run while you can

Wood and Wheels (Skateboarding).

Joey Pepper: Like an understated wave.

Slash grind at the C-Bowl in Cambridge. Matt Daughters.

Slash grind at the C-Bowl in Cambridge. Matt Daughters.

As we flesh out east coast rippers here at Like a Wave, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate the past from the present. The nineties, in space not time, took skateboarding’s obsession with street cred, not surprisingly, to the streets. Jump-ramps were shed in favor of curb cuts. There was some thug logic behind the advantage of big pants and small wheels. If the seventies and eighties are to blame for skateboarding’s punk ethos, the nineties are surely accountable for putting the ‘G’ in skateboarding.
Joey Pepper has been called everything, underrated and OG included.

BG: You seem like you are the type of guy that would pick up a shovel in a snow storm. That accurate?
JP: Excuse me?

BG: I mumble. Anyway, congrats on the shoe. Long time coming.
JP: That’s what I keep hearing.

BG: Well, it’s been a long road, I’m sure. Say, one of my favorite features you had was in Skateboarder a couple years ago. Some motorcycle trip in Vietnam. All the photos made the trip look more like an adventure.
JP: Oh, definitely. Mehring puts together solid crews. Jerry Hsu was there; Keegan too. So many good memories from that trip.

On the road with Mehring.

On the road with Mehring.

BG: Didn’t you also take a skate-centric trip down the Amazon?
JP: Ha. I know. Skateboarding has taken me all over the world. I’m grateful.

BG: Say, what’s with all the lamps?
JP: Yeah. Well, it’s just a hobby of mine. Woodworking.

BG: These don’t look like maple. What wood did you use?
JP: I think that one is elm.

BG: Woah. So you’re multi-talented?
JP: Just trying something new. But thanks.

BG: Can I get a photo of you for the blog?
JP: Sure, no problem. How do you want me to stand?

BG: I guess by a lamp… So anywhere is fine.
JP: Still not sure how I should stand.

BG: Oh. Umm. Look natural.
JP: Ha. How’s this?

BG: Not bad (snaps photo).
JP: That a winner?

BG: That’ll do. Anyway, thanks for the time. Again, congrats.
JP: Yeah, thanks.

Joey, the internet is abundant with sick photos of your raw skateboarding. Welcome to Like a Wave.

No debunked spot. Photo: Chromeball.

Now debunked. Photo: Chromeball.

A familiar spot. Madison, WI.

A familiar spot. Madison, WI.

Another Chromeball gem.

Another Chromeball gem. Kickflip.


Jahmal Williams: Like an OG wave.

Sick seaside skateboarding. Photo: Marcus Manoogian.

We’re keeping it east coast this week at Like a Wave. From Boston to Phillie to DC and, of course, NYC, the Northeast has twisted the surf-oriented culture of So-Cal skateboarding. Despite our blog’s fine branding, everyone here at Like a Wave, fresh or hesh, sees skateboarding as stand alone. No other mode of transportation better synthesizes free expression and movement. Moreover, beginning in the late seventies, no other independent pursuit has played such a profound role in shaping street culture. All fashion, music, and art dubbed ‘underground’ is inherently tied, if not a product, of the skateboarding revolution.

Pursuit in NYC.  Bill Eppridge. 14 May 1965. Life Magazine.

Pursuit in NYC. Bill Eppridge. 14 May 1965. Life Magazine.

The above photo begs one to imagine skateboarding far removed from sunny beaches and dropped in the heart of the concrete jungle. While the Z-Boys of Venice Beach channeled surf into their aesthetic, skateboarding was already happening on the east coast in its own right.
Pushing aside one soapbox only to stand atop another, Like a Wave welcomes Jahmal Williams into our ever-growing sect of respectable skateboarders.

Hopps-icle vendor. Hopps Skateboards Ad. Summer 2010. Marcus Manoogian.

With deep roots in Boston, Jahmal has been on the skate scene for a couple of decades. Eastern Exposure III, as the name suggests, was a black and white video montage that quite literally put modern east coast skateboarding on the map. Jahmal was there, way back in 1996.

Jah-Wallie at the banks. Photo: Allen Ying.

Jah-Wallie at the banks. Photo: Allen Ying.

Jahmal has always demonstrated his commitment to art. In teaming with past featured skater, Ed Templeton, Jahmal joined one of the most art-fluencial skate companies of all time, TV. He then followed Ed onto another skate venture, the earliest conception of Toy Machine. Go figure.

Self portrait by Jahmal Williams.

Self portrait by Jahmal Williams.

Currently Jahmal owns and operates one of the sickest east coast companies in skateboarding, Hopps. Skaters out there, support his efforts. The company has terrific ads and the art direction in general is consistently on point.

The world as we see it. Photo: Ian Patrick Connor.

The world as we see it. Photo: Ian Patrick Connor.

Jahmal, thanks for making waves. Best wishes on the right coast.

Kevin Coakley: Like a soft-spoken wave.

Kevin Coakley and the kickflip heard ’round the world. Zander Taketomo.

Like a Wave has been slipping on all fronts but none more than its commitment to skateboarding. The truth is that there are fewer and fewer real rippers out there. As our staff ages, nostalgia stinks up the cubicles at LAW Headquarters. This is a phenomenon experienced by all twenty-something skater boys. Past are the days of spending all night in a parking lot or ditch laughing at bloody elbows with the homies. Now, our ankles are crunchy, and life is the grind. The consensus around here is that the grass roots aspect of our art is no longer the emphasis. No, selling sneakers and soda seems to be the focus. Our staff encourages you, disenchanted skate rats, to push fast down the street, bomb a hill, and slash a curb. Fuck it. We decide when we’re benched. ‘Flip in, flip’ out can’t kill the kid in us.

Makes don't always matter. 50-50 concoction. Photo: Taketomo.

Makes don’t always matter. 50-50 concoction. Photo: Taketomo.

Many readers may be unaware, but one of the piddly excuses for our frequent hiatus is relocation and its dizzying implications. Back in 2010, our start-up office was an apartment in the heart of dairy land: Wisconsin, home of endless farm fields and unforgivable winters. Soon after, Like a Wave went international, conducting its operations out of a one-room cell in South Korea. The scene was encouraging but ultimately stifled by economic disaster. Back in Wisconsin, the blog suffered tremendously. Moving back to the Midwest was a huge set-back in terms of inspiration on wood and wheels. At last, our small firm has planted itself on the east coast at arguably the birthplace of America, Boston, Mass. The skate ideology in this region is raw and heavily centered on reputation. Careers aren’t championed here; they are held onto as pipe dreams. No one readily admits, but while surrounded by urban decay, skateboards are security blankets, objects of unwavering attachment. Inanimate as they are, skateboards breath life. Here in Boston, it’s trial by fire, sink-or-swim tea party style.
There are a slew of mentionable Bostonian skateboarders: Jerry Fowler, Lee Berman, Bro Gumpright… ummm, PJ Ladd. But, at the moment, Kevin Coakley is blazing his own trail as a hometown hero. This guy isn’t new to the scene, but he’s not often in the spotlight. Like a Wave sings the praises of this underrated OG.

Kevin through Taketomo's lens. Boston, MA.

Kevin through Taketomo’s lens. Boston, MA.

Street skateboarding is an extension of inherent urban design. Coakley drops lines through his city like one might walk a familiar route to work. He turns even the roughest spots into smooth canvases. His stand-out, opening part in Blueprint’s Make Friends with the Colour Blue cemented him as an ‘east coast creative type.’ This entry into skateboarding’s often straightforward progression stood out as tangential. Coakley didn’t travel to California or, heaven forbid, China to craft a video part. He stayed at home and made his imperfect stomping ground into a playground. This aesthetic direction goes all the way back to the seventies, when Venice Beach Dogtowners painted their walls with the phrase ‘Locals Only,’ as if to say: ‘You don’t belong because you don’t eat, sleep, and breath these streets.’

The streetest trick. Photo: Takemoto.

The streetest trick. Photo: Taketomo.

Like a Wave proudly places a feather in Kevin Coakley’s cap. Cheers! And best of luck keeping our essence alive. The ‘Red-Eye’ feature on SLAP was another gem.

Nate Broussard: Like a rugged wave.

Hell of a ride. Photo: Kingpin.

Like a Wave returns with another tip-of-the-cap to one of the tried and true underground heroes of skateboarding.
As a leading skateboard blog-site, it pays to dip into skateboarding’s new-age, semi-fleeting cyber-culture. Patrick O’Dell continues to kill it as a documentarian via his internet endeavor, Epicly Later’d. Most recently, Ricky Oyola reminded largely docile, aging street rats to stop being so bloody bashful. Put succinctly, there is nothing wrong with poignant ‘hate.’ Fuck. Hate is great. Kids need to stop worrying about whether the tight pants fad is dead and start considering more detrimental dilemmas, such as personal motivation and homogenization. Among dedicated skaters, there ought to be no qualms calling out Lutzka for cashing Tequila checks, Malto and Ortiz for letting Gatorade poison purity, and even Paul Rodriguez for taking Target’s money. Long story short, being a professional skateboarder is not solely about talent; it is about upholding an ideal. Though discrete, this ideal sure as hell has nothing to do with selling out.
Nate Broussard is not a sell out; he is a manufacturer of style, steeped in skateboarding.

Professor Broussard brought to you by Sam Mueller.

Nate’s roots run deep. A decade ago, Nate was kicking around in beefy Adio’s, representing, believe it or not, the Planet Earth. For a flash from the past, check out Nate’s part in One Step Beyond; disregard his affiliation with Bam.
Broussard has had a notoriously difficult journey. His long-time shoe sponsor blew-out, twice his clothing sponsor caved, and then Bueno went under. Talk about bad luck. Sounds like a page out of Oyola’s diary. But maybe not. Broussard kept pushing, stayed loyal, and, thanks to Michael Sieben, finally achieved pro-boner status. He hasn’t punched out to say the least.

Colorful career choices. Photo: Ian O'Connor.

To date, Nate’s best work manifests in Josh Stewart’s independent film, Static III. Matching Elliot Smith bar-for-bar, Broussard kills it softly with serious lines and immaculate spot selection. This section ought to stand-out as a pillar in contemporary street skateboarding. Nate’s work at Phillie’s five-down, five-up does more than dole street cred. The entire part seeps effortlessness in the face of rough ground and sidewalk cracks.

Poppy love. Photo: Sam Mueller.

Yes, Nate came full circle and finally went pro for Roger skateboards. He has also secured another shoe sponsor, HUF footwear no less, a company with great promise headed by a past Waver. Things are looking up for the bearded wunderkind.

Nate the Great.

Nate, keep pushing; you’ve earned respect from a finicky group of crotchety old men. That’s something right there. Right on.

Neil Smith: Like an unwavering wave.

For the British children. Photo: Sam Ashley.

Skateboard media, essentially two-fold*, consists of photography and filmography. Though both forms are extensive artistic outlets, skaters commonly debate which is superior. In short, are you a mag-dude or vid-dude, brah?
A matter of personal preference, this question has no correct answer. (Oddly enough, Like a Wave features photos yet expounds upon videos. This dichotomy best suits a skate-hound, hungry from everything.)

Switch front-thug. Photo: Sam Ashley.

Obviously photos and videos each have their merits. A still photo (not a sequence, mind you) captures only the pinnacle of a lengthier set of images. Raw footage on the other hand gives the viewer the entire story from dramatic roll-up to relieved roll-away.
Uninteresting nonsense aside, Neil Smith has kept a good thing going, sticking out tough times, still killing it. Often through the lens of Sam Ashley, Smithy can nail a photo. This is not to say that he can’t get radical on film. Because he can. And he has. For this reason, Blueprint of London deemed it appropriate to turn Neil pro… again**…

Frontside demolition derby. Photo: Sam Ashley.

Neil’s blend of speed and power make him a true street machine. Although he drops some serious hammers, his name is unlikely to come up in a discussion of gap and handrail killers. Perhaps it ought to. Evidence is available…
Neil’s first major part was in Blueprint’s Lost & Found, which debuted back in 2005. This video, a pillar in skate history, showcases classic, bricky British skate spots. Neil crushes at light speed, dishing some six minutes of destruction. (There might even be a ghetto bird fluttering about in this part).
Last year Blueprint released its newest video, Make Friends with the Colour Blue. Again, Neil proved a worthy cog in the machinery of British skateboarding. The editing in this part harkens back to Misled Youth, in which tricks rapidly appear and disappear, cut together without any interludes. Neil’s nollie heelflip hellride ender essentially sums up the entire part. Raw.

You guessed it, Photo: Sam Ashley.

Neil, so glad you’re back in pro-dom. Doubly deserved.
*Interviews and this website’s aimless prose don’t count.
**Back in 2008, Neil gracefully accepted a demotion to amateur status following Blueprint’s near collapse.

Jason Dill: Like an uncertain wave.

Drizzle. Photo: Hunt.

Like a Wave continues to move forward, ever-uncertain of our intent. For over a year, this site has featured skateboarding’s finest. From burly Stu Graham to authentic Oyola, a slew of skaters have called this page home. Naturally the format of these features has developed over time. As such, a handful of early posts lack the signature sparkle that accompanies our current features in the form of long-winded, romanticized banter. These deficiencies have long needed attention. Thus, in no specific order and with no particular urgency, enter the old Wavers.

Concrete rubbish heap. Photo: O'dell.

The merits of vision-driven skateboarding are quite questionable. Some skaters act as though they alone determine their image or their identity relative to skateboarding at large. This assertion is arguable, mainly for the fact that it undermines the work of the countless photographers and filmers in the industry. No matter, Jason Dill has put a dent in any traditional approach to skateboarding.
“I would like to think I have adapted a certain style in skateboarding. That is, maybe, less get the trick done and more why are you even doing it… I don’t really care how I am remembered.” Interview by Ashton Maxfield, Transworld Magazine, April 2009

Alien Ad courtesy of Chrome Ball.

Jason Dill has long been a presence in the skate world. With a career dating back to the days of Blockhead and 101, it might be fair to say that Dill has lived and left his glory days. Then again, that all depends on your definition of ‘glory days.’ As a skate commentator, Dill is gold. His words, not always 100% factual, are the stuff that dreams are made of. But impact goes beyond verbiage alone.

Taking up arms.

Dill has produced several stand-out video parts. From Photosynthesis onward, Dill’s skating appears as seamless, cohesive blocks. In Mosaic, Dill finds lines that surprise, creating a sense of street atmosphere and flow. This push is furthered in DVS’s Skatemore. City lines, unique spots, and clutch clothing choices give the footage a singular vibe. NYC finds itself as the backdrop for the majority of Dill’s craft in the Workshop’s newest, Mindfield. Again, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Even a simple ollie functions as part of Dill’s overall aesthetic.
Nevertheless, the looming question is: what is to come? Or what does it matter?

Another Ad courtesy of Chrome Ball.

Dill, keep creating new looks; keep the hairdos crazy.

Dylan Rieder: Like a lusty wave.

dylan. Photo: Ryan Allan.

Fashion, perhaps better stated as ‘image at large’ has played a major role in the shape-shifting nature of skateboarding. This fact becomes evident while flip-booking through magazines from the last few decades. From neon-colored, surf-style to baggy-ass, gangsta-thug, skateboarding has permeated and saturated almost every facet of the fashion world. The diversity visible within such a small culture is astounding. Purely radical. When it comes to conflating aesthetics and skate-acrobatics, Dylan Rieder works.

Leather. Photo: LoDown.

Dylan certainly gets his fair share of love and hate. Hell, there is an entire website dedicated to him run by, in all appearances, a hoard for frenzied groupies. Then there are the outraged traditionalists, complaining about forced style. All that matters, end of the day, is that Dylan continues to do his own thing, make even the gnarliest shit look fit for the runway.
Dylan has amassed a rather respectable amount of footage. His Transworld ender-part gained him status as a skater’s skater: ripping pools, switch flipping the big sets. In Mindfield, Dylan began to unveil a streamlined, street version of his style. Finally, just last year, Dylan put out a self-titled video.
Rieder hasn’t always been the same kid. Early on, he stuck to handrails and wore his hair shaggy under a fedora. Later he found Rasa Libre and embraced a more free-spirited take on skating and clothing. These days things look to have gone greaser, though it’s certainly hard to say. Regardless, Dylan keeps it all high-quality.

Dylan. Sigh.

All in the arms. Photo: Acosta.