Torment Mag Issue SIX Release Party
The Depot, Salt Lake City, UT
Chapter 1: Travel, Time, Time-Travel
This story begins with a barista at SFO at approximately 7:30 in the morning. I was getting a coffee to counter the effects of the beer I’d just had with Johnny Lazz. Johnny had taken care of me for a whole year back in the Tahoe days. My younger years. The least I could do was end my plantar fasciitis-induced anti-inflammatory kick by having a breakfast beer with him. And at the mention of what I was doing—where I was headed—I felt that snowboarding owed him that. Propelling me finally was the assumption that I’d received an ill-diagnosis of my foot anyway, and that I was probably in the clear to resume a physically restriction-less lifestyle. We gulped our beer and he was on his way. I was not. I was at the coffee shop closest to my gate. Which is where the story begins. And where the story begins is peculiar. Peculiar because I was compelled to completely repack my bag at 5, had the check-in kiosk give me Katherine Hall’s ticket to San Luis Obispo at 6, realized that I had the wrong ticket by 6:30, and had bumped in to one of snowboarding’s most promising prodigies who also would be, at this point, my ex-roommate, all by 7. Now it’s 7:30, and I’m getting a coffee on my layover in San Francisco.
The barista sees my skateboard and says “Antihero, nice.”
I smile. I wasn’t going to bring my skateboard. Deciding to bring it was one of the things that made me repack some 2 hours prior. Having people notice it in the airport was actually the reason why I didn’t want to bring it. Alas.
“You know the China Banks?” he asks.
“Um, yeah.” Though I’ve never been.
“You know the gap there?” he prods.
And I become aware that I’m talking with Joe Valdez. I put the triangle over my head. He responds the same way, and then gives me a coffee. He doesn’t let me pay for it. There’s a large line behind me. I feel an urge to shower him with gratitude, and I do, but I can’t forever. I do the polite thing and walk away.
An hour later, I’m reading at my gate and he finds me. He asks if I want to take a photo and I ask if he’d give me an autograph. He is a special man. I feel a pulse after he leaves. The layover is alive. I feel my blood traveling through my body. It’s as if a stone was thrown when I left home this morning, and it just broke the surface on a calm body of water, the surface now rippling. What will it look like by the time I get to Salt Lake? The water is moving, the blood is moving. I’m uncertain what this is, which is why I called it ‘peculiar.’ I think It might be time that I’m feeling. I guess I haven’t felt it in a while. I’ve replaced time with space, unknowingly. But here it returns. I take a sip of coffee. Time feels like the blood my heart blasts through my insides. It feels like a hand removed my brain from my skull—the skull: a bone chamber—and is showing it to me. Time is making me study my own brain in front of me. Very symbolic. After a little while, it plops my brain back in its housing and then turns into a fist, and now time feels like there’s a whole fist in my mouth.
I told you: something peculiar is happening.
I get on my next flight and land in Salt Lake. Jon picks me up. We get to share a slice of reality before it—reality—dissipates. For me, at least, it does. My reality morphs into snowboard reality. Hupp and Colton are showing their movies at EVO so, because of that, there is a bar tab to drink on, a box of beanies for me to poach because I didn’t realize how cold it was going to be, and loads of people to see. While in an embrace with one friend I haven’t seen since this time last year, I notice another friend that I haven’t seen since last year, and I hug them and then notice yet another friend behind that one. It’s a chain link of hugging that leads me down a flight of stairs and back to the entrance of the building. By the time I come back up to the bar the same thing happens all over again, and I’m back downstairs and Camp Robbers is playing. The first handful of hours in Salt Lake would foreshadow the long weekend. I sit down and watch.
Hupp’s first offering with these two youngins proves successful; Blake and Keegan shred tough and put a cheeky smile on my face. A promising start for the night and for the two boarders.
Atlas, conversely, already has its own reputation. For one, Colton’s responsible, historically, for filming both Tommy and Forrest’s breakout parts. He and Riley also have notable filming history. This culmination of people, with the addition of Darrah, had already amassed anticipation. And it rips. I knew it would—I spent 10 days with them on their last trip to Norway, and got to watch the magic first-hand. What I didn’t get to see was everything else they had done over the last two years. Because my brain is not only the size of a peanut but also two-dimensional, I forgot that what I saw was the last push these homies had at the end of a two-year project. In my head, I thought I knew what I was going to get out of the 686 movie. What an eye-opener it was for me. The movie is fast paced and persistent. Hard-hitting yet composed. Chemistry is the oft-associated topic when it comes to Colton and Tommy; after watching the film it became evident that despite Atlas being a new experiment with different components, the same organization is still running the study. Another gem for all involved.
The movie tidies up and the party disseminates from EVO and reappears in an alley across the street from BarX for a late night game of S.K.A.T.E. between local heroes, Adults Toys and Sci-Fi Fantasy. I don’t see a single trick; too many people—so many people. Easily over a hundred. Even on the roof of someone-not-in-attendance’s F150 that we were using as bleachers, I can’t see into the action. The only action I see is the Garage crew fill my cold hands with beers, I.T.K.A. on the roof, and Riley getting hit by an egg. And truthfully, I don’t even see that; I just see the aftermath: his chest is all wet with yolk. Eventually the truck owner comes to get his car. Remarkable that he is able to back out of this tight alley with hundreds of drunk people milling about. The police show up shortly after and I don’t think anyone gets in trouble, but the event is officially over and everyone twinkle-toes across the street to the bar.
In this moment, the ripple on the water of time has grown to become a wave, the likes of which carry a slew of boarders to Sam’s. The time-traveling renders me essentially inert. Gravedigger takes me by the hands and leads me through what I can only assume is a Snow Dance. A singing, circling prayer.
“There’s dust in the mountains!” he chants.
Who the hell is Dustin? I also wonder what will become of time if it really is winter that’s a-coming. Time is water, after all. Couldn’t freeze, could it? I could. I am! I’ve got to go to sleep. That gets taken care of. I fall asleep on the couch at the 686 house with Riley. This weekend will be fun.
Chapter 2: The Big Show
Time didn’t freeze overnight, thankfully. It remains fully fluid, and buoyant in the wake of the ripples. It moves quietly through the morning and into the afternoon, that languid time we use to get all set up at the venue. The cover will be drawn—the magazine released—and movies will play. And yet, things are peaceful. Time just dawdles by, up the stairs, down the stairs, at the loading bay, up the elevator, down the elevator, in the green room, on the balcony, on stage and back-stage; there goes time, slowly, rolling around every level, at each interval. And at every level and each interval, security as well. They are pressed. There’s no funny biz with them, which makes it all the more funny. Has to be. Otherwise they’d be a real pain.
The ripples give way to rolling waves. Time itself becomes a bobbing buoy. The Fat Tire disappears in the blink of an eye. People are strolling in but not quicker than they’re swelling up out front. The line goes around the block. Sierra, Norm, and Squid have their work cut out for them. I suppose they get it all cut out, too, because now Rav is introducing the new Vans video with a jailbird’s tale.
These Vans videos, at the behest of Harry Hagan, Tanner Pendleton, et all, have set the standard for at least 80% of contemporary snowboarding. Since Landline., these films have been able to accurately translate an emotion we all seek when actually snowboarding. They are understated, paced patiently, and, above all, honest. Bless This Ledge/Secret Tape is no different. The video is nearly sentimental or delicate, a trait that we’ve all come to expect and adore and admire from the brand. And that’s not to say that this one is a sort of routine or repetition from their behalf. No. What they have is a voice; there’s a cohesive voice that they as a unit have developed, and this is another phenomenally broadcast rendition of that voice. It ends, and I immediately have a desire to revisit the whole Vans catalog, to see how this one adds to the library.
There’s no time for that, though. Not now. The easel is on stage, draped in black cloth, sandwiched between Jon and Ian. Ian says, for at least the second year in a row, “everybody shut the fuck up,” and then they get a little mushy. The cloth gets pulled. There’s Parker, chomping on rebar. We erupt. You know who puts portraits on the cover? Vogue. Rolling Stone. Propelled instantly to the realm of Antwuan Dixon, Brian Anderson. And if, for some ungodly, unforgivable reason you question this cover, just know that not only does he have action on the back cover as well, but also a full interview, more shots in the Brown article, and even a couple more shots littered throughout the meat of the mag Parker rules the most. Snowboarding rules the most. And snowboarding is just snowboarding, and so is Parker, and so are you as are we. This is a very good thing for us, and for snowboarding.
The buoy bobbles, vanishing from sight for a moment behind building waves. That’s my silly code for “the magazine has been released and now Brown is coming on the screen.” Knights of the Brown Table. Matt, Craig, and I hop in a roped off section on the balcony. Reasons for it being roped off are debatable, but it could be because it’s essentially impossible to see the movie from the section. ‘Essentially’ because it’s actually very nearly the best seat in the house. But it just quite isn’t. Matt bails for standing room. I position myself cautiously on the banister, dangling somewhat over the balcony. Craig crawls underneath the banister I’m perched on and sits with his knees in his chest. The movie begins. Brock fucking nailed it, from the first minute all the way to the 56th. From Ian’s (street [pow-surf]) bigspin to Sam’s opening ATV beat-down, from all the cameos and homie clips to all the OGs of Brown lore, and to the new knights and to the Kings and Queens (I see you Tay!). There are nods to excellence and respect paid to the attitude and heritage of exceptional snowboarding. The heads nodding to the music—boom-bap, dub, hardcore; flavorful sounds—nodding to the drugs, nodding to exceptional characters on screen. Double, tripled-songed parts, flawless. All the way to the pinnacle: Baden. Street Baden, more knights, Metro Boomin and Future bass-fueled straight-air Baden. To watch this feels, again, like a good thing for snowboarding. Go to Bend for the next premiere, or Denver if you can’t make that.
The credits roll and it’s time to breathe for a moment outside. The breather outside rolls and it’s time to go back inside for Murmur. It is something else to see Keegan Valaika screaming on stage. Both Keegan and Steve take their shirts off. They rock.
The show ends and the crowd evaporates. A couple of $20 cocktails and Spritz squeezes make take-down a breeze. The venue’s team seems less enthusiastic to participate than they did with set-up, but I offer them some stickers and hot sauce and they pep right up. Before long, everything’s loaded and the crowd that was once inside and then outside has departed in various Ubers to the afterparty. Matt and I stick around for a little longer. He and I both feel a duty to ensure that no one else gets left behind. Or, god forbid, someone shows up outrageously late—like five hours late; we feel obligated to make sure everyone is taken care of. We did the same thing last year; just a couple of outta-towners taking it upon themselves to make sure Torment leaves no one behind in a city they’re comically unfamiliar with. That’s just how a couple of bosses like us do it.
Now it’s after 1 in the morning and despite the fact that we have a collective 9% battery between the two of us, we make it to the party. And what happens there? Beaucoup laughter, security impersonators, bumper sticker talk, and even an impromptu breathing exercise led by yours truly to assist some wary party-goers. What a night. Sam leads Craig and I back to his place on foot. He crashes out but Craig and I, brought back to life by our little jaunt, decide to smoke some weed, have one more beer, and split a cap.
Now relaxed, we can fall asleep. It was cold, but luckily the sun’s on its way up, providing the warmth we’ve so longed for all night. It shines on a buoy in the water. The tide is clearly receding. Strange how that happens; how you don’t even notice it had risen in the first place. How could it be lowering now if it hadn’t just been up? Strange how the pace of time changes like that, like the tide. How sometimes you weren’t aware of it until it smells different. More rich. The buoy, time, tinkering lightly. I had lost sight of it, I guess. It yawns, I sleep. In that, we’re both vestiges.
Chapter 3: Everything Else
Everything after is a vestige. A late lunch for breakfast. Taking the sun, tracing the sun. Cold shower. Ibuprofen. Chatter. Some still haven’t slept but I think they are by now. Some are rockstars. Some are stretched by the fire, warming their paws, or whatever tools they’ve chosen to replace their appendages with. Day’s now night and the night’s cold. The moon’s full, or at least bright enough that it’s got me sold. Coconut water turns to beer turns back to coconut. Thanks for the ride, Hupp. You’re a great driver. Matt is, too. He knows how to go left on red. Secret move. Everybody’s got a secret move. Mine’s dreaming; I’ve got the best ones. I practice for eight hours and then wake up and start writing this. Get the ball rolling with some notes. Peculiarity and Joe Valdez. Joe told me:
“Be good, be true.”
I don’t know if I’ve been abiding by that entirely. For instance, I just lied to the kid working at Salty Peaks. Went in there after we went to Milo to save face, just to wind up lying to some kid. Told him I work for Slush. Why? Couldn’t tell you. I could but the logic is so off that I’d rather just not. Just consider me a liar and a coward. That’s probably why Joe’s not at the café in my terminal at SFO on the way home. His coffee stand is closed. Where it was is now an automated coffee stand. A robot arm is twirling around, trying to get my attention behind the glass. It succeeds. It waves at me and I wave back. I order a small black coffee from it, the same thing I ordered from Joe. I give it four bucks and it starts tweaking. It hucks an empty cup under the spigot of another machine, and that one starts steaming and leaking out brown fluid. Some people walking by stop to film the robot pretending it’s Joe Valdez. They look amazed. I am, too, but I’m also apprehensive. I know this ain’t Joe.
Soon the machine stops leaking and the robot grips the cup and aggressively brings it over to a separate glassed-in slot. When I tell it I’m ready, the glass slides open. I grab the cup and it shuts behind me. There’s only a splash of brown sludge in the cup; it’s practically empty.
“What the fuck,” I say.
The people filming looked startled.
I go to give the robot the cup back but all of the slots are closed. There’s nowhere for me to return it. There’s actually nothing I can do about it. I gave Joe the triangle when I saw him last. I give this barista the bird. Symbolically, I think that’s the last ripple in the water; after this one, the buoy will sit completely still again. I’ll get on the plane headed to Reno, and when I land, the buoy will hardly be anything more than a vision in my dream.
Photography by: Leo Wilson