The Follow Up: Walker Ryan
When Walker Ryan hit me up about filming this project, I had no idea what he had in mind. I was living one block north of Wilshire and ten blocks from the beach—total paradise! Driving around, I would see all these rad spots in my neighborhood but never thought I’d actually film anything on them. Turned out Walker had a sick plan to film an entire video part on Wilshire Blvd and the surrounding side streets within a block radius—starting at Ocean Blvd and ending downtown at One Wilshire—and so Wilshire Wonderland was born.
After the first few missions involving super-quick kick outs, we decided that 6 AM sessions would be the way to go as most of the spots were big, shiny corporate office buildings with tons of security. We soon found a rhythm—skate for 20 minutes, get kicked out, walk around the block, come back for a few more tries. Most of the security guards were pretty cool and we ended up on a first-name basis with many of them. A few even gave us the lowdown on the best times to skate. Some days we’d be clipped up and back home by 10 AM!
One of the most epic sessions was a block from my house. There was zero LA traffic at the time, but I still managed to fuck a car up. I was filming in front of a driveway and didn’t see the car pulling out. Boom! I smashed right into it, head on, and left a massive dent in the side panel. It actually felt kinda good. Nothing like a good slam to remind you what it’s all about. I have to say, Walker is one of the most professional people I’ve had the pleasure to work with and he always had a plan A and a plan B. Wilshire Wonderland was wistfully wonderful. –Ewan Bowman
Frontside flip over the wall in that one parking lot on Wilshire. You know the one? No? Good Photo: Hammeke
Let’s talk about me hitting that car. What went down that day? Remember the dent? i was seeing stars!
Man, that was so heavy. I was not expecting you to just walk that off. Seeing you on the ground after that was one of the scariest moments I’ve had filming with someone. Since you were in front of me when you got hit and I was looking down, I didn’t see the actual impact, so I had no idea if you were okay or not. It’s a lucky thing you’re built like an ox! But seriously, that valet driver came flying out of that garage and onto the sidewalk way too fast. If that had been me filming, I would have been destroyed! You’re the man for wanting to go back and film it exactly the same way. True dedication.
How many times did we go back for the switch backside flip? Was that the hardest trick in terms of dealing with security? The guy was actually super cool, though, right?
Yeah, that dude was awesome. He understood the vibe. One of the best parts about filming this project was our mutual decision to just remain cool with every security guard who kicked us out. No arguing, no fussing, just the genuine, “Can I get one more?” and then we’d move along. We’d just try to remain as anonymous as possible so we could come back another day. Some days we’d get two minutes, some days we’d get 20. We definitely tried that gap a bunch of times, though. All on Sunday mornings as early as possible. But don’t you think the ollie over the chain was the worst? We must have gone over 15 times to try that. Even though it’s just an ollie, I think getting that was one of the most satisfying because we never had longer than five minutes. And hopping over chains can be scary.
Be cool to security guards and they’ll be cool to you—7 AM switch backside flip with a few extra tries from a new security guard homie Photo: Hammeke
There were so many early-morning meetups, like, 6 AM meetups just to beat security. i actually really liked doing those early mornings. How was it for you trying to skate at that time?
I loved the 6 AM sessions. It’s trippy skating to a spot when it’s still dark out and then waiting for the sun to come up before you can finally start filming. But it was so worth it! Wilshire is such a busy street, those early weekend mornings were the only times we’d have the street to ourselves. It was the best. Slamming before 7 AM is never that fun, but if it means getting to skate something you’d never have a chance to otherwise, I’m down!
What is your favorite trick or memory from the whole project?
Honestly, every trick we got felt special. It was always a rush skating the spots that were such a quick bust, spots that every skater in LA who drives down Wilshire looks at but doesn’t bother actually trying to skate. It felt like such a thrill getting anything. Weirdly, I am so hyped on the switch pressure flip on that grass gap. Definitely the most random trick I have for the part, but it felt cool to learn something new since I’d never really done that trick before. I think getting the switch backside flip off the Wells Fargo sign was the most rewarding, though. That’s the one spot that I honestly thought we’d never have a chance to skate so it felt really good getting something there.
Wilshire has been called the “Fifth Avenue of the West” but Walker likes to think of it as the “Longest skatepark in LA.” Switch flip down the park’s five flat five at La Jolla Ave Photo: Atiba
How about easiest or hardest? Is there a trick in there you will never try again?
Oh, man, the baby rail battles were the worst. Was it five times trying to get tech on that Keenan rail? Seven AM suffer sessions for four hours at a time? I’m actually so happy we scratched skating the rail and just settled for the switch impossible over it instead. That’s how Keenan skated it. I don’t know why I was trying to skate it differently. But yeah, that one was rough. I’d say the other one that was hard was the manny pad on Ocean and Wilshire, right on the corner at the beginning of the street. We got the line with the nose manny nollie frontside flip but I kept wanting to go back and do it better. We went back so many times but we would just never have enough time to get it the way I wanted. Then one day we rolled up and the spot was just gone, bulldozed from existence. I think we were both relieved, but that was crazy. Then that just kept happening. I think we got clips on five or six spots that have since been wiped off the face of the map—sick spots that had been there for decades, too. That was crazy.
How many meltdowns did you have? I was kinda worried for you on some of them. Can I invoice you for psychiatric care?
More than I’d care to share. Filming this part with you was interesting because it’s the only project I’ve ever worked on with a filmer where it was pretty much just the two of us every single time we went out filming. Like, I don’t think there was a single session where someone else was skating with me, which I realize can really help bring on the madness. It sucks getting mad at not being able to land a skate trick, getting stuck in your head, but it happens. It’s just pointless, though. You were always the best ball of positive energy so thank you for that. And yeah, we’ll see if my covered California health insurance can shoot you some therapy funds. You definitely deserve them.
Back in black—pole jam to nose wheelie at Highland Ave Photo: Hammeke
What is Old Friends all about?
Old Friends is about doing the stuff I want to do! It’s a company I started a few years ago with my friend Chris Collins from Napa. We started out just making hats and some apparel, but this year we really expanded into making fitness products, like foam rollers and resistance bands, which has been cool. Skaters need rehab equipment, too, right? We’ve teamed up with Dr. Kyle Brown, who’s a physical therapist who happens to have one of the meanest switch crook half Cab flips you’ve ever seen and we’ve just been testing out the market. Every product we put out comes with rehab/prehab exercises that Kyle recommends. It’s been an amazing but super challenging experience figuring out how to run and grow a business. This past year I focused on making a full length VX video for the brand, which was something I’d always wanted to make. It was crazy going from early morning sessions where you were filming me to then spending the rest of the day being the guy filming the dudes on Old Friends. I’m really happy with the way the video came out, though, and I hope people enjoy watching it. It should be out next month.
'Sup, dog? Photo: Hammeke
Tell us about Ray Barbee and the song we got to use.
Well, I feel like from the beginning of filming this, you said you really wanted to use a Ray Barbee song and of course I was totally on board. He is one of the most iconic street skateboarders alive, so to use one of his songs in a part is a huge honor and such a cool way to tie the whole project together. So to get his blessing once we found a song that we thought would work was rad. But I’ll never forget one of the last days filming with you, another crazy 7 AM mission downtown on a Saturday morning. It was the nose manual nollie 360, such a tricky spot to skate because you never get more than five minutes. We managed to get it, film some B-roll, and had a really fun morning. The project felt like we’d pretty much finished getting everything we needed. So then, as I’m getting in my car to leave downtown, Ray randomly walks by! I was tripping. It just felt like such a crazy coincidence, it couldn’t be real. I was so tripped out, I could hardly even talk to him. Pretty sure I totally weirded him out. But he’s the best dude! So thank you, Ray, for letting us use your song!
How was it growing up in wine country? Should we film a part at a winery and just get hammered drunk all day?
Let’s do it. The wine tour part! I’m down. Growing up in wine country was cool. My dad was a winemaker and many of my friends have ended up working in the wine industry. Much like people who find themselves working in the skate industry, most people who work in the wine industry are there because they’re doing something they love. The Napa Valley is filled with those kinds of people, whether it’s wine or food, so many people end up there because it’s where their passion led them, which I think makes it a nice place to grow up. Good people, great food and lots of excellent wine.
I’ll call you when we’re done! Nosegrind bonk at Coronado Street to wrap up the part Photo: Hammeke
Whats it like being friends with Sebo? He's super cool, right?
Sebo’s the man! He’s an inspiring dude to have as a friend. He’s by far the most motivated and determined skater I’ve ever known. It was rad filming him for the Old Friends video, working together on a project and being behind the camera to witness some seriously incredible skateboarding. But moving to Venice, he lives right down the street now, so we’ve just ended up hanging and skating a lot, which has been amazing.
Now that this is over, are you back to delivering groceries or are the big shoe deals knocking on your door? How are you making the cheddar these days?
I don’t know. I hope my Instacart days are behind me. No big shoe deals knocking on my door. I’ve just been focusing on growing Old Friends, hopefully turning it into a sustainable business. It’s been difficult for me to maintain a living from sponsors, so I’ve tried ways to supplement that income with paid posts and things like that. But I’m curious about other job opportunities that might be out there for me in skateboarding or even something outside of skateboarding. It’s a big world out there and I’m open to anything.
Thanks again, dude. Shit was lit or whatever the kids say! Wet!
Don’t we say fire now? I had a guy tell me something was flame one time. So maybe that’s the new one. I kinda doubt it, though. Seriously, though, thank you, Ewan! You made the videos that shaped who I am as a skateboarder, so it was an honor getting to film and create a project with you. Thank you and thank you, Thrasher.
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