PHOTO BY: CHRIS NIERATKO
It’s tough growing up in Jersey as a skateboarder, especially if you grew up here in the 90’s. Anyone who lives here will tell you, there isn’t a goddamn thing to skate, save some low key street spots and the occasional, short-lived homegrown foundation/warehouse spot. The summers are hot as fuck. The asphalt is mostly torn up, unkemp, and straight up cheesegrater status. Basically it’s gnarly, and if you’re going to get noticed out here you better be more than really fucking good. In a way I feel like every kid from Jersey that hits the world skateboard stage is basically a phenom… dudes like Chris Pastras, Fred Gall, Vallely, Tom Groholski and let’s not forget female NJ ripper Lauren Mollica. It’s because kids here can skate anything… and these people all pretty much changed the game for their skateboard generation… that’s a good look for Jersey, and most definitely something to be proud of. The catch though, is that the upper tier rippers here that never quite ascend that plateau never get their due. I can deal with shitty pavement, humidity, no spots, and no industry representation… but I can’t deal with dudes that kill it on a skateboard for a better part of their lives not getting the respect they deserve. Don’t get me wrong, the state has a pretty tight honor system where skateboard legacies and mythologies are plenty prevalent. Whispers can still be heard about “the skate gods” and how you have to pay in blood to earn your keep, and Groholski ditch sightings are still as exciting as they have ever been. While this is shaping up to be a bitch session, it isn’t… its a preface. a prologue to an obituary.
Enter Shannon McFadden.
Dude was lethal on a skateboard. As for that mythological Jersey history that I was talking about earlier? Well, dude has a few whole chapters under his belt. Shannon was a year or so younger than me, we skated together a lot, and I really just got to see him grow as a skateboarder. There was a long time where I thought “this dude’s rediculous… he’s going” he got sponsored by Vision, he won warped tour contest in 1998, and he was grinding down rails I was afraid to even boardslide… not to mention his miniramp ollie to fakies were starting to climb up over head high. Dude was a local hero… It wasn’t just skill either, i mean he did it with style.. to this day i still can’t believe he didn’t blow up. Luckily for the preservation of New Jersey skateboard history a little guy name Chris Nieratko had been photo documenting the skateboard scene here before he went on to be a famous author/photographer/editor/reviewer/generally funny dude. He managed to get a few good photo grabs of Shannon including one that appeared in Big Brother magazine. I won’t exclude the fact that Shannon did have his critics here in Jersey… even they will tell you though, kid was an amazing skateboarder that deserved a place or at least an honorable mention it the long list of late great fallen soldiers of skateboarding. In the end Shannon’s demons caught up with him and he took his own life… I wish I could’ve helped him. No more all night skate sessions. crashing on Mollicas floor. running from the police in New Brunswick. Missions to the abandoned Magic Skatepark.. or grimy ass Extremes mini ramp sessions… REST IN PEACE HOMIE… YOU’LL BE MISSED. SO MUCH RESPECT!