A midlife crisis became midlife Transcendence, through Love.
A Love for Skateboarding, a Love for DIY Ethos and a Love for Family.
Encouraged by the Love of my Family, I went back to the Sources of my Joy (my Family being one of them) and I Reconciled and Reconstructed my Life by bringing all three of them Together into one Vehicle of Consciousness and Life: Street Plant.
I had to make a pilgrimage to the depths of my own Heart, my own Soul.
Back to the place of my Fascination, my Imagination and my Dreams.
This is where my Life began when I was 14, and where I was Reborn at 45.
Where my Life is Fulfilled.
The way out was the way in.
Street Plant is a 100% Independently owned and operated Family business.
We exist to Support, Service, Inspire and Empower our customers – Skateboarders – The Freest, most Unique and Creative people on the planet – By making the highest quality Skateboards and Skateboard accessories.
100% Independent Skateboarding for Love, for Fun.
No rules, no divisions, no schools.
Just a Skateboard as a Paintbrush and the World as an Empty Canvas.
The highlight of my trip last week with Lucy to the Northeast was a visit to Concord, Massachusetts where we toured the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, Rambled through the Hapgood Wright Town Forest, dipped our toes in Walden Pond, just below the site of Henry David Thoreau’s Cabin, and visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to pay our respects to Emerson and Thoreau.
If you are ever in Concord, or live in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the Emerson House. The House was built in 1828 and Emerson lived in the House from 1835 until his death in 1882. The House has stayed in the Emerson Family all along, and remains almost completely as it was after a restoration in 1873. The tour of the House was Very Insightful and Incredibly Inspiring, both Lucy and I walked out of the House with our Spirits Soaring.
As an Emerson and Thoreau reader, this visit was a long time in coming. To stand in the Emerson House, to Ramble in Emerson and Thoreau’s footsteps, to Steep in the Beauty of Concord and Walden Pond, as they once did, and then to stand at their graves, had an Invigorating Effect upon us. By Basking in the Radiance and Energy of Art and Artists, of True Individuals, of Lives well Lived, we walked away Knowing Ourselves Better, and in a Glow of Enthusiasm for a Creative and Purposeful Life!
Last week on July 24, I had a good long Ramble in the rain, on a section of the M&M Trail on Mount Tom in Massachusetts.
The entire time that I was out there, I didn’t come across one other person. It was just me, the trees and the birds. I ate my lunch and snapped this photo somewhere along the way on one of the many Traprock Cliffs overlooking Easthampton, MA.
And to think, I almost let the rain deter me (it was coming down in sheets for awhile). What a shame it would have been not to have let this Beauty and Exhilaration into my Life. I must remember… It’s ALWAYS worth it.
I ran out of rope.
Instead of just hanging there, I stepped out of the noose of what was, and onto the Floor of Truth of What Is.
One chapter ended, it was hard, and another one began. That was hard too.
I know, I know, no one said it would be easy, but until we do those miles ourselves, we can’t really know for ourselves.
Still, the choice was simple: Let Life Live Me or Choose to Live MY Life.
It became very clear:
THERE IS MORE THAN ONE JOURNEY!
And with that, the second half of my Life began with the same Zeal and the same Passion as the first.
It’s still hard sometimes.
It still hurts sometimes.
I still struggle sometimes.
But I am Devoted to the Work that Enlivens My Heart, and is the Internal Beam that Lights the road ahead!
One minute he’s Skateboarding down a hill, the next, blood is pouring from his eyes and ears. Then he begins having seizures, swallowing his tongue and nearly dying on the spot. If not for the fast action of his Friend Rahj and the paramedics that rushed to save his life, Rory would be gone. 7 days later Rory awoke from a coma, some of his skull had been removed and reattached. He had to learn to walk and talk again. All for what? Not wearing a Helmet? No one ever thinks it will happen to them and then it does!
There is this INSANE perception in core-skateboard-culture that Helmets are uncool, restrictive or symbolic of weakness. How deep the ruts of tradition and conformity go. But what the hell does cool have to do with Health, Vitality or Fun? Absolutely Nothing! And who exactly is selling this image and why? And what do they have to gain from it? Restrictive? Brain damage or death is far more restrictive than wearing a helmet. Weak? Try having your Loved-Ones have to feed you for the rest of your life because you are incapable of lifting a fork. The core-skateboard-industry is selling an image of cool and that is NOT cool. Being Cool is Thinking for Yourself, shrugging the image they’re selling from your burdens and Protecting Yourself by Wearing a Helmet.
The Helmet Revolution Must and Will start with the Participants, the Skaters Themselves. Stop looking for a cue from your favorite pro, magazine or company. The skate-media and industry will never allow such a trespass upon the image they are selling. The only reason you don’t wear a Helmet now is because the skate-industry and media haven’t given you permission yet.
Rory was lucky. He has been given a Second Chance at Life! He doesn’t plan on wasting it. It is Rory’s Dream, Focus and Loving Hope that no one else has to ever go through what he has, when it could so easily be prevented. That’s a Dream worth Sharing.
A Movement away from hype towards Substance.
A Movement away from despair towards Action.
A Movement away from industry towards Community.
A Movement away from tradition towards Optimism.
A Movement away from image towards Character.
A Movement away from culture towards Individuality.
A Movement away from distinction towards Connection.
A Movement away from effect towards Cause.
I traded their conference rooms for the Kitchen Table.
I traded destiny for Freedom.
I traded branches for Roots.
I traded trust for Knowing.
I traded fear for Dignity.
I traded contracts for Peace of Mind.
I traded obligation for Sincerity.
I traded artificial for Authentic.
I traded despair for Action.
I traded distinction for Connection.
I traded general demand for Poetry.
I traded culture for Living.
I traded security for Independence.
I traded acceptance for Self-Respect.
I traded industry for Family.
I traded sponsorship for Honor.
I traded their boys club for the Garage.
I traded sacrifice for Love.
The word – Love – being written on all of our Street Plant Boards is simply about Personalizing Every Board, Touching Every Board that passes through Garageland, and Imparting some Good Energy onto / into them. It’s an idea, a Good Thought — to send the Boards out with Love and Kindness. The Recognition that the Person who receives the Board IS a Person, not a faceless consumer, but Someone Connected to us through this small interaction, and Someone that we Value Greatly.
Thirty years ago today, I turned Pro at a Vert Contest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I was a month shy of 17 years old. I had been sponsored by Powell Peralta for less than a year, and I had only been Skating for two years and nine months. Stacy Peralta called me in early April of 1987, informing me that I’d be turning Pro at a Street Contest in Eugene, Oregon on June 20th. Between that call and the contest in Oregon, Steve Rocco called and said that he would be passing through New Jersey on the Hell Tour II, and that he wanted me to join him. He said that we’d be heading up to Toronto for a Pro Vert Skate Event called Skatewave, where we’d be doing Street and Freestyle Demos, and then back across the USA to California visiting Skate Shops. I told him that I was in school and that I couldn’t go with him. He told me, “drop out” and so I did.
Rocco picked me up in my hometown of Edison, NJ and after driving for a few hours he insisted that I drive. I told him that I had never driven a car, that I didn’t have a driver’s license and that I hadn’t even ever gotten a driver’s permit — that I had no plan to ever drive a car. He just laughed at me and told me to drive. And that was how I learned to drive, on tour w/ Rocco, Trial by Fire.
When we got to Toronto, I decided to enter the Vert Contest. This went against the wishes of my sponsor. They didn’t want me riding Vert, I was a “Street Skater” and they didn’t want me ruining the image they had been creating for me. I didn’t care. I was a Skateboarder, and I didn’t strategize such things… I just Skated. Well, I ended up getting last place in the contest, my “Pro Debut” and this caused a lot of bad feelings about me and my choices back at the home office, but the Skaters that I shared the Ramp with that weekend were stoked that I Skated with them. It showed that I wasn’t out to change anything, that I wasn’t a part of some agenda to put one style of Skating over another, that to me, it was all Skateboarding. The Smiles, Handshakes and Good Vibes on the deck of that ramp were more meaningful to me than someone else’s idea of what My Skateboarding should be.
Back in the van, zigzagging across the USA with Steve Rocco and Johnee Kop, I skated jump ramps and slider rails in strip mall parking lots from New York to California. I had been doing a lot of demos on weekends for Powell Peralta, flying out to Skate Shops all over the USA, but this was my first Tour, and it would inform the rest of my days as a Pro Skater. The Immediacy of a Demo, the Exchange of Energy, the Connection with an Audience. It all found a Home in me, and I Embraced Each Moment. Touring became my vehicle to present My Skating outside of the skate media.
On June 20th, 1987, I Skated my first Pro Street Style Contest and placed 3rd behind Tommy Guerrero in 1st, and Natas Kaupas in 2nd. I was told again that weekend by my sponsor that I could only Skate in Street Contests going forward. Of course, I ended up Skating in many more Vert Contests anyway.
I ALWAYS buy the music that matters to me, even from my Friends.
I mean, if we aren’t going to Support our Friends, if we aren’t going to Support the Soul Poets, Artists and Entrepreneurs amongst us… Who the fuck are we going to support?
Hustle Up Starlings is a Battle Cry!
It’s a Record about Figuring It Out, about Growing.
It’s about Evoking Heroes. It’s about Being Heroes.
It’s about People who have passed through fire, flood and miles of bullshit, but they’re Not quitters. They Refuse to believe that their Lives are doomed to misery. They’re Digging In, they’re Committed!
The Battle Cry isn’t mere Survival, it is: Survival with Honor!
Matthew Ryan understands that suffering is not a value, only the Fight against it. And on Hustle Up Starlings, he Reflects, and he Fights… And his characters Reflect, and They Fight, and from their troubles, from their pain and their distress they Grow Brave, they Gain Strength and Courage. They are Us!
Hustle Up Starlings has been with me, a part of me, since its release. It has Spoken to me, it has Spoken for me: Intellectually, Emotionally and Spiritually, and it Always will. It’s one of those Records, the ones that live with you, Always. These are the Records, the Music, the Artists, The Poets, the Soul Entrepreneurs that we Have to Share with others, that we Have to Support, that we Have to Cherish. Artists who help to make us Believe in Ourselves.