LOOKBACK #5: Supporting Angry Youth

Senate

One strange day, in 2002 or so, my friend Nick and I were sitting at a bus stop in Springfield, VA about to board a greyhound to Nashville, Tennessee en route to Plano, Texas for The Hoedown. We both sat smoking, silently contemplating the long trip ahead. A random stranger approached asking for a cigarette. I handed him a Camel from my pack. As he lit the cigarette he casually asked if I was wearing a Senate sweatshirt. I replied that I was, and he responded “That’s crazy. I grew up next door to Arlo Eisenberg in Orange County.” His name was Shelby, named after the Ford Mustang, and he had just arrived here to wait for a bus transfer back to California from Virginia beach. He talked to us for a few minutes, claiming to have once dropped a young Roadhouse with one punch in the face, and seeing Arlo selling the first Senate wheels out of his backpack at the local skatepark. Senate grew from the early days of making grindplates in their garage and selling wheels out of backpacks to at one point bringing in $10 million a year in sales.

I guess we have to give Rollerblade respect. Without their stubbornness to create better products and lame marketing, the inspiration and necessity to start rollerblading’s earliest companies wouldn’t have happened. Senate started out of necessity and anger. Anger at the very product that they used. I mean, think about it, they were spitting lots of hatred toward Rollerblade, which is kind of weird to me because they used Rollerblades. Like, you don’t see a bike tire company say, “FUCK BIKES!”

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Craig - Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Fucking awesome guys.

ChrisMo - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

aaahh this brings back memories.. They used to be a great company.

tristan - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I MISS OLD SENATE!!!! BRING IT BACK!!! I MISS IT!!

daniel - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Great article, takes me back to when I was young and in the thick of it. Senate really were something that could never be again.

What happened to Arlo anyway?

Dan, London

Jeff Hughes - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Great stuff, old school.

Iah - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

If you have old Senate wheels with the cool packaging let me know

phat_tiger12 at hotmail.com

Will.I.AM - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

GOLDEN MAN, FUCKIN GOLDEN.

BenKarris - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

BR-I love your column dude, each week it gets better and better…I was at Eisingers place in San Diego this weekend and he was showing me some of the old Senate Ads from DB and just said “wait til you see the lookback columb this week.” Definitely came through hard Ben, thanks for providing a good read.

bballog - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Great Stuff! More content like this please. The scans were clutch in showing all the diversity of Senate’s output. Items I didn’t even know existed that predated my personal exposure into rollerblading. It’s really sad Senate disappeared. There should be a grassroots revival. DIY shirts. Skaters deciding for themselves to continue the legacy of angry youth. Great writing Ben.

Alan - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

everybody should pitch in a bit of money for kilgore to run a bootleg line of the superman doller shirts and maybe even some halos…

Randy Spizer - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

just for the record nobody named shelby ever dropped me w/ one punch

and i think senate did 14 million one year no?

Jeff Hughes - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Lol at Randy

Nick Pisciotta - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I am the Nick that was at the bus station when Shelby came up and started talking to us..Just for the record he might of said it was a 2-piece, I distinctly remember him making a upper-cutting motion with his left hand..followed by a cross right hand..

Like so.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8I406fvFcI

Arlo Eisenberg - Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Great article. Just to be clear, and to back up Randy, I most certainly never grew up next to a “Shelby” in Huntington Beach. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. In fact, I have NEVER lived in Huntington. Whoever Shelby was, he was a liar.

Anthony - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Great read! I still have 2 pairs of old Senate Jeans, Ultrawides and Beam Cargo’s with the Green and White embroidered “S” at the top right pocket.

Those were the days man, Blading was so fresh and Unique.

andrewtunney - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Lookback#6 – Who The Fuck Is Shelby

Rich705 - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Great article! Thanks for the memories!

Senate was the best……not sure why it died, after ruling the sport!

14 years later and I’m still looking for a halo logo hoody or tshirt!

Jeff Hughes - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Well that settles that then, Arlo congrats on continued success in the industry. I skated with you a few times in Boston when you were in town competing and I will never forget those days.

. - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

this is a root of the problem we have today. all I see written on every inch of these products in the word skate. WAKE UP PEOPLE! the word SKATE is currently being used by our wheeled allies, skateboarders. to truly define who we are as a culture, we need to find a word that is definitively rollerblading. blade is starting to be used quite frequently and it should be. I can think of no better word let people know what it is you do. we don’t skate, we don’t aggressive inline skate, we don’t rollerskate, we sure as hell don’t freestyle roll. we blade.

Arlo is the happy black jesus and always will be.

wes driver - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

I have a halo shirt! ; ) XL on a teal-like color I believe. Senate was amazing.

boinky - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

way cool copy ed all the pix wish we could see some more fr and 976 adds too

Russ - Thursday, May 6th, 2010

great article

johnny - Saturday, May 8th, 2010

AAh brings back memories, i wish i had all the cool senate garb I used to, all that remains is one dirty ripped tight fitting halo tee

rollerblade A - Monday, May 10th, 2010

So good. Makes me cherish my senate gear.. If i can still find it.

Kyle - Monday, July 12th, 2010

Excellent. nice to cruise down memory lane

Tony Salami - Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Arlo, could you do a blog post about old Senate graphic design? The old logos, the Kool-Late shirts, Kill shirts, etc. There’s some great shit there man!

Brooke - Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I Am Shelby. I a) Lived next door to Arlo when he was growing up. ( I think I lived in the hall way when we lived in Alversone right and he had his own room like a fancy bitch) and b) I can’t even count the times I dropped Roadhouse with one punch… May be 8 times, give or take a few.

Randy, $13.5 million in the 1996-1997 financial year.

BHS

Matthew Seeney - Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

argh what did i do with all my senate tee’s ? the hippy killer tee, and also the one with the knife on the front had to be the best, happy memories…remember feeling like a total badass back in day!

its so interesting to read all of this now, companies must have had to work so much harder at grassroots level, back in the day… now all it takes is a clever viral advert on youtube or whatever..

thanks for posting this up, great article, should deffo repro on the OG Senate Dollar tee’s…..

b love - Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

awesome

Dom - Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Great article! I still have my Senate laces tied up in my Razors. Reading this brought me back to some great times growing up. Still remember watching Randy skate to the Spice Girls on Day of the Rope. Classic. We rode down in Southwest Florida, sometimes with Ricky Martinez, Jesse Howard and on occasion Frankie Morales. They guys were unreal. Anyone know where I can find a Senate comb?? I havent lost the touch. Most dinner forks serve as a useable substitute, but nothing is like the original.

James - Saturday, March 10th, 2012

I still have a Senate money clip that I use every single day.

jeff - Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

i was the NorCal rep in 98’and 99′ for Senate, 976, and Medium also Fiction clothing and Realm wheeles. The start of the death rattle for aggressive inline.

Ryan Lakey - Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Such a great article! Thank you!!
Brings back so many great memories. Senate was and is still the best thing to ever happen to rollerblading.

Nicholas Hamil - Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Sweet article guys! Def took me back. I happen to find some old Senate wear the other day.

Arlo you should bring the brand back. Like Ryan said, you were the best thing to happen to Rollerblading. Dave Mirra even was down with Senate. I had the shirt ^_^. Miss the company so much when it left the whole rollerblading industry took a crap. But were just now getting back into the some what cult-mainstream but it will never be those glory days of old with AJ Jackson and Brian Smith hosting shows on ESPN. “Those days are gone” Bump bump bump bump. TEAR.

Mick Manhattan - Monday, September 10th, 2012

I have the 976 checkbook, and I still ride the steel Senate Wrenches.

josh ganz - Monday, September 24th, 2012

While I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, does no one find it odd that Marvel Comics was apparently the company that ordered the cease and desist on the Super S logo being as Superman is a DC Comics character and Marvel has no rights to it’s representation aside from a few times in history when the companies did crossovers for their characters in non-canonical work?

Brian Cavanaugh - Monday, January 7th, 2013

AWESOME read. I have literally been on this site for two straight days. Senate was the best. Anyone know where we can get some of their old gear (besides ebay or amazon)?

Trina - Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Yesterday the car my parents bought me in high school turned 20 years old. It has the $ symbol sticker on the bumper that has been there almost as long. My parents have the car now and everyone looks for that sticker to know it’s our car. I would love to have enough of them to put on every car I ever own. Great article; brought back some memories.

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