Posted by:on May 9th, 2007
Chi-Town Shred was the king of all Chicago skate zines in the late 80’s. I don’t know how long they published, but I’ve got 7 issues, the latest being #9. Their wacky web site (yes, they are online!) shows a cover for “the Last Issue” which looks like #11 from 1990. These guys had a short but prolific output. I think the key was photo-heavy issues without much blabbering on. That’s a good way to go. Our problem at Skate and Annoy which we still have, was we wanted to pretend we were a real skate mag with stories and coverage of events, interviews, etc… As a result we would unbearably delay getting things out, which explains our 12 year gap in printing. We got distracted, but we always intended on putting out another issue. I was still printing photos from negatives for the next issue in the late 90’s.
Chi-Town Shred #5
Like I said, Chi-Town Shred was the 500 pound gorilla of zines in the Chicago area. Skate and Annoy put eight issues out of Champaign-Urbana Illinois, which is an hour and a half south of Chicago, but we would travel up to Chicago and sometimes the Chicago crew would come down south, or we’d meet them at some of the Midwest contests. Steve Snyder (AKA Steve Dread) worked at Chicago’s Windward Sports, pretty much the only decent skate shop in Chicago at the time. Jesse Neuhaus would come from the suburbs for contests when he was 12 or 13 with his dad. This was obviously before he got his Alva model, but he was already better than us for the most part. Eventually, Steve and Jesse both rode for Alva. They are both in that classic photo of the 80’s Alva team. (See below) Actually, I don’t see Jesse in that picture, but I swear I remember reading about that photo session somewhere, and they mentioned how Jesse was too clean cut compared to rest of the group. [Credit: Alvahardcore.com via Chuck Angel]
When the Skate and Annoy core crew moved to Chicago in 89 or 90, I anticipated a friendly rivalry with Chi-town Shred, but we never managed to get another issue out in the 2 or 3 years I lived there. The Chigao scene was kind of insular at the time. Case in point, when I won a streetsyle contest (I, know, the irony…) in Chicago around 1988, they gave the best prizes to second and third place locals and presented me with a butt ugly Motobilt deck. Yes, Motobilt trucks actually made a really crappy deck. That deck looked like a plywood abortion. I think I later gave it away without riding it. In 2002 One of the Chi-Town Shred guys (John Reed) got in touch after finding Skate and Annoy online:
Hey whats up? I lived in chi town like 85 till 89. I did a zine called Chi Town Shred. I think I might have a couple of old Skate and Annoys in my boxes. I kinda remember you guys at a couple skate things, maybe a Skate Ohio deal or maybe Rockford, or maybe one of our contests in Chicago. You guys kinda seemed kinda faggy to me, but whatever. Anyways’ I’m glad you lived through it. Your site is pretty kool.
So as you can see, we were held in pretty high regards by our peers. Here’s some more of our correspondence:
hey whats up got yr e mails steve never helped on the zine he just had tons of pics at the time he was one of the better um older guys but anyways i still talk to steve he still does run chi – ok james took all the pics he was another older i mean older tall skinny guy that took tons of pics and worked in a darkrooom shitty clarity but tons of pics boxes and boxs to pick from dan hernandez aka ras dan helped on like the first 3 issues then i did it alone for like 10 more issues till i moved east i tryed to promote a positive overlook on skating in chi my boy todd would print me up like 150 copies for free color cover sheet and all id sell em at oak st for a buck a piece sell the whole bag in a day it was great the contests were a whole nother story prizes were warped decks misprinted shirts old shit from windward that lester would give us whatever anyways later, john reed
James, the photog. I remember he was this quiet, but really nice older guy who was always on the scene in Chicago with a camera, shooting skateboarding. The cool thing was that he often carried a box of prints with him (in his van maybe?) and sometimes he would hand you a print that he took of you months ago. I think his van was used as an obstacle in the street contest once. I must admit that at first I thought he was odd and borderline creepy for hanging around and shooting all these skateboarders who were much, much younger than him. I don’t know how old he was, but he seemed ancient at the time, which is ironic, because I’m sure that’s how most kids must feel about me when I show up at a skatepark with my board and camera. now it’s not as big of a deal because there are a lot of older skaters around, so kids are used to it. At the time I remember we respected anyone who was still skating at age 30 just for being so “hardcore” about it, regardless of how good they were. Here’s to you James, wherever you are. Somewhere in my basement I have a photo he took of me board sliding a giant oversized parking block while wearing some aquamarine “Life’s a Beach” shorts with Elroy Jetson silkscreened on the leg. (Holy shit!) Oh yeah, I’ve also got a blurry shot of me acid dropping off the van in that contest.
Check out Chi-town Shred online. It’s a funky site, with links sort of hidden all over the place. There is a copy of #10 and 222 pages of photos that might even be from… Holy cow! I just looked at some of those pics, they have an email address for a cat named James! I wonder if it’s the same guy? I guess I’ll find out. There really are 222 pages of photos. They are all tiny and not rotated, but there is some really Chicago skateboarding history buried in there, including shots of the Firehouse (or Firehole) banks that I am sure are long gone now. They were bricked humps in a playground next door to a fire station. The first time I rode them, (one of the few times) had to be in 1988 or so. I went pretty late at night with a friend because I heard or thought they were sometimes a bust. The wheels rolling over the bricks made a lot of noise and the fire station must not have had air conditioning. After riding the banks for a few minutes, an angry fireman yelled out the very nearby window to beat it because people were trying to sleep. I felt pretty sheepish about that at the time, actually sorry for disturbing them. I wasn’t a local and didn’t know the score. Sleeping cops would have been a different story…
View the zine: Chi-Town Shred #5
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