For Toby

Last night, a beautiful soul moved on to his next adventure. In October, I sent Toby the following message:

Who you are to me.

You’ve always been a positive person. I always looked up to my older brother’s friends, and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, but age and timing almost always made that difficult. Although you aren’t the exact same age as him, you’re close enough that I always associated you with that group of people. The difference was that you were accessible, and didn’t mind hanging out with a 16 year old punk. You didn’t mind caterwauling stratacasters with me in my parents’ basement, even though I had no idea what the hell I was doing. What I was playing sounded like an episode of looney tunes, played backwards while being run through a meat grinder. Still, there you were, standing across the room, rocking out like Hendrix, with a giant smile on your face, looking back at me & cheering me on.

When my guitar playing progressed enough to allow me to actually play along with other people, you were the one who sat with me on the steps at Veteran’s park, running through Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Today,’ and threading lead notes through whatever three chords I knew at the time. It was you and me, getting stoned on three steps that lead to the bottom of a river, actualizing thoughts through music.

It’s no surprise that you were part of the first band I was ever a member of. Forged in the projection room of the Malek Theater, Couch Trip was an alt-psycodelic-prog-rock-power-trio, the likes of which Buchanan County had never seen. If I remember correctly, we had one practice, and it was earth shattering.

Did you know that I had a reoccurring dream about you for about 7 years? When I was 14, I was walking up main street and you came power sliding around the corner by Security State Bank, with leather gloves on your hands, and a Powel Parelta under your feet. That 5 second memory would show up in the middle of random dreams for the better part of a decade. There I’d be, flying through Metropolis, playing on stage with Pearl Jam, or making love to a woman, and all the sudden, BOOM! Here’s Toby Albright! Skate or Die Mother fucker!

I was just as happy to see you in those dreams as I was to see you in person the last time we were face to face. I was visiting from Seattle, and ran through Independence with my parents. We were hungry and stopped at Subway. I was standing in line, and caught a smile out of the corner of my eye that could only belong to you. I walked over. We both started laughing, and without saying a word, gave each other a giant hug. You were the only familiar and loving face I saw during that stop in Independence, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So, this is who you are to me. You are a positive, loving, inspirational person, who loves laughing and encouraging other people to laugh with you. Without you, I never would have continued playing guitar. If I had given up playing guitar, I wouldn’t have the life I do now.

My life is pretty darn good. Thank you for helping create that possibility.

Carry on, Toby. Kiss the sky.

If you know Toby, please consider donating on gofundme… which will help cover his medical expenses.

Topo Designs: Made in USA

A large part of Topo Designs is their ideas around simplicity and the sense of connectedness with the things we own. Being outdoors is a very spiritual thing, and the guys at Topo enjoy the quietness and calm that is ever present in nature. They wanted to compliment that idea by creating things that worked very well but weren’t unnecessarily complicated or overshadowed by the latest technology so the outdoor experience was undisturbed and took center stage. Topo wants you to take off our bag or coat for a rest on the trail and feel like you’re removing a little piece of who you are, and not a piece of gadgetry that just didn’t meld into that natural environment.

A big part of that inherent connectedness also relies on how and where Topo makes their products. They hold their home base in Colorado, close to their heart. In Colorado, Topo Designs work with their friends and neighbors to make their products, and every time they use them… they carry a little piece of that community around with them. Mark Hansen likes comparing the idea with the amazing new world of food here in the US. We’ve seen such a rise of interest and engagement within the organic and local food movement lately, and it’s incredible. You can now go to just about any grocery store and buy local, organic, high quality food, or run to any number of farmers markets on the weekend and meet the people who are producing it.

Topo asked; why should what we wear and what we carry be any different? The homegrown company loves the idea of being able to translate that movement to the outdoor world with high quality gear and clothing that is produced locally by and with their neighbors. People can stop by the Topo Designs shop, meet everyone in person, and hopefully feel a little sense of a bigger community every time they use a Topo product.

We are proud to sell products by Topo Designs, through Stoke Harvester. Check out what they have to offer, by clicking here.

i was a skate rat.

i was a skate rat.

The sun drenched, cascade of sub and ex-urban cul-de-sacs crawl across the state of Florida, much like its creeping kudzu brethren to the north. A constant source of derision among urban planning futurists, architects, and environmentalists alike, the vague banality of suburban life has been excoriated for years by the culture class for representing the life draining, and waste producing by-product of our civilization’s greatest advances. Skateboarding, like life, as is so menacingly projected in 1993’s Jurassic Park, will find a way. It is in these island-like colonies, without the music scenes, without advantageous architectural density, and without the crews of peers that drove skating to new heights in urban environments, that some of skateboarding’s most pivotal moments transpired.

I was a Skate Rat, is a brief meditation on the nature of how suburban nomadic skateboarders find each other, build communities – and as is often the case in adversarial environments – use every inch of their limitations and blank canvas, to breed ideas that influence the life of skateboarders every day. From the kick flip, to the kick tail, Floridians are responsible for scores of technical and cultural advancements – and they are all skate rats.

words from Trey Edwards

In conjunction with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s traveling exhibition INNOSKATE 2014, presented in Florida by The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation & The Polk Museum of Art.

Film by Drew Miller.

Next week we celebrate our four year anniversary. To memorialize the occasion, we gave the website a facelift. We’re also doing a limited run of our classic hoodie, and tractor tee. Each are available in an assortment of colors. To accommodate that assortment, we are requesting people place their orders by Nov 23rd. This also helps ensure your will order will arrive safely at your A-frame, trailer, or cubbyhole, in time for Christmas.

Click here, to order yourself some new digs.