Origins of the Stalefish: Follow Up


GONZ-HAWK_FOLLOW-UP-marquisSince posting the Origins of the Stalefish article last Thursday— detailing the creation of the grab with Tony Hawk and Mark Gonzales—a number of people reached out and provided new information from that glorious summer in Sweden some 31 years ago where Tony first had the name coined for him.

Here is a quick recap of new facts for those interested in further solving the mystery:

First Front Stale Photo, 1985.

First up, photographer Dan Bourqui contacted me to inform me that he was all but sure he had shot a photo of Tony doing a frontside Stale over the channel at Eurocana 85. He didn’t have a copy or the original negatives as he had sent it to a magazine in Brazil back in 85 called Yeah!. But after contacting some friends in Brazil and a few days of trial and error, Dan was successful in tracking down the article.


Yeah! Magazine, Brazil, 1985/86. Tony Hawk Interview. Stale is top right. Photo: Bourqui.


A blown up look: The first photo of a front stale ever. The Portuguese caption states: “The name of this trick? You’ll have to ask him (Tony).” Tony is also riding the ’85 Hawk board he was riding in Martin Willners’ backside Stale photo so by all accounts this was at the same time or before the backside version. Photo: Bourqui. Sweden, 1985.

So thanks to this contribution from Dan Bourqui, we can say for sure that Tony also did frontside Stales in ’85. And, in a nod to Gonz, Tony is most definitely “palming” it.

Gemma not Anna.

Mark Gonzales and his wife Tia were nice enough to email me over the weekend and let me know that they both read and liked the article. That alone was huge for me. One small problem, their daughter is named Gemma, not Anna as I had stated in the original story! My apologies. I made the correction this past Sunday. Thanks guys!

Gay Twist Stales, 1986.

Next up, Larry Ransom and a couple of other people on the Slap boards dug up this sequence that I had missed from Neil Blender’s Aggro Zone column “A Story of Men” TWS August 1986. Neil’s text alone is incidentally amazing. But here was Tony at a contest in Houston in ’86, already doing a fakie 360 version of the grab, still a full year before the session at Bourges with Gonz. Again, nobody knows what to call the trick; the caption reads, “God knows what over the channel.” Outside of showing just how tech the Birdman was, this sequence fits with the conclusions from the original story. Clearly, Tony was not only doing Stalefish grabs before ’87, he was doing variations too (frontside, backside, Gay Twist…).


Aggro Zone was so rad. Tony Hawk, Gay Stale Twist, Houston, 1986. Photo: Swank. TWS, Aug. 1986, Vol. 4, No. 4.

Barry Abrook, The Man Who Named the Stalefish.

Another mystery that was left unsolved was the actual identity of the “English camper” who had grabbed Tony’s diary describing the camp food and inadvertently named the grab the Stalefish. Martin Willners had looked on his end with no luck. After first looking for a “Mark Edwards” as Tony thought that might be the name, Martin had asked a Mark Evans who was definitely at the camp but claimed it wasn’t him. From there, Martin had suggested Mark and Barry Abrook. While Mark Abrook had gotten back to me on Facebook saying it wasn’t him, last we spoke he was going to ask his brother. Once the article was published, Barry and Tony had this back-and-forth in the story’s comments.


Barry Abrook and Tony Hawk reunited. Comments section, The Origins of the Stalefish (2016).

The case might not be absolutely airtight, but that’s about as close to solving it as we might get. Thanks Barry for apparently giving skateboarding one of its cooler sounding tricks. Also, I’d like to endorse the terms “Smithy Wear” and “Mudskipper.”

Slappo’s Stale-Egg-drecht, 1985.

Finally, just to show that there will never be 100-percent certainty on anything, Puttis Jacobsson and the guys at @eurocana2016 sent me this photo that Martin Willners also shot at the camp that summer (85) of the legendary Mikael Slappo Adolfsson hoisting one of his signature “Eggdrechts”—basically a Stalefish Eggplant—during the same sessions that Martin and Dan Bourqui had shot Tony’s first Stalefish airs. According to Lee Bryan on Martin’s Eurocana Facebook page, Slappo may have been doing the trick as far back as 1983. So while Tony Hawk still most definitely now has the two first Stalefish air photos, other variations like this one all but certainly came before or at the same time.


Slappo’s “Eggdrecht” or Stale-Egg. Eurocana, 1985. Photo: Martin Willners.

Huge thanks again to Martin, Dan, Larry, Barry and Mark Abrook, Tony, Gonz and Tia, Grant, Lance, and everyone else who helped make this story happen. And don’t forget to check out @eurocana2016 and the camp reunion this August in Stockholm. Stay Stale. ME


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