I have said many words about Clay, but there is so much that is undefinable. He is the kind of guy that checks in to say he had begun a new journey and had traveled 200 miles with no motor, instead relying on his skateboard. I know a lot of people that love skateboarding to death, but Clay’s love for skating is on another level and his work has consistently intrigued me in a way no other form of skate media has.
There are a lot of fancy tricks out there, but traveling for hundreds of miles on a skateboard is as pure as it gets. Thanks for being a true skateboarder Clay, we need you. Check out his first interview here, and definitely scope his website clayshank.com
Since “Journey to Skate Boulder” it looks like you have been very busy. Where all have you been in the last year?
-Up and down California mostly, but with a few exciting jaunts out to the magical land of Skate Boulder, which I think has been renamed Hike Boulder thanks to the Big Bust.
What was your video editing experience before “Challenge Yourself at the Skatepark”?
-Shooting with an old dad cam when I was in sixth or seventh grade my friend Kirby and I would make films exploring the human condition. We pioneered an affect where we set a camera on a tripod, filmed a person in frame then stopped filming and had the person step out of frame before filming again. This would create the heart-stopping visual experience of watching the character completely disappear.
Are you more excited by the filming process or the editing process?
-Yin and yang. Creative, receptive. Male and female make a baby. Yeah? Both parts are enjoyable in their own way. There’s definitely something fun about getting mad zooted and leaning into your computer for hours on end to create a product you can share with people, but I prefer the filming days for sure, not so much for holding the camera and calling out shots and all that, but just to be out on an adventure doing something worth filming.
How did you get Kenny Anderson and Rick McCrank in “Coastal Native”?
-By the time I got to LA I was hyper-alert to anything worth pointing a camera at, and evidence shows that those gentlemen are worth pointing a camera at. Even though I don’t usually like approaching celebrities, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t ask them to be a part of the video, so I mustered the courage to approach them and explained what I was doing, noting it was similar to those videos where Kenny nose wheelies between LA and Vegas. They were super nice and obliging and sat down while their friend filmed the clip you see in the video, but I was too starstruck and confused to get an email address or anything. They asked me where they could see the video and I had no idea, so I don’t know if they have. If any of you reading this know how to get in touch with either of those guys, please let them know about Coastal Native and tell them I’m deeply thankful for their contribution.
So you ended up getting hunted down as a result of “Journey to Skate Boulder”. Do you want to talk about how that went down?
-Turns out a skateboard is an off road vehicle after all, and off road vehicles are illegal in the part of the world where the most epic of all skateable rock formations exist. There’s some heavy history out in that part of Wyoming as well and people were concerned that our video was going to encourage hooligan skaters to come mess up the area, which is a totally understandable concern that I share with them. One morning in May I was hanging out in my friend’s kitchen back in the Skate Boulder region when a ranger knocked on the door. He took me outside and beat me senseless, making me promise to never come back. I definitely won’t and you shouldn’t either. (Some of the above information is fictional.)
Due to crazy coincidences you actually thought I defaced one of the main spots in “Journey to Skate Boulder”. Hell, it even freaks me out. I think it is a unique skate-spot story, would you be cool with sharing what happened?
-Well. A few months after we filmed our little video, I went back to see if we’d left any lasting marks on the rock. I was thrilled to see that all skate tracks had been washed away during monsoon season, but deeply disturbed to find the letters BG carved crudely into the roll-in wall I skated in the video. Those happen to be your initials and I hadn’t noticed them when we were skating there, so I was very suspicious and confused to the point that I wondered if ghosts were trying to scare me away from sacred territory. I’m still puzzled by it.
It looks like you have been bombing some San Francisco hills. Has that felt natural to you?
Your body was mutilated the last time I saw you. Have you healed up or incurred more battle wounds?
What do you enjoy more, going up or going down?
Do you feel like you have a daily routine of any sorts? What is it?
-I’m lucky I don’t have one, though most days start with coffee.
Boxers, briefs, or commando?
-Its funny you should ask this because I have recently discovered Exofficio boxers and they’re so rad. If you’re like me and find yourself soaked in sweat as soon as you see a skateboard, you’re probably tired of wearing wet cotton boxers all the time. Exofficio advertises their super-wicking awesome shorts by saying, “17 countries, one pair of underwear.” They dry fast and get clean with a little stream-side scrubbing, so I’m rocking them daily.
You just sent me a message that you skated from the Ocean in San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, and it sounded like you weren’t finished. What are you up to now?!
-I’m in Yosemite Lodge clearing memory cards and dealing with computer business before heading into the wilderness for the second part of this excellent adventure.
Did you envision this route for yourself a year ago?
-In a way, yes. This time last year I was in Santa Barbara dreaming up a similar type of self-propelled journey from the coast to the Sierra, but ending in SF rather than starting there. Unfortunately the toe situation showcased in Journey to Skate Boulder made me miss the window of opportunity and only now could I head off on this super duper epic 700 mile mission of self-propulsion.
What advice do you have for the people out there that fear the kind of adventurous lifestyle you live?
-Who “fear” it? I would say think logically about what you really need to survive. It’s nice to have a tent and an inflatable mattress and a designated campsite with a fire pit and all the nice luxurious gear, but consider that if you lay down in a sleeping bag with your hip in a dip in the dirt beside a freeway, you’re going to fall asleep eventually and maybe sleep better than if you were in some crowded “campground” with boozers and boomboxes rocking into the night. I’d recommend reading Thoreau and Emerson and Muir and taking small steps that test your limits bit by bit. I think it’s good to remember it takes a lot to die these days, and starving to death is pretty rare in America. If you go out a-walking from SF to Yosemite, you might not know every bush you’re going to sleep in on the way, but try to remain calm and trust you will find one. Walker Emerson taught me that the less you carry the faster you go, Seamus Rozycki taught me you really don’t really need much sleep to function, and I guess John Muir and personal experience taught me that there’s nothing more healthy than a little wild suffering. I’d recommend getting rid of things like hair products and deodorant, and just ask yourself what you want your life to look like and whether comfort is really that good for you. I could say a lot about this, but I think I’ll close by saying, whatever adventure you dream of taking, you should push to make it happen. Whatever little excuses you’re coming up with are weak in comparison to what you have to gain by embarking, and once its over and done you won’t regret a thing.
What is the next project we can expect from you?
-Once I’m done with the current mission I’m going to have a lot of video footage to edit. I’ve been filming landscapes and interviewing people, and with my own journey as the backbone of the story, I intend to paint a modern portrait of California. I’ve also got a lot of journals and written work I need to get around to sharing, so once this trip is over I’m going to go into edit mode and see what kind of goodies I can put out for the people of the world.
Love you Clay, any last words?
-Thanks to anyone who’s reading this. Thanks to those who’ve supported me in any way, either with a couch or a meal or a back yard or a half eaten bag of chips. Thanks to Pigeonhole Skateboards for giving me a deck a few years back before I disappeared from Boulder, Colorado without saying goodbye. Thanks to the Culberston version of Calavera for the hookups in AZ. Thanks to Vans. Thanks to the video makers who make the internet such a lovely place, and thanks forever to all the skaters in the streets and the parks pushing hard. You’re the biggest inspiration of all and make me proud to be a part of this. I’m really lucky to live the life I do and hope to inspire and share the joys with whoever I can. I’ve got a website slowly growing at clayshank.com which you may find interesting. I’m pretty shy when it comes to self-promotion so I appreciate your interest Bud, and I’m grateful for anyone who turns a homey onto a video or says a nice thing about me behind my back. I owe you a lot, world! So just know I’m out here on the highway with you on my mind, doing the best I can to keep it hyped! Holler!
2 responses to “The Adventures of Clay Shank”
His advice/wisdom in the downhill clip resonates, encourages and inspires. Talks so fast, so had to listen twice, but like and respect raw “as is” and not a canned radio voice vibe. Overly stylized, “motivational speaker,” advice can be instantly revolting IMO , even if message totally valid.
This is a great post. Discovered via slap useless toys Thread. Thanks for posting the links to your site on there!
Haha. Merv Griffin interviewing Dennis hopper about the Last Movie and other. Voices