Sometimes, when I take a step back from the incredible world of rollerblading, I find myself overcome with fear. Pioneers appear within our sport with such a flourish of promise then diminish without a moments notice...
Sometimes, when I take a step back from the incredible world of rollerblading, I find myself overcome with fear. Pioneers appear within our sport with such a flourish of promise then diminish without a moments notice. Our turnover of influential leaders is higher than employment at McDonalds and quite frankly, it’s worrying. Anyone remember Louie Zamora? Dave Paine? Aaron Feinberg? Anyone?
I am not ashamed to say, when I hadn’t heard anything from Carl Sturgess since the release of The Heat Team Video, I started to get pretty damn nervous. Then something strange happened. Nervous turned into tense and tense morphed into silent resentment. Without realizing it, in the time that Carl was gone, I had managed to slowly but surely lose my mind. It has been over two years since Carl released a full length skate video and there have not been many film makers filling the void.
Thankfully, Carl emerged from the infinite abyss to publish The Colorado Roadtrip right here on Be-mag, but it was too late. The voices in my head had already taken control and I was going deaf with the infinite harrassment. I had to make them stop, whatever the cost.
To mark Carl’s glorious return, and for my own piece of mind, I had to confirm that he had not deserted us once and for all. I sold my treasured collection of taxidermy, bought a plane ticket and decided to follow Carl Sturgess to the other side of the world. I knew I would miss my prized deer heads for years to come but some things are simply more important. When I finally tracked Carl down it was within the vast cultural melting pot of San Francisco. I was beyond pissed.
Not only had Carl decided to relocate to another city but he had miraculously forgot to forward his address to me back in Scotland. Disgusted by this betrayal, I walked into a sporting goods store near his apartment and bought the largest fishing knife I could find. My weapon of choice was aptly named the Fish Gutter. I decided that I was going to confront Carl in one of the bay area’s secluded alleys one night on his way home from work to find out what the hell he has been doing for the last two years. It became clear to me that if his answers didn’t satisfy my tastes, I was going to see if the knife could live up to its rather unpleasant title.
It’s almost laughable how easy it was to get him alone. I simply monitored his routine for several days. By the end of the week I knew exactly what time he would leave work to walk home and what route he preferred. Soon it would be just the two of us. No distractions.
I followed Carl into a dimly lit alley with only one street light at the end, cornered him against an industrial waste bin and gently pressed the edge of the serrated blade against the tender flesh of his weak looking neck. A little bead of blood emerged under the blade and I saw glimmer of horror appear in his eyes. He was scared. It was quite exciting to finally meet someone I had watched so much yet knew so little about. There were so many things I wanted to know and my sharp companion would ensure I got the truth. Fear of death has a way of bringing that out in people. Now was the time go get some answers. My knife asked the questions and Carl willingly complied.
I probed Carl about his lengthy sabbatical from skate video production and found that his reasons were pretty justified. Carl, like many film makers in our industry, has simply succumbed to the responsibilities of adult life.
“After the Heat video wrapped up, I started focusing on some other projects to get some experience in other areas. I have been working with Connor O’Brien on all kinds of projects, from music videos he has directed, to short feature documentaries. I have also just wrapped up a 25 minute short film that Ryan Schude's brother, Collins Schude directed called Bunny Suits. I made a big move over the summer and re-located myself to San Francisco where I have been working full time for Apple Retail as a creative specialist. I have also been studying film and video at the Art Institute of San Francisco heading toward a bachelor’s degree in digital video and film production”.
If, like me, you are technologically repressed and do not know what a creative specialist is, Carl offers an explanation.
“After working freelance for the company that produced the ASA and LG Action Sport shows, I starting working for Apple at the store in Orange County. I became a creative Specialist, teaching six one-on one hour-long sessions a day. I think it’s the best position at an Apple Store. You get to sit with people all day long, learn about them, and teach them how to use their computers. I was sent to Apple Corporate for a two-week training program which was very cool. I learned a lot and met some awesome people. In June of 2008 I decided to head out to San Francisco and finish up my degree in film. I was able to transfer to the awesome Apple Store on Chestnut Street. However, I recently made the decision to quit so I can focus my full attention on school, and more freelance filmmaking.”
I removed the blade from Carl’s throat and offered him a handkerchief to wipe the trail of blood from his neck. I guess I had just got a little uptight at the thought of someone else abandoning rollerblading for bigger, better things. It was then that I decided it was time to put some worries to rest.
I’m sure many of you will have heard the infamous rumour that Carl had sold his camera and given up on making skate films. I had to know how this story had come to life.
Carl sat down on the curb side and motioned for me to join him. It was as if he was welcoming me into his life. I got so nervous I found it hard to breath. Luckily, I managed to keep my composure and listen intently to what he had to say.
“The truth is, I did sell my old GL2 to Chris Haffey and with the cash he gave me, and the money I had saved up, I purchased the new Panasonic HVX200A. I have definitely not given up making videos. However, I have taken a small break from full length feature skate films. I have still been working on a lot of skating projects though. I have focused more on a lot of short feature segments. So no, I have definitely not given up making videos.”
I was so relieved I almost wet myself. Carl has no plans to desert us like the many that have went before him. With a heart struggling to return to normal and the taste of salty vomit on my tongue, I decided to find out how he has been occupying his time since taking a break from filming best friend Jeff Stockwell’s every breath. “Right now I am focusing on my film work, which involves work of mine from school as well as freelance work and building a strong reel to get me a real job. Studying at school is a priority but most of the time it is a lot of fun.”
Since Carl has created a sizable void in the skate video market, I thought it was only right to find out who he thinks is holding the torch in his absence. I put the knife down and I could see him breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe he is starting to warm to me. Perhaps we could be friends after all. We caught each other’s eye for a moment and I offered Carl one of my cigarettes. He took a long drag and divulged.
“Well, you can never go wrong with a Brandon Negrete skate video. That kid is really good at what he does and has a style of making videos that is different from everyone else. Similar is Lonnie Gallegos. Now that Brandon and Lonnie work so closely together on their projects they are really taking over the industry. I believe they are the ones setting the bar at where great skate videos should be. What I have seen from Pat Lennon never ceases to amaze me.”
I looked deep into Carl’s eyes and for the first time I realised the insanity of what I have done. My life savings were gone and all I had to show for it was a plane ticket to a city where I didn’t know anyone and a hideous monstrosity of a knife that would inevitably serve as incriminating evidence to put me in prison for a very long time. I shook me head with resignation and asked my next question through tear filled eyes. “When will we see another full-length Artisty creation Carl? I need to know to retain the scraps of my sanity.”
Carl looked at me with an expression that told me he knew I wasn’t well. He put a comforting arm around my shoulder and assured me, “I am planning a skate video release, however it won't be soon. There are a lot of ideas for the film that I will be bringing to life, but they will take time. Jeff Stockwell and I have been throwing around ideas for years for section themes, but never got around to it. This time with the new camera and a lot of help I'll be able to create something sweet, not for a while though, sorry.”
In my euphoria at feeling Carl’s touch, I failed to notice he was simply leaning behind me to grab a discarded vodka bottle that lay on the ground. I only realised what had happened when I found myself lying face down on the ground in a dark alley way with a broken bottle lying next to my bleeding skull. Carl had tricked me.
It was then that I remembered something. Just after Carl struck me over the head I managed to whisper one more questions through the cloudy fog of concussion. I remember faintly seeing his outline through my blurred vision and whispering, “Will we ever see a return of the infamous Smokey and the Bandit moustache?”
Carl backed away from me and his outline became smaller and smaller. I heard him say, “Oh fo sho! That thing has a mind of its own! I rocked the beard for a while and it got pretty outta control long. I really liked the beard. I haven't brought the mustache back for some time, maybe I will. If you wanna see a moustache, call Jeff (Stockwell) and have him send you a photo, that kid has an awesome moustache!!”
As I walked through downtown San Francisco with a gaping wound in the back of my head and a blood soaked t-shirt, I vowed to sell my stuffed squirrel collection in order to fund my revenge plot. Hey, where the hell did my Fish Gutter go?!?!