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.

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…!

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…

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.

Santa Cruz Street Creep

IMG_4705A few years ago, I had an urge to get me an old school set up.  I already had my everyday double kick street machine, but I felt I needed something that reminded me of my skateboarding youth in the 1980s.

This Santa Cruz Street Creep was the answer.

I remembered the Street Creep from those halcyon days.  I never owned one at the time, though I did own other Santa Cruz decks (see the blog about my Rob Roskopp deck, for one).  The Street Creep was a very cool shape and a cool graphic.

Luckily for me, numerous skateboard companies have been re-issuing the old shapes as collectors pieces.  I picked this re-issue up fairly easily.  I fitted it with some new, wide Independent trucks and some old Santa Cruz Slime Balls wheels and it was ready to go.

The wheels were rescued from an old relic of a board that was passed to me a few years back.  I always wanted some Slime Balls, finally I got a set!

The result is a rad skateboard that brings back loads of memories.  The shape is great, though it takes some getting used to after skating shorter, thinner boards for ages.  It’s a fantastic skateboard for blasting a few old tricks on – I find no-complys and some boneless manoeuvres easier on this set up.

With the big, softer Slime Balls attached, this board is great for carving up some of my favourite banked skate spots.  In particular, there’s a messy old “bowl” I like to skate – tarnished with grit and stones, but very skateable with this monster.

Plus there’s the graphic – if you’re an old 80’s skate hound like me, it’s all about the skulls!  Check out the close up the graphic and you’ll see dozens of smaller skulls and faces within the image.

Skateboards are a thing of beauty; this Street Creep looks and rides superb.

IMG_4713

Top graohic

Top graphic

The Greatest Skateboard Graphic Ever

Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “Face”

Everyone has their own personal choice.  Over the years I’ve seen many amazing skateboard graphics – some intricate, some clever, some stupid, some risque.  Back in the 80’s it was mostly skulls and gore.  At the end of the decade, these themes became extinct, replaced by ironic cartoons and brand logo appropriation.  You name it, it’s probably been featured on a deck somewhere.  There are great examples of art of all styles.

The two giants of skateboard graphics in the 80’s, at least in my eyes, were Vernon Courtland Johnson and Jim Phillips.  VCJ created the many iconic designs for Powell Peralta such as the Ripper and Skull and Sword.  Awesome graphics that made my eyeballs pop, as a kid nurtured on comic book art and monsters.

The art of Jim Phillips featured on many Santa Cruz decks, including classic pro decks for Jeff Kendall, Jeff Grosso and Jason Jessee.  My absolute favourite though was the Rob Roskopp street model, with a huge ugly face on it.

I first saw the Roskopp graphic in my sisters Smash Hits magazine, of all places.  They did one of those lame “introduction to skateboarding” type of features, with things like “how to talk like a skateboarder”.  It did feature UK hardcore band The Stupids however, and a model holding the deck in question.

As soon as I saw it, I loved that graphic.  It was big, bold and over the top – but beautifully detailed.

A couple of years later, I eventually acquired a Santa Cruz Roskopp Face of my own.  The deck itself was white, with the graphic in black screaming out from the bottom of the board.  I was very happy that regardless of the fantastic art, it was a great shape and well made board.  So the decision wasn’t made purely on the artwork. IMG_2797

I don’t remember what happened to that particular deck, I probably wore it out and swapped it with someone.  There’s a photo of it somewhere.

A few years ago, I picked up a reissue of the Roskopp deck.  It’s yellow, with the same great graphic as I had all those years ago.  It’s never been skated – I keep this one on the wall, right above my desk (I have other boards for actually skating).  It hangs there as a proud reminder, and an example of great skateboard art.  That’s what this skateboard is to me – pure art.

In my opinion, the Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “face” is the best skateboard graphic ever.

Check out the latest reissue here.

The Santa Cruz website is here.