Revolution Mother At The Catalyst
December 15th, 2014

Revolution Mother will be rocking The Catalyst Atrium in Santa Cruz, CA on January 23. Get your tickets here!

Catalyst

Revolution Mother At Saint Rocke
December 13th, 2014

Revolution Mother will be rolling into Hermosa Beach, CA and rocking Sait Rocke on January 22, 2015. Get your tickets here!

Rev Mutha Hermosa

The Evel Knievel Factor
December 3rd, 2014

By Kyle Duvall

In our anarchic culture, it’s fitting that one of the most important figures in the evolution of skateboarding never set foot on a skateboard. Evel Knievel made a career flying through the air on motorcycles and, in one case, a rocket sled, but he became a legend by being larger than life. Mike Vallely has spent a lot of time fighting to keep Knievel’s legacy alive, and not just with the tricks he’s done on his skateboard, or even the Evel Knievel decks he’s released with his company, Elephant Brand Skateboards, but with the way he has lived his entire life.

EK w/ Bike

“(Evel Knievel) didn’t just take on jumping motorcycles, he took on life. He was an outlaw, and when I say ‘outlaw‘ I mean he was a man who didn’t play by anybody’s rules… When he had it all he continued to be outlandish in his actions. His rise was just as great as his downfall, but even after things turned on him, he continued to live by his own rules,” explains Vallely. “A lot of why I skateboard, why I do what I do, it starts with Evel Knievel.”

Vallely traces it all the way back to his earliest days on a board. “In 1984, Edison, New Jersey might as well have been (Knievel’s hometown of) Butte Montana. I told my friend: ‘can you imagine jumping a skateboard off a ramp… I had no idea that that sort of stuff had already been happening… When I said it, what I was visualizing was Evel Knievel. I was telling my friend: ‘can you imagine taking the Evel Knievel approach to skateboarding?’”

Jump Ramp '85 Screen Shot
As impressive as all of Knievel’s feats are; jumping 13 buses on a 500 pound Harley Davidson with a 5 inch suspension, attempting to jump the Snake River Canyon in a rocket car, the totality of his impact is greater than even the sum of those gnarly parts. Unlike the “extreme” heroes of today, who usually have a big impact on a small niche of society, with the occasional viral flare up into the mainstream, Evel Knievel’s stunts were a cross-cultural phenomenon. In the days before YouTube or even cable TV, the dent he put in the collective consciousness with just a motorcycle, guts and a few dozen televised performances, is astounding.

“The Jackass mentality — These people credit him as an influence, but none of the stuff he gave birth to resonates the way he does. People do double back flips on motorcycles now and I don’t give two shits about that,” says Vallely. “I care about Evel Knievel… He birthed the extreme generation, he’s a superhero. What he did was so out there, so aggressive. Sure, there were people before and after him that jumped motorcycles, but who cares? They’re not Evel Knievel.”

A lot of that iconic impact has to do with when Knievel emerged on the American scene. It was the late 1960’s, a time when the country was deeply divided over civil rights, the Vietnam War, and a general shift in the attitudes of a new generation. “People were polarized, society felt like it was crumbling and here comes some guy wearing red white and blue and taking on all challengers and jumping his motorcycle, and, for whatever reason, that just kind of captured the nation and made everyone feel good about themselves.”

EK Caesars

Knievel made a lot of money off his stunts. He claimed that he made $20 million from his unsuccessful Snake River Canyon jump alone, but he was also constantly crafting a persona that that was equal parts old fashioned American determination, and rowdy, uncompromising individualism. Knievel was just as famous for his crashes as his successes. Talk show legend Johnny Carson once referred to him as “The only man in history to get wealthy by trying to kill himself,” but Knievel never seemed apologetic for not making a jump, and every time the world was sure he had “learned his lesson” and that he was done jumping for good (as in the aftermath of his devastating failed leap over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas) he would always come back and do something completely insane. Calling himself “The Last Gladiator” might have been grandiose, but he backed it up. If the fans were in the seats, he would take his jump, even when he knew the state of the ramp or his bike meant he probably wasn’t going to make it. He faced down death in tire-squealing pieces of performance art. In Knievel’s jumps, the idea of acting on your words was taken to theatrical extremes. Even in the malaise of the late 70’s and the self absorption of the early 1980’s, that persona captivated adults and kids, kids like the young Vallely.

“For me the daredevil aspect is not the thing I value most about skateboarding,” Explains Vallely, “In some ways, I  don’t value it at all. I desired something deeper for myself and my skating, something more artistic, creative. So although, Evel Knievel  did influence my skating in some ways, he more so influenced my character… It was his overall message of falling down and getting up. It was the ‘never give up’ attitude that really translated to skateboarding for me.”

Although his motivations have always been internal; the need for expression, the drive to creativity; without Knievel’s influence, Vallely might have never pushed his boundaries to a place where he could fully express himself. “The Daredevil aspect did help me conquer obstacles faster than my peers. That allowed me to get deeper into formulating my own ideas about skating. His influence has enabled me to accomplish the things I have accomplished.”

Bus Jump

Every aspect of Vallely’s body of work, from his repertoire of tricks, to his interactions with the industry, have been characterized by his need for personal fulfillment. At the same time, anyone who’s seen Vallely at a demo can attest that there are few skaters in the history of the culture who work harder to put on a show for a crowd of fans. “I’ve skated with the best skaters in the world since 1986… When it comes to the demo environment, I’ve never met anyone who, like me, sees the demo as their element,” says Vallely. “It’s where I’ve made my career… Live, in person at the skatepark or the parking lot, that is how I’ve thrived and maintained a professional career. I don’t know that pro-skateboarding was ever built on the demo, the demo was always an extension of something else: contests, videos, the mags… My story is unique. I have used the demo to build my career, not to enhance the career. That is the environment where I’ve built my name, where my character has shown.”

So what reconciles that steadfast internal drive with the unwavering determination to put on a good show, whether its for a crowd of 5 or 5000? Vallely connects it to the Evel Knievel factor, and when he talks about it, he sounds a lot like Knievel himself.

“If you can’t actualize what you are about then who are you? When it comes to a demo or performance, you go as hard as possible and put it all on the line, at the end that makes the handshakes and the dialogue more meaningful. The audience sees someone who challenged everything in front of them and had the courage to take it on. You can talk, but unless you live it, it lacks depth.”

Boneless

You don’t have to wear a red white and blue jump suit or ride a motorcycle to be inspired by the legacy of history’s greatest daredevil. Mike Vallely is living proof. Knievel’s entire life was an epic performance. There were the triumphs of fame and glory, and the tragedy of his later life, when settlements stemming from his assault on a biographer left him bankrupt and shunned, but a message of self determination and living a life un-compromised echo through the whole show. That’s what Mike Vallely has been given by the “Last Gladiator.” He’s seen his own fame rise and fall, seen business ventures live and die, and whether its switching skate companies, or making music, his personal choices have often been controversial. As Vallely continues to navigate his place in skate culture, the industry, and even film and music, Knievel’s lessons are always close by.

“What resonates the most about Evel Knievel is the message that you can fall many times in life but you’re never a failure if you keep trying to get up. That’s him in a nutshell.”

That’s not a legacy any skateboarder, or any human being for that matter, should ignore.

Evel K Interview
Kyle DuVall had been writing about skateboarding almost as long as he has been skateboarding. He blogs at Parkingblockdiaries.blogspot.com

Pushing Forward: Chapter Two
December 3rd, 2014

Mike V is interviewed and featured in Chapter Two of Red Bull Skateboarding’s Pushing Forward…

Barnyard Hoodie and Ducks T-Shirt
November 7th, 2014

Now available from Street Plant

The Barnyard Hoodie and the Ducks T-Shirt.

Ships worldwide! Order here!

Hoodie

Ducks

The Dream (1996)
November 1st, 2014

I wrote “The Dream” in 1996.

It was my call to arms, my mission statement for the skateboard industry
and the skateboard culture that I hoped to help cultivate and participate in.
It was the spelling out of the pro-career that I wanted to have and the things
that I hoped to accomplish as an active member of the skateboard community.

I took to the road throughout 1996 and 1997 and shared these words with
audiences at skate shops, skate parks as well as in restaurants, coffee shops, music clubs, basements and in parking lots all across the United States.
Anywhere skaters were willing to gather and hear me out, I went and I spoke
and I shared my thoughts, feelings and dreams.

Spoken j.peg

No doubt the skateboard landscape was changing at that time and I
felt it was as important as ever to know what role I wanted to play in that change, to define my vision and participate in the dialogue.

At that time there were, as there always has been, opposing forces trying to steer skateboarding in opposite directions. I saw value then and I see value now in both directions, both ideologies.
I know what I personally like but I can’t really say that what I like is right for others or for skateboarding as a whole. I’ve just tried to remain engaged in the over-all conversation, not outside of it. And so in that, my focus was and always has been about fun, expression and creativity through skating. I value the experience of the individual skater over the mass-identity of skateboarding.

It was my dream back in 1996 that skateboarding would be as meaningful to the next generation of skaters as it was to me when I first started out —
And that is still my dream and my focus today.

— Mike V


The Dream
(1996)

I have a dream.
A dream about a better tomorrow.
A dream.
A dream about a better today.

It’s been a long road and a hard ride that’s found me here tonight
but I’ve been unafraid to walk it, talk it, skate it or relate it.
I’ve taken my bumps and bruises, my ups and downs, my ins and outs, all that self doubt
and I’ve spent some long hard nights just trying to figure it out.
There’s been pain, strain, feeling like I’m about to go insane
with it taking all I have inside of me just to maintain.
There’s been pressure, stress and weeks turned into months
sitting around depressed.
I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it, I’ve dealt it and I’ve smelt it
all long the way — Mostly the hard way.
But I’m determined to see this journey through.
It’s all I know — I have to.

I have a dream.

I have a dream and it won’t let me sleep at night.
It doesn’t matter if I have the covers pulled up
and wrapped around me tight, with my head down
on a pillow in the dark of the night, my eyes may
be closed but I’m looking into the light.

I have a dream.

I have a dream.
A vision I can’t ignore.
It’s not something I can just shelf or call unsure
because I’m so sure and I can’t help but feel it’s
what I’m here for.

I have a dream.

In my dream, the skateboard industry is comprised of
companies — People — that care about you and me.
They just don’t want your money and / or your soul —
They want a better life and a better world with every board
that’s sold.

In my dream, young people and their needs and their issues
are understood by their parents, their teachers, by industry and
the city councils of their neighborhoods.

In my dream skateboarding is a vehicle to broaden one’s scope,
to open one’s mind, to set one’s soul afloat. To be a best friend,
or one’s surrogate family — A true companion — A driving force to
keep one living positively is skateboarding in my dream.

In my dream the words: Skate And Create
are printed upon all of those signs that once
told you where you couldn’t skate… In my dream.

In my dream I hear laughter and shouts of joy
coming from the mouths and hearts of skaters everywhere
while skating by.

In my dream skateboarding brings people together and keeps them that way.
That tricks and trends and politics and fashion and all that other shit doesn’t
get in the way is my dream.

In my dream there’s a public built skatepark in every town —
Where young kids, older kids, moms and dads and brothers and sisters can
skate together safe and sound.

In my dream individuality is golden and celebrated
and it’s individuals that make up the whole.
And in my dream we’re all one big happy family
where fun and good times and self expression
and self exploration through skating is the goal.

In my dream there is no quest for Olympic Gold
or need for anything “Extreme”.
Skateboarding ain’t about that shit in my dream.

In my dream I see you standing there with your skateboard at your feet.
That you and that skateboard can change the world isn’t just a dream —
It’s what I believe.

I believe in skateboarding.
I believe in you.

I have a dream.

GORUCK
October 29th, 2014

Europe GoRuck

In May of 2011, after having not skated for six months while healing up from a broken arm, I participated in the GORUCK Challenge, a serious test of physical and mental toughness lead by current and former Special Operations members. I wasn’t ready to skate quite yet, but I did feel the need to challenge myself in some real way. So, I bought a GORUCK Rucksack, loaded it full of bricks and joined Class 037 in Las Vegas for some 10 hours and 20 miles of Good Livin’.

Class 037

Yes, it was physically and mentally demanding, but the real take away was a deeper understanding of how individuals, working as a team can accomplish so much more together — And a really nice rucksack.

Challenge Tough

GR1

In September of 2011, I joined some 50 other GORUCKER’s for the inaugural GORUCK Ascent in Colorado, where over a few days we trekked a bunch of 14-ers together. It was a really great time, completely off the grid.

Ascent 2

Since then, GORUCK as a brand has been an inspiration to me, and my choice for bags and gear of any kind (dog leashes etc…)— As well as the Mesh Tac Hat that I’ve worn religiously for years.

Hat

If you’re looking to buy a bag, and you want the best and are willing to pay for it and support a company that builds their products in the USA and guarantees them for life… Checkout GORUCK.

Java

Fistfight Volume 1: The CKY3 Fight
October 3rd, 2014

Now available from Street Plant:
Fistfight Volume 1: The CKY3 Fight
By Daniele Bolelli with Mike Vallely

The story behind the story…

Book / Bookmark

18 Page Booklet
8.5 x 5.5
1st Edition: Limited to 500
Numbered and signed by Mike Vallely and Daniele Bolelli
Every order comes with a Free – Limited Edition
Street Plant / Barnyard 25 Year Anniversary Bookmark

Mike Vallely is a legend of skateboarding, a musician, and an actor. Daniele Bolelli is a university professor, a writer and the host of the Drunken Taoist Podcast. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, they teamed up here because they both approach life with reckless passion and to tell a story grounded in just that — High voltage passion.

On the surface, the story written here revolves around the infamous fight that turned Mike into the star of one of the very first viral videos. Ever since that day, Mike has been asked about what really happened in the fight, why it took place, etc. And for the first time, all those questions are answered here. But this is little more than an excuse for a much deeper tale — A tale of willpower breaking down all the doors that were being slammed shut in Mike’s face, of triumph over what doctors considered a career-ending injury, and of unyielding commitment to live life on one’s terms despite what everyone else is telling you. Ultimately, it is precisely the kind of tale that Nietzsche referred to when he wrote, “Of all that is written, I only love what a person has written with his blood.”

Purchase by clicking here!

w/ Daniele

About Daniele Bolelli:

Daniele Bolelli is a writer, martial artist, university professor and podcaster. He was born in Italy and currently lives in Los Angeles.

@dbolleli on Twitter

New Shirt From Violent Gentlemen
September 25th, 2014

Mike V and Violent Gentlemen have collaborated once again. This time creating a design to commemorate Mike’s beginnings in his home state of New Jersey, where he started skateboarding in 1984.

The shirt is available for purchase by clicking here!

MV-NJD-front

MV-NJD-back

Mike V Places 8th at DEW Tour / Brooklyn, NY
September 23rd, 2014

Mike V had a great weekend in Brooklyn, NY placing 8th out of 15 competitors at the DEW Tour Streetstyle event. Mike entered the event 26 years older than the events youngest competitor, and 14 years older than the next oldest competitor in the top ten. Not only does Mike V’s skating defy convention, it defies age. A crowd favorite from the youngest hardcore skater in attendance, to the oldest casual fan, Mike V continues to be a skater of and for the people.

Mike V’s 8th Place run:

Mike’s 360º Boneless over the car from his 3rd run. Photo: Jen Dessinger

Dew Tour Boneless

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