Hey Mambo! Converse Italiano!


Check out David Broach's tour article on the Converse team in Italy, featured in our February issue. Click any spread to enlarge.

Tom inverting in a bastard of a bowl. No, it's really called the Bastard Bowl

The Converse team who showed up for this trip included Kenny Anderson, Julian Davidson, Raymond Molinar, Tom Remillard, Ethan Fowler, Sammy Baca, Eli Reed, and a few other randoms like myself, who were there to take care of, document, and drive “the talent” around. Baca flew over specifically to get one trick for this article and then catch a flight home. At least I think that’s what he was planning to do. You never really know what’s going on under that hairy skull of his. He had urgent business stateside, as Baca and his girlfriend are making a new little Baca. That’s right everyone, there’ll soon be another Sammy Baca in this world, or maybe a Samantha Baca. Not sure yet. Thing is, he’d never met his baby mama’s mama, and she was soon coming to Vegas. I hope this mother of the mother had at least seen a photo of Sammy before they met. What a shock it’d cause to be blind-sided by this huge ball of hair and tattoos walking through your front door, saying, “What up, fool? You’re gonna be a grandma!” By the time this comes out Sammy should be a dad, or at least really close to it. So congratulations, Sammy! Don’t try and feed the baby pizza or chicken wings just yet. Wait ’til you see some teeth, buddy.

"What up, fool? You're gonna be a grandma!"

Our first stop on this Mambo Converse Italiano vacation, oddly enough, wasn’t in Italy. We had a three-day layover in Berlin, where the guys had a contest to skate, or some kind of Euro tradeshow to attend, so I flew in a day late. I went straight from the airport to meet up with the team at a building left over from the Soviet KGB era in East Berlin. The cab driver who gave me a ride to the tradeshow told me all about the structure. “Twenty-five years ago,” he said, “if you went in that building, you didn’t come out.” Re-read that last sentence in a creepy German accent. It felt like something the Grim Reaper would turn and say to you in a bad dream. The building itself felt that way, too: Like a nightmare. You could feel a musty, creepy slime fall over you when you walked through the door. I walked around the place imagining poor peasant types being murdered there. The rooms were filled with Euro action sports goofballs, but I still couldn’t help but think about what went on in this place all those Soviet KGB years ago. The hallways had drains in the middle of the floors. For washing away the blood, I imagine.

Left: Someone get Baca that Dr Spock childcare book…on tape, I’m guessing, and we need to find out if Dickies makes baby clothes. Congrats to Daddy Baca, doing the Sammy special double footplant move in this Olympic pool. Right: Ethan, not off his rocker just yet, bean planting in Milan

How did it go, meeting your baby mama’s mama?
What does that have to do with skateboarding? I don’t want no relationship shit in a skateboarding magazine.

Is it a girl or a boy?
It’s a boy!

Did you want a girl or a boy more?
As long as he’s healthy, I don’t give a fuck.

What’s going to be the first thing you do after bringing home the baby from the hospital?
Make him a sick-ass bed or something so he can kick it. He’s gonna need to chill.

Have you read any books on how to be a dad?
Hell no, not even! I got this! I got a dog a while ago.

Does he have a flannel and Dickies yet?
I have a little flannel, but I don’t know if it’s going to fit him right away. And a little pro club shirt.

What are you naming the kid?
Anthony, that’s my middle name. I’m Sammy Jr. I’m already named after some fool I don’t even know. So I’m naming him my middle name. He doesn’t need to be no Sammy the third.

How old does the kid have to be to get a tattoo? Twelve?
I’ll figure that out when we get there. Depends on what he wants to get.

Do you have any chores for him to do yet?
Fucking hell yeah! That fool’s not gonna be a spoiled little bitch. That fool’s gotta work for his.

"He doesn't need to be no Sammy the third"

Kenny did some urban camping in Berlin, at the spot where Sammy swapped his trick for a plane ticket home. He’d somehow finagled a camping sponsor called Poler before this trip, and he brought all sorts of cool gear with him. They set up tents in this semi-abandoned park for backpackers. It was an outdoor hostel situation in the middle of the city. I guess Kenny had been battling some front feeble at a pool spot there for over a year, and he was determined to get it. He decided to forgo the luxury of the Marriott, and instead camped out at the spot to get his trick. Still, no luck with it, sorry to say. Maybe next time Kenny. One thing I’ve noticed about Kenny is that once he puts his mind to something, that something usually gets done. I’m sure after his next trip to Berlin you’ll end up seeing a photo of his front feeble in this blue pool. Sammy flew home to Vegas the next day while the rest of us jumped on a plane for Milan.

We were able to skate some good spots in Milan, thanks to our Italian tour guide Giuliano. Left to our own devices, I don’t think we’d have gotten much further than the train station. We did run into Chris Roberts and Gino at some ledges there, and we eventually lost Kenny to them at the end of our trip (he wanted to stay longer to film some stuff for the Chocolate video). The bowl that Tom has his photo of an invert in was a really crazy looking indoor structure that our Italian friend took us to one day while it rained. This old theater was transformed into office/warehouse space, and it kind of looked like the inside of a 1950’s spaceship. After the rain let up, Eli found his pivot kickflip fakie. He was looking mad Italian, yo…like he’d been in Italy his whole life. I don’t think Reed is an Italian last name, but all he needed was a spray tan and he would have passed for a local.

Not only were the spots good, but the food was magnifico. I don’t mean to be that fat guy talking about food on a skate trip. That’s about as cool as Instagraming what you’re eating. So it’s annoying, I know, but the food situation was intense in Italy. One night after skating all day some locals in a town outside of Milan took us to a restaurant where they still made the pasta by hand fresh everyday. I don’t remember much about Milan other than the food and the skating. Don’t think much else went down. No crazy stories about getting too drunk and making life mistakes to write about later. We were all in food comas by the end of our nights there, which might be the reason no one went out. After a few days we skipped out of town and headed south. Genoa was our next destination.

Julian grinds a rail a few doors down from where Christopher Columbus was born. Seriously, that Columbus. The Nina The Pinta The Santa whatever one

Genoa is a quiet little town on the coast. It’s at the top of the boot by the sea. If the boot had laces, Genoa’s where you’d tie the boot. I don’t know where the Italian Riviera is, but I pretended that’s where we were, because it sounds as epic as this place was. Our inner fat kids came out in Genoa. It’s the birthplace of Pesto sauce, which is the green stuff that goes on pasta, for those of you like Baca who wouldn’t know. They made pesto up in this town hundreds of years ago! Could be a lie, but that’s what I was told by a local. After skating all day you could walk into just about any restaurant and get the best pasta you’ve ever had. The days started to blur together with—I don’t know another way to describe it—let’s just say “awesomeness.” Wake up, get espresso…in Italy. Just saying. Then proceed to spots by the beach, or just go to the beach to swim, then skate all day, then eat the best food you’ve ever had, inject lots of beer by night, and repeat for a week. Couldn’t ask for a better skate destination/vacation.

We were staying in the center of town close to a big tourist attraction called Piazza De Ferrar. It’s a plaza, and people want to see the fountain located in the center of it for some reason. Just looked like a fountain to me—granted, a cool fountain, but nothing you’d travel from far away to check out. In any case, towards the end of the trip the group decided to take a “vacation day” and see some tourist sites. This turned out to be one of the more entertaining days of the tour. But Julian wasn’t having any of this “vacation day” nonsense. There’s a good out-ledge close to the fountain, so Julian brought his board. He started to skate it, which some old man really didn’t like at all. None of us spoke Italian, so we couldn’t understand what he was saying, but it was clear he didn’t like us or want us around. After a few more goes at the ledge the old guy got so frustrated that he tried to whack Julian with his cane. He missed, but his voice kept getting louder and louder.

"He tried to whack Julian with his cane"

Ethan stepped in after the cane swing. “You want to yell? Well, let’s yell!” He then proceeded to give a long, death metal rattle scream right into the old man’s face. The old guy tried to get louder than Ethan but it wasn’t happening. The whole thing turned into this bizarre yelling contest. Finally it was obvious that the old fella didn’t have it in him anymore. He couldn’t top Ethan, which pissed the guy off even more. All of this went on for 10 minutes or so, until some onlookers called the cops. Or maybe the cops heard the yelling and just showed up.

Never a dull nose manual with Kenny around. Look closely on one of the curves: With the front foot in the pocket, he goes one wheel before nollie flipping out

The cops, as usual, were not happy with us—but they simply told Julian to stop skating and made the old man walk away. Both parties were in the wrong. You don’t try to hit someone with a cane, and you don’t get into it with crazy elderly people. Both fights are pointless.

Just as the cops left it started to rain on us, so we took cover under some pillars close to the ledge. It was then when I noticed that the old guy had a huge posse of other old guys hanging out at the fountain with him. We literally had a Mexican stand-off in Italy with all these old-timers, and by old-timers I mean old guys with walkers and canes. They kept looking our way, giving us the Italian evil eye and doing that hand-under-the-chin motion that Italians do. I’m pretty sure it means “fuck off” or”fuck you” or something. I just thought it was funny. A bunch of old Italian guys doing the hand-under-the-chin thing is way cooler than the touristy fountain they were standing in front of. This was their turf, and I bet they’d been holding it down every day for more than 50 years. These guys had seen some serious shit go down in their lives, world wars and such, and they wanted us out. Sadly, due to their elderly state, they couldn’t make us move. They were powerless. Fuck, I don’t want to get old! It must be so frustrating.

"I just remember one wet bum sliding down a marble handicap ramp face-first"

The rain faded, so we ended up walking to the other end of the plaza where Julian grinded a rail. This time the bums tried to kick us out. Good thing for us, cops don’t ever listen to bums. After seeing what Julian was doing on the rail, the bums became kind of friendlier bums. They started trying to get people out of the way for us. The only problem was, normal people don’t listen to bums either. They were trying to help but just ended up more in the way than anything. Turn’s out the rail Julian was grinding is just a few doors down from where Christopher Columbus was born. Yup, that Columbus, the one who sailed the ocean blue that you read about in school. We didn’t know it at the time, but that’s probably why everyone wanted us out of there. The cops, old guys, and the bums all were protecting Columbus’ birthplace. Actually, maybe not so much the bums. The bums were just drunk, stoned, crazy bums like in any other place. They didn’t know what they were doing.

This was a day off for Julian. While the rest of us walked around and looked at old stuff while drinking, he backside 180 fakie 5-0’d some old stuff while drinking

This was also the start of a hilarious Ethan blackout day. Maybe not a full-blown blackout, but more of a brownout. That night, after going for more pasta and then falling in and out of several different bars, we ended up going back to the square where Julian had grinded the tall out-rail. The old guys were gone, but the bums were still there. They tried to steal our beer or something, and then our once-friendly bums turned on us. It’s never good when bums turn on you. Someone ended up making one of them slide face-first down a handicap ramp. I want to say the bum charged and someone dodged, but the whole thing is a distant, blurry memory at this point. I just remember one wet bum sliding down a marble handicap ramp face-first.

"That's a pretty hard thing to do–knock a rocker off his rocker"

I don’t remember why, but at some point that night Tom tried to pull Ethan up from whatever gutter he was in, and for his good intentions he took a punch to the face! When Ethan gets to a certain point after boozing, don’t try and make him do anything he doesn’t want to, even if it’s for his own good. Tom wasn’t mad, though. He laughed because he knew Ethan was just off his rocker, and I think he realized that’s a pretty hard thing to do—knock a rocker off his rocker, that is. In Ethan’s defense, if you hung out with Tom for more than a week or so, odds are you’d wanna punch him in the face too. Tom’s a good dude with good intentions, but holy shit the kid’s got too much energy! He’s like a hyper puppy running in circles. It’s good for his skating, but not so much for enclosed spaces like vans, hotel rooms, or planes.

Ethan stumbled into the room we were sharing that same night. He fell face-first onto the bed, fully clothed, boots and all, straight to sleep. A few hours later I woke up to find him standing in the corner trying to pee on my camera bags. “Get into the bathroom you fucking dipshit!” I jumped up and yelled. He semi-snapped out of it for a second, but then went over to a different group of bags, which happened to be his own bags, on the other side of the room. As I mentioned before, I know not to make Ethan do anything he’s not willing to do when he’s in this state. So I decided to let him at it, because I wasn’t willing to take a punch just to stop him from pissing on his own stuff. He woke up to a wet bag of clothes, plus a pissed-on electric guitar and portable amp.

SPRACK JUICE with Julian Davidson
Sprack juice is this little baby cup thing of espresso that you can get pretty much anywhere in Italy. It’s like crack, you’d get so damn sparked off of it. We survived off of that and terrorist hash the whole time. Terrorist hash is just hash that probably came out of some Moroccan’s butthole. We were smoking it anyway, and it was making us crack up. Combining the hash with the sprack is a perfect combo: Up and down at the same time. Uncle Ethan even got into it! He never smokes weed, but he was smoking hash and drinking sprack and ripping on people. It was amazing. Ethan at his best!

Left: Eli Reed looking mad Italian, yo! If he had a spray tan to go with this pivot kickflip fakie, he could have been a local. Right: No amount of pasta could have weighed down Raymond' kickflip

"He woke up to a wet bag of clothes, plus a pissed-on electric guitar"

The next day, with the wet guitar and a bag of soiled clothes, Ethan and the rest of us loaded up the vans. We stopped by the beach one last time to reshoot a kickflip of Julian’s that had previously failed due to camera operator error. I’d fucked up and erased the damn photo before I was able to download it. He handled it like a true professional; wasn’t very happy, but he did it for me anyway. Thanks for the redo, Julian! With that handled, we headed for the airport. This is when we lost Kenny. He wasn’t ready to leave just yet. We were all in line, checking in to our flights, when I looked back at him. “I’m staying,” he said. And with that he gave a round of high-fives and was out the door and into a cab. I’m sure he’s back by now, right? Maybe?
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