This is the story of skateboarding brothers Tas and Ben Pappas who reached the pinnacle of their sport in the nineties.
There never hold back testing themselves and their own endurance.
From an early age the sons of a Greek father – Australian mother, parents who frequently rowed and hit each other, frying pans et al passed on the franchise of violent behaviour. Dad Pappas also taught martial art classes and took them, learning Aikido amongst others where the pressure points can be used to snuff out a life. They became experts in the more block violence aspects strands of Martial Arts by putting opponents six levels above them on the floor so often they were banned.
So they turned to an oblong of wood with twin castors either end and found it also was so much fun they scorched every opponent and skateboarder they encountered in the suburbs of their home city Melbourne through sheer natural ability and darker who gives a ….. attitude.
Off their Heads
The place was full of energy and escapism through unconventional sports and border like punk meets rock star hedonism. Not much is detailed about the treatment of the women around their early days and from what we see it was almost a practically male bondage motive that led to the dangerous behavior especially around readily available drugs, first cannabis then Cocaine in what seemed like very pure form unadulterated by headache tablets or other digestion powders etc.
Two years separate Tas and Ben. Ben is two years younger born 02/09/75.
The rise and record of their supremacy was all put down on the camcorder VHS tapes, mini tapes of the day. The footage was the prime source of their sporting bravado and the ultimate proof of the moves practiced day after day and the collective self worship of this fringe freelancer sport.
Seeing themselves in these visual acrobatics off of the half pipe came up extraordinarily Frank and honest when seen on tape.
That was the pure side of the tape. On the other side of the tape was the hard knocks and intensity of competition but with it at least in the domestic Australian scene everyone looked out for each other’s backs and the more ounces of illegitimate and let’s face it body destroying herbs and narcotics inflicted and deepened addictions and connections between the highs of the skateboarding and the after glow effects of partying with stacks of drugs blurred their ability to distinguish which was responsible for which high.
I will repeat that one another way – doing drugs and sports adrenaline where each delivering especially inconceivable unrealities.
It was a low and a basement they would find it very hard to climb out of.
From the bottom of the half pipe if off your board and off your mind you have to climb those steps again to reach the adrenaline peaks craved.
The push was the adulation and validation they got.
Videos wold show their intense liberating skill set and it was and seemed real and a pure buzz. Wicked, Stoked, all mannerisms and actions had what we now call tags. One which cropped up a lot was ‘Barnes it’ a totem for not giving a …. when push came to shove when confronted with a challenge and going for it regardless.
Lots of money could be made from the marketing and sales of merchandise so it was one brother followed by the other who decided to rock up in America with little other than a dream.
The Pappas brothers went on acid trips and lived in a skateboard park in a room that would trip out a celibate monk or temperance loving priest.
Either way they became junkies of the highest order. High being the witless word they described as. The aim was to topple the top skateboarder in the world, Tony Hawk represented in the cauldron of the US and skate city San Diego. Hawk was the apogee of the sport and dominated to such an extent he wisely bought into ESPNs franchise of the rights and it all became a very serious set of propositions and the circuit of skateboard lifted off with its high octane freedom of expression and obvious skill set easily followed and stupendously in keeping with the superficiality of the era.
A nightmare of addictions, business fault lines and personal challenged all kicked off.
As Tas says near mid point in the documentary ‘That’s the day it all kicked off’. The pipe was bored out to churn them up and deliver things neither could imagine. Also very early on Tas says regarding looking back, ‘Theres my side, there’s your side and there’s the truth.’ Simple as.
For a man looking back on things his brain is capable of remarkable things given what he’s been through.
You watch this documentary and you will see what he and Ben went through
There are times when it just seems so stupid and ultimately screaming don’t do it momements. Their gauges are way off the meter with the cocktail of indulgences they gather in however and this cocktail overflows with disastrous results.
Australia and St Albans
When they cover each other’s backs each has a personal life rarely spoken of until it enters into and screws up alongside the choices made in business as well as drugs which is always, always their biggest liability.
The return to Australia happens frequently with the return becoming more bringing back their home St Albans up front again. The memories are their but this too has change since they’ve been away and they return individually with one making a bad call which ensnares him.
Eighties still the Seventies
The early days were a kind of backdraft of the seventies kitsch and pomp with a poorly expressed hard rock/punk invention that was feed on a diet of Australian self preposterous framed identities. It was the embodiment of Who we are – This is the ……. who we are! The country basing itself on its sports as an identity to wear. Into the bargain a Marsupial gets to be used as a play thing. It looks like a Wombat which is bigger than a badger does not eat meat apparently but don’t tell the boys that. It is by a small margin and the vegan tendencies of the Wombat that their knackers don’t get caught between its front teeth. It still need s to chew and it chews on something less fragile.
Who knows what cans of videotape, reels of mini video camcorder recent history of people’s lives are stashed away. Rock music? WaterSports? Climbing? Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll lives? Or endless footage of building Garden sheds or landscaping the field out the back? Some have emerged to small acclaim but this will interest youth and those of the era alike.
It is a harrowing story which needed to be told and was there for the telling.
Ably edited and drawing on practically all resources available to illustrate it we see a never before shown unadulterated record of the lives of these two brothers spanning from their elastic youth up to their mid twenties and just beyond.
I remember an Australian band; I for one who found INXS too Australian and derivative. I heard them once while at a party a mile away while they performed at Wembley and it sounded like a concert definitely only for folk who liked their pop rock simple. The Australian band I remember, and who were better in my mind, was fronted by a singer called James Reyne, an Irish surname, who you would cheerfully throttle as he had the looks you knew would draw a crowd of very attractive and no doubt smart Sheila’s. It only became tolerable as he had a tendency to wear a mullet at one point.
The songs good songs I remember were songs that could be written for skateboarders at a stretch.
There is an anthem about 5 minutes long called Reckless which I won’t forget easily and another celebratory song called The Boys light Up. Very typically Australian and of the time, the eighties and the band summed up their Homeland better than INXS with James Reyne more typically, if that is not to pejorative a word, a truer son of Australian than most. Some of the output was pretty ordinary though. It may have been James Reyne got caught up in the hedonism of his fame, I don’t know the story.