January 22, 2014 by Jutta
If like me you were a kid in the 80s. A kid who’s days felt like forever, for good or for bad. Summer months were good times. It meant summer holidays – no school and playing out til late, and late was still light out.
My oldest brother was lucky enough to get a skateboard, after much begging. Of course, I was only bought dolls which were all beheaded. By yours truly. I was jealous, and I wanted what he had!.. I wanted his Millenium Falcon, Action Man, BMX…AND his skateboard! You could call me a full on “tom boy”. I wanted to do anything the boys were doing and better!
Most of “play time” was spent hanging out with my bro and his mates. It was the best company and it was full of jokes, goofiness, prattish behaviour and exaggerated machismo. The latter mostly from the older ones..
Yes, I had girlfriends but I soon got bored of their idea of “fun”; namely playing with Cabbage Patch kid dolls, changing Tiny Tears nappies and other “girlie” stuff… I really didn’t relish practicing to be a parent before my time.
I was bored.
So, naturally I gravitated towards the guys and what they did for fun. Bear in mind we were between 8 and 12. We were young, but old enough to know what was dope and what was pansy.
Me, my bro and his mates used to hang out at this really cool building made out of logs at our local park. It was made for us kiddos and it was pretty cool. We called it “The log huts”. Quite like an assault course, but everything was wood, and the ground was full of wood chip which stank to high heaven.
There were also cemented areas surrounding the log huts which had ramps and rails – a skateboarders paradise. My bro would spend many an hour practicing ollie’s, 360’s, kick flips, heel flips… Mostly basic stuff. He hoped to get moves “down”. Not totally “down” though, yet some of those riff’s were really coming along, and I was impressed. So I gave it a go.
In all honesty, I was never a fully fledged skater, nor did I progress to “pro” level or anything, but I enjoyed gliding down the often vacant roads near the American playground/estate, across from our house. Just glide, with the warmth of the sun on my skin, without a care in the world.
Aside from also learning to ride his BMX bike (which came later and sparked my interest in cycling), I rode his skateboard everywhere. To the shops to buy penny sweets, to church, to the log huts. He wasn’t using it much at the time due to being totally immersed in his BMX, so thought I’d make use of it, so It became mine.
The deck was Variflex, with the same brand wheels – definitely not high end, but I bloody loved it! I don’t care how much younger skaters of today might diss it. Yes, they were quite heavy, their trucks seemed like they were back to front and a bit tentative, wheels weighed a ton as well. It’s like selling a kid a bike with no brakes – but let me not digress. I’m talking with the benefit of hindsight.
There were many a kid back in the day, saving money, checking their piggy bank now and then, counting their pennies, waiting and hoping for that special day, so they could go buy a Variflex skateboard.
You look back and think, “they were actually pretty cool”. Not to mention – you had the likes of Lance Mountain,George Orton, Steve and Mike Hirsch, Al Losi, Eddie Elguera, and Eric Grisham, who all rode for Variflex. Variflex was originally a very innovative company back in the 70′s. Not too shabby me thinks..
Hello my old friend..
Artwork was pretty decent..
My experience with playing about on a skateboard was sort of short lived – I faffed about mostly, yet still hung at skate parks – this was in the late ish 90s. Never a bonafide “skater” – in terms of competing or anything. Conversely, I did attend skating events which coincided with bboy tournaments etc..
Some of my fav pro skaters I used to follow were mostly the old skool dudes – Mark Gonzales, Rodney Mullens, Natas Kaupas,Tommy Guerro, Lance Mountain, not to mention Tony Hawks, and many more.
Rodney Mullens for me, was what Ken Swift was to breakdancing, and if it wasn’t for my bro’s mate coming round our house and playing rare skating videos, including The Bones Brigade doing all their world famous flips and tricks, Rodney Mullens freestyle videos, etc. I would be at a serious loss.
Just mind blowing and inspiring!
These were a bunch of somewhat goofy, yet uber talented guys and they were exuding some serious raw energy and coolness.
In total awe..always. Rodney Mullen..
My ramblings are coming to a close, so before I wrap this post up before I get a dry mouth.. If you haven’t checked out The Bones Brigade documentary, do, you won’t regret it. It pretty much show case’s raw footage of the guys (some of whom I’ve mentioned above) trying out their nascent runs and riffs, (Rodney Mullens tricks and freestyle is just incredible!) some barely 13 at the time, and their much older and wiser selves being interviewed is quite telling. No lie, I shed a tear or two. Ok, there were full on waterworks, but I guess that’s just my hormones playing up.. ;D
Lastly, (but not least), please do check out (if you haven’t seen it) Dogtown and Z boys. Whether you skate, or you don’t skate, but have massive appreciation as myself – you’ll bloody love it and it’s pretty nostalgic.
You can find both films on UK and US netflix. Ain’t that a treat?!
Now GO TO!
P.S. In case you like The Germs
“Most people seem restless and bounce around too much to focus or even pay attention enough to themselves to figure out exactly what they really do love, as opposed to what the people that surround them are doing” ‘Mutt’ aka Rodney Mullens