INTERVIEW by JIM MURPHY
PHOTOS by GEOFF GRAHAM
[Laughs] Is this the Murf of the smurf?
[Laughs] That’s right, motherfucker.
It’s one of my original favorite heroes from the East Coast.
Holy shit. Thank you. How are you doing, bro?
Good, good. How about yourself?
Good. Are you ready for your Juice interview?
Yeah. As long as you say that me, you and Buster, to this day, still have some of the best slob fastplants in the world.
Ah, fuck yeah, dude. That’s a Murfplant to you!
That’s right, buddy! [Laughs] That’s it.
[Laughs] So this is how we do it. Name, rank, serial number?
Name: Derek Spartacus Krasauskas. Rank: East Coast vert dog. Serial number: 666.
Nice. What year were you born?
1971. I just turned 41.
Congrats. Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland.
When did you first see a skateboard?
I had an older brother and a cousin that skated, so it was when I was five years old. There was a drainage ditch beside my grandmother’s house. I got on a skateboard and never looked back. I had some orange Krypto 65 millimeters and some two-piece Gullwings where the axels were separated and a wood carver board. It sucked compared to my brother’s Logan Earth Ski, but it was cool for me.
We’re talking ‘75, right?
Yeah, I was caught up in the game early.
What did you think when you were skating with your brother? Were you doing any other sports, like baseball or basketball?
In Baltimore, it was soccer and lacrosse. I used to practice with this older team in lacrosse and soccer because they let me. I was just a little grommit that was always there. With skateboarding, I lived in the city, so it was easy to just cruise the back alleys and hit it, and bomb hills and do everything. It was freedom to me, for sure.
When did you have your first ramp experience?
One of our buddies had a quarter-pipe at the end of their driveway. It was probably five foot high with 6-foot tranny. Right then, I started progressing a lot more. I was just trying stuff and they were just happy with frontside grinds. I was like, “I’m going to do a fastplant or some layback roll-outs. Stuff just started for me. It was like, “Yeah, this is really what I want.”
Were you looking at the magazines?
Yeah, I looked at the magazine and my dad used to take us to the skateparks. He would take us skateboarding every Monday.
Are we talking Lansdowne?
Lansdowne might have been built at that point, but I would go to a place called Cascade Skatepark every Wednesday night.
What did they have there? Did they have any concrete tranny?
Yeah. They had a three quarter pipe. They had something called the Butterfly Bowl that was like a round robin. Anything goes. They had a little mini keyhole attached to it, so that was my favorite spot. The 12-foot keyhole indoor was so gnarly. Pat Clark and them still talk about it. It had no flat.
I think I was nine at the time and I would roll in and do some shit and the guards would lend me their big 9” boards because I still had my skinny board. The wall was so steep that they would have to help me out of that thing because I couldn’t get out of there by myself.
Were you hitting tiles?
Yeah, I was already starting to show a little pro skill. I had the worst equipment and I was the best of everyone. The groms were coming up like, “Derek, you can use our board. Use our board. It’s cool.” I was going for it already.
Did you have a crew of kids that you skated with or was it just you and your bro going to parks with your dad?
It was me, my brother and my dad on Mondays. I was the captain of my soccer and lacrosse team, but skateboarding is what I wanted to do.
So you were into skating, and you were into the jock aspect of things. Did you get into the punk rock scene while you were doing those things?
I was lying to my parents and getting dropped off every Friday night at the Loft and seeing Black Flag and Circle Jerks and all the punk bands. I also have to say, rest in peace to MCA. When I was in seventh grade, I heard Cookie Puss and was like, “These guys are totally awesome! They’re punk, but they’re hip hop.” Everybody was like, “Dude, these guys suck!” I was like, “No, man, the Beastie Boys are the shit! They’re punk.” Sure enough, it all came around. It all went full circle. As a kid, I was into hip hop and punk rock, but I loved when the Beastie Boys came out. The older dudes taking me to punk rock shows said, “What are you talking about? These guys suck!” I was like, “Nah, nah, nah. Let it simmer. It’s going to come around.”
Were you hanging with the kind of dudes that were so punk that they weren’t even going to hang with you because you listen to that bullshit?
No. Because of skateboarding, I was always allowed. I was that little annoying loudmouth, like I still am.
That’s why we love you.
[Laughs] I was allowed to get away with stuff that most people weren’t.
In ‘79, the skateparks started to go away. What was going on in Baltimore then?
It was BMX and motocross. I started doing BMX racing, but I always skateboarded. That’s when Lansdowne came into the picture. I lived really close to there, but I didn’t realize it was there. My dad took me there one Monday. I was like, “Whoa, wait a minute. This is cool. We’ve still got this. We have our old boards. We can still go to Lansdowne. This is awesome.” So we started skating there once a week.
Do you have any good Lansdowne local stories? I always hear these stories where the people who lived around Lansdowne would show up with BB guns and just start shit with the skaters.
Totally. I’ll give you the original Geoff Graham photo of the Trans Am sitting in the middle of the bowl from the stolen car night. There was also that old guy they hired to sell soda and he would have a contest, the King of Lansdowne. It was so funny because he’d play “I’m the King of Lansdowne,” on a boom box. [Laughs] It was ridiculous. Anyway, I won one year and I was so stoked. It was the time of my life. I’d been up all night. [Laughs] I was like, “I won? Really?”
[Laughs] Oh yeah.
One time, we went with a couple friends of my brother and there was two inches of snow, but we still wanted to skate. It was a warm day, so we took shovels and shoveled paths out of the freestyle area and rode Lansdowne with snow everywhere. I was like, “Cool, we’re still skating.” It was awesome. That was my stomping ground. For Bucky, Cabbage and a bunch of us, that was our spot, especially when the ramps died down in ‘87.
Let’s talk about ‘82. The Toke Team was coming up and they had that ramp.
Goshen. You had Goshen, Cedar Crest and Annandale. I never got to skate there.
Were you and Bucky hanging at that point?
No, he wasn’t even in the game yet. Around that point, Ed Hicks from Fisherman’s stole the old fiberglass ramps from Crofton Skatepark in Southern Maryland. They closed down the park so he went there with a pick-up truck and stole all of these 8-foot tranny pieces. He just threw them in his pick up truck and drove home. That’s where I met Billy, Ed, Rudy and Scott. We heard about the Faction playing and we went down there in ‘85. My mom was like, “As long as you’re with your brother, we’ll let you go.” I’m like, “My brother is worse off than me. I can take care of myself.” So we went and saw Caballero, Doug Meer, Pat Clark, and everybody killing this ramp. It was a piece of shit, but it looked awesome. As a kid, you’re looking at it going, “Wow, this is neat.” I had a broken arm at Fisherman’s Inn, right after Annandale. I didn’t even skate Annandale, but that’s where the Faction, Black Flag and Agent Orange played. It was right on the water so as soon as the sun would set, it was ice or water. It was a fiberglass ramp, so the dew would just lay right on it, but I got to see Caballero doing frontside inverts on the extension. We were just like, “Oh my god, this is insane.”
Was that the first heavy duty pro you ever saw ride?
Yes. At this point, I was making it up as I went along and looking at Thrasher magazine and then to see not just Caballero but Pat Clark, Doug Meer, Dan Brown… all of these dudes, it was like my first boner. I already knew this is what I wanted, but then it was certified. This is what I want to do in my life. I was blown away. I didn’t skate that day because it was so packed with heavies. That night it was dew point on the ramp and I was rolling in with a broken arm with no pads on and I met my buddy Billy Carlisle. He was like, “Dude, you can’t skate now.” I was only 12 and I was like, “Yeah, man, this is awesome!” At a point, I had a Sims Screamer.
You were killing it.
Oh, dude, I got to see the Faction play. I didn’t have a ticket to get in because I was just a little punk, so Billy and Ed let me in for free. I was like, “I’m seeing the Faction play. This is awesome.” I didn’t get to go to Annandale because we had such a minimal number of people who had their license.
You ever roadtrip to the Public Menace ramp?
I didn’t go for the contests, but I did go as soon as we started to get into it. I skated the PM ramp when it was at the shit plant.
Did you meet Radiation Ray Young?
We were tight. I met his dad. He’d come out to the front porch with a tall boy in hand. It was awesome.
It’s priceless when you show up on the Pennsylvania scene. Those guys are crazy.
Don’t get caught behind the flannel curtain. I had so many good times in Pennsylvania, but they definitely march to their own beat.
In late ‘80s, skateboarding is starting to blow up again. Are you out of high school by then?
I was still in high school when I got sponsored by Skull Skates. Rudy got me hooked up with P.D. and then Todd Prince, that crazy Zorlac guy from Texas. Todd Prince came to the Hell Ramp where I grew up skating and I always wanted to ride for Zorlac. He saw me skating Hell Ramp one day and the next day I got a call from the dude in Texas and they asked me to ride for Zorlac. I’m like, “It’s on.”
Were you talking with Jeff Newton and Dana Buck?
That’s who it was. Exactly.
Was that when Craig and John were still on?
I think so. It was when they had the Metallica graphics that were so punk. They’re still rad.
How was your skateboarding progressing?
I just got better than everybody around me and then Bucky came into play. I was like, “Are you serious, you little punk? You’re going to step up right now and do frontside inverts the first day you try them? Really?” We’re best friends now, but I hated him at first. I was just like, “You’re taking away my limelight motherfucker.” [Laughs]
So you’re riding for Zorlac. Tell people what that was like because Zorlac was the shit.
It was like I’d gotten into a golden army. I started getting clothes from Vans and and life was good. I was captain of my lacrosse team in high school. I flew to Huntsville, Alabama, for one of the MSA Regionals and made it as an alternate. I was like, “You know what? I love lacrosse, but I’m done. It’s not fair to you guys that I’m flying away places every other weekend and missing practices. I’m quitting.” They were like, “What?” The coaches were so pissed off.
Did they have any concept of skateboarding?
No, they said it wasn’t a sport and I would regret it. I saw them at a bar a couple years later, and my coaches were like, “We saw you on ESPN last night.” I was like, “Yeah, how about that no sports shit, huh?”
Another first moment for me was watching you and Mike and Bernie at that New Jersey Barn Ramp. I went there one February day and I was like “Murf.”
No way. That was so killer. Describe that scene to people just walking up to that barn.
It was freezing cold, snowy winter. As a little kid, all you want to do is ride a useless wooden toy and you’re pulling up and seeing dudes you’ve heard about, but never seen. I walked in like, “Wow.” It’s one of those moments in life where it’s like, “I’m a skateboarder. This is exactly what I want to be.”
Yeah. You walk up to that barn. It’s dark as hell. You’re walking in the shadows. It’s cold as fuck. You walk up to this barn and, all of a sudden, boom! Metallica!
[Laughs] Totally. It was so sick!
How did you guys find out about the Barn Ramp?
I guess one of the older guys at the Hell Ramp found out about it and we just drove up there. The cool thing was that John drove us, and he had a pick up truck. My brother and the partiers were in the back in the freezing cold. I was so skinny at the time that I could fit in between the bucket seats on a set of speakers, so I rode shotgun the whole way up and back. I was like, “Yeah!” [Laughs] They’re all freezing in the back and I was up front listening to music on the cassette player and rollin’.
[Laughs] Give people a perspective of what it’s like to be so hungry to skate that you’d drive eight hours to ride an indoor barn ramp.
When I was a little bit older, I started to drink and party, and I needed my friends to say, “We have to do this.” You get in the car and you make it happen. You’re just driving there and you don’t care. This is what we want to do and when you get there it all changes. You’re just like, “Yes! I’m skateboarding. I’m riding right now and this is awesome.” It sounds corny, but it really is that good when you’re blood starts flowing and you’re sweating and you smell like beer from the night before, but you’re cruising. You’re sitting there with Tom Boyle, Darren Menditto and Sean Miller and you’re like, “We’re doing this.”
I remember being on the road one year skating with Sean and Darren at Cheapskates and they were riding good. I came back next year and they were both doing 540s and overhead ollies to fakie. I was like, “What the fuck is going on?” Darren Mendito is doing his ollie to fakie over your head with a nosebone to the platform.
Yeah and that’s like his twenty-first trick of his run. [Laughs] You had Doctor Moose. “What are you doing here, kid?” It’s amazing some of the clowns that came out of there. Cheapskates was a whole other realm. [Laughs]
That was a trippy scene. I remember going there when I lived in Philly and Tag would live in the mini ramp underneath the platform. It was sick. He was committed. He was like, “Fuck it, man. I have no where else to live.” He killed it.
It’s amazing. The story of the skateboarder, if you’re a real skateboarder, it goes on and on and on. It’s so amazing what we’ve all had and done and are doing. It’s a wonderful thing.