Skateboard-nostalgia by Søren Aaby.


Since passing 50 my long-term memory goes worse… sometimes totally blank. Especially when it comes to the details from all the fun times on my skate-trips around the world in the 80-90s.

Being from Copenhagen going to the US to skate was basically all I had in my mind since I was 11 and started skateboarding. I saw so many rad pictures in Skateboarder Magazine and it was very clear that California was the “go to” place for skateboarding.

The other day I found this picture from a US-trip and I realized that I was not really sure when this was and what exactly happened on that trip. I got the pic from Nicky Guerrero and I’m the dude in red on the left, Kim Carlsen (white Indy t-shirt), then Nicky and to the right it’s Frank Messmann (blue Indy t-shirt) – the leg on the far left is Morten Frödin’s.

Søren Aaby, Kim Carlsen, Nicky Guerrero, Frank Messmann – 1986

After a while things came back to me… but at the same time I figured it would be fun to hear what the other guys remember about this picture, and what happened before and after it was taken. We don’t have any photos from the trip… so I asked the guys to tell me their memories - all the untold and long forgotten stories from this road trip will here be told by the skaters... only 34 years later. Especially Kim has some really funny stuff. Enjoy 😎

Søren Aaby:

This is in 1986 and it’s my first trip to America. We were in New York skating Brooklyn-banks and in Virginia Beach for the Trashmore-contest, before going to California. I know we are visiting Nicky Guerreros uncle Bob and family and that they lived on the coast of LA (maybe in Venice/Marina del Rey, because Nicky had talked about him skating Marina del Rey skatepark the year before).

We were all on a roadtrip starting in San Francisco going down to San Diego – and a couple of days before this picture was taken, I got my first sponsorship by Fogtown Skateboards. Fogtown was a small San Francisco skatebrand and former Thrasher-editor Jake Phelps (RIP) was skating for them at the time and he got me hooked up. Fogtown came out of Concrete Jungle skateshop in SF, and to me Fogtown sounded a lot like Dogtown (well known Venice Beach skate-brand) so I was just really stoked.

After San Francisco and a visit to Thrasher/Independent where we skated “the dish” at Hunters Point and Joe Lopes Ramp (RIP) we drove south. On the way to LA we found my family in Hidden Valley (San Luis Obispo) and stayed the night. We found the ranch pretty late but James Lee Barret woke up and fed us huge T-bone steaks at midnight. The next day we hooked up with Nicky Guerrero who was visiting his uncle Bob that same summer in LA. His family invited us over and they also housed and fed us.

We were skating Pipeline (Upland) and Del Mar Skate Ranch skateparks. Those 2 parks were the only major concrete parks left in California in 1986 – all concrete parks had closed down due to lawsuits from parents who’s kids broke an arm or a tooth. Think about it.. just 6 years before in 1980 California had more than 100 concrete skateparks, and by 1990 they were all gone!

My memory of this picture in short is… stoked on my sponsor, stoked to meet all the American skaters, stoked to skate legendary parks and ramps, stoked to meet Nicky's family, stoked to be on a roadtrip with the best dudes. No wonder I am happy… oh and a special thanks to Jim Lee Barret and uncle Bob.

Fun fact: Frank had been to the US the year before, so he automatically became in charge of our roadtrip-logistics with roadmaps, phone numbers etc… and today he still is, after living in CA for over 20 years.

Nicky Guerrero:

I think maybe it was the summer of 1986. I was on vacation with my family in California for 3 weeks. I took my American driver license on that trip - and for 2 weekends straight I was at a ramp-contest out in Arizona that I won. I remember I was also in Las Vegas with my grandma and grandpa.

Frank, Kim, Søren and Morten Frödin came by my grandma’s house and we had snacks and refreshments…and maybe also 2 Dutch skaters came over. I think I have some pictures of us all in my grandma’s garden.

I don’t really remember anything with my uncle Bob, only that he might have come by the house in his surfmobile (VW van) wearing sunglasses shouting “hi boy’s I’m uncle Bob” out the window !!

I think we all stayed a night close to downtown LA on Wilshire Blvd. We had a Grand Slam at Denny’s and Søren found red Prince cigarettes at a local 7-11. It’s a Danish brand and he bought a whole carton… then we went skating a ramp, it could have been a session at Jim???s ramp, maybe one of Sørens Santa Cruz teammates?

I think we also went by the Eaglerock ramp where we had a rad session with a young and bionic Ben Schroeder…

I might be mixing up different trips here, but I look forward hearing what you all remember. 

Frank Messmann:

I have to admit I don’t remember much from that specific photo or what happened immediately before or after - but considering the photo is from July 1986 it’s also been more than 34 years so forgive me if the memory is a bit hazy.

However here are some memories from that trip to the US:

Our California road trip was the highlight of our US visit which also included skating in New York City and attending a Pro Vert contest at Mount Trashmore in Virginia. Also along for the ride was Søren Aaby, Morten Frödin and Kim Carlsen. After flying into San Francisco from New York City we rented a Toyota Tercel and after exploring classic skate spots in SF such as Hunters Point and the Embacadero we started making our way south along Pacific Coast Highway and 101. Along the way we stopped at whatever skate spots we had either heard of or could find and eventually we made it to Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles we met up with Nicky Guerrero who was spending the summer at his grandmother’s house in Marina del Rey. One evening we were invited for dinner at Nicky’s Uncle Bob’s house. That’s where the picture was taken. I look like I’m 14 years old in the picture, but I was actually 20 years old at the time and this was already my second big trip to the US as I had spent three months traveling around California the summer before. I think that kind of made me the experienced Cali traveller in the group. Haha.

The same week we visited with Nicky we also went to the movies in Hollywood. We had parked in a side street to Hollywood Boulevard with our Toyota packed to the gills with bags and skateboards. When we came back to the car the window was broken and pretty much everything was gone. With the exception of my gigantic ice-hockey equipment bag that I had used as a travel back. I think the bag was simply too big and heavy to bother running away with. We spend the next few days getting new boards, clothes and even passports. A few months later I even saw Kim with some sparkling new camera equipment. Something about a successful insurance claim. But that’s another story.

Other highlights from the trip include our visit to the Pipeline Skatepark in Upland east of Los Angeles. Skating the original combi-pool was one of the gnarlier and most humbling experiences after having seen so many photos of Chris Miller and Steve & Mickey Alba shredding the place. Just doing a grind or a rock’n roll in that thing felt like an accomplishment.

Later on the trip we also visited the classic Del Mar Skate Ranch with its keyhole pool and along the way we met and became friends with so many of the guys that would go on to become icons of skateboarding including the likes of Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero, Chris Miller and so many more.

Kim Carlsen:

This picture is from my second trip to the US – it was an epic roadtrip because we were right there in the center of where everything skateboarding happened - it was in ‘86. I remember quite a lot from that trip, but I can’t really remember so much from this picture… maybe it was something about meeting Nicky’s uncle Bob?

What I remember best from this road trip was when we stayed with Billy Ruff crashing on his living room floor and we were talking about his passion Porsche 911 and something about girls and baby-powder! For some reason that stays really clear in my memory haha…

The roadtrip started a bit chaotic – I had booked my train ticket from Copenhagen to Frankfurt to be on the same day as our plane left from Frankfurt to New York… Frank fixed the ticket issue (he was good at that kind of things) and we were off to New York the next day. We stayed the first night at my friend Joe Anthony’s house, who I visited for a month back in 1984, the next day Frank and I drove down to Virginia Beach where we met up with Morten Frödin and Søren Aaby.

We skated the Lynnhaven-ramp with Sergio Ventura and Fred Smith and we spent the night at Sergie’s place. Next day was contest-day at Mount Thrashmore – this was truly mindblowing. The whole contest-thing was exactly as it looked like in the magazines Skateboarder, Transworld and Thrasher. So much happened at the Virginia Beach contest – I can’t even begin. All top pros were there - Hosoi was a rockstar, Vallely invented street-plants in the parking lot, Gator got arrested for goofing with the police, Frank Hawk let all the Danes inside the ropes, Tony Hawk won the vert etc etc

We went back to NYC, on the way we got pulled over by a highway patrol for speeding and we thought we were in big problems because this was not the autobahn, we drew by the White House on the way and gave Reagan the finger. We skated the Brooklyn Bridge banks and some other spots, and then back on the plane to the next destination California - San Francisco.

In SF we hooked up with Ray Meyer who was a pro freestyler for Santa Cruz. We lived a couple of days at his parents house where also Ray and his 3 or 4 other brothers lived. His family was so kind, and all the brothers were professionals in different sports (motorcross, baseball, skateboard and…) they all had a special talent and the house was full with trophies. In SF we had to skate The Dish and visit Thrasher where Kevin Thatcher and Bryce Kanights were showing us around. From there we went to San Jose and met up with Jeff “ffej” Hedges and skated a backyard ramp – maybe called Phil’s Ramp?

Then we went south on Highway 1 along the coast. In San Luis Obispo we stayed one night with Søren’s mums danish cousin who lived in Hidden Valley… and damn it was hidden - we could not find it so we came in pretty late. Her husband James Lee Barret got out of bed and served giant T-bone steaks and cold Budweiser for us all – he was a scriptwriter of Hollywood western movies, around the house there were pictures of him and John Wayne and a lots of other big Hollywood moviestars. We each got our own room and bathroom and the next morning I remember Jim telling me that all we could see around us in the valley was their property… and it was BIG.

We stopped by Pipeline Skatepark in Upland and we got to crash at a downhill speedskater Mark and his good looking girlfriend Robins house and that’s where I experienced my first earthquake. I can’t remember why, but for some reason our friends from Holland Mark van der Eng and Jan Roodenrijs also crashed there for a few days. For me skating the combi at Pipeline became a quick thing – I got two chances to drop in (roll in) into the round pool and since I never ever tried skating a pool before, it was just two turns and a kneeslide and I was done, the drop-in line was long, it was fine with me I was so blown away, that I had the chance to be at such an epic skate spot, this was where skate-legends were made!

Next was a visit at Lance Mountains backyard ramp in Alhambra. We skated and Søren got sponsored for the second time in just one week, first he got on Fogtown and then he got on Santa Cruz at Lance’s ramp. We also met Jeff Grosso (RIP) who invited us to stay at his house. There were partying 24-7 at Grosso’s, so we only stayed 2 nights haha.

In LA we also met up with our friends Michel van Steenwijk and Michael Møller from Copenhagen. We had the chance to go to a movie premiere of the new BATMAN in Hollywood, unfortunately our car got ripped off and all our stuff got stolen including my photo equipment, therefore no photo documentation from this trip :-( After all was taken care of we all met up again and went to Venice Beach to hook up with Nicky Guerrero, damn it was a tuff neighborhood back then, we went boogieboarding and I almost drowned twice… I also remember this guy on the boardwalk juggling a running chainsaw, a meat axe and an egg! I actually see now that this is where we visited Nicky’s family – just near Venice Beach.

From LA we all went back up north to Santa Cruz so Søren could get hooked up with products from his new sponsor – good thing here was that we all got hooked up with skateboards, clothes and safety gear because they thought it was really embarrassing that we got robbed in their country.

From Santa Cruz we went all the way down south to Del Mar Skate park where we skated with Billy Ruff and hung out at his house partying and talking about all kind of things all night. I applied for a job at the skatepark even I had planned to go back to Denmark, but I did not get it since I did not have a valid address in the US… and I guess we were also still on our roadtrip.

Hanging out with Billy Ruff around San Diego one night we went to Tijuana in Mexico (just on the other side of the boarder) to party. I remember we put Billy’s G&S stickers everywhere from bar to bar – late at night we took a taxi – about 10 people in a huge old American cruiser back to the US-boarder – it was like there were no laws or rules in Tijuana…

Another night in San Diego downtown we were partying in the Gaslight District where Søren and I were walking in the street talking Danish about a hot girls nice ass in front of us… and she suddenly turns around and says “thanks for the compliment guys” in fluent Danish and then disappears into the night… damn what were the odds of that haha

Morten Frödin:

Morten was chief editor of the Danish skatemag at the time called SKATING. After the road tip he did a very short article with the only original photos that made it - all his film-rolls also got stolen while parking in LA - so what better way to end this nostalgia-trip than by showing the original article from SKATING here... now we also have added the funny stuff 🔥🔥