“There are going to be individuals that stand out and there are gonna be kids that follow their example and one day stand out for themselves. Any pro now, at one point, skated like someone else except for the original rollerbladers like fucking Arlo and Brooke and all them dudes from Minnesota.” — Jeff Frederick (Daily Bread / August 2000)
This video has been on my mind the past few days with sessions going down amid piles of melting snow and ice on wet concrete sprinkled with salt and sand. It’s that time of year when the cold air stings your face when the wind blows and keeps you alert no matter how out of it you feel, and falling hurts more than usual when your bones hit the frozen concrete. Continuing to skate in this weather takes dedication, an almost religious dedication. I’ve often heard people describe blading as their religion, but the crew in Minnesota from Scribe Industries in “Harvesting the Crust” helped create that religion.
It has been 15 years since that random guy spoke those words to a group of early bladers in “Harvesting the Crust.” The words sink in and mean a lot more to me now than they did when I was 12 seeing it for the first time. Magazine articles and documentaries about skating have wasted countless time and space trying to put into words why we skate and it has never been put so well and so simple. “What you’re doing is true and whatever’s true to you, you do. You know? It’s yours; that’s the only thing that you can really hold onto.” That is exactly what the crew in “Harvesting the Crust” did. They did what felt right and in the process invented a lot of the tricks that became the foundation of rollerblading. Jon Robinson summed up the immense contributions the guys from Scribe Industries and Minnesota made to blading’s early history in Issue 17:
Minnesota has always been a great Midwest scene. Describe it back in the early ’90s?
Minnesota rollerbladers had a strong bond in the early ’90s. When you saw another rollerblader on the street or at a park you’d go over and say what’s up. We had a core group who always went skating together but were constantly into meeting new people and skating new places. There was very little media awareness/exposure, so making edits/filming/getting a sequence photo rarely entered into relationships. There weren’t any “crews” or 10-page fights on message boards. We even got along fine with skateboarders. There was skating and innovation. That’s not to say innovation wasn’t all over (Omaha, California, New York) but early-’90s Minnesota skaters have many claims: the backslide (Shane Nelson/Steve Thomas), the fastslide (Shane Nelson), the “reverse-royale” (full torque/farv — John Schmidt), naming the acid soul (Dan Jensen) and unity (Steve Thomas), first sweaty down a kinked rail and first misty-flip at a comp (me). I suppose the biggest issue we had then was if someone got a girlfriend and wasn’t skating every day, or if someone wasn’t driving enough.
I’m pretty sure Dan Jensen did the first zero spin at the ’95 Am Jam in Dayton Ohio, true?
Sounds right to me. When I made that list of “firsts” from Minnesota I was pretty sure that some of my Minnesota friends would tell me of the other “firsts” I was missing. It exemplifies the endless innovation that comes out of Minnesota. Presently, the stuff Chris Farmer and Kevin Yee (Minnesota native) are doing is progressing the sport with each section they put out.
In the March 2000 issue of Box, Jon Robinson states, “Ever wonder who invented the Backslide or the Acid Soul? Well, that man was Steve Thomas, a man with a plan. If you’re curious, a bum made up the name Acid Soul, and Steve randomly came up with “backslide” on the spot when asked by the “Hoax II” T-Bone crew what the trick was called.” I guess the inventor of the Acid Soul is up for debate. Japanese skater Hidekazou Itou did one on a straight ledge in 1994 in “Mad Beef” and I always heard that Brian Konoske was the first. Also, if you didn’t notice, Jon Robinson says in his ONE interview that it was named by Dan Jenson, and in Box Magazine claims that a bum named it. (You all can debate it in the comments section.)
“Without Steve Thomas, CDS Detroit might dominate this sport.” — Jon Robinson (Box Magazine / March 2000)
Before continuing, everyone should read this history of grind plates and anti-rocker wheels written by Shane Coburn; which was originally at antirocker.com to introduce Mindgame’s Higgs Boson anti-rocker wheel. It will give you a good perspective of the time in which “Harvesting the Crust” was made. Scribe wasn’t the first company to produce grindplates, but in 1994 became the first to make an all-plastic, rollerblade-specific design. It is fitting that the state which invented rollerblading also created the product that helped revolutionize street skating.
Something that occurred to me while working on this piece, and is a recurring theme throughout several LOOKBACKs I’ve worked on, is that since the very beginning we have fought the companies which have made our existence possible. I hear people talk about supporting skater-owned companies like it is a new thing, which couldn’t be further from the truth. When Rollerblade and other early companies refused to make products that fit our needs, skaters took it upon themselves to create companies and products to fill the void. It is not much different than what has happened in recent years. Instead of adding plastic grind plates to TRS Lightnings to keep the frames from wearing down, we are taking boots created by Razors and Roces, cutting the toes out, and adding better soul plates. Bladers have always taken what has been given to us and improved it ourselves.
From Daily Bread #8.
A few videos like “The Hoax,” “Mad Beef,” and “Dare to Air” were released before “Harvesting the Crust,” but it holds the claim of the first video to be made entirely for skaters by skaters. As an early Daily Bread ad for the video said, “The first 100% street video. All footage was shot in the heart of the Midwest. Featuring riders from Team SCRIBE & Team SENATE. MADE BY SKATERS FOR SKATERS. This video will set a new standard for all videos that follow.” — Ben Rogers