Never Forget Mark “Monk” Hubbard – A Pillar of Concrete Skatepark Building

Today is Monk’s birthday and we wanted to share his last interview in order to pay tribute to his vital contributions to skateboarding. Thank you, Monk. Happy Birthday bro! We remember Mark Hubbard…

Mark “Monk” Hubbard of Grindline Skateparks. [1970-2018] The eyes are a window into a person’s soul. Since day one, Monk had a vision of the world unifying around skateboarding and he made it his mission to build skate communities around the world. His primary intention was always to give those around him a sick place to skate and to inspire them to continue forward into the future with building skateparks themselves. The mark he made on the world is grounded in concrete and his spirit lives on in everyone he ever encountered. Monk was humble and charitable, donating his time to building skateparks on Native American Reservations and much more. Monk leaves behind over 350 skateparks and we will always remember everything he did for skateboarding. R.I.P. Monk. Grindline forever. Photo by Arto Saari.

DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE: GRINDLINE SKATEPARKS – MARK HUBBARD

INTERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY

Monk was gnarly. He would hop freight trains to skate spots out of the Northwest and he had a true sense of adventure and a “whatever it takes” attitude toward skating and skatepark construction. He was a visionary, operating on an intergalactic level, building skateparks, which coincide with Milky Way star systems that created portals to the next dimension. In his view, the passion of skateboarders to see the world in another dimension makes our connection to the Universe profoundly unique. As one of the innovators at Burnside, Monk founded Grindline and proceeded to build some of the gnarliest parks he could conceive with miles of pool coping and endless trannys. He assembled crews of like-minded skaters building skateparks for skateboarders, always going above and beyond in order to build the biggest and best he could for the local skaters! He operated with a global vision, viewing skateboarders around the world as one big family, while spawning international Grindline co-ops around the globe. Monk was one of the most humble giving people I ever met, and his spirit lives on in every yard of concrete he put his hands on. His spirit is strong and I still feel it every day with all the goodness he put into this world. We remember Mark Hubbard. GRINDLINE FOR LIFE.

JM: Hey Monk, what are you doing right now?

MH: I’m just cleaning out the Jambulance.

JM: Proud of you. So we’re doing a story about DIY and I wanted to call you, one of the originators of the Do It Yourself movement.

MH: Nice.

JM: Before Burnside, where were you mostly skating? Were you in Seattle?

MH: Every winter, me and Pat Quirk would go on freight trains. That started in 1987, when I was 17. We’d jump on the freight trains because winters are hard and long in Seattle.

JM: Did you have destinations in mind?

MH: Yeah. The first destination was Shut Up and Skate in Dallas at Jeff Phillips park. We tried to go to the one in Houston, but Pat ditched me in Sacramento.

JM: Why?

MH: He was going to San Francisco. He was eight years older than me and I think he didn’t want to turn me on to the dark side. I knew of the Cage Ramp up in Eugene, so I hitchhiked back up to Eugene and went to the Cage Ramp. It was snowing and I banged on the door and Buddy Nichols and Davey Rogers and the whole Eugene crew were there. I didn’t know any of them, but I’d skated there a few times before and they were all skating. They were like, “The ramp is not really open yet.” I was like, “Oh, dude, I just got off a freight train, so let me in. I’m skating right now!”

JM: Did they know you?

MH: No. They thought I was a freak. [Laughs] I just rolled up with my backpack, so they were vibing me and they wouldn’t let me in the door. I was like, “You guys are skating. Why can’t I skate?” They were like, “We’re the locals here. We’re trying to keep it local.” I was like, “I’m on the freight trains. Let me in. It’s snowing outside and I just hitchhiked here from Sacramento. I’m skating now whether you guys like it or not.” I was not taking no for an answer, so I forced my way into there.

JM: [Laughs] Sick.

MH: I wasn’t that good. I was doing frontside 50-50s and fastplants and disasters. I think I learned Texas plants at the Cage ramp. I had been skating vert for two or three years, but they were ripping. Then I followed them home through the alleys and I was like, “Can I stay at your place?” They were like, “No. There’s this contest in town and our landlord is freaking out.” They were going to college there and their landlord was freaking out on everyone staying at their house, so I was like, “I’m going to sleep in the yard.” They couldn’t get rid of me. I just followed them home like a lost dog. I slept in the yard and the next day Ben Beebe showed up. He was from Seattle and he was going to the U of O in Eugene too. I had been skating with him at the Nature Ramp at Mike Ranquet’s, for a couple of years, so he was hyped. Those guys were like, “You know this dude?” He was like, “Yes! It’s Mank!” They were like, “Okay, whatever.”

JM: Did they give you a high five after that?

MH: No. They were still kind of vibing, so Ben took me back to his dorm and he went to the cafeteria and made me a brunch box. He called it ‘Mank’s brunch box’ and he was getting me all of this food. He’s like, “There’s a contest in Corvallis. Do you want to go?” I said, “Yeah, let’s go.” There was a vert ramp in Corvallis, which was about 45 minutes away, so we showed up there. There were all those dudes from Eugene and they were like, “Oh, here’s this guy again.” People from Seattle were there and they were like, “Mank! What’s up!” I won first place in the B division. They were all in the A division, but I won the B division. Then I ended up going back to Eugene with them and they gave me a closet off the kitchen for my birthday. That was a few weeks later. I kind of forced my way into their scene, and I lived there for like a year.

SKATEBOARDING IS FREEDOM, AND MONK LIVED IT AND LOVED IT! STYLIN’ FRONTSIDE GRINDER AT ONE OF MANY BACKYARD POOL SESSIONS! PHOTO © JOE HAMMEKE

JM: You were skating their ramp and living in their house?

MH: Yeah. I was skating the Cage Ramp and I got food stamps when I turned 18 and I got a job washing dishes. I hung out with those dudes, and they became my best friends – Buddy Nichols, Davey Rogers, Jordan Ferraro and Steve Wright. It was a rad scene. They had a whole bunch of vert skaters there, like Jeff Taylor. It was all the dudes from Corvallis and Eugene. There were two vert ramps an hour apart from each other and there were 20 dudes in Corvallis and 15 dudes in Eugene, so there were like 35 dudes that skated vert almost every day and definitely every weekend. Red would come down from Portland and, the first time I ever saw him, I was like, “Who is this dude?” We would both do backside lipslides and grab our tail on disasters. We looked at each other and I said, “What’s your name?” He said, “Mark. What’s your name?” I said, “Mark.” I was like, “Ok.” We just hit it off. He was driving the Dodge Demon and it was Mark and Mark from then on out.

JM: Sick.

MH: Those guys ended up finishing school and then I moved to Portland. Red said I could move into a closet in his apartment on Hawthorne in Portland, so I lived up above Bagdad Theater in ’89 with Kent Dahlgren and Red. I had a bass amp and we jammed and played Nintendo. Chuck Willis and Rico were there. It was a sick scene with Osage Buffalo and Bret Taylor and a bunch of dudes. We skated street and there was a contest at Mount Tabor, which was another scene. We’d go down to Eugene and Corvallis and that was the sickest scene in the whole Northwest. We had it going on in Seattle, but we’d go down there and, with all the dudes from Seattle, Corvallis and Eugene, there was like 50 of us.

JM: All vert skaters?

MH: Vert and street. We didn’t care. We’d skate whatever we could get. Red had a ramp up at his parents’ house and we’d skate that monstrosity. It was like 4 foot of vert with a foot of tranny. He used to do inverts on it and layback airs and grey slides. It was nuts. He had a couple of motorcycles. He had a chopper and a Honda Gold Wing and I bought the Honda Gold Wing from him on a payment plan. We were sitting around the apartment one night and Bret Taylor and Osage and Chuck Willis, and these guys were like, “We’re going to build something at Burnside under the bridge.” There was a slanted wall there, so they were thinking they’d build a bank up against the wall, and skate down there a little bit and just do wall rides. They were like, “We’re going to build a bank up against the wall.” We were like, “Cool. Whatever. Go for it.”

JM: Did they have any concrete building skills?

MH: Well, it doesn’t take much skill to mix up a bag of concrete. I don’t know if they had trowels or not. I wasn’t there. We were like, “Whatever. Knock yourselves out.” Then we went down there and skated the thing and it was rad. It was undercover and it was raining and we were like, “This is cool.” Then Red and I were like, “Let’s build a bank that blows this one away.” It was like bank wars. We started piling all this garbage up against the wall and we made this huge bank that was four times the size of their bank. It was like a mound with no tranny. Their bank had a little tranny and then they built another little bank. We were like, “Yeah. Your bank is cool, but we’re building a big bank!” We built our big bank and everyone was like, “That bank sucks.” We were like, “Fuck you!”

JM: Did you have trowels?

MH: I don’t remember. It was 27 years ago. I think Red had a little bit of experience. He worked at Parr Lumber. He’d kick holes in the bags and we’d get them for a buck a piece. Our bank was all good and they had a little channel going with two tranny banks. We went down there one night and we were skating it and there was a big ledge above the big bank. I don’t know who did it first, but Red dropped in and then I dropped in. We were like, “We dropped in off the wall! Our bank is sicker!” Those guys were like, “Our banks are sicker.” We were like, “We dropped in on the wall!” They were like, “What are you talking about?” We were like, “We dropped in on the Burnside wall.” They were like, “You can’t drop in off that wall. It’s huge! You’re lying!” We were like, “We’ll go down there and show you right now.” So we all went down there and we dropped in and they were like, “Whoa!” No one really had the balls to do it, so we kept doing it and then we put a curb at the bottom of the bank about 20 feet away. We’d drop in and go down the bank and then ollie up onto the curb and grind it. That was the run. You’d drop in on the bank and then grind the curb or board slide. Then we started stacking stuff up on top of each other and it was a pretty rad scene. We kept hyping it up and building shit and then Dahlgren started pickaxing a big circle. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m digging a bowl.” I was like, “You’re nuts! We’re going to get busted.”

JM: You thought they were going too big.

MH: Yeah. I thought we should keep the shit low-key. He was like, “Fuck you. You keep it low-key. Don’t tell me what to do.” We were all not against each other, but we were feeding off each other to see who was more hardcore.

JM: You were trying to say, “It’s rad that you want to build a bowl, but if you start digging, the spot is blown.”

MH: Yeah. I was scared. He had the balls to do it. He just kept digging and picking out the asphalt in a big circle. I was like, “I’m out of here.” I didn’t even help because I thought they were going to get busted.” Then we started building this brick bank over by the sidewalk. Then the cops started coming down and there started to be a little controversy with the business owners in the neighborhood. Then they started seeing that we were cleaning up the garbage and the bums weren’t hanging out there anymore, and we were sweeping up the needles, so they left us alone a little bit. Then other people started helping dig, and pretty soon there were the two little banks and me and Red’s big bank and the brick bank and then the spider web bowl. We started digging on that and that was right beside the sidewalk too. Red wanted vert on it, so he put cinderblocks on there. Then we went and stole some pool coping from this square pool and I put the pool coping on there. In Seattle, I worked for a swimming pool company, and I stole the pool coping. I knew about setting stone, so I set the blocks on the spider web bowl. We skated that and Dahlgren kept digging the big bowl. Pretty soon, there was a big hole with a big bump next to it because he needed somewhere to put the dirt. By that time, people started showing up like Germ, Little John, Dog Boy and Sage. Then it started to be a real scene. There would be 20 people down there skating and working. We built a bunch of shit and we were working at night pouring this pyramid type thing. We were using gasoline for light. Then Red got a little gas on himself and he grabbed this cup that he thought was water, and doused himself, but it was gas and he lit himself on fire.

JM: Oh man.

MH: Yeah. He went to the hospital and I went and broke him out and drove him around in the Cauldron. He was in ICU and it was pretty heavy. Then he got out and he was okay and we kept working and building. That was around 1991 and I had just turned 21 in October, and we had the one year anniversary of Burnside. We did all that in one year.

MONK WAS A NATURAL AND HIS LOVE FOR SKATING WAS CONTAGIOUS. MONK TAKES IT OVER THE POOL BLOCKED HIP AT THE WEST SEATTLE BOWL. PHOTO © MICAH SHAPIRO

JM: Gnarly.

MH: Yeah. Then I moved back to Seattle because I just wanted to go home. I was sick of living in Oregon. I went on some more freight train trips with Q-Man and we’d stop back through Portland and help them a little bit more. Red would come up to Seattle and then Troy Nichols started saying, “You helped with Burnside. I’ve got a project under a bridge in West Seattle at Schmitz Park. The Swim brothers started it in 1986. They dug this hole and threw some bags of concrete in there and they never finished it.” I was like, “I’ll finish it.” He said, “I’ll pick you up every morning and give you a bagel for breakfast and give you money to buy shovels and I’ll bring you materials and anything you need to build a bowl up there.” It was like a job. Troy supported me. I lived with Steve Benton in his warehouse, and Red would come up and help us dig, and there were people in Seattle that would help a little bit. We finally had the hole dug pretty good and I called Tim at Bay Sand & Gravel and Troy Nichols put up $200 to have a bundle of rebar dropped off at the top of the bridge. When they dropped it off, I was tripping. I was like, “Whoa.” I couldn’t believe it.

JM: How many sticks?

MH: It was 250 sticks. It was a whole bundle. It was less than $1 a stick back then. Now it’s $4 a stick. I was like, “How am I going to get this shit down the hill?” Willie, showed up. He was this street skater that heard I needed help. I don’t know how, but he showed up and helped me drag the rebar down the hill. Whenever I needed help, it just happened. Someone would show up and help. Finally, we rebarred the whole thing. I knew how to do that. We didn’t even put rebar in Burnside. None of that shit had any rebar in it.

JM: What was the fill at Burnside?

MH: We were filling it with empty milk jugs and grass clippings. It was garbage. You have to build on something. You can’t just make it solid concrete.

JM: Right. You have to use tires or whatever.

MH: Yeah. We didn’t know nothing about compaction. It was all about trees, wood, grass clippings, milk jugs, diapers, garbage, dog shit, chain link fence and whatever we could find. In the early ‘90s, all that shit at Burnside was built without any rebar. Burnside didn’t have rebar until after Lincoln City. Even at Lincoln City, I had to talk Red into using rebar. He didn’t want to use it there.

JM: Why not?

MH: He worked for a flat contractor. He could actually finish pretty good and he asked me, “Rebar or no rebar?” I said, “Rebar.” He was like, “Okay.” That’s because I built swimming pools, but I didn’t know shit about finishing. I knew about tying rebar and placing pool coping and fiberglassing swimming pools. At Schmitz Park, we got busted in 1992. The cops came and pulled their guns out and we dropped the trowels and the shovels. They put everyone up against the wall and we had a pretty big crew because we were going to concrete it that day. We had like 500 bags of concrete in the bottom and we were going to go for it and do it. Then the neighbors called because they saw 10 or 15 dudes down there. They had seen the bowl, by that point, because we had been digging on it for six or eight months. The cops cited us for destruction of Parks Department property and we had court dates and shit. We went to court and the judge was like, “Fill in the bowl and we’ll drop the charges.” It was like, “Okay.” Then I took off. I dug that thing, and I wasn’t going to fill it in, so I went on the run. I was on the lam. I’d take the warrant. I didn’t care. I rode my motorcycle to Eastern Washington, to where Jenny, my wife now, lived. She was my girlfriend then, and I hid out in Eastern Washington for three weeks. When I came back, the bowl was all filled in. I was like, “Fuck.” We took all that rebar and put it at Mike Swim’s mom’s house, and me and Swim got a house in West Seattle. We were driving around one day and we were looking for a place to move the new bowl. We found a place over off Highway 99. It was another sketchy spot. We were driving around in the Green Lantern, this Datsun B210 that I had, and then we came back to the Landon house, on 23rd Avenue in West Seattle, and there was this kid lying in the middle of the street petting our cat. He looked familiar and he was like, “Hey, what’s up? Is this your cat?” We were like, “Yeah. You look familiar.” He said, “I saw you guys at the Nature Ramp in Renton.” We were like, “Do you skate?” He was like, “No, but I have some friends that live out there. I live across the street now with my uncle. What are you guys doing?” We said, “We’re building a skate bowl and we’re looking for a place under a bridge and we think we found a place on Highway 99. We’re going to dig a bowl. Maybe you can help us dig it.” He was like, “You should just build it in my uncle’s yard.” We were like, “Yeah, right, okay. Whatever.” We went inside the house and we were like, “That dude is a freak.” Ten minutes later, we heard a knock on the door. We were like, “Don’t even answer it.” Swami was like, “What do you want?” It was the kid and he’s like, “I called my uncle at work and he said, “When is it going to be done?” We were like, “He really said that it’s okay to build a bowl in his yard?” The kid says, “Yeah.” So we were like, “Let’s go look at his yard.” We were pretty sure you couldn’t even fit a bowl up there. We went across the street behind the house and it was this big huge lot with all these trees on it, and it was all secluded. We were like, “Well, it’s not under cover, but there are all these trees. Cool! Let’s just start digging and, if he freaks out, we’ll just go back to that other spot.” So we just started digging. We didn’t even meet this dude for a couple of weeks because he was always working. We’d sneak out when he was back because we thought he might bust us because we wanted to build a huge bowl, 12 feet deep. Pretty soon there was dirt down the hillside and going down the stairs. We had a big work party and, within a month, there was a six foot hole in there. The dude came out and he was like, “Hey, do you guys want something to eat?” We were like, “Yeah!” He made us salmon, potatoes, hollandaise sauce and brussels sprouts. It was this gourmet meal. He was kind of eccentric with this handlebar mustache. He was a part-time jeweler and a social worker. We were like, “Alright. It’s cool if we do this bowl, right?” He was like, “Yeah. It’s cool.” We were like, “We’re not going to fill it with water. We’re going to skate the thing.” He was like, “Yeah! I like skateboarding.”

MONK HAD BACKSIDE OLLIES DIALED AND, HE WOULD BUST THEM OUT IN THE GNARLIEST OF PLACES WITH EASE. YOU CAN HEAR THE POOL COPING “BONK” AS HE LOFTS THIS ONE. PHOTO COURTESY OF MONK.

JM: Was he an old skateboarder?

MH: No. He was a hippie from the ’60s. He was eccentric, but he was really nice, and he gave us these old Hang Ten skateboards. We didn’t know until later that he was kind of weird. We ended up going in and seeing his house and we were like, “Holy shit. It’s nasty. There were fleas everywhere and there was water under the floor boards. He had this dog named Mr. Chumley and he had these cats and he dumped piss out his window from upstairs. The water wasn’t turned on and he was just the crustiest, gnarliest dude. He let us dig a bowl in his backyard so, of course, he was nuts.

JM: [Laughs] Wow.

MH: Yeah. Red would come up and help dig. We just kept digging and lots of people came up from Burnside to help dig. Osage came up there. It was the Northwest. We had Burnside and we were digging bowls in Seattle. Troy Nichols was a big supporter and this guy David Forsyth that worked at Gullwing heard about the thing and he donated $1,500 to it. Eventually, we got up $2,000 to hire a shotcrete company to come in and shoot the thing and cut it just like a swimming pool. We rebarred it and then we hired Action Gunite to come in and shotcrete it.

JM: Was that the first time you’d seen people do that?

MH: No. I’d seen it because I built swimming pools before. I knew that we needed to shotcrete it because I wasn’t going to hand stack the thing. I wanted to do it like a real swimming pool. I didn’t know how to do shotcrete or even finish in 1992. Red was the only one that knew how to finish, and Gavin. Dog Boy was okay at that point, but I was just basically a laborer. I was digging and organizing. I was more of a foreman and rebar guy. I didn’t know shit really. I put it all together with everybody and we hired Action Gunite to come out. They had like four dudes and they put the pump at the bottom of the hill and pumped it up there and they had an air compressor and they shot it on the walls. It was gnarly. I jumped in the bowl and I was like, “Let me hold the nozzle.” The dude was like, “No, man, get the fuck out of here. It’s gonna kill you.” I was like, “No. This is cool. I want to do this. One of these days, I’m going to get a pump and build another pool.”

JM: Was he like, “Okay, dude, go for it.”

MH: No. He was like, “Get the fuck out of my way. You don’t know what you’re dealing with here. Go back to your house and let us do our job or we’re leaving.” I was like, “Alright, alright.” We walked away and they shot the thing and cut it and they didn’t seal it up or nothing. We came out and they were like, “Okay, we’re done.” We were like, “What do you mean? You’ve got to seal it up. We’ve got to trowel it.” He’s like, “No, just grind it and patch it.” I was like, “What do you mean?” He said, “Plaster it.” We were like, “No, we don’t want to plaster it. We want finished shotcrete.” He was like, “Finished shotcrete? You guys are idiots. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was like, “We want finished shotcrete.” He goes, “You can’t finish shotcrete.” I was like, “I’m going to go the bank right now to get an extra $250 for each one of you guys so you can get your trowels and get in there and start finishing.” They were like, “$250 extra? That’s a lot of money.” So they jumped in there and started doing it. I went to the bank and I came back and they had it somewhat sealed up. It was a little lumpy and bumpy, but it was a pretty good job. It wasn’t like a sidewalk or nothing, but it was sealed up. They did a pretty good job. I gave them $250 each and the whole job ended up being about $2,500. So for about $3000, we had ourselves a pool. It was a big gnarly pool, like 11 feet deep.

JM: Sick! Was it 9’ and 2’?

MH: We didn’t even have tranny. We didn’t know what trannies were. We were just digging a hole with a radius wall and vert. We didn’t put a level on the wall. It was just primitive shit. There wasn’t a tranny in the thing. There was no flat wall. We just dug the hole and said, “That looks good.” We put the rebar in said, “That looks even better.” Then they shot it and covered the rebar and then covered it a little bit more and kept the shape. It was basically all cut by eye. They don’t do tranny in a swimming pool. They just eyeball it. It was winging it. It turned out pretty good because these dudes had done pools before. We were sitting around the bowl the next day, hanging our legs in there. We were like, “Holy shit. I can’t believe we did it.” It took a year to dig the thing and get all the money together. We had three houses in the neighborhood by that time. Smiley was living in the house across the street and we were living next door in the big duplex, and then Cody had his house. We were sitting around the bowl the next day and we were like, “When are we going to ride it? Let’s ride it now.” They were like, “No, dude, you’re going to ruin it.” I was like, “It’s concrete. It’s hard. Let’s skate.”

JM: It wasn’t still a little green?

MH: Yeah. It was a little green. It wasn’t white. After 24 hours, shotcrete seven or eight sacks thick goes pretty quick, and this was a whole day later. Troy says, “I’m taking the first run.” That was okay because he put up the most money. He was aggro about it and he supported everyone doing it and he was the motivator. He dropped in the shallow end and ate shit. I was like, “Fuck! I’m going now.” I dropped in on the other side of the shallow and I ate shit. We were like, “Oh shit. What did we do?” The shallow was tight. We thought it would be like a skatepark pool, but it was more like the gnarliest backyard pool ever. Everyone looked at each other like, “Fuck, man, we put all that work in and we fucked up.” It was an emotional roller coaster and everyone was devastated for a second.

JM: It was the big ego buster pool.

MH: Yeah. Then Mike Swim goes over to the pocket and he drops in and he makes it and then he carves around the shallow and then he goes into the deep and he does a backside kickturn and he goes up on the hip and everyone was like, “Yeah! No way!” I think he even got a little backside scratcher. Everyone was like, “Wow!” It was the best feeling in the world. It was like, “Yeah! We did it! It worked!” Swami showed us the line. You drop in the pocket. We didn’t give a fuck how gnarly it was. We did a bowl that was semi-skateable and we ripped the fuck out of that thing for years. Then Cody ended up moving out because we were raging in his backyard. We’d have 10 or 15 people skating back there and partying and barbecuing, and he was over it. One day he put a hose in the pool. I walked out there and said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m filling it up to go swimming.” So I went and got the hose from my house and I put it in the bowl and I was like, “Okay, let’s fill it up and swim!” Then he stopped and goes, “No. It’s going to be too much weight. It will be so heavy that it will slide down the hill and kill somebody.” So he pulled the hose out. I used reverse psychology on him. There had been some bad vibes between him and all the skaters after we figured out he was weird. We were respectful, but we didn’t give him the time of day. We were rebel youth. We were like, “This is our pool because we put $3,000 into it. It’s our backyard now. We are taking over. This is our world and we are going to take it.” We didn’t care if it was his land. This is what we wanted and we worked hard for it. We didn’t care about money or jobs. We just needed a place to skate where we didn’t have to relayer a ramp every year. We wanted roundwall and pool walls and pool coping. We wanted to wear down our trucks, so we were ripping the shit out of that thing. Then Cody moved down the street with this art lady. She ended up buying a house in Hawaii, so he moved to Hawaii with her. Me and Rabbi started staying in the house, and Rabbi moved out from Milwaukee. We met him at the Turf.

JM: Killer.

MH: I told him we had built the bowl and had this killer place and we were going to start this screen printing company together. We were squatting in Cody’s house. We dug a bowl in his backyard and chased him out of town. He moved to Hawaii and we took over his house and we were going to live there forever. It was our house now. It was like a hostile takeover and we were going to concrete the whole block. We had five houses on the block and we were renting a couple of other houses. Ellery Dodson was renting the house down the street and we were digging a bowl in that backyard too. The landlord was like, “What are you doing?” We were like, “We’re digging a pond.” He was like, “Okay.” We were renegade. We didn’t care. Then the art lady came back from Hawaii and said, “Cody sold me his house.” I said, “I’ll rent it from you.” She said, “I think I’m going to sell it, but he said that you are a good property manager.” I had three houses in the neighborhood in my name and I was subletting them. I was trying to start Skatetown USA and I wanted to build a bowl in every backyard. I said to her, “Yeah. I sublet a couple of places. Why?” She said, “I have the Union Hall down at the end of the street and I want to see if you could rent that out for me and manage it.” So we went down there, and it was only a block away from the bowl. We walked inside and I was like, “This is pretty nice.” Then we go upstairs and there’s this 30’ x 40’ room with 16 foot ceilings. In the peak it was 16 feet. I was like, “You could build a vert ramp in here.” She was like, “Do you want to rent it?” I was like, “Can I build a vert ramp in here?” She said, “Sure.” I was like, “Okay. I’ll rent it. How much?” She said, “$1,500 a month.” I said, “Deal.” I went back up to the bowl to the house where we were staying and there were like eight guys living in the house and I was like, “We’re moving down the street to the Union Hall and we’re going to build a vert ramp in the Union Hall.” They were like, “What are you talking about? How much is it?” I said, “It’s $1,500 a month.” They were like, “How are you going to get that?” I was like, “Gallardo and Tom P are going to live there.” I started naming off dudes that were going to live there. We were going to get eight people each paying $200 a month. They were like, “I’m not living with Gallardo.” I said, “We are dude. This is what we’re doing. You don’t have a choice because all the shit is in my name and I’m forcing Skatetown. It’s fuckin’ happening. We need an indoor vert ramp.” They were like, “Okay, let’s go see this thing.” So we went down there and we built a 9-foot tranny with a foot of vert, 24-foot wide vert ramp in the top of this house a block away from the big bowl. We were digging another big pond in Ellery’s yard and Mike Sanders lived up the street in another rental house. We had the bowl house, the slanted house and the duplex and the ramp house. Davey Rogers lived in the brick house down on the corner above the Teriyaki place. We had eight houses in a two block radius full of skaters. There was a mini mart down there and we had a pool and a vert ramp and we were building snake runs down the sidewalks. We were going to take over the neighborhood. Then the art lady sold the bowl house to this old dude. He was like, “What is that bowl?” I said, “I built that bowl. That is my bowl.” He said, “I’m going to fix this house up and sell it.” I said, “I’ll help you fix it up for free and then you sell it to me.” He was like, “Okay.” So he carried a contract with me and I bought my first house, the bowl house. I took it over for nothing.

MEGA SWEEPER AT MONK’S BACKYARD INDOOR VERT FACILITY. PHOTO © MARSHALL STACK

JM: No way.

MH: Yeah. We also had the ramp house going for a few years and then she kicked us out because there were 13 broken windows and we were raging in there. I ended up moving back to Portland with Bryan Bean and Pigpen and Neil and I did screen printing for Palace a block away from Burnside. I lived there for a year, but I kept the bowl house. The Northeast has always had this renegade scene where we’re all trying to outdo each other.

JM: This was all pre-Grindline, right?

MH: This was 10 years before Grindline. This was the early ‘90s. Grindline didn’t start until 2000. In 1999, skateboarding was declared a hazardous sport in California and the rest of the country followed suit, where if you’re a land owner or a city, you’re immune from any lawsuits because skateboarding is lumped in with motorcycle riding and hazardous sports, so you can’t sue if you’re doing it. Lincoln City had a little bowl park and they got ahold of Red because of Burnside and he called me up and said, ‘Lincoln City wants a skatepark.” I was like, “Oh yeah? Cool. I don’t have much money, but I’ll help.” He said, “No. They’re going to pay for it.” I was like, “What do you mean they’re going to pay for it?” He said, “They’re going to buy the materials.” I was like, “Are you serious?” I was like, “Rad. Well, I had just had a kid, Kaya.” She was two. I had her in ’97. I was like, “Maybe I can get a job down there or something.” He said, “No. They’re going to pay us to build it.” I said, “Bullshit. They’re going to pay us to build a skatepark and buy us the materials?” He said, “Yeah.” I was like, “Suckers!” We felt like we were getting one over on them because we had been building shit with our own money for ten years.

JM: Yeah. You’d build it for free.

MH: We were going to build it for free, but they were going to pay us $7.50 an hour. I was like, “Yeah!”

JM: Did you and Red form a company?

MH: No. We worked for Lincoln City Parks and Rec as employees. We worked for the Urban Planning Department for Ron Ploger. He was the Urban Planner and he used urban renewal funds to raise money to fix the skatepark up. He had $80,000 and we built a 10,000 square foot park. We had Sage out there, and there were a couple of local Lincoln City dudes, and Red and me. Geth Noble showed up. He did some shit in southern Oregon, down in Ashland and Medford, so he showed up and helped us. We had this little crew and we built that park and Thrasher put it on the cover and said, “Gnarliest Skatepark in America – Lincoln City.” After we were done, it was like our lives were complete. We built a skatepark in less than six months, and it was the most rewarding feeling. We actually got to build a skatepark and design it onsite. It was sick and it was going to be there forever. I could go home and die now. Mission complete. We built Burnside and we pulled off the bowl in West Seattle and the ramp house and we made it happen. I was 29 years old and I was pretty sure, in the year 2000, with Y2K, we were all going to die anyways. When we didn’t, it was like, “Bring it on.” A couple of weeks went by and Red called me up and said, “We got another park in Newberg. It’s going to be 30,000 square feet.” I was like, “No way. Are they going to pay us again and buy us material?” He said, “Yeah!” I was like, “No way. We’re going out with a bang on this one.” I went there and camped in my car and lived on site and we built Newberg. It’s got ten and two walls with a capsule bowl and a snake run. By then, I was learning finishing. In fact, at Newberg, Red said I was the most improved finisher.

JM: Was that the first time you finished?

MH: Yeah. At Lincoln City, when I tried to finish, I fucked that shit up. It was bad. At Newberg, I finally learned, after 270 yards of concrete. It was a lot of mud. I had to learn or they were going to get somebody else. I had to step it up and step out of my comfort zone and do it. You learn a lot pouring 30,000 square feet. Then we got Aumsville. By that time, Red was an expert finisher. We made Aumsville just butter. He was like, “Nobody touches it until we scrub our brains out. There is going to be no lumps. It’s all about the perfectly consistent surface, glass factory. We honed in our skills and Red showed us how to be concrete experts.

JM: Did you guys take more time on that?

MH: No. What you do is you cut and screed it and don’t seal it up. You wait for it to get hard and then you jump on with your floats and scrub your brains out to fill the holes and seal it up. Then it won’t move on you. If you jump on it too early, you’re making lumps and bumps. If you wait, it’s better, but the longer you wait the harder you make it on yourself.

JM: Once you shoot it, what’s the time frame?

MH: There are so many variables to consider: every job, every mud, every area, the weather, the amount of moisture in the air, the amount of moisture in the mud, whether they bring it too wet or too dry, whether the dude is pumping it good or you have a bad operator or a good operator. There are so many variables that you can’t just say, “Okay, you have to wait this exact amount of time.”

JM: Was Red saying when it was go time?

MH: Red would put this little monkey on the form and say, “That’s the ten minute monkey. Nobody touches the wall until I pull the monkey off.” We would be standing there biting our fingernails like, “When are we going to pull the monkey off?” He knew the timing. That’s the hardest thing to get. You have to consider all the variables and use your experience and knowledge to have perfect timing. You have to consider what kind of sub terrain there is. Is it gravel or crushed rock? Are there additives in the cement? There are a million different things to take into account. You have to have time and yards underneath your belt to know what to look for. I can’t even explain it. You have to experience it for yourself.

MONK’S TEXAS PLANT WAS HIS GO TO GNARLER AT ANY SESSION WITH SOME VERT AND POOL BLOCK. PHOTO © JOE HAMMEKE

JM: So that can make or break a park, right? If you don’t have a foreman with good timing like that, then you could really fuck up the finishing of the park, right?

MH: You could fuck up a lot more than that. You could not brace off your wall right and it could fall in on you. You could have spent 16 hour days getting to it and not tied your rebar off right. It’s not rocket science, but it ain’t easy. There are a lot of things that we’ve learned over the years to make the quality of the parks you see out there today. You can’t just build parks and do it like we do it. It takes 20 years of experience to know what works and doesn’t work. You have to have made every mistake in the book because you have to learn by experience. You have to learn the hard way. They call it concrete because it’s hard. There are three things with concrete. It’s going to get hard. It’s going to crack. The best thing is that, when you’re done, nobody can steal it. It’s going to crack every six to eight to ten feet, so you have to have controlled construction joints to control the cracking and make it look good, so it’s not jagged. There are lots of different things. You can’t even begin to tell someone how to build a skatepark. You have to do it yourself and learn the hard way. That’s the only way to do it. By the time you get to where we are, we’re going to be eons ahead, and we’re still learning. There’s no way to master it. It only gets better and better and better. You never master it. You can always get better. It’s like skateboarding. You’re never done learning.

JM: So that goes to my next question. You’re DIY. You and Red were like, “Let’s just do this.” Have you been on other scenes like that? Obviously, working with Grindline, you’re building skateparks and you built Burnside. Were there other DIY scenes like that where you helped show the locals how to do it themselves?

MH: Well, we inspired all that shit. Those guys were inspired because we did it first. We didn’t really go around handing out lessons. We worked our asses off to get where we are today. We’ve been in the mud for years and years. You can’t just give that shit away to somebody. It’s not a secret, but you have to learn for yourself. Otherwise, you can talk until you’re blue in the face and it’s not going to sink in until they lose a pour and lose their mud and have a giant fallout. When I worked for Johnson Western Gunite in between parks, from 1999 to 2002, doing shotcrete on pure vertical walls, I learned a ton. That job is hell on vert.

JM: What were you guys doing?

MH: We were building vertical walls and retrofitting seismic upgrades and top downs under overpasses. They do the soil nail and shotcrete and screw the plates on there for slope stabilization. We’d do parking garages and the Capitol building. It was top notch up to an 1/8 of an inch tolerances where the shit has to be perfectly vertical with the perfect finish. When you’re shooting vertical all day, there is no flat. There are no trannys and no flat. It’s vertical all day long. I learned more from that than I learned from doing flat work.

JM: Was that pure shotcrete?

MH: Yeah. That was just doing shotcrete. Me and Mike Swim and Rabbi and Jay… When I came back from Lincoln City, to the big bowl, those guys, Jay and Rob and those dudes in West Seattle were digging the Butter Bowl next to the big bowl. They were like, “We’re building skateparks too.” I was like, “Yeah.” I’d go to Oregon and they were like, “Every time you go to Oregon and build a sick park, you come home and there’s another five parks in Seattle that suck.” I was like, “Fuck. It’s not like I have a choice. I’m just learning.” They were like, “We’re digging the Butter Bowl.” Red came up and started helping dig that thing, and we rebarred it. Then Eric Dawkins helped us set the top forms. We spread the knowledge around amongst them. Mike Swim helped with Ashland, Talent, Jacksonville and Medford. He’s a West Seattle local and he was up at the big bowl and the Butter Bowl. We had everybody from Southern Oregon, Portland, the Lincoln City crew and West Seattle at the Butter Bowl. We poured that in one day with 30 dudes. With the big bowl, I had called Action Gunite to have them shotcrete it, but they were too busy to do the Butter Bowl, so I called Johnson Western Gunite. The guy was like, “I’ll come out and take a look at it.” He came out and he was like, “Oh, cool, a skateboard bowl.” I was like, “Yeah. We built this monster in 1992 and this is 2000 and we’re doing the Butter Bowl. He was like, “Okay. For $5000, I’ll shoot this thing and cut it and you guys can help finish it.” I said, “$5,000? I’ll get Ralph’s Concrete Pumping over here to pump it and we’ll just hand stack it for $200. I’m not paying $5,000 to pour a pool.” I had just built Lincoln City Skatepark and we hand stacked the whole thing. There wasn’t shotcrete in it. We started using shotcrete at Newberg. The Butter Bowl was in the time frame between Lincoln City and Newberg, so when the guy said he’d shotcrete the Butter Bowl for $5,000, I was like, “Fuck you. Get out of here. We’ll hand stack it.” He was like, “You’re going to hand stack this?” I was like, “Yeah.” The guy says, “Call me when you’re done. I want to take a look at it.” I was like, “Get the fuck off my property.” He left and we called Ralph’s Concrete Pumping and it cost $200 and the guy came out and pumped it and we hand stacked it. We had 30 dudes and it was hell, but we pulled it. It was really good. Red and all the Lincoln City crew and the West Seattle crew and the Southern Oregon crew was there. It was epic. We pulled it off and set the pool coping. We got Penrose and then I was like, “You know what? I’m going to call that motherfucker.” So I called Johnson Western Gunite and I said, “This is the dude with the skateboard bowl. We hand stacked it.” He said, “Oh yeah? I’m going to come take a look at it.” I said, “Come on over.” He came over and he was like, “You hand stacked this? Bullshit.” I said, “Here’s the receipt from Ralph’s Concrete Pumping. I saved $4,800 motherfucker.” He was like, “This is a damn good job.” I said, “That’s right.” He said, “Do you want a job?” I was like, “Yeah.” He said, “Come on down tomorrow and we’ll get you on the crew.” So I went down there and started finishing vert walls and they were impressed because I had I learned a lot with Red. They were like, “Do you have any buddies?” I was like, “Yeah.” So I got Jay, Rabbi and Swami working for them. We were the skaters. We were the finishing crew. They were like, “Get the skaters out here!” We got into the union and we were running shit in Seattle. We were building a bunch of shit.

JM: So they had you on the hose?

MH: No. We were finishers. We’d cut and float and finish and make it look good. They were like, “You guys are over doing it. You’re not going to skate the thing.” We were like, “This is how we do it.”

JM: [Laughs] You were making it glassy, huh?

MH: Yeah. We worked for them for six or eight months. Then they said, “Hey, there’s a skatepark coming up for bid and we were thinking about bidding on it.” I was like, “Do it.” With the jobs with Red, there was always time in between, so it was hard to keep going. By this time, I had a four year old and a house payment. Y2K was over and we were obviously going to live through the new millennium. I wasn’t expecting that. I expected to die when I was 30, but that didn’t happen. So I was like, “You bid on it and I’ll be the foreman and we’ll change the design.” Purkiss Rose, the golf course designer, designed it and I crumpled up the paper and ripped up the plans the first day. I blew the budget so bad that, after we were done with that park, he was like, “You are never running another job for me.” I was like, “Well, we have another job on Bainbridge Island.” He bid on that one and we got Morris Wainwright, who was another dude that moved to the West Side. By that time, we had the ramp house, two bowls in two backyards and a vert ramp and eight houses in the neighborhood. We were still building Skatetown and we were working for Johnson Western Gunite building skateparks. In between that, I’d go and help Red on Lincoln City, Newberg, Aumsville, Redmond, Oregon, Hood River and Brookings. By that time, I was thinking that I have to go my own way because every time I’d come home to Seattle, there were another five shitty parks built. I was like, “You take Oregon and I’ll take Washington and we’ll go off. The Northwest will have the best skateparks in the world.

POOL COPING IS ALWAYS THE MANDATORY COMPONENT ON ANY GRINDLINE BUILD AND IT’S BEEN THE KEY TO CHARACTER BUILDING FOR ANY HARDCORE POOL SKATER! MONK LOCKED HIS BACK TRUCK INTO MANY A POOL BLOCK, AND HAD NO FEAR OF LOCKING IT IN FOR A HOT SECOND, THEN GRABBING THE TAIL FOR FREEDOM!!! LOCK AND GO, ROLL IN!!! PHOTO © MARSHALL STACK

JM: Was he down for that?

MH: Well, we struggled at first to figure out how we were going to do it. Rabbi and Jay and my buddies in West Seattle wanted to work building skateparks too, and I wanted to put it all together. I was like, “We need skaters to build skateparks.” He just wanted to keep one crew so he could have control over the quality. I was like, “We can have control over the quality, but we need more than one crew because for every one park that we build, the landscape architects and general contractors are building ten parks. We’re going to have this little niche and we’re going to build 50 parks in our lifetime, but pretty soon the construction industry is going to catch up with us and we’re going to be left in the dust.” We butted heads about that for a little bit. Then Warren Miller came out to Bainbridge Island and he said, “Who is the guy that sleeps in his car and builds skateparks named Monk?” I was like, “That’s me.” He was like, “I used to sleep in my car up in the mountains. I like that.” He goes, “I want you to build a skatepark on Orcas Island for Scott Stamnes.” Scott Stamnes, my buddy, lived in West Seattle across from the bowl and he went to France and got hit by a car and died. His mom lived on Orcas, and Warren wanted to do something for the kids on Orcas because it’s kinda reclusive out there. He said, “The kids need a skatepark because there’s not much to do out there, so we’re going to build the Scott Stamnes Memorial Skatepark.” I was like, “I’m you’re guy because Scott Stamnes was my buddy. We were really tight.” He was like, “Okay.” So I went up there and I had my buddies from West Seattle, Rabbi and Jay and those dudes, and Shags, and then I called Red.

JM: When did Shags get in on the scene?

MH: Shags was working for the concrete company too. The very first skatepark we did for the shotcrete company was me, Shags, Jay and Rabbi. That was the crew. So we went up to Orcas with those dudes and then I called Red, because I was like, “I’m going to put this program together and we’re going to do this.” It was going to be Dreamland Design and Grindline Construction. I had this vision to put the whole thing together and me and Red were going to be partners. He came up there and we built Orcas and the Lincoln City dudes were like, “What happened? I thought you were on our crew?” I was like, “These are our guys.” They were like, “Well, we just want to keep it tight.” I was like, “I want to explode and blow this shit up.” I told them my reasons and they told me their reasons and, to this day, we still talk about merging, but we can’t. We’ve come too far in our separate ways. We’re still best friends and we still skate and we still support and feed off each other. We just keep trying to raise the bar at every park that we get. We built Orcas together and it’s one of the best parks in the world if you ask me.

JM: There’s a lot of pool coping out there.

MH: Yeah. The design is really killer too. Then Red went and did Haley. Before Orcas was over, the phone started ringing and we got West Linn, and we went off there and blew the budget. We blew the budget on the first ten parks that we did.

JM: Why did you blow the budget?

MH: It’s because we’d build every park like it was our last. That’s the way I live. You can’t expect tomorrow. The only thing that’s certain is change. It’s just too good to be true. You better make your mark now while you have the chance. I don’t give a fuck about money. It’s just paper. If you just keep going and keep having a positive attitude, you’re going to pull it, and we did. We kept digging holes and filling them in with concrete across the country. We went from West Linn to Trinidad, Colorado, to Nags Head, North Carolina to Oneida, Minnesota and Cody, Wyoming and Spokane, Washington. Within a year, I had five jobs going at once. Shags, Rabbi and Jay and I were all foremen and we were competing against each other to make the sickest parks. We called it skatepark wars. Shags was like, “I’m building the sickest park.” I was like, “You guys are going to shit when you see what I’m building.” We were trying to outdo each other. Competition spurs creativity.

JM: Where were you guys getting your crews?

MH: The crews came from skateboarding! It’s a network. There’s an army of us. We all have the same qualities. We’re skaters, therefore we skate. You just find them. It’s like, “How do you find your gang of skate buddies growing up?” They find you. It just works like that. I think when you’re rolling down the road with frictionless momentum, that vibration gives off this frequency that we as skaters can feel and we are drawn to that energy. It all comes together and brings us into groups. It’s us against the world and it always has been. We coagulate together and use the energy of the sheer numbers of skaters. Even when skateboarding was dead, we found each other. When the tombstone was on the cover of Thrasher and vert was dead, that was when I was like, “This is the best thing ever!” I never wanted to be cool. I just wanted to roll and move and catch air and fly and be free. That’s when we met the real dudes. That’s when I started doing Hellride crew and we started going to Europe with all the Thrasher dudes and Joey and Cardiel and some of the best skaters in the world. I’ve never been really talented on a skateboard, but they’ve always accepted me because they see the passion in my eyes. They can feel the energy that I have to release. It doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s how hard you try. It’s been a journey. Every day is another day that just shows me support that we’re doing the right thing because we’re bringing these communities together and giving these kids a place to go and mentors at the parks. The older kids are teaching the younger kids the ropes and they’re giving them somewhere to go in this world where technology is going off the Richter Scale and you can’t even keep up. The only thing that really matters is this wooden toy with four wheels and aluminum axles and trucks and stainless steel ball bearings and grip tape. It’s primitive and it’s connected with the earth and the moon and the stars and the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s all intrinsic with nature. The Fibonacci Series and the golden mean and the flower of life and Pi and chakras are coming into play now. Skaters are real people. They are the only people that I trust wholeheartedly besides my family. If you’re not family and I don’t know you, I don’t trust you unless you’re a skater. I know that nobody sticks to skateboarding unless you’re real. If you just pick it up and throw it away, you’re just another one of the masses. If you’re one of the chosen few, the few are chosen.

JM: Speaking of trust, it’s super interesting that there are Grindline companies around the world now. There is Grindline Japan and Grindline Germany. You have Grindline building companies around the world, but you’re not affiliated with them economically. It seems to me that you’re just giving them the green light to build. Can you explain that to people?

MH: Well, these people that start DIYs like in Warsaw, Poland and Japan and Costa Rica, confide in me for advice on how they can start building skateparks because the construction companies and landscape architects have already taken over in their area. There are a bunch of parks that suck and there’s no answer to that because they’ve already built the parks and they’re being used. The cities don’t see any reason to change and let skaters build them. They don’t know that the parks suck. The skaters know they suck, so they start building their own DIY shit. I tell them to start Grindline Poland or Grindline Japan or Grindline Israel or Grindline Sweden or Grindline Costa Rica or Grindline Ecuador, so that they can take hold of their area and show their country what skateboarding is from the eyes of the skater, instead of general contractors and landscape architects trying to interpret skateboarding. The skaters need to show them what skateboarding is because they don’t know. We tell them to check out our website [grindline.com] and download the Skatepark Start-up Guide and I give them advice on going to their City Council. I say, “Go get a business license and start your DIY shit. You’re going to build something that is better than anything that’s out there in your area, so people are going to start to recognize that. If you have a business and you look professional, eventually, you’ll get hired to build a park. Once you start building parks and blowing the budget, everyone will know you’re in it to win it and you’ll keep going and then you make your company sustainable and you can shape skateboarding in your area of the globe. If they don’t, then it’s just like the Olympics. They’re going to tell us, “This is what it is. This is what it’s about.” No. We will tell you what it is and what it’s about because skateboarding is ours. We made it up. We made up this public skatepark scenario. There were private parks before and there might have been a few public parks before, but the renegade thing, we made that shit up and we’re going to follow through by having skaters build skateparks around the world and start their own companies because we need jobs too. Skaters need jobs. What else do you want to do if you’re not pro? Even if you are pro, it’s a short-lived thing nowadays. The kids are so good. I didn’t turn pro until I was 25 for Beer City. Nowadays, Grant Taylor was getting shit when he was nine years old because they have these skateparks. By building parks, we stepped up the level of skateboarding off the Richter Scale. You’re going to need something to do and you don’t want to slave your life away for the system. The only way to live and be free is to do something within the skateboarding industry. Construction is very creative and rewarding because you leave something behind for future generations. You don’t have to worry about looking back on your life and wondering if you did the right thing because you know you did because you’re leaving these monuments for people to fly around and catch air and be free and make up their own interpretation of skateboarding.

JM: So when we hear Grindline Poland, do you know those skaters in Poland?

MH: Yeah. I know those dudes. They are the dudes that built the DIY spot in Warsaw under the bridge. They are renegades. They built that shit and they do good work. They are master craftsman and construction workers that skate. They design well. Not just anybody can do it. You have to be the best. You have to prove that you’re the best to be able to take on the Grindline name.

JM: When people see that there is a Grindline Japan, you know those dudes. It’s not like just anybody can be Grindline. Those dudes know what they’re doing.

MH: Right. They confide in us and we teach them everything that we know about it to help them make it right. We’re not just handing off the torch. We’re ensuring that the quality is top level and vertical with pool coping and transitions and not a bunch of street plazas and Street League shit. This is real skateboarding. I respect street skating and all that but, if you’re going to be skating for the long haul, you’re not going to be jumping off stairs. I’ve been skating for 42 years and I jumped off my fair share of stairs but, at some point, you have to start skating tranny and that’s what’s going to sustain you for the rest of your life. I’m 47 years old now and I have a 13 1/2 foot tall vert ramp with 11 1/2 foot trannies and two feet of vert and we skate that and we’re going to be skating that well into our 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s, if I live that long. I can’t go hucking myself off a ten stair at 47 years old. I broke my ankle and wrist and busted hips and it just don’t work like that forever.

FOR A BIG STATE, YOU NEED TO BUILD A BIG PARK SO GRINDLINE WENT FOR IT AND BUILT ONE OF THE BIGGEST AND GNARLIEST SKATEPARK TO DATE IN HOUSTON TEXAS FOR THE TEXAS CREW! SPRING SKATEPARK IS 78,000 SQUARE FOOT AND IS THE LARGEST SKATEPARK IN NORTH AMERICA. PHOTO © LANCE CHILDERS

JM: Are there skatepark designs that you’d like to see more of in the future?

MH: I like big trannies, coping, hips and pockets. I like to have a little bit of vertical in every park. I don’t really agree with these mogul courses. They’re under bidding us because they’re not building anything over two feet tall. That’s cool for a year or two but it’s just going to be a dust bowl in a decade. You have to build something that’s sustainable and keeps people interested and able to progress and be moving forward and not stagnating in a cesspool. We have a responsibility to skaters not to tell them what skating is, but to give them the opportunity to take it to the next level. If you don’t have that then you’re holding them back from moving forward. It’s like not having an open mind. You have to have an open mind towards progression and longterm sustainability, otherwise it’s a fad and it’s just something that you do to pass the time. That’s not what it is to me and a lot of my friends. It’s a lifestyle. It’s something you do for the rest of your life. You started it when you were little and you do it until the day you die because it’s the only thing worthwhile. Skateboarding and the brotherhood and sisterhood of it all, the connection we have with all these people, I never expected any of this when I was growing up. I didn’t think I’d have this feeling when I was almost 50 years old of, “Wow, we’re doing it.” We’re taking every opportunity that we can on this earth to connect with these people. It’s something bigger than all of us.

JM: As far as skateparks are going, a lot are getting built these days. Is it leveling out or do you see it getting even bigger?

MH: I really have no idea because I didn’t expect any of this in the first place. Skateboarding does nothing but surprise me every day. It’s just something new. It’s something that you can’t put your finger on. All of this that we have been told about the laws of physics are wrong. They’ve taught us that we are trapped in one astral plane, yet we all have the ability to connect with all matter. They try to scare us into believing that we have only one existence. We are connected to the consciousness of all that ever was and all that will ever be. It’s so simple, but I have released all my inhibitions and I only rely on my interpretations of what I am channeling. I trust that the truth will be revealed and I will understand only if I forget everything that I have been taught. I just have to believe in eternity and the circle and raw, unfiltered, never-ending energy. The underground is the real deal, not the mainstream. We know what wizardry is when we see it. We have wizards in skateboarding. Some are gone and some are still here. We are lucky and ultimately blessed to have this time on the earth. Individuality is so unique. It’s humble and understanding and being open to other ideas and thoughts. We’re intergalactic, multidimensional travelers of space and time. You grab your magic carpet and fly around. You see frequency and vibration, grinding and sliding. It’s the wind blinding my eyes when I’m speeding down a hill and your eyes are watering and its like tears that roll down my cheeks and hit the ground behind me. It’s left in a wake of urethane and wood and bits of stainless steel precision ball bearings that are too small for the eye to see, floating behind us silently as we seek out a path of enlightenment guiding us through the endless connections we make, every day and night as the moon circles the earth. We are skaters forever.

JM: Yep. We’re all connected.

MH: I tell you, Murf. I respect you and thank you.

JM: I respect you too and thank for everything you do, traveling the world and building and inspiring killer places for generations to ride. Thank you for being a hardcore with a great vision and a great spirit, bro.

MH: Thanks. It’s our duty. We gotta do it different. We have to do something different than the mainstream that’s just following video games and technology. It’s not the answer. I’m not a hippie, but I believe that walking around barefoot keeps you connected to the earth. We’re disconnected and we need to connect. You have to realize the consciousness in everything. You have look at the sun and recognize its consciousness and recognize that it recognizes you and that it knows that you are recognizing it. Acknowledge that all matter has consciousness. Once you do that, you’re connected. When everybody does that, that’s when the global subconscious will kick in and we’ll be living in Atlantis again. We’ll be making shit out of giant stones like the ancient aliens. It’s going to be a whole other world of inter-dimensional, multigalactic-ness.

JM: Once we connect to that consciousness, we’ll be set.

MH: Yeah. The information is there. We’re in the information age and all you have to do is seek out what you want to know and you can find it out. That’s a pretty special time to live in. If we don’t take advantage of that, we’re just sitting around getting fat and gluttonous. Think of the generations that have lived before us and what they would think of what we have now. We’ve got to fix some shit. We have some work to do. There’s always been positive and negative energy and good and evil and there always will be, but if you’re not trying to make your neighbor’s life better when they’re hurting, then you are part of the problem. You’re not part of the solution.

JM: It’s greed and selfishness.

MH: Yeah. You have to let it all go. We don’t need all that shit. That’s not going to get us anywhere.

JM: Yeah. Skateboarding sets us free of that.

MH: Yep. It does.

JM: Like you said, when you’re going down that hill and the wind is blowing through your eyes, that’s when you’re connected. It doesn’t matter what car you’ve got and clothes you’re wearing. You’re connected.


MH: Yeah. That’s what always drew me to the brotherhood of skateboarding. The dudes I looked up to were dressed like scumbags. They weren’t necessarily poor or living on the street. They were just not materialistic. They didn’t want expensive jeans. There were other things you could do with that energy. There are other things you can do besides try to look good and drive around in a fancy car. I think a lot of skaters have their priorities a lot straighter than the majority of society. I’m not saying they are self-righteous about it either. They’re humble and they won’t even admit it. They want nothing more than to not be special. It’s like the dude at the skatepark blasting McTwists. Everyone freaks out and raises their hands in the air and then there’s a kid that learns a frontside grind and everyone does the same thing. They put their hands in the air and jump up. If you’re doing better for your level and you’re advancing, it’s just as rad. As long as you’re advancing, you’re succeeding. One isn’t better than the other.

GRINDLINE THE BAND IN THE PIT IN FRONT OF THE JAMBULANCE AT MARGINAL WAY IN SEATTLE. PHOTO © OLGA AGUILAR

JM: It’s all about how you want to progress and how that makes you feel.

MH: Yeah. We can all progress at different speeds and different levels. We all have things that affect us in our lives and we’re products of our environment. Nobody is going to progress at the same level because we all live in different environments. We have different styles and different influences. Variety is the spice of life. Take it from there. Keep doing what you’re doing. Good talk.

JM: What is your duty now for the future?

MH: I’m just hanging on and holding on because shit is just picking up speed. I’m just keeping my head on my shoulders and trying to make the right choices for every decision that comes my way. I think about making the right choice that is going to have the best outcome for everybody around me, not necessarily myself. I want the best outcome for my kids and my wife.

JM: Yeah. That was heavy.

MH: We’re getting down to business. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty.

JM: That was rad. Thanks.

MH: Yep. Thank you.

[R.I.P. Monk. Grindline forever.]

DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE RETROSPECTIVE WITH MARK HUBBARD

DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE: GRINDLINE SKATEPARKS

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

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