New Deck Update – Death Patrick Melcher

Continuing my ambition to document all of my skateboard decks, here’s my latest set up for 2021. My Death “Script” in red got worn out through a load of skating (or attempted skating, ha!), so I needed a replacement.

To take over as my day to day skateboard, I ordered another Death deck, the Benson Devil Woman from good ol’ Native Skate Store. It’s 8.5″ wide, great concave and a spectacular graphic from the legendary Liane Plant.

So amazing is this graphic, that I had second thoughts about skating it.

I already had a Death Patrick Melcher deck that I had bought and was planning to hang on the wall. Fantastic mermaid graphic (by L. Plant again, of course) which I’ve shared before on the Virtual Hot Tub, and I thought it would be great as a display piece.

I was in a pickle: do I set up and skate the Benson as intended, or switch to the Melcher? Both great graphics, great shapes and great boobs – but as classic as they are, I needed something to ride.

As the Melcher Mermaid is 8.25″ wide, that was the final deciding factor. Slightly less wide than the Devil Woman, I felt that this would suit me better. I’ve been right so far – the mermaid feels slightly more “me” than my previous 8.5″ Script deck.

The Patrick Melcher is set up with my Independent trucks and Death wheels – and I love it.

Which means that the Benson Devil Woman will go on the wall as an art piece. At least for now…

The Death Skateboards website is here.

Liane Plant’s website is here.

Visit the Native Skate Store here.

New Deck 2021 – Death

Skateboards don’t last forever. A couple of the decks I have bought over the years I’ve bought to display, but I’m not a collector, as I’ve said before. All of the other decks that I’ve bought are to be skated.

Not that I’m against deck collecting, I just can’t afford it!

So in order to preserve my latest deck for posterity, here it is – a Death Skateboards “Script” deck in red and white. I’ll cherish the photos, ‘cos already I’ve skated it and it’s getting beat up (just as it should be). It’s 8.5″ wide and it skates great.

Yet another Death deck, and bought again from the ever reliable Native Skate Store. I also got some new 53mm Death wheels, some bearings, and Native threw in some stickers. I do love stickers.

There we have it: my current set up. And what a beauty it is.

Visit the Death Skateboards website here.

Visit Native Skate Store here.

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.

1980s Skateboard Style

We’re going back in time in this week’s edition of STYLE.  My never ending odyssey to explore the secrets of STYLE journeys to a fabled corner of my wardrobe.  We may not reach Narnia, but we do arrive somewhere very special indeed…

Gateway supermarket car park, 1989.  Yes, you wanted it – nay, DEMANDED it – and so have I provideth: Skateboard STYLE, circa late 80s.

Amazingly, some late 80’s skate merch still resides in my possession.  The pinnacle of awesomeness in this collection are my original Powell Peralta sweatpants.  Originally purchased from Split Skates in Manchester, by some miracle I can still (just about) get in them.

You see here the Rat Bones design, with rodent skeletons crawling up the side of each leg.  Oh, how I coveted these pants for months before I owned a pair: they cost a bloody fortune, but eventually Mum relented and I got a pair for my birthday.  They got some heavy use back in the day; amazingly they still exist (but in a pretty tatty state up close).

Another relic from the past is my Santa Cruz hooded top, again a purchase from Split Skates (on a different trip).  This dates from the days when hoodies were a fresh sight on UK streets and were yet to be adopted by chav scrotes.  Hoodies are an essential part of any gentleman’s wardrobe, regardless of unsavoury stereotypes.  I love this SC dark blue number.

In these photos, I’m wearing a Santa Cruz Road Rider wheels t-shirt.  In the late 80’s, I actually only owned two skate t-shirts: a bright yellow Thrasher Pus-zone T and a red Vision Street Wear one with a manhole graphic.  Both are long gone now.

On my feet are a pair of hi-top Vans, which despite being stylistically accurate are actually a more recent acquisition.  I could never afford Vans when I was a kid, I had one pair of red Converse and then had cheap Chuck knock-offs for years (‘cos I’d shred ’em in a month).

But God bless Vans, a deeper look into their wonder will no doubt grace a future edition of STYLE.

The look is completed by a Vans trucker cap (again, a newer rehash of 80’s style); a Casio digital watch and a Quiksilver hip-bag.  The hip-bag was absolutely necessary as the sweatpants had no pockets (probably would’ve pushed the price up even more).  I had a Hot Tuna one back in the day.

As I recall, skaters in the late 80’s pioneered a few fashion items ahead of them becoming part of the mainstream.  As well as hooded sweatshirts and hi-top trainers we wore knee length shorts (thus dragging the human race away from budgie-smuggler short shorts).  Hip bags became “bum bags” and were fashionable for 5 minutes with everyone, before everyone decided to dump ’em (bring them back!).

As a result, my adoption of skate STYLE did little to reduce the ridicule received from my peers that I had suffered previously.  But I didn’t care ‘cos I was a skater and outside of their world by choice.  Plus, I always had the last laugh when six months later, they were all wearing Converse, knee length shorts and surf wear.

Sometimes we stumble upon STYLE.  Sometimes STYLE just happens along when we least expect it, enraptured by something else.  We just need to roll with it and remember that fortune favours the brave.

NOTE: Yes, I look a bit chubby in these pics – but how many clothes from 30 years ago can you still fit in?!

You can read about the Santa Cruz Street Creep shown here on this blog.

Clothes model’s own.

SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

Best years of my life? 15/16 years old, skateboarding all day and hanging around with my friends.  It was the late 1980s, and the days of the 180 Boneless, No Comply and learning to Ollie.  Back when kickflips were the raddest trick in the car park – except we called them “Ollie kickflips” back then.

This was also the time when I started to really veer off the obvious track as far as music was concerned.  Skate videos and Thrasher magazine began to open up a whole new world of music.  Sometimes these bands would enter the mainstream a couple of years later; sometimes they never did.

I remember hearing a great song on a Vision video.  I had no idea what the song was called, but worked out from the credits that it was most likely performed by the Descendents.  I recorded the song onto cassette off the TV as there was no other way to hear it.  A few months later, on a skate buying trip to Manchester, I stumbled across a record shop that stocked a few records by the band.  I had to buy one: taking a gamble on “All” as it featured a song called “Coolidge”, which fitted the lyrics of the track I loved.  I was so stoked when I got home, played the vinyl and heard the song I was hoping for!  Great album, all in all.

This practice of researching and hunting became a big feature of my relationship with music ever since.

Skating all day, then listening to music in the evening was a big part of my teenage years.  This playlist is designed to reflect those days: music I enjoyed back then and became the soundtrack to that time.

Some songs featured in skate videos (McRad, Odd Man Out).  Some were checked out after I saw them advertised or reviewed in Thrasher (The Cult, Misfits).  Others were just part of the current soundscape, and are forever linked with those halcyon days.

Here’s the playlist I made, split into a two CD format:

Part 1

  1. McRad – “Weakness”
  2. Odd Man Out – “Four Thirty One”
  3. Descendents – “Coolidge”
  4. Sex Pistols – “Holidays in the Sun”
  5. Devo – “That’s Good”
  6. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
  7. Motorhead – “Killed by Death”
  8. Faith No More – “We Care a Lot”
  9. Misfits – “Astro Zombies”
  10. Hard-Ons – “Don’t Wanna See You Cry”
  11. The Stupids – “Skid Row”
  12. Beastie Boys – “She’s On It”
  13. Circle Jerks – “Wild in the Streets”
  14. Spermbirds – “Something to Prove”
  15. Dead Kennedys – “California Uber Alles”
  16. Suicidal Tendencies – “Possessed to Skate”
  17. Generation X – “One Hundred Punks”

Part 2

  1. The Cult – “Wildflower”
  2. The Damned – “Love Song”
  3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground”
  4. Fishbone – “Freddie’s Dead”
  5. Iggy Pop – “Cold Metal”
  6. GBH – “Too Much”
  7. Mudhoney – “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More”
  8. Ramones – “I Just Wanna Have Something To Do”
  9. The Stranglers – “Peaches”
  10. Bad Brains – “Soul Craft”
  11. Gang Green – “Church of Fun”
  12. Metallica – “The Thing That Should Not Be”
  13. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Purple Haze”
  14. Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  15. Jesus Jones – “Never Enough”
  16. The Skids – “Into the Valley”
  17. Fugazi – “Blueprint”

Some of the above tracks I owned on vinyl or cassette back in the day; some I found in later years.  There are still plenty of other bands from skate videos that I either still haven’t tracked down, or as I didn’t own them at the time I’ve omitted for now.

Instead, this is a basic playlist to represent my late 80s skateboarding days, boiled down to the bare essentials.  I hope you enjoy and these bring back some memories.

And this sin’t an exhaustive list: how Anthrax and Run DMC didn’t get included is baffling.  Maybe I can expand with some more for a Part 2…

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…!

Two Bare Feet Longboard

OK, so I admit: I don’t really need another longboard.  I already have Sector 9 and Mindless longboards.  But I found this Two Bare Feet set up for a crazy price and I couldn’t resist.

I first came across the brand in a surf shop in Rhosneigr, Anglesey.  They looked pretty cool and I looked them up online.  In particluar, I was interested to try out this type of shape, with the drop through trucks too.

This is a 42″ 821 complete longboard, and it’s ridiculously cheap to buy from the Two Bare Feet online store.  In fact, the low price made me cautious and it was a while before I clicked “purchase”.

I had to wait to get some spare cash together anyway, and in the end I figured the risk was minimal.

Glad I decided to buy: for a budget board, I’ve been very impressed so far.

As I stated, I really wanted to try out this “twin tip” shape deck and it’s turned out to be a lot of fun.  Although I had been curious about learning tricks on this shape deck, so far I’m not convinced that’s a good move (though that’s my problem, nothing to do with the board).  It has been good fun for cruising around on though.

I’ve never skated drop through trucks before, and I like the lower ride they provide.  I found these trucks a bit unresponsive at first however; this problem seems to be improving as they wear in a little.

The board comes with great, big, fat wheels that are nice and soft; they roll very comfortably with the ABEC 5 bearings supplied.

Graphics wise, it’s simple and clean with a slight retro 70’s style that I like a lot.  You can select different graphics and colours (including wheel colours) on the online shop.

The board arrived fully gripped (nice job).  Unfortunately the only major downer was that it was shrink wrapped, which takes ages to remove satisfactorily if you’re obsessive like me.  Still, the whole delivery and transaction was totally painless.  Well done, Two Bare Feet.

This has proven a great addition to my longboard collection, we’ll see how it performs longevity wise.  For now, I would say that this is an ideal skateboard for a more experienced rider to own as a back-up or for a different riding experience.  The real beauty of the 821 complete though, is as a budget price entry level board for a beginner who fancies trying out longboard riding.

Technical Specifications:

  • Length: 42″
  • Width: 9.5″
  • Canadian maple deck
  • 70mm x 51mm wheels
  • ABEC 5 bearings
  • Supplied set up and complete

Two Bare Feet are a British company offering lots of different board riding equipment.  You can visit their website here.

Skateboard Museum: SMA Jim Thiebaud

Come with me as I take a roll down skateboarding memory lane, ollieing the cracks as I go…

Santa Monica Airlines Jim Thiebaud

This classic deck dates back to the late 80’s, I picked it up in 1989 if I remember.  At the time the Chester branch of Milletts, the camping and outdoors shop, were stocking skateboards for some reason or other.  They had some pretty rad stuff, too.

When the time came to replace my worn out deck and get a new one, I saved up my pennies/swapped vinyl records and got myself this Santa Monica Airlines deck from Milletts.

At least I think that’s where it was from, I can’t remember.  Either way, I didn’t support a skater owned shop on this occasion, to my shame.

SMA

SMA were really blowing up at the time, and Jim Thiebaud had been on my radar since I saw the (criminally minimal) footage of him in some of the Powell vids.

Thiebaud was – and is – a supremely cool skateboarder with a smooth, rad style.  He was one of those original street pros that I really admired.  Along with Gonz, Natas, Guerrero and Vallely, JT was a bona fide street skating pioneer and innovator.

The shape was perfect for me at the time, exactly how I wanted a skateboard to be.  It’s still a classic shape now, I really like it. Nice size tail, comfy wide deck – but not too wide.  Great street deck of the era.

This deck also had the cool comic book style superhero graphics which I loved.  I’ve always been a big fan of superheroes.

However I wasn’t cool enough to get on this particular wave of popularity earlier.  If I had, I might have picked up the previous variation on the graphic, which featured a bad guy designed to resemble the Joker.  The Batman movie was out around that time, so I guess the whole theme was prominent back then.

So the Joker version had to be scrapped due to some issue with DC Comics, I believe the story goes, and I ended up with the purple suited thug instead.

No matter – cool graphic or not, this deck was to be skated.  I transferred my Indy trucks and OJII wheels and was ready to go.  Well, when I’d also added the Powell Rib Bones as well.  Not to save the graphic, mind – in those days the received wisdom (at least amongst my friends and I) was that the rails helped you slide better.

This particular set up was particularly long serving and loyal.  It was like a magic carpet that seemed to respond perfectly to my wishes.  Honestly, I remember learning tons of tricks on this finely shaped beauty.  Footplants and Boneless variations were (still are) major tricks in my arsenal and I learned several on this very set up. 

Biggest of all though, was the kick flip.  We called it an “ollie kick flip” back then, and it was a pretty desirable trick to own.  I learned kick flips on this gorgeously wide beast and was unbelievably stoked.  I still remember that first one.

It was well skated – in fact the tail is worn to a sharp and splintered point – but this set up is still skateable.  It’s still around as it was replaced with thinner decks and trucks as shapes evolved; thus I never swapped it.

The SMA Thiebaud is still on the garage wall, still looks great, and still gets a roll every now and again.  Classic.

Take a close look at the photos and you’ll notice some interesting features:

  • Madrid Fly Paper grip tape (note the fly shapes cut out)
  • Rad SMA top graphic
  • Santa Cruz Cell Block riser pad
  • A couple of cool stickers from back in the day still hanging in there
  • The trucks are fitted with Grind King reversed kingpins, there’s even a sticker on the front hanger…
  • You can see some of the bands I was into at the time from the grip tape art, which I did with Tip-Ex…