By Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag February 2008
Apart from his obvious prowess on a skateboard, Caswell Berry's got an amazing ability to take a good honest look at himself and others to figure out what makes things tick. With every candid confession he made to me, a near complete stranger, during this interview, I seemingly didn't have any qualms about revealing something equally personal in return. And it lead me to believe that perhaps Caswell's greatest gift is the ability to help us all embrace our inner weirdness and just put it all out there shamelessly for others to enjoy. After all, that's what makes us us, instead of them, right?
Put simply. Caswell Berry is most likely a mental case. A wise one at that. Refreshingly, he doesn't particularly care to hide it.
What do you hate about interviews?
I tend to be contradicting and redundant and kind of, the worst. Always, you know what I mean? So whenever I'm trying to prove a point it just basically turns into this weird circle of a conversation that wraps around doesn't go anywhere and fades away or something. You know, it's hard to stay on topic. It's really hard just to like… I dunno. That's about it.
Well even if you don't stay on topic, maybe that's just a reflection of your personality, not necessarily a bad thing.
I guess so. I'm just always scared I'm always going to blow it too. Like there's all these people reading that are really interested or something.
Like waiting for good information…
Ya and I'm sure I've let them down many times. It's hard to think of someone actually being into me anyhow. That's the other thing about interviews too. I don't know how I feel exactly about being that dude, ya know?
So overall, are you a lover or a hater?
Oh that hurts! Well, I'm definitely not a fighter. I've proved that one a few times, just being at the wrong place at the wrong time or basically being wasted and just blowing it. But I've definitely spread my love around. [Evil giggle starts.] So I'm a lover I would imagine.
This is a quote from someone who knows you who shall remain nameless:
"Caswell is just as likely to mack on the hottest chick in the room as he is to take down the biggest whale."
Yeah! Nice! I'm definitely not scared of the fatty every once in a while, ya know?
And the follow-up to that was:
"I'm pretty sure he's not afraid to get naked either."
Well, it's not me, its Larry. He's like my retarded brother—the altar ego that comes out when I drink.
So Larry likes to get naked?
Yeah, Larry is always naked and the life of the party. I can't help it. I'm just along for the ride. I kind of get shut out for a bit and when I come back people tell me what he was up to or I see photos. It's pretty awesome, but at the same time, really humiliating.
So have you ever discussed with Larry why getting naked is so fun?
Oh man, there's times when it's no-holds-barred. That dude just doesn't want to hear anything. I'm always trying to be the right and he's always trying to be the wrong. He's the one to put the bottle to his lips and take a few rips, ya know?
How about "I've never had a shaved head in my life!" in Bag of Suck? Larry gets repetitious when he drinks, eh?
Yeah! Hell if I know. I saw a picture from that night of me drinking some beer out of a plunger. And I had no clue until two weeks later when I saw the picture. And that whole time I was wondering why I was fucking sick.
Was it a plunger that had been used?
Ya it was straight out of the bathroom man! My friends were all hyped. You know when everyone's all wasted and cheering you on? Apparently it was the cool thing to do.
It's funny how when you're drunk everything seems logical.
Oh yeah man, it's the easiest thing, there's no way you're gonna say "no." You're all about it. Like "Yeah man, whatever! My whole life! Whatever! I'm all about it!"
You are pretty open with your vices—drinking, smoking, sleeping too late, candy, medication, weed. There are a lot of pros out there playing it kind of safe or acting like they aren't into that shit because they are in the public eye.
Ya, I figure I've seen the worst in a lot of people in my lifetime, and I'm not trying to say I'm fuckin' all wisdom and all-seeing and stuff, but the people I've seen that were really fucked up were the ones trying to hide it all the time and they were living a lie. I don't like portraying myself as a pothead or a drunkard or anything, but everybody knows that at certain times in your life there's certain things you do.
I have this image of you burned into my head from back in the first Tilt Mode video where your feet are peeling off.
Oh man, that was in twelfth grade or something. I got kicked out of school. I had no insurance and I took a half a year off and skated and filmed for 411 and Tilt Mode. During that time I had strep throat like three or four times in one year because I wasn't properly going to the doctor. So I finally got the medicine but apparently I was allergic to it and my hands and feet swelled up within thirty minutes of taking it.
So not only was my throat blasted, like I couldn't eat or drink or anything and I'm still trying to smoke cigarettes because I'm addicted, ya know? And I can' even walk because my feet are so tender—they are like baked potatoes that have been sitting in the oven for an hour. I didn't know what the hell to do so I just continued taking the pills until they were done.
So my strep throat went away but I guess the skin on my hands and feet just died 'cuz they swelled up. I didn't know what the hell was going on. I thought I had leprosy, I was freaking out. My hands were peeling for like a month.
Then all of a sudden, skating one day, I jumped down a five stair and it felt like my sock ripped. So I take my shoe off and my sock was fine. I was like "Oh weird, okay." And then I took off my sock to let my feet air out of something and I noticed my foot looked like a latex glove that was broken. It was so weird. So I could just peel off all this skin. It didn't hurt or anything but it was just really stretchy and fucking weird.
I've never gotten that image of your feet out of my head.
I'm sorry that I've haunted your life like this.
You once said in an interview that your purpose on this Earth was to "smoke cigarettes and make people sad." Then talked about how you were unhappy and on Paxil.
I think we all have those dark times or hard times, whether it's breaking up with a chick or whatever. It always seems like its only raining on you. I guess that was my time to shine in life. I got fat too. It was awesome. I look back at it and kinda laugh. I'm a lot happier now so it's good.
So you are still taking the Paxil? It works?
Yeah totally, because it's an anti-anxiety medicine that reduces my anxiety attacks by more than half, but it doesn't necessarily regulate how strong they are. Now that my body is conforming to it, if I don't take it, I see side effects. I get dizzy. It's really fucking weird. It's scary actually. I want to go to a psychiatrist and talk to him and see if I can either switch or there is something else I can do.
Is it a social anxiety you have?
Well, I guess you could say it's that, but just anxiety in general. It started when I was kind of young. I remember having the first one in high school and I was thinking, "Oh shit my mom is dead!" Like out of nowhere. And I was like "What the hell is this feeling?" And I was really scared and ran home to see if my mom was okay. I still call my mom out of nowhere, like "Hey mom, what's up? I'm happy to talk to you and I love you." And she'll be like "Okay, well take a few deep breaths and chill out."
I also have agitated depression. Kinda like hockey temper. I'll just go apeshit over nothing because I tend to build up a lot of rage with not expressing my feelings or something like that.
Can you describe what goes on during one of your anxiety or panic attacks for people who might not have any clue?
It's that feeling like when you are a young kid or skating or being somewhere or doing something you aren't supposed to and the cops show up—that feeling of getting busted. Or you know that feeling like you lost your wallet? That moment where that weird flash hits you? It's like you get that, but it's a constant feeling of that and your heart and your chest starts feeling weird—your breathing is irregular. It really freaks you out and you start panicking.
What's you're favorite kind of candy?
[Laughter.] Hold on. What did you say Chris?
[Chris mumbling in the background.]
"Candy and soda and cigarettes," this dude just came out and said that to me! He didn't even hear your question and walked out here on the porch and I'm holding a Rocky Road bar and four Cokes chillin' in a six-pack and my smokes.
It doesn't even matter, I'll have a craving for chocolate, so I'll go and get a chocolate bar. Or I'll want some sour Gummi Worms. It's just that weird impulse.
So right now you have a six-pack of beer, a Coke, cigarettes and a Rocky Road bar?
No, someone handed me a Bud Light while I was on the phone. But I wasn't drinking until someone handed me a beer, but then I figured it would calm my nerves.
Am I stressing you out?
No, but I got that weird feeling in my stomach. It's almost like an anxiety attack but it's just that weird "I'm up in front off the class reading" feeling.
Okay well back to the candy thing. Is there anything you hate or steer clear of?
You know how in the candy aisle they have Cheek-O-Sticks or Chick-O-Sticks something?
I don't know what the hell they are but if you're in a 7-11, you or anyone reading, check out the candy aisle and see what a Chick-O-Stick is and just bite into one of those hogs. I'd stay fuckin' damn clear away from that thing. I don't know who the hell was hyped on those things—maybe my mom or something. She'd get Chico Sticks or Chick-O-Sticks—I don't even know the fucking pronunciation.
What's the worst, most embarrassing piece of flair you ever seriously rocked?
Can I just give a one-word answer? Can I just say my nose or something? It's big.
Why do you think so many people are hung up on the ponytail you had?
I don't know. I had terrible skin and everybody knows that. And that apparently wasn't as big of a deal, but having long hair like, hurt people's feelings. And that was one reason why I had it for so long too. People would come up to me all the time talking shit and I'd be like "Fuck yeah! Awesome! These dudes are so bummed that I have long hair."
Maybe people were actually thinking that you couldn't help the bad skin—like you had no control over it. But the ponytail is a conscious decision, so they decided to hate on the ponytail.
Yeah, that's true. That's actually kind of polite too. Thanks to all the people who talked shit about my hair instead of my face. That was ill. A big "cheers" to y'all.
Did you comb it and blow-dry it and shit?
There would be times when I would blow-dry it in school because it was so cold in the morning. But then after a while I wouldn't care and I'd be over it. But when I was younger I would always brush my hair. I actually just quit brushing my hair like two or three years ago.
Kind of liberating huh?
Oh its great man! Except for the fact that now that I don't brush my hair I have all types of crazy shit in it. I have some lint or feathers, and then my head itches so I itch it and I pull out tons of hair and I'm like "Am I going bald?"
What did you like better, your cornrows or a ponytail?
Oh the cornrows were way better. I went into my dentist a few months ago, seriously, seven times in one month man, cuz I didn't go for like, nine years because of the insurance thing again. But I went in there with cornrows. And my dentist, who is this Italian guy or something, I come in and he's like "This Johnny over here is tryin' to look like a mooley!" He was talking about me right while I was sitting in the chair. I was like "He called me a mooley!" It was amazing.
How long does it take your eyebrows to grow back to a normal state after shaving them off?
Mine grew back fine and they aren't any extra bushy or anything. It probably took a solid month to start getting some eyebrows back. My friend one time was like "Oh man, did you cut your hair or something?"
Well a lack of eyebrows is weird because sometimes it's not so obvious what's missing and you look at someone and you know something is off kilter but you can't place it.
Yeah, totally. I had a friend who was really into shaving his eyebrows every few months as a joke or something. But he just loved to do it. Maybe he just liked to stress people out. But every time he did it we'd be like "Jesus Christ, Rick! You did it again. You're a weirdo, man." And he'd have this odd smile and be like "Yeah man, that's right."
Its times like that you just make up scenarios in your head or wish you could've been there spying when he got up off the couch all alone…
Yeah, like inspired. You want to be there to see how this popped into his head. That shit's ill.
People always ask that question "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?" And I always say I want to read people's minds.
To know what the hell is going on.
Yeah, like when it clicks in a dude's head while he's alone and decides to go shave his eyebrows off.
Dude! That would be a curse also though because there's some weird shit goin' on in people's heads. Even with normal people. I'm not normal by any means, but there's times when I'm in a car thinking and I'm like "Jesus Christ I hope this person can't read my mind because I am being really weird" and then I try to think of something like baseball.
Yeah you try to "normal it up." Like you are sitting at a red light and you see an old lady going in front of you in the crosswalk and you think about hitting the gas, and you catch yourself like "Oh yeah, baseball!"
Fuck yeah. Good question. This is fun!
Why do so many people like Morrissey? I like him but I hate him because everyone makes such a big deal out of him.
That's the thing with music. You don't want to openly admit you like all these bands but you do. Like, yes, I like Morrissey. Um, damn... this is really good. Good interview man.
It's just that there's a weird Morrissey thing goin' on these days where I wish everyone would stop liking him. Do you buy that he's actually celibate?
Ohhh. That's a tough one too because a man needs some lovin' man—whatever you're into. That's really hard but have you ever seen a show of his?
Yeah, back in 1992.
Did people throw letters up on stage for him?
Daffodils, books and literature and diaries and all types of dumb shit.
Yeah! People throw up their lives to him and he gets to peel through their shit and that's why I think maybe he doesn't need to get laid. Because maybe the feelings people are giving him are feeding that. Being celibate means you can't even jerk off right?
Does it? Fuck that?
I don't know?
How do you get through life like that then?
That is one thing that no man can bear… no there's monks and all those people.
I'm not buying it.
But goddamn that's serious vice to kick my friend. It's not even a vice, it's a way of life—I'd like to think.
Sometimes there are days where I'm like "Damn, something doesn't feel right." And then I'll realize I haven't jerked off in a few days.
Yeah, then you gotta get all weird for a second. You gotta lock your door.
How did your fascination, discovery, or whatever you want to call it, with the Ark-A-Dong begin? Tell us about it.
An Ark-A-Dong is a wang—you know—that's the male apparatus. It is straight for about, well I dunno how long your wiener would be, but let's just estimate and say, three inches would be straight and then three inches would be slightly angled up. So you got this wiener that looks like you ran into a wall with a hard-on and like… it's really just a phenomenon. I don't know if you are born with it or you acquire it. I want to know more about it, so that's my researching it—just writing about it and drawing it and showing a picture of it to people.
Exploring it… all the possibilities.
"Ark-A-Dong." It sounds so funny anyways and then once you see it in a porno or something. Or fuck, maybe your friend has one or maybe someone reading this has one, man. I don't know about them, but I want to know. It's like one of the wonders of the world.
I've seen it in pornos and it always made me glad my knob is straight.
Yeah, you're totally hyped. You don't think you have a weird one.
But then I heard some girls saying that it's better for them.
Yeah, because you know how every chick is different and every dude is different? Maybe with the majority of chicks, like that thing is hitting that spot and they are all hyped. And then who's laughing now, the dude with the Ark-A-Dong or the dude with the normal wiener?
The straight, proportional wiener.
Yeah, who knows? I wonder what the ups and downs are. Obviously the downs are the appearance and maybe a chick being scared of it.
Or dudes drawing it in their MySpace blogs.
Yeah, totally. I'm fucked man. People hate me for sure. Yeah dude, they wouldn't like that. They are probably bummed for sure.
How long do you think this skating thing will last for you? Where you can make a legit living at it. And what do you anticipate happening after?
I want to go to school and continue an education because I am interested in life. I want to learn about the human body because I hurt myself all the time and I want to know about it. I'm not the smartest dude in the world, ya know? But I guess that's good because you don't have to be the smartest dude in the world to make it in skateboarding or continue a job in it. Maybe I'll somehow end up in the skateboard industry, but those dudes are always jaded and shit—angry all the time. Fuck, I dunno man; I'd like to say a solid 10 years. If it lasts that long I'm fuckin' hyped. I'm happy for everything I've gotten. But I would like it to last as long as possible. But you never know what you're going to go through and you never know what life's going to bring you so you just gotta fuckin' be hyped. Be hyped for what you've got for sure man.