I would like to give Lee Smith a warm welcome to the what it [dot] be ® family. He recently came through and filled n some [dots]. If you don’t know who Lee Smith is then first off you need to sit back and watch his most memorable part he had in FTC’s vid “A thin line between love and haight”. Lee Smith was part of a legendary San Fran street skating movement that was happening in the nineties when EMB was in it’s prime. Street Skating in general was in it’s coming of age years. And that meant that wherever you went skateboarding during that time, whether east or west there wasn’t a bunch of us yet, the spots were crispy and new and there was mad love. None of todays who did what where and who’s talking what about who, it was just pure fun skateboarding. Sometimes I think you can watch a part someone put together and tell by their part whether or not they had fun making it. I guess that’s why I have hit repeat on Lee’s footage before. And that’s why I am hyped to have Lee up on the [dot]. So let’s read up on how he filled in those [dots]…

Lee, fill n the [dots]…

My nationality is…

My nationality is American, the good ol’ U.S. and A., my mother is African American and my father Italian, I don’t know him though, papa was a rolling stone! That’s my ethnicity, people often get nationality and ethnicity confused.

Lee Smith and Julio Arnau in front of FTC

Lee Smith and Julio Arnau in front of FTC

The first official spot I learned a trick at was…

A real trick? Hmmm it took me a while because at first I was skating by myself by my house, I was doing weird tricks that I thought I invented, weird hand things, then I went to Embarcadero and saw what skating was all about, that’s where I first learned to do kickflips and shuv it’s and so on.

Skateboarding to me means…

Skateboarding has been my world for a long time, it has brought me all over the world, given me great friends from all walks of life and from many different countries, it is a world apart from normal life, we don’t think or act the same as normal people, which has it’s good and bad side. It’s also good to step outside of the skate world at times because you can’t skate forever and it’s easy to get so wrapped up in skateboarding that when it’s time to enter the real world you’re a bit culture shocked, but all in all skateboarding has been very good to me, I love her!

For the younger generation out there, Embarcadero was…

Embarcadero was a plaza in San Francisco that was at the forefront of street skating in the 90′s. People were coming from all over the world to skate there. A lot of the pro skaters you see today grew up skating there, Mike Carroll, Karl Watson, Lavar & Marcus McBride, Mike York, and skate legends like Jovontae Turner, James Kelch, Henry Sanchez and many more. A lot of friends that I have now I met at EMB when I was skating there, friends from France, Japan, and England that I still hang out with 17 years later, it was an amazing time to say the least, RIP EMB!

A day at EMB that I could never forget is…

Oh man everyday was new adventure, I can’t really pinpoint one exact day but you know at that time there were no Facebooks or cell phones so you wanted to be there all the time so you didn’t miss the action! Nobody wanted to be the guy that came the next day and had to hear “oh man where
were you yesterday, James fought 5 dudes or Henry did this trick or we met 5 girls and went back to their house etc..” Everyday some hijinx were going on. But at the same time things were happening like that in many places in the world, from Pulawski Park in DC, Love Park in Philly, all the NY boys skating the Brooklyn Banks and Astor Place, even in Paris with the crew at Le Dome, and the Sants boys here in Barcelona, so many people living in a parallel universe at the same time, creating great skateboarding and just being young and free. It’s crazy to think that most of us from all these places all know each other now, skating is incredible.

First board company to hook me up was…

The first board company to really hook me up was ATM Click which was Mark Gonzales’ company at the time, he came to EMB with Joey Suriel and Fabian Alomar and I guess he liked the way I was skating so he sent me a package the following week and shortly after flew me down to his house in Huntington Beach, I was shocked, one minute I’m watching the Blind video religiously and next thing you know I’m at the Gonz’s house and going skating with him everyday.

A Gonz story back in the ATM era…

Hmmm. a Gonz story… we never really did any tours or filmed for videos or anything like that during the ATM days, we mostly just hung out in Huntington and Long Beach,
skating, drawing, and drinking Boones Farm wine. I remember him telling me that I
should try not to be so gangster, cause I used to wear my hat backwards and smoke
cigs occasionally. That’s when he made that ad of me with all the smokes in my mouth, the
caption of the ad was “Restless Youth”. I wish I had a better Gonz story for you.

As a west coast skater my thoughts on east coast skating are…

I love the East, I love the people and the skating. In the 90′s a lot of the East coast skaters were coming to EMB to skate, Chris Keefe, Keenan Milton, Gino Iannucci, Maurice Key, Joey Alvarez, Keith Hufnagel, Steven Cales, Stevie Williams, Jim Gordy and so many more. So we (EMB skaters) have always had a strong connection with the East coast skate scene. I have to admit that at that time we all admired the NY boys and all wished we were from NY! The music, the slang, the style, everything. East coast skating is raw, it’s pure, and it looks amazing on film.

homies chillin' on the couch

homies chillin' on the couch

Not only did I fall in love with Spain for the skate spots but also…

Well when I first came here I was living in LA so it was a complete 180 as to what I was used to. People in the streets, everybody having a good time, skating from spot to spot and just having this feeling of being free. One of the things that really attracted me was how non violent it is here. I mean coming from the states you’re on alert at all times, whether you’re aware of it or not. I felt comfortable here, relaxed and not on edge. That was a big thing, also I just really like Europe, so having BCN as a center point and being able to travel to Paris, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, etc… really attracted me, I’m not traveling so much now as I’m in the store all the time but hopefully I’ll be off to somewhere soon!

A lesson a great Spainard skater once taught me…

Hahaha, I can’t really say any one skater here has taught me any lessons but living here I have learned to relax, and try not to sweat the small stuff, enjoy everyday and take life as it comes.

Besides skateboarding…

I’m a pretty chill dude, I just like to travel as much as I can, meet new people and have new experiences in life. I like to go bowling also, I’m into it! I used to draw a lot and play the trumpet
and those are two things that I really need to get back into, art and music are good for the soul.

In “A thin line between love and haight” I was the quality control person, that meant…

Uh, was I the quality control person?! Hahaha, I guess I was one of them, that meant I sat in the editing room at times drinking beers and saying, “that’s cool” or “that’s not cool”!

If I could choose a pair of shoes to rock again and again it would be…

Wow, only one? It’s a toss up between the Vans “Chukka Boot” or the Kareem Campbell “KCK’s”.

homies at night

homies at night

The first time I met Keenan Milton…

Wow, I can’t really remember the first time I met Keenan, I guess it was in SF, he came out with Huf and they rode for FUN which was Ron Allen’s board company at the time. He was staying in Oakland at our friend Aris’s warehouse, Ben Sanchez lived there as well, they had a skatepark inside, and we would skate there all the time. Keenan was the coolest dude ever, if you didn’t like him something was wrong with you, one of those types of guys. I heard a story once that there was a Matix tour here in Europe and JB Gillet was on the tour, for some reason Sean Sheffey was picking on JB the whole time and finally Keenan had had enough, he stepped up for JB and snuffed Sheffey, I mean punching Sheffey is crazy. I guess Sheffey was so surprised he just laughed and it was all good after
that, that was Keenan. But I wasn’t there so I hope I got it right.

Keenan Milton nollie inward heel in Big Brother

Keenan Milton nollie inward heel in Big Brother

A skate photo that I could never forget…

Wow, a long time ago (1990 or so) there was a two page spread in Transworld of Matt Hensley doing an ollie on this transition under a freeway overpass, I can’t remember exactly how it was but it was amazing, it was artistic and really well shot and it was Matt Hensley, one of my
favorite skaters.

Matt Hensley frontside ollie under an overpass in Transworld

Matt Hensley frontside ollie under an overpass in Transworld

The way FTC came about…

Well I grew up in SF and have been going to FTC for about 20 years so I’ve always been down with Kent and FTC, like the rest of the city boys, being down with FTC came naturally.

In the last FTC vid I was just talking to Ando and he said he wanted to do another vid, I had a bunch of footage already so I just filmed a few more things and it was good to go. I was happy with how it turned out, Some of my footage was filmed by Ty Evans and other footage was filmed by random friends, it wasn’t all super professionally filmed but I liked it that way, a bit of sketchyness.

So a year ago me and my friend Julio Arnau opened FTC Barcelona, I approached Kent with the idea, he was down for it and here we are. We just want to bring the vibe of FTC to Barcelona and to Europe as a whole, that is 100% skateboarding, we support the scene here and we are skaters ourselves so we know what’s up.

Raul Navarro

Raul Navarro is a good friend of mine, BCN local and just an overall beast on a skateboard. He taught me Spanish!! He was one of the first people here that I started speaking Spanish with, he always made me feel comfortable. He’s a humble guy, keeps to himself and is not all up in the “scene” what more can I say about Raul? He handles business!

Music I am feeling right now…

I’m all over the place! You can catch me bumping some “Drake” and next
thing you know I’m listening to “Wild Nothing”….. I’m emo gangsta!

The people that inspire me today…

I get inspired everyday by little things that I see walking to work or sitting having a coffee. I get inspired when I see people being kind to one another in the street, people that don’t know each other, random acts of kindness, life is pretty simple and people seem to make it more difficult than it needs to be more often than not.

Hubba hideout…

Yeah I was just in SF a few months ago, the day they tore it down we went to go check it out. I think every amazing trick that I saw there has been documented. Tricks that stick out in my mind are Karl Watson’s frontside noseslide 270 out and Lennie Kirk’s switch bs 180 to 5-0. Lavar did everything, and Koston’s bs nose bluntslide and Kalis’s switch bs tailslide are legendary as well. And let’s not forget about Carroll, front feeble was killer.

A fact about FTC no one really knows about…

Hahaha, FTC fun facts?! Here’s a fact, if you come to SF, you rip and are
cool, you’ll be down with FTC!!

Lee and Julio holding an FTC board inside the shop

Lee and Julio holding an FTC board inside the shop

Also is there a new FTC video coming soon? Will you have a part?

We’ve been talking about doing a vid with Claravall maybe combining all 4 stores into one mega FTC vid, but it’s still in the works. Actually I don’t know if I should be talking about that!

Best beer out of Spain…

Heineken!! Que noooo, hmmmm, I don’t drink beer that much, I like to relax with a glass of white wine. But I guess I would say Voll Damm, double malt son!

The biggest difference to me about Europe and America are…

That’s tough to say because Europe is a big place full of many different cultures. There are vast differences between each culture and each country. But I guess I would say that the biggest difference between Europeans as a whole and Americans is that Europeans don’t carry guns and don’t want guns.

If Donald Trump runs for president…

If he wins maybe he’ll send a deep sea scuba team to find Osama Bin Laden’s remains and auction them off to a wealthy private collector, and use the money to help out with the US deficit. I’m so out of the loop when it comes to politics, who knows anymore?!

Any shouts or thank yous…

Thanks to Julio Arnau, Anna Martinez Harris, FTC BCN, FTC SF, FTC Japan and FTC Sacramento crews, Girl & Choco family, Diamond Supply Co. family, and all my friends in LA, SF, NY, BCN and everywhere else, they know who they are, and thanks to you guys for letting me ramble on, peace out!

everyone at FTC skateshop

everyone at FTC skateshop

Leave a comment »
fill in the [dots] conducted by Alex Raspa

Questions by Alex Raspa

signature for Alex Raspa