Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Steel City Zine

More D.I.Y. from Birmingham.... This was a zine that we made back in 1998.  SteelCity zine was a skate zine that came from the minds of myself, Tom Bagby (skate history guru), and Niles Armstrong (the artsy skate guy).   I guess I was keyed into the skate stuff and taking a ton of photos of the local skateboarders, while Tom brought the wisdom and knowledge to the table, and Niles brought out the creativity.  
Cover by Tom Bagby

 To make a unique zine that people would actually keep, we decided to make 72 different covers for the issue.  Each zine was hand numbered and uniquely made by many local skaters here in Birmingham.   
The editors of Steel City Zine (Tom Bagby, Peter Karvonen, and Niles Armstrong)

DJ Morgan crooked grinds while Ben Gilley spins a frontside 360 over the pyramid hip.
 The Ghetto Banks were the hot spot back in 1998.  The projects were all closed down for renovation so we of course decided to build a DIY slab spot.  The area had a pyramid w/ box (pictured above), wedge ramps to rails, a large bank ramp, and several quarterpipes.
Paco boardsliding a bike rack we stole from a school in Homewood

Like with any skate scene, there are several factors that can ruin it or keep it alive.   This was a write up by Niles Armstrong on what he saw and felt about Birmingham's decaying skate scene.
 Now for the end of this History lesson...  there is a test!   Tom Bagby of legendary skate wisdom had this quiz in Steel City... If anybody out there can answer all questions correctly even now in 2013... I will give them a free skateboard deck from Faith Skate Supply.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Having been a skateboarder here in Birmingham, Alabama for over 25 years now, it is ingrained in my being to "Make Skateboarding Happen" forever and always.   Sure the roads are rough, the weather is harsh, there are cracks in the sidewalks, curbs at the top of all gaps, and of course no Skateparks;  but I am and always have been one to make it happen for my own enjoyment.  Wax a curb, Build a ramp, cut off a kink, Bondo a crack, Light up a spot, Sledge Hammer a curb, Concrete a quarterpipe, throw a skatejam, and even write about it!  There are many more like me and there have always been here in Birmingham.   This post goes out to everyone that does "Something" for skateboarding!

We have built many "Slab spots" here in Birmingham, due to the lack of a skatepark or even a sanctioned skate spot.   We figure if they wont help us out... we will just hijack an old abandoned lot and get to building.   

Seems like an article like this comes out every time we build a new Slab Spot.   The media, the neighbors, the parents, the photo enthusiasts, the passerbys, the local business owners, even the police and the city council men and women are always really impressed by the popularity of the Slabs.  But for whatever reason, they always get shut down.   
Below is an article written about our Slab spot at the Ghetto Banks.  For about 2 years the Southtown projects were under reconstruction and vacant.  This was a perfect setting for a new skatespot!  We spent countless hours and dollars building wooden quarterpipes, ramps, and even a full size pyramid to accompany the already amazing skatespot (the ghetto banks).  This spot lasted from about 1996 til about 1998 maybe...   
Joe Kolodziej was an o.g. member of the Faith Shop team... nicknamed "Joe the Show"


    Once you have a pretty decent DIY slab spot, it gotta be time to throw a SKATE JAM and celebrate!    Big thanks to Rad Ron Productions for always being a huge part of these Jams!   I hope to find the other Rad Ron fliers soon.... but this one was held at the Ghetto Banks Slab.   There were a few other Jams at Linn Park.   Photos soon! (I hope)
The best skate jam fliers ever were made by TDJ of Rad Ron Producttions

    Building a spot can be tough work!   Concrete is no joke, and moving huge ramps is back breaking work!   Big thanks to the hands that always are there to lift this stuff and help move stuff!!
The old Faith Truck made some heavy moves... purchased from Chad at Slacker 66 (another skate shop in town)
To close out this post,  I want to highlight a page taken from a DIY skatezine we made about 14 years ago.   Tom Bagby is a master at writing rad stuff!   There were many contributors to "STEEL CITY SKATEZINE".   I will post the pages from our zine soon... but for now, here are some words from one of Birmingham's o.g. skate rats... Tom Bagby.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Introduction to my past 25 years

I strongly feel that all skate shop owners should be avid skateboarders.  Its simple to me... you should be passionate about 
your business and likewise passionate about the skate scene that your business is located amongst. I would also like to believe that the participants of skateboarding within their community appreciate the skate shops and their owners that have given their lives to the pursuit of their passion and the promotion of their local scenesI want to keep these values forever, though there is an ever changing face to our industry.  Nonetheless, this is why I have started this blogTo show people the rich history we have in skateboarding and to archive some old stuff for those of us that genuinely appreciate our scene and our devotion to it.  Note:  This is my opinion and my words... I welcome any input and discussions    

I am Peter Karvonen  Owner of Faith Skate Supply and lifetime skateboarder... please email me at Peterfaith@aol.com

Peter Karvonen ollie ... photo by Drew Burke  2013

  It feels damn good when I land a trick or push myself these days.  And when I say "push myself", I mean get off my ass and try!  I know I cannot hang with the younger generation on a skateboard, but damn if a simple ollie isn't timeless!  

Peter Karvonen noseslide on the famous Hubba Hideout in San Francisco... 1992
 I tried out my luck in California on a couple of different occasions.  Never made the move to the west coast though...  The vibe just never felt right to me.  I love the hospitality and the kindness that is strictly southern.  Perhaps this is what led me to want to open up a skate shop in Birmingham.  

Peter Karvonen Backside one footed disaster...  Photo by Drew Burke 2012
    One of the only legendary skatespots in Birmingham that has been around as long as I have is the "Ghetto Banks".  I remember skating this thing when I first made my excursion to "the big" Downtown Birmingham.  At 16 years old, me and my friend Colin Soniat watched our favorite video part at the time - Rick Howard in Blockhead Skateboards "Splendid Eye Torture" (watch below and get hyped!)and decided we had to check out the Ghetto Banks.  We hopped in my 1983 Toyota Tercel and trekked to downtown Birmingham.  Sadly though, within 15 minutes of being there my buddy (Colin) tried a crail to tail on the steep bank and folded his leg in half!  This was also the first time I had ever seen such a gruesome injury.  22 years later and the Ghetto Banks, are way more fun and I hope that this spot lasts the test of time and for all skateboarders to enjoy.
                Rick Howard in "Splendid Eye Torture"
Birmingham's first time to grace the pages of Transworld Skateboard Magazine and a huge milestone for me and Faith Skate Supply.  Photo by: Ted Newsome

 After being in business for a couple years, Faith and Birmingham got its first taste of coverage in Transworld Skateboard Magazine.  The article was shot by Ted Newsome (native of Birmingham and editor for Transworld).  Ted brought a crew through Birmingham including Vinny Ponte, Will Harmon and Toebee Parkhurst (all of whom were well known sponsored skateboarders at the time).  Unfortunately, Alabama has a way of always getting some negative press... (read lame quote above by Toebee Parkhurst)   I remember being so bitter about that quote forever!  I was being nice and gave all the guys Faith Sweatshirts and he had the nerve to say that about us???!!!!   Who did he think he was???  I ran into Toebee a few years later at the Tampa Am contest and he was being overly nice to me--- I have a feeling he felt bad about the quote that got published.  
Peter Karvonen Crailsnatch... photo by Drew Burke 2013

 Birmingham spots are generally hard to skate or need some help in order to skate them.  Its very common to lay out pieces of plywood  for run up or landing, use metal signs for curb ramps, or even put some angle iron on an unskateable ledge.  Im not always proud of it, but a guy has to do what a guy has to do.  I wanted to hit this bank to wall for so long, however getting speed for it was never working.  Throw some 78a longboarding wheels on my board and bring a curb ramp and a new spot is born!  I must say, I have not pushed that hard or fast in a long time... 4 days later and my calf muscles are still aching.

My lifetime achievement award presented to me by Haoyan Zhang

 In conclusion to this post... I want to show my gratitude to those that have been a part of Faith Skate Supply's past, present and god willing--future.  Please come support Faith as your local skate shop and I will continue to support all aspects of Birmingham's skate scene to the best of my ability.  Cheers to the lifers!
Faith Skate Supply has been in business since 1995... prior to its inception... Birmingham has always had a rich history in Skateboarding... This is our place to showcase our old photos, videos, and opinions.   Please subscribe to this blog if you want to hear some ranting from a 38 year old skate shop owner that is still consistently obsessed with all things skateboarding as well as other contributors that have been a part of Birmingham's rad skate scene. 
This begins my weak attempt at chronicling my history and my love for Skateboarding... pass it along
Me at 17 years old on the front cover of local skate zine "Trindee Skatezine"
This xeroxed zine meant the world to the skateboarders of Birmingham.. and being on the cover was the highlight of my year!   I remember going to a party with my new girlfriend at the time and Chris Solomon brought in a box of the copies... (I must say I felt like a badass for the night!)   Imagine how impressed my girlfriend was that I got the cover!  hahaha
Stay posted for a mini intro/interview with myself including photos of old and NEW!   Because yes, at 38 years old I still skate.   To be posted on Friday February 1, 2013