The Best of 2020

Well, that was a mad old year, wasn’t it? 2020 was more like a bizarre disaster movie than the regular fun ride that we’re used to. A pandemic made hermits of us all; working from home became the new normal for many and travel and events ceased to exist. A year from hell for most of us, though it’s far from over yet.

Here at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, we’ve aimed to soldier on and bring you the very best in blogging entertainment. Be it music, skateboards, toys or tat, whatever nonsense I could investigate was delivered with all the expected wit and style.

As is customary at this time, let’s take a look back at the top ten most popular blog posts of last year. Calling it “The Best of 2020” seems somewhat incongruous, but let’s roll with it for traditions sake.

10. Haiku – Autumn

An encouraging response to my creative writing, I was very surprised to see that this poetry piece in the Japanese Haiku style was my tenth most-read post of the year. Encore?

9. Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

There was a distinct lack of live music in 2020 (Obviously), but quite a few album reviews for my old pals at Ever Metal. This review of Swedish doom metal band Firebreather’s album was the most read at the Virtual Hot Tub.

8. Halloween Horror Fest 2020

The first of my annual horror movie reviews of 2020, this one featured the Hammer version of Dracula.

7. The Best of 2019

I’m not sure if last years top 10 blogs appearing here is a good thing or not? Either way, 2019’s round up of the most popular blogs was a winner.

6. STYLE: Safari Jacket

2020 saw the materialisation of the long-promised STYLE section at the Virtual Hot Tub. This first blog, concerning the wonderful Safari jacket, got us off to a great start.

5. Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

A feature about some of my favourite skate art, as created by the super talented Liane Plant for Death skateboards. Awesome stuff.

4. SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

More skateboard based action, with a playlist of songs from my skating youth in the late 80’s. Full of stone-cold classics, these songs still inspire my sessions today.

3. Death Star Playset

I love my vintage Death Star playset. Setting it up with original Star Wars figures for some blog photos was a lot of fun, it’s great to see it was popular!

2. 1980s Skateboard Style

More skateboarding, and another successful entry for the STYLE section! It’s me, dressed in old skate clothes from the late 80s that still fit (or did, before lockdown).

…And what will be the most popular, widely read blog of 2020? Drum roll, please:

  1. Kantouni Village Sausage and Tzatziki

Yes, the most popular was this food blog, which benefitted from a genuine traditional recipe, and an idea to recreate a Greek holiday vibe with ingredients from the local supermarket.

As travel wasn’t happening this year for most of us, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Greek recipe blog came out on top. It was written as an ode to holidays and Mediterranean sunshine, something that wasn’t a possibility for many last year. I hope you found some nostalgic comfort from this post.

Usually my annual Top 10 has featured a load of comic con events – or similar – at the top of the list. Those events didn’t happen this year, so the Top 10 has a very different flavour. Who knows what 2021 will bring us?

Whatever the strange pan-dimensional cross flux of crazy brings us next, I’d like to thank you all for reading my blog. Please remember to pop by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub as soon as you can!

Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

Rather than just write a post about my latest set up – as I have done in the past – I decided it was time to shake things up a bit. You see, I’ve inadvertently become a collector of skate art. I don’t have a lot, but I have a few pieces. Though I’m destroying this art on a regular basis, so who knows how my collection will develop – if at all.

Regular readers will already know that I’ve been partial to equipment from Death Skateboards for a long time. UK based company, great ethos, cool and durable products. You may have also seen my previous blog about my Richie Jackson pro-model. That was where the addiction started.

The art for the Richie Jackson deck was drawn by an artist called Liane Plant. I loved it’s detailed, clear and defined lines – a realistic portrait of Richie the master, done in an art nouveau* style. Very clever and quite beautiful. At least it was, till I skated it and shined the graphics off.

Liane has also produced other graphics for Death (along with other skate companies, bands etc). Last year when I needed a new deck, I picked up the Patrick Melcher model, which has a fantastic mermaid graphic. I was all set to stick the trucks and wheels on, then shred it – when I decided not to. This amazing creation will go on the wall instead.

I’m not a deck collector – they’re too expensive – and to be frank, in a house already cluttered with vinyl, toys and other collections, I just don’t have room. The only deck I have on the wall is a reissue of the classic Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp face, drawn by Jim Phillips. If I had the space and the cash, I’d have loads of skateboards on my walls. But for now the Melcher mermaid remains something of an anomaly.

Then this year, I bought another Liane Plant graphic – Eddie Belvedere‘s iron maiden model. Again, another intricately detailed work. It’s bold and grim, a very heavy metal deck graphic melding hot chicks and medieval torture. Totally in your face. But like the other graphics, I love it because of the realism that Liane has created in the characters.

I set up the Eddie Belvedere deck with my Indy trucks and Death wheels, and I’ve been skating it for a while. Great deck, lots of pop, now with a messed up graphic. Never mind, that’s what skateboards are for.

I am slightly regretting shining the graphics on this one though. Let’s see what my next deck will be. I’ll need something to skate, but will I be vulgar and unrefined enough to defile another work of art like this??!

You can see more of Liane Plants work here and on Instagram.

The Death Skateboards website is here.

I bought these decks from Native Skate Store, who are pretty bloody good.

Bonus! Here’s a link to a little article from Sidewalk about Eddie Belvedere’s set up (old but gold).

Now go and Google some footage of Death and the above mentioned skaters. Thank you.

*I think it’s art nouveau, not sure if I’m honest. Should probably educate myself.

New Deck 2019 – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

A few weeks back, I got a new deck and (eventually) set it up to ride.  I took some photos to commemorate the beautiful graphic and general awesomeness of the full, set up skateboard.  Here it is, for our mutual enjoyment.

Again, I opted for a Death deck – and again a Richie Jackson model.  Great company, inspirational skater.  This is an 8.25″ wide model.

According to the graphic, it’s a Richie Jackson “Collectors Shred Sled” – but this particular baby ain’t going on the wall.  Oh no, it’s for shredding, not collecting.

The deck was ordered from Native Skate Store.  The merchandise arrived with no problem at all, everything was perfect.

I also ordered a set of 53mm Death wheels from Native.  Together with a new set of ABEC 5 bearings, and my previous set of Independent trucks, I was able to piece together the work of art you see here.

It’s a great set up and I’ve really enjoyed riding it so far.  No complaints whatsoever.  The deck width is perfect for me for me these days, so I’ll stick with that for now.  The wheels are rolling well too, I’d forgotten how nice a feeling it is to ride a new set.

These photos were taken a few weeks ago, and this skateboard doesn’t look as fresh as it used to.  There are quite a few scrapes from concrete and the number of those marks is growing.  But hey, that’s the way it goes.  It’s great to skate and that’s all that matters.

Still, it’s nice to be reminded of that brand new, virgin set up in these photos.  There’s just something incredibly rad about getting – and skating – a new skateboard.  I never get tired of it.

The Death skateboards website is here.

Check out Native Skate Store here.

And don’t forget to check out Richie Jackson on social media!

New deck – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

Time for another new deck.  I got this Death Skateboards Richie Jackson deck a while ago, thought I’d share some pics of it for posterity.

I bought the deck from Native Skate Store, who provided a really good online service.  I requested that it was gripped (as I’m crap at gripping decks) and it arrived all done and looking pristine.  It was very affordable and delivered quickly, no pain at all.

Regular readers will already know that I’m a big fan of Death Skateboards.  I’ve had several Death decks and I’ve loved ’em all.  A very cool company with a rad, individual approach to skating and a great aesthetic – their products are tough and reliable, always up to the job.

This time around I opted for the Richie Jackson pro model.  Richie is an inspirational skater who constantly evolves and develops new ideas.  His innovative style is just ridiculously creative and constantly forging new ground.  Google him now!

The extraordinarily detailed Art Nouveau graphic is breath-takingly detailed, I probably should’ve just kept the deck to put on the wall.  I’ve skated it and the graphics are shined from rock’n’rolls on curbs.  Should’ve bought two, I guess.  Such is the transient nature of skateboard graphics…

This phenomenal art is by Liane Plant, and I think her work is incredible.  Some of the best art I’ve seen on a skateboard since the eighties classics.  I apologise whole heartedly to Liane for destroying the graphic.  It may well be a crime for a skater as bad as me to defile something so beautiful.

So anyway, the deck is 8.25″ wide and I set it up with my trusted Independent trucks and Death wheels.  So far, it’s been a blast.

Thanks to all the above, long may you roll!

The Death Skateboards website is here.  Go take a look.

Richie Jackson is all over social media, just search – you won’t regret it.  There’s some stuff on the above Death website, too.

The amazing art of Liane Plant can be seen here.  I need some T-shirts and stickers.

You can visit Native Skate Store for all your needs by clicking here.

And finally, here’s a picture of me being a total dork, trying to ape Richie Jackson’s style, rocking an old paisley shirt.  Just thought some of his psychedelic magic might rub off.  I bought that shirt back in 1990, knew it was worth keeping hold of…  And no, I didn’t really wear the shirt to skate in, I chickened out.  As great as Richie is, even I am a little old for hero worship on that level…!

New Set Up – Death Skateboards

It’s summer, which inevitably means that I attempt some skateboarding yet again.  So far this year, I’m happy to report that I’ve learnt/re-learnt some new tricks.  This does however mean that my ankles are wrecked and I can hardly walk.

I needed a new deck, so I paid a visit to my old friends at Lost Art skate shop in Liverpool.  After a bit of an adventure finding the new shop, I picked myself a new deck and got it gripped up while I was there.  A great service – really helpful – and a profesh grip tape job.  Very happy, nice one again, Lost Art. 

I had been skating a wider deck for a while, over 8.5 inches – and while this gave me some added stability, it wasn’t as easy to do tricks on.

So I opted for something a little smaller, and chose a 7.75″ Death skateboards deck.  Fixed up with Independent trucks, Indy truck bolts and Death wheels, it’s a formidable monster of a skateboard and is preforming fine (unlike me).

The whole set up looks really cool, though it didn’t look all nice and shiny for very long.

Regular readers may recognise this deck – I’ve had one before.  Exact same size and everything.  Which means that this blog post is a waste of time.  Unless – of course – like me, you love looking at pictures of skateboards.

Death have always been a really reliable, quality company and it’s no surprise I’ve decided on another of their decks.

Death Skateboards – My Current Set Up

Death deck, Independent trucks, Death wheels 

Recently I set up my new skateboard.  This new set up is, again, primarily Death skateboards.

The new deck is a Lee Dainton pro model – yes, he of Dirty Sanchez fame.  I’ve actually had this deck for a while, I just hadn’t got round to setting it up.  Truth be told, I’ve not done much skating for a while, due to factors like becoming a  Dad; the bastard recession killing my employment; and being busy getting fat.

I’ve kept my previous set of good old reliable Indy trucks, but invested in a new set of Death wheels (52mm).  I picked the wheels up from the very nice people at Note skate shop in Manchester on a recent visit. IMG_3168

Death are a great company, I’ve owned (and skated) many of their decks and wheels.  They’re British, and make really good products that you can depend on.

Back when I used to own a skate shop, I spoke on the phone to Death boss man Nick Zorlac a few times.  He’s a sound guy with an obvious enthusiasm and love for skateboarding. IMG_3170

I also had a brief meeting with Dainton a couple of years ago, when he and Matt Pritchard did a Dirty Sanchez show at the Tivoli in Buckley.  The conversation basically consisted of hollering “Independent for life!” at each other.

Anyway, I’ve now skated this deck and I am extremely happy with it.  No techy nerd ramblings in this blog post, this is a quality skateboard and we’ll leave it at that.  Well done Death on another fine product!

Deck only, before trucks were mounted.

Deck only, before trucks were mounted.