Thursday, April 3, 2008
His passion is evident everywhere. The walls of his home are lined with more than 350 skateboards. His mailbox is made of skate decks. In his living room, hundreds of skate magazines pile up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In his room, thrashed skateboard shoes serve as mementos of epic sessions past. In his garage, loose wheels, grip tape, and still more skateboards create an ambiance that evokes the popular 1980s skate movie Gleaming the Cube. Even the message on his voicemail says, “Hi you’ve reached Zarosh (in the background, sounds of skateboard wheels roll on the concrete) …skate!”
The passion takes other, less concrete, forms: Zarosh Eggleston, 25, meditates for an hour twice a day. During this time, he conjures up ways to approach new and more unthinkable skateboarding maneuvers.
But for a guy hard core enough to earn an appearance in Thrasher Magazine’s 2007 calendar, these things only begin to illustrate his passion for skateboarding.
The primary evidence is an inspired project that others wouldn’t attempt. And it’s very concrete.
On the way to see the improbable project, Eggleston spontaneously demonstrates what made him a team rider with England’s legendary Death Skateboards. As the windy dirt road that runs through Cachagua hills seems to stretch on indefinitely, he asks me to stop. He jumps out and clutches the sides of his board’s nose with his hand. He crouches on his board, hands clasped to the side mirror.
“Let’s get her up to 30mph,” he shouts. I’m hesitant – a fall could give him a Freddy Krueger skin-peel – but I give in to his Zen-like eyes.
The growl of gravel sends chills up the spine as the car gains speed and hurtles the towee along for several minutes. Then, as if nothing life-threatening has happened, he gets back in the car.
To cover my amazement I ask him if he’s made any appearances in any skate magazines lately. He evades the subject – and ends the discussion by saying, “I try not to talk about myself too much. You know how skating goes: It’s not about being better than anyone.”
We get to the house where he lives with his father, a longhaired, skateboard-shoe-wearing dude with a car fully covered in skate/surf stickers.
In the backyard of their home, rolling golden hills provide stomping grounds for mountain lions and bobcats. Then there’s something that doesn’t fit the landscape.
The smooth concrete creation looks like a brand new swimming pool just recently drained – only bigger and with shovels, a concrete mixer, and a generator around it. A vertical drop made of brown bricks gives one portion an urban aesthetic. The entry/drop-in beckons skaters.
This is Eggleston’s wild collaboration: a skate park that could become as awesome as parks like Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Ore., a skater-built park famous for attracting the world’s best pros. The similarity is simple. Since most skaters don’t care about breaking fibias and tibias, they build more dynamic parks that breed big maneuvers. Most public parks are built for safety.
This project, which first began nine months ago, won’t be finished for another two years, in large part because Eggleston and crew are doing it all on their own. Led by Eggleston’s experience as one of the pivotal architects responsible for the construction of Washington Street, a world-class San Diego skate park, the workforce breaks the stereotype that skaters are idle – and fortunately some of Eggleston’s best friends just happen to be rebar-tying professionals (who would normally pull $40 an hour).
Materials – almost all concrete – will cost $5,000. Although Eggleston gets paid from his sponsors (Dekline shoes, Death Skateboards, and Bill’s Wheels in Salinas), Eggleston has his own company, Platypus. With Platypus, Eggleston designs cartoons and characters and spray-paints them on new skateboard decks. When he sells them to local skate shops he takes the proceeds to buy bags of concrete from Murphy’s Lumberyard in Carmel Valley.
As he builds, local skate rats arrive wearing tube socks high, mesh hats backwards. They also wear an eager willingness to receive a free education, unearthing granite with shovels, covering it with concrete and skating its surfaces. It’s not hard to imagine them creating their own concrete fantasies soon.
The completion of this project is two years off both because of the grassroots sell-a-board-and-buy-concrete approach, and the fact that the volunteer team is often tempted to take a break. “Take a run, build, repeat cycle,” is one way the mentality is expressed.
As they lap around the bowl like Micro Machine miniature cars in an empty bathtub, shouted strategies on how it can be improved fly through the valley afternoon like a hawk. Tony Hawk.