Zero Club | Feb 2023 | Jeff Chan

1. Name / IG Account?
Jeff Chan. @jeffchanimal

2. Age?

3. Where are you from?
Canada. Born in Montreal, Quebec. Raised in farmtown, Ontario, population 7400. Toronto 1994-2001, then Vancouver, BC.

4. What’s your history with skateboarding? What role does it serve in your life today?
I’ve been skating steadily since 1987. It’s my biggest life influence besides family. I’m tragically inept at most sports, but skating got me active, desensitized me to failing in front of an audience, and instilled the mindset that led to other important life influences like judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Beyond the physical, skate magazines introduced me to music like the Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat, which inspired teenage me to explore beyond my little town and avoid the teenage trap of booze and drugs.
Most of my friends come from skating – one of them even introduced me to my wife.
I skate two or three times a week. It’s a source of pure joy and gave me the gift of multiple childhoods.

My sister bought a Valterra after seeing Back to the Future, but my cousin’s 1987 visit from the city got me hooked. He had a Vision Psycho Stick and photos of him and his friends doing face-high judos, methods, and airwalks off a launch ramp. I had to learn, so I bought a Dominion Skateboard Company complete and learned to ollie from “Skateboard action,” a British book I bought at my school book sale. I did ride-on grinds on my driveway curb until my copers broke in half.

December 1987: I got my first Thrasher – the craft shop at the town mall would get one issue per month. Eddie Rategui cover, Savannah Slamma article, DRI interview. I was stoked on Christian Hosoi. As a half-Chinese farmtown kid, I was blown away that an Asian guy was one of the best. I saved money and sold Star Wars toys to buy a Hosoi Street Hammerhead mini, candy apple red Indy 169s, and Bullet 66s.
1988-1994: Skating in my hometown with great friends. Fantastic memories of being out all day and night, then sneaking home way past curfew. A parking lot session in 1989 would often have 30 kids, but by 1994 it was down to two or three.

September 1994: Moved to Toronto for university, met (fellow ODSCer) Terence Chng, and we skated together a few times a week. I loved this time in my life – the Toronto skate experience blew my mind. It was 95% street skating, but we had indoor wood parks where I learned to drop in, pump corners, and do scratch grinds.

October 2001: Moved to Vancouver and dove into transition skating. I went to Hastings skatepark daily, spent months learning 50-50s, then started grinding around every corner. When the locals realized I wasn’t leaving, they brought me into the weirdest, funnest extended family. New city, new spots, new crew, and more of the best times of my life.

5. What’s your set-up, including shoes?
8.5 deck with 14.5 wheelbase. I like supporting friends, so I’m on a Barrier Kult “Gauzed Invisible Terror Reign” with a Pylon (Alex Chalmers’s company) next in line.
Ace AF1 55s. 55mm 99a Spitfire F4 Classics. Bones Swiss Six. 1/8” risers. MOB grip.
Adidas Tyshawn lows.

6. What terrain do you like to skate?
Concrete roundwall between 6-8 feet. I’m hooked on that whole-body pump [insert juvenile joke] and grinding around corners. Concrete coping feels best, but I’ll take metal with some rust. Street cruising… curbs, ledges, and ollieing over things. I’m a slappying fool - square curbs with enough grit that I feel aluminum flaking off my trucks.

7. What stokes you out in skating?
Grinds. Levelling out an ollie. Pumping speedlines. Heelflips smacking up to my feet.
Getting pitched into a judo roll and walking away laughing.
The sacred instant of silence between hitting my tail and my axles making contact with a ledge. Landing something I had no right to ride away from.

8. What could be better in skateboarding?
Me. I wish. But skateboarding could be better at taking care of its own. How many times have we watched sponsors shower talented kids with money, booze, attention, etc. until they get injured or lost in the party vortex, then dump them and go on to the next kid? It creates more angry, depressed dudes who feel victimized by life and are looking for someone to blame… perfect Proud Boy / Diagolon / incel fodder. Not to mention the steady stream of OD deaths we’ve been seeing.

9. What inspires you, in skateboarding, and life?
Succeeding after getting served repeatedly – in skateboarding and life. Seeing people accomplish things they thought they couldn’t. Especially kids. I see local stories about drowning adults being saved by teenage girls who’d just done junior lifeguard training. How cool is that? And reading about smart kids doing amazing things for school science projects that led to scholarships, careers, etc. I love that shit. I got into running during an injury layoff from skating and have been super inspired by sports medicine journal articles about seniors killing it in the ultramarathon scene.

10. What bands/music do you like?
I’m a lifelong music junkie so off the top of my head…
Favourite live bands: Unsane, Fishbone, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Slayer.
Punk: Butthole Surfers, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Ramones, The Spits, GBH, Jerry’s Kids, SNFU, Minor Threat, The Sonics, The Stooges, Black Flag.
Early grindcore/black metal: Brutal Truth, Terrorizer, Carcass, Pharaons, Mystifier, Vulcano, Sarcofago, Napalm Death, Genocidio, Sextrash, Repulsion.
Canadian black metal: Conqueror, Antichrist, Revenge, Blasphemy, Procreation.
Zamrock: Witch, Ngozi Family, Dr Footswitch, Amanaz.
North American Indigenous black metal: Gyibaaw, Pan-Amerikan Native Front, Ahkqueth, Black Braid.
Funk: The Meters, Dr John, Funkadelic, anything with James Jamerson or Donald Duck Dunn on bass.
Jazz: Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Eric Dolphy.
Hip-hop: Public Enemy, Nas, Kool Keith/Dr Octagon/Dr Doom, Wu-Tang (GZA especially), Black Moon, Digable Planets, Goodie Mob.
Reggae: Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Burning Spear.
Sleep, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Patsy Cline, Mississippi John Hurt, Fiddlin’ Jon Carson, Alfred Karnes… and so on.

11. What makes you laugh?
I see humour everywhere. This week I laughed at:
Nate Bargatze’s standup.
Juice Terry’s antics in Glue (Irvine Welsh novel).
“Can I borrow a feeling?”
Watching a really dumb acquaintance try to explain why “the doctors are all wrong.”
My wife using her hand as a puppet to impersonate me explaining why something was a bad idea.
Proposition Joe (The Wire) making three phone calls in three different accents.

12. Favorite books/movies/tabloids?
I devour books and love reading about dirtbags, physics, dinosaurs, natural history, sports and music autobiographies… everything. John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Irvine Welsh, Alistair MacLeod, Hunter S. Thompson, Steve Brusatte, Mikhail Bulgakov, Stephen Hawking, John Vaillant, Dan Flores, Steven Rinella, Larry McMurtry, Waubgeshig Rice, Brian Greene…

13. Major injuries?
Right knee arthroscopy in 1996, left knee in 2006. Both were partial tears of the ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Both took me out for about a year. Bulged lumbar discs and pinched femoral nerve around 2016. The worst pain I’ve experienced – didn’t skate for two years. Months of walking with a cane and needing three kinds of drugs to get out of bed… absolutely fucking brutal. After that experience, I understand the chronic pain patients who decide to just take all their pills and end it.

14. Outside of skating, any other passions/interests?
Photography. Mostly digital, but I love shooting Fuji Velvia 50 through my Nikon F80, usually with my 20mm/2.8 Nikkor lens.
Music. Listening to everything (see above) and playing bass.
Being outside: Hiking, camping, swimming, running, scuba diving.
Archery, hunting with my longbow.
Martial arts, especially judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Most importantly, my wife and I like getting lost in countries where we need a phrasebook to communicate. Hunting down black metal music stores in Peru, Mayan sites in Guatemala, Turkish underground cave cities, diving with hammerheads in the Galapagos, Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona, riding the train to eastern Siberia, sitting on a rooftop while the evening call to prayer echoes through Marrakech, hiking up to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery in Bhutan, temples in Kyoto and Takayama, walking through a 5000-year-old megalithic temple in Malta… incredible experiences that words can’t capture.

15. Skating as a kid vs. skating as an adult over 40…talk about the differences and similarities.
SAME: The pure joy I get from skating at 48 is the same as at 13. I’ll sit in my car after sessions and think, “If I get vaporized by a meteor on my way home, that’s OK.”

DIFFERENCES: Skating less and at lower intensity. Five hours a week rather than five hours a day. No full-bore speedlines into blasting over a hip without considering the slam. No charging a four-flat-four repeatedly before finally riding away. Skating like that was part of my identity and I miss it. I was always obsessed with riding my gear into the ground, but I’ve started giving away rideable setups - usually to Nations Skate Youth (@nationsskateyouth).

16. Favorite skate videos?
Biggest impact on me: Powell-Peralta Ban This, H-Street Hokus Pokus, Color, Antihero’s Fucktards, Blind Video Days, Zoo York Mixtape, Label Kills, and Creature Born Dead.
Recent videos: Glass Carousel, Adidas Southeast Tour, Emerica Empower. Anything from Worble, GX1000, Antihero, or with Chris Gregson on follow-cam.

17. Favorite skaters?
Julien Stranger, the BA.KU. horde, John Cardiel, Kenny Reed, Sean Young, Jeff Carlyle, Carlisle Aikens, Mariah Duran, Phil Shao, Spanky, the Mull brothers, Tony Hawk, Mike Maldonado, Chris Pfanner, Peter Hewitt, Al Partanen, Matt Pailes, Dennis Busenitz, Geoff Rowley, Alex Chalmers, Nate Jones, Alan Petersen, Wade Speyer, Robbie Gangemi…

18. Favorite skate graphics?
I love Todd Francis’s Antihero art but my top two graphics are by Natas: Jim Thiebaud’s hanging klansman and Julien Stranger’s syringe plane (Art Godoy tattooed that one onto my leg).

Two faves from my tiny board collection:

1. Joe Buffalo (Colonialism Skateboards): A portrait of Joe’s ancestor Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker). Joe is from the Samson Cree Nation and spent time in Canada’s residential school system (look it up).

2. Gary Harris “bro model” (Skull Skates): A drawing of the Slug Bowl, which was in the backyard of the rundown mansion where Gary used to live. So many incredible memories from that place.

19. Who should we interview for the next episode of the Zero Club?
Jonah Thurrell and Jeff Gilje both seem like they’d have good stories.

20. Last words?
I appreciate the ODSC community – I check in here and the Neverwas group almost daily. I like seeing everyone’s clips, making silly jokes, and bullshitting about the sacred absurdity of skateboarding.

Learn how your body works and take care of it - a little maintenance goes a long way. Youngsters can stay in shape by skating, but at this age we have to stay in shape so we can keep skating.