It was only 5 years ago we were partying hard across the small pond, but this year Etnies are celebrating 25 years of business this week in France and have rolled out the Public Domaine Skateboard culture exhibition at La Gaîté Lyrique. 3 artists have been chosen by Pierre-André Senizergues to conceptualize what skateboarding will be like in the next 25 years.
As a tribute to the digital and music foundation of La Gaite, UK filmographer, Mike Manzoori will capture the etnies Pro Team of Kyle Leeper, Jose Rojo, Tyler Bledsoe and Willow skating in the house creating a unique digital footprint of what the future may be like.
The exhibition runs until August 7th. Plan a weekend skate trip to Paris today but before you do check out the animated board graphics on show in Paris, endless fun.
We have been sent a mammoth amount of product for inclusion in this month’s Line Check so enjoy June’s selection that you can find in your local skate shop this month from Death, Blueprint, Superdead, Witchcraft, Girl, Pig, Addict, éS, Emerica, Dekline, Etnies, Lovenskate, Unabomber, Heathen, Volcom and Fourstar.
If you would like to send us product for inclusion in next month’s round up, contact us from the link at the bottom of the page.
Back in 2009, a group of Englishmen armed with skateboards and video cameras decided that Burma would be a great spot to visit. Why? You will have to read on to find out, but this urge to travel to a country that is more famous for political stances and Theravada Buddhism than our beloved four wheeled culture is commendable to say the least. We hooked up with Hotknees filmer James Holman, Alex ‘Pas’ Pasquini and Etnies rider Ali Drummond to discuss why Burma was the country of choice to visit on skateboards in this month’s travel feature.
WATCH THE VIDEO DOCUMENTARY OF THEIR TRIP HERE:
What made you all decide to go to Burma?
James – We had just finished up getting Storyboards a deal, which took almost a whole year get broadcast after shooting it in 2008 and we were looking for our next project. I wanted to move away from core action sports and do something different. Ali’s a real good friend and we were catching up one day and he mentioned this Burma trip which sounded awesome, so let’s go along for the ride and see what happens. It’s the least planned trip / production we’ve ever done!
Ali – I have always had an interest in Myanmar after watching a documentary about the place when I was younger. Deciding to study Burmese Language at University with the possibility of a year in the country meant that I was eager to check it out before I committed to going there for a whole year. I decided not to go previously when I was on my gap year as I didn’t believe tourists should be funding the government in anyway what so ever. I have since changed my opinion on tourism and believe that tourists should go, but invest in local people and business when they do.
Pas – When James first approached me with this idea I was more than a little bit hesitant and knowing relatively little about the country I naturally assumed the worst. For a start, hearing that journalists were banned from the country didn’t exactly put me at ease! I guess you could say there was an inherent risk right from the start that made us all a little uneasy. But after talking with Ali who shed light on the practicality of life out there and straightened out a few myths I soon came around. It just seemed like such a ridiculous idea it had to work and an amazing chance to do and make something utterly different from what we’re used to making.
There’s obviously a lot of negative press and for good reason, it ranks up there with North Korea in terms of gnarly places to go, what was it actually like?
James – Well yeah. Ali can throw all the statistics at you about how gnarly it can be there, child soldiers, human rights abuses etc. I think day to day life in the cities of places like Yangon and Mandalay is vastly different from life in the more remote ethnic communities. I think that’s one of the great things about the film and it’s something that organisations such as the US Campaign for Burma have commented on, that this is a more positive take and look at life there.
Ali – Maybe it does rank up there with North Korea as places to go. Personally I don’t think so and I don’t like those comparisons because it allows for attitudes which make people respond to your statement that your going to Myanmar, with ‘Ha ha you’ll get shot!’ and ‘Can you even go there?’. It immediately makes people write of Myanmar as a place to avoid. When actually we need to be educating people on what Myanmar is really like so that progress and change for the better can take place, however small. You can’t act on something if you don’t already know about it. To put Myanmar in context one has to remember that it could be one of the most prosperous countries in South-East Asia. It has an absolute abundance of natural resources such as oil, gas, teak and jade. The desperate poverty that you see when you go there doesn’t have to be. People don’t need to be dying from easily curable diseases. Go there as a tourist, stick to the same trail and you won’t see much in terms of negativity except for a desperately poor country that doesn’t need to be. What you will see is a load of beautiful scenery and lots of encounters with extremely friendly people. It’s not uncommon for people to come away from a trip to Myanmar thinking, ‘Yeah that place wasn’t so bad, people were smiling all the time, everyone seemed happy, I don’t know what all the fuss is about’. Well there rightly is a lot fuss and you won’t find the reason behind all of it from a trip to Bagan or Inle Lake. All one needs to do is take a short mo-ped ride out of one of the small towns around Mandalay and you might well come across people in chains digging up the road and officials with whips. Forced labor happens in Myanmar everyday but generally not in the places the government will let you access easily, if at all. You can still find it though if you stray only a little off the path. However incomplete this film may be, I hope we will at least be able to show people a side of Myanmar they didn’t already know about.
Pas – As far as our own experience goes, we learned whilst out there that tourists have it easy. So long as you don’t do something idiotic like publically protesting against the government, you’re going to be safe, very safe in fact since crimes against foreigners are super rare. As Ali mentioned this can give you a somewhat skewed perspective on what life is really like for the Burmese people, something that we hoped we’d at least touch on in the documentary.
You refer to the film as ‘cross-genre’, how did you achieve a balance between the skateboarding and political aspects?
James – I think that, in my opinion anyway, it moves quite seamlessly between the two. I think the key to that is the set-up right at the beginning with the archive footage from some of the protests and events that have happened and then introducing us as three skateboarders. Right from the go, you’ve got this juxtaposition of the two that makes you, as viewer, aware that you’re going to be moving between the two.
Ali – The original edit was way more political. One of the reasons we cut most of that out is because it makes for a more interesting piece to be focused on something not already touched upon by outside media.
Pas – For the skate side we decided we’d approached the filming in the fashion that is typical of any skate trip. We’d search high and low for spots in the most ridiculous places and get as much footage in the bag as possible. But you can’t visit a country like Burma and not touch on the politics of the country, it’s impossible since it dramatically effects everything you do. So we made sure we documented everything about our daily experiences and kept personal journals about our time there to inform our decision making when scripting the narration and editing the film in to a watchable piece.
This was filmed back in the summer of 2009, why has it taken so long to release and what have you been up to since?
James – Yeah, we got back into the UK in late July ’09 and had this other project to do, Bangkok Bangers, and then I went to Australia for 6 months! Apart from that Ali was still in Burma and we didn’t want to release this and jeopardise his position in the country so we had to wait until he was done there.
Ali – I have just finished a year of study in Myanmar and releasing the film previously could of been detrimental to my time there. Of course, it would probably have been fine but you never know.
Pas – I think it’s fair to say myself and James have been itching to release this for a good year or so but due to quite real concerns with Ali still being in the country we had to hold it back. This was both frustrating and beneficial in equal measure. The most beneficial aspect being time to reflect on our experience which led to many redrafts, something we couldn’t have done had we released it as early as we had planned.
What’s your favourite memory from the trip?
James – Man, there are so many, from adopting a street kid called ‘Crazy Joe’ during our time in Yangon and taking him to see Terminator 4 to teaching English in the school. That is probably mine actually. I really enjoyed that, it’s something I never thought I’d have the chance to do and playing football with the kids everyday on the roof of the school was awesome. I’m really proud to have gone to Burma and have done what we’ve done. Without sounding super pretentious, it’s not something many people get to do or would want to do!
Ali – Skateboarding with all the locals in Yangon. I have since got to hang out with those guys for the best part of 7 months and they have become close friends. I have so much respect for them. They can’t buy quality skateboards in their country and the only place they do have to skate will eat your board like its a bacon sandwich. Yet despite all this they have the same passion and admiration for skateboarding as anyone else I’ve met and they do it all with a smile on their face. True overcomer’s of adversity.
Pas – Very hard to pinpoint. Skating with the locals and skating anywhere in public and having huge crowds of people just stop what they were doing and watch us was a surreal experience. Riding bikes through Mandalay each day on the way to the school to teach. All the friendly people we met and just the whole act of going out there and filming everyday trying to blag a documentary of our experience was amazing!
So, what do you guys have planned next?
James – Well, I’ve since moved to New Zealand! I’ve been on the filming scene over there but I think I’d like to be back here before the end of the year working on something else. Ali, Pas and me, as a result of his contacts and talking to organisations such as the Campaign for Burma have been thinking about another Burma based project, which I’d love to do.
Ali – The skate park in Yangon is about to be turned in to a car park would you believe! There will literally be no where for everyone to go. I’d be keen to contact some NGO’s to try and get some funding to buy a small piece of land and build a half decent skate park. There are real possibilities for making things happen in Myanmar and this is something I’d be keen to get involved with. If anyone can help out, please hit me up!
Pas – In the short term, should be off to Copenhagen again for the CPH Pro in June to film for Monster Energy which is going to be sick. Longer term, I’m working full time at a media company in Surrey specialising mainly in corporate videos which is a big step away from what I’m used to but an incredible learning experience!
Any shout outs or final comments?
Ali – Thanks to all the skateboards of Myanmar for keeping skateboarding what it is truly about. Having fun with your friends!
Pas – Just a massive thanks to anyone that watches this doc and the people of Burma that made this possible.
James – I’d like to thank everyone that supported this, from the Democratic Voice of Burma and people like John Sanlin to you guys at Crossfire that will help spread the word about the film! Hope you guys are into it! Also one more thing that needs to be noted, massive shout out to Steven Perks, this is certainly an ABD. He must be the first Astro-physicist from Chatham that did a K-Grind tail grab in Burma… someone contact Guinness World Records!
Etnies footwear have started 2011 with a decent eco pledge, their mission is to plant a tree for every pair of Jameson 2 shoes that are purchased and create the etnies rainforest in an area that has seen much deforestation over the last 80 years. The latest ecological promise from Soletech founder Pierre-André Senizergues derived from a trip to Costa Rica in 2007 where he met with government leaders and learned about their commitment to making the country carbon neutral by 2021- one of the first developing countries to make this pledge. The result of that visit was a catalyst for his current mission that starts this month working alongside native tribes in Costa Rica called the Maleku and a reforestation organization, La Reserva Forest Foundation, to make it happen.
If you have ever visited this beautiful country found between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America you will know just how special this place is. I have personally had the pleasure of flying in to this wonderful land three times now and have seen it develop hugely since 1996. Hotels have sprung up all over the place with trees chopped down to accommodate the demand for tourism and tarmac roads connecting towns that used to be pot holed pathways are now common place. The country is dedicated to its fauna. Trees grow out of trees, flowers and shrubs grow everywhere and different rainforests harbor thousands of known life forms across across all of the various regions; all contributing something different that is vital to their environment so it’s great to see a skateboard company getting involved to help the cause.
Skateboarding has become popular in Costa Rica over the last 10 years. The Tony Hawk video game era of the early 2000’s helped to push skateboarding to many countries opening more avenues for skate teams to hit the road and add more countries to their touring schedules. Arenas indoor skatepark in San Jose is the capital’s biggest park to host demos. Last month four Volcom riders arrived in the capital and were mobbed by the locals eager to see a pro team skate their park. Arenas is an air conditioned indoor wood park and has a street course and a mini ramp but worth noting that you will need a helmet to skate it.
Costa Rica’s most famous concrete skate park at Hotel Tilawa in Tileran is situated on the edge of a picturesque lake nearby the Arenal Volcano which is still fully active. You can drive around the lake during the day and see Coati’s (raccoons with razor sharp claws) and Armadillos crossing the roads, in the evening on a clear night, you can also witness molten red hot Lava spitting from Arenal if you are sat below drinking cocktails in its natural hot springs. The mix of relaxing mud baths, mineral pools, and thermal hot springs after skating the Tileran park (below) is highly recommended. Take that in for a few seconds and try to resist the urge to book a flight.
Death Skateboards‘ most traveled pro Dan Cates phoned me back in 2009 for info on the country and came back with nothing but praise for Central American culture so I’m going to hand over the reigns to Dan from his own experience of visiting these shores.
“Costa Rica has year round sunshine, good surfing, natural volcanic hot springs and some strange one-off skate spots dotted around the country if you know where to look. It is a kind of paradise for many and indeed is the only country in the world to not have an army. One thing I would say however, if you are thinking of visiting this weird and wonderful place be sure to rent a 4×4! It has the worst roads and its tropical climate means lots of rain storms and lots of mud for you to get stuck in. Take heed.
Most of your street skating needs will be taken care of in San Jose, which also has an indoor skatepark and a skate shop. Find a local to show you the spots, because San Jose is notoriously bad for traffic, lawless driving and gangs.
Next stop is the surf town of Tamarindo, that has a fun concrete snake run (above) leading into a 7 foot deep vert bowl. This thing is a lot of fun. If you are in the know there is a guy who has a clover leaf bowl in his back yard nearby, but like I said you definitely need to know someone if you wanna see this spot, it is strictly private.
As mentioned above Hotel Tilawa on the shore of lake Arenal is a must see for any visiting skaters, a quaint old hotel on the edge of the jungle with a large concrete park in the grounds! I stayed here off season and was the only person in the hotel. It was kind of like visiting Dracula’s castle, but with a skatepark in the garden. If you are feeling brave and fancy a trek through a howler monkey infested jungle there is also a rather perfect concrete spillway pipe that Salba once skated, it’s Costa Rica’s answer to Mount Baldy. Search and you shall find.”
Truer words were never spoken. Costa Rica’s magical landscape hosts many hidden gems. The country is composed of seven provinces, all with variable climate’s. Within 45 minutes from the airport in Alajuela (San Jose) you can be overlooking the turquoise blue sulphur lakes of the Poas Volcano. 3 hours drive from there you can be surfing on the party beaches of Jaco Beach and driving the hillsides of the beautiful town of Manuel Antonio. The latter has one of the best National Parks you will ever see where cappuccino monkeys bounce off every branch, sloths frequent the trees and the beaches are on par with the luxurious settings of any of the James Bond movies. An hour spent on the ferry with the jeep from Punteranas to Paquera is necessary for you to find the ultimate paradise also known as Montezuma and 10 minutes from here you will find the tiny village of Mal Pias which is simply heaven. Zorlac caught his first ever wave on a surfboard here with myself alongside for the ride as the sun set. I personally didn’t want to leave here and many don’t.
If you visit the North East on the Caribbean side you can travel by boat or plane to the swampy land strips of Tortugeuro and see Caiman and Crocodiles ruling the inland waters. In the North West, the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is home to the most active geysers in Costa Rica and amazing waterfalls, sights that are so beautiful that you can never revisit it in photos. The national parks are generally mind blowing. It’s best to take a guide on these missions with you as you will be surprised just how many living creatures are watching you walk through the rainforests without you even noticing they are there.
So with all this in mind, get yourself a ticket to Costa Rica this year and experience this stunning country first hand and if you want to help the cause get yourself some new kicks and Soletech will plant a tree in exchange. Click here to find out more about them.
Out of all the skate shoe companies that service our feet you have to admit that Etnies (and related Soletech brands) are pretty much the only out there that really care about what they are doing environmentally. This month their riders have flown down to Costa Rica to plant some trees that will form the Etnies eco-Forest as a direct result from the sales of these new Jameson 2 shoes that have been ecologically crafted for you to skate in.
Bike tyres have been used to create the outsole and plastic bottles re-used for the shoe laces and if you are one of those like 2P who likes to wear skate shoes without socks then these also have some magical anti-foot smelling material inside that zaps odours called Dri-Lex. I have only worn these with socks so far so if you get a pair and roll with a naked foot then please let us know if this moisture wicking anti-microbial material actually does what it says on the tin.
After wearing these for 4 weeks now they don’t seem to be ‘those hippy shoes’ that may tick all the eco boxes and then fall apart. Made of heavy canvas and a natural cotton upper, the Jameson 2 is super basic but seriously comfortable which is what I want in a skate shoe. So go out and get a pair; the least you can do is help etnies in their quest to give something back as you will not get that with other shoe brands who have no history in skateboarding and that’s a fact.
Etnies have officially welcomed Swedish tech wizard Albert Nyberg to join their European shoe team this week.
It’s been a fun filled 6 months since for this fella since the Newsoul Skateboards promo did the rounds on the internet last November. He took on PJ Ladd at the latest Battle of the Berrics and came close to a win, his Bangin’ edit fueled more admiration and now his feet have some free shoes.
It’s a great story. Enjoy some more footage of him here.
Spring 2011 has arrived and there are many new products out there for you to check out this month. Here’s a selection of our recommended purchases if the recession is allowing you to wallow in some luxuries right now from Superdead, Flip, Palace, Baker, Independent, Kill City, Death, Etnies, Emerica, Altamont, Spitfire, Lovenskate, Dephect, Supreme, Supra, Kr3w, Quiksilver, Element, Alien Workshop, Brixton Addict and DVS.
Etnies have announced today that they will be releasing a series of shoes in collaboration with Autism Speaks, a reknowned charity dedicated to raising awareness of autism and funding research. A portion of all proceeds of every Etnies X Autism Speaks Fader and RVM kid’s shoes sold will be donated to to Autism Speaks, with a minimum of $10,000 a year. This is in aid of developing invaluable resources and treatment for those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. For a little perspective, that’s 1 in every 110 children.
Watch the video below for more information, and a nice ollie from Jose Rojo.