From March 10-13th, 2017, T Mag, Matt Hensley and the original H-Street skate crew was in the same place, at the same time, for the first time in nearly thirty years…
Finalizing this piece, Tony and I had one last chat before I head into this looming deadline. He had this to say:
“We really can’t talk about my life now without talking about H-Street. That’s where I’m at.”
The Trip of a Lifetime
So here we go…
In January last year, Dave Hackett wanted to introduce me to Mag. A couple of weeks later, I’m sitting in the loading bay of Osiris interviewing one of the most influential skaters/business owners of my childhood, Tony Magnusson.
Mag, tailgrab over the hip. Photo by Dave Hackett
In late February, Tony asked me to come up and meet Matt Hensley. I accepted, of course. He had me at, “Hey, it’s Tony”…
They offered me a job: follow and film The Magnificent 7, cross-country and through the Bahamas. I had maybe fifteen days to prepare for the trip of a lifetime. By the time I walked out of that meeting, I was booking flights for my wife and I, ordering extra memory cards, portable hard drives, and additional microphones. I basically spent every cent (and then some) of the contract before I ever hit the airport. It was worth every penny!
Left to right: Ortega on the plane; Mag & Monica; Schultes & Mag arriving at the airport.
With the help of Skatepark Tampa, the first-of-its-kind half-pipe was built aboard a cruise ship… while at sea! This created a unique scenario for this legendary crew to rip: ride & slash while catching up and listening to live music from bands like Flogging Molly, NOFX, English Beat, and The Fucking Godoy’s, to name a few.
Left: The Crew; Right: Hensley overseeing the construction of the ramp on board the cruise ship
I spoke with each member several times over the trip and asked a few questions regarding the passage of time; inspiration and lifelong friends, here are a few words from Ron, Eddie, Ortega and Art Godoy:
What did it mean to spend 3 days with your H-Street brothers in the Bahamas after all these years?
Ron – “It was awesome to see all those guys.!. Especially Schultes, I don’t remember him being so funny! He had me busting up, great guy! Plus, really got to hang & drink with Ortega, that was epic! [I] Spent late-night talking with Sal and Hostetter, they blew my mind… plus all that music! Also, the homies of Skatepark Tampa coming and building the ramp aboard the ship, hanging out with those guys was epic as well. It was great to see all of them!”
Eddie – “It was the best, skating on a mini-ramp on a cruise ship was epic, bucket list material.”
Steve O. – “Indescribable; 3 days with friends that had a huge influence in shaping ones character.”
Art – “It was unreal. So much time had passed so quickly that until that night it was hard to stop and realize what we had all accomplished as a whole. The changes that really made skateboarding what it is today. Some of us became obsolete, but in the end sometimes there are sacrifices for the greater good. It was a great night. Seeing everyone there was really cool… fuckin’ champions! We didn’t all hang out all the time back in the day; we did our own things. Yet somehow there was a real sense of pride and unity then, but at the reunion it felt magnified. I think everyone felt the same. The Magnificent 7 release party, the Salty Dog Cruise… all of us there, it was fuckin’ great! It felt new again.”
Clockwise from left: Way, Schultes, and Mag; Art and Steve Godoy; Art with Steve Ortega
A couple of weeks after the unforgettable trip, I sat down with Mag at H-Street Skateboards interim HQ to catch-up and get his (now digested) thoughts on the experience. Here’s a section of the interview and what the ringleader had to say:
What did it mean to you to have the whole crew together again after so many years had passed?
It was rad! I don’t know if all of us have been at the same place, ever. Maybe at the video premier of ‘Hokus Pokus’ in 1989… it was impossible to ignore the magic!
When I asked Matt, he echoed Mag’s impression stating, “I just couldn’t believe it. I was standing ramp-side watching all of my friends and then, from across the pool NOFX starts playing! I felt like I was about to be arrested or something –it was perfect!”
Left to right: Matt Hensley, John Schultes, and Sal Barbier.
So, did the reunion bring about reissues or…?
Actually, it was the other way around. About a year or so ago [2015/2016], Danny, Matt, and I wanted to do reissues of all of the Magnificent 7 decks –original artwork, every detail. I’ve logged 1,000’s of hours re-mastering our original artwork; this led to talking about trying to get everyone together, which we somehow pulled it off.
Left: Mag, backside 5-0 on the floating ramp, Right: “That’s all, folks!”
Random H-Street Fact:
According to Tony, “the H-Street name came about because we wanted a company [therefore a name] that would be inclusive. We noticed just about every town we went to had an H-Street, so we went with that.”
When I spoke with Art Godoy about those early days, his response was that “Everyone was inspired and fueled by what was happening with the company. We all felt like our contributions were valued, and you could really feel it in the way things evolved. We were all like gears in a car. It wouldn’t function the same with any missing gears. That was the inspiration.”
Mag is well known for his positive attitude, generosity, and mentoring young Southern California skaters (and snowboarders) for over three decades now. Hell, his snowboard company was called Evol –love backwards.
Along with Mike Ternasky, Tony has been credited with discovering and developing countless top pro skateboarders. Among these, the incredibly talented San Diego native Danny Way who was only twelve years old when he was recruited to the H-Street Team and began filming “Shackle Me Not” with the crew.
When I asked Tony about Mr. Way, he said “Ternasky and I kept hearing about this little kid slaying Del Mar Skate Ranch and thought ‘how good could he really be?’ [Again, he was only 12 yrs. old at the time]. Then we saw him ride -it was obvious, we immediately knew this kid was special.”
Today, Danny is widely considered one the most skilled skateboarders on the planet. This is but one example of the generosity and positive energy Tony has put into our community over the past three decades.
Another example would be on August 26th of last year (2017), Tony brought the bulk of the H-Street OG’s to Clash at Clairemont, an annual fund raiser benefitting kids with cancer and their families.
Mag and H Street showed support for Grind For Life by shredding the massive bay-side half-pipe in San Diego during the Pro Demo. Hensley was there shaking hands and both the Godoy brothers and Ron Allen (M.C. Intelligence) did full sets –all for free and in support of those battling cancer.
Left: Mag, stalefish, photo by Piero Photo. Center: Art and Steve on stage. Right: Ron Allen takes the stage.
Between his H-Street and Osiris brands, Mag has supported hundreds of amateur (in addition to pro) skaters in Southern California and around the globe. Additionally, his brands provide commissioned- based sales rep jobs all over the planet and he has created long-term, permanent positions at home in San Diego. We’re not talking about minimum-wage jobs; we’re talking actual adult jobs where these people can feed their families, pay their bills, and enjoy life.
Ten jobs may not sound like a lot, but consider this: if just a fraction of those reading this (say 150 people) could create ten full-time jobs in their town, while pursuing their passion, it would lift up the quality of life for 1500 people and their families. That’s a positive change.
Left: Mag, invert, photo by Piero Photo. Top Right: Art and Christian Hosoi. Bottom Right: Matt Hensley and Christian Hosoi share a laugh.
What the Future Holds
The Matt Hensley/ Steve Ortega Art Show in Oceanside, Ca. doubled as the H-Street board release for the lost model… the Steve Ortega Pro Model was officially released, along with the reissue Matt Hensley King Size (Steve’s deck of choice back in the day) January 17th, 2018.
Left: The “lost” Steve Ortega model (right) and the Hensley King Size (left). Center: Steve Ortega and El Hefe.
So back to my looming deadline on this piece…
Tony and I had one more powwow (for lack of a better term) on January 24th, 2018. We talked about learning from the past, evolution, and what’s next. Here’s what Mr. Magnusson had to say:
So I understand you’re leaving Osiris, can you talk about it?
Yeah! Well, I’m 54, and I still like to skate 3-4 times a week. I recognize that it can’t last forever; the window keeps getting smaller and smaller… so yeah, I’m focusing on H-Street and enjoying ‘that time’.
So who is H-Street now?
It’s myself, Matt [Hensley], Danny [Way] is kind of silent but very supportive, Monica [Tony’s wife] -honestly none of this would function without her, she handles a lot. Additionally, I’d have to say the H-Street supporters, skaters all over the place who just continue to show love and support.
In closing… damn! What a great time with good people. Thanks to everyone at H-Street, Flogging Molly, Krause Family Skate Park in San Diego, Black Plague Brewery, and you for reading.