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If the articles in this 30th Anniversary Issue teach you anything, it should be that skateboarding has evolved leaps and bounds over the past three decades. It should also make clear that key individuals—pioneers—served as central catalysts to these massive advances. Ray Barbee’s addition to the Bones Brigade in ’87 and subsequent appearances in Powell Peralta’s Public Domain (’88) then Ban This (’89) represent some of the most critical junctures in our short history. On the heels of Steve Steadham, Ray cracked the façade of what had been more or less up to then a white-bred pastime. He also showcased some of the first conscious line-based flatground street skating ever. And unlike the neon glam beach volleyball styles of the ‘80s vert scene, Ray’s casual attire and cruising lines through LA sprawl set the table for city kids of all stripes and colors to make skateboarding theirs in the two decades and change since.   

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Friday
Jun212013

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Jeff Grosso

The next outtake from this 2003 Skateboarder article is one of my personal favorites—all around class act, Jeff Grosso. I Rememeber being so stoked when I got to do this in '03. I had never spoken to Jeff before and it seemed like every sentence out of his mouth was immediatly timeless. Pearls of wisdom from a guy that lived it. Enjoy. Below: Nosepick, Photo: O —ME

JEFF GROSSO:

“You’re alienated from the start, and skateboarding is a testament to that. I mean you don’t fit in anywhere, a lot of kids are from broken homes, so you pick up a skateboard to try to fit in elsewhere. Coming from a place of rebellion or alienation sets the tone for any drug addict. You’re already isolated. They hate you, you hate them, you hate yourself, so what else to do but destroy yourself in order to get back at them.”

“There are people with addictive personalities and there are people that can do something a couple times and just walk away. Unfortunately, with drugs, you don’t know if you have the physical makeup of an addict until you try them.”

“I had a buddy from high school that went to architecture school at USC. He turned me onto cocaine. He’d sit there and do line for line with me, smoke the shit, whatever. One day he just turned around and was like, ‘Whatever, I’m over it.’ He could just walk away because he didn’t have that addictive trait. Me, I tried it once and it was like, ‘Stick a fork in me’ I couldn’t put the shit down. The rest was 15 years of pain and suffering.”

“In the 80s, there was basically two camps. You had the nerds, like Tony (Hawk), Lester (Kasai), and Kevin (Staab), and then you had the Hellraisers like Phillips, Craig Johnson, Gibson and all those dudes which were the cool guys. I was like extremely nerdy and obsessive about my skating but at the same time I wanted to be accepted. The first time I smoked weed was with Alan Losi and Neil Blender. When you’re 18-years-old, sitting there at with your childhood heroes, you’d pretty much do anything if you thought it would help you fit in. Its all about jumping off the bridge.”

“Skateboarding promotes self-destruction. I see it even with dudes today. You’re paid to be this clown. How much can you destroy, how gnarly can you get, how fucked up can you get. Everybody just watches from the sidelines, like cheering you on. And you’re supposed to walk this line. Like you’re supposed to get as f—ked up as possible and still skate your best on call. Then, the second you loose your value as a skateboarder, everybody turns their back on you. You’re the next casualty.”

“They started handing me $65,000 a year at 17. I mean, really, I was doomed.”

“You can’t blame anybody else if you have drug problems. If you can’t take the f—king heat, then you better get the f—k out of the kitchen. And if you’re to stupid to get out of the kitchen, then you deserve what you get. That was my problem. I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll just burn up in here,’ and I did. The next thing you know you’re sticking needles in your arm and you’re a fucking lowlife.’”

“Skateboarding is just young and naïve. Other sports have the same problems, they just have better damage control. I mean if a football player goes out with a couple of hookers and an eight ball of coke and wraps his fucking Ferrari around a tree, they have guys paid to come in, pay off the hookers, take care of hospital bills, keep the guy out of jail, and keep the story out of the press because Nike has an investment in their athlete. In skateboarding, they just cut their losses and grab a new kid. That’s changing now. But it’s still far from being fixed.”

“It’s this trap people fall into. Like it’s the dark side of human nature. We like to sit and watch somebody else fall down, and we laugh along, encouraging it and pushing it further. Then we go home to our homes or whatever and think, ‘God, that was cool hanging out with so and so while he self-destructed.’ But it never even registers that that person doesn’t have another home to go to, that they’re stuck in this 24-hour party.”

“I only lasted about three or four good years at the top. Then I knew my ride was over. But like Hosoi, I ran around for another ten years living off my name in the seedy underbelly of the skate world. Like, ‘Oh you’re that professional skateboard dude’ I’d be like ‘Hell yeah, that’s me.’ Meanwhile I hadn’t stepped on a board in like 6 months. ‘But, hey, you got a pocket full of drugs and you want to party with me because I’m so-and-so. Oh, by the way, can I sleep on your couch. And I’m gonna steal your VCR in the morning when you’re passed out, because I need to go get more drugs.”

“All you can really do is share your experiences. Try to make some of the younger kids aware. But at the end of day I can only speak for myself. When I was young, I f—king knew it all, I had it all, it was never going to end, and I was going to be king of the world. There was nothing that was going to knock me off. Turn around, and I’m 34 years old, I struggle to pay my bills, and life just didn’t turn out the way I had planned."

"When you’re lost in heroin, and you haven’t reached any sort of bottom, you just can’t see out of it. You have to get an extreme amount of pain before you can accept anybody else’s help. Something like 15 percent of heroin addicts, even the ones that are able to get off it for even a couple years, end up relapsing and ultimately dying from it."

"With skateboarding, there’s so much physical pain involved that its easy to fall into. One day somebody gives you a Vicodine because you got a hipper and right there you get a taste for opiates. Then you move on up the ladder."

"We got a bunch of guys that just died over this shit. And even for those of us that got out, its like what do you have left? You’re physically and mentally wrecked from it, me being one of them. You’re by no means a success story. You just try to get your life back together after the big crash."

If you want even more Grosso tales, here's another column I got to do for TWS last October:

What it Feels Like: To Die 3 Times w/ Jeff Grosso

Wednesday
Jun192013

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Brad Staba

Another full interview from the Skaters and Drugs batch. Here's Brad Staba talking pretty candidly about the topic back in 2003. Photo: Ed Templeton. I'll put up Ed's text in a few. —ME

BRAD STABA:

“I have terrible allergies which give me headaches all the time. So I smoke a lot of grass to deal with that. Under Proposition 215 in California I was lucky enough to get my medical marijuana certificate and can go to the numerous cannabis clubs around up here. It’s all computerized, you go in, and they hand you like a pill bottle just like any other prescription. I don’t have to sit in front of some sketchy dude's house and wait for his broke ass to get up anymore to buy weed.”

“I’m the kind of guy that smokes grass and can’t sit still. Like if I go skate, I smoke, and play some music and it just sets it off for me. Even with like taking photos or playing music, smoking just slows everything down for me and lets me focus on working at things little by little.”

“Its like in skating you really only hear about it when its like the real addicts who ended up on heroin.”

“If you’re trying to juggle doing like hard drugs and skating, it’s almost like a circus act. I mean you’re juggling two different lives, you know. You almost have to keep choosing between skating and being a pile of shit. ‘Hey, now I skate. Now I’m a pile of shit.’ I think its kind of a joke, but whatever. Do whatever the hell you want, I say. I really never even followed skating to that point. Even when I was a kid I wasn’t like, ‘oh, I want to be like Claus Grabke because he snorts coke.’”

“I take Adavan and Klonopin for anxiety attacks. Ask any professional skateboarder if they’ve ever had anxiety attacks. If they say no, they’re lying. You go to these huge demos, like in Japan or somewhere and sometimes it’s just too much. All these people criddlin’ on your shit. These things are like all common things but if you take the medication for them people look at you like you're fucked up or something. I just have it under control. Weed can totally help your anxiety, depending on how much you smoke. If you smoke too much it’s just like any other medication—you get fucked up by the side effects.”

Monday
Jun102013

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Chad Muska

More outtakes/bonus text from Skateboarder Magazine, February ’03. After Jay Adams last week—this is the full text from Chad Muska’s interview on drug use in skateboarding. We had this conversation in our old office on Wilshire and Chad was pacing around my cubicle the whole time he was talking. Even though it's from ten years back, plenty of things are spot on for skating today. Legend.

CHAD MUSKA:

“Its just way more hidden in other sports. There is probably a similar amount of people using drugs in all sports. But it’s just a matter of the exposure. In skateboarding, its not to the level where like you get drug tested, test positive for marijuana and get suspended for a year.”

“I don’t glorify drugs. I could say certain drugs are better then others. But, at the end of the day, every drug has a negative side. Something like smoking weed, for me personally doesn’t present like a major problem. Although, I will say, there are people out there who can smoke weed and end up sitting around, doing nothing with their lives just like there are people who can blaze and be totally productive.”

“As long as you are weighing the consequences and know where you’re at in your life, most people can lead normal lives while smoking weed.”

“Whatever your involved with, be it something artistic, music, or even a stockbroker down on Wall Street, you can be sure that all of them are getting their party on in some form or another. But with skateboarding, there’s been at time like a general consensus where people decide not to hide it.”

“You have groups of kids glorifying it, which I think is wrong personally. When I was younger, I didn’t really think about it. But, I’m 25 years old now and I know that what I do affects what kids do. So I do my best as a role model and try not to glorify negative things. I might not always be perfect, but I’m not going to go out of my way to promote drugs or whatever.”

“At the end of the day though, role models or no role models, people are gonna do what their gonna do. Even if every single pro skater on earth was clean, there would still be kids doing drugs. But at the same time, if you’re part of the reason for them doing it, then it’s still wrong. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. I’m not a perfect role model, but I’ll do my best not to promote negative things to kids.”

“I smoke weed. I don’t do coke. I don’t do any of that other stuff. I’ve been through it. I’ve had more then enough of my share of every drug imaginable.”

“I want to send a message to all the pros out there that are trying to glorify drugs or drinking or whatever. You better think about what you’re doing because your affecting a lot of other people’s lives with your own decisions. When I was coming up, I did the same shit. I didn’t care. I was smoking weed in front of everybody, drinking at every contest. But when you realize that you’re affecting all these other people’s lives, it kind of makes you think a little more about what you do and what you say.”

“I think it’s more of a problem with society at large rather then with skateboarding specifically. Something like coke gets downplayed to the point were it’s not a big deal. But it is a big deal. People need to know how dangerous that shit is.”

“The media had never gotten skateboarding right. They still haven’t come close. So whatever they depict skateboarders as, be it drug users or whatever, shouldn’t even be taken into consideration.”

“You got politicians that sniff coke and go to work on a daily basis. Basketball players, musicians, artists, skateboarders—it’s the same in every field. You got dudes that do drugs and others that don’t.”

“Skateboarding is free. The more popular it gets, the more attention its gonna get. The more attention it gets, the more kids its gonna affect out there. And the more it affects kids out there, the more parents are gonna go, ‘Hey, my kid follows what these guys are doing, so why are they doing this and why are they doing that?’”

“Skaters are no longer in control of where skateboarding is going.”

“It all comes down to the parents. If you raise your kids correctly, and teach them right from wrong, then no matter what’s presented to them, be it images, lifestyles, or drugs, they’re ultimately going to know about it beforehand and make the right decision.”

“I’ve had too many friends loose out—loose out in their careers, loose out in their lives, just loose everything to drugs or even straight up die. Everybody can tell you, especially people that have been fucked up by them that nothing good comes out of it. I’ve seen to many good people go down.”

Friday
Jun072013

Skaters and Drugs Outtakes: Jay Adams

Back in February ’03, we put together a feature for Skateboarder asking a wide cross section of pros, past and present if they believed skateboarding was inherently tied to drug use. For each person involved I pretty much did a full interview. As editing goes, the final printed text was usually a small snippet of the longer interviews compiled. In the next few weeks/months I’ll be posting some of the full text from those conversations. For this first post, here is the father of bad boy skateboarding—Jay Adams. —ME

JAY ADAMS:

“For me and my generation, our parents were from the '60s and we were like '60s children so drugs were a big part of everything. For the Dogtowners it was like if you didn’t do drugs, you couldn’t even hang out. It became a big part of our scene. There were guys that didn’t do drugs but to us they were just square.”

“I started off pretty much like everybody else—smoking weed and drinking, then taking pills, uppers and downers. Then in the 80s everybody started with cocaine. Eventually I wound up on heroin. Right before I went to jail, that was when it got really bad. I mean my whole life before that had revolved around skating and surfing waves. Even if I was partying or whatever, I still would wake up early and go surf. But it evolved to a point where my addiction blocked out everything else in my life and took over. Then nothing else even matters except the drugs. That’s when I became like any other junkie.”

“Once you become a professional skateboarder you get all these people coming up and offering you drugs. It’s real easy to get caught up in. I mean, I’d wake up every morning and tell myself, ‘What the fuck am I going to do today to get high’. I’d have to get loaded before I could even leave my house. I could not enjoy myself if I was not high. There’s a mental addiction but it was physical too because I was shooting heroin for a couple years. The craving you get for crack is also really fucking strong.”

“It all depends on how far you take it. There’s a huge difference between somebody smoking heroin or having a few beers after work to the guy pounding a fifth of fucking tequila or shooting heroin on a daily basis. There are some functioning addicts out there. I’m not one of them.  But I’m not going to lie and tell kids, ‘Hey, if you smoke one joint or drink a beer, you’re going down, buddy.’ It ain’t like that. But the potential for doom is definitely there. Being a functioning drug addict is like winning the lottery. It happens, but it probably ain’t gonna happen to you. So why chance it.”

“No matter how far gone you are, you can overcome it. Over time, the feeling isn’t that bad anymore. Eventually you get used to being sober. Its something you’ve got to work at. But I fucking dig being sober now. At one time in my life, if somebody told me that I’d be like, ‘Fuck you, what are you talking about!?’”

“I just finished two and a half years in jail. I was out on bail and turned myself in. I slammed dope in the parking lot and went in really high. That was the last time I used. I just decided that it was enough. I had tried to go through rehabs and all this other loser shit but for me it wasn’t going to happen until I decided it was done.”

“I think hiding it is bullshit. My whole drug addiction, I never hid it. I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, I’m doing heroin. I’m sniffing paint if I want to. And fuck you if you don’t like it.’ Some guys are gonna keep everything in the closet, like their homosexuality and rollerblading past. But, I don’t think skating should be promoted as some squeaky-clean little pussy sport. We got animals in this. Skateboarding used to be a bunch of crazy fuckers running around. But you can be a crazy fucker without being a drug addict.”

“I was getting ‘Suicidal’ tattooed on my stomach one time, drinking tequila, and half way through the tattoo I guess I blacked out. Supposedly, I smashed the bottle on the ground and ran out of the parlor. I woke up the next day strapped to a hospital bed with an I.V. in my arm and a half finished tattoo. I tore off the I.V., walked out of the hospital, and found my car right next to where I bought my heroin. Since I hadn’t done it in a couple weeks, and I was drinking, I shot up at a friend’s house and OD’d. The guy I used to share with just left me for like three or four hours, lying there, foaming at the mouth in his apartment. When I finally came to, I was naked. I guess the guy had tried to drag me into the shower and took my clothes. I ran out of the apartment and was running down the street naked when the cops stopped me and brought me back to the hospital.”

“I was shooting cocaine one time and thought these monsters were outside my door. All of a sudden, I dove out the window and ran to my friends’ house. I was banging on the door at like three in the morning and his 70-year-old mom answered the door. I was like, ‘They’re after me, call 911’ She turns on the light and I freaked out, ‘What are you doing? They’re gonna see the light.” I was like, ‘Fuck this, she’s in on the whole thing.’ I flipped out, jumped off their two-story balcony barefoot, cell phone in hand, and broke my foot on the landing. If you want to fuck with drugs for real and get good at it, that’s the kind of shit you’re going to be living.”

“Nobody is going to rescue you or help you until you want to help yourself. No matter how many fucking little slogans you learn or meetings you go to nothing’s going to help you until you’re ready.”

Tuesday
Apr162013

Caswell Berry: Sugar Mag Interview

Note: This Caswell Interview ran in Sugar Mag in French this past September (2012). A few months old but still some funny skate nerd musings if you are a fan. —ME

Sugar Magazine
: Caswell Berry
Vertigo, Shotguns, and Fat Chicks

Caswell Berry has been in the game for a minute. He had his first published skate photo in a magazine when he was 11. He rode for the Ventura’s notorious Christian-themed board company “Renaissance” (As in “Born Again”) when he was 13. Rode for Powell alongside Javier Sarmiento and Danny Wainwright in his late teens. Then joined Diego Buchierri, Billy Marks, Ed Templeton, Austin Stephens and the rest of the loyal pawns at Toy Machine right around the time he turned 20—appearing alongside Ed’s assorted sex toys in the ’02 tour video Sucking the Life. But after changing teams three times in his first decade of sponsorship, since turning pro in ’03, Caswell has stood firm as a mainstay rider for enjoi—combining both the comforts of living in his home town of San Jose with the convenience of it also being the Tiltmode Army’s home turf and site of the longtime party zone known as the enjoi “Mansion”. After Bag of Suck dropped in ’06, Caswell has been more or less living the good life—traveling the world and skateboarding in between cigarettes. With new Osiris, enjoi, and possibly Volcom videos in the works, I caught up with Caswell to get the details of his current situation; Vertigo, Shotguns, and fat chicks being some of the finer points to his story.  Read on. 

What were you up to this summer?
We probably just did a bunch of Zumiez demos and mall shop signings. Then just a bunch of filming trips because I’m working on a new Osiris video and a new enjoi video. I guess the deadline for Osiris is October 30th so it should be wrapping pretty soon.

Was the last major one that Feed the Need (’07) one?
Yeah.

Is there anything specific for enjoi? I feel like I’ve interviewed so many enjoi riders and there’s always a video coming.
Yeah. I don’t know. I just leave it up to the big wigs. Matt Eversol and guys like that. It’s usually a matter of them having all their ideas in order.

If someone from Bag of Suck era skateboarding time traveled to the present and it was your job to fill them in on what had changed, what would you tell them?
Hmmm. Bag of Suck was ’06. Man, I would probably say that the internet has obviously continued to change things. It’s probably made some things tougher and other things easier. If you’re trying to come up now, it’s obviously way easier to get your footage seen—just dump it all on the internet. It’s a dumping grounds though. There’s so much shit on there to sort through things almost get lost. Even if you find something you want it’s usually only like two minutes. I used to like watching a half hour video or an hour of edited footage.

It was almost easier when people just presented a new video. At least you knew they had spent time on it, like “Ok, this is worth my time. Somebody spent a year or two making it.”
Yeah. Now I’ll see ads of videos coming out and a bunch of them, as far as I know, don’t even ever come out. Like they keep leaking footage online.

It’s true. I feel like Plan B has been advertising their video for like 7 years.
(Laughs.) Yeah. Did that ever even come out? Is it still coming?

I don’t know. I keep hearing it’s in the works. But then it’s, “Oh, we used up all the VX footage, because now it’s all HD.”
That’s true. That whole thing is a kick in the nuts too. Everybody has all this footage filmed on VX and now no one wants to see that shit because it’s old apparently or the colors aren’t good enough or you can’t see your face.

It makes it a bit more exclusive too. If you don’t have the HD camera you can’t run with the big boys.
Totally. The VX was the people’s camera (Laughs.)

What about Facebook and Instagram and all that shit. It seems like every kid knows what every pro is doing at any time of the day now.
Not me. I don’t have any of that shit. It’s too much work and drama. It just looks like bragging to me. It’s fun in its own right if you do it the right way, but just for me—I don’t really want everybody to know what I’m doing. If I post a photo somewhere all of a sudden I have people lurking on the session. It just adds more stress.

I see stuff sometimes that legendary pros that I looked up to post and sometimes it’s actually a big let down.
Oh yeah. I see what you mean. All of a sudden you realize they’re not as cool as you thought.

Yeah. It kills the mystique if Jason Jesse is intagraming every meal he eats.
(Laughs.) No shit. I guess it’s important though. I’ve been told that I have no internet presence or whatever. I understand that you do have to have some of that to keep it going, but it’s just a pain in the ass. Just another thing I have to work for. It’s a distraction. Shameless promotion.

I look through it a lot and just feel second hand embarrassment for people. Like you can tell what people were thinking when they posted something. Like, “Ok, here’s me and Rob Dyrdek. This is going to push me up a few notches!”
I can’t wait to see how many people “Like” this! I can tap my screen twice to give you a thumbs up! It’s like high school. Skateboarding is like a high school click, ranked by importance on social media apps.

I like that there are still some pros that just stay off it.
Yeah. I wish I could say I had some philosophical reason. For me it’s probably just laziness.

I was told my (Matt) Eversol you are in a destructive relationship.
(Laughs.) Yeah. Well it’s up and it’s down like a rollercoaster. There are moments of complete awesomeness and then others not so much so. We’ve been together almost 6 years so it’s nothing too new. She’s a local girl from San Jose. I didn’t have to do any importing.

You don’t live at the official enjoi Mansion anymore do you?
No. I live less than a block away though. So I could be there all the time if I wanted. I’m an honorary roommate I guess. It’s mellowed out a lot. I can’t remember the last time there was a party over there. I know since Louie (Barletta) bought it, he has pretty much just been fixing it up and keeping it mellow. Right now it’s Louie, this dude Warren, a couple of chicks that live in the basement. It was converted into apartments before Louie bought it. Jai (Tanju) used to live down there, Nestor (Judkins) used to live down there. In the mid level, you have Zach Wallin with a room. Cairo (Foster) is renting a room there right now too. It’s a big old house.

Where does Cairo live permanently now?
That’s where he has a bed.

Doesn’t he have a wife and kid?
Yeah. I think they in New Mexico. So when he’s not traveling and skating he’s there and then he comes out here for little skate breaks too.

So the 24/7 party zone is over?
It’s pretty much quiet for the most part now. I’m sure dudes come back from the bars sometimes and rage, but for the most part it’s mellow.

Getting midlife?
Kind of. But I also think it got to a point where skateboarding wasn’t that important after a certain point. The party took over a little so I think this is a shift back in the other direction. You can rage and skate but it’s hard to do. You have to pick your battles as you get older.

Best memory from Toy Machine days?
There were really good times. It was never like I was bummed out on it, except when I left. I’d say every trip. But this one ’02 US trip we did was like a month long—we drove across the country. But Ed (Templeton) has this like sword of a dildo. It has like a sword handle with a hand guard attached to a dildo. It was really weird. That was like the beating stick if anybody got out of line (Laughs.) Like you would get smacked with the big dildo if nobody was feeling your music choice or whatever in the van.

Who was on Toy Machine at that point? You, Ed, Austin (Stephens)…?
Yeah. Diego (Buchierri), Austin, Ed, myself and that was probably right when Billy (Marks) got on and who else? Oh yeah, of course—Josh Harmony. Maybe one more. I feel like I’m forgetting somebody for sure. Fuck. Oh yeah Nate Broussard!

Oh well. Best memory from the Powell days?
Well, the team manager at the time, Rob Washburn, he was pretty awesome. He would throw out a lot of cash for specific tricks (Laughs.) Like, “Here, sixty bucks for this one right here!” and you’d be like, “Fuck yeah! I’m going for it!” (Laughs.) Or maybe the first Tampa I ever entered. That was rad. Powell traveled a shit ton. I don’t ever remember what happened to all the footage.

Best scene in Animal Chin (’87)?
Oh wow. That’s a good one. Hold on… Hi Doobie (To someone in background). I’m just saying hi to my mom’s dog. Damn. Animal Chin. I usually just really enjoy the whole thing (Laughs.) Wallows is really good. Hmmm. The SF part. I’ll just go ahead and say Wallows. Or actually—the club where Johnny Rad is playing. Lance is doing like a 5-0 grind over the window, but it’s actually just his feet. The Blue Tile lounge. That’s my pick.

Public Domain (’88) or Ban This (’89)?
It’s a tie. Honestly I think both copies I had were recorded on the same VHS tape. I was so young I didn’t know the titles so it all blends together. I remember Propaganda really well. Frankie Hill had the first part.

Were you a Frankie Hill fan?
Yeah. I was so young I didn’t really know people. But I remember him specifically mute grabbing that huge ass gap in Propaganda and doing like boardslides almost tuck knee as he was boardsliding, I thought that was really cool. Without knowing personally at all it just seemed like he was such an awesome dude.

Best Steve Caballero part?
All of them. He ripped and still does.

Are you in a Powell video?
I don’t think so. I don’t think they but any out while I was on.

Do you consider yourself a Bones Brigade member? Technically you were right?
I did go to Japan and I think it was marketed exclusively as a Bones Brigade trip (Laughs.) It was when Danny Wainwright and Javier Sarmiento were on too.

Best memory from the Renaissance days?
(Laughs) I knew it was coming. Honestly, most of us got on before any of the 411 commercials came out or anything. I think when we saw those, and it became obvious what they were trying to do with the whole Christian side, that was shocking to almost everybody on the team. To us it was just free boards. They came to San Jose and told us like, “We’ll give you four boards a month.” Who wouldn’t be stoked as a kid? I don’t think any of us knew it was that type of company. They didn’t really tell us. The best memory would probably be from being on a trip somewhere in the US, probably New Mexico or somewhere, but we would stay at like friends of theirs’ houses. But we would sneak off and go smoke cigarettes and drink beer in the woods. That actually felt pretty good considering it was this Christian company.

Was riding for Renaissance like a Catholic schoolgirl’s scenario, where it made you have to rebel for the rest of your life?
Right, like schoolgirls that go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum—just whore it up and start doing drugs (Laughs.) I think I was still too young by the time all that shit went under I was still just a kid. But maybe it did plant the seed of rebellion.

Rubbish Heap (’90): Jeremy Klein or Ron Chatman?
Oh man. Rubbish Heap was one of the videos I had on VHS when I was super young. I loved it. I think Ron Chatman and somebody else both do ollies at Benicia skatepark and their butts touch in mid air. It’s awesome. I remember (Mike) Vallely had a vert part in that too. I like the Jeremy Klein part a lot. He had the Nintendo song. I think I liked it for that reason. I was still playing Mario Bros. and all that. Although I still use that Ron Chatman quote about waxing red curbs. I used it the other day.

“Why would you wax a curb that’s already red?”
Exactly (Laughs.)

Did you love or hate Chris Branagh?
I was pretty neutral on him. I remember he has like the children’s lullaby song and he eats shit on the launcher to handicap bar. I guess Louie (Barletta) grew up in the Modesto area and I guess Chris Branagh was from there. Louie was saying he was just this kid that was super stoked on himself.  

Goldfish (’94) or Mouse (’98)?
I actually saw Mouse first. It didn’t blow it for me but skating was changing so fast then that it was always hard to go back and appreciate stuff you missed when it came out. Mouse was so advanced. It took me years to understand some of the tricks. Like Guy (Mariano)’s switch frontside pop-shove it to switch crooks on a handrail—it could have been regular for all I knew and I still didn’t understand it. The older I get—I think we were sitting there one night at the enjoi mansion watching Mouse and I just started tripping on how good those tricks were for back then.

I doubt if kids will ever really understand what the older dudes see in a Gino (Iannucci) part or a Guy part.
Oh, God no. They have no idea what we’re talking about. It’s beyond their grasp of comprehension. If it didn’t come out in the past few years, I doubt they know about it. Then again, some kids are really smart and get into it.

Best Marc Johnson story from the Mandown (’02) days?
Shit. A lot of fucking drinking. He came on this one enjoi trip with us when he was riding for Chocolate. We roomed together the whole trip and I actually got this photo that Jerry (Hsu) sent me the other day. It’s basically me with my shirt off after some demo and they had drawn this lower back tattoo on me with a sharpie. It was like a dolphin and some other stuff and MJ’s down there giving me a little kiss near the bottom. I’ll send you the photo, maybe they can use it.

What makes San Jose special?
Personally, it might sound weird but even just the way it smells here is comforting. There’s a specific way it smells and feels. That probably sounds weird but every time I get off an airplane and have my cigarette, there’s just a way it smells that feels like home. I love it. I’ve traveled across this earth and I’d probably live in some of the other places I’ve been but not forever. I just feel like this is where I want to be. I just feels right. There’s no place like home. All kinds of skating. All types of crews and homies.

Worst thing you have ever woken up to?
Wow. Shit. Well, it’s not so much “woke up” but more like say coming out of a blackout. But I came to and there was a really awful odor this one time, and I looked up to see this behemoth of a woman pushing my head down into her crotch. That was the exact moment that I came to. I immediately realized that I didn’t want to be there. I just started squirming and freaking out and saying I had gnarly anxiety and had to get out of there. This all happened at the Mansion too, in somebody else’s room to top it all off. I ended up having to pay for a taxi to get her back to her house and she stole my sweatshirt and all my cigarettes. I hopped in the taxi with her and had to go into her house and finagle my cigarettes back. I don’t think I got the sweatshirt back but the smokes were the main concern. That was probably the worst.  

Best drugs?
I’m not too heavy on drug use. But some reefer I suppose, and I’ve had some good experiences on mushrooms.

Worst drugs?
I had really bad experiences on mushrooms as well. But it’s bound to happen if you’re dabbling in that. I think acid is actually the worst. That’s where you see people and they’re permanently not the same afterwards. And of course all the really terrible drugs like Crystal Meth. I’ve never done it but looking at photos of people that do it, Faces of Meth—it looks pretty fucking horrible.

Who is enjoi sending to Street League?
I’ll say Weiger (Van Wageningen), but actually nobody from enjoi is going to Street League.

Romney or Obama?
“Mitt, Eat Shit.” I saw that tagged in a bathroom recently and thought it was really rad.

Is it ever okay to kill someone?
It’s gotta be a goddamned good reason, but I’m certain if it gets heavy enough. If you’re in a kill or be killed situation.

Best skate video ever made?
I’ll go with Animal Chin. I remember renting it every time I had a sick day from school as a kid. It’s got everything—skating, its got sweet acting, it’s got philosophy, like the whole “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” It’s deep (Laughs.)

Best ‘80s movie ever made?
Man. So many good ones. Robocop, Weird Science, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Rambo… Movies these days are basically all shit. They’re either comic book crap or remakes of something from the ‘80s. Total Recall (’89)—the original was great. There was no reason to make another one. Honest choice for best ‘80s movie, I’ll go with Willow. I loved that movie.

What positives do you see in the European skate scene?
Five panel hats! (Laughs.) No. I think it’s rad they have their own scene and companies. Some of it is better than the shit we have out here. It’s cool that they don’t have to get everything from the US.

It seems like the Europeans are less into the DC Monster angle too. Or maybe I’m just being optimistic.
They do have some wild rave shit at contests sometimes though.

That’s true. They have their own set of kooks. We all do. They just change flavors from country to country.
(Laughs.) Exactly. You need the kooks to separate out the cool kids.

Hobbies outside of skating?
I like to shoot shotguns. I like pinball. Bowling is a good time. I love all those old school type activities.

Do you just shoot at the range?
They have this place outside of San Jose. It’s like a hillside and they have all these stands where you can shoot clay pigeons. Like you yell, “Pull” like in the movies and two of them shoot up. You can set it to rabit mode where they bounce on the ground, or Canadian geese where they shoot up really high. I’ve hit the doubles before if they cross paths or shoot one after the other.

Is it buckshot or single cartridges?
You can do both depending on how you load your shotgun. Usually we use the spray but you can also get gnarly and use the straight slugs. But those will wreck your shoulder with the kickback.

Worst fashion era in skateboarding?
I don’t know. I wore the super baggy stuff. It was pretty bad. I mean ravers stole it after we were done with it. That has to tell you something when ravers are borrowing your style. That or maybe the short shorts now. The D3 era was pretty bad too.

Longest you have spent away from skateboarding?
My bout with vertigo for sure. That was about three years ago and it lasted like 6 months.

I think I read about that. It sounded insane. You just got vertigo all of a sudden?
I basically got nerve damage some how in my inner ear and then basically had to re-train my brain to take over instead of relying on the nerves. Those nerves are the ones that control your balance. So I had to go to a specialist and do a bunch of therapy just to stand on my board again. I was going out skating one day with my homey and I remember it was a normal day, I just went to take a push on my board and I remember feeling like my head was just going to fall straightforward if I leaned over the board. So I was like, “This is weird.” Then I try to lean back more and then I just feel like I’m going to fall backwards. I had just lost all ability to balance overnight. It was scary. I went home and just laid on the floor in the living room. I tried to get up and got just full on spins like if I was drunk but completely sober. I started vomiting too.

Damn. So after six months you just regained balance?
Yeah. Pretty much. I had all these exercises I had to o. But I guess they worked.

Best enjoi ad of all time?
All of them.

Last thing you want to do before dying happy?
Not die.