Photo courtesy of Sitfu.
“I’m a smooth cat, just like Heathcliff—Hieroglyphics, “Taxi Song,1992
I suppose it works the same in film, television, theater, literature, and all the other “respectable highbrow" forms of entertainment, but there is something distinct about the dichotomy between a skateboarder appearing in a skateboard video and the actual person doing the skateboarding in that video. From where I grew up, we had only the first of those two options. There were no tours to meet the pros at, no contests to see them skate in person at, and no spots to sit on the ledge and buy a used set of wheels from them at. All we had by which to “judge" our favorite pros by, and I’m sure a lot of other skaters fall into a similar predicament, was the occasional photograph along with this jumbled collection of pixels moving across the screen known as video—Hi-8, Lo-8, and sadly, even VHS-C (you know, or maybe you don’t—the ones you could toss into the big tapes). Anyway, one such dude who definitely marked my younger years ran by the name of Drake Jones.
For those of you who’ve never heard of Drake, let me just sum him up—in the words of Andre 3000: “So fresh and so clean". I mean, I don’t know how he did it, but he always seemed to have walked straight out of a Laundromat and into the grime of Embarco or the Pier—never so much as a speck of dirt on his glowing white sweatshirt, perfectly tongue-tucked jeans, and blindingly white Filas, or some three-tongue-popped shoe derivative within that spectrum. He had a tre-flip that would make Nate Jones look twice. Strike that, he had a kickflip that just melted into his line. Backside? Forget about it. He switch tre’d “The Big Three and double tre flipped “The Seven for fun. Take that package and add in the hair—always this motionless fro that grew bigger and bigger as his years in the limelight continued to up him in the industry. Drake Jones only ever rode for one board company—Real. And he turned pro within about two years of coming out of basically nowhere in the South Bay area of Northern Cali. The weird thing is, I talked to a ton of people who saw him skate on the daily, even dudes who went on tour with him, and they couldn’t really pin down why or where he went.
As legend has it, Drake got heavily into playing pool right as DC was spawned out of Droors Clothing, another sponsor of Drake’s. Drake probably could have had a shoe off the bat—along with Danny, Colin, Kalis, and Rudy Johnson, but for reasons only God and Drake Jones might be able to explain, he all but disppeared from skateboarding around ’98. So wherever you are, Drake, just know that I still wish I had your kickflip. And I bet you still got it, too. Much respect.—Mackenzie Eisenhour