The Story Behind Boxton Square

November 4, 2009

etnies skate and create boxton square rob brink

Wrote this piece on/with Mike Manzoori and Sharon Tomlin about their work on Boxton Square and it got shut down by etnies... resulting in my inspiration and writing of the Legend of Boxton Square fiction that ran in the mag. If at first you don't succeed...

Anyway, thought someone out there might be interested in reading... so here ya go.

The Story Behind Boxton Square
By Rob Brink

“There were supposed to be clouds made of corn starch packing peanuts, but there just wasn’t time. I’m pretty gutted about that… they would’ve been awesome,” says etnies Skate and Create art director, Sharon Tomlin. “But Mike [Manzoori, director] did a pretty good job of reminding me to keep it as simple as possible—otherwise I'd still be barricaded in the etnies TF making overly detailed buildings, cityscapes and sniffing glue. I'm amazed we made as much stuff as we did in the time we had.”

“To be honest, my heart was not into this project at all until the concept came together and got me sparked,” says Mike Manzoori, “Having done Skate and Create with Emerica last year, my main goal was to create a dream world that would be easy to configure around the skateboarding that would occur when the etnies team (Sean Malto, Mikey Taylor, Kyle Leeper, Tyler Bledsoe and Davis Torgerson) rolled in.”

After talking in circles with the crew at countless creative meetings, Manzoori turned to Tomlin for a bit of inspiration.

“With the Skate and Create thing I could see Mike was tearing out his hair because they needed a low-budget concept that could hold up against last years’ ideas and the potential ideas from competing companies this year, while also portraying etnies’ uniqueness and eco-coolness,” says Tomlin.

“Sharon flipped the ideas a bit and incorporated them into an overall concept,” says Manzoori. “She came up with the idea while joking about a Zoolander fashion concept that would have the etnies team dressed as homeless people living in a fictional cardboard city, paying homage to the homeless camps made of cardboard boxes during the '80s and early '90s at the famous South Bank skate spot in London.”

“It ended up pretty simple actually… with a secret theme behind it that only I really knew or cared about,” says Tomlin. “A fantasy recycled cardboard town—a parallel universe where beer bongs are worshiped, birds are flat and you can skate anywhere you want and not get kicked out or hurt because the buildings cushion your fall. Every skater is a giant. Beige is the only color. There are cardboard houses, trees and trains but no cardboard people. People generally just spoil stuff so there aren’t any. Its biodegradable-when it rains… a recycled and recyclable town.”

But once the group started to work with the tedious and complicated set in the warehouse, they soon found out that “easy to configure” wasn't quite the case with this concept.

“After all the twelve-plus hour days, I became pretty OCD,” says Tomlin. “Combine that with the Sharpie fumes and Boxton Square started to become a bit too real. Ollie [Tomlin’s assistant art director] would discuss the political, social and spiritual agendas of Boxton Square until the early hours of the morning.”

“I wish I’d had time to add more detail and elaborate and communicate the recycled/eco vibe a bit better,” continues Tomlin. “Like power stations animated to look like they were fueled by used wheels and trees made out of worn out skateboards… things along those lines. But time inevitably ran out and it ended up being pretty stressful to rearrange everything for each filming session.”

“etnies is really into the green/recycle vibe and also happens to have ton of cardboard boxes to recycle all the time, explains Manzoori. “Why not give their waste another life as the set? Typically skate spots are just elements of urban architecture anyway, so we assumed that whatever mystery objects TransWorld gave us to skate would be some kind of imitation of things found in real cities. We hoped it wouldn’t be too hard to turn them back into elements of actual architecture.”

Despite Manzoori’s mention of Sharon joking about the homeless camps and Zoolander, Tomlin was actually quite serious.

“The whole homeless camp actually wasn't a joke, I thought that it could look pretty cool to cover the obstacles in recycled cardboard and make them look like prefab eco-houses; then build a set that looked like a camp with accessories to match. Not a homeless camp necessarily, but a friendly, fantasy urban-style makeshift camp where skateboarders lived and skated and grew vegetables in a self-sufficient, security-free, skate stopper-free utopia. You leave your cardboard penthouse and skate your front yard with your cardboard-dwelling neighbors. When the spot gets played out, pick up your house and move it somewhere else. In a way, I thought it would be amusing to see Mikey Taylor living in a box; making home-brewed cabbage wine and growing dreads. What I ended up making was a miniature version of that concept… sans cabbage or dreads.”

In her spare time, Sharon enjoys making illustrations and miniatures of futuristic, post-apocalyptic cities where there are no people… the animals and plants have taken over.

“The animals are fully pimping with hot tubs, jacuzzis and helicopters,” she explains. “All species get along with one another because there are no humans to project fear, misery and conflict onto them. They are all vegetarians and travel in helicopters that run on veggie fuel. When Mike started mentioning the cardboard tube sequence in the Michel Gondry movie, La Science des Rêves (The Science of Sleep), I was insulted. I knew I could build a better town than Gondry and his friends. So I did.”

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New Jack: Jake Johnson

October 26, 2009

rob brink jake johnson the skateboard mag

New Jack: Jake Johnson
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2009

Admit it. You like Animal Collective now. Why? ‘Cuz Jake Johnson’s part in Mind Field is amazing. Jake is to Animal Collective what Duffy is to Primus... what Mariano is to the Jackson Five… and so on. It’s the stuff legends (or future legends) are made of.

Don’t worry. You aren’t the only person who wasn’t into the band before the video came out. Millions of others listen to it now while they skate and get just as stoked as you... wishing they could be cruising around NYC on a skateboard. Jake actually needs no introduction, so enough of this… let’s just get on to knowing the kid behind the most breakthrough video part of the 2009.

So you were just in Rotterdam for the am contest?
Yeah, my first contest. It was pretty nerve racking. It’s funny… there are European doubles of American skaters and they look just the same… like the European Lutzka.

Is there a Euro Cole?
Not yet. European Jamie Thomas needs to get a hold of one of those kids and then there’d be a good European Chris Cole. But there’s some gnarly dudes for sure. It was pretty wild.

What’s changed for you, post-Mind Field? Do people recognize you more or expect more from your skating?
The most strenuous part was probably before Mind Field and getting on Workshop. It’s been strange having that much exposure around the world. But more so, it’s just made better opportunities for me.

rob brink jake johnson the skateboard mag

So you’re into the all travel?
I’m getting better at it. I broke down on a couple of trips. But that’s what I mean about things being more intense before the video. I just had no idea what to expect.

Maybe its better that you started your career with the pressure of Mind Field… the hardest might be behind you already.
Yeah, but any filming is stressful in it’s own way.

Are you working on a Gravis video now?
Yeah, Greg Hunt is doing a video with Gravis. I’ve been pretty psyched.

Alien has a deep history, but Gravis is newer and you can help mold it. Is it exciting to be part of something new that you can contribute to?
That’s the reason I wanted to ride for them. I’ve looked up to Arto my whole life. To have an opportunity to start something new with him and Dylan is pretty cool. Making shoes is something I’ve always wanted to do. My feet are beat up from all these vulcanized shoes. I’ve got plantar fasciitis… liquid buildup in my fascia between the skin and the tendon that stretches across your foot. It’s like gnarly heel bruises that come and go as they please depending on how many stairs I’m jumping down. I have to massage them out and shit. I’m just trying to eat right and make sure I’m supporting my feet and shit… wearing good cupsoles again.

Tim O’Connor said of you: “Jake’s shoes are choked out. He ties his laces so tight but I’m backing it for ankle support”
I didn’t know he was taking notice. But I’ve needed the ankle support since my ankle got sprained.

rob brink jake johnson the skateboard mag

He notices everything. Have you ever skated Dylan’s shoe? That thing’s gotten so much attention and hate.
I tried them on and they were really comfortable. I didn't skate them though. Light as a feather and you can impossible ten feet high. Goddamn… Dylan can fucking skate good in those things.

Did you move to New York for the skating opportunity or to escape your hometown?
It was a combination of the two. I got accepted to Penn State in my junior year of high school. But that was the year that I met Greg Chapman and reunited with some of my old friends in New York. I ended up filming some footage and Greg saw it, wanted to get me boards and was willing to pay my health insurance if I moved to New York to work on their video. So obviously I was psyched. I got school to hook me up with some online classes my senior year. So I finished that up, got my diploma and moved to New York.

Who from Alien found you and helped get you on?
Jason Dill introduced himself to me, introduced me to Chad [Alien team manager] and got me started. But Joe Castrucci sent me my first box because Tim told him about me. Thanks Tim. Thanks Jason.

How do you view the education you’ve gotten in the world you’re in now versus what you would’ve learned at Penn State?
No matter what situation you’re in you can choose to learn, be involved and take what you can from it. But for me the most important thing is being passionate about what you do so you don’t take anything for granted and are thankful. If I was at school I would’ve learned differently, but traveling the world and being able to organize yourself and your time and meeting people… it’s something you can’t compare a college education to. I feel like it helps you see so much more of what’s actually going on.

Anyone can sit through a college program and learn the same information, but not everyone is gonna learn what you know.
No way. The best choice I ever made was deciding to live in New York. I’m so fucking thankful.

rob brink jake johnson the skateboard mag

Tim told me about some circuit board you play with.
Radio Shack has this circuit board electronic learning kit and I thought it was kind of cool. It teaches you basic electronics. I read a few of the lessons and pretty much haven’t touched it since. I guess that’s one thing I’m not doing ‘cuz I’m not in school… sitting down with a book and learning. But you can make a button light up or you can make numbers appear. It’s funny because Andy Henry [Nike SB team manager] was at my apartment and saw it and starts rifling off all this stuff. I guess he went to school for electronics.

He just busted some moves.
He schooled me on the circuit board. I was psyched.

I heard you eat really fast.
Yeah, I can eat a lot. I fully recognized that when I was in Amsterdam and went to this falafel place three times in a row and got three monster falafels. I’ve really never had a falafel that I was down for, but for some reason these got me psyched. I’m not a pig though.

When I was your age I would eat a whole pizza. Now I can only eat two or three slices.
Eating a lot is tight. You get to shit a lot too. Everybody loves that.

Shitting is always fun. It’s a sport.
It’s interesting studying something that comes out of your body.

What’s something that bothers you about the skateboarding industry?
People are taking skateboarding so seriously because too much money is involved. It’s become about what we can produce, how fast and how many people can see it. People don’t take as much time to just enjoy it. It’s not that people aren’t enjoying skateboarding; it’s just that because of the Internet, the speed of things is so gnarly.

rob brink jake johnson the skateboard mag

I think people are over-thinking and over-analyzing skateboarding lately. It’s not biology or some shit.
Exactly, it’s becoming more formulated. Everything just seems so planned and you can tell that you’re being sold skateboarding from so many directions.

I was told to ask you about Matt Reason and Lenny Kirk.
I’m gonna find those guys one day. They’re legendary. If I could be around in any era, I’d be skating around in Philly with those guys. I don’t know either of them personally but I look up to them.

Do you think you’d be able to hang with the huge setups they were riding back then? 60 mms and prototype boards that were 34 or 35 inches?
I think I’d be down. I ride a pretty long board. Have you ever skated a board that was uncut?

No, but when I was young my dad would buy me uncut boards for Christmas we would trace pro shapes that we liked and go cut ‘em out in wood shop.
Where did you get those from?

Shops used to sell them. We’re talking 1990. So you actually skated an uncut board? It seems so dangerous. The shiners would suck.
Yeah. Last month in DC this kid had one. No grip on it and he was doing switch tres.

rob brink jake johnson the skateboard mag

No shit!
We were playing games of S.K.A.T.E. in front of the White House with Billy Rohan announcing. The dude who was skating the uncut board was killing it. I think he won the game of S.K.A.T.E. he was in. It was a weird little event that Billy planned for some government thing. We got permits and there were cops escorting us. It was for skateboard awareness in Washington or something.

Billy Rohan is a skate activist. Building spots and shit.
A skactivist for sure. He’s doing a great job. I’m definitely enjoying the bounty. Been skating at 12th and A all summer for sure. I’ve probably said “for sure” a hundred thousand times during this interview.

Nah, but I usually edit out that kind of stuff out.
Yeah, we talked as long as a high school couple… like, two hours.

Damn, I forgot about those phone calls.
Yeah, those were kind of the worst.

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Milestone: Sierra Fellers

October 26, 2009

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

Milestone: Sierra Fellers
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, December 2009

It may sound boring to some of you jaded and cynical folk out there… but Sierra Fellers is happy. You know why? Because he’s living a life of skateboarding; he’s pro for a company he loves that supports him; he just got married; he’s got great friends and family; and he’s completely comfortable with himself being a dork in the skateboarding industry.

Sounds simple enough, right? Just peachy. Except you’d be amazed by the amount of people in skateboarding, or the world for that matter, who aren’t nearly as happy, appreciative or have the piece of mind that Sierra possesses at only 22 years old... despite the fact that he’s had a few setbacks. Setbacks that might have caused any lesser-willed man to go running back home to Montana with their tail tucked between their legs. Wanna know what really happened and how he’s achieved and maintained this skate-nirvana-esque mind state? Well, the story goes like this:

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

Most of the skate community came to know Sierra when he, kind of out of nowhere, won Tampa Am Street and Best Trick in 2004. Although he was already getting flowed boards from Jamie Thomas at the time, shortly after, Sierra’s first Mystery ad came out, he was officially on the team and he’d secured himself a spot on the Circa roster as well.

Pretty dreamy huh? Indeed. Until you consider the fact that about a year later, Sierra was kicked off Mystery and nearly canned from Circa in one fell swoop.

“Sierra never really got along with the Mystery crew very well,” says Jamie Thomas. “But he was really motivated and had a lot of potential, so we tried to make it work. Shortly after he got on, he started spending a lot of time in Montana and Canada. When we went to put together the Mystery section for New Blood, the footage we had of him wasn't up to his potential. Since no one on the team had gotten any closer to him in the time he was on, everyone agreed that it just wasn't working.”

“Yeah, that was a weird one,” says Sierra. “I was young and I’m from Montana, which is a completely different place. I didn’t really know how to relate to them all I guess. I just wanted to skate and have fun. I was a nerdy little skate kid. I didn’t really make an effort to hang out with them and I didn’t know how to gauge hanging out with people in general at the time. I was like a home-schooled skate nerd.”

According to Sierra, he really had no clue the team wasn’t into him, as none of them ever made mention or told him about it. When the time came to cut the cord, it was Jamie who did the deed.

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

“It was seriously a week after my second ad came out for Mystery. And he was like, ‘Yeah, the guys aren’t really feeling like you mesh and that first ad was actually an accident. It wasn’t supposed to come out yet.’ And in my head I was like, ‘Okay that’s weird. But if you’re in control of a company how can you have an ad come out as an accident?’ I was really confused. I was like, ‘Sick. This is how the industry is. All of a sudden it’s an accident that I was even on.’ The way Jamie talked to me, it was almost like a girlfriend breaking up with me. It was like, ‘Seriously, you’re doing everything right. You’re ripping. You’re getting footy and photos and you’re killing it, but we’re not feeling it.’ Kinda like, ‘It’s not you, it’s us.’ It worked out better in the end though because all the footy I had went to my Circa part.”

But Mystery weren’t the only ones who didn’t feel Sierra was meshing with the team at the time. Turns out Circa shared the sentiment.

“Everyone was kind of over me in the exact same way. Because I never really made an effort to hang out with anyone,” says Sierra. “I didn’t care a lot about relationships and stuff like that. I was just trying to skate. Circa was going to kick me off too, but Ryan Reese [then Circa team manager] wanted to give me one last chance. So he sat down with me and talked to me about how it all worked. After that, Circa became like a family. I’m closer with them than I am with my aunts and uncles and stuff. I was so psyched to have more relationships with people and hang out. I had a way better time too.”

In late 2006, Sierra got a phone call from then-Foundation team manager, Josh Beagle, asking if he’d like to be part of the team.

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

“He was like, ‘Hey, do you wanna ride for us?’” Says Sierra. “And I was like, ‘I dunno, are you guys cool? Honestly, I don’t know anybody on the team but I’m down to try.’

“At first I thought of Duffel and Gareth, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I really fit in if that’s what they’re looking for. I’m just a random white kid who skates.’”

And with that new, fresh opportunity bestowed upon him, Sierra, the random home-schooled skate nerd white kid who skates, had a chance to learn from his past mistakes and experiences and move upward in skateboarding.

And by July of 2007, his first Foundation pro model was released.

“I’ve been treated so good at Foundation. Foundation seriously hooks it up better than I could even imagine. When I first got on as an am, they sent me 20 boards with all different shapes just to try out, and I wasn’t even fully on yet. They still listen to me and I have creative input there.”

Despite taking a while to find a home and having some trouble “fitting in” during the early Mystery and Circa days, Sierra never felt insecure. He never felt obligated to conform or be something he’s not. He’s comfortable being flair-free and letting his skating carry him where it will. And if you’ve ever seen Sierra catch a switch heel, you know his style can be really easy on the eyes… subtle yet unique.

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

“I feel like I fit in skateboarding just because of the fact that I skateboard,” says Sierra. “If you love it, it doesn’t matter if you’re just wearing a white T-shirt and jeans like I do every day. Like, if you wear crazy bracelets and dye your hair and wear tight jeans… we’re all still skateboarders. In my experience it’s about talent and style. If people like to watch you skate, then that’s what kids are gonna be psyched on. Not cause you punched the security guard out.

“Honestly I’d just rather skate and try and be the next whoever. If I tried to dress differently, I’d feel like some kind of gimmick just trying to get attention, you know? Us pro skateboarders are just the biggest dorks who people think are cool. People think I’m cool and I’m such a dork. Like I’m as dorky as they come.”

“Sierra is a great compliment to the mix on the Foundation team,” says Foundation founder/owner, Tod Swank. “I look forward to seeing him get crazier and crazier on his board and enjoying skateboarding and travelling the world while doing so.”

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

“I'm psyched he found his groove and has grown into his own,” says Jamie Thomas. “He's a good dude and he rips, so it's good to see him doing well.”

“Sierra brings stability to a company that has seen tons changes throughout the years,” says ex-Foundation team manager, Eric Wall. “He brings a personality that attracts other skaters, kids, fans, etc. to Foundation. He’s a great building block to any company. He's a positive professional skateboard role model without having to be labeled as one. He appreciates everything he's been given and tries his hardest to give back to the skateboard community. He understands the responsibilities of doing autograph signings and skateboard demos and showing kids that show up the respect they deserve. He had an uphill battle from the start of his skateboard career, but pushed through and came up on top. He's a kid with a great head on his shoulders who looks further down the road into the future than most skateboarders do.”

Speaking of role models… over the years, Sierra has constantly been typecast as “religious” due to his upbringing, affiliation with a few organizations and a part in Stephen Baldwin’s Livin’ It video.

“Every interview I do,” says Sierra, “I tell the dude, ‘I’ve had four of these interviews talking about me and religion. I don’t want kids to read it and have it be a monotonous thing.’ Like, ‘So you believe in Jesus? So you’re from Montana? What’s it like growing up there?’

“I honestly hate the term ‘religious.’ ‘Religious’ is just such a pile of shit to me. It’s more about relationships and having a positive impact on people. I’m psyched when people see my skating and get fired up and see my life as a positive message. I back that. There’s so much shit in this world that sucks so bad. I’m just psyched to be alive. The fact that I can skateboard just makes life even better.”

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

Happier than a pig in shit and a new wife on top of it all. Jealous yet? Or at least happy for him? Sierra requested we keep the marriage talk to a minimum, as he knows, when he was a kid, he preferred to read interviews of skaters that dealt with skateboarding, not the peripherals. He also prefers to keep work and personal life separate, but speaks of married life more positively than most people you know… to the point where you’ll find yourself a bit envious and wishing you’ve found your soul mate too.

“Just knowing that someone has your back no matter what,” says Sierra, “It’s like getting to hang out with your best friend every day. You get to have a teammate in life now. A lot of people talk about marriage like, ‘Oh, she ties me down… the old ball and chain…’ But as far as skating and hanging out, when she’s around I probably skate more. This whole interview… I got all these photos while she was with me.”

Aside from Sierra’s new married life, wife and family inspiring him, so do his true friends and Circa teammates like Windsor James, Tony Tave, Peter Ramondetta and Dennis Durrant.

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

“When I see them it’s always awesome to be around ‘em,” Sierra says. “We don’t have issues. We don’t fight. We all have the same sense of humor. If I can have a great time and have people that I can rely on and trust and know that they love me and I love them… then that inspires me. As does just knowing I have someone that I can go to if I have an issue or problem in my life, instead of bottling up inside and getting depressed. Lately, too, I’ve honestly been way more psyched to go film stuff because of HD. I’ve been filming with these guys that make the footage look so sick make the colors pop out. I get psyched! Like, ‘Let’s go film a line because it looks so sick!’”

As for the future… well, Sierra’s not too concerned. What person who is as content as he is right now would be? Ask him where he thinks he’ll be in 10 years, apart from most likely still being a pro skater, and he’ll tell you he doesn’t have the slightest idea.

“I honestly wish I could answer that. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen next month, so I don’t even like to worry about what could happen in ten years.”

Should he and his wife decide to have children, one thing Sierra knows for sure is that he’d rather raise the kids back home in Montana.

sierra fellers rob brink the skateboard mag

“Just because that’s what I knew growing up. Me and my friends would ride our bikes everywhere and do whatever we wanted. We’d skate and we had the wildlife and the mountains and stuff to explore. In my experience in southern California, you’re in an apartment. A kid can maybe play on the patio outside. I miss the summertime back in Montana when I was young… not doing anything but playing the whole summer with my friends. Going to the river and floating down it in tubes and fishing and shooting guns. But it’s funny… now that I’m older, I can still do all that stuff I did as a kid… and I don’t have my parents saying ‘No you can do that. It’s too late. You gotta be home.’”

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Eric Fletcher interview

October 22, 2009

eric fletcher rob brink

Eric Fletcher
Words: Rob Brink
February 2008

This was supposed to be for but then etnies and Fletcher broke up. Also found some old sequences and threw 'em in here. Enjoy.

Fletcher! How you doin’, man?
Watchin’ Cops. What are you doing?

I’m just sitting in the office hoping you were gonna call back.
[Laughs] Yeah. I’m not calling you back.

So can you talk a half hour?
It’s gonna take a half an hour? Damn… do I hafta do it tonight?

Yes. I’d hate to interrupt your Cops.
[Laughs) It’s cool.

When you’re not skating in Cedar Rapids, Iowa what do people do for fun?
Shit… party. Go to movies.

Are there cities there or is it a lot of farms and shit?
There’s not a lot of farms. It’s not really how you picture it. There’s cities and shit… just a bunch of little towns. And there’s farms in some places but that’s not unless you go out far in the country.

Are people weird? Like, hillbillies? Or are they pretty cool?
Nah. You meet a lot of cool people out there but some of are just like, pretty stoops.

What do you like best about being in Cali?
The weather, hot chicks, food, Jamba Juice.

When you’re out here, what do you miss most about home?
Probably friends and family and shit.

Do you keep in touch with a lot of friends out there?
Yeah. Talk to them about once a week, usually.

2007. KF 50-50 to fakie 50-50 to 180. Total innovation.

Is there anything about Cali you don’t like?
Rich white people. There’s not really too much to hate. I mean, cops. Probably the cops.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
[Laughs] Uh. I don’t remember. Probably tried to quit smoking or something stupid. I don’t know. I don’t really think I did. I never really make any.

It kinda seems like you don’t give a shit when you’re skating. You look like you’re not even trying. I don’t know what kind of question that even is, but like… you just always look like you don’t give a shit…
I don’t, really [laughs].

Do you think skaters talk too much shit on one another?
Oh yeah. For sure. It’s funny. I don’t wanna make any examples, but… Toy Machine dudes! Haha. We talk shit a lot.

It seems like, no matter where you are, you end up in a situation where everyone’s talking shit…
Yeah I just laugh at that shit…

So how did the thing with Flip end? You were on there for like two or three years?
Yeah. I don’t know. I guess they were saying I didn’t have enough footage… or good enough footage. I don’t really know.

They thought you weren’t working hard enough?
I’m a slacker.

So you know you’re a slacker? You know you’re lazy?

Does it feel weird going a long time without a board sponsor like this? Are you ever nervous?
It’s pretty tight actually. You get to ride a bunch of tight boards… different ones.

So, who are you livin’ with now? John?
Bradford, yeah, for right now. I’m gonna try to get a place or something.

eric fletcher rob brink
More innovation! KF BS nosegrind to backside 180 up top! I hope you realize this is a joke, by the way.

Do you have and funny stories from living with Johnny Layton?
Shit, which one can I use? So many… I don’t really know like what I can put…

Is he a chill dude to live with or is he hyper?
He’s not hyper; he’s just crazy. He’s cool though. I don’t know. I don’t have any stories really… I mean, I do, but…

Okay forget it. What was the last book you read?
Oh. Man… Fuck knows. I don’t know. I have no idea. I can honestly say I have no idea.

What’s your favorite TV show?
South Park, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Family Guy.

What’s your favorite place to eat?
I don’t know.

Is that a hard question?
Yeah, mental block. I don’t know… Chuck E. Cheese? Is that allowed?

Really? How do you feel about green tea and cheese and fruit platters?
I could be down with that [laughs]. Cheese. Random question…

No because that one day we were skating and I showed up with the cheese platter and some nuts. And you guys all made fun of me. So I was just wondering… thought you’d call me gay or something.
You're gay. [Laughs].

Favorite skaters?
Mariano, Rick Howard, Mike Carroll.

If you could skate like anyone else for a day, who would it be?
Probably Daewon. Daewon would be tight.

Daewon on mini ramp or Daewon tech?
Mannys… Fakie manuals.

rob brink eric fletcher
KF BS nosegrind to eat shit.

What’s a trick like that you fuckin’ suck at?
Varial heels.

Regular varial heels? I could get you on that in S.K.A.T.E. That’s like my old reliable.
I can’t get those, man. Suck at it. Looks sketch.

What goes through your head when you’re dropping in for your Tampa Am run?
Fuck this shit, I’m out after this. [Laughs]. Nah, I don’t know.

Nah, that’s the best answer ever.
Probably “Damn it!” Probably “Fuck!” Actually, just “DAMN IT!”

You know you got 59th place, right?

That was only on your day though. So I guess when you combine the two days and all the skaters it makes it lower. Do you know what you’re actual place is?
In the hundreds probably.

I think that kid Jimmy Marchand, on the crutches, got higher than you.
Good. He deserves it.

I actually have an interview with him I’m gonna put on the site.
He’s tight. That dude is tight. I was looking for weed down there and he was looking too. He was having withdrawals.

He’s definitely sick.
Where’s he from?

Rhode Island. That was his first contest.
That’s crazy. He’s super tight.

Tell us about your beanies. Do you collect beanies? You have lots of beanies…
Um, I try to. I don’t now, but, one day, hopefully I’ll have an entire rack full of limited edition beanies.

Are you a fan of the pom pon ones? Are those better than the regular ones?
Yeah. Oh yeah. Gotta have a ball. Gotta have one of these guys. [Shows off his new Snoopy pom pon beanie]

I’m so down with Snoopy. Is the Snoopy one your newest one?

eric fletcher rob brink snoopy
Down with Snoopy.

What’s your favorite beanie?
The Steve Zissou one.

Oh from Life Aquatic?
Yeah, the red one.

How come you barely wear them on your head? How do they even stay on?
Because that’s how it is. That’s how it just goes. I don’t know.

Have you ever had any really weird, lame sponsors?
Well, Ollie Pop gum… nah. [Laughs].

Are your parents cool with you being out here and not being in school and shit?
As long as I’m doing something you know, they support me.

What’s the best place you ever went on tour?
Probably Spain.

What do you hate most about skateboarding? Besides this interview?
You meet a lot of stupid people, but definitely the rumors. I’ve had somebody think I was like Danny Cerezini at a Flip thing

Really? Have you ever been mistaken for any other skaters or just Danny?

Really? Awwwww.
It sucked. Hell yeah. In France.

Was it girls?
Some French dudes. And they were following me.

Were they all psyched?
I was doing this signing and I didn’t really wanna do it, so I kinda skated away. This crowd of people was following me. I was like, “What the fuck are these people doing?” They come up to me and were like, “Are you Ryan Sheckler?” I was like, “No.” They got my autograph anyways and just left.

Were they bummed you weren’t him? They got your autograph anyway?
It was weird. Yeah, all bummed. They were like, “Is he coming?” I’m like, “I don’t fuckin’ know.”

eric fletcher rob brink
Nollie nosegrind. Backside. And long.

Anything else you wanna say? Once your mouth’s not full of food?
Is that it?

Yeah that’s it, man. Not too bad, huh?
Didn’t even take a half an hour. You were like “It’s gonna take a half an hour.”

I thought it would. It was 17 minutes. You got lucky.

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Rodrigo Petersen

September 29, 2009

rodrigo petersen rob brink the skateboard mag

Rodrigo Petersen
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, November 2009

You might not know too much about Rodrigo Petersen, but he’s been around for a long time. And by “long time,” we’re talking, since Neighborhood skateboards. And that was just the first time he came to the US and got sponsored.

Most of you right now are probably like, “What the hell was Neighborhood skateboards?” Which actually proves the point about how long he’s been doing this.

That aside, Rodrigo’s a simple, happy and appreciative Brazilian chap who loves skateboarding. He is gifted as all hell and if you don’t believe that, then go watch his Listen and Nothing But the Truth parts again. But before you do, I’d suggest getting through our little interview here so you can learn how to pop your tricks as high as he does. I don’t think anyone would turn down the secret to skating waist-high tables, would they?

So where do you live right now?
Costa Mesa. I’m living with Daniel Cerezini and Rodrigo TX. It’s cool and I have someone to skate with every day.

What happened to Listen? You guys put out a pretty sick video and a couple months later the company was gone.
I dunno what happened. They say they’re still gonna do it but I’m not sure. I really liked Listen. It was a good company. Then Organika gave me an offer so I took it. I’m pretty hyped. It’s a great company.

Since you go back and forth from Cali to Brazil, do you see more effects of a bad economy here or in Brazil?
I don’t see any difference in Brazil because there it’s always been not so good. So it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you feel it here more because people are used to having a lot of stuff. So when they don’t have it they get frustrated and start freaking out. I never really had anything so it’s not a big deal.

More money, more problems.
Fore sure man!

When you’re in California what do you miss most about Brazil?
The food. But I got used to it here. Now I don’t see no difference. A couple years ago I was feeling it a lot. All my friends back home, when you hear about them doing something, you want to be with all of them.

You’re more homesick.
Yeah, it’s the friends, the food. Stuff like that.

Well you’re living with some Brazilian homies here so that’s cool.
Yeah, that’s why we’re trying to stay together. So it can feel like home. I even have a Brazilian channel on TV so it makes me feel more comfortable here.

Is it all soccer all the time?
Yeah, we got soccer, novellas, news. I know what’s going on at least.

rodrigo petersen rob brink the skateboard mag

Why do so many Brazilians love Mobb Deep?
I dunno man!

Everyone Brazilian I know loves Mobb Deep and learned a lot of their English from listening to Mobb Deep.
Even before I came here we used to listen to Mobb Deep. But what they sing about is kind of like what happens in Brazil in the streets.

Oh, so you guys all relate to it. You have a shoe out with Nike in Brazil?
Yeah, we did this custom series of three different shoes. Only released in Brazil. 450 pairs each. It was pretty fun.

Do people pay a lot of money on eBay for them since they’re so rare?
Yeah. I was trippin’.

What was the most money you saw people paying?
Like two, three hundred dollars… it’s too much for a shoe. But at least it’s got a little value on it ya know?

You’ve been with Nike for a while…
Yeah, since the first year they started. I got hooked up in Tampa through Tony Heitz who used to be the team manager for Alien Workshop.

Why is Brazil spelled with an “S” in Brazil and spelled with a “Z” in America? If you guys decided it needs an “S” then I don’t know why we changed it to a “Z.” That’s lame of us.
I dunno. I always wondered that too. It’s kinda crazy

So you used to ride for Neighborhood skateboards?
Yeah, that was probably 2001. Right after I came to the States for the first time.

Have you ever seen Julio De La Cruz’s part in Da Deal is Dead? When I hear his name all I think about is double pressure flips and shit.
Yeah, and late flips!

rodrigo petersen rob brink the skateboard mag

You own a restaurant in Brazil with your wife?
Yeah. It’s like a grandma’s kind of cooking. Buffet-style.

Is she in charge of that while you’re out here skating and on tours?
Yeah. When she’s not there her dad takes care of it. It’s been three years already.

So when you go home do you work there… cooking or waiting tables?
I like to clean the tables better, man. I help her a lot. Like go to the supermarket and make find all the ingredients and everything. I like to help her.

If you weren’t making money as a skateboarder would you be able to support your family off of the money the restaurant makes?
Yeah, for sure. We can do it.

Good. You need a backup plan. Is that hard having your wife live back in Brazil while you’re here?
Yeah, it’s kind of hard, cause I have a son too. He’s eight.

How long have you been married?
Five years, but we’ve been together for ten.

What’s your favorite thing about being a father?
Making my kid happy.

What’s a challenging part of being a father?
Just when you’re about to have a baby and you gotta think, “Am I ready for this?” When you find out about it, it’s like, “Fuuuuuck….”

The responsibility...
Like, “What am I gonna do?” You know? “I have to be an example for this person for my whole life.” To do everything right to make him happy and smile, you know? The hardest part is making sure not to disappoint him.

rodrigo petersen rob brink the skateboard mag

How is skating different for you when you’re in Brazil compared to when you’re in California?
Brazil is like a little more laid back. But here it’s more professional, like you have to film and shoot photos… more work. But long as you’re having fun that’s all that matters.

I heard it took you a while to pass your DMV test.
Fuck man, yeah. Who told you that?

Vern. What did it take you, like five tries?
Four. It’s kind of fucked up. My wife passed first try.

Woah… What was so hard about it? The written test?
Ya. I took the test at the DMV in Portuguese. But Portuguese from Portugal, not Brazil. So it’s like different words and stuff. Hard to understand.

That’s a legit excuse then. Of all the skateboarders to come out of Brazil, who’s been the most influential?
Probably Fabio Cristiana. When I started skating he was already pro and shit. Carlos de Andrade too. When I started watching American videos it was all the Girl dudes. That’s how we got fired up on skateboarding.

I think that’s how everybody got fired up. The Girl dudes.
Right? And all the old World Industries stuff. To me, back in the day, when I was watching those videos I was thinking. “Oh! Skateboarding is fun! You can always go with your friends and stuff.” The energy that those videos bring you is pretty good. And when I came here the first time I thought it would be more like those videos and I got frustrated.

Yeah. It is a bit different.
I came back home to Brazil and I was like “I’m never gonna go back to the US again.”

Oh really? It bothered you that much?
I was like, “What the fuck is that shit, man?” ‘Cause I didn’t understand what was going on here, you know? After a while I got used to it and now I know how it is and I understand it better.

Once you understand all of that you can learn how to work around it all, or with it, to make it fun for yourself.
Yeah, for sure.

rodrigo petersen rob brink the skateboard mag

So what would you say is your favorite thing about skateboarding?
My favorite thing about skateboarding is when I get home and I’m happy everyday from being on my board, I can learn tricks and the best thing is when you film a trick and you get home and you’re like satisfied. Like, “I did something!”

Yeah, and have a beer.
Have a beer, glass of wine; kick back with the homies and the next day start it all over again. That’s the best thing about tours. I cannot complain about skateboarding. I get to know the whole world and know more people. I cannot complain at all. Even if it stops today I’ll be happy I did everything I wanted to do.

Once your career in skateboarding is over, what do you think will be the next thing for you?
I have a bunch of things in mind. Maybe try to work in skateboarding in Brazil. We always dream about that ‘cause we have so much potential in there. After soccer, skateboarding is like the second most popular thing people do in Brazil.

Try to build an industry...
Yeah, try to build an industry the right way. Just do that and work in the restaurants and have a little hotel on the beach so all your guys can come visit me, you know?

That’d be sick! Like a resort?
Yeah, a resort. One day you guys are gonna come visit me, man.

Hell yeah! So what’s the secret to all that snap you have? Is it a natural gift or something you can offer us advice for?
I dunno about a secret but I think it more comes with the person. Look at TX or Reese Forbes or Rodrigo Lima. Maybe the secret is you gotta eat a lot of rice and beans, man.

So if you wanna skate the tops of waist-high tables, eat lots of rice and beans?
Yeah, for sure!

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Storefront: Platform

September 29, 2009

rob brink platform storefront

Storefront: Platform
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag November 2009

After spending 10 years apiece working at other skateshops, Landon Mitchell and Donnie Meadows decided to do their own thing and opened Platform in November of 2006, with a few goals in mind. The first was to do something different and refreshing for the area they were in (Old Town Pomona, between Los Angeles and Inland Empire). The second was to have a clean, good-looking store with a personal and comfortable feeling when you walked in the front door—as well as a staff of real skateboarders who knew what was up.

“The look of the store was something that was important to us,” says Mitchell. “Everything in the store was basically handmade, from the shoe wall to the dark stained wooden shelves. Our space was an old gallery, so it wasn’t set up to be a retail space. We had to do a lot of demoing, painting, and redesigning to make it functional.”

It was slow goin’ in the beginning for Platform. It took six months to actually get the store open, then, the following six months were their slowest months ever, sales-wise. But with four high schools and two public skateparks in Pomona, things picked up shortly after that.

“We have a lot core skate customers,” says Mitchell. “Since everyone that works here rides skateboards, it draws the core kids to the shop. They can relate to the people working here. Also, we’re in an old town with a lot of shops, restaurants, galleries, music venues, and bars, so we get a lot walk-in customers. There’s an art walk every second Saturday of the month and it’s a great opportunity for us to hold events. They range from art shows featuring local artists, skaters, and photographers, to bands performing in the store.”

A team and staff of rippers doesn’t hurt the cause either: David Serrano, Brent Waterworth, Joe Hook, Craig Cring, Kyle Mitchell, Mike Hamerla; team manager Aaron Wiggs, filmer Sam Newman and store manager, Scott Smith all keep Platform a real deal skateshop that’s strictly skateboarding—no snowboards or BMX or anything of the sort. According to Mitchell, most of the brands and selections of clothing that Platform carries, you won’t see at any mall store.

“We don’t do online sales,” says Mitchell. “I know that’s the way of the New Age and we probably should, but right now we’re just focusing on the store itself. You don’t really understand how much work a shop takes until you do it yourself. It’s definitely not for everyone.”

Mitchell sites his biggest risk as a business owner as taking the step to actually open Platform in the first place. He sites the hardest thing about having the shop, thus far, as making decisions—good or bad, then dealing with the outcome. Naming the shop being one of the hardest decisions of them all. He sites his biggest mistake as “trusting people.” His favorite part of being a shop owner? “How rewarding it is to accomplish things for yourself in an industry that you love.”

When asked about some of the lame stuff other shops do that he tries to stay away from, Mitchell states, “I try not to focus on what other people are doing,” which makes sense, considering Platform’s goal for the future is “to keep on pushing, and do everything we can to keep this place on point.”

Platform Skateshop
330 South Thomas Street Pomona, CA 91766
(909) 865 8700

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New Jack: Marquis Preston

September 11, 2009

marquis preston rob brink tsm

New Jack: Marquis Preston
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, October 2009.

Marquis Preston is a very talked about subject amongst his fellow Emerica team riders. No one seems to know much about him, yet they’re constantly trying to put the pieces together. He carries a general obliviousness vibe, sees the world in a different way and is certainly misunderstood. However, he also possesses many savant-type qualities, like playing the piano, taking photographs and skateboarding—which he is a complete natural at.

Check his legs on the bigspin clip on the Emerica Stay Gold site. That trick alone and you’ll be sold. Seriously.

On a skateboard or off… hearing his interpretation of the world as it buzzes around him (over a slice of pizza and root beer like we did for this interview)… Marquis is just plain amazing.

People tell me you talk to yourself a lot. Have you noticed that?
Not at all.

You always walk in front of the camera while people are filming, huh?
Really? I hadn’t noticed.

I’ve actually seen footage of you doing it.
No way! [Laughs].

marquis preston rob brink tsm

So you admire Oprah Winfrey?
Oprah’s awesome! She gives away so much free shit. Dude, one day she fuckin’ she gave everyone in the audience a fuckin’ Toyota. Like a modern car. I was just like, “Wow! That’s so sick!” She’s ballin’. I’m sure if I asked her for some money she’d be like, “Alright, no problem.”

Where does all your money go?
I’m paying someone else’s debts. My fuckin’ brother stole my car and got into a hit and run accident. I hid the keys in my clothes in my drawers but somehow he got ‘em and took off with it while I was in France a while back.

He also got a speeding ticket that month. He used all my information out of the glove compartment and the cop believed it. No picture ID or nothing. Just wrote up the ticket. So I got a “failure to appear” and $800 in fines.

That’s identity theft!
Yeah. I had no idea it was my brother all along. I found out about both of these situations four months after they happened.

marquis preston rob brink tsm

Are you and your brother tight?
It’s whatever. We haven’t been together in a long time ‘cause I came home and the house was up for auction. My mom went to jail while I was gone. So I come home and everybody’s all separated.

Wait, what? Your mom went to jail?
Yeah. Got out like two years ago.

With all that stuff going on, are you trying to distance yourself from your family or are you guys cool?
Nah. Our family is tight. If I had the money I’d go see them.

How about getting lost before Blingfest a few years ago and then coming back and winning Best Trick?
I don’t know what happened. I was just spaced out listening to music or something. I just missed the exit and ended up in San Clemente. It happens.

That’s pretty far, though. Like an hour away? At least you won.
Yeah, I was psyched. Paid my car off with that money

You were once ranked high in Call of Duty?
I was top 200 in the world actually. I think 98th.

marquis preston rob brink tsm

I just learned of a recent intervention between your friends, your X Box and you…
That was this guy. [Points to his friend Max.] I bought the game when it first came out. It was my first online gaming experience and I was hooked. I played it for like, two years straight.

One game? And it affected your skating and your life that much?
Max: It was seriously like an eight-hour workday for him.

I wouldn’t even eat or go outside. I would just wake up and play for hours. Fuck Call of Duty. It ruined my life.

Max: So finally one night we’re all drinking and I was like, “Yo, Marquis, you need to stop playing that shit. You need to start skating more. I haven’t seen you skate in weeks.” And he just broke down. He grabbed the X Box and was like, “I’m gonna sell this shit.” And I’m like, “You can still play it… just go skate more. And he’s like, “Nah, fuck that!” Slams it down on the floor and just starts stomping on it. Then hid it in his roommate’s closet.

Did it feel good, Marquis?
It felt great.

marquis preston rob brink tsm

So are you gonna have a full part in Stay Gold?
I hope so. Still filming. Depends on how much footage I have.

Are you nervous?
Kinda anxious. My first part is gonna be in an Emerica video, ya know? I really want Brandon Westgate’s part to come out. Collin, Leo, Andrew, Bryan… everybody. Fuck, it’s gonna be a good video.

I heard you recently got taken away from a bar in an ambulance…
Yeah. I went to a G.O.A.T. show in Arizona. This local guy was talking down on me ‘cause I was a black skateboarder. He was bumming me out. Called me a sellout. And then I said to him, “I’ll buy you out.”

That’s a pretty good comeback, except that you have no money.
Yeah, I was stoked on that. Then I walked away from him and he taps me on the shoulder and as soon as I turn around he just uppercuts me. Straight up lifted me off the ground. I blacked out and woke up on the floor, like, “What the fuck just happened?”

So the ambulance gets there and they’re like “Do you know what day it is?” And I was just like, “I dunno.”

He was like, “Do you know where you are?” And I was like, “I’m in Arizona but I don’t know exactly where I’m at.”

I was okay; it was just a fat lip. So they were like “You didn’t answer all the questions fluently so you’re gonna have to jump in the ambulance for some type of fucking diagnostics. We gotta take you to the hospital, do some screening on your head.” I was like, “Okay, fuck it.”

Jeff [Emerica TM] said when he asked you why you let the ambulance take you, you said, “I guess I answered the questions wrong.”
That’s exactly what happened. I answered them wrong.

marquis preston rob brink tsm

That’s hilarious. So how about the next day when you jack shacked in the Emerica tour van?
Oh man. So everybody had this funny idea to get porno mags from the liquor store. I got myself a mag and seen this hot-ass woman in it. She was seriously stuck in my head for hours. Like, I couldn’t even skate around without thinking about doing her or just being with her. So I decided to go rub one off in the van while everybody was skating. And it did the trick.

Jeff said you soiled one of Braydon’s mags?
Braydon had his own mag and I had mine. He seen my mag and he was like, “Oh, who got this one?” I was like “Oh shit.” I didn’t say it out loud but I already knew it was mine. I knew I fucking jacked off in it. I busted on her. I just wanted to wait for him to see for himself. So he was just looking through it and was like “What the fuck? No!” I was like, “Hell yeah.” I wasn’t all that embarrassed, which kinda surprised me actually.

Do what you’ve gotta do, man.
I was like, “Yeah, whatever. I masturbate.”

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Festivus: Maloof Money Cup '09

September 9, 2009

rob brink maloof money cup

Festivus: Maloof Money Cup ‘09
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, October 2009

On the weekend of July 10, 2009, deep within the Orange Curtain, buried inside the OC fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California, alongside funnel cakes and giant turkey legs, white trash, reality TV stars and Kobe Bryant, Botox and silicon-injected numbskulls, imitation Ed Hardy attire, Snoop Dee-Oh-double-Gee, tribal armband tattoos, tramp stamps and pill-popping swingers with Bentleys; amidst a skateboarding spectacle like no other, one of the best disposable short-term skate plazas on the planet and a whole lotta money; between the shadows of a bevy of contest heavies like Chris Cole, Ryan Sheckler, Greg Lutzka, Nyjah Huston, Chaz Ortiz and Paul Rodriguez… something very memorable was brewing…

The aforementioned cluster of skateboarding super-pros all semi-frantically and systematically did what most contest onlookers would expect of them. They ripped hard. Consistently throwing down trick after trick after trick and jumping off roofs with barely any roll away before picking up their board and charging back up the stairs for another go… stacking up points with the judges while wooing cameras and crowds.
Then night fell… and Peter Ramondetta happened. The “speak softly and carry a big stick” ideology epitomized.

It came from out of nowhere. And suddenly, everything else seemed pale.

These feelings… they don’t happen very often. Especially in skateboarding. But from up above and behind and off to the side and below, from those who’d been relatively quiet all day because they’ve seen it all before, came the sincerest stokeage you’d ever hear at a skateboarding contest from those who wanted Peter to know they watching and loving every second of it.

“Fuckkkkkk yeahhh Peterrrrrrr!” It was contagious. Others couldn’t help but join in.

Jim Thiebaud once told me of Peter’s skating:

“Then you see him bust and it's like, 'Holy shit where did that come from?' And not in a totally aggro 'Look at how big I'm going' way. It's natural. It's clean. It's subtle and huge. Like a freight train coming out of the fog and heading right at you."

Have you ever heard “Baby Please Don’t Leave Me” by Buddy Guy? It’s slow and steady and menacing and massive. It’s a sonic hurricane. There’s no wasted space or airtime. And that was Peter. He was skating and ripping and sweating and gasping for air and slamming and puking and just flat-out murdering it. Similar to Leo Romero at Maloof in 2008, Peter was the silent, slow-motion sock to the face that everyone needed to see coming right at them, but be unable to dodge, in order to wake the fuck up and realize that hidden within our new and inevitable narcissistic, materialistic, generation bling, peacocking, squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease, celebriphiliac skateboarding world are certain undeniable truths that keep the “I don’t give a fuck, just get out of my way and let me skate” spirit of skateboarding alive.

The internets already informed you about Chris Cole winning the damn thing by a mile… and boy did he deserve it. Alex Perelson being the fourth human to throw down a 900 (in his run, mind you) was pretty damn impressive too. It’s not every day, or even every five years, for that matter, that a new vert kid pops up and you actually like watching him.

So, when was the last time you skated ‘til you puked?

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Bucky Lasek

September 6, 2009

bucky lasek rob brink alli

Bucky Lasek
Words: Rob Brink

After his victory at the first Dew Tour stop in Boston last month, we gave Bucky Lasek a call to see how he felt about it. We also inquired about his thoughts on gearing up for the Portland stop this weekend and also being positioned to win his third overall Dew Tour championship. The byproduct of that conversation was a slew of other discussions… including the long lost VW Corrado, screaming children, vertical skateboarding’s immortality, street skating, Tibet, NASCAR and more. Yes, indeed, on or off the board… Bucky’s always worth paying attention to.

I thought of you just the other day because I saw an Old VW Corrado like you used to have.
Ah you did? That’s funny I was just having a conversation in the last couple weeks about the Corrados. They’re getting rarer and rarer—a dying breed.

Yeah. So what are you driving in for fun these days?
I have a BMW M3. I’ve had it for six years now.

What’s the most played out interview question you get?
Probably asking how I got started.

People still ask that? I have your first Powell Pro board hanging on my wall. Sealed. The one with all the cartoon people in the stadium. It’s dated 1998. Did you ever think in 1988 that 20 years later you’d be pro still and winning contests?
No. I never really look into the future that far. It’s kind of hard to accept… hard to get that perspective going. It’s always easier to look back than it is to look forward.

If you had to guess right now what you’d be doing in 21 more years, what would it be?
Hopefully retired and watching a session going down in my bowl.

What was the big paycheck for a contest win in 1988?
I think I won $500 bucks in my first pro contest.

And then how much do you get for winning dew tour in Boston?
I think it was $15 grand.

If you could pick one guy to knock out of the contest to make it easier for you to win, who would it be?
It would definitely be Pierre. He’s mister consistency. Him and Andy.

Do you feel like winning the first Dew event is a good sign or do you think winning that makes it harder to go to the second stop and having to maintain the lead?
I think it’s harder to win the first one. You don’t really know with the first contest, so it’s always so nerve-racking going into it. Knowing that you’ve got to do good. I guess once you set that pace it gets easier.

You also won Pro Tec this year, right?
Yeah. I won Pro Tec and Bondi.

Oh nice. You’re the first guy to win Pro Tec other than Rune and Omar, right? They kept going back and forth.
Yeah. They skate that thing all the time. I basically had to put some time into it. So I was skating it a lot before I won.

So does something like that come as a more proud victory because you put a specific amount of effort into it prior?
Well, I think it’s a different contest so it’s a different vibe. There is no bad win. Whenever you’re winning, there’s nothing bad about that. I don’t really think one’s necessarily better than the other. As long as you’re still winning.

Are you ever bummed if you don’t win something? Or if for some reason you’re not in the top three or five in a contest?
Yeah, I mean, it stinks, you know? You spend all this time skating and trying to do good. Especially last year. I did well pretty much the whole year then I fucked the last contest. But it’s not like, life-ending. It’s said and done and you move on.

Do you think Chris Miller should be bumped up to the pros for the Pro Tec contest? He hasn’t lost yet, right?
Uh huh. I think he could definitely do good. I think he has the lines but I don’t think he has the bag of tricks. He’d be top five.

Before you drop in for a run that ends up winning a contest… can you feel it? Do you know?
A lot of times you know you’re capable of doing it. You know you can make your run—you know you’re stoked on your line. The only thing that sucks is I’ve had times when I’ve skated great the whole weekend and then when it comes time to making a run, I bail every run. It sucks because you could fall on a frontside air and that just totally blows you away. You’re thinking, “Okay well I didn’t fall on my hard trick but I fell on a frontside air…” so it’s definitely a mind game.

You’ve won two overall Dew Tours. 2005 and 2006… I’m assuming you’re confident you could do it again this time, right?
The level of skateboarding is so high right now. Anybody can win any contest at this point. They could have the ride of their life… there are so many things that can pan out. It’s not like I’m out to win the championship. I just take it contest by contest and if it happens it happens. If it doesn’t then I’m not stressing over it. It seems more like in the vert world, because there’s less guys and they’re all really good contest skaters, that almost any one of them could win on any given day. Whereas if you go watch a street contest you know there’s certain guys who aren’t going to win… they’re just going to do their thing, you know?

Right. So, who would be the guy to prevent you from winning this year?
Most likely it’s going to be Pierre. That’s his bread and butter, you know? He hasn’t been skating all these other concrete contests and he hasn’t really been skating a lot of Mega Ramp either. He’s just been skating vert so he’s pretty on point right now. He’s the machine right now.

How are your knees? You’ve had a bunch of surgeries over the years…
Yeah. It comes and goes. I’m good now.

Because you won Boston are you pre-qualified for Portland?
Yes, I go straight into the finals. The top three go straight in. So that’s nice. I don’t have to stress over putting together a qualifying run and then putting together a finals run. In Boston, we didn’t really have a lot of practice time and the little bit of time I had, I had to put a qualifying run together and then with barely no time I had to put a finals run together.

Other than the obvious fact that it increases your odds of being knocked out… is there a benefit to not going straight to the finals and skating all weekend and working your way up? Like more practice… getting a rhythm going?
It depends on the situation. It depends on if there’s time. I prefer the qualifying and getting my rhythm going. But given the fact that we don’t have a lot of time this next stop, I’m all for just going straight to the finals.

When is the last time you went outside and skated street?
About two weeks ago.

Nice. So do you just cruise?
Yeah. Usually I’ll play a game of S.K.A.T.E. with whoever. I just skated with Alphonzo Rawls and went to Black Box and skated with Dan Murphy Rob Welsh and Jamie Thomas.

What’s more likely these days? A handful of street skaters who can do a trick or two on vert or a bunch of vert skaters who can do a trick or two on street?
I think I’d much rather see some street skaters skate vert than I see some vert skaters skate the street. There’s only a few vert skaters that can kinda get by on the streets these days.

I just read with Adam McNatt in Skateboarder. He said a true pro skateboarder can and should be able to skate vert and street and everything in between. Do you agree with that?
I do, but the only time it really bothers me is when someone who is only good at one thing hates on something else. I think that’s lame. It just shows they know they’re not well rounded.

I was just reading an interview with Darren Navarette in The Skateboard Mag. He was saying that he was glad “vert is dead.” Which, I totally understand his mentality in a way. But for someone like you or Pierre or Bob… you’re doing great and vert is thriving… so I was wondering what your take is on that.
The whole “vert dead thing” is kind of like a big joke to me. I mean, street’s getting dead now too. You didn’t hear? Park skating is in. Street skating is dead. Freestyle is making a comeback. Slalom is in X Games 18 and Olympics are gonna have... You know where I’m, going with that. People just need to shut up and skate…Texas-style. That’s the way I see it.

Would you rather see vert share the same stage in popularity, commonality and media coverage as street or are you okay with it being a little off balance?
I’ve always said that vert skating is like the NASCAR of our sport. It’s got more sponsors and not everyone likes NASCAR. I’m a fan. I enjoy NASCAR. I see street skating as more of a “hush-hush” kind of thing. People like to just skate it doesn’t really have a competitive side. This is a conversation that you could write a book about. It’s all hearsay, you know what I mean? Who am I to voice my opinion? Some things are just easier to market than others. There’s not a whole lot of vert ramps around. They’re hard to come by. I’m not saying that street skating is easier, but it’s a lot more convenient.

So how about having a young guy like Alex Perelson come up in vert? There’s a new hot shit street skater out there every month, but in vert it’s so rare. Is that exciting for you?
Oh I’m stoked for Alex. Alex rips. He does everything and that’s the way it should be, you know?

How important are learning new trick for you nowadays?
It’s pretty important. I get pretty bored with myself. So, if I’m not progressing I’m pretty much over it.

Is it possible to progress without learning new tricks?
For me, it’s just if I’m not learning or progressing then I better be having fun. Otherwise, I’m not really into it.

I saw you you’ve been riding your “Free Tibet” Element pro model. Why was that something you were drawn to as far as a cause or charity to support?
Well, because the Chinese government is just so inane. It’s unbelievable that people aren’t more aware of it because everyone buys all this stuff that’s made in China… and what the Chinese government is doing to these Tibetans is just seriously like, unheard of. They are just like, shooting ‘em. They’re the most peaceful people in the world. It’s kind of sad to say, but it’s similar to what we did to the Indians in America back in the day. So it’s just one of the charities that I support.

Do you bring your family to the contests or do they more often watch it on TV?
Depends on where it is. If it’s in Orlando I always bring them ‘cause we can go to Disneyworld. They’d much rather stay home and go horseback riding or something with their friends. [Baby crying in the background.]

You have three daughters… Does it ever get scary having to support a family off of skateboarding? You’ve adapted to so many different ups and downs in the industry over the years…
Well yeah, but the good thing about skateboarding is that kids are going to do it no matter what the economy looks like. Kids are still going to go out and buy skateboards.

Do you think if you weren’t supporting a family right now, your career in skateboarding might be different? Like you’ve may have been more lax over the years because you would’ve only had to worry about taking care of yourself?
I skateboard because I like to skateboard and I’m just so happy to be good enough at it that I can make money. If I didn’t have a family I would still be skating. I’d probably be skating better because I would do it more often. Being 36 and having three kids is not the easiest thing when you’re competing against 18 year-olds that having nothing else to do but skate, you know?

Do you ever envision moving back to Maryland or is California home?
Nah. I’d say California is home. It’s where every day is 70 degrees. I don’t see how I could ever give that up.

Surely. If you could bring one childhood memory or experience back to your life and have it with you now, what would it be?
Maybe just being 18 again. Without a screaming kid on my hip.

What’s the most strange or outrageous rumor you’ve ever heard or read about yourself?
Vert is dead.

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Ryan Decenzo

September 6, 2009

rob brink ryan decenzo interview

Ryan Decenzo
Words: Rob Brink

When all was said and done at Dew Tour in Boston a few weekends ago, you might have noticed someone different up there on the podium. Not because he’s a stranger to placing high or winning contests… but because he’s relatively new to the pro contest scene. That person would be Ryan Decenzo.

With his new Globe United by Fate part having just dropped (nollie down El Toro, anyone?), a second place finish in Boston and a free ride to the next stop in Portland… things are looking pretty good for Decenzo. Take a few minutes to get familiar with him because he’s not going away anytime soon.

Ryan! Where you at right now?
Corona, British Columbia.

Right on. Are you still on tour?
Yeah, I’m on the RDS tour right now. We were just in Alberta and now we’re doing BC.

Who are you rolling with?
Me and my bro. Paul Trep, Ryan Oughton, Sascha Daley Micky Papa and Machnau.

Are you guys doing demos or filming?
We’re filming. We’ve been street skating but we’re shooting with Nick Scurich from Thrasher. We’re doing demos and stuff. Doing it all.

So, was Dew Tour Boston your first pro contest?
No, I went to Slam City Jam last in Calgary a few years ago. I got third place or whatever. I like pro contests because it’s fun to be with dudes who are better than you and pushing it. Sometimes when you’re stuck with people in a lower level, it’s like you’re just doing your own shit and being lazy because it’s easy or whatever.

Have you ever skated against guys like Cole, Sheckler and Rodriguez before?
I dunno if I’ve skated with all of those heavy hitters in one place like Dew Tour, but for sure I’ve skated with them all in different contests.

Do you skate a differently when you’re going against these gnarly contest pros or is it the same as you would at Tampa Am or something?
It would be the same thing except you get more fired up when they’re landing more shit and you’re seeing them do it. So you want to land your stuff more consistently and have your tricks on lock better.

How much did you win in Boston?
I was supposed to win ten grand but I didn’t have a social security number or whatever they have in America, so I had 35 percent in taxes taken off. It’s still fucking awesome and I can’t complain.

So, you’re automatically qualified for the next Dew stop in Portland?
I think I’m automatically in the finals for the next one. I hope so. It was a struggle getting through all that qualifying. But if I have to do it again, I’ll do it again!

So, you and Chet [Thomas] are talking about going pro for Darkstar?
Yeah, I don’t really know when it’s gonna happen. Maybe when we figure out some graphics and stuff. Things are kind of stagnant right now with the economy. Chet’s not in any hurry. We’ll figure it out. We wanna come out with a sick, solid graphic. We don’t want to just throw anything out there.

So that’s the end of am contests for you!
I’ve been kind of over them for a couple years now. A couple people convinced me to skate Maloof so I did.

You were in the am contest there?
Yeah, I got third. But we had to skate in the middle of the day and it was like a million degrees and I was like puking the whole time.

Oh, you were one of the pukers! There were a lot of them. It was awesome.
I was probably the first person to puke. It was just that hot.

I was actually keeping a running count of everyone who was puking all weekend. Peter Ramondetta, Torey, Dyet… a bunch of people.
Everyone was pushing it man, if you’re not skating ‘till you’re puking, then you’re not skating hard enough.

So do you prefer a plaza course like Maloof or more of a transitioned skatepark course like Dew Tour?
On the Dew Tour course you can flow a lot better. You don’t have to worry about always running back up the stairs to try another trick. That wears you out a lot.

Where you living now?
In Huntington Beach with Dyet. It’s pretty sick. Haven’t been up in Vancouver too much lately.

How old are you?
I’m 23.

So how is living with Dyet?
It’s pretty good. We don’t see each other all the time. We’re on trips… I’m in Canada and he’s in Utah. We’re pretty all over the place.

He’s got good energy.
Yeah, he’s pretty funny.

When he won the bronze at X Games he was just running around cheering all day afterward. It was rad.
He should be psyched. He’s always telling me that. “I’m gonna kill it at the X Games!” and I’m like, “You better kill it and you better quit smoking for a couple days before or whatever will help you win.” I’m pretty stoked for him.

So do you have any good stories from Boston when you guys were there?
There was one night where Gentry was super wasted and saying, “Follow me, follow me!” He had a chant going and there were like, twenty people coming out of the bar just following him.

Just wiling out. Did you see in Tampa this year when he started a riot?
Who, Gentry did?

He like, smashed some girl’s windshield in the middle of the street and jumped on her car. I hadn’t heard from that dude in years and all of a sudden he’s shattering windshields in Ybor City. It was pretty cool.
No way.

So what’s a trick that your brother can always get you on in a game of S.K.A.T.E.?
Man, there are so many. Switch backside flips. He’s got those every try and I don’t have those like he does.

How about one that you can always get him on?
For sure a nollie impossible.

Oh man. Is he younger than you?
Three years younger.

How does his skating differ from yours
He can approach stuff switch with a lot of control. Which some days I can, but he can do it every day of the week so it’s pretty sweet for him. But he really doesn’t jump down stairs as much as I do, so like if I’m skating some stairs and he’s trying to skate ‘em with me, he’s like, “Fuck man, I’m not used to this shit!”

Were you skating before him or did you guys pick it up at the same time?
We picked it up the exact same day. We were always into the same hobbies. It went from cruising around on BMX bikes to grabbing skateboards, which was way more fun.

What do you like better about Cali than Vancouver and what do you miss about Vancouver that you don’t have in Cali?
There are a million things that you don’t have in Cali that you have in Canada. You’ve got a lower drinking age here and all the outdoor skateparks and no helmet laws. Just way more lenient street skating here… those sorts of things. But like, when it rains or when it snows… it sucks. So being in Cali I can just wake up every morning and know the sun is shining. Sometimes you wake up in Canada and you look outside and it’s just a bummer.

It’ll rain for weeks.

So do you have a girlfriend?
Yeah. She’s from Montreal.

What’s the difference between American or California girls compared to Canadian girls? I used to have a girlfriend in Vancouver and it seemed that Canadian girls were a lot friendlier.
Yeah, I think they are for sure. The girls in Cali are kinda stuck up. They don’t wanna talk to you or they think they’re too cool. I don’t know what it is.

How does a Red Dragons tour differ from a Darkstar or Globe tour?
Let’s just say that there’s a lot more beer flowing. Since RDS tours are always in Canada we get pretty wild. We have homies here and stuff.

I’m thinking way back to the old Whiskey series of videos. That was the beginning of the RDS crew right?

So are you like, third generation Red Dragon?
We’re the third generation for sure. Maybe we even got the fourth generation here.

Are you guys recruiting and training the fifth? Do you have some 15-year-olds ready to go?
Yeah, we got some.

You just had your Globe United by Fate part drop and it’s pretty sick. But are you filming anything else right now or was that the last one?
Yeah, we’re filming for another RDS video. Everybody’s got parts. I think I almost got a part.

What was the most embarrassing day of your life?
Hard to tell. Maybe when I’m skating around at the Dew Tour and people are just yelling “Ryan!” all the time and I turn around and Sheckler is standing right beside me and I’m like, “Fuck! I always keep forgetting.” And I’m looking directly at these people who are yelling “Ryan!” There’s probably just some awkward situations where I was looking at these people and they’re like, “Why the fuck are you looking at me?”

Kind of like if you yell, “Hey asshole!” in public and a bunch of people turn around.
Yeah, for sure.

That’s all I got for you. Thanks for taking out the time to do this.
No problem, I’m just shopping at Wal Mart… getting socks and boxers for this trip.

Mandatory tour supplies! What’s been your strangest purchase on a tour so far?
Probably a little potato gun. It was pretty awesome while it lasted… until it got clogged up with potatoes.

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