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Beyond the Board.
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Words by Doug Brown. All postings copyright 2010 Doug Brown

I'm doing something different. I'm bringing something to the table. Being creative and original is important to me. I'll take the backlash of sticking out. I'm having fun skateboarding the way I want. Conforming to what someone's idea of what tricks a skateboarder should do is not something I'm willing to subscribe to. There is too much hate and unnecessary competition in skateboarding today. I just want to encourage kids to not be afraid to be themselves. It doesn't matter what other people think about you. Believe in yourself. I'm living proof that sticking to your guns and being original and positive has paid off. Had I chose to do only standardized mainstream tricks throughout my travels and the Gravity Games I would of just blended in with all the other people. It was taking a stand in doing what I enjoyed that I believe people react to. I don't think you have to kill yourself doing an ollie over an 80 stairset to prove anything. After skating for 21 years I know the real tricks don't lye in the size of your balls. I've taken risks and pushed the envelope while competing with myself. I always try to pay attention to my limits. For people who hate or skate for the wrong reasons ask yourself... what have you contributed to the skate culture? With all that said I can't help but wonder why some people get into skateboarding. For me it's provided an amazing creative outlet filled with friends, travel and adventure. I always appreciated the simple things from catching air to rolling down the driveway. I'm now in a great position to positively influence and mentor kids across the world.


A question that seems to land on my plate often is "What do you plan to do when you can't skate anymore?" Typically it's the question that comes from the concerned parent or programed suit and tie guy. Asking a skateboarder when they plan to stop skating is like asking Monet or Picasso when they plan to put down the brush. Society has always tagged skateboarding as an adolescent fazing pastime. Meanwhile in the heart of skateboarding is a vast variety of ages and diverse individuals. It's not uncommon to see a whole family of skaters particularly father and sons. I've met skate dads that have discovered the buzz of skating because they wanted to join their kids while skateboarding. Back in my father's day it was father and son throwing the football after dinner. Today you will see father and son on the deck of a ramp ready to drop in. Will you see a seventy year old man smith grinding a rail? Or your grandpa ollieing a twelve set? Doubtful. Skateboarding has always been what you make it. Knowing your limitations and listening to your body is key. It's like saying someone over forty can't ride a bike. The world of skateboarders is a big one. We see street skaters, vert skaters, freestylers, old schoolers, bowl shredders, long boarders, and people who are just stoked on simply skating for transportation and exercise. There are plenty of professional athletes in their late forties and up in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer. Yes the rules change as we age as far as our limitations but the spirit remains. Skate magazines like Juice and Concrete Wave are great on representing the population of skaters that aren't hand rail bound. We don't see the legendary Z Boys playing Erik Koston in a heated game of skate. However I know first hand after meeting many of the Z Boys they still skate faithfully. In North Carolina I skated a pipe with Tony Alva (age 51) He had nothing to prove and just shredded at his own pace. A couple years back in San Diego I spoke with Peggy Oki (age 50) and she expressed skating was still very much a part of her daily routine. I've skated the globe. I've been through the looking glass and I've experienced several different skate cultures. If you subscribe to what you see in skateboarding from a Mcdonalds commercial or even the Xgames as representation of all skaters you've been misled. I'm going on twenty-three years of skateboarding and have no plans to stop pushing forward. The older you get the less important tricks become. I had a pretty bad slam at the Dew Tour last summer which was a wake up call to my skate mortality to enforce this theory. For me I look back to what originally made me attracted to skateboarding to begin with. It was the simple pleasures like rolling down the concrete street. Feeling free from the outside world. The sensation of my feet planted on grip tape. A creative outlet that chased away the troubles of the day. All these qualities are ageless whether you are eight or seventy-eight we can keep skating forever and I plan on doing just that.


I've had some loves in my life, none i would regret or forget. The past is easy to remember and swim in, but not to stay in. I'm carrying moments and memories into my present. What I miss in my past makes me hold onto my present. Hold onto the one that makes you grow as a person. Today will turn into tomorrow so cherish what you have. Cherish the one that is choosing to spend all their time with you. Notice and compliment the littlest details. The things that seem insignificant are actually the hidden treasures you might someday miss. Those eyes you are looking into are trusting you. The responsibility in loving is in the giving. Love is just a word but with actions and gestures you can speak volumes to the those you care for. If you have a significant other put them on that pedestal they deserve to be on. After all they are the ones who make your cloudy days turn sunny. They take your imperfections and see them as your perfections. Hold on tightly and enjoy the ride that is love.

Yes my job is to skate, promote my sponsors, do events, and travel. But all that is secondary compared to my real focal mission. To pass the torch, to inspire, and to positively influence individuals. I've helped thousands of kids across the globe fall in love with skateboarding. I sleep well at night knowing I've given something back. I try to be the best skateboarder I can be, for me. However on the human side the real tricks are reaching people and helping those in need. I don't see a shortage of amazing skateboarders. I do see a shortage of mentors and good role models in skateboarding. I've taken the time to get engaged in conversations with the kids in my travels. I've given boards, shoes, and product to those kids who have a spark but are less fortunate. I remember the first time I met a pro skater nearly twenty years ago. There was electricity and I was truly inspired. If I can provide that feeling to someone I know I've done my job. My mentors have helped shape the man I've become. They've taught me values and insight about the world. If I can do the same for someone I know I've done my job. Even if it's just a short transaction while signing a poster, teaching a trick, or sharing a short conversation. These are moments I can make a difference.

On this Martin Luther King Day take a moment to realize the importance of his being and direction. All cultures have energies of unnecessary hate and ignorance. Embrace diversity and respect your fellow skater, biker, blader, scooter, or whatever one chooses to ride. So jump off the message boards, put down your camera, and go ride for freedom. No rules, no limits, right on, ride on...


This up front is a silly question as what skateboarder on the planet wouldn't want to get free product to support their love for their favorite hobby? Some free wheels now and again? Some shoes to keep you fresh? So yes it's a no brainer on that level. However it seems today kids focus is to be sponsored more than what is actually happening beneath their feet on that seven ply wooden toy. I feel lucky that when I was growing up and skating the thought of being sponsored or pro never entered my adolescent brain. It was music, skateboarding, and girls that flowed through my veins. The vibe of skating in my neck of the woods in the late eighties was solely fun. Skating was simply a positive creative outlet for me to express myself instead of the narrow minded mainstream of organized sports. With this said the subject of being sponsored is a double edged sword. First off I feel extremely lucky to be in this position I've found myself in. Gravity Games 02 started my career by chance and now here I am. I've never changed my vibe on skating for the 21 years I've been riding. I've had the chance to reach thousands of kids doing events at schools, libraries, detention centers, contests, demos, appearances, and everything in between. Its a blessing and I wouldn't trade any of this for anything. I've made loads of people happy through my skating and the positive feedback has been unreal and highly outweighs the bad. Whether or not I am riding for any companies I still know I can make a difference. Sadly today the focus on being sponsored has clouded the vision and growth of many skateboarders. Especially the younger generation. Is the focus now to have a great time riding or have a shoe sponsor? I've seen both ends of the spectrum. I've seen first hand guys that are sponsored and have negative attitudes, egos, and could care less about their fans. And I've been around riders that have embraced their position in a positive manner. I strive to preach the positive side of doing what I do. Yes I ride for a few companies but these are people I've invested time in and they have helped support my travels and dreams. Age and maturity plays a part in the responsibly of being sponsored or pro. Would I rather work 3rd shift in a factory or skate the world, get paid, meet my heroes, and have a few logos on my website? So it all boils down to opportunity and responsibility. The industry needs more positive role models and skaters with original unique styles. When I talk with kids in my travels its never about sponsors or product, rather I talk about tricks, skate adventures and the fun that is skateboarding. For those seeking sponsorship I say skate from your soul for the right reasons. It can be a cruel world out there much like the music industry. In the end it all adds up to your true love for the sport. With or without sponsors I will continue to skate. I will continue to pass the torch to the younger generation and teach the positive sides of skateboarding. I found myself through skateboarding and I know others can to, with or without being sponsored.

It was a Saturday afternoon and I was invited to join a demo team in a performance for Kid's Day. I met this nice kid that showed up to the event with my board in hand. He nervously approached me asking if I would sign his board. I had told him yes but we should skate first. I could tell he was excited and we went to the far end of the course away from the skate traffic. Shortly after I could hear the snickers and giggles coming from the immature demo team. "How old do you think I am?" the kid asked. I said twelve. He securely said he was sixteen and had leukemia. Then I said, "How old do you think I am?" He replied with nineteen. I told him I was thirty-one and we both had something in common with people guessing our ages wrong. Bonding on that fact I showed him how to do a few basic tricks. The demo skaters making fun of him had no clue he was the exact same age as them. As he was skating the leukemia was absent from his universe. This small transaction with this young man left an impression on me how people are quick to judge those they don't know. He was very thankful that I took the time to skate with him. He had soul and skateboarding was lucky to have him involved. Being sponsored and winning competitions means nothing compared to the fulfillment that influencing someone in a positive manner can bring.

Skateboarding is what you make it. Don't let anyone tell you what tricks you should or should not do. The measure of a skater is through attitude more than maneuver. People that spread hate in skateboarding are filled with insecurity and fear. To invest so much time in ones dislike is a waste of time and energy. Skateboarding is an art community filled with diverse individuals which each posses a unique style. We should embrace different approaches and not stray from diversity. Blues music consists of three basic chords but each person plays them differently. Bringing forth hate to the table displays an immaturity and ignorance which shouldn't belong in any culture. I stay clear of rumor mills and message boards. The only board I'm on is the one under my feet, my skateboard.


Now I've received so many emails asking my opinion on several subjects. Are skate competitions good or bad? I would say yes and no. I've done countless comps in my time and have acquired some sponsors as a result. It's a great way to meet other skaters, see other styles, promote the sport, and be seen. If you join a team and perform demos, it's very important for you to become comfortable skating in front of large groups of people. For me, I tend to skate better with an audience to get my adrenaline going. The down side? Unfortunately most organized comps don't lend themselves to creative skating. Judges are often looking for standardized tricks that have names and are copied by everyone. It's not healthy for a skater to just copy what he or she sees in videos or magazines. I see this way too often. One good thing about skateboarders' competitive drive is that it seems to be much healthier than that of a basketball or football player. If you watch a skateboard event you see everyone cheering one another on, feeding positive vibes. When was the last time you saw a football player say to his opponent, "That was a sweet field goal, good job"?

To often while I'm at a skatepark I see skaters making fun of little kids trying tricks. These kids are the future of the sport. Take the time to help them out and show them you are supportive. All of us were there at one time when we first stepped onto a board. If someone is trying a trick and giving it their all, cheer them on. Skateboarding has no rules and there shouldn't be restrictions on who enters the skate world. If you see an older skateboarder that has just jumped into skating stop and lend them a hand. If they wanna wear Nikes from 87 who cares. Everyone has a different style of dress and skating. Don't make fun of these differences but embrace them. That's the beauty of the skate community. It's incredibly diverse. I'm always fascinated with the variety of people that ride.


Since when is skateboarding soccer? I just got an email from a kid saying he hates skateboarders who use their hands. Does skateboarding really have that many rules? When I first jumped on this thing way back in 1986 it was a sense of freedom I felt right away. No rules, no regulations. It was up to me and my brain to do whatever I felt was fun. In the history of skateboarding touching the board for a finger flip or mute grab would not send you to the electric chair. If anything I enjoy doing tricks other people aren't doing. Sh*t yeah. I want to have a sense of originality to my riding.  When I watch skating I like to see people doing something different. I have yet to figure out why so many skaters have the mentality that they have to copy all the tricks everyone else is doing? Are we stuck in a future where everything is flatland and games of skate? I'll take a pass to that. Tricks are like different styles of skating... halfpipe, street, skateparks, and everything in between. Why limit what you skate? Same goes for tricks. It's ok to do anything. If you want to do a headspin on your board while going down a rail so be it, rock on. Its up to you and your imagination.

So there is a biker or a rollerblader sharing the session with you. I travel everywhere and it's common for skaters to diss people that don't skate. I've had sessions where I was having a better time jaming with the bikers than the skaters. It's all about people and attitude. A biker is wanting to have some fun and get gnarly the same way we are. Stop and talk to other people riding. Cheer them on when they do a cool move. We all have one goal and that is to have fun and shred. It doesn't matter how we achieve it. Some bike, some blade, some scooter but the goal remains the same. So cheer each other on once in awhile. At pay parks bikers and bladers pump money into the business by keeping these places alive. We are helping them and they are helping us. It's symbolic of our society as a whole.

You may ask what I get out of doing my Skate Straight program across the nation at schools, libraries, detention centers, and events. It's the sense of purpose, of giving back, being pro-active, positive thinking, and leading a drug free life. People of all walks of life attend sharing their stories of how drugs and alcohol have effected their lives. Doing skate demos and contests have their purpose in my life. However getting the opportunity to share my life story and inspire people for positive change is most rewarding. I'm about humanity and compassion. We all go through tough times. Its adversity that makes strong people. My skateboard has become my microphone giving me a platform to reach people. I encourage people to find their nucleus and embrace their talents. Implementing a drug free message can allow people to achieve their dreams. The essence of Skate Straight is to motivate individuals to make good choices throughout their lives.

I'mnot a policeman walking into a classroom telling kids to just say no. I'm a skateboarder who is living a dream because I chose to stay clear of drugs and alcohol. I have no problems preaching this message even with the backlash it can entail. I've seen people throw their life away because of substance abuse and it's no laughing matter. While home from touring a couple years ago I met up with a skater friend of mine from back in the day. He wanted to bring along a friend of his they called "drunk Tim." I thought this should be interesting. So we picked him up at his ex-girlfriends run down apartment. He entered the car and completely reeked of beer. With missing teeth he was showing us pictures of his son that he lost custody of. I had figured he was in his mid forties but soon found out we were the same age. All I could think is that this could of been me had I chose to turn to drugs and alcohol. We went to a nearby ramp and skated for a few. He was falling and stumbling about while people laughed and cheered him on. I didn't find the humor in what was taking place. I actually felt sad and unstoked to skate around him. The overwhelming feeling of keeping on the right path in life consumed me. Yeah, it might seem funny when someone is being a clown but it's what's underneath the surface of the activity that isn't so funny. I've carried this memory with me in my travels. I've been to events where I've been offered to do things and have always stood firm and confident in my beliefs. I get emails daily from kids asking about getting sponsored. Companies want someone that will show up on time and that is reliable. There is a very serious side to this subject. Getting involved in drugs is a dead end path, period. When I get down or depressed I jump on my board and moments later I'm in a different place, a healthy place. Find your natural highs in life. They're everywhere.

This is targeted to the lost skateboarder trying to find their way in the skate universe or those in the dark about the evolution of skateboarding. Much like learning about your parents and where you came from the same can be said concerning our skate forefathers. It blows my mind that lots of kids don't know who Christian Hosoi or Steve Caballero are. Names like Eric Dresson, Bill Danforth, Jeff Phillips, the list goes on and on. Or the kids who openly say Tony Hawk sucks. That's just wrong and they've been mislead somewhere along the way. Especially when the kid saying this can barely stand on his board. Tony was such an influence on my skating and millions of others. In the mid eighties kids made fun of Rodney Mullen. I remember going to a skateshop and the shop owner fast forwarding Rodney's part in a video. And today Rodney now has a sea of fans and is getting the much deserved respect. He was indeed ahead of his time. I'm optimistic that this new younger generation will learn to appreciate the roots of skateboarding through all the decades while accepting diversity. As true skateboarders we are all part of one long chain. It's what you contribute to the skate culture that counts. Learning your roots brings weight to this theory. There is some amazing young talent out there but too many of these kids are disrespecting the pioneers of the sport. These forefathers helped pave the way to make skateboarding what it is today. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't be hitting up the streets, rails, stairs, pools, skateparks, or anything in-between. Respect the older dudes shredding at a session. They were skating before you were born. I've been so fortunate in my travels to meet and spend time with pioneers like Tony Alva, Peggy Oki, Shogo Kubo, Gordy Lienemann, Skip Engblom, Lance Mountain, and countless others. Skaters like myself were skating in the early nineties when it was considered very uncool to ride. I remember people I went to school with asking me if I still skated with a chuckle under their breath. I realize in what I say ages myself and I'm sure the day will come when the popular skaters of today will come and go. I have been skating since 1986 and I've seen the trends in skating wax and wane in popularity. Skateboarding is so much more than how many stairs you can ollie. If you haven't figured that out for yourself yet, then let me repeat what my dad told me years ago when he said, “You haven't lived long enough" If you truly love the sport and have fun doing it thats great. Just don't forget that the skaters of today were all influenced some degree from somewhere. So jump on ebay and check out the old Bones Brigade videos. Track down H-Street's Hokus Pokus vid. Lots of these videos have been reissued. Rent the original documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and Christian Hosoi's Rising Son dvd. Check out the book The Concrete Wave by Michael Brooke. Educate yourself and pass it along.


It's now the 2006 winter olympics and snowboarding is now an official event. Attendance and ratings are reported much lower than years past. Was snowboarding added to generate higher ratings and to reach a new younger audience? Some speculate. Which brings me to the topic of skateboarding and the olympics. I'm often asked if I think skateboarding should be in the olympics? I would vote no. To me skateboarding has always been about originality, creativity, freedom, individuality, and most of all fun. Submitting the activity to the olympics instantly subjects one to regulated rules, restrictions, and standardized tricks. From the "no rules" sport now becomes a mainstream and commercial event. The skateboard industry is already saturated with images of what they think skateboarders should be doing from magazines to videos. In my travels I see so many trends of tricks that kids have copied from these sources. I'm optimistic the future of skateboarding brings an acceptance of all styles and most of all creativity. Soul skating comes from within. Not from what a panel of olympic judges deem worthy. The Xgames and Gravity Games have generated a lot of interest in skateboarding and this topic is a double edged sword. However the white collar strictness of the olympics would bring restrictions on expression and creativity in skateboarding. In the respect of the fine tradition of the olympics it just goes against the reasons most of us got into skateboarding in the first place. It's not about competing with anyone other than ourselves.

First and foremost I want to mention that I have the utmost respect for law enforcement and the police. Unfortunately there has always been a cops verses skateboarders mentality in the skate culture. I can understand how this has happened. I was once thrown in the back of a cop car for simply crossing the street on my board on a college campus at a crosswalk. I had to pay a seventy dollar fine and it counted as a traffic violation. Just last week I was skating the local skatepark and it began to pour down rain. So we all went to the neighboring pavilion and moved the picnic tables so we could skate, bad idea. A police car sped over and told us to leave. One spectator spoke up and the cop grabbed his arm and tossed him into the grass. Most transactions with the police are usually done in a proper fashion of "please leave the premises there is no skateboarding allowed here" and the skaters move on to skate somewhere else, end of transaction. But there are many cases where things get out of hand and end up badly. Just google search "police abuse of skateboarders" As skateboarders we do have a responsibility to let society know we aren't all convicts and criminals. Thats really the point of this article. Talking to police, making eye contact, and being mature is key. Running or back talking only escalates the tension. It is ok to just move on and skate elsewhere when asked to leave. You will never hear them say "ok guys its cool just stay here and skate here all day" The dialog should be of us letting them know we didn't mean any harm and we were simply out for a fun day of skating no harm. Having a positive relationship with your local police can help your skate scene. Some cities are actually trying to make skateboarding illegal. If skateboarding becomes illegal by all means bike riding should be as well. There is an injustice when people on bikes, rollerblades, or scooters can spend all day rolling the streets but skaters are put aside as the destructive bandits. More than 70 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 ride bicycles. Next to motor vehicle-related injuries, bicycles injure more children than any other consumer product, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Skateparks can be a great asset to skaters and can give us a designated area to ride free of harassment. Unfortunately most communities aren't blessed with these tools and our uneducated on the positive sides of skateboarding or skateboarders. The only solution is communication. Communication with your police, city officials, parks and rec. departments, and even the public. Let the world know skateboarding is a positive creative outlet. Skateboarding is not a crime.

What triggers a post like this is when some 15 year old kid emails me saying I shouldn't do original tricks in skateboarding or has a jaded opinion about this or that. Some of the youth today have been terribly misguided on the soul and true spirituality of skateboarding. Throw hate in the mix and you now have a mixed up teen skateboarding living and breathing that skateboarding is all based on the game s.k.a.t.e Sad, sad. I cant help but correlate life and skateboarding. A lot of kids get into skateboarding to join a cliche or be a rebel, but inside the community instead of having an open arms policy its "can you do this trick or that trick? Or do you skate this company or that? Or its gotta be tight pants or else. Again, sad sad. I'm not an angry guy and nothing will stop me from skating my own style. If a dude wants to just carve a parking lot with no tricks and that's his thing, I say right on. I surround myself with positive thinkers and I like skateboarders who think outside the trendy box. Express yourself however you chose on your board. If you wanna spin the board on your head or do a back flip while riding I'm not gonna stop ya. Attitude is everything. Someone might be the best skateboarder in the world but if you're a prick and can't handle a smile or a good vibe what's the point? I prefer to just skate. Usually at every skatepark you see a kid that just sits around and talks smack about everyone, Don't be that guy. I don't have time to talk smack, I'm to busy skating. Ride on.

Skateboarding is an art form. It has and always will be forever changing. There will always be followers and there will always be innovators. I personally never subscribe to the herd and what's considered cool. To me skateboarding is about body movement, expression, and complete creative control. When I started back in eighty-six my style was considered new school and technical. Today it seems if a skater stands out or chooses to be an individual they are subject to question and criticism. I love to skate. I'm proud of my original tricks and style. I'm not into what they look like rather how they feel. Somedays I simply like the sensation of rolling down a hill. In the late eighties we never counted stairs or followed each other with video cameras. My friends and I were all about progression and originality. I'm very proud of that and I encourage skaters to be creative. Today I appreciate all eras and genres of skateboarding. I'm a performer by heart and spent many years in music reaching for the summit. The transition switched slowly over years of skating and juggling my music endeavors. My professional career began by chance at the Gravity Games 2002 when I caught the eye of two paying sponsors. I never set out to be in this position. Looking back I created a great deal of my own luck traveling to countless demos and entering contests. I wanted to get involved in the skateboard community, not the industry per se. This road has given me self worth and a purpose. I can connect with people of all ages and race through my board. The travels, the people, the sessions. I wouldn't trade any of that for anything. Sending videos out and studying magazines didn't get me where I am today. Being an individual and persevering in a belief that one can make change through a hobby has. I've had unbelievable highs and unreal lows. But one thing remains, when I wake up I wanna skate. I skate with good intentions and skate everyday as if it were the last. Influencing people in a positive manner means more to me than any sponsorship, trick, or trophy. It's connecting with the crowd that makes this journey worth while.