How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Use Colored Griptape

Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by skateboarding; it always seemed completely unique and lawless.  However, growing up in Canton, Georgia in the mid 90s my environment was hardly conducive to the act itself.  I grew up on a poultry farm and the majority of my childhood my driveway was completely gravel (no bueno).  For my buddy, Clay, and me, the odds were not in our favor as we tried to figure out how to make the board “jump.”

Skateboards with colored grip tape

Some of my more recent grip tape jobs.

Eventually, the more accessible childhood activities completely took over and most weekends and afternoons were spent practicing baseball or playing basketball.  All the while, skateboarding never left my mind, but none of my “teammates” had any interest in skateboarding whatsoever.  Years later, luckily, my friend Clay hadn’t stopped skateboarding and without him, I’d never have been reintroduced to skateboarding.

Ben Mercer skateboarding c. 1993

Me shredding c. 1993

In the wake of Zero Skateboards‘ video “Misled Youth,” my second impression of skateboarding was a more eye-opening experience.  This half hour video still has my knees trembling, just thinking about every rail, every gap, and stair annihilation witnessed.  Knowing I could never skate on any level that remotely resembles the video’s standard, I spent years trying to take video of others trying their hand at it.  A lot of good times were had, but I always found myself wanting to skateboard in my own right.  Why film someone else having all the fun? Still, at the time it felt utterly faux pas to enjoy the little things in skateboarding; curbs, shaped boards, and colored grip…because everyone was so busy keeping up with the Jones’ (myself included).  As a whole, the community tried to quantify ones value by amount of stairs they kickflipped or how big the rail they grinded was.  The lawless feeling had passed and skateboarding started to feel like a sport.

 Throughout this time it seemed like the majority of skateboarders’ setups were absolutely uniform.  Every board was just straight black grip, white wheels (graphics in).  It was all popsicle boards, and completely soulless.  I, honestly, couldn’t pick out my own board from a lineup!  The boards themselves were just temporary vessels that would ultimately meet their premature demise after a few sessions of jumping downs some stairs.  With skateboards being so temporary it was hard to get attached, so I didn’t care about the shape or going beyond straight black griptape because it seemed so pointless to car

Basic skateboard complete


My boards last longer now, part and parcel to getting older and not having the free time to skate as much.  Now if I’m going to skate a board, I have no excuse not to take the time to make my ride unique.  After spending a couple years skating shaped boards, I realized the “cruiser” board stigma is completely false and most shaped boards are completely functional.  Please do not call these cruiser boards or filmer boards.  They are built to be shredded just like any other board.  Also, don’t be afraid to grip your board however you want and know that color griptape skates just as well as any other mainstays; Black Magic, Jessup, Mob, etc.

    It seems like skating is in a great place nowadays and people are starting to come around and think “outside the box” again, which is why I’d like to challenge everyone to try something new and defy the norm.  Skateboarding should never be neatly categorized and there is always room for new ideas or old ones to revisit.  When you adhere to the unwritten rules that govern skateboarding, you’ll miss out on a lot.  It wasn’t until I learned to stop worrying and enjoy the little things that I learned just how much I missed out on.

It’s hard to believe that my reintroduction was over fifteen years ago and since then, for better or for worse, skateboarding has pretty much been all-consuming.  I have seen friends go, trends evaporate, and witnessed my personal skating evolve several times.  Even though life is moving faster and my skateboarding slowing down, it’s safe to say that right now is the most exciting skateboarding has ever been.  Period.

Below are some of the current griptape designs on the counter at Ambush Board Co

The biggest selection of griptape Ambush Board Co. has ever had.Bright and flashy...Thrasher Griptape at Ambush Board Co.

More from Ben Mercer.


Light Goes On

Skateboarding and animation have enjoyed a budding relationship for a long time. After all, it’s a very creative way to portray creativity…following me? Just watch this light-painting-animation by artist Darren Pearson and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

More from Darren Pearson

Stee By Sk8Mafia and Sweet Skateboards

Sk8Mafia Skateboards has teamed up with a really cool European skateboard company called Sweet Skateboards to create “STEE.”  STEE is a skateboard video that includes both teams equally.  Each Sk8Mafia team rider shares a part with a Sweet Skateboards team rider.  Really cool idea if you ask me!  What better way for Sk8Mafia to boost their coverage in Europe, and the same goes for Sweet Skateboards in the U.S.  The trailer for the video has been up for a little over a week now, and just this morning Thrasher Magazine posted Tyler Surrey and Gustav Tonnesen’s part.  WOW… That is all I can say right now.  I haven’t gasped out loud from watching a skate video since I was a kid, but this part was absolutely ridiculous!  Such amazing styles mixed with never-been-done tricks and very fancy footwork.  Don’t forget the full length video will be available June 21st.  Job well done boys!!

 Watch Tyler and Gustav rip here!!


Check out the Sk8Mafia and DC Shoes collaboration shoe at

Brian Anderson Is Making Moves

In the last couple months, there have been some pretty big changes in the skateboard world.  For example, AVE and Jason Dill have left Alien Workshop, and Brian Anderson has left Girl Skateboards.  Brian Anderson decided to leave Girl Skateboards after over 10 years of amazing skateboarding and a couple of monumental video parts.  It has been rumored that Brian will be joining long time friend Brad Staba over at Skate Mental Skateboards.  It seems the rumor may not be so true.  Brian states in his departure note that he wants to start his own project, and I believe that project is 3D Skateboards.  It doesn’t look like much yet, but I have a feeling we will see some familiar names rocking those logos very soon.  Maybe Alex Olson, or even Austyn Gillette.  In the meantime while you wait for official announcements, go ahead and watch some good old fashioned Brian Anderson footage to keep you stoked!



Sean Malto Breaks a Truck at Street League KC

Somehow Sean Malto managed to break a truck at Kansas City’s Street League stop.  Skating for the first time in front of his hometown, Malto seemed to be under a great deal of pressure during the finals on Sunday.  Although he was eliminated after the first round, he did manage to pull off one of the craziest things I have ever seen happen during a skateboard contest! Now I don’t know about you guys, but I have never seen someone break a truck in the middle of a contest.  What is the craziest thing you have ever seen happen during a contest?

More from Sean Malto at 

Lewis Marnell – ONE LOVE

The most complete Lewis Marnell tribute to date…amazing. One Love.

“Lewis was legitimately a good person, he cared about what was going on in your life, he’d stop to talk with anyone, I mean anyone… A bum, the random lurker you don’t want to talk to a the spot, anyone… We’d always be waiting on him cause he met some new friend at the skate spot/or wherever we stopped the car.” Jason Hernandez, filmer.

Click for details

Browse the current crop of Dunk Mids from Nike SB.

Emerica In Atlanta

If you don’t already know, is part of the Ambush Boarding Co. family based in just North of Atlanta, Georgia. This past year our very own Max Yoder took the Emerica boys around Atlanta to get some footy for Stay Gold. Here’s what he got – all in its raw realness.

More from Emerica at