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Brian Anderson – First Pro “Out” Gay Skater – A Sign of Progress

September 29th, 2016   
Brian Anderson seems like a very average full name for a white male living in the United States. Most people actually don’t recognize it. But for a slice of society, a small passionate bunch, “Brian Anderson” is synonymous with “idol.” Skateboarders, for more than a decade, have been trying their best to emulate Brian’s style while progressing on their own paths. The way he rode his skateboard screamed power, composure and insanity all at once, and few can truly grasp it if they haven’t ridden a board for many years themselves.
Brian exploded into the mainstream skate media scene via his video part in Toy Machine’s “Welcome To Hell.” Considered one of the most influential skate videos ever, “Welcome To Hell” was the perfect storm to bring him into the limelight of the industry. Later, following his appearance in Toy Machine’s “Jump Off A Building,” he was promoted to professional skateboarder by Toy Machine in 1998. His unique approach and tenacity in skating immediately gave him popularity as a pro skater. It didn’t take long for him to reach the unspoken level of “legend,” and in 1999 Brian was awarded the rare Skater of the Year trophy by Thrasher Magazine. Before the beginning of the new millennium, BA (Is it a coincidence that he shares his initials with “badass?”) had already won the hearts of skaters all over the globe.
Found on BA's Instagram: @nolimitsoldier

Found on BA’s Instagram: @nolimitsoldier

Shortly before winning SOTY (Skater of the Year) in 1999, BA had quit his team affiliation at Toy Machine and joined Girl Skateboards to skate for Rick Howard, Mike Carroll and the rest of the boys at Crailtap Distribution. He won the World Cup of Skateboarding in Dortmund, Germany that same year and affirmed his position as pro skater to the world in Europe. Throughout the 2000’s BA continued his legacy with video parts in Transworld’s “Modus Operandi” and projects with Nike and Fourstar Clothing. With his hand in shoe design and brand direction, his aging brought him more interest in creating something of his own. In 2013, Brian founded 3d Skateboards. Only recently out of business, 3d touted an impressive team, including Austyn Gillette, Tom Karangelov, and at one time Alex Olson.
Over the years, BA never lost respect from anyone in the skateboarding industry, always loving and always loved, always responsible and sensible and always fun to watch on a board. This all being said, one of the most unique things about him was a secret for almost all of his life. Brian Anderson was (and is) a gay man.
Many communities still struggle with gender and sexual orientation division. Even those with good intentions can sometimes still feel confused about those unlike themselves. Most popular team sports even create a homophobic attitude ingrained in their culture. Skateboarding isn’t the most LGBT-friendly group in the world, but most of western culture still treats it, at a certain level, as taboo.
On September 27th (2016), Vice Sports published a mini documentary about Brian’s life in skateboarding & hiding his homosexuality and about his coming out to the world at large. And skateboarders everywhere have reacted with support and love for their skateboard idol and fellow skater. Brian Anderson is a man of large stature, with tattoos covering his body and a calm yet tough temperament that seems to mask his sexual orientation well. But he is his own unique individual, and skaters all over the world respect that. It’s a difficult moment to “come out” to a community that has shown so much praise yet might not be open to your “new” lifestyle. There’s risk in putting yourself out there in your entirety. But BA did it, 17 years after winning Skater of the Year, 5 years after moving from California to NYC and just in time for the skateboarding world to embrace him even more.
The 26-minute-long video lays out Brian’s career, his life before professional skating and his more intimate interactions with close friends before his coming out was public information. Watch for yourself to gain a bit more insight on his life, and remember that being yourself is the best you can be. Skater or non-, gay or straight, black or white. Keep skating. Keep living lives of love.
Cheers, Brian

Red Bull – Curb Kings

September 22nd, 2016   

Another weekend in LA means another unique event supporting our beloved skateboarding world. It seems like more than once a week, there is a reason for skateboarders in Los Angeles to gather for the sake of gathering …and… skating together. This time, on September 10th, the occasion was one of a contest series called “Curb Kings,” put together by the worldly folks at Red Bull.

Curb Kings highlights talent of many backgrounds in skating, including, but not limited to, the purist and basic element of curb skating. Every skater who has spent years or even decades on and off their board has, at least in some capacity, experienced the thrill of grinding their trucks and sliding their deck on the painted (or raw) constructed curbs we find on almost any street. The absolute joy created from that controlled friction, mimicking the raw feel of moving across the edge of a pool deep in the drought of Southern California. Whether we are aware of its roots or not, each one of us wants to pull one type of grind or another on some obstacle – the curb on the corner in our neighborhood, the handrail at our own middle school or the coping of the our local skatepark quarterpipe.

It doesn’t matter where we lay our trucks down to grind, but it will always be relevant how each of us seeks, executes and conquers the grind on our skateboards. Red Bull’s “Curb Kings” is born by the testament of that thrill, but it also adds to what’s possible on a little red curb, in a contest setting. In the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles, “Curb Kings” was held in a warehouse full of various curbs, ledges and banks, of all variations. Some are meant to pop over, some meant to pop onto and some meant to jam up or into. But all the same, everyone was essentially curb skating.

Every skater was welcome to enter the contest, at no charge, yet there were only a few that advanced to the finals and eventually took the podium. Current skateboarding media stars were in the mix, such as Zion Wright, Alex Midler, Blake Johnson and Torey Pudwill. But at the end of the day, the man with the win was Justin Drysen.

Congrats Justin! And to everyone that came out to be a part. See you next year. 😉

Emerica “MADE: Chapter 2”

September 10th, 2016   
As many now know, yesterday marked the world premiere of the highly anticipated second installment of Emerica’s MADE video series. MADE Chapter 2 had a lot to live up to, after the epic expectations created by its precedent in Chapter 1 and classic videos from Emerica such as “This is Skateboarding” (2003). With such a legacy brand, each and every new video is anticipated and awaited by so many of us “in skateboarding,” and MADE Chapter 2, fortunately, met all of our expectations.
The premiere took place in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California at the historic Vista Theatre. There were three separate showings, accommodating plenty of viewers for the film’s first night in the public eye. And indeed the crowds were out for them… At any given point, there was a line wrapping a full block, all the way to the bar door on the other side of the building. We had our tickets in hand when we rolled up to the theatre, so with the line behind us, we walked in the door just in time for our showing. The shredding on screen commenced, and our minds were subsequently blown. Fully.
The first part of the video came from a rider not many predicted. Jon Dickson, formerly a team rider for Fallen Footwear (R.I.P.), is now a pro rider for Emerica! Dickson opened Chapter 2 with a BANG. Actually, many bangers; back to back to back hammers were what we all saw first on screen. It was Jon Dickson who set the tone for the rest of the feature, followed by full parts from Bryan Herman and Andrew Reynolds. There were rumors of Andrew putting out his “retirement part” in this video, but we’re not sure that was the case. His ripping style was apparent, and he didn’t hold back from skating every type of spot. However, it wasn’t set in the right way to declare a statement to the effect of “I’m out.” It looks like Reynolds is still filming, folks (thank God)!
After the first three full parts, there were two shared parts, back to back. The first highlighted Emerica’s foreign team riders, Rob Maatman and Eniz Fazliov. The Dutch and Finnish homies (respectively) destroyed every spot they skated while filming for MADE Chapter 2. Frankly, they put out some of the best clips of the video. The second part was shared by three proven greats: Jereme Leabres, Leo Romero & Brandon Westgate. What can we say? They came hard for this part. Leo’s gap to handrail hammers, Westgate’s unexplainable pop and power, and Leabres’ unmistakeable steez on a plank… Each rider brought something different yet influential to the video, giving the fellows at Sole Tech plenty of reasons to keep them going at the Emerica camp.

Figgy's upcoming Thrasher cover for this year's November issue!

Figgy’s upcoming Thrasher cover for this year’s November issue!

Kevin Long, Jerry Hsu and Collin Provost each had full parts following that, each of them with their own flavor. Jerry killed the switch game and shined with his low-key classic style. Spanky [Kevin] brought his bank spot bangers, sick lines and creative style to the table. And Provost unleashed an absolute barrage of ripping to the screen for our eyeballs to take in and our brains to enjoy. There are some heavy moments in each of these parts, folks. We can’t wait to buy a copy and dissect every minute of this thing.
As everyone always wonders (and many try to predict), there is an “ender” to each full-length skate video. And for this chapter of the MADE series, Justin Figueroa closed those curtains. Figgy is inseparable in our minds from gnarly skating, and he is still getting it. HARD! His part for this video was no less impressive than any full part we’ve seen from him. Only looks of shock and jaws dropped were shown from the audience throughout his entire video part. Figgy is here to stay. For a while. Whether it’s his demolishing ditch spots and school yards or finding a way to do an NBD on a long-time famous spot, he had it all. Slams, makes, and “oh s***” moments were aplenty until they ran credits on this sucker. And everyone left the theatre blown away.
We can’t wait to see a copy of this thing to watch it again. And we hope you all watch it as soon as possible.. Emerica MADE Chapter 2 is and will forever be a hit. Once we fully absorb the gnarliness of it, we might just get back to you.
Stay tuned…

Glory Challenge 2016

September 1st, 2016   
There are few things in this world of skateboarding media that the resounding majority resonates with. There aren’t many focal points of popular skateboarding that almost everyone can agree on. But somehow, the current and upcoming hotbed of skateboarding in Montreal has something truly special happening each year.
The Glory Challenge, brought to this Earth by skateboarding, Dime & Vans, is unique enough to stay fringe but relatable enough to stay HYPE! And so the hype commenced for the second year in a row (thus far). If you were lucky enough to get the invite and/or live in Montreal, Quebec, you were truly in for a treat. Because everyone’s favorite skater right-now was there to take on whatever whacky, zany or inebriated challenge to be thrown at them.
Evan Smith back lips his way to Glory. Photo from Vice.com

Evan Smith back lips his way to Glory. Photo from Vice.com

Evan Smith was there, killing everything the whole time. Wes Kremer got served, and we even saw Jamal Smith duke it out in a Game of S.K.A.T.E. with Wade Desarmo. I’m not sure anyone practices for many of the various challenges of the overarching Glory Challenge, but that seems to make it exactly what it is. It’s never-been-done. It’s LIVE. It’s spontaneous. But most of all, it’s every type of skater in one room. Even Sluggo (Rob Boyce) was in there for the “Gladiator Challenge.” The fastest, the most stylish, the gnarliest, and the most tech all had their places to shine in this comp, and it’s a beautiful thing to see it all come together.
Dustin Dollin hauls ass!! Photo from Vice.com

Dustin Dollin hauls ass!! Photo from Vice.com

Dime Mtl, a brand that has taken a strong place in the hearts of this generation’s skateboarding, joined forces with Vans, really the first ever (and still going) skateboarding brand, to make Glory Challenge a reality, and this old- and new-school combo really let everyone come together for a full day of crazy ripping, ridiculous shenanigans and cold beverages.
The high-rail chompers came out to tackle a HUGE bump to bar grind, the ballsiest of the bunch went for the Joe Valdez Challenge and the most creative creatures vaulted themselves into the foam pit for good times of their own. Whether you’re loving this and want a look, already know what’s up or have no idea what’s going on:
Watch the video for yourself, and don’t be upset about the outcome of the Game of S.K.A.T.E. Hardcore nationalists aside, it was an entertaining watch and someone had to walk away with the belt… If none of this makes sense to you, that’s okay. You can watch the video. And then watch it again. And again. And watch THIS ONE for an extended cut..
Enjoy or Die: