Book Review: The Best Of Skate Fate

A Found Skate Zine Compilation Rolls Into Nostalgia

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
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One of the perks of being the Alibi’s circulation manager is navigating the stream of culture and humanity that regularly shows up in our distribution boxes and racks. I’m not talking about the relentless parade of flyers for art openings, shows and Brazilian waxing specials, but rather pocket knives, fancy glassware and—most prized—the literature. On a trip to the Laundromat on Princeton and Central, the Alibi rack yielded a crisp, virgin copy of The Best of Skate Fate , a 1981-1991 compilation of interviews, cartoons and weirdness from the skate zine by Garry Scott Davis (aka GSD).

According to an article in the compilation titled “A Sketchy History of Skate Fate," GSD started putting together this low-budget skate-punk publication in Ohio in 1981 and the first six issues featured “all three (!) people who still skate in Cincinnati.” Davis moved from Ohio to California in 1982, becoming a fixture in the skate scene and working at
Transworld Skateboarding magazine from 1983 to 1993. His GSD model decks from Tracker were fairly ubiquitous in the mid-’80s.

Hard for you to recall how fringe skateboarding was in those days?
The Best of Skate Fate will help jog your memory, with endless fake ads for Tracker Trucks, cartoons with anthropomorphized guard rails, do-it-yourself instructions for noseguards made out of garden hose, and dudes in Jams and Chuck Taylors using honkin’ kick-tail decks—with noseguards and guard rails. There are earnest, silly and completely non-sycophantic interviews with dudes like Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi, Neil Blender and tons more skaters who were then creating the kinds of skateboarding we know today.

The pages of this book fairly scream ’80s North American counterculture. In every fair-sized town there was at least one punk fanzine, pasted and taped together and containing usually fervent interviews, insults, opinions and reviews of underground shows and records. “Skate Fate” was enthusiastically focused on skateboarding. So for anyone who’s got a yen for skateboarding history, this is a primary source.

It’s fitting that this book, which I found for free in a Laundromat, is a self-published work, a phenomenon that allows anyone (for better or worse) to print a professional-looking run of books. No one has any friends at Kinko’s anymore, and the copier at work (if you have a job at all) is probably password protected. Self-publishing sites like—you can score
The Best of Skate Fate there are helping this era’s creative nudniks publish their gospel more or less on their own terms with a minimum of expense.

So thanks, anonymous zine-compilation-giver. And to everyone else: Keep your show flyers out of the
Alibi’s boxes and racks. Please.
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