Interview by JESSE MARTINEZ
Photo by NEFTALIE WILLIAMS
One of the most exciting and humbling parts about being part of creating Juice is the magical times when two icons of culture literally sit down and talk story, and we the readers get to actually be the fly on the wall and listen in. This interview with Kareem Campbell and Jesse Martinez is one of the realest, most eye-opening conversations encapsulating a time in skate history that was profoundly felt and seen, yet rarely discussed in detail. Jesse and Kareem have been through more experiences over the last few decades than the majority of us will ever experience in a lifetime. We are proud to present this exclusive Juice feature with two infamous royals of skateboarding: Jesse Martinez and Kareem Campbell.
My name is Jesse Martinez. I’m here with Kareem Campbell in Venice in my backyard. We’re going to interview you, Kareem. First question, what was it like growing up in Harlem?
It was good. It was more of an upbringing. It wasn’t really being raised because I pretty much got out of there when I was six. Instantly, I was in Cali and, a couple of years later, I was in Venice.
What made you start skating when you got here?
When I got here, I used to hang out with my friends, Daniel Castillo, Little Davey and Nick. They used to just be messing around on a board and I used to be messing around on a board too, but I didn’t even know them at first. I used to see Davey because he lived just a few blocks from me, and I used to sell nickel bags of weed. I ended up hooking up with Davey and Nick’s friends from Culver City and, the next thing you know, I was hanging out with those guys every day and going skating with them.
That was your first crew?
That was my very first crew.
How old were you then?
I was 14.
Where were you guys skating?
We skated in the West L.A. area and then Nick built a mini ramp in his backyard, and then we started going to Culver City a lot to skate the Culver City ramp.
What did your parents think of all of this?
My mom thought I was selling drugs, when she first met Jef Hartsel. [Laughs] She thought I was selling drugs to buy skateboards. She didn’t really believe in it because it wasn’t something they had seen in the neighborhood.
Was that what they wanted you to do with your life?
No. She wanted me to really focus on finding a study, and something that could give me a job so I could live and survive.
I know that was an early time in skating, but were there any skate videos out that you were watching then?
Yeah, it was the first Ray Barbee video. It might have been Future Primitive. I’m not even sure. That was the first time I’d ever seen a black guy skateboarding. He was wearing flannels and Vision Street Wear that looked like the Chuck Taylor’s, so I felt like, “Oh, it is acceptable.”
When did you start getting interested in contests and all of that?
I didn’t really start getting interested in contests until I started coming to Venice, and then we had the shop over here, Surf N Skate. That was the first shop that really embraced me. My first contest was a Powell contest and I ended up winning that one.
Did you like skating in front of everybody and the thrill of it?
Yeah. It was an adrenalin rush, especially because I was so different from the typical skateboarders that were around. I almost felt like I was representing for all the urban kids.
Did you have any sponsors then? Who was your first sponsor?
My first sponsor was Surf N Skate, and then it was Bridge Bolts.
Who was your first sponsor besides a skate shop?
My first sponsor was actually you and Jef Hartsel. You and Jef Hartsel used to embrace me and give me boards.
We saw the talent.
You guys definitely embraced me, and then there was a period of time when you guys were just flowing me. After winning the contest, Todd Hastings came up to me with Ray Barbee and then he sent me a box of ten boards. It went good for a week with Powell, and then you came around and told me that I was going to lose my fingers.
[Laughs] Yeah, but I think it turned out pretty good for you.
It definitely did.
Did you skate vert and pools back then?
I definitely skated a lot of mini ramps because of the Culver City Ramp. That was the first vert ramp that I ever learned how to skate. We used to go to the YMCA, which was a bigger mini ramp, so I was learning to skate vert from that ramp. On that ramp, you really couldn’t fall because you’d get splintered up, so you tried to really learn it.
Do you think that street and vert complement each other when you’re learning, skating street and skating vert?
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. It pushes your limits and it takes you to a whole other level of being able to look at an obstacle. You don’t have to feel like you’re limited because this thing is ten feet tall. It helps you out when you’re looking at jumping down 12 stairs or 15 stairs.
I agree completely. Skating is skating.
Exactly. You have to learn it all the way around. That’s what skateboarding is.
True. When did you finally feel like you were ready to go pro?
It really was a situation where, back in the day, we had CASL [California Amateur Skateboard League] first, so I entered a lot of contests and won quite a few of them. Once I got into the NSA [National Skateboarding Association] circuit, I placed first in that one and then I went on tour with Rocco and them and when it was time for the finals and he was the one that told me, “Hey, don’t even worry about going to the finals. You’re going pro. You’ve been killing it on these tours for the last couple of months.” Basically, we had been on tour for months, so we were in everybody’s face.
How do you feel now about being one of the veterans of the street world?
To me, I feel good. I appreciate the whole element of Natas, you, Hartsel, Dressen and everyone that was coming up back then. You guys were the ones killing it back then, but you guys were the core. Now I feel like I’m where you guys were. I’m there now.
“It was an adrenalin rush, especially because I was so different from the typical skateboarders that were around. I almost felt like I was representing for all the urban kids.”
Definitely. Do you remember your first video? Do you remember the first part that you ever saw of yourself?
Yep. A-1 Meats was my very first video part. I had one day to film a part. We went to San Diego and they were like, “Hey, we’re filming this video and we want you in it.” They just took me around one day and put together that whole part.
Did that lead to other things, because I know you guys are really into music. Did you ever wind up in any music videos?
Yeah, I’ve done lots of music videos.
What was your very first one?
My very first one was 311 or Kid Rock. It was one of those.
That’s an old one. There’s definitely a connection.
Yeah, there’s definitely a connection between music and skateboarding because when you’re skateboarding, it’s a rhythm, and that’s what music gives you. There are certain songs that you listen to. You know if I want to be aggro, I can listen to Bad Brains. If I want to be mellow, I can listen to Sade. It all goes hand-in-hand.
How did Rodney Mullen influence your skating?
He really made me into the person that I am. At the same time, I had the different types of skating when I was skating with all the locals in Venice and going to Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. Once I got with Rodney, I was seeing it really technical and seeing that you have to be thinking it all the way through. That’s one of the things that he taught me. You have to see yourself doing it, instead of just going for it. He pretty much made me who I am.
I know you had a couple of signature moves, like the hard flip late backside 180.
The Ghetto Bird. [Laughs] Yeah.
Did Rodney have any influence on that thing?
To be very honest and straight forward, I was doing a lot of nollie hardflips and I kept envisioning doing it and then when we were at the Radlands contest, the atmosphere was so insane. You had Tom Penny and all these different guys doing killer shit. I had a hurt wrist at that time, but I kept saying, “I want to make an impact.”
Leave your mark.
Rodney was like, “No. Stick to your lines.” But I just kept jumping in there and, right beforehand, I was able to pull it off. It was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
You’ll be remembered for that, definitely. We know you had a good past in Venice Beach. Did Venice have any influence on your style, as you got older?
It had complete influence. You gotta realize. Venice was style. Period. If you look at most of the skating that came about back then, Ray Barbee had style. Everyone in Venice, from Pat Ngoho to Eric D. to you and Jef, had their own style. Natas had his own style. The best thing is that I was being embraced by all of these different things and it helped me develop my own style.
Here’s the thing. It’s something that all older pro skaters get asked once in a while. Where do you think skateboarding is heading?
At this point, I believe that it’s going to make it into the Olympics because of the consistency of the kids. I really do believe it’s going to make it there. It’s going to take a lot more kids. What Dyrdek is doing with SLS is good. The more the consistency keeps going, it’s guaranteed to make it into the Olympics and that’s where I really see it getting its big break. Snowboarding had it.
Are you going to be part of that?
Probably, in the background, yeah.
You’re still a big part of the skateboarding industry.
Yeah, I still have a skateboard company and we’re developing kids and trying to keep their minds right and keep them on the right path so they’ll know how to deal with the industry. Now that the industry is expanding and getting so corporate, a lot of kids are losing their actual real coreness.
Obviously, you’re still skating. I heard you talking about a handrail. Who do you skate with nowadays?
Ke’Chaud Johnson, Guy Mariano, Javier Nunez… I pretty much skate with everybody. I’m traveling a lot these days so, whenever I come to town, I hit up everybody. Some people are traveling and some people are relaxing and some people are getting over injuries.
That’s good. You’ve been around the industry forever and this is like the third or fourth time that skateboarding has slowed down. What do you think about that?
I think you can’t stop it, regardless. You’re going to get floods in and floods out, but now everyone likes skateboarding. I can understand that there’s the fashion side of it, but once kids start to skateboard they realize the difficulty of it. A lot of them either get out or end up in another part of the business. You’re always going to have that with any sport, like baseball, football, soccer and all that. They all go through their ups and downs.
Now there are so many big corporations in skateboarding. What do you think about that?
I love it because, as long as the core can be employed by them to give them the right guidance, I think it’s a beautiful thing. I think that’s what’s helped us get to where we are now. From the Tony Hawk game to Nike coming in, now it’s all these big corporations. I don’t think we’d be where we are just on TV alone, so there would be a lot of skateboarders that wouldn’t be getting the checks they’re getting if it wasn’t for the corporate thing. We just need to keep that core in it and not sell out because there is that core thing. You can’t just take and take and not help to protect the core skaters. You have to help take care of skaters. A lot of these companies sponsor kids, but then they don’t give them health insurance.
Right. What did you think about those Shut Up and Skate contests?
The Shut Up and Skate contests were amazing. That was the first contest that I ever won. Jeff Phillips. That was my break-out point. That was after there were so many differences and people were leaving Rocco. I went wearing that World shirt that said “Represent” on the back and that’s when Rodney really coached me and took it to another level by helping me develop lines and stuff like that. I told him, “I’m going to go for it.” He was like, “When you finish the rest of your lines, go for it.” He believed in me and that’s what I needed.
What’s the skate scene in Texas like now?
The skate scene in Texas is amazing. It’s totally different from being in S.F., San Diego, L.A. or New York because those guys work so much harder to get recognized. They skate every day, so I feel like I’m almost a kid again. Some of the best skateparks are there. Al Coker has an indoor facility, Guapo, so I’m pretty much skating four days a week. We’ve got the key to it, so we just mess around and have a couple of brews and relax and then we skate for two hours, get a little sore, wait a little bit and then skate again.
At your age, that’s a lot of skating, four days a week.
Yeah, it’s keeping me young.
Skating will do that to you. So what was the deal between you and Russell Simmons and All City Stars becoming City Stars?
Well, that situation was right after I went through the problem with the Menace thing and me not conducting my business right. I was more taking business in a physical way, so I lost that situation with that name. When I did All City Stars, we had it all perfectly cleared, but when we went through the legal thing, he was saying that he had enough money to hold the name to where we couldn’t even do business. We had good lawyers, so when we hit them with it, we put in for a generic term. We went back to 1967 when they had the All City Track Team and we backtracked them, so it would be considered a generic term. He had $700,000,000 in. That was his deal to get in for life with Phat Farm, and plus, he knew my family. Ultimately, we resolved it to where I kept the name, but he was able to license it and use it.
“You gotta realize. Venice was style. Period. If you look at most of the skating that came about back then, Ray Barbee had style. Everyone in Venice, from Pat Ngoho to Eric D to you and Jef Hartsel had their own style. Natas had his own style. The best thing is that I was being embraced by all of these different things and it helped me develop my own style.”
That’s the best way. Why is it important to give to the next generation of skateboarders and what’s the best way to do it?
The best way is to educate them and be honest with them. Most of these kids don’t know what it is, but you can tell them and express to them what you went through. I don’t have any problems telling the story of my trials and tribulations because, at the end of the day, it will make that person a lot better. It can help in the form of an example of how to do business and how to expand and get your finances out of the company and get insurance. If they’re going to get into a company, they have to know. When I went to get my company with Rocco the first time, he just took me to the DBA office and said, “Here, do a newspaper letter.” I was like, “Oh, it’s like that?” I didn’t know that I had to trademark clothing. I didn’t know shit. You’re just going with somebody that you think is going to help and guide you all the way.
Why do you still skate?
I love it. That’s what I’m about. I’m 110%. That comes before real estate, telecommunications, anything and everything else that I’m into. Skateboarding is my relief.
I can confirm that. I know that you travel a lot like a lot of pro skaters do. Do you have a favorite location that you’ve been to overseas?
It’s hard to pick one because I love Australia and New Zealand, but I love Germany too. Germany is just so huge. You can’t just pick one city, because we used to just bounce around all over Germany. It’s so big and they’re cool people and there are good skate spots and good atmosphere. It reminds me of the States, but you’re still in a foreign country.
You and I have a lot of history with Steve Rocco and World Industries. Did you learn anything when you walked away from all of that at the end?
Yeah. At the end of the day, I knew that they were there for me. They gave me an opportunity that was out of this world. You gave me an opportunity that was out of this world to even get to them and to be able to get where I am now. I appreciate it all because I can’t really say where I would be on the path that I was already on.
I knew you were right for the team and it turned out that you were one of the best long-term riders we ever had on that team. You were one of the longest loyalists. That’s for sure. Besides the madness, did anything change for you when you showed up in the Tony Hawk game?
Yeah. It changed because you become a household name and your checks are $160,000. I was getting money from shoes too, for like $100,000, but those Activision checks would just come out of nowhere. You get a check for $170,000, and you’re like, “Is this the right number?” You go deposit that thing as fast as possible. You make sure you show it to the bank people, like, “Hey, this is me.” It just changes you all the way around. You get a lot of stability for your family and a lot of other people around you that might need help.
I know we’re both pros, but when I look at you, in my eyes, you’re legit. You can be a pro, and a legend, and be remembered. When I see you, that’s what I see. Do you think there should be a standard to turn pro because there isn’t nowadays?
To be very honest, there is no such thing as a true pro now because a shop guy can turn “pro” and just put his name on a board. We don’t have an industry standard or a union, so it’s a free for all. Once they took away the NSA, it was gone. In the NSA, you had to be top three. You’d be like, “Oh, I didn’t make it. Oh man.” It wasn’t like it was based on a contest, but it was based on the overall. You could get fifth, and still collect enough points to make it. If you’re traveling the world and you’re in everyone’s face, it’s different. I think there does need to be a standard because, right now, you can’t say who is pro except for the ones that you see on TV.
Earlier you were talking about skating as your first love. What do you do besides that?
I do telecommunications. I’ve been in that field. We do TV stuff now. I do production. I’ve always done graphic arts because I design shoes and stuff, so I’ve been in that field. I’m a jack-of-all-trades. I’m doing real estate still. I went and got my broker license. I never really stood still. If I have time, I utilize that time.
That’s smart. You always have to be doing something. Do you really think there should be a union for skateboarders where they can get full insurance? I know that right now that can be a problem. Do you think there should be some sort of union that protects us?
I think there should be a union to protect the kids. They have to realize that we’re going out there and jumping down the craziest things and doing Mega Ramps and things that, at any moment, could snap, crackle, pop and you can’t skate anymore. And then it’s like, “What are you doing now?’ A lot of times, that’s why kids ended up on drugs, because there is no guidance. If you had stuff like a union, it would help to educate kids and get kids involved.
What do you think you’re going to be doing soon with your career? What direction are you heading now?
I have City Stars pumping and I worked that out to where I’m chasing after more of the core distributors versus the distributors that will just put your product on the shelves. It’s good. Being in Texas, I’m away from all the craziness here of the ‘he say, she say,’ and all that, so it’s good. For me, I’m going to do the business side and I’m going to knock them down again.
What was it like running your own shoe company?
It was good. That was one of the things that educated me a lot more in business. I went from a skateboard company into a shoe company and I had free reign for the first three years and it was amazing. I didn’t really know how much money we were making.
Yeah. It was just having that free reign and being able to set different standards in the industry. It was beautiful. We were trying to bring back fashion to it.
Yeah. The fashion before you guys wasn’t too sharp. I wasn’t into fashion, but I saw it.
Yeah, it was all cut off jeans and stuff like that back in the Ghetto Wear days because that’s what the fashion was then.
Ghetto Wear was one of the first hip cool looking clothing companies. Before that Vision just destroyed fashion in skateboarding for decades, and you guys repaired it. I’m not into fashion, but I saw what happened. What is the deal with Axion now?
Well, I was working with Circa for a minute to re-launch and then Raul did a little back door thing. I told him, “I’ve been working and getting everything prepared and it doesn’t make sense for me to be paying $15,000 for trademarks around the world.” Once he got wind of that, he was like, “Well, right now, Circa is kind of slow.” And then one legal team found out what the other legal team was doing and my team noticed that they were trying to back door me on my trademark. As you see, Axion is shut down now.
“That’s the thing. If you have that natural talent, you can always get on there, regardless of how much pain you’re feeling, or how you’re feeling about somebody else. You can get on that board and do what you do and people appreciate it”
You’re on top of the game. Who is on the City Stars team now?
Right now I’ve got Ke’Chaud Johnson, Simon Lambey, Tulio De Oliveira, myself and three other kids, that we can’t really disclose their names because they’re the new young future for this new line. Right now the squad I’ve got is really good, and these three young ones are amazing.
You’ve got the one-two punch.
Yeah. We’re going to hit them in the head. I’m not out to steal nobody. There are too many good kids out there. They just need grooming.
There are a lot of good marketable kids out there.
Yeah, you still have to find the loyalty in those kids though. I’ve run across kids that are insane, but I put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a lot of kids and you build them up and they don’t understand what it’s like, especially when you’re using your own money. It wasn’t like I was using company money. I was going to Bank of America and cutting checks for $300,000 for shoes and payroll.
Geez. I wouldn’t know. I feel for you. I know skateboarders though and they can be a bitch to work with sometimes.
That’s why you have to get the perfect crew that’s going to fit for you. They don’t have to be the most insane ones. They just have to have a gift and you can bring it out.
That’s funny that you say that. We always said, “You don’t have to be the best, but you do have to be marketable. You have to have more than skate skill.” Obviously, you’re in this for the long haul. What do you think is going to happen in the next 20 years in the industry for you?
I’ll be in the industry. I know that for a fact. I’ll be a corporate head, but I’ll be a core corporate head. I think the industry is going to go for another hit because the corporate people who are in it right now aren’t being guided right. I think they might have been confused when they first got into it because they didn’t understand the real structure. They didn’t know what skateboarding is really about. I think the fashion side is phasing down to where we’re going to have our own look again. We will rebel against the system, so we’re always going to be there.
Is this change for the bad or for the good?
I think the change will be good, because, at the same time, it will narrow down some of these skate shops that are just spitting out pros and spitting out boards and undercutting us. That’s where we need a union to stop those shops from making those boards and just turning anybody pro.
You have to set a standard to go pro. Remember CASL? You had to be one of the top two or three CASL guys to turn pro.
Well, you had to be one of the top CASL guys to get into the NSA. You couldn’t just get into the NSA. You had to go through CASL and then once you got through CASL, and you were a top guy, then you made it into the NSA. Then you’ve got the Northern region and the Southern region and Western region and it was good.
Those were standards.
I used to look forward to those contests. When we skated against the Southern guys, I knew I’d be seeing Willy Santos, Kris Markovich and those guys. I knew what those guys were doing. I was going to their contests and watching them and seeing what they got. That was more of the passion of skateboarding.
Yeah. Skateboarding is more than just a hobby for some, that’s for sure.
It’s hard too. I like the structure of skateboarding now because you have a few days to practice on the courses. Instead of getting there on Friday and doing your heat and run, and hoping you make it to the semi-finals, and then make it to the finals and over killing yourself in three days, now you have five to seven days to get to learn the course.
That’s true. I guess my mind is stuck in the old system. I don’t really know how the new system works. You’re probably right. Every now and then I look back in my mind at certain guys like you, an old guy named Duck, Stranger, and a few young guys in the neighborhood that I had hopes for like Joey Tran, Little Man and Tuma and you guys were the little crew. We used to look at you guys like you were going to be the next guys in line to take over for us. It was just like Jay Adams told us back in the day. He said, “Thank god you guys are here. You guys are going to take over for us one day.” In the ‘90s, you started peaking and Stranger moved off to S.F. Remember those days?
Yeah. It was an evolution.
You wound up at World. That was a time where I could see the early effort in the ‘80s of all of us skating hard. We would cram into Skip Engblom’s car and drive to the contest. There was no motor home or credit cards.
Everyone was in one hotel room. Half of us were sleeping in the car or the station wagon.
It was just such a crazy time for everybody, but I saw all that come into play in the ‘90s. Even though I sort of phased out in the ‘90s, as a pro, I was still involved in skateboarding. I was still poking and driving Rocco crazy. I knew what was happening, and I could see that you and Stranger had really taken it to the limit. I was always proud of you guys. You did it. You guys made it. I was like, “Right on. They did it.” Now we’re at that point where you guys are older now and there are new kids here in Venice. You’re still part of the circle. No matter where you are, you’re still a Dogtown boy. Stranger is still a Dogtown boy too. He learned how to kickflip and ollie here in Venice, don’t forget. It’s the same with these new kids. You’ve got Froggy’s kid, Haden. You have Leandre and a couple of other kids that are next in line. I’m still here trying to make sure that when I leave, there is a Dogtown and we have other lineage still out there.
You have to keep it going. I just think it’s so insane, because there’s so much that you’ve already done. We didn’t have the park. We were fighting just to keep the flat ground and a little incline to be able to put up a wall ride ramp and a jump ramp. Now you can see the evolution of where you have taken it. You need to pat yourself on the back plenty of times.
That was a neighborhood effort big time.
Well, you have to realize that you were the main force behind it. You have to think about it. You were the main force behind so many of us. I probably couldn’t have done some of the things that I did, if I didn’t come from under you and Jef.
If you didn’t come to World, I think…
Yeah, but you have to realize that I came to World under you and Jef. We were the ones that the World guys were like, “Oh, these guys,” but we still had the strength because you guys were so strong with them.
When I told you that you had to be on World and you were going to walk away from Powell, I never dreamed it would come this far. It’s amazing. Even Stranger still has his foot in the game.
Yeah. Julien is so insane. He’s just got a natural talent. That’s the thing. If you have that natural talent, you can always get on there, regardless of how much pain you’re feeling, or how you’re feeling about somebody else. You can get on that board and do what you do and people appreciate it.
They sure do. There were other guys in the ‘80s like Uhuru, William Hightower. He passed away about 10 years ago now.
Yeah. God bless him.
He was a great guy, and he was part of the younger crew that you guys were in with.
Yeah, he took us all around in the Subaru. I used to stay at his house. I would tell my mom, “We’re at Uhuru’s house.” She’d be like, “Okay, you go ahead then.”
It is funny. Everybody that we hung out with that was a pro then still has their fingers in the skateboard industry now 20 or 30 years later.
Hartsel, J.T., Dressen…
What do you think about Venice changing so much from what you remembered to now what they’re calling Beverly Venice?
I think it’s good. Now these kids are so small and they’re having the opportunity to grow so fast, which we didn’t have. We had to struggle. We had to have Block pull out the jump ramp and we could only have it down there for so long, until someone’s board would shoot out. You know what I mean? It’s beautiful. When I go down there, I’m impressed every time. When I go down there and skate and bring my riders to it, they’re like, “This is on the beach? This is great. Wow.”
“I think he told the cops that he thought we were going to rob the store or something. When we ended up getting back in the van, Rodney floored it. We were out of Connecticut fast. Then we ended up in Chicago with a ghost.”
This is your neighborhood.
Yeah. We only had the Pit for the street park back then and now we have a full park.
Isn’t it funny how the Pit wasn’t really used then? It was there, but in ‘81, ‘82 and ‘83, it was ignored because there wasn’t even an ollie yet in ‘81. The Pit was something that we just looked at and the bums shot up and died there and then the early era of taggers came in. The Pit was nuts. Then here came Christian and snap, here’s the ollie, and everything changed. Here came you and Stranger and the ollie started developing with all of the pressure flips, kickflips, shuvits, ollie shuvits… Those were the early pressure moves. That’s when, all of a sudden, the Pit was like a skatepark.
Yeah, the Pit became a skate Mecca.
We had this skatepark right in front of us the whole time, and we didn’t even know. By the time that you and Stranger had come of age, you were already there. You guys adapted to it so well. You remember the Pit?
Oh yeah. I was so happy there. I remember the day that I was able to ollie on top of the table. That was a break through for me because it really showed what you’re capable of doing. That was before we were really hitting up picnic tables and stuff.
That was early tech shit for our area.
Yeah. Then we had the ledges. Remember there were two sets of ledges?
That’s right. Stranger did the ollie kickflip to your feet. We were doing kickflips but we had heard about somebody ollieing and sticking it. So we were like, “Oh, we have to go try that.” So we went to the stage, and we were there for like an hour. I half ass made one, but my foot hit the nose, and my back foot didn’t stick, but I made it. Two tries later, Stranger had it. That was the first time I ever saw it. He snapped his ollie and kickflipped the board as his rotation was ending and the board came up and met the bottom of his feet. Pow! Both his feet stuck and he just landed. I remember that moment, like, “Fuck!” Everything changed. From then on, there was no more ollie-ing and letting your feet go. It was ollie and make your feet stick to the board.
Yeah, that was good.
Everything changed. You were right on the point of all that. You remember all that?
I couldn’t even slappy. I was still trying to learn how to slappy. I could kickflip, but I couldn’t slappy.
Oh, how’s that? That was the beginning of the end of street skating, I thought, when kids were learning to bypass certain tricks, which I thought were important. Turns out, they weren’t. I’d say the only trick we really made up around here that stayed around was some of the wall ride shit. It’s still going now.
I see a lot of wall rides in Europe too. I see people getting on walls as high as they can jump and put a little pressure on to get on top. I’m like, “Wow. Yeah!”
We made that trick up here, and Stranger and all you guys advanced it, like Tim Jackson. What did you think of Tim Jackson?
Tim Jackson was like a beast. I hung out with him every day almost. It was the best of both worlds. You had the real Venice core and then you had somebody that had his own complete style that was Venice.