If the articles in this 30th Anniversary Issue teach you anything, it should be that skateboarding has evolved leaps and bounds over the past three decades. It should also make clear that key individuals—pioneers—served as central catalysts to these massive advances. Ray Barbee’s addition to the Bones Brigade in ’87 and subsequent appearances in Powell Peralta’s Public Domain (’88) then Ban This (’89) represent some of the most critical junctures in our short history. On the heels of Steve Steadham, Ray cracked the façade of what had been more or less up to then a white-bred pastime. He also showcased some of the first conscious line-based flatground street skating ever. And unlike the neon glam beach volleyball styles of the ‘80s vert scene, Ray’s casual attire and cruising lines through LA sprawl set the table for city kids of all stripes and colors to make skateboarding theirs in the two decades and change since.   

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Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Steve Berra

Still a number of people to come from this with raw text. Here's everything Steve Berra had to say about it back in '03. Like Dyrdek, Steve has always had strong opinions (to say the least) and has never been afraid to voice them. I remember him being particularly passionate about this topic. Photo from The End. —ME


“Drugs are such a dissociation from what really is going on. It’s a disconnect with the real world. There’s such a social veneer on the planet right now anyways, that it doesn’t need to get any worse. Its like, ‘Hey, everything’s great,’ Meanwhile, we have a president that wants to go to war with Iraq and ignore the rest of the world. There are just so many things that are fundamentally wrong going on right now. I mean it’s already bad enough, we just don’t need something to dissociate us even further.”

“They come up with any other reason they can to smoke weed. You know, it’s part of one of the most insidious declines of our civilization. All these people are like, ‘Oh, it’s got nothing to do with me man, I just buy a little bit of weed.’ Well that weed comes from somewhere. People lie for drugs. People kill for drugs. Drugs are a huge, huge business, and they are built on the further degradation of people. Drugs aren’t designed to give someone a mellow high. Drug dealers are the lowest people on the planet. They enable someone else’s downward spiral. Everybody’s complaining about how the planet needs to change, but these guys want sit back and smoke a joint. I just have a little higher aspirations then that.”

“I looked up to this popular skater back in St. Louis when I was growing up, Warren Stevens. He was like a couple years older then me. I remember, it was right at the time when my other friends were starting to drink. One day I just asked him like, ‘Hey, you don’t drink?’ And he said, ‘No, I skateboard.’”

“I don’t agree with anybody doing drugs at all. Even drinking excessively to me is just wrong. I mean what is the one contributing factor to every skateboard premiere that ever got fucked up, closed down, or turned into a fight. The main contributing factor is alcohol. Take away the alcohol and those guys aren’t going to act that way.”

“We don’t need to further promote the dumbing down of our youth. Look, kids have a hard enough time dealing with the pressures of drugs and the angst of youth as it is. All that stuff is already out there. Its not like they’re going to discover it in a skateboard magazine, but we don’t need to contribute to it as pro skaters.”

“People can argue whoever the best skateboarder in the world is, but there is no doubt in my mind that Eric Koston is and always will be the best skateboarder that has ever lived. Everything he’s ever done, he’s done completely sober. There are specific other guys that I know that go out and do coke, smoke weed, or whatever—anything to disassociate themselves from the consequences, and then its easy for them to do what they’re doing, because they're totally out of their minds. Eric has to sit and see both sides of the spectrum because he’s dead sober. He has to overcome the knowledge that he could break his face. The same can be said about Jamie Thomas. They’re not some morons doing coke before they skate.”

“If I did drink, which I don’t, I would never show me drinking anywhere in a magazine or in a video. And I certainly wouldn’t talk about it. I mean everybody’s got a rough story, especially guys who skate, but I just don’t agree with promoting the further degradation of our society. I keep thinking everybody’s going to grow out of it. But then I go on some business trip to Italy or somewhere, and I see these 30-40 year old guys doing what I thought only teenagers did.”

“The reason why we have this image is because that image is promoted. Drug use exists in every other facet. I mean I stayed at Yale for four months. There were students at Yale smoking crack every night. I mean being truthful about it is one thing, but glorifying it is another. When you’ve got ‘Legalize Skateboarding’ made out into a pot leaf, you’re not really talking about skateboarding. Companies like Shorty’s, Hollywood, or Baker, I don’t respect those companies as much as I respect somebody like Jamie Thomas. I don’t think anything good comes from the things they promote. Even Birdhouse, look at what they’ve done since the departure of me and Heath. I mean talk about embarrassing—Tony Hawk, the all American boy is at the forefront of promoting 15-year-old kids drinking beers with their face at the crotch of a stripper. That’s terrible. I’m not saying that those kids aren’t going to drink. But, it’s a terrible ploy to try and sell boards. It's like you have two choices. You can either not take a stance like, ‘Well, it’s got nothing to do with me’, or you can take a stand against this. I mean have you ever seen a drug addict. It’s disgusting—somebody shitting on themselves from withdrawal. That’s not skateboarding.”

Berra's part from Birdhouse, The End ('98). Possibly also a commentary on drug use.