BONES BRIGADE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
BEHIND THE SCENES – PART 1
SEPTEMBER 19-20, 2011
WORDS, PHOTOS AND VIDEO BY DAN LEVY
It is not very often that you get an opportunity to be behind-the-scenes on the making of a film by a highly accomplished and respected filmmaker like Stacy Peralta. Earlier this week, Juice Magazine was able to do just that and what we witnessed gives me chills while I am writing this.
After waking to the usual morning scene of Venice Beach decorated with boardwalk debris, homeless camps, and the always colorful good morning banter that usually exists at very high volume, I looked north from the balcony of Juice and remembered the fact that the POP Pier once existed directly in front of our office and is the very location where Stacy and Dogtown’s most elite aggresively forged their path into history with attitude, style and localism.
I grabbed my camera bag, jumped in the car and started the journey towards Burbank. It was feeling like a Led Zeppelin morning, so I threw in the BBC Sessions Live album and headed into L.A. traffic. The levity of what I was about to experience started to sink in and the anticipation acted as my coffee replacement for the morning.
We pulled into a parking lot marked discreetly by an orange cone with an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper duct-taped on it with “Bones Brigade” in outlined black letters, fluttering in the breeze, as Steve Caballero and Michael Furukawa from Powell Peralta welcomed us to the scene.
For a quick moment, I had a flashback to my youth in Upstate New York where, in the cold months of winter, I watched Animal Chin in my room, studying every maneuver as if I would be tested on its content at the end of the school year. Now here I was 3000 miles from my youth completely humbled by the opportunity to be a part of history in the making. I snapped back to reality as Cab and Michael gave me a skater to skater welcome that made me feel really honored to be there. Michael immediately in a low volume tone said, “Tommy Guerrero is being interviewed right now, and Cab is next.”
It was quiet on the set and we made our way over to the food trailer for offerings of yogurt parfaits, mini doughnuts, fruits, cereals, tea and coffee. Being the health nut that I am, I grabbed the chocolate mini doughnuts and a diet Coke to get my day going. As we sat at a table, the talk story began umprompted and unrestricted in content and sarcasm.
I had to ask Cab, “How does it feel to be celebrating the 20 year anniversary of your Vans Half Cab shoe?” It was an innocent question, but his answer surprised me with its undertones of validation and wisdom. He said he was excited and humbled by it and he is thankful that he has the opportunity to experience this landmark. He answered with the same excitement and feeling you have when you skate your first pool and go over the light the first time. Cab dipped his head while Michael and I glanced at each other and simultaneously raised our drinks, acknowledging the depth of the moment.
In the background, you could hear muffled moments of laughter through the warehouse door as Tommy and Stacy were making movie magic just shouting distance away. I finished up my breakfast and heard clapping as Stacy came walking out to the parking lot. He immediately greeted Cab with a hug that displayed decades of friendship and mutual admiration and reflected the long journey they continue to share.
A few minutes later, Tommy appeared and greeted Cab with a smile on his face and a heavy glimpse of sarcasm in his eyes. I could see that raw spirit resonating through their expressions and there were a few moments of “We have come a long way and we are still right where we started.” It was, for lack of a better word, cool. Tommy had a plane to catch, so he quickly exited stage right and was off on his next adventure.
All of a sudden, in 100% Holmes fashion, none other than Christian Hosoi rolled up in his truck and pulled right in front. He parked his truck and made his way towards us in a manner that I call the ‘Holmes strut.’ Cab and Christian immediately connected and Cab’s nerves seemed to immediately calm. Stacy came over and welcomed everyone to the set and then Michael, Cab, Hosoi and I made our way through the warehouse doors.
We entered into what normally functions as a storage facility for film props and sets. In front of the pallets of wood and random foam fingers was the Bones Brigade Documentary set. The temperature in the warehouse was easily above 95 degrees with no air conditioning, while the crew handed bottles of cold water and popsicles around the room.
As Cab sat in the chair and began to prep for his interview we were instructed to shut off our portable phones and remain quiet in our chairs. It’s a little tricky to sit still when you are fully engaged in a moment and Hosoi is sitting next to you whispering back stories to you at the same time, and laughing out loud.
Next you hear, “Roll sound,” and the interviews began. Peralta started asking Cab questions, and the vibe immediately turned intense. Without giving away too much, I will say that Stacy brought out some of the most sincere emotions from Caballero regarding his time with Powell-Peralta. It was one of those experiences that transcended time and took away the cliche of the word “special” and really defined it.
After Cab’s interview, we took a break for lunch and headed into the next room and everyone grubbed. Steve Olson rolled in during lunch and immediately grabbed a plate and sat at the table with us. Lunch with Hosoi, Cab, Olson, Michael and Stacy was amazing. The conversation was light and funny, and as it started to get a little deeper, Stacy said, “Save it for the interview.” In typical Hosoi-fashion, Christian said, “Stacy, don’t worry. We will get it all.” Everyone laughed and we made our way back to the set for Hosoi’s interview.
Hosoi sat in the chair and immediately got into his confidence mode and Stacy began his questions. Hosoi is just meant to be on camera and he was charismatic as he shared his side of the stories and delivered his opinions with relentless passion and honesty. Sitting next to Cab and Olson during Hosoi’s interview was nothing short of epic as their reactions were priceless. After Hosoi finished, we took another quick break and everyone went outside for a few minutes. As we are standing there, in skated Rodney Mullen himself. What happened from this point forward literally changed my view of skateboarding forever.
I was also lucky enough to be there for a conversation between Rodney and Hosoi that was mind-boggling. Hosoi was getting ready to leave to meet up with rap artist Lil Wayne who had called him for a TMZ filming at the Rainbow in Hollywood. Welcome to skateboarding 2011… But what struck me most about this exchange was Rodney’s reaction and words of unassuming wisdom to Christian. In all fairness to Rodney, I will have to paraphrase his words as I would find it almost impossible to restate verbatim the genius way Rodney articulated his sentiments to Christian. Rodney said that he was proud and excited that Hosoi was the one with the opportunity to represent skateboarding and he could not think of a better skateboarder alive that Lil Wayne should look up to and emulate. I could see from Christian’s body language that Rodney’s words absolutely enriched him while at the same time validating him as a skateboarder and recognizing his career and character all at once. It was one of the most pure compliments I have ever heard from one skateboarder to another.
If I dare make a comparison, it would be kind of like Miles Davis, a man of very few words and mountains of character, tapping Jimi Hendrix on the shoulder before he was about to go on stage and saying in his one-of-a-kind low voice, “Hey, Hendrix, cool, baby, cool.” If that comparison was only for the merit of the parties involved, I think you know where I am coming from. I was able to shoot a quick picture of them and then Hosoi was off to meet Lil Wayne. Cab left to catch a flight at the Burbank airport, while Olson was getting ready for his close-up.
We made our way back to the set and Olson was on point as always. He was wearing a black cowboy shirt with red embroidered stitching with his hair slicked back, ready for action. Now, for all of you who read Juice Magazine, you know how intelligent and talented Olson is when it comes to interviews and this one was nothing short of brilliant, funny, honest and entertaining all at the same time. Typical Olson non-nonsense statements went like a little like this, “I skateboard every day. I have my skateboard and I skateboard.”
After Olson was finished, we said our good-byes and it was time for Rodney’s interview, but nobody could find him. One of the crew yelled, “He’s around the corner skating.” All of a sudden, Rodney came skating in like he had just drank from the fountain of youth. We headed inside to the set and, as Rodney began to answer Stacy’s first question, my view of skateboarding changed forever. I will prerequisite this statement with what has become a general ideology among the varied tribes of skateboarding. Street skaters are not very fond of vert and pool skaters and the like, and even further off the acceptence scale are freestylers and downhill skaters. There is this unwritten law that being a skateboarder you must be defined by a style or a genre within the group and Rodney, in one sentence, trancscended all of these manufactured ideas.
What unfolded through his words was his pure love of skateboarding and the community of skateboarders that share the same passion. What continues to resonate even while I write this, is the purity of his spirit and his unwavering determination to progress and better skateboarding in ways that all who skate are affected by.
As the day wrapped up, we all said our goodbyes and made our way home. The drive back didn’t require any music, as all I could think about was riding my skateboard. I realized that everyone that rides for life understands the universal language of skateboarding and, today, I think we all found Animal Chin.
I pulled into the Juice pad and went straight back to the baclony and looked north. This time instead of hearing and seeing the waves that crash over the last remaining remnants of POP Pier, I looked at the paved boardwalk in front of me and saw a group of kids skating by and the sounds of their wheels gave me chills. They yelled, “What’s up, Juice!” As they skated by, I just smiled, threw up a peace sign and rolled inside. What a day.
BONES BRIGADE DOCUMENTARY
Behind the Scenes – Part 2
Sept 20, 2011
Somewhere in Burbank, CA
Words and photos by Dan Levy
I woke up before sunrise, excited for the day, and started my journey into town very early as Stacy was first on the list for interviews and I did not want to miss any of his side of the story. I was lucky enough be present for Stacy’s first interview a few months previous, so I knew it would be good. I think Stacy would probably tell you that he is not a huge fan of being in front of the camera as he feels most comfortable behind the lens, however he is very dynamic on camera. Sam George asked tough questions and Stacy’s answers were sincere and eye-opening. He covered some ground that only he and George were privy too and I must say just the Powell-Peralta aspect of this story has enough historical merit and controversy to carry three films.
While Stacy was being interviewed, a call came in from Tony Hawk whose interview was scheduled next. He was stuck in traffic because an 18-wheeler had tipped over on the freeway and he was going to be late. A call went out to Lance Mountain asking if he could arrive earlier, so there would be no down time. After Stacy finished up, we broke for breakfast and Lance rolled in.
Shortly after, Tony arrived and described his frustrating drive. Anyone who has been stuck in traffic in California knows what a relief it is to be out of your car after being stuck for hours. Although Lance arrived early, he graciously told Tony to go first and Tony was stoked.
We all headed to the set and while Tony was getting ready, Stacy said, “I can’t believe you still have the same shirt.” Tony laughed and told the story of how his team rider, Jaws, did not own a button-up shirt and had asked Tony to borrow it for an occasion. Tony lent him the shirt and then found out a few months later that he needed it for this shoot. Tony called Jaws and he still had the shirt, so his mother Fedex-ed it to Tony and he commented, “Now Jaws doesn’t have a button up shirt anymore.” We all got a good laugh out of that and the interview began. Although Tony has done plenty of interviews, Stacy asked questions that appeared sometimes difficult for Tony to answer and the results were gripping.
Tony finished up his interview and I snapped a few photos of Lance, Stacy, Tony, and Mike McGill who had arrived during Tony’s interview. It was a pretty surreal moment for me and, I think, for them as well.
We quickly regrouped and Lance was up next. He has an amazingly quick wit and he had everyone on the edge of their seats the entire time. In classic Lance style, his facial expressions and hand movements alone were telling and entertaining. Lance’s interview, in the same vein as his Bones Brigade video parts, will be sure to inspire and amuse all of the tribes of skateboarders and many others as well.
Up next was Mr. McTwist himself, Mike McGill. After another epic lunch with Lance, Sam, Mike and Stacy, it was Mike’s turn to get in the chair. Lance stuck around for Mike’s interview and, without giving away too much, Lance and Mike were not exactly the closest guys on the team, so it got interesting really fast. Mike is pretty gun-shy on camera, but Stacy has an uncanny ability to get the good stuff out of everyone he interviews and Mike was very animated as the day went on.
As an East Coaster from Florida, McGill has a completely different perspective than the other guys on the team, and it was interesting to hear his take on the team and his own contribution of the history-changing 540.
The elusive Mr. C.R. Stecyk III was not able to attend this day for his interview. He will always remain the international man of mystery and knowing him he was probably out in the desert somewhere creating and documenting something amazing.
As day two came to its end, the selfish part of me wanted more, and knowing this was one of the last days of filming for the project was a little bittersweet for me. That being said, I look forward to seeing what Stacy and the crew are able to do with this gold mine of footage. They have a long way to go, but I think this documentary is going to be something we will watch over and over again.
If it was not for the combined efforts of George Powell and Stacy Peralta there would have been no Bones Brigade. I am thankful to them both for giving me the opportunity to be a part of history and look forward to seeing this doc on the silver screen.
Stay tuned for more updates and behind the scenes coverage at www.powell-peralta.com and www.juicemagazine.com. Also coming up in the print editions of Juice Magazine, you can follow the Juice Magazine Bones Brigade Chronicles as we feature the team from their point of view. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.