Our friends over at Shortwave Zine posted this interview about the making of the book. Big up to Nicki and Jenny G, thanks guys!
How did you all meet?
SCOTT: I met both Nick and Phil at FDR.
PHIL: We all met at the park, actually.
Tell us a little about your book, FDR Skatepark: A Visual History.
SCOTT: It’s a photo book that visually depicts the 15 year history of the park. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus some interviews with locals.
PHIL: It’s a cross between a photography book and a skateboard book. I like to think it can exist in both worlds, and that both worlds will appreciate it. Every photo was taken at the park, but it’s an even mix of skating, portraiture, lifestyle, construction, landscape, etc.
How did the idea of the book come about?
NICK: I had wanted to do a book like this for a while and it seemed like a no-brainer with all the awesome photographers we knew and the place itself; FDR is so unique and interesting. I sent out a feeler email and Chuck Treece from McRad got back to me with a contact in WA state who hooked us up with a Publisher back here in PA. Once the wheels were set in motion, it just kept rolling on.
PHIL: FDR isn’t the first under-the-bridge park, but it has a rich history and has produced some really classic images over the last 15 years. We wanted to make something that would stand as a document of what is one of the most humbling and inspiring places to skate in the entire world.
There are 170 pages…was it difficult keeping track of everything submitted?
SCOTT: Very difficult. We had thousands of photos. It was painstaking process making the selections. It could have easily been 500 pages.
PHIL: Since I’m a photographer myself I know how sketchy it can be to trust someone with your negatives, and I wanted to make sure every one of our contributors was treated the way I would want to be. So I was really careful. I have an almost photographic memory, so I think that gives me one up on remembering where I put stuff.
How long did it take to put together?
SCOTT: We worked on it for over 3 years. But it was a slow process. We all have full time jobs so we had to work around our busy schedules. There were times when a month would go by with no work. But the last year of making the book, Phil and I got into a good routine of meeting every Monday for at least an hour. Things really came together out of that process.
NICK: Over 3.5 years. I still have Phil’s brainstorm notes from January 2009 scribbled on a piece of loose leaf paper.
How many people were involved in the making of FDR Skatepark : A Visual History?
SCOTT: It started out with Nick Orso, Phil Jackson, Scott Kmiec, DE Josh and Ryan De La Cruz. Then it mainly was Phil and Scott with Nick managing the publisher. But we had photo submissions from 25 people. And it’s their amazing photos that made this book possible.
PHIL: If you add up all the photographers, the “editorial staff”, and the actual subjects of the photographs, we’re probably looking at a few hundred people, right?
Was it hard deciding what to put in the book?
SCOTT: The skating, the building and the lifestyle. It’s not just about the skaters and what trick they’re doing. I like the fact that you don’t have to have any interest in skateboarding or FDR to appreciate this book. It’s a collaborative piece of art.
What’s you’re favorite photo?
SCOTT: Too many! I have favorite spreads. Can’t pick one photo.
NICK: B&W Gonz backside air on the bunkerwall shot by Gee. Drooooool.
PHIL: Mine is a weird one actually. It’s the photo of Tad doing a pivot fakie on the CIA wall from before it had coping. Classic trick, somewhat mythical dude, perfect angle, early park history, the light is perfect. Yeah that’s the one. My second is Carlos cooking corn in a trashcan. You’ve got the park leader, rebar in the background, anonymous worker holding out an empty bowl for food, it just really captures the sense of what it’s like to be down there. Those are both photos by Cookout, who is more of an amateur photographer compared to the other guys in the book.
Do you remember the first time you went to FDR?
SCOTT: Yes. I was going to college at University of the Arts. It was 1996. I heard from a friend in my design class that they built a skatepark down there. We took the subway down to check it out. This is when it was ONLY what the city built – two banks and a ledge. The banks were basically unskateable due to having huge lips at the bottom. We just laughed it off and headed back to the city.
NICK: Yup, 1997 when I moved to Philly. Humbling.
PHIL: I think I was 12 so it would have been 1998. I used to ride the bus an hour and a half to go skate on Saturday mornings. Some of my friends today are the people who used to yell at me and the other groms as we got in their way back then.
Craziest thing you’ve seen at FDR?
SCOTT: A couple of guys were doing graffiti on the back side of the vert ramp that faces the park. I guess they were covering over someone else’s work and whoever it was got word of it. All of a sudden I see a guy come running through the park with a crow bar and come up from behind these guys and hits one of them right across the back with the crow bar and chases them out of the park. I hate that stupid shit that goes on down there. These guys have nothing to do with skateboarding or making FDR but their actions give it a bad name and could (does) lead to people getting seriously hurt.
NICK: Probably the riot police lined up across the street and the helicopters hovering above the back bowls that one fourth of July.
PHIL: In the book, there’s a photo of a guy with boxcutter wounds from that crazy 4th of July fight in 2005. I was there that day and he bled all over me as I tried to convince him to go to the hospital.
Where can we snag a copy?
SCOTT: At your local porn shop.
PHIL: I want you to buy it from your local skateshop if you can. If you can’t, go to Amazon.com10 months ago