In the light of the great past masters of our kind, none so embodied the spirit of the craft quite like Thomas Taylor. In our lifetime of friendship and hell raising, I’ve yet to come across anyone like him. From the bygone era from which he forged and came, Thomas lived and practiced skateboarding in the old ways. It was tough, fearless, hellbent, debaucherous and lawless—all underscored by a distinctive “Fuck Off” attitude that remains today as a lasting hallmark of Southern skateboarding. Though adaptive and new in certain modes and conduct, Thomas kept well preserved the rites and rituals established by him and his forbearers—codes and wisdoms he made available to those certain young souls so willing and qualified to receive them.
Against the backdrop of inner-city Atlanta in the early 90s, I was one such recipient endowed by Thomas’ trust, time and edification. Given the keys to Stratosphere at age 15, the shop became my altar of worship and practice. In time, it would unlock a career in skateboarding that would become my life’s work far surpassing anything I could have ever imagined possible—allowing me to travel the world alongside modern greats while becoming a fluent practitioner of the trade in my own unique capacities.
Yet, I was hardly alone. Thomas’ legacy of gold-hearted guidance and support in the service of young skateboarders in Atlanta would continue as he nurtured pro careers, refined the techniques of master builders and inspired filmers, photographers, musicians and artists along the way in his vast and colorful knowledge of culture and coolness. Not the least of which was Grant—a hellspawned son of his own who’s absolute mastery in skateboarding stands without words.
In solemn reflection, I trace my very soul and spirit to his and will continue to live in his light beyond the darkness of the grave until my time too comes—by the sword, so help me.—Cullen Poythress
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