1. You've been freestyling long enough to see board shapes change and evolve. Today, we all skate different shapes. You settled on a good shape for your pro model on SANTA CRUZ. Tell us about the shape and mold that was used (...and the mild concave and upturned nose).
I was used to riding concave decks for freestyle since that was the blanks that I has access to at NHS. I would go down there often and hang out with Tim Piumarta (Mr NHS R&D) and would see what was new and he would give me free reign in the shop to do what I want. I got hooked on the concave and how stiff that would make the board compared to the flat boards. Concave made the Ollie flips so much easier. The mold that I used was the same as that was used on the Rob Roskop.
The shape was far more trial and error as you can be but it grew out of what would work best for the tricks that I did. The tail and nose were squarer to facilitate truck stands and 50/50 tricks. The rails were straight and started to curve just as you hit the wheel to make or stability while on the rail. There was more curve in the nose so I could flip from the rail easier. I never did that from the tail. In the second gen of the Snippy board the nose was rounded off more to make those flips even easier.
2. Your 'Snippy' deck had one of the wildest graphics. The second 'Escher' model had a completely different style. Give us a history lesson on both graphics.
The first graphic actually never even made it to production. It was a kind of stock drawing that they had that I did not like much and at one point I asked if I had to use that graphic and they said no. Here is where the details are sketchy. I do not know who came up with the Idea but it was not me. I was not thrilled to have a likeness of me on the board. After the response and how totally cool it was done I was fine with the likeness. Jim Phillips the artist was a genius with a great vision. It was the first full board graphic on a board that I know of.
All of the graphics were pictures taken of me by my friend Bryce Kanights at his house. Some were on his deck. I was actually laying in his bed for the shot of me in bed. It was supposed to be basically a day in my life. All through my pro career I had a full time Job fixing computers for Wang Laboratories (now defunct). I wore a suit and tie every day. The nose wheelie at the bottom was taken holding my actual tool bag that I used. To this day I still eat Skippy and drink Ovaltine.
For the Escher graphic I was turned on to him by a math book that I had in Junior College. I had never seen his work before and it captured me and I have been a fan ever since. Again I gave the basics to Jim and he ran with it. Another hit for me.
I was disappointed that there was no concave or upturned nose as they told me that the mold used on my first board was not in use anymore and they were not going to make a new mold for me since there was not enough board sales to warrant making a new mold.
3. You've been skating for INDEPENDENT trucks for a longtime. Correct me if I'm wrong as it's been a while. Did you tell me that you used to put coins between your trucks and board to weigh it down so it would spin faster during shuvits? Do you have any freestyle board 'hacks' to share with us? Describe your complete setup in the 80s?
Yes I did put quarters and at one point lead weights inside the cut out Cell Blocks. But that was short lived. It was when I had the Etcher board since it was much lighter than my concave boards.
For most of my boards I had cut down Indy 121’s since they would not break like the 99”s did. I of course road OJ freestyle wheels that truly were a great wheel. If I did not get the for free I would have bought them. Full grip tape most of the time. Hardware preference was Allen head counter sink bolts. The two that were where you stood on the trucks were longer. The top side had small screws along the nose and tail and a few located on the side to try and preserver the grip tape. I used a full skid in the back and a small cut down one in the front. Grip near the rear skid and Rip Grip on the nose (no Taped fingers). I used the hardest bushings I could get my hands on. Larger ones not coned. I would cut the thickness down a bit to get them to fit. Put capped washers on then thick flat washers and start cranking until they would barely turn at all. I did start loosening them a little in the last years.
4. How often do you skate these days and when exactly did you start to freestyle less after the 80s boom?
Most of my skating these days are just scooting to the bus stop to work and back. I have not been on a freestyle board since the summer. I am hoping to make it up to Vancouver this year.
My decline in freestyle was really in the early 90’s after I move out of San Francisco. I had spent most of my weekends skating in Golden Gate Park on Sundays skating. Life was moving on. I met my wife and I was having fun with the family life. That has been my passion now for 20+ years.
5. Tell us a few random facts about the 80s freestyle scene that will surprise us.
I am not really sure I can surprise you. But a good bit of the early freestyle scene in the 80’s I could not stand. A large amount of the skating was not skating. Some routines I saw, you could have used blocks for wheels since they did not roll much at all. As it seems to be now freestylers were a smaller crowd that stuck together and were there for each other and are more interested in cheering each other on then they are hoping that they fall.
The first time I saw Rodney skate it was clear that he was on another level of skating not just freestyle. He skated for 20 min plus not repeating a trick and not falling once. He has an effect on you. I was pretty my mesmerized.
I was truly am a lucky man. A case of being in the right place at the right time. I had dreams of being a pro skater for years. It only took me 12 year to make it.