Shred Season is Upon Us!

I’m back! After a few months of being busy but also being lazy, I finally have time to sit down and write something.

Well, we haven’t had much of a winter here in the east, but I think I’ve been out riding more this season than any other. Why? Well…it’s because I’ve caught the bug. I’m saying I can’t get enough of snowboarding. I just can’t help myself.

Do you suffer from the same condition? Maybe for you it’s a skateboard, a surfboard, a bike, or an instrument? It’s all the same to me. Most of us have a passion, and I’m dedicated to pursuing mine. If that’s you too, then you found the right blog.

I have been busy stacking clips this winter – edits are coming soon! To give you a small taste, check out this backyard video from when Winter Storm Jonas gave us a real taste of winter. Check back soon!

Music for Shredding // Pt. 3

For part 1, click here.

For part 2, click here.

If you haven’t already looked at parts 1 and 2, you should do that. I wasn’t planning on doing another music post but lately I’ve discovered too much good music to keep it to myself. The songs in this post are all over the map but the one thing they have in common is that in my opinion, they’re all really good tunes. They’re also all electronic, but I’ve really been digging that lately.

Lemaitre is a producer from Norway. He has a bunch of great songs out there, and Continuum is probably his most popular. That doesn’t mean it isn’t sick though. If you like it also check out the song Keep Close.

Madeon is another sick producer, based in France. Stay Awake is an awesome track that really gets me pumped and focused. This isn’t your average, repetitive dub step track. It’s actual music. Ellie Goulding does the vocals on this track as well which makes it even better. Check out Technicolor and You’re On for more tracks from Madeon with a similar vibe.

Synchronice is yet another incredible producer. He’s based in New Jersey. Maybe I’m biased since he’s a good friend, but every new track he comes out with blows me away. His remix of Taking Over by Favright is no exception….damn it makes me want to dance. Synchronice also did a sick remix of Dazzle Me by Oh Wonder which you should definitely check out. The piano melodies in this track get stuck in my head all day. If you want to check out one of his original songs listen to The Only.

And finally, here’s a track from Washed Out. This guy is a sick chill wave artist and all his songs have that super relaxed vibe. I think Feel It All Around is actually the theme song for Portlandia, if you’ve seen it. If you dig this song check out Eyes Be Closed for a similar groove.

There you have it! If you have any suggestions or comments, leave one below and let me know.

Herb Neumann: Low-Key Legend

Herb Neumann might not be a guy that most skaters know, but anyone who knew the man knows how important he was to skateboarding. Herb was more than just a low-key local legend in North Jersey, he was a great skater, innovative creator, and most of all a friend and mentor to myself and others. Herb passed in November 2014 after fighting cancer for many years. The news was tough. Without Herb, skating would be different and so would be my life, and the lives of my friends. He gave us all a lot and for me, that keeps his memory alive in my head every day.

I bought my first skateboard from Herb. I bought my first longboard from Herb. For years I went to his shop, called Skatewerks, and bought stuff from him. Over time, we became friends just through talking at the shop. My friends also got to know him better and soon we would all go there together, buy some wheels or something, and just talk about boards. One day Herb let us join him for a little skate session. The hill was small and only a few blocks from the shop, so like he would do, Herb simply closed the store and went skating. We followed him down the hill. At the bottom you have to turn 90 degrees either left or right, and we decided on left. All of a sudden there was a pickup truck in front of us. My friend and I both tried to slide but didn’t have the skill at the time. His board got totally run over and mine ended up stuck under the truck’s rear tire. Herb meanwhile had gone through the corner with no issues and skated back over to us worried that our parents would never let us near him again. I will always remember this day because it scared the shit out of me, and it made me realize how bad I was (and how good Herb was) at skating.

A while later (when we had more skill) Herb showed my friends and I a massive, smooth, consistently car-less hill close to our hometown. Since then we have skated this hill almost as our go-to, and have even held slide jams there. This hill is a dead end from the top, so at the bottom is the critical 90 degree turn onto the cross street. I will never forget driving Herb’s car down the hill behind him as he bombed it carving deep, then stuck the chicane and smoothly made the critical right turn at the bottom. His style is something I’ll never forget. He inspired me to try his line a few weeks later – full bore bomb, through the corners, then to the right at the bottom. I slammed on my head hard trying the final turn, to the point where my full-face chipped and cracked a little. I have never tried it again, but something tells me I need to now. This memory of Herb is just another reminder to me of what a great skater he was, and how much he loved to do it.

herb board

This photo is of a commemorative board that Stimulus made in Herb’s memory. Only 50 were made I think, but I’m still gonna ride mine. The board’s graphic is one of the steezy-est photos I have seen. Herb could shred like nobody else. This board is just another thing to remind me of Herb and what he gave to me. Lately I’ve felt more inspired. I’ve had more of a desire to skate, surf, snowboard, and to push my limits in general, and I know that comes from Herb’s memory. He was always pushing himself and skating no matter what, and that will stick with me forever.

Why You Should Take That Trip

Have you ever thought to yourself there’s more out there than a job? More than money? More than working hard for little gain, frustrated by sitting in the same place for hours on end? I have.

Lately I’ve been getting pretty restless. When I say lately I mean for like the last two years. It frustrates me that the life I have been working towards isn’t what I want. Sure, college is fun and making money is good, but what is the point? Life is about a journey, not a goal. I don’t necessarily want some boring office job even if the pay is good, and I don’t want to waste time killing myself over achieving things I don’t really want. I want to get out there and enjoy life in full. I keep thinking that this is the time to grab life by the plums and go do something radical.

Maybe at the moment I’m feeling a little extra inspired. I just watched a great documentary called Maidentrip (check out the trailer below). It’s about a 16-year-old Dutch girl named Laura Dekker who sailed around the globe by herself. Despite the fact that Laura said she didn’t love the documentary, I took a lot of inspiration from it. The fact that she had the courage to turn away from everything she knew and go out on her own, literally into the great unknown, speaks volumes to me. I had to ask, “What am I doing?” My answer made me sad.

It obviously takes a lot to face the unknown like Laura did. Yet, I’d rather push myself and fight my fears than sit here, doing the same things every day, just waiting and waiting for a vacation or some fleeting moment of freedom. I need adventure and new experiences. That’s what life is really about to me: experience. If your whole life is aimed at one goal, like getting a job, house, paycheck, or car, you will never be truly happy even if you get all those things. What comes next? Making more money? Buying more stuff? Sure, money is necessary in this life, but it can only get you so far. It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you do. That’s what will have lasting impact on your life.

Maybe I’m just impatient. Maybe I’m just ambitious. Either way, this is to say that you should go, no matter how or where, you should go. Take a trip, take a risk, just make sure you don’t regret anything. It’s your life, and you only get one, so why let society or other people tell you how you should go through it?

First Impressions: Winter Park

I just got back from an epic few days snowboarding in Colorado. Before this, Pennsylvania is probably the farthest west I’ve ever been to snowboard. Let me tell you, nothing on the east coast compares to the Rockies. Winter Park is actually made up of seven different areas, each about the size of an average east coast mountain. Each area has different terrain, from moguls to glades to bowls to chutes.

If you ask locals, they’ll all tell you different when it comes to the best time of year to ride or ski in Colorado. I’ve heard mid March is usually a great time to score some powder, but according to the locals this year was a little odd. Every local I spoke to mentioned the sub-par winter and meager snow conditions. They complained about the ice and suggested I sleep in (and drink some beers) to give everything enough time to soften up. I thought to myself, nothing out here in the west could be as bad as east coast ice.

Photo Mar 20, 3 12 01 PM
View from the top of Parsenns Bowl, Winter Park, CO

On the first morning, I woke up to about 4 inches of fresh. It snowed most of the day too. Above 10,000 feet, the sun hid itself behind the clouds all day which meant the ice I had been warned about stayed solid underneath the little bit of powder. That made many spots a bit hard and chundery. That said, the Parsenns Bowl area actually had a good bit of powder on this day, if you could find it. The center section of the bowl was incredible with all the powder mixed in with the trees. As you got farther down the bowl, the trees got tighter but the powder stayed the same. The right side (rider’s right) of the bowl had some sick tree sections also. Every run I found new, untouched lines through these sections right through the end of the day. By that time, everything below 10,000 feet had warmed up enough that there were spring conditions. I’d never experienced such a difference in conditions at one mountain during one day, but that’s how the weather works in the mountains.

Despite being a snowboarder, I like riding in tight trees and moguls, so I spent most of my time on the trip riding the Mary Jane area. On my second day riding, I did explore some other parts though. I immediately noticed conditions were better in general because there were no clouds at all. The sun had all day to soften things up. When I did get over to Mary Jane I was expecting softer snow, yet there were still lots of icy patches. Parsenns Bowl suffered from the same conditions. It sort of felt like an east coast day until I hit the trees. Somehow, conditions in there stayed pretty ice-free. Again, I spent most of my time at Mary Jane, bombing from powder pile to powder pile.

I had some unreal runs on both days, despite the wonky conditions. One local I spoke to was baffled by them, but I had to think he was just jaded after living and skiing there his whole life. I’m sure he had scored some insane powder days at Winter Park, but unfortunately I didn’t. I will definitely be back to Colorado with my snowboard, and hopefully a big dumping of powder follows me there.

Skateboard, Don’t Commute

As someone who lives in a really crowded area in the most crowded state in the USA, I hit traffic constantly while driving. Never is this worse than at rush hours. I hate it. People in my area cannot drive well at all. As the roads get crowded, these people totally fall apart. That’s why I skate to class and work whenever it’s nice enough outside.

Beating traffic and avoiding idiotic drivers isn’t the only reason to skate to work or school. Skateboards are pretty small and light. They also don’t need any special parking or storage. All you need to do is throw it under a desk, in a locker, or in a corner somewhere. Skateboards can be carried anywhere too. If you need to take a train or bus, you can easily take a board with you. In that way, skateboards can go places bikes can’t. Just ask the skateboarding professor. This guy is a 69 year old professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and he’s been skateboarding to work since 1993. Check him out in this video.

Taken from Jenken Mag.

Besides being practical and portable, skateboards are fun. Commuting isn’t fun, no matter what car you drive. On top of that, skateboarding is a sick workout, especially if you need to go up any hills. If you don’t like the sound of that, just think….you get to bomb those hills going home. As if you needed another reason to skateboard, it’s also cheaper than commuting. You don’t need gas, and you don’t need to pay to park. Give it a try on the next nice day.

Why You Need More Boards

This may seem a little contradictory since my last post was a rant about why you really don’t need high end gear. But, that’s because this post is for people who could actually benefit from some better gear.

Why do you think there are so many different skateboards, longboards, surfboards, and snowboards for sale? Sure, every company is trying to get a piece of the cash flow, but in doing that some actually come up with unique ideas for shredding in specific conditions. Basically, that’s why you need more boards.

Surfing is a great example. There are boards for all wave conditions with all types of dimensions, rail profiles, and tail shapes. Each of these will dramatically affect the way a board performs, given that you have the ability to notice subtle differences in ride. Short, fat, thick boards are ideal for small waves. Longer, thinner, skinnier boards (called a step-up or “gun”) are better in larger waves. Some step-ups also have channeled bottoms, which give you more speed and drive in big, perfect surf. You’d get pretty frustrated trying to ride a step-up board in 2 foot shorebreak though. That’s a basic explanation, but you should get the idea.

Snowboarding is pretty much the same. To tear up a park, I prefer a really flexy, shorter board. These boards will be symmetrical for easy switch riding and are generally lighter than stiff boards, which makes them easier to press and spin. Powder boards are usually directional, meaning each has a dedicated nose and tail and is intended to be ridden in one direction. These boards are generally longer and stiffer, and many incorporate some type of unique swallow tail design for a really surfy feel in deep pow. Regardless of all of this, every snowboard also has a distinct camber profile. Cambered, rockered, and flat boards are the most common, but many companies combine these to create hybrids. That’s an explanation for another post though.

To sum it all up, more boards equals more fun. Riding the wrong board for the conditions is a pain in the ass, no matter your skill. As you improve, experiment with different boards from what you’re used to. You’ll probably find a new favorite setup.

Why Your Gear Doesn’t Matter

This is something that has continually pissed me off for a long time. Especially in snowboarding (because lots of fools do that one) I feel like it’s impossible to go ride without seeing someone who can barely stand, let alone ride, with a setup worth upwards of $700. That is the perfect illustration of why gear doesn’t matter, and I could stop there. But I won’t.

Gear does not make you better whatsoever. The reality is, if you don’t know anything about something like surfing and you buy a fancy step-up board with crazy design features, you are cheating yourself. Same goes for snowboarding. If you buy a stiff ripper of a board with some crazy camber/rocker combo and you’re a beginner, you might as well ride a plank. You won’t be able to tell the difference. Not only are you wasting money on stuff that you don’t need at a low ability level that won’t help you, you might actually be making it worse for yourself. Surfing is a good example because a thin, skinny step-up will be tougher to ride than a longboard in pretty much any scenario.

Gear can’t help you until you have the skill to notice the differences between the top-end shit and the basic shit. Personally, in longboarding I find that wheels and bushings have the biggest effect on how a board feels. Fact is though, I couldn’t notice differences in how wheels slide until recently. It takes time to get comfortable enough in a boardsport that you begin to notice the intricacies of your equipment. Then, when you change your equipment up, the differences are obvious.

Bottom line? It takes a bit of skill to even notice the fancy features of a board, or fins, or wheels, or bushings, or whatever. Once you have that skill, feel free to go crazy customizing your setups. But until then, do yourself a favor and buy something basic.

Why I Wear a Helmet

A while back, I had an accident riding my longboard. It was really dumb. I fell off it. I hit my head on a metal railing. I blacked out for ten minutes.

To this day, I still have a bump on the left side of my forehead. Needless to say, I had a really solid concussion. The effects of it really messed me up for a long time, and still mess with me today. For at least a year afterward, I was really irritable, forgetful, and my memory was generally fuzzy. I actually would have moments where I would completely lose my train of thought while talking. That was freaky. I would see spots, and actually still do sometimes. I still struggle with my memory, but it is slowly improving. I still have trouble keeping a train of thought sometimes though.

The bottom line for me is, none of that is worth not wearing a helmet. The way in which I fell was dumb because I was just pushing around, I was riding somewhere easy and mellow, and I could have avoided the whole thing. Wearing a helmet isn’t a good idea, its literally the best idea you could have, especially if you’re really going for it.

Just do it, it’s not uncool or whatever. Wear it on snow, and especially on pavement. Find one that’s comfortable and stylish. Put stickers on it and make it obnoxious. Just wear one and save yourself from my mistake!

Music for Shredding // Pt. 2

To see part 1, click here.

For a playlist of songs, click here.

In the last “Music for Shredding” post, I threw out some suggestions for what to listen to if you just want to vibe out, cruise a little and shred. Nothing too intense in that post. This time it’s different. Last time I broke my playlist into two general categories: “Cruising It,” and “Pushing It.” These songs are…

For When You’re Pushing It..

Music is my favorite way to get into “the zone.” It helps me quiet the parts of my brain that second guess, throw up doubts, and generally cause hesitation. For when I’m pushing my own limits, I like to listen to something heavier and driving. Probably my favorite band along those lines is Rage Against the Machine. I love funk. I love it so much. So, Rage is up there on my list.

This song is called Wake Up, from RATM’s self-titled debut. I love the funkiness of the guitar riff. The rapping over top adds to the funky drive of the song. I can lose myself grooving to this easily, which is exactly why it’s the perfect song for getting in “the zone” and shredding hard. Other RATM songs on my playlist are Sleep Now In The Fire and Bombtrack.

Another less known, but still kick-ass band is Radio Moscow..

These guys are sick. I think I found them on Pandora a while back. They’ve got a fast and driving type of psychedelic rock going on and I really like it. The song above, Hold On Me, is off their album Brain Cycles. Rancho Tehama Airport is a great track from their most recent album, Magical Dirt.

Middle Class Rut is an amazing band I first heard on an old radio station in the NYC area called 101.9 WRXP. They’ve got a pretty hard style of rock, but they do have some mellower songs as well. Dead End (above) is a great track, but these guys have so many more. Leech and Sad To Know are two tracks that are definitely worth checking out.

This song, called Burnin’ In, is by a band called Spirit Caravan. This group has a more guitar driven hard rock sound. I think this track was released in 1999 but I found it the other day and I think it still rocks. Another good song by them is Dreamwheel. If you want even more to listen to, Them Crooked Vultures is a ridiculous super group made up of John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme. What a combo. Check out Scumbag Blues. Another band worth looking into is The Dead Weather. This is actually a Jack White side project, but they have quite a different, interesting sound compared to his other bands. Treat Me Like Your Mother is a great song.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I will add songs to the playlist sometimes that aren’t in any of the posts, so keep an eye on it.

Now go shred.