How did you come up with the idea of Gorilla Palms?
I started skating at around 8 years old, but by the time I graduated college I had gotten away from it for a while, mostly just skating through campus with my dog. But I started to get back into it, and new concrete parks were popping up everywhere. So there I was skating; I don’t go huge, but I love the beauty of the tricks.
Slams were painful, but most notably on my hands and I work with my hands. So I was trying to be smart and protect my hands from the bruises. Wrist guards didn’t have any padding and wearing two of them was obnoxious and restricting. Wrist guards also slid on the concrete, which I didn’t want because I couldn’t catch myself like I normally do. So I would wrap my hands up in an Ace bandage but those got disgusting.
Then, one day at the skate park, I had the idea to make my own product and I started trying to figure out how to make Gorilla Palms. I came up with the name instantly – it just seemed to make sense.
I personally don’t go that big, or skate vert, so I don’t really want to wear a normal wrist brace unless I have an injury. But I do like to put a little padding between my palms and the concrete. I think if they made a wrist guard with padding I might have just bought them, but no one did that I knew of. The main thing I dislike about typical wrist guards are the plastic splints; they always jab into the back of my hand, and don’t cushion the impact. There are a few good pair of wrist guards out there now, but no real options; they are all basically the same design.
Why do you call Gorilla Palms “the anti glove”?
I like to call them the anti wrist guard because they are designed for your palms and not as much for your wrists. Gorilla Palms don’t actually restrict the wrists from motion, they’re smaller and more low profile and give you a little cushion over the palm of the hand. They’re great for people who already have a palm injury, cuts or bruises, and those people normally aren’t looking for a wrist guard.
I know that you’re a proficient art director. How has skateboarding influenced your art and your work as an art director?
Skateboard art has been a major influence for me artistically and professionally. The bright graphic printing and the subject matter have definitely influenced my art. As an art director, it’s great to be able to follow the art and trends of skateboard graphics. The photography also has been a major influence. Skateboard lifestyle photography and trick shots are all really inspiring action-oriented works that I try to interpret and borrow in my own work.
It seems like skateboarding is at an odd place at the moment. Penny is the largest skate– the constant social media, images and videos. Does anyone have time to actually skate?
Yes, it’s crazy! You go to the skate spots and see everyone is trying to film on their phones, or with GoPros – there is so much out there now. I try to focus on only watching the most creative stuff. There are a couple of cool Instagram accounts that I follow, like Skate Crunch Mag, and Shralpin. They usually show the clips that are fun, creative, and different, not just huge, death-defying stunts.
I think I’ve fallen away from the Thrasher mentality, and am much more of a fan of the beauty of technical tricks, and the feeling of smooth concrete under my wheels. I make time to skate, but it’s hard, and never enough. The hardest part is trying to skate and having all your homies say, “Film this trick for me”. Then it takes an hour of tries before you maybe get something on tape. It really does show how good the guys were back in the day, to put down on expensive tape, with huge clumsy cameras.
One thing that is true for skateboarding now is that the tricks have become so technical. I think that is awesome. Flip in and flip out of ledge tricks was something of a legend back in the day – and now your average skater does tricks like that on his or her Instagram account, and it’s clean. More people filming also means more inspiration, and it’s that old fact that once someone does something and everyone finds out, more and more people start to be able to do that thing, and then do it better.
Lastly, I think pump tracks and flow sections are coming back to parks, and that too is awesome. If you’re going to build a million dollar skatepark, don’t just put stairs and ledges – we can find that on the street. But the flow bowls and pump tracks are fun! And they can even broaden the range of skaters who participate. It’s like a revamp of the 70’s style snake runs, but more evolved.
Current #1 downhill skateboarder in the world, Max Ballesteros, is always charging and looking to go faster. The RAD Team worked closely with Max to develop a proprietary high rebound urethane formula to increase roll speed without compromising grip. After over a year in development, they finally found the wheel Max has been looking for.
This Pro-model features a proprietary high rebound urethane to maximize roll speed. While the shape is based off the Advantage, the unique urethane changes the ride characteristic to suit Max’s go-fast style of riding. After finalizing the urethane formula, Max settled on the softer 77a durometer to maximize grip with the higher rebound urethane. It features the crown Core with a 74mm diameter and 61mm Contact patch. This wheel is designed to have fun in the fastest way you can.
Check them out on YouTube.
By Cassius Fragomeni
Editor’s note: Sometimes the act of longboarding takes you to a whole new path. Sometimes the dots connect in rather remarkable ways. For the past few months, I have been intrigued by Casey Neistat. He’s a big fan of skateboards, especially electric skateboards: Boosted seems to be his weapon of choice!
I thought about contacting him for an interview for CW. But then, I was out riding on the weekend when I spotted a group of people – one of whom had a longboard. We struck up a conversation, and before you know it, I had this piece emailed to me. This has led to many other things that are going to happen. But for now, enjoy this first piece from Cassius Fragomeni, our latest CW contributor.
Who is Casey? The simple answer is a dude who rides an electric longboard through traffic breaking drones and opening mail. But to me, Casey is more than just a guy who vlogs. He’s what I would define as a 21st century hero.
When I discovered his vlog, I was in quite a dark place in life. I was a top notch student banging out 90’s in all of my classes, but I simply felt something was missing. That something was fun. At first glance, Casey is probably the last man you’d think would be anyone’s hero. However, he did something that I hadn’t seen in a YouTuber since I followed Charles Trippy and his girlfriend after school every day. Funnily enough, I actually stopped watching Charles for the same reason I started watching Casey.
Charles’ life was just absolutely amazing. As a broke high schooler, I felt daunted by the prospect of vlogging. I thought: all I do is sit in school and play games at home, I don’t have a hot girlfriend to use for thumbnails and I don’t have the money to do anything spectacular every day of my life, so why even bother?
I eventually unsubscribed from their channel leaving a message stating I was unsubscribing because their vlogs made me feel depressed because my life lacked the shine that theirs seemed to have. Even after they responded, saying they make the vlogs not to make people jealous of their lives, but to inspire, I just didn’t quite get it and moved on with my life.
Flash forward to a few months ago when I discovered Neistat. Here was this strange guy who was just absolutely full of life in every sense of the word. He was a complete mess, though. He wore these bootleg glasses and knocked things over unintentionally all the time and his life seemed to be in chaos. However, there was something different about him. No matter what happened to him, there was just nothing that stopped him. While many other vloggers have a tendency to only show the best parts of their life, Casey happened to show just about everything.
There were good moments, bad moments and even some sad ones, but each and every day, he just woke up and kept pushing forward. I’ll admit I’m not a long-time fan that can claim to have seen him in his early days. I definitely never knew he was on welfare living in a trailer park until I started writing this piece, but none of that mattered. Here was this guy whose entire goal in life was to experience as much of the world as he could. While I simply watched him for inspiration (as I was working on YouTube doing gaming tutorials) I felt incredibly drawn to his content.
Every morning, I woke up with excitement, simply curious as to what this guy did yesterday. The more I began to watch, the more I wanted to experience what he was doing for myself. However, I had no idea where to start. I had no equipment and I was quite the homebody, but I felt inspired to try it out for myself. Boy, was it amazing! My first day out was terrifying, even after watching him for months when I first set up my camera and shot a time-lapse, I felt like a fool. Everyone around looked at me like I was a madman.
But something magical happened. For a brief moment, I stood there in Dundas square watching all the people stroll past my camera, and then it suddenly clicked for me. I looked around me and saw this vibrant city alive with so many people and started to think about how every single one of them had their own story, each of them their own passions, goals and dreams. The city began to sparkle in a way it never had before. I suddenly wanted to just talk to everyone and anyone. It didn’t matter who they were or what they were doing; I just wanted to connect with as many people and experiences as I could in a way I never had before.
Ten days later, I can barely even bring myself to play video games, not because they don’t bring me joy, but because there is no mystery to them. Making gaming tutorials was brutal, no matter how you explained things, someone always had a complaint or suggestion. Yet when it came to meeting strangers in Toronto, none of that seemed to matter. I was simply someone with a camera probing the minds of complete strangers, asking them about their dreams, goals and desires. I was blown away by how positive the responses of the people I met were.
I thought that being a nobody, I’d simply be brushed aside by everyone. While there are people who have simply ignored me or even shouted rude remarks, none of it mattered. I knew on the other side of the street was another person waiting to be discovered, another store to explore, and another hill to bomb with my longboard.
I can honestly say that Casey Neistat has forever changed my life. Since I started, I’ve rekindled friendships from the past that simply disappeared as my friends began to see the world through my eyes and wanted to share in that experience. I used to spend most of my days locked away in my room chasing dopamine. Now I simply want to head out into the world every day and experience life in the same way that Casey does. All I want to do is spread joy while at the same time learn as much as I can about the city I’ve lived in my whole life.
Casey may appear as a weird guy that is a nuisance to the New York traffic and completely irrelevant to the “world stage”, with no political or economical relevance. But to me, he was the spark that lit the flame and showed me the light of the outside world, something that no teacher could ever hope to match.
All this with just a longboard, a camera, some bootleg sunglasses and a love for anything and everything is what makes him my hero. He’s changing my life one vlog at a time by showing me the world isn’t such a horrible place. It’s full of so much love and wonder and all I want to do is experience it all, even if it means I miss out on 5x EXP in World of Tanks.
There will always be that part of me that wants to sit at home gaming and filling up bars. But those priceless moments when a stranger enters your world and changes it forever don’t happen at home alone, and I have one man to thank for showing me that.
That man is Casey Neistat.
See some of Casey’s greatest hits here: