It is with a heavy heart that I write this.
Like many people, I always struggled to find a home. Mine originally is a nice two-story house in a safe place of a safe town in the safe state of Wisconsin. Those are all reasons I left and only return on vacation.
Home is a place that you never want to leave, but must for some reason. That may be to explore the world you were cast into, explore the depths of your character, or just to see how the fuck other people spend their time from birth until death. I wanted something new, a good place to burn away the remainder of my youth while being challenged to adapt to new surroundings.
Home, for me, became a second-story apartment in a part of San Francisco that no one goes to unless they’re new to town or have a gun against their heads.
In August 2009, I packed up the most important shit I’d accumulated from 27 years living in the Midwest and booked a one-way ticket to San Francisco. I had planned to move there with a friend, but when he backed out, I went without him. The only plan I had that was the co-creator of the Hyphy trilogy wanted to move from Brentwood to get an apartment with some dude from the Midwest that wrote a column for a certain rollerblading magazine that doesn’t need to be named.
And so we moved into 2018 19th Ave. Apt. B, San Francisco, CA, 94116.
It was a soulless white-walled two-bedroom, two-bath in a part of San Francisco that bitter yuppies called “not San Francisco.” We were less than a mile from the ocean and farther from anywhere I’ve ever been.
There we were, a Midwestern white boy and a Bay Area Mexican, playing house.We had never met, but thought it was a good idea to live together. Quickly, we learned of each other’s nuances and discovered, happily, we didn’t annoy the fuck out of each other.
I’ll say this: Ivan Narez appears to be an intimidating motherfucker at first, but he’s really a sweet softie that will make a killer breakfast you can never fathom of competing with.
It took some time, but I adjusted to his sense of humor, style, and persona. The guy is nothing but a chill dude behind one of the most racial stereotype-affirming mustaches I’ve ever seen.
We bonded over blading, booze, bitches, and some really fucking killer breakfasts (Really, Ivan can fucking cook, so if he’s in your city, host the shit out of that dude).
Soon, the house expanded beyond the two of us.
First, if my aging memory serves me correct, we had the lovable little scamp that is Soichiro Kanashima live on our couch for two months. Polite and quiet, we forced that Japanese motherfucker right out of his comfort zone. I’d tell you about his birthday party and this thing with strippers biting off his underwear on stage but that would be inappropriate.
Once “Itchy” stayed, the house become a never-ending supply of sweaty, dirty bladers camping anywhere on our floor they could find. Some names I didn’t know until a few days in, other names and faces I recognized immediately.
Fuck you if you don’t think he kills shit. Old school local, or new school from Bavaria, people cam from around the globe to work with Ivan, stay at our house, and collect tons of clips around the skate mecca of San Francisco and the Bay Area.
JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF!JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF!JSF! JSF! FUCK YOURSELF WITH A CACTUS IF YOU’RE NOT DOWN WITH JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF!JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF!JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF!JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF! JSF!
Anyhoo, what we didn’t know—or at least I didn’t know—was that we were opening an orphanage to traveling bladers, friends, soon-to-be-homies, and anyone needing a place to crash for a night or a month.
and more—that if I were a blade-whoring school girl, I’d be throwing out damp panties every ten minutes.
Ivan snapped a Polaroid of everyone who stayed at the house. The collection of those, laid end to end, spans over a mile.
The house would get so packed at points that there would only be floor space to get to the kitchen and bathroom. The house felt like a Fight Club recruiting camp, the house swelling and breathing as one when full to the brim. Still, we did our best to be as hospitable as possible.
The best were the bladers that not only stayed, but those who picked up after themselves, cleaned when they were bored, and generally were awesome dudes. (NOTE: If you’re crashing at someone’s house, buying a pack of toilet paper gets you unlimited karma points. [Thanks AJ!])
The house was a place that not only Ivan, I, and others called home, but it was place for homies on the road to come chill, drink some beers, and shred.
It was a great thing to house anyone that needed it, and that offer was taken up by people around the globe. If the house wasn’t teeming with bodies, it felt cold and empty.
The two years and two months spent creating the 2018 Club were fucking awesome and I pity you if you weren’t a guest of ours.
In the process, we went through some changes…
That apartment played out some major events in our lives:
- The start of both Shred tours
- The end, publication, and release of my second novel, Freeze Tag on the Highway
- The duration and release of Valo 4Life
- The formation of BladeorDie.com
- The beginning of FiVe
- The final editing of Charg!ng
- The completion of two of my novels
- A major tour stop of The Breakfast Club, and upcoming video you’ll want to see
We can never thank everyone for all their help in making that crappy apartment such an awesome place to live.
It was a home to wandering souls. It was a place to rest. It was home to many.
I write this now in paradise: a hardwood-floored, bay-windowed, open-minded house in the center of the city’s Mission District, home to some of the best food and nightlife your punk teenage ass could ever hope for.
Still, in hindsight, I just want to go home to that dumpy apartment in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a gas station and shitloads of non-English speaking Asians, some who knock on our door and yell at us for not putting out our recycling bins so they could collect our endless supply of empty beer cans and whiskey bottles. Until another time, it has been an honor to help be a landlord to hordes of traveling skaters. Let’s do it again soon.