The Hufnagel post

December 27, 2013


As you might have noticed, Keith Hufnagel as become uptown’s top ranking business man. We still got a chance to catch him for a few questions before he stormed back into the HUF cyclone…  Just a little extra that wasn’t in “FTC,” The FTC book, which is still very much for sale right here

When did you first start going to SF to skate? Why SF btw?
I started going to Sf in 1991 and moved to SF in 1992 to go to college. SF was the closest thing to NYC for me . Also at this time SF was the capital of skateboarding with Emb in its prime. I was chasing the skateboard dream

How long would you say you lived in SF?
At that time I lived there for 4 years. In the end I lived in SF for a total of 16 years

Was FTC at all part of why you wanted to move here?
It was not the reason I moved there but I did enjoy it while I lived there

Had you heard of FTC before you came?
Yes I did see it in a Thrasher or something. I ended up visiting the store that was on Bush and Franklin  in 1991

Best/worst/weirdest/funniest FTC-related story?
Bammer Beth!!!!!

Care to elaborate about that?
I would like to keep it just as that. Kind of an inside joke if that is OK. Too much sex shit.


Were you one of the dudes with a constant big tab in Kent’s book, or not?
I think I was pretty responsible and never really had a tab. I did have a small one but not one of those guys

What kind of look do you have on these years? Did they at all shape your current mentality in skateboarding?
Damn I can’t really remember. I think I was just in my normal gear. Nothing weird or crazy at that time

When you look back on the “FTC years” what’s the most vivid memory you got?
I remember filming for the video. It was one of my first video parts and was stoked to be apart of a video with the FTC/EMB crew

How did you become part of the team?
I have no idea. Must have just been from hanging in that crowd Or Aaron Meza

Do you remember your first time at FTC? What do you remember it to be like, compared to what you expected?
It was a sport store with a skate shop in the back. It wasn’t exactly what I thought but the skate shop in the back was pretty awesome.

Who were some random characters you’d remember that’d swing by the shop when you worked there?
Oh man Keltch in his prime. Watch out!

Did the HUF story kind of start at, or because of FTC, at all?
I guess a little. I wanted to start a skate shop but out of respect for Kent I went the sneaker store route instead . Also put the store very far away from where Kent was doing business

Is there anything you learned at FTC that you applied to your new business?
I guess to make your own product, but I was just a skater for the shop (FTC) in the end.


The Elusive Mr Lockman

December 23, 2013


He was more of a video and behind the scenes type of dude… Child prodigy, FTC clerk with the cool dad who would hang out at Embarco. Still, very difficult to find an action shot of Lil’Nick Lockman. But we just did! A bit late as the book is now out, but here’s the Theo Hand gem for you! SSFSNS @ EMB.

Blogsclusive interview / Ben Sanchez : Life Mechanic

December 17, 2013


Some amateurs just stay amateurs for ever -FTC homie Ben Sanchez was just that, and pretty content with it, he swears today. What did the afterlife have in stock for “Henrey Sanchez’ brother,” as people used to mistakenly call him at demos? Brake pads! Here’s a longer version of the interview with the coolest mechanic on erf, as a Holiday season treat lifted from “FTC” –the FTC book

Seb Carayol: When did you become a car mechanic?
Ben Sanchez: Man, probably a little bit after I stopped skating, which was about maybe 1996, 1997. I mean I bought a car in 1994, 1995 I think. I bought my boy’s old ’85 Honda Accord. Little rice rocket all tricked out. He had it all done, lowered, rims. I pretty much re-lowered it, changed wheels a couple times, did brakes. That got me into it as a hobby.

Did you learn all that stuff on your own?
At first, I had a homie show me, he taught me the ropes. And after that I was like, “man, what am I gonna do in life?” I needed something and skating at the time was so dead, you know what I mean? It wasn’t there.

I saw a commercial for a mechanic school. I liked working on cars, so why not. Next thing I know I was in that school program. At that time skating wasn’t my number one, super, super interest, plus I was going to school so much and working, that I kinda slipped over and next thing I know I didn’t have time for skating, and next thing you know that was it.

How long did you go to mechanic school for?
A year and a half. It was cool to learn a new trade on that tip. It’s funny because I never really had had a 9 to 5 job ever, I was just skating all the time. And what was part of it too is that I had a kid real early, in 1992, I was about to turn 18, so child support would want me to find a job. I’ve been at the same job for 13 years now.  It was good cause it kept me responsible, you know what I’m saying, I mean I definitely didn’t want him to go through the things I’ve went through in life. We’re father-son but also good friends.

Did lots of people think you were Henry’s brother?
That was the number one question all the time, especially since we both were skating at Embarco, and on tour. Me and Henry are brothers from different mothers, that’s what we are.

He’s also doing car stuff too now, no?
Yeah, it looks like he’s painting cars or something. Lots of body work. Different aspect of the thing but what he does looks cool too.

What’s your specialty?
Just general repairs, it’s the main thing.

Before that, can you sum up your skate career?
Ron Allen put me on Life skateboards for a quick minute. From there it was no sponsors and riding Embarco every day, buying boards off all the guys who were sponsored already, like Jovontae, Carroll, Henry, Kelch, Edward Devera… Blind was the first real board sponsor I got, that was probably in 1994.

I was skating for them for maybe six months at the most, and Chocolate started. I stayed there until I quit, I never turned pro. I wanted to, but it probably wasn’t the right time, they needed to build up my name and stuff, but at the time I couldn’t hold out and be late on money, things started to change in my life. It was money over skating. And I was kinda losing the love for it, getting tired. It wasn’t motivating me anymore. Same shit, same tricks.

It almost sounds like you never took it so seriously and got sponsored without trying?
Nah! When I got sponsored, all I’d do is skate, religiously, day in day out. You had to work hard to be sponsored. I put it down for my team -but then at some point it started to drag. But Girl is like a family. When I left, Rick Howard hooked me up with a little go-away check.

Do your mechanic colleagues know you were a sponsored skater?
They always trip on it. They’re like, “Dude, you were hella skinny back then.” I’m like, “Damn, don’t remind me.” I showed them the Chocolate parts on Youtube, they think it was like it is now, they’re, like, “Why did you leave?’ I tell them it definitely wasn’t what it is now. Now it is blowing up beyond proportions again.

Wrap ‘em Up, feat. James Kelch

December 2, 2013


From the weird way the first video was almost titled From Prince to Pauper, to inventing a certain type of bolts, FTC carries its share of little-known facts and anecdotes. Since most of them are in the FTC book, here’s already one, as an appetizer of sorts…

The day he bought a brand new bench, Kent Uyehara was infuriated to find out it got tagged right away. Since he knew who the culprits were (only one guy and his girlfriend had sat on it since its installation), he chased them down the street.
While he was arguing for them to come clean their mess, an always helpful James Kelch showed up out of nowhere, and did that EMB-copyrighted trick he called “Wrap Em Up,” where you turn people’s own shirts into straight jackets. Going through the guy’s pockets, the enforcer found a pen, which led the wrongdoer to admit: it was his girl’s first tag.
As it turns out, unbeknownst to Kent, the tagger went on to become highly-acclaimed artist XXXXXXX.
“Years later, we went to one of his openings,” Kent remembers, “I introduced myself and he straight up ran away. I hadn’t recognized him, at all.” As a proof that water has run its course under many bridges since, XXXXXXX and Kent are now very good friends and the artist was invited to design a bunch of decks through FTC’s collab program.

To find out who the artist was, well, guess what? Not to sound like a broken record but kinda: just order the book already, over here

Mike Carroll: “I didn’t think it was productive to stay at Embarcadero”

November 25, 2013


Just one question, out of the 14-page Mike Carroll interview in the FTC book… 

When did Embarcadero become a hangout, and not just a spot you zip by?

Mike Carroll: I can’t remember if it was before they skated it in Animal Chin or not, or if Gonz had ollied the gap yet. Scotty Thompson was part of the crew, and at one point we were skating around and we went to Embarcadero. 

Scotty started to stay there all the time. I remember one time, we were at Carl’s Jr. and I was like, ‘Dude, what are you doing? Why are you staying at Embarcadero all the time? Come skate with us.’ I wasn’t trying to be a kook. I didn’t think it was productive to stay at Embarcadero.

Then, it was maybe 1989, I stayed in San Diego that whole summer, because I ‘ran away from home,’ if you want to call it that. I came back, and I remember Greg writing a few times on the fridge, “Hey we gonna be at EMB, see you down there.”

After coming back, it was Embarcadero every day. That spot made everybody get really good. When I left, I don’t even think Henry was sponsored. He was good but he was posing a lot of shit, and when I got back he was landing everything. Henry was doing so much crazy shit I had never seen before, it was insane. I left for a couple months and came back to this whole new world. I was like, “What the fuck just happened?” 

To know what’s happening next (isn’t that so annoying?), just pre-order FTC, the FTC book, right over here, and wait a good week till it starts shipping…

Clap the barber


FTC book Outtake # 1 - A classic SF barber session for Mr Pat Washington. © Ken Goto. The FTC BOOK is shipping soon, pre-order quick while it lasts! Info over here.

“There, I’ll say it, his was better than mine”

October 5, 2013

Before his full interview in the FTC book, just sit and reminisce about Jovontae’s influence on current street skating. As seen on the Thrasher site, celebrating the launch of JT & Co’s clothing line (a 2013 update of 1996′s Jovontae Jeans?), from Jason Lee to Mike Carroll, these dudes remember!

A soldier’s story

September 11, 2013


What’s Drake Jones’ most memorable moment at FTC? In his own words:

“It happened at the old shop when the first Girl video had just come out. So, me, Mike Blabac and a friend of his went to FTC to try and watch it. Sean Sheffey was and is a huge influence to who I am and how I skate, watch old Life videos and you’ll see! I only wish I skated as fast as he did. Oh well. So we run in and ask John to see the vid. I guess I was asking a bunch of questions about Sean’s part and John told me it was a shorter part. I must have been so bummed that I was only gonna get to see a lil’ bit of my favorite skater that I must have said loudly, “That sucks!” or something. To my surprise, Sheffey was standing like 10 ft. to the left of me… Oops.”

What happened next? Only a few weeks left until you find out in the FTC book!

I be 4’11”

August 22, 2013

The longest conversation with Mike Carroll? Yup, it will be in the FTC book. The perfect occasion to re-watch this classic of all classics: his part from “Finally…”

Who’s this dude? # 3

August 18, 2013


Legendary SF ripper nose-slidin’, tail-grabbin’ Hubba Hideout… Who’ this dude, you think?

Straight Outta Smoothtown

August 2, 2013

How did it feel to get a part edited to a Sade song in 1993, when all you were into was gangsta rap? Chico Brenes reminisces in the FTC book… In the meantime, enjoy his classic Finally… part.

Huf: No pop, no style

July 4, 2013


How important is music in a skate flick? Very. In FTC videos, it pretty much set a tone for years to come… Among the most remembered tunes picked in these was Huf’s song in Penal Code 100 A, where lyrics actually matched what Keith Hufnagel is about (“No pop, no style”). Here’s how this one went down –just a little amuse-bouche before a comprehensive guide to the FTC videos’ music in the actual book! (interviewed graciously handed over by the “A Visual Song” blog, ha!)

The day Jacob Rosenberg shot still

June 28, 2013


We found some rare photo gems for the FTC book! Jacob Rosenberg -The name rings a bell, right? You might have heard about his modest documentary abilities (as in : The Danny Way epic biopic), or his filming of Golden Age Embarcadero, but a more little known fact is that Jacob, before being Mr cinematographer extraordinaire, did shoot a few really cool photographs of Jovontae, Mike Carroll, and a few others, around 1990.  How come they were never seen until today? Just because he sent them all, back in the day, to a tiny French skate mag –which I happen to read every month, back in the homeland. Lucky strike indeed… Let’s see how life was when Jacob was just “Jake”. 

“The first time we went to Wallenberg and skated the top part”

June 17, 2013


Why does FTC’s first video bare James Kelch in its intro, but he’s got no part in it?

What German movie actually inspired the title page in said intro?

How could index cards help editing a video?

Was the EMB crew a lot into the Daisy Age hip-hop thing, at first?

Who’s this dude #1

June 12, 2013


If you know FTC, you know that the notion of “team” is a loose concept… but if you really know FTC, you’ll have no trouble naming the dude on this Tobin pic. Hint: ’90s underground ripper… So, who’s this dude?

The thinker

June 1, 2013


“The craziest FTC-related story? Let me think for a sec… It gotta involve Lennie Kirk, for sure —Rugged child turned shop employee turned DGK mastermind Nick Lockman reminiscing for the book… Photo © Seb Carayol

Second angle of the day

May 23, 2013


Unseen angle on the classic shot that was to be used in one of FTC’s early ads… Jovontae Turner by Tobin Yelland, circa 1990.

Kent Uyehara: The great Sophomore hustle


SC: I understand FTC started way before the EMB days?
Kent Uyehara: From the time I was born my dad was operating a ski shop, Free Trade Center, he was a biochemist by trade but his leisure side I guess, he liked skiing. He actually didn’t start FTC, he started working there part time as a ski bum I suppose. In a very short amount of time, somehow, he had the opportunity to take over that place. Originally Free Trade Center form what I know, was an importing business that focused on sporting goods primarily from Asia and Europe -it started in 1966 or 1967. And  I was born in 68… So they decided to in the same building to turn the front of the building into a retail store, that’s when my father stepped in and, I guess right place right time, that’s when these sports started to blow up. I grew up always being the son of a sports shop owner…

Feel The Contribution

May 21, 2013


Plain and simple: few skate shops have become more than just a skate shop. FTC is definitely one of them. Started over 25 years ago by Kent Uyehara as a small corner in his parents’ tennis emporium in downtown San Francisco, what exactly is FTC? An incubator for the skateboarding that was to define the ‘90s ? A shelter for inner-city skate kids rejected from everywhere else, soon-to-become skateboarding’s new elite? A trend lab –ever heard soul in skate flicks before? During the mid-90s, when Embarcadero was reigning supreme, FTC was skateboarding, dictating the direction, worldwide, that it was to be taking in the years to come…