Words and photos: Dave Carnie
“It is not sheer athleticism—strength, endurance, etc.—that makes a good skateboarder; a good skateboarder must be a master of balance, focus, perseverance, creative ingenuity, and fear management. It takes heart and vision (and a good sense of humor) to ride a skateboard, not muscle. Cultivation of the heart and vision are among the primary intentions of a traditional mind-body activity… ”
—Greg Shewchuk, from Arthur magazine, “Skateboarding As A Mind-Body Practice.
Ari Evan is the owner of Paradox griptape. Paradox griptape is infused with a special formula that purportedly gives you better balance and strength, much like a Power Balance bracelet. Ari was very excited to have me write an article about Paradox until he read what I wrote about Power Balance.
“You bashed Power Balance pretty hard,” Ari wrote, “so I am extremely concerned how you are going to write this and hope you will not take my words out of context and really experience what I show and tell you with an open mind. Scientific research in quantum mechanics requires a non-judgmental attitude, as does all science researching unknown phenomena.”
I don’t think I bashed Power Balance. I think its bullshit, because it is bullshit. I also think religion is bullshit. And AA. But that doesn’t mean these things don’t serve a purpose or are useless. As I tried to explain in my article on Power Balance, if wearing a little rubber band on your wrist makes you think that you’re performing better, then wear a rubber band on your wrist. Or, as Steve Albini says in the Shellac song, “If it makes you feel better, it’s alright.” I’ve done enough acid to at least be open to the idea that there are other dimensions, energy fields, and all kinds of shit that we can’t see and haven’t tapped into yet. “Life’s, like, a total trip, man.”
And Ari is a total trip. I really like Ari. From the very outset, he would write me mile long emails that were filled with all kinds of craziness. And “crazy” here is short hand for “eccentric, complicated, misunderstood, tuned in, visionary.” In short, he’s a strange fellow. But he has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that I greatly admire, even if it does take him down some really weird paths. And unlike the Power Balance people, I think Ari is on to something. I’m not sure what, but when it comes to the “ancient eastern philosophies” that Power Balance never really explains, Ari does in fact try to explain it. Not very well, because I think a lot of what he’s trying to describe is ineffable. But I do believe that he understands some of the “exotic magical ninja shit” he’s trying to show me.
Ari sent me a sheet of grip and a few “circuits” (hologram stickers). I wrote Ari a simple question asking what I was supposed to do with everything. He responded with an email written in his typically discursive fashion:
Stoked you got it. The grip has formulated silicon carbide crystals, ie the technology is embedded into the actual crystals… no need for holograms…
Holograms are man made and only reach 4 dimensions. Crystals are made by mother earth and radiate to much higher dimensions and therefore bring in more light… ie the diamond… how did ancient people know a simple looking rock, contained so much light? A quartz crystal in nature is much more impressive, with its clarity and facets. Well, it was the magi, the wizards, and the holy shaman that “felt” the power of this simple rock and then found out through faceting that it contains more light than any other mineral. Just an example.
William Pastuer was only able to prove his science through the invention of the microscope. It took science 20 years to catch up to his innovative “theories” of germs that are now accepted as fact. Another example of science always lagging behind innovation.
I have begun filming with my dynamic scale and the first testing at McGill’s came out 100% conclusive with an increase of over 300% in balance resistance to force. I am also getting pictures taken with the GDV camera that should be available in two weeks. This will provide further proof.
So your question: no need to use them together…the whole sheet contains the embedded formula within the silicon carbide crystals. Bless, Ari Evan
“That is so typical of that guy,” Pat Duffy said laughing when I told him about Ari’s emails. “That is insane.”
Pat rides for Paradox grip. I’ve known Pat for a long time and he’s not really the type to buy into the magic crystal scene. “How’d you get hooked up with Ari?” I asked.
“Just drunk at the bar one night,” Pat said. “It was four years ago. He did the weird test on me. And I was like well, shit—and Jake [Brown] was on it, I’m like, yeah, why not man? I’ve been riding for Ronnie’s [Bertino] company [Iron Horse] forever, but they don’t pay me. It was better than Iron Horse, so I was like, fuck it, I like the griptape better, let’s do this.”
“You didn’t sign up for the magical crystals?”
“No, no no,” Pat said. “I’ve always been a skeptic about how magical it really is. He knows I’m a skeptic. I’ve always maintained my skepticism on whether I think the magic discs are working. Where I’m at in skateboarding these days, at my age, fuck I hope it does have magic powers because I need the help. Ari’s awesome, he’s a one of a kind dude. And the griptape’s really good.”
Which is a point that Power Balance can’t claim. In my opinion, bracelets don’t do anything. Unless you count fashion and/or status? But Paradox griptape is indeed very good tape. And it might, just might, have magic powers. I drove down to San Diego to meet up with Ari and to have a Paradox experience in person.
I should mention that I’ve met Ari before. Ari’s not only a skater, but he runs a charity called DooGood (note the palindrome). It’s a nonprofit that provides skateboards and equipment to under privileged kids. He had come by the Big Brother offices and we gave him a stack of boards and shit. He took it all to a youth center in Compton. Naturally the kids were stoked. And it warmed my heart. It should be noted that Paradox was created in order to help fund DooGood. Which is good.
So I drove down to San Diego and met Ari at the Carlsbad skatepark. We sat down at a picnic table and Ari immediately began performing his emails for me. His mind is all over the place. He could barely finish a sentence without getting out some literature to support what he was saying, or to show me a diagram with lots of yin yangs and alchemy symbols. It was fascinating, but a bit much. I suggested we start at the beginning. “How did you get into this stuff?” I asked. I was surprised to learn that Ari actually worked for Power Balance for a minute.
“I went in and met with the Power Balance people,” Ari said, “and talked a bunch of quantum physics with them. Finally talked to this guy—he kind of knew stuff, but didn’t really know. And he was trying to sell these cards at the trade show, they were right across the street from NHS in the hall. So they gave me a whole bunch of them and I started giving them away. I got Sanuk sandals to put Power Balance in their sandals. That’s how I started working with Power Balance.”
“Why you?” I asked. “Do you have a background in quantum physics or something?”
“When I approached Power Balance,” Ari said, “I had knowledge that no one working there did. I started working for them. I was their original equipment manufacturer rep.”
“Do you have a background in this?” I asked again. “Do you have a degree, or is this self taught?”
“I would say it’s self taught,” he admitted. “It’s from Fu Wei Zhong, [13th lineage holder in Emei Qi Gong], and Grand Master Greg Yao. I’ve always been questioning. I was an applied anthropology/cognitive psychology major because I knew there was no way we came from monkeys, dude. There’s no fucking way. Like, we got three brains. So where did the reptilian brain come from and how come a monkey aint got one? So I went to school for that. And I realized that was complete bullshit. So I’m there [at PB], and I’m working for them, and I’m trying to go to all these different companies, and I was really hyped on it because I had a pretty big experience myself skateboarding. Alex Horn and Peter Smolik were the first test dummies and they noticed the same thing: more consistency landing tricks, less effort. Floris, the marketing director at Blitz at the time, he called me and—he’s a runner so he’s very understanding of endurance—and he’s like, ‘Dude, I can normally only skate for an hour. I skated for four hours.’ There’s something here.”
That’s when Ari decided to branch off on his own, created his own Power Balance formula, and put it into griptape. I decided not to pursue the monkey/lizard brain question, but I wanted to know what this formula they speak of is. “What is it?” I asked.
“It’s a hologram that traps frequency,” he said. “Just like a CD. The plastic doesn’t hold frequency, doesn’t hold music, it doesn’t hold programming, it’s the holographic Mylar material that’s very thin and glued to the plastic that creates the CD. So you can’t hear music without a player. You need the right device to hear the music. So the frequency that these particular holograms hold, the CD player is us. We can’t feel it until it’s in our yin layer.”
He then got out a diagram of a human body with spirals and auras drawn around it. There was marijuana dust all over the paper.
“And then you have what’s called a yong layer. It goes 4-6 inches around your body, like this. And then this is called your gong layer. Now this layer is when you can feel someone staring at you? And you’re like, ‘I know they were looking at me?’ They’re affecting your gong layer. Now when you do a jab, you’re breaking the gong layer and the yong layer so you can get to the yin layer. When you do a jab, you create a hole. If you can get your fist into that hole that’s the power because people don’t have their own force field.”
I started laughing because his zipper was down. “Your gong layer is hanging out,” I said.
“Oh,” he said laughing, “more like my dong layer. But you know when you see people doing kung fu and they’re going like this,” he does some slow motion Chinese weird shit. “I’ll show you with your own body, and you trying to hold yourself, I’ll show all these principles after I talk about them.”
He talked about them, but I can’t quite follow Ari. He’s a fast talker, he has a lot of information he wants to share, centuries of knowledge, and he touches only briefly on large topics before he’s on to the next subject. For example, I don’t like the Louis Pasteur comparison. When there isn’t a device to measure something, that’s not a logical conclusion of its existence. Yes, these energies and frequencies may exist and we may be able to see them and/or measure them some time in the future when technology finally catches up, but they also might be eluding measurement because they simply don’t exist.
Similarly, the CD analogy is rather peculiar because there’s no magical frequency embedded in a CD: a CD operates much like a vinyl record does, only instead of a needle running over grooves, it’s a laser running over bumps. So I’ve been having trouble understanding how Power Balance and Paradox are embedding frequencies into holograms. “Okay, then why do you need the hologram?” I asked.
“You don’t need a hologram,” Ari said. “The hologram is just a delivery method. And eventually if you wear any hologram, your body will vibrate to the frequency in there and you won’t need it. Our system is based upon getting used to this frequency, this sequence of energy, then you’ll get strong, then you’ll get used to it. Your bone has a mineral called apatite and it will vibrate—and people always try to do the test on me. You can’t really do the test on me, because it’s in my bones at this point.”
He decided to show me the tests. I don’t like doing the tests, but I have to admire Ari’s fervor. He really believes it works and he’s infatuated with finding a way to inconclusively prove that the formula he’s created gives you better balance and more strength. For one, he wants to develop a test that uses a mechanical arm that pushes and pulls you in order to eliminate the human factor in the stereotypical, one legged, arm pull tests.
“Here,” he said handing me a cell phone. “I’ll show you the cell phone test so you can see what frequencies do to the body.”
Apparently the frequencies that the cell phone receives make us weaker. First he tugged on my arm when I wasn’t holding a cell phone. He repeated the arm tug while I was holding a cell phone.
“Pretty big difference,” he said nodding.
“Not really,” I said. “And I think you’re pulling differently each time.”
“That’s the anomaly,” he said. “It’s the feeling. You say it’s 20 degrees outside, but someone else is going to feel that it’s 40 degrees. That’s the variance. I’m doing the same thing.”
He then got out a scale he had created to help show the difference in the amounts of force he’s applying. The scale is typically used for weighing animals and is able to account for their movements while still providing an accurate reading. So while standing on the scale without holding anything, I weigh 100 lbs. (I rounded down to the nearest 100). Then he pulled down on my arm and I fell off. The scale read 130 implying he had applied 30 lbs of pressure. He then handed me one of his Paradox circuits and repeated the test. The scale registered 170 lbs. and I was able to stay on the scale. It appeared that I had better balance and was stronger on the second attempt.
“The numbers don’t lie,” he said proudly.
We did more tests. He punched a light pole. Then he offered to punch me. I politely declined. He asked me to think of a flower, a fruit, and someone I love. I thought of a marijuana flower (his suggestion), a steak (my favorite fruit), and Whitney Houston. And then he pulled on my arms while trying to forget about Whitney Houston. I have no idea what was going on with that one, but it made me really hungry. After a few hours of being tugged on and listening to someone try and explain centuries’ worth of knowledge I grew tired, so I told Ari thank you and drove back to LA.
I never really did find out what the formula is. I was able to gather that it seems to be a mix of corporeal elements as well as some Chinese weird shit alchemy hocus pocus.
“I was foolish enough to mention that one of the elements is titanium,” he said while explaining that the physical formula is only part of a complicated recipe. “All elements are either yin/negatively charged, or yong/neutral. Gold, for instance, is yong. It vibrates yong energy, vibrates male energy, vibrates sun energy, men should not wear gold. It makes their ego inflamed.”
While I don’t understand what he’s talking about, I do believe Ari is on to something. And I think we can all learn from the Chinese weird shit he’s into. It deserves our attention as skateboarders. It can only help cultivate our heart and vision. Is it in the griptape? I don’t think so. But it is in Ari.
“I’m as vulnerable to lucky things and magic thoughts and smoke bombs as anyone,” Greg Shewchuk said. “It seems to me that pretty much everything new age—crystals, acupuncture, magnets, incense, tarot cards, etc.—is of the corporeal world. Whereas the essence of eastern philosophy is about complete, sophisticated, logical, thoroughly-developed philosophical/religious/mystical systems invoking highly evolved modes of consciousness and a connection with a higher source.”
I decided to consult the I Ching oracle and ask it if Paradox griptape really does give you better balance, etc.. I don’t mess around with the I Ching. I take its responses seriously. And it gave an interesting answer: hexagram 10, “Lü,” which translates to “treading.” The I Ching’s responses are always eerily connected to the question.
“Treading” for a question about griptape? I found that very interesting.
Treading. Treading upon the tail of the tiger.
It does not bite the man. Success.”
I find that riding a skateboard is a lot like treading upon the tail of a tiger. Maybe with Paradox I’ll get bit less?
To learn more, visit paradoxgrip.com.