By Michael Brooke
Like many of you, I love magic. But there is no way I’d become a magician. It takes an extraordinary amount of patience to learn tricks. Oddly enough, back in December, I received a curious email from someone who told me they’d written a book on magic and skateboarding. I quickly asked for a review copy and like magic, it arrived.
Shortly after we did an interview with the author and illustrator, Joel Ledoux.
Why did you write this book?
I’m an artist, and the “why” is sometimes the hardest question to answer. There is sort of a mystery to the art of creation – an inward calling – and sometimes it’s years down the road before you actually realize why you made something, or at least make sense of it. The whole book was an act of instinct, and a way of connecting to parts of myself that I had lost – like doing illustrations again, and my love for skateboarding.
The whole thing was created the way that I skate, with a sense of discovery and improv – the pen skated across the pages and out of the borders. Skateboarding has a freedom; the book’s creation was sort of like jazz.
Who did the illustrations?
I did all of the illustrations.
Why do you consider magic to be an important part of skateboarding?
We all know that skaters use black magic! (Laugh) Good for you if you got that joke! On a more serious note, if you look up the history of skateboarding, it actually evolved from surfing. The ancient Polynesian chiefs of the highest ranks were the best surfers. They would pray to conjure the perfect wave, and the simple stunt of balancing on the wave the longest showed how in balance they were on a spiritual level.
There have been several scholars that have theorized that popular entertainment like magic, juggling, puppetry, and ventriloquism evolved out of shamanism. If you think about it, the words are not that different: shaman and showman. There’s a quote about Rodney Mullen in the book More Curious that describes him as, “self-torturing, flipping ballet moves alone in a gas station at midnight … as close to an authentic holy man as an American can get”.
Even in the most trivial sense, the tricks on skateboards still reflect magic. The kickflip was originally called a “magic flip.”
If you think about magic, it’s strange because most magicians are frauds. I remember as a child I saw a magician vanish a candle on TV, I tried for weeks using my mom’s candle, pushing it down my sleeve, and so on. After so many failed attempts, I purchased the trick only to learn that they used a fake candle to accomplish the trick. As I got older, I could see I was losing the side of me that believed I could do things.
Before the internet, kids at school would talk about this legendary trick called an ollie impossible. There was no way to see video of it and confirm that is was real – it was like a myth. I would go out every day and try it. So you see a magician would cheat – they could use a magnet to make it stick to your foot, and pull a cable to give you more air time – but skaters don’t use gimmicks.
After failing the trick several times I finally landed it, and it was one of the best moments in my life, to realise the impossible is possible. A lot of magicians use metaphor to add real value to their fake tricks, but I always felt like, if art is a lie that tells the truth, why not seek to make art that is truth that tells the truth?
Skateboarding is one of the few art forms that I think does this, and that is why I see it as magic.
What is your message to those who are considering fusing magic and skateboarding?
It’s not about the tricks, it’s about you. A skateboard is like a paintbrush – find out what magic means to you and express it through your skateboarding!
Where would you like to see things go with your message?
Things have been really stunt driven. I’d like to see skateboarding become more of a performance art, similar to how an ice skater tells a theatrical story through their tricks and range of emotions.
I’d like to see fingerboarding become more of an art. There is so much to play with on the scale of the skateboards. Your hands can already fly. Why not take advantage of being able to look at your audience in the eyes when you make a fingerboard disappear using sleight of hand and see the wonder, the magic, to connect with people.
There are so many pros at demos that have headphones on listening to music. I think skateboarding is a performance, and the first thing we need to start acknowledging is the crowd.
By Michael Brooke
I met Ari at the Agenda Trade Show in early January. He has a very sharp mind and has created something quite unique with Paradox Griptape.
How would you describe Paradox grip?
The goldilocks grip. We have the perfect blend of silicon carbide crystals. Not too big, not too small – just right. We blend different size grits to create an uneven riding surface that adds to surface tension and ultimately, and gives you an increase in grip.
We also have a unique pressure sensitive adhesive that helps you put your grip on correctly; and allows for re-adjusting. Its bond will increase with pressure. Our liner is another custom element to our griptape. This poly material is porous and expands with heat and contracts with cold. Its flexibility allows the griptape to properly flex with your board, so that the crystal abrasives don’t shed off. This allows your grip to maintain its grit for a much longer period of time. Even our box is unique.
What makes your packaging unique?
We use an unbleached box, natural color with a one color black ink. We use no fillers, plastics, or coatings so that our box is recyclable. To top it off, we also have a scientifically verified quantum technology that theoretically grounds the electro-magnetic multi-body from arcing. It has shown in our pilot study that it may increase endurance, strength and overall performance.
How does Paradox grip impact riders?
Longer lasting grip, better packaging for the earth, the perfect flick happens with the Paradox as our unique blend of grit creates the goldilocks surface area that’s sticky, but not too sticky. It’s also easy to apply if you’re out in the streets and have to use substandard tools to make it happen. Wes Kremer, Tyler Surrey, David Gravette and other street team riders have been using it for over 6 years.
Who has used Paradox in contests?
- Street: David Gravette, Leticia Bufoni, Kevin Baekkel, Wes Kremer
- Bowl: Alex Perelson, Cory Juneau, Ben Hatchell, Julz Lynn, Brandon Perelson, Tibs Parise
- Vert: Alex Pereleson, Jake Brown
- Downhill: Turbo, AJ Haiby, Tibs Parise, Jeff Budro
These are people that are officially using it – it’s possible others are using it as well.
How did they do?
Gold, gold, gold…1st, 1st, 1st and 2nd, and third and sometimes last..ha!
Tell us more about the Light Speed Division – the downhill blend – how did that come about?
We made a special grip just for racing. Through talks with Brad Teschner from Sk8trip/Jet/Abec11 we developed a special downhill formula to be used on all of the Jet Boards being distributed by Sk8trip. What we did was experiment with grit sizes. And what we discovered was a blend of various sizes was the best and then we discovered that too big a grit isn’t really needed. And not only did the larger grits cut into your arms and fingers, they increased the weight and cost immensely. We also noted that there were gaps between the grit surfaces, places that were entirely empty of grit.
So then what happened?
We decided to fill the gaps with smaller crystals and expand our medium size range with just a hint of really large grits of silicon carbide. We also noted that if these large crystals weren’t sealed with a sealant, the grit would shed more easily.
So we developed a lightweight sealant, a lighter weight liner that expands and contracts with temperature, a more sticky pressure sensitive adhesive glue, but not too sticky that you can’t adjust it when you put it on; and decided on our unique downhill grit formula for the best surface friction.
Like all of our griptape, a percentage of the silicon carbide crystals have been programmed with the paradox formula, a quantum grounding technology that has shown evidence of an increase in performance in those that use it. Our first downhill contest we sponsored was Angies Curves. We won all divisions.
We use a custom blend of 5 different size grits to create the superior uneven riding surface. The increased surface tension helps to maintain a steady grip through the slalom turns. We also seal this grip with a poly sealant to make sure these extra big crystals don’t shed off. And our exclusive technology may increase your performance so you may have more power to access from.
A lot of people might suggest this is all a placebo –that there really isn’t anything special with the grip tape. What do you say to them?
Well, it doesn’t cost any more. We donate a percentage to charity, our box is the most recyclable in the market and we ask “have you tried it?”
If they reply no, then please do so and then ask me that question after you have done your own experiential research.
If the reply is, ” yes, and I saw no difference.” Then, I would suggest that a placebo only works with the mystical concept of “belief”. It’s the belief that this griptape will help the user perform better and therefore in order to have a placebo effect, first and foremost, a strong sense of “belief” must be established within the users will. Then, yes, it may be possible to have a “placebo effect”.
But, this isn’t a placebo. And therefore your “belief” isn’t required for it to help the user. We did do a pilot study, a double blind, crossover-placebo study to determine if we had a “placebo effect”.
And guess what?
We had a less than 1% increase in the placebo tested. While we showed up to 767% increases in our formula over both placebo and control (being tested with nothing). It was only a 10 person study, but its very hard science with a performance based criterion used in peak performance measurements for over 50 years.
You wouldn’t expect a three year old to steal the show but this one did.
This little boy is from Poland and he was with his parents at the show. He has so much stoke that it is almost inconceivable.
His name is Voychuck and he represents the very best of what it means to be a grom. For three days this kid did not stop skateboarding. You would see him skateboard in the halls, on the pump track and he was just was a bundle of energy all the time.
I share this with you because if you ever wonder what the future of skateboarding is going to be, this kid shines a bright light.
@Aluminatiskateboards made me two decks only. one to give to Shimon Peres and the other to keep and put in my office. It turned out that Voychuck had different ideas about my board and he would not let it go. So I gave him the deck.
Many stories came out of this ISPO but some of the most positive moments centered on this kid. he was everywhere and just brought joy and he never stopped skateboarding.
A huge thanks to Longboarding for Peace Poland and Aluminati… You made many people very happy.
Welcome to a brand new addition here at the site. It’s called The Skateboard That Changed My Life.
We all know that skateboarding can change you, now we invite you to tell the world how a specific skateboard changed your life. It doesn’t matter if you are new to this, sponsored, pro or am…we welcome your stories.
Please send all emails and photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org
And now for our first installlment:
- Name: Rick Allen
- Years skating: Four
- Skateboard that changeed my life: Comet Takeover
- Sponsors: Waterboyz Surf & Skate, Speed Doctor, Team NoBull & SET gloves (owner)
The reason I would say the Takeover changed my life is because it changed completely my comfort level on a piece of wood.
I believe the Takeover was one of the first Comet boards with micro drop, which at the time was a big deal for the industry overall.
I had this overwhelming feeling of surfing on it, being able to kind of just center myself on the board and have that micro drop and rocker working to my advantage made pushing how fast I threw slides and how fast I would go downhill a lot more comfortable than on any other board id ridden up to that point. To that end I got on the podium in one of my first 50+ mph races (AUDH winter outlaw) on my Takeover which was a huge confidence booster.
Lastly, I rode a lot of bidirectional boards prior to the takeover so switching to a unidirectional top mount gave me a more aggressive “one way” type of skating mentality, which I think shows in the way I skate today and ultimately changed my life!
I’ve had the privilege of attending trade shows for almost twenty years. Many people have heard of the Agenda Trade Show along with Surf Expo. These are shows jam packed with unique products in the action sports industries and beyond. They are a blast to attend and the amount of incredible people I’ve meet over the years is incalculable.
While the shows are quite large, they are dwarfed by IPSO. What is ISPO? In a nutshell (actually, we’re going to need a bigger nutshell) ISPO is almost SEVEN times the size of Agenda and Surf Expo put together. It’s 16 exposition centers in one! Almost 80,000 attend ISPO in Munich and if you have anything to do with sports, you’ll find it at the show.
Since Concrete Wave concerns itself with skateboarding, we focus our attention on Hall B6. For the past three years, we’ve been fortunate to work with 40” Longboard Magazine as they create the Longboard Embassy. Publisher Alex Lenz and his crew do an amazing job. The atmosphere is pure stoke. You literally, cannot move it is so jammed with people. The people, the gear, the music and did I mention the beer is quite tasty?
I asked Alex for his take on the Longboard Embassy. “We are super excited and only focused on this! The four days in Munich are a crazy experience with a lot of crazy lovely people.”
Alex is right – it is a raging good time.
There are a tremendous number of longboard companies at the Embassy. This layout gives you an idea. It can take you 30 minutes to walk from the entrance to your booth. Massive doesn’t even begin to explain the size of ISPO!
I asked Kebbek Brand Manager, Joey Bidner for his take on things as this will be his first ISPO. “I can’t wait to see the latest innovations, and art artistic moves from brands that will be unveiled at the show. Not only in longboarding, but in snowboarding as well. This is the best part of a trade show, seeing in one place what every brand is creatively bringing to the table for our industry.”
I couldn’t agree more. There is a sense that it’s all coming together in Munich.
I wondered about the longboard scene in Europe. “We are looking to a great year ahead” explained Alex. “There are more races and events coming up than ever before.”
Alex mentioned to me this year the Embassy has expanded. We are over 1200 square meters. By my calculation, that’s almost 13,000 feet of skate stuff!
What’s even crazier, is we haven’t even mentioned the pumptrack that is set up! Yes, ISPO is that big, it even has space for a fully functional PUMPTRACK!