Listen to LW Walk in the Shadow on Spotify
The Orb â€“ Little Fluffy Clouds
Buccaneer â€“ Fade Away
Shakira â€“ Whenever, Wherever
Beenie Man â€“ Who Am I
Femi Kuti â€“ Beng Beng Beng
Nas â€“ The Message
Unknown â€“ Chaiyya Chaiyya
Wanda Jackson â€“ Fujiyama Mama
Steve Miller Band â€“ Abracadabra
X-Ray Spex â€“ Oh Bondage, Up Yours!
Eleven years ago this week, January 1999, we went to Paris and got in a gunfight.
The story was rejected by Sidewalk. Probably because I compared the Gliss’Expo trade show to an arms fair and that our photos really were rubbish. We pooled together our snaps of the event and sent them to the magazine by post, and they were never seen again.
But as you don’t get to read many eyewitness accounts of gunfights in skateboard magazines, here’s one:
[DDET The Guide to Rough Paris]
The Parisian Glissexpo Festival is a like an extreme sports arms fair. Contracts worth millions of pounds, dollars, francs and marks are signed, much of it wholly reliant on cheap labour from the Far East. The results of this two way relationship are that young Westerners spend their disposable income on disposable products several times a season, and the ancient cultures of the Far East are compromised for the sake of a quick buck.
The festival comprises a skateboarding contest as well as the trade show, which is why these words are even here. However, the contest is an overtly commercial affair – even by US standards – so we decided to cover it using the cheapest cameras and most inept team of skateboard journalists ever comprised. We hope you, and all the sponsors involved, agree that we have captured the heart and soul of Glissexpo.
Just a swift half then
$22000 in prize money was up for grabs. A hefty amount, especially for European standards. This was bound to draw some of the worldâ€™s biggest pros across an icy cold Atlantic. Combine that with the Disneyland location, and a Eurostar special offer; in no time a crack team was assembled, eager to exchange a grim English January for a grim French one. Wig, Ben and Andy were all off globetrotting so it was down to us, the B-Team, the Sidewalk Reserves, the Alcoholic Boy Scouts, to save the day. For the record, the team was Gustav, Charlie, James, Pete, Milo, Pelle, Jon, Dan, his girlfriend and myself.
I guess itâ€™s my round
Journalism is all about organisation, teamwork, professionalism, dedication and ability – qualities none of us possessed to any degree. After a few beers on the train it became clear that skating took far higher priority than some crappy French contest, and if it was going to rain then we had Disneyland to destroy. As it turns out, La God, or whatever Heâ€™s called over there, blessed us with some of the sunniest January days weâ€™d seen in ages, so we spent our first afternoon skating the streets of Paris. By the way, if you think you can hippy jump a chain when youâ€™ve just stepped off Eurostar, think again; horror comedy slams went down within minutes.
We ended up at the legendary Palais de Tokyo, the Parisian street skaters hook up spot.
If you took all of the skate-chillers from around the world and bred them until they each had 5 chill-dren, they would all chill at Palais de Tokyo. Itâ€™s a chilling circus. Slamming is heavily frowned upon, as are creative lines and doing any tricks invented before 1998. Even if you canâ€™t make your nollie flip switch crooks, as long as you fail avec le style you will get le props from le chillers. Simple. We decided to take our eccentric English style of skating around the corner before we got le beaten up for being le fags. Gustav did cause the odd Gallic smirk of approval – with his Nordic pop – using it to ollie, nollie, switch ollie, switch 180 and then kickflip down the hefty double set.
Lets start with some shots
The travelling and skating had worn us out already, and it was still only the first day, so we decided to check out some watering holes near the apartment in Le Motte Picquet-Grenelle. Parisian bars are funny old places, firstly youâ€™ve got the international risk that you simply might just walk in to the wrong place. Couple that with it being the right place on the wrong night, multiply it with prices that vary from extortionate to frightening (with no indication outside) and then put all those facts on the barbecue with your wallet and watch them burn.
Needless to say we actually went out and home four times that night. Each disastrous return to the apartment was swiftly followed by drunken remorse that we shouldnâ€™t be quitting so early. As the numbers dwindled down to a desperate few, we eventually ended up in the seedy part of town, where the rest of the weekendâ€™s skating money paid for drink, taxis and unconsciousness.
Do they take credit cards?
The next day was the sunniest Saturday Iâ€™ve seen since childhood – enough even to banish the most putrid of hangovers. We had to take the RER train to Disneyland for the contest; imagine if Network South East ran through the Bronx using lifesize BRIO trains.
The RER has a locally famous reputation for crime, but our lack of knowledge and research told us to skip happily on to the brightly coloured fun train. Much later on we would regret that choice. Endless high-rises dominated the horizon, daubed in political and artistic graffiti. Skate spots, viewed from the safety of the train, invite the unsuspecting visitor into the craziest neighbourhoods. We were lucky that we had a contest to go to.
And nine people to somehow get into the contest for free.
As we rolled up, it didnâ€™t look good. The entire population of French 14 – 18 year old males were milling around, trying to smoke their way into the contest quoting gangster rap and using hip hop gestures to get past the guards. It wasnâ€™t working.
We eventually found the Press Centre and scammed our way in after a bit of trouble, a few medium-coloured lies, some press passes slipped through the fence and the usual â€œMoi? Nonâ€ innocence.
Iâ€™m a French Rude Boy
A lot of money had been wasted attempting to make the street course look like a real street. The ground had been painted with road markings, traffic lights hung from the ceilings and roadsigns stood all over the place. The ramps had brick textures on the side and there were neon logos everywhere. Xtreme had come to Europe, so weâ€™d better do our most radical manoeuvres before we got roadrash. I got all carried away, it was like a set for a terrible movie, but we were on this terrible movie’s set so it didnâ€™t matter.
There was a proper session on, and no spectators yet. All the skaters looked vaguely familiar, yet it took us a few minutes before we began to recognise names.
Oh look Geoff Rowley. Thatâ€™s Brian Anderson isnâ€™t it. Check out Ronnie Creager. We hadnâ€™t seen any professional skateboarders since last summer; they all had new haircuts and different clothing sponsors now. Some were fatter, some were thinner. This journalism thing was really coming together. The stars on the course began to shine – Tom Penny, Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Rick Howard, Willy Santos, Rick McCrank, Ed Templeton, Ellisa Steamer, Mike Vallely, Jeremy Wray, Enrique Lorenzo, Chet Thomas, Jaya Bonderov – thatâ€™s just the first batch that rolled off my tongue. Manzoori, Woody and H were representing Blighty with Rowley and Penny, and countless other pros and ams jostled their way around.
That $22000 dollars was going to take some winning.
Hawk, Burnquist and Crum hopped around on the giant vert ramp, but in the interests of journalistic completeness we didnâ€™t watch once because the street was too interesting. Here is 8 hours worth of observation diluted into a few measly sentences:
Eric Koston 360 flip nose manual and flip late shove-its, Mike Vallely nosepick vert corner and dives into roadsigns, Ed Templeton frontside feeble up rail, Gianni Zattoni cab over funbox, Andrew Reynolds frontside flip over funbox whilst having a picnic and playing chess, Willy Santos 16ft nosegrind, Tom Penny dazed and confused backside ollie wheel clips, Woody huge ollie late shove-its, H sketchy astronaut backside ollies, Chris Senn total destruction, Tim Brauch similar destruction, Ronnie Creager technical fatness, Chet Thomas hardflip crooks, Flips young new rider Bastien Salabanzi consistent backside flips and nollie heelflip bigspins etc.
Even Goofy â€“ yes, Disneyâ€™s Goofy â€“ showed up complete with security guards and had a quick regular footed skate around the course. Dan Joyce gets himself about these days.
The standard of skating was good to say the least; my memory and writing skills are no match for being there, or at least seeing a good set of photos. As you can see, my writing will have to do until youâ€™ve seen Viewfinder No2.
Le Grand Shoot-out
Our skate shoes were beginning to wear out just from shifting from foot to foot, so we called it a day at around 6pm. Who qualified for the next days finals? No idea.
After a swift half at one of Mickey Mouseâ€™s pubs on Main Street USA, and an unnecessarily firm ejection from McDonalds we headed back to the RER for the return journey to Paris.
Whilst waiting for the train to move off, James dashed across the platform to relieve himself. The driver, obviously looking back down the train, chose that as the perfect moment to close the doors. Much to the amusement of everyone on our carriage, James stood stranded on the platform, banging hopelessly on the door. The driver sadly wasnâ€™t feeling that vindictive, and let him back in. It was calm on the train, comfortable seats and a warm atmosphere. We chatted about the dayâ€™s highlights as the RER trundled through the suburbs.
Then, all of a sudden, things went very lopsided.
The train had stopped at one of the stations near Disneyland. The doors were open and it was pitch black outside on the empty platform. A loud bang rang out from the next carriage.
A very loud bang.
A very next carriage.
When I hear a loud bang I think of all sorts of things, but rarely a gunshot – itâ€™s just not in my experience to hear gunshots. I thought perhaps it was the train engine backfiring, somehow. Please let it be the train engine backfiring, somehow. A second later another bang, louder.
Everyone knew it was gunshots.
Major panic set in. At this point I was high on adrenaline so coverage of events may differ from reality.
I remember the following: babies being thrown under seats by screaming parents, contorted children leaping randomly, more gunshots, skateboards and skateboarders flying across the train in all directions, Charlie shouting to get down, getting down, getting up, getting down, commotion on the platform, seriously rude boys smashing into our carriage, some mace action, maybe more gunshots, a doubling of panic levels, running from the train with hordes of frightened tourists, taking refuge at the end of the train, the driver announcing in French panic that he didnâ€™t know what to do as his security phone was broken, another doubling of panic levels, more scrambling between carriages to follow rumour and avoid guns and mace. Fifteen minutes of nervous waiting, gradual calming down, police turning up, train moving off.
But thatâ€™s just my view.
Many hours later, when weâ€™d mostly recovered, it turns out that some thought there had been seven shots. Seven?! I remain convinced there were only two shots, but we still differ, some saying seven, others five and Charlie and I two. I learned exactly why these things are hard to remember.
Le Grande Arche
Well you can guess what we talked about that night, all night. We went out to celebrate our lack of gunshot wounds or death and had drunk our last centime by 4am.
Trying to skate the next day, the alcohol combined with delayed shock and worn out spectator muscles. We cruised around La Defense, the financial district. Spots were plenty, but our lack of knowledge meant a half hour trek between each. Gustav nearly got his camera nicked after being accused of filming the wrong man. Weâ€™d really had enough by this time. We needed English soil.
Le Grande Arche is a huge skyscraper with a big hole in it, so we took the glass lift to the top to sort ourselves out. Watching the sun set over Paris on the last day of January 1999 was a memorable experience. It was cold and we were tired, but our hearts were warmed.
We didnâ€™t know who had won the $22000 at the contest and we didnâ€™t care. The experiences of the weekend were set in stone now, unchangeable events, already turning into a story for our grandchildren.
Do it. Go to Paris, but donâ€™t use the RER. Travel anywhere with your friends, scam your way around Europe, the world even.
This is 1999, the perfect occasion. Iâ€™m still sure there were two shots. I need a drink.
By Milo Bragg
Originally published in Sidewalk about 1999. This was a popular story that generated a lot of responses.
[DDET Krooked Krillas, or The Development of the OllieÂ ]
Standing at the far end of the narrow path stood Spectrum (real name Steven Trumble). He gripped his brand new board by the nose and tapped the tail nervously on the concrete slabs. Ahead of him lay a thirty or forty metre run-up, and then a massive set of twenty stairs. It would be the ollie of his life, sure to get him that sponsorship he so deserved.
At the bottom of the stairs crouched his best mate Re-Cycla (real name Richard Chiswick) holding a Hi-8 camera, and the rest of his skate posse, the Krooked Krillas.
Spectrum looked down at his board. The trucks gleamed from the light of the street lamps, and the wheel graphics were still in top condition. A couple of Krooked Krillas stickers were strategically placed on the deck, surrounding his latest tag which adorned the central area. A dope-ass masterpiece, it brought pride and adrenaline to his veins. After landing this ollie, he thought, Iâ€™m gonna spray that tag on every one of those twenty steps, like a street dog leaving a mark for the bitches.
He checked to ensure that his laces were undone. Check. Thinking that one trouser leg rolled up to the knee was now a bit too cliched, he adjusted one leg so that it was only a couple of turn ups more than the other. His secret hope being that the material might fly up his shin a good few inches more during the ollie, perhaps â€˜accidentallyâ€™ reaching up to his knee.
Almost ready to start the run-up, he silently mouthed some lyrics from his favourite rap album.
Just becuz yo ready donâ€™t mean Iâ€™m feelinâ€™ randy,
Wait ten minutes bitches, I got reason to be dandy,
My five bucks donâ€™t stretch to what yo offer for a man dear,
I think itâ€™s time I rent a movie-that way I use my hand here!
Spectrum waited for the moment when the bass line would have kicked back in, and then he moved off. The tiles on the path were crooked, and made it difficult to gain speed. On the wall to the left he passed tags and graff from rival gangs.Â He noticed some of the better work, but quickly regained concentration as the steps began to loom. His slightly rolled up trouser leg felt heavy, banging against his shin, aggravating an old scab.
He could see the heads of his posse at the bottom of the steps now. As they peered up, he put on his dopest grimace, and began his pre-ollie affectations. His lips pursed and then pouted in a gangsta fashion, his arms adopted an unnatural swing with each push. Wrists and fingers contorted, halfway into the gang signs he so often used without even noticing. His confidence grew as he remembered who was the baddest skater, the wickedest tagger at the local bus station. It was himself, Spectrum, and now he was gonna be the first sponsored skater in their stupid little hick town. Just twenty steps lay between him and skate stardom. He would then save up and fly out to LA, sure to get noticed in no time at all.
He crouched, ready to spring at the edge of the rapidly approaching first step. He saw Re-Cycla with the camera, and he saw the glory in front of him, and with all the effort left in his body, he ollied as far as he could. Every muscle in his body was being used. Every vein pulsed the maximum amount of blood. His eyes focused through the sweat down to the landing spot at the bottom of the steps. It looked a long, long way away.
Steven Trumble stood at the top of the steps, and had a good look down all twenty of them, before turning around and skating off down the path which would be his run up. His board and shoes were pretty worn out, but he liked the look of them.Â They had been worn out from skating, so he didnâ€™t perceive it to be a negative process, just a natural one. He thought to himself, why do some skaters moan about the condition of their decks? Steven knew he was poor and unsponsored, and so by accepting his situation so readily, he could find nothing in it to complain about.
He carved down the path to the starting point, about twenty metres away from the steps. All of his skating friends had gone home a while ago, and whilst he had enjoyed their session together, he felt truly at peace when skating alone at night. No one to judge, no opinions to clash, no distracting rivalry, or disagreements about where to skate next. Steven had been thinking about ollieing these steps for a little while, but he hadnâ€™t mentioned it to anyone. It would have seemed like he was after some kind of attention, which was the opposite of the truth. He simply thought of ollieing the steps because he knew he could. He didnâ€™t strive to ollie them, nor desire it particularly. He had allowed nature to have itâ€™s way, and nature had chosen this evening to be the right time.
Reaching the twenty metre point, he stopped and picked up his board. An outsider would observe that he handled it with remarkable, even obsessive care. But Steven was simply cherishing the skateboard that would take him on his journey down the steps. He respected the board, and offered it deep devotion, knowing that repayment would be automatic, and in full.
He began his run-up slowly, taking the best route amongst the cracked paving slabs without being aware of it. Free of all emotions, he had entered a state of contemplation. He didnâ€™t see the gigantic ollie ahead of him, but instead viewed the entire process from run-up to ollie and then landing as one flowing movement,Â more like the growth of a tree, or the transformation from rain to sleet to snow.
Later on, he would have little memory of these moments, because they were more than physical in nature. He truly existed as he skated down the path, and he always would exist in that way. How can you remember that which always takes place?
He had plenty of speed now, and prepared his body for the ollie by crouching slightly. This was the most tranquil moment. The edge of the steps were not a sharp edge, they were more like a slight change in the plane of his path. He ollied into a distinct space above the steps, his route to the bottom was clearly defined and easy to follow. His body remained relaxed, the combination of correct speed and technique not requiring any huge effort or strength.
It was certainly not rational to ollie down such a large set of steps, but it was undeniably natural. With a mind that remained clear of all thoughts of failure or injury, of college or work,Â he barely even noticed the landing, intent instead on the process as a whole. Simply aware that he was nearing the end of it now. His speed took him far down the landing path and out onto the empty street. Steering towards home, he enjoyed the dying ebbs of momentum before finally pushing once or twice more, looking forward to some food and rest. The only sound came from his wheels, but he was blissfully unaware. He briefly noticed some graffiti that had been sprayed on a wall by the street, and smiled for the first time since the ollie, knowing that he had entered another world now.
The previous world of the graffiti and the other skaters and his parents seemed ever so comical, ever so distant.
Listen to LW UPS on Spotify
Bo Diddley â€“ Bo’s Bounce
The B-52’s â€“ Rock Lobster
Sly & The Family Stone â€“ Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey
The Very Best â€“ Julia
Dan Auerbach â€“ I Want Some More
Joe Gideon & The Shark â€“ Harum Scarum
Dr. Dog â€“ The World May Never Know
Serge Gainsbourg â€“ Bonnie And Clyde
Bruce Springsteen â€“ I’m On Fire
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony â€“ Ecstasy – explicit
Butthole Surfers â€“ Who Was In My Room Last Night?
The Fugs â€“ Marijuana – 2006 Remastered Album Version
Lucille Bogan â€“ Shave ‘Em Dry II
Milo’s been killing it recently, he is simply everywhere. But deservedly so if he can get to Playstation by 5.45 on a below-zero Wednesday.
Where does he gets his drive from?
Well, turns out his Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather was renowned landscape artist John Martin, 1789-1854. See below for how his features have changed through the ages of olden times:
So three of us went on a major minus temperature skate last night.
I was sitting at home thinking whether I should do Playstation or not so I phoned Milo who was just arriving at 5.45 on the nose, on time and inline with his precise calculations.
“I got to go its an emergency” he says, “I have the whole park to myself, they are not sure whether they are staying open but they are letting me skate for ten, got to go, got to go.”
I then call Snowstation and ask if they will stay open and they say they will. The fellow behind the counter goes onto the course and finds Milo, explains they are staying open and takes 6 pounds off him.
Milo phones me up and says “Listen, they are staying open but you got to let me go, I got the whole park to myself, can’t talk can’t talk.”
I said I would see him in a bit and made my way there.
Dave R comes along and puts on the best matching shoe, board and coat outfit I have seen for a while. We attempt to skate, the bones are rickety, and the toes are cold…the last thing you want to do is take a tumble.
Within minutes I hear a crash and Dave is rolling in agony. One of the first pops of the day and his wheel landed in a deep hole in the wood. I didn’t see this one but Milo said in order to avoid crashing his face into a corner of a block Dave managed to skip and scurry out of the way on his knees. A kind of hop and skip across wood and metal to dodge the oncoming obstacle but only on his kness. At minus temperatures…not fun.
We do get a skate in.
Then I think the cold begins to break Milo. We take it to the pub and Milo and Dave order some burgers and chips and steak. Milo can’t seem to get warm, he is constantly complaining about a draft and he is shivering. So we move to another table where there is a candle in a glass. Milo starts getting really into this candle, clasping his hands around it. While the couple at the next table are out having a smoke he steals their candle. They are left in darkness on their return. He then books a cab home, repeating the phrase “door to door” a couple of times “can’t face that platform”.
Broken by the cold.
Westborne Park to Hackney please. We join him as he promises to pay 70 percent of the fare. And I leave my hat in the pub.
By Jacob Brown
Spence is a legend, one of the few skateboarders I ever saw make Snoz’s jaw drop. He comes to London twice a season, ridicules any slanted surface with his abundant prowess, then disappears in a flurry of taxi receipts.
Click to read a marvellous letter originally published in Freeride magazine about 2000.
[DDET Uncle Someone: Granny Bottlechurch]
Dear Granny Bottlechurch,
You asked me to write to you about our new neighbour in the village, well here is the story, verbatim, and recorded from their strange bearded gardener called â€˜Daggerâ€™.
“Runs upon the Tyne, oblong ties to go, Big Spence used to keep fit with curry paste smeared under his toenails due to the likely emergence of a tiny Indian parasite known as Eschebone Sandispatticus. As the little bug took hold of his feet, the incessant and agonizing itching could only be relieved through lengthy jogs near water, champion tennis and hockey activities. The big man soon tired of this activity and, after endless meetings with homeotherapists, aromatherapists, reflexologists, osteopaths and many other purveyors of bodily cures, Spence took his pocket money down to Rollermania in Bristol and bought himself a skateboard.
The year was 1989, and the Cotswold Fertiliser Wars were coming to an end. A treaty signed by Hinton and Gales of Southrop and The Victoria Inn of Eastleach ensured a time of permanent peace would return to these battle-scarred hills. Spence maximised his opportunities and quickly learnt the joint trades of street and ramp skating. A visiting fighter pilot at RAF Fairford was overheard saying, â€œMan, that guy was born to skate ramp!â€ after witnessing the ex-tennis stars transition skills. And what a true statement it was â€“ defying both the physical laws of gravity and the metaphysical laws of gradual self improvement, Spence staled his fish high above his peers and rivals alike.
SS20 opened its shop in Oxford, and the inhabitants of the Leach Valley Players quickly adopted this retail outlet as an extension of Fairford youth club. Riders with names like Moul and Scamp were befriended and informed of the burgeoning scene within the Coriniumsâ€™ catchment area. Evil Kinevel ramps were constructed under the eyes of a thousand owls so that Stretch Limo might practice his stunt work with protection from the elements. School suffered, as it should, only to be enlightened by a short story concocted by some pupils regarding the midnight antics of members of staff.
The next decade saw ramps and decks broken with frequency, Bradford visited for the purposes of culinary and social education, new friends arriving by the quarter, and improvements in every field the handsome young man set his wellies in.
A Penny dropped in on Oxford’s new mini ramp complex and set about a global domination and withdrawal act in 36 months flat. The reverberations would be felt for many years, not least by the Pennyâ€™s many associates along the lengthy Thames Valley.
Stretch continued to skill himself up even more, and added a dash of balletic fluency to his trademark sketchiness of previous years. The big manâ€™s media appearances started to flourish, so almost in response, he began a yearly crusade down under to cherish the Southern Hemisphereâ€™s rays, and blemish the South of Englandâ€™s days with his absence.
Today of course, the old bugger spends his time with a pantry stocked thick with fine wines and meats, a miniramp complex in the grounds of his castle, a motorised satellite dish the size of a meteorite crater, a loving wife and a devoted following amongst Chilford-under-Wychcarveâ€™s younger generation of skate fanatics.
In other words, heâ€™s made it.
To follow in his footsteps, just enter your name as SSPE, and when the final boss appears, type in JONNY B ROCKS before the first rollerblading minions begin their attack.”
Well, Granny, I think you will agree heâ€™s an interesting fellow, although Iâ€™m not sure if a single word of that â€˜Daggerâ€™ fellow can be relied upon. If you visit in the spring, be sure to bring some Scotch fancies and we can pop round theirs for tea and find out the truth,
Your loving Granddaughter,