Check out our Keith Hufnagel 5000 Words. For this feature Keith has selected and discussed images from the Metropolitan archives…
Keith Hufnagel peaking at the Brooklyn Banks. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Keith Hufnagel needs no introduction, he has produced some of our favourite video parts of all time. As we have said before, the Slam VHS copy of Penal Code 100A had a constant flicker from overuse. Keith is part of skateboarding’s rich tapestry and is still contributing and supporting a heavy team. One of his recent projects has been reviving Metropolitan. For those who don’t remember, Metropolitan was originally launched in 1994 by DLX Distribution as the East Coast answer to their Spitfire Wheels brand. Artist Todd Francis drew up the logo and NYC photographer Ari Marcopoulos was tasked to shoot all photos of the team: Keith Hufnagel, Ryan Hickey, Gino Iannucci, Giovanni Estevez, Mike Hernandez, Bobby Puleo, Javier Nunez, Ben Liversedge, Ivan Perez, and Maurice Key.
For two memorable years, Metropolitan became known for championing the East Coast skate world and highlighting the New York City landscape through Marcopolous’ stark black and white photos of the riders and their worlds. Metropolitan shut down in 1996 when DLX shifted their focus to growing the wildly popular Spitfire. With Metropolitan back as a clothing brand in both of our shops we reached out to Keith for this 5000 Words featuring NYC photos from way back when. Words from Keith and all photos by Ari Marcopoulos…
Bobby Puleo backside 180’s over the wall at the Brooklyn Banks in the snow. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Back in the 80s, the Brooklyn Banks was New York City’s Best kept secret. A small plaza built on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, it was built with small and big banks – pretty much every skateboarder and BMX rider’s dream. This was the main meeting place for a session to start or to just get the day going. Some days we would meet up at Supreme and then just go to the banks to see what was happening. The place was full of dirt, drugs, disease, homeless people, cops, thugs, cars and anything else that rolled through NYC, but it was still our favorite place to skate. If you fell at the banks, you stood up covered in dirt and whatever else stuck to you from the night before. A quick clean up at Burger king down the road and you were good to go.
Here is Bobby Puleo doing a Backside 180 over the wall in the snow, classic Bobby style. The banks wall was way tougher than anyone thought – it was very close to the bank, which meant you had to pop your ollie way earlier in order to clear the wall, and it was way harder to do any kind of flip tricks. That, plus cars were flying down the road up top, right where you would land. It was pretty dicey.
Robbie Gangemi taking an alternative line to catch this kickflip. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Robbie Gangemi kickflips on the small banks. It was an uphill battle going the opposite way on the banks. Robbie was always super stylish with big pop. Classic photo of him here at the banks
Ivan Perez and Joey Alvarez. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Ari Marcopoulos always took photos of us hanging out. The first time I met him, he was on his bike and didn’t even shoot actual action shots. I remember thinking that was really weird, but now when I look back at the pictures, I realize he was capturing, and how amazing those photos really are. He really captured a great time in history, a moment in time, and he continues to do this with his photography to this day. Here is a classic shot of Ivan Perez and Joey Alvarez waiting to take a turn at the banks.
Keith Hufnagel taking his wallride to the limit surrounded by Ari’s letters. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
This was an ad for Metropolitan. I needed to do something ad-worthy for the shot, and Ari really liked how high I would go on the banks wall, so we shot a whole bunch of wall rides. I remember trying to go as high as possible. At that time, there was a pole right before the wall, and you had to go really fast to hit the wall, which was narrow and tall so your front wheels would fall off it at times, creating a rock and roll or just popping off. I always wanted to get to the top of that thing! I didn’t shoot too many action shoots with Ari, but this is a cool one. Ari also added the letters during developing. The letters are the initials of my name, his name, and the spot.
Bobby Puleo backside grinds a tight spot. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Bobby Puleo Back side 5050. I was there this day, hanging out. This was also for one of Bobby’s ads for Metropolitan. I remember helping to warn people, security guards, etc, to stay out of the way. This spot is right next to the World Trade Center and is a serious bust. The rails are tin and don’t grind. I am still unsure of how Bobby ever did this grind. He must have been light on his feet!
Gio Estevez and Justin Pierce. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Gio Estevez and Justin Pierce. Here is a classic NYC photo of people chilling on a curb during a skate session. Ari was always very discreet about being around and just taking photos. RIP Justin Pierce.
Keith Hufnagel and Javier Nunez. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
Keith And Javier Nunez. Here is a photo of me putting Javier in a head lock outside of Supreme. Supreme was always the place we would end up. It was a good place to go, wash off, take a piss, and grab a new box logo shirt! Times have changed! Javier was mad small here. He was always the young ripper kid with style.
Streetskating in New York City. Ph: Ari Marcopoulos
This is just a classic photo of skateboarding in NYC. Skateboarding was the easiest and best way to get around the city – It was faster than the bus or train, and you could hold on to cars and get towed, plus hit spots on the way to wherever you were going. Here are 4 Metropolitan ads from the archives…
We are stoked to have our first drop of stuff from Metropolitan available. This will not be available online, in the spirit of street skating in the city you will have to venture out into the metropolis yourself. Metroplitan is available from our Covent Garden Shop or our East London Shop. Visit us now to see the first pieces we have received and stay tuned for more Metropolitan news. Thanks to Keith Hufnagel for the words and Ari Marcopoulos for the photographs.
Check out our Keith Hufnagel interview from 2016