‘I really think East Coast Skateboarders have a better work ethic and are more closely related to the European skate scene than California’s.’
Can you tell us something about Boston no one knows?
There was a Great Molasses flood in 1919, 2.3 million gallons burst free from a giant storage tank and a 25 foot tall wave rushed through streets at 35 MPH killing 21 people and wrecking things in its path.
You were born in Los Angeles. When did you move to the East Coast and why?
I was yes, I moved to New England from California 8 years ago this April. I was ready for a geographic change of pace and was making monthly trips to NYC that I loved, my family was up for the move and Converse had been asking me to move to Boston and work for them, so we went.
Do you think it matters as a pro skateboarder or artist whether you live on the East or the West coast?
Sure, I think so yeah. It’s easier (or historically has been at least) being close to most of the skateboarding industry. I think it matters a lot less now though as there are lots of great East Coast Companies and the world is so much smaller, anyone can do whatever they want from just about any place. I don’t really think being in CA was ever a plus or advantage as an artist. I really think East Coast Skateboarders have a better work ethic and are more closely related to the European skate scene than California’s.
Anything you appreciate about the European skate scene you wish the US had as well?
The food, architecture/spots on the skate side and dump into that, the history, art, etc as inspo for the skate side of things.
What was the board company you were riding for and who were your team riders?
I rode for a few, but the one I have the best memories of was Small Room Skateboards. Tony Buyalos, Jay Sigafoos, Nate Lyons, Chris Watkins, Omar Atiya, Frank Hirata, Robbie Becker, Joey Pulsifer, Phil E, and Louis Carlton owned and ran it. I know there was more but that’s who comes to mind.
What was your proudest moment as a pro skateboarder?
I’ve had signature artist models, but never had my name on a board in the 80’s or early 90’s, Small Room didn’t do that sort of thing but honestly there were tons of folks better than me on a skateboard. We used to go to contests and I did pretty well in them usually, proudest moment… probably all of the trips and friends I’ve made and went on, those were and still make you proud to be a skateboarder, I love my extended skateboard family and feel super lucky to be part of it… I guess you could say that makes me proud.
‘Small, rugged, dedicated and honest.’
You have your own board company called ‘Transportation Unit’ for a few years now. What are the biggest challenges in running it? I can imagine there is a lot of non-creative, admin heavy activities that you need to do every day.
The biggest challenge for us is keeping stuff in stock, the last 4 drops we’ve done have sold out in 3 or so days, leaving us without product for weeks. We’re super small and are pretty conservative with the quantity of boards we order, we do hundreds, not thousands per model.
Where do you manufacture the boards?
PS Stix makes our boards, Paul and Jose take great care of us (always have), we’re lucky.
How do you pick your team riders?
All of our riders are great humans. Lots of folks are great skateboarders, but our crew is made up of Creatives (artists, photographers, designers, and musicians) who are super great on and off their skateboards and are people I appreciate and enjoy dealing/interacting with.
If you could pick any team rider, who would it be and why?
Justin Girrard circa his Circle A days, Ethan Fowler circa the Stereo days, Brian Ferdinand circa 1990, and today, John Benton, Ben Koppl, Shin Shabongi, or Aaron Herrington. Why, because they all get me hyped to ride skateboards, and have smart, no BS approaches to getting down on their skateboards, are super creative and original.
Are there any other board companies within/outside the US that inspire you?
5 Boro, Frog, Polar.
‘I think it matters a lot less now though as there are lots of great East Coast Companies and the world is so much smaller, anyone can do whatever they want from just about any place.’
In a previous interview you mentioned that you also have a desk at Converse as you run their skate program. What exactly is it that you do?
Nothing (laughing), left Converse last April, I did look after their global skate program though.
Were you like the Brand/Team Manager?
My official title (nerd stuff) was Global Director of Art and Skate Brand Marketing.
How would you describe the Boston skateboard scene and its community to a stranger?
Small, rugged, dedicated and honest.
What are some of your underground heroes within the SB community in Boston?
Jahmal Williams, he’s lived elsewhere forever now, but he’s from Boston and rules. Lee Berman is the man, Rob Collins is lovely, Tom Dupere is a G, Pete Talbot is whooowee awesome, Damion Silver has game, Nate Newton rules, man, there are too many, Andy Allen, Josh Jefferson, Ian Coughlin, Armin, TJ, Jared…
What are some of the other local skateboard brands in Boston/New England that deserve a call out?
Politic & Fancy Lad.
Any local skateboard-inspired artist that you follow?
Damion Silver, Tom Dupere, Josh Jefferson
‘The biggest challenge for us is keeping stuff in stock, the last 4 drops we’ve done have sold out in 3 or so days’
What are some of the challenges skaters face in Boston today?
There isn’t a ton to skate here man, I grew up in California, so I’m as spoiled as they come, we just don’t have tons, and it’s a knife fight to get what we do have. The weather means everything needs constant maintenance, upkeep, and that our spots are straight buried in snow or frozen for weeks at a time in the winter. Shoveling and blow torching for hours to bring them back to life sometimes for only a day or two. We also don’t really have any indoor spots, so in winter you’ve really gotta work for it or travel.
What are some of the challenges people (non-skaters, general public) in general face in Boston today?
Hmmm, I’m not so sure that it feels awesome being a person of color in Boston. It’s also expensive and if you’re a young or really creative person I’d say it doesn’t have nearly as much to offer those communities as a NYC or Paris for example. It’s a beautiful, highly educated, architecturally and historically rich city though, that is for sure.
What is still on your wish list?
An indoor boomerang ramp with corners, tiles and pool coping or a good kidney shaped mini bowl with tiles, and pool coping. Also, I’d like just one of my CA red curb spots to be transplanted here. After that, I’d like to do some more skate trips, I get lots of good art trips but could use some more skate trips.
Last question. If you could interview a person, who would it be and why?
Dead, Saul Steinberg because he was the man. Alive, David Hockney, because I’m sure he has loads of great stories. (art space). Alive, Mic E Reyes, because I have lots of questions, it’d be good. (skate space)
‘Also, I’d like just one of my CA red curb spots to be transplanted here.’