Beers, steers, and ears.
Beers, steers, and ears.
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one louder

My dear friend Megan Baltimore once interviewed me for an issue of Wallride [1], where she asked, "On a scale of 1–10 how uncomfortable are you in your own skin?" Without skipping a beat, I replied, "This one goes to 11." Yes, the very same number on Nigel Tufnel's infamous Spinal Tap amp. And it's true. So much so that I can be an exceptionally awkward and uncomfortable human being to be around or interact with at times—some may even say most times. All depends who I'm around, what exactly is happening, where it may be publicly or privately, and how many other humans are involved or in the immediate area. The why, however, is probably the most important variable of all, because if the scenario happens to be a recorded interview, say for a documentary or a podcast, well, then this number of mine ratchets straight past 11 into unnerved territories best not triggered because the only thing to be echoing throughout my vacuous brain pan is, "WHY THE FUCK DID I AGREE TO DO THIS?!" Hence my near bulletproof policy of passing on any and all such recorded invitations. Some, I think, may take me for dick because of this, but trust me: it really is best for all parties involved that I don't dunk my psyche into any further tanks of stress and anxiety than I already experience on a run-of-the-mill normal average old day—my basket case just isn't woven properly. End of story.

Sandwiched in a contact sheet high between Chet Thomas, Gabriel Rodriguez, Ray Barbee, and Paolo Diaz at Powell Peralta's "AM JAM" in March of '89 (Photos: Robert Kittila).

Jesus, am I "Dear Diarying" again [2]? No, not quite. Well, yes, sort of, but there really is a purpose behind today's self-therapy madness and that would be the The Bones Brigade Audio Show (referred to hereafter as BBAS). I don't listen to many podcasts—who in god's name has all this time in the world to do such things?—but I am a fan of this particular one when I'm on the road with legitimate time to kill. Namely because the hosts, Larry Ransom and Matt Picker, both share in my affinity for the trivial minutia behind Powell Peralta in the '80s. That said, yes, they kind of lost me post-Celebraty Tropical Fish (1991), but every so often they'll unearth some other obscure VHS tidbit or take a tangential dip into the aging pool of Powell-related peoples for what they label an "Intelligence Report" episode. Enter: Me.

Never mind that this photo shows proof of the Powell Peralta "Design Review" process, circa 1990. What I'm really excited about is actual photographic evidence that I was able to track down a pair of the coveted Ellesse shoes worn by the likes of Natas Kaupas and Jim Thiebaud.

I first appeared in an issue of the actual Intelligence Report zine shortly after winning the fabled Powell Peralta "art contest" in 1988 and landing a job in the company's art department, so it made just enough sense for me to man-up on my assorted hang-ups and submit to recording an episode 35 years later. Well, we'd also just released the Anita guest model, so there was even more of a legitimate reason to go on since the BBAS was the inciting incident that did lead to the conception and production of said model. But, like I mentioned earlier, both Larry and Matt love a good deep dish dive into what went on behind the golden automotive upholstery curtain at Powell Peralta, and I felt I still had a few nuggets left to share that hadn't yet totally rotted away at the bottom of my mental dumpster. Besides, who knows when all these musty memories will simply be lost to the synaptic winds of time, so why not dredge 'em up for one last heave-ho before they go, go, go.

Was it all just a dream of the little boy who lived down the lane? It sure does feel like it, especially when Jim Fitzpatrick sends a photo such as this taken of me at a point in time I didn’t immediately recall but there I am just the same. So yes, a funny thing, time. I once knew this family who left the USA to join the time-traveling commune of Damanhur in Italy. They wouldn’t openly talk about what exactly went down in the caves there, but did once liken time to the spine of a book and how it could be crawled and traversed as such. (What, you were expecting a flat circle?) But apparently 4x6 snapshots do the time traveling trick just the same, where memories can still be randomly accessed and obtained before they’ve left the cranial building. This particular flick flipped my pages back to an NSA pro contest held at the Powell Peralta Skate Zone in 1991. To my stage left is Denise Ransom from TWS, Bryan Ridgeway, Powell Peralta team manager Todd Hastings, some unknown legs, and yes, that’s Steve Rocco himself at the ping-pong table. If I’m correct, this would also be the same time Rocco handed me a VHS tape of the new Blind video, which was later popped into a VCR for an impromptu premiere following the contest. Immediately afterward, Sluggo attempted to lift the tape out of the VHS player, but I caught him just in the nick of time. Would he even remember this now? I doubt it. We all have our own realities and some instances burn far brighter than others. The rescuing of my Video Days tape was of paramount importance then, hence the retention of this distinct core memory and how all it needed was a simple photographic prompt no matter how soft and grainy it may be.

And I did. For just over three hours we immersed ourselves in a fun, run-on collision of a discussion that rode the dial between the years of 1986–1991, covering anything and everything I could possibly recall from my tour of duty. For some, or at least those who've read the words I'd written in Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art (2004), it may feel like an oral CliffsNotes of sorts as voiced by Kermit the Frog, but so it goes. Perhaps most surprising of all, though, is that I had minimal "day after" regrets and/or trauma to speak of, which is indeed very unusual for me. Okay, so maybe just one or two, but aren't those the landmines always worth listening for? Well, whatever. It's done. It's out. And you can listen to it here if you have a three-hour drive and need to span some aural time: BBAS061.


1. Wallride was (is?) the in-house zine for Girl Distribution/Crailtap which could easily be likened to a hi-octane version of Powell Peralta's Bones Brigade Intelligence Report.

2. Again, always worth noting that "diary" is just a linguistic hop, step, and a loose stool from "diarrhea," and this is something never once lost on me.

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  • WD on

    Dear Cliver,
    Stop kicking yourself in the mental nuts…. Despite your feelings, the podcast was one of the best interviews I have heard yet on any podcast…. In fact I found myself wishing MORE interviews had the same supreme detail and recollection of yours on the BBAS.

    This is NOT lip/finger service… OK that sounds weird… But this is NOT just blowing smoke. It was seriously a good interview and I (and likely others) hope that this positive experience leads to a round two…. at a minimum.

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