Saturday, January 24, 2009

Abandon ship!

Watch out peoples, I just moved the whole Memory Screened blog to greener pastures, aka on Wordpress -not only because they say embarrassing, geeky shit like "code is poetry", or "yes, I read these fascinating terms of service" [add canned laughter right here].
That means I won't update over here anymore, but where Memory Screened is now located, right here. See ya on the other side!

I also moved my other blog A Visual Sound, now to be read here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Extra : Rudy didn't mean to turn this into an interview

Switch flip, 1993 © Lance Mountain (Thanks Lance!)

You know exactely when you've become an old skater. It's easy: you can be out for a week from a back ache, not a sprained ankle. I mean, paralyzed-style out, seriously. Brutal. That was my wonderful, horrible life for a second. 
Anyway, dry up your tears, let the horns blow, here's the little Extra blurb to accompany the Rudy Johnson post below -I'll try to figure one out for every actual boards page.
Basically, when I went meet Rudy to ask him about his favorite boards, who happens to be the coolest person ever, we ended up talking about a lot more than this, and next thing you know I had a sort of career/little-known-fact nerdish hour of (Ipod) tape. Here are a bunch of interesting things from it. Maybe they were known, maybe they weren't. Enjoy !

1. Me llamo mister Johnson
“My mother is from Mexico and my father is from Costa Rica. I’m first generation here, in America. I got my name Johnson from some weird affair, my great-great-grandmother had an affair with a priest. And the priest was from Costa Rica and she was English. So she stayed in Costa Rica, and her baby was born but he couldn’t carry the last name of the priest, cause he was a priest. So it was 'Johnson.' It’s funny cause people have asked me how I ended up with this sirname my whole life."

2. Comet-ment
"I started skating in 1986, and I remember it was 1986 cause my first board was a 'comet Haley' board! And you wouldn’t see it again for 76 years, so it was a big thing. People were putting it on everything. I was 13 years old."

3. The half pipe conspiracy
"I knew Gabriel Rodriguez before we even skated, we played Little League baseball when we were 10 years old. We both had a quarter pipe and we decided to put them together, to have a half pipe. That was by mid-Wilshire, mid-City, LA. Then I met Paulo, through Gabriel, and then Guy."

4. Do not surpass
"We filmed the whole Ban This part in two weekends. Then Skate TV, that show that Stacy was doing on Nicolodeon, came about and Stacy told us to not surpass in skating what we already filmed for the video. So we just kinda goofed around."

5. Gonzo phonism
"Rocco always wanted Guy Mariano, cause he was into getting the little kids. And for me… I mean, we became good friends with Lance Mountain, we would go and he would let us stay at his house, we were really psyched. He would invite us to his ramp to watch sessions. We’d see Cab, it was so cool. So Lance was really good friends with Mark Gonzales. I guess Mark asked Lance for my phone number. So I was just at home one day and my mom’s like, 'Hey, you got a phone call. I was like, 'Hello, who’s this?' '- Hey Rudy what’s up, this is Mark Gonzales.' I was like whatever, someone is crank calling me. And I hung up. I was like, 'Dude, fuck off.'

6. The Old English saveur
"The 40s board thing was fun. Mark thought of that: ‘It’d be cool to have a board with a ‘40s on there. It’s random.' I remember it coming out, and I don’t even drink, you know? I drank this one though, cause it’s on my board. It got me so drunk man, I was sick. Horrible."

7. Actually, a nice Rocco story...
"You always hear negative stories about Rocco. For once, here's a nice one: when I was with my girlfriend, he let me borrow his $80,000 Porsche from Thursday to Monday, so I can go to the prom."

8. ... And back to normal
"One day Rocco invited me for lunch, and he had this recorder hidden under the table. His plan was to have this be my big Brother interview but I couldn’t let him run it. At this point I was in a really bad relationship with my girlfriend, she’s now my wife but when we were dating it was really really hard, so all I did was talk shit on the tape, and her brother was a sponsored vert skater who was on Powell, we were friends. It was really bad. 
Then Rocco showed me the interview like it was rad. I was like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? Dude, no.' I was really stressed about it, I begged Rodney to change it up, maybe I threatened to quit or something. He told me it was too late to re-do an interview. I was like, 'You don’t have time? Make it up, dude.' Everything. It’s all made up. It’s not even real. Kinda like my Check Out, Mark did it, they just took a piece of litterature from a book and put it as is."

9. Win-win situation
"Around 1999 with Guy we thought that we needed to do something to stay in the skateboarding world, so we started Royal. It's not that difficult, you just gotta come up with a mold. The first person we did with, they never did skateboard trucks. The thing is, with boards you gotta change them constantly. With trucks, you just change them once every two, three years. In almost 10 years, we're  on our fourth model now! We just have to come up with ads. Still though, we were I think the first ones to come up with a logo and graphics on the hanger."

10. Feel the music
My fingers being somewhat numb after typing all this, those with enough courage to have read this far can go check what Rudy has to say about music right here

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rudy Johnson: "I kinda had my own VCJ graphic"

Originally published in Skateboarder # 101

There are a few treasures in the Girl warehouse. One is of course Rick Howard’s Vespa used in the Mouse intro, but any Crailtap reader knew that already -as well as Tim Gavin’s latest lunch pick. A more elusive gem took the form of anonymous cardboard boxes on a long-forgotten shelf, with just the word “Rudy” written on them. As Rudy Johnson guts them all, one after the other, you realize that Indiana Jones only found some worthless, cheezy crystal mask: this is where Royal trucks’ mastermind, of former Powell/Blind/Girl fame, keeps all his past pro-models, most of them shrink-wrapped. This collector’s wet dream has an explanation: “My wife”, Rudy laughs. “She’s the one who made me keep them all in such good condition.” After crossing out a bunch of mythical boards, it takes him only a few minutes to come up with a definite choice of his all-time five favorite decks. Here’s the skinny on them, with a little help from the designers behind.

1. Blind Rudy Johnson “Experimental” (1991)
Artwork: Mark Gonzales
“This was my first pro-model, in 1991. Powell Peralta, which I was riding for before, always had these Experimental stickers on the boards of the people who were about to have a pro-model. They were the coolest boards you’d see in videos. If you could put your hands on these stickers… I was telling Mark [Gonzales] how cool those boards were, so he just wrote “Experimental” all the way up, on the whole board. We kinda improvised it. Then my first car was a Toyota, that’s why he wrote “Toyota”. It’s funny cause in the beginning a lot of people were confused, they were asking who Toyota Johnson was. It was a cool board. The body parts, I don’t know, he just started to throw them there. I was stoked on the colors, those colors are hot now, you know? It was ahead of its time, man.”

2. Blind Rudy Johnson “jock skull” (1991)
Artwork: Marc McKee
“I was definitely stoked on this graphic because we [Rudy, Guy Mariano, Paulo Diaz and Gabriel Rodriguez –Ed. note] were going to be the next amateurs to turn pro for Powell before we left to Blind. I’ve always loved their artist VC Johnson, classic Powell, he’s incredible… So in a sense I kind of had my VCJ graphic. That was probably my fourth model on Blind and I know they had been talking about this series for a while, cause Rocco had this thing with George Powell.
So Marc McKee picked the Powell graphics he wanted to work off with, I was the last one and the others had already chosen. I got the fake Per Welinder one but I liked it cause it’s hilarious. This one and the spark plug board were my two models that sold the best, I think.”

3. Blind “spark plug” (1993)
Artwork: Marc McKee
“I was never really into slick-bottomed boards. I never really like the gimmick about them, I barely ever rode them. Anyway, I was into drag racing my Mustang, I’d go out on weekends and race in Fontana, or on Milliken Avenue in Ontario, out there. So I’d come back and talk about it at World, that’s how Marc McKee got the idea.”
Mark Mc Kee: “That one was a combination of pencil, acrylic paint, and some airbrush for the white highlights and the fade in the background. I was trying to mimic the style of one of my favorite artists, Hajime Sorayama, who does these awesome pin-up paintings of super slutty girls, and in one of his books he had a step-by-step guide to his painting methods that I followed. That was the only time I ever used that technique. I came up with the image of the girl on my own, using a few different photographic sources. Her face is taken from this ‘90s porn star Teri Weigel. The idea for the graphic came from an article in Adbusters magazine on the topic of sex in advertising.”

4. Blind “Lego dragster” (1993)
Artwork: Daniel Dunphy
“This is a rare one, it’s one of my last boards on Blind before we started Girl. Super small run, I don’t think it did that well. It’s the only board where I’m here live, as a person. I mean, there’s the [Blind] “Rear-end Rudy” but that’s cartoon… This one came up when they started to be able to photoimpose people onto graphics.
To shoot this, I had to sit outside of World, just on a regular wall. That was my Hollywood debut [laughter], I had to look like I’m racing and I’m taking off. It’s so different now, the style of graphics.
Probably right now in the market it’do great for kids from 6 to 12 years old. I love it though, it’s a cool little theme going”.
Daniel Dunphy: “If I remember correctly, it was a crash test dummy Lego set and Sean Cliver built it... I remember going to a photo studio with him to have it shot.”

5. Girl “charango” (1996)
Artwork: Johannes Gamble
“I went to Bolivia in 1995 with Paulo Diaz, on a non-skate vacation, for probably two and a half weeks. We were really young, like 22 or something, but we went out there, and we learned about all these strange instruments, including the one represented here, called a charango. It’s a strange instrument with five double strings, and it’s made out of an armadillo, a real animal. We went to Bolivia cause it’s one of the only three countries where they make it, with Peru and Chile.
The actual graphic is a poster that I brought back. Instead of my name, it said : Ernesto Encarvo, a charango master player. It just said that, it was the exact same layout. I was so happy to ride this board, and people loved it. I still own two of the posters.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extra: Nate Carrico and the unvoluntary co-branding

As there will be one-month gaps between each "Memory Screened" page in Skateboarder, I figured out I’d fill the blanks with a bunch of interviews and whatnots just, well, cause those are extremely important issues that need to be addressed. My first question mark? This intriguing Black Label John Cardiel board that says “Dogtown skates” on it (see post below). To me, a symbol of home made times when skateboarding was not so serious, and when lawyers and copyrights belonged to the industries of the “other” world. So between two sobs of old-fart despair I cornered the graphic’s author, Nate Carrico, and pretty much asked him the mother of all questions: What the fuck ?

When did you start doing skateboard graphics?
“Officially? October of 1989. I was 21 and it was a dream come true. My friend Ross Goodman rode for Santa Cruz at the time and Santa Cruz was in a search for an artist to add to their art department after a separation from Jim Philips. I think Ross told someone to call me. I was a doodler that became an apprentice to two of awesome artists, Johnny “Mojo” Munnerlyn and Kevin Marburg.” From there I worked for NHS (all their brands) and some random others; the Cardiel DTS/Black Label graphic being one example.
I stayed ther for one year in 1989, then left to go back to school and work at a skatepark in Sacramento. The “back to school” thing lasted a year, that’s when I did the Cardiel board. Not sure if the graphic for John happened because he was a regular at the skatepark and knew I drew pictures or... If JJ Rogers, a friend of mine that was on Dogtown, recommended me to Jim Muir. The events are blurry. I remember being totally stoked to make a graphic for Cardiel because he was/is an amazing skateboardist and a Sacto local.”

Did you do this graphic specifically for John Cardiel?
“Yes. I’m not clear whether the idea came from John or we came up with it together or Jim Muir gave me the idea. I’m sure it wasn’t a drawing I had laying around waiting for a home because if I drew something on my own it would have a skull in it somewhere.”

How did it fit Cardiel, you think?
“Uh... I actually don’t think it fit him. I think I let John down with that graphic. As a piece of art it’s poor on many levels. I’m sure John has good reasons for picking that graphic as a favorite, but he deserves better art. Some time later, he had an Evel Knievel graphic, just the V stripes with stars. At any rate, if there was a skateboarder who deserved the title “Evel Knievel of skateboarding” it was John. Every time Cardiel rode he put on a show and he went huge. Didn’t matter if the crowd was two buddies of his or 50 kids at a demo. And many times you were watching him for the spectacular crashes too. Though, an Evel Knievel graphic is closer, it still doesn’t fit. John is an original and deserves something original. Something bold and fearless?”

How did it end up on a Black Label board?
“I think John’s account is pretty much the way it went down. Lucero called and I sent the art. I might have gotten a couple boards out of the deal.”

Was Jim Muir bummed at all?
“Alzheimer’s and selective memory filters are in place but... I don’t think Jim was bummed. I would say Jim was the kind of guy that would be bummed for me because the graphic work I did wasn’t going to be made and sold. But I never spoke to Jim Muir after the original job in 1990.”

What did you do after that and what are you up to these days?
“In 1991 I returned to NHS and begged for my job back, I worked there until 1998. Nowadays I work at an in-house design department for a video game company.”

What’s the best and worst thing about doing board graphics?
“Best: getting your art permanently applied to a skateboard that’s distributed and sold. Worst: getting your art permanently applied to a skateboard that’s distributed and sold. Because I’ve made some horrible art in my time.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

John Cardiel: "I sent a La Cumbre t-shirt to Lucero and they just re-did it"

Originally published in Skateboarder # 100

Attics always have that mysterious treasure hunt feel to them. You’ll find only two things in there, usually: either the complete 1961 National Geographic collection (cool), or a former tenant’s lover’s skeleton that will allow you to be charged for premeditated murder and finish this dull existence of yours in jail (not cool). Fortunately, John Cardiel’s parents’, in Grass Valley, bare none of the above but more interestingly a collection of Cards’ past pro-models, from Black Label to Antihero. Some old Lamar snowboards, too, for those who care. After stacking them all up on the deck, outside, John finally picked a bunch in his trunk, and finished his editing at home. Here’s what he has to say about his own five favorite pro-models.

Black Label Copenhagen board
Art by John Lucero
“This is the first of my boards that was actually made. I’m saying this because I was supposed to get a board on Dogtown, and they came up with my board graphic and everything in a skate ad, and what happened was that the company Dogtown stopped doing production in San Francisco, Jim Muir just took everything back to LA and it didn’t restart for a while. Basically they shut down, so I had to transfer and got picked up by John Lucero, he offered me a home on Black Label.
At the time, I was into chewing tobacco, my favorite brand was Copehnagen, so John proposed to do a Copenhagen-style board for my wood board, and back then there was a slick too, and the other one had graphics with candy on it. Anyway, the wood board came first, and all the different boards had different colored stripes. John is a really good artist so he pulled this one easily.”

Black Label Dogtown board
by Nate Carrico
“This board came out a while after my first board, maybe a year or so. I really wanted the Dogtown graphics to come out, so John [Lucero] was like : “Fuck it, why don’t we do it?” So he called up the dude who did it, an artist who was living in Santa Cruz and doing graphics for Santa Cruz at the time. So we got the graphics from him and, boom, John did the board. We added a Black label logo but we left the Dogtown one, we just ran it like whatever, you know. It wouldn’t catch no flack, we just did a short run. I don’t think the Dogtown guys even cared even though John did get permission from Jim Muir. At the time he was going through his own struggle.”

Black Label La Cumbre board
by Daniel Dunphy
“These graphics come from La Cumbre, it was my favorite burrito spot in San Francisco, on 16th and Valencia. There’s even that old song about this place: “Take me back to La Cumbre / I want another steak burrito”. The song was by Skatemaster Tate, and was used in some old Powell video. It was one of the best burrito spots in SF until they got bought out and changed some of the ingredients. But it was my favorite spot then, and that’s why I love that board so much. Inside, they have a big mural painting that we used for this graphic. I sent John a t-shirt and they just re-did it.”

Black Label Gonz board
Art by Mark Gonzales
“I was so stoked that Gonz did this board for me. I didn’t know Mark back then, but John Lucero did.
So one day he asked me what kind of graphic I wanted and I just said jokingly: ‘I want a Gonz graphic, man!’ And then next thing you know he calls me up and says: ‘Hey John, I got something for you, would that work you think?’
I was like what? Gonz painted this on a plank at John’s place, just for this board. (…) I was so super stoked on it.”

Antihero Hawaiian dog board
“Yeah, there are a lot of Black label boards in this selection, but there’s a bunch of boards that mean a lot to me on Antihero as well. This board is really special, though. It’s a fairly new board, but still... I was on a trip with a bunch of friends and I took a picture of that dog on the side of a fence, and I just thought of this graphic in my head.
I was with some really good friends at the time, I also like that you wouldn’t be able to tell by just looking at it that it means so much to me. I shot the photo maybe a year ago, when I got sent to Hawaii, just to visit. Steve Van Doren sent me and Julien to the Pipeline surfing contest, just out of love. Steve’s just the best. He’s the most down-ass fucking dude, straight up. I can’t say enough about him, cause it’s real, you know what I mean?”

Ed Templeton : "We were into Fugazi and everything political"

Originally published in Skateboarder # 99

It only took five minutes. Before mayhem ensued, Ed Templeton’s garage was just this quiet, bo
hemian art studio in Huntington Beach, with a painted life-size naked silhouette’s profile being finished on a wall, a darkroom and some cut-out heads waiting for their programmed injection by wooden syringes. And after? Decks all over the floor and a very perplexed Ed, not really sure how to fulfill this strange request : pick only five of his own all-time favorite pro-models. Right now, having exhumed only a third of the loot from the former kitchen cabinet where he stores them all, the count culminates at 15 pre-selected boards.
“It’s… hard”, he starts, as he digs deep through eighteen pro years spent with New Deal, TV and Toy Machine. “I started out drawing my own graphics, that was my plan, because I was a lot into Chris Miller when I started skating. At the time, his board just came out with a bird and a cat on it, and I heard he drew it. I thought it was cool.” H
e scratches his head. A few dilemmas later, the final five are chosen. Welcome to 'Memory Screened,’ whose sole purpose is to turn pros’ garages into a complete mess.

New Deal cat board (1990)
Art by Ed Templeton
“That was my first pro-model, ever. As I said, I wanted to do my own graphics and I started coming up with ideas. As a kid I was always into learning about Egyptian iconography and artwork, that’s where the cat came from. This shape was actually an Egyptian cat, I mean they sell this at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a pin…
I got the inside from some book, no idea wich one. I just blew it up on a copy machine. It’s a scene of some kind of chaos going down, you see some skeletons in the street, there’s a preacher too, one of the skeletons is even having sex with a woman ! Then I changed the signs: I put “nude eel” on one just for the pun aspect of it, this other one says “Hello I’m the otter,” it’s one of the things I was saying at the time, probably a play on the Beatles’ song I am The Walrus. And then, I didn’t realize until now, one of the sign says “Television”, which was to be my company with Mike V…”

Television cow board (1992)
Art by Ed Templeton
“I had been drawing these cow heads with just the intestines hanging out, because cows have four stomachs. The top graphic says “Eat me I’m probably delicious.” It was that crude expression in 1992, when I turned vegan. It was partly from hanging out with Mike V and Christian Kline [Poweredge mag’s editor in chief –ed.note]. Every time they’d take me to a restaurant, they’d be like: “We’ll pay for your dinner if you don’t eat meat !” Then they gave me some litterature, I read it and it just made sense. As a kid you get really excited about things. When I was on tour with Mike V, we’d go to places and the kids would come up to us : ‘Oh, you guys are finally here ! We’re the hardcore vegans, we kick people’s asses who eat meat !’ Mike and I would try to explain that it’s not about joining some kind of program. I don’t mind talking about it, but I don’t try to make it my cause. I haven’t moved away from that stuff at all in my head, but as you grow older you just find more subtle ways to put that out. You just sort of instillate it.”

Toy Machine cheese board (1993)
Art by Ed Templeton
“This one came out in 1993, it’s probably why it wasn’t seen really. We were making small runs because we knew graphics were going to be changed the next month. If they didn’t sell, companies would even scrape the graphics off and put new ones over the boards! At the time I was learning to make the screen prints myself, so I was trying to do an exercise with that. It was like a big process, cutting and making films kind of thing.
This drawing is absurd in a lot of ways because there’s not a lot of meaning to it. At one point I thought it’d be cool to have a guy with a fly swatter, and ‘cheese’ was just a word we used to make fun of things that are cheesy or something like that. The statue was just one I had in my house, I thought ‘I’m just gonna have a shelf with objects.’ That’s it. But I like the way it looks. Even if it’s totally amateurish, I really like the bold, primary colors too”.

Toy Machine syringe board (1994)
Art by Ed Templeton
“That’s the first one I thought of. It was not the first time I did a board with a message, it started from the “Buy Me I’m Naked” board I had on Televsion, when I was doing that company with Mike V and we were really into Fugazi and everything political.
I was always drawing these guys with TV glasses around this time period, like we’re looking through a TV lens. People in the USA are very interested in what’s going on on TV. The syringe is something we’ve always used, like ‘Get injected with Toy Machine’, an ongoing theme for me. I don’t know if skaters remember the graphics with some sort of message better, but I will, because they’re not political in a way that gets dated. It’s still relevant today, there’s still people getting injected with politics and religion and other people’s lives…”

Toy Machine toy rabbit board (1998)
Art by Adam Wallacavage
“My friend Adam Wallacavage was doing these really elaborate silk screens at the time that looked really cool, I loved them. So when he did graphics for us they just came out perfect. It’s one of my favorite boards that ever came out on Toy Machine. He only did these ones for us, there was a bunch of them because he had this toy collection that he would shoot photographs of. Actually it’s his toy collection that we used in Jump Off a Building too, this was around that time, all the toys flashing.”

Salman used to like Lacoste striped rugby shirts, hence...

OK, so before this became a feature in Skateboarder, here's how it went: sometime last year I was interviewing Salman Agah for a French mag and we were talking about his old camel graphics board, kind of nerding around, why the stripes and why the camel and this and that. It made me think how pros have sometimes good anecdotes about some of their own pro-models. Driving back from his place, I also remembered the stash of boards that Sean Cliver had under his bed when I met him in 2001...
Most of these dudes must have such graphic treasures buried somewhere in their houses, I thought.
Maybe people would be interested in seeing them again (for those born before 1980), or floored to discover that once upon a time, a skateboard bottom displayed something else than just a huge, unimaginative, boring logo, but actual ARTWORK. You know, silk screens and stuff. Hence the triple or quadruple pun of this blog's title, sorry. I hope you'll enjoy it despite this flagrant display of French jeu-de-mot-ness.