Short Bus


by David Broach | Captions: Phelps

I wish I had made a wish to not go to Texas...
Well, this is about two weeks too late. I have no idea who won the Make-A-Wish event and I don’t really care. It’s a wonderful charity event, but that’s just it. It’s charity so no one really can “win” or “lose,” and you can’t very well cover a contest that isn’t a contest…so I didn’t. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. It’s all for the kids anyway, right? Besides, I’ve always been far more interested in the bar next door to the park than the actual park. I’ve gone a few times now and have always had such a good time…at the bar.

When the team manager for the short bus called, he asked if I would go to Make-A-Wish with them this year. I said I didn’t want to. Not because of the Make-A-Wish foundation or because I hate sick kids or anything. That would be terrible; I love kids…but not in a sick way. I didn’t want to go because of my everlasting hatred for where it’s held: Texas. Most of the places between Houston and Los Angeles are places I personally try to avoid. Other than a few ditch spots in New Mexico and some things in Arizona that are fun to skate, the rest of it is not much fun. I try to avoid red states as much as possible. Once you get into Texas, it feels like you can’t get out. It’s a suck hole of suck that I always seem to get sucked into! But I sucked it up and decided I would once again go, because the people that pay me to bring you this exquisite journalistic work expect it.

Slash loves to tap dat ass!

Lee DuPont tricked me a little and said he had a few good spots along the way and for some reason this made me want to go. I guess I didn’t do the math before I stepped on the bus. When he said a “few” he really did mean just a “few,” as in three, so that’s two weeks of driving and three spots. The bus is so slow it actually feels like you’re traveling back in time at certain points. But the upside is that it was full of really good people and a cooler full of good times. This seemed to help me forget about the snail’s pace we were moving at.

We had the usual suspects in the van again (Nuge, Abdias, Lizard, Frank and Thomas) but we had two new-comers to the bus. Frecks is on flow for Circa Combat and might be on soon enough because the guy rips in every way (skating and as a person). We had Slash as a tagalong as well. Don’t worry, Fallen. He just hitched a ride to Make-A-Wish with us because we thought it would be fun, and it was.

This was the second road trip in the short bus. With a little luck you might be reading this around the same time the new mag comes out with the short bus tour article in it. That’s pure luck—not any kind of strategic planning. I didn’t expect the bus, “White Lighting,” to make it through the first trip. It was supposed to explode or break down and we were just going to ditch the thing. But for some reason she won’t die, and now I don’t want her to. We’ve traveled too many miles together and I’m too attached now to see her go.

We started out from Los Angeles via San Diego on November 5 for Make-A-Wish. For some reason, even after fair warning, the team manager wanted to take the 8 freeway to Texas. This didn’t make any sense; our first stop was in Tucson and most of the guys live in LA. Well, five of them were in LA at the time. The 10 is about 10 minutes from where I live. The 8 is about two hours south. Nuge and I figured this out the night before we left.

We also thought about the checkpoints on the 8 into AZ. They’re brutal. I’ve heard so many stories about people getting rolled at the border checks for weed and countless other things that shouldn’t matter. Mario’s response was to not bring weed. I don’t smoke, so I didn’t really care, but telling Don, Frank, Thomas, and Slash not to bring weed on a two-week drive is like telling them not to breathe. We said take the 10…he said no. I’m thinking now we should have pushed the issue a little more.

Dipshit, nosegrind

Needless to say, the bus was full of pot scattered in different places all over the van when we crossed the California/Arizona border. The bus is a rolling target as well: It’s a spray-painted white short bus. Now, the first thing they ask us is if we’re American citizens. We all say yes. I looked around the bus and realized we were all wearing ponchos and those cheap Mexican blankets you get at truck stops. The bus has no heater in it, and it was the middle of the night in the desert. Plus Thomas just looks illegal no matter how you spin it; like he’s up to no good and might even be carrying a switch blade or some other form of contraband smuggled in from TJ.

So the guy pokes his head in and asks what we’re doing. Mario was told about 30 times on the way up to the check point not to tell them we’re skateboarders, but that we’re traveling to Texas to do a Make-A-Wish event for charity, stressing the words “Make-A-Wish” and “charity” over and over. Nevertheless, Mario folded under the pressure immediately and gave us up. The guy says again, “So what are you guys doing anyway?” Mario says, “We’re just a bunch of homies going on a skateboarding trip together.” FUCKING SERIOUSLY MAN! Why didn’t you just hand us to them? Oh wait, you did.

So now we’re just a bunch of “SKATEBOARDING HOMIES” all looking like illegal immigrants. Side note to Mario real quick: When dealing with cops or border patrol when I’m around, and you must speak, please try to sound like an adult from now on. “Homies” and “skateboarders” and “bro” are not what they want to hear. “Make-A-Wish” and “Charity” and things of that nature sound much better!

A one footed Lizard

Portrait_PeterRamondetta.jpgAs soon as this was said, the guy asked us to pull over to the side so they could search the car. Now I start to hear the dogs barking. We all know why. So we get out somewhat nervously, but I think we were doing a decent job of hiding our fear. They take our IDs and start to run them while the dog is fucking going crazy all over the bus, sniffing and barking and jumping all over everything. I had my camera with me and I was able to get off one photo before the cop tells me I can’t take pictures. So that’s Thomas with his back turned to the camera in the leather jacket.

Sure enough, the dog comes out of the van and the officer has one backpack in his hand. He throws it on the ground and tells us that the dog is trained to sniff out people and drugs…and that he didn’t think we had a person in the backpack. He then goes on to tell us that Arizona has a zero tolerance law for drugs and that it’s automatic jail time. It was Thomas’s bag. I could see his face at this point and I could just see his heart drop. The dog officer says that if the owner of the bag speaks up, they would only take him in and let the rest of us go. With out any hesitation Thomas spoke up and took the heat. The officer then tells us to get back in the van and pull it off to the side of the road. We waited for a while and suddenly we see Thomas walking back to the bus! It turned out that they didn’t take him in—they just gave him a ticket—because he told them he was on his way to the MAKE-A-WISH CHARITY EVENT! Plus, the dog had to be new, because all he found was a grinder in the bag. He couldn’t even find the rest of the weed scattered all over the place.

Loser, front rock

So we proceeded down the highway until we hit the—what do you know—the fucking 10 East. So the $450 ticket that Thomas got will be paid by Mario for his verbal diarrhea at the border, if he’s a good person, right? Thomas can’t afford that kind of shit—the kid works at PetCo.

Not much else happened along the way to Houston. Just long, cold desert rides and random truck stop purchases to pass the time and decorate the bus with. One good purchase made by Lizard was a glow stick set. He fashioned a glowing chandelier out of it and hung it to the roof so we could all talk and not spill beer on each other. I found some bullhorns at a truck stop called “The Thing.” Other than that, it was just a straight shot to Houston with lots of piss stops and fill ups. The bus needed gas every 130 miles. Lee’s PSP ran out of batteries at one point, so he fired up his generator and plugged it in and played for a while. Not much action until we hit Houston.

Jimmy Malone, stale pick—why?

I think I’ve been to Make-A-Wish three times over the last seven or eight years. I’ve only been inside the park once. I saw that it was too dark to shoot photos without flashes, and I really hate setting shit like that up when 50 people are flying all over the place trying to land shit. It’s dangerous for everyone involved. I was trying to check in and get some kind of pass to get in, and they said I wasn’t on any list. So I said “thank you” and headed straight to the bar next door. I could smell the BBQ, and as much as I talk shit on Texas, they have the best BBQ. I’m a asshole about texas (look I won’t even capitalize it), but I’m not stupid. I know when to give credit where credit is due.

I’m on my way to the bar when Mario finds me and makes me go take some photos of a autograph signing. Now I’ve done this seriously around 400 times: shoot shop signings and weird demos. NOTHING ever comes of it. But he gets me the band and I’m in the contest. I shoot a few photos of the team signing stuff when I see Peter Ramondetta at the Combat table. He’s not on Combat—he’s on the other one. It was good to see him, but I asked him what he was doing and he said he was covering for Frank. Then I figured it all out. Frank was already at the bar. I took two blurry photos of the signing and made a bee line for the drinks.

Johnny Chan kicklflips

I know to catch Frank at the bar because I know I’ll be in for a good time. I find Frank with his usual glass of Beam with a glass of Coke behind it for a chaser. He refuses to put them together in a glass, but doesn’t mind mixing it up in his mouth. He has a reason for this but I’m not sure what it is. It’s just what he does. Then I see Nuge and Mario walking in. Nuge made a bet with Mario that if he beat him at pool he didn’t have to skate for the day. Um Mario, Nuge grew up in a pool hall and can beat most anyone he plays. So Don was drinking with us in about four minutes.

Dr. Death, smith!!!

Anyway, after the contest started to simmer down, everyone starts to roll into the bar. Or maybe it was just a bunch of people that didn’t want to skate in the thing, because I started to lose track of time. I was busy with burgers, ribs, and booze. I see Antwuan. Now we all know Antwuan can get out of hand at times, but this particular time—well, yes, it was one of those times. He was having fun with some old lady. I’m not sure what happened, but I saw them go to the back of the bar. Then all kinds of ruckus ensued. I think he was trying to steal a beer or something stupid. The owners and bouncers all surrounded him and the old lady takes off like she wasn’t doing anything. The bar owners start dropping N-bombs all over the place. Then one little guy pushes Antwuan from behind and it broke out into some chaos.

Hellion going down in flames

Antwuan was pulled out of the bar by friends because he was about to start going crazy. The white trash bartenders chased him out of the bar with logs of firewood, asking everyone where that fucking “N” was and saying that they were going to kill him. I walked out after them just to make sure no hate crimes were really going to go down. I don’t know what I could have done anyway…but at least I could have steered them in the wrong direction or said something like, “Hey ya’ll, that fucker went over that-a-way, God dang ya’ll man, I tell you go get ’em…get ’em!” while pointing in the wrong direction. It would have worked. These guys were idiots. One guy was rolling around in a wheelchair looking for him. I’m not sure what he thought he was going to do. It was a buzzkill to say the least, and a reminder of why I don’t go Texas.

The only person who didn’t seem to notice the drama was Frank. I looked back and he’s doing this chicken walk dance move without his shirt on across the bar. I have no idea why he was up on the bar doing it, but no one seemed to care. Antwuan was long gone before the cops showed up. Lizard said some shit to the cops about them being racist, and all of a sudden Lizard’s in the back of a squad car getting hauled off to jail. Now, I’ve seen Lizard go to jail before and deserve it, but this time he didn’t. He wasn’t drunk and he wasn’t out of line. Guess they just didn’t like to hear the truth in Texas. I can say that about Texas in general now: They just don’t like to hear the truth. Shit, how do you think Bush got put in office? Dumb people like to be lied to.

As far as the rest of the trip went, it was fun. We headed out of Texas the next day but stayed in Austin for one night. Then we drove to Lee’s three good spots and headed all the way home to California—where I want to stay for a long time. We did hit New Mexico and AZ for a few days. That’s when we got a few of the tricks you’re looking at in this epic online article. Hope you enjoy it. I didn’t. OK, not all of it was bad. Just the Texas part. And honestly up until the lame stuff happened I was almost liking it there. But then they had to go and blow it. The skating was fun. Another road trip story done.

Salamander, back 50

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