The Artwork of Pushead

In 11th grade I sat behind a guy with a mohawk who constantly wore punk rock and metal concert t-shirts. One specific shirt I remember seeing in regular rotation was a Misfits shirt that said “Die, Die my Darling.” Although I didn’t know it at the time, what I was looking at was the artwork of a one Brian “Pushead” Schroeder.

(EDIT: Astute Retroist Daniel Th1rte3n pointed out in the comment section that this particular piece was in fact not created by Pushead, which means that the guy that used to sit in front of me in sociology class lied to me. Check out this Misfits artwork instead, that Pushead did do. Thanks for the tip, Daniel! -Flack)

Schroeder picked the name Pushead (pronounced “pus head”) after stating that he felt like his music and artwork was a “pimple on normal society.” Although he gained brief notoriety as the lead singer of the band Septic Death and as the owner of a small, punk record label, Pushead’s real claim to fame ended up being his artwork, which almost always focuses on skulls or eyeballs (or both). Pushead did several other t-shirt and album/single designs for the Misfits before being hired by an even bigger client: Metallica.

Pretty much any piece of Metallica artwork from the mid-80s to now that contains skulls, Pushead was responsible for. Pushead also did the artwork for the Zorlac’s Metallica skateboard, along with several other Zorlac skateboards. As you can see here, Pushead’s personal style of artwork is unmistakable; anyone who grew up in the 80s and was into skateboarding or heavy metal will recognize it instantly.

Also throughout the 1980s, Pushead worked for the infamous skateboarding magazine Thrasher. During his time there, Pushead worked not only as a writer, but also as an artist providing several magazine covers, graphics, and t-shirt graphics, including this one:

Throughout the years, Pushead’s services have remained in high demand. In the 90s, he created album covers for such bands as Prong and Corrosion of Conformity. Recently, Pushead created his own Nike SB Dunk shoe design. Last year, Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker hired Pushead to create the artwork for Barker’s latest solo album. Again as you can see, Pushead’s artwork style has changed very little over the past 30 years, and yet it still remains in style.

If you would like to see more examples of Pushead’s artwork, visit either the Puszone or the equally appetizingly-named Pusfan.

Thrashin’

thrashin

Some fads are big enough and lucky enough to have entire films dedicated to them. In a historical sense, these films come to represent the times, fashions, cultures, even the language involved in these fads. Breakdancing had Breakin’ (Beat Street being a close second), BMX racing had Rad … heck, even Nintendo had The Wizard. While Gleaming the Cube was a good film, the greatest skateboarding film of all time has got to be Thrashin’.

(In case you missed it, that was Meat Loaf singing the movie’s title track.)

Hot off his role as “Brand” in 1985’s hit film The Goonies, Thrashin’ stars a young Josh Brolin as Corey Webster, a hot young skater from “the Valley” and a member of “the Ramp Locals,” a group of fun-loving skaters. For the summer, Corey has left the Valley and come to stay with the Ramp Locals in Los Angeles while training and getting ready for the L.A. Massacre, a fast and dangerous downhill skateboard race.

It isn’t long before Corey and his pals encounter The Daggers, a local skateboarding gang. The Daggers are led by Hook, played by Robert Rusler who, just one year prior had appeared in both Nightmare on Elm Street Part II (as Grady) and Weird Science (as Max).

Like most other skateboard-related movies, Thrashin’ featured lots and lots of famous skaters of the era. (That was Christian Hosoi, leaping off the top of that car.) This film is known for (among other things) its cheesy dialogue and one liners, many of which I still repeat today. “Breakin’ is a memory.”

Corey Webster soon falls in love with a beautiful blonde named Chrissy, played by Pamela Gidley. In 1985, Gidley won the Wilhemina Modeling Agency’s “Most Beautiful Girl In The World” contest. First place must’ve been a starring role in this film! (While Gidley will always be “Chrissy” to me, to many others, she will always be “Cherry 2000”.)

For anyone who has ever seen or read “West Side Story,” it will come as no surprise that beautiful blonde Chrissy is actually Hook’s sister. We learn this shortly after Webster and Chrissy meet at “The Thrash Bash,” a local bar/club for skaters.

This was actually the first time I had ever seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Fans of the band will recognize original guitarist and founding member Hillel Slovak on guitar. (Slovak passed away from a heroin overdose in 1988.)

When the Ramp Locals aren’t busy fighting with the Daggers, they spend their time having fun and skating in places like the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I love this scene because it doesn’t look like they shut down the block for filming and that all these people just happened to be there.

Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before Hook and the Daggers caught up with Corey. In this riveting scene, the Daggers spot Webster out on his own and give chase. Wild in the streets!

Some of the famous skaters that appear in Thrashin’ (many of which appear as Daggers in that chase scene) include Tony Alva, Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi, Tony Magnussen, Mike McGill, Lance Mountain, Billy Ruff, Steve Steadham, and Per Welinder.

After yet another confrontation between Hook and Webster, Corey’s arm is broken. That doesn’t stop him from entering the L.A. Massacre with a cast on! This scene always looked very dangerous to me and I’ve always wondered if anyone got seriously hurt during filming.

For some reason the only clips I could find of the L.A. Massacre were in Spanish, which just goes to show Thrashin’ was an awesome movie regardless of the language. At least I think that’s what it means.

As I previously mentioned, Thrashin’ has become a cult classic, thanks in part to some of the terrible dialogue. YouTuber “Facetina” uploaded this clip titled “The Top 10 Lines From Thrashin'”, and it contains some winners.

#8 is one of my all time favorite quotes, but it happens so fast that I want to point it out. When Hook is challenging Webster to a fight, he says “be there.” One of the Ramp Locals’ younger brother says, “No, YOU be there!” which is followed by, “YOU shut up!” It’s so fast that it almost sounds adlibbed. Whether or not it was, it’s still genius. To this day, any time I hear someone say “be there” I always follow it with “YOU be there! … YOU shut up.” Few people get the reference.

If nothing else, Thrashin’ taught us that “Cabriolet” (pronounced “cab-REE-oh-lett”) is Hungarian for “fast car”.) Just don’t tell Tracey Chapman

If you would like to see the most awesome skateboarding movie of all time, Thrashin’ is available on DVD from Amazon as well as Netflix.

Or, if you would prefer, I’ll be watching the movie this weekend at 3pm sharp. Be there!

No, YOU be there!

YOU shut up!

Atari’s 720: Skate or Die!

In 1986, Atari released what was, at that time, the definitive skateboarding arcade game. The game’s official name was 720 Degrees, although most of us referred to it as simply “720”.

In 720, you must earn money by skating your way through four different events (ramp, downhill, slalom, and jump). You’ll need to score points to earn tickets to enter those events, and you’ll need to earn money to buy better equipment to improve your performance. One of the most memorable moments of the game was when killer bees would come out to chase you and the game would say “Skate or DIE!” in a booming voice.

The name “720 Degrees” literally refers to spinning around 720 degrees, making two complete rotations. In real life, at least back in 1986, pulling off a 720 seemed like an impossible trick. (In the late 80s, Tony Hawk successfully landed a 720. Ten years later he landed a 900, or two-and-a-half rotations, at the 1999 X-Games.)

There are many unique things about 720. The first thing you’ll notice is the uniquely-shaped cabinet with a giant boom box on top (complete with a “cassette” that lit up and two working speakers!). 720 also used a unique controller that looked like a joystick but rotated (off center) like a spinner. There’s no other game that uses this controller, or anything like it. A third unique thing about 720 machines is that they are ungodly heavy. A Ms. Pac-Man cabinet weighs around 250 pounds; 720 machines, due to their oversized monitor and dense base, weigh in at over 400 pounds.

After buying my first arcade game back in 1994, I made a list of “holy grail” games that I would someday like to own, and number one on the list was 720. It took me fifteen years to track down one that was (a) affordable, (b) in good condition, and (c) within 500 miles of my house, but in 2009 I finally tracked one down, not 10 miles away from my home.

skate-or-die-01

If I look a little smug in that picture, that’s because I was. Note that for some reason, this particular machine was missing the side artwork. Last year I purchased new-old-stock (NOS) decals, and applied them. The thing looks and plays mint (and it should, for what I paid for it!).

I’m a pretty big fan of 720. Not only do I own the machine, but I also own a few other 720 collectibles as well. Like many other popular arcade games of the day, 720 made its way to several home gaming systems. I own a copy of the game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, along with a boxed copy for my favorite retro computer, the Commodore 64.

skate-or-die-02

When they said this game brought home the “arcade’s ultimate aerial experience” … they were lying.

The Commodore 64 version of the game was released both on floppy disk and on cassette. Those lucky enough to pick up the cassette version received an extra treat: a complete copy of the game’s soundtrack on the back side of the cassette!

skate-or-die-03

Using way too much time, resources and equipment, I actually converted my cassette to mp3s so that I can listen to the music from 720 Degrees on my iPod no matter where I go. SKATE OR DIE!

A couple of years ago, Nike released several limited edition versions of their SB Dunks shoes. One limited edition pair was the “720 Dunks”. While the shoes don’t resemble the shoes worn by the skater in the actual game, they do incorporate all the colors used in the game’s artwork. In the picture below, you can see how they incorporated the hot pink, orange, cyan blue, yellow, and black and gray from the game’s artwork into the shoe’s design. If you look closely at the back of the shoe you can even see the black and white checkerboard pattern from the flyer.

skate-or-die-04

These limited edition Nike SB Dunks were offered both as low tops and high tops. I own a pair of each.

You can read more about 720 at Arcade-Museum.com, and check out scans of the flyer over at the Arcade Flyer Archive. Anyone wanting to scratch their 720 itch (and not shell out the cash for an arcade machine!) can track down Midway Arcade Treasures (available on the PS2, GameCube, or Xbox) or fire up a copy of MAME.

Gleaming the Cube

Although it wasn’t my favorite skateboarding-themed movie, Gleaming the Cube was probably the most popular and commercially successful of the bunch.

(Thanks to RetroJunk for uploading this awesome trailer to YouTube!)

Coming in on the tail end of skateboarding’s resurgence, 1989’s Gleaming the Cube starred Christian Slater as a skateboarding punk investigating the murder of his adopted brother.

Once again the legendary skateboarding Bones Brigade made an appearance in this film. Led by Stacy Peralta, some of the more famous skaters that appeared in the film included Mike McGill, Mark “Gator” Rogowski, Rodney Mullen, Eric Dressen, Lance Mountain, Mike Vallely, Natas Kaupas, Tommy Guerrero, and many others. The film also features Tony Hawk as “Buddy,” a Pizza Hut delivery driver.

For some reason back in the 1980s I was really good at winning radio dial-in contests. I owned a phone with over-sized buttons (that helped me dial quickly) along with redial and “flash” features, all of which helped me dial radio stations both quickly and repeatedly. Late one night I ended up winning tickets to the debut showing of Gleaming the Cube. Along with the movie tickets, I also won a movie poster and this t-shirt:

gleaming-the-cube-t-shirt

This shirt hasn’t fit in 20 years, and I recently donated it to Goodwill. I hope whoever buys it has at least heard of the movie. It would be even more awesome if they were a skater.

Random Trivia: The term “gleaming the cube” is a nonsense term. “In a 1983 interview with Thrasher magazine, pro-skater Neil Blender was asked if he had ever “gleemed inside a cube,” which is apparently where the term came from. In the film, Slater’s character defines “gleaming the cube” as “pushing your limits to the edge.” The DVD contains an easter egg; by highlighting the skateboard on the main menu, you can watch a short featurette titled “What does Gleaming the Cube mean?”.

gleaming-poster

Police Academy 4 Skateboarding Scene

I was a little too young to appreciate the first Police Academy movie when it was released back in 1984 (I was 11), but by the time Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol rolled around in 1987, I was a fan of the series. When many people think of Police Academy 4 they remember the performances of Bobcat Goldthwait and David Spade (along all the other Police Academy regular roster), but what I will always remember this movie for was this four-minute long skateboard sequence.

Although that was David Spade appearing at the beginning of the clip, that wasn’t him skateboarding. The skateboarding stunts in the film were performed by members of the Bones Brigade, a famous group of skateboarders that included Steve Caballero, Chris Miller, Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, and Tony Hawk. According to Tony Hawk, he was originally supposed to serve as David Spade’s stunt double, but was fired “for being too tall.”

police-academy