November 23, 2009
New Jack: David Reyes
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2009
Imagine you get called to the principal’s office one day and get told that your estranged father, who you hadn’t had contact with in years, has died. Then, a few years later, find out he’s trying to contact you. It happened to David Reyes. Isn’t that reason alone to continue reading about him?
If you need further coaxing, consider that David carries a dictionary with him at all times. He likes to look up words that he doesn’t know when he reads or hears them. The number of skateboarders, or even people in general, who actually do that can most likely be counted on three fingers. And no, Dictionary.com on your iPhone doesn’t count.
Contrary to much of what we see in skateboarding, you don’t have to go to great, contrived, labor-intensive lengths to be an individual. Sometimes it’s the little things that provide a world of differentiation. Here’s your chance to get to know a little more about David and a few more of those “little things.”
So Leo Romero is one of your favorite skaters?
I heard he just took you to Disneyland.
Yeah! Me and him and Julian Davidson went. It was my first time. So sick!
What was your favorite ride?
Space Mountain for sure.
How old are you?
You were born in New York?
How long did you live there before moving to Colorado?
I was six or seven. I remember random little stuff like walking down the streets and looking at buildings. Our apartment was under the ground and one day it was raining really bad. You could see the worms and bugs on the window.
How would life be different if you were still in New York? Would you have started skating?
I never actually thought about that. I could’ve seen myself doing a lot of things if I stayed there.
Why did your parents move to Colorado?
My mom and dad weren’t doing too good with each other so we moved to get away from him.
Was he gnarly?
I didn’t know him that well. I didn’t give a shit about him. From what I’ve heard, he was abusive. When I was in fifth grade they called me to the principal’s office and told me he died. But then, about two years ago he tried to contact me.
So he wasn’t dead? That’s crazy.
No. He still calls my mom and stuff. I’ll forgive him for whatever he’s done but I heard that he was a bad guy. It’s the past. I don’t really care about it.
Where are you living now?
Denver is where my bed is, but I’ve been staying in Long Beach with Leo. I think me and Angel are getting a place.
Aren’t you living with Angel in Colorado?
I lived with him there for a little while—in his closet. That shit was tight.
How much rent did you pay for a closet?
I didn’t pay anything. He was generous.
How big was the closet?
It was big. It was a walk in closet to a bigger closet and in that bigger closet.
So you had a two-bedroom closet?
Yeah, it was huge. But the one section turned into my friend Bucky’s room.
Would moving to Cali be better for your skate career? Do your sponsors want you there?
They’re cool with the back and forth ‘cause I do it a lot. I like going back to Denver because when I come to California again I’m more motivated. In Denver I know all the spots and where everything is. I’m in a different mind state than in California. I’m more laid back in Denver.
Seems like a more laid back place...
Yeah. And the ladies don’t seem like robots. I’ve never met a cool girl in California. They all seem fake to me.
If you walk into a crowded bar or party, what are the odds you can pull a chick by the end of the night?
I can pull a chick. Doesn’t have to be a cute chick either… you can just go for anything. I could probably get a number. I’ve hooked up with chicks before at Angel’s old place when I had the closet.
They can’t resist the closet, huh?
They were down for it. “Ohh! Look at the big closet!” I had a bed, a fan, a little TV in there chillin.’ It was pretty much easy living.
Do you ever get skate groupies on tour?
Nah. Julian gets all those. They love him.
They like Corey too.
Duffman gets mad hoes. They love him.
If you could skate like any pro for a day who would it be?
Probably Heath. His board was at Leo’s house. It was a beast board and I kickflipped on it. It was fun.
What’s a trick that you see people do that you don’t like?
The fucking dancing on ledges… like in the Lakai video. Remember everything from the old Deca video?
I thought that was sick ‘cause it was one of the first videos I ever had.
Chris Ray told me you were at his house and wanted to sleep in his backyard?
He had a hammock I wanted to sleep in but it was too cold. I’m down to sleep in tents. If anything he saved me from hypothermia by telling me not to. Besides, I had this perfectly good blow up bed on his floor in his house.
You’re really into Bob Dylan…. what do you like about him?
Dylan just did what he wanted to do and tried new things all the time with his music. Just shows that if you try new things you can decide which one works best for you.
Did you see I’m not there?
Yeah. You gotta watch that like 100 times to actually get what’s going on. I think that’s another reason I really like Dylan. ‘Cause I really listen to him. All the songs… you have to listen to them a hundred times because of how many words he says and how many different things he hides in certain words. He gives people different names and shit like that.
Cate Blanchett was my favorite version of Dylan in that movie. She nailed it.
Yeah, she definitely did a good job.
What’s the last book you read?
I’m reading three books at the same time. I Used to Know That, which is a book of just standard things you learned in school that you probably forgot. I carry a dictionary around and whenever I read a word I don’t know I’ll look it up. That’s been helping out a lot lately. I’m reading The Doors of Perception: Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley. It’s two books in one… about mescaline and peyote. I started reading Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test too.
You’re into the psychedelic stuff…
That shit is so sick.
What’s the last lie you told?
I don’t even know. I used to lie a lot when I was little. Shit was fun. I’m sure I’ve lie about something. My memory is shot.
Why is your memory shot? You’re only 19.
Nah, it’s not shot, I’m just joking.
See… you just told a lie.
There you go.
Why do people call you “the poor man’s Malto?”
I used to go to Kansas to see Aaron and Matt Chilen and their crew. I got stuff from DC back then and so did Malto. Since we wore the same shoes, Aaron and Matt’s dad Tim saw me and him one time and said, “Who’s the poor man’s Malto?” And that’s pretty much how it started.
It’s not ‘cause of the way you skate or anything?
I don’t think so. He’s nuts. That fool is a pimp.
Yeah, he’s awesome. Were you offended?
Nah. It was a joke. It’s actually way cool ‘cause Malto’s a fucking G.
And how did the nickname “Diggler” come about?
When I first started skating I was a really dirty kid that was always at the skatepark. “Dirty Dave” to “Dirty D,” and that turned into “Dirk Diggler.”
So it isn’t a penis reference?
No. I hope mad fools think that though. That’d be tight.
I’m sure everyone assumes you have a huge dick ‘cause of it.
Hell yeah. Too bad I don’t ever get bunz or anything.
What’s something lame about the skate industry?
Gatorade is lame?
Yeah, Gatorade sucks. I think all these people trying to make skateboarding what it’s not. Corporate.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
When I was 13, me and Angel were sleeping at a friend’s house. I was super sick and I shit myself. That was probably the most embarrassing thing ever.
More often than not, when I ask someone that question, the answer involves shitting themselves.
I’m supposed to be an adult and I’m just shitting myself.
Have you ever had any near-death experiences?
On King of the Road I slammed and hit my head. It took two-and-a-half weeks for me to get a concussion. I seemed completely fine but everything felt like it was repeating itself and I couldn’t get my thoughts out of this weird cycle—like the same 30 thoughts. Déjà vu-type feelings. I thought I was pretty much done. That shit was scary. I was in Russia and I flew home early cause I was freaking out. I was about to turn myself into a mental hospital ‘cause I thought I was going crazy.
I hear you have a pentagram tattoo. Are you into Satan or something?
It was just for kicks. Gives me a story to tell one day.
So you woke up one day like, “I wanna get a Satan tattoo!”
No, on June 6, 2006 my friend was giving out free tattoos, but they had to be Satan-oriented. I got a pentagram on my wrist, my friend got one on his chest and a few of my other friends got “666.”
Did your mom see it and freak out?
No, she didn’t care. I think she was probably psyched on it.
Are you still trying to get your own Nuggets jersey?
Yeah, I’m down. Just trying to copy Biebel. How sick is it that he got a Sacramento Kings jersey?
Biebel is fucking amazing. He didn’t even try. His life is just like that.
That’s the best way for anything to go down. ‘Cause you know he didn’t even plan to get a Kings jersey with his name on it. Shit like that happens ‘cause it’s meant to happen for the person. He deserves everything though.
What do you picture yourself doing 40 years from now?
Probably be that old guy living in the forest.
Oh yeah, you like sleeping in tents...
After that first Foundation trip I came back up to Sacramento, and driving up here that time and seeing all those valleys and stuff… I think it would just be so cool to wake up and see that every morning.
November 18, 2009
Flick: Flip’s Extremely Sorry
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2009
I lost track of how many times I’ve been asked: “So what did you think of the Flip video?” since it premiered four days ago. And, to be honest, most of those people are only inquiring so they can reply with their opinion anyway… the quintessential segway into “Well I thought it was…”
Reviews; critics; opinions… does skateboarding really need ‘em? It is bettering skateboarding? Is some “writer’s” sophomore year-esque term paper about Extremely Sorry going to change whether or not you’re going to rush out and watch it? Probably not… and rightfully so. Guess what? That very writer busted his ass to get a ticket to the premiere or an advance copy and rant about it before anyone else anyway.
Should we be thinking less analytically, yet more creatively about skateboarding?
A true review of a video, album, movie, performance… whatever… can’t really be done until way down the line. It takes months, even years, to absorb a work and be able to look at it objectively and constructively.
Few people liked or cared about Beethoven and Mozart while they were alive and in their prime. To most, they were drunk, sex-crazed, womanizing maniacs who happened to have a knack for composing on the piano. In death, with the passage of time, people were able to see the misunderstood, unappreciated genius in all they were doing. To this day we can’t escape their influences in our daily lives.
Michael Jackson is far more beloved now than he was nine months ago.
You want see Extremely Sorry as much as the next guy. So do it. We’ve waited years for this thing. Was it good? How could it not be with dudes like Geoff, Lance, Apples, Bob, Luan, Boulala, David, Rune, Penny, Willow, TX and Shane fucking Cross?
Critics want as much attention as the people they are criticizing. How many times have you read a music review comparing something to the Beatles’ White Album? Or saying “Can so and so save rock ‘n roll?” or “Can so and so save hip hop?” That’s because a critic just wants to be known for making a prophesy; for proclaiming something that no one else could’ve also proclaimed; to be responsible for swaying opinions and sales; for a pat on the back—to have their quote regurgitated elsewhere by Monday morning quarterbacks. Oh and let’s not even get into the underlying agendas and associations said critic might have.
A true “critic” would tell you to form your own opinion… then tell you his/hers, after the fact, in a friendly and fun conversation. Fuck lists of tricks and who should or shouldn’t have had last part. Seriously.
Here you go: Flip’s Extremely Sorry is the best video ever and the worst video ever and everything in between: because that’s the spectrum of opinions the world of skateboarding will have about it. Where you fall in all of that is up to you. Personally… I’m looking forward to having my own copy to watch again over a beer and pizza with some friends… before we go skateboarding.
November 4, 2009
Wrote this piece on/with Mike Manzoori and Sharon Tomlin about their work on Boxton Square and it got shut down by etnies... resulting in my inspiration and writing of the Legend of Boxton Square fiction that ran in the mag. If at first you don't succeed...
Anyway, thought someone out there might be interested in reading... so here ya go.
The Story Behind Boxton Square
By Rob Brink
“There were supposed to be clouds made of corn starch packing peanuts, but there just wasn’t time. I’m pretty gutted about that… they would’ve been awesome,” says etnies Skate and Create art director, Sharon Tomlin. “But Mike [Manzoori, director] did a pretty good job of reminding me to keep it as simple as possible—otherwise I'd still be barricaded in the etnies TF making overly detailed buildings, cityscapes and sniffing glue. I'm amazed we made as much stuff as we did in the time we had.”
“To be honest, my heart was not into this project at all until the concept came together and got me sparked,” says Mike Manzoori, “Having done Skate and Create with Emerica last year, my main goal was to create a dream world that would be easy to configure around the skateboarding that would occur when the etnies team (Sean Malto, Mikey Taylor, Kyle Leeper, Tyler Bledsoe and Davis Torgerson) rolled in.”
After talking in circles with the crew at countless creative meetings, Manzoori turned to Tomlin for a bit of inspiration.
“With the Skate and Create thing I could see Mike was tearing out his hair because they needed a low-budget concept that could hold up against last years’ ideas and the potential ideas from competing companies this year, while also portraying etnies’ uniqueness and eco-coolness,” says Tomlin.
“Sharon flipped the ideas a bit and incorporated them into an overall concept,” says Manzoori. “She came up with the idea while joking about a Zoolander fashion concept that would have the etnies team dressed as homeless people living in a fictional cardboard city, paying homage to the homeless camps made of cardboard boxes during the '80s and early '90s at the famous South Bank skate spot in London.”
“It ended up pretty simple actually… with a secret theme behind it that only I really knew or cared about,” says Tomlin. “A fantasy recycled cardboard town—a parallel universe where beer bongs are worshiped, birds are flat and you can skate anywhere you want and not get kicked out or hurt because the buildings cushion your fall. Every skater is a giant. Beige is the only color. There are cardboard houses, trees and trains but no cardboard people. People generally just spoil stuff so there aren’t any. Its biodegradable-when it rains… a recycled and recyclable town.”
But once the group started to work with the tedious and complicated set in the warehouse, they soon found out that “easy to configure” wasn't quite the case with this concept.
“After all the twelve-plus hour days, I became pretty OCD,” says Tomlin. “Combine that with the Sharpie fumes and Boxton Square started to become a bit too real. Ollie [Tomlin’s assistant art director] would discuss the political, social and spiritual agendas of Boxton Square until the early hours of the morning.”
“I wish I’d had time to add more detail and elaborate and communicate the recycled/eco vibe a bit better,” continues Tomlin. “Like power stations animated to look like they were fueled by used wheels and trees made out of worn out skateboards… things along those lines. But time inevitably ran out and it ended up being pretty stressful to rearrange everything for each filming session.”
“etnies is really into the green/recycle vibe and also happens to have ton of cardboard boxes to recycle all the time, explains Manzoori. “Why not give their waste another life as the set? Typically skate spots are just elements of urban architecture anyway, so we assumed that whatever mystery objects TransWorld gave us to skate would be some kind of imitation of things found in real cities. We hoped it wouldn’t be too hard to turn them back into elements of actual architecture.”
Despite Manzoori’s mention of Sharon joking about the homeless camps and Zoolander, Tomlin was actually quite serious.
“The whole homeless camp actually wasn't a joke, I thought that it could look pretty cool to cover the obstacles in recycled cardboard and make them look like prefab eco-houses; then build a set that looked like a camp with accessories to match. Not a homeless camp necessarily, but a friendly, fantasy urban-style makeshift camp where skateboarders lived and skated and grew vegetables in a self-sufficient, security-free, skate stopper-free utopia. You leave your cardboard penthouse and skate your front yard with your cardboard-dwelling neighbors. When the spot gets played out, pick up your house and move it somewhere else. In a way, I thought it would be amusing to see Mikey Taylor living in a box; making home-brewed cabbage wine and growing dreads. What I ended up making was a miniature version of that concept… sans cabbage or dreads.”
In her spare time, Sharon enjoys making illustrations and miniatures of futuristic, post-apocalyptic cities where there are no people… the animals and plants have taken over.
“The animals are fully pimping with hot tubs, jacuzzis and helicopters,” she explains. “All species get along with one another because there are no humans to project fear, misery and conflict onto them. They are all vegetarians and travel in helicopters that run on veggie fuel. When Mike started mentioning the cardboard tube sequence in the Michel Gondry movie, La Science des Rêves (The Science of Sleep), I was insulted. I knew I could build a better town than Gondry and his friends. So I did.”
October 26, 2009
New Jack: Jake Johnson
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2009
Admit it. You like Animal Collective now. Why? ‘Cuz Jake Johnson’s part in Mind Field is amazing. Jake is to Animal Collective what Duffy is to Primus... what Mariano is to the Jackson Five… and so on. It’s the stuff legends (or future legends) are made of.
Don’t worry. You aren’t the only person who wasn’t into the band before the video came out. Millions of others listen to it now while they skate and get just as stoked as you... wishing they could be cruising around NYC on a skateboard. Jake actually needs no introduction, so enough of this… let’s just get on to knowing the kid behind the most breakthrough video part of the 2009.
So you were just in Rotterdam for the am contest?
Yeah, my first contest. It was pretty nerve racking. It’s funny… there are European doubles of American skaters and they look just the same… like the European Lutzka.
Is there a Euro Cole?
Not yet. European Jamie Thomas needs to get a hold of one of those kids and then there’d be a good European Chris Cole. But there’s some gnarly dudes for sure. It was pretty wild.
What’s changed for you, post-Mind Field? Do people recognize you more or expect more from your skating?
The most strenuous part was probably before Mind Field and getting on Workshop. It’s been strange having that much exposure around the world. But more so, it’s just made better opportunities for me.
So you’re into the all travel?
I’m getting better at it. I broke down on a couple of trips. But that’s what I mean about things being more intense before the video. I just had no idea what to expect.
Maybe its better that you started your career with the pressure of Mind Field… the hardest might be behind you already.
Yeah, but any filming is stressful in it’s own way.
Are you working on a Gravis video now?
Yeah, Greg Hunt is doing a video with Gravis. I’ve been pretty psyched.
Alien has a deep history, but Gravis is newer and you can help mold it. Is it exciting to be part of something new that you can contribute to?
That’s the reason I wanted to ride for them. I’ve looked up to Arto my whole life. To have an opportunity to start something new with him and Dylan is pretty cool. Making shoes is something I’ve always wanted to do. My feet are beat up from all these vulcanized shoes. I’ve got plantar fasciitis… liquid buildup in my fascia between the skin and the tendon that stretches across your foot. It’s like gnarly heel bruises that come and go as they please depending on how many stairs I’m jumping down. I have to massage them out and shit. I’m just trying to eat right and make sure I’m supporting my feet and shit… wearing good cupsoles again.
Tim O’Connor said of you: “Jake’s shoes are choked out. He ties his laces so tight but I’m backing it for ankle support”
I didn’t know he was taking notice. But I’ve needed the ankle support since my ankle got sprained.
He notices everything. Have you ever skated Dylan’s shoe? That thing’s gotten so much attention and hate.
I tried them on and they were really comfortable. I didn't skate them though. Light as a feather and you can impossible ten feet high. Goddamn… Dylan can fucking skate good in those things.
Did you move to New York for the skating opportunity or to escape your hometown?
It was a combination of the two. I got accepted to Penn State in my junior year of high school. But that was the year that I met Greg Chapman and reunited with some of my old friends in New York. I ended up filming some footage and Greg saw it, wanted to get me boards and was willing to pay my health insurance if I moved to New York to work on their video. So obviously I was psyched. I got school to hook me up with some online classes my senior year. So I finished that up, got my diploma and moved to New York.
Who from Alien found you and helped get you on?
Jason Dill introduced himself to me, introduced me to Chad [Alien team manager] and got me started. But Joe Castrucci sent me my first box because Tim told him about me. Thanks Tim. Thanks Jason.
How do you view the education you’ve gotten in the world you’re in now versus what you would’ve learned at Penn State?
No matter what situation you’re in you can choose to learn, be involved and take what you can from it. But for me the most important thing is being passionate about what you do so you don’t take anything for granted and are thankful. If I was at school I would’ve learned differently, but traveling the world and being able to organize yourself and your time and meeting people… it’s something you can’t compare a college education to. I feel like it helps you see so much more of what’s actually going on.
Anyone can sit through a college program and learn the same information, but not everyone is gonna learn what you know.
No way. The best choice I ever made was deciding to live in New York. I’m so fucking thankful.
Tim told me about some circuit board you play with.
Radio Shack has this circuit board electronic learning kit and I thought it was kind of cool. It teaches you basic electronics. I read a few of the lessons and pretty much haven’t touched it since. I guess that’s one thing I’m not doing ‘cuz I’m not in school… sitting down with a book and learning. But you can make a button light up or you can make numbers appear. It’s funny because Andy Henry [Nike SB team manager] was at my apartment and saw it and starts rifling off all this stuff. I guess he went to school for electronics.
He just busted some moves.
He schooled me on the circuit board. I was psyched.
I heard you eat really fast.
Yeah, I can eat a lot. I fully recognized that when I was in Amsterdam and went to this falafel place three times in a row and got three monster falafels. I’ve really never had a falafel that I was down for, but for some reason these got me psyched. I’m not a pig though.
When I was your age I would eat a whole pizza. Now I can only eat two or three slices.
Eating a lot is tight. You get to shit a lot too. Everybody loves that.
Shitting is always fun. It’s a sport.
It’s interesting studying something that comes out of your body.
What’s something that bothers you about the skateboarding industry?
People are taking skateboarding so seriously because too much money is involved. It’s become about what we can produce, how fast and how many people can see it. People don’t take as much time to just enjoy it. It’s not that people aren’t enjoying skateboarding; it’s just that because of the Internet, the speed of things is so gnarly.
I think people are over-thinking and over-analyzing skateboarding lately. It’s not biology or some shit.
Exactly, it’s becoming more formulated. Everything just seems so planned and you can tell that you’re being sold skateboarding from so many directions.
I was told to ask you about Matt Reason and Lenny Kirk.
I’m gonna find those guys one day. They’re legendary. If I could be around in any era, I’d be skating around in Philly with those guys. I don’t know either of them personally but I look up to them.
Do you think you’d be able to hang with the huge setups they were riding back then? 60 mms and prototype boards that were 34 or 35 inches?
I think I’d be down. I ride a pretty long board. Have you ever skated a board that was uncut?
No, but when I was young my dad would buy me uncut boards for Christmas we would trace pro shapes that we liked and go cut ‘em out in wood shop.
Where did you get those from?
Shops used to sell them. We’re talking 1990. So you actually skated an uncut board? It seems so dangerous. The shiners would suck.
Yeah. Last month in DC this kid had one. No grip on it and he was doing switch tres.
We were playing games of S.K.A.T.E. in front of the White House with Billy Rohan announcing. The dude who was skating the uncut board was killing it. I think he won the game of S.K.A.T.E. he was in. It was a weird little event that Billy planned for some government thing. We got permits and there were cops escorting us. It was for skateboard awareness in Washington or something.
Billy Rohan is a skate activist. Building spots and shit.
A skactivist for sure. He’s doing a great job. I’m definitely enjoying the bounty. Been skating at 12th and A all summer for sure. I’ve probably said “for sure” a hundred thousand times during this interview.
Nah, but I usually edit out that kind of stuff out.
Yeah, we talked as long as a high school couple… like, two hours.
Damn, I forgot about those phone calls.
Yeah, those were kind of the worst.
October 26, 2009
Milestone: Sierra Fellers
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2009
It may sound boring to some of you jaded and cynical folk out there… but Sierra Fellers is happy. You know why? Because he’s living a life of skateboarding; he’s pro for a company he loves that supports him; he just got married; he’s got great friends and family; and he’s completely comfortable with himself being a dork in the skateboarding industry.
Sounds simple enough, right? Just peachy. Except you’d be amazed by the amount of people in skateboarding, or the world for that matter, who aren’t nearly as happy, appreciative or have the piece of mind that Sierra possesses at only 22 years old... despite the fact that he’s had a few setbacks. Setbacks that might have caused any lesser-willed man to go running back home to Montana with their tail tucked between their legs. Wanna know what really happened and how he’s achieved and maintained this skate-nirvana-esque mind state? Well, the story goes like this:
Most of the skate community came to know Sierra when he, kind of out of nowhere, won Tampa Am Street and Best Trick in 2004. Although he was already getting flowed boards from Jamie Thomas at the time, shortly after, Sierra’s first Mystery ad came out, he was officially on the team and he’d secured himself a spot on the Circa roster as well.
Pretty dreamy huh? Indeed. Until you consider the fact that about a year later, Sierra was kicked off Mystery and nearly canned from Circa in one fell swoop.
“Sierra never really got along with the Mystery crew very well,” says Jamie Thomas. “But he was really motivated and had a lot of potential, so we tried to make it work. Shortly after he got on, he started spending a lot of time in Montana and Canada. When we went to put together the Mystery section for New Blood, the footage we had of him wasn't up to his potential. Since no one on the team had gotten any closer to him in the time he was on, everyone agreed that it just wasn't working.”
“Yeah, that was a weird one,” says Sierra. “I was young and I’m from Montana, which is a completely different place. I didn’t really know how to relate to them all I guess. I just wanted to skate and have fun. I was a nerdy little skate kid. I didn’t really make an effort to hang out with them and I didn’t know how to gauge hanging out with people in general at the time. I was like a home-schooled skate nerd.”
According to Sierra, he really had no clue the team wasn’t into him, as none of them ever made mention or told him about it. When the time came to cut the cord, it was Jamie who did the deed.
“It was seriously a week after my second ad came out for Mystery. And he was like, ‘Yeah, the guys aren’t really feeling like you mesh and that first ad was actually an accident. It wasn’t supposed to come out yet.’ And in my head I was like, ‘Okay that’s weird. But if you’re in control of a company how can you have an ad come out as an accident?’ I was really confused. I was like, ‘Sick. This is how the industry is. All of a sudden it’s an accident that I was even on.’ The way Jamie talked to me, it was almost like a girlfriend breaking up with me. It was like, ‘Seriously, you’re doing everything right. You’re ripping. You’re getting footy and photos and you’re killing it, but we’re not feeling it.’ Kinda like, ‘It’s not you, it’s us.’ It worked out better in the end though because all the footy I had went to my Circa part.”
But Mystery weren’t the only ones who didn’t feel Sierra was meshing with the team at the time. Turns out Circa shared the sentiment.
“Everyone was kind of over me in the exact same way. Because I never really made an effort to hang out with anyone,” says Sierra. “I didn’t care a lot about relationships and stuff like that. I was just trying to skate. Circa was going to kick me off too, but Ryan Reese [then Circa team manager] wanted to give me one last chance. So he sat down with me and talked to me about how it all worked. After that, Circa became like a family. I’m closer with them than I am with my aunts and uncles and stuff. I was so psyched to have more relationships with people and hang out. I had a way better time too.”
In late 2006, Sierra got a phone call from then-Foundation team manager, Josh Beagle, asking if he’d like to be part of the team.
“He was like, ‘Hey, do you wanna ride for us?’” Says Sierra. “And I was like, ‘I dunno, are you guys cool? Honestly, I don’t know anybody on the team but I’m down to try.’
“At first I thought of Duffel and Gareth, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I really fit in if that’s what they’re looking for. I’m just a random white kid who skates.’”
And with that new, fresh opportunity bestowed upon him, Sierra, the random home-schooled skate nerd white kid who skates, had a chance to learn from his past mistakes and experiences and move upward in skateboarding.
And by July of 2007, his first Foundation pro model was released.
“I’ve been treated so good at Foundation. Foundation seriously hooks it up better than I could even imagine. When I first got on as an am, they sent me 20 boards with all different shapes just to try out, and I wasn’t even fully on yet. They still listen to me and I have creative input there.”
Despite taking a while to find a home and having some trouble “fitting in” during the early Mystery and Circa days, Sierra never felt insecure. He never felt obligated to conform or be something he’s not. He’s comfortable being flair-free and letting his skating carry him where it will. And if you’ve ever seen Sierra catch a switch heel, you know his style can be really easy on the eyes… subtle yet unique.
“I feel like I fit in skateboarding just because of the fact that I skateboard,” says Sierra. “If you love it, it doesn’t matter if you’re just wearing a white T-shirt and jeans like I do every day. Like, if you wear crazy bracelets and dye your hair and wear tight jeans… we’re all still skateboarders. In my experience it’s about talent and style. If people like to watch you skate, then that’s what kids are gonna be psyched on. Not cause you punched the security guard out.
“Honestly I’d just rather skate and try and be the next whoever. If I tried to dress differently, I’d feel like some kind of gimmick just trying to get attention, you know? Us pro skateboarders are just the biggest dorks who people think are cool. People think I’m cool and I’m such a dork. Like I’m as dorky as they come.”
“Sierra is a great compliment to the mix on the Foundation team,” says Foundation founder/owner, Tod Swank. “I look forward to seeing him get crazier and crazier on his board and enjoying skateboarding and travelling the world while doing so.”
“I'm psyched he found his groove and has grown into his own,” says Jamie Thomas. “He's a good dude and he rips, so it's good to see him doing well.”
“Sierra brings stability to a company that has seen tons changes throughout the years,” says ex-Foundation team manager, Eric Wall. “He brings a personality that attracts other skaters, kids, fans, etc. to Foundation. He’s a great building block to any company. He's a positive professional skateboard role model without having to be labeled as one. He appreciates everything he's been given and tries his hardest to give back to the skateboard community. He understands the responsibilities of doing autograph signings and skateboard demos and showing kids that show up the respect they deserve. He had an uphill battle from the start of his skateboard career, but pushed through and came up on top. He's a kid with a great head on his shoulders who looks further down the road into the future than most skateboarders do.”
Speaking of role models… over the years, Sierra has constantly been typecast as “religious” due to his upbringing, affiliation with a few organizations and a part in Stephen Baldwin’s Livin’ It video.
“Every interview I do,” says Sierra, “I tell the dude, ‘I’ve had four of these interviews talking about me and religion. I don’t want kids to read it and have it be a monotonous thing.’ Like, ‘So you believe in Jesus? So you’re from Montana? What’s it like growing up there?’
“I honestly hate the term ‘religious.’ ‘Religious’ is just such a pile of shit to me. It’s more about relationships and having a positive impact on people. I’m psyched when people see my skating and get fired up and see my life as a positive message. I back that. There’s so much shit in this world that sucks so bad. I’m just psyched to be alive. The fact that I can skateboard just makes life even better.”
Happier than a pig in shit and a new wife on top of it all. Jealous yet? Or at least happy for him? Sierra requested we keep the marriage talk to a minimum, as he knows, when he was a kid, he preferred to read interviews of skaters that dealt with skateboarding, not the peripherals. He also prefers to keep work and personal life separate, but speaks of married life more positively than most people you know… to the point where you’ll find yourself a bit envious and wishing you’ve found your soul mate too.
“Just knowing that someone has your back no matter what,” says Sierra, “It’s like getting to hang out with your best friend every day. You get to have a teammate in life now. A lot of people talk about marriage like, ‘Oh, she ties me down… the old ball and chain…’ But as far as skating and hanging out, when she’s around I probably skate more. This whole interview… I got all these photos while she was with me.”
Aside from Sierra’s new married life, wife and family inspiring him, so do his true friends and Circa teammates like Windsor James, Tony Tave, Peter Ramondetta and Dennis Durrant.
“When I see them it’s always awesome to be around ‘em,” Sierra says. “We don’t have issues. We don’t fight. We all have the same sense of humor. If I can have a great time and have people that I can rely on and trust and know that they love me and I love them… then that inspires me. As does just knowing I have someone that I can go to if I have an issue or problem in my life, instead of bottling up inside and getting depressed. Lately, too, I’ve honestly been way more psyched to go film stuff because of HD. I’ve been filming with these guys that make the footage look so sick make the colors pop out. I get psyched! Like, ‘Let’s go film a line because it looks so sick!’”
As for the future… well, Sierra’s not too concerned. What person who is as content as he is right now would be? Ask him where he thinks he’ll be in 10 years, apart from most likely still being a pro skater, and he’ll tell you he doesn’t have the slightest idea.
“I honestly wish I could answer that. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen next month, so I don’t even like to worry about what could happen in ten years.”
Should he and his wife decide to have children, one thing Sierra knows for sure is that he’d rather raise the kids back home in Montana.
“Just because that’s what I knew growing up. Me and my friends would ride our bikes everywhere and do whatever we wanted. We’d skate and we had the wildlife and the mountains and stuff to explore. In my experience in southern California, you’re in an apartment. A kid can maybe play on the patio outside. I miss the summertime back in Montana when I was young… not doing anything but playing the whole summer with my friends. Going to the river and floating down it in tubes and fishing and shooting guns. But it’s funny… now that I’m older, I can still do all that stuff I did as a kid… and I don’t have my parents saying ‘No you can do that. It’s too late. You gotta be home.’”
October 26, 2009
Desillusion interviewed me. Thanks, Sebastien!
October 22, 2009
Words: Rob Brink
This was supposed to be for etnies.com but then etnies and Fletcher broke up. Also found some old sequences and threw 'em in here. Enjoy.
Fletcher! How you doin’, man?
Watchin’ Cops. What are you doing?
I’m just sitting in the office hoping you were gonna call back.
[Laughs] Yeah. I’m not calling you back.
So can you talk a half hour?
It’s gonna take a half an hour? Damn… do I hafta do it tonight?
Yes. I’d hate to interrupt your Cops.
[Laughs) It’s cool.
When you’re not skating in Cedar Rapids, Iowa what do people do for fun?
Shit… party. Go to movies.
Are there cities there or is it a lot of farms and shit?
There’s not a lot of farms. It’s not really how you picture it. There’s cities and shit… just a bunch of little towns. And there’s farms in some places but that’s not unless you go out far in the country.
Are people weird? Like, hillbillies? Or are they pretty cool?
Nah. You meet a lot of cool people out there but some of are just like, pretty stoops.
What do you like best about being in Cali?
The weather, hot chicks, food, Jamba Juice.
When you’re out here, what do you miss most about home?
Probably friends and family and shit.
Do you keep in touch with a lot of friends out there?
Yeah. Talk to them about once a week, usually.
2007. KF 50-50 to fakie 50-50 to 180. Total innovation.
Is there anything about Cali you don’t like?
Rich white people. There’s not really too much to hate. I mean, cops. Probably the cops.
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
[Laughs] Uh. I don’t remember. Probably tried to quit smoking or something stupid. I don’t know. I don’t really think I did. I never really make any.
It kinda seems like you don’t give a shit when you’re skating. You look like you’re not even trying. I don’t know what kind of question that even is, but like… you just always look like you don’t give a shit…
I don’t, really [laughs].
Do you think skaters talk too much shit on one another?
Oh yeah. For sure. It’s funny. I don’t wanna make any examples, but… Toy Machine dudes! Haha. We talk shit a lot.
It seems like, no matter where you are, you end up in a situation where everyone’s talking shit…
Yeah I just laugh at that shit…
So how did the thing with Flip end? You were on there for like two or three years?
Yeah. I don’t know. I guess they were saying I didn’t have enough footage… or good enough footage. I don’t really know.
They thought you weren’t working hard enough?
I’m a slacker.
So you know you’re a slacker? You know you’re lazy?
Does it feel weird going a long time without a board sponsor like this? Are you ever nervous?
It’s pretty tight actually. You get to ride a bunch of tight boards… different ones.
So, who are you livin’ with now? John?
Bradford, yeah, for right now. I’m gonna try to get a place or something.
More innovation! KF BS nosegrind to backside 180 up top! I hope you realize this is a joke, by the way.
Do you have and funny stories from living with Johnny Layton?
Shit, which one can I use? So many… I don’t really know like what I can put…
Is he a chill dude to live with or is he hyper?
He’s not hyper; he’s just crazy. He’s cool though. I don’t know. I don’t have any stories really… I mean, I do, but…
Okay forget it. What was the last book you read?
Oh. Man… Fuck knows. I don’t know. I have no idea. I can honestly say I have no idea.
What’s your favorite TV show?
South Park, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Family Guy.
What’s your favorite place to eat?
I don’t know.
Is that a hard question?
Yeah, mental block. I don’t know… Chuck E. Cheese? Is that allowed?
Really? How do you feel about green tea and cheese and fruit platters?
I could be down with that [laughs]. Cheese. Random question…
No because that one day we were skating and I showed up with the cheese platter and some nuts. And you guys all made fun of me. So I was just wondering… thought you’d call me gay or something.
You're gay. [Laughs].
Mariano, Rick Howard, Mike Carroll.
If you could skate like anyone else for a day, who would it be?
Probably Daewon. Daewon would be tight.
Daewon on mini ramp or Daewon tech?
Mannys… Fakie manuals.
KF BS nosegrind to eat shit.
What’s a trick like that you fuckin’ suck at?
Regular varial heels? I could get you on that in S.K.A.T.E. That’s like my old reliable.
I can’t get those, man. Suck at it. Looks sketch.
What goes through your head when you’re dropping in for your Tampa Am run?
Fuck this shit, I’m out after this. [Laughs]. Nah, I don’t know.
Nah, that’s the best answer ever.
Probably “Damn it!” Probably “Fuck!” Actually, just “DAMN IT!”
You know you got 59th place, right?
That was only on your day though. So I guess when you combine the two days and all the skaters it makes it lower. Do you know what you’re actual place is?
In the hundreds probably.
I think that kid Jimmy Marchand, on the crutches, got higher than you.
Good. He deserves it.
I actually have an interview with him I’m gonna put on the site.
He’s tight. That dude is tight. I was looking for weed down there and he was looking too. He was having withdrawals.
He’s definitely sick.
Where’s he from?
Rhode Island. That was his first contest.
That’s crazy. He’s super tight.
Tell us about your beanies. Do you collect beanies? You have lots of beanies…
Um, I try to. I don’t now, but, one day, hopefully I’ll have an entire rack full of limited edition beanies.
Are you a fan of the pom pon ones? Are those better than the regular ones?
Yeah. Oh yeah. Gotta have a ball. Gotta have one of these guys. [Shows off his new Snoopy pom pon beanie]
I’m so down with Snoopy. Is the Snoopy one your newest one?
Down with Snoopy.
What’s your favorite beanie?
The Steve Zissou one.
Oh from Life Aquatic?
Yeah, the red one.
How come you barely wear them on your head? How do they even stay on?
Because that’s how it is. That’s how it just goes. I don’t know.
Have you ever had any really weird, lame sponsors?
Well, Ollie Pop gum… nah. [Laughs].
Are your parents cool with you being out here and not being in school and shit?
As long as I’m doing something you know, they support me.
What’s the best place you ever went on tour?
What do you hate most about skateboarding? Besides this interview?
You meet a lot of stupid people, but definitely the rumors. I’ve had somebody think I was like Danny Cerezini at a Flip thing
Really? Have you ever been mistaken for any other skaters or just Danny?
It sucked. Hell yeah. In France.
Was it girls?
Some French dudes. And they were following me.
Were they all psyched?
I was doing this signing and I didn’t really wanna do it, so I kinda skated away. This crowd of people was following me. I was like, “What the fuck are these people doing?” They come up to me and were like, “Are you Ryan Sheckler?” I was like, “No.” They got my autograph anyways and just left.
Were they bummed you weren’t him? They got your autograph anyway?
It was weird. Yeah, all bummed. They were like, “Is he coming?” I’m like, “I don’t fuckin’ know.”
Nollie nosegrind. Backside. And long.
Anything else you wanna say? Once your mouth’s not full of food?
Is that it?
Yeah that’s it, man. Not too bad, huh?
Didn’t even take a half an hour. You were like “It’s gonna take a half an hour.”
I thought it would. It was 17 minutes. You got lucky.
September 29, 2009
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, November 2009
You might not know too much about Rodrigo Petersen, but he’s been around for a long time. And by “long time,” we’re talking, since Neighborhood skateboards. And that was just the first time he came to the US and got sponsored.
Most of you right now are probably like, “What the hell was Neighborhood skateboards?” Which actually proves the point about how long he’s been doing this.
That aside, Rodrigo’s a simple, happy and appreciative Brazilian chap who loves skateboarding. He is gifted as all hell and if you don’t believe that, then go watch his Listen and Nothing But the Truth parts again. But before you do, I’d suggest getting through our little interview here so you can learn how to pop your tricks as high as he does. I don’t think anyone would turn down the secret to skating waist-high tables, would they?
So where do you live right now?
Costa Mesa. I’m living with Daniel Cerezini and Rodrigo TX. It’s cool and I have someone to skate with every day.
What happened to Listen? You guys put out a pretty sick video and a couple months later the company was gone.
I dunno what happened. They say they’re still gonna do it but I’m not sure. I really liked Listen. It was a good company. Then Organika gave me an offer so I took it. I’m pretty hyped. It’s a great company.
Since you go back and forth from Cali to Brazil, do you see more effects of a bad economy here or in Brazil?
I don’t see any difference in Brazil because there it’s always been not so good. So it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you feel it here more because people are used to having a lot of stuff. So when they don’t have it they get frustrated and start freaking out. I never really had anything so it’s not a big deal.
More money, more problems.
Fore sure man!
When you’re in California what do you miss most about Brazil?
The food. But I got used to it here. Now I don’t see no difference. A couple years ago I was feeling it a lot. All my friends back home, when you hear about them doing something, you want to be with all of them.
You’re more homesick.
Yeah, it’s the friends, the food. Stuff like that.
Well you’re living with some Brazilian homies here so that’s cool.
Yeah, that’s why we’re trying to stay together. So it can feel like home. I even have a Brazilian channel on TV so it makes me feel more comfortable here.
Is it all soccer all the time?
Yeah, we got soccer, novellas, news. I know what’s going on at least.
Why do so many Brazilians love Mobb Deep?
I dunno man!
Everyone Brazilian I know loves Mobb Deep and learned a lot of their English from listening to Mobb Deep.
Even before I came here we used to listen to Mobb Deep. But what they sing about is kind of like what happens in Brazil in the streets.
Oh, so you guys all relate to it. You have a shoe out with Nike in Brazil?
Yeah, we did this custom series of three different shoes. Only released in Brazil. 450 pairs each. It was pretty fun.
Do people pay a lot of money on eBay for them since they’re so rare?
Yeah. I was trippin’.
What was the most money you saw people paying?
Like two, three hundred dollars… it’s too much for a shoe. But at least it’s got a little value on it ya know?
You’ve been with Nike for a while…
Yeah, since the first year they started. I got hooked up in Tampa through Tony Heitz who used to be the team manager for Alien Workshop.
Why is Brazil spelled with an “S” in Brazil and spelled with a “Z” in America? If you guys decided it needs an “S” then I don’t know why we changed it to a “Z.” That’s lame of us.
I dunno. I always wondered that too. It’s kinda crazy
So you used to ride for Neighborhood skateboards?
Yeah, that was probably 2001. Right after I came to the States for the first time.
Have you ever seen Julio De La Cruz’s part in Da Deal is Dead? When I hear his name all I think about is double pressure flips and shit.
Yeah, and late flips!
You own a restaurant in Brazil with your wife?
Yeah. It’s like a grandma’s kind of cooking. Buffet-style.
Is she in charge of that while you’re out here skating and on tours?
Yeah. When she’s not there her dad takes care of it. It’s been three years already.
So when you go home do you work there… cooking or waiting tables?
I like to clean the tables better, man. I help her a lot. Like go to the supermarket and make find all the ingredients and everything. I like to help her.
If you weren’t making money as a skateboarder would you be able to support your family off of the money the restaurant makes?
Yeah, for sure. We can do it.
Good. You need a backup plan. Is that hard having your wife live back in Brazil while you’re here?
Yeah, it’s kind of hard, cause I have a son too. He’s eight.
How long have you been married?
Five years, but we’ve been together for ten.
What’s your favorite thing about being a father?
Making my kid happy.
What’s a challenging part of being a father?
Just when you’re about to have a baby and you gotta think, “Am I ready for this?” When you find out about it, it’s like, “Fuuuuuck….”
Like, “What am I gonna do?” You know? “I have to be an example for this person for my whole life.” To do everything right to make him happy and smile, you know? The hardest part is making sure not to disappoint him.
How is skating different for you when you’re in Brazil compared to when you’re in California?
Brazil is like a little more laid back. But here it’s more professional, like you have to film and shoot photos… more work. But long as you’re having fun that’s all that matters.
I heard it took you a while to pass your DMV test.
Fuck man, yeah. Who told you that?
Vern. What did it take you, like five tries?
Four. It’s kind of fucked up. My wife passed first try.
Woah… What was so hard about it? The written test?
Ya. I took the test at the DMV in Portuguese. But Portuguese from Portugal, not Brazil. So it’s like different words and stuff. Hard to understand.
That’s a legit excuse then. Of all the skateboarders to come out of Brazil, who’s been the most influential?
Probably Fabio Cristiana. When I started skating he was already pro and shit. Carlos de Andrade too. When I started watching American videos it was all the Girl dudes. That’s how we got fired up on skateboarding.
I think that’s how everybody got fired up. The Girl dudes.
Right? And all the old World Industries stuff. To me, back in the day, when I was watching those videos I was thinking. “Oh! Skateboarding is fun! You can always go with your friends and stuff.” The energy that those videos bring you is pretty good. And when I came here the first time I thought it would be more like those videos and I got frustrated.
Yeah. It is a bit different.
I came back home to Brazil and I was like “I’m never gonna go back to the US again.”
Oh really? It bothered you that much?
I was like, “What the fuck is that shit, man?” ‘Cause I didn’t understand what was going on here, you know? After a while I got used to it and now I know how it is and I understand it better.
Once you understand all of that you can learn how to work around it all, or with it, to make it fun for yourself.
Yeah, for sure.
So what would you say is your favorite thing about skateboarding?
My favorite thing about skateboarding is when I get home and I’m happy everyday from being on my board, I can learn tricks and the best thing is when you film a trick and you get home and you’re like satisfied. Like, “I did something!”
Yeah, and have a beer.
Have a beer, glass of wine; kick back with the homies and the next day start it all over again. That’s the best thing about tours. I cannot complain about skateboarding. I get to know the whole world and know more people. I cannot complain at all. Even if it stops today I’ll be happy I did everything I wanted to do.
Once your career in skateboarding is over, what do you think will be the next thing for you?
I have a bunch of things in mind. Maybe try to work in skateboarding in Brazil. We always dream about that ‘cause we have so much potential in there. After soccer, skateboarding is like the second most popular thing people do in Brazil.
Try to build an industry...
Yeah, try to build an industry the right way. Just do that and work in the restaurants and have a little hotel on the beach so all your guys can come visit me, you know?
That’d be sick! Like a resort?
Yeah, a resort. One day you guys are gonna come visit me, man.
Hell yeah! So what’s the secret to all that snap you have? Is it a natural gift or something you can offer us advice for?
I dunno about a secret but I think it more comes with the person. Look at TX or Reese Forbes or Rodrigo Lima. Maybe the secret is you gotta eat a lot of rice and beans, man.
So if you wanna skate the tops of waist-high tables, eat lots of rice and beans?
Yeah, for sure!
September 29, 2009
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag November 2009
After spending 10 years apiece working at other skateshops, Landon Mitchell and Donnie Meadows decided to do their own thing and opened Platform in November of 2006, with a few goals in mind. The first was to do something different and refreshing for the area they were in (Old Town Pomona, between Los Angeles and Inland Empire). The second was to have a clean, good-looking store with a personal and comfortable feeling when you walked in the front door—as well as a staff of real skateboarders who knew what was up.
“The look of the store was something that was important to us,” says Mitchell. “Everything in the store was basically handmade, from the shoe wall to the dark stained wooden shelves. Our space was an old gallery, so it wasn’t set up to be a retail space. We had to do a lot of demoing, painting, and redesigning to make it functional.”
It was slow goin’ in the beginning for Platform. It took six months to actually get the store open, then, the following six months were their slowest months ever, sales-wise. But with four high schools and two public skateparks in Pomona, things picked up shortly after that.
“We have a lot core skate customers,” says Mitchell. “Since everyone that works here rides skateboards, it draws the core kids to the shop. They can relate to the people working here. Also, we’re in an old town with a lot of shops, restaurants, galleries, music venues, and bars, so we get a lot walk-in customers. There’s an art walk every second Saturday of the month and it’s a great opportunity for us to hold events. They range from art shows featuring local artists, skaters, and photographers, to bands performing in the store.”
A team and staff of rippers doesn’t hurt the cause either: David Serrano, Brent Waterworth, Joe Hook, Craig Cring, Kyle Mitchell, Mike Hamerla; team manager Aaron Wiggs, filmer Sam Newman and store manager, Scott Smith all keep Platform a real deal skateshop that’s strictly skateboarding—no snowboards or BMX or anything of the sort. According to Mitchell, most of the brands and selections of clothing that Platform carries, you won’t see at any mall store.
“We don’t do online sales,” says Mitchell. “I know that’s the way of the New Age and we probably should, but right now we’re just focusing on the store itself. You don’t really understand how much work a shop takes until you do it yourself. It’s definitely not for everyone.”
Mitchell sites his biggest risk as a business owner as taking the step to actually open Platform in the first place. He sites the hardest thing about having the shop, thus far, as making decisions—good or bad, then dealing with the outcome. Naming the shop being one of the hardest decisions of them all. He sites his biggest mistake as “trusting people.” His favorite part of being a shop owner? “How rewarding it is to accomplish things for yourself in an industry that you love.”
When asked about some of the lame stuff other shops do that he tries to stay away from, Mitchell states, “I try not to focus on what other people are doing,” which makes sense, considering Platform’s goal for the future is “to keep on pushing, and do everything we can to keep this place on point.”
330 South Thomas Street Pomona, CA 91766
(909) 865 8700