The Alien Workshop Collectable Debate, and Surf Shops Over Charge Skate Stuff

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On Thursday after work I got to skate a whopping fifteen minutes before I broke my board. I did not break it doing anything gnarly but on a measly heelflip on flatland going two miles an hours. Doing tricks I stomp down as if I’m allergic to being airborne, so I break boards sometimes. But the problem was that I wanted to skate Saturday because some of my crew planned to come to Rockaway.

On Friday I went to a surf shop that I won’t name to get a deck. I know they are local surfers and do good things for the community so I won’t call them out by name. But do they really have to take every skate product and add ten or more dollars above retail? Online or at legit skate shops a normal brand deck costs 50 to 55 bucks, at this surf shop decks are 60 to 65 bucks. Bones Swiss bearings in legit shops are 45 bucks, and at this surf shop they cost 60 bucks. They are nice enough but I don’t like that they rip off skaters, and I believe they add ten bucks to every freaking skate product.

Anyway I needed a board the next day, so I brought a deck. They had only one 8.5 deck, the size I ride, and it was an Alien Workshop deck. Alien Workshop went out of business this year, I think in May or June. A lot of people feel these decks will be collector items. In fact I’m glad I have one of their collaboration sets with the Andy Warhol museum on my wall. The Marilyn Monroe Warhol painting is cool in my opinion and even cooler on two skate decks side by side.

The surf shop did not know that these might be collector items while most skate shops pulled them off the shelves months ago. For a long time I liked Alien Workshop. I felt they had good wood, and good shapes. So I bought the deck. I posted a picture of it on instagram and facebook.  Quickly a few of my skate friends told me to keep the deck and not skate it. I decided I wanted to skate it, and I set it up. Saturday my friends came through and we had an epic skate day. I was at the Rockaway mini park from 2:30 to almost 8:00. By far it was my longest skate day of the summer. I liked the board right away and had the best skate day this year.

Like a dork I overthink things. I decided collecting stuff is stupid. Sure get a few decks and art for your wall, but to put value and meaning to objects is counterproductive. I moved in March of this year, and it took months to clean out a small apartment. I found Burger King receipts from 2010, and worse. So I’m glad that I’m transitioning from a hoarder to a minimalist.  I hope to improve on learning the ways of minimalists. If you need a skate deck, buy one and skate it. My wall has enough so I don’t need to buy more for decoration.

On a last note, I read 70 pages of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey but stopped reading it since I already know debt is bad. One thing I took from that book is the examples were problems from material things, people buying too much house, too much car, expensive clothes, or whatever. I’m starting to believe that collectibles, or things considered valuable don’t matter. What matters most is the interactions and memories people form over a lifetime. On that note if I learn to eat and drink cheaper I’ll be all set financially. I also need to learn to buy skate decks from skate shops that don’t overprice their goods.

Newsflash: I’m Acknowledging It’s Summer


Dear readers,

Ever since I started skateboarding at age eleven when I get injured, even slightly, I take way too much time off. I think it’s a deep-rooted laziness in my subconscious that I secretly want to be a coach potato. I’d like to believe I admire athletic prowess, but maybe I don’t. In late June I rolled my ankle. A normal skater would ice it and take off two days or less. I ended up taking off three weeks.

With work and averaging eleven hours sleep each night this actually helped me manage my time to get my manuscript ready for the Writer’s Digest Conference. Last week I submitted sample chapters to agents by email, and I’m waiting for feedback from my beta readers. Basically with writing I need to wait at this point.

In March I moved to Rockaway Beach, ten blocks from where I work. Life is wonderful in that I can walk or skate to work. Seeing bikinis regularly doesn’t hurt either. There are three more weeks to summer, and most of this summer I’ve been indoors writing.

I’m going to acknowledge that it’s summer. Each day after work I’m going to skate the mini until it’s dark. I’m going to patronize local bars and restaurants more frequently. I’m going to swim in the ocean, and be outside more. I may try to wake up early, by early I mean 9, and start running. And I’ll theatrically put in pushups and sit-ups for good measure. Right now my beer gut doesn’t impress anyone. But starting to run now I can get ripped by November. Then I can gain it all back over the winter.

Today I checked my gmail account I created specifically for agent submissions way too much. I need to chill on that. My focus until September is that it’s summer and I live on a beach. I need to rip on a skateboard, get in shape, and start getting digits…………………..

Thanks everyone for allowing my self-indulgence,

Matt Allison

Founder of the empire.

The Writer’s Digest Conference 2014 in NYC was Awesome!

10559920_10152305914491915_7890815206413654966_nI had a great time at the 2014 Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City last weekend. Once I signed up to go in May I revised an insane amount to clip my novel by a third and make it readable. I advise any ambitious writer with a completed manuscript to go to a conference where you pitch to agents.

Lilith is in my writing group at the Peninsula library in Rockaway Beach, and she went to the conference with me. I was glad to have someone to hang out with and practice my pitch. And I also helped her with her pitch. Both of us got ‘cards’ at the Pitch Slam and the green light to submit to agents. I’m rooting for both of us to get published.

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor at Writer’s Digest and was the host of this conference. On Friday afternoon he gave advice for the pitch slam. The pitch slam lasted an hour with 50 agents seated by the walls in alphabetical order. Participants pitched individually to agents for a total of three minutes. So a pitch lasted ninety seconds or less, and the agents then responded. Needless to say, people had questions. Mr. Sambuchino answered in an entertaining yet informative way.

Mr. Sambuchino answered questions throughout the weekend. His expertise confirms to me that Writer’s Digest is a good publication. On the ferry back to Rockaway Friday night Lilith and I practiced our pitch. We practiced again on the subway ride Saturday morning. Lilith’s pitch slam was before mine, and she looked happy when she came out. I was nervous. The next time I’ll sign up for an earlier session.

Once my pitch slam started the line filed into the room. An agent on my list only had one person in line and I’m glad I didn’t wait long for the first pitch. I calculated four people in line equaled twelve minutes, which is a good portion of an hour. I felt eight agents fit my novel, and I ended up talking to six. Out of the six, I got five cards. The one rejection said her agency no longer took dystopian. I moved on. Two of the agents that passed me cards let me go through my whole pitch without interrupting, and afterwards appeared genuine in their interest. The other three asked clarifying questions. The experience was worth going through. I know the agents are legit because they were vetted by Writer’s Digest.

Harlan Coben gave an amazing keynote on Saturday. This is paraphrased and not exact, but he said something like. If you have a talent outside of writing, something you are really good at, consider not writing. And All writers can’t do anything else, they’re disorganized and idiots. After my ten dollar Stella draft to celebrate my pitch slam I was very entertained. Kimberla Lawson Roby gave an inspiring closing keynote on Sunday. In 1995 in her mid-thirties she wanted to publish and was rejected fourteen times. Her husband took a loan on his 401k, and self-published her book. She sold her books through churches and urban communities well enough that she got a publishing contract quickly after. I wanted to ask her if doing this may be more difficult in 2014 compared to 1995, but there were enough questions for her to answer.

Nina Amir lectured and sat on a few panels I saw. She is a blogging expert. I learned I’ve been using when all along I should use Yes, having two wordpresses on the Internet is confusing, but I’m questioning my librarian skills using the wrong one for so long. Nina Amir in her lecture pointed out that optimism is needed to succeed in the writing game. I’ve heard so many disgruntled people say getting published is impossible, and I think pessimism hinders ambition. I’ve already had that thought, but Nina Amir clarified the concept for me.

On Monday night I submitted to all five agents. I’d like to thank Fran, a member of our writing group at Peninsula library. She edited my novel for typos and punctuation making it a better read. She also edited my synopsis I needed to submit on short notice. She has become a writing mentor to Lilith and I. She is awesome.

I thought I submitted everything right but I forgot to put the word ‘Query’ in the subject line. The vast majority of agents that allow email submissions prefer ‘Query’ in the subject line. Goes to show getting everything right is tough. Now I’m not sure if I should resubmit correctly right away or wait some time.

I felt accepted talking to other aspiring writers, agents, and people in the field this weekend. My friend Lilith commented on the variety of backgrounds people had at the conference. Writers are weird, and that’s a good thing. Thanks Writer’s Digest!

Live Vicariously Through Books–Learn About Drugs


Early this year I purchased The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley for the library I work for. Sometimes taking a chance pays off and both circulated a few times before I got my turn at them.  The Wolfe book is about LSD, and the Huxley book is about Mescalin. Both drugs I would not consider doing in real life, but I find interesting. Usually I prefer fiction, but I enjoy non-fiction that tells how people push boundaries.

Doors of Perception I didn’t like and found too academic. If you ever considered pursuing an advanced art degree I recommend it because I counted a ten-page obsession about draperies in the work of various art masters. Everyone else can skip it. In this seventy-page thesis the most interesting thing is he states how destructive legal alcohol and tobacco are because of car crashes and cancer. This book came out in 1956, and people use the same arguments today.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test I recommend because it explains the thought behind the hippy movement. Recently I read both On the Road and Dharma Bums by Jack Karouac.  So I knew that Karouac wrote about a person named Neal Cassady. Guess what, this Cassady is part of group Wolfe documents. Another author, Ken Kesey, is the focus of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  Some time after Kesey published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest he decided to support an entourage of sorts who called themselves The Merry Pranksters.  They did a lot of drugs including acid, and Cassady was a central figure. Sadly sometime in the book in NYC they see Karouac and labeled him as part of the old generation. Karouac died in 1969, only a year after Wolfe’s book came out.

In this book the music is important, and the Grateful Dead played at their events. Jefferson Airplane is mentioned as well. Strangely Jimi Hendrix does not get mentioned, and that makes me assume his fame was short since he died in 1970.  There was a lot going on at the time, including Vietnam and this book reads better than a history book.

Kesey was pretty wild.  He faked is own death in order to skip jail time. Then he hid out in Mexico until he was caught.

Kesey and this group did heavy drug use, and tried to bring out their artistic talents this way. They did one thing that I think is horrible. At one of their events they laced the Kool-Aid punch with acid and did not tell the attendees. Even though I think drugs should be legal no one should alter beverages or give people drugs without their knowledge. Other than that, Kesey and his entourage made a choice on how to live their lives. They did the opposite of the respectable 9 to 5, and lived for the moment. Now that I’m learning that Kesey, Kerouac, Wolfe, and others were connected in the literary scene I may read more from this time period. Maybe the 1960’s in the United States was much cooler than expatriate Paris in the 1920’s. From this book I got one suggestion to read. Apparently Hunter S. Thompson wrote a book on the Hell’s Angels, and I want to read it.

Ironically, most of Kesey’s legal troubles in this book were from marijuana charges, not his other shenanigans.  For a long time people have wanted weed legalized, hopefully that can happen soon on the federal level, not this state-by-state crap.  Lastly, I’m glad that people can read books on all aspects of humanity without censorship. I’ll never do heroin, but I found Requiem for a Dream fascinating. Prior to 1959 everything was censored in the United States. People write books on everything so everyone doesn’t have to do everything. Ha.

Mall Grabs, Mongo pushers, and Long Boarders are the Only Posers in 2014

Photo on 2014-07-21 at 20.15


Pictured above I’m executing a double reverse mall grab with shades on. For those of you that don’t know a mall grab is carrying one’s skateboard by the truck. In the late 80’s and 90’s mall grabs did not qualify one as a poser. A few years ago when I learned of mall grabs I thought who f—-ing cares how people carry their board.  Hatred of mall grabs has increased at least 75 percent since 2011. Enough so that any skater walking around for significant periods of time holding his or her board that way is clueless about skateboarding in the year 2014.  If the board is fresh with no marks on it, be double wary.


Mongo is simply pushing with your front foot. It’s always been ugly and a sign of a newbie.  Some skaters rip and push this way, but most graduate to pushing regularly. In the year 2014 even pushing switch mongo is suspect. Fortunately, this is something that can be easily achieved by any skater. All one has to do is push with one’s back foot. This makes it easier on the eyes, and sets one up much better for tricks. Even if you don’t do tricks, pushing the regular way gives one instantaneous brownie points.


Long boards have gotten the fitting nickname of ‘wrong boards.’  Their legions have come up with a marketing ploy. They promote it to college kids and grownups that are new to skating. They tempt them with logic like with long boards you simply cruise, no worries about tricks. Recent studies show that long boarders get into more accidents than regular skateboarders. Here are a few reasons: oversized boards make it harder to maneuver, long boarders only cruise on streets as opposed to skating spots, and a bunch of newbies are bombing hills on them. Long boarders are not skateboarders. On the other hand cruiser boards are acceptable. If you’re not interested in tricks, get a cruiser.


Three weeks ago I rolled my ankle on a switch frontside varial. Like a poser I took way too much time off. Getting back this weekend I felt movement on my knee while riding a mini ramp. Basically I need to do some reevaluation of my skating goals.  The world will continue to spin if I stay away from switch frontside varials.  If I take a break from kickflips I’m still a skater. Part of skating is trying to progress in some way. That means doing things correctly, doing tricks, and also adapting to your circumstances.  My skating level does not compare to when I was 16 years old, I lost a lot of tricks. To me the most important thing about skateboarding is to keep doing it, even when you go through times of change, and injuries.


Even if you are a skateboard poser, you are ten times better in my book than the scooter kids. Scooter nation can go to hell.

Third Revision Complete. Woo hoo!!!!!


I completed the third revision of my novel. I worked on it from late may to early July. I printed out each chapter, and edited with emphasis on making tighter prose. For each chapter I did two careful revisions from print outs and a pen.

Regularly I revised one chapter a night, and at most three chapters in a day. With all 64 chapters revised I condensed my novel from 88,000 words to 59,000 words. I did this without cutting any scenes.

My organization of the draft revisions on the computer worked perfectly. I copied and pasted each chapter into a new file. All the files started with the same abbreviation and only varied by the number at the end. I put all chapter files in one folder in order. When I copied and pasted the files into a new complete draft the last file used was highlighted, making it easy to keep track of the order. 10439420_10152249708696915_5413390059448465240_n

I’m convinced five years ago I could not revise this effectively.  Also with blogging, and video editing my computer skills are enough to organize a manuscript. I’m proud I kept my writing ambition, and that I’ve kept learning things.  I’m glad I signed up for the Writer’s Digest Conference in early August. Having a wish to complete my manuscript by then pushed me into over drive. This weekend I’ll do my last edit of reading the whole work out loud in one day.

Originally when I read that advice I thought it meant mostly for typos. Researching online further I learned it can be a major edit. One can find repetitiveness, inconsistencies, and whole sections that need reworking.  Multiple articles suggest reading every word out loud clearly, and mark the corrections. I got post-it notes and pens ready. I’ll correct or mark mistakes quickly, and read on. I learned there is a benefit to reading it all in the short timeframe of a day. I’m hoping I can make these corrections within a week, and have my manuscript ready. But I need to see how many problems I catch in the process.

I planned to wait a week before reading the draft out loud. So I worked on my query letter the past few days. I emailed the first query draft to my friends, and family who agreed to read my novel draft when I’m ready to share.  Several people gave me solid pointers and I made a better second draft. I sent that draft to a few former instructors and got great feedback from one so far.

My plan is to memorize a pitch similar to my query letter. After the writer’s conference I’ll start tailoring each query letter to specific agents for submission. Lastly throughout this process I’ve learned a lot by researching online, and evaluating what I read. Some of the best suggestions I’ve gotten are from writer’s digest.  I hope their conference is terrific.

Two Announcements For the Public

July 7, 2014

Dear Reader,

Announcement one:

For whatever reason everyday for a month I’ve gotten email notifications of a comment to approve or not on my blog. I scroll the comment with anticipation before realizing it is spam. Either dropped the ball on their filtering system, or spammers outsmarted them.

I decided to hell with comments, I don’t get many anyway. makes it tricky to block comments.  Typing my concern into google helped.  On the settings feature I unchecked ‘allow comments on new posts,’ and I checked ‘after 14 days disable comments.’ Most of my spam was from older posts.  Saving those two setting features should work. And it won’t delete the real comments I received.

I’m sure experts recommend allowing all comments, but who wants to read spam?  I’m not allowing any future comments on this blog. People can still email me since my that’s listed on the about page.

Announcement two:

I read The Circle by Dave Eggers. I learned a few years ago that fiction should not be moralistic. Even though Dave Eggers is too blatant with his viewpoint the topic of emerging technology is timely. I recommend my library friends read it because the themes of intellectual freedom, and privacy with social media.  The book questions if all technology should be blindly accepted. A lot of social media has invasive potential on individual rights and privacy.

In addition to the conspiracy theme of the book, it highlights how social media changes everyone’s interaction to each other.  I decided that I’m going to use social media less. I will continue to blog on a weekly basis, but compulsive regular posts hurt my cause. I’m calling it the dork factor. No one can possible be interested in everything I do. I’ll blog once a week, and post on facebook when I got something to say, but I’ll consciously avoid posting daily.

Thanks for your time,

Matt Allison, founder of