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Tony Alva: Old Dogs Die Hard

By Andres Pachon

A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.


We screwed up already with the title; you just can’t call Tony Alva an ‘old dog’. What we meant with it is that a man named Tony Alva doesn’t need a cool or creative pun to be introduced; his sole name already stands high enough in the marble tablets of skateboarding history, and anyone reckless enough to say that he or she knows something about him should double check their sources. For separating the myth from the man is a task that can only be fulfilled by nonother than the man in question himself. We are just uttering words that have been repeated over the course of half a century in the collective memories of everyone holding a deck, starring a surfer from Santa Monica who was the witness and protagonist of the never-ending story we’re all about here. Here’s our humble sketch of THE Tony Alva.


Surfer, Skateboarder and Z-Boy


Where do we even start? Almost everything has already been said about Alva and yet you can’t never grasp the whole picture. Maybe we shouldn’t start, but rather ask ourselves where do we begin to understand: and the thing is, when we talk about Alva, we’re talking about how the whole thing began. Tony Alva was part of the next wave of skateboarders (70’s) that succeeded the first ones to ever being seen. As a surfer himself, Alva catch some waves on the beach but also started at a very young age to engage the streets in a skateboard. It is said that his style was aggressive and innovative, for he tried to break free of the freestyle of regular skateboarding by jumping over improvised ramps and taking on empty pools. For this, he’s considered by many vert style pro skaters as the Godfather of Vert.






He was one of the first skateboarders to be sponsored while becoming a pro at his teenage years. Most importantly, skateboarding history wouldn’t be as we know it today if it wasn’t for that fateful day that he, Allen Sarlo, Jay Adams, Chris Cahill and Stacy Peralta formed the Zephyr Skateboard team for a local skate and surfing shop. As years went by, it was clear that in all skateboarding competitions and spots the Z-Boys were in the house. The legend of the sons of Dogtown and the Z-Boys would eternally be engraved in the names of each one of them.


Man Of Many Edges in Skateboarding

As it wasn’t enough, Alva as been promoting Vans’ shoes since the 70’s. He is one of the figure heads in the skateboarding shoes business and the front man of his own company since he was 19: Alva Skates, one of the first skateboard companies to make decks out of the finest Canadian maple wood veneers. He is also credited for inventing the Rip Grip, a material designed to help skateboarders maintain their grip without the tape cutting their fingers or ripping off their shoes.
He also is a great musician and bass guitar player. The Punk Rock scene of the 70’s has been an influence that hardly had left him since his early days. He founded back in 1981 the band Skoundreiz and in 2009 he founded GFP, where he plays the bass and in 2009 joins His Eyes Have Fangs. Alva is the living proof that no matter how many years pass by, no matter how times may change the landscape and yourself, the very thing that makes you who you are will never cease to exist, at least not as long you keep yourself close to your deck and diving with it into an empty pool.



Read also: Steve-O: The Prince of Madness

Read also: Jack Fardell – Pro Skater: Interview With SHIT® Magazine



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