DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE – TOM DUPERE

ARTISAN SKATEPARKS

TOM DUPERE

INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY

Since the ‘’90s, when a crew of skaters started sculpting cement skate structures at Burnside, many skaters took that inspiration and began to dream of building with concrete in their communities. Coming from the Northeast, Tom hooked up with Geth Noble in the early days of skatepark building and, after building projects out West, fulfilled a dream of working with East Coast skatepark company – Breaking Ground – with mad genius, Sloppy Sam Batterson. Then Tom hooked up with Artisan Skateparks to build some incredible parks. Over the last 20+ years, Tom has a unique story of the work ethic behind the roundwall we carve and grind!

MURF: Name, rank and serial number.

DUPERE: Tom Dupere, age 45, New England boy, born and raised in Massachusetts, North Shore.

Did you get to skate the wave of the late ‘70s concrete parks?

I didn’t get to get into that, but, as a kid, I remember going to Aubuchon Hardware when I was 8 years old and buying a plastic board that said, “Hawaii” on it, and that was the spark. In ‘83, freestyle bikes were huge in my town, so I got some janky bike. The magazines would have skating in ads, so I was like, “What’s this?” Then all the older dudes that were riding bikes quit and started skating. In ‘84, I bought a Neil Blender coffee break board, and that was my first real deal set up. 

Were you still in the town that you were born in?

Yeah. It was killer because we had the beach right there and the older cats, like Steve O’Hara and Chris Santos and all the surf skate dudes, were big. Chris Santos was one of the only dudes to get all three boxes at the C Bowl. That’s a little history I had to throw in. Those were our influences. They had the spots. When you’re a kid, you’d see them riding a pool and you’d try to weasel in, and they’d show us the way. Where I lived, it was old mill towns, like Amesbury, Lawrence and Lowell, along the Merrimack River. Once those mills shut down, they were abandoned, so they were like a playground for us. They had loading docks, street stuff and inclines. When you’re a kid, you’re going to skate whatever you can find. East Coast, in the ‘80s, was tough.

Did you ever ride any of the backyard ramps like Freddy Smith’s backyard or the blue ramp?

O’Hara had the fiberglass blue ramps and that was my first transition introduction. They made all kinds of configurations and they’d throw a sheet of plywood up to four feet of vert and put a curb on there. It was like a 4-foot high vert ramp, basically, made out of fiberglass. I’d go to Skate Hut sometimes too, when I was a kid. Later on, it was Maximus, the Playground and spots like Turtles across from City Hospital. Once you figured out the train, you could get to the city in 45 minutes and it was on. We’d just skate all day. I would be down at Metals at Government Center and we’d be like, “Let’s skate to Turtles.” Turtles was on Soldiers Field Road, which was miles away, but that’s what we did. We would go to City Hospital and get kicked out for skating there, and there was still the Black Hole ditch and I saw Freddy Smith there ripping. As a kid, I didn’t know who Freddy was but, a few years later, I figured it out. Those were the days. All we were seeing were the magazines in the ‘80s, and then you’d see those cats live and you’d be like, “It’s happening everywhere!” Nothing against California, but I was a kid on the East Coast and I wanted to see dudes skating here. Once you get hip to the older scene and you’re on your way in, it’s on. The door is open. 

In the late ‘80s, vert skating was huge. What kind of skaters did you look up to? 

Powell was huge. I remember the first dude that caught my attention was Lance Mountain, because he was the every man. Cab and Hawk were the sickest, but we had no access to vert ramps. Lance was cruising down the street and hitting curbs and banks and I could do that. Then it was Gonz and I was always down for Santa Cruz, like Jason Jessee and Jeff Kendall. I loved vert, but I couldn’t access it. It’s the same for a lot of kids from that era. There were no ramps, so you were trying to do it on the street. If you had a bank, it was bonelesses like Jeff Phillips. At the same time, street skating was being born and you’d see Gonz and Natas ollieing trash barrels and you’re like, “I want to do that.” So much was happening in skateboarding progression-wise. The whole thing of vert dying was bullshit to me. That was just companies trying to sell street skating. I loved street skating, but I love all skateboarding. Whatever we could get our hands on, we were going to ride. Gonz and Natas were my early heroes. That whole era was amazing.

When the ‘90s came on and it was all about the street scene and little wheels and baggy pants, where were you on that scene?

In 1990, I was 100% skateboarding. We’d go to shows at the Rat or the Channel. If we weren’t skating, we were checking out a show or we were going on a road trip to skate. In 1990, I graduated high school and my uncle and aunt that lived in California came home for my graduation. I had some money from a job and I asked them if I could catch a ride to California with them. They said yes, so I went out there and bummed around a bit and I got to go to Venice Beach and street skate around. That was my first solo road trip. I turned 18 that summer and got the bug to travel. 

TOM TAKES IT TO THE STREETS WITH A LAYBACK WALLIE AFTER SLINGING CONCRETE ALL DAY. PHOTO © ROB COLLINS

Was your mind blown coming to Venice? 

Yes. The summer I turned 16, my friend Dan and I spent the summer with my aunt and uncle in Southern California and I got to go to Upland. I still have my card. I saved it because that was monumental to a 16-year-old kid. I just ate it up. Then we went to Venice and saw Dressen, Murray, Oster, Tim Jackson and Jesse Martinez chilling at the wall. I still have a picture of Hosoi from that day. Christian rolled up in spandex shorts and no shoes on this cruiser longboard with soft wheels, nose wheelie-ing, with no shirt and extensions in his hair and his scarves, and the chicks were flocking! I was like, “Yes! That’s Christian Hosoi!” That was in ‘88, the pinnacle! It was sick. We got the whole experience. We were kids and we were looking at our idols. 

Did you skate with those guys?

Yeah. I remember Tim Jackson and Jesse Martinez, two of the baddest muthafuckas, were so nice to us. They were like, “We’re going to skate this slappy curb. Let’s go.” They were destroying it, and we were just scratching a slappy, and they were like, “Yeah!” Then the jump ramp session started to go off and you’re standing in the back and then you get the balls to try something that you’re never going to land and everybody is like, “Yeah!” They were cool as shit to us. John Thomas was there and he was like, “You guys are from Boston? Do you know Freddy?” We were like, “Yeah. He’s the legend.” It was cool to have that experience as a kid. They were like, “Hell yeah, come skate.” Venice was gnarly. They were cool because we were skaters and we were just trying to check it out. That was a highlight of my skate life. 

Rad. So you’re out there skating and then you get back to the East Coast. It’s the ‘90s and street skating takes over, so what was your vision? Were you going to get a job and skate or what?

When I came home from California, my old man was like, “Are you going to college or are you going to get a job?” I said, “I don’t think I’m going to college.” I graduated because my mom threatened my life, and you have to make your mom happy, so I suffered through. I was raised in a small Northeast New England town, where it was all about football, hockey and baseball. My uncle was the hockey coach and the hometown hero at sports. He got into the Olympics in ‘64 and he was the Northeastern all-time goal scorer, which was cool, but I wasn’t into that kind of sports. My dad was also a great athlete, but my dad was super mellow. He was like, “You don’t want to play sports? Okay, go skateboarding.”  

What did he think of skateboarding? 

I remember him seeing some early Powell videos that I was watching and seeing Rodney Mullen and going, “What’s this?” He thought it was insane. Then he saw vert skating and he was like, “How do they do that?” He’d try to stand on my board and eat shit, but my dad was a hockey player that could ice skate like crazy. He couldn’t figure out how a skateboard worked, but he saw how much I liked to ride my skateboard and it translated to him. He was amazed that we, as 14-year-old kids, figured out how to take the bus from our town to two towns over to get the train into the city. He was like, “I’m an adult and I’ve only been to the city a handful of times. How did you figure this out?” We were like, “Well, we have this thing that can take you anywhere. You’re just pushing through a city looking for things to ride it on. It’s crazy.” It took my mom a little longer because I would just be like, “I’m out.” I’d take off for three or four days and go to New York or wherever. My dad was like, “Where did you guys go?” We’d be like, “We went to Vermont. There was this indoor bowl there. We went to the city and skated the Brooklyn Banks.” We’d show him photos and he was into the adventure of it and he thought it was sick. 

That’s cool. Let’s talk about how you started working with concrete. In the ‘90s, things started going off at Burnside. Were you aware of that concrete resurgence?

For sure. By ‘92, Burnside was starting to really happen, and I ended up moving to San Francisco in ‘94 because some of the dudes that I grew up skating with in New England, like Matt Pailes and Dan Drehobl, had all migrated West. They were good and they moved to San Francisco and got sponsored. The scene was happening there with street skating, Embarcadero, the hills and all of that. That appealed to me, and winter was coming, so I was out. 

Were you bros with Drehobl and Pailes? 

Yeah. Pailes and I grew up skating the first Newburyport skatepark and going to the city street skating and going to ZT’s and the Playground. I went to the Skate Hut with him. RATZ opened up in Maine and that’s how we kind of hung with Drehobl. I’d see him in the city now and again, but he was in Maine. Once Who Skates got going with the indoor skatepark, it was on. We’d go up there three or four times a week and skate for hours. There might be three feet of snow on the I-95 and we were rolling up there in Pailes’ three-speed Volkswagen with no heat. You’ve got on a one-piece snowsuit just to try to stay warm, and you get there, and the park was just as cold. It was an indoor park in New England, so it wasn’t easy.

I remember that park. It was rad.

It was killer. That was my first taste of a real good bowl and I was comfortable because I think some of my first round wall was Upland. 

Were you getting tiles at Upland?

Well, we started in the back in the rounded over bowls and then it was the ditch. Then some of the older cats were like, “You’ve got to carve with all four wheels on.” They tipped us to it in those little round bowls and then we got the balls to skate the full pipe. It was big, but it had that round lip, so it was like bombing a hill. The big deal for us was to get to the line, and then you had to try to get above the line. I got to skate the combi a couple of times and I just remember it being heavy. I was 15 with not a lot of tranny experience and that was some of my first round wall. I definitely ate shit and then got it a few times and then I hit a tile, and I was pumped. That sparked it. On the East Coast, Tom Noble had that bowl at RATZ in Maine that was really nice. I didn’t fuck with the vert ramp, but I liked to carve. I’ve always ridden super loose trucks, even as a kid so, with the back and forth, I get destroyed. [Laughs] It’s sick, but I love round wall. It feels great to go fast and hit tiles and coping and figure out a line. That Noble bowl at RATZ sparked it and then that shut down and those dudes left. They went to San Francisco and they both did sick. In ‘94, I ended up going to SF too. Pailes and Drehobl were living on Oak and Octavia Street, which was a pretty heavy neighborhood, and I moved in there. There were six to eight people staying in a studio apartment at a time. 

That’s standard. 

Yeah. I had a bed, so I paid $100 a month. Drehobl had the living room, so he paid $200. Pailes had a bed and that was $100. Rent was $500, so whoever else happened to be there could stay a month for $50 and get floor space. I did that for a while and I got to see a lot of cool shit go down, like the EMB heyday. That was a cool experience. I would go to EMB and it was such a scene. I was kind of shy, especially back then, so I got along with people and people were really cool, but I was into checking out the Avenues, the spots you’d see in a Powell video, like Tommy Guerrero skating hills. I was a literature nerd too and I was really into Jack Kerouac because he was from Lowell, Massachusetts, and that sparked shit in me, as a kid, so I kind of followed his lead. He was a Massachusetts small town mill boy and he went out to SF and bummed around and wrote and did his thing. I was going skating and checking the scene out and seeing some local music and bands and traveling. I lived there for a while and then living in the skate house with six or seven dudes was getting old, so I decided to go back home to New England for the spring and summer and work. You make a few bucks and then you go on the road again. At that point, Burnside was getting photos in magazines, and I was like, “Oh, what’s this?” Also, we were building stuff as kids, like kicker ramps, jump ramps, quarter pipes and mini ramps. We’d steal wood and I was lucky enough, going to high school in the ‘80s, that they still had shop class, so I got to take metal shop, wood shop, print making and automotive and that set me up with some skills. I bounced around the road a lot and I’d go out West. Eventually, I lived in Boston for a while in the mid ‘90s. Maximus was happening, after Dougie bought it with Rom, so that was the spot in the winter. Street skating in the city was killing it and Boston was a cool place to be. I had this deal where I lived next to B.U. in an apartment with this chick that went there and I rented the living room for $300. It was a nice college neighborhood and I had a job at Whole Foods. I’d get out of work at 10PM and I’d skate to City Hospital and meet up with Roger Bagley or Dougie or Jahmal Williams and push around all night until four in the morning. Then I’d go home, crash, wake up at noon, get a coffee and go to work at two. I had the hook ups at Whole Foods too, because I worked in the produce department, so anything that fell on the floor was free game. You could literally eat free awesome food. Everybody that worked there was a punker, so everyone hooked everyone else up. It was like, “Hey, can you get me an avocado and I’ll hook you up with a smoothie or a coffee?” It was a good time to be in your early 20s in Boston, skating and going to shows. In ‘97, I ended up going to San Francisco again and, by that point, Drehobl and my good friend, Greg Ware, were living there and they had a nicer bigger place in the Mission. They were super cool and they’d let me crash for as long as I wanted. I’d go there and sleep and the rest of the day I was out. I had a sleeping bag and a backpack to my name and that’s how I wanted it. Those guys had already been to Burnside, and Portland was starting to become the spot. By then, I had skated Maximus and I was looking for pools and skating the C Bowl and the Framingham pool and I was on a mission to try to skate everything. I got to Portland in the early stages of Burnside and I was like, “This is sick!” When you’re a kid and everybody drags their weird ramps to the empty parking lot and you have the jam, it’s sick, but this was like Willy Wonka. You’re like, “Holy shit! What is going on here?” Then there were the local characters. Damn! There were no companies then; no Grindline or Dreamland. It was just Monk, Red, Sage and all those dudes. The seed was there and I remember being like, “How do we do that?” Wood parks were still king on the East Coast. To my knowledge, Nashua, NH, was the first New England concrete park and that set it off. 

Were you in San Francisco then or had you made your way back to the East Coast?

I had gone back to the East Coast and I was living in a skate house, but it was cooler. I was probably 27 or 28, and I got a girl and we were kind of living together. I had a good job and a brand new truck and a chick and I was skating. We’d travel, even it if was a weekend in New York or a trip to Cutting Edge in Vermont. I never quit skating, but I had a nice thing going. All of a sudden, the chick was over me, and I didn’t have a place to live, so I went back to mom and dad’s. I didn’t want to go back to the skate house because you get used to having your zone and it’s cool to not have to share a bathroom with five dudes. I moved home for a minute and started working with this kid who had a landscape deal, but his deal was brick and stone work. I wanted to work outside and skate and drink beer, and he got me into doing brick and stone. 

Was it building stone fences and walls and stuff like that?

Yeah. It was building nice river stone walls, typical New England brick walkways to a nice stone wall. I was doing that and I was into it. I was  making good money and I learned how to run some equipment. At that point, skateparks in New England, besides Nashua, were all pre-fab bullshit parks – the plague! I’d seen what was happening in Oregon and Washington and you’d hear about Grindline and Dreamland and see them building stuff. Then the town of Newburyport, MA, which is just over the bridge across the Merrimac River, said they were going to build a skatepark, which was a huge deal. The first I heard of it was in ‘99, even before Nashua was built. Chris Santos was on that committee and he’s the OG. He knew what was up and he said, “We can’t have this pre-fab bullshit. There are dudes out West that are building these parks.” He got the town going in the correct direction. By 2000, Chris said, “I’m buying a house in Maine. Can you sit on the committee for the Newburyport park?” I was like, “Yes, I can.” So I got involved. We were trying to get Grindline or Dreamland to come out, but they already had their hands full. By that point, Geth Noble had started Airspeed. He had worked with those cats on all that earlier stuff and then Geth went one way and Monk went his way and Red went his way. After I looked at the photos on Geth’s website, I sent him an email and it was on. He came out and the town was into it. People showed up for the design meetings, so there was a lot of input and everybody had a say. Geth and I would talk once a week and it got to be springtime and time to start building after the New England winter. I had been trying to run a snow plow for this guy and it was harsh, and Geth was like, “Do you want to work on this project with us?” I said, “Sure. I have no experience with concrete. My background is brick and stone, but I can use power tools and read a tape measure and do carpentry.” 

You knew how to mix mortar from doing the brick and stone too. 

Exactly. I had enough knowledge from wood shop and working on landscaping where I had driven bobcats and excavators and moved earth. Geth said, “We’re going to show you what’s up.” They showed up in April 2001 and I started with them at the end of April and we built Newburyport and I’ve been doing it ever since.

When you saw the technique of forms, rebar and pouring, were you amazed? 

Well, at that time, you couldn’t just jump on a website and find limitless information on how to build with concrete. Geth was smart though. He went to UC San Diego for biology or math or some crazy shit. He’s smart and crazy at the same time, like all of them are. You have to be a little crazy to think you can get away with stuff. Geth was smart and he just went for it. Looking back to how we built Newburyport to how we do it now, it’s like, “How did we get away with that?” Standards are tighter now. Back then, most towns were like, “I don’t know what is going on.” Now there are regulations and it’s not the Wild West out there anymore. So Geth came in and I have the utmost respect for Geth. It was tough because he was still figuring it out, but he had knowledge and skills. Luckily, we all kind of came together. His girlfriend, Stephanie, was part of the company and she did a lot of the business stuff, but she was in the field too and she got in the concrete. She was tough. 

Nice. Were you able to get your hands into the form?

Oh yeah. We got thrown into the fire. It was learn by watching and asking questions. Geth would show us and then you just had to figure it out. I mean how do you hang steel in a vert bowl? You put a giant stake in the ground and weld it. It was crazy shit like that. It was like, “How do you bend steel to the pocket?” We’d put it in the crook of a tree and push it with a bobcat. It was crazy. We didn’t know there was a place that would do that for you. At the same time, budgets were stretched so thin that you couldn’t afford to do that. You had to make it happen. I feel grateful I got to be in it in the early years. I’m not claiming that I have been in it forever like Monk and Red and those cats, because they are the reason why, but I got to experience what they learned and it trickled down. I got to experience the early stages of skatepark building on the East Coast. I did a few parks with Geth and I learned a lot from him and he brought this cat, Lenny Earnshaw, from Florence, Oregon, which was Geth’s town. Then Geth hired me and brought in this other guy, John, from Wyoming, who was a sick carpenter. He didn’t skate, but he ended up being a really cool cat and he showed me a lot. He figured out forming, so John showed us and we figured it out. Then this 22-year-old kid, Noah Powell, came on. He had just started to get into carpentry and framing houses and he’d work all day doing that and then he’d come and help us. We were working from 7AM to dark, 10 to 12 hours a day, every day. It was sick, because we were learning how to tie rebar and then we were forming and setting coping. It was a crash course in skatepark building. 

Once you shot a wall, it’s a one shot deal, so you better be ready. 

Yeah. We did the small bowl first. We poured that and learned how to float and Geth did all the cutting. Through doing 4 to 6 pours for a 4-5 foot deep bowl, we started to pick up how to float. It took a minute to learn how to finish concrete. That was the one thing that people were still struggling with a little bit. Once you figured that out, it clicked. 

Explain what float and cutting means.

Well, after you form everything up and you have your rebar in there, you’re going to shoot shotcrete into that. The truck shows up and the pump comes on and you’ve got shotcrete. It’s gnarly, especially the first couple of times you see it. You’re like, “Holy shit!” There is so much pressure coming out of that hose pushing concrete rocks. It’s gnarly and it’s dangerous and exciting. I was living a dream at that point. I’m like, “How did I get in on this?” I was just trying to take everything in. You watch Geth and he’s got this tool in a radius shape of whatever radius you’re trying to make, whether it be a tight four foot or a mellow 10 foot. He’s got this cut tool on a pole. At that point, we had all our forms in and then we cut off the form and we were screeding with a 2×4. It was crazy. Geth was like, “Don’t touch the tools. You’re not even close to being ready for it.” So we were just moving the hose around as he was shooting. This was my beginning experience first doing concrete. You’ve got these hand floats that you’ve made out of fiberglass and wood with handles and you’re in there shaping the pocket or the straight wall, making it perfect. It’s got to be the best, so you’re doing that and it’s crazy. For the first few years, it was heavy. Geth had to do it all. He’d cut and then he’d float. He was just running back and forth. I started trying to pick up the float as he was cutting. I would get in there and I’d float and he’d kind of let me do it. I was like, “I’m going to keep doing this and see what happens.” I’d lump it up sometimes and he’d fix it, but I kept doing that and he kept letting me. That was his way of showing me how to float a pool or a pocket or a vert wall. It was a matter of just pushing my way in there. It was more of who was going to pick it up. You had to want it and I just went for it. It got to the point, a few years later, where we were doing a park and I’d get in there, but he’d still try to control it and take the float from me. We got into a situation where the mud was getting away from us and he was still cutting and trying to float, and I was like, “Dude, I got this. Go finish cutting that.” He let me run it and then I started to cut whatever. It’s a hard thing to explain because, unless you’re in the hole when the mud is going on the walls, you can’t understand. You can see a video of it, but you’ve got to experience it. It’s magic, but it’s also chaos. 

When it comes down to it, you have concrete, a substance that is going to set up within an hour and, if you’re not on top of it and pouring it correctly, the clock is ticking. There is no room for a break. 

Yeah. Even when the machine shuts off and the concrete truck drives away, you’re still in the hole. If it’s August in Texas, you’re fucked because it’s going to go even quicker. If it’s October in Vermont and it starts to snow on you, you’re going to be there for 15 hours at a shot. It’s crazy. There are so many factors and the clock is always ticking. Once you get into a rhythm with a crew, it’s cool. It started to get that way when I went to work with Sam. He’d cut and I’d float and we didn’t have to talk. We knew what to do. 

Left top: CHEROKEE FLOW BOWL. PHOTO © ROB NELSON. Left bottom. NASHUA, NH. PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM DUPERE. Right top: MONTE VISTA OVERVIEW. PHOTO © ROB NELSON. Right bottom: SCULPTING PERFECT ROUNDWALL IS A TEAM EFFORT AND WHETHER YOU ARE ON THE GUN, MANNING THE PUMP OR FINISHING WITH THE TROWEL, THE TIMING AND COORDINATION IS KEY! HAVING SKATERS IN THE CREW SHOULD BE MANDATORY. ARTISAN HAS THAT COVERED! PHOTO © ROB NELSON

So you went from working for Geth Noble and Airspeed to working with Sloppy Sam when Sam started Breaking Ground Skateparks. Tell us how that went down.

Well, Sam worked with Airspeed at the beginning on Newburyport. He showed up and we were tying rebar in the big bowl in the rain on a Saturday, and Sam comes strolling up in his cut-off Dickies and button-up shirt, smoking a cigarette. He was like, “What are you guys doing?” We were like, “We’re tying rebar.” I knew Sam because he went to school in Boston and he skated Maximus and he was always doing something at Turtles. The Island was happening and I’d see him and all the 5.9 boys there. He was like, “Oh, so how does this work?” He crawled down into the pit and started tying rebar with us. Geth and Stephanie were like, “Who is this cat?” I said, “That’s Sloppy Sam. He’s a rad dude.” Sam was like, “Can I help?” They said, “Sure.” He said, “I’m basically going to start coming every day until you start paying me and give me a job.” They were like, “Okay.” So he slept on the floor and showed up every day for two weeks and worked for free. Then Sam joined the crew and it was on. 

Killer. At the end of two weeks, how did he advance? 

Sam had a building background. His dad was a builder. Sam is a smart cat, so he figured it out in his own Sloppy Sam way, which was sick. It was like, “Okay, this dude is on our team. This is killer.” The crew got tight and shit started happening and we had already figured out concrete, so we kicked it to Sam and he learned fast because he wanted it. I remember Sam saying that he wanted to learn so he could build more parks on the East Coast. He did two jobs with us. We finished Newburyport and went to Jackson, Wyoming. On that job, Sam really figured it out. Sam is a genius. He’s a total idiot and a genius. I love Sam. He can do some shit and you’re like, “What are you doing?” But he figured it out and Geth realized that Sam figured it out and he was like, “You’re going to leave, aren’t you?” Sam was like, “Well, I told you I wanted to do this on the East Coast.” It wasn’t in an argument way. He just wanted to build parks back home. Geth was like, “Alright.” So that was the split. We finished Wyoming and Sam went back East. I was going to live in Oregon. I was working with these cats and they had jobs lined up, so I kind of bummed around with them on one more job in Eugene in 2003. I was working a million hours a week building this park and then I was going to move to Portland. Then they were like, “Hey, we have a winter job in Mexico at a private surf resort. This dude wants a big monster bowl.” The deal was that we weren’t going to get paid because all of the money was going to build the bowl, but we would have a free room at a surf resort on the beach with meals and free drinks. I’m like, “Fuck yeah. I’ll go to Mexico for the winter.” This was in early October and the rainy season was starting, so I was going to fuck around for a few weeks and then start to head to Mexico. I went to San Francisco to see the boys and I went to LA and Arizona to see some friends. Then I went back to Southern California and I was getting ready to cross the border and go to Mexico for the winter and build this bowl and maybe learn how to surf. I’m literally just about to drive into Mexico and I stopped at the store to get some supplies for the 12-hour drive and Sam calls me. He said, “TD, what’s happening?” I told him I was just about to go to Mexico to do this gig. He goes “Do you want to come to Rhode Island and start a company? I’m starting a company and I’m going to build a park in Jamestown, Rhode Island. Do you want in? I got the job. It’s a go. I’m starting in two weeks.” I’m like, “Yes. I do. I want to go back East and build skateparks with you.” That was the beginning of Breaking Ground.

No way. Did you have to tell Geth and the people in Mexico that you were out?

Yeah. I got wind that Sam had gone and worked with Monk on that Pearl Jam bowl. He did it Sam style. He showed up and said, “Can I help?” He shadowed those dudes to get more knowledge. Sam had been talking about doing a company, and the dude, Lenny, that I was working with, was like, “I’ve been talking to Sam and he says it’s happening.” I kept it in the back of my mind, but I didn’t hear from Sam until I was ready to go to Mexico. In my mind, if Sam was doing it, I was down. I was in it to build skateparks back home. 

Did that set off a bad vibe with Geth?

No. I remember talking to Stephanie and I was like, “The Mexico gig sounds beautiful and I’m ready to go, but I’ve got this once in a lifetime opportunity where I can give back to where I’m from. I’m an East Coaster. I’m a New Englander until I die.” I had a lot of East Coast pride and I couldn’t not do it. They understood. First and foremost, we’re skaters. It wasn’t personal. I have so much respect for Geth and Stephanie for taking us in and for having the balls to start a company. That’s a heavy thing. They were bummed, but they were cool because they had a new wave of workers coming in. Once Sam called me, I pointed my truck East. I had a Johnny Cash tape and a Black Sabbath tape and I drove three days solid to Rhode Island. I didn’t even go home to see the folks. I just showed up and said, “When do we start?” It was November and we were in Jamestown, Rhode Island, next to Newport on the water, Breaking Ground 2003. I did every park with Sam until the last one in 2010. It was the best ever. 

What parks did you build?

Jamestown was first, which was a cool little flow park. It’s Rhode Island, so they have that 4-foot height restriction, so we made a shallow end with a loveseat and pool coping and a bank to curb. We gave it some flow. Sam always had really good ideas and I always liked everything we built. After that, we did that bowl in Saratoga Springs, NY. 

That bowl was killer, but I had heard that they dozed it.

No. It’s still there. They filled it in and then they dug it out a few years ago and it’s going again, to my knowledge. They had filled it in a few years ago because of the sand and some town liability bullshit. Then everybody made such an uproar, and people were just pouring letters and emails to the town and skaters were saying, “What are you doing?” They dug it out and it’s skateable. That was our second gig and that was a real deal bowl.

Yeah. I loved that pool.

That’s where Sam and I really gelled. He was the cut man and I’d float. We really cut our teeth on that job. It kicked up like, “We got this. We can do this.” We had a really good crew, with George Rocha, original dude, and Jeff Paprocki, who did Groton skatepark. He’s an unsung hero of building shit with all those Connecticut parks that he did. He was one of the first cats. It was George, Jeff, Lenny Earnshaw, myself and Sam. Then we got The Bomber, who was the nozzle man. After that, we did Martha’s Vineyard and Providence, RI, Lewiston, ME, Northampton, MA, and Westerly, RI. We also built some shit at Groton with Jeff. We were all over. We did a ton in New England and then we went up to Michigan and down to Texas.

Were you on the Fairfield job?

Yeah. We had Gump, at that point, which was killer, and Young Will. From 2003 to 2010, I did every park with Sam and it was great. 

What happened in 2010? 

By that point, parks were starting to be more accepted and we weren’t designing them on a bar napkin anymore. Towns were starting to expect real deal professional shit and you had to be on it. Your plans had to be right and you had to have stamps on your plans. It was getting to be a business. Not that it wasn’t a business before, but there was a ton of leeway with the towns. It was more about your reputation. If you did a good job for a town, then the town ahead of you knew that you had done a good job on the last park. We were professional even though we didn’t look like typical construction workers. We were skaters first. Once you win them over and you work your ass off and they see that you care, it carries on. Then it got to the point where we needed an office crew. Sam ran the construction and he ran the business, so he was doing two jobs that were full time. He brought in Gump, Nathan Guthrie, who was like the foreman, so Sam could be off-site more, but Sam wanted to be in the field. Why wouldn’t he? Who wants to run the business and do all the office work? I get it. In my view of what happened, Sam was just stretched too thin and it got to be too much. Unfortunately, some of these other companies that aren’t necessarily in it for skateboarding had the resources to have four people in an office dealing with towns and the business. It just got to be too much. I totally get it. Sam was getting pretty spun at the end. That’s not talking shit on Sam in any way. It was just a lot to do. I could see it coming. Then we did the Andover skatepark in 2010 and I just remember him being like, “I got this offer to sell the company and I can clear my debt and sell off my equipment and make a little money. I’d have to work for these dudes for a year under contract, but they’re offering a deal to bring us in as Breaking Ground.”

Was that the American Ramp Company?

It was ARC, which is the shotcrete company. In my opinion, they wanted the name Breaking Ground so they could put it out there that they had done all these parks when they didn’t do a single one of those parks. They made an offer that was monetarily nice. It had insurance, and all that, so they dangled the carrot and we all took it. We were like, “Okay, maybe we can make this work.” One of the deals was that they had to keep the crew together. We were like, “You can’t split us up. This works because of the crew.” They were like, “Yeah, yeah.” So they sent us to Prince Edward Island in Canada in September, right as it started to get cold, and we started to see this ARC company’s true colors. They split up the crew and sent half of us to Prince Edward Island. I’m there and my wife was nine months pregnant and it was starting to get cold as shit up in Northern Canada. We were finishing up and I was talking to the office people and I said, “I have to go. My wife is due in a week.” They were like, “Can you just stay a little longer and help finish up?” I said, “Okay, but I’m driving the company truck back on this day. This is it.” They kept pushing us and pushing us and, finally, I was like, “I have to go.” I drove 14 hours and I got home at 7:30 in the morning and my wife said, “My water broke.” I’m like, “Let’s go to the hospital.” A few hours later, my daughter was born. All that happened in 48 hours. I went home the next day to shower and check the dogs, and the office people at Prince Edward Island called and said, “Hey, you left?” I’m like, “Yeah. I told you I was.” I thought they called to say congratulations. Instead they’re busting my ass because I left. I told them, “You knew my wife was pregnant when you hired me. I stayed almost two weeks later to help you guys finish.” They were like, “Okay, when can you be back to work?” I was like, “What? Never. I’m over it. You guys don’t give a shit about skateboarding. The writing is on the wall. We all know why you hired us. You just wanted the name and the resume.” We all quit. Sam was still under contract with them, but he understood. He toughed it out for a year and then that company ate a turd. That all went down and I was like, “What do I do?” I had a wife and a newborn. Luckily, I had some cash, so I took the winter off. The cool thing was that since we were all on the books, I got to collect unemployment. I needed a break at that point. I was really bummed that Breaking Ground had to end. It was nothing against Sam or any of that, it was just everything. It’s probably like when somebody is a pro and their sponsor says, “Hey, we’re not going to put your board out anymore.” 

Oh yeah. I’m familiar with that deal.

Yeah. At the same time, I had a daughter, which is awesome. I’d been on the road for years building parks, so I stayed home for a bit. The winter went by and, luckily, I knew a few of the dudes with Artisan. They had worked on some parks with us, like Bowie, Maryland. This dude, Mark Gwaltney and this guy, Country, did some parks with us. 

That Bowie park is cool. 

Yeah. That was one of my favorite parks that we did. Gump was good friends with Gwaltney and Country, and he’d go down there to North Carolina and hang out and skate. Artisan was happening, and Gump got on and then he put the word in for me, and I went out to Cherokee, NC, in the Smoky Mountains on the reservation and we built that park. That was my first park with Artisan. I got on in early 2011 and I’ve been with them ever since. It’s like an extension of Breaking Ground because we’re all tight. We have a good rhythm and everybody knows what to do. Once I did a few parks with them, it was like I had been with those guys the whole time and it felt right. 

You guys did Woodbridge and I hear that is one of the best pools on the East Coast. 

Yeah. Sick. We did Atlantic Beach, NC too, and Dave, “Science”, was the design idea behind that. It’s kind of got a Hanger feel to it, 12-foot deep with 2 feet of vert in the deep end. It’s serious. 

Nice. Tell people about Science Fair A.K.A. Dave Maxwell when you first met him and you were on the job site.

I’d met Dave previously. He was living in Colorado just being Science Fair, fresh from living at Skatopia for a minute, and just wild as hell. He’s a skate rat and he’s infamous. Everybody knows him. We were on a road trip to build that park in Wyoming and we went to Caleb’s, and he had that Humbler bowl. The Vans deal was happening in the mall, so we wanted to hit that and Aspen. Team Pain had some parks happening in Colorado, so it was a destination. We were like, “Let’s go skate that on our way to Wyoming.” We went out to Caleb’s for a party and Dave was there being Science Fair and everyone was getting wild and we were all partying. It was getting late and everyone had already had a few drinks and Dave was in the kitchen, and the next thing you know, Dave is naked, with his pads and helmet on, just hanging out drinking beer and just being Science Fair. That was my introduction, like, “There he is.” Later on, when I went to work with those dudes on the park in Cherokee, he was the nicest dude ever. Dave rules. He’s like Sloppy Sam. Anybody else is going to see him and think he’s crazy, but he knows what he’s doing. He has his way. He’s smart as shit. Have you seen his backyard bowl? It’s insane, just to build that, and he built it pretty much by himself.

I was there in the beginning when it was all ribbed out and he was like, “It’s going to take me 10 years to build it, but I’ll do it.” Ten years later, it was done. 

Yeah. To see him skate it, it’s beautiful. That’s the magic of skateboarding. How do you explain that dude to the masses? You don’t. You have to know. 

I flew Dave out to the Vans combi bowl for a contest and he ripped it. The first day there, out of the box, he did a roll in lipslide around the corner, probably the farthest that anyone has done one there,  with bonelesses in the corner. 

Yeah. When he flips the switch, there’s nothing like it. Even if he’s dorking, you’re like, “What the fuck?” He puts these lines together and it’s like, “How is he still going?” He’s the best. I love Dave. I have spent a lot of road time with him and I stay at his house just to hang out. We’ll hang out and mow his lawn and drink beer and watch Star Trek. 

Left: YA GOTTA BE READY FOR ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS, SO YOU BETTER HAVE YOUR TARPS READY TO COVER YOUR FRESH CONCRETE AND DO FINISHING TOUCHES ON THE TRANNY. PHOTO © JUSTIN GORMAN. Right: AFTER ALL THE TRANNYS ARE POURED AND FORMED, THEN YA POUR THE FLAT AND SET THE COPING! NOTHING LIKE THE FEELING OF ANOTHER CONCRETE CREATION TO RIP RIDE, LIKE THIS ONE AT ED PECK’S COMPOUND! PHOTO © JUSTIN GORMAN

Yes! So the Artisan crew is all hardcore skaters that are totally dedicated to what they’re doing. Do you ever get on site and go over budget because you want to build the best you can build?

This is what is sick about Artisan. Andy Duck, the owner, is the mastermind, and he’s really good at problem solving. He knows we have X amount of dollars and he figures out how to optimize all of this by working with the design. He gets it down so that we don’t get in the field and go, “What do we do?” It’s always laid out and you have a vision of what you need to do. He’s on it. It’s hard to explain because that shit can be really tricky, like, “Man, I want to do this or that.” He accounts for those types of things, like, “Okay, let’s throw a wrench into the mix and mix it up.” He has that buffer to be able to do it and not shoot the budget. He’s got it nailed down, so there’s always wiggle room. You can get away with a few things and not be like, “Oh, man, we’re blowing it.” It’s always really easy to make it happen. He’s a solid dude and he’s done a lot for me. He’s given me my second wind in doing this because it’s been since 2011 and shit is just getting bigger and better. We’ve got three crews running now, which is sick. We’re doing really cool shit and we’re all getting to have a say on design. At that park in Colorado, they wanted a bowl and they were specific about what they wanted. It was a 9-foot bowl with a foot of vert and tiles and pool coping and a nice               waterfall and hips. All around that, it was up to us to figure out what was going to work. It was at an existing park, so we had to tie it all in. 

Which park was that?

That was Pagosa Springs. It was a small skatepark that got built a few years back. It had a little 4-foot elbow bowl halfpipe with a street hip and a bank. We built the bowl and we could either make a retaining wall around the bowl or pour a deck on the bottom and a deck on the top. We were like, “Let’s make this retaining wall slanted so it’s skateable and then connect it.” So they let us do that, instead of insisting that we do the easiest cheapest thing. Andy worked it out that we could add a bunch of river rock and make everything flow around it, so they got more than just the bowl. In Nebraska, it was just a flat slab of concrete that had a bunch of shitty pre-fab ramps. They got rid of those and wanted different things, but they had a budget for more, so we added a middle feature and a side feature. We made a weird flowing China bank pump bump thing with a couple of curbs. We’re lucky that we get to do that kind of stuff because it makes for a cool park. Why make the same thing over and over? It’s a give and take. I get that it’s a public skatepark and I understand that kids want a ledge and they want this and that, but we’re like, “Okay, we can get that in there, but you’re going to want this too.” It’s like putting a stair set in a skatepark. Come on. If you’re 12 years old, you want to jump down stairs, but if you keep skating, when you’re 20, you’re going to want to carve around and hit some coping. You don’t have to necessarily skate a bowl. There are so many cool flow aspects that we can build. 

As far as flow goes, I see more snake runs being built where you can pump the whole skatepark without having to kick. Where do you see skatepark building going? What do you want to build?

Personally, this has been a topic with Dave and I and the other cats. You look in old Skateboarder mag at the old skatepark with that lunar landscape and you’re like, “That looks insane.” From what you read, it looks better than it actually was, but if you take that and make it, it could work. Look at Red and those guys. I see it happening. It’s more of a morph now. You can make this terrain never-ending and you can go in any direction with no pushing. You can show up and there’s a bank to curb over there and you can warm up on that for awhile. Then you can get into the snake run and there are all kinds of hips. There’s granite and pool coping and steel. That’s the shit. Look at how kids skate now. Look at Grant Taylor and Kevin Kowalski. They grew up on that stuff, but they can get down on the street too. With public skateparks, it all depends on budgets. You can build mega parks with a plaza and a snake run and a bowl. There’s room for everything. Personally, I want to do a flow park and have some grindable lips and some bigger shit. You can go anywhere with it and you can skate that   forever. Let’s face it. The older you get, the harder it is to take the slams, but you still want that feeling. You want to keep rolling and grinding shit. 

Have you ever seen Reading Skatepark?

Yeah. I went there with Sam. I went to Lansdowne before I went to Reading. That was before I got to go to Burnside and I thought that was the shit. Later on, I went to Reading with Sam. We were on our way to Skatopia to do the first bowl pour there and we stopped and hit Reading. It was like, “This is amazing.” I think it was gone the next year. 

Did you ride the Kink Sink pool?

Oh, man, yes. It was one of those deals where Sam and I pulled off the highway and he was like, “It’s around here somewhere.” We drove around forever trying to find it. He finally found it and we got a 45-minute session before the sun went down, and it was perfect. It was just one of those times where you’re on your way to Skatopia to build some shit, and it’s Skatopia, so who knows what’s going to happen, and then you stop to skate this park that has been there since the ‘70s. It was killer. I’d always see that one in Poweredge, and it was one of those parks that was always in the back of my mind. I’m stoked I got to hit a few of those. 

Does that make you consider that kind of park design?

Yeah. I remember having conversations with Sam and that’s ultimately what we wanted. You have the lunar landscape with endless bumps and hips and turns. You look at it like, “What is this wall going to do?” It could bring you back one way or you could cut through another way. I got to go to Derby in the ‘90s and that was one of my favorites because you could just jam and hit the lip. I haven’t been since they redid it, but it looks cool with all the curves and grindable lips. It looks even sicker. I want to build a park that size and I want a city to step up and build one on steroids with a $2,000,000 budget too. We could make an epic snake run park. It’s been happening with Orcas Island and Lincoln City and all that. It’s been pushing that way and we’re starting to get that. It’s tough because it’s a public skatepark, so you have to walk the line if the kids want street or whatever. It all depends.   Sometimes, you have to go build a plaza. Nothing against a street plaza, but street skating is in the streets. Andy is really good at getting them to build what we think is right. We put street stuff in there, but we get to put our influence into it. Back in the day, there weren’t that many skatepark building companies and we had the Northeast, so we had free reign to do what we wanted. We usually built our own designs. Now the big jobs require plans. We’ve built some California Skateparks designs and it’s just one of those things. It was a big park and it was financially good for the company, but you couldn’t change anything. Nowadays you can get sued for changing plans. It’s not the Wild West anymore. We got lucky. We never had to build any bullshit parks. We were in our zone with Breaking Ground, and everyone was cool and had our backs. The local skate community knew us and we knew them, so we worked together on park designs.  

You were building parks a few years back when all the kids wanted street plazas, but you built something gnarly for them instead. Do you find, when you go back, that they were stoked on it?

Yes. There has been such a crazy turnaround in skateboarding. A kid that starts skating when he’s 12 or 13, wants a 10-stair, a rail and a ledge. A lot of times, those kids end up quitting, even if they get the 10-stair and the hubba and all that. They get a car and they get a chick and they’re done. It’s the kids that are kind of quiet and hanging back that end up stepping up. They are the kids that become the locals. That’s what makes it worth it. 

Do you ever build a ten stair in a park and you go back and not see anyone riding it?

Oh yeah. I think Andy and the guy we work with, Brad, who does design, have a good way of pushing their influence a little bit like, “You might want that now, but if you mature and stick with skating, you’re gonna want a bowl. You may want a 4-foot bowl now, but, as you progress, you’re going to want to ride an 8 or 9-foot bowl because your skills are going to get better.” It’s along those lines. I’ll talk to kids and I’ll go to the park too. I like to know what people think and get opinions and then I try to push my influence too like, “A skatepark should be somewhere you go and there’s a little bit of everything, but it’s more of a flow. With street skating, what good is having a street park?” I know that’s what some people are into, but the whole thing with street skating is going out into the street and doing it. I guess you could practice it at the park, but why not go to the park and learn to ride some tranny. Learn how to turn and feel how your skateboard works instead of just going straight and doing a trick and landing and then picking up your board and walking up the stairs. More power to you if you want to blast a rail, but you’re only getting a tiny bit of it, if that’s all you do. To me, a skatepark should be like Del Mar or Big O or Upland. Skateparks should be these places of magnitude. I want to see a snake run on steroids. Let’s build Mars out of concrete. 

Yeah! What is your opinion on skateboarding in the Olympics and what it will do for skatepark building? 

We talk about it because it’s crazy. Coming from the ‘80s, where skateboarding was considered a waste of time and people would fight you and jocks would hate on you, now they want skateboarding. They want that juice. With the Olympics, who cares? Before this skateboarding thing came up, have you ever watched the Olympics? I have respect for athletes because they dedicate their life to it, the same as we do skateboarding. At this point, the Olympics needs skateboarding so the kids will watch it. They’re trying to sell something. It’s ratings and commercials, so everything is based on money. Part of me thinks it’s lame, but you knew it was going to happen. The corporations have come in. From a skatepark standpoint, it’s going to be like the X Games and all that. It’s going to turn more people onto skateboarding, which I’m for. If it means more kids will start skateboarding, because they see skateboarding in the Olympics, and some of those kids skate for the rest of their lives, that’s good. There are no rules. To answer your question, more power to the Olympics. People want to get paid, I guess, and I can’t blame them. Some of these dudes have families. All I see is that it’s just going to mean more skateparks, and that means that we stay busy and everyone else stays busy and more cool shit gets built. If that brings people in, and they figure it out and they’re down, cool. It’s obviously going to spark some towns to build more shit. I’m 100% down for that. Also the skateboard industry doesn’t have magic elves that pay for things. People have to buy shit. If that means that people that continue to be in it for life for skateboarding can keep going, great. Lance Mountain should be paid forever. Gonz should be paid forever. It’s one of those things. It could go either way. Tomorrow I could be like, “Fuck the Olympics.” Overall, it’s crazy. It’s going to bring in the general public, but they are here already. Look at how people dress now. It’s like skaters without skateboards. You can go and buy the pre-packaged image. Whatever. If it lets dudes be able to go on trips and tours, yeah. On the flip side of that, it’s going to bring mainstream people in, but that just creates more underground. There are still going to be people who are out there, like us, that are going to skate no matter what. You and I are still out there going to skateparks and we see these kids and we know what’s up. We know how the other cats did that for us when they handed down those traditions and that knowledge. It’s this crazy thing. The counterculture and the underground is going to feed off these other people seeing skateboarding in the spotlight. Look at how crazy skateboarding is. There are so many different facets to it now. It’s an amazing time to be a skateboarder. You can be anything. It’s got flavor from the ‘70s, ‘80s and the ‘90s. It’s all in the pot now. There is no reason to just say, “I’m a ledge skater” or “I’m a street skater.” You have a full plate in front of you and you can do anything you want. You can go anywhere and there will be a skatepark. Kids are out there on the road and that’s great for skateboarding. All you need is your board, your backpack and your friends and you can get out there and skate everything. 

In the late ‘70s, the concrete skateparks got built and everyone was skating and then the parks closed. This time there are tons of parks getting built and they’re not going away. These things are here to stay. 

Exactly. The other side of that is that the skaters are building most of these parks and there’s the whole DIY thing too. It’s not just the dudes building Burnside, Channel Street and Washington Street. People are going out in the woods and building shit. It’s like the vert ramps of the ‘80s have created this metamorphosis into today’s concrete structures. Anything is in. You can just slap some concrete on a barrier or go out in the woods and start building a snake run. There is so much wild shit out there and it’s great. It’s only going to get stronger. There are so many people doing it, beyond the parks. People just took it upon themselves to build their own spots. If they can’t get a skatepark, there is abandoned land everywhere. I love that. That’s skateboarding. Skateboarding has always made its way through. You remember when we were kids and we were trying to get parks and the cities were like, “Yeah, whatever, kid, beat it.” So we learned how to build a ramp. Skaters just make it happen. If it looks like they’re not getting a skatepark, they’re like, “Well, there’s a bridge over here. Let’s start building.” It’s just going to keep going. I don’t see it stopping. Even if the skateboarding industry collapsed, and it was like the dark days again, you have to remember, that’s how Burnside started. There was no place to skate and they just made it happen. It’s like Mad Max or some shit. Look at Skatopia. That’s not normal shit. Normal people that are going to watch the Olympics, could they understand it? That’s the beauty of it. Even at a skatepark, people don’t know what goes on. I’m sure, to most people, it looks like chaos. That’s the beauty of skateboarding. Even though skateboarding is in the spotlight and everyone wants a piece, you can’t just get in. 

You have to pay your dues. 

Exactly. You have to earn it forever. That’s the way it is. You have to put your time in and that’s what makes it great. To see it progress, as far as people building and starting their own companies, is great too. As big as skateboarding gets, there are always going to be those skaters that push back, like, “No. I ain’t doing that.” That’s why I fell in love with it. You can do it however you want. The door is open. In this digital age, you can go online and figure out how to pour concrete. It’s sick. The bottom line for me is that I’m a skateboarder. I love to see what Dreamland, Team Pain and Grindline are going to do next. I love to see what Evergreen is going to do. I have total respect for all of those companies. I just want to see more of it. Let’s keep it going. 

What is your Duty Now For the Future?

I just turned 45 and I’ve been building skateparks for 17 years now and I want to keep going. It’s been rad. I’ve gotten to work with great dudes, and we have some younger dudes on the crew now too, so I get to pass on knowledge to them, and they’re stepping up. It feels good to hand down something like that. I’m fortunate and I feel blessed that I’ve gotten to do this. Skateboarding has given me everything in my life. I’ve gotten to travel the world and meet amazing people and have cool experiences and build skateparks. I just want to keep on progressing and continue to learn and strive to do better. I want to see some really out there designs. People aren’t afraid to step it up and I think it’s starting to come around that way now. I’m not seeing as many plazas now. Kids are seeing all these dudes that just rip everything, so they go to the parks and rip it and then they go to the street and rip that too. I want to keep traveling and building and try to be a good husband and father and good friend to all the people that I love and care about. I want to keep skateboarding. I remember being a kid and I wanted to make it to 40, so I made it to 40. Now I want to skate until I’m 60, and see what happens when I get there. How old is Tony Alva now? He’s 60. Lance and Salba are still going and that’s inspiring. I just want to keep riding my skateboard and handing down the knowledge of what I know and get another generation building, so they can keep it going. 

Killer. Is there anybody that you want to thank or shout out to?

Yes. I want to thank Geth and Stephanie with Airspeed for giving me my start, which is sick. I hadn’t really talked to Geth in a long time, but I did a little work for Grindline building that Burlington, Vermont, park and they had a park going in Marshfield, Mass and they needed heads and Andy was like, “Hey, would you work with these dudes? You get to be home.” I could go home after work every day and be with my family. I said, “Sure.” So I worked for Grindline on that and it was rad because Rabbi was running the crew and he was one of the first dudes I met. I met Rabbi, Shags and Lil Eddie when they went to Skatopia to do that first bowl, and Sam and I went up there. I learned a lot from those cats on that bowl pour. It was cool to see Rabbi again. I have tons of respect for all those dudes. Then Grindline was like, “Do you want to go to Israel?” This was on Christmas Eve. I was like, “What?” They said, “Can you leave January 2nd?” I was like, “Yes.” I didn’t even ask my wife. I just said yes. A trip to Israel is a once in a lifetime deal and you have to go. Andy, the owner of Artisan, was the one that told me they wanted to take me over there for a month and a half and he was totally cool with that. He knew it was an opportunity for me to travel. In Israel, I got to work with Sage from Burnside. It was cool and it was such an experience and then I came back to the States and started working with Artisan again. Geth ended up going to Israel to help out, so he was there working with Sage. It’s crazy how it all worked out. I have to thank Steph, Geth, Andy, Sloppy Sam and all the people I’ve worked with. I want to thank my mom and dad and my wife, Carlena, and my daughter, June. Being on the road away from home can be tough, but my wife is a really tough woman and she holds it down. She gets what this means to me. I want to say an extra thanks to Andy Duck for the opportunities, and thanks to Russ Pope and the Transportation Unit, Rob Collins at Converse, Pete Talbot, Justin Gorman and Noah Powell for always being down to roll. I have to thank skateboarding. Thank you skateboarding. Thank you too, Murf. This has been awesome. 

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, GET ISSUE #76 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

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JUICE MAGAZINE | 319 OCEAN FRONT WALK #1, VENICE, CA 90291 | (310) 399.5336 | JUICEMAGAZINE@GMAIL.COM
Juice is an interview magazine featuring skateboarding, surfing, art and music. Since 1993, Juice has been independently owned and dedicated to the core. Juice Magazine specializes in coverage of core skateboarders, surfers, musicians, skatepark builders, artists, photographers, rock n roll, metal, hardcore, pools, pipes & punk rock. Keep Skateboarding A Crime.
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© 1993-2022 Juice Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means; electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the copyright owner, photographers, writers, or artists named herein. Trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
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