Last month, Humidity skate shop in New Orleans launched a contest to give away product to any kids getting good-ass grades in school. The deal was if they bring in their report card and have all A’s and B’s, they get a free deck, and if they have straight A’s, they get an entire complete.
Considering most of us grew up at a time when you basically had to have bad grades just to fit in at the skate shop, rewarding good grades is pretty fuckin’ wild. The giveaway kind of blew up online, so Humidity set up a place to donate to make sure any eligible kid can still walk away with their well-earned reward.
If you’re not familiar with Humidity or its owner Philly Santosuosso (smooth skater and baggy clothes renaissance man), we put together this interview to understand the “Straight A Movement” and get Philly’s take on the stigmas around “nerdy” skaters.
As Philly said online: “We never been straight A kids. Fuck. We didn’t even finish High School. Shit is hard. We see a lot of people making fun of nerds but the truth is getting good grades means a lot.”
Read on for general wisdom on being a good person from one of the nicest skate shop owners around. Just be sure to sag your jeans, out of respect.
How did you come up with the idea for the program?
So we actually did it a long time ago, but it didn’t really take off. Maybe social media wasn’t as big. I honestly don’t remember if Instagram was even around at the time.
So the idea was just to get kids stoked on school?
You didn’t actually finish school, right?
I actually hate school. But that doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t be rewarded for working hard. And that doesn’t mean that because we’re edgy or punk…being successful in life, that’s not a bad thing. Like, growing up, kids that are smart always get made fun of.
When it should be the opposite?
Yeah, it’s ass-backwards. But I was like, “Yo, then fuck it. How about the kids that are nerdy and the kids are sitting alone and being quiet get to the come to the skate shop and be cool.” Y’know?
I mean it is corny, but as skateboarders, we do get to be kind of thought leaders on what’s cool. So if you tell kids it’s cool to get straight A’s they’re gonna do it. It wasn’t like you had time to get good grades, it was just for people who already get good grades.
Because you announced it halfway through the quarter, right?
I just announced it. I don’t know what’s going on in school. I probably should have been timing it, but fuck it, who cares?
How many completes did you give out?
Let’s say roughly 22.
How many decks?
More. A lot.
That’s A’s and B’s right?
Yeah, we wanted to do, like, straight A’s are pretty rough to do. Ain’t nothing wrong with making A’s and B’s. We were originally going to do something for 3rd place, but it was weird. You’re giving out so much as it is.
Is that why you tweeted that you’re broke now?
Yeah. But we have had help, don’t get me wrong. Quasi, DLX, DGK… they caught wind and helped. Primitive gave a couple of boards. But the completes are where we’re hurting. But not in a bad way. Just, right now, we’re out of completes. We have completes for regular skaters who want to skate, but not pre-made one or ones just to give out for free.
Well, maybe Jim [Thiebaud] will hook you up with more.
Jim always hooks us up. He does owe me a Spitfire collab tho!
What was your GPA, if you’re down to share?
Aww, I failed, man.
How far did you make it before you dropped out?
I was in like…I would have been over 21 if I’d stayed and graduated.
Wow, you would have been buying beers after school.
Yeah, 110%. It was embarrassing. Well, not embarrassing but…
How do you become such a good person? Does running a skate shop make you nice?
No! I’ve met a lot of people who run skate shops that I don’t agree with at all. I don’t get along with them. They’re good people, I’m not saying they’re bad people, but to get along with them—a lot of people think that skateboarding owes skate shops something, but nobody owes anybody anything at all.
Well that’s what the grades program is about right? Earn it for yourself?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, for real.
Who was the most hyped of all the kids? Did you have anybody freaking out in the shop?
Definitely, now that it’s getting close to Christmas a kid was like in tears. Well, actually the mom was more hyped, kind of like it was a Christmas present. I don’t know the situation, maybe they could afford it, maybe they couldn’t. But just to see how hyped their parent was almost worth it more.
“If you hate on somebody for doing good, you’re a piece of shit.”
You tweeted about how amazing it felt. Not to make you repeat yourself, but how did it feel to give the boards away?
When you see someone’s facial expression just be like…hyped, it feels good. Like, I did my job.
Is this how you expected to go viral? 20,000 likes or something!
You saw that? That scared the piss out of me! I don’t know what to do, honestly. One person was like, “How can I help donate?” I didn’t go to business school, I don’t know. This was just something to do for my community. I didn’t expect it to reach where it went. I don’t know how to set everything up.
If you get flooded with a bunch of people sending you $50 to give a kid a board, are you going to keep running it, or is it too big?
Of course. I mean, you have to put limitations on it or else we won’t have boards for the public, but if someone wants to buy a board for a kid, I’ll go out of my way to make sure that happens.
They can just call the shop?
I guess!? I guess on the sidelines you have to deal with taxes. I don’t know.
Well, maybe it’s a non-profit. Like, Ryan Lay has his Skate Angels program that’s a non-profit.
I don’t know, I’m not an activist. I just like to do shit for the community.
That’s called being an activist! Okay, so now that you’re an education advocate, I have to ask: Why do you think skaters suck so bad at school?
Truly, I don’t know man. I think everybody has their own reasons, but at the same time, it depends on what you call a skater these days. A skateboarder like us, myself and my friends that—not necessarily through school—I’ve connected with, usually you’re mad creative, right? So usually creative people don’t have a great attention span.
And school is not kind to those people?
Yeah, and in skating, there are so many reasons why a kid wants to skate. Like, when I started skating, I saw kids in the neighborhood and it developed into our own thing. Usually, kids that have trouble in school have a troubled background, and I think that skateboarding has always been there for those kids. I think it just goes hand in hadn’t with being rebellious and the whole culture of art. It’s relatable…smoke weed, drink 40s, get fucked up. And you usually have this “fuck you” mentality.
Maybe we can have that and we can get good grades? We can all be like Mark Suciu, right?
Yeah, Suciu is the man. If you hate on somebody for doing good, you’re a piece of shit. That’s how I look at it. Until that person that’s doing good looks down upon someone that’s not, that’s when it’s a problem. But, yo, Mark, who am I to judge? You wanna read books, fuck it, yo. I wish I could! Mark’s a good friend of mine. Really good friend of mine. And I hear people talk shit, and I’m like, why are you worried about what another man’s doing?
What’s his degree in again?
I dunno, something gangster. [laughs] Something gangster as fuck.
“Being good doesn’t make you a pro skateboarder. You gotta be a good person.”
Speaking of that, what’s better? Going to college or pursuing a career in pro skateboarding?
You should go to college, for sure.
Even if you’re super good?
I mean, like, being good doesn’t make you a pro skateboarder. You gotta be a good person. I always say that you can be both though. College is what, two years? Four years to get a bachelor’s degree? So you get out of high school when you’re 17 or 18? So between 18 and 21.
What else are you gonna do at that age?
Nothing good! Nothing you’re gonna miss out on. I couldn’t do it. I wish I woulda gone to, like, a [technical school], cuz I’m good with my hands. But I didn’t do, so I’m like, “Yeah, go get it.” Skateboarding will always be there for you.
December 10, 2019 1:54 pm
this man a national treasure
December 10, 2019 4:09 pm
Phil is the fucking best.
December 10, 2019 5:20 pm
The hero we don’t deserve !
December 11, 2019 5:43 am
this is fucking rad. what a lovely bloke