Carry On: Rob Dyer

January 25, 2011

rob dyer rob brink already been done
Carry On: Rob Dyer
Words: Rob Brink
Photos: DustinRabin.com

Already Been Done, January 2011

Rob Dyer is gnarly. Like, “Danny Way” gnarly.

In the span of the last eight years, Rob (now 26 years old) has ridden his skateboard across the United States (most of the way with a fractured ankle), Canada, New Zealand and some of Australia (which got cut short after he was hit by a car). In total, approximately 20,000 miles—which, when calculated to actual on-board time, works out to about 18 months of solid pushing.

When Rob appeared on MTV Live in June of 2008 to promote his organization, Skate4Cancer, a record number of audience members came to see him. The producers said that Rob brought more people than any artist they’d ever had on, outnumbering even The Spice Girls in their glory days.

Apart from growing Skate4Cancer and opening the new Dream Love Cure Centre in Toronto, Rob’s planning on skateboarding across France this April.

In this world, very few people repeatedly pull off unthinkable. Rob Dyer is one of them.

You lost your mom, both grandmothers and a close friend to cancer … what was the time frame?
It all happened within roughly a five-month span. I was about 18 or 19 at the time and it caused a lot of frustration, which led to Skate4Cancer being born—trying to do something positive instead of dwelling on it.

Having all that happen in such a short time makes you realize that no matter what happens from then on, you know the bottom. Once you bounce back you become grateful for the little things—you realize what’s important in life, because you’ve been there and you’ve felt that low and that depression.

rob dyer rob brink already been done

The original goal of Skate4Cancer wasn’t necessarily about raising money but more about education and awareness, right?
Well, in the beginning it was about raising money for a couple organizations, but we discovered our audience was mostly young kids who didn’t have a checkbook to make a big impact on cancer research with.

But they do control their bodies. So we realized we had more impact teaching them about cancer prevention—how to use their bodies to prevent cancer—eating properly, giving self breast examinations and other stuff they could do in their day to day life.

In the past six months, however, we developed the idea to open a cancer community center called the Dream Love Cure Centre—a support system for people who are going through it and a place for kids to come in and talk if they need some counseling if someone in their life has just passed away. Upstairs is going to be a couple apartments for families that are getting treatment at the hospital nearby. So we’re starting to fundraise for that through t-shirt sales. Element has a skateboard that just came out and Circa does shoes for us, so a percentage of those go towards opening the center too.

Also, when the kids do spend money, you can help educate them on making a difference with what they buy, like the Skate4Cancer Element board or Circa shoe … or something like a Product (RED) iPod.
Totally. It’s amazing how much kids are aware of causes these days. I didn’t know any organizations when I was in high school—I wasn’t concerned about it, but the generation underneath us was born knowing that they’re in a really unstable world and they have to step it up. And the fact that they have is incredible.

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Am I correct in assuming the Internet has played a huge part in the success of Skate4Cancer?
Totally. I don’t think Skate4Cancer would’ve had the strength keep going without all social media there is now. We were just a bunch of kids who didn’t have a lot of capital to start an organization. The fact that there was a community supporting us through the Internet really helped us. Otherwise Skate4Cancer might not have ever reached people like you in California.

How many miles have you skated in total?
About 20,000.

Do you have the strongest legs of any skater on the planet?
[Laughter] I don’t think so. After a skate I’ll be all muscled out, but give it a couple months and it goes back to normal. I love pushing more than anything. Ever since I was a kid, just pushing around the city at night, especially during my time of loss, really helped me vent and figure out what was going on in my head.

I’ve heard some people talk about meditating and it seems like pushing on a skateboard also clears your head. You just focus on one thing and one thing only. I’ve always loved long distance running and things like that.

Do you have a custom setup for these marathon skates?
Because I grew up with regular street boards, I just ride that with a bunch of risers because I use 71 mm wheels—really soft ones. It helps a lot more with the terrain. The only thing about those is we burn through them quickly because of the wear and tear on them. Some of the roads are not as nice as we’d hope.

I go through set of bearings a week. Element helps us out with all of that. There’s also a distributor in Canada called S&J and they’ve always been good to us.

So logistically, how does a cross-country skate work?
Depending on the weather, normally what happens is the van drops me off and then drives up about 10 kilometers and I’ll skate to meet the van, rest for a bit and do the same thing over and over for about 60-80 kilometers.

Wherever we stop at the end of the day is where we pitch a tent or pull the van over, cook some beans, wait for the night to fall, make a fire and sleep.

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How do you prepare before you begin?
The best thing to do going into a skate is to not really think too much or over-prepare because if you do and things don’t work out, you’ll get stressed. Like, “Oh man, what we prepared for isn’t working out.”

It becomes negative really quick. Of course you have to make sure that you’re physically well-off and have food and stuff like that, but just getting into it and figuring out what you need as you go is the best attitude to have.

The roads are normally the most challenging and unpredictable aspect because in countries like the US—your highways are wild compared to ours! There’s not as much traffic in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We’re doing France in April and one of the reasons we picked that country is because we’ve read so many positive things about their bike lanes. A lot of our web traffic comes from France too. Other than that, we really don’t know what to expect when we get there.

Where did the car hit you?
It was just outside of Adelaide in Australia. We were skateboarding down the road and the car came from behind me. I guess the driver dropped his phone or was changing the radio because he just gradually swerved into me. It wasn’t a bad hit, just a gradual push off the road. I didn’t get too badly hurt—just pulled muscles and I couldn’t walk for a bit.

Out of 20,000 miles that’s been the only major incident? That’s crazy.
Totally lucky. The amount of cars that pass us every single day for five months on a skate and the year and a half that we’ve spent on a skateboard, and that’s the only thing that’s happened? It’s pretty amazing.

How did the ankle fracture happen?
That was about three weeks into the first skate across the States, near Phoenix. It was from repetitive stress on my ankle because I wasn’t really used to pushing that much. The doctor was like, “Yeah, you’re not supposed to be using your ankle that much in a repetitive motion.”

But you finished it out anyway?
Yeah. It healed. We just slowed down for a couple days and eventually it didn’t hurt anymore.

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That's pretty gnarly. I also read that you considered the first skate a failure?
Even though we started in Los Angeles, went down the southern part of the States, and then up the east coast of America into Toronto, we didn’t finish the way we hoped to. When we started Skate4Cancer, the concept was be able to skate from point A to point B and in the first skate we didn’t accomplish that. We were kicked off roads by police so instead of skateboarding directly from Los Angeles to Phoenix, we had to drive into Phoenix and skate those kilometers around the city.

It definitely felt like a failure, but everything in life happens for a reason. Failure is the farthest thing from how I feel about it now. I’m so happy it went that way because it forced us to do a Canadian one and do it right.

Have you ever been chased by a bear or anything?
In Australia a kangaroo followed me for a bit, which was really weird. I guess in that aspect, the skates are pretty boring. We’re not fighting for our lives against wild animals. We have a lot of people that pull over and offer us a place to stay or food or water. Our interactions with people are normally really incredible so I just knock on wood.

You were mentioning difficulties with cops. I even read that one spit chewing tobacco in your face. Is it surprising that you get resistance and drama? I would think when you explain to a cop that you’re skating across the country to raise awareness for cancer that he’d let you slide?
As you get older you begin to realize that if they say yes to you, they have to kind of say yes to everyone. We didn’t have one negative interaction with a cop in New Zealand or Australia. Cops pulled over and offered us Gatorade and things like that. Some countries are very into people biking from point A to point B, but there are other countries where the highway systems aren’t really set up for that, so it becomes a concern of safety.

We’ve also come to learn how to do it without getting in trouble from the police. Laying low and having the van drive ahead is important because if it drives behind you while you skate, it’s slowing up traffic and people get frustrated and call the cops.

Sometimes kids were trying to meet up with us on the highway. It’s a lot different when one person’s skateboarding on the side of the road, but 15 people? The cops freak out.

The cop’s job is to protect the people. Most of the time they don’t mind as long as we just lay low and do our thing and other drivers aren’t complaining.

rob dyer rob brink already been done

Tell us about the girl who faked cancer to go to Disney with you.
Yeah, that was a heavy time for us. A friend approached me with a girl he met who supposedly had terminal cancer and she was on her way out.

Her last wish was to hang out with us. We figured, “If this is what she’s going through, it’d be awesome to make her smile a little bit more”!

So through the help of our skate sponsors, we organized a trip to Disney World for her.

We took her and had a great time. It was crazy because she had a shaved head and shaved eyebrows. She’d go to the washroom to throw up because of the chemotherapy. It was really thought out.

A couple months later I read on someone’s Facebook that some girl was faking cancer. I checked the story out and sure enough it was the girl that we took to Disney. It was upsetting, but I can’t understand her mindset. There’s obviously something more there. She obviously has different issues and needs help in a different way.

All for a trip to Disney World? Something similar happened to Bucky Lasek recently with his charity.
The media asked us a lot of pretty harsh questions. Like, “Why wouldn’t you check first?”

It’s like, “Come on, dude!” I don’t want to live in a world where you have to second-guess someone like that.

If your biggest mistake is trusting a girl who supposedly has cancer …
Exactly. It’s a bummer but you can’t necessarily judge or understand what is going on in her head or what she’s battling.

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What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from all this?
Sometimes the heaviest things in your life—the tragedies or the hard times—teach you so much. Knowing that life can’t get worse really helps you battle the little things in life.

I’m very fortunate to have been able to deal with those things at a younger age. And I’ve been able to grow from them and take on more things that I love because that fear and second-guessing isn’t there.

I never would’ve thought that's what was gonna come out of all this. It’s incredible because work is like eighty percent of your life and if you’re not doing something that you love, you’re gonna be unhappy. There’s too much of a concern about money in our world. No matter how much you’re making it’s not worth it in my mind. Do what makes you happy and everything else will work itself out.

Do you have any advice for anyone else who might want to start their own non-profit of charity?
A lot of people look to the top of the mountain instead of just the first day of climbing the mountain. Keep your dream in mind and know it’s gonna happen one day, but make sure your focus is that first step. Just get out there and start doing it and don’t get overwhelmed by things that are happening along the way, because a big part of doing what you love or chasing your dream or fighting for a cause that you believe in is that there are gonna be struggles. It’s not gonna be easy and I think being aware of those hard times and accepting them while reaching your dream is a real important factor in getting to the top of that mountain.

For more on how to help and how to spread the message of Skate4Cancer, visit Skate4Cancer.com and DreamLoveCure.com.

rob dyer rob brink already been done

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Already Been Done Presents: Josiah Gatlyn

January 23, 2011

Already Been Done Presents: Josiah Gatlyn
Words: Rob Brink
Already Been Done, January 2011

Josiah Gatlyn believes in God. Deal with it.

Now that we gotten past that, let's get down to business.

One day, Josiah happened to be near Los Angeles and was lucky enough to have a friend let him into The Berrics. The rest, as they say, is history.

The end.

No really, that was about 18 months ago. And since then, a lot has happened for Josiah. Including the fact that we all know his name and have seen him ride a skateboard.

He's landed a grip of sponsors (Stereo, RVCA, Theeve, Select, Ashbury), completed a graphic design internship, started his own headwear company (Usko) with his girlfriend, worked on multi-million-dollar yachts and gone from North Carolina to Missouri to Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where he's currently working, skating, being responsible and seeking the answer to one of life’s biggest mysteries: “Do Monkeys go to heaven?”

I hear you have a legit job in addition to skateboarding?
Yeah, I’m working part time with my friend Josh. His dad owns a boat repair business. We work on yachts and stuff.

Do a lot of super rich people come in?
Dude, it’s crazy. We’re working on a 31-million-dollar boat right now.

Jesus. Ever worked on a celebrity’s boat?
Actually, Josh’s dad knows Johnny Depp. I guess he’s from Fort Lauderdale or something. We were gonna go look at his boat one day but it never happened.

What’s the sickest Yacht set up you’ve ever seen?
This is the only boat I’ve worked on so far, but it’s a triple-decker with a basement and a Jacuzzi. It’s pretty much like a huge house. It’s absolutely crazy how a yacht works. There’s a crew of like eight people that live on the boat. The owners probably spend more than $100,000 a day on that alone.

So if you own a yacht like that, you’re spending a million dollars every few months just to have it?
Yeah. We’ve been working on this one for at least four months and I haven’t seen them go out on the boat once. It’s crazy.

Plus they have to pay for it to be docked, right?
Yeah and that’s probably the most expensive. If I had that much money, there’s no way I would waste it on just a boat.

rob brink josiah gatlyn already been done
Photo: Josh Friedberg

So most of the skate world came to know you through The Berrics, but I don’t think they all know how that started.
Around May of ’09, I sent my footage in for the Bang Yo’ Self contest and I got second place. At the time I was working in Joplin, Missouri for a skatepark company called American Ramp Company and me and my friend were doing this tour where we’d go around and film at all the parks we built. They were gonna put it all together as a promotional video.

I was near LA on that tour and contacted Jason King to maybe go to The Berrics and he let me and my friend Shawn in for a couple hours. I didn’t think anything of it. We were about to leave and Eduardo Craig came out and started filming some stuff. Long story short, I did a Text Yo' Self with him, started filming a few tricks and developed a relationship with the people at The Berrics and everything kind of fell together.

Did life change instantly?
Yeah, it was really crazy. The day I filmed the Bangin’ I couldn’t believe that it actually happened. I thought I was only gonna film one or two tricks. The blunt fakie I did on that wall was the first trick that I filmed. I was super nervous.

I guess Berra got really stoked and was like, “Hey, do you wanna film a First Try Friday?” So I did that then went back on tour with the ramp company.

Shortly after, I got a call from Berra. He wanted me to come back and film a Recruit and said that he was talking to Stereo and they were interested in putting me on the team.

Within a week I went from being in this really small town in Missouri, working at a skatepark company, to living in LA and skating for Stereo. It’s kind of crazy.

Oddly enough, right before I moved to Joplin I was living in North Carolina in the middle of nowhere—like, literally in the woods with my parents. There was a good month and a half where I didn’t even pick up my board because I had nowhere to skate.

And now you’re part of the catalyst for ABD, huh?
Yeah, actually it was on Twitter. I was randomly like, “Man I miss 411 so much. I wish it would come back.”

And I think Joe Krolick retweeted it to the other dudes who used to work for 411. Then Josh Friedberg said something like, “Yeah dude I’m down!” or something.

So I emailed him, like, “Dude, I really hope you bring it back. I would do anything for you to bring 411 back.”

This was before Josh Friedberg won the Nikon contest. I really wanted to help him win and he told me that if he won he would bring 411 back. So I got really hyped and made a YouTube video and posted it to my account and a bunch of kids voted. Josh got super hyped and contacted Berra, who posted it on The Berrics. Then Bam Margera Tweeted my YouTube video and it just spread. We got tons of skateboarders to vote and that’s how he won.

So here we are almost a year later and you have the first part in ABD …
It’s such an honor, man. So hyped to be a part of 411. You know kids these days wake up and watch The Berrics? When I was 13 and growing up I woke up every day and put in a 411 VHS tape and went out skating. I’m really, really hyped on this.

So are we. You used to have a pet monkey?
Yeah, when I was really young—maybe nine years old, my brother was super hyped on monkeys and somehow convinced my parents to buy one. There was this place in North Carolina … this dude literally owned a monkey ranch in his backyard—sketchiest thing ever. Back then it seemed normal, but now, thinking about it, what the heck? We bought a monkey from some dude that lived in a trailer.

We had him for like two years, it was rad. We had a pond at our house and he would go and swim in it and stuff but he ended up biting a neighbor and the neighbor threatened to sue us. At the time they had just made it illegal to own a wild species in Goldsboro, North Carolina, so my dad called all these different places trying to give it away—zoos, theme parks, anything—but no one would take it because it was such a wild monkey.

Eventually, we had to put it down, which sucked really bad. I miss him, but it was fun while it lasted.

I wonder how a dude like that gets into the monkey selling business. Did he have a lot of monkeys?
At least 10 or 15.

So it was a full-on monkey farm?
I guess. He probably bought a male and a female and just started breeding ‘em. I doubt he’s still in business now, but it was crazy.

So you have the yacht gig and you had a graphic design internship recently. I think it’s smart that you have a backup plan instead of just relying on skating carrying you through life.
At the end of the day, you have to do what you have to do. You’re a human being. Just because a lot of people know who you are doesn’t mean that you deserve … I don’t necessarily feel that I’m entitled to make a lot of money, but I would like to skate everyday and work really hard to be able to have skateboarding to make a living. But right now it’s not that way. All I can do is skate and film and try my best and see what happens.

I was in California for eight months and it was really hard for me to live. I was couch surfing everywhere and just barely getting by. I didn’t have a car or anything. I kind of felt that if I moved to where some of my family, my girlfriend and her family lives that I’d get more stuff done, rather than being out there and just hoping things work out.

I don’t plan on being out here for the rest of my life. I really wanna move back out there, but for now, I’m just trying to get as much stuff done as possible.

Where’d the name for your headwear company, Usko, come from?
It’s the Finnish word for “faith.” I thought it sounded cool.

Are you Finnish?
No, I’m actually not. I kind of like the culture. It’s pretty cool.

Yeah, they have a pretty good quality of life over there.
That place is awesome. It’s so much different out there. They’re all about family and about hanging out and being friends. There’re not rude people.

They’re healthier too.
Yeah, I didn’t see one fat person while I was out there.

rob brink josiah gatlyn already been done
Front shuv. Photo: Jon Spitzer

You know, I tried to add you on Facebook the other day before we did this, and you had too many friend requests so it wouldn’t let me.
Yeah. It caps you at 5000 friends. I don’t know why.

At least people like you.
Yeah. Not everybody.

Actually, the other day I was on the Slap forum and I saw this thread about you kickflipping a basketball net …
Yeah, I’ve seen it.

Good. So a thread about you kickflipping a basketball net spirals into a huge discussion on you being a “religious” skateboarder, which I didn’t know about you.
Yeah. I don’t think of it as a bunch of rules. I don’t view God as looking down like, “Hey, if you don’t do this, you’re going to hell.”

I feel God gives us freedom to choose to do whatever we want and I think everything happens for a reason. There’s a lot to get into, I don’t know how to necessarily explain it, but I do believe in Jesus.

As do many other well-respected skateboarders—Paul Rodriguez, for example. I think when a lot of people hear that someone’s religious; they automatically assume that person is an over-the-top weirdo. But you don’t have eight wives; you’re not preaching to me or sacrificing animals …
I’ve gone to church my whole life and if anybody should hate Christianity, or hate God, I would be the one because I’ve seen so much gnarly stuff in the Church. But I don’t hate anybody because we’re all humans, you know? I feel like I’m blessed to even be in this situation that I’m in right now.

What’s some stuff you’ve seen?
Just super prideful people that think they’re high and mighty because of what they believe in. There’s literally Christians who think they don’t do anything wrong. They think like, “I never sin” and that it’s possible to be perfect.

In my lifetime I’ve never once thought it was possible to be perfect. You’re always gonna make mistakes and you gotta try to learn from them. When a lot of people see something they think is “wrong,” and freak out or are so negative that other people don’t want anything to do with them. They point fingers and get so mean about it. That’s not how you deal with it, you know?

The psychology of covering up your own flaws by pointing out other people’s … look at Tiger Woods. Everyone was going berserk because he cheated on his wife, but I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t cheated at some point in their lives.
It’s funny that you say that. I thought the exact same thing when all that controversy came out. It’s so dumb. A famous person can do one thing wrong and he’s like the worst dude ever, but there’s people out there doing that everyday. It’s crazy.

So, before we wrap this up then, do monkeys go to Heaven?
[Laughter] I haven’t seen anything in the Bible about that at all so I have no idea.

Haven’t you heard that Pixies song called “Monkey’s Gone to Heaven”?
Oh really? That’s funny. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it.

You should look it up sometime.
I suppose I should.

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Regift: Journal Magazine

January 23, 2011

Regift: Journal Magazine
Words: Rob Brink

Already Been Done, January 2011

rob brink journal magazine
Kevin Taylor

Put simply, in 1996, the appearance of Journal magazine got East Coast skateboarders hyped. Real hyped. Then, one more issue later, it was gone.

My fondness for Journal has always been coupled with a lack of closure because of it’s premature demise. Many share a similar sentiment for 101, Mad Circle or a favorite skater who fell off the map too soon.

I've cherished and held on to issue 1 and 2 all these years with the intention of scanning them to post online because, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't surfaced anywhere. Upon seeking permission from Ryan Gee (ex-photo editor of Journal) and Rick Valenzuela (ex-editor of Journal) to do so, Ryan sent a PDF of issue "zero," which I never knew existed. It features Lennie Kirk, Mike and Quim Cardona, Tim O'Connor, Ricky Oyola, Vern Laird, Kevin Taylor, Reese Forbes, Greg Harris, Hamilton Harris, Sean Mullendore, Maurice Key, Fred Gall, A.J Mazzu, Chico Brenes, Joey Alvarez, Bobby Puleo, Jimmy Chung and Tony Hawk.

Mind blown.

Download issue zero here and read the story of Journal, straight from the editor himself, below. Issue 1 and 2 are further down in this article

What prompted starting Journal?
Simply wanting to make a magazine. Back then we all came from ‘zine culture. We loved Five Points in Atlanta and Smag in Baltimore. At the time the East Coast was getting some good attention in mags and videos, maybe the first time since the early Shut days. I think everyone got psyched to see a spot or someone they knew in a California mag, but it was pretty special to get your hands on Smag because it was filled with familiarity.

At that time there was also Strength, but we wanted to be strictly skateboarding. I think one of our biggest influences was the old Poweredge, and we wanted something like that to exist again. There were more East Coast companies popping up too, so it seemed like the timing was right.

Who was involved and where did it run out of?
I was living in Philadelphia and talked about it a bunch since moving there in 1991. Around ‘94 I met a Philly kid named Chris McKenna and got my friend Jeff Moynihan from D.C. to come up after his graduation. When things started to pick up, we were introduced to Ryan Gee, who had recently moved to Philly. We also had John Senesy, a Love Park regular and photog who was in San Diego.

We met others through word of mouth and the Internet, which was a small-ass place back then. But that’s how I originally met Jeff, off of the Usenet discussion groups alt.music.hardcore and alt.skate-board, when he was in Tokyo. We asked friends from there and the IRC channel #skate to contribute or reprint things we thought were awesome. We all got together around the summer of 1995 in a crappy apartment on South Street and we called it the “Journal House.”

Brian Nugent, who went to art school in Philly, moved back from Boston to be our art director between issue 1 and 2. We moved to a better “Journal House” and literally dozens of people lived there over time. I was there with Vern Laird a couple years ago on New Year’s Day and the neighborhood is all newly built houses.

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Mike Cardona

What was it like starting a regional mag on the East Coast back then?
There was a lot of pride, not so much a rivalry or hating on the West, but we were just proud of where we were from. People got psyched that we were getting our own mag—the “we” being East Coast people or non-Californians. The funny thing is that one of the common complaints you hear in the East is people having to deal winter, but Philly got dumped on during the big blizzard of ‘96, so none of us had to go to our day jobs and we cranked out issue zero and made a website instead.

A lot of company people were really behind us, like Mike Agnew at ECU (Nicotine wheels and Capital skateboards), Kent at FTC, Bob Losito at Screw and Thomas from Torque. South Shore promoted us really well. Some people were skeptical, but a lot of word of mouth and personal references helped us.

Day-to-day, it was like your typical skate shop or skate house. People were always coming and going and hanging out. There was no such thing as “work hours.” We were all holding down wage jobs and doing what we could on the mag when we could. None of us got paid; the “company” only paid for expenses and production costs and spent a lot of money on Gee’s parking tickets.

Did you start with any specific content criteria? You had West Coast dudes like Smolik and Creager in the mag.
Just whatever we thought was good. Some things in there were unexpected, like the West Coast skate photos, or the vert cover shot. We wanted to feature and appreciate decent stuff that wasn’t getting recognized. I really dug Subliminal, the board company built around an incredible set of artists who skate. That was a main thing—cover whatever wasn’t getting due recognition.

But it would’ve been weird for the readers if we were strictly East Coast. The bulk of the companies were out west and those were the ones that probably had bigger budgets for advertising. Senesy was already out in San Diego and somehow we got in contact with Seu Trinh and Dimitry Elyashkevich. I remember being psyched to have West Coast shots, not only because they were great, but also because it gave us wider coverage.

We were heavy on NYC and Philly because that was our backyard. And a lot of people from there were rooting for us or wanted to be a part of it. So much so that people volunteered their photos or writing. No one got paid; it was all heart.

Why did it end? Did you have any idea that it would only go two issues and disappear so abruptly?
No idea at all. At one point, our financial backer said we needed to re-assess how we were doing things because we were spending tons and never had a business plan, which sounds so insane now.

We had an idea of the market, but no data or projections of how we could grow or what we could afford to do. We started with a situation where we could spend whatever we needed to and when that was gone we got lost and never found our way back. We had issue 3 halfway done and then got mired in trying to figure out how to write a business plan.

Eventually we lost steam and were just working our regular jobs. At some point we figured Journal was dead, but none of us even talked about it. By the time we did, it was already in the past tense.

In hindsight, when we got bogged down with the business plan, we probably could’ve been smarter, scaled back and done something to take us through that financial blow. A few years ago I was emailing with Rob Collinson and he said that if Lowcard ever took a hit like that, they would bring it back down to Kinko’s roots to keep it alive. Unfortunately, it never even occurred to us to scale back like that. It sucks to not see a new way out, or even try.

I think if Journal existed in some form for a little longer, it would’ve gotten back up. The response to what little we did was pretty amazing.

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Lennie Kirk

What was a piece or photo in Journal that you were most proud of?
The Drehobl cover. That bank looks so shitty. I like how it was laid out, too, and thinking about it now, it kinda reminds me of the title slides in FTC’s Finally. But I don’t think that was going through our heads then. That photo is a mix of everything: raw skating, a skater and photographer from the East Coast (Dimitry and Drehobl) but shot out West, and it had that East Coast feel that I like. It was shot at night and the spot was rugged. It looks like a gritty NYC shot. And the logo on that cover had smudgy newsprint, which was probably Jeff making fun of me.

I also really like the Rob Erickson article. He’s good on his board and amazing with his artwork. And Wheelie Co. was a great company. That article represented something that we didn’t explicitly decide to convey—that there are so many things you can do in skating aside from the skating itself. That’s what we were trying to do too.

Do you have any funny or disastrous stories about putting any of the issues together?
Ryan Gee busting his spleen. He did it while shooting the Brian Howard interview. Brian was actually hurt too, but they powered through and did one last shoot before they each went to the hospital. It’s part of his Howard interview in issue 2, along with a cartoon Ryan did about it when he was laid up.

Aside from that, the production itself was a comical disaster. There was no digital photography at the time, so we were developing so many slides and negatives, then scanning them on ancient computers and filing them in binders that Gee drew insanely funny cartoons on.

We had a PowerMac 7100 with an 80Mhz processor, 16MB RAM and a 250MB hard drive, which at the time was state-of-the-art. Low budget phones are more powerful than that now.

We took breaks to skate or get food while waiting for the progress bar to do its thing. Storage sucked. We were using Syquest drives to start with and those disks were insanely fragile. This was way before cell phones were common, so we actually had a beeper sponsor.

During that blizzard of ’96 when we made the website to go with issue zero for the ASR show, I crammed and learned HTML2 and quickly put up a fairly decent site, which was hosted by a friend from Usenet and IRC. It might not seem revolutionary now, but back then there were no company websites. Maybe they had a single page with a logo and contact info, but that was it. It was only ECU, Tum Yeto and other kids we’d known online like Dan from Dansworld or Appleman from Huphtur. Jeff, Chris and I were pretty nerdy and we registered the domain skatenerd.com for Journal’s site.

So we finally get to the trade show and see computers at a few booths showing their websites off and tried to pull up ours, nothing happened. Of course, because they were all opening their pages locally—no Internet connection.

Name a dude from the pages of Journal who is long gone from skateboarding but you still have a fondness for.
Jimmy Chung. He turned pro for ADI before he went on to other things. He had a “Prospects” article in issue zero—it was our am “Check Out.”

He was so smooth and chill to watch—and had big-ass nollies. His backside 180s looked so good too. He and this other Upper Darby kid, Dave Delaney had insane pop. Jimmy was also really humble but could talk shit real hard and make you laugh. Speaking of pop, I do also wonder about Sean Mullendore sometimes.

ricky oyola journal rob brink
Ricky Oyola

Rick’s random Journal factoids:

• Our Journal had nothing to do with the digest-sized Journal that came out a few years later. I don’t know if that’s common knowledge or not but I was super surprised to see that on a magazine rack. I don’t know if it was a tribute or they just knocked off the name.

• The third issue that never came out was going to have a city guide to Boston, an article about Albuquerque, New Mexico and a pro interview with Ryan Wilburn. All died except for Albuquerque, which Gee sent to TransWorld and got me to do the write up for.

• Our business card and letterhead had a silhouette of Reese Forbes ollieing at FDR on them. Soon after, it ended up becoming the article ender icon for TransWorld.

• At one of the trade shows we went to (never in a booth, always ghetto guerrilla style), Journal art director Brian Nugent and Flip pro Geoff Rowley stopped dead in their tracks, frozen in a silent moment because they just saw their doppelganger for the first time (i.e. each other).

• Right when Jeff moved down, he showed me a copy of an English-language newspaper in Cambodia. He had a job interview with that publisher, but decided to come up to Philly and do Journal instead. Ironically, six years after Journal ended, I was working at that paper.

• That last Journal house was in Slap in a photo of Brian Dale and Anthony Pappalardo sitting in the living room shot by Jonathon Mehring. Those crappy island-print curtains of ours are in the shot.

rob brink journal house
Photo: Jonathan Mehring

• The sequence of Ronnie Creager’s switch tail revert in issue #2 has the caption written four times because Dimitry said he did it perfect four times in a row. [Editor’s note] this footage is in the end credits of Trilogy.

• Sometime after issue #2 came out, we got a few letters correcting us about using the term “frontside indy.” So in case anyone catches that in the PDFs now … yes, we know.

Click the covers to download each issue.

#1 Bucky Lasek cover:

journal rob brink bucky lasek

#2 Dan Drehobl cover:

journal dan drehobl cover rob brink

ryan gee rob brink journal

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Rising Stars in Action

January 17, 2011

rob brink 944 magazine lyn z adams hawkins

Rising Stars in Action
Words: Rob Brink
944, January 2011

Progression, like time, waits for no one. If you don’t do it, someone else will beat you to it. Period.

Actions sports are no different, however, progression isn’t always about winning a medal, being number one or the money. Most times, it’s simply for the greater good—to push the envelope.

The athletes involved are intensely creative, dedicated, persistent, innovative and expressive individuals. Even in an event as high profile as the X Games or US Open, they are most likely battling themselves, not the other competitors.

Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, Kyle Loza and Brett Simpson are all in “the window” right now. It’s the age and place in their careers where they’ve accomplished more than most will ever dream. They’re at top of their game, but still rising stars and we don’t mind staring up at them. Not one bit.

Lyn-z Adams Hawkins: Professional Skateboarder
Age 21, Cardiff By the Sea

Lyn-z Adams Hawkins owns eight X Games Women’s Skateboarding medals—three of them are gold.

She’s the first female in history to land a 540 on a halfpipe and has never played her own character in Tony Hawk’s latest Activision release, Shred, because she’s “not too big on video games.”

Humble much? Yes, Lyn-z is in video games while most are just playing them.

Hawkins is currently traveling the globe with Travis Pastrana on the Nitro Circus Live tour and somehow still finds time to be a 21-year-old: chilling with her boyfriend (who has his own backyard skatepark), surfing, snowboarding and learning to ride dirt bikes.

“It’s still a man’s world,” Hawkins says of action sports, “but we're working hard and it’s slowly but surely changing for the better. We [men and women] are built very differently but I don’t see why girls can’t be as good as the guys one day.”

What will you be up to when you’re 30 and no longer eligible to be in this article?
I’m working on figuring that out right now. I’m sure I’ll still be skating. I plan on being a mother too.

Well, you certainly have time … of all your contest wins, which is the most special to you?
My first X Games medal. I was 14. My father died between the previous X Games and the year I won, so I did it for him.

No better reason to win than that. So you’re on tour right now?
Yeah. I just spent the last six weeks in Australia skating the Nitro Circus tour. Next is three weeks in New Zealand, a few more weeks in Australia, then Europe and the States. I’ve been learning how to ride a dirt bike too and I’m lovin’ it!

What’s a common misconception about your job from people outside your industry?
A lot of people think I was just handed everything on a silver platter, but I worked hard to get where I am— and I still work hard.

Traveling is a lot more tiring and stressful than people think. It’s not its all cracked up to be but it’s still better than a real job. As much as I have to be places, I’m kind of on my own schedule, My job allows me to do whatever I want as long as I’m performing well when I need to.

How incredible is it being the first female to land a 540?
It was a big step for women’s vert. I would have been just as ecstatic if another girl had done it but I’m stoked it was me. I like to help grow the sport and pave the way for all the younger girls coming up who will soon be passing me by.

rob brink 944 magazine lbrett simpson

Brett Simpson: Professional Surfer
Age 25, Huntington Beach

When your father spends five seasons as a professional Safety for the LA Rams, being thrust into the world of little league sports is inevitable. Two-time US Open champion, Brett Simpson, was no different. That is, until he stepped on his first surfboard at age 11.

“We went to Seal Beach and were just messing around,” Simpson says. “My buddy had a surfboard and that was the first time I ever did it. That Christmas I asked my parents for a surfboard, got one, and from that point I was hooked.”

There are hundreds of pro surfers out there, but only 32 make the World Tour. Simpson is one of them. He’s competitive and focused on staying at the top, but not in the “intense alpha male at a pickup game who only cares about winning and ruins the afternoon for everyone else” kind of way. It’s part of Brett’s charm actually.

When you’re on tour what do you miss most about Huntington?
We stay at some cool places around the world, but tend to return to a lot of the same spots. You miss your own bed and the food back home after a while.

Hard to argue. Of all your contest wins, which is the most special?
The first US Open win was definitely my breakthrough. But to go back-to-back proved it wasn’t just a fluke. The first year I also won “Breakthrough Performer of the Year” at the Surfer Poll Awards. Any award there is a big achievement.

How does life change after two US Open wins?
You’re definitely a bit more recognized than before. You dream of it when you’re young but don’t really understand what comes with it until it happens. It’s meant a lot to me and has given me the drive to do well. I’ve committed a lot of my life to contests and the Tour.

Do you actually “train” for contests or do you surf like you would for fun?
It’s definitely a simulation. When you’re surfing a heat you only get 30 minutes to perform well on two good waves. That’s the hardest part. It’s what separates a good surfer from a top surfer. Plenty of guys surf really well, but the guy that can consistently surf well in 30 minutes … that’s been the toughest part for me. That’s what I’m practicing. Consistency is huge at this level.

What will you be doing when you’re 30 and no longer eligible for this article?
Hopefully, I’m still on the Tour. Kelly Slater is 38 and just won his 10th title. Careers are maturing later these days. Hopefully my body is healthy and I’m still competing at a high level and still wanting it.
rob brink 944 magazine kyle loza

Kyle Loza: Professional Moto X Freestyle Rider
Age 24, Rancho Santa Margarita

Kyle Loza only showed up at the X Games three times. Each time he walked away with a gold medal in Moto X Best Trick. You know why?

Innovation.

Loza doesn’t do amazing tricks like everyone else—instead, he invents them.

Years later, no one else has been able to learn Loza’s signature moves—a few are trying though. And what he’s currently working on is going to change Moto X forever—again.

It’s the stuff legends are made of. But, at 24, Kyle’s no one-trick-a-year pony. He designs his own signature line of footwear and apparel with etnies; builds furniture by hand with a friend; is a tattoo artist; plays in a band with his wife (sister to Audrina Patridge of The Hills fame) and records in their home studio with Rhianna’s producer. Did we mention he’s got two babies, the eldest being two and a half years old?

Explain how fatherhood impacts your life.
Every way you could imagine your life changing, it changes. It’s ridiculous. It’s the greatest thing ever, but then you start realizing that if you don’t find a way to get some sleep, you’re gonna die.

How did you initially get invited to the X Games?
I made up a trick called “The Volt.” My agent showed a video to some dudes at ESPN and they were super pumped on it. I hadn’t landed it to dirt yet. I tried it for two years, broke a bunch of bones and beat the hell out of myself. ESPN is a giant company that wanted a rad back-story and a rad trick. Everything turned out perfect.

Have other riders learned your tricks yet?
I think there have been two guys trying “Volts” for a while now, but haven’t landed it. It’s been pretty rad. I enjoy watching. No one’s touched an “Electric Doom” yet.

Tell us about this new video project you’re working on with etnies.
We’re trying to bring motocross out of its box and into the streets. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s basically jumping off stairs, landing on roofs of schools, airing off roofs down sets of stairs. It’s about finding new stuff that’s totally possible to do. Nobody really does it yet. There’s a way to try any trick—anything you could ever imagine—anything’s possible.

What’s your advice for anyone considering a face tat?
Make sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s not gonna affect you making money. You don’t want to get married one day and have a face tattoo and screw your family over because you’re ignorant.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My friend Toby, who passed away four years ago, gave me this advice for riding but I relate it to anything I do life that I want to succeed at and move forward in. Every day I rode he said, “Make sure you either ride through five gallons of gas, crash three times or ride until you throw up.”

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Free Lunch: Dave Carnie

January 5, 2011

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Behind the Bush: A Conversation With Gino Durante

December 31, 2010

Behind the Bush: A Conversation With Gino Durante
Words: Rob Brink
Already Been Done, December 2010

Gino Durante used to post sponsor-me footage on my Facebook page. I never really paid much mind, not to be a dick, but because there isn’t much I can do other than forward it to a TM at Sole Tech if it's worth their time. And believe me, they are already inundated with sponsor-me tapes.

Fast forward a few months and he posts another video called “My Fucking Bush.”

I watched it, had a laugh and went on my way. Didn’t even realize it was Gino in the video. Videos of skateboarders getting harassed pop up all the time, right?

A few days later, the clip had spread like wildfire. Friends who don’t even skate were texting me and emailing me the clip, asking me if I knew Gino, since he and I are both from North Jersey.

I watched the clip a few more times and had some questions, so the only thing left to do was give Gino a call and get the story behind the year’s most infamous viral skateboarding video.

So now that you’re Internet famous, what’s it been like?
Dude, I just skate around town because I hate driving. Just kick around and have fun by myself with my headphones and shit and this guy pulls over and he’s like, “Hey, you.”

And I’m like, “Oh shit, what the hell did I do to this guy?”

“You’re Gino?” He says. “That video was wild, man, I can’t believe that asshole did that to you.”

So most people get it?
Yeah, pretty much. It’s been crazy, bro. I walked into this local t-shirt place because I wanted to get “How fast? Real fast!” t-shirts made and ruin this guy’s life and the owner is talking to his wife on the phone and he’s like, “Honey, I gotta go. The famous skateboarder just walked in.”

You’re like Ferris Bueller. The whole city was backing him even though they shouldn’t have.
That’s basically what it is. I heard 50 Cent was Twittering about me. I’ve always felt my claim to fame would be skating or something stupid I do. But I never thought it’d be me being a pussy on camera getting attacked by some wild man.

I think you played it smart because skaters never fucking win. You or the filmer could’ve easily clocked the guy. But then you would’ve been fucked no matter what the tape shows.
Yeah. This guy is a real big name. He’s the richest dude in town. Thank God I didn’t hit him because I would’ve lost my house and everything like that.

We were filming all day so the tape ended as soon as the cops came. But they came up like, “What’s going on?”

“This guy attacked me,” I said. “I don’t know what the hell his deal is.”

They were like, “Did you rip up the bush?”

I said, “I didn’t rip up the bush. I got here and it was like that, I just moved it over.”

“So you ripped up the bush.” They said.

I stood up and he puts me up against the brick wall, cuffs me and goes, “You’re under arrest for criminal mischief.” I was read no rights or anything. They took me to a holding cell. The guy put the cuffs on super tight. They always do.

I’ve been there. Your hands go numb.
Yeah. This happened maybe 9:30 at night. I got out at four in the morning and they made me walk home. Took me another hour.

When I woke up my mom’s like, “Why’d you get home so late?”

I’m like, “You know what, mom? I’m not even gonna tell you what happened. Here’s the video.”

It took my stepfather a week to watch it because he was so pissed off. We counter-sued the guy for assault and harassment. His wife took my keys so that’s grand theft auto and I had him on a civil suit too. I didn’t even bring up the fifth suit—he falsified a police report. He said that I hit him and tried to run and that’s why he restrained me.

So my lawyer shows up an hour late to the mediation where this all could’ve been settled. My lawyer called the guy a fucking asshole in the courtroom and screamed at him. I’m sitting there laughing, like, “Why didn’t I have my camera for this one.”

So it gets rescheduled. They sent it straight to case and my lawyer shows up an hour late for that too. I’m like, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”

We get there and the judge is like, “I don’t get this. For a bush? Really? This is childish. I want you to go out in the hallway and settle this amongst yourselves.”

So the guy comes up to me, “I’m ready for you to pay me for the bush now.”

I was like, “Are you kidding me?” And my stepfather almost choked the guy out—started screaming at him.

My lawyer jumps in the middle, brings him over to the corner of the waiting room and says, “This kid’s not paying for shit, he’s got a video and you’re basically screwed.”

The guy’s like, “Well since there’s a video, I’ll just drop the charges on him and you just drop the charges on me.”

I’m like, “Really? This is how it’s gonna go down?”

So we go back in the courtroom. The judge, this fucking heinous Santa Clause-looking jerk off, goes “Have you guys come to an agreement?”

My lawyer’s like, “Yes, sir, all the charges are dropped.”

I was like, “Fine, you guys wanna play like that? Check this out.”

I walked out of the courtroom; made a phone call and the video went up on YouTube. It took that guy like 50 years to build a business and have an awesome name in Livingston and now his life is ruined.

What’s been the backlash against him?
Dude, kids in high school are ripping on his kids so bad. His kids are mortified. And now it’s gonna get even better because I’m making "How fast? Real fast." t-shirts and every kid in high school is gonna buy the shirt and wear ‘em to school. So his kids are just completely screwed.

He owns a shoe store in Livingston?
He’s got three of ‘em and now they’re just all being ruined.

I saw all the negative reviews people are leaving on Google and Yelp! Pretty funny.
It’s retarded. He just overprices shit and that’s how he makes his money because he’s a rich fuck.

Let’s say it was the middle of the day and some mom was inside the store and her kids were outside playing in the bushes …
Are you ready for this? That actually happened. Maybe five or six years back, the Cub Scouts were going around putting up signs and doing their thing for their boxcar derby or some dinner they had. They stuck a sign in the soil and he flipped out. He screamed at all these little kids and it was a big thing in the paper. It was wild.

How do you freak out on the Cub Scouts? Who does that? Also, that’s not even his property. It’s the town’s property and it’s the town’s bush. He owns the building but not the bush.

I understand it could be frustrating for him. I get where you were in the wrong, but how bad has it been that this was the last straw for him?
The straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t know, I mean, I know other people skate there because it’s a pretty epic gap.

You guys should make a documentary, "Behind the Bush."
"Back to the Bush" instead of "Back to the ‘Burg." For Go Skate Day I wanna have "Back to the Bush" and see how many people can throw hammers down that gap.

Was he spitting while he was in all your face yelling?
Oh for sure. There was one point where I was really pissed off. But I’m not a fighter. I ain’t running anywhere either. He was screaming—so heated and spitting. There was mucus coming out of his mouth. Like if you look at my face, I was kinda bummed on him.

How were you not laughing? It pisses people off so bad if you just laugh at them.
Of course, but I’ve never been attacked like that before. I was in shock. I raised my voice a couple times because I was pretty pissed off. I was just completely bummed on the situation. I couldn’t even scream at the guy let alone laugh in his face. I hope Tosh.0 gives me a web redemption. I’m hoping for that. I want a web redemption!

I saw a letter from a detective on YouTube saying that the video had to come down.
So I get a call and my friend is like, “Dude, I gotta leave school right away. The detectives called me and they were screaming. They’re gonna come and arrest me for harassment and death threats because of the video.”

The detective called my stepfather too, and my stepfather’s like, “Get outta here. They’re not taking the video down.”

But if the trial is over and all is squashed, you’re allowed to have the video up, right?
Yeah because it’s my video. He could’ve bought it for $300,000 but he chose not to. He was being an arrogant fuck. And so many other people had the video by the time the detectives called anyway. I have the original copy of the video, so I just started passing it out. Fuck that.

People ruin their own lives; all we do is document it.
Yeah, pretty much, man. It’s so ridiculous. I don’t know, man, I think he’ll just call the cops next time.

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Kill Fee

December 31, 2010

rob brink already been done dylan rieder
Kill Fee
Words: Rob Brink
Already Been Done, December 2010

Because 2010 was the dawn of the online pro video part being a new standard in skateboarding, a few months ago we started an article on the "Top 5 online video parts of 2010" and got in touch with some of the skaters who made those parts. Then, about a week ago, the entire skate blogosphere published "Top Online Video Parts of 2010" articles ....

So we scrapped ours.

However, having already spoken with Daewon Song and Shane O'Neill and noticing that none of the other articles decided to do anything of the sort, we figured that not using their commentary would be a disservice to our readers, and sorta rude, considering the two of them made the time to speak to us. So, in no particular order, here they are:

dylan rieder rob brink already been done

"I remember watching Dylan's part at 3 a.m. and thinking 'Wow, this part is amazing.' I couldn't believe it was just a web video! The next morning watched it again. Such a great part."
-Daewon

"Dylan's part was so amazing. I liked how it was put together—really easy on the eyes. Dylan has been absolutely killing it and it was amazing to finally see the footage of all those gnarly photos we saw come out in the mags. The frontside tailslide kickflip was the best. That was, hands down, the best one of those I'll ever see."
-Shane

shane o'neill rob brink already been done

"Seen this part in Texas. Chico showed me! I tried to pretend it wasn't real, haha. But this part definitely put Shane in the spotlight and it's well deserved! He killed it!! I would have paid three bucks."
-Daewon

daewon song rob brink already been done

"Daewon's part was awesome. How he went back to all the spots and re-did the lines was awesome. Me and my friends filmed the same tricks we did years ago back in Melbourne like that sometimes. Then, after that section there are tricks in there that I thought wouldn't be going down anytime soon, but he does them with such power and control. Switch frontside shuv krooks to bigflip? That's insane."
-Shane

vincent alvarez rob brink already been done

"Vincent's always fun to watch! He charges and kills everything. So stoked to see him skate the way he does and always seems to be having fun! Everyone at Girl and Chocolate rip and having Vincent just adds so much extra!"
-Daewon

"Vincent's Lakai commercial was amazing. I liked the way it was put together and it just all flowed so quickly. Vincent is a ripper!"
-Shane

paul rodriguez rob brin kalready been done

"What an awesome part. He skates the way he's always skated, but always steps it up, up, up and is so solid! He always steps his shit up!"
-Daewon

"Paul's part was my favorite. It reminded me so much of Paul in In Bloom back in the day, which is my favorite video. I like the nollie hardflip he did down that 12 stair. That's the best. That trick is so hard, let alone doing it down a 12 stair. And he made it look so good."
-Shane

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Festivus: Damn Am Costa Mesa 2010

December 20, 2010

the skateboard mag damn am costa mesa 2010 rob brink
Festivus: Damn Am Costa Mesa 2010
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, February 2010

“Crime has increased during every recession since the late 1950s.”
—Sociologists interviewed by Reuters, October 2008.

First, it was the disappearance of Andrew Cannon’s bike.

When a dude comes up to you in a full-on penguin suit telling you his bike got stolen and he doesn’t even seem that mad, you can’t help but feel for the guy, then wonder if you’re as good at not sweating the small stuff as he is.

Poor little penguin.

Then, it was the cracked-out chef in a Santa Cruz “screaming hand” apron, who, in between grilling shifts, bullied various members of the SPoT crew into giving him free product and looted the Volcom box truck.

“He got in my face about getting some free shirts and was smelling like rotten beer at like, 11 am,” says Ryan Clements. “I gave him one and then he demanded another. Pretty lame.”

“That dude was on something else other than beer,” says Jorge Angel. “He demanded we give him shirts or we else wouldn’t eat.”

“Later that day, he took a pile of Indy stickers and shirts out of the Volcom truck,” says Rob Meronek. “I was entering scores, glanced up, wondered why a 45-year-old drunk fuck was taking shirts and went back to entering scores. A few minutes later he came back trying to start a fight with me, claiming he’s riding for Indy for 25 years. All this while I'm wearing a fucking Wonder Woman costume.”

the skateboard mag damn am costa mesa 2010 rob brink

Next was Jereme Knibbs, who won 5th place in the Best Trick contest. When he put his backpack full of prizes down for a moment to throw some product out to the kids during the product toss, the backpack disappeared.

This isn’t a lecture. This isn’t moralizing. It’s just the facts.

I wasn’t at the Costa Mesa Damn Am finals for more than 10 minutes before the three aforementioned stories of thievery came my way.

Is the shitty economy or some Costa Mesa-area low-lifes to blame? Was it the mischievous Halloween vibe or are people just plain assholes? Is some free crap that you don’t deserve so important that you gotta steal it from a kid who just won it and ruin his proud moment?

When all was said and done, the few people who earned their keep were Kyle Walker, David Loy and Tommy Fynn. Kyle is now the 10th Annual Damn Am Costa Mesa winner. Loy took Best Trick and Tommy won the Zumiez Destroyer award. Congrats, fellas.

On my way out of the contest, I was walking behind a pack of young kids carrying armfuls of tees and stickers and random schwag. They seemed about 9 or 10 years old.

There was a skateboard on the ground between two parked cars and one of the kids, without even breaking stride, picked it up and kept walking, at which point, his friend asked, “Was that yours?”

“No, but it is now,” he replied excitedly, and kept on walking.

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Free Lunch: Kelly Hart

December 15, 2010

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An unseen interview with Skater of the Year, Leo Romero

November 29, 2010

leo romero toy machine rob brink

Leo Romero
April 8, 2009
Words: Rob Brink

The following conversation took place in April of 2009, the week Leo Romero left Baker to ride for Toy Machine. It was intended to be an audio interview for The Skateboard Mag's website, accompanying his photo-only feature that ran in the mag that month, in which case, it would have been his first interview discussing all that you're about to read.

Much to my dismay (especially when I found out there'd be no paycheck for me as a result), Leo requested that only the photos run and I've been sitting on this for over a year and a half.

My apologies in advance if you've read some of this info in interviews that have since been published by other mags or websites. I figured since he's the new SOTY, it's a good time to publish regardless. Enjoy, and congrats, Leo! Well deserved.

I have this theory that you’re really into slamming and pain. Am I wrong?
I mean, no one likes pain. I wanna make the trick obviously, but part of the fun of skateboarding is scraping your elbow and falling on your knees. As a kid walking around with scabs all over me, I was like, “Fuck yeah! I’m a dirty skater!” You know what I mean? To me, that’s skateboarding.

I remember you came up to me once and said, “Why do you always put slams of me on the Internet?”
Yeah, ‘cause I saw this clip you made of a RVCA demo and it was all slams and only two makes. I was like, “Fuck, I swear I made more than two tricks.”

Well, you seem to commit slamming. You don’t put your arms down. You fall to your shoulders and your head all the time. I was just like, “This guy is crazy in a really good way.”
Everyone learns how to slam and that’s just the way I fall I guess. Look at Corey Duffel, he’s broken many a bone. I don’t think he likes pain. I’m sure at a demo people like to see someone fall though.

I’ve never seen anyone skate a demo as hard as you. You can barely walk by the end. But kids see that and take it with them. You went for it while the other guy was sitting in the van not skating.
Yeah, I don’t do it to shine above anybody. I do it ‘cause those kids are there to see you skate. I remember seeing pros not even skating a demo when I was younger and I was like, “Fuck dude, why isn’t that guy skating? I’m here to see him skate.”

They finally turn pro and get a board. Then they get a shoe and an apparel line and all of a sudden they’re too cool to skate a demo. And you’re like “Wow, only two years and you’re over it?”
Yeah, it’s so funny to see that ‘cause it’s like, “What exactly are you too cool for? You’re obviously collecting the checks but you’re too cool to do a kickflip for the kids who are buying your board?” I think it’s fucking funny, man.

I don’t want a kid leaving a demo and saying, “Why didn’t Leo skate?” I wanna skate like they see me in a video or a magazine, not pussyfoot it just because it’s a demo.

So you’re the hot news item this week. People probably want to know why you quit Baker for Toy Machine.
Just a change of pace I guess.

It seems a common reaction is “Why would you ever leave Baker?” As if you are making a mistake or something.
I can see that. But I didn’t even get that reaction from Andrew. He was as cool as anything. I was already feeling weird because I was thinking about quitting. I didn’t want to go behind his back or whatever. Calling Andrew Reynolds and quitting his company is kinda scary, you know what I mean? When I told him he was like, “Oh, that’s cool man, who are you gonna ride for?”

He thought it was cool that I was riding for Toy instead of some lame company. I never had any second guesses about quitting but his reaction just reassured me that it was a good decision on my part.

Amazing that he’s a real friend in that situation and not just your boss.
That’s how I look at it. He’s not mad at me for quitting his company. He’s happy for me and that’s fucking awesome.

It seemed like a lot of people thought you were a perfect fit on Baker when you went there. I’m wondering if all along you were feeling differently?
It’s just weird. When you get older things change. When I was on Foundation, people thought I was good on there and then I was on Baker and people thought I was good on there. Now that I’m on Toy Machine people think it’s good.

You once said that your boards don’t sell on Baker. I know quitting wasn’t a money thing, but it sort of got me thinking that you might shine brighter on Toy Machine in a way …
I’ve heard people talk about that, like, “Oh, you want to be bigger on Toy Machine.” But it’s not that. I don’t care if my boards don't sell. When I put out graphics I’m not trying to put out top sellers—I put graphics out that I think are funny. There are a lot of good people on Toy Machine. Just like there are a lot of good people on Baker. I didn’t switch to be like, “the main guy” or anything ‘cause that’s the last thing I want. Before me, Toy Machine was still fucking awesome. I’m not really bringing anything to the table that isn’t already there.

leo romero toy machine rob brink

As far as Emerica is concerned, there are a lot of the same riders. What’s different about being on Emerica than Baker?
I’ve been on Emerica since I was a fucking kid. They’ve helped me out a lot. It’s different. With Baker it’s like I was joining the cool guys—like the skate stars. And with Emerica it was always like family. I just want to be happy. Not that I wasn’t happy with Baker. It’s nothing that they did. I just wasn’t happy, period.

How would things be different if you had never left Foundation?
That’s hard to say. Maybe the same. Even a month ago at a signing, kids were like “Oh you’re on Baker? Why did you quit Foundation?” And I was like, “That happened three years ago.”

I think with me people don’t really identify my skateboarding with a board company. They just see me as being on Emerica.

It could even be said about this interview and how much we’re talking about Baker and Toy Machine, but are people thinking way too hard about skateboarding these days?
I totally think so. Like, who cares man? People quit companies like all the time. But you can even see it in ads and stuff. People just standing there and looking cool.

I think it’s gotten to that point where certain people think they’re celebrities and it’s like, “You’re not a celebrity, dude, you’re just some retard skater guy. We all are.”

You’ve explained in other interviews a sort of ugly aftermath with Tod Swank when you left Foundation. Are you on a different level with him now, going back to the Tum Yeto umbrella?
I’m not like, good friends with Tod or anything but I was still holding a grudge from back in the day and being a little fuck. I’ve always liked Toy Machine and the only reason I didn’t get on sooner was because of me being an idiot about that whole deal. Towards the end of me being on Baker I was talking to Ed and jokingly was like, “Yeah, if you guys make him put an ad out saying he’s a dick, I’m down to do it.” So Ed’s like, “Alright, let me call him.”

That’s more like how skateboarding was in the early nineties.
I think it’s funny and cool on Tod’s part to do that ad. So I was like, “Alright cool, fuck it.”

Rocco stole Richard Mulder from Foundation back in the day and ran a pretty funny ad with Richard driving his Porsche announcing it.
It just makes it more fun. It’s not too serious, you know what I mean? I think Tod used to kick people off in ads, right?

Yeah, Ronnie Creager got kicked off Foundation in an ad. Do you ever feel that you need to get away from skateboarding, whether it’s the people or the filming or whatever?
I never get to the point where I’m like “Oh dude, skating is such a drag. I’m over it for a week.” It’s more like, “What are we doing this weekend? We’re going to the swap meet? Fuck yeah, let’s do it! Let’s play some guitar today. Lets ride some bikes!”

I’m never putting down my board because I’m sick or tired of skating. I’m just putting it down ‘cause something else comes up—like the weekend.

What’s something you need to work on to improve yourself as a person?
I guess people sometimes think I’m a dick because I don’t really like talking to many people. But like, Austin Stephens doesn’t talk to many people and he’s not a dick. I’m sure I’ve got things to work out but I don’t really know. I guess that’s a question I should ask people … “Hey man, how am I lame?”

I heard that you’re not the best person to go riding Harleys with because you just get on your bike and go 100 miles an hour and leave everyone in the dust.
I’m a very impatient person. If people are lagging I’m like, “Fuck this I’m outta here.”

If you could fight any famous person who would it be?
God I dunno, that’s a hard one. Probably Rocky Balboa. Yeah, ‘cause it would be the last fight of the movie and it would be a pretty big deal.

But you’d probably get your ass kicked.
Yeah, but it’s worth it if it’s Rocky, dude.

See, but that goes back to the pain thing I was asking earlier.
Sometimes it’s worth it to get a little broken up to have some fun.

What do you hate right now?
I’m a pretty simple guy. Not too much shit bothers me but I hate going to overcrowded bars and they’re overcharging you for beer. I hate that.

So on the other side all that, what makes you happy on a daily basis?
The same things as everybody else I think: Playing guitar, listening to music, barbecuing on a summer day, finishing up some cold ones, fucking girls.

Beer, food and women …
And music and skateboarding. Pretty simple.

Imagine everyone in the world was that simple? How awesome would that be?
Yeah, everybody would be drinking, barbecuing and out for poon.

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