this month’s thrrrrrrrasher
“Local legends and bigwigs collide, tricks get pulled, beers get polished off, and bits of life off and on the skateboard are exposed…As for the book itself? Beautifully done.”
FDR book reviewed in Thrasher! thanks wez…
Andrew Wilson, FSO in the Bronx. from my interview in Skate Jawn issue #16, out now. You can read more about my dumb life below:
How long did you live in Philly?
From 2004-2012, so 8 years total.
Why did you decide to move to NY?
My girlfriend is going to grad school here, and I had always wanted to live in NY at some point in my life —- I just knew that from visiting.
What differences have you noticed between Philly and NYC?
There are so many things that I really love about New York and so many things that I really miss about Philly. I love the energy and motivation of people, everyone hustling, really trying to get somewhere and people are motivated to make it happen up here. Things I dislike are the whole culture of wealth and the attitude of people that think they’re cool just because they live in New York City, and just the ego of that. And, I find that people are more selfish around here - people being really self centered sometimes cause they’re so focused on where they’re going. And then for sure not having FDR and the Warehouse to just meet up with people. It’s just a lot more divided up here. It’s just easier to get by in Philly, you don’t have to work so crazy, things are more affordable, there’s less bureaucracy, less undercover cops watching you, you can find abandoned shit…
How did the FDR book happen?
My friend Nick Orso approached me and my other friend Scott Kmiec about trying to do the project, he had a publisher lined up. So I reached out to everyone I knew, every photographer who had photos of the park, and said to them “Hey, we don’t have any money, but were making this project, would you be down to contribute?” and I got an insane amount of things from all kinds of people, from all over. And then we basically just whittled it down over the course of three years laying it out. It was a lot of work. I don’t think I realized how much I was getting my self into at first.
Any good FDR stories?
Alright, two stories that I like both take place right by the miniramp, they’re not even mine but I’ll tell em. A friend went to take a piss in the woods right by the miniramp and they almost didn’t notice, but they saw at the last minute that someone had dug like an 8-10 foot deep hole in the woods and lightly covered it with leaves. It was basically like a pit, 3 foot in diameter, 10 feet deep and if you had fallen into the pit, you wouldn’t have been able to climb out. It was like a trap or something. So random. No idea who did that or why. And the other is, once my friends were skating the mini ramp and they saw these two bums getting into a fight screaming at each other, hitting each other then they disappeared off into the woods. They like didn’t really think much of it, then like 20 minutes later one of the bums came out the woods like covered in blood. They were like, whoa that’s gnarly I wonder what happened? And then the next day cops were down at the park and they said they pulled a body out of the woods. They’d somehow figured out that one dude had killed someone else in the woods, homeless dudes.
Fav FDR locs?
Of all time? I’ll give props to Steve Faas, Delaware Josh, Delaware Adam, Smiling Ryan, Acid Mike, everybody with good nicknames, all the 50 year olds still ripping, Andrew Clark holding it down. Willy Akers, to name just a few. There’s lots more.
How long did you live in AZ?
Right after I graduated college I moved out there for six months. I lived with one of my best friends Davis. That was like a high point in my life in terms of having fun everyday, not having responsibilities, skating, meeting new people, and shooting photos, but I made so little money. It was when the economy really tanked so I was looking for work as a photographer’s assistant and I tried so hard to find work, couldn’t find anything. I pretty much dumpster dove all my food. I sold my plasma, like your blood you know, for 35 bucks a pop, twice a week and we ate out of the trash. I dug ditches a couple days. I would do odd jobs on Craigslist and stuff. That’s pretty much how I survived, but it was sick. It was a good experience.
When did you go to Skatopia?
Skatopia was the first roadtrip I ever went on. The first time I went was 2004 with my friend Delaware Josh. He showed me the ropes of traveling and took me on my first trips, took me across country. So I went there in 2004, then again the next summer, 3-4 times while I was in college, but I didn’t go back for a long time cause I was kinda like fuck that place, those dudes suck, it’s just a weird scene. But I went back recently last spring with Akers, and Dillon Constantine, Jersey Drew, a big crew of people, and it was really sick. So I take it all back. That place is still rad.
What’s it like, what was your issue with it?
I mean back in the day it was just way gnarlier, just dudes doing all kinds of cocaine, running cars straight through where everybody was sleeping, shooting fireworks straight at people. It was just raw, I think it’s calmed down a little bit now especially since Brewce Martin (the guy that runs the place) had a pretty major accident. It was a lot of egos, just people thinking they were cool, and vibing people out if they didn’t like the look of em or whatever, same thing like we were talking about in NY. But yeah I’d say Skatopia is awesome, everybody should see it at one point, you can do whatever you want.
How many photos you take a day?
I shoot most of my stuff when I’m on trips —- I feel more inspired to shoot things when I’m traveling, so when I’m traveling I try to shoot like a roll a film a day, it’s not that much but if I go away for two weeks I want to come back with 15 rolls of film. I know it sounds crazy, driving six thousand miles or whatever, but if I come home with one photo that I really like, that I really think is good, then it was a good trip for me.
Have you ever been arrested?
The last time I got a ticket for skating was when I was 13 years old, I saw some cops pull a gun on a kid for skating Love, and I ran away with my friend. I wasn’t even skating, I had broken my board, and got a ticket even though I had a broken board and we were blocks away. I fought it with my mom, I was like a 13 year old kid. It was a crazy experience. One thing I wish I knew when I was little is don’t run, don’t act guilty, don’t give them a reason to think you knew you were doing something wrong. Like the other month me and Andrew Wilson and some of his roommates were pouring some cement up to this Jersey barrier in Bushwick. We’re just mixing, troweling it, trying to do it pretty quick but we’re not really being sketchy about it, and this cop rolls up and I had my back to the street, and they’re like “Hey, what’re you doing?” I just totally played calm and was like “Oh hey, what’s up, I’m just building something to skate”, and they just looked at me so crazy like “You’re building something to skate?” “Yea, you know, we’ve been skating this barrier so I figured we’d just put a little cement up to it make it a little easier.” The one cop was so bummed. I could tell he wanted to write us tickets, he’s like “Are you serious? You’re just gonna build some stuff on someone else’s property?” and the other cop that was in the drivers seat was just like,“Alright, carry on, see you guys later” and he hit the gas and they bailed. But I know if I had hesitated or not been confident they would have fucked us over, but if you just pretend you’re not doing anything illegal, nobody will mess with you.
Anybody you want to say thanks to?
I want to say thanks to my wonderful girlfriend The Zig, my family, ma dukes, Mr. Davis Campbell, Jersey Drew, Akers, the Wilson brothers and their whole house, and anybody that’s ever let me take a photo of them.
17 Mar 2013 / 21 notes
Hablo español? Yo tampoco
I got an interview in Spanish language online mag Staf right here
28 Jan 2013 / 9 notes
“Vagabondage, miscreantism, wanderlust, and a phew other phorms of phun are yours for a phew bucks.”
thanks wez couldn’t have said it better mysephflfadasdfasdfasdf
18 Nov 2012 / 10 notes
this month’s thrrrrrrrasher
18 Nov 2012 / 11 notes
Big thanks to Marcus Waldron at Skate Jawn zine for inviting me to be a part of his book project. Also featuring interviews with Colin Sussingham, Max Zahradnik, Billy Cox, Chris Mulhern, Max Hull, Mike Topley, Quim Cardona, Dylan James, Ramiro Davaro, Dean Innocenzi, Joe Hollier, Andy Po, and Brandon Gomez. You can pick up copies at the Skate Jawn store / Homebase / NJ skateshop.
25 Oct 2012 / 14 notes
I’m psyched to have been included in Marcus Waldron’s book, On the Grind. Here’s my interview below:
What got you into skateboarding?
I started skating with my best friend when I was a 10 year old, his older brother had friends who skated and I think that’s what started it. The first time I stepped on a skateboard, I figured I would ride down my little driveway hill, stepped on the board and just flipped backward, straight onto my back, knocked the wind out of me, couldn’t breath for like literally 60 seconds, and from then on I was hooked.
Has skateboarding led you to any other interests?
I think skating got me into most of the stuff I like, art, punk music, became a vegetarian, no drinking, that sort of thing, all from reading interviews with people whose skating I looked up to.
How does skateboarding affect your creative work or life in general?
Right now I have a normal job at an art gallery in Old City, I have to wear nice clothes and look the part, so sometimes being a skateboarder underneath it all makes me feel like I am leading a double life. Literally the minute I get home I take off my work clothes and put on ripped dickies, blown out shoes and a dirty t-shirt.
Do you take a lot of non skate photos?
Yes I definitely do, that’s really what I’m interested in, but I try to think separately of the skating and the non-skating stuff, I don’t have skate photos on my website…hope this doesn’t offend anyone but I don’t think of skate photography as art…you don’t use one art form to describe another, if that makes sense, that’s how I see it.
I heard your work has been exhibited internationally? Can you tell me about that?
Right after I graduated from school I took a train trip through Europe with my girlfriend, 25 cities in 60 days. While in Germany I put on a show at my friend Sergej’s gallery, Basementizid, just north of Stuttgart. Sergej and I had met at FDR years back and stayed in touch, exchanged zines, etc, and he invited me to put on a show to open up his new space. More recently I was invited to have a framed piece in the Print Exchange Program show in London, with my work hanging alongside the likes of Tobin Yelland and Ed Templeton, whose photos have inspired me from the beginning.
What is “borderline retarded”? Why do you do it?
BORDERLINE RETARDED is my yearly photo zine that I self publish and distribute every 4th of July at FDR. I started the zine after I broke my foot at Skatopia in early June, and figured I had some time to kill and could get the zine done for the big party at FDR. I had just gotten ahold of some old issues of Michael Sieben’s zine, “Programmed from India”, which is still probably the funniest zine I’ve ever read. Having a deadline like that has been good for me; I have put out 7 issues so far and I’m really happy with what I’ve been doing. The zines are 20 pages long, full color photocopies, and I do a numbered run of 100 every issue.
What was the coolest trip you ever went on because of skateboarding?
Every trip seems like the best one, there is something cumulative there for sure, and they kind of all bleed together in my memory. I think the feeling of being away is what I search for, those moments when you forget having to pay bills and hold down a job, when you can just really experience wherever you’re at and the people you’re with, kind of outside society in a way, that’s where I’m aiming to go.
What are your thoughts on post production? Does a heavily processed photo deserve less respect?
In art I really have no use for it, none of my artwork is edited at all, and I am a purist when it comes to the craft of photography. None of the photographers I look up to are using that kind of imagery, and it’s just not something I am interested in aesthetically.
For skate photography I definitely use photoshop to my advantage, at least in terms of dodging and burning to move your eye around the frame. Digital looks pretty terrible right out of the camera so you to have to fuss with it to make it your own.
Do you know anyone who’s been really changed by skating?
I’ve heard a lot of people say that if it wasn’t for skateboarding, they’d be dead.
25 Oct 2012 / 11 notes
thanks to Nope Fun for this interview where we discuss morality, children getting bloody, the mentally challenged, and finally, necrophelia (the ALBUM you sick freak… jeez… get your head out of the gutter)
Your pictures are really direct and honest, do you think it’s a reflection of you as a person?
I am a pretty strict moralist, and I believe in a well defined, black and white right vs. wrong for most situations in life. I learned this from my father. And I think honesty is one of the most important things in the world. So…yes.
What do you think draws people to skate culture?
Are you asking me what makes somebody start skateboarding? Or what makes people who don’t skate interested in the culture? I think people are drawn to skating as kids because they hate team sports and they want to get bloody and fuck up their town. That’s the reality of it. And I think that popular culture at large is interested in skateboarding because skaters have, for a long time, been innovators ahead of the curve. And they are by and large photogenic people as well.
Why’d you name your zine “Borderline Retarded”?
Well, I was looking for something only slightly offensive…playful…that made light of the fact that I find myself in hard to explain situations with somewhat regularity. I want to make clear that I mean no offense to anybody whose family member is mentally challenged. It’s just a joke, okay?
What’s been keeping you busy? Upcoming projects or ideas?
I just finished up working for the last 3 years as the photo editor for FDR Skatepark: A Visual History which was finally published this summer. I’d like to get started on another similarly ambitious long-term book project on skate culture in the vein of Aaron Rose’s Dysfunctional.
Any music to recommend?
My girlfriend put on the Rolling Stone’s lost album Necrophilia while I was painting our bedroom the other day. I’m not really into the stones too much but I like that album a lot now.
21 Oct 2012 / 4 notes
Joelle Farrell of the Philadelphia Inquirer with a nice write-up on the FDR book and the skatepark’s history in general
7 Oct 2012 / 11 notes
Luke Barley interviewed us about the FDR book for the Architizer blog. It was nice to talk to someone from outside of skate culture who actually gets it. His article looks at the skatepark from an urban planning perspective and is well worth the read. Thanks Luke!
7 Oct 2012 / 11 notes
Willy Akers Day in the Life!!!! stoked to be a part of this, great job everybody. for anybody who wants to know where this spot is, it’s right off the Halsey stop of the L train in Bushwick. can’t miss it.
25 Sep 2012 / 8 notes
1st ever Zine interview. Here’s a history of Borderline Retarded with the guys over at Mass Appeal
This week we take a look at photographer/skateboarder Phil Jackson’s skate culture zine Borderline Retarded. Now on its eighth issue, the Brooklyn-made, saddle-stitched zine is printed yearly and sold for the bargain price $5 at the annual FDR 4th of July party in Philly as well as on Etsy.
Jackson describes the zine as a mix of “photos of skateboard and youth culture with handwritten musings on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Often crude, occasionally poetic, always entertaining.” Jack Kerouac meets The Gonz in 20 pages.
Mass Appeal: How long have you been involved with skating?
Phil Jackson: I started skating when I was a wee lad, just a 10 year old boy, so that makes 15 years and counting …oh jeez.
What does the title Borderline Retarded mean?
I actually can’t remember how I came up with the title. Originally there was a sticker that was a half-toned graphic of a childhood photo of me lookin’ kinda screwy. I just wanna put it out there I mean no offense to anybody with a retarded child, it’s just a joke.
When did you start publishing and what was the original inspiration?
I broke my ankle at Skatopia in June of 2005. Laid up, I had been thinking about trying to make a zine when I got a package from Michael Sieben of his old project, Programmed From India. I was so psyched on it. It was just the perfect brand of humor (with jokes like “Top 5 Reasons to Start Smoking: Reason #1, it will give you something to do during that 5 minute period of depression immediately after you masturbate.”)
I got stoked and realized that I had a month until the 4th of July party at FDR [skate park]. Since I couldn’t skate, I figured it would be a good way to keep myself busy, and I could give them out to all the people in town for the party. My basic idea was to make a zine about skateboarding that never really mentions it. But if you get it, you get it.
21 Sep 2012 / 12 notes
click here to read me rambling on about 15 of my favorite photos
19 Sep 2012 / 8 notes
Our friends over at Shortwave Zine posted this interview about the making of the book. Big up to Nicki and Jenny G, thanks guys!
How did you all meet?
SCOTT: I met both Nick and Phil at FDR.
PHIL: We all met at the park, actually.
Tell us a little about your book, FDR Skatepark: A Visual History.
SCOTT: It’s a photo book that visually depicts the 15 year history of the park. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus some interviews with locals.
PHIL: It’s a cross between a photography book and a skateboard book. I like to think it can exist in both worlds, and that both worlds will appreciate it. Every photo was taken at the park, but it’s an even mix of skating, portraiture, lifestyle, construction, landscape, etc.
How did the idea of the book come about?
NICK: I had wanted to do a book like this for a while and it seemed like a no-brainer with all the awesome photographers we knew and the place itself; FDR is so unique and interesting. I sent out a feeler email and Chuck Treece from McRad got back to me with a contact in WA state who hooked us up with a Publisher back here in PA. Once the wheels were set in motion, it just kept rolling on.
PHIL: FDR isn’t the first under-the-bridge park, but it has a rich history and has produced some really classic images over the last 15 years. We wanted to make something that would stand as a document of what is one of the most humbling and inspiring places to skate in the entire world.
There are 170 pages…was it difficult keeping track of everything submitted?
SCOTT: Very difficult. We had thousands of photos. It was painstaking process making the selections. It could have easily been 500 pages.
PHIL: Since I’m a photographer myself I know how sketchy it can be to trust someone with your negatives, and I wanted to make sure every one of our contributors was treated the way I would want to be. So I was really careful. I have an almost photographic memory, so I think that gives me one up on remembering where I put stuff.
How long did it take to put together?
SCOTT: We worked on it for over 3 years. But it was a slow process. We all have full time jobs so we had to work around our busy schedules. There were times when a month would go by with no work. But the last year of making the book, Phil and I got into a good routine of meeting every Monday for at least an hour. Things really came together out of that process.
NICK: Over 3.5 years. I still have Phil’s brainstorm notes from January 2009 scribbled on a piece of loose leaf paper.
How many people were involved in the making of FDR Skatepark : A Visual History?
SCOTT: It started out with Nick Orso, Phil Jackson, Scott Kmiec, DE Josh and Ryan De La Cruz. Then it mainly was Phil and Scott with Nick managing the publisher. But we had photo submissions from 25 people. And it’s their amazing photos that made this book possible.
PHIL: If you add up all the photographers, the “editorial staff”, and the actual subjects of the photographs, we’re probably looking at a few hundred people, right?
Was it hard deciding what to put in the book?
SCOTT: The skating, the building and the lifestyle. It’s not just about the skaters and what trick they’re doing. I like the fact that you don’t have to have any interest in skateboarding or FDR to appreciate this book. It’s a collaborative piece of art.
What’s you’re favorite photo?
SCOTT: Too many! I have favorite spreads. Can’t pick one photo.
NICK: B&W Gonz backside air on the bunkerwall shot by Gee. Drooooool.
PHIL: Mine is a weird one actually. It’s the photo of Tad doing a pivot fakie on the CIA wall from before it had coping. Classic trick, somewhat mythical dude, perfect angle, early park history, the light is perfect. Yeah that’s the one. My second is Carlos cooking corn in a trashcan. You’ve got the park leader, rebar in the background, anonymous worker holding out an empty bowl for food, it just really captures the sense of what it’s like to be down there. Those are both photos by Cookout, who is more of an amateur photographer compared to the other guys in the book.
Do you remember the first time you went to FDR?
SCOTT: Yes. I was going to college at University of the Arts. It was 1996. I heard from a friend in my design class that they built a skatepark down there. We took the subway down to check it out. This is when it was ONLY what the city built – two banks and a ledge. The banks were basically unskateable due to having huge lips at the bottom. We just laughed it off and headed back to the city.
NICK: Yup, 1997 when I moved to Philly. Humbling.
PHIL: I think I was 12 so it would have been 1998. I used to ride the bus an hour and a half to go skate on Saturday mornings. Some of my friends today are the people who used to yell at me and the other groms as we got in their way back then.
Craziest thing you’ve seen at FDR?
SCOTT: A couple of guys were doing graffiti on the back side of the vert ramp that faces the park. I guess they were covering over someone else’s work and whoever it was got word of it. All of a sudden I see a guy come running through the park with a crow bar and come up from behind these guys and hits one of them right across the back with the crow bar and chases them out of the park. I hate that stupid shit that goes on down there. These guys have nothing to do with skateboarding or making FDR but their actions give it a bad name and could (does) lead to people getting seriously hurt.
NICK: Probably the riot police lined up across the street and the helicopters hovering above the back bowls that one fourth of July.
PHIL: In the book, there’s a photo of a guy with boxcutter wounds from that crazy 4th of July fight in 2005. I was there that day and he bled all over me as I tried to convince him to go to the hospital.
Where can we snag a copy?
SCOTT: At your local porn shop.
PHIL: I want you to buy it from your local skateshop if you can. If you can’t, go to Amazon.com