March 25, 2009
Festivus: Emerica's Braydon Szafranski Shoe Release Party
By Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, May 2009
In the world of skateboarding journalism, there are three very common ways to document a party: “Press release-style,” which tends to be rather embellishing, dry and unimaginative; “Zany party guy-style,” which is essentially the drunk frat boy perspective; and “Cryptic/abstract-style,” popularized in the '90s by Big Brother magazine, which employs a technique of avoiding the actual subject matter and exploring a peripheral perspective.
Since we have that great new president in office, why not celebrate and keep the democratic spirit going strong by offering all three methods to tell the tale of Braydon's Emerica pro model shoe release party? This way you can choose the one you like the best-just like voting!
For immediate release - On January 18, 2009, to celebrate the release of Braydon Szafranski's first-ever Emerica shoe, The Braydon, an epic rager was thrown at the Viper Room in Hollywood, CA. Hundreds of Braydon's friends and family came from all over the world to celebrate this special occasion. The free beer was more abundant than oxygen! Industry influencers like Patrick O'Dell and Neckface were there! The line to get in was around the block! Ryan Gosling posed with the ladies! The Goat & The Occasional Others and Ima Robot played! Harley-Davidson Motorcycles lined the street outside the club and it was a totally epic night of madness and mayhem!
Man… I showed up to the Viper room, like three hours late, dude. Good thing I had my pompon beanie and VIP wristband on, 'cuz I walked right past a gaggle of hot LA scenester pro ho chicks begging the bouncer to get in. “Later, bitches! I'm going to chill with a bunch of dudes!”
Thanks to an open bar, everyone was already totally wasted. There was puke in the bathroom sink and blood on the floor but no one even cared. The Goat totally rocked and their music inspired Heath Kirchart to focus the entire VIP booth. Broken tables, bottles and hearts everywhere! This is the life!
Pros like Biebel, Herman, Spanky, Carroll, Jeron and Hsu were going wild... enjoying themselves to the fullest! So was Boosh. Dozens of people took photos for their amazing blogs. After Ima Robot played all their hits, everyone proceeded to get good and wasted and dance to Journey's “Don't Stop Believing” until the place shut down, at which point, inebriated sidewalk antics with homeless people and an Ed Hardy jeep ensued. Sucks you weren't there, bro! I'd tell you we missed your company but… well… out of sight, out of mind!
Myotonic goats, also known as “fainting goats,” are a breed of domestic goat whose muscles freeze for roughly 10 seconds when they get startled. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side. The characteristic is caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita.
The goats appear to have arrived in Marshall County, Tennessee, from Nova Scotia in the early 1800s, courtesy of a reclusive farm worker named Jon Tinsley. Before he left the area, he sold his goats-three does and a buck-to Dr. H.H. Mayberry, who bred them.
Fainting goats have many other names, including, Nervous Goats, Stiff-leg Goats, Wooden-leg Goats, and Tennessee Scare Goats. They are smaller and somewhat easier to care for than larger goat breeds, which makes the fainting goat desirable for smaller farms or as pets or show animals, as they can be friendly, intelligent and amusing.
Do you think The Goat & The Occasional Others were inspired to name themselves after Myotonic Goats? Oh, by the way, Braydon's party was a really amazing time. Congrats on the new shoe, Braydon!
March 16, 2009
Milestone: Omar Salazar
By Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, March 2009
Nearly a decade ago, when Alien Workshop’s Photosynthesis was released, Omar Salazar was busy with part time gigs at JC Penny and a Mexican restaurant where he’d hide out in the refrigerator smuggling free chips, salsa and whip-its. He was also just beginning his life as a sponsored skateboarder, riding for Foundation.
“Back then,” Omar recalls, “Foundation was as good as it gets. Never in my dreams would I even think about riding for Alien because it would bum me out when it didn’t happen, you know? They were my favorite company, the first board I ever got and Photosynthesis was obviously, like, the best video ever.”
Today, Omar woke up at 7 am and is driving six hours, round trip, from his home in Sacramento, to Santa Cruz, to get his last trick (after almost three years of filming) for Alien’s highly anticipated follow-up to Photosynthesis, entitled Mind Field. He’s also on the phone with me, wrapping up this “Milestone” interview during the morning commute.
“This is just a one trick spot,” Omar explains, “But I don't usually plan the skating out like this. I kind of just go somewhere and get it if I get it.
“Greg [Hunt, Alien Workshop filmer/editor] recognized how I work early on. Working with Greg is the shit ‘cause you can just tell if he likes something or not by the way that he reacts to it. I’d do something and just look at him and he wouldn’t even have to say anything. I’d see it in his eyes. But other than this trick, it's pretty much been pure and raw—going to spots and doing what I do.”
The release of Mind Field is undoubtedly the biggest moment of Omar’s career thus far.
“It's my dream,” Omar exclaims. “I don't want people to be like, ‘This video sucks’ or ‘This dude is fucking whack’ or whatever. It means a lot to me. I know it sounds corny, but it's like my new baby.”
Really though, not much Omar says sounds corny because it comes from his heart, and, well, because he’s just Omar. To know him is to love him. You won’t find anyone acquainted with him who’ll speak an ill word about him. Sure, adjectives that might be considered insults to some, like “insane,” “spaz,” “crazy,” ‘clumsy” and “scatterbrained,” will be thrown in the mix, but when referencing Omar, they’re purely terms of endearment.
And everyone’s got an Omar story or three. From him paddling out at North Shore his first time on a surfboard and blowing the minds of legendary pro surfers, to skating gaps with acupuncture needles embedded in his shoulder, to countless Macgyver-esque escapades, like escaping the police in downtown San Diego while handcuffed and eventually sawing off the cuffs, to climbing the Great Wall of China and scaling the outside of hotel buildings to switch rooms instead of the much-safer hallway method, to near death choking-on-gummi-worm experiences—Omar’s existence mirrors that of a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner or Tom and Jerry cartoon.
While most pros are judged by their last video part, newest big-money endorsement deal, choice of wardrobe or how annoying they might be to go on tour with, Omar seems to get unconditional love—kinda like your younger brother or kid next door you’re scared to see something catastrophic happen to even though he perpetually puts himself in harm’s way. His presence is injected with pure energy, entertainment and a lot of things you most likely never expected to witness on that given day.
He works hard and earns what he gets and people respect that—and they love watching him skate.
“Maybe because everything I do is like everything everyone else can do?” Omar ponders. “I'm not a natural. I try hard and figure stuff out. I just learned 360 flips the other day. But I think people get psyched is because it's stuff they can do. That and they like to see people go fast.”
“Omar is like an exposed, raw nerve, says Kevin Imamura, Nike SB Communications manager. “It’s just all out in the open with him—full throttle, all the time. He lets it all go as he sees it coming. Nothing is mellow. It’s like he has a Dez Cadena-era Black Flag song playing in his head at all times.”
If you’ve ever been around Omar for more than five minutes, you’ll know that most of what you’ve seen of him in a video or magazine is refreshingly authentic. Kind of like, “Wow, he really does scream ‘Wooooo’ a lot and skate around like a maniac!”
The spontaneity, the hyperactivity, the energy, the positivity, the balls-out sketchy-in-a-good-way skateboarding is all there... in fact, much like a John Cardiel-type of dude, Omar Salazar might be the most quintessential example of a individual’s personality transcending into his skateboarding and vice versa—his skateboarding is a direct reflection of his personality.
“A long time ago at the skatepark,” says Omar, “I'd just keep trying to do something and Cardiel would just be like, ‘You gotta want it dude! Fucking get it!’ And it would get me so psyched. That shit is the best thing that I've heard from anyone. If you don't want it… fucking don't bother, you know? I want people to be psyched and I want to psyche people up.”
“Omar is not only a fucking amazing skater, he's also an amazing person who’s able to make anyone feel really good no matter the situation,” says Jim Thiebaud, Vice President of Deluxe Distribution.
So how exactly how did Omar find himself riding for his favorite company alongside some of the most respected skateboarders and creative minds in the industry? For starters, some tough breaks and lots of patience.
As Omar tells it, after Foundation, he joined Reese Forbes, Nate Jones and Matt Field on the then-newly-formed Rasa Libre board company. His pro model debuted at the September 2005 ASR trade show and Rasa Libre sent out a press release announcing the end of the brand two months later. Soon after, a loose offer for Omar to ride for Habitat through his good friend Stefan Janoski was on the table. But time passed, the roster was filling up and a spot on Habitat ended up being false hope after all.
Omar’s friend and Team Manger (then Quiksilver, now Analog), Mark Oblow, mentioned the possibility of Omar riding for Alien a little down the road, following the addition of Dylan Rieder. Excited, but careful not to get his hopes up again, Omar decided it would be worth waiting for, turning down other offers along the way. Still sponsorless almost a year later, Omar was finally presented an am slot on Alien Workshop, with no chance of turning pro for at least a year. He gladly accepted.
Four months later, after a barrage of calls from shops demanding Omar’s model, Alien turned him pro.
“I was so stoked dude!” Says Omar. “I guess good things do happen to those who wait. I saw Chris Carter [Alien Workshop founder] and he put out his hand and I grabbed his it and give him a big-ass hug. He was like ‘Whoa!’ I think I kinda made it weird for a second, but I just wanted to thank him and shit!”
“Now I just love that my graphics are sick as shit,” Omar gushes. “I love the diversity of the team. I love the fact that Workshop is out of Ohio and not down in SoCal, not that there's anything wrong with that, but its cool… it's just The Workshop, you know?”
In February 2008, when Burton Snowboards acquired DNA Distribution (Alien Workshop, Habitat, Reflex) many feared the beginning of the end of Alien Workshop as we know and love it. The “sell out!” accusations flew. But for someone like Omar, Chris Carter, Mike Hill or any of Alien’s riders, it was the beginning of being able to continue being The Workshop.
“It didn't change shit man!” Explains Omar. “Carter and Hill put fucking everything into this shit. They've been true and they've been through the struggle. Workshop is like, half the size of these other companies and they had to work extra hard, especially coming out of Ohio. Eventually they were putting more time and money into the company than they got back. So when people were talking shit about them selling it, I was like, ‘Fuck you, man. You guys are selfish! This just means they get to do more with The Workshop—way more resources!’ I'll go to some shops and I'll notice that they don't carry Workshop ‘cause they think they're all core and shit, and then I’ll see some of the shit on their wall and wonder if they have any taste at all. Skateboarders need to understand that Workshop is still raw.”
Fully aware of the “critics” and enduring the nerve-racking countdown to premiere day, Omar is optimistic about how Mind Field will be received by the skateboarding community.
“Shit man, I think the skateboard world will receive it as it's child—a fuckin’ beautiful baby about to be born, as lame as that sounds. I think it's gonna be one of those videos that people think of as a gift. It's raw, it's unique, it's one-of-a-kind—it's everything. Few people in skateboarding, if any, are doing something like this.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s not feeling the pressure.
“I have mixed feelings of excitement and total fucking fear,” he confesses. “But it’s cool because Greg’s a filmmaker and a skater. He loves this stuff. Not just like the VX, but the 16mm, the 8mm and all that stuff. That's what's so beautiful about it. He wanted the video to consist of a lot of US skate spots so kids who’ll be watching the video can relate. A lot of people go to Spain, Europe, China and Japan to film. Dude, most regular American kids aren’t gonna be able to go to Russia or these places to skate.”
Omar’s worked to ensure his part in Nike’s Nothing But The Truth and his Mind Field part give off a totally different vibe. While Nike was more of a “fun” project for him, with the skits and all, he’s trying to keep his Alien part grittier.
“Nike was a really fun video for me, but I knew I wanted my raw shit for Alien. Just from talking to Greg and knowing Alien’s history I just wanted everything to be really gnarly,” he says.
But no one can get through three years of travelling and filming for more than one video without inspiration and support. And Omar credits Hunt, Anthony Van Engelen and Jason Dill as being particularly influential to him during the filming of Mind Field. Apart from acts of heroism like saving Omar from choking on gummi worms, Greg’s been in solitary confinement and editing like mad.
“He’s been in that editing room in Ohio in the snow working his ass off and I can call him at five in the fucking morning to talk and he'll be up,” says Omar. “He's so on point. He knows how to make shit look good and he even knows how to do the Heimlich maneuver!
“On trips, every time I'd do something, Dill and AVE would be like, ‘Fuck yeah brother, that's sick!’ Just to hear it from the OG Alien guys means a lot to me. I'm not one to do a lot of technical things and I'm not a natural. I work hard for what I do. Sometimes I’d wonder if what I was trying was fucking stupid and Dill would go, ‘It's fucking sick, man! Your video part is gonna be straight from the ‘80s!’”
Then there were the injuries. Like many of his Alien teammates during filming (Mikey Taylor, Arto and Jason Dill to name a few), Omar was no exception. On the first filming trip in Australia, Omar slammed attempting a tailslide into a ditch, pulling back, ripping the skin apart and fracturing his thumb while simultaneously breaking his other wrist.
“Omar gets hurt a lot because he’s less scared than the people are who are watching him try scary shit,” says his friend and Habitat pro, Tim O’Connor.
“I had two casts on and I looked ridiculous,” explains Omar. “Tim was feeding me. I couldn’t even wipe my own ass. So I’d get my pants past my hips with my elbows and wiggle my ass ‘till my pants came down all the way, then sit on the shitter and do my thing.
“The way I'd wipe my ass was kinda fucked up. I’d grab the toilet paper with my casts, and try to fold it into a thick square. Then put it at the tip of the seat so it was like folded up and I would turn sideways and wedge my ass around the toilet paper and clench my butt. That sucked man! Sometimes I would just pull my pants down and piss out of control ‘cause I couldn’t use my hands. But the shitting worked out. I also split my knee open one time and fuckin’… well lots of shit happened, man. But it all worked out in the end.”
“Work out in the end” indeed, because less than a day after this conversation with Omar, an apologetic Greg Hunt emailed me that he was just too swamped with editing to give me any good Omar gossip for this story, but told me Omar got his final trick in Santa Cruz and was in great spirits now that his Mind Field part was finally in the bag.
March 6, 2009
Mikey Taylor for Thunder
By Rob Brink
ThunderTrucks.com, March 2009
So how and when did you get on Thunder?
I've been on Thunder for about a year now. I would always ask Malto for trucks, till one day I just asked him if he could try and get me on. He came through big time!
What made you want to switch?
I think Reda was the real reason I switched to Thunder. He'd always make fun of me for not riding my sponsor’s trucks. He'd tell me," Why don't you just get sponsored by the things you like?" So I took his advice and now I ride for Thunder!
What do you like best about the trucks?
My favorite thing about the trucks is how good they turn. I hate having to tic tac around to make corners. Thunders are the only trucks that I can ride really loose, but still be in control!
What do you like best about the brand?
I always liked Thunder ads. Ever since I was a kid, I looked forward to seeing who had the next ad.
What trucks do you ride?
Yea the 147 high lights are the shit! I ride a pretty big board, so the lights really help on not weighing that thing down!
Do you keep the regular bushings or do you kit out your trucks with something else?
I stick to the stock bushings. You can't beat those things!
What's your favorite color truck to have on your setup?
I don't know if I have a favorite. I'm constantly switching em up. Right now I have the blue base plate, with the gold hanger. You can't really go wrong with any of them!
Do you have any truck pet peeves? I know once you wouldn't let me ride your board because I'm Goofy and you said we lean to our heels and fuck up your bushings?
Yea I'm kind of a nut when it comes to skating. I just think about things way too much. Like if someone asked to ride your board, you'd probably just be like, "sure go ahead." Then when you got it back, you wouldn't even think twice about what happened. You'd just keep on pushing. Well me, not the case. I'd get my board back, and start thinking about all this bullshit. My trucks are looser now, there turning one way, my boards soggy. All this dumb shit! It's definitely something I need to change!
For you first ad, what's the trick and where?
My first ad is a front board down some handrail. I know it's nothing new, but I really liked how the spot looked. There's all the cool colors on the stairs. I actually don't know where that spot was. Acosta took me there! I think it was in the Inland Empire somewhere.
How many stairs is that?
Um shoot, I don't know! Maybe 15 or 16.
How many tries did it take?
That one didn't take that many tries. Only a few. On stuff like that, it's not that it's too hard, just scary!
Now that Mind Field has debuted to the world, how do you feel about it?
I feel pretty good. Most the people I’ve talked to really liked the video! I was really just honored to be a part of it!
How long were you filming for that thing?
Jeez, it felt like forever. The majority of it was filmed in the last two years, but I definitely had some old clips! It's crazy to see how much I’ve changed in the last few years!
I heard it made you a little mental... do you really have plans to go see a shrink?
Yea it definitely made me a little nuts. I was filming for so long and it was seriously all I was thinking about. We wouldn't go out and just skate. We were going out to film. You get in that mindset for so long that it's sometimes hard to snap out of it. As odd as it sounds, it feels weird that I can just go out and skate!
Who's part was your favorite and why?
I've actually only seen the video once, and it was at the premiere. It's actually hard to remember everyone's parts individually. I really liked Jake's part. Of course AVE! I think my favorite was probably Heath's! He's a beast.
Of all the tricks in your part, which are you most proud of?
I would say the front feeble to tail. That was actually really hard for me! I had to go a few different times to do that. Thank you Omar for letting me stay at your house every time!
You can see an evolution in your skating happen throughout the course of your part... where do you see your skating going in the future, what are you trying to do?
You know, I actually have no clue. I didn't really plan on that happening, it kind of just did. I think it really just depends on who I'm around. Lately I’ve been skating with Mike Anderson, and now I just want to go real fast!
What's next for you? Other videos? Interviews? Projects?
Well I'm working on an TransWorld interview with Oliver Barton. I wanted to wait until the video was done, so I could have all new photos for it. I'm sure there will be an etnies video somewhere in the future. Also be on the lookout for the etnies and Thunder collab RVL shoe. A portion of the proceeds are going to the Johnny Romano Foundation. Also, I'm sure I’ll be filming stuff at The Berrics! Hopefully just a lot of skating!
What's this new iPhone game you are obsessed with?
God, what aren't I obsessed with? This week, it's Macala. I don't even know how to explain it. I saw Malto and Sam McGuire playing this game and now I’m hooked to. I guess if you have an iPhone, just look up the game and download it.
February 25, 2009
JT Aultz for Real Manifest
By Rob Brink
RealSkateboards.com, March 2009
Why do so many people ask you about San Diego, Mohawks and Blink 182 in interviews? It’s getting old.
Well I live in San Diego and ride for a SF company so I think that’s why. When I was younger I rode for this clothing company that Blink owned.
Give us another musical guilty pleasure.
Musical guilty pleasures... well, do you like Phil Collins? I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy… too intellectual.
It was on Duke where Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think “Invisible Touch” was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums.
“Christy, take off your robe.”
Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument.
“Sabrina, remove your dress.”
In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism.
“Sabrina, why don't you, uh, dance a little.”
Take the lyrics to “Land of Confusion.” In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. “In Too Deep” is the most moving pop song of the 1980s… about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I've heard in rock.
“Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your asshole.”
Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like “In the Air Tonight” and “Against All Odds.”
“Sabrina, don't just stare at it, eat it.”
But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group than as a solo artist, and I stress the word “artist.” "Sussudio" is a great, great song—a personal favorite.
What’s the worst thing about interviews?
When people mix your words up.
Everyone also asks about your OCD, but only in relation to skating. I used to have OCD pretty bad and the most embarrassing stuff I would do had nothing to do with skating, like alphabetizing CDs at three in the morning because I felt they were out of order and couldn’t sleep…
Most of mine are with skating. I think it’s when I’m nervous. I do have a few outside of skating though. I have to have the volume on my car stereo at an odd number… that’s pretty weird.
How about a scandalous Mic-E story?
Yeah that one was probably the best but I’ve told it two times already. We need to get Mic back on some trips so I can stock up on stories.
I, like you, believe Morrissey sucks. And all this Morrissey hype in skateboarding is just ridiculous. Give us a few reasons why Morrissey, does indeed, suck.
Okay, I’m not going to lie… Morrissey has grown on me. I can’t explain it. I used to talk all this shit and now here I am. So that’s one of my guilty pleasures.
Tell us about faking an injury to get away from Reda.
First of all, I would never fake an injury. That would be the biggest jinx on yourself. But it is pretty funny that Reda thought that. I rolled my ankle on this trip and had to go home early. I still get random calls from Reda telling me how bad I suck.
I read an older interview that asked you if you were voting for Bush and you said you weren’t going to vote. Did that change for last month’s election?
I DONT VOTE.
What happened with Split? You have a part in that video that never came out so where will the footage go?
Now I have more footage for Real.
Didn’t the same thing happen with 88? Are you cursed?
I get paid to skateboard and travel with my friends. That’s the best thing in the world. I’m not cursed at all.
I heard some shop owner has a man crush on you…
I don’t know anything about that.
Excessive body hair is a topic that seems to come up a lot when I ask people about you. Do you ever manscape… you know, trim it down? Or do you just keep it retro?
I keep it Bigfoot.
If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?
Well, we have to end apartheid for one. And slow down the nuclear arms race. Stop terrorism and world hunger. We have to provide food and shelter for the homeless and oppose racial discrimination and promote civil rights, while also promoting equal rights for women. We have to encourage a return to traditional moral values. Most importantly, we have to promote general social concern and less materialism in young people.
What’s the worst trend in skateboarding right now?
I gotta hear this story I was told:
“Once JT powered down a pot cookie by accident and freaked out thought he lost his mind. He asked Bravo to call his mom and take him to the hospital.”
I don’t think I asked him to call my mom, but maybe. I was with Bravo one night—just us two and there was this random pot brownie just sitting there all week. We had just got back from skating and thought “Why not?”
I went to sleep after eating most of it, thinking it wasn’t working. I woke up in the middle of the night freaking out. I thought I was going to swallow my tongue or some shit. I think I even ended up freaking Bravo out too. The next day I woke up and told Bravo not to tell anyone about it… being all embarrassed at the time and shit. But right as I was coming out of the bathroom I hear Phares say "NO WAY!" And he’s laughing. Bravo had to tell everyone he knows and still does. I don’t care anymore. Now I think its pretty funny.
Tell us what it’s like to bone a girl who’s wearing blonde dreads. And why was she wearing them?
You are coming off a gnarly leg snap, busted face… everything. How’d it happen? What did you miss about skating most while you were out?
I slipped out skating some hubba in the city. Just started skating a few weeks ago. It sucked so bad. I missed everything. I would just drive around and look for skate spots for when I got better. That’s like torture. But it does feel good to be back skating again.
When you slammed, told Jim “Sorry that it might mess with the video.” Was that the only thing on your mind even though you just wrecked yourself?
I was pretty fucked on morphine at that time. I probably said that because I knew I was going to have to ask him for more time to film.
Who are your favorite skaters to watch in person?
Dennis and Hewitt.
What’s your favorite thing about skateboarding?
What’s special to you about Real after all these years?
The team and everyone involved in it.
December 19, 2008
Question Mark: Justin Schulte
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag February 2009
The day before our interview, 22-year-old Justin Schulte missed his connecting flight from Dallas TX to Newark, NJ by about 30 seconds and was preparing for a night of less-than-comfortable sleep on an airport floor.
“I watched my plane leave, dude!” Justin says, “And all because I had to go and buy a Whopper.”
“Is that a typical Schulte circumstance?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m pretty much the last-minute guy. ‘Oh no worries, the plane’s not gonna leave without me.’ Then I get to the front and they’re like, ‘You’re Justin Schulte right? We paged you four times.’ But somehow I foreshadowed myself blowing it. I had a feeling that something wasn’t gonna pan out right, so I didn’t check a bag in. I just carried on my bag with the skate.”
Justin was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, an area just over the hill from Hollywood and famous for producing heaps of great skateboarders—Paul Rodriguez, Mikey Taylor, Jeron Wilson, Kevin Long, Mike Anderson, Mike Mo Capaldi, Mike Barker, Torey Pudwill and Van Wastell, to name a few. According to Justin, it’s also the porn capital of the world.
Speaking of Hollywood, Justin’s first career was that of a child actor. He appeared in Go-Gurt and Hot Wheels commercials, did a voice over in The Little Mermaid 2 and starred in ABC’s Two of a Kind with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. He even had the pair’s digits for a hot minute. Until he lost it…
“I washed my pants and with the number in the pocket. I blew it,” Justin says, laughing.
Forced into acting by his parents back then, Justin has no interest in pursuing it now that he’s older. But it wasn’t entirely bad—he’s still got money in the bank from it, and aside from a week-long stint at Jamba Juice a few years ago, he’s never had to work a “real” job in his life—and likes it that way.
“Yeah, I’m not trying to serve anyone, dude,” Justin grumbles.
Like most Valley kids, Justin grew up skating at Skatelab day after day, where he met his now good friend, Torey Pudwill. Then sprayed him in the eyes with Windex during their first encounter.
Justin admits, “I just saw Windex and like, my hand was close to it. I wanted to pull the trigger so bad and I aimed at his face. I used to be a little shit, dude. We drive-by paintballed people standing on line outside music venues, broke windshields, and, well, maybe stole a golf cart from a college campus once and wrecked it on accident.”
Justin attributes the amount of talent coming out of the Valley to the abundance of good spots there are to skate, the amount of great skaters there and everyone knowing one another, skating together all the time. But does someone like Justin, who is virtually sponsorless at his age (Val Surf and Circa and Almost flow—“Man Flow” as he calls it), feel the sting from being surrounded by so much talent? Are all his friends that are pro or soon-to-be pro passing him by? Is it harder to get noticed when you’re just “another good skater from the Valley”?
“It’s definitely a double-edged sword,” he says. “I skate with all these fools, but at the same time maybe no one stands out. Like everyone’s too good. What are you gonna do with a group of twenty dudes? Some of us just kind of get lost.”
Justin should be way further along in his skateboarding career by now and he knows it. He’s had some “circumstances” over the years, hence the “man flow” situation. It’s been a combination of the business side of skateboarding, bad timing, bad luck and even his own personality and decisions.
“In this industry you have to kiss a little ass to get somewhere and Justin’s not always willing to do that,” says Scott Mackey, long-time friend of Justin’s. “Which might have hurt him, but I feel no one’s actually given him a real chance yet.”
“I was never fully on Element,” Justin explains, “but I’d been getting stuff from them and had parts in two of their videos. I didn’t know they were gonna use my footage in the first video, Elementality, so I was like ‘Thanks for the coverage but you can’t really be using my footage like that if you don’t pay me or anything.’ And they just kind of treated me like I was out of line and big-headed.”
According to Justin, he’d been asked by Daewon Song to skate for Almost about four years ago. And he would’ve done it had Element not told him not to.
“I like the individuality over there at Almost.” Justin says. “Torey is my best homie. Daewon is the shit. He tried to help me out long ago and I’m just down for him. Element said they were gonna pay me the next month and didn’t. How come people look you in the eye and tell you shit? I come from a place where what you say is your word and you stand by it. I’d be in a completely different place right now if I was never involved with them.”
Despite a bitter taste in his mouth here and there, Justin’s confident and optimistic about the future. He knows he has to work. He knows sometimes, no matter what, getting noticed in our little world is part of the job and relies on more than just being a good skateboarder. It’s also knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time.
“He’s skating a lot—really trying,” explains Tony Tave, Element/Circa pro and close friend of Justin’s. “He knows how to skate and skates his way and that’s what’s gonna work for him. Skateboarding is going to appreciate that and the way Justin skates in the future.”
“Justin just grew up buttery. Gimmick-free skateboarding, ” says Mackey.
“I know Atiba, so it’s all good! Justin jokes.
“Skateboarding is what I’m here to do. I feel like it’s meant to be because I have this money from acting to sit on while I sort things out. Honestly, as long as I can have fun and be with my friends, it doesn’t matter. We all love skating.”
Justin’s favorite skateboarders and inspirations are his friends. As legendary as they all are, his list doesn’t include the obvious list of Gonzes Carrolls, Cardiels, Kostons and Marianos.
“Torey can do anything thing at any given time,” Justin gushes. “Like, he can be higher and drunker than anyone and be insane. Every time he does a trick it’s some shit he just thought of that he’s never done before that he did in like, 10 tries. The type of shit that makes you laugh. I swear to God he can do anything that anyone can do.”
“Mike Anderson… that’s another one. You’ll be out skating and he’s the smileyest dude and he’s psyched to be skating. He’s definitely one of the best skateboarders. And Van Wastell has always inspired me. Now that he’s passed it’s crazy thinking about how happy he would be just being able to backtail a ledge. Him always being down for absolutely anything at any point in time gets me psyched. I skate a lot for him nowadays. I don’t even get sad when I think about Van ‘cause he makes me so happy. He’s probably just kicking it with Shane Cross up there laughing it up.”
At this point, you may still be on the fence about Justin. He’s part raw talent, part stoney slacker, part lucky, part stubborn, part victim, part perpetrator, part privileged, part smart, part appreciative, part real, part confident and part enlightened about what his skateboarding and life are all about. Sounds pretty human to me. Perhaps you still don’t care. Perhaps you’re sold and want more. He’ll be okay with it either way. It’s his first interview and he knows what matters to him and what he needs to do to be okay with himself.
“I’m really, really psyched to get this interview. Hopefully shit pans out for me.” Justin concludes. From his skating, attitude and the way he’s speaking, “things panning out” seems like it could be a reality soon.
And then, just for shits ‘n giggles, before I let him go, I asked Justin if there’s anything that irks him about the skateboard industry.
“I honestly don’t even feel like I’m in the skateboarding industry,” he says. “I’m just, like, watching the skateboarding industry. It’s funny. You guys are mad funny. People thinking they make a difference or matter or something in skateboarding… that’s what bugs me. You can quote me on that… people thinking they make a difference.”
December 19, 2008
Festivus: Downtown Showdown '08
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag February 2009
It’s virtually impossible to be surrounded by a few hundred of your friends in a Hollywood replica of downtown Manhattan, with Slayer’s "Angel of Death" playing at mind-shearing volumes while Jon Ponts kamikazes himself twenty-something feet across a pentagram-shaped monstrosity of a skateboarding obstacle named the “Five Points of Pure Evil” and not have a good time. Im-fucking-possible.
In fact, if you’re incapable of enjoying such a spectacle, you’re just plain dull. You have no business even reading this article. Go watch time-lapsed erosion on YouTube instead.
One of the most remarkable things about the annual Vans Downtown Showdown contest is that it’s never not amazing. “Moments” happen and stories that will be verbally shared for years to come are created right before your very eyes. Isn’t that special?
Whether it’s an inebriated Dustin Dollin dropping in (or at least attempting so) on a 1/5 scaled down version of the Mega Ramp, Omar Hassan peeling off his own scalp skating through a janky wooden tunnel, or Alex Olson and Heavy Metal Chuck colliding at high velocities—like the car accident on the side of the road that everyone rubbernecks, something entertainingly sketchy is waiting to be seen and missing it would be a travesty.
Humans, especially skateboarders it seems, have an insatiable desire for chaos. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, our plight might actually be that there’s just not enough chaotic circumstance in our daily life to satisfy our needs. So naturally, a day full of four thirty-minute jam sessions, consisting of 15 or so skaters each, on obstacles no ones ever skated, is a much-needed catalyst for chaos. Thanks, Vans!
Not to be glossed over, these skaters’ ability to adapt to obstacles unfamiliar to them at moment’s notice is always a testament to their talent. It’s remarkable actually. You watch, they go for it, and you get lost in it… forgetting that you quite possibly will never be that good on a skateboard or never have the privilege to skate such madness or land those tricks. But it doesn’t really matter; because skateboarding is one of the few things in the world that you don’t always need to be doing to be happy. Its mere presence in your day is sheer glee. The free hot dogs help too, especially when a jolly Hawaiian shirt-clad Steve Van Doren personally puts one on your plate for you.
December 19, 2008
Festivus: Goofy Vs. regular 2008
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag February 2009
Winning is played. Seriously. Throughout all of history, people just want to win shit. Free stuff, games, wars, bets, the affection of another person or many people, skateboarding contests. Wanting to win just starts trouble and drama and usually results in mental anguish or a loss of income and pride. So, in an unprecedented new marketing strategy that will soon resonate and be imitated throughout the entire industry, The Skateboard Mag decided to lose this year’s GvR on purpose. Keep an eye on your inboxes for the big press release next week.
Since we’ve declared losing to be the new winning, we purposefully told Paul Rodriguez and Nyjah Huston to just kick it wherever they were and not even come to the contest… you know, relax for the weekend.
“Yo dawgs, don’t even bother coming to this GvR thing! We want to lose this contest to start a new craze, homies! It’ll be tight!”
And boy they were psyched!
We also told Ronnie Creager, two-time Team Goofy winner and MVP, to not qualify.
“Yo man, you had surgery not too long ago, you’re filming a sick part for the Blind video… take it easy, seriously… it’s just a contest.”
So he purposely held back some potentially-winning moves that he can’t reveal until the video is out. You (and Blind) will thank us later.
You saw what Paul and Nyjah did at Maloof Money Cup, right? First and second place, respectively. Yeah, having them show up and skate for Team Goofy or having Ronnie rip like he usually does would have made winning way too easy—like taking candy from a baby.
We sprinkled a little taste of what we got in our back pockets around all weekend long anyway. Justin Figueroa took Goofy MVP and basically made the most exciting heat of the finals the most exciting heat of the finals. Kevin Romar qualified first for the Goofies and Rodolfo Ramos won best trick. Brandon Westgate had jaws dropping. It’s not like we don’t got it if we want it.
Aside from that, we were the first to win GvR two years in a row. ABD, son! We did it the second and third year. It took you Regular fools five years to do it. That’s kinda like how snowboarding bites everything skateboarding does, just five years later. Hell, those kooks are just figuring out tight jeans are in, except they wont know for a while that they are kind of out already. I hear just this year at Mammoth there was a mass exodus of brimmed beanies, a la Muska/Penny circa 1996. The local dumpsters and thrift stores were overflowing with them from what witnesses said.
Remember when Andrew Reynolds won Tampa Pro two years in a row and decided not to go compete the third year, because he didn’t want to be “that guy”? Yeah. That’s a class act right there. Do you know anyone who would hate on The Boss right now? Me either. So we didn’t really try for a third win. And now Regular has gone and copied us by winning two years in a row. Big deal. Get of our nuts. Next year they’ll probably try to lose just to keep up with our groundbreaking techniques.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Besides, in the real word of skateboarding, out on the streets, Goofy still wins if we want to because we have the Gonz, Gino, Carroll, Koston, Howard, Alex Olson, Daewon, Appleyard, Og De Souza and Busenitz. We need not go on…
So go ahead and gloat about your big “sudden death overtime” win this year, Regular footers. Cash your big winning checks and surrender 40% in taxes to The Man…
October 29, 2008
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag September 2008
Cara-Beth Burnside has been skating for a looooong time. She’s won, and is still winning, lots of contests. She had the first female pro model shoe—ever. Back when having a pro model skateboarding shoe actually meant something. She’s been in the Olympics for snowboarding, but she’s over that now—strictly skating. She’s a brown belt in karate, so don’t call her Cara or she’ll fuck you up.
As a kid, Duane Peters personally mentored CB. Imagine having the Master of Disaster teach you how to skate concrete? I’ve seen forty-year-old men fanning out over that dude—hesitant to approach him for an autograph.
Cara-Beth’s got a couple horses and degree in Human Development that she’ll most likely never use. She’s a pioneer and a role model for female skateboarders all over the world and she’s got the respect of some serious skate legends in her back pocket. Now she’s got a long-overdue second interview in a skateboarding magazine. And, after you read this, just to be safe, run outside and see if your mailbox is still in tact.
When was your last interview in a skateboarding magazine?
Not for a long time. I haven’t had a lot of coverage in skate mags. I’m stoked to have an interview.
You already shot the photos?
I’m still trying to shoot a couple. Mostly concrete stuff. I haven’t been skating vert lately. I do for X Games but there are so many concrete parks and pools now. That’s where I want to skate. You can go to different parks and it’s easier to be more creative, instead of going back and forth and trying to learn a technical trick. I love going to a new place and figuring lines out.
You had the first female pro model shoe?
Yeah, like ’96, ’97? I’m not actually sure. It did really well in the beginning and Vans really promoted it.
You were also in the Tom Petty “Free Fallin’” video, right?
Somebody wrote that in one of the magazines, but that wasn’t me. I always wanted to tell that guy who wrote it, “That wasn’t me, dude.” I’m actually a Tom Petty fan and I can’t stand that song. It figures they have some girl in there wearing Spandex that can’t even skate.
She had a harsh toilet-bowl style. Gator is in that video too. I was gonna ask about working with him…
I actually did do a soft drink commercial in Bogota, Columbia with Gator just before he went to jail.
Was he normal?
He definitely had things going on. Gator was always really nice to me and helped me with skating when a lot of guys might have vibed me out. I had fun skating with him. He just snapped I guess. It sucks for that girl and he’s paying the price now.
Have you ever skated the Mega Ramp?
Just the quarterpipe. I haven’t been out there in so long but I really want to. The gap is just so big right now at Bob’s. What scares me is the quarterpipe… landing the gap and you’re not used to the speed.
Do you keep up on street skating?
I get magazines and watch some videos. I’m stoked on the new Cardiel video. He’s one of my favorite skaters. He’s always has been really cool to me too.
Who else are you into?
Duane Peters has been a big influence on my skating—since back in the day. I was just this little girl, like eleven years old, with a crush on him. And he was like, the man—this total punker dude—and he used to come to the skatepark and hang out with me! He was always so cool and taught me tricks. He encouraged me because I always had boys saying, “You’re a girl, you can’t do that.” I’d be trying a trick and he’d be like “Fuck it! Just fucking do it! You better do it right now!” That’s what I grew up with and it had a lasting impression on me. I have a lot of respect for him.
What happened with Julie Kindstrand at the Pro Tec Pool Party last year?
Yeah, that’s been an ongoing drama. I don’t even know how to explain it where it would come out right. I’m always cool with everybody. I don’t want to be having any drama. I was about 30 seconds into my last run and then Julie dropped in on the other bowl. We eventually collided and her board hit me in my knee really hard, just above my kneepad.
When we got out she was apologizing and I snapped and grabbed her on the throat for a second and was like “What are you doing?!” Her dad was pissed I apologized. All my friends were pissed at her. I guess it’s a respect thing. I have a certain skate etiquette and there are just people I wouldn’t drop in on if they're already skating. It’s an unspoken thing and if you don’t know it you’re kind of clueless.
I saw her months later down at Claremont. I’m not one to hold grudges so I had her come over and skate with us. I apologized again and it's water under the bridge.
Tell me about being at a bar for Duncan’s birthday and breaking some chick’s nose?
Oh my God! Who did you hear that from? It was back in our raging crazy days. Some psycho Mexican chick was getting on Jen O’Brien about something and I butted in and the girl was all pissed. I was like “Yeah, Jen is my business!” Then her friend came up and next thing I know, me and Jen are both wrestling some girls. It’s kind of blurry. I just punched her in the face and broke her nose. Somehow we all got out of there and I had blood all over me. We found out later she had a knife on her and just got out of jail a couple of days before.
What about wrecking your mailbox?
I hate the mailboxes that are in front of my driveway. They’re just so ghetto. I was in a really bad mood one day and I got out of the car to get my mail. I had my cowboy boots on and was like “I really hate these friggin’ mailboxes!” And I just kicked them right off. I don’t know why, I just snapped, but it was pretty funny because the mailboxes just went flying.
Later that day my sister came home and was like, “I found your mailboxes laying on the street and tipped them back up. What did you do to them?” She totally knew.
After you kicked the mailboxes, did you just bask in the glory and stare at them on the ground?
I just walked away. Left ‘em lying there on the ground. I’m not normally like that. It was just a moment.
You showed up at your neighbor’s house with nun chucks one time?
Yeah, I have some illegal nun chucks. I don’t know what happened but he was being crazy. I had a friend of a friend staying at my house and she was like “Oh my God where are you going?”
I put the nun chucks in the back of my pants and walked down there. I didn’t know if I was going to have to whip them out and crack someone over the head with them or not. She probably thought I was crazy, but I mean, other people have guns…
What’s the last book you read?
Horses Never Lie.
Oh, that’s right, you own horses. Is it fiction?
It’s a story this horse trainer writes about his personal experiences with horses.
Does it get all sad? Did you cry like I did at Sea Biscuit?
Um… not in this book.
Did you go out last night after the Pro Tec Pool Party?
No. I was so over it. I wanted to stay out but I couldn’t even drink a beer… and I like my beers.
What’s your favorite beer?
I really like this beer from Montana called Trout Slayer.
Trout Slayer? Damn. People are always calling you a tomboy. Do you ever have a moment and get really girly?
I guess because I like sports and ride a motorcycle or my horses I’ve always been called a tomboy. I have a feminine side but it’s subtle. I like to get a manicure and have my nails nice. I like to go shopping. I don’t get all gaudy. I’m stoked because Element just sent me some stuff and they have really cute girl clothes.
Has the industry had your back over the years or have you had to do it yourself?
I’ve pretty much been out there doing it myself. Vans has been my main sponsor the whole time. They’ve always taken care of me. There aren’t many girls that have full sponsors where they’re making good money and getting coverage. I put my whole life into skating and I love it, so it’s cool to have an interview. I had one interview in Thrasher way back and also the cover in 1989, which I have hanging on my wall. Maybe I’ll get another cover someday…
What’s been the pinnacle of your career so far?
I feel like I still have something to do. Like it hasn’t happened yet. I mean, I’ve had all these great things but there is just something else out there. I’m a believer that we are all here to help others and make things better. I feel inspired to keep going and stay positive and to always try be nice to people.
October 27, 2008
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag December 2008
There are more than a few pro skateboarders out there who cringe when you ask them how old they are. Jason Adams isn’t one of them.
I read an old Big Brother interview with you and learned all about the BMC [Beautiful Man’s Club]. Is it still in effect?
Just in spirit these days. There’s still a few people out there. It was me, Jai Tanju, Tim Brauch and Crazy Eddie that started it in an elevator in Long Beach during a trade show—as a joke. It was created out of way too much time on our hands and we just drank way too much. But next thing you know now there’s like BMC Japan and they’re still fully into it. Years ago I went there and they had BMC shirts, all written in Japanese.
Were those the dark years?
Kind of. I did drink a lot, so half the time I was having the time of my life the other half was dark depression. I was just pile of shit basically. The high moments when you’re just partying everything’s great. And then there’s the next day and you’re like “God I hate myself. I don’t hardly skate anymore and I feel like shit and I’m broke and I live in a shitty house with eight dudes.”
Is there an equivalent in to those great times in your life now?
I’m just in parent mode. My life totally revolves around that. I’m always going to myself “Your kids are awesome. You’re going to look back and go ‘fuck it went by so quick.’ Enjoy this now.” My life’s so different now I can’t find a parallel. My kids took place of all that.
You seemed really self-deprecating in that Big Brother piece…
That’s been my biggest struggle my whole life. At the time I didn’t realize I was just doing things differently. It was always hard because back then no one really got it.
I know I didn’t get it. In older videos I wanted to see flip tricks and new tricks and stuff. Then when Label Kills and Bag of Suck dropped and I saw your parts, it finally made sense to me.
When I first turned pro I was trying my fucking best to keep up. But at one point I remember thinking “It’s over. I’m just going to do whatever the hell I’m going to do.” I’m definitely a “glass is half empty” kind of guy. The last few years I’m aware of it and I try not to let it get to me, but it still creeps in there sometimes.
You’ve been pro forever for some great companies though. Does that help validate what you’re doing? Make you feel better?
I’m always seeing what I’m not. It’s not what I’ve done, it’s “This isn’t good enough.” But I’m kind of fucking over it.
I found an interview from 1993 and you were asked if you would let your daughter date a skateboarder someday…
Yeah, and it said something like “Fuck no. But I never want to have kids.”
You’re like “I’ll never get married. I’m not responsible.”
At the time I was 19 years old. 19 going on 12—totally immature for my age. I thought I was a raging punk rocker dude and everything was so new. I was getting money to skate. I had my own apartment in San Jose. And it was like “Fuck dude, I’m doing it right now!” I didn’t plan being married with children. But I met a girl; fell in love, got pregnant real quick. It was a big eye opener. It totally wasn’t planned but it all worked out just fine. Pretty much we defeated all odds—the fact that here we are married eight years later with two kids.
On my 25th birthday it was like, “Dude you’re whole ‘I don’t want to grow up’ attitude isn’t going to work. Clean up your act or you’re going to blow everything.”
Yesterday when I called you had three kids to babysit?
Two are mine and one was my daughter’s friend who spent the night. My wife went to the gym so I was in charge. The kids will be fine and once I get on the phone all hell breaks loose. So now I know not to try to do anything.
Do you freak out about providing a life for your family off of skateboarding?
I’d been freaking out… even before. Even more after the first kid came and then even more when my wife quit her job to stay with the kids. It was a panic attack. It wasn’t until this year when I was finally like, “You’ve been freaking out for 15 years and you’re still here.” I’m 35 and I feel more comfortable now—just finally in the last six months. If it changes I’ll readjust.
Do you ever envision what you might do after skating?
I really don’t know. I just kind of have all my little projects. My only plan right now is to fuse my projects with my skating. I’ve just always got by being me and that’s all I’m going to keep doing.
You met your wife right after Tim Brauch passed away.
Isn’t it strange how life compensates for something gnarly happening?
I’d met her a few times before that, but when we actually did spend some time together it was the day after the funeral at a skate jam barbecue for Tim. She had a friend who had died the same day Tim did and we got together talking about that.
When Tim died, the next day, somehow I knew everything was going to be different. It was the end of that era for me. You brought up the BMC thing… when Tim died it was done. Everything was different from then on out. I think it was like that for the entire skateboard scene in San Jose.
Being that you do skate kinda differently than most people, are you numb to all the crazy stuff in new videos?
I don’t hardly see skate videos anymore. Even the day I turned pro I couldn’t compete with what was going on. So why trip out now when I’m 35? It obviously doesn’t matter.
Do you feel disconnected to the skateboarding world?
I do feel disconnected. I totally miss it. I’m constantly frustrated ‘cause I don’t skate as much as I want to—mostly because my lifestyle doesn’t jive with a skateboarder’s lifestyle. I’m up at 6 am and then I’m home for dinner and I need to be in bed at a decent hour to start it all over again.
A lot of times I just go skating by myself to keep myself from having a heart attack when I do go skating. I just get on my board and go to feel the clickety clack under my wheels. I just cruise.
Do you ever get on your board, skating all alone, hit a rock and eat shit?
I hate that… you slam so hard on the sidewalk. When I was a kid I was in my own little world and it didn’t matter. There’s so many times now, I’ll go out and skate and it’s like I’m a grown-ass man in a schoolyard by myself feeling real weird. I eat shit on a rock now and I’m like “Shit the mailman’s right there and saw that.” It sucks.
What’s a trick you wish you could do?
Backside smith grinds. I’ve learned them but I’ve never been able to do it to where I have it. I’ve spent so many hours trying to get it down over the last 15 years. But fortunately, I’ve always had the back tail.
Matt Eversole said deep down you regret quitting enjoi and that you’d admit it.
[Laughter] Fuck you, Matt. Matt has his panties in a wad. As much as he’s cool about everything he’s a little pissed off at me for going back to Black Label.
How is it riding for Black Label instead of enjoi?
The difference is enjoi is owned by Dwindle, which is publicly owned and Black Label is in a warehouse about the size of my house owned and operated by John Lucero. So that’s a huge difference. It’s not like one is better than the other. I just dig the smaller vibe. To be honest, there’s probably a small underground crew of people all over the world that have kind of backed me over the years and those people want to see my name on a Black Label board more than on an enjoi board.
I was depressed for like two weeks when I quit enjoi. Not only do I love those guys, but I was part of a serious group of talent and it was really amazing. Matt really bent over backwards and watched out for us, which you wouldn’t get at a lot of other companies.
Do you sell more or less boards when you do an old school-type shape?
To be honest, in this day and age, no one’s selling boards unless you’re Ryan Sheckler. I’ve always ridden shaped boards. Everyone makes shaped boards now but with Black Label, when we came out with the “Punk Point” board, no one was doing boards like that. I actually rode it and to this day it sells really well considering the state of the board market. But for me it’s more important to put something out there that means something. Not mass-produced fucking shit. If it didn’t sell a ton I’d still want to do it cause there are those few people out there that it reaches.
That used to be the theory behind a personalized graphic, which, unfortunately, barely exists anymore…
I’m kind of stuck in skateboarding when I was a kid. I’m super influenced by that and I miss it sometimes.
What’s Combat Rock all about?
It’s this brand I’m doing. I walked into a skate shop one day and everything’s the same. Everyone’s saying everything’s limited edition and all this shit, but there’s so much of it.
I’m going to make wheels for myself just ‘cause I’ve always wanted to do unique wheels—how they used to back in the day when there was a pro wheel with a shape and multiple sizes and colors. But it’s not a wheel company. It’s all going to be driven from hand-painted stuff. Shirts, wheels, boards. I want to always get collaborations going with people—stuff they might have wanted to do but haven’t been able to with their sponsors that won’t conflict with their sponsors.
What was with your nose? You regret fixing it?
When I was five I fell off my bike and exploded my whole face. I went to the doctors and they didn’t even consider me breaking my nose because it’s mostly still cartilage when you’re that young. When I was in high school and I started to grow, one day Jovante Turner was like “Your nose is crooked.” He would always give me shit. I’m like “Dude you’re fucking tripping.”
The older I got the crookeder it got. Then I was 19 I broke it again. Finally it came to a point where it was starting to bother me and I noticed when I was skating I’d get lightheaded. Jamming around the park and I’d be seeing stars because I wasn’t breathing right. So I went and got it looked at and they’re like “We have to break your nose, straighten it, and that’ll make you breathe better.”
I was never self-conscious about my crooked nose, but I was after I got my surgery. I was worried that people thought I got a nose job, which I basically did. I kind of miss my old nose. It was such a part of me.
I heard you have really good meltdowns when you’re filming.
I don’t have them as much anymore. I’d get frustrated because I’m such a fucking vagina. It just gets to the point where I’m fucking mad at myself for being such a pussy and I talk shit to myself. “You’re a fucking pussy.” Luckily I’m not one of the people that kills the vibe. Everyone’s just kinda laughing at me.
The first thing two different people said to me about you was, “Tell him Stencils aren’t art.” Why are people hating on stencils?
‘Cause it doesn’t fall into that typical painting/sculpture/photography genre. I don’t’ really care. I’m not claiming to be some intellectual artist. I just got into doing this shit and all of a sudden people want to see it. There’s always those haters, just like when I came up skating years ago.
It seems like in the last few years your art’s been getting just as much coverage as your skating…
I think it’s a good thing because as many people hate it, there are just as many who like it. It helps everything I do. It makes that board that I did the graphics for that much cooler for a certain person and it allows me to keep everything going. I really like doing this stuff and these people are into it. What am I supposed say, “No,” because there are people that hate on it?
I’m just trying to find that little niche. It was the same thing with skating. When I started out I was never the most talented but I loved it. So I tried to make it happen. When I look back, me thinking “I’m not good enough” really held me back for a lot of years. So I’m trying to let that go and heading into this full bore. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m just into it like I am with skating.
If you had to pick one to do for an hour right now, would you skate or paint?
I’d go skating cause I’ve been painting shirts already and my brain’s fried. Jai is here. He’s outside. I don’t know what he’s doing but right now if I had an hour I’d be like “Come on Jai let’s skate and go get a beer.”
October 6, 2008
Milestone: Corey Duffel
By Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag November 2008
Corey Duffel admits to being a certifiable drama magnet. Some of it, as you may know, has been self-inflicted and highly publicized in the skateboard media over the years, while other parts of it might just be the fact that Corey stands out in a crowd. He looks and dresses different. He has presence and a big mouth every now and again. It could be something in the cosmos—some weird energy. You know that friend of yours who’s always having odd or funny or crazy stuff happen to him for no apparent reason? That’s Corey.
“Drama is following me constantly,” says Duffel. “The worst part is, I try to avoid drama, yet I’m always stuck in the middle of it. Whether it’s with fucking girlfriends or fucking kids or whatever. And cops never leave me alone. I just want to sit down and have a peaceful evening, and nope, it always seems to be drama.”
For those of you who may not have been around, or who just like to hear about it over and over, Corey’s most infamous debacle was his use of the “N” word in regards to Stevie Williams in a Big Brother am interview about eight years ago. Not to be overlooked, some choice anti-gay slurs were spoken in the interview as well. Many even believe Corey owes his career to the hype it generated. Seemingly wiser, he strongly disagrees.
“It did nothing but hurt me,” says Corey, now 24 years old. “I’m sure it played a big part in me not having a shoe sponsor for a while. It made me look like a fucking terrible person. I said terrible things and acted like a retard and I paid for it. People say it did wonders for me, but it made me look shameful. Obviously it brought attention to me, but for a bad thing. No one wants to be known for that—especially in skateboarding when we’re all supposed to be homies with everyone. If I hadn’t done that, I could have done a lot better for myself back then, ’cause it’s something that will follow me for a long time.”
And follow him a long time it has. Recently, allegations of Corey being a racist resurfaced on the web and Clyde Singleton offered some candid commentary on his blog:
Can somebody explain to me, how this scumbucket, still has a skateboarding career? i got an email from a kid who said he saw recent footage of ole Corey trying a trick over a rail, falling, and screaming “N!gger”, at the top of his lungs ... anyone (namely, any brothers) whos dumb enough to stand next to this racist fukk, and believe hes “changed”, is a fool. racism is a disease. you dont take a few weeks off, apologize, and come back “healthy”. fukk this kid. and once again- why am i the only one discussing this?”[sic]
“I’m still hated on for so much shit I’ve said in the past and apologized for,” says Corey. “Clyde says some sensitive shit about me, but I’ve just got to get on with things. I don’t want to say nothing back, so I just shut it. I just live my life and do what I’m doing. You always have to move forward and try to go on to things with the best outlook.”
In other recent inter-industry squabbles, according to Corey, he was jumped by Beagle [Baker’s filmer] at a Vans contest last year.
“Yeah. So some dude I don’t even know fucking comes up and sucker punches me three times while I’m in the middle of a conversation with somebody else and then takes off.”
Corey found out later it was over him making out with Beagle’s ex-girlfriend.
“Keyword ‘ex-girlfriend,’” says Corey. “It takes two to tango, dude. It ain’t my fault—blame the girl!’”
A second physicality between the two, evidently initiated by Beagle again, occurred at the Maloof Money Cup in July. A picture of Beagle punching Corey surfaced on the web almost instantly and Clyde pounced as well:
Beagle … i must give you the hghest honor in Gullyness, as well as “ass kickedgry” known to man. the only person who i’d be happier to see gettin the beats like this Is ... well. nobody. you’ve done more for Blacks, than Jesse Jackson punk ass. this, my friend- is one of THE greatest days i’ve come to see in my 20yrs of skateboarding. All i can really say, is THANK YOU brotha.. [sic]
And it’s these types of things that make a piece about Corey Duffel difficult to construct. Ignoring or evading these issues would be total bullshit. But there’s a potential guilt-by-association situation going on here. Defending Corey, or even just not condemning him, can be touchy for anyone.
At the same time, despite all the things you may hear or believe or see, Corey isn’t as hated on as you might think. People back him—although some sort of whisper it behind closed doors. They certainly don’t support his comments from Big Brother or anything of the sort, but they support his skating. Among these supporters, there’s an acknowledgment that everyone, especially kids, do stupid shit, fuck up, and (hopefully) eventually snap out of it. Honestly, the general consensus with most people I spoke with is that Corey made some dumb mistakes, got (and is still getting) what he deserves, works hard, and rips on a skateboard. That’s not to say he isn’t under the microscope … in fact, Corey might’ve used up eight of his nine lives in skateboarding already. And he knows it.
One time Corey got expelled from high school for having knife in his pocket and the vice principal told him he was never going to succeed at anything and was going to be a failure.
“Two years after I graduated,” Corey says, “he asked me to speak at the high school for career day. I thought that was kind of funny. I was like, ‘The nerve of this guy. He tells me I’m going to be a failure but now he wants me to fucking teach fucking career day about how to become a professional skateboarder?’”
“Did you say that to him?” I asked.
And Corey replied, “No, I bit my tongue pretty much.”
Once again, keeping his mouth shut, it seems Corey’s taken his beating—figuratively and literally—and tried to learn from his mistakes. To be frank, Corey talked some healthy doses of shit on a few other skateboarders in our little interview. A few weeks after, he called me explaining he’d rather it not be printed. In other words, he’s wising up. But it seems, much like with his vice principle, for whatever reason, the people in Corey’s world always offer a second chance or come back for more.
Over the years, Corey’s had to work three times as hard to keep himself from industry exile—mainly by letting his skating and work ethic do the talking. He’s had about ten interviews in the last four years alone. The amount of pros who’ve done even half of that in twice the amount of time can probably be counted on two hands.
“Perhaps it’s because people either love me or hate me?” Corey asks, addressing the vast amounts of coverage people want from him. “I don’t think I know any fucking neutral-type people. Even with pro skateboarders … the ones I get along with are real good friends, and the guys I don’t know, if I even wave to them, I don’t think I’m going to get a wave back. But a lot of times with the people who don’t like me, they end up meeting me and we become good friends.”
Even with the fans, it’s the same ol’ story. Corey either meets the die-hards who look just like him or the guys that he gets death threats from.
“I’ve shown up to demos in shorts and kids fucking get mad at me. Like, ‘Where are your tight pants? Why are you wearing shorts?’ I don’t know. Fuck it. It’s a hundred degrees outside.”
“He’s probably one of the easiest people to work with because he just understands how it all works,” says Foundation Team Manager Eric Wall. “He knows what he has to do to get in the mag. He won’t waste a photographer’s time. He’ll sign autographs and pose for pictures all night long. He’ll have talks with the kids. He may seem like the I-don’t-give-a-fuck dude, but he does.”
“I just like to get shit done. I know everyone else has a life and shit to do too. I wake up early. I’ll skate all fucking night. I want to be home working in the yard. I got two dogs and a new house I got to take care of. I got my family I like hanging out with. I got records to listen to. I got a million plants to plant, you know? I don’t want some fucking weeds and overgrown grass in the front yard. I want my shit looking proper.”
Corey knows how it works with the fans too. He’s no stranger to doing what it takes to keep ’em happy.
“It’s just called having human decency and being polite,” Corey says. “You never know how long a kid drives for demo, whether it’s ten minutes or fifteen fucking hours. I remember exactly which pros were cool to me and which ones were assholes. If a kid meets me, I’ll want to make sure he knows I’m actually a fucking nice guy—especially if it’s a kid who like doesn’t like me. I want them to see that at least I can fucking sit down and hang out and have a conversation with them. It’s like, why be a dick? Do you want to sell boards or do you not want to sell boards, you know? If a kid drove twelve hours to see you and you don’t give him an autograph, he’s going to think you’re a cocksucker. And I don’t want to be like the fucking cocksucker pros that I still remember as a kid.”
Corey believes in loyalty to his sponsors. And it may very well be part of the reason he’s managed to stick around through some hard times. Despite offers to ride for other brands over the years, he decided to stick with Foundation.
“They hooked me up when no one was giving me offers, so I definitely find that I have a solid bond with them,” says Corey. “To me that definitely goes a long way.”
But it’s not just “controversial” industry drama that looms over Corey’s head … there’s the everyday as well. Commonly referred to as anecdotes, this is the part where we put the seriousness aside and have a little chuckle at Corey’s expense over how, on a recent Osiris trip to South America, he got parasites after consuming large quantities of the tap water he was specifically told not to drink.
Admittedly too cheap to buy bottled water because it’s a “crock of shit and a waste of money,” it was the last day of his trip when the distributor asked him if he’d been drinking the tap water.
“I drank about six to ten glasses a day,” Corey replied.
”Well, ya know,” said the distributor, “it’s contaminated with parasites. You’re going to have to go get pills when you get back home.”
Sure enough, Corey was in his third day of gut rot when we did this interview.
While busy ingesting parasites in Ecuador, Corey’s girlfriend dumped him. “Over the phone?” I asked. “No. Even better yet. Over the AIM … the iChat,” he said. “I’m sure everything will work back out. Things always seem to happen that way.”
And they always seem to happen to Corey, We’ve all seen some priests on camera acting very un-priestly to skateboarders, but how many people do you know that can say they’ve been run over by an unruly man of the cloth and lived to tell the tale? Corey can.
He was skating some brand-new hubbas at a church in San Diego with LaRue and his friend Jeff, only to be confronted by a priest telling them they couldn’t skate and they were about to be arrested. Corey gave his trick one more go, made it, and the crew hopped in the car.
“So we’re leaving and Jeff pulls a U-turn to laugh in the guy’s face,” says Corey. “Like, ‘Ha ha. We got the trick!’
“Well the guy wasn’t so psyched on that so all of a sudden he pulls a hard left and crashes into Jeff’s car. Fully hit us on purpose. Like, that’s [attempted] manslaughter, man!
“So I get out of the car and I’m like ‘Hey dude. Take it easy, man.’ And of course he’s super bummed on that, like, ‘I’m not a dude.’ We’re like ‘Yeah, nice behavior, you’re supposed to be like, some holy dude.’
“So he gets back in his car. I’m outside just checking out the car and calling the cops. And then all of a sudden I look up and the dude is charging at me from like 30 or 40 feet away.
“It didn’t really click in my brain that I was about to get run over. I was just like ‘Holy shit!’ So I try to jump up out of the way and I get smacked by this SUV. I fly up and crack his windshield. Fully got toasted. My friends told me it was like straight out of a movie and then you see him peel out and take off as I’m laying on the ground, fucking fully looking pathetic in the middle of the street ’cause I just got hit by this SUV.”
Corey had hit his arm and head pretty badly and was still lying on the ground when the cops came. The officers ignored the fact that a priest drove over Corey and left the scene, proceeding to blame him for damaging the church. A few witnesses were walking their dogs and told the cops the whole story and in the end Corey still got tagged.
“I love that I get busted for fucking skating a hubba, but it’s okay for a proper guy in society to hit me with his car—a hit and run—and he doesn’t get in trouble. Kind of a strange world sometimes.”
In a past interview, Corey mentioned being one of the more rebellious and original skateboarders in the industry, because so many skaters look alike or fall into certain cliques. And asking him about it led to some optimistic commentary.
“My good friend Garrett Hill had that 360 flip 50-50 ad in red and black pants, and so many people gave him shit about that. But how many people remember that trick? Everybody knows it, whether it’s for the fact that it’s a sick trick or for the pants. So for the people that hate on him for it. Like, who gives a shit? Fuck them. If you wear something ridiculous, at least people remember it. Why do you want to be such a bore? It’s pretty annoying ’cause the thing that always makes people so awesome is something different and original. And yet you’re going to be a skateboarder talking shit on another skater for doing something he loves to do? We should all be homies with each other and just have a good time no matter what you look like. The reason we started skating was to get away from everybody else and have fun with our friends. It’s supposed to be original.”
Some might view that as a “take your own advice” type of scenario. But then again, Corey isn’t necessarily predictable, static, or safe.
“It’s like they always say,” says Corey. “‘Any publicity is good publicity’ in a way. I mean, shit, if you’re hating on me, that’s cool, ’cause at least you’re thinking about me. There’s that Oscar Wilde quote: ‘The only thing worse than being talked bad about, is not being talked about at all,’ ya know?”
It seems like Corey Duffel is a fairly self-aware young man who knows his place in the world of skateboarding. He also knows what he’s up against. He persists and is trying to find a balance between enjoying the attention he earns himself and crossing the line to get it. And while some people love to hate him, there’s a whole bunch of people out there who really hope he doesn’t blow it anymore.
The question now seems to be “How far is he gonna go in skateboarding and for how long?” As cliché as it sounds, it’s anyone’s guess. So, as always, it looks like all eyes are gonna be on Corey for a while.