“Hi Bud, what would you like me to do with this? Do you want me to put up at my site? Let me know. Cheers, Michael”

Thus it began, one of the strangest days in my entire life. Somebody, somewhere, and for some odd (and unknown) reason, had sent lengthy rant of a letter over to Concrete Wave Magazine. Even better: this joker used my name and e-mail address as the return reply address. Apparently he (or she) didn’t realize that I was the Executive Director of the magazine. As if I wouldn’t immediately find out about it or anything.

This guy was pretty good, though! He certainly had Mikey fooled. And my impostor was, if nothing else, totally fired up. Here’s what he had to say:

“Skateboarding What A Joke! From the first time I saw a skateboard I was in love! But as time has gone on things change, people change, and skateboarding has surely changed. Now this isn’t me slamming on the industry, people, or companies. This is just how I see the things from my point of view as a skater, shop owner, previous industry person myself.

The current skate scene SUCKS! Plain and simple. But who is to blame corporate America for trying to get a slice of the pie and taking it from the small skate shops that have been their supporting the scene since day one ? Maybe it’s the small board companies for pushing back against the big skate companies selling them selves out.

Want to know what I think? IT’S US THE SKATERS! We fucked our selves and the industry. When we stopped making it about having fun and doing it because of the passion we had for it. Skating went from being a way of life to a lifestyle. What I mean by that is that most of us who grew up skating started because it was fun. Because we enjoyed it. Its what we did and who we were. Now kids are skating because they want to be rich and make it big and see skating as an opportunity for that. But pro skaters and the people that pay them are to blame for that. Wait did I just say the pro skaters are to blame??? Yes some of us are! I understand having to support your family and being paid to do what you love is great . But how many stopped to think about the effect leaving the little companies would have on the industry, I bet none. But when big companies buying in to the industry offers you more in one month then you make in a year you take that shit and run!

More and more core skate companies are going broke, core skate shops are closing due to corporate mall stores and not being able to afford the buy in with the big brands or maybe because they are trying to be true to themselves and what they believe skateboarding is. Either way it sucks!

Want skating back like it was?? Good luck! Because unless something changes the skateboard scene is screwed…

Yes I could just live out my life and skate the way I want and ignore this shit but lets be honest a lot of us have been thinking these things for a long time and would love things to got back to the way they were. It’s up to us as skaters to boycott the Big industries and mall shops. It’s up to us to force the companies that we all considered core but are now sell outs to support the core shops. Shop loyalty went out the damn door and didn’t look back! For fuck sake find a local shop you like and support the hell out of it! And only it!

So to you industry companies that have been supporting the skate industry for years then decided to sell out… Pull your head out your ass and do something about it!!!! We need you help to get scene back to or at least close to where it should be. Will finances hurt possibly but do you care more about the skaters and the scene living on? Or do you just care about your wallets? Helping the scene means helping your company! Remember you have to spend money to make money. Here are a few steps you can take to help.

• Start a shop program where small shops are offered something corporate stores aren’t. This way if people want the stuff they have to go to their local shop to get it. In other words something that they can’t get at a mall store or online.

• Skate Tours .. It’s great that you guys do tours kids get to see the team and get stoked on the product. But how about hitting things a little harder here in the good old USA where it all started. Yes I know there are several tours going right now. But these are usually only in large cities and at the highest grossing shops. And usually only consist of 4-5 stops. Load up the damn van and drive stopping at every shop or local park you can find along your route rather they support you or not. Guarantee you that after a trip or 2 like that you will see a return in sales. Happened a lot in the 80’s and in to the 90’s. Yes social media wasn’t there I get that. But there is something about seeing live demos or autograph signings over them talking on social media.

• Try and flow at least one kid in every shop some type of product. That will make the other kids start going there I hopes of getting flow and will help with building shop loyalty.

• Make it so kids have to be shop sponsored before getting flow! Just hooking up every kid that posts up some crazy video on you tube or hooking up a skater because there friends with one of the pros is bullshit. And trust me, a lot of people getting product in the industry are just getting it because of who they know not because of their ability.

Now let me talk to all the skaters out there. First off we fucked up! I say we because we are guilty of supporting a big chain store at one point in our life weather we are ordering from one online or shopping in the store directly. If you haven’t then I’m proud of you and thank you!

How many of you have seen your favorite shop close? Im sure a lot of you. That could have been happened for a couple possible reasons.

1- We failed to support our local shops and they couldn’t afford to stay open.

2- They couldn’t compete with the big chain stores.. but why couldn’t they? I mean if we were supporting our local shops and not the big chain stores I’m not sure how that would have happened… hmm

3- They were just plain shitty at controlling their finances.

What you can do to help.. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SKATESHOP!!!!

To the Pro skaters out there. Skating for smaller brands wont get you multi-million dollar paychecks but I promise if you put in the work and support the core brands you will be able to survive. The more you help the core brands grow the less the big industry businesses will have control over skateboarding, And the scene will grow again. And when it grows you get paid.. if that’s what your worried about.

Final thoughts… Some may say the industry was dying and the corporations have helped it. Honestly that’s bull shit and you know it!! It started to die when they bought in to the industry and we as skaters started supporting them and not the local shops. That is why the industry started a downward spiral. Also what happens when that one big company .. I’m sure we all know who I’m talking about decides to pull out of small local shops that had to buy in to their corporate bull shit just to stay afloat. Hmm no more local shops!! Now fast forward a couple years down the road when there isn’t money to be made in skateboarding or they see a decline in sales. Think they are going to stick around because they love skateboarding?? HELL NO! They are going to save their asses and bail on us. Leaving a disaster in their wake. Brands gone shops closed. Then what? It will be like these natural disasters we keep seeing. We are going to have to get back to the basics and start over again from scratch. But shit I’d almost be ok with that if it got people back to skating for the love and passion they hold for skateboarding… Sincerely, A skater keeping it real!”

Sent on: 22 September, 2017″

I immediately shot a reply off to Mike:

That’s hysterical! Apparently I have a ghost writer now, because I did not write a single word of that. Whoever did write it is pretty good, though. Maybe I just found my pathway to retirement…

It is missing a lot of the “Bud Stratford style”, though (as I’m sure you noted). Nobody beats the original, Mikey…! Signed -The Real (Not The Fake) B.

WOW! That is incredible. 1400 words, and it’s NOT YOU???? That is fucking insane. You gotta, gotta, GOTTA expand and comment!!! Seriously amazing! That has never happened to me.

Me neither, buddy. Me neither…

You know, it’s pretty funny…

I’m pretty stoked, actually. If somebody wants to use my name and identity to speak their mind, and say what they’re really feeling and thinking… in some way, that’s progress. At least they’re talking, y’know? It’s kinda weird for me to be the vehicle for that. But if it gets something done, then I’m cool with it.

I wonder who else our “Ghost Me” sent this to….? Interesting question, isn’t it…….?

I think I will encourage him to write again.

How? Didn’t he use my e-mail address as the return address…?

I never thought about that. Yeah. How strange.

Ah well, at least we got a chuckle out of it today. Maybe he’ll write again. Especially if we give this chap a little publicity along the way.

Even better: maybe he’ll go balls out, and start e-mailing IASC and BRA. Wouldn’t that be the tits…? Then I really could retire!

As far as commenting on the letter is concerned… I don’t think that’s really necessary. I published it as the first letter to the editor on my website. At the end of the day, I think that says it all, doesn’t it…?

Until the next issue-

Bud Stratford, Executive Director, Everything Skateboarding