Skidmark #1 March 2010.
Cal Walker Blasting one of the many hips at Sunken Gardens Skatepark in Livermore California. Photo by Vinnie Termini
"East of the East Bay" The Birth of Skidmark
I was laid off from my construction job during the 2008 recession but thank God Obama had recently gotten elected and would later save my ass. There was zero construction jobs during that time and I was broke as F*ck.
Before the crash of the economy, the construction industry had been booming for years and I was killing it as a heavy equipment operator. I had just bought a house with a friend next to the local skatepark, (Sunken Gardens) built a mini-ramp in the backyard. Had a Harley, a new girlfriend then.... Booommm! The economy took a Sh*t.
"You never realize how much you don't actually own until you can't afford to make the payments"
I was having a hell of a time getting my unemployment because the rest of the country was trying along with me. So I sold my Harley, I almost cried watching that thing go down the road but I had to keep up with my side of the mortgage payments or we could go into foreclosure. My girlfriend had recently moved in and that was helping a little with the mortgage payments. When the Harley money started to run low I really started to panic. I had nothing left to sell. There was no jobs, I was f*cked. I lived out of a car for awhile as a kid and it was starting to feel like I was headed back that way.
Then one day a unemployment check showed up in the mail just like Obama said and I could breathe again. That stress of moving back into a car had vanished. Things were looking up and I was now confident that I was not gonna be homeless again.
Some of my old friends in Auburn Washington had fired up a Skateboard Brand called Marada and sent me a box. I was so hyped because it was from the same crew of guys as Outhouse. Outhouse was a Skateshop in Auburn, Washington.
I ended up talking to Rob Dickinson (the owner of Marrada) about flowing a few people in town and asked if I could be his California Sales Rep. He said "Yes." So I hooked up Cal Walker and Jake Crawley and started slanging boards to the two closest skateshops in the area, 621 in Livermore, and Street Science in Tracy.
621 was a fairly new skateshop in Livermore and was more like a boutique clothing store than an actual skateshop. Jason, one of the owners was talking to me about maybe building something to skate inside since the clothing thing wasn't really working out. So me and a young local ripper named Brad McClain, drew up some mini ramp plans and then went to building. That ramp was completed in under a month. It completely changed the look and feel of the store and would later give birth to Skidmark Skatemag. All my friends started working there, it was sick. People would come from all over to skate the ramp and still do to this day. We quickly started organizing events like art shows, video premiers, and concerts. Del The Funky Homosapien played there twice. The store was a hit they even had an awesome online presence. Somehow this created a skate scene East of the East Bay.
I think this was a gonna be an actual show but don't know what happened to the other episodes.
"Livermore has a skate scene?" Everyone would say it jokingly, but it was true, there was one there.
I had gotten my hands on a pirated version of Photoshop and started messing around with it making Marrada Posters and flyers for the 621 events.
The Legendary Man Am contest. Search "Hidden Youtubes" for the hidden video. Its too gnarly to put here.
One night after consuming some adult beverages. Jake Crawley said, "We should start a Skate Zine. There is so much going on around us and what a better way to capture all of it than with a Zine." Those words he said would forever change the course of my life. "You can do layout like you're doing with the flyers, and I have a camera." This is why I always loved hanging out with Jake. He is always positive and motivated. So we drank a few more adult beverages, wrote down some names, then narrowed it down to two possible candidates.
"Toilet Paper" and "Skidmark."
I was lobbying hard for "Toilet Paper," for it was the name of the zine Outhouse had put out. It was pretty good even though I might have been their only subscriber.
So we made a call to the owner of Outhouse even though the shop had now been closed for 10 years and the zine probably 15. I still wanted permission from John Williams for the name Toilet Paper. A voicemail was left but no return call was ever made.
So Jake said “Fuck it, it’s pretty much the same thing anyways” and the first issue went to print as Skidmark. On the first several covers, I Photoshopped a cartoon roll of toilet paper in the skaters' hand to commemorate the old Toilet Paper zine and Outhouse Skateshop.
This is a photo of an uncut Outhouse sticker.
Lots of people were getting involved and lots of underground companies were firing up at this point and people were stoked. This magazine was becoming a monster of its own. We started to come out with some rad contests and events like Poker Runs, Park Barges, and Motorcycle Trips. Then Jake moved to Long Beach and I was stuck running everything by myself.
Skidmark Poker Run #2 with Metro Skateshop (Yes kids, Metro used to be a skate shop)
Park Barge Fremont
The events were really starting to get out of hand and the cops where starting to show up at the events and shut them down like this one at Walnut Creek.
Coast Side Living
In March 2011 after a year of looking for jobs, I landed the best job I have ever had in construction in San Francisco. I was gonna be building the new Golden Gate Bridge, "Over Looks," and new hiking trails in the Presidio. The commute from the East Bay to the city everyday was brutal. 580 is a hell hole and is the sole reason why I won't have kids today.
Look how many people there are in the Bay trying to get to work. Why would I wanna put another person on this freeway? It's ridiculous. It would take me an hour and a half to get to work, then it was a 8 or 10 hour shift, then hop back in the car for another two to four hour commute home. After I got home, I would park myself in front of the computer with my dinner and immediately start working on Skidmark stuff till one or two in the morning. I did this for about a year until I got home from a 12 hour day and my girlfriend was moving the last of her stuff out of my house. I don't blame her, I was out of my mind back then. As she left, she said something that really stuck with me. "In order for us to work I would have to make you choose between me or the magazine, and I know you would choose me. Thats why I'm leaving you. You would wind up resenting me for the rest of our lives for making you stop something you love so much." She was truly a great girlfriend and now happily married with kids. I'm happy for her.
In the meantime, the skate scene in Livermore was starting to die down everyone was starting to party more and skateboard less and eventually 621 would have to close their doors. So I packed it up and moved from the East Bay to the coast just south of San Francisco in a little town called El Granada.
I was living in El Granda for a couple of years where I met several awesome people including Tim. The mastermind behind the jetty ramp, aka #TimsRamp, right next to highway 1.
Here is me skating #TimsRamp in El Granda California.
Fast forward to early 2014, Skidmark was invited to open an office inside the legendary 131 building in Santa Cruz, California. The 131 Building is the home of Broprints Screen printing, Consolidated Skateboards, and Skateworks. So much Skateboard history is in this building. If you ever go inside, take a look around on the walls. You can see so much skateboard history.
Birdo and Aaron raddest dudes ever! If you want stuff printed, go to Broprints.com
My dream as a kid growing up in rainy ass Washington was to some day work in the Consolidated warehouse. It's weird because now I technically do work in the Consolidated warehouse but with my own skateboarding business. Its crazy for me to think that a goal I made as a child would come true.
Kickstarting my Video problem
I had always had a hell of a time getting a full time filmer for Skidmark. Everyone always wanted a crazy amount of money from me. I always thought that was weird because ads were like $50 back then and I was shoveling out my own money just to print the magazine sometimes. I just figured that this is how it would always be until the iPhone came out and changed the game. One day I was down stairs talking to Bill Strubing at Skate Works about a skate trip he was planning with the team. I immediately asked if I could go. I asked him if he had any content from last year's trip, but unfortunately nothing was ever put out. So I said, "If you let Skidmark come on the trip I will make an article and video." Bill said yes and left two spots open in the van. Of course Mark Steinlein was down to shoot photos after I told him the guest list, but like typical Skidmark fashion, the video guy bailed at the last minute. So my only other option was to cover the entire trip with my iPhone and so I did. This trip was unbelievable. So many heavy hitters were on this trip that would later be named "Big Bills Wild Ride."
Click image above to read the article
First skateboard video I made with my iPhone
The whole trip was amazing and we all had a really good time. After the trip, I decided I was really gonna dedicate my life to skateboarding and quit my job. I had recently taken on a partner for a brief moment and he was helping out with the magazine freeing up time for me to make skate videos. There was a few fisheye lenses on the market at that time for smart phones but none of them had a protective case and I was not gonna film skateboarding up close with a unprotected $400 phone. So I bought a couple cases one with threads to screw on the fisheye and the other to protect my phone. The custom case worked perfectly and I no longer had to switch between cases to use the fisheye. Next thing I needed was a rig to hold my new case similar to a VX where the lens is closest to the ground. My cousin recently had retired from the marines and set up metal shop with a plasma cutter near his house. I drew up a few designs then scanned them into CAD program and came out with the #SM1Handle.
I started making little edits with this new set up and even started a webisode series called "Living Helseth" on Youtube.
Watch Episodes of Living Helseth
Every time I was out shooting with my set up, people would come up to me and ask "What kind of camera is that?" and "Where can I buy one?" After being asked that more times than I can count, I decided I should probably start making these to sell. But I couldn't start off by selling the handle. There are way too many cases out there so I would need to start with a basic case and lens. On April 8th 2016 I launched a 30 Day Kickstarter campaign for the #SM1Lens.
It was a wild ride doing a Kickstarter. It's extremely stressful and I don't think I slept much but on May 8th 2016 I reached the goal and went right into production for my first round of camera equipment for smart phones. I had lots of help from friends like Garret Ginner and Joel from Metro and many others that helped me reach my goal. After the kickstarter pre orders went out, I was able to do a larger production run at the factory which brought the price per unit down, which was cool, so I could then pass those savings onto the customer. A couple months after the Kickstarter, I was now ready to introduce the handle into the SM1Lens Collection and began production.
Manufacturing the first round of SM1Handles with my cousin.
These things are tough. We even shot one with a 22 riffle with my phone in it.
It has been an amazing journey so far. I have met lots of awesome people, and a few shitty ones, but all in all I couldn't ask for a better life. I want to take this time to personally thank each and everyone who has had my back.
Mike O aka Skiddy.
If you have any questions, feel free to use the "Messenger" button on the bottom right and I will get back to you as soon as I can.