I guess this is the obvious route here…
In many ways, I’ve always seen Lance as the more accessible version of Neil… though I hate the way that sounds. Seemingly cut from the same cloth, Lance is every bit the renaissance-type Blender is. The only difference being where Neil took a left for a more abstract/cryptic approach, Lance decided to paint doughboys and invent fingerboards instead. Simply put, we were able to get Lance as there never seemed to be any pretense with him. He’s always just laid it out there in front of us, no deciphering necessary. And as brilliant as Lance has proven himself to be in any/all of his endeavors, he could always bring it back down to earth with a heavy dose of self-deprecating humor and a goofy face or two.
The fascination with Blender lies largely in the enigmatic unknown he’s always operated in but I think it’s the exact opposite with Mountain. He’s always worn his heart on his sleeve and been honest about who he is and what’s important to him. Be it his religious beliefs or taking pride in his family, Lance has never tried to be anything he’s not. And what’s even more evident over the course of the last three decades is that this is a guy who loves skateboarding. It’s that simple. Regardless of fashion or politics, skateboarding has always been at his core, permeated through every fiber of his being and I doubt he’d want it any other way.
Pushing damn near fifty, Lance still skates everyday and has the progression level to prove it. It’s that type of dedication that guarantees there isn’t a single skateboarder alive who isn’t poolside cheering him on. I honestly don’t think it’s quite as simple as how Stecyk and Peralta portrayed him in those early Bones videos but they were correct in that I can’t think of another skater that symbolizes more of skateboarding’s positive base of unadulterated fun than Uncle Lance. From those classic frontside inverts to his recent pool ladder hi-jinks, Lance’s innovations were proof positive that this is a lifestyle, fuck a bunch of “training.”
You see he was never supposed to have been pro. Stacy had already handpicked him to be team manager when his starring role in the Bones Brigade Video Show yielded demand for a model. And he’s never looked back. But it’s this outsider’s perspective that’s truly nurtured his appreciation for skateboarding and his place in it. Effectively crashing a party for longer than most pros have been alive will do that to you.
I remember reading somewhere how proud Lance was after being asked to join the Flip team because it was the first time someone wanted him as a pro based solely on his skating ability. I was admittedly surprised at first by his sense of pride in pointing out such vindication as I figured that this had long been water under the bridge. But the humanity involved with him recognizing such a fact made me respect him that much more and really look at his storied career a bit differently.
I think it speaks volumes about his character that no matter how much success Powell achieved during its glory days, he never let his ego get out of control. No matter how many classic video parts made or number of contests won, there was never a time in his 30-year career where you thought to yourself, “Damn, Lance is blowing it.” His perceived “temporary lease” wouldn’t allow him to take skateboarding for granted because first and foremost, Lance is its biggest fan. Through out all his many years in this crazy industry, he never felt entitled and he never quit. How else could you explain the Firm, Lance’s early 90’s offspring that barely scraped a profit despite 10+ years of operation? “I just wanted to be around good skateboarders.” Pure and simple.
So it only makes sense that it was Lance who would end up in the Bones Brigade, taking Neil’s spot and leaving him to his own creative devices over at G&S. And while it’s always fun to imagine what avenues Blender could’ve taken that fabled franchise down given the freedom to do so… a hypothetical on-par with the near-reality of David Lynch directing Return of the Jedi. The fact of the matter is that not only did Lance help us find Animal Chin, he helped build the ramp too.
Lance Mountain is skateboarding to me.