Ron Allen : “I learned a lot about my own culture from doing American Dream Inc.”


Skateboarding loves its milkmen. Between those that haven’t skated in ages, the bro-pros and the ones that « forgot » to retire their board from the catalog a few years ago, no doubt that a once-famous name can be stretched far and wide…

Ron Allen, 45 years old today, is the exact opposite of that. He never stopped skating, still progresses and has always been an activist. A never-aslept mind too, getting involved with all sorts of projects and board companies over the years –remember Heaters ?

From H Street to Creation, not to forget Life, the ‘90s-nostalgic wet dream company Fun (feat. Huf, Jahmal, Keenan, Liversedge, Pupecki, and almost Gino himself), the political ADI joint, or the strictly local Energy project: 22 pro years later, the Oakland legend could fill up this whole issue with stories. For now, he just tries to figure out which boards to talk about as he takes them out of a bunch of boxes stacked up in his El Cerrito appartment…

ronallen_lifeLife Thank You board (1991)
Art by Ron Allen

“This one was my second to last board on my company Life, whose name was based on a De La Soul song called Living In a Fulltime Era. Mike [Ternasky] wanted to call it Love. Anyway, we started it and next thing you know, Sean Sheffey calls me up and wants to be on! I knew him through demos back when H Street and Shut went on tour together.

To me, one of the funniest Sheff skate stories was that one time when me and Hensley were at the hotel after a demo. Somebody got us check at the balcony and Sheffey is skating in the parking lot. There’s this huge drum and he ollies it, Me and Matt are like wow, then he half cabbed it! Then he fakie ollied it. Hensley looked at me and said ‘Dude, our days are numbered.’ Life lasted for two years, then Mike left to do Plan B with Rocco.

This board in particlar was here at the time to thank all the people who like gave me shoes, and like my cat, my girlfriend, my family, my other cat 99. Who else is on there ? Oh, G.C., which is Greg Carroll, I gave him boards years ago, I remember how I told him his brother was really rad… Fincher Harry Morton, that was Chip Morton, he started Limpies and I knew him, so he’d send me pants. I asked him: ‘Where do you get these ideas from ? They look like my mom’s curtains.’ He was like ‘Yeah, that’s what they are, dude.’ A lot of people don’t understand that he was the first into the whole baggy thing. He made one-offs, he never made 70 pairs of the same pants. Anyway yeah, there are tons of thank yous on it.”

ronallen_americandreamADI Ron Allen (1996 )
Art by Alyasha Moore

“In 1996 I met Alyasha Moore, amazing artist, he was doing early Russel Simmons/Phat Fram stuff I think, Chris Pastras hooked us up. We had this idea of straight Americana from two black men’s prospective. So on this one, that’s Dexter Woods of the San Francisco chapter of the Black Panthers. A lot of people didn’t understand what we were trying to do with American Dream Inc. Ourselves we didn’t understand that you can’t be that angry and sell a product. It was a different kind of controversy than say the Napping Negro graphic.

Instead of doing that, we thought that we’d try to teach a little history, why the revolutionnary tactics, why that way. I learned a lot about my culture from doing ADI. Cause you had to do your research, you didn’t want to not understand what you were trying to say or do. Plus we also wanted to not just talk to the black race, or the white race. We made an ad that came up in Spanish, we wanted to talk to everybody. We wanted to do ads in Mandarin, or in French.

Anyway, in 1996 the market was weird, that’s when the D3 was floating around. The misunderstandings led to the demise of the company. All it took was one or two phrases. We did an ad that said ‘brought to you by the Deluxe death star’ and that was it. That’s what sank our whole program.”

bambooEnergy bamboo board (1999)
Art by Anthony

“Energy stood for Enough Nonsense Every Rider Get Yours, cause we wanted to make sure we take care of the riders, that the rider came first. That board is special to me cause it was the first one with bamboo in it, back in 1999. I went to a wood company called Comet and told them I wanted to make boards with them, and that was the first graphic that came out on our wood board. But I said I wanted a bamboo board.

My friend Anthony was the catalyser of all this, cause he was making furniture out of bamboo.
Once I imported the laminate from China, we first strated with a full 9-ply, all bamboo board. It didn’t break, it didn’t bend, but it would flex and the middle would touch the ground when you kickflip ! So we developped it from 9 to 7, and every time it worked great for the first day, but then the bamboo would blow up. It didn’t last long. After a while we figured out the one bamboo ply thing. Anthony also did the graphics, he says that it’s a man praying on his knees. All I can think about though is that it looks like a cannon exploding. But we’ll figure it out some day.”

ronallen_hstreetH-Street Ben Outlook reissue (2007)
Art by Jeff Klindt

“This is the reissue of my old H Street graphic. The guy on the drawing, Jeff Klindt drew him and said that his name was Ben Outlook because he was looking forward to everything . It’s a guy that Jeff invented, he had some crazy concepts, man. The first Ben Outlook he did for me was in a straight jacket, in a padded cell but he was so happy that he could just skate that he was doing that no comply on a curb. ‘Here, it’s you.’ That was his mentality for it. Ben Outlook, still happy.

Thinking about it it was kinda strange cause this guy didn’t even look like me at all, but in these days I was just so stoked to even be pro that I never cared about graphics. We went in all sorts of direction. I remember once, the Godoy brothers did a graphic for me, it was a teddy bear hanging from a noose on a door, with a nail through his head. I was like, dude, that’s gnarly. My girlfriend at the time threatened to leave me if it was run. I told Mike Ternasky about it but he said it was too late, it came out…

This one though was my limited edition, and then it was also on my best-selling board on H Street, the No Scratch graphics, where it’s all wrapped around the nose. So the reissue came, I signed my name like that and did it more longboard-style. It’s even on a Tech Deck!”

dsc_0191Creation Enchanted Tree board (2008)
Art by Lucian Moon

«This one is really recent, I believe it is my fifth board on Creation. At 45, I know this whole video thing and being paid to skate is gonna come to an end at some point, I know it. But at this point I’m just rolling with it.

It looks like a beer label, it should say Pabst Blue Ribbon or something. Just kidding. But I love the way the tree looks. And what’s sick in it was that it had all kinds of Creation logos in it, but then the way they put my name on, it was so perfect. When you put your truck, it just says Ron, and then I thought it was also dope that when you put your truck also it says RA in a place where it can never be taken away. That’s sick, my name will be on this board for ever!»

5 Responses to “Ron Allen : “I learned a lot about my own culture from doing American Dream Inc.””

  1. 1 djtonto101 April 6, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    The Godoys, I guess Ron knew were white power idiots. Guess that would explain why Knox never got anywhere in skateboarding. I met Ron back in the day in Pa. Fun team came to Lancaster, was raining, he and Keith Huf. skated the mini in the back of the store. John Reeves and some am. from Denver watched videos out front. Spunk Skates, Jim Tesnar was the owner.

    • 2 Corey Bigley July 22, 2009 at 7:06 pm

      I also met Ron & Keith with Fun at Spunk Skates in Lancaster! I was about 15. I bought some new wheels there and myself and like 4 buddies were just stoked to be hanging with pro skaters. Jim Tesnar was cool as shit to us everytime we went there. Ron was chillin watching vids on the tv on the couch and was very cool to us when we talked to him. I bought several boards of his before I stopped skating about 5 years later. I’ll always keep that experience in my head.

  2. 3 sebcarayol April 7, 2009 at 1:34 am

    I’m afraid your dad being brain-dead cant be the only reason why you don’t make it in skateboarding ha ha. I mean…
    Thanks for the memories Mr Tonto.

  3. 4 w. no May 25, 2009 at 7:00 am

    djtonto, you don’t know shit. when have you ever met the godoys? You don’t know the godoys, if you did, you would know that your statement is not true. As for Knox, could it be that knox was simply sick of the industry politics? you stupid fuck. what makes you an authority on reasons why people don’t succeed in skateboarding, haven’t seen YOUR name in a mag….you are a punk. the godoys were always cool with ron allen, you small time, small town hick. you should watch the things you say on line. there are plenty of people who would take offence to your ignorant comment about the godoys.

  4. 5 jimmy joneser May 25, 2009 at 7:15 am

    i was a kid when the h-street team came to canada, i hung out with all of them. … that includes Ron & the Godoy brothers, Shultes, Magnusson…. the Godoys were cool, not idiots at all and I certainly didn’t detect any racism. Like mr. No says, when did you meet them? i doubt that you are speaking from experience, you sound like just another forum gossiper. If the Godoys were racist, do you really think that they would have drawn a graphic for Ron?

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Le boardnographe du phonographe

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