Damn Am at Volcom 2004

Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 by Ryan

Damn Am at Volcom 2004
Words by Ryan Clements, Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek

Friday, October 22, 2004, 12:45pm at Ramada Limited in Costa Mesa, California
I was just down at the event and I asked Rob if he had written a story yet for the Damn Am site. He said that he’d been too busy to really get on it. Since I don’t really have much going on I suggested that I write the story and we use it for both the Skatepark and Damn Am site. So here you go...the Ryan Clements perspective on what’s going on in SoCal.

Kevin Sullivan Pukes When He Smells Someone Else’s Farts
I’m not joking, but I’ll get to that in a second. We rolled out pretty deep, leaving Tampa at 7am on Wednesday morning. Scotty Conley, Barry Wiser, Matt Giles, Ian Gow, Kevin Sullivan, Kevin Sullivan II, Afro-Jim Choquette, and I arrived at LAX by 9:30am California time. Non-stop flights rule. It always amazes me how we can be so far from home in so little time.

Speaking of time, we had plenty of it because it was raining all over southern California upon our arrival. Since there wasn’t a huge rush to get to the Contest site to skate an outdoor course in the rain, we opted to drive down to Costa Mesa via the Pacific Coast Highway. I enjoyed the scenic drive and we went from through town after town. We finally stopped for some Del Taco for lunch. It’s basically an upscale Taco Bell. So in other words, you don’t have to run to the bathroom 30 minutes after eating it.

We got back in the car and someone started ripping the farts. Kevin Sullivan said, “If you keep doing that, my son will throw up.” I thought he was joking and certainly exaggerating, but as fast as I could turn around, there was Kevin II puking up a vanilla milkshake! Everyone in the van started yelling, laughing, and carrying on as Kevin Sr. pulled into a gas station. I think that the funniest part was that it got all over Giles’ bag. The laughter continued as everyone fled the van for some fresh air. The trip had just begun and already we had a highlight. Kevin’s new nickname is “Oops Puke.”

The Damn Am Contest at the Volcom Compound
“Damn am is a scam” That’s exactly how Mickey Reyes (Deluxe team manager and main henchman) wrote it via email from Japan a couple of years ago. At the time he was convinced that we, Skatepark of Tampa, were behind www.skateboardingsucks.com, and that we wrote mean stuff about Jake Phelps, the editor of Thrasher. To his dismay, we have nothing to do with skateboardingsucks.com. But there were some funny-as-hell emails going to and fro during the convincing stages. One of the more memorable things he called us was “hatters.” Yes, “hatters,” as in we make hats for a living.

I thought that it was kind of cool being a “hatter,” as opposed to a “hater.” If Mickey only knew of the entertainment we got out of “hatters.” We were so close to doing www.mickeyreyessucks.com and have just a picture of Mic with a hat on that said, “Whaz up hatters?” Maybe we’ll still do that one...

But let me assure you, Damn Am is not a scam, and I know firsthand because I’m spending the weekend checking it out. The Volcom Warehouse is an amazing thing. I just got a behind-the-scenes tour this morning and was pretty much in awe. You should see the amount of clothing that’s in that building along with a gigantic staff to design it, market it, sell it, and ship it out. In addition, there’s a newly redesigned street course and vert bowl that are available for employees, team riders, and friends to skate. That’s where I’ve been spending most of my time.

Alongside the Warehouse is where Schaefer, Allen Russell, and crew build the course for the actual Damn Am Contest to be held. It’s pretty much your average, good street course, but what’s cool is that they build it just for the Contest every year. While they’re at it, they make sure to change it up a little bit each time, too. The scene is really cool there – it’s free to watch and there’s free food and drink for anyone that wants it. In addition, since we’re in California, there are pros chillin’ all over the place. I saw Brian Sumner, Arto Saari, and Geoff Rowley hanging out this afternoon and skated the mini-ramp/bowl with Jamie Thomas, Leo Romero, and Bryan Herman yesterday. Damn, that was some serious name dropping right there.

I’m about to head back up there and check out some of the skating. I’ll be sure to take some notes so I can properly translate what’s going down out here on the West Coast.

Saturday, October 23, 2004, 11:55am at Ramada Limited in Costa Mesa, California
I lied. I didn’t check out much skating. I grabbed a cup of coffee, watched about 10 minutes of skating, and then headed into the Volcom Warehouse to skate the mini-ramp. I saw Rob taking plenty of skate photos, so you’ll still be able to see who’s doing what where even though I’m not writing about it. After you’ve seen enough of these contests, you really don’t watch the qualifying anymore anyways. I’m down to see who’s going to win this thing, so I’ll watch intently on Sunday. But checking out every single run can get old. I’m not being bitter or anything, but I’d just rather skate than watch when I’m basically on vacation.

I was calling the mini-ramp session “The Mini-Ramp Championships of the World.” There was some serious shredding going down with Gershon, Rodney Jones, and many others. I forgot to mention it before, but I heard Jamie Thomas say, “Yeah.” when I was taking a run the other day. That was ill. I can now die happy.

Toy Machine Video Premiere – “Good and Evil”
Being from the east coast, you really don’t get to see too many video premieres. Although we premiere pretty much every decent video that comes out at Skatepark of Tampa, it’s still not the same as seeing ‘the’ premiere with all of the team riders and industry heads in attendance. This one happened to be at House of Blues in Anaheim, right by Disneyland.

Ed Templeton is just one of those amazing skateboarders that keeps on ticking and ticking. He had the opening part in his new flick and his stuff is still totally impressive. He skates more banks in his part than anyone I’ve ever seen. I’m tempted to ask him for a map to each bank – it looks like he had a great time filming his part. The rest of the video is just as good, with Billy Marks throwing more flip to rail moves than humanly possible and The Butcher jumping down some huge sets of stairs.

There were a ton of kids there and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The only lame thing was the bartenders. They acted like they were really doing you a favor when they filled the drink orders, as if they were too cool to serve a bunch of dirty skateboarders. That’s the best way to make sure I don’t leave a tip. Free video premiere, free drink passes, and no tips to the bartenders? That’s sounds like a plan to me. Thanks to Toy Machine and everyone else that made the night possible.

Ian and Afro-Jim just popped their heads into the room. Afro-Jim said that Ian could have made the cut...he only missed one trick in his run. Damn, I wish I would have seen that one. It’s about time for another cup of coffee and a mini-ramp session.

Monday, October 25, 2004, 8:15pm at LAX Airport in Los Angeles, California
There’s nothing like getting up at 4:30am. I’m down to get up early and all, but 6am would have been much nicer. I guess that the alternative would have been to miss our flight, so I’ll stop complaining.

My Halloween Costume
I’m sitting here in the airport trying to figure out what happened in the past couple of days. One of my personal highlights was dressing up like a ‘Florida cracker’ on Sunday for my Halloween costume. I shaved my beard and left just a mustache, wore some crazy-ass, Harley Davidson glasses and an orange, WQYK hat, put on some ripped up jean shorts…you get the idea. I looked like, well, I looked like I was from Florida – Rebel Flag belt buckle and all.

I knew that my costume was pretty good because as soon as I got there I passed by several people that I knew and they didn’t recognize me. I decided that I would take advantage of the situation and have some fun. So when people that I knew walked by and didn’t know who I was I would say something like “faggot” or “p###y” or “a$$###e.” The best person I got was Aaron Perko. He passed by and I was like, “Faggot.” He turned around, looked at me, and kept going. I said it louder, “Faggot!” He stopped, once again turned around and asked, “Are you talking to me?” I stuck my chest out and announced, “Hell yeah I’m talking to you. You got a problem, Bitch?” At this point he still had no idea who I was and started walking towards me like he wanted to fight. Only until he was about four feet from me did he figure out that he was talking to Ryan Clements. Everyone busted out laughing and we shook hands and did a gangsta’ hug. Barry said to me later, “I was wondering why you were being such an a$$###e to everyone, and then I realized that you were just messing with them.” That little act kept me entertained constantly throughout the day. Jamie Thomas claimed that my costume was just too real…that it fit me perfectly. Thanks, Jamie.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 7:55am in my office at Skatepark of Tampa
I’ve been back for about 36 hours at this point and I’m just feeling like I’m getting back to normal. Once I’m completely back to feeling like myself I’m off to Miami on Friday. Then next Tuesday we’re leaving for the Texas Skate Jam…that’s going to be a good one. I’m going to wrap this sucker up by trying to remember some of the good skating.

The Vert Contest
The Volcom facility is home to a pretty gnar vert ramp. It’s not that tall, but it has corners, a hip, a vert wall, and two opposing gigantic round extensions with pool coping. Not your average vert ramp, but that made the Contest that much more exciting. By far, the best skater of the weekend was Chaz Pineda. I’ve been seeing Chaz around for the last few years and he’s really blossoming into a ripping tranny skater. If there was an award for the most ripping vert shredder of the weekend, then it would have obviously gone to Chaz, but that’s not how things work.

I think that people sometimes watch an entire practice session before a contest and automatically pick the winner. We have to remember that the skaters are being judged on their performance within a 45-second time frame. The 540 that Little Timmy (That’s a fictitious character for all of you really serious coach-parents, so don’t take offense.) pulled out of the bag in practice simply doesn’t count. With that being said, the judges felt that Alex Perelson put together a better run than Chaz during the allotted time. Congrats to Alex, and thanks to the crowd for being so much fun. John Lucero and Chris Miller were there – that was sick.

The Street Contest Finals
The skating was amazing. Dylan Reider got a lot better. Not that he wasn’t good before, but he’s really growing into his own. His first run was completely flawless – not a trick was missed and he threw some tough ones in there including the kf to fs disaster on the quarter pipe and lien-to-tail transfer from the quarter to bank-to-wall. First place was well deserved.

Another notable was Sierra Fellers (of course). He’s the kid that won Tampa Am 2004 and he really knows how to put together a contest run, but I think that I was probably most impressed with Nyjah Huston. I can’t believe this kid is only nine-years-old. He’s putting together lines that some pros can’t do. This kid must have some type of gift or something – I find it hard to comprehend that a child his age has the confidence to skate like he does. Believe me, you will see what I mean in due time. Nyjah will definitely become well-known in the near future.

Best Trick
I was summoned to announce the Best Trick Contest along with Scotty Conley. I really don’t know how entertaining I am on the mic, but I always like to announce when given the opportunity. Plus, it makes me watch the entire event. There was the Adio Best Trick on the small rail and the Volcom Best Trick on the big rail. Here’s what I recall from the big rail:

- Dominic Johnson – after about 15 solid slams, Dom pulled a bs salad, 180 out. And then to top it off, he did a fs 50/50 with no shoes on. Damn, Florida represent!

- Tyler Adams-Hawkins – this kid got pretty good recently...I don’t remember if he pulled it, but his caveman to feeble was gnar.

- Anthony Shetler – too bad it was after time because his nollie crooks would have put him up in there.

Click here for full results.

I just reread everything I wrote. It sort of describes the activities that went down over the weekend, but it really doesn’t tell exactly what’s going on at an event like Damn Am. I think that you have to experience something like this for yourself in order to properly understand the situation and feel the vibe. I don’t think that I ran into a single lame person there. Everyone was stoked to be a part of something so genuine that it was reflective in their attitudes. Thanks to Volcom for the sponsorship and facility usage and Adio for the sponsorship. Those were the big guns, but I want to throw out a special thanks to all of the smaller contributors, too. Without everyone’s participation, these real contests would be non-existent and all you would get is what you see on TV. Brian Schaefer and Rob Meronek have created something that all of skateboarding needs to recognize and partake in.

Derek St. Pierre with "Vespa chick" that we met at the Good and Evil Premiere
Paul Zitzer
Brian Schaefer announces the top three in street - L to R: Danny Rosario, Sierra Fellers, and Dylan Reider
Serious tats
Product toss madness
Rob Meronek and Soomi Meronek in full costume
Mike Sinclair was super hyped that the Good and Evil premiere was at a pizza joint on Saturday
Aaron Perko and Rodney Jones jousting
A circle of rednecks - Rob Meronek, Derek St. Pierre, and Scotty Conley
Jason from Cowboy Punk
Johnny Layton, Brian Schaefer, and Diego Bucchieri at the Good and Evil Premiere
Jeff Taylor from Adio
Brian Schaefer, Sierra Fellers, and Christian Hosoi
Chick vs. chick jousting. If you're looking at what I'm looking at, click here
Chick vs. chick jousting
A crazy doggie contraption of some sort
Chicken vs. Bondage Guy jousting
Your dickhead announcers Scotty Conley and Brian Schaefer in full Haloween spirit
Brian Schaefer and Bill Dorr
Zach Miller - backside air
The crowd was great at the vert contest
Vert winners Alex Perelson and Chaz Pineda
Zach Miller - 5-0
Lyn-Z Adams - frontside invert with Rhino taking the photo - will it be in Thrasher?
Lyn-Z Adams - frontside slob air
Mike Owen - backside air
Thanks to John Lucero for the support
Josh Borden - backside air
Josh Borden - kickflip indy
Right after Chris Cudlipp skated street, he went immediately to vert and skated with no pads and ripped
Chaz Pineda - smith grind
Chris Reeves was coming real close to making these indy 540's
Dominique Johnson - salad grind to backside 180 out on the big rail
When Ryan Sheckler was nine, he was still deck checking kickflips, wearing shorts and full pads, and wiping snot off his nose. Nyjah Huston is nine right now and he's salad grinding large rails. He's going to be one amazing kid when he grows up
Sierra Fellers - nollie boardslide on the big rail
Nyjah Huston - feeble grind on the big rail
Danny Rosario - kickflip nosegrind
I don't know if Dominique Johnson ever made this gap kickflip crook during Best Trick
Chris Troy - layback frontside boardslide on the big rail
Nyjah Huston makes this lipslide on the big rail every time
Torey Pudwill - back smith
Thanks to Ed Templeton for showing up and bringing his riders - ollie impossible
Rodrigo Lima - nollie crook
Max Genin - backside nosegrind
Max Genin - smith grind on the big rail
Mario DaSilva - tail drop over the wall and into the bank
Rhet Freeman - nollie backside shifty
Ahbi Huston - front board fakie
Santa's got a nice looking flick - this is Collin Hale
Torey Pudwill - kickflip crook
Marius Syvanen - kickflip back lip
Danny Rosario - kickflip back lip
Evan Mirchell - switch heel up the step up
Devine Calloway - nollie back lip
Tony Tave - kickflip into the bank
Greg Myers - frontside tailslide on the step up rail
Dylan Rieder - ollie from the quarter into the wall
Angel Ramirez - sweeper on the wall
Grant Taylor - kickflip
Lauren Perkins is ripping with style - boardslide on the step up rail
Mario DaSilva - frontside flip in the bowl
Ahbi Huston - frontside 5-0
Branen Fitzgerald - 360 flip 50-50
Mark Muller from 3rd Lair - frontside grind in the bowl
Danny Rosario - kickflip
Eric Fletcher - kickflip
Eric Fletcher - frontside feeble
Antoine Asselin - gap front feeble grind
Bill Pardee - 360 flip
Scotty Conley - quarter pipe to 50-50 on the wall
Tommy Sandoval - backside 50-50
A wide view of the indoor street course at Volcom
Josh Yoshi Nesius - frontside bluntslide to fakie on the bump to flat bar
Brian Schaefer - frontside tail grab in the vert bowl. Front foot looks sketchy, but he made it
Torey Pudwill - kickflip crook on the bump to flat bar
Patrick Pattilac Webb - frontside flip off the big bank to deck
Andrew Pott - frontside nosegrind on the step up rail
Omar Hassan - huge straight leg frontside air from pocket to pocket in the vert bowl
Kurtis Colamonico - kickflip backside noseblunt slide on the indoor street course at Volcom
John Goeman - gap frontside tailslide
Kevin Sullivan - backside flip off the wedge
Ian Gow - frontside feeble grind
Johnny Layton - frontside bluntslide down the step up rail
Chris Troy - frontside noseslide down the step up rail
The schedule for the weekend for Damn Am at Volcom 2004
Construction Begins
Brian Schaefer - gitter done
Construction Begins
Brent, Allen, and Shagaby are putting it all together for you...
Construction Begins
This empty canvas will have hundreds of skaters on it in a few days