Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

Please take a read of Bob’s post regarding the release of Stacy Peralta’s new film, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, before you read the below.  Done?  OK!  Carry on…

Laurent Martinsky and me outside Penguin Point, Goshen, Indiana, some time in the 80s

My first skateboard was a present from a boyfriend of my mom at age seven, a green plastic little thing with “HOT DOGGER” imprinted on the top.  I rolled around a bit but it didn’t mean much, auspicious but just a toy.  Later, at twelve or thirteen, I saw some kids skating on and around a park bench on the University of Michigan quad when visiting my aunt in Ann Arbor.  For me, coming from Goshen, Indiana at that time, Ann Arbor represented all things cool, from Schoolkids Records to Middle Earth, and seeing these dudes jumping off/on the bench was pretty much the most incredible thing I’d ever seen.  It was a brief moment but one that changed the course of my life.  My eyes opened as wide as my jaw and I knew there was more to what they were doing than just playing around.  They were part of something athletic that didn’t resemble team sports at all; in fact it looked more like an assault on the city than an organized sport.  It took some time but on a different family trip to Colorado months later my parents succumbed to months of begging any dropped ninety dollars on a real skateboard, in this case a Santa Cruz “Special Edition”.

In Colorado just after the purchase of the aforementioned board but clearly before I was ridiculed for bringing “bermuda shorts” to Goshen, Indiana. Thanks, mom, for texting me this photo after reading this post. xoxo

I took that board back to our small town in Indiana where, as far as I knew, I was the only person with a skateboard.  I skated solo for a couple of months trying to figure out what to do with it, but with no example of what you were supposed to do with a skateboard the best I could conjure was the ability to go up and down a curb on my own.  One day my step-dad came home with a copy of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine he’d picked up at the Hallmark store in town.  It was like getting a manual to another universe where *EVERYONE* rode skateboards, dressed differently, and listened to punk rock.  I couldn’t believe what was possible with what my parents considered to be my new “toy”.  Armed with this print portal it was easy to recruit my two best friends, Nate Weaver and Kris Kurtz into the “we ride skateboards” club.  One issue of Transworld turned into a subscription, followed by a subscription to Thrasher, and we were hooked.  Skateboarding was our all-day every day mission.

Me and the family VCR in our living room, late 80s, Misfits shirt, Skate Rags shorts.

We were an early-adopter family.  My step-dad had a Denon CD player when about the only thing you could get on CD was Dire Straits, and we were quick (among Goshen families) in the VHS “movie rental” market, too.  The first movie rental place in Goshen was a tiny one-room house across town from us with a very limited selection.  Who knows why, then, they ended up with a copy of The Bones Brigade Video Show, but they did.  Seeing this flick was the next revelation our little skateboard trio.  Taking the photos from the magazine and MAKING THEM MOVE was magic.  Not only could you see how tricks were actually done (for a while we thought an ollie involved jumping off of something onto your board) but it gave the people we’d seen in the mags a personality.  We were already all-in but seeing The Bones Brigade Video Show for the first time further cemented our allegiance to the world of skateboarding.  I don’t remember which of us was first to get Future Primitive when it was released but you can bet we had it as quick as we could get our Indiana hands on it and all watched it DAILY as skate-spiration.  When The Search For Animal Chin was released it was an EVENT, we would have skated to Chicago to get an early look if we could have.

Me, to 5-0, Goshen Public Library, late 80s

Living in California now it’s tough to recall how we were treated by our peers for dressing in clothes we mail ordered from skate mags and riding skateboards all over our small town.  High school expanded our ranks a bit, adding Jason Kincaid, Andy Hoffer and a couple of others who had been on a similar path on the other side of town.  While we were still a total skateboarder population of less than ten, we were devoted, started early, and both Kris and Jason were genuinely talented athletes.  If they would go to contests anywhere within driving distance they would take 1st and 2nd place.  Yet we were hated at home.  “Fags”, “Gayboarders”, etc.  While they held a press conference for Rick Mirer when he chose to go to Notre Dame to play football, my friends and I weren’t even allowed to bring our skateboards to school.  One night I had a real and scary near miss with a classmate trying to hit me with his car.  I think he meant it.  We couldn’t have felt any less welcome and supported.

Me, up and over, Parkside Pharmacy, Goshen, Indiana, in the 80s

In this way it’s accurate to say we felt closer to the characters in the skate magazines and videos than we did to our own peers.  It’s an allegiance I carry with me to this day.  Most of the best people in my life I’ve met through some connection to skateboarding in one way or other.  For skateboarders my age the first three Bones Brigade videos were the lingua franca of the time.  I’ve spent my years since meeting people who grew up in situations exactly like mine and the scenes, tricks and lines from these Bones Brigade movies are one piece of an incredibly common language.

All of this to try to give some perspective on just what it means for me personally to see Stacy Peralta releasing his new documentary on the Bones Brigade team using Topspin.  Stacy and that team were guiding lights for us growing up.  That we could repay in any small way by helping him release this film in a way he finds empowering and in-line with the ethos of skateboarding is humbling and overwhelming.  It’s hard not to feel like it’s all a part of some universal plan.  



ps – I want to take this opportunity to give a little shout out to our own Bones Brigade from Goshen, Indiana.  Nate Weaver (far left, above) is now a video director living in Pasadena.  

Jason Kincaid (center, above, method air, below) is now known as Pastor Kincaid and you can see him shred weekly at First Assembly of God in Goshen, Indiana.


Kris Kurtz passed away a little less than a year ago.  I wish I could share this with him now.  Please enjoy a few rad photos of Kris from the 80s, and pour out a little for him this evening.  






Kris and me at our 20 year high school reunion, 2010.

pps – The person I would have emailed Bob’s article to very first would have been Adam Yauch.  As the resident skateboarder and filmmaker in Beastie Boys, he would have fuckin’ loved this for all the right reasons.  Damn.


  1. Tracy wrote:

    Awesome post sir. My friends and I were doing the BMX/Freestyle thing in our small town at the same period of time. This brought back a lot of great memories. While there was a lame BMX -vs- Skaters thing going at the time, we found a common ground in our town and shared an appreciation for both sports. So stoked that you get to play a roll in this.

  2. Crockett wrote:

    ditto tracy- my childhood was the freestyle version, with some skateboarding mixed in.

    When I was all grown up and living in los angeles, the first time I saw the x-games big air ramp from the freeway, i got goosebumps. like the thing we were all pioneering back then was finally accepted right along side all the big TV team sports.

    to pioneering. thanks topspin.

  3. alysha wrote:

    No way, Ian. I had a Hotdogger, too. Growing up across the street from a cornfield in Ohio, the only place I could ever ride it was our driveway and basement, and I was (and am) absolute garbage on a skateboard. It’s a shame. But yeah… I remember those days.

    When my sister was a baby, and I was about 18 months old (mid ’70s), my mom was trying to skate with some kids and fell and broke her (dominant) arm right below the shoulder. She was in a full-arm cast. At the time, my dad was working full-time AND going to night school for his Masters. How my mom managed two infants basically solo and one-armed I will never know. She told me later that she’d use her feet to hold my sister down in order to change her. It must have been horrible for her, but that story has given me so much cred over the years…

    My family were early adopters, too — my parents still have a working Betamax, and a copy of The Search for Animal Chin for it. Classic. This is really exciting news. I look forward to the film.

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