When I got the call from Ryan Schude I was living in New York City at the time… from my memory it went along the lines of “Chris Peel is moving to LA because things have gotten bad… we are all owed money and he had to move on. Would you be interested in trying to help us save the mag and come on as Art Director?” Of course, to be fair, I had just broken up with my girl, quit my day job, and it was freezing cold in NY. And I’m a bit crazy, so I said, “Sure. Why not? Let’s do it.”
So I went for it and sublet my loft, jumped on a plane and moved to San Diego. Things seemed depressing but still optimistic (for me at least) as we tried to keep things going and get another issue together in a makeshift office created out of a room in a house. But little did I know that everyone around me was pretty much fed up (or had already quit) because things were so crazy and so much money was owed all over the place. The story is the same with most of them, and that is why they were no longer around to help. So either you believe one person or several people who all left under similar circumstances. But we tried anyway despite what our guts told us about the reality we faced. We came in every day and we pushed forward. But in the end the revenue dried up and there was nobody left to beg, borrow or steal from. Literally. With no prospects of coming up with the cash to get the next issue printed, and after payroll being delayed yet again for several weeks, everyone was pretty much done with the situation (keep in mind Justin had spent his savings to stay on board and Ryan had given all he could as well, long before I showed up). So when we were told it was done, we decided to walk away and leave the fate of the business in the hands of the person who started it. At the time everyone in the industry knew what was happening and what had happened in the past. Nobody was surprised at all to be honest.
It’s easy to gloss over it now and point the finger at a few people who were left standing around last, but that is just bad leadership, plain and simple. Anyone who calls himself or herself a leader and consistently blames their team when operations fail is no leader at all in my book (or at the very least not a good one).
The thing most of you need to understand is that blading, for the most part, is something you do for free and it’s all about give, give, give. And that’s cool; it’s how it should be. I traveled on my own dime for years shooting skate photos all across the south. Sure, I got a few checks here or there, but nobody bought my camera gear and nobody paid my gas for me. So it never was about money. I did it for the same reasons you do it now. I love skating. But at a certain point you need more and creating your own destiny is the only option left. We all face these decisions in life and the older you get, the clearer the choice becomes.
As for what happened next, claims were made (and thrown out) of Federal court and eventually the Labor Board sided with Justin and I as well when it came to the unpaid wages. You can’t just stop paying people in the state of California. It means you’re unemployed. So the truth lays with us… no need for trial by court of public opinion. All I’m going to say about this. I’ve given years of my life to blading and I try not to focus on all the negative shit from the past (and there is plenty of it). Instead, I just think back on the good times. Those times in 2006 fall somewhere in between… the darkest — yet brightest, as things really did rise again in the midst of so much adversity. I want to thank everyone who believed in and believes in ONE. We couldn’t have done it without so much overwhelming support from the entire industry.
Los Angeles 2012