We hope that most of you have been fortunate enough to not have experienced the death of a close friend, relative, or loved one. The hidden memories of Phil Shao were fresh in our minds as the work crew uncovered the photo of Phil under the old pyramid.
For you younger guys that don’t remember Phil, he was one of the naturals. He was like a mix of Dan Drehobl and John Cardiel. I recall seeing him skate at Tampa Pro so many years ago…even before I worked at the Park. He was doing these ollies off a small quarter-pipe up to boardslide to fakie on the 4ft. vert wall with a big kink. Phil died within a year after that. You never think at the time that you’re not ever going to get to see that person skate again.
I never got the chance to speak to Phil, but I know one of his closest friends, Jake Phelps. Jake is the editor of Thrasher and for some reason, like five years ago, right when I first started working at SPoT, Jake pulled me aside, gave me this photo of Phil, and told me to do something good with it. Honestly, it was kind of a big responsibility, having Jake trust me to fulfill a task like that. It only made sense to have Phil become part of our street course, so we pasted the picture two layers under ply on the old pyramid.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I’m just telling this story because it makes me think of how fortunate we are as skateboarders, to have the solidarity and community that we all get to share and be part of. As I skated the Bowl tonight, I reflected on all of the righteous sessions that have been had, and tonight’s just adds another memory on top of all the gracious times I’ve gotten to spend with my friends in that dirty old warehouse.
When you sit down with your parents and brothers and sisters this Thanksgiving, take the time out to smile and show them that you love them. And the next time that you skate with your pals and there’s some kook hanging out, give him a break. Be thankful for the times that you get to spend together, because you never know when your card is going to be pulled.
By Ryan T. Clements, With Rob Meronek – In Memory Of Phil Shao