Mike Agnew was trying to establish an East Coast industry. He failed somehow.
-Sean Mullendore, 2008
The twentieth century is littered with the wreckage of failed industrialists: Studebaker. Lee Iacocca. DeLorean. Mike Agnew. In any event, the purpose of this post is three-fold.
If you read this site, you probably also read the insanely prolific 48 Blocks. Perhaps, like myself, you were mesmerized by the Hemingwayan prose of the recent Sean Mullendore interview. Specifically, The mention of Mike Agnew reminded me of Nicotine/Capital/Silverstar/First Division and that whole era (1995-2000) of skating in the mid-Atlantic region. What happened to that dude? Unfortunately, that brand of hard-hitting investigative journalism is beyond the meager capabilities of this site. It could possibly, however, make for an effective two-paragraph piece in TWS Business.
In any event, the purpose of this post is three-fold.
A. to sketch an abstract of the history of the “East Coast Industry” concept
B. to briefly elucidate some memories from the aforementioned era
C. to peer into a crystal ball to predict the [bleak] future of the “East Coast Industry” concept
First there was Shut. Then Zoo crept up onto the scene in ’94 or so. Oddly enough, the first time I saw a Zoo board was in Intensity Skates in Jessup, Maryland in 1994 (more on that location later). Subsequently about a year later the whole “Stereo East” semi-controversy exploded, fueled partly by the blunt-fueled histrionics of Rick Oyola. Then ADI exploded, then imploded. There was always Zoo, but there was something shitty about the Chapman wood and shapes. For a while, though, ADI was best thing going. The whole reasoning behind Deluxe pulling the plug on ADI and Metropolitan, two brands most renowned for their ad concepts and designs, will forever by shrouded in mystery. Or, allegedly, Metropolitan outsold Spitfire, and, like, that’s a faux pas.
Nicotine had been going for a while, but Capital capitalized on the two superstars of the time—Pep and Andy. I think Pep had hurt his ankle, though, around the time that whole shit started. I think the Newport-inspired Nicotine graphics influenced my choice of Newport cigarettes when I started smoking in 1997. I quit in 2001.The thing about Capital was that the boards were closer to the Prime wood concepts—especially that one with the Nervous Records logo. The main thing that baffled my about Capital was that they never produced a video. I mean, Andy Stone had probably the most prolific year video-part-wise ever from April 1993 to April 1994 (Falling Down, Snuff, Fine Artists). Perhaps after EE3, such a production would have proven superflous? Who knows. Subsequently, and I don't know exactly how this occurred, but Silverstar switched from Zoo to ECU.
I almost forgot about Infamous. I'll never forget--I walked into my friend's birthday party, and---
"Ryan Hickey's starting a new company. It's called The Infamous. "
Truth be told, it would have been a lot cooler if the name had remained The Infamous. Unlike bands, the whole "the" thing never caught on with companies. The main thing I remember about Infamous is the very first night they got boards, most of the dudes were selling them at Astor. That and their extremely consistent ad layout. In addition, they later picked up Ian for a minute. That particular gentleman deserved his own post at some point in time, without a doubt.
Around the turn of the century shit became kind of surreal--the main tipping point being Zoo being taken over by Ecko, leading to a hostile takeover of Aesthetics, and consequently Zoosthetics with Sal as TM. That tripped me out. This led to, of course, Zoo York Footwear and:
Zoo york Surf! To clarify, I would like to state that surfing is fucking rad, and is a lifestyle that, in a way, I aspire to. I know that there are surf spots on LI and in NJ, which kind of makes sense, but establishing a Zoo surf brand reeks of late-00's cynical ASR bottom-line-ism. In any event, I'm sure Snake Plissken, given the choice, would patronize the Zoo York Surf brand.
Zoo York...hmmm....reminds me of that other shithole I escaped from.
"Where the bitches at?"
Beltsville, MD 1996
Back in 85-86, when my dad drove me to DC to catch a plane to go visit my grandparents in Cleveland, he remarked "D.C. - there's an aura of power in this town." Few things compare to that two-hour drive, the intensity increasing exponentially. The drive from Richmond has a biorhythm all it's own. You start out in woods. Nothing but woods. Could be anywhere. Then you crest the hill of Fredericksburg, one of those towns with KFC signs towering 200 ft. in the air. Beyond Fredericksburg is basicallly the DC area. Once the HOV lanes appear, you're in a different time and space. Then you go over the curve of the highway over Crystal City--an oddly mystical name for an amalgamation of office buildings-- then you have arrived. 14th St.
The next day we proceded to NJ for the last show. The girl who said we could crash at her house was nowhere to be found, so we said "fuck it" and just drove to PHILA and slept in the vehicle--an 89 Suburban--on some fuckin' sidestreet. I do not recommend this.
We skated a skeletal version of FDR before proceding to LOVE, a pilgrimage of sorts to a place and time the likes of which will probably never materialize again. A short list of individuals in attendance that one day were: Stevie, Oyola, Gall, KT. Barley and Reese Forbes appeared at dusk. One of my rationalizations for my position that Forbes' coverage has been lackluster of late is his status as one of the most hellacious skaters ever--somewhat of a precursor to Van Engelen's current philosophy of skating ledges as if one is brutally making love to a woman. I recall t/s to fakie at mach 10 on the main ledge, and, just like at Pulaski, a neck-high stage, which he ollied up, stood at the other end near the ledge-over-stairs. By the way, what did they use these stages for? Did they produces plays? Stage protests? Our Town?