"Skateboarding is literally the physical manifestation of an art"
This will be the beginning of a long ongoing discussion on collecting our beloved planks of wood.
Skateboards are funny objects if you really think about them. They are made of wood, painted and designed as much as any consumer possession has ever been. But with a purpose. And that single purpose is to be destroyed.
They are literally a beautiful creation of artistry, research and design that are created for the sole purpose of being obliterated by a culture of youth creating their own art from that destruction. Skateboarding is literally the physical manifestation of an art.
There is, and I suspect always has been a strange addiction of sorts to the beauty, the shape and the color, the look of a skateboard.Those of us from the era of big wide "pig" boards - those 10 x 30" monsters, on which our forefathers set the tone of modern day skateboarding. Those of us of our ilk, know that addiction all too well. There is an ingrained, inherent connection to maybe your first board, or maybe your 3rd board. The one that you really learned to become a skateboarder on. I have collector friends who are absolutely obsessed with certain "holy grail" boards.
It is to this end that we must discuss our origin stories. The boards that made us who we are, and the ones we still pine for, connecting to those first moments when, lets face it - you fell in love with skateboarding. We scour web searches, lurk in huddled chat rooms in dark places and even darker recesses of our wallets.
For me it was planted very early, in the small subterranean Skateboard Shop in Valley View mall, in Dallas, TX circa 1980. To walk down the stairs of this small carved out cave - it really was like a baseball dugout under the food court, and to be assaulted by the sensations of tightly packed racks of huge pig boards, lollipop colors of brightly painted decks and wheels, it was a new kind of kid heaven to me. Even the smell was addicting, a somewhat sweet scent of paint and urethane plastics. It truly was like a candy store.
Boards had gone through a metamorphosis of only a year or two earlier. Almost completely gone were the skinny 70's banana boards, and in were the new full size pool shapes of the day. Madrid, G&S, Sims, Powell/Peralta, Santa Cruz. These boards were a reflection of a new era and new sensibility, of punk rock and new wave and spiked hair, shaved heads and girls wearing Ray Bans, riding in a convertible big fin Cadillac with a spice of 50's atomic creeping back in.
One of the best 80's retro 50's connections at the time was this really cool company that had Felix the cat on them. Seaflex was an anomaly at the time. Cool blue colors and stark black and white graphics of Felix and his girlfriend Boom Cat Betty.
They were pretty much the same shapes as most of the boards then, spoon nosed, but later turned more original. Their kid friendly images juxtaposed the idea of fun and destruction at the same time. They weren't your ordinary skateboard company. Void of the flashy sales-centric idea of mass-production. They had this small vibe going on. They were simple but had enough quality to be legit.
Seaflex was a small company, it was really just 2 guys apparently, these two dudes in Marin County California named Buzz and Dan, that had started Smoothill Sports which was a distributer. Quite serendipitously, I had lived and worked in Marin for more than 20 years later in life in and would pass the small "town" of Dogtown, which was really only a street it seems with a single sign post that you could miss easily when driving back from the beach.
To me they were almost Pop art based, and pretty original to use classic iconography as their motif, they had also done some of the first 2 tone wheels by dipping them in black ink. And they only seemed to have one actual pro rider, this rock n' roll looking guy named Bob Denike, who I later discovered was a decent skater and also had a really great column in Trasher, he's now a big whig at DHS. As a kid, I completely missed the connection of his column in Thrasher.
Today Seaflex boards are One of THE holy grail boards.
They were so limited in production that I've heard that only a few hundred were ever made to begin with. Subtract the ones that people skated and destroyed and you are talking about probably a handful surviving today.
So I'm using them as a launching point of sorts, an origin story, yes, an inspiration that I only now acknowledge is such. To write, to create, to make hand shaped boards in my garage and photograph my friends riding them. I think I may have been born just a few years to late. Too late to have done it then.
But I'm gonna do it now................... Right now!
Thanks to Skull & Bones Forum and Thrasher for the images