Atlantic Drift: Bangkok Article

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The only note I made on my phone the entire time came on day 11: “Remember where you are.” Not a clue what that means. I’m not really in the mood to write—I did something stupid and got COVID for the third time the week I was supposed to pen this article. But the deadline approaches and I’m determined to write this in one go, so this is an apology. I’m in a bar in Madrid called Harlette, eating a soggy hot dog which, for complicated reasons, has no sausage in it. Sorry, Spain, but your vegetarian food hasn’t gotten much better in the last couple of decades. There’s a couple in here, maybe in their 50s, and they’re so drunk and infatuated with the night and each other that they can’t see anybody else in the bar. They’re wobbling around and into things and people. Basically it’s just a really nice thing to see when I look up from my computer as I type away like some loner incel gimp. Passion is a nice thing.

Blending déjà vu sequences and a haunting score with an untouchable cast, this is once again the work of true visionaries

Since I mentioned COVID, I’ll start with a quick side note, a message to quench any minds starving for answers about the Atlantic Drift board company debacle—just so it’s somewhere in print, as if that’s somehow more accessible or permanent than any other platform. If you don’t care/were entirely unaware of this happening, then skip to paragraph six and you won’t have to read a bunch of cloyingly sincere sentences that would make Steve Berra blush.

Cyrusbennet fiftytransfer alexpires DZ 2000Walking the tightrope between being mashed in by a bus or gravity—Cyrus Bennett, 50-50 transfer

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jacob ollie alexpires DZ 2000What can I say except what a disgustingly-pale set of legs soon to be redder than a Babybel I have. Is there anything more mosher than jumping down stairs that aren’t even there?

I can’t underscore how much it really breaks my heart that this board company never happened—at a piercing moment in which I realized my exact age it felt like it was a smart idea to try to build something concrete underneath my dangling feet, that was my own, and have my friends paid and along for the ride and oh what a utopia. Difficult conversations were had with sponsors, various trains left their stations and with wheels in their merry motion horizons were broadening and things were exciting. So much to do and so little time to fail.

RemyTaveira bsnb alexpires DZ 2000Remy Taveira did this back noseblunt but it wasn’t filmed. You’ll just have to trust me on that one

The day the first batch of promo boards arrived I got COVID, which became long COVID. Not the longest COVID, but long enough to make me feel like Ozzy Osbourne for three months and have no idea how long it might last. I was immobile in my room for most of those three months with the blinds down, wearing shades and flinching in pain at any sound louder than my own breathing—earnestly trying to keep my violin in its case here, but if anybody reading this has ever done that kind of stint they’ll know it’s pretty shit. Vertigo if I stood up, cognitive abilities of a used teabag, deeply depressed and self-pitying, I tried very hard to assemble a working team to do all the things that needed to be done, made some bad decisions, got myself in some debt and ultimately just tried to keep my head above water. I never had the time to shift the boards from my bedroom to the stockroom, so I had 200 skateboards staring a hole in my head the entire time. Trying to maintain a new romantic relationship with all this going on, there was an amount of pressure on my skull and I decided I simply couldn’t manage, and couldn’t imagine managing if things stayed the same, which they might well have. I pulled the plug. Wasn’t it a strange way down?

MaxPalmer penalty alexpires DZ 2000“Every hole’s a goal for Max Palmer” is the type of thing that you would probably write if you were captioning this, but you’re not

In a flourish of exquisite irony I was back on my feet and healthy very quickly after plug left socket. Things are now rosy and maybe even a little peachy, some snow globe was shaken somewhere and so ends the saga of Atlantic Drift skateboards—things always seem to end before they start. Anyway, the skateboard-deck market is on its absolute arse at the moment and now begins some third harvest for whatever this video series is—also, we don’t lose Max P or Nikita, which is hugely better than some skateboards with jellyfish painted on the bottom of them.

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Cyrus kickflip flashed alexpires DZ EDIT 2000 2How do you do this like this? Cyrus Bennett, kickflip

To Bangkok. 15 hours in planes. It was hotter than a crotch and sweatier than that, too. There’s a photo somewhere in this article of Cyrus doing a kickflip and he threw up halfway through trying it. He threw up and he carried on. He didn’t mention it either. We had to get Chris Jones to tugboat him in on a scooter for the rest of the session. I think he caught it with his front foot—whatever’s going on with that boy is special and must never end.

Atlantic Drift Pullquote Once You Realize 2000
MikeArnold bsnolliefsblunt alexpires DZ 2000Mike Arnold nollies over a bench to front blunt—Matt Miller could only dream

About scooters—getting the Uber equivalent of a scooter in this enormous city is, I reckon, one of the best things you can do on this planet, but it takes a second to get used to. The first time I got on one I wrapped my arms around my portly driver and held onto his ample tits for balance, to which he gave a giggle of assent. Very soon looking around you see high-heeled women in mini-skirts sat side-saddle, phones out, absolutely ignoring the speeding, threatening, concrete and metal around them. Once you realize how blasé everybody is, you feel faintly ridiculous, un-fondle your driver and begin to relax into the soothing feeling that you probably will die. You hope your driver knows the width of your akimbo legs behind them as they thread you camel-like through the eyes of trucks and cars, pushing for their needle to hit the 100km/h mark—they definitely want to scare you. But it’s really no joke. It even spooked Mike to the core—a man who’s always up to things like paragliding into fields of barbed wire or front flipping out of his bedroom window.

Atlantic Drift Pullquote Shoe Box Sleep Deprived 2000

chrisJones noseslide alexpires DZ 2000The ledge that Chris Jones is nosesliding here was a real piece of shit and took a lot of wax to get going, unlike Chrissy who’s salt of the Earth and only needs a tiny glass of red to get started

The city is vast and colorful, and vast. Vaster than I thought and busy to the teeth, too—I booked our first apartment somewhere close on the map to where we’d been advised to stay by our guide Peter. You can zoom in and in on the map and the city grows and grows and grows. We found ourselves really deep in the sticks or the cuts or the whatever you call them—wild monitor lizards the size of men skulk the waterways encircling the neighborhood looking for small or large mammals to eat; Alex Pires was attacked by a cockerel when he arrived. The people that lived in the area were just bemused by our being there and cab drivers would double and triple check that we were supposed to actually be going where we were asking to go. It was actually really great and peaceful, but a 30-minute walk from any metro station in the punishing heat was too much. Every day, more intensely jetlagged people arrived from each corner of the expanding Drift diaspora, some having faced journeys of up to 24 hours. The little house filled up and began to feel like a shoe box love island for sleep-deprived skateboarders. We were offered an apartment that had apparently housed 20 Brazilian skaters a month before. We weren’t over the moon to find out that 20 Brazilians had been here just before us, so decided to stay away from tech tricks on five-foot high ledges.

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Tom Knox, Krooked grind

The owners of this little house we were staying in also mysteriously owned a luxury seven-story apartment in the center of the city—a multi-million-dollar marble tower in a fairly new but central part of the city—with an elevator taking you to every bedroom and an indoor-to-outdoor pool. It was very rags to riches, prince and the pauper. Peter, our guide, told us his grandma never used to come to this part of the city because there were “too many buffalo.” I’ve since been told that the word “buffalo” is a kind of slur in Thai, but I’m not sure whether it was meant literally here or not.

remy KF alexpires DZ 2000Remy kickflips into three banks which make you go too fast

Our Airbnb hosts were so desperate to please us, and for a sum that can’t actually be enough money for the hospitality, they were persistently intent on offering us. Here’s a text I got on our last night staying with them, from the woman taking care of us: “Are you guys busy tonight? I’m going to invite a lot of pretty friends to the party to take care of you guys. To thank you for renting my villa. I will provide you with everything for free. Beer, alcohol, all drinks, I’ll pay you guys in return for my gratitude.”

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Casper treflip alexpires DZ 2000Very light work 360 flip for Casper Brooker

Atlantic Drift Pullquote Tommy Tight Trucks 2000

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This followed by five or so winking and non-winking emojis, hieroglyphs of somebody’s idea of a seedy good time. A swing and a miss—they couldn’t have picked a tamer and more monogamous group of men to tempt like this. Tom is married with 4 children—his youngest and first boy, Max, was named I think in honor of Max Palmer. I offer this only as a theory, but it’s widely considered plausible—we have one of those boring jokes where we call Tom “Tommy tight trucks.” It’s just to tease him and has no basis in fact (amazing how sensitive we are as skateboarders to the suggestion that we might have tight trucks, as if it implies anything else about us, which it does), and it seems that Tom is doing what any parent might do and protecting his son. Tom seems pathologically unable to allow this trauma to be passed down to his kid and so his first act of parenting was to swaddle the boy Knox in the protective membrane of loose-trucks Max. It’s only a theory.

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MaxPalmer wallie alexpires DZ 2000Free Max P—I wonder what words Max is wallying here? Probably “shit caption”

The rest of the crew are in relationships, scared by this kind of transactional sexuality or just deadly fixed on skateboarding these days. After periods of enjoying a very moderate amount of success, this dedication to skating is so refreshing and infectious now. The crew is awash with pockets of sobriety and has reached such a high level of cohesion that it just runs under its own momentum. It’s so easy to become cynical about this job and the devil makes work for idle minds, but I think the overwhelming sentiment on this trip was one of gratitude. I can see some of us falling back in love with skating like the blind-drunk couple I can see tumbling ruthlessly around this bar worrying the empty chairs. Passion is a precious thing.

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Atlantic Drift Pullquote Scary To See 2000

Darius hardflip 2 alexpires DZ 2000Darius Trabalza did this hardflip on the first day, which is fucked if you know how legs feel after that kind of flight time

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There is, of course, an underbelly to Bangkok. More of an outerbelly, I suppose. It’s famous for being extremely liberal in most of the exploitative ways. Flying back to London, or anywhere else western, you’ll get a blinding sense of it. Look around the cabin and see all of the three-quarter-length wearing, balding, red-faced, white, middle-aged men returning from what must be their bi-annual retreat from judgment, to let their pants down, relax and really enjoy the smell of their own shit. It fucking reeks, man. I was sat next to exactly two of these and they were both British and both called Steve—and I haven’t made that up, unless I misheard them. What a sanctimonious prick I am in this article, but it’s scary to see one’s future at 40,000 feet.

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Atlantic Drift Pullquote Gap Year 2000

NikStain bsngshove alexpires DZ 2000What do you think Nik Stain is doing here? It looks really nice, though

As the current world order sidles into chaos, we were tuk-tuking our way around and really genuinely enjoying this city for what it offers tourists. I can’t remember why we chose Bangkok—I think I had some idea about unironically or ironically embracing the millennium-era backpacker aesthetic I only really know from the Danny Boyle film The Beach. But this idea happened or didn’t happen a few years ago now, so when we got there I think we actually just enjoyed what backpackers tend to enjoy: cheap food, massages, novelty forms of transport and beautiful scenery not entirely destroyed by those who’ve trodden this path into the mantle. Is the “gap year” a thing in the US? Is Tom’s dad right to insist that Ewan McGregor should have played the main character in that film instead of Leonardo Dicaprio, for that reason and maybe others? Fuck me it’s fun to enjoy some sun and freedom before it all goes Mad Max. We’re simple animals really and for once we kind of made life easy for ourselves; good spots and weather. Joy goes a long way towards getting results when it comes down to it, too.

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We had Rye Beres on this trip to help film and he was so dedicated and slotted into a group of close strangers like a coin. I often wonder what drives people to film skateboarding. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know what it is with Rye, but it drives him to the point of sunstroke and back. Passion is a good servant and a cruel master.

sylvaintognelli fsngnollieflip icecream alexpires DZ 2000Sylvain, nosegrind Tognollieflip

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Did we visit temples? A little bit, not really. The one we saw was spectacular and gold, though, and there was a kitten living down a drain for some reason. There were a lot of sort of karaoke bands in bars and I became fixated on trying to make one of them perform Elvis’ “Are you Lonesome Tonight” to get around music rights issues for the edit. The reason for wanting this song is stupid and none of the bands would play it, but I did make that edit. For me. Nobody will ever see it but I think it’s my favorite thing I’ve done. Now let me ask you: does your memory stray, to a brighter summer’s day? Briefly we were paddling our feet in one again, one that seemed out of reach through the foggy web of illness, one that seems a little out of reach even now from this slowly closing bar in Madrid’s midnight. Perhaps nostalgic for the present—the seven-ply present that mercifully failed to transpire—perhaps a little drunk, perhaps a little grateful and sentimental. From the vantage point of resparked passion, I know there’s only one way to close out this article, before I close out my tab, smelling the bleach on its way for the barroom floor, and that’s to say—don’t leave important things to the last minute or you might sound like a drunk uncle at a wedding and make an arse of yourself in print. Thank you immensely to Peter Theerarat and crew for helping us out so kindly.

TomKnox swheel 2 alexpires DZ 2000Taking this thing switch is a stupid idea. But the giant lizards creeping around would probably clean up the mess or at least nibble your fingers if you fell. Tom Knox, switch heel
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