DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE RETROSPECTIVE
INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
PHOTO BY JOE HAMMEKE
We started the Duty Now for the Future articles to honor those skateboarders building concrete for other skateboarders. These skaters are dedicated to building skate structures, day in and day out, where quality is job one and money doesn’t matter as much as the finished product. They are the ones carving the future for generations to come and we want to bring their stories to you in order to understand what goes into building those killer parks that you get to ride! We want to thank these skaters for all their sweat, hard work and dedication to skateboarding! They’re not afraid to lay yards of pool coping down, so get out there and grind it up!!! That is our Duty Now For The Future! D-E-V-O. We dedicate our Duty Now For the Future Retrospective to Bob 2 aka Bob Casale. R.I.P.
What is your favorite backyard/DIY spot to skate?
There are so many. I moved to Huntington Beach in ‘93 because Kelly had a pool and Chicken had a pool. Then the clover came up and Lyle’s was there and then Ron’s and Cory’s. Just fifteen minutes from my house, there are tons of killer backyard spots. Then you have Bucky’s and Bob’s, down in San Diego, that are awesome. I’ve skated Burnside since the beginning, and I love that place. The spirit of Burnside is amazing. You’ve got FDR, Washington Street, Channel Street and the list goes on. I love them all. There are just too many spots. I could go on and on about spots in other countries too. It’s just nuts.
Who is the one person that influenced you the most in building skateparks?
I think riding all the skateparks back in the day influenced me. I rode the very first skatepark in the world in Carlsbad in ‘76. I rode the Southern California parks as a teenager and, once those all closed, it forced us to build stuff in our backyards, so that’s what influenced me. We were forced to build our own stuff. At the time, I was doing a lot of NSA events with Tim Payne. It was great working with Tim. We built a lot of brand new vert ramps and street courses during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and some crazy mini ramp combinations too. We built crazy stuff in Hawaii and San Jose and all over the country. Tim kept doing private parks and I kept doing the contests and then we started doing the Vans Triple Crown events and that’s when they started doing the Vans Skateparks. Tim Payne does a lot of good stuff. Shout out to all those guys. Carje helped build Chicken’s, Kelly’s and the Basic Bowl. Shout out to Carje. He was doing all that stuff bro style for his friends. Ben Schroeder is another guy who is out there trying to design things. I’m stoked for him. I’m stoked for Lance Mountain and what he’s doing to help design skateparks. The Grindline guys and Dreamland guys are doing so much innovative stuff. It’s not the same old stuff. They always put tons of pool coping in their parks and all the stuff that I see that they’re doing is so rad. Big shout outs to Dreamland and Grindline. Those guys seem like they’re the original guys. They’re out there building stuff all the time and they’re getting better all the time.
What’s your favorite skatepark now?
The Vans combi pool is one of my favorites. They asked me to build and design it. I came up with the idea of bringing the combi pool back, just because guys like Rune, Omar, Bucky and Bob hadn’t gotten to ride the original combi. I would see them out on tour and I was like, ‘I’d love to see them ride the original combi.” I designed and built a lot of the Vans Parks over the years and that was awesome. I tried to influence them to build more concrete pools and flow zones, which was rad. It was crazy cranking them all out. My favorite skatepark now is Cayman Islands. That’s a fun one and we got to ride that wave machine too down there. It’s just a massive park with so much stuff to ride. There are so many parks now in Southern California. They’re building a new one in Huntington that looks fun. The Northwest has so many parks and I love going up there every summer. They’re building a big one in Texas now too. I like to ride new places and new stuff. Luckily, I get to travel and ride new places. I got to ride that park in China when it was brand new. That was crazy. It’s this big huge massive park. I guess my favorite new skatepark is always changing.
What do you think has been the biggest innovation in skatepark building over the years?
Taking out the kinks and the bumps. Back in the ‘70s, a lot of the parks had lumps and bumps and kinks in them and the pools we rode weren’t made for skating. Everything is so perfect now. I love it. I feel spoiled. They hand it to you on a silver platter and say, “Here is your new spot.” It’s all smooth and perfect. The biggest innovation to me is getting perfect trannies, smooth surfaces and good coping, and just getting it right. Through the years, we’ve figured it out. Even the street guys with the street plazas, are doing some cool stuff. I just love the classic flow zones and snake runs that we grew up on. That’s an innovation that, hopefully, we’ll see more of in the future.
Where do you see park building going in the next ten years? Do you see skatepark building as a long-term trend?
I just can’t believe it. There are over 2,000 skateparks in America now. I’m just stoked to see a new park. I’ll go on a road trip and pull into town and say, “Where’s the park?” We go hang out with the local kids and see what they’ve got to ride. I think the future holds more variety. I see a lot of clover bowls, and there are so many more shapes and things you can do. I love the diversity. That’s what I like about the Dreamland guys. They just do all kinds of weird, crazy stuff. I like that uniqueness. It’s hard to develop and innovate, and that’s what’s cool about it. I hope skatepark building is a long-term trend. They changed the laws in California, to make skateboarding a hazardous activity, so now people can’t sue the skateparks. That’s what changed it. The IASC people went to battle in Sacramento and fixed all that and now cities can build skateparks and people can’t sue the city if they get hurt. It sucks that we had to go through all that, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with no parks, just because people wanted to be sue happy. Hopefully, now, skatepark building will be a long-term trend. Now there are a lot more skateparks all over the world. Here in Huntington, we’ve just had these small funky little parks, and luckily, now, we have a world-class skatepark, so that’s nice. Things happen. It’s all good.
What innovations have happened in skatepark building that have become obsolete and aren’t being built right now?
Well, I guess a lot of people were doing those portable ramp things for a while and those seemed bad. I prefer the flow of concrete. Or if you’re going to build a ramp, build it good, not this portable clanky stuff. In some parks, I guess, it was better than nothing.
“As far as pool coping, let’s talk Tedder Stone. Tedder is doing some good stuff.”
What is your favorite pool shape and why?
We built this thing at the Vans Park in Houston, Texas, called the snowman, which I just loved. The shallow end was six feet and then it went to 8-feet and then it went up to 10-feet in the deep end. It was so fun. You could literally drop in and it was like a never-ending snake run. You could fly over the hips, shallow to mid, or mid to deep, or deep to mid, and back to the shallow end, frontside or backside. You got so much bang for the buck. I’ve yet to see another one like that. That park wasn’t there very long, but I remember skating there with Chaz Pineda, when he was a grom. I think Grosso was there. Some rad people skated that thing. Also you could work it like a little mini ramp if you wanted. It had enough flat bottom to where you could learn tricks and then take them to the six and then eight and then ten-foot sections. That shape to me is called a snowman, and those are great, if you build them right. Every inch of the pool is rideable. The hips were totally rideable. You could go right up the middle and hit it. It was also what I call a ‘holiday bowl’ where you could drop in and ride around for a minute and really not use a lot of breath. It’s the way that it flows. I never even lifted my front wheels. It just worked, so that was my favorite shape.
Favorite pool coping?
As far as pool coping, let’s talk Tedder Stone. Tedder is doing some good stuff. I like how they’re doing the pitted stuff now. It’s a more gnarly coping. People are doing some good pool coping, but Tedder’s is what I like best lately. Penrose is the original stuff that we put on the original combi at Vans that people are still fighting for. That’s what we rode back in the day.
What is the one thing that hasn’t been built to skate yet that you’d like to build or see built in the future?
I’d love to bring the snowman back. Also, I rode this skatepark in Spring Valley back in ‘78 and it had a snake run with an over vert section. It was like a cradle, but it was more of a hairpin turn on a racetrack. It was like a bobsled track. It was rad. I have photos of me carving over vert before I even knew what was going on. To see over vert snake runs would be great. It seems like a lot of the cradles are too tight and hard to get to. It’d just be rad to have a cool little downhill snake run. Red did a rad one in Lincoln City. It’s a cool snake run with all these little whoop-dee-doos. You never get bored and it’s just a fun ride. You go a little bit downhill, so you don’t lose your speed and you can really take it up a notch if you want to. That’s one of my favorites because I remember growing up on those fun little snake runs. They’re so simple and playful and such a rush.
Who is on your crew right now?
Eddie Reategui is my main guy, and we’ve had a lot of guys on the crew over the years. I have to give a shout out to my man, “Rocker.” He traveled all over Europe with me. He passed away last year in an avalanche snowboarding up at Donner Ski Ranch. He was a great guy. Rest in Peace. Roby Hayes, from Huntington, has always been one the main guys. He’s traveled with us to Europe for crazy events. Steve Brockway, out of Nor Cal has always helped me out with a lot of stuff. Tosh Townend has been working with me lately. It’s good to see Tosh and the crew helping out and always doing stuff. Brian Patch just helped me build a rad park in Palestine. We built a rad little mini ramp skatepark for these kids that had nowhere to ride. We built it at the zoo. People can take their kids to watch the monkeys and then take them to watch kids ride the ramps. [Laughs] If you walk in there with a skateboard, you can go to the zoo for free, which is cool. Brian Patch helped me out with that, and he’s always been rad. Chris Gentry has always been part of my crew. Those are the main guys right there. If I forgot anyone, I’m sorry. I’ve worked with so many people over the years, and a lot of people are down to help.
Do you have photos from the skatepark in Palestine?
Oh, yeah. I’ll send them to you. They went to the Dubai Film Festival because this guy made a movie about these kids that had no place to ride and they were dreaming of having a skatepark. He started getting funding for his movie and he talked to Brad in Dubai, that has Tashkeel, that crazy ramp over there. They helped finance it, so they gave us airfare and some money to build this ramp and it was awesome. We went over there and built it and it was a totally cool deal. Thanks to all those people for making it happen. It was like the Berlin Wall back in the day where you couldn’t leave. That’s literally how it is in Palestine. There is a wall around them and checkpoints everywhere and they literally can’t leave. There are killer skateparks in Israel that Shaggy and some of those guys built, but the kids can’t go ride them. They can’t leave Palestine, so it was rad to be able to give them the gift of having a place to skate. We put Skatelite on it and made a rad fun little ramp. It was cool.
Is there anyone you want to thank?
I think I’ve pretty much thanked everyone already. I’ve been with World Cup Skateboarding for years, Don and Danielle Bostick. They’re awesome. Thanks to all the sponsors that have helped us over the years like Vans. Steve Van Doren has been amazing. Danny Way and the DC crew have been great. They help us travel around and do what we do. Thanks to everyone that sponsors these events and helps make skateboarding stuff happen worldwide. Thanks to all the skaters out there that are willing to lend a hand to build something. Thanks to all you guys. Every time I go and ride one of these places, there’s somebody who built it and put blood and sweat into it, for us to play on. It’s a big international skateboarding brotherhood. Skaters are like, “You have to come skate my spot.” I just want to say, “Thanks for building it.” I know the hard work that goes into it. I’ve been doing it a long time and I’m stoked to see the maturation of so many thousands of parks out there. There are so many people out there that are down to build and design and make great shit happen. Thanks to the world of skateboarding for evolving in such a cool way. Thanks to the people that get it and know what skateboarding is about. It’s just having fun with your friends and having a good time and doing it however you want to do it, your own way.
What is your Duty Now for the Future?
I like to design stuff, so I want to keep doing that. We’ve got Dave Duncan Designs and www.DaggerBuiltRamps.com up, so check it out. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m stoked for everyone that’s trying to make skateparks and make skateparks better. I’ve built so many. I’m down to get dirty and pour some concrete and get a saw and cut some trannies or whatever I’ve got to do to make shit happen. My duty now for the future is to do more of that, and to do more design work. I have been building stuff for Volcom and doing backyard bowls and ramps. We built a skatepark for KR3W and for Ryan Sheckler in the last few years. They’re just fun projects that aren’t too full of the red tape that comes with building a public park. I like to keep things simple. It gives you more freedom to be creative. The freedom to design stuff is great. Duty Now For The Future is the title of a Devo album, so I guess my duty now for the future is to rock out and go roll around. [Laughs] More rock and more roll!