SURF SKATE STYLE WITH GREG FALK. WORDS BY GREG FALK. PHOTO BY GABRIEL NAKAMURA.
“Man always aspires higher, but water always flows to the lowest point” -Ancient Chinese proverb.
The first skateboards had only trace amounts of surf in their skate, appropriated from mere roller skates and failing to really deliver on the promise of the feeling of surfing the sidewalk, until around 1969. The pot began stirring in the opposite direction, with the far East collaborating with the new West to help drive the future. Westerners began embracing their own deep Eastern roots, as individuals previously disconnected from one another became united through a brazen integration of ideas and a unification of polarities. This active integration created original fusions which led to a shift expressed in the performing arts, visual, martial, musical arts, as well as surfing and skating.
This climate of fusion fertilized everything it touched. In music, we discovered a new sound, expressed in the drone undertones of Miles Davis, and the new psychedelic expressions of Hendrix and The Who. The martial arts were forever changed as Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto pooled their wealth of knowledge and abandoned historic patterns, breaking molds and distilling the most effective techniques of various disciplines, giving birth to Jeet Kune Do. In the visual arts, painter Jackson Pollock worked on horizontal canvas, collaborating with paint’s characteristics of flow and release in a new way by giving visual representation to energy itself.
The renaissance afoot was palpable. The West Coast was boiling over with raw talent, with a merging of artists, innovators, surfers and skaters, historians and motivators. Nothing could escape this fusion, and so it was with surfing and skating, too.
It can be difficult to correlate cause and effect, but harder is to ignore the critical mass that occurred over a very short period of time. This thorough intermixing was an important factor that helped put the surf in skate.
Here in our own backyard, the Zephyr team rode Jeff Ho’s deeply rockered performance surfboards designed to charge the steep break that was the Santa Monica Bay. The POP was not some organized point break with corduroy lines, but a fast and steep beach break leaving little room for deliberate maneuvers, requiring only the channeling of raw instinct. In a way, the rocker was to the surfboard what the kicktail was to the skateboard.
The heat of the California drought, fueled the pressure cooker that was the Zephyr team, busting at its seams, hungry to apply their surfing prowess to their skateboarding. Team Zephyr was rife with legendary talents like Alva, Adams, Muir, Engblom and Stecyk. Adam’s lines were as original and rogue as the wave visible in his eyes. The concrete never felt much like a wave until the drought combined with unwittingly talented pool contractors to give us skate parks in every backyard, formerly masquerading as mere swimming pools.
Larry Stevenson’s kicktail allowed one’s rear foot to push up the nose of the board, engaging the front foot and allowing it to steer, providing the same snap at the cement lip. Formerly just heel and toe, now control of the equilibrium could be achieved without moving one’s feet. The empty pool offered a perfect laboratory to test and push the limits of the new equipment. Frank Nasworthy’s urethane seemed to know when to stick and when to release, and enabled vertical skating like the fins afforded the surfboard on a wave. All these innovations led to the same dynamic, and inspired true power surfing. With feet locked in place, they began to drive within the critical power pocket of the wave, fully expressed in the raw power of the “Wave Killer” Allen Sarlo.
Vertical skating was pursued with vengeance, and the distinction between surfing and skating became increasingly blurred. At the same time that the East Coast creative community was gathering at Woodstock, the West Coast was gathering in these new-found cement waves, merging the newest technology with abundant talent.
Surfskate was born of more than just skating and surfing prowess, but also of an irreverent ‘consciousness of the unconsciousness’. This manifests itself in a true fearlessness, combined with an openness, even eagerness, to being wrong. Fearlessness is at the source of all innovation, and in this forum without guidelines, rules or precedent, the very forces of nature were harnessed, hucking us into the roller coaster without rails we’re still riding all these years later.
JUICE MAGAZINE SURF SKATE STYLE STORY:
The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.