EXCLUSIVE STUFF This an article of Fingerboarding Magazine Issue #7 written by Gil Dias
Ever since I first set my eyes on a fingerboard – even before the first tech decks, when there were fully solid transparent plastic fingerboards – I remember so well wanting to have one. You know, that feeling of “OMG I gotta have that” or at least “I want to see and hold that live”…
So, we all know too well how nowadays we are blessed with an incredible diversity of excellent fingerboard products. Thank you, amazing brands, for allowing us to achieve this level of pleasure with our fingers! That is a fact.
However, in a given time, (way before, those who may have been fingerboarding for a long time, in an era when plastic decks seemed to be the pinnacle of it all) who doesn´t remember the first time they set their eyes on a Berlinwood? Or just the image of a Berlinwood, right? Even other defunt brands, from the pre-bearing wheels era, those side images showing decks with several plyes of wood… I mean… WOW! How amazing was that?
If you were into fingerboarding – like I was – you knew you wanted one. You HAD TO have one… not just because of the (obvious) idea that their performance would be way better – I am talking here about the Object of desire that a wooden deck is, and has been ever since they appeared.
Along the timeline of this bizarre nerdish culture, a stream of brands with their one identities popped up like mushrooms, after Berlinwood broke new ground with realism – I will name a few companies that I remember from this 27/28mm era (not implying in any way that they are or were in any way better or worse than those I will surely forget to mention) offered wooden decks that would make our hearts beat faster:
The standard. Crazy sexy bottom plyes, with colours blending together or simply good looking wooden bottom plyes.
Amazingly good looking, this brand achieved an almost mythologic status! Never or rarely to be bought, legends had arisen of incredible performance. Once upon a time they were very well known for the Kura shape and the shiny metal bottom plyes. Never having had an online shop, small stocks would sellout in minutes on the Fingerboard Store.
Clean, straight, simple and beautiful. Colourful and exotic bottom plyes and unique shapes offered already then a solid alternative to Berlinwoods.
Incredibly good looking, with a strong brand identity, yellow wooden plyes alternated with dark ones, and a realistic skateboard shape (first shape with dips I can remember), with a very strong emphasis on graphics.
What is this (I remember then)? That´s homemade? You gotta be kidding me… Incredibly solid alternative to berlinwood or any other brand out there – sexy as hell since birth, these decks broke ground to this day being the original custom deck brand.
Sexy graphics on diverse shapes, this brand appeared presenting itself with a very high standard in Graphic Design, having since then set the pace for high-end requirements packaging and graphic-wise.
At the time, probably the best relationship quality/price to be found. Looked great and offered several shapes to choose from, presenting already at that time all kick angles and concave measurements, way ahead of its time. (Dozens of other legit brands already existed then – all beloved by so many fingerboarders who swore to them!)
Why even bother naming companies? Simply to state that even with all the differences, then as now, all these companies had in common the idea of creating something one would desire, one would want to have, or at least hold. Or ride and tryout in a meeting or Jam. To feel it. To compare how they performed, for us, with the desire we had felt when we first heard or had seen it on some image, or video, online.
When all there was before were plastic decks, these companies broke new ground, creating original ways to present and sell themselves (not out) to a new underground of crazy people who loved skateboarding with their fingers. What they did not have to offer, were original skateboard graphics. What they did however offer, was the same feeling, the same idea of miniature realism echoing the “big” skateboards.
They became objects of desire. This was achieved (I´d like to think) without thoroughly thought-out strategies but through a lot of love that went into dyeing, molding, pressing, drilling, shaping and varnishing each and every deck. Attention to detail, craftsmanship and even pride directed tremendous amounts of energy, rooted in several individuals well-known in the scene as some kind of Alchemists who successfully converted wood veneers into miniature skateboard decks that you, me and any fingerboard-lover would deeply desire. In different ways, different-looking companies presented their products in unique ways.
All of this energy is actually hidden when we meet, be it to compete or just to hang-out and use fingerboarding as the all-too-well-known “excuse for travelling, meeting and hanging out with friends” as Paolo Melillo used to say… In a way, any deck not too shabby will be good enough to perform and execute almost everything you want. I mean, I have seen in 2007 Masserra doing nollie-heelflips on a package of cigarettes. I have seen Loz using an old oversized kind-of fingerboard pencil sharpener I had to make treflip crooks one after another. So… the idea of performance is in the end something that can easily be overcome with skill for those who are true wizards of performance (not my case!). So in the end, what really matters is how some deck can become what I like to think as the “ultimate object of desire”. Me, I´m a sucker for any good-looking deck. In these Instagram fueled days, every day I drool over some crazy sexy deck. Homewood, Berlinwood, Lowpro, Flatface, Yellowood, Planktoon, Flint… I mean… I could go on and on and on with this…Nowadays it´s ridiculous, in a way, the amount of great companies that exist. And most of them successfully manage to present their products in a way that they can become Objects of desire. So take care and enjoy the era you live in. Remember: you only need one deck to ride but if you love this like I do, Desire will overcome the rational need (which should be limited to one deck only, unless you have more hands) and from time to time you may find yourself trying out a new brand, changing your setup, or having more than one setup ending up with a small harem of your exclusive lovers you like to ride every now and then. There is nothing wrong with it – it too is fingerboarding. All of this is.
In the end, keep fingerboarding and enjoy the time you live in – surrounded by Objects of Desire – support the scene and if you can, support several brands – preferably those brands that give back to the scene through events where culture can expand. Have fun!
Text: Gil Dias
Pictures: Random google search