Neil Blender – Complete Interview

Neil Blender – Complete Interview
June 1, 2016 Larry Balma
Neil Blender gets lippy at the Buena Vista pool near Santa Cruz, California, circa 1984. Photo Billy Ruff

Neil Blender gets lippy at the Buena Vista pool near Santa Cruz, California, circa 1984. Photo Billy Ruff

Neil Blender Interview

 

By Larry Balma and GSD

(This is the full interview – Neil’s interview in the book is edited down to four pages including photos)

 

Neil Blender is one of the most revered figures in skateboarding history. Channeling Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Rod Serling, he’s lived his whole life as a work of oddball art. In the early 1980s, when sharp, professional deck graphics ruled, Neil was the first to put a homespun, surreal twist on it, and he penned some hilariously bizarre yarns for his Aggro Zone column in TransWorld Skateboarding magazine. Likewise in Skate Fate zine, Neil’s Mark Coonson comic strip foreshadowed exotic terrain and maneuvers like the ho-ho plant and skating handrails several years before it happened in real life. As if inventing tricks like the bean plant, no comply, jolly mamba, wooly mammoth and many more was not enough, Neil often blessed other people’s moves with funny, perfect names like the luggage terminal (Elguerial to tail). He was also the first to do front truck grinds on coping back when it seemed impossible. Neil’s sometimes erratic, always spontaneous behavior manifested itself in many ways: painting a cartoon face on a wall during a contest run, ripping tiny ramps inside a house, acting like a lizard on the flat bottom after a knee slide, pushing a silly rocket air over a little hump. Ultimately, Neil Blender’s lasting legacy inspires all of us to be as creative as possible, and to not take ourselves, or life, too seriously. And that’s what skateboarding needs now more than ever.—GSD

 

LMB: Where did you grow up?

blender-neil-ls

circa 1980 photo: Lance Smith

I grew up in Anaheim, near Ball Road and Euclid.

 

LMB: When did you get your first set of Trackers?

 

When I was really young, around 14, I had some Speed Springs, and then eventually Trackers just worked their way onto my board.

 

LMB: Was this before you got sponsored by G&S?

 

Oh yeah, I was just trying to get skateboarding working in my life, cutting out boards, no sponsors. Do you remember Brad Jackman? He got sponsored by Caster. He had a Tom Inouye board. He leaked it onto Skip Disney, who rode it for a year. The thing was battered. Then I got it, finally, and it was still rad, because it was a Fiberlam. It was so good! The Tom Inouye model is probably the raddest board even now—the shape, everything about it is good.

 

GSD: Was your first sponsor Powerflex?

 

No, my first sponsor was this dude who was trying to make a skateboard company called Dragon Skates. It was rad. He brought some boards down to the Big O, and he said, “Hey, man, I want you to try these boards I’m making.” So, I rode the Dragon Skate for a while, and then never heard from that guy again. Woodflex came after that, and then Powerflex.

 

GSD: Powerflex just made wheels, right? Or did they make decks, too?

 

Powerflex made boards at the time, too. Bobby Valdez had a model, maybe. I don’t know, I could just be imagining it. Yeah, in the beginning, their strongest thing was wheels. Everything had numbers. Road Rider 2, 4, 6. Powerflex 3 and 5, which were the ones everyone wanted.

 

LMB: When did you get on G&S?

 

In the summer of ’63 (laughs). No, I think it was around 1980 at a Big O contest. I’m not sure if it was a Gold Cup or what, but I had a friend named Dave Padorski who was on G&S. We’d always ride at the park together. The G&S team showed up, and Padorski was already sponsored. He said, “Hey, man, I can get you some Yo Yo wheels right now, if you want!” “Yeah, new wheels! I got some Yo Yos!” I was hyped. I skated in the unsponsored division, and I think I did good, because after the whole thing was over, Steve Cathey came up and asked, “Instead of just riding Yo Yos, do you want to be on G&S all the way?” I was like, “Yeah, man, let’s do this.” So, a box arrived a week later at the Big O with so much gear. Everything made by G&S was red and yellow. They still had that look going with the jerseys, but it was right at the cusp when they were getting rid of it, so all of this excess stuff was in their factory—all of those weird jerseys you’d see with the Christian fish logo. I didn’t know about the whole religious thing with them.

 

GSD: What about G&S Roller Balls?

 

Roller Balls showed up in the box, too. They were so rad! You could rock walk and slide around with them so easy when they were first out of the box. People thought Roller Balls were deadly, but they were actually rad.

 

GSD: They wore down pretty fast.

 

Yeah, they got an inch-wide strip after about a month, and got super slow. By then, they were like 47mm. They started out at 60mm, and then wore down.

 

GSD: Did you ever ride those G&S sparklers?

 

Speed Sparks? No, we took the flints from the package and someone showed us how to drill little holes into our trucks and drop in the flint. That was rad for a day, or a night (laughs).

 

LMB: Did you do a lot of demos and travel with G&S?

 

We traveled sort of a lot with G&S. We did tons of Powerflex demos with Gale Webb, the skateboarding mom, on the clear ramp with no flat bottom.

 

LMB: That was our old Tracker Ramp.

 

Was it? We rode the shit out of it at demos. That thing was deadly. It was rad, though.

 

LMB: Well, it was worse before that, because we didn’t know about roll out decks at the time. There’s a photo of Chris Strople doing a lapped-over rock and roll on it with no decks.

 

The top was so deadly you couldn’t do anything. Well, you could, but no one did axle stalls or anything then, so it didn’t really matter. The rock and roll was probably so scary right then. I remember it had PVC coping on it, too. Freddie Desota rode that thing a lot. I’ve seen him recently; he has dreads all the way down to his ankles.

 

BlenderBerdinesBrittain

photo: Grant Brittian

GSD: Talk about your Action Now cover.

 

I had Copers on there, right? That was a deadly feeling, seriously.

 

GSD: Did you mean to do a pivot, but accidentally did an edger?

 

Yeah, I remember James Cassimus met Billy Ruff and I at Lakewood. He said, “I’m going to take some photos,” and we were like, “Rad! James Cassimus. This is crazy.” We were skating around for a while, it was hot, and we were about ready to leave, when he said, “Do you want to do anything else?” So, I tried a little pivot by the [clamshell bowl’s channel] entrance. He saw me doing it and took maybe two or three shots, and that was it, they used it on the cover. I was like, “Oh my God!” I overshot the pivot, did a wheeler and it slipped back down on the Coper. I thought I was seriously going to hit my head on the bottom. I had on every pad, even wrist guards, but it was still scary.

 

GSD: How did Dick Tracy end up on your helmet?

 

I don’t know. It was a little puffy guy that came out of a gumball machine that I stuck on my helmet. We were into putting weird things on our helmets. We’d cut out things that looked rad, like logos of food companies from the time that didn’t even make sense. And then the Dick Tracy sticker looked pretty cool, so I just stuck him on there. I just kept him on and kept it going through different helmets.

 

LMB: So, in the early ’80s, was Whittier your local park?

 

Yeah, after Skatopia and the Concrete Wave closed down, the Big O came into existence and we started going there. Then Whittier got built at some point, and we didn’t go there for a while until we were kind of forced into it, just because there was nowhere else to go. Then we found out it was the best one. There was so much stuff to do at that park. It was rad, because no one was around. In the early ’80s, skateboarding just kind of died, and there were maybe four people in the park all night until like 10 pm. It was just madness. It was seriously so much fun that way.

 

LMB: Who were all of the locals?

 

John Lucero, Lance Mountain, Hagop Najarian, Richard Armijo and a ton of other dudes. This guy Barry Talbey was there for a while. He would do rad boardslides to fakie with his long frizzy hair. He was amazing.

 

GSD: Kind of like Jeff Tatum.

 

Yeah, it would have been rad if Jeff Tatum showed up, but he never did when we were there. Other people were there, too, like Darrell Miller and Ray Bones. They were over us, because we were always trying to get into their world. They’d be skating the keyhole and we’d say, “Let’s go see what they’re doing,” and they would immediately leave. They’d go out to their Volkswagen and listen to tapes or whatever, and then they’d come back into the park and ignore us more. It was good. Darrell Miller would get trucks from Indy, just put them on his board and not even touch the kingpin nuts. He’d put on the mounting bolts, the wheels, and go skate like the kingpin nuts didn’t mean anything. His trucks just got all loose and floppy, and it was great.

 

LMB: So, what was your favorite pool to skate?

 

We got into the clover bowl a lot at Whittier, just because it was smaller and easier to ride. It had an open shallow end and a bunch of flat. Remember that thing? It had an escalator, which was fun, the pump bumps. I wonder what it would be like these days? Your mind is different when you’re younger—the way you generate power and stuff—and everything works in a different method. So, in your mind, it looks so spread out, but in reality, the pump bump was super small and super dangerous. But, we got used to it, and we were just kids, so it seemed rad. Nowadays, I see pump bumps and they’re actually dangerous. At an older age, your body just doesn’t react the same. You’ve got to be really prepared for that shit. That’s why I like ramps, like the Lynnhaven ramp in Virginia. That was probably my favorite. It was unintimidating, just nine feet tall with six inches of vert. Nowadays, the ramps are, like, fourteen feet high and everyone has to go 90 mph. I don’t get it. It’s become dangerous. The Big O’s capsule was kind of fun, once you learned how to skate it end to end. Duane Peters showed everyone how to ride that thing. Ride it end to end, and you’d get seven seconds of flat bottom. It was the best.

 

GSD: Was it really quick side to side?

 

Yeah, like everything is nowadays. No one is going to understand it.

 

GSD: What about the Coper and Lapper?

 

Copers were hot. I don’t care what people say about them. They think Copers are for babies. “Oh, you got plastic on your trucks,” and this and that. But, seriously, how good is it to be able to grind and flow without sticking? It’s just non-friction, it’s just better. There’s a big thing about you have to be gnarly and it’s all gone back to just backyard pools. You can’t even have rails.

 

GSD: So, when Copers and Lappers went out of style in the late ’80s, did you keep using them, or did you get rid of them, too?

 

I didn’t use Copers anymore, just because the process of putting them on and off. Larry knows all about that. They were hot, though, because of the little plastic ring that came with ’em. You could grind into the plastic ring, which made it way radder, but then Copers just got phased out somehow. Tony Hawk and Lester always rode a Lapper.

 

GSD: So, you mostly rode Sixtracks?

 

Yeah, but when I first got ahold of Trackers, I had some Fultracks, but they were too wide for the board, and the wheels stuck out. So, I hack sawed the Fultracks on each side, hammered out the axle and shortened it, and it worked.

 

LMB: Well, you sort of made Midtracks out of them. The first truck we made was the Fultrack, and a lot of people were afraid they were too wide, and scared their feet would hit the wheels. We told them that the boards were going to get wider, but they weren’t having any of it, so we made the Haftrack, then the Midtrack, which became the most popular size for a while.

 

That’s amazing. I remember a picture of Duane Peters with long blond hair riding a super wide board (spreads out hands) with Fultracks.

1987-8-blender-neil-ad

Neil Blender, Tracker Ad August 1987

GSD: What was up with that board?

 

I know, that thing was ridiculous. You should interview Duane. He would have some hot things to say.

 

GSD: Did you used to ride the Tracker 757 deck on street?

 

Yeah, the 757 was rad. It probably had the best shape going. I would ride one right now. It’s just a basic, great street board.

 

GSD: You used to ride it at Sadlands.

 

Yeah, Moon Park, Sadlands all the way. The 757 was better, because it was just flatter. I didn’t think it was for skating vert or anything.

 

GSD: I splattered paint on a few 757 decks. So did Larry’s dad.

 

Mice! Damn, that’s right, amazing. That’s an obscure memory right there. Yeah, 757s were hot.

 

GSD: Remember the 707? You drew graphics for it with technical pen: some kind of clown karate chopping the number 707. That deck never went into production. So, tell me about Rick Strom.

 

Rick Strom was hot. Do you want me to pretend he was a real guy, or what (laughs)? Rick Strom made his own trucks, or he thought he did anyways. He was a degenerate cartoon character guy. He would always avoid going to school to skate the pool next door to his house. The coping stuck out both ways: upside down coping and regular coping that looked like the end of a bone. Rick Strom was pretty funny. He couldn’t skate too good, though. That was the thing, he kept saying he was learning stuff, like, “I’m doing it! I’m getting this! It’s on, man! It’s going to be so rad!” But, it just never panned out.

 

LMB: Remember when I re-enacted your cartoon strip at the St. Pete contest in Florida? I dumped a box of trucks on the ramp after the contest.

 

That’s right. Rick Strom was doing promo for his trucks. Man, you’re bringing up crazy memories. So, that was in one of his cartoons?

 

LMB: Yeah, you drew it: Rick Strom up on the deck dumping a big box of trucks into a frothing crowd down on the ramp. So, I filled up a big box full of trucks and took it back there. It was really Fausto’s contest, a Thrasher and Indy sponsored deal. At the end of the contest, Fausto got up on one side of the ramp and threw out a t-shirt, then another one. I climbed up on the other side of the ramp, dumped out the box of trucks, and everyone went absolutely crazy. I don’t know if anyone shot film of it. Fausto was standing there with a couple of t-shirts left, but nobody cared. I upstaged him. He left, got in his car and went back to the airport.

 

Rad! He actually got bummed.

 

LMB: So, we might want to run that cartoon in the book.

 

That would be great, I forgot Strom did that. Yeah, he was trying to promote Rick Strom trucks with that little metal Coper bulb.

 

GSD: And the axle stuck out.

 

Yeah, they looked like they would snap off if anyone over nine pounds stood on ’em.

 

GSD: But, they wouldn’t, because they were titanium.

 

Right, titanium axles. They probably cost about 90 bucks apiece. That’s funny, I didn’t know we were going to talk about Rick Strom. I could have looked for some Rick Strom cartoons to bring.

 

GSD: When you stopped drawing those Mark Coonson and Rick Strom cartoon strips for Skate Fate, was that the end of them?

 

I couldn’t say that was the end. I just moved on. I was always thinking I should do some more, but they always came out so lame. You’ve got to be prepared to do them.

 

GSD: Those drawings you did in the Alien Workshop catalog were super funny.

 

The guy who turned into a moth, or whatever it was, and the one about the guy going down to the lake [to look for head]. Yeah, I remember that. I remember other fake companies. In seventh or eighth grade, my friend Carl Weezer made this hot logo for a fake skate company called Loop. We’d pass cartoons back and forth, meet up after class, and he’d show me his new drawing of dudes riding Loop, and I’d have my guys riding Rick Strom trucks. That’s kind of how it got started. Cartoons are hot.

BlenderDelMarBrittain

Neil Blender Del Mar Skate Ranch photo: Grant Brittian

GSD: Did you like working for TransWorld Skateboarding?

 

The Aggro Zone was fun. I liked being able to know there was going to be a rad photo to look at. That was the ultimate thing when I’d look through a magazine as a kid, like, “Oh, my God! That photo!”

 

GSD: Sometimes you wrote these strange stories like the Gerbil’s Days.

 

That was just retardation, man. I look back like, “What was I trying to do?” It was a little weird when I start to look at it. I have to quit trying to do that.

 

GSD: Tell us about the lien air.

 

The lien air came about because John Lucero saw a picture in the magazine of this guy, Niko Weis, and it said, “wild Canadian air.” [With his front hand, he was grabbing the lower rail behind his foot on a frontside air.] John said, “Hey, look at this.” I said, “Yeah, it looks pretty lame.” John said, “Try it grabbing in front of your foot and you’ll be able to grab later, so it’ll be easier.” So, we started trying them, and Lucero was totally right. It was called the lien air because you have to lean in order to do them. Then [in an Action Now caption], D. David Morin spelled it like my name backward, so it seems like I got more credit on that one.

 

GSD: So, what was that guy’s name?

 

Niko Weis. I finally saw that guy skate in ’86, when we went up to the Expo. He showed up at the North Vancouver skatepark in that snake run and did 540s going high speed, just sliding through the bowl. It was the most amazing thing, honestly, I’ve still never seen anyone swish-swish-swish and just keep going as if a bug got in my way. It’s mind blowing. I tried it on the Del Mar bank when I got back, and thought, “This guys out of his mind, right?” That was a neat move. Duane does 540 slides straight up and down, no-handed, just free spinning like a pirouette on the wall. There was never a sequence of that anywhere.

 

GSD: Who invented the eggplant?

 

Lance Mountain or Eric Grisham? I don’t know. It seems like Lance’s maneuver, though. It seems like he would have made it up. What other moves are there? The gay twist was lame.

 

GSD: So, that one came about because you couldn’t do a Caballaerial [360 Ollie]?

 

Yeah.

 

GSD: Did you ever end up making a Caballaerial?

 

No, it’s really eating away at me now.

 

GSD: Did you try it for very long?

 

Yeah, I tried it for days, and then it was just too hard to figure out how to make the board stick to my feet.

 

1986-blender-neil-mtn

circa 1986 photo: Lance Mountain

GSD: So, did you ever try them a few years later?

 

No, I left it alone. I tried them again maybe around seven years ago at Clairemont. I just tried to get into the position, and it’s more understandable. I feel like maybe I could make one now, if I was lucky. It would take all day, though.

 

GSD: You and Lance couldn’t make the Caballaerial, so you started doing the gay twist?

 

Yeah, it seemed retarded when we did it. It was just like taking Caballero’s move and making it look really crummy. The way it felt, too, just struggling through the trick. We shouldn’t have even tried it. Cab is too hot at those.

 

GSD: Well, he was a lot smaller, so it was a lot easier for him.

 

Then there are half Cabs. People do those like they were water. Darren Navarette, people like that.

 

GSD: Do you remember the Tracker air? It was a mute air, but the Tracker name never stuck. I thought you might know the story of how it became the mute air.

 

Well, this deaf guy Chris Weddle who skated…

 

Lance Smith: He’s the guy it was named after.

 

I don’t know if he thinks that’s mean, or what. I think its cool.

 

LS: Oh, no, I don’t think it was meant to be mean.

 

Not at all.

 

LS: It’s actually a compliment to him.

 

GSD: So, you don’t remember how some people called it the Tracker air?

 

No, that might have forged its way into the Japan air. When they got gnarly with the mute, didn’t they start calling it the Japan air?

 

GSD: That’s when Tony Hawk tweaked them up.

 

LMB: Did you ever land a ho-ho plant?

 

I never made one. There’s no way. Ho-hos were too intense. Steve Schneer was an actual gymnast who was a skater. He was one of the first good guys I saw at Big O. Him and Duane Peters were the best dudes there.

 

GSD: Didn’t Steve Schneer also land the first frontside invert?

 

That’s right, he did it off the top, off the coping, the real way. Then El Gato came in right around that time. He may have seen Schneer do it, but Schneer was the first. Aerial Bertlemann. How hard are those things? They were impossible, right? But Schneer did the ho-ho. It was too hard. I didn’t know how to do that stuff.

 

LMB: You were so tall, which was a drawback to that trick.

 

I don’t know, it’s the switching of the hands: starting out invert, then standing on both hands, then going in egg, right? That’s how Schneer did it. He ended up walking around the deck on his hands. I think that’s why people started hating him for a minute. They would get mad at him, like, “The guy’s just a freak, we don’t care about him.” Little did they know, he was seriously rad. He had a trick called the hospital, which was a 540 egg right along the tile—a tumbling egg. He never landed one, but he tried them so long ago.

 

GSD: Do you remember the luggage terminal?

Yes, Allen Losi’s luggage terminal. It was an Elguerial [360 invert] to tail, right? Him and Eric Grisham were the only two guys I saw do fakie 360 taps clean, no wheel touching.

 

GSD: When you did the first front truck pivots at Del Mar in the mid ’80s, I had never seen anyone do that before. Did you ever see anyone else do it?

 

I don’t know, I don’t think so. That came from when we were drawing cartoons. Visiting hours.

 

GSD: Visiting hours was a frontside front truck grind, invented by an alien called the Visitor.

 

Was it? That was the new deal. They turned it into that name, I guess. So, maybe that was the trick. I don’t even know.

 

LMB: Curb slappies.

 

That’s John Lucero’s department there. He made up that whole thing. Those seem hard nowadays, like just a body jolt. People still do it. Slappies, that’s funny.

 

GSD: What is the jolly mamba? The frontside invert to something.

 

Yeah, frontside invert, and then you just turn it, so it feels more like you’re coming in opposite foot invert. Even though you’re going to fakie, you just try to make it turn into an invert.

 

GSD: And the woolly mammoth is?

 

Just fakie out to your nose, grabbing stale between your legs. Nobody has done one tuck knee. That would be hot. Or maybe they have. Henry Gutierrez has probably done them. Yeah, you know, hot moves. Just speaking of rad moves in general, like Allen Losi’s fakie Ollie footplant. That rates way up there, right?

 

GSD: Did anyone ever else ever do that?

 

Tony Hawk did it in Birdhouse’s first film: slow motion footage in the warehouse, so good. He’s the only other guy I saw do it.

 

GSD: So, what kind of art are you doing now? Painting, drawing, graphic stuff?

 

Yeah, just a little cartoonish, bigger outline painting style using brushes. I still draw with pens a lot. I usually do pen stuff for Vans. They use a lot of small line work and blow it up for t-shirt graphics. But, I do paint a lot, mostly with acrylics, just because it’s easier to clean up, and it’s pretty fine.

tracker-trucks-neil-blender-1988

Tracker ad 1988

GSD: Over the years, you had a website called the Heated Wheel from which you sold artwork. Why would the site occasionally just disappear?

 

I don’t know. I think it got put up wrong. I would go to pull stuff off of it, and it would just pull the whole page off. I never could check, because I didn’t put it together. I didn’t know anything about it.

 

GSD: Who put it together, your mom?

 

Duane Pitre did the very first one. It was pretty wild. There was a lot of graphic stuff on it. Then my mom did it the next time, and that lasted for about a year. Then I just got over it. With the amount of time it took to get things accomplished, I couldn’t concentrate on it.

 

GSD: Is it back up now?

 

It’s non-existent right now. There’s no website for it, but the name is still there. I make a couple of things and sell it under that name, under the moniker.

 

GSD: So, you still sell a little bit of art through it?

 

Just the name. I put it on things and pretend it’s real for a while. I eventually need to make it real. I have to start making some boards and t-shirts. I did a run of t-shirts with the logo and stuff, the trampoline guy. Did you ever see that one? He’s doing a flip in a sleeping bag on a trampoline. So, he’s just all twisted up. There’s no way he’s going to land right. I’m going to re-issue that one. I think I made, like, 50 of them. I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay, but that was like two years ago. What else we got? Micke Alba could do the best rock and roll shuffles, period. Slider shuffles. You know when you put your hand down and do rock and roll to fakie? That’s the best.

 

LMB: So, when you moved back from Ohio, you brought me that Sixtrack sculpture.

 

No.

 

LMB: Come on.

 

You see how messed up my mind is? Are you kidding me?

 

LMB: You said one of your friends put that together and you used it for a lamp or something.

 

Wow, I think this guy from Alabama, Neil Brown, made that. He took all of those hangers, and I thought he was going to use them for skating. That thing’s kind of odd, though.

 

LMB: It would be light if they were mags, huh?

 

Yeah. If someone could guess how many hangers are on it, they could win a prize. Put this up, like, 40 feet and ask them how many hangers are in there. How many do you think are in there, GSD?

 

GSD: A baker’s dozen.

 

Fourteen.

 

LMB: Do you recall any memorable times with Tracker?

 

I remember riding up North in one of your motor homes.

 

GSD: Probably to Joe’s Ramp Jam.

 

It probably was. Were you [Larry] involved in that one? You stopped at my mom’s house first in Anaheim, talked to her, and laid out what was going to happen, and she said, “Okay, well, you guys seem like a good bunch of people, you can go with them.” She was all afraid of me going. I was, like, 16, and we drove up there to San Jose. We came back and found ducks, all of these decoys, behind a building. It might have been a different time, I don’t know. I think that was the first faraway place I left my house to go do something, like, on a little trip with different people. So, that was super rad. And then G&S sent me to Florida to go ride a ramp, and my mom was all haired out about that. “I don’t want you flying there. I don’t know who you’re going with.” Same thing, I don’t know how I got to go to that one. That was fun, too. Those were the first few memories of getting to go places.

 

GSD: How long did you keep riding Trackers after the ’80s?

 

In the ’90s, I moved to Ohio and I still rode Trackers when I was living there. I had some Aggros, and the hangers had more beef. Yeah, the Aggros were hot. I still have a bunch of those, but right now, I’ve got Indys on my super wide board—215s on the Olson—and then Ace trucks on another board. I don’t even ride vert anymore. I just push around in the street on this little slalomy board.

 

LS: Does it hurt too much to ride vert?

 

In my mind, I can just launch right now, but I can’t see as good, so my timing’s off. I figured, “Why even try it?”

 

GSD: So, you just mostly cruise around streets?

 

Yeah, or the Ocean Beach park sometimes, pop around the banks, its mellow. Poway is super fun. I just saw that new park coming out here [in Oceanside] off the 76.

 

LMB: So, what trucks do you have on your cruiser now?

 

I’ve got Ace trucks on the cruiser. Joey Tershay is the man. They’re nice trucks, they turn really good, and they look like Indy stage two or three.

 

LMB: So, they’re kind of like the Indy geometry?

 

Yeah, he based it off that. He was the Indy team manger forever in the mid ’80s, then he just moved on and made his own trucks—took the full design and just copied it. He smoothed them out here and there to make them look just a hair different, but not much.

 

LMB: We make Tracker Axis trucks with the Indy geometry.

 

Is Orion you guys, too?

 

LMB: Yeah, Orion makes two models, the Superior is like the Indy geometry.

How wide are your cruiser trucks now?

 

I think they’re 133, maybe. Is that a width? I think they’re 144, actually. I’ve got OJ cruiser wheels on one of Steve Olson’s slalom boards. That thing just glides. I cut it into this totally different shape. It’s like a pig. It’s wide in the back with a rounded nose with a little bit of concave on it. It’s seriously nice to ride that thing.

 

GSD: I saw you around 2005, and you had this funny little skateboard about 20 inches long and two or three inches thick with fenders and the baseplates were sunk into the deck. What was that all about?

 

Oh, my God! Peter Hewett did a frontside invert on that thing in the Clairemont pool. Did you see that shot in the mag? The board is like 21 inches long, it’s seriously tiny, and it’s got small Indys and tiny wheels. It was a piece of 2” x 8”. I routed it out to drop in the trucks so it would sit lower, so it’s stable when you ride it. It’s about the same height as a normal skateboard. It also has blue grip tape. I should send you a photo of the thing, you would like it. It’s zip tied up on the wall at Germ’s house, and there’s a picture of Peter next to it doing a frontside invert on it. It’s pretty rad. I call it the Dictionary, because it looks like one of those red dictionaries you see around.

 

GSD: What inspired it?

 

Fucking around with shit. Remember when you [Larry] told me about cutting up roller skate trucks from thrift stores? When I moved back here from Ohio, I just got on that kick with so many roller skates. I started cutting them up and making six-inch wide boards to make them match the roller skates in width. Everything had to be smaller, you had to shrink down everything. You could experiment, and still get a rad, stable riding board.

 

LMB: That’s my first skateboard hanging on the wall there.

 

You’ve got to be kidding me.

 

LMB: It was buried under a fig tree, but it’s like old growth redwood, so it didn’t really go away.

 

LS: What did the RF stand for, Rat Fink?

 

LMB: Rat Fuck.

 

That was your graphic? “RF,” that’s so good. You were riding this thing with metal wheels.

 

LMB: Well, see how those wheels wore out? That would happen if your rode for a full day on asphalt. You would wear down your wheels like that.

 

LS: For real, one day?

 

blend-stlouis-jgb

St Louis photo Grant Brittian

 

 

LMB: Yeah, one day on the asphalt. So, we tried to ride sidewalks and shopping malls and stuff that was smoother.

 

These are the weird skates that you can adjust, like in that little slot. This is so old.

 

LMB: You didn’t have to cut them in two, they were the shoe skates.

 

Man, that is amazing. The Rat Fuck is that what you call it?

 

LMB: Well, Rat Fink was the…

 

He was the cartoon guy.

 

LMB: Yeah, Ed Roth, he was my inspiration when I started airbrushing sweatshirts after seeing him at a car show in the late ’50s.

 

That guy was doing shit forever. Man, that’s some incredible stuff. That board is mind-blowing, really. I can’t believe you were skating that board around what age: 10, 12, 15?

 

LMB: I was probably 14.

 

Rad, bent nails, that’s the way it came right there?

 

LMB: Yeah, that’s it. That was before I started using screws, but you notice everybody else did it on a 2” x 4” and I did it on a 2” x 8”.

 

That’s so rad. That is incredible.

 

GSD: That one just to the right of it has super deep fenders like your Dictionary board.

 

LS: So, what does Tracker really mean to you?

 

It represented people. All of the best dudes were riding them. Tracker was just so solid of a thing. It’s like a Crescent wrench—something that’s going to work. It’s the rad tool.

 

LMB: All right, thank you, Neil. That was awesome.

 

Cool. I need 800 bucks now.

 

 

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*