance against my mentors, heroes of mine, to make sure that Board was EVERYTHING that I Dreamed it should be. It was like I was putting out a record, my very first record, and it had to be perfect. This wasn’t some generic product you could buy at the mall, this was My Pro Model Skateboard — It Meant Something. It had to Mean Something. That’s the whole point.

    The subsequent releases were informed by the same ideals: Do The Miles, Seek The Truth and Present a piece of Art that has a Premise and Soul. Elephant On The Edge, The Barnyard, The Snake, Animal Man — There was nothing superficial about these Boards, they all came from a Deeper Well of Inspiration. My Boards were an outlet for my Whole Energy. That’s what a Pro Model Skateboard is to me: An Instrument for Fun and Creativity that has a Heartbeat, Spirit Breathed into it and a Story to Tell. That has Always been my ideal.

    When we started Street Plant two years ago, we knew we were building from a legacy that deserved to be honored and respected but more so desired, by it’s very nature, to be carried Forward, to inform New Art, New Ideas and New Energies. And now, two years into this we see it unfolding: The Powerfully reworked classics by Bigfoot, the emerging Poetic Art of Yusuke Tsuge and the Soulful Touch of Greg Higgins on Graphics like the City Pusher and Heart & Fist. This is who we are and what we stand for: The Art of Skateboarding.

    The Time is Now Again!

    Mike Vallely

  • The City Pusher. Photo: Mark Nisbet.

    The City Pusher. Photo: Mark Nisbet.

    We are at a special time in our lives.
    What direction we go is completely up to us.
    Don’t ever think it’s not.
    The miles are ours to do.
    There are no shortcuts to Endurance.
    Real Life can’t be put in the microwave.
    The City Pusher goes Forward.
    One Push at a time.
    Past the ghosts and shadows.
    Summoning Strength.
    Seeking Light.
    Finding Beauty.
    Forging a Vivid, Positive Trail.
    The City Pusher keeps Moving.
    Keeps Going.
    Keeps Pushing.
    And Never stops.

  • The City Pusher. Photo: Rob Wallace.

    The City Pusher. Photo: Rob Wallace.

    At first the world contracts
    It’s just you and your board

    And then as you begin to Push — Forward
    The world expands to the wide view
    of the world coming at you

    Motion

    This is where we quiet ourselves

    Where we find fitness and stimulation
    without looking

    A bit of Light between the tunnels

    Keep Moving

    Keep Going

    Keep Pushing

  • 10/25

    By Kyle DuVall
    Illustrations by Greg Higgins

    Clouds Tate

    The first thing Gerry “Skatemaster Tate” Hurtado does when I start our phone interview is put a disclaimer on his famous stage name.

    “I never got that name by being some master of skating,” he says humbly. “I tried to do some inverts once, and after banging my shins on the coping I decided Potatoes weren’t supposed to go upside down, so with the name I was honoring my favorite DJ, Grandmaster Flash. The Punk rock dudes had called me Potato Head for years, that got shortened to Tate, so, when I did the first Skatemaster Tate song for Thrasher’s Skate Rock, I looked at my turntables and was like: hmmmm Grandmaster Flash….how about Skatemaster Tate. That’s how it happened.”

    In all the ways that really matter, though, Gerry Hurtado was a true skate master. Not a master like the skilled hero in a Kung Fu movie, but like the white eyebrow monk bowing in the background, or maybe he was skateboarding’s own laughing Buddha on a 48-inch longboard. Either way, when it comes to soul, there was no greater master of skating than Gerry Hurtado.

    ***
    Flashback to 1988. I’m 14 and I’ve just got my first real set-up: A Sims Kevin Staab with Bullet 66’s and Indy trucks. I want the world to know I’m a skater even when I’m not on my board. That means I need some skate clothes. The nearest skate shop is a two-hour drive away and in a city my parents never have any reason to go to. There’s tons of Ocean Pacific Gear and Gotcha togs at the local mall, but I want something legit, something only a skateboarder would know about. One day I walk into Chess King and spot a whole wall of Jimmy’Z swag. Jimmy’Z is something new in my world, but I know they sponsor some of my favorite skaters. Sadly, most of the designs in the store fall into the generic, jock friendly, pseudo surfer vibe I was already familiar with. Then I see a white tee with a rasta colored logo on the front and the silhouette of a stout skater doing a nose wheelie on an extremely long skateboard on the back. I recognize that skater from Thrasher Magazine: It’s Skatemaster Tate.

    Skatemaster Tate is not a pro, he’s never had a hot video part or a mega-selling signature shoe, but in ‘88, even before he’s on TV every week as host of Nickelodeon’s Skate TV, he’s one of the most famous skateboarders in the world. I’ve never heard a single one of his songs, but I know who he is.Tate is frequently seen in Thrasher doing his thing. He’s a fixture of the Venice Beach scene, where guys like Scott Oster, Eric Dressen, and so many others are laying the foundations of modern street skating. He’s also one of Hosoi’s tightest bros, and his music is a staple of Thrasher’s influential “skate rock” compilation albums.

    Only skaters would know who Taters was. To me, that corny Jimmy’Z rag is a legit “skate shirt”. I beg mom and pops for $15 bucks and score the tee. People will have to know I’m a skater now.

    ***
    Barge forward to 2015 and I am talking with Tate to discuss Sk8-TV, the short-lived but long-remembered Nickelodeon television show he co-hosted in 1990. Sk8-TV was mandatory viewing for a whole generation of skaters, and Tate was a huge part of it. It’s a great interview, but so much water has flowed under Tate’s bridge that going off on tangents is a constant. At one point, I mention that he was on my first article of skate clothing. He remembers the shirt I’m talking about.

    “That was on a 38” or my 40” board, in the Jefferson Bowl,” he says. “In the original pic they made the graphic from, Eric Dressen is sitting in the background looking at me and smiling. That’s what got me stoked on it. That bowl was so fun. I carved it all over, and then Dressen just ripped it.”

    I don’t know it while we’re talking, but, in less than a year, Tate will be gone, taken by Cancer at age 56.

    ***

    It is hard to imagine the modern skate media embracing a figure like Tate. Think about it: In 1988, A big, chubby guy on a 4-foot long skateboard who doesn’t ollie and doesn’t have a pro board is a skate icon and a fixture in Thrasher Magazine. He’s got clothing endorsements and sponsors, and, sure, he’s a musician and DJ, and he’s producing music for Powell Peralta’s videos, but, in 1990, when he gets tapped to host the first weekly skateboarding TV program, it is not because he’s some pro hotshot or pretty face, it is because he’s in love with skating.

    Could that happen today?

    The inclusion of Tate in the pages of Thrasher in the 80’s communicated to Middle American kids like me that skateboarding wasn’t just an athletic activity, it wasn’t just an art, it was a culture, a culture that produced its own music, its own fashion…and its own kind of celebrities. In skateboarding there was a place not just for the Hawks, and Hosois, and Gators. There was place for Tate. A place for all of us.

    Even Tate’s board probably wouldn’t pass the test in 2016. In the 80’s, a dude doing his own thing on a longboard wasn’t a kook, he was a guy having fun and connecting to the soul of skating, a soul that was getting lost even though the culture was still in its youth.

    That just wouldn’t fly with the precious and pissy wheelbase police that regiment the culture today.

    I have to ask Taters about his famous ride.

    ***

    “One afternoon Steve Olson wanted to go to Tijuana and get some zebra skin upholstery for his Studebaker Presidential,” explains Tate. “On the way down we stopped at Del Mar Skate Park. Dan Sturt was there riding this really long longboard… he let me cruise around on it in the freestyle area, and I was carving and doing little nose wheelies, and I was like ‘Wow, I love this! Who makes this?’ and he was like: ‘it’s an Uncle Wiggley Snowboard second, a reject.’ Sturt had put wheels and trucks on it. I rode it in the freestyle area for an hour and I loved it and Sturt said: ‘Hey, you want it?’ I said “What? Yeah!” That was the mid 80s and I never rode anything else if I could help it.”

    The Lone Ranger had Silver, Batman had the Batmobile, Tate had that longboard. That deck, a 4’ 9” behemoth, would become Tate’s trademark.

    “When I grew up skating, the first stuff we did was bombing hills. In ‘75, ‘76 there was only a handful of tricks, and two of them were frontside and backside carves.” Tate explains. “I liked the stability of long boards. You know, it is like the difference between the Cadillac El Dorado and a Volkswagen. A Volkswagen is fast and maneuverable, but an El Dorado will go fast too.”

    But 4’ 9”? That’s extreme even by longboard standards.

    “The guy who inspired me, Ed Economy, he had a thing in Skateboarder magazine in ‘76 where he had five foot and even six foot boards. I saw that and I thought, I’ve got to have a looong ride.”

    That extra long set up wasn’t an ironic affectation either. Tate skated that thing because it was what he wanted to skate, and he could make that extra hefty plank sing.

    “With a 4-foot long board you can walk on it, walk to the nose, walk back, I could do g-turns on that board believe it or not, walk back to the tail, do a little manual…I just loved it.”

    While filming Sk8-TV, Tate dropped into the deep end at the Pink Motel pool on that board. He even caught a slasher on the coping. “I remember when I was doing that, there was some assistant director for Sk8-TV yelling at me to film something, and I was just feeling it I was like: ‘fuck no! I gotta make it! I wasn’t usually like that, but you know how it is when you are about to do something. So I slammed a couple times and I got up and slashed the coping and I come down all stoked into the shallow end and all I can remember is Lance Mountain looking at me and saying in that funny Lance voice: ‘ooooh grindy…..’”

    “That 4’ 9” was my every day board up until the middle of the 90’s” Tate recalls. “I had a smaller board for ditches, like a 38”, I had rails on the 38”. I used to do frontside rock and roll slides in the shallow at the dog bowl on it, I had to lay my hands down on it, but I could slide a few blocks. I rode a 36” inch board and wrote a thing for Thrasher where I said I was cruising on my yardstick, and a little later Paul Schmitt called me and said hey, I’m coming out with a 36” board and I’m calling it the yardstick.”

    ***

    I have three phone conversation with Tate. He’s incredibly generous in every one. Exploring the landscape of Tate’s memories is like taking a guided tour through a Willy Wonka chocolate factory of everything awesome about skateboarding.

    Tate knows I am big into curb skating, so he drops an anecdote about none other than The Godfather himself, John Lucero.

    “It was ‘80 or ‘81 and I had an interview at Whittier Skatepark (Skate City). Before I walked in I see these two kids in the parking lot. It was John Lucero and Richard Armino. They happened to be doing slappies on the curb. I asked ‘What are you guys doing? Why aren’t you skating the park?’ Lucero said: ‘oh, we’ve been kicked out for life’.”

    Always down to help his fellow skaters, Tate went into the interview with a new agenda.

    “So, I go in there during my job interview and I got kind of cocky. I had had some first place park teams I had managed and I was managing NHS teams… Indy, and Santa Cruz teams, so I had a little juice. So I went into the interview with the owner with my chest sticking out, and I told him: ‘This is cool, but if you’d like me to work here I need those two little kids skating out front here to be on the park team. They need to be able to skate the park.’ The owner just flips and says ‘No way! They’ll never skate here again because they are always here and they are always causing trouble.’ So I looked at him and said: ‘I’m sorry. If you can’t do that then I can’t work here.’ He looked at me for a couple seconds and then he said ‘OK’ and totally caved in. I got up, went out and let them in.”

    The rest is history. Literally. And Tate had a hand in it.

    “Grosso was a little grom in those days…” Tate recalls. “Hagop Najarian was there, those guys, Lucero, Neil (Blender) and Lance (Mountain). That was their little crew. Not bad, huh.”

    It occurs to me that, had Taters had that interview a few days earlier, the history of street skating, and my favorite trick, might have turned out quite differently.

    But this was just typical stuff for Tate.

    “I used to manage Big O, and I kind of had my own thing going,” Tate recollects. “I had the keys, and I’d keep Big O open until 3 in the morning. I was stoked meeting all these great skaters in the mags. Some of my friends were beginning to become those skaters, At the park Cara Beth Burnside would show up and be ripping it, Steve Olson, Duane (Peters) would be giving me trouble…I did that at Big O until one of the owner’s friends was driving by one night and noticed lights were on a 3 in the morning. He went to the owner and told him something was wrong with his lights because they were on a 3 a.m., then I had to stop.”

    The park era wasn’t just an exciting time for Tate, it was a lucrative one. “When parks came up it was like gravy on the biscuit. I started managing teams, that was a check, I was managing parks, that was another check…writing for Thrasher…I was getting four or five checks a month.”

    Of course, anyone familiar with the narrative of skateboarding knows what happened next. The park scene collapsed, skateboarding imploded. For Tate, who had as big of a financial and personal stake in that park scene as anyone, the fall could have been devastating. Surprisingly, there’s seems to be no angst or regret for Tate when he thinks about how that era ended.

    “To have a park, I was stoked, but when they closed… you have to understand there was just a bunch of guys for whom it just didn’t matter. We were going to skate no matter what. When the parks were gone, we just went back to what we knew. I started going back to a ditch, the Euclid U, I used to go there at 7 in the morning before high school…then on the way to Hosoi’s there was another ditch… there was another one across the street from this church. The parks closing, it didn’t worry me. We’d go to Grand Canyon for speed or Country Hill road at night. It was: go get buzzed and bomb hills. We had the Venice pavilion, we had Jefferson Bowl, we had Bronson Canyon. On Sunday nights we’d go to this parking garage in L.A., from 11 to 3 am and bomb the parking structure. There would be 30 or 40 guys: Oster, Hosoi, Dressen, Martinez, Block, we started doing that in the mid 80’s.”

    An insider in the era of epic parks, Tate soon found himself front and center for the evolutionary leaps that created modern street skating,

    “First I heard that term was was when Thrasher started.” Says Tate. “Ever since we started, we skated the streets, but it was a totally different ball game, we wouldn’t say: ‘let’s go street skating’. We’d say, ‘Hey, let’s go skate these banks, or let’s go skate this ditch.’”

    Like many veteran skaters, Tate is amused by the branding that eventually resulted in the term ‘street skating’. “You gotta always go to the roots. Freestyle started in the streets, nose wheelies, g turns… back in ‘75 guys were doing those going full speed down hill in Box Canyon… We never called it ‘street skating’. From there it eventually got to the judos and methods and Japans off jump ramps, is that not street skating anymore? Is what they do now street skating or is it plaza skating? It goes back to the imagination and individuality of each skater.”

    one-line-tate-alt-take-2tate

    Whatever they called it, Tate bore witness to some of the heaviest stuff to go down in that seminal era. While Tate was deep into the Venice scene, I was a kid in Indiana, only seeing it through tiny, static windows in the pages of Thrasher magazine. Soon I’m lost in his reminisces.

    “Hosoi, all those guys…I was best friends with some of the greatest skateboarders in the world,” Tate continues. “They would put the ramps up on the walls down by the beach, and I remember Hosoi and Oster were grinding the top of this wall, the vertical off the ramp was between 3 and 6 feet. Then there was Tim Jackson was doing crazy wallride chicks, Block was doing crazy wallride tricks…you had the big ramp to the low ramp over the walls in the Venice pavilion, where you had things like that picture of Oster, Aaron Murray, and Hosoi launching over it at the same time…I was there when they shot that, I think that Venice scene is where modern street skating started…that’s where the kids started pushing it. I got pics of Christian doing little hand rails on his hammerhead in like 85 and 86…to me, that’s amazing.”

    Tate’s presence in all that insanity was not a privilege granted to him because he was some top pro. It was a privilege earned by his dedication to skating, and his innate and contagious stoke

    “I was a longboarder in a shortboard world, but they didn’t care and I didn’t care. I was there, still making the rounds…meeting up with skaters.”

    The Skatemaster starts keeps going farther back. At one point we start talking about the emergence of the ollie.

    “I got pics of Steve Olson doing a no-handed pipe transfer at some place no one ever heard of in 1975…you know, going over a gap from pipe to pipe. He didn’t exactly ollie, he didn’t slap the tail, but he was intending to get air…I still think we’ve got give that one to Gelfand, but that was a no handed air in 1975.”

    Like many of my best interviews, after a while Tate and I are just talking like two old skate bros with time to kill. In the back of my mind, the writer in me is coming to realize that Tate is a sort of skeleton key to unlock the entire history of skateboarding. He’s seen so much more than what went down on the set of some cult TV show, so much more than the years spent at the pavilion and as a part of Hosoi’s entourage. It’s all there in Gerry Hurtado’s brain, a body of lore extensive enough to fill a wing of the Smithsonian.

    “I was at some amazing skate sessions that will never be duplicated. I took pictures sometimes, but sometimes I just hung out,” Tate reminisces. “It took me a while to learn that I should always carry a camera…but I’ve been blessed…it’s been a part of my life. Skateboarding is what it’s about.”

    Its also clear, at that moment, that Tate doesn’t feel like the ride is over.

    “I’m still one of skateboarding’s biggest fans,” he says, “Now I’m like a kid again, I meet these guys like, Ryan Decenzo, Elijah Berle, I met Curren Caples….these kids are amazing and they blow me away. Meeting them is like it was in 1976 with Jay Adams and Shogo Kubo…when I met those guys we all had so much in common…I’m going out in a few hours to meet some other kids today. I love skateboarding, I love humanity and I’m here to give whatever I can give.”

    On the phone, I’m thinking that Tate has indeed given me a lot in our 3 phone conversations. I’ve got over 3 hours of recordings. Only about a quarter of it is about my Skate TV assignment. I’m so bowled over by his legacy and his joyful enthusiasm about sharing what he loves, I start full on pleading with him.

    “Man, you’ve got to find somebody to get this all down!” I say. “I’m sure you know guys. There is a book in you. Hell, there’s probably several. It would be awesome to have that.”

    Tate still stays humble. He tells me maybe someday it will happen. He’s certainly thought about it. I find myself wishing I could drop everything and hop a plane to Southern California. Still, I know Tate has so many friends, one of them is probably better prepared and connected to put the whole story of Skatemaster Tate down on paper than I am. We get back to talking about skating. I know that Tate has had some health issues, that he has to walk with a cane, but he still rolls.

    Tate

    “I take it easy but I’ll never stop skateboarding,” Tate asserts “As long as I can grow old I’ll be on my skateboard for life.”

    Eventually, I say my goodbyes and thank him. I don’t know how soon the Skate TV article will happen because my editor wants to put me in contact with the shows producer/director/all around mastermind, Stacy Peralta, (it still hasn’t happened), but I’m stoked beyond belief.

    For the next two hours my phone is blowing up with texts from Tate. He sends me dozens of epic photos from the park days and the pavilion years. One shows Tate bombing a hill, crouched and headlong into the wind, Steve Olson hot on his heels. “The only picture ever of me in front of Steve Olson”, the caption reads, with a ‘cry laughing’ emoticon.

    ***
    A few months later, Tate is gone. The outpouring of love and support from the skate community is enormous. For a few days everyone is talking about Tate again.

    Still, even in the face of all that acknowledgment, the bulk of Tate’s recollections, perspectives, and knowledge have died with him.

    The book will never get written. The stories will no longer be told.

    We lost a priceless body of knowledge with Tate’s passage. We can’t blame that entirely on the cancer that took his life either. We also have our own apathy to blame. Tate was there for years, a million stories in his head, all up for the asking. But, sadly, very few of us asked.

    Skateboarding can’t afford to let that happen again. We have no excuses.

    Kyle DuVall has been writing about skateboarding almost as long as he has been skateboarding.

  • Tonight I Ride

    Tonight I ride
    A sense of mission
    Tonight I ride
    Seeking substance over style
    Tonight I ride
    Outside of all condition
    Tonight I ride
    Just because it makes me smile
    Tonight I ride
    Away from mass production
    Tonight I ride
    Emitting inner light
    Tonight I ride
    Earnest in this moment
    Tonight I ride
    And everything is right

    Art by Greg Higgins.

  • 100% Independent Skateboarding

    Street Plant is a 100% independently owned and operated family business.
    We exist to support, service, inspire and empower our customers – Skateboarders – The freest, most unique and creative people on the planet – By making the highest quality skateboards and skateboard accessories.

    100% Independent Skateboarding for Love, for Fun.
    No rules, no divisions, no schools.
    Just a Skateboard as a Paintbrush and the World as an Empty Canvas.
    Skate. Create. Enjoy!

    — The Vallely Family

    Art by Greg Higgins.

  • Nailed

    When the skateparks shut down
    due to insurance reasons,
    the sporting good companies bailed.
    Of course they did.
    But let’s make one thing clear:
    Skateboarding never died.
    Only corporate interest in skateboarding died.
    Skateboarders pushed on.

    From the rubble of the skatepark era,
    the Thrasher Magazine era was born.
    The Rise of the Big Five.
    These guys weren’t skaters.
    They were however, true skateboard supporters, at least initially.
    From San Diego, to Costa Mesa.
    From Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz
    to San Francisco.
    They might have all hated each other but they worked together and
    they got shit done.

    But then, as it goes, it all went to their heads.
    They grew mullets, they bought bigger buildings and they took themselves a little too seriously.
    They started to think that THEY were skateboarding.
    It took an ex-used car salesmen to bring them all back down to reality.
    But by then, the party was over.

    Now, the children of the Big Five:
    They were kinda clueless.
    They weren’t as smart as their Daddies, they were way less organized
    and they didn’t play well together.
    So, when ESPN came to town they just simply bent over.
    And they’ve been bending over and over and over ever since.

    In time, skateboard company owners were replaced by CEOs.
    Skateboards began to be manufactured in China.
    Skateboarders on the streets became consumers.
    Mangers, agents, lawyers and bean counters infiltrated the front lines of
    skateboard culture.
    Professional Skateboarders glad handing politicians, celebrities
    and Entertainment Executives became the norm.
    Skateboarding went into the shopping malls — Into the mainstream.

    Kill the spirit, drag the carcass around and extract every last penny from it.
    That’s what the mainstream does.
    Homogenize and standardize.
    The Johnny-Come-Lately’s will ride that broken horse
    till it collapses then sell off it’s parts.
    When you’re at that party, a VIP, it seems like it will never end.
    But it will.
    That’s okay.
    Those of us with a foot nailed to the board will push on.
    We ride the permanent wave.

  • Miss That Boat 2

    There was a time before VIP’s, velvet ropes and red carpets.
    A time before corporate sponsors, chain stores and Chinese Manufacturing.
    An idyllic time before managers, agents and lawyers pounced on the fledgling careers of skateboarders.
    A time before every moment stunk of short sighted corporate initiative.
    A time before money was king.

    Let’s Miss That Boat Together… Never Comply!

    When you search for things that can’t be found
    You lose yourself and you lose your ground
    When you set your sails for diamonds and gold
    You lose all of the precious things that you hold

    I’m not gonna get on that boat
    I’m okay being left on the coast
    A buried treasure somewhere at sea
    It means absolutely nothing to me

    All the beauty and worth that you carry
    Is the only beauty and worth you will find
    You can travel this world forever
    But the only treasure is your independent mind

    When you search for things that can’t be found
    You lose yourself and you lose your ground
    When you set your sails for diamonds and gold
    You lose all of the precious things that you hold

    Art by: Greg Higgins.

  • Garageland

    Welcome to Garageland.
    Where Skateboarding is Art, a Continuum.
    From Sidewalk Surfing in the early 1950’s
    to Dogtown and The Bones Brigade.
    From the East Coast Street Invasion of the mid-80’s
    to the Baggy Pants and Small Wheels of the 1990’s
    to Modern Day DIY.

    The format is simple:

    The Skateboarding that influenced Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas.
    The Skateboarding that Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas influenced.
    And Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas.

    Bullshit Detectors on High Alert!

  • By: Kyle DuVall

    Although the Woolly Mammoth graphic that adorned Mike Vallely’s first New Deal pro model in 1991 started out as an homage to his past and a joke about his future, over the years it has come to represent much more.

    New Deal Mammoth. 1991.
    New Deal Mammoth. 1991.

    New Deal Mammoth. 1991.

    “New Deal was very apprehensive about signing me. They only signed me because I was such good friends with Ed Templeton,” Vallely explains. “The thinking at the time was: ‘this is the New Deal. You’re the old deal, but they wanted Ed to be happy so I guess they thought: to make Ed happy, we’ll put this dinosaur on the team. So Andy Howell’s idea for the graphic was like this: ‘Dude, you’re extinct, and this is probably your last pro model, we should poke some fun at you…’”

    New Deal Ad. September, 1991.

    New Deal Ad. September, 1991.

    For a skater who was always intensely involved in advocating his own graphic ideas, it might seem odd that Vallely would accede to the concept. Then again, the sentiment portrayed was not completely out of line with Vallely’s own feelings in ’91.

    “I was sort of given the Mammoth graphic, but at the same time there was no rejection on my part. Inside I knew better about my skating, but, in another way, I couldn’t really argue with anybody. At the time skating really was changing. The idea for the board didn’t come from me, which was rare at the time, but when I saw it I embraced it.”

    If extinction was the intended theme, Vallely’s skating during his short stint at the Deal combined with the image that actually wound up on the board, ultimately put the graphic in quite a different context. Sure, the mammoth was an extinct creature, but in it’s world, a world of saber-toothed cats and cave bears, the mammoth was the ultimate survivor. With its scroungy fur, imposing tusks and swinging trunk, artist Greg Higgins rendering of the mammoth conveys strength, not surrender. It’s half-lidded eyes are focused directly to the front. It looks ready to charge ahead, not lay down and die.

    Vallely’s segment in New Deal’s “1281” video would definitively turn the tables on that graphic’s original theme. Positioned at the end of the video as a sort of swan song for an outmoded 80’s hero, Vallely’s powerhouse edit didn’t come off as a retirement party, but as a statement on a new era, an era of old and new, technical and aggressive all coming together under New Deal’s sun.

    “Every era I was involved in, every video I was involved in, I continued to press and plead my case and try to prove every time that a broader style was going to have a place,” says Vallely. “As much as people would write me off on paper, when the videos came out it would always be ‘oh shit!’ I think the 1281 part turned out to be a pretty damn good part. It was distinctly different from everything that was happening at that time, and I think that’s what made it work.”

    The skating Vallely was actually doing might have been better represented in the Mammoth’s top graphic, a design which combined a native american symbol Vallely interpreted as meaning “burning forward” with the New Deal sun logo.

    Burning ahead or not, Vallely’s tenure at the Deal was doomed to be brief. The 1281 segment was his only video part, the Mammoth the only board from his time at New Deal that anyone remembers. Still, both the skating and the deck had real significance.

    “1281 may be the real departure point for me,” says Vallely, “The point where I went from being on the front lines of the cutting edge to just pushing my own skating without it being bookended by the times”.

    After ’91 professional skateboarding was increasingly being funneled into a very distinct direction, a direction with clear stylistic benchmarks for “legitimacy”. Progression only “counted” if it was progression down one particular path. How high you could ollie didn’t matter if you couldn’t flip off both ends of your board as well. By ’91, for many skaters, doing what came naturally, especially what came naturally for Mike Vallely, was either a statement of dissent or signifier of obsolescence.

    “It’s not that I wasn’t progressing. My skating was just going in its own direction,” Vallely recalls. “I’ve never been “anti” anybody’s skating. I really vibed off of what people like Armando Barajas and Ed Templeton were doing and I always sampled what was interesting to me at the time. I did get into some nollie flips, flipping in and out of tricks, but I’ve always found my way back to my own skating. Some of that stuff stuck, but most of it didn’t.”

    Ollie on a Mammoth Prototype Shape. From the pages of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. 1991.

    Ollie on a Mammoth Prototype Shape. From the pages of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. 1991.

    If Vallely was taking an alternate path, the board he took it on was both a callback to 80’s concepts and a glimpse of things to come. The Mammoth graphic was one that would have looked equally at home spray painted on a subway car or inked on the pages of a comic book. Greg Higgins art, with its cartoon and graffiti influences was undeniably at peace with the graphic concepts Andy Howell was pioneering at New Deal, but with its connection to Vallely’s past history of board graphics, it didn’t seem forced, like many of the street-art inspired graphics imposed on other veteran pros at the time. Even though it was Howell’s concept, Higgins’ execution made It look like something Vallely might have come up with himself.

    “It’s real telling how people react to it today,” says Vallely. “It’s a real meaningful graphic to people who were skating at the time. I get great feedback on it, that and the shape is a real great shape.”

    At a hefty 9.5” wide, with a blunt shovel contour in the nose, the Mammoth embodied aspects of the 80’s boards that skaters like Vallely used to pioneer street skating, while still embracing contemporary functionality. The generous length of that shovel nose made it ideal for slapping into noseslides and popping off nollie tricks, and it’s round-edged tail was pure early 90‘s. The board is wide in the front pocket, but its taper to a skinner tail and rear truck area was a precursor to the contours of the “popsicle” and “football” designs on the horizon.

    Street Plant Mammoth.

    “That shape is real telling of how I was still engaged with what was happening with board shapes at that time,” says Vallely. “I could have continued to skate that ’91 shape for the rest of my career. That is the shape I ride right now.”

    Past, present. Today, yesterday. It all came together in the Mammoth back in ’91 when old and new were fighting it out for dominance on the streets. Now, in 2015, with old school and new school embracing each other in a big ol’ bro hug of bonelesses and no-complies, the Street Plant Brand Mammoth may be more relevant than ever. Either way, one thing is certain: extinction is not on the agenda.

    Kyle DuVall has been writing about skateboarding almost as long as he has been skateboarding.

Greg Higgins
Date Of Birth: September 22, 1970

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Current City: Portland, OR

Skating Since: BMX'n since '80, Skating since '86
@greghigginsart
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