Riff Raff

Aggressive In-Line Skating, Schmagressive In-Line Skating Jeff Klindt insists that his record label, Future Farmer, is just a hobby. Joaquina, the alt-folk-country band in which he plays guitar (amateurishly), sings (purposefully off-key), and writes songs (brilliantly) -- that's a hobby too. His day job for the past 10 years has been president of Deluxe Distribution, which operates six distinct companies, all skateboarding-related: Antihero, Real, and Stereo skateboards; Thunder trucks; Spitfire wheels; Forties clothing; Lucky bearings. That's distinctly not a hobby -- Deluxe claims a staff of 25 people, operates two Bay Area retail stores (DLXSF in San Francisco, DLXSM in San Mateo), and pulls in annual revenue well into seven figures.

Deluxe's headquarters -- a 15,000-square-foot warehouse in Hunters Point -- is piled high with skateboarding accouterments, from wallets to belts to T-shirts to sweaters to, of course, actual skateboards. Walking among the shelves of stock with Dennis Mitchell, Joaquina bassist and Future Farmer co-founder, Klindt opens up a box from a recently arrived shipment of heavy-duty backpacks emblazoned with the Spitfire logo. "Isn't this sick?" Klindt asks. Sick, meaning cool.

The relationship between skateboarding and music is a close and long-standing one, though both Klindt and Mitchell point out it's not limited to listening to tired skate-punk acts like Murphy's Law, Gang Green, and Suicidal Tendencies. Growing up in Visalia, he and Mitchell recall skateboarders simply being into playing music, whether acoustic or electric; Joaquina's first show was at a Fresno skate park, opening for Grandaddy. And Future Farmer's roster -- all fellow travelers from the San Joaquin Valley -- is more pop than punk, including the dour For Stars, Toadmortons, and Joaquina itself.

Klindt came into the skateboarding business as both a boarder and an artist. When the industry took a downturn in the late '80s, he found himself in a position to handle Deluxe's business, which he happily jumped on. But now that the interest in skateboarding has grown of late, Klindt finds himself in a sort of moral bind. After all, skateboarding prides itself on being an underground activity, which makes him more than a little pissed off at ESPN's X Games, which hit San Francisco on June 25 and feature nine days of "extreme sports" like snowboarding, skysurfing, in-line skating, street luge, skateboarding, and watching the Board of Supervisors do everything in their power not to use the city's General Fund to cover costs.

"We hate the X Games," says Klindt. "It's the worst thing to happen to skateboarding." He adds that skateboarding is "about hating jocks and being by yourself," not doing tricks for a national audience under the auspices of being a sport. Of course, there are financial concerns as well. Growing appeal means growing interest from corporations, which in turn means "Mattel could come in and kick my ass. I'm not a businessman," Klindt says.

It's a Benefit Last month, Mick Goldwater's Mission District home was robbed, taking $4,000 worth of PA gear and recording equipment out of his possession -- and by extension away from the local improvisation and avant-garde experimental scene. Goldwater, who runs Insignificant Records, would routinely loan out the equipment for shows at the now-defunct Sweatshop -- Goldwater's home -- and other venues around the city. "I thought of it as a great asset to the creative community."

All of the goods -- a VHS deck, turntables, a mixer, a large-screen monitor -- were uninsured. "I'm sure it's long gone," says Goldwater. "In that neighborhood, I'm sure somebody just sold it on the street. They wouldn't go to a pawnshop."

So in the interest of recovering costs, erstwhile Sweatshop operator Eli Crews and Beth Lisick have organized a benefit show on June 10 at the Elbo Room. Crews had originally pondered reviving the Sweatshop for the performance -- the space was voluntarily shut down three months ago due to noise complaints -- but figured that "would be sealing our fate to eviction." Billed as "Beth Lisick's Mission Talent Show," the lineup includes Fantasy, a new Graham Connah project named Graham Connah's Jettison Slinky, Frenchy vibraphonist Brian Lease, and a face-off between two local all-female dance troupes, the Cantankerous Lollies and the Devilettes. A trapeze artist may also be involved, says Crews, although the Elbo Room's low ceilings may be prohibitive of such a thing. The show begins at 9 p.m., with tickets on a sliding scale of $5 to $10. Call 522-7788.

From the Y2K Compliance Desk Creeper Lagoon frontman Sharky Laguna has been pondering the millennium for a while now. Power-popsters CL recently finished building a studio -- which they've given the Zeppelin-esque name of Baryn-yr-Down -- in the old gold-mining town of Ione, on the site of a one-time ostrich farm. There, the band is recording demo tracks for the follow-up to last year's I Become Small and Go. Now signed to DreamWorks ("We're major label bullshit now," Laguna says, laughing), they're tinkering with about 40 songs before they settle on a producer and begin recording in earnest later this summer.

But in the meantime, Laguna's working to organize a New Year's Eve party that doesn't get swallowed up by absurdity, expense, grandeur, and paranoia. On Dec. 31 at Bottom of the Hill, the band plays host to a millennium celebration that will feature, Laguna says, giant monsters, robots, magicians, dancers, "Wheel of Fortune mixed with Twister," prizes, free food and alcohol, and lots of beanbag chairs in which to slack in the new millennium. Laguna got the idea two years ago; recognizing that the band "wasn't in a position to occupy the Cow Palace," he called Bottom of the Hill booker Ramona Downey and settled for something slightly more intimate.

"We just want to have the funnest show possible," says Laguna. But he's not taking any chances vis-a-vis the Y2K bug; they've rented a power-generator truck. "I'm not going to have my show ruined because of some jerk with a computer," he says. Tickets are $20 and are currently available online at www.ticketweb.com.

-- Mark Athitakis

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mathitakis@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

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