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hopping fences for the culture: a tampa recap

Remember when I was saying how there's a war outside your window for the history of skateboarding? Of course not. Nor should you. For one, I myself can barely remember anything I've tossed into this wasteland where words go to die; and two, it's an absolutely ridiculous and wholly cryptic thing to allude to. Heck, I'd even go so far as to say it rivals some of the truly esoteric bullshit that would find its way into a vintage "Trash" column of Thrasher back in the '80s—and that's saying a lot, because those were the smudgy newsprint days when the riddles were absurdly obscure and I spent way too much time trying to decode the lore of an industry I dreamed to one day crack. Anyway, just know that various factions and forces are indeed at work and to beware of silver-tongued salesmen bearing snake oil wares. Question all motives. Trust no one. Be kind and rewind. I mean, the kids have got to know, right? Or am I wrong? So hard to tell these days, but that's half the fun of skateboarding. Otherwise it would just be some antiseptic Olympian pursuit and bollocks to that.

Consider this: Grown-ass Gen Z adults are currently operating in our society who were born post-9/11 and not only have no real concept of this life-altering event but are completely ignorant to the fact it even took place in this century. Just something to keep in mind, I suppose, as we all revel and indulge in bygone minutia.

Who am I talking to? I don't know… could be me, could be you, could be everyone we know. Here's a footnote to follow up with if it helps [1].

Some are names, some are ambiguous faces, but all have a place in time with the Skatepark of Tampa. Except for John Waters and Divine (not shown), but far be it from me to draw a pink flamingo and not include them.

So wait, does any of this have anything at all to do with our time in Florida during the latest pro contest held at the Skatepark of Tampa? Yes, absolutely, because trivial history was a very large part of our enterprise the entire weekend [2]. However, I did promise myself that I'd let photos do all of the heavy-lifting in this post, so I'm simply going to rein in my run amok fingers and call out a few quick highlights:

1. The night of the art show at The Bricks, a kid asked me in all sincerity what my intent was behind the "Balloon Boy" drawing. I answered him the best I mumblingly could—speech isn't my forte, not by a long shot—to which he responded with his own mental health conclusion. Easily my most meaningful takeaway from the event.

A big thanks to everyone who turned up and came out to see all the crap we tacked onto the walls at The Bricks. The line was nonstop well past the point the show was technically over, to which end I must sincerely thank my wife Donna for jumping into the fire and manning our merch table the entire time.

2. While everyone else was hootin', hollerin', and whoopin' it up at the SPoT Bowl Jam on Saturday night, we ended up retiring early to the AirBnB with the StrangeLove team and shot the shit for hours in the unique way that only skateboarders can. Doesn't matter what generation you were born into, where on the face of earth you came from, or however long or short you've known each other, skateboarding creates the levelest and best of all playing fields—or, in other less convoluted and confusing words, let's just say I couldn't be happier with the squad we've assembled thus far. 

Max Murphy, Monica Torres, Jake Braun, and the mindset. The only one missing from this photo who would've added several more inches to our pro team is Timothy Johnson (absent due to a prior wedding obligation in the Dominican Republic).

3. Sharing the weekend with my damn near lifelong friend and skateboarding companion John Pearson, because if there is anyone who has ever genuinely enjoyed this wacky world of skateboarding from near and afar it would definitely be him. So while my bandwidth was stretched to its limits the entire time, at least I was able to vicariously enjoy all that I missed out on through the random episodes and encounters experienced by he and Jesse Geboy. Were certain private parts near and dear to Greg Lutzka openly shared while hammers were being thrown down on the street course? Is our world inhabited by both horizontal and vertical vampires? Or was this all just part of a shared Florida fever dream that left some unable to tie their own shoelaces once the weekend was done? I don't know, but I really have to stop it with these inscrutable Thrasher-like queries.

I had no idea Alex Sveda took this photo until he sent me the selects. I'm glad he did because it was one of the few times I was able to hang out with Jesse and John, both of whom Donna and I are respectively sandwiched between while watching the qualifiers on Saturday afternoon.

4. Early Sunday afternoon we deviated from our usual course to the Skatepark of Tampa and drove out to a wetland in search of alligators—an experience very reminiscent of old Big Brother magazine road trips where we'd eschew skating for a day in order to take in whatever flora, fauna, or arts we happened to be near. Again, I'm really stoked on our team. Can't say that enough and I'm looking forward to the next time we're all able to get together somewhere someplace out in the wild world.

Although we didn't see a lot of 'gators, we did see a couple and that's all that matters. Thanks again for driving us out into the wilds, Nick Matlin!

Okay, that's it. Just photos and captions from here on out. Special thanks to Alex Sveda for popping off all the shots before eventually disappearing into the gothy depths of Ybor City's world famous Castle. —Sean Cliver

Hanging out and letting the good times roll with Brandon, Lance, Monica, Jake, and the breakfast of champions.
Some dimwit, aka me, neglected to include a medium on the artwork descriptions, so I'm fairly certain most people figured the pieces shown on this wall were not the inked originals but rather prints of a black-and-white Xeroxed nature—or not, I don't know, these are just the sort of things that bounce around the racquetball court inside my head.
Never mind the art—that's the back of Jaime Owens of Closer skateboard mag fame!
Do you suffer from the fear of missing out? If so, this photo may not be healthy for you.
It's not often when you can be in the same room with the Senator and Ray Barbee, but ta-da!
My biggest disappointment of the night? Missing out on Ray and Chuck Treece playing in the rear end of The Bricks. Weakness!
The art night was really all about celebrating those legends who lived, thrived, and skated vert throughout the '90s—namely Mike Frazier, Paul Zitzer, and Brian Howard. Salute!
All right, let's take it to the Skatepark of Tampa where all the real action went down. This wall in particular saw a good deal of screen time thanks to David Loy.
I was specifically instructed to NOT use black when selecting a color palette for the walls of the skate course. Good thing, too, because Jake and Max would've disappeared completely from this shot aside from a disembodied pair of floating heads and arms.
Jake backside tailed into 47th.
Max maximized all his minutes on the course this year and gapped into 37th.
Nick Matlin—not an official entrant but our special guest team manager for the week in Florida.


1. You know how some people seemingly talk to hear the sound of their own voice? Well, you should know that I've been accused of writing to seemingly read the cleverness of my own words… nothing more than grossly self-indulgent behavior. So, there's that psychoanalysis, and all I can add is don't die wondering.

2. Speaking of trivia, our Tincan Folklore team 42 Shifty—consisting of Johnny Pea, Jesse the Wheel Wall G, Hank Scorsese, and myself—claimed second place (a feat I'm going to attribute solely to Max's Rain Man-like recollection of video lines and the tricks that ended them).

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  • Richard “Stein” Steinheimer on
    Don’t forget that a few of us on this planet can say that they have skateboarding for 50 years, but that doesn’t matter anymore because quitting isn’t going to be the answer. It’s just what friends you made as a tike. As I progressed in time it was the photographs, then of course video taping, and now how can I be famous via the internet. With that said I am officially identifying as a “nobody”, and in the words of Steve Martin in the movie, The Jerk,”…and one day I will be a somebody!”
  • Swytch Nolly on

    Congrats on a successful swamp run and populating the course with Strangelove beasts—both on the board and the beautiful blue walls. Milwaukee Max crushed it with his unique fashion. So fun to watch. Best contest trophies I’ve ever seen too. They make the fabled cups of any other sporting tournament look like antique pisspots.

  • Jackie Dunston on

    Wish I could have been there congratulations on everything going down for y’all at Strangelove. Love for all keep on pushing

  • Johnny Pea on

    Up to this point, has anyone successfully woven the subtle elements of Big Brother and Thrasher into a single literary offering? From the visual aid of circling the alligator in a phot, to the cryptic chronicling of persons and events from the weekend, I had to look down and see if my thumbs were black.
    Great times! That being said, I should probably just wear slip-ons next year.

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