Fit for Phat

Ray Clantz, 22, has been skateboarding for about 10 years. For the past five, the Torrance native has been working at Vanguard, a popular skateboard and surf shop in Torrance ("My home away from home," he says). We spent a Saturday afternoon with Clantz.


1:30 p.m. Clantz and another employee discuss the merits of a local bank parking lot for skateboarding. Clantz bemoans the yellow ground reflectors, which make for a bumpy ride. "We just pop them off," says his co-worker.

1:50 Two teens wearing their jeans fashionably mid-derriere tell Clantz about a car accident they were in the day before. "Mark sliced his head open," says one. "Craziness," Clantz responds.

1:55 Clantz puts new Powell Mini Logo wheels on one of the teens' boards. "Back in the day," he says, "the smaller the wheels, the cooler you were."

2:15 "I'm going down to Starbucks," a colleague tells Clantz. "Can I take your skateboard?" Clantz nods.

2:20 Clantz helps a regular choose a new deck [the wood portion of the board]. The old deck just isn't cutting it. "It's hard to hit the nose when you pop it," explains the teen. Clantz suggests a flatter deck for $56. "Phat," proclaims the customer.

2:50 As Clantz fits a boy with a helmet, the boy's mother watches. "Doesn't he need a haircut?" she asks. "That 'fro's gotta go." A few seconds later, she announces, "He's got a big head for a 10-year-old."

3:15 Clantz sets up a rail in the parking lot for a couple of buddies to practice their moves. One of the skateboarders thinks it's too high. "You guys are men, not boys," Clantz prods.

3:21 One of the skaters falls, complaining, "This ground is hard." Clantz nods in agreement. "I've lost a lot of skin on this ground."

4:10 A pretty young blond writes a check for her boyfriend's skateboarder shoes. Clantz checks her ID. Noting her birth date, he says, "1983, that was the year Madonna's first album came out." "I just did a report on her," the girl volunteers. "It was 10 pages. I got an A minus."

4:15 On the counter, an engineer sets up a 3-D model of a planned local skate park. The engineer and Clantz, a consultant on the project, discuss the design of a curved ledge. Customers gather to add their two cents.

4:28 Clantz helps a schoolgirl in a Billabong sweatshirt with Osiris skateboarder shoes. The girl chooses the $69.95 pair, which her grandmother purchases. "You owe Grandma big time," the girl's teenage older sister says.

5:33 "Those are too crazy," a mother says of the black-and-silver shoes on her son's feet. "You can't wear them to church." She prefers the navy shoes he had tried on a moment before. Clantz pulls a box off the shelf. "I know which ones," he says, displaying a pair in electric red.

5:43 The teen ends up with the navy shoes in addition to several pants and shirts. Clantz rings them up. "Your total is going to be $242.95," he says.

5:45 A co-worker spits into the trash can behind the counter. "That's attractive," says Clantz.

6 Closing time. Clantz plans to go straight to the Vans Skate Park at the Block in Orange.

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