Monday, January 30, 2023

Rediscovering What I Had Already Known

I saw a post on the SLAP forums that sent me down an introspective rabbit hole: What are (skate-related) things you were too cool for as a kid, that you now appreciate and/or love?

A few of mine: Tony Hawk. Skating transition. Watching vert. Side rails. Pads. "Basic" tricks. Non-traditional forms of skating. Shitty ramps. The joy of just rolling.

The irony here, is those are all things I really liked/loved as a very young kid, and then "lost interest" in as I got a bit older. Now that I am much older, I realize how much the very young version of me actually knew. Everything is a circle, and I'm grateful for that.

Friday, January 27, 2023

The Subtle is the Most Profound

Pre-Socratics. Plato. Hume. Kant. Heidegger. Kierkegaard. Frankl. Tao Teh Ching. Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Bible. The Four Noble Truths. Transcendentalism. Camus. Native-American mythology. Dostoyevsky. Dr. Suess. Calvin & Hobbes. Yoko Ono. I‘ve read/studied it all. 

Everything you need to know about the meaning of life...can be found in this photo.



Thursday, January 26, 2023

The January Desert & Jake Phelps


A few random things…


The Vast January Desert

In my phone I keep short-hand notes of things going on in my life during a given month. At the end of the year, I can look back at what happened during the past 12 months. After the year is over, I save all in the info into a word doc. I’ve been doing this since 2015. It’s a very quick/easy way to look back at my life, and see what was going on during any given period. One trend has clearly emerged: I don’t skate much during the month of January. It is usually a result of weather, injury, and illness (I also seem to get some kind of bad cold, or covid (2021, 2022, 2023), or some combination of all three. That pattern is certainly repeating in this year. I think I have skated….3 times this month (I usually skate at least 3x a week). I had a bad case of covid the first week of Jan 2023. I also pulled my groin muscle, which is keeping me off the board. Thankfully, that is “easier” to do right now, because it has been very, very wet over the last two weeks (snow and rain). Hopefully February will be better.



News broke this week about how Jake Phelps died. I think we all had a pretty accurate guess as to what happened (which was confirmed by the news). Jake had a drug problem. He overdosed and/or took something that was laced with fentanyl. I’m not really sure what to say here. I was never really a fan of the guy, and what direction he took Thrasher. Suffice to say, the manner of his passing was not really a surprise. My friend Brian commented:


“Talk about a complicated legacy. On one hand Phelps, at a certain time, may have saved skateboarding. After that, he just went out of his way to keep it a fiefdom. He pushed and cajoled and influenced a generation to hit the self-destruct button because he was self-destructing as well. The drowning man will always take you down with him.


I use Phelps as a study on how to age gracefully. Do the opposite of what he did and you will probably live a long and healthy life. I don't judge him on his addictions or personality flaws. I never met him. I can, however, judge him for his influence.”


I’ll add to this, with a quote from The Replacements, “Kids Don’t Follow.” They never have. They never will. That’s what makes them kids. That’s why youth is wasted on the young. Skateboarding is mostly a “youth culture” thing. So, you do the math as to what’s going to happen. That said, it is well document how Phelps threw gasoline on an innate proclivity to reckless and self-destructive behavior (from skating vert w/o pads to booze/drugs/party zone). Should he/Thrasher have been an icon of public safety? Hell no. However, Brian said it best, “He pushed and cajoled and influenced a generation to hit the self-destruct button because he was self-destructing as well. The drowning man will always take you down with him.” Much of it IMHO, just wasn’t necessary, needed, or productive.


So, what’s the take-a-way (for me, and for skateboarding)? For me, that is easy. I’ve long held the belief that one should “embody/be the Stoke they want to see in the world.” It’s sad to see what happened to Jake, and sad to see those who have been washed away in the wake of his influence. All of this just further solidifies, and illuminates, the path I was already on. I will keep following, and trying to embody, the version of Stoke that resonates with me (and that is basically the opposite of Jake). If that influences others, great. If not, that’s great, too. What is the take-a-way for skateboarding? I think that is for others to decide…    

Thursday, January 19, 2023

187 Killer Fly Knee Pads: Cast to Flames

My first post about these pads can be found here. In that post I covered some basic/initial impressions about them prior to actual use. Yesterday, I finally conducted an actual use test. I was not a fan, and I will be getting rid of them. What did I not like about them? A lot.

-Compared to the Pros, you feel knee impact a lot more. The Pros have significantly better padding. I knew this was going to be a factor going in.  But unless the Flys are going to excel in some other area (and they do NOT), then it makes no sense to compromise on safety. On the occasions that I am wearing pads, I want them to actually work (e.g. provide protection). The Pros are the clear winner.

-There were pressure points on my shins at the bottom of the pads, even with knee gaskets on. The Pros do not have this issue. Overall, the Pros are just more comfortable to wear.  

-Finally, I just hated the way they looked. They are longer, and narrower than the Pros, and the caps are more squared off (in a bad way). Something about the ratios and proportions of their design just didn’t sit well with me. When I look down at my board or shoes (or pads), I don’t want to hate what I see. If I do, it’s going to bum me out a bit, and put me in a bad mood. No one wants to go skating in a bad mood—it’s supposed to an activity full of fun and stoke, not malaise and contempt. I want to be stoked out my equipment. Like, why the hell would you hang a painting/photo in your living room that you hated? You simply wouldn’t. So, likewise with (my) skate equipment.

-Combine all of these factors, with the reservations I first mentioned about these pads, and the game is clearly over. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Killer 187 Fly Knee Pads: First Impressions & Initial Observations

I am revisiting Killer 187 Fly knee pads. These are a “lower end” 187 product. I’ve actually had these before—and I got rid of them for better knee pads (e.g. the Pros). So, why am I revisiting them now? When I previously had them, I was mostly wearing knee pads when skating transition. I upgraded to the Pros, because the Fly version wasn’t padded enough for some of the harder (and higher) falls on mini ramps.

Well, a few things have changed since then. Namely, I often now wear pads even when “street” skating (funny what age and injury do to you). My existing 187 Pro knee pads are great—I love them. But I am curious to see if there is anything a little less bulky for street, and that’s where the 187 Fly knee pads come (back) into the picture. I ordered a set last week, and they arrived yesterday. This post is my initial observations / comments about them (prior to actual use).

First, they are actually longer than 187 Pros (see pics below). This kind surprises me. For some reason I always think the higher-end stuff has more “coverage area” than lower end stuff. Here, it is the opposite.

Second, they are slip-on as opposed to an open/butterfly-backing, like the 187 Pros are (pic below). Some people have very strong feelings about slip-on vs. butterfly. I always wear knee gaskets with pads. Thus, my shoes always have to come off when putting pads on, so having to take shoes off to put pads on is no big deal to me (huge to deal to some). I can absolutely put slip-ons on faster than butterflies, because there are fewer straps to deal with, but that’s not really a big deal. Butterflies, esp. without gaskets, can lead to some pressure points that don’t happen with slip-ons (but again, I always use gaskets, so this is a non-issue for me). Butterflies, however, can get more of an “exact” fit than with slip-ons. So, in that regard, butterflies can be more comfortable. The fabric on backside of the Flys is actually pretty thick. My old Pro-Designed had a really soft/comfy spandex in back. But yet again, I use gaskets, so these matters are of no concern to me.

Third, the lower strap on the Fly pads is a “lace-through,” where on the Pros it’s a “Velcro-in-place. Personally. I like the Velcro better. I may make a DIY modification on the Flys to turn them into Velcro as opposed to “lace through” (pic below).

Fourth, is fit. The Flys run a bit small (Pros are true to size), so I ordered up a size (e.g. I got a size large), which was also to accommodate knee gaskets. Even still, the Flys fit really snug. I know they will break-in/loosen up with usage, but for now, really snug. Not tight, but quite snug.

Fifth, is protection. The Flys are noticeable thinner than the Pros (pic below). I would not want to do a hard drop-to-knee with the Flys, and I will never wear them when skating larger mini ramps (let alone something bigger). But, for more mellow old–guy street skating, they might be enough. More on that after some actual use, as this is just an “out of the box / first impressions” review.

Sixth, 187 does not make recaps for the Fly knee pads. That kind of sucks. Even Burly Recaps does not make recaps for these. So, when the cap is toast, it’s either DIY new caps, or get a new set of Fly Pads. How long the caps last will also be part of a long(er)-term review of these.

Last, is appearance. Obviously this one is subjective. I wish they were shorter (e.g. not as long) like the 187 Pros. Something about the ratio/proportions of a longer/narrower pad looks a little odd to me. I wish someone would make pads akin to the old Rectors. Yeah, those were horrible for transition, but they made for a good, smallish, light-weight street type pad. Additionally, on the Flys I don’t like the black rivets in the cap (pic below). This is weird—-usually I think rivets on knee pad caps looks pretty bad-ass. But some reason, I don’t like them on the Flys. So, I took a white paint-pen and “whited-them-out,” and I like the looks of this better (pic below). Yeah, it's a very minor thing, but I get fussy about my equipment. I may also spray paint one of the caps blue. I always liked the look of mis-matched (re)cap colors that were prevalent in the 1980s—and I actually have my 187 Pros set-up the same way (pic below).

So, that’s about it for “First Impressions.” Next will be actual use, and that’s the real test. That follow-up can be found here.

Oh, I should mention cost differences.
Flys: $46 at SoCal ($50 at 187 web site)
Pros: $100 at SoCal ($110 at 187 web site)

The photos below mostly compare the Pros (on left) and Flys (on right). One photo shows the original and painted rivets on the Flys. The last photo shows my Pros with the mismatched recap colors (mentioned above).