Zero Club | Oct 2022 | Chris Battle

1. Name / IG Feed?
Chris S.
So, it’s kind of embarrassing. I actually have four IGs:
@ThePastParticple (this is the “famous” account everyone knows about)
@Lone.Sentry.Skate (me, flailing about on my skateboard)
@Lone.Sentry (general life stuff, not skate specific)
@Lone.Sentry.Photos (my obtuse attempts at “artistic” photography)
2. Age?
3. Where are you from?
Boston, MA
4. What’s your history with skateboarding?
I had a “soft start” in 1983, when I was nine-years-old. I grew up in Massachusetts. In 1981, my dad was transferred to Knoxville, TN to work on the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Nuclear Power Plant. The second week we were in Tennessee, our neighbor shot our dog with a .22 because he “didn’t like Yankees.” In 1983, congress killed the funding for the power plant, and we wanted to get the fuck out of the south, so we moved back to Massachusetts. My dad got a job in Boston, but we didn’t have a place to live yet. So, we stayed with my grandparents for three months in West Hartford, Connecticut. My dad drove 2+ hours, one way, to work each day for those three months. My parents didn’t want to put in me in Connecticut schools, just to have me quickly leave again when we moved, so I was out of school for a bit. My mom bought me a blue plastic skateboard to help pass the time. I rode it around the neighborhood a lot. We eventually moved back to the suburban Boston area, and the skateboard got lost in the move. Two years later in 1985, we found it, in a box in the attic. I started riding it again. Then one day this older punk teenager (Joe Carlton) skated by our house. He had a real board (Sims Lester). I had never seen anything like him, or that board before. He did a 180 Boneless, and my mind melted. I instantly knew right then and there, that I just had “found” what I was going to do with my life. Joe gave me some back issues of Thrasher. I was 11-years-old, and I had just discovered “real” skateboarding, and had my first exposure to (what was then) a real sub-culture. My world instantly changed. Joe helped light my fire, and it’s only burned with greater and greater intensity ever since. Joe moved shortly after I met him. I never saw him again. I’ve tried to track him down over the years, to deeply thank him, but I’ve never been able to. I owe him everything.
But, back to my dad…he contracted Polio when he was 6-months-old. It destroyed his legs. He walked with crutches most of his life (now in a wheel chair). He couldn’t do normal dad-kid sports activities with me, but both my parents were supper supportive of skateboarding (and still are). My dad made a bunch of ramps and stuff for me. I had a 4’ tall mini ramp (that went to vert) for a while in our driveway. Local jocks actually tried to burn it down. I was brutally harassed for being a skater in my town. I started going into the city (Boston) when I was like 13 or 14-years-old, and connecting with other skaters. I eventually got a job at the most notable skate shop in Boston, and ended up sponsored by a local skate deck company (my sponsored-era was actually my most hated time/period in my own skate history). I had some connections at Alien Workshop, and was actually going to end up working for them in the early ‘90s, but it fell-through because a friend screwed me over with our moving plans at the last minute. But, being in Boston during that period was rad. Preston (P-Stone) was living here at the time. So, I often skated with him. Jahmal Williams worked at the same skate shop as me, and we were good friends. Robbie Gangemi (Zoo York / Vehicle fame), Vanik H., Panama Dan, Charlie Wilkins, Jim Gagne, Eric Pupecki, Don Barley, and tons of others were always around, and people I hung out with. Still in contact with most of them today. In 1993, when I was 19-years-old, I “came out” (I’m gay). Most of the (Boston) skate scene was super homophobic at the time. My close skater friends were super supportive/first ones I told, but they soon all either quit, or moved off to college (a few still skate, including our own Joe Makarski). This was also during my sponsored-period, and everyone on that team just wanted to hang, drink, and chase chicks. I wasn’t down. So, I basically totally withdrew from the Boston skate scene…for about 10 years. I still skated all the time, but was totally off doing my own thing. With time, the world changed. I changed, and got more comfortable in my own skin. Then I started making way back into the skate “scene,” and much later even ended up getting shop-sponsored again at 45-years-old.
What role does skating serve in your life today?
The longer I skate, the deeper my passion for it becomes. My life basically revolves around skateboarding. I could wax-on about the levels of purpose, meaning, and existential fulfillment it provides, but I’ll forgo that. I’ll just say this much, I cannot imagine life without skateboarding…and I am quite scared of what is going to happen when I can no longer do it. I was just in Texas last week on a skate trip, and I met Jimmy Gonzalez there. He is 69-years-old, and still ripping. We took this big group photo of the crew, at the end Jimmy addressed the crowd. He said, “Never stop skateboarding. Never stop.” It hit me in the feels, real hard.
5. What’s your set-up, including shoes?
DLX 8.25”/14.38” (usually the grey Anti-Hero eagle), Indy Forged 144, F4 Classics 53/99a, Super Swiss 6, Rib Bones, 7/8” Allen, MOB. Shoes: On street, Vans Old Schools. On ramps, Vans SK8-HI. I have a tendency to get shark-bite on ramps, so hi-tops help mitigate that. I always wear the old-school blue colored Vans and tall socks when skating ramps—it’s an intentional nod to 1980s backyard ramp/vert culture.
6. What terrain do you like to skate?
Any DIY, mini ramps, curbs, and real street. I despise “perfect” skate parks. They feel so clinical and “Food Court” to me. I need a bit of character and crust. Also, the vapid pageantry and chaotic cross-traffic at big skate parks is just really morose and soul-crushing.
7. What stokes you out in skating?
Everything from hardware to helmets, kickturns to 900s. There is so much in skating that stokes ne out that it’s hard to put in words. It’s been my life-passion since I was a kid, and things like that don’t happen without a deep, profound sense of Stoke that resonates / reaches to the very core of your being.
8. What could be better in skateboarding?
There are few things I wish were different. First, Mark Fleming said it best, the heat trans skaters take is really disheartening. All the assorted -isms suck. I hate to see them anywhere, and I really hate to see them in skateboarding. Second, I dislike how normalized skateboarding has become. Sure, there is no way to stop that, but as Grosso said, I hope there is always a place in skateboarding for the “freaks and geeks,” who don’t fit-in elsewhere. I fear the more and more normal skateboarding becomes, the more that door for the “freaks and geeks” closes. I want it to remain wide open (which is NOT say it should be “gateless”). Last, I wish the old-guy social media world spent more time skating, and less time posting collection/quiver photos of unridden boards…but that’s actually not a critique of per se skateboarding, that’s a critique of how people use social media.
9. What inspires you, in skateboarding, and life?
The glow of someone (of any age) when they drop-in for the first time. Seeing someone get their first board. The joy of just riding down the street. The sound of a grind. All the DLX “Action Realized” stuff. Seeing someone who is clearly a social misfit (at any age) finding a “home” in skateboarding. Sort of like the “what stokes you in skateboarding” question, there is so much that inspires me in skating. But above all what really inspires me (in skating) is seeing average, everyday skaters follow their passion. That is the real key to life/meaningful existence—have passion for what you’re doing, and doing it for totally pure reasons. That’s when the real magic happens. In life, what inspires me is seeing/finding the beauty in simple things. A good cup of coffee. Seeing someone do a simple kind gesture to a total stranger. A beautiful sunset. Etc. If you can’t find liberation in daily life, you’ll never find it anywhere.
10. What bands/music do you like?
I am huge music junkie. Swing/Big Band. Soul/R&B/Funk. New Wave. Dark Wave. Old-school hip-hop. Drum and Bass. Classic punk. Post-Punk. Scremo. “Alternative.” 1980s. I am all over the map. Favorites include: Husker Du, Leatherface, Planes Mistaken for Stars, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Milt Jackson, Oscar Peterson, The Cure, Jawbox, George Clinton, Ministry, James Brown. Ice Cube, the Dramatics, Killing Joke, Motorhead, Labor Hex (so good!), The Fixx, Ghoul Squad, Black Flag, The Jesus Lizard, The Exploited, Die! Die! Die!, Dino Jr., The Cult, Public Enemy, The Church, Black Marble, Frank Sinatra, Sonic Youth, Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, Paris, De La Soul, The Roots…and I’ll just stop there. Oh! The Replacements. How could I forget them!?!
11. What makes you laugh?
Humor is the most important thing in life. To quote Lennon, “Why are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear.” You have to laugh—a lot. At yourself. At existence. At everything. The ability to self-amuse, and to find humor all-around you, in almost any context, it’s one of the most essential keys/secrets to life. “You know the main thing in life? A sense of humor. Lose that, you’re done. You might as well blow your fucking brains out.” -Lemmy
12. Favorite books/movies?
Books: I was a philosophy major. It remains my true academic love. So, I read a lot of dense, nerdy philosophy/social theory stuff. That said, the two best books ever written are Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and the Tao Teh Ching (Stephen Mitchell translation is the best one). Those two books, IMHO, are the closest thing to a “User’s Manual” for life on Earth. I also read a lot of WWII history, and poetry (been on huge Bukowski kick recently). Movies: Repo Man, Atomic Café, Apocalypse Now, Dead Poet’s Society, Harold & Maude, Dr. Strangelove, Fight Club, Good Night & Good Luck, Brazil, Ferris Buller’s Day Off, Citizen Kane, The Hustler, LOTR, Sin City, Stranger Things (not a movie), original Twilight Zone series, the Young Ones…
13. Major injuries?
Yes. I’ve broken a lot of bones over the years. Wrists a few times (was once broken for “9 to 12 months” before I had it checked out). Collar bone. I have a chipped bone (that floats around) in my forward elbow. Small bones in feet. I’ve also had tons of soft-tissue injuries. Worst injury was in 2019, I broke my lower fibula (leg) with significant ligament damage in my ankle. Two surgeries. Hardware installed. Had to learn to walk again. Couldn’t skate for a year. My ankle will never be the same as it was, and I became a much bigger fan of pads post-injury. I also have a metal rod in my arm from a motorcycle wreck (compound fracture). “Find what you love, and let it kill you.”
14. Outside of skating, any other passions/interests?
Billiards. Bikes (fixed gear). Books. WWII History. Music. Exploring abandoned places. I took Shotokan Karate for six years, but quit when I broke my arm. I might go back some day…miss it a lot.
15. Skating as a kid vs. skating as an adult over 40…talk about the differences and similarities.
As others have said, it’s both exactly the same, and totally different. Differences: Physically, I can’t do it as much (or as extreme) as I could before. Excluding the normal aging process, 30+ years of skating has really taken a toll on my body. I have now consciously adopted a “long game/lower impact” approach. I am much more aware of injury potential (and how long the healing process takes). So, skating curbs and smaller ramps (as opposed to trying “bigger,” higher-risk, stuff) puts the odds more in my favor that I’ll be skating tomorrow, and that’s the real goal…to ride this train as long, and as far, as I can. Pads are around a lot more these days, too. Similarities: The Stoke never changes. That is eternal. Tricks are just a variable in a larger, unchanging equation of Stoke. Sure, the scale is different, but Burnquist working on a mega ramp trick, or a kid (or adult) learning to acid drop off a curb for the first time…they are the “same” thing. The struggle. The eventual make. The elation that follows. Those are identical existential structures of skateboarding, ones that EVERYONE knows and experiences, at any age or ability. It never changes, and that’s awesome.
16. Favorite skate videos?
Future Primitive (all time fav). Bones Brigade Video Show. Public Domain. Shackle Me Not/Hokus Pokus. Speed Freaks/Risk It. Wheels/Streets of Fire. Questionable. Memory Screen. Video Days. Sick Boys. A Visual Sound. Quiet Storm. Glam Boys on Wheels. Label Kills. Ruining Skateboarding. Any Busenitz / Barletta / Wooten footage. And of course, any/all Anti-Hero videos. My test for a great skate video? Does make me want to run out of the house and go skating? If yes, it’s a great video. If no, cast that shit to flames. Oh, BA.KU….god damn, BA.KU. is the best thing in skateboarding.
17. Favorite skaters?
Big Names: Louie Barletta, Stranger, Busenitz, Tommy G., Chris Miller, Fred Gall, Jimmy Wilkins, Natas, D. Way (pre-mega ramp years), Hensely, Jake Wooten, TNT, Cards, Erick Winkowski, Jason Lee, Chris Hiett, Dressen, Lance, Blender, Jason Adams, Gonz, Lucero, Spanky, Hawk, Kieran Woolley. But these days, random “no names” I follow on various forms of social media get me so much more stoked/inspired than most pros. My favorite skaters are ones I can relate to in some manner. I can’t relate to 20-year-olds doing huge handrails, absurd ledge tech, or high-risk gaps. Yeah, no question, that stuff is utterly mind-blowing…but as said above, it’s nothing that makes me want to run out the door and go skating.
18. What do you do for work?
I am currently the security manager at one of Boston’s largest night clubs / bars / restaurants. Prior, I was public interest lawyer, but I burned out. Before law school, I worked with GLBT kids in state custody because of abuse/neglect by their parents. That job was gnarly.
19. Favorite skate graphics? Worst skate graphics?
Best: Lester splatter. Staab mad scientist. Knox wizard. Brand-X weirdo. Flaming dagger (Tommy G). Natas Bulldog. Todd Francis, Christian Cooper, Lucero. Worst: No question, the Powell “bug” deck, and pretty much any recent Plan B stuff…it’s so…generic, safe, and corny quasi-frat boy stuff. All the Hook-Ups stuff is pretty creepy, too. It seems like that company exists for one reason, and one reason alone; so Jeremy Klein can explore his fetish for very young Asians girls. Creepy as fuck, IMHO.
20. You run a pretty well-known IG feed. Discuss.
That train-wreck of a feed? Hah. Yeah, ThePastParticiple. Over 29K people following it now, inc. people like Hawk, Gerwer, Evan Smith, Tommy G., Muska, Dune, Lance, Lucero, Sal B., Grosso (R.I.P.), Blender, Andrew Reynolds, and tons of others. Hawk even mentioned it on his podcast, which utterly blew my mind. He actually DMs me every so often. A journalist from PBS even contacted me this week about doing something on the feed, too. I never thought the concept would appeal to more than like 200 people, at most, but it’s really taken off. The content is all non-professional photos of average, everyday skaters from the 1980-1991. The account description reads, “A history of the underclass. Raw photos of average, non-pro, skaters from the 1980s & early 1990s, when skating instantly made you a social outcast.” 
This always shocks people, but I do not consider to that feed to be driven by nostalgia, at all. I totally get, and understand, why some people have substantial feelings of nostalgia from the photos. And that’s totally cool/awesome that they do, but that is not what I get out of them. It’s not why I post them. And it’s not what gets me stoked out about them. I’ll be honest, the 1980s kind of sucked. We got harassed all the time, by jocks, cops, and parents. There were not a lot of skaters. There were no skate parks. It was a lot harder to get equipment, let alone get connected with any real skate scene. Sure, somethings were better then. Many things are better now. I’d much rather be a skater in 2023, than 1986.

So, if the feed isn’t about nostalgia to me, then what is it about? At base level, it’s about giving recognition to people who were never afforded any. I think of the feed as sort of skateboarder’s version of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History.” For me, what makes them so awesome is they show just how raw and pure things were at the time. They resonate because they all contain hidden aspects of time, place, and humanity. For better or worse they represent ghosts of our own collective past and provide context to our present. They are part of skateboarding’s archetypes to our collective (un)consciousness.  

They also invoke a spirit, and feeling. They show a real sub-culture as it existed, before everything was just a “click” away. They show a time when you had to make real efforts to even find access points. Today, you can just go to the local shopping mall or google the location of your local skate park. Buddhism often talks about the ‘Beginners’ Mind.” These photos show elements of the beginning of modern skateboarding, and our own relationship to/with that. There is an energy in the photos. I have no desire to “relive the glory days.” That said, I do draw upon the raw, pure, unadulterated energy of the time period. That, to me, is the real magic of these photos…the energy that seeps out of them (and anyone, of any age, can feed off that). 
21. Last words?
First, thank you for taking the time to read my drivel. Second, love all you guys. The ODSC Stoke is awesome, and I’m also so happy to see the stuff you guys are posting—abject beginners to the William Nguyen / Michael Crabtree insanity. Keep it coming! Last, I’ll end it with a Grosso quote, “Get off your phones (computers)…go skate!”