Ten Years of Static III: Jahmal Williams & the Boston Connection

 Frontside Smith on a crusty Canal Street spot that no longer exists. Photo: Josh Stewart

Frontside Smith on a crusty Canal Street spot that no longer exists. Photo: Josh Stewart

"It's hard to imagine east coast skateboarding or the indie, underground scene today without Jahmal Williams. As the last member of the 'Eastern Exposure III' cast still in the streets on a regular basis, filming, and putting out video parts, Jahmal has quite a legacy under his belt. But back in 2007, Jahmal hadn't been heard or seen in the skate industry for a few years and I think most people had assumed he had moved on from skateboarding. That's why, when I started to run into Jahmal in NYC in the summer of 2007, I was pleasantly surprised to see him on his board regularly. Not only was he shredding but he had also JUST started Hopps as well. Puleo and I started inviting him on some sessions and once I got to really see him skate I was mesmerized by his presence on the board. He had all of the right elements of what I wanted the Static series to represent, but unfortunately, the video was nearly finished at that point. Still, we made a point of getting out on I think about three sessions and captured whatever we could. His footage ended up being a transition between Manfre and the Boston guys parts, just under a minute in length. But it still is one of my favorite parts in the video. And I think it's a rad little foreshadowing to the major presence Jahmal ended up having in Static IV, and in the Theories of Atlantis camp as a whole." - Josh Stewart

How did you initially link up with Josh Stewart?

I use to see Josh, Bobby Puleo and Steve Brandi together all the time, but I never skated with them. Bobby and I had history with Infamous back in the day. I was skating Tompkins Park in the Lower East Side a lot that summer and Josh rolled through a couple of times and mentioned that he was working on a video and we should link up sometime and try to film for it. I didn't think I was going to make it out with him before the deadline, plus I wasn't really into filming at the time. 

What was filming like? How long did you film for? Any favorite memories from filming, or a particular story or trip that really stands out? What, and why?

Filming was cool. Josh made me feel comfortable, plus it was just the two of us on the first day I believe. I think that was the very first time we ever worked together. We had two or three sessions… not much. Brooklyn Banks was fun. The Banks was, and still is, my favorite spot to skate in New York City.

Were you satisfied with your part, as a whole? Who had your favorite part?

I was just stoked to participate and to get a couple of clips. Danny Renaud held it down.

 Wallie over, under the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo Allen Ying

Wallie over, under the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo Allen Ying

Where was your career at the time? How did being a part of the Static series impact your career? What kind of feedback did you get?

At the time, I was just getting my feet wet with starting HOPPS Skateboards. This was 2007. Being a part of the Static series was a huge blessing. Like I said, I wasn't into filming at all at the time. Josh got me out of my shell and helped shed light on what I was doing with my skating, which in turn helped to shed light on HOPPS. The last video part I had was years ago. I was skating all the time but I wasn't documenting it. I was super stoked that Josh opened up this opportunity for me. Not only was I gonna have a clip or two in the video, but I actually got the opportunity to sponsor the video as well, via HOPPS.  It was a really exciting night to see Static III being showcased a really awesome theater alongside the Chapman Video. Skateboarding on the East Coast think was starting to fizzle up again from the underground. You could feel it, more and more things started surfacing. After the premiere people started coming up to me and telling me how much they appreciated my footy, which was cool. I kept filming with Josh and started skating with him Bobby and Steve more. Josh spoke to me how important he thought it would be for me to keep filming and start making HOPPS video edits for the web to help tell people about HOPPS. Having a company website was a big deal and to have online video edits was pretty cool, especially for a newly started small East Coast brand like HOPPS.

A decade on, where are you now, and how do you feel about your inclusion in the Static legacy?

A lot has changed. I'm living in Brooklyn now with my beautiful family, still skating, still filming, still doing HOPPS. So stoked and thankful to be a part of the Static legacy.  

KEVIN & LEE-STATIC III 16MM PORTRAIT.png

"Kevin Coakley was one of the most polite and nicest kids from the younger generation that I would see frequently at the Skatepark of Tampa back in the early 2000s. I just assumed he was a Floridian, I had no clue he was actually from Boston until he won that Slap "One In a Million" thing and I read his interview. I met Lee at the Boston premiere for 'Static II' and I just remember being so stoked on his personality and that a kid so young was so down for Static and the skateboarding it represented. I think that once I made the connection that Lee and Kevin were good friends, the idea came together that it would be rad to try to make a joint part happen, if possible. I had never really put a spotlight on Boston in the Static series and I thought that it was important to do so. And I think that during this era these dudes were a solid representation of the Boston scene and it was rad that they both skated so differently. 'Static III' was one of the only videos where I filmed nearly the entire project myself., but Lee & Kevin's part was an anomoly because I honestly don't think I filmed a single one of their clips, just the 16mm intro stuff. It was more of an, "if you guys can get me enough footage for a part, I'm down. But I won't be able to film it myself" kinda thing. And this was one of the rare occasions where it really worked and they motivated themselves to film what turned out to be a really awesome video part." -Josh Stewart

How did you initially link up with Josh Stewart?

Lee Berman: The Static II premiere was at a Boston club when I was 18. My friend Matt Bagely set up the premiere and knew how much I was looking forward to the video and how much it meant to me, so he snuck me in the back door and parked me next to Josh (who I’d never met) at his merch table and told me not to move or I’d be kicked out. I think Josh saw what an impact the video was having on me during the premiere and he snuck a trick of me into the North East section after the premiere but before the DVD went to production. At the time, that was like a dream come true to be in the same video as my childhood heroes.

Kevin Coakley: I've known Josh through being friends with Pat Steiner down in Florida. Pat was good friends with Josh, so we would meet up in Tampa and skate. I remember filming a couple things with Josh in Florida, but when I started filming for Static III I was in Boston and was skating with Lee Berman at that time. Josh was interested in doing a part with both of us, so we would film with other filmers in Boston and send all the clips to Josh.

What was filming like? How long did you film for? Any favorite memories from filming, or a particular story or trip that really stands out? What, and why?

Lee Berman: Back then I was going to school full time, on a mission to search every nook and cranny of Boston to uncover new spots. I’d say the best memories during this time was just skating and hanging with Kevin Coakley. These were our first few years living on our own figuring things out and learning as we went. You’ll never get to relive the simple most basic best of times.

Kevin Coakley: I feel like I wish I had more time to film for it. It's been so long since that time that I can't remember too much during that time. I just remember being in Boston and filming with my buddy CN. I don't think I even knew I would have a little part until the last minute.

Were you satisfied with your part, as a whole? Who had your favorite part?

Lee Berman: I’m satisfied with the tricks I had in there. I guess maybe I’d have like to have a little more, but truthfully, next to those other guys, I always felt I kind of soiled a masterpiece. As far as my favorite part goes, it’s Pat Stiener for sure. Pat and Josh put so much time, effort, and thought into a well-curated section. You watch that part and the way it’s laid out, there’s not one push Pat takes that’s unaccounted for. To me, Pat’s part is a great example of a skater/videographer relationship shining through to be more than just tricks on film.

Kevin Coakley: To be honest, I don't like my part much. I felt like I was too young at the time to understand, or know, what to film for a part. So, a lot of that footage is kind of random. I feel like there's so many good parts in that video and that my section was definitely the weakest link. With that being said, I am super fortunate to have had footage in Static. But secretly, if Josh ever decides to do another Static, I want to make up for it by putting my strongest effort. Favorite part would definitely be Stiener.

Where was your career at the time? How did being a part of the Static series impact your career? What kind of feedback did you get?

Lee Berman: Career? I had some good years and some people had my back to push some of the things I did through with sponsors, videos, and magazines (which being in Static undoubtedly helped), but I never had any illusions of a skate career where I’d be able to maintain a life off of skating. I’ve just always loved skateboarding and wanted to be immersed in it. I guess I got lucky Kevin and Pat lived in Tampa and were tight with Josh, so skating and visiting my friends just naturally turned into an opportunity to get to have some tricks in Static III.

All the feedback I got around the video was positive. It’s actually pretty funny how often someone will bring it up to me.

Kevin Coakley: That was kind of the jumpstart to my career. I had just won Slap’s One In A Million contest and had an interview in the mag. I was on Blueprint, going on trips to Europe, and filming for Static III in Boston. I think people were just happy that Lee and I had shared a part in Static. It was more like, we made it in the video, rather than our footage being recognized.

A decade on, where are you now, and how do you feel about your inclusion in the Static legacy?

Lee Berman: Ten years later I’m still living in Boston, skating as much as I can, and traveling non-stop, working for Converse as the team manager for their skate team.

I’m really honored to have been included in the Static legacy. From Static through Static IV, Josh has always showcased skaters I’ve looked up to and that have inspired me to keep skating and exploring. I’m forever grateful and humbled to be included with those guys.

Kevin Coakley: I’m feeling better with my skating now at 30 years old than when I was 20 filming for Static III. I just finished a part with Josh for Traffic’s new video, Look Left, which I’m really happy about. I am super fortunate to have been included in different projects that Josh has created. I hope to continue to put out more and continue the legacy!

Interviews conducted by Andrew Murrell