Volcom's "Born to Blew" Article

BorntoBlew Title testing largeWant to improve any skate trip? Just add Gypsy. Collin rides the sky while Doobie voids another rental agreement
BorntoBlew Pullquote 1"I’m the worst girl in town!” she screeched while powersliding her child-sized BMX bike into the quarterpipe. We’d been pumping the jet lag away at an orderly Berlin DIY park when Schmeagle came crashing into our lives. Roughly five feet tall and all of 90 pounds, this energetic female trick biker was a cross between an eight-year-old boy, a dog who had just been released from a bath and “Granny” from the old TV show The Beverly Hillbillies. And she was all over us. “You come to MY park and you bring PLASTIC!” she bleated in our faces. “PLASTIC!!!” She was everywhere, barreling into people, swerving and skidding madly and cackling like a maniac. It was nuts. Now everyone knows that the first rule of engaging with crazy people is do not engage with the crazy people. This was an impossibility for our group, however, because along with Eniz Fazilov, Grant Taylor, Collin Provost, Jackson Pilz, Jorge Simoes, Harry Lintell and Chris Pfanner, ours included a special teammate also bunny-hopping the line between sanity and madness—Victor “Doobie” Pellegrin.

BorntoBlew Photo 1
Der Schmeagle, our beloved muse

BorntoBlew Photo 27
GT, zipper-y back lip at Der Schmeagle's

Half-French, half-Gypsy, all drunken, ripping jubilation, Doobie could not seem to stay away from Schmeagle and was soon falling backwards off a bench while gripping her in a twisted leg lock. “Waghhh!” she screamed in delight. They seemed a match made for the Berlin Love Parade until her joy suddenly downshifted into an indignant rage. Popping up, spitting and swearing, we knew the fun Schmeagle had left the building and that we should follow suit—as fast as humanly possible.

BorntoBlew Photo 2
Keeping those money coals burning, thanks Pfann Man

There are times when the human mind is more receptive to information and imagery, those poignant, middle-of-the-night epiphanies where it all becomes clear or, conversely, where the lyrics to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” become trapped in a 36-hour death spiral in our cerebral cortexes. Maybe it was the jet lag, but our brief time with Schmeagle stayed with us throughout our entire three weeks in Germany. Every trip needs a talisman, a theme or a mascot and for us it was Schmeagle—freedom and madness in a mini-skirt—a middle-aged woman with scabbed-up knees who, like us, refuses to grow up. “I wonder what Schmeagle is doing now?” we’d ask ourselves days and weeks later. Collin and Grant religiously scrawled her name across grip tape, walls and any other available surfaces. “Plastic!” we’d cry out to one another in times of quiet.

BorntoBlew Photo 3
Comeback kid and new dad, GT floats upstream, hip to cradle

BorntoBlew Photo 4Portuguese tech god Jorge Simoes torques into a frontside 270 switch feeble to forwards. Blond ambition!

BorntoBlew Photo 5After battling Schmeagle, this gap to nosegrind was a walk in the park for Doobie
BorntoBlew Pullquote 2
Scoot and Destroy
Like Austin, Texas or San Francisco, Berlin offers a more artistically minded, free-thinking, freak-flag-flying oasis in an otherwise restrictive region. You will never see more white people with dreadlocks in your life. A common Berlin look could be described as cyber-gutter-punk-meets-S&M math teacher. There’s also a lot of elaborate boot wearing and asymmetrical haircuts. We arrived at ground zero—a classic traveler’s hostel complete with young people trying out new identities, a vending machine that sold only lukewarm beer and glitter-crusted ravers gently snoring on lobby couches. Into this lively setting came Doobie, shirtless and musky, his wiry crown of hair standing half erect, troll doll-like, as he literally kissed everyone on the face and/or mouth. “Fuck YOU!” he bellowed. It’s his normal greeting. “Fuck you, Mikey! Fuck you, Pfann Man! Fuck YOU, Spider!” Doobie has a fun nickname for everyone, some of which were leftover from past trips. This made it sort of difficult for us newcomers to figure exactly out who was who. Finnish rider Eniz Fazilov is known by Doobie as “Salmon,” while Portugese technician Jorge Simoes is called “Super Bock.” UK’s Harry Lintell has the moniker “Fish and Chips” or more commonly “Fucking Fish and Chips” or when Doobie is really fired up “Fish and Prick.” “Fuck you, Fish and Chips!” he’d say whenever there was a lull in the conversation, to which the only appropriate reply was, “Fuck you, Gypsy!” There was a certain amount of sloppiness as we settled into our new Euro schedule, manifesting in several items becoming lost, damaged or stolen straight out of the gate. Posted on the stoop in front of the hostel, Grant joyfully chucked his portable speaker, a common move, but this time instead of eventually retrieving it from a bush, unknown criddling forces beat us to it. More seriously, Jacko, fresh off his first serious bid of new-dad duties, took a lighthearted trip off the rails ending in his wallet, phone and passport being stolen while he was passed out under a bridge. “I woke up when they were trying to get me shoes off!” he reported later. Other economic mishaps came via the mishandling of rental scooters and bikes, so handy but also so easy to abuse. I’m not sure what it is about mangling those Lime scooters and rental bikes that’s so satisfying, but there’s a cult of scooter smashers out there. It taps into that same impulse that leads a person to draw a mustache on a billboard or cup a mannequin’s boob—silly, slightly shameful and with a touch of primal malevolence. Grant got charged an extra few hundred bucks after forgetting to turn off a rental bike, then later lost his wallet joyriding a scooter. Unfortunate, but perhaps some sort of roundabout karma for all those electric scoots and bikes currently resting at the bottom of the world’s canals, lakes and rivers. As we licked our wounds one morning on the hostel stairs, hungover, smelly and short a few wallets and passports, Doobie summed it up in a purely Doobian way. Echoing the title of the popular Polar flick, he announced, “We blew it a long time ago, boys! That’s our problem. We are born to blew!”
BorntoBlew Photo 6

BorntoBlew Photo 38Eniz flicks tré to the street while the crew buys sausage out of a vending machine

BorntoBlew Photo 7Collin Provost flies up to bluntslide at a spot that would’ve been skate stopped in the 1970s if it was in the USA
BorntoBlew Pullquote 3This trip, hosted by the mighty Volcom Stone, was slated to be a classic ’90s-style train trip. “You know, just like in the old Münster contest days,” Remy explained mistily. And while the romance and triangle sandwiches of a voyage by rail does hold a certain amount of editorial and experiential appeal, it also involves a whole lot of camera bag lugging, stuffing and babysitting for us dicks in the skate media. So when Lannie, Bublitz and I found out that our sherpa Christian was going to be driving a van along the route anyway, we quickly decided that we’d just ride in that. And then when the skaters found out, they wanted to ride in the van, too. And that’s when the train trip across Germany became a van trip across Germany. Offended readers seeking a more adventurous feature should consult one of those old Skateboarder articles where Jonathan Mehring took Jerry Hsu, Jack Sabback and Kenny Reed on a two-month journey via a 19th-century steam ship up the Ganges to do shifty ollies in front of a yellow wall.

BorntoBlew Photo 26Collin Provost hops a Smith to 180 out before boarding the steamship

BorntoBlew Photo 8
Secret spot at the corner of Bahnhof and Ludwigsburger—Jackson Pilz presses an Indy nosebone off the marble while the locals head home for more cologne

BorntoBlew Photo 32Our trusted Sherpa Christian Vankelst gets his licks in between driving the train, I mean van

The Baguette
“Born to blew! Born to blew! Baby, I’m born to blew-ew!” we’d sing in the style of Johnny Thunders’s classic “Born to Lose.” Doobie was loving it. Making a new friend while traveling abroad is one of life’s greatest rewards, especially when it’s someone you might not normally get a chance to spend time with. Such was the love connection between Doobie and Thrasher videographer Matt Bublitz. Though indignant to this characterization, Matt is one of the nicest, sweetest, most pleasant people I know. With his round glasses and wide, honest face, many people mistake him for a Mormon. “I don’t get why people think I’m so innocent,” he protests innocently, but you could totally picture him on a bike with one of those name tags. Doobie, on the other hand, is gnarly. “I’ve seen Doobie’s dick more times this trip than all the dicks I’ve ever seen in my life,” Matt reported one morning, “last night he kept sticking it in the holes of the pool table while someone else was playing.” Doobie optimistically refers to his dick as “the Baguette,” and we all caught an unwanted eyeful here and there. “It’s crazy, though,” Matt continued, “He somehow pulls it off, you know, with the Baguette. You see it, but it doesn’t seem that weird just because he’s so confident about it.” For the record, none of us have ever seen Matt Bublitz’s penis. Although, it should be noted, I have seen one of his leg bones. Too soon? Sorry, Matt.

BorntoBlew Photo 9

BorntoBlew Photo 28Harry got lucky on this trip … at least twice! Smith grind through the kink is the one we can tell you about

BorntoBlew Photo 10Simon Bannerot arrived late but made up for it by going straight oververt. Just another mellow Euro spot, right?     Photo: Stratton

Sprechen Sie Deutsch
One night at a biergarten event, Doobie approached me in the line to the bar. “You want a drink, Mikey? I get it for you. The bartender is so nice. She show me her tits,” he explained. “Her what?” I asked, certain I’d misheard him. “You want to see them?” he replied cheerfully, “Come on, I show you!” I followed him dumbly to the bar where an attractive woman was working, showing no signs of recognizing either Doobie or his middle-aged friend. “Now, we wait,” he said. I stood there for a few minutes, wondering what the joke was. Doobie just smiled patiently. Then, while helping a customer, she leaned forward to grab something under the counter, revealing a quick nip slip. “You see, Mikey!” Doobie said, punching me in the arm, “I tell you she likes me!” Confidence, it’s a powerful thing.

BorntoBlew Photo 29The Street Gypsy will always find the quarterpipe. Frontside noseblunt

BorntoBlew Photo 30Eniz Fazilov delights the frauleins with a booming kickflip fakie
BorntoBlew Pullquote 4Our deep dive into German culture and language amounted to several schnitzel and mashed potato stops at truck-stop diners and adding the sound “tshk” to the occasional word to make it sound more German. “Can you hand me my boardtschk?” you’d ask. “Would you like a beershck?” And of course, “Where’s the shpotshks?” We also totally made up Schmeagel’s name. Her name could be “Heather” for all we knew. This is the kind of dickhead shit we always do on trips to non-English speaking countries, which I would typically consider pretty stupid and disrespectful, but Pfanner’s a fan of the “tshk” suffix, too, so maybe it’s all just good fun. We also bought Doobie a genuine Oktoberfest outfit, complete with checkerboard shirt and little pleather shorts. He looked absolutely wünderbar.
BorntoBlew Photo 11

BorntoBlew Photo 31The Peanut Gallery gets to work while GT blasts. Maybe all Phillips needed was more likes

BorntoBlew Photo 12

BorntoBlew Photo 13Harry Lintell with the trick of the trip—switch 50-50 down a giant metal beam. Fuck you, Fish and Chips!     Photo: Stratton

BorntoBlew Photo 14

BorntoBlew Photo 15Doobie gets “one more try” from the security guard at the Mercedes Benz headquarters in Stuttgart, riding away with a turbo-charged feeble. Fun fact: a bunch of the crew all got “Born to Blew” tattoos at the end of the trip, Doobie’s inked directly above the Baguette (not shown)

BorntoBlew Photo 16

BorntoBlew Photo 33Spider wraps impossible with Bublitz hot on his tail. They went to the same high school, don’t you know?

BorntoBlew Photo 17
BorntoBlew Photo 37
Jorge Simoes and the SSBSTS. Very few people have ever done this here

BorntoBlew Photo 18BorntoBlew Pullquote 5Tom The Stick
Grant Taylor likes to name inanimate objects. A tradition born of Hellrides, Maka Lassi or likely some combination of the two, a three-foot-long stick was christened “Tom” while a leather satchel found in the trash and filled with ice and beer was named “Tim,” his name written in paint pen across his flank. Finding cold drinks in Europe can be a challenge, and in Germany, especially so. “Is it cold-cold or German cold?” we’d ask while selecting a beverage. Ice cubes are treated like rare truffles, with restaurants offering two or three rapidly-melting chips when they serve any at all. Tim got pretty waterlogged after awhile, but not before chilling a variety of road and street sodas, enjoyed liberally throughout the trip.

BorntoBlew Photo 19

BorntoBlew Photo 34Tom the Stick and Collin the Spider will never pass up a little Free Air

BorntoBlew Beer Title
Born to Blew Thedrinks 7
BorntoBlew Beer Photo Thumb 1 blueHaving made their way to the States, first via fancy spots like Whole Foods, the radler is basically an Orangina soda with a little bit of alcohol in it, like 2.5%. A favorite of hip moms and floppy-hatted Coachella types, it was a stand-in for water on several days of the trip. The baby on the label is almost too accurate, as this is excellent starter-booze for children and the bitter averse. Available in blood orange and grapefruit. 

BorntoBlew Beer Photo Thumb 2 blueWe trusted Pfanner on a lot of beer suggestions which, choked down German cold or just plain Euro warm on a 90-degree day, all end up tasting about the same. This one has “Hell” in the title, however, which definitely influenced purchase.

BorntoBlew Beer Photo Thumb 3 blueA dude showed up at a spot with a warm case of this stuff after noticing us on social media and tracking us down—a very kind gesture. It tasted like Christmas trees.

BorntoBlew Beer Photo Thumb 4 blueTotal impulse purchase, the best thing about the Whiskey Sword was that no matter how much you drank it always seemed to be about half full. Not sure of the brand, but definitely in the sickly-sweet Southern Comfort family. It was a little awkward to drink from, too. You’d have to assume a sort of hari-kari suicide stance only to have it splash you in the face. After a few epic swords fights against Tom the stick, the whiskey sword pretty much got forgotten in the van. 

BorntoBlew Beer Photo Thumb 5 blueA lighter, snappier version of peppermint schnapps, this beverage bucked all German trends by being sold ice cold from special mini-freezers jammed into corners of Berlin’s many kiosks and kabob shops. Like drinking a peppermint, I definitely could’ve used its mouthwash-like qualities during my teenage make-out years. “Why does your breath smell like Chili-Cheese Fritos?” “Because I love you?”

BorntoBlew Photo 35The Simoes Twins wreck shop on a tailslide fakie through the kink

BorntoBlew Photo 39
A man, a van and a never-ending plan. These are the days

BorntoBlew Photo 36Harry slides over to forward, fuck a pole
BorntoBlew Pullquote 6Summer at Nuremberg
In Nuremberg we went to the Zeppelinfield, site of several of the largest rallies of the Third Reich. Though the 30-foot-tall swastika that topped the grandstand was blown to smithereens at the end of the war in 1945, much of the massive structure where Hitler spoke to 100,000 plus supporters remains, overlooking a giant asphalt wasteland once used for the German legs of the heavy metal “Monsters of Rock” tour, but occupied only by a few Rollerbladers and remote-control-car enthusiasts during our short visit. Jorge hardflipped the blocks where the Nazis once stood. The whole place felt creepy and awful. Comparing any present-day political figure to Hitler seems wildly inappropriate but, goddamn it, these are some fucked-up times. The idea that history is never over is a heavy one. Who could imagine a return to the horrors of World War II? At the same time, who could imagine middle-class American Christians pledging their undying love and support for a casino magnate who paid hush money to a porn star he raw dogged while his third wife was home with their new baby? That’s a long way to the Holocaust, but separating children from their parents at the border sure isn’t. Anyway, wild times. Wonder if we’ll be waxing the ledges and draining the pools at Mar-a-Lago some day?

BorntoBlew Photo 20
Jorge flips hard over cursed ground

BorntoBlew Photo 21
The Nurenberg Zeppelinfield as it appeared in 1938

BorntoBlew Photo 22Fins out, Salmon! Eniz Fazilov takes it to some steep stainless steel with an undercover back 50 in Cologne     Photo: Stratton
BorntoBlew Pullquote 7Born to Blew
There were six dads on this trip. Eniz, Pfanner, Jacko, Grant, Christian and I all have children and play on or around skateboards for a living, which is sort of weird but mostly just awesome. Splitting family time with work and skate time can be a struggle, but Chris Pfanner seems to have it down. Antihero fans imagining Stranger and the boys reading Bukowski paperbacks under a single bare bulb in an SRO deep in the Tenderloin will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the Pfann Man not only has a beautiful family, but the nicest home of any pro skateboarder I’ve ever seen, which he also designed and built. Shredding as well as handling Vans Europe management duties, he’s seemingly killing it on all fronts. That said, not even the savviest of fathers can keep from blowing it when it comes to the twists and turns of the digital age. While preparing for his children’s school year, Chris was communicating via a group chat with 60 other kindergarten parents, many of whom he was about to meet for the first time. And it was to this particular group that he accidentally sent a video. What video, you may ask? Why, a slow-motion video of Doobie taking a dry rip out of a green plastic bong, what else? “Oh no,” we heard him mutter from the back seat, “Oh, man.” We’ve all had that moment on a skate trip where the whole crew is waiting in the van, watching us while we pace back and forth across a parking lot talking to a wife or special someone about some crisis or another that can only be mitigated with a reassuring phone call. In this case Pfanner came back laughing, “They kicked me out of the kindergarten group chat!” he reported, “What can I say, boys? I’m born to blew.”

BorntoBlew Photo 23
BorntoBlew Photo 24

BorntoBlew Photo 25From spreadsheets to massive double sets, Chris Pfanner is all biz. Frontside 180 from Germany’s number-one frequent flyer
  • Lest We Forget: GRANT TAYLOR

    Lest We Forget: GRANT TAYLOR
    On November 23rd, 2011, we announced that Grant Taylor was our Skater of the Year alongside this video part. Grant is the best, and here's a glimpse of what he did that year to receive the top honor.
  • King of the Road Webisode #11

    King of the Road Webisode #11
    Nike SB goes full mental at the Los Angeles finish line. Ishod rips a bowl barefoot, Koston keeps his cool in a prank call, and Cory Kennedy continues his tech wizardry.
  • Burnout: Natty Shell

    Burnout: Natty Shell
    The SOTY & crew cruise a natural shell ride, Ozzy style.
  • Burnout: Free Hats!

    Burnout: Free Hats!
    GT and the crew ease into the OZ trip and come up on some free headgear.
  • King of the Road Webisode #9

    King of the Road Webisode #9
    All four KOTR teams together makes this the best one yet. Also: Mystery Guests revealed, Juggalette make-out, crazy hill bomb, Crockett's now-legendary switch flip, and more.