Larelle Gray

Larelle Gray

Larelle Gray

Words by Rory Parker. Photos by Tadashi Yamaoda

We are constantly making bad decisions under pressure around here at Automatic. The worst of all decisions is to allow a team manager or friend to write about one of their buddies who we are running a story on. The whole thing about being friends is that you don’t go about braying them to the masses. Who wants to spill the beans about the fat chick in the alley behind a bar? Or the time you bought a lap dance in TJ and the “chick’s” boner poked you in the stomach? But, by keeping these things secret you actually do a disservice. If everything is light and fuzzy and positive there’s nothing interesting to remember. That’s how the first version of this piece on Larelle Gray turned out. We took the easy way out and let Larelle Gray’s good friend Tom write about him for his feature. I guess it was to be expected, but it read like a fawning piece in Transworld. “(Insert name here) is a great guy who let’s his skating do the talking. He always has a smile on his face, be it at the nightclub, the skate park, or shooting dice behind the tour van.” Yawn.

But behind that there are some tantalizing glimpses into Larelle Gray’s psyche. I’ve never met him but we’ve all got a least a little craze lurking beneath the surface. Apparently Larelle Gray is a neat freak, an “obsessively clean person” whom “can‚t be seen without a crispy new white shirt, perfectly baggy jeans, and sparkling white shoes.” This is great. I, like most skaters I know, am fucking filthy ninety percent of the time. I fall on the ground constantly, what’s the point of trying to stay clean? What I want to know is, how deep does this run? Will he stop shooting photos cuz he fell in a puddle and he doesn’t want to get a shot of his gear looking all fucked up? That would be great. Or maybe he punched out an old man for stepping on his new kicks. Awesome. This is what could be interesting about Larelle Gray, even though it never happened to him.

And, apparently he’s buttery. It’s repeated a few times in the original, and I assume it’s referring to his style. I like to think it was meant literally. Like that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer coats himself in butter and then Newman tries to eat him. Like, Larelle Gray rolls up to some huge rail and before he can skate it he has to go into the bushes and give himself a thorough buttering. And then he’s all greasy and slippery and leaves big stains on the ground whenever he falls. After he gets a trick no one can skate the spot anymore because the ground is like glass. And he’s got horrible acne from being coated in butter all the time and the only chicks who are into him are gigantic obese bitches who are more turned on by caloric content than wiener size. The butter thing would also make it really hard for him to stay clean, dirt would stick to him all the time. He’d have to bring tons of changes of clothes and constantly be switching between shirts and his sparkling shoes would get all slippery and his big fat girlfriend would have to take him home and lick him clean. He would eventually get a signature model on Land O Lakes and always have really, really soft, supple skin. I can see Larelle on the phone screaming at the team manager, “I said unsalted, you stupid prick! What the fuck is this, whipped? What, are you trying to get me killed? I can’t use whipped butter you fucking moron!”

But I don’t think Larelle Gray really yell at anyone, cuz apparently he’s “shy.” I hate it when that word is used to describe someone. Usually, when someone says shy they mean stand- offish. But, why? Is Larelle a pretentious kid who knows he rips and doesn’t talk to kids at demos because he thinks they’re kooks? Or is he super unsure of himself and afraid to speak because he thinks he’ll get laughed at? Maybe he’s just stoned all the time. Maybe he’s one of those people that really do just let their skating do the talking. I don’t know. Like I said, I never met the guy.

To be fair, I can pass along what others have told me. Larelle Gray is apparently one of those insanely good younger guys who still manages to keep his head straight. It’s really easy for someone with a ton of talent to become too big for their britches, but Larelle’s keeping his rig tight. I hear the word humble thrown around a lot these days but rarely is it the case. Which is good, because people with huge egos don’t often have the ability to hold it together for long; they burn hot, then burn out. And his skating is absolutely amazing. Really, I cannot stress this enough, he has a freakish control over his board and a sick style that keeps everything smooth. Remember him, he will be around for a while.

In the end, what it comes down to is that I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Never met Larelle Gray, never skated with him, nothing. So, just ignore this shit, like you should have from the beginning, and look at the pretty pictures. They’re really good. Seriously, I’m such a kook I should never pick up a skateboard again because I could never, ever, do a blunt bigspin out. Then again, if I quit skating who’d buy beer for all the little kids at the local park?

Extra buttery switch ollie at the washington school.

 

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