Past Forward: Matt Bublitz on Backwash and Borrowed Time
I don’t know why, but after finishing every full-length skate video I’ve made, I sincerely believe it’ll be my last. After Warfare at 19, I was off to college, diving into books, a new city and putting off the impending doom of adulthood. After Lo-Tide at 22, with diploma in hand, I thought it was surely time to grow up, face the great unknown of my future and trade in my VX-1000 for a nine-to-five. Fast forward ten years, and today, I’m 32 with a wife, baby and full-time responsibilities as a videographer for Thrasher. Yet again, I find myself exporting my longest video to date featuring the guys I grew up skating with. It feels like a miracle. I didn’t set out to do this, but somehow after countless weekends, aligning our days off, a clip here, a clip there, I’ve arrived at Backwash, a 35-minute video highlighting the talents of the people closest to my heart. Yes, the process has been much slower; everyone now has families, jobs and increasingly aching muscles, but the drive remains constant. And it’s gotten us to the finish line one more (last?) time. So sit back and scroll your way to familiarize yourself with the faces and feats of my friends, the skaters of Backwash.
Brothers forever, 2010 and 2022
The Brunner twins make me feel acutely aware of the passing time. I met Chris and Pierce when they were 13 and aptly known around town as “the fetuses.” While filming for Lo-Tide, I even remember signing a release form from their parents designating me as their de-facto guardian. It was a unique responsibility to not only be responsible for their footage, but for their lives.
As you’d expect, at 24 years old now, they’re no longer “the fetuses.” Quite the contrary, they obsess over classic cars, VHS skate videos and the skate heroes of yore. They’re the oldest young people I know, like if Benjamin Button had a penchant for Misled Youth and late-70s Cadillacs.
Chris adds his name to the short list of people who have stepped to the famous J-Wray rooftop ledge. Back Smith while I try to keep my palms from sweating Photo: Burnett
The new shit might be takin' that dirt ride, but Pierce likes his skating on the Heath side. Front board the rail and hubba in one rip Photo: Bublitz
From ledge to handrail, Chris serves up a perpendicular punishment with this grind to boardslide
When the rumblings of a new full-length started swirling, Chris went into overdrive, maniacally plotting and executing his assaults one by one. With not only a disregard, but an excitement for knob-hacking vandalism, flagrant trespassing violations and petty thievery. He stopped at nothing to secure his guns-blazing opening part. I’ve never been so nervous filming someone in my life.
Seeing double?! That's not the twins, that's just Chris leaping his way to a harrowing lipslide on Beach Boulevard Photo: Burnett
I'm pretty sure Chris can switch crook anything. See Exhibit A Photo: Burnett
Hawaii native Malakai Montes was the new addition to the crew this time around, linked by his move to the mainland and hanging around our local shop: Jokers. Like most transplants, Malakai approached Southern California with a fresh set of eyes, bringing new energy to the spots we’ve seen a million times. Despite being largely a transition and bowl-oriented skater, he adapted swimmingly to the streets, parlaying his vertical talents to whatever was at hand. To showcase his full array of abilities, though, we of course had to get a few backyard bowl sessions in.
Some knock before entering. Malakai front wallrides—up and over the handle for good measure Photo: Bublitz
Those backyard-bowl bashes helped out here, double disaster in the ditch
No vert ramp, no problem! Malakai drop-in grinds the closest thing he could find to transition Photo: Bublitz
Dad mode activated! Pictured here with wife Cassidy and our freshly-hatched daughter Marybird
It might be cringe, but being a skater that likes to get footage as well, I try to be a part of the videos I make. After putting out my Enter the Museum part a year ago and being a newly-minted dad, I didn’t think I could muster up enough clips to make it happen. But when it came time to edit, I realized I might be able to stretch what I had into a mini-part of sorts. What resulted is what I will forever refer to as my “dad bod” part.
Ride-on grinds are cool. Right, fellow kids? Going the distance on a crooks sans oillie Photo: Seidler
Easing into the curb-dad culture with a front board to switch back grind on a six-inch behemoth
As you may know, Tom K is my best friend and has been with me since the beginning. Naturally, he’s been in all my previous videos and I’ve gotten to film most of his professional parts for other companies. When Backwash was shaping up into a proper video, Tom didn’t have any clips designated for it. Him being the only true professional skater out of our friend group, the footage I had of him was understandably already spoken for by other companies. I remember asking Tom, “Can you just film one thing for this video?” What resulted was him stepping up and not only getting one clip, but filming an entire part in only six months. He's a true professional and a genuine friend! Thank you, Tom!
We go way back, brace-faced Tom K, 2007
Some Tom K magic, slappy feeble to hippie jump the chain
Somehow Tom got the Tempster out of retirement for a rare guest clip. Tom can officially die happy
Who wore it best?
Of course, it’s not a true old-fashioned full-length without a friends section! Avery Johnson has been steadily stacking since his Enter the Museum part and came through with a robust showing. The future is yours, Ave!
Leave it to Avery to find a fresh approach at the iconic Skip's Ditch, 50-50 pop out into the double-black-diamond ride Photo: Burnett
Healthy pop and precise pinch, Avery catches a front crooks Photo: Burnett
Ben Woosley, aka Mr. New Mexico, is another one of my closest friends. Beyond that, he’s a bonafide role model. If you didn’t know better, judging by the way he skates and acts, you’d think he was our peer, an early 30-something. The whole time filming Lo-Tide I assumed he might be a couple years older than us, but it took randomly stumbling upon his ID to realize he was born in 1977. Someone might find that strange, but we only looked at him with more respect–a guy almost 15 years our senior who cared about skating and filming as much as we did. Often, he was getting gnarlier than we were! Most guys his age are happy slappying a curb every other Sunday, which is fine, but it’s not for Ben. He still wants to push his skating to its highest potential, early-grabbing onto even bigger walls and rails than before. Now 46 with a full-time job as a physical therapist at Hoag Hospital, a wife, daughter and mortgage, Ben continues to teach us the cliché that age is but a number—you really can skate forever, you just gotta muscle it.
Ben powers and early grab to wallride over the rail. Leave it to Mr. New Mex! Photo: Burnett
Pop, yank, grind, a fine display of Ben's many strengths
The past meets the future! Invert to grind on an East LA gem Photo: Bublitz
John DeMar is the best. Not everyone might know that because of his mild-mannered demeanor and humility, but once you see him skate, the talent is undeniable. He’s one of those guys that is somehow good at everything. He’ll beat you at chess, casually smoke you at golf, and hell, even make his own music for his part. It would be irritating if he wasn’t so damn chill and likable. A once heavily flowed skater on the verge of making it, John turned his professional attention to teaching. Today, he works as a history teacher at a high school in downtown Los Angeles. Clearly, he still finds the time to skate on the weekends with the rest of us, calling out absurdly hard tricks that I’ve learned to never doubt. I wonder if his students know their teacher can back tail 360 heelflip out…
John presents the holy grail pad trick, full Cab to fakie manny
There's something special about skating your alma mater. John ditches the cap and gown for a bench and a garbage can—gap to back lip Photo: Burkhardt
John deserves his PhD in Technical Studies for this one, back tail 270 heel out. Bravo, Dr. DeMar!
There you have it, all my friends who helped me tooth-and-nail repopulate the endangered species of the full-length video. Despite the challenges, I think I’m finally realizing that regardless of what life throws at us with each passing year, we’re still just the same kids we’ve always been—friends searching for the next spot, just wanting to log another clip. So even though it feels like the end of an era yet again, if history repeats itself, I’ll find myself biting my words and pressing play on another video in the coming years. Fingers crossed.
Now that you're familiar, watch Bubiltz and his homies unleash in Huntington Beach one more time
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