Here is a reprint of the Paying In Pain artilce from Issue 15 called "Where Are We Going?" It contains interviews with everyone from Grant Brittain to Rich from John Doe and was quite the undertaking. One of the grandest skateboard press achievements of all time. Read on...
If I’ve learned anything it’s the fact that I don’t know anything. Nobody can predict the future, but we try because we’re human. So… what will skating be like in 5 years?
Some people thought it would be more diverse as the new generation learns to skate everything. Grant Brittain says, “I think it will be a lot more open to all kinds of skating and I think skateparks will have a very big influence on that.” Mark Whiteley had a similar answer. “It’s always impossible to predict that far ahead but I can just say where I hope it will be. I think all the skateparks that have been built in the last 5 years or so are going to end up shaping a really big generation of kids and their going to be a lot more well rounded skaters than the last generation or two of kids have been. Especially the kids who are growing up in places like Oregon and Colorado where the parks are gigantic, crazy parks. They’re 10 years old and learning to skate a 12 foot deep vert bowl and fullpipe and also rails, stairs and ledges too. I think for the next generation of kids nothing is going to be scary for them and nothing’s really going to be that hard. With the variety of stuff they’re learning how to skate when their growing up it’s going to be like, everything’s fair game and every skater should know how to skate everything. It’s won’t be as factioned out as it has been.” Davoud thinks the skater spirit will endure just as it always has.
Toad, Frontside Kick.
Photo: Clinton Perry
He says, “Low gravity skateboarding on the moon base will be the next rich-kid extreme vacation. But seriously, in five years skateboarding will be wherever you want it to be, on cable TV or in the 7-11 parking lot or in the backyards or under the freeway.” Rich thinks we’re still in the same cycle and the more things change the more they stay the same. He had this to say: “2009. Hopefully will be like 1989 when the kickflip killed the jump ramp and the vert ramp. Another anomaly will happen like Shackle Me Not, and all these saps that left will do so again and it will be a core unit again. All young kids too.
Neal Mims, Nollie
Photo: Brendan Klein
No bullshit 30+ collecting a paycheck while being dicks to the little guys for jumping on handrails. I’m sure there will be some new trend that everyone will be jumping on, just like it always has been. All I can hope is that the future will focus more on all terrain skating and not just pools and handrails. Both those facets of skateboarding have been exhausted. The Dogtown revival seems to be waning as the old fogies go back to their cubicles and the young guns of the am takeover two years ago are falling by the wayside. Thank God.”
Joe Pino, Ollie.
Photo: Brendan Klein
What about 1000 years? Will humans still skate? Will there be humans? What will they think of skateboarding in the distant future? Rich sees skating as becoming a part of normal life. “They will still probably do it, but I think it will be like baseball. People in 1904 were playing but nobody remembers any of the people doing it back then. Maybe skateboarding will be completely gay and start a Cooperstown phenomenon. I’m sure Tony Hawk would be the first inductee and then maybe Alva, followed by Gelfand and McGill.
Joe Lanegna, Frontside Wall.
Photo: Jeremy Banning
The kid at the local skatepark just like the local kid at the sandlot will die in obscurity.” Others see future archaeologists digging up our boards, such as Grant Brittain saying, “We’ll be so advanced by then, they’ll figure out what it is when they dig them up. Hopefully they don’t just think of them as a toy but they’ll dig up some videos and play the videos back and figure out what’s going on.” Davoud has a similar viewpoint,” Only if the archaeologists dig the shit up, 1000 years is a long time, urethane probably lasts that long though.” Niall believes we will still be skating. He says, “if the wood source lasts it will still be around in a thousand years, I have no doubt. Nothing this simple and positive can die. Wherever there are young people with little money who crave excitement and challenge, skateboarding will be there. It’s perfect.” Jeff Greenwood says more of the same, “If people are still alive at that time then yea I think they'll remember it.“ Mark Whiteley on the other hand doesn’t think it will last. He says, “I imagine it might be a minor footnote.”
Jacksone Taylor, Frontside Kickflip.
Photo: Clinton Perry
How does skateboarding fit in with mainstream culture? I asked this question because like it or not, the large amounts of money being thrown around by outside companies is changing skateboarding. How we deal with the situation will determine where we land. Jeff Greenwood puts the current state in perspective, “well it seems like it isn't having much problem fitting in to American Culture these days. Obviously the mainstream culture in most other nations doesn't even know it exists.” Grant Brittain also sees it everywhere. He says, “it’s everywhere. Mainstream culture is just inundated with skateboarding, in fashion, in the act of skateboarding and music, in art. We’ve had a big influenced in all walks of life and other mediums. Rich also sees skateboarding everywhere and offers a little insight as to why. “All of us started because we saw it someplace else and thought it looked cool. Sure there will be some naysayer who claim they just picked it up and went with it. All of us are a part of mainstream culture. What we wear, eat, drink, and do is moderated by something usually associated with advertising or some kind influence. I’m not claiming this is part of some bullshit Illuminati conspiracy theory to get us all into a framework where we do the evil bidding of the large corporate dominion. It’s just life. If there is a skatepark being built in every city in the world it must fit in their somewhere.” Some like Davoud are not sure if the popularity will stick around, he says this. “Right now skateboarding is pretty mainstream but probably something else will come along sooner or later and all the kids will quit to play electronic scooter tag or whatever. To some extent it depends on whether the skateparks stay open, but since they’re just paving over more and more of the world, it will probably continue to thrive. Mark Whiteley doesn’t see it lastingforever when he says, “It fits in a lot of different places. It definitely is influencing what kind of clothes kids are wearing and what kind of music they are listening to. Being on the Extreme Games and all that stuff has opened up a lot more people’s eyes to skateboarding for better or worse and it’s affecting the kind of things kids, teenagers and young adults are interested in doing. I read something that there are more kids skating now than playing baseball in the United Skates, so it’s definitely shifting the things that kids are interested in doing. Maybe opening their eyes up to other options and then it’s also…when it ends up on cereal commercials and stuff like that it ends up being a kind of novelty as far as mainstream culture goes and when it gets to that point is seems that’s when things are going to turn bad. I think mainstream culture is probably going to lose interest in it again.”
Photo: Clinton Perry
What was the most revolutionary moment in skateboarding? This question got some interesting responses. Rich said simply, “The first push.” Jeff Greenwood said something similar, “Arguably, the Urethane wheel. Or How's this... the day you first put one under your feet!” Davoud said, “When Tony Alva invented the wheel.” Niall said, “Oohhh. Probably the emergence of the street ollie and everything it opened up, or maybe Plan- B's Questionable video just in terms of a quantum leap of possibilities.” Both Grant Brittain and Mark Whiteley thought of the first moments of skateboarding. Grant said, “I’d say in the very beginning in the 1940’s when the first skateboard was created. You’ve heard the stories of the roller skate wheels on the piece of wood. Just the genesis of it, I think is the most important part.” Mark Whiteley, said, “I would imagine it would have to be the first time anybody considered what they were doing was skateboarding. When somebody decided it was it’s own thing was the most revolutionary moment.” I have always thought of the skateboard media as a loop. We report on what’s going on so kids can get ideas so maybe they can do something good enough to get reported. So I asked the question, how does the skateboard media affect the progression of the sport? Some like Mark Whiteley has a related view. He said.. I don’t think it directly effects the kinds of tricks and terrain people come up with, but then again I think it helps brings some new ideas to people. 10 or 12 years ago when the tech street revolution was coming around I don’t think that magazines really helped bring any new ideas to what was going on, but at the same time it was showing what was going on to a lot of people who had never seen that kind of stuff before and maybe that gave them some ideas that in turn helped bring some new tricks and terrain. It’s sort of like a funnel rather than a direct influence. It will show what a couple of people are doing and that will allow hundreds of people to think of new ideas.” Others had the view that the skateboard media is following the skaters lead. Grant Brittain said, “I think it can steer it a certain way or have some sort of influence, if their on top of skateboarding…otherwise they might fall behind and not have influence on the progression. Usually the media is just following it, the sooner you can get into something new the better it is. It all goes back to, magazines ran freestyle a lot longer than it should have been run and it was because of the industry. The industry owned the magazines. They had a lot of trucks, boards and wheels to get rid of so they ran freestyle a lot longer than it should have been run. I think now magazines today are trying to be ahead of it. If you’re in touch with skateboarding you know what’s going on. Everything’s so much faster now with DVD’s and videos and skating changes even faster now than it did back then. The industry is owned by skaters now. It’s not owned by the “big five” like back in the day who were not really skaters.” Jeff Greenwood says something along those lines too, “I think the media reports back on a skater pushing the limits. Did the media ask Danny Way to build the Mega Ramp and jump for them? No. Skaters come up with new ideas and media just reports on them.” Rich, with the perspective of a skater rather than a member of the media says this about whether the media affects the skating, “Unfortunately yes. I wish I could say that they didn’t but they do. I had a McSqueeb, I had baggy pants and cut shoes, and small wheels. How many Trujillo’s, Duffel’s, Cole’s, Thomas’, Greco’s, Reynold’s, wannabe’s do you see everyday. Even in Wyoming they’re out there. Kids need heroes. I remember how many people looked like Hensley in 1991. Usually kids imitate the styles of the pros they admire. Which are usually the best pros out there. (I’m like that too, kids admire pros who are good. I love skaters who get me stoked.) Niall says, “I think independent things like PIP do, by nurturing a sense of society. Magazines and videos just tick boxes.”
Chris Senn, Kickflip.
Photo: Clinton Perry
Like skating itself punk rock is a personal thing and everyone has their own definition of what it is. So I asked, how has the "punk rock" attitude affected its history? Grant Brittain has this to say. “That’s one of the things great about skateboarding is that it didn’t fit in with the other sports and that it was the punk rock attitude. It just made it different than everything else. It made people want to be a part of it. People who did not fit in with those other sports or lifestyles. They had an easier time fitting in with skateboarding, we’re pretty much all inclusive and different. Punk rock made it really attractive.” Mark Whiteley said, “Over all it’s been a pretty major driving force in it. It has definitely come and gone in popularity a number of times over the years. I think when skating became it’s own thing it was because of the punk rock skater ideals that broke away from the safe, surf culture thing that skating had grown from. The punk ideals made it it’s own little world. There are so many factions of skating, but it’s definitely always going to have that punk, outcast kinda thing. The way skating is right now, all the people from outside being interested in it and wanting to clean it up a little bit, using Tony Hawk as the pinpoint, everyone looks to him saying that’s what skating’s about when really he’s just one person and you really can’t say skating’s about one particular thing because everybody does it differently and it means something different to everybody else. I think it (the punk ideals) will always influence it as far as the “do it yourself” and apart from the rest of society thing.” Jeff Greenwood simply said, “it's given skateboarding it's freedom. Without punk rock skateboarding would be in P.E. class in the 6th grade.” Davoud, always a little sarcastic said about punk and how things are changing, “skateboarding and punk rock used to be sort of related, but now hip hop and skateboarding, or Top 40 and skateboarding are equally as related. Skateboarding’s attitude isn’t very punk rock when you’re fully padded, wearing 3 wrist bands, a yellow helmet and a grip of Slim Jim and Lego stickers on your board. Glen Friedman and Tony Alva might tell you something different though.” Rich also commented on the changes. “Punk rock may have affected the history of it in the beginning but not until the Ramones started dropping like flies did I see skateboarding and punk intertwined again. From the first Plan B video on I think rap has been the staple in most skate videos. I really don’t classify that FatWreckChords 1997 shit or the new bouncy MTV nautical star tattoo crap as punk rock. I know most of it isn’t punk but the music in the Foundation video “That’s Life” is pretty good. I also like that song from Murder City Devils in Chet Thomas’ Darkstar part. Once again media influence. What is the ultimate goal of riding a skateboard? Why do you skate? This one seemed easy and the answers were quick. Grant Brittain said, “Fun and freedom.” Davoud said, “To go fast and to not fall. And to get chicks.” And Greenwood said, “For most it is FUN.” Niall and Mark Whiteley expanded with Nail saying, “To make you feel like you are a tiny bit better than you previously thought, to get away from everyone else and to make you excited about dry weather.” Mark Whiteley had an interesting response, “I think it’s different for everybody. Everybody has their own reasons for skateboarding. I think the main things would be to see and use the environment around in a way that most people don’t see it and use it and adapt. Use what’s around” Has skateboard design been perfected? Fact is skateboards haven’t changed much at all since ’94. Is this it, or do we have something new to look forward to. Grant Brittain says we do, “It’s a long way from being perfected. If you look at other activities and how the technical aspects of skateboards are still the same, glue plywood, epoxy. I think there’s a long way to go. I don’t think a lot has been done with futuristic materials. I think as we progress technically skateboards will get better. They should get stronger and lighter. There is no reason they can’t, everything else has. With all the materials they are using, titanium, Kevlar, aircraft materials I don’t know why more has not been done in skateboarding. People like Paul Scmitt and a few others have been experimenting with it, but there is nothing really out there in a long time that has changed skateboards.” Rich doesn’t think things have stopped either, he says, “everyone has their own style on how they do things. So until all of us have our own pro model set to our own specifications then it will be perfected. Actually someone will still complain, so no. It has not been perfected.” Niall offers some suggestions, “I think they could probably make the back third of the deck a little stronger and make strong trucks a little lighter, but there again- both those 'teardrop' and corrugated ply decks actually are stronger, but don't sell any better because people don't seem to want a board that lasts for ever; go figure.” Jeff Greenwood offers specific reasons for the skateboards never being able to be perfected. “You'll never be able to have one board for doing a triple kickflip and be able to take the same board to the Danny Way Mega Ramp for jumping a 70 foot gap. Like Surfing, you will need different boards for different conditions.” Mark Whiteley said, “It hasn’t changed much at all in over ten years and even before that the basics of it were pretty much in place since the mid or early ‘80’s. There’s minor tweaking to be done with the parts that are in existence now, but most of the tweaking that’s been done in the last 5 years or 10 years even has been more word than actual difference.” Paying In Pain’s official position is that skateboarding does not belong in Olympics. Other’s opinions are greatly valued though so I asked the question, will skateboarding be in the Olympics? Whatever happens, it will definitely change skateboarding and there will be no going back. Grant Brittain said, “I think it’s cool in ways. Whatever you say about big events like that, The X games or whatever, a lot more people see skateboarding. In the past when somebody asked what was your first skateboard, somebody from my era might say A Black Night Board, then someone from the 80’s might say a Logan Board, then someone from the 90’s would say a Jeff Phillips boards, then someone from the 2000’s would say, well in the future it will be a Rodriguez board. A lot of people will see it. They’ll be doing pro interviews in the future and they’ll say “I saw skateboarding on the X Games, that’s what got me into skateboarding.” We want to deny this, but I think it’s a fact there will be interviews 10, 15 years from now with young skateboarders who are top-notch and they are going to be giving the X Games credit or maybe it will be The Olympics in the future. If there’s money to be made they will get it in.” Others had shorter more direct answers, Davoud said, “probably, but I hope not.” Niall said, “I think that it is inevitable.” Jeff Greenwood said, “I believe so, although I don't see a reason for it to be there. Skateboarding shouldn't be brought down to critical judging.” Rich touched a little on the subject of why people want skateboarding in the Olympics in the first place. “I sure as fuck hope not. I’m sure the skateboard companies wouldn’t mind it though. Imagine how many new skaters will be brought in by such a large televised event. I don’t care what kind of garbage the hardcore companies are spinning this month. In the end they want at least some of the money being brought in by these events. Not everyone can be a Tony Hawk/Andy Mac clone. If Koston supported it, skateboarding would be along for the ride. I know the hard ass bowl buster in you wants to deny it but Koston skates the round wall better than you and he can hit a twenty stair on the way home.”
Chad Bartie, Ollie to fakie.
Photo: Brendan Klein
Since the beginning of skateboarding there have been competitions. What will they be like in the future? What do you see as the future of skateboard competitions? Grant Brittain has a few ideas, “In the skateboard world it will be more like that X-Games contest. It was street skating in more of a street skating environment. It was in a plaza, they put in some extra obstacles, then little ramps to go over things that were already there. Maybe more video contest, where you go out and film for a day several people and you see who was the best at the end of the day. I’m not talking about TV and stuff, I’m talking about within out little world of skateboarding. I think it will be more realistic and more fun and hopefully less commercial. There’s people right now trying to think of new ways to have contests. I always thought the judges should be in little stall and should have headphones on where they couldn’t hear the crowd because that can sway a judge too. Jeff Greenwood had this to say, “More Money and more Specialty Events. It's like every trick is now entitled to it's own competition. Longest Boneless, highest boneless, most stylish boneless... Thanks MTV for turning life into top 10 lists.” Davoud has a lot of plans, “Three-ring circus dog and pony show entertainment festivals, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing on the deck.” Some talked about the rise of jam contests, Mark Whiteley says, “I think probably the X Games kind of contest will continue on, but not be as popular as it is right now. As far as contests being organized by skaters within the industry and the community I would think it would go back to a skate jam kind of thing. A little more informall and not as serious, but as long as there are big outside companies involved in skating the huge prize money and TV contest will continue on.” Niall talked about skate jams in Europe, “I don't blame people for doing obvious stunts at sanitized contests to impress non- skaters; the money is good. I think in the US everything has to be squeaky- clean. In Europe (especially in the East) they are run shambolically, anarchically and all the better for it.” Rich talked about the end of contests, “Soon skateboarding will die again. The money will soon be gone and all those lavish events that have filled the pages of every magazine will be gone. It will all go back to the local contests where the hometown hero will prevail. No more Marsailles, no more Carbondales, and thanks god, no more X-Gaymes. All those pros and industry fucks will have to go back to waiting tables and manning the gas pumps. It will be great. The market is exhausted with over 300 professionals. It’s time for some ethnic cleansing in the pro ranks. All those faggots in their cowboy hats and cool shades drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon will be all be forced to rot. If you’ve been to a big contest you know the type. There will be no more million dollar simulated street courses that don’t resemble any street anywhere in the world. No more super dooper pooper vert ramps with elevators, extensions, retractable bars, over vert cradles, and built in deck coolers to keep the brew cold. Fuck all contests like this. I’d rather have gonorrhea” Does skateboarding mean more than just riding a piece of wood? Are we doing anything for humans as a whole rolling around all day. I asked this questions , have you ever thought of skating in relation to human evolution? Davoud needs to go back to Oregon again, he says, “No, I must not be eating enough mushrooms.” *note Nobody here would actually know if there are a lot of mushrooms in Oregon. Mark Whiteley thinks we’re doing a little, he says this. “The way skaters think about their surrounding and the way they use their body’s is in some ways contributing to at least the evolution of their offspring. Other than soccer there aren’t really that many activities that use foot control as much skaters do and so in that way were becoming a little more monkey like and able to use our bodies as tools better than the average person. That may be a minor evolutionary trait that we may be passing on” Grant Brittain on the other hand views it from the different angle, he says, “I think skateboarding is a reverse in evolution. You don’t use an engine and you use your own leg power. It’s the opposite of what humans are going towards. With the industrial revolution things got easier for humans where they didn’t have to have horses and manpower to run things. Once they got engines people got fatter and there were more heart attacks, so it seems like skateboarding kinda went backwards. It went back to the wheel. All you need is some wheels a board and some truck”. Sometimes I think we’re on the right track and Niall says something to that. He says, “I'm not sure I ever have, but I will tell you this: the most interesting and carefree people in the world are skateboarders. Why that should be I've never really fathomed, but Quod Est Demonstratus- they are. Maybe its what Taoists call the Unnamable, once you define it, it shatters.” Last question. Do you see the progression going on forever or will it end? Some talked about just how advanced and difficult it has become. Davoud says, “I’d prefer to see progression devolve. Skateboarding these days is too difficult, dealing with gravity is hard enough without spinning kickflip McTwists to tail. Doing loops in fullpipes is pretty bad-ass, and modern cement skateparks can push this progression to some extent, but in the end it’s all physics, and there’s only so much you’ll be able to do until you’re rich enough to afford that trip to that low-gravity park on the moon.” Niall says something comparable. “To be honest, I find it hard to imagine how the standard could get higher than now. I think vert, because it is a blank canvas, can go on to infinity but in street its just so advanced that anything you can imagine, some kid is doing right now. Fear has been punctured by some, style and effortless technique has been brought to the fore by others, and technically I think it’s probably at the limits of possibility. But what do I know? Along comes a shop video and up-ends everything again. I suppose that’s what makes it endlessly fascinating. I think mini- ramp could be due for an explosion soon.” Jeff Greenwood says how things are really getting mixed up with different styles from all eras coming into play. He says, “If skating were to die again it would be over. I see it currently as both progression and regression. Old Tricks are getting mixed into the fray as new ones because kids haven't ever seen them before. I think there will always be progression as long as skateboarding endures. Rich says, “it will go in spurts. Sometimes it will look dormant and other times it will spring back with more intensity. Maybe the pressure flip will make a comeback.” Mark Whiteley says, “I think it will continue forever until some point it just completely ends if that ever happens. It’s just the nature of skating that people just want to have a new trick to do, a new spot, something new to talk about. It changes so fast that it has to keep changing or people are going to lose interest.” If anyone knows it has to be Grant Brittain. This is what he said about the future of progression. “It will never end. I’ve been around skateboarding for 30 years, not counting when I was a kid. In the skate industry I’ve been around it since I started working at Del Mar Skate Ranch in ’78, so 25 years or whatever. When I saw Eddie Elguera and Darrell Miller I went, “it can’t go any further than that.” And then the 540 came along. When the 540 hit I went “Anything is possible,” then we saw 720’s and 900’s and people ride handrails. I remember seeing the first ollies. When Alan Gelfand did the ollies at Del Mar I was just blown away. I put no limits on skateboarding, I figured that out a long time ago. Look at stairs. It used to be big if somebody jumped 5 stairs, now it’s 20 something stairs. Danny Way went 70 something feet at the X Games. Just what he did on the mega ramp that was in our magazine. Who would have thought that years ago? In 20 years it’s just going to be nuts, they will be spinning more and going higher and further.”