Intro – My name is Manny Pangilinan. From 1987-1991, age 14-18, I mainly skated the Brooklyn Banks and skate spots all over Manhattan. I would like to share some NYC skate stories from this period.
I cannot begin telling my experience of NYC skateboarding without first giving a shout out to one of the raddest skaters I ever knew, my brother Bob. He RIPS SO HARD. He would of had his moment as a pro hadn’t he quit at 17 from a broken ankle and being swept into the popular crowd in high school. He had a jock build and Jock skills. In 1987 he was attempting ollie grinds on hand rails when board slides on hand rails were newly invented. He would do Saran Wrap bomb drops out the back of semi trucks so solid. Its when you hold your board in your front hand, leap off a high drop, kick your front foot forward, while passing the board between your legs from behind to your other “Indy” hand and landing on the board. He was a jump ramp and HO HO Master. One of his raddest airs was a 360 Method to Nosebone where he would blast a big 360 tweaked out method air (like Jesse Martinez) then thee quarters of the way around (at 270) switch hands, grab indy, tweak out a nose bone and land so solid; Japan airs so tweaked out his back leg would be straight, and do Frontside Wall ride mute grabs off flat.
He was built to shred, most physically fit in his class from 6th grade into high school- The kid who could do the most pull ups. sit-ups, run the fastest. The dude could do push ups with me laying on his back. In little leage baseball he could hit home runs over the fence batting righty and lefty. It was because of him that me and my neighbors got noticed at skate sessions or demos and started skating with the best skaters in Northern New Jersey and eventually NYC. He set a high standard.
Having him as my brother, I always seeked out skaters who could inspire me as much as he. Maybe thats why Jeff Pang was my first friend from NYC. If anyone reminded me of my brothers raw power and technical skill, it was Jeff.
Below is a photo of Bob at the Brooklyn Banks in 1987 doing a Super Sad Ho Ho and of my neighbor Ron Sabo from three houses up doing a hand plant. We were from Suffern NY, the last stop on the Main Line on NJ Transit- an hour train ride to NYC.
With that said, here is my first story.
New York Skate Stories: #1 Nimbus Skates
One NYC Skate story that has hardly been told, is the story of Nimbus Skates. In the late 80’s, There is no doubt that the dominant skate company was Shut Skates. But as Shut was reaching its peak and its riders were getting picked up by West coast companies. A new company was brewing in its shadow. A knew generation of younger skaters were evolving and two young passionate skater entrepreneurs Charlie Butterly and Ian McCarthy were carefully picking the best for their team, Nimbus Skates.
Charlie Butterly was a rad skater who could skate both street and vert. He had a solid glue foot ollie, and arsenal of street ramp maneuvers as well as a bag full of HO HO maneuvers and could skate vert. Charlie always stuck out as one of the more talented skaters, whether at a local skate contest or everyday skate session. He rode Shut Decks for a time, but had a minor falling out with one of the founders.
Soon after he decided to start his own company Nimbus Skates with friend Ian McCarthy in 1988. Both had half pipes in their back yards in New Jersey. Don’t let Jersey fool you. Most of the best NYC skaters are from Jersey. Most of Shut Skates were made up of skaters from Weehawken, Union City, Edison, etc.
Ian was business prodigy who was always thinking two steps ahead. Later down the line he became schizophrenic and disappeared from the face of the earth. But more importantly prior to his mental illness, Ian was always on the cutting edge. While most skaters were thinking about what new trick they were going to learn, Ian was observing your skate skills and buiding a team. Together Charlie and Ian hand picked the next best skaters in New York and surrounding metropolitan area.
When Shut was no more, and Zoo was not born yet, there was a brief moment that Nimbus Skates had the best riders in New York City.
Who rode for Nimbus?, Jefferson Pang, Peter Bici, Peter Hyun, Jim Lynch, Qulon Douglas, Bobby Puleo, Brian Loki, Ryan Hicky, Dan Zimmer, Jon Burk, Pablo Fuster, Giovanni Estevez, Rich Arbitelle, Justin Pierce, Matt Obrian, Adam Ayer from Boston, and myself, Manny Pangilinan. If I missing anyone, my apologies.
These riders would later be the foundation of riders for Zoo York and Supreme the biggest iconic skate companies to come out of New York City.
Although I never felt completely on the team because I never got completely free boards, just the $15 homeboy discount, I can say I was by default because, I was part of the posse. Jim, Ian, Jeff, and Charlie, and the whole team were my closest friends and skate brethren at the time. I never realized or thought about how much better my bros were until I watched rare skate footage on you tube. Speaking for the Nimbus over 20 years later, we skated with each other because we loved to skate, we wanted to be the best, and we believed in Nimbus. I think it was Jeff, Charlie and another who heated up a grind king allen key and branded an N their arms. Along with the whole crew, I contributed a proper attitude, which was to let everyone know that Nimbus was in effect. As well I invented one staple skate trick, the Nose Slide. I dreamt about it while sleeping over Jeff’s house brainstorming on ways I could wake up in the morning and show him something he hasn’t done yet or seen before. Did it before we had noses on our boards, and did it with the tail facing forward. We were forced to skate the curbs that morning under the Brooklyn Bridge because it was raining. It was their on the curbs up top the Big Banks that the Nose slide was born. But back to the main story.
Nimbus Skates held down the fort when Shut was over, and Zoo wasn’t born yet. At one point there was a cut throat moment with Shut, Nimbus, and their board supplier Paul Schmitt. For whatever reason, Schmitt stopped making Nimbus Decks. Charlie and Ian always had the ability to cut and screen their own decks. Nimbus hardly documented their riders with flashy photography or video. What is documented in photos and video becomes the history. This word of mouth story is nearly all that is left of Nimbus. With all the success of all the original riders, Nimbus I’m sure is but a blur in lost in a hundreds of golden memories . Marketing may have been a weakness but shutting up and skating was a strength. No one really knew where street skating was moving to. No one knew that it was going to become a multimillion international industry.
For the few years that it lasted we stuck together for the love of skating, the new decks with the fresh shape, fresh pop, and fresh graphics that kept coming out ready to ride. The crew stuck together because Nimbus had the best riders and it was a rad team to be a part of. We pushed each other to skate more, skate hard, and be innovative.
Lets take for instance Jim Lynch. The young man ripped. He did a legendary maneuver that was caught on video tape but lost. He Board slid to Fakie the Marriot Bank Fat Rail. If you don’t know the spot, its a super fast transition 5 ft quarter pipe with like 2.5- 3 feet of vert, then there’s about a five inch gap then a fat rail about ten inches in diameter. Completely impossible and totally gnarly. The only possible candidates for doing something like this would be Gonz or Neil Blender. I’ve yet to hear of anyone else doing it ever. He would also slappy the biggest over vert curbs going so fast you were sure he was going to eat shit. In fear, you would close you’re eyes then open them to find him grinding with finesse and your mouth open in awe. He would also rail slide or lip slide double sided curbs flying down spiral parking garbage ramps. He Ollie board slid the World Trade center rails, Could skate vert, do gay twists, super fast lean to tails clearing big expanses. Whatever he did, he did it fast, hard and smooth in Attack Mode.
Pablo Fuster another Attack Mode Freak from Bronxille often skated in a mechanics jump suit and skated like a nimble speeding Mack truck with no breaks. Qulon Douglas? Super Smooth. Super Original. Super inventive. A dancer on wheels.
Jeff Pang technical power house who you were happy to have on your side. Bob Puleo the tech puzzler.
Loki would ollie over garbage cans off flat like a Beast Ballerina, Super Graceful. Justin the character always smiling. Peter Bici ladies man ripper… I’ll never forget skating with the crew in transit and Ryan Hickey ollieing over a bike rack because it was in the way. Zimmer and Burke master of Transitions. To keep it simple, there wasn’t one Nimbus rider who didn’t have something to bring to the table, whether it be skate skills, artistic skills, or character. Also,(and I might get my ass kicked for this one) the two hottest Skate Betties in the NYC skate scene Desire and Rebecca were down with Nimbus. Many years later, Des married Ryan, and Rebec married Charlie.
Each new batch of boards that came out of Ian or Charlies’ basement shop came a new shape feature, and a new graphic drawn by one of the riders. Peter Hyun, Rich Arbitelle, Dan Zimmer, or Charlie- for board models with names like, “The Homboy” and “The Eight Ball”.
The team began to disperse as Ian began to lose his mind to Schizophrenia. Smoking weed daily with a heavy graffiti addiction, didn’t help with his paranoia. Ian started the 907 graff crew. The riders began to realize bigger and better offers like art school, getting casted in Larry Clarks movie “Kids”, Zoo York and Supreme.
Bottom line the skaters named above were the most talented, and stylish skaters in the New York City at the time, and they briefly skated for one team. With or without Nimbus, each skater had their own individual passions for skateboarding. However there is no doubt that for a few years, Nimbus Skates provided the boards and the brotherhood.
-Manny Skate Pangilinan