Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Here's vert legend Mike Dominguez in the Pipe Bowl at Pipeline skatepark in 1985. This was the contest he uncorked the no-footed can-can.
I've been pushing the old school BMX world to support Don Hoffman's Kickstarter campaign to make the "Badlands" documentary, which would tell the story of Baldy Pipe, Pipeline skatepark, and the influence it had. It's primarily a skate story, but BMX vert is part of the story. The campaign ended a couple days ago, and it found 115 backers pledging $16, 843 (43!) towards the $150,000 goal. Don isn't giving up. He's going to regroup and keep working on getting this done.
For me personally, Pipeline was a place I first read about in BMX Plus in 1982 or 1983, as a high school kid in Idaho. The skatepark, and its riders, instantly became legendary to our little Idaho riding crew. It seemed like a magical place a million miles away then.
As the years passed, I ended up riding Pipeline a few times right before it closed. In fact, I had my front tire crab in the pipe while oververt the last night it was open. That sent me into a Superman dive straight down 11 feet onto it's hard, hard concrete. I ended up going to the emergency room, thinking my wrist was broken. I was actually stoked that I might have the last broken bone from Pipeline. It turned out to be a really bad palm bruise, and I couldn't hang onto my grip for a month afterward.
Since I worked under Don Hoffman at Unreel Productions then, I got to go up and shoot video, and ride, several times after the park closed. The fences were getting torn down, which opened up a whole bunch of lines not possible before. I was jumping out of the four foot bowl and doing a little nose wheelie into the ditch, among other things. During those sessions, Fiola, Blyther, Steve Alba, Micke Alba, and several Vision skaters had some epic sessions. It was great being able to ride without little kids yelling "Next after after next" before rolling in. I chipped about eight blue tiles out of the shallow part of the Combi right after Malba and Salba got themselves some. I didn't bother going up the weekend in got demolished for the last session, I think there was a freestyle event that weekend.
I really hope Don manages to get this movie made, because it's a big part of the history of everyone who's ridden vert in ANY sport.
With this campaign done for now, I'm going to wind down Freestyle BMX Tales, and put everything on my new blog, Steve Emig:The White Bear.
Friday, July 14, 2017
As the Kickstarter crowdfunding clock ticks away for the Badlands (Pipeline Skatepark) documentary, I realized that a lot of the old and mid school riders out there don't realize just how big of a part Pipeline played in vert riding. Like Dogtown and Z-Boys and Joe Kid on a Stingray, this movie will tell a great story about how vert skating and BMX got off the ground. Pun intended. Some park had to be the first to actually build bowl with vertical walls, and that park was Pipeline.
In this clip we see Don Hoffman, the man behind the Badlands movie, ask early skatepark rider/contest promoter Bob Morales to explain the set-up for early vert riders, and Eddie Fiola, the original King of the Skateparks is the rider. These three guys played huge roles in making BMX/bike stunts what it is today, and what it was when we all did it. Help the Badlands Movie Kickstarter campaign to get this documentary made. 18 days to go, $7,403 and counting...
Monday, July 10, 2017
Chris Miller flat out shredding Pipeline after it closed.
When I got the job at Unreel Productions, Vision's video company, in late 1987, I spent most of my time in a little room with a bunch of machines making copies of different videos. I also got the job of organizing the tape library, which was boxes of hundreds of tapes which were not labeled well. Most of those tapes were betacam camera originals. In those days, big, 35 pound, betacam cameras were the "broadcast quality" standard. The cameras cost about $50,000, and the video quality was high enough to be shown on broadcast TV. So when a cameraman went out to shoot something, they came back with a bunch of these tapes. Each tape was in a plastic case, and ten of those fit into a cardboard tape box.
So while I was making copies of one thing or another, I would pull out a box of these betacam tapes, figure out what contest or video shoot it was, and label all the tapes and boxes by hand, so we could find that footage easily later. In the course of doing this, I saw all the footage that was being shot, and I looked at all the old camera tapes and master tapes of videos already made. So I became real familiar with each skater, biker, or snowboarder's style and abilities.
At the same time, I would get off work and go ride my BMX freestyle bike for two or three hours every night. Often I would ride to work, and then hit a whole bunch of street spots around Huntington Beach on my way home. So watching all the footage definitely stoked me to ride, and gave me ideas for tricks sometimes.
It didn't take long for me to be blown away by the skating of Chris Miller. He had this effortless looking flow around the pools that was absolutely oozing with style. I decided that I wanted to learn to ride my bike the way Chris Miller skated. That never happened. But it was definitely a good goal to work towards.
In this clip, we see Chris first in the 15 bowl, the biggest vert bowl at Pipeline, and then he's skating the back bowls, which rarely get seen in videos. Those were the beginner bowls, and were 4 feet, 6 feet, 8 feet, and 10 feet deep. When the park was open, there were fences between the bowls, which prevented transfers. But after the park closed, and the fences were torn down, all kinds of new lines were possible, which is what Chris is taking advantage of.
Then he moves to the Combi Pool, the gnarliest skatepark pool in its day, and Chris tears it up. That was the pool the skaters spent the most time in over the years. Then he moves on to the Pipe Bowl, the pool best known to BMXers, because that's the one the riders blasted huge airs out of. Those tuck kneed carves Chris does in the pipe are some of the coolest things in skateboarding.
The video is old, down a couple of generations, and kind of sketchy. But Chris Miller's skating is epic. In a bike comparison, I'd have to pick Brian Foster as the guy who best blends speed, style, and big airs like Miller does on his skate. Both of those guys are just beautiful to watch ride. It's no surprise that Chris Miller has ruled the Master's Class at the new combi pool in the Pro-Tec Pool Party contests for nearly a decade.
The story of Pipeline and Baldy Pipe will be told in the Badlands Movie. You can help it get made by support the Kickstarter campaign in that link. $6,578 and counting...
Friday, July 7, 2017
I think this clip is from the 1987 GT Bikes video Demo Tape. In any case, industry legend McGoo does a quick interview with Eddie Fiola as they look at his 1985 run from the King of the Skateparks series. Eddie ran skinny, 1 3/8" rims for that contest, and people thought he had a 22" bike or something.
At the time, quaterpipes ranged from the Bob Haro designed, 6' high plan in the magazines, to 9' high. Most ramps went just up to vert. The face wall of the Pipe Bowl at Pipeline skatepark, however, was an 8' transition with four feet of vert. The pipe itself was 20 feet diameter. You had to be badass just to air out of that wall in the deep end. The fence is five feet high, and Eddie routinely got two or three feet over that.
This was the first skatepark where BMXers could really blast airs more than 3 or 4 feet out. Eddie Fiola established himself as the first King of the Skateparks, and was the most widely known pro freestyler to all us kids out in the rest of the country then. His riding, along with the other skatepark riders, inspired kids all over the U.S. and U.K. to build sketchy ramps and learn to blast airs.
In today's world of mega airs, it's hard to understand just how earth shattering these huge airs were at the time. The 540 was a brand new trick as well. Having the full pipe to pump speed out of, as well as a deep pool with no coping, helped Eddie and the others take riding to a whole different level. Without Pipeline skatepark, that jump in the progression of skatepark riding may have taken years to happen.
The Badlands movie, tellling the story of Pipeline Skatepark, is now raising money on Kickstarter. It's a huge skateboard story, but it's also a big part of BMX freestyle history. Click the link and help support this movie getting made.
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Go to 26:26 in this video. The Badlands Movie... because Agent Orange never played in a bowl at your skatepark. Badlands/Pipeline Skatepark movie Kickstarter campaign. Ante up. Home of the first vert pools in a skatepark. $6,293 and counting...
Sunday, July 2, 2017
After the success of the Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary years ago, we've seen some old school documentaries and videos come in the BMX and skateboard world. But the one I personally want to see made the most is now raising money on Kickstarter. In the clip above, we see the original BMX King of the Skateparks, Eddie Fiola. He's at the legendary Pipeline Skatepark that was in Upland, California. What many of you don't know is that the guy in this clip interviewing Eddie (in 1983? 84?) is Don Hoffman. Who's Don Hoffman? He's a surfer and skater from way back, and happens to be the son of Stan and Jean Hoffman, the people who built Pipeline Skatepark. Don's the guy behind the Badlands movie.
Don got into video in the early 1980's, making videos Wayne's World style with borrowed equipment. By the late 80's, Don had made more BMX freestyle videos, the King of the Skatepark series, than anyone. Don went on to start Unreel Productions, the video company for the Vision Skateboards/Vision Street Wear companies. I worked for Don for about 2 1/2 years there, and among other things, I was the tape librarian at Unreel. That sounds boring, and it would be to most people. When I started at Unreel, there were hundreds of betacam raw footage tapes in boxes. Most boxes had a label like "Savannah." Usually the tapes were numbered, but that was about it. So I got the job of going through and actually watching parts of every single tape, and going to Don or one of the other guys and asking, "OK, this is the Savannah skate contest. What year?" Then I would label the case of ever single tape. By the time Unreel closed, there were about 3,000 tapes, and I had hand written the labels on nearly every single one.
Why am I telling you this nearly 30 years later? Because I know what's on those tapes. I know all the footage that was never used, which is a lot, both in skating and BMX. I also got the "job" of going up to Pipeline Skatepark after it closed, and shooting video with Don of the pool skaters who were let in for those awesome private sessions. I called up Eddie Fiola and Brian Blyther, and invited them to come ride after the park was closed. Don was the main cameraman, but I was the second camera guy for many of those epic sessions. I also got to set down the camera every once in a while and ride myself. I got down in the Pipe Bowl with Eddie and Brian dropping in and zooming past me, so I could get different angles of their classic lines in the Pipe Bowl.
Pipeline wasn't just another Southern California skatepark. Pipeline completely changed the game in skateboarding in 1977, and about five years later changed the game for BMX freestyle as well. This movie REALLY needs to get made. I'm going to throw the weight of this blog behind this project for the rest of the Kickstarter campaign. The story of Pipeline and the Badlands is primarily a skate story, but it's a skate story that changed BMX forever. It would be well worth you throwing a few bucks into this project and help this get made. Check out the Badlands Kickstarter campaign for more details. As of this post, the campaign has raised $6,038 of the $149,995 goal. I'll keep tabs on it as I continue to tell my stories about Pipeline and the locals there.
Would you be more likely to contribute to the fundraising if I drew a picture of on of the classic photos from Pipeline and offered it to Don as a prize for donating? Let me know.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I heard about this comp from a post by Mat Hoffman on Facebook. I was really stoked to hear that there was an X-Game qualifier in the city of Boise, where my life in BMX started. In a trailer park outside Boise, known as Blue Valley by us residents, a bunch of us white trash kids started riding our bikes every evening and trying to out-do each other. After a few months, someone heard there was a BMX track near downtown Boise. We packed four guys and three bikes into Scott's mom's Ford Pinto, and went to our first race.
The Fort Boise BMX track was built in an abandoned sewer pond at the edge of the foothills. I can't tell you how stoked we were to see a place actually built for BMX riding. In October of 1982, that seemed amazing. Looking back, it wasn't much, but it was something. Scott, Jason, and Brian raced as I watched and coached. All three guys went home with trophies. The next weekend, we packed all the BMXers into my dad's van, and headed to the track. It was the last race of the season, and we all raced and had a blast. I was hooked on BMX. Here's what our track looked like back in 1983.
I know that the sketchy old BMX tracks of the 1970's and 1980's spawned better tracks and later skateparks all over the country. When I got serious about BMX freestyle in late 1983 and 1984, I was the third freestyler in Boise, and the whole state of Idaho, following Justin Bickel and Wayne Moore. Wayne retired at the ripe old age of 17, and Justin and I reformed their trick trick team into the Critical Condition Stunt Team. We did shows everywhere we could in the Boise area, and also rode in parades, stoked to share our weird little sport with the people of that area.
It was only a couple years ago that I learned that Boise sits just above 43 degrees latitude, which stoked me out. Not many freestylers out there started riding at 43 degrees above the equator. As one of the pioneers of freestyle in the Boise area, I'm stoked to see that they've actually built a great skatepark there, and that it was picked to host an X-Games qualifier. It's cool to see some amazing new school riding going down in the little city in the middle of nowhere that gave me my start.