Bones Brigade Chronicles: On Set to Sundance to the Animal Chin 30 Year Reunion

On Set to Sundance to the Animal Chin 30 Year Reunion
Story by DAN LEVY

In our quest to go behind the scenes of the making of the “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” documentary and bring you this ongoing Bones Brigade Chronicles series, let’s go back to the beginning…

September 2011 – Burbank, CA

It is not very often that you get an invitation to document the making of a film by a highly accomplished and respected filmmaker like Stacy Peralta, yet Juice Magazine did and what I witnessed gives me chills as 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 aggressively forged a path into history with attitude, style and localism.

I grabbed my camera bag, jumped in the car and started the journey to Burbank to reach the set of the “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography”. 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.

Bones Brigade on set. Photo: Dan Levy

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.

Stacy Peralta, Tony Hawk and Lance Mountain. Photo © Dan Levy

For a quick moment, I had a flashback to my youth in Upstate New York where, in the cold months of winter, I watched the “Animal Chin” VHS tape 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 said, in a low volume tone, “Tommy Guerrero is being interviewed right now, and Cab is next.” It was quiet on the set and we made our way to the food trailer for offerings of yogurt parfait, mini doughnuts, fruits, cereals and coffee. Being the health nut that I am, I grabbed the chocolate mini doughnuts and a diet Coke to get my day going.

Sam George, Lance Mountain, Stacy Peralta, Mike McGill and Michael Furukawa. Photo: Dan Levy

As we sat at a table, the talk story began 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 wisdom. He said he was humbled by it and he is thankful that he has the opportunity to experience this landmark. He answered with the same excitement that you have when you skate your first pool and go over the light for the first time.

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.

Tommy Guerrero, Stacy Peralta and Steve Caballero. Photo: Dan Levy

A few minutes later, Tommy appeared and greeted Cab with a smile on his face. I could see the 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 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. He parked right in front 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 welcomed everyone to the set and then we entered into what normally functions as a storage facility for film props. 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.

Steve Caballero. Photo: Dan Levy

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 Hosoi is next to you whispering stories and laughing out loud at the same time.

The Shoot List. Photo: Dan Levy

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 cliché of the word “special” and really defined it.

Steve Caballero, Stacy Peralta, Christian Hosoi and Steve Olson. Photo: Dan Levy

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 grabbed a plate and sat at the table with us. Lunch with Hosoi, Cab, Olson, Michael and Stacy was amazing. The conversation was 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.

Christian Hosoi on set. Photo: Dan Levy

Hosoi sat in the chair and immediately got into confidence mode and Stacy began his questions. Hosoi is meant to be on camera and he was charismatic as he shared his side of the stories and delivered his opinions with relentless passion. 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 were standing there, in skated Rodney Mullen.

Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen and Christian Hosoi. Photo: Dan Levy

Rodney and Hosoi then had a quick conversation as Hosoi was getting ready to leave to meet up with rap artist, Lil Wayne, who had called him for a TMZ filming in Hollywood. (Welcome to skateboarding 2011.) I shot 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.

Stacy Peralta, Rodney Mullen and Steve Olson. Photo: Dan Levy

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.

Rodney Mullen taking a break. Photo Dan Levy

After Olson was finished on camera, 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 often not very fond of vert and pool skaters and the like, and even further off the acceptance 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, transcended all of these manufactured ideas.

Taking a look at Rodney Mullen’s interview. Photo: Dan Levy

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, is the purity of his spirit and his unwavering determination to progress and better skateboarding in ways that all who skate are affected by.

Lance Mountain, Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta and Mike McGill. Photo: Dan Levy

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 balcony 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…

Stacy Peralta and Sam George. Photo: Dan Levy

For day two on the Bones Brigade Autobiography set, 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 to 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.

Tony Hawk on set. Photo: Dan Levy

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 everyone.

Lance Mountain during his interview. Photo: Dan Levy

We quickly regrouped and Lance was up next. He has an amazingly quick wit and he had everyone on the edge of their seats. In classic Lance style, his facial expressions and hand movements alone were 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.

Mike McGill on set. Photo: Dan Levy

Up next was Mr. McTwist himself, Mike McGill. 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 different perspective than the other guys, and it was interesting to hear his take on the team and his own contribution of the history-changing 540.

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 was bittersweet. That being said, I look forward to seeing what Stacy and the crew are able to do with this goldmine of footage. If it was not for the combined efforts of George Powell and Stacy Peralta, there would have been no Bones Brigade, and 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…

February 2012 – Sundance, Park City, Utah

As fate would have it, the “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” documentary was chosen to be showcased at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and, when the opportunity came about for me to go to Sundance and be part of the experience, it was a no-brainer.

Tommy Guerrero has ‘two tickets to paradise.’ Photo by Dan Levy

I left Los Angeles and made the trek to Santa Barbara to meet up with Michael Furukawa at Powell Peralta. A few hours later, Michael and I hit the road in the silence of the night to avoid traffic during our 5-hour trek from California to the cold hills of Park City, Utah for what would become one of the most memorable road trips I’ve ever experienced.

Bones Brigaders: Mike McGill, Steve Caballero, Tommy Guerrero and Lance Mountain en route to a movie screening at Sundance. Photo © Dan Levy

The Powell team van is what you would expect it to be: a white 15-passenger van with no extra bells and whistles – just the basics to get you where you need to go. This van in its current life transports the modern-day Powell team and has traversed the USA for many a tour. The fact that this van would be transportation for a classic Bones Brigade reunion at Sundance added a significant nuance to the trip.

What started out as a simple photo op turned into a comedy routine in the green room at one of the “Bones Brigade – An Autobiography” screenings at Sundance. Photo © Dan Levy

As we made our way into Park City, the anticipation was high as Michael filled me in where we would be staying, and my inner 12-year-old child was as amped up as if I had eaten 20 sugar-filled Pixie Stix all at once. Powell had rented two houses for the Sundance festival and we were going to be staying in one of the houses with the Bones Brigade.

Tommy was having a blast during the Entertainment Weekly press stop. Photo © Dan Levy

As we made our way through the snow-covered streets of Park City, you could feel the presence of Hollywood in the air. Park City is a small town and when the movie industry descends upon its main thoroughfare, it becomes crowded very quickly. It has a vibe like the show “Deadwood” where the elite descend on the wild frontier and cherry pick the best-placed claims with hopes to leave further ahead than when they arrived.

Sundance is a festival where films can be skyrocketed into glory or systematically dismantled and swept under the rug squeezing all life and hope out of them. It is a cutthroat game and mining for film gold in Park City is a tricky process. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to just be a fly on the wall with nothing to lose and an experience of a lifetime to gain while the business of business was jousting before my eyes.

Cab got popcorn at every screening and he was this happy every time. Photo © Dan Levy

After a scenic cruise down Main Street, we arrived at house number 1 and were the first to make our way in. Park City is the ultimate resort town for those who enjoy snow sports, and the log cabins had amazing A-frame ceilings and exposed wood beams throughout the entire space. We unloaded the van with the promo for the movie screenings and waited for the rest of the crew to arrive.

It was great to see George Powell and the Bones Brigade on the road together celebrating decades of skateboarding stoke. Photo © Dan Levy

Staying in house #1 was Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Lance Mountain, George Powell, Sean Mortimer, John Oliver, Michael and me. House number #2 played host to Rodney Mullen, Stacy Peralta, Tommy Guerrero and Josh Altman. As the crews arrived, the importance of the mission began to take effect. This was the first time that the majority of the Bones Brigade had been together on a tour in a long time and it was a rare occurrence that George was on the road with the crew.

Lance introduced us to the sleeping bag/jacket as he claimed his couch space in the house. Photo © Dan Levy

As many of us know from watching the Bones Brigade videos, Lance Mountain is the ultimate comic relief and the vibe was immediately celebratory and fun. Once the whole crew arrived, we made our way down the backyard trail from house 1 to house 2 and the gang was back together again. Tony Hawk was unfortunately unable to attend Sundance as he had a previous engagement in Australia, however Sean Mortimer was keeping him in the loop and Tony was sending texts the whole time to be part of the experience.

Rodney Mullen and Stacy Peralta during Q&A sessions after the first Bones Brigade screening at Sundance. Photo: Dan Levy

Stacy Peralta arguably is not the toughest guy from Dogtown, but he is one of the most progressive. What he was able to accomplish in his own career introduced skateboarding and its surrounding culture to an unsuspecting global audience. He left an indelible mark on several continents and in turn created a platform for a 4-wheeled subcultural revolution. His fortitude to create the catalyst for this movement was uncanny and unorthodox in its very foundation. His ability to project a message through a group of kids was as pure in intent as it was in execution. It was this very same energy and unwavering perseverance that brought him success in his filmmaking as well as many other avenues in life. The Bones Brigade film is labeled an autobiography and what I came to realize, after spending time with the Bones Brigade, is this is just another chapter in a life long pursuit.

Tommy G was loving the snow. lol… Photo © Dan Levy

The first screening of the Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” at Sundance was incredible. It was sold out and the Q&A session after the show went down with plenty of applause. When they handed the microphone to Lance, he would say something super funny, and half answer the question and then hand the mic to Tommy. Tommy was sarcastic and witty at all times. McGill was straight forward and endearing while Cabbie was grateful and inspiring. Rodney would say something genius and then go to hand the mic to somebody and they were like, “Yeah, dude, what are we going to say after that?”

When someone asked George Powell, “Are you guys excited to be hanging out together?” George said, “For me, this is the best thing ever, getting to know these guys now that I didn’t get a chance to back in the day. It’s been really awesome.” It was an amazing moment and you could feel the love for skateboarding overtake the theatre.

Sean Mortimer, Mike McGill, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain goofing off at Sundance. Photo: Dan Levy

Everyone was laughing and yelling, “Nightmare air!” as if they were still 16 years old and making the original Bones Brigade videos. At one point, Rodney was trapped by one of the journalists, so Stacy and the rest of the guys went over and picked him up and put him on their shoulders and carried him away to the van and he was just laughing his head off.

George Powell, Josh Altman, Mike McGill, Rodney Mullen, Stacy Peralta, Lance Mountain and Steve Caballero on stage at Sundance. Photo: Dan Levy

Along the way, Stacy delegated roles for each person so, when I was in the van, I was the navigator, which is funny, since I can get lost going in a circle. I don’t think Stacy understood that I am directionally challenged and without the invention of iPhones and Google maps, we would have probably not made it to any screenings.

Powell Peralta touring van. Photo: Dan Levy

When we were in the van, everyone still had their thing, like Rodney always sat in the back of the van and there were all these jokes like, “It’s only a ten minute drive. Are you going to make it, Rodney?” We’d play games in the van like, “Name That Skater” and no one got stumped even once, and sometimes we’d be in the van a long time, like when we drove to meet up with Lance’s family. That was a cool moment too when Lance’s whole family showed up at one of the screenings.

George Powell signing autographs. Photo: Dan Levy

When I saw the first person ask for George Powell’s autograph, people were like, “When am I ever going to get George Powell’s autograph? This is rad.” It was very cool to see George interact with the community and get well-deserved recognition and appreciation for all of his hard work.

Sean Penn popped into the green room on the way to his film and caught up with Stacy. Photo © Dan Levy

The green room at the movie screenings was filled with celebrities, and Sean Penn happened to walk into the tent, and Stacy and Sean had a moment and talked briefly. I walked up and asked if I could take a picture and Sean was like, “No.” I was like, “Oh, that’s right. You hate photographers.” He looked at me and winked. Everybody was like, “We all thought he was going to punch you in the face.” He has been known to do that to other photographers, but he was cool to me. Sean Mortimer expertly snapped a photo from the side, so the mission was accomplished.

William H. Macy joined us in the green room during the Sundance Channel press junkets and he kindly allowed me to shamelessly snap a photo. Photo © Dan Levy

We even ran into William H. Macy in the green room and I “shamelessly” snapped a quick photo of him while he was waiting to do an interview to promote an indie film he did.

The next crazy thing that happened was that we found out that Stacy was screening another film at Slamdance called “No Room For Rockstars”, which was a film he did with Agi Orsi and Vans about the Vans Warped Tour. I remember Stacy saying, “We’re going to go check out this other movie tonight.” We were like, “What other movie?”

Steve Van Doren and Stacy Peralta at the Slamdance screening of “No Room for Rockstars” about Vans Warped Tour and true stories of the modern era of rock. Photo © Dan Levy

We got there and Agi Orsi and Kevin Lyman popped up and Steve and Kristy Van Doren were there too. Josh Altman who edited the Bones Brigade documentary also edited “No Room For Rockstars” and none of us really knew that beforehand. We all watched the Warped Tour movie and then we stayed for the Q&A afterwards and were stoked on this amazing film.

Glen E. Friedman and Ice-T who was at Sundance with his film “The Art of Rap”. Photo © Dan Levy

The next day there was a panel with Stacy Peralta and Ice-T that was simply brilliant. Ice-T was promoting his movie, “The Art Of Rap” and Stacy was promoting “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” and Glen E. Friedman moderated the panel. I’ll never forget the way that Glen opened up the talk. He said, “Here we have two guys that are perceived as the toughest guys, one in Dogtown and one in hip hop, and they both have girl’s names, Tracy and Stacy.” Everyone laughed including Stacy and Ice-T.

Glen E. Friedman moderated an amazing Q&A with Ice-T for his film “The Art of Rap” and Stacy Peralta for his movie the “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography”. Photo © Dan Levy

As the panel discussion went on, the many parallels between “The Art Of Rap” and the “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” movie, became clear, like the fact that you can not bullshit Ice-T when he is interviewing you for a hip hop movie, and when Stacy was making Bones Brigade, the cast was all so real to Stacy because he lived it with them. With Glen E. Friedman, an early documentarian of hip hop and skate culture, moderating the panel, the topics were captivating.

One of the correlations between the two movies was the independent spirit that fueled both hip hop and skateboarding. Another parallel between Peralta and Ice-T that resonated in the panel discussion was that it’s not as easy as you may think to make these films. However, both Peralta and Ice-T being unapologetic, agent provocateurs in their genres, persevered with class and style to accomplish their missions.

Lance kept Stacy laughing during interviews with the international press. Photo © Dan Levy

The thing about Stacy is that he sees qualities in others that some people may not see and he has the ability to tell a great story with his films. Stacy saw how unique Rodney’s interview was for the Bones Brigade movie and he laser-focused on it and people reacted to it. It’s no wonder that in the year following Sundance, Rodney was doing TED talks for the tech community about skateboarding.

Rodney Mullen. Photo: Dan Levy

In fact, the Rodney Mullen part of the Bones Brigade documentary was similar to Eminem’s part in “The Art of Rap”. There was a moment in both movies where you could see that both Rodney and Eminem had a real admiration for the filmmaker. Eminem admired Ice-T, and Rodney has always admired Stacy, so there was mutual respect and unbridled honesty. There are moments in the Bones Brigade documentary where Rodney describes Stacy and it’s so real. It was something you could feel in your bones like when Eminem started rapping one of Ice-T’s songs to him and then recited the meaning of the lyrics in his own words back to him. It really affected Ice-T in a raw and profound way as well as being a great show of respect.

As the talk between Ice-T, Peralta and Glen concluded, I walked away wanting to watch both documentaries again from a whole new perspective.

For me, one of the most impressive things about being on the Bones Brigade set, and at Sundance, is that despite the fact that there was semi-controlled chaos happening within the dynamics of the making of the movie, none of it mattered because when the movie was finished and they were all together again, magic happened and it was all about, “We’re the Bones Brigade.”

McGill was handed this original board by one of his fans and they did an impromptu photo shoot with it during press junket day. Photo © Dan Levy

As history repeats itself, I’m reminded of stories about the making of the original Bones Brigade videos in the ‘80s when no one was used to the idea of being asked to run through a graveyard for a skate video part. There was a lot of initial resistance to acting and this new art form of filmmaking on a VHS tape level and making it accessible to the world in a way that had never been done. We’re also talking about skateboarding, which is one of the most anti-establishment subcultures in existence, but the end result was that Stacy and George created a venue to present skateboarding as something that everyone can do and be part of, and that contribution to our culture is priceless.

A rare opportunity to get an autograph from George Powell. Photo © Dan Levy

As Stacy forged this new path of filmmaking, George gave Stacy the support to make the Bones Brigade videos with very few limitations. When they needed a helicopter for filming, George rented a helicopter. He was like, “You want to build a vert ramp in the middle of nowhere with no permits? Do it. You want to light a Cadillac on fire in front of my parents house and shoot an ad? Do it.”

After spending the week at Sundance with the Bones Brigade, it was interesting to see the big picture of the team that Stacy put together. They were all such opposites in the ‘80s when there was no crossover between street skating and vert skating, yet the Bones Brigade became one of the greatest forces to be reckoned with in skateboarding history.

As the Sundance hype washed over the Brigade, and the sun set over the mountains in Park City, a feeling of brotherhood prevailed and a lifetime of great skateboarding memories flashed before my eyes and I felt so privileged to be there.

Oct 2016 – Camp Woodward – Animal Chin 30 Year Reunion

Recreation of the Animal Chin Ramp built by Tim Payne. Photo: Dan Levy

In October 2016, another surprise phone call came in from Michael Furukawa at Powell Peralta inviting Juice to be part of a special reunion of the Bones Brigade and a 30 year celebration of Animal Chin. What had remained a complete secret for weeks was that Tim Payne was rebuilding the Animal Chin ramp at Woodward West.

Full frontal. Photo © Dan Levy

I woke up early, and this time, instead of Zeppelin, I went straight for Metallica as I geared up for the gnarly skateboarding that I knew was getting ready to go down. As I made my way over the hill to Tehachapi, what silhouetted the horizon was the Animal Chin ramp, but this time I knew that I would get the chance to ride it in real life instead of seeing it on a TV screen, and it was unbelievable.

Cabbie with a classic frontside smith. Photo © Dan Levy

Tim Payne who originally built the Animal Chin ramp 30 years ago was on site to explain the slight changes he made to the design to make it more modern, and he was just as excited to build the ramp this time as he was 30 years ago.

J. Grant Brittain and the Bones Brigade with the famous “4 inverts” photo. Photo © Dan Levy

Then J. Grant Brittain showed up to reshoot his amazing quadruple invert photo of Hawk, Cab, Lance and McGill. To see this photo recreation go down was extraordinary.

Rodney Mullen, J. Grant Brittain and Christian Hosoi rehashing good times. Photo: Dan Levy

It was like we were all mentally transported back in time to one of those iconic moments in skateboarding. The experience was another exciting adventure in a story that will continue into the future.

Happy 30 year anniversary! Photo © Kristy Van Doren

Steve Van Doren and Kristy Van Doren-Batson of Vans surprised the Bones Brigade with a 30 year anniversary cake and Steve fired up the grill.

Steve Van Doren fired up the grill. Photo: Dan Levy

Christian Hosoi and his kids, along with Charlie Blair, Andrew Reynolds, Bucky Lasek, Kevin Staab, Tom Schaar, Lizzie Armanto, Nicole Hause, Ozzie Ausband, Alec Beck and Clay Kreiner were all on hand to celebrate with the Brigade.

Bones Brigade and Johnny Rad. Photo © Dan Levy

After the session was over, we made our way up to the lodge where none other than Johnny Rad was performing. It felt like we were reliving the scene in the Animal Chin video and I was waiting for one of the guys to ask, “Where’s Chin?” It was nuts. Johnny Rad live is on fire. One of the best moments was when I turned around and saw that Hawk, McGill, Cab, Lance and Tommy were all singing along with the Rad Man. It was surreal.

Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta and Animal Chin, i mean, Tommy Guerrero. Photo © Dan Levy

As I spent the day with the Brigade and witnessed incredible skateboarding and camaraderie, I thought about skate videos and movies and the impact they have, from the first Bones Brigade videos to the “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography”. During the time that “Future Primitive” and “Animal Chin” came out, very few of us had parents in my neck of the woods on the East Coast that supported skateboarding. Most parents thought it was the devil’s machine and there was no future in it. My parents were like, “What are you doing?” Yet my friends and I were so infatuated with the Powell Peralta videos because they made skateboarding okay for us. We connected with the Bones Brigade on an intrinsic level because if they’re okay, that must mean that we’re okay. It’s that Psych 101 thing.

Birdman and the Boss. Photo © Dan Levy

With those VHS tapes coming into our living rooms, and those sick board graphics under our feet, it gave us hope that we weren’t wasting our time on the mutual thing that we loved – skateboarding. As a result, skateboarding slowly turned from a demon into an angel in some respects. I mean, today, my parents know who Tony Hawk is, and that’s insane to me.

Stacy Peralta and the Bones Brigade at the Animal Chin 30 Year Reunion. Photo © Dan Levy

We’re lucky to have pioneers like George and Stacy that wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing and know that skateboarding is one of the best activities there is and are intent on sharing it with the world.

Lance Mountain was happy but his plant was sad. Photo © Dan Levy

The profoundness of the situation from being on the Bones Brigade set to going with them to Sundance to being there for the 30 Year Animal Chin Reunion was, for me, proof that I chose the right path with skateboarding. And if you’re reading this now, you’re on the right path too.

Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain, Tony Hawk, Dan Levy, Stacy Peralta, Mike McGill & Steve Caballero. Photo © Deville Nunes

Thank you to George Powell, Stacy Peralta, Michael Furukawa, and the Bones Brigade for allowing me to be a fly on the wall during this journey and the continued search to find Animal Chin.

[Download the Bones Brigade documentary at and catch up on editions of Juice Magazine featuring the Bones Brigade Chronicles, which include interviews with George Powell, Stacy Peralta, Craig Stecyk III, Ray “Bones” Rodriguez, Steve Caballero, Jesse Martinez, Tony Hawk, Mike McGill, Kevin Harris and Lance Mountain. Thanks for reading.]


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