I met Ryan when I was 18 or 19, and it was because I was a hater. I had made a post online about how I disliked one of his former team mates, and after the shit storm ensued, him and I became friends at Elizabeth Park, once I went out of my way to return his board to him and introduced myself. Ryan is one of the people that has influenced me the most, from being brutally honest about things (he once told me before Aight Chill 'dropped', and I quote, "You finally deserve a part in this video. You didn't when you first started. You put yourself in because you're the editor and you could, but you deserve it now."), to essentially being the reason Secret Society was named what it was. Thanks, Ryan, for being a friend when you need to be, a dick when you wanna be, and a damn good skateboarder always.
Backside Lipslide. --- Photo : Dillard
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"I always asked him if we could go watch the skateboarders..."
Once when I was ten or so, I was at my friends house and I saw some dude skating flat at the corner of the block. He was pretty good, and to my memory it was the first time I witnessed anyone do a trick on a skateboard, although, my dad told me that years before that, I always asked him if we could go watch the skateboarders at this dentist office they would always skate at. I later concluded that there's a really good chance I was watching the Grape Jam dudes skate there cause they frequented that spot and also tagged it up with Grape Jam stickers and such. This dentist office had about twenty different waxed curbs/parking blocks and was on Eureka and Trenton in Southgate, and if you are a true downriver OG, you'd know about this place.
Anyways, when I saw that dude skating flat when I was ten that was it. I wanted to make a skateboard flip and land back on it. I didn't like any of the common sports or activities and I knew doing tricks on a skateboard was for me.
"I knew doing tricks on a skateboard was for me."
Vintage Video Grab --- Footage : Dillard
I had a few fish shaped boards from a flea market that I would push around on, but I needed one like that dude had. My mom took me to Meijer and got me a Hobie Cat board. There was one friend I had that skated, Brian, and he had a Hook-ups deck. He could ollie, flip kick flips, and could boardslide a few things. He was the only dude I skated with for the first year or so, and he taught me how to ollie. Him and I had gotten a few other neighborhood kids to skate. We would build janky ass kickers and lay rails flat on the ground and 50-50 them.
"I'd just skate by myself instead."
Backside Tailslide to Fakie --- Photo: Lester
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Soon I had gotten my first legit skateboard from Cheapskates for Christmas, a Birdhouse B-logo, with Grind Kings and Spitfires. Then came Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and a few more of my friends began to skate. One of my best friends, Joe Zavadil, started around then. Joe was definitely the one out of all those friends that shared the love for skating that I had, and, although he stopped for a few years, he continues to skate to this day.
"I Ollied every loading dock in Wyandotte within my ability."
Back then, we all skated everyday, all day. Downtown Wyandotte to us back then was Barcelona. I skated all obstacles, but my favorite was stairs and loading docks. If I found a new loading dock, it could've even been identical to the last, it was a brand new spot to me. I ollied every gap/set/loading dock in Wyandotte within my ability range. Each time I came home hurt, my mom was certain I'd give it up. She couldn't grasp the idea that I just wanted to skate more and more despite the injuries. I ended up skating way more than any of my friends and they'd ask me to go play basketball or something, and I'd just skate by myself instead. If it was raining or snowing, my mom would park in the street to allow me to be in the garage for hours just skating flat or skating this tiny rail I had. Most of my friends that skated back then no longer do. Somewhere around that time I had seen Reed Morris skating in front of his house down the street. We eventually met and began skating all the time, from then to now, of course with the exception of Reed's rollerblading phases.
"Downtown Wyandotte was our Barcelona."
Backside Blunt Slide (Schendel would call this a Weed Cigar Slide) --- Photo : Dillard
When I was in 7th grade, a new skateboarder moved to Wyandotte, Shawn Reed. Shawn was just as good as me, if not better, something I was not used to cause I had always been the best out of all my friends. We instantly became friends and started skating as much as possible. I progressed more than ever when I skated with Shawn. He was the first person to tell me about style and doing tricks smoothly. If I did a trick sloppy, he'd tell me to do it again, before that, I usually just took whatever, if I rolled away I was happy, but he made me realize that good feeling of doing a solid trick. Shawn was also all about tech skating, and I was mainly gaps, stairs, and rails. He showed me PJ Ladd's Wonderful Horrible Life. I was blown away! I wanted to do some tech shit.
"...if I did a trick sloppy, he'd tell me to do it again."
Shawn and I started skating this place called Greken Skin Institute in Wyandotte which was right at the midpoint between our houses. It had smooth blacktop with manny pads and a nice curb we waxed. We would go there everyday until dark and film lines with our cameras and try to learn new ledge/manny combinations. Greken will forever be my most frequented spot and where I progressed the most. Shawn had the biggest impact on my skateboarding out of anyone, and, sadly he moved away for a period of time and we stopped skating together.
"We would go there every day until dark.."
Through highschool and into my adult years, I was able to travel more and skate new spots. Also more and more local parks were being built allowing me to progress more. Once I got my car I would drive around for hours circling buildings and industrial areas looking for new spots. After high school I became friends with Allen Dillard and began filming and traveling more than ever. I had always wanted to be in a skate video, he provided that possibility by filming my first video part in Aight Chill. The time, effort, frustrations, and money Allen has spent on filming with me is such a great reminder of what true friends are. I can always count on him for spotting me admission to a park in the winter, or lending me intelligent advice when I'm bummed about anything skating related or not, and If it weren't for him I wouldn't have skated half of the spots I have, or wouldn't have known nearly as many skateboarders as I do now. For that I have the utmost appreciation.
(Editors note: faaaaaaag)
"I have been skateboarding nonstop since I started..."
I've been skateboarding nonstop since I started and my personal view of it has not changed. I don't mind the commercialization or things of that sort, it was bound to happen because skateboarding is extraordinary. People get so bent out of shape about the things they don't like about what skateboarding has become, what a waste of energy.. Adapt you faggots, stop crying and go with the damn flow. None of the bullshit will ever change the fact that it's simply what I love and my escape to paradise.
It's lame having to pretend to be an adult and all cause I definitely don't skate as much as I used to, but everytime I get on my board I get that same old feeling I had when I was little. It's such a beautiful thing to be in the streets and use obstacles for something the architects and landscapers did not intend them for. Nothing beats making that trick you've been trying and trying. Skating has brought me so much happiness and brought me so many friends, ideas, perspectives and adventures that I would not have had otherwise. I'm extremely grateful for its existence and what it's done for me. I will skate until my body no longer permits me to and it will be a part of me forever.
Frontside Bluntslide Bigspin --- Photo : Lester
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Ryan currently skated for Timez Skateboards and is filming for Babanga, which will be out next year.