Jamie O’Brien Talks Skate World, Skate Africa, and Levi’s Skateboarding
As Levi’s continues to get more involved in skateboarding, the brand has largely taken a cue from its audience in what it puts together, whom it works with, and how it spends its money. The ads are relatable, focusing on friends tearing it up together and having a hyphy time doing it, like in the recent “Oakland Nights” spot.
And now there are the recent projects fostering skateboarding in developing parts of the world. The first of these combined the efforts of skateboarding collective HolyStoked, well-known American pros, and talented German builders from 2er to create the first free public skate park in India within a few dirty, dusty weeks. Round two was partnering with South African builders from Dope Industries and Woodies Ramps to do a similar DIY project with local skaters in the Johannesburg area. Together, they breathed new life into Edendale’s Skate World park using new components that are difficult to be pulled out for scrap.
We talked to seasoned builder Jamie O’Brien about the project and his impressions of skateboarding in South Africa.
VICE: Hi, Jamie. Could you please tell us the basics about reviving Skate World?
Jamie O’Brien: Skate World has been around for a long time, and many people have tried to manage the space, privatize it and charge an entrance fee, etc. I understand that—it takes money to maintain and look after a park that is made of wood or steel. But most skaters don’t want to pay, or can’t afford to pay, every time they go skating. So I think for this reason it didn’t work out.
The sports complex where Skate World is located has not rented out the space again, which has added to its falling apart. And local skaters have built their own wooden or steel obstacles, which have either been burned or stolen by vagrants that have taken occupancy of the surrounding buildings. Levi’s was looking for a place to upgrade in the Johannesburg area, and it just made sense to rehabilitate Skate World. Seeing wood and steel were not going to work, we decided to build something solid that couldn’t be stolen, so we went the concrete route.
Epicly Later’d – Ed Templeton, Part Five
In part five, we take a look at Ed’s life as an artist. From being coaxed out of hoarding his early paintings in Huntington Beach to confronting the homophobia of the 90s New York skate scene and finally finding success with his Teenage Smokers series, Ed’s art career has been defined in much the same way as his skate career—Ed just does Ed until people get it.
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Epicly Later’d – Ed Templeton, Part 2
In part two of our Ed Templeton episode, Ed takes us through joining Schmitt Stix Skateboards, losing his virginity to the sound of the Smiths, and putting out his first video part in New Deal’s highly influential Useless Wooden Toys video. Enjoy!
Epicly Later’d – Ed Templeton, Part 1
Ed Templeton has been a super-obvious choice for Epicly Later’d since the early days of the show. Maybe that’s why it took so long for us to do it. The man is like a skate historian—one benefit of his relatively straight-edge lifestyle is that he has what we like to call “sober memory.” He can recall everything from his life growing up in Huntington Beach, California, onward. He also had no boundaries in terms of how personal he would go for our interview. This episode was a big one for us. Enjoy!
was born and raised on a farm in Free Union, Virginia. From an early age he used a video camera to document his friends skateboarding, but over time his interest turned from the moving image to still photography. His series West of Megsico
, a small anarchist skateboarding community in rural Ohio, as a space to synthesize the natural world with his own imagination and experience.
Mossless: Do you skate?
Morgan Ashcom: No, not anymore. I skated from the time I was about 12 years old until I was 26. I had broken a lot of bones and was starting to feel twice my age, so I stopped.
What did you make of the atmosphere at Skatopia?
I can’t really give a proper description of the atmosphere, and I am sure that my photographs don’t either. I was interested in making photographs at Skatopia not because of a cohesive atmosphere that existed, but because I felt free to take risks.
How is Skatopia perceived by its neighbors?
There appeared to be a general environment of live and let live.
You attended Hartford’s photography MFA program. Can you tell us how that works and what you thought of it?
The program is designed as a limited residency, meaning you have a great amount of freedom to choose where you want to live and make new work. My year was a particularly international group: there were students who lived in Iceland, Japan, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and all over the United States. Everyone got together three times a year. We met at the University of Hartford for two weeks in the summer, New York City or San Francisco in the fall, and Berlin, Germany during the spring. Wherever we met, the faculty would arrange studio visits or critiques with artists and curators in the area. Outside of the in-person sessions, we were shooting and working on our own while video conferencing online for critiques or meetings with our thesis advisers.
Epicly Later’d – Theotis Beasley
In the second part of Theotis’ Epicly Later’d, he discusses turning pro during the 2011 Transworld Awards, dealing with a Baker-imposed skate video curfew, and giving back to his family and fans.
Epicly Later’d – Theotis Beasley Part 1
In part one of Theotis Beasley’s Epicly Later’d episode, we check out Theo’s old stomping grounds in Inglewood, CA and recap his early skating days, from feeling like he had to hide his skills as a kid to a chance meeting with Andrew Reynolds.
Rolling with the Lords of Fun
The Lords of Fun is an unfunded, unsolicited, and somewhat unintentional fraternity of folks thirsty for kicks who took a road trip from Richmond, Virginia to the Outer Banks using the FBM bikes tour bus and a dozen motorbikes. Our goal was to hit up a bunch of skateparks, campsites, dirt dragstrips, and what have you. But we ended up getting trapped in a tidewater suburban nightmare—the roads were flooded, rain and winds all but made moto travel impossible, the drags got canceled, and… Well, you get the idea. We still managed to make tuna fish out of tuna shit, just nothing like we initially pictured as we first rolled out of town… London-based filmmaker Fraser Byrne was there to film the haphazard cross-country journey. You can get a peek into our absurd odyssey in Fraser’s short documentary above, which is affectionately titled Beat Ass: On the Road with the Lords of Fun.
Watch the film