Editorial

Before I got into advertising, I got to do lots of traveling through skateboarding. And I was lucky enough to write about my experiences for magazines like Thrasher and Kingpin.

Scroll down to read some words I wrote outside the confines of a creative department.


Thrasher Magazine: Hesh

The Pacific Northwest definitely has it's own culture. Many have described its skate scene using the word 'hesh'. In the summer of 2011, I was lucky enough to join the éS footwear team on a journey through the region in search of the true meaning of that word. The following is an article I wrote for the October 2011 issue of Thrasher Magazine.

Photography: Joe Brook.

Click through for images. Scroll down for text.

HéSH
Tri-X Trip: Pacific Northwest Tour

The term “Hesh” and the Pacific Northwest seem to go hand-in-hand. But what does hesh mean? It’s not easily defined, and there’s certainly lots of room for interpretation. Most would agree it’s derived from the word “Hessian,” which Webster’s defines as “A mercenary or venal person.” However, when browsing UrbanDictionary.com for the definition, some associated key words popped up: “Dirty, unkempt, fuck yeah, bandana, Suicidal Tendencies, biker chicks, back Smith.” An eclectic group of words; nonetheless, they all seem to apply. This summer, the éS team traveled extensively through the Pacific Northwest in search of the word’s meaning.

The tale of three vans
We trekked the rugged coastline of the Pacific in a three-vehicle caravan: The éS van, led by Scuba Steve; Joe Brook’s van, Big Blue, led by the man himself; and the Ventura homie van, with Manderson’s bro Paul Williams-Ramirez at the helm. Each van was unique in its own way, with varying levels of comfort and space. The individual character of each, the lengthy journeys, the disposal of bodily fluids, and the places we encountered along the way all aided in our search for the meaning of hesh.

Scuba Steve was the leader of the pack, driving the éS van in pole-position for the trip’s duration. This was by far the most luxurious vehicle of the three, with ample space and superior hygiene. It was also the only ride for the initial leg of the trip from LA to the Bay Area. Once Big Blue and the Ventura van came into the picture, there was a mass exodus from Scuba’s beast, the skaters looking to rough it out and get a little cozier in honor of what we were all searching for.

The éS van was given the nickname of “first-class” by the members of the other van’s crews, and by the end of the trip, much to Scuba’s dismay, the first class-cabin had lost almost all of its passengers. Kevin Romar, Kellan James, and Trent McClung held it down, however, sticking it out for the duration without giving in to the temptations of the other rides.

While the éS van was first-class, Big Blue was more like economy: A slightly smaller van—somewhat weathered—but nevertheless full of character with a huge American flag sticker on the left side. This van’s crew were Brook, Bobby Worrest, John Rattray, Rick McCrank, Kevin Terpening, Ben Raemers, Marty Reigel, and myself.

Then there was the Ventura van. Quite possibly the heshest of the three, this 15-passenger had no rear windows, one bench in the back, and a carpeted floor. It was deemed “The Living Room,” due to the rear cabin’s resemblance to your childhood best friend’s basement. The crew: Angel Saucedo, Paul Williams-Ramirez, Rueben Alcantar, Mike Anderson, Stevie Perez, and Josh Matthews. The lack of windows and seats in the back made for an interesting dynamic. The world on the left side of Big Blue was a mystery due to the flag covering the windows, but in The Living Room, the entire world was a mystery to the rear passengers. It wasn’t uncommon to be completely disoriented at every stop. All the skaters saw were the beginning and end points of each journey—nothing in between. Angel stepped out of the van after a short drive to the gas station and said, “Damn Doggy, we’re not at the hotel no more?” This sort of reaction became perfectly normal as the trip progressed.

Piss the bottle
It’s no secret that time spent in the van brings about the most memorable moments of the journey, especially when traveling with such a charismatic group of gentlemen. One of these moments happens on long rides, when bodily fluids are disposed of into whatever containers are readily available. Known as “pissing in a bottle,” this activity reduces the amount of bathroom stops on the road. Most people can fill up gallons of empty water bottles through these stretches. Each member of the crew bought gallon jugs of water to fill up with their own brand before one particularly long drive from Northern California to Eugene, OR.

In order to ensure that the bottles wouldn’t be confused with one another, everyone naturally wrote their names on them, eventually personalizing the vessels with artwork representative of their personalities. A big smiley face on Ben’s bottle represented his care-free, happy-go-lucky attitude. A lion with smoke all around it on Josh’s symbolized his 420 lifestyle. A bottle with a Coors Lite can covered in tattoos expressed all that is Bobby. When we finally arrived in Eugene, we lined up all the jugs in the hotel parking lot—it was as if we were looking at our urine alter-egos sitting there on the asphalt. Sadly, all the bottles were used for BB gun target practice the following morning. I think a little piece of everyone died inside as they watched their pee containers lit up by the smoking gun.

State Fair Letdown
Following Portland, we trekked it up to Olympia, WA—hometown of our resident cinematographer, Marty Reigel. We arrived in Olympia during their annual summer lake fair. Since it was raining for the duration of our time there we dove face-first into the Ferris Wheels, Carny games, and stuffed animal prizes. In hindsight, this may have been a huge diversion from our journey to find the meaning of hesh, but Manderson did seem to have a knack for those Carny games. He won every contest in sight, from shooting rifles at moving targets to a cardboard cut-out horse race. By the time he left he had prizes for everyone: Inflatable chairs, life-sized stuffed animals, gold chains…

Doin' Guys
Olympia turned out to be quite the town,  but it was time to head for our final destination of Seattle. It turned out to be a good ender to the trip. We had some great days cruising around the city and taking in the sights. On our last night in town we drank beers outside the hotel and reminisced about our time together. Ben strolled into a nearby alley to take a piss, where he noticed the silhouettes of two people in the distance who seemed to be getting pretty hot and heavy. Eventually a haggard-looking bearded man and a seemingly-weathered woman of the night emerged. The man headed away from us, but the woman walked right up. As she approached, Ben politely—and innocently—inquired, “Excuse me miss, what were you doing back there?”
“Doin’ guys,” she replied, simply. Ben surely understood the rest. She offered her services to the crew, which we respectfully declined. It had been a long trip, but not that long.

All in all, the journey was a success. Did we discover the meaning of hesh? It’s hard to say. Can it really be defined? Is it supposed to be defined? Who knows? We did get to travel around an amazing part of the country with an incredible crew, and had some unforgettable moments in between. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.


Thrasher Magazine: A Gastronomical Adventure

In the summer of 2010, I had the pleasure of going on a skateboarding tour through Europe with éS footwear. The following is the tale of a gluttonous journey of over-consumption disguised as a skate trip. As seen in the November 2010 issue of Thrasher Magazine.

Photography: Joe Brook.

Click through for images. Scroll down for text.

A Gastronomical Adventure:
éS in Europe.

To start off the summer, the good people at eS sent us on a two and a half week gallivant across the U.K. and Europe with Scuba Steve and Sebastian Palmer at the helm. The trip began in Scotland, then England, over to France, and finally down to Spain. The plan was pretty standard. Travel around the above-mentioned countries, skate some spots, and get more acquainted with our European counterparts. However, getting more acquainted with our European counterparts meant our crew would be doubled, maybe even tripled. There were always at least 25 people in our crew at every situation we encountered. This made everything a little more interesting.  Meals would require a table that was half a mile long, when we would show up to a skate spot, the locals must have felt like a double decker tourist bus had just let out, and checking in and out of hotels was a whole different story all together. So with our massive crew, we journeyed through these lands that were foreign to some us, and enjoyed the unique ride.

Scotland

We began our journey in John Rattray’s hometown of Aberdeen. John showed us around there for a couple days to some of his crusty old spots that he grew up skating, and we got familiar with the road that lay ahead. From there we headed to Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh, a city filled with amazing medieval architecture, some rugged skate spots, and an interesting curry house. Our first day in town, we explored the city and went out for a full day of skating. To finish off the day right, we strolled down to a curry house down the street from our hotel for a huge Indian meal that night. We had a substantial crew, ordering everything you could imagine. At the end of the meal, the waiter politely informed us that the credit card machine was down, even though they had multiple stickers on the front door that suggested quite the opposite. While Seb and our waiter were going back and forth about this scenario, the members of our table were trickling out of the restaurant one by one. By the time it was settled that Seb would withdraw cash to pay for the meal, a majority of our crew had dined and dashed. This all happened at closing time, and we were the only ones in the restaurant. The waiter didn’t want to take any chances, so while Seb exited the restaurant to find an ATM, our waiter made a sneaky beeline to the door and locked the rest of us inside. We were now at the mercy of our waiter. He had made the quick change from giving us service with a smile, to locking us in his culinary dungeon and throwing away the key. However, after a few minutes that felt like hours, Seb returned and the waiter set us free.  So we high-tailed it out of there, and re-united with the rest of our crew that had unknowingly left us for dead. Following that we had a well-deserved night's sleep, then headed south to England.

England

Appropriately enough, we were greeted with rain when we arrived in England. We spent our first few days traveling between Newcastle, Sheffield and Corby, Kettering, Plymouth and then finally to Bristol. We skated lots of spots, ate lots of curry, and we even saw a family with the father and all his children playing sex pistols covers at a pub, but when we got to Bristol, things got pretty entertaining.  When we first got into town we skated a fun little ledge-into-bank spot reminiscent of the Baldi School in Philly. It happened to be situated right next to a playground littered with little kids, which made things pretty interesting once we showed up and completely blew out the spot with our huge crew. We quickly realized that some of the kids were getting frustrated with us taking over their spot. Of course, their parents weren’t that psyched either, and all of the sudden, one mother called out, "Da boy in da blue shirt wit da bad attitude, get over here!” This of course, was Bobby, so he made his way over to them and they had a confrontation, in which he explained to the mother that he felt it was in fact her that had the bad attitude. She didn't seem to share Bobby's opinion, and at that point, all the kids were beginning to form a line in front of the ledges to block us from skating them. In addition, the locals had just informed us that we weren't exactly in the safest part of town. So in order to avoid a small army of toddlers and enraged mothers turning on us, we booked it out of there and went on our way. The following day, we bid farewell to pounds, fish and chips, and driving on the left side of the road, and we set sail for Bordeaux, France.  

France and Spain

Our massive crew arrived in Bordeaux with three stick shift vans waiting to carry us from Bordeaux to the Basque Country. Throwing caution to the wind, Scuba volunteered to drive one of the vans even though he had no experience driving manual automobiles. However, his position as the captain of the ship didn't make it past the airport parking lot, due to about 6 stall-outs in a row. When we got to town, Javier Sarmiento, Gauthier Rogers, and Mark Frolich were all waiting for us. We all enjoyed some delicious wine that Bordeaux prides itself on while we were there.  In fact, we enjoyed the wine so much, that a few of us took to the wino lifestyle for the rest of the trip, opting for purple stained lips and teeth instead of bloated stomachs from frothy beverages. Unfortunately, we were only in Bordeaux for a couple days, but we managed to skate some good spots, enjoy some wine, and take in the city’s sites with Gauthier as our guide, being the local that he is.  However, time was of the essence and after those few short days, we packed up in our caravan, and headed to Javier's homeland of Spain.

Oddly enough, we had more sunshine in the UK than we did in Spain.  Our first two stops in Spain were Bilbao, and Javi’s hometown of Vitoria, which were both amazing cities with lots to offer, but we ended up having to settle for some slippery skate sessions in the drizzle. Our last stop of the trip was Madrid, where we endured some rain, but also got a few really good days of enjoying the city’s sites alongside Javier and his crew playing the flamenco guitar at the many plazas of the city. Early in the morning of the final day of the trip, a few of us ventured out to a concrete bowl on the outskirts of the city. We got a bit lost on the way, and Rattray seemed to be pretty confident with his Spanish, so when he spotted a few school children walking down the sidewalk, he poked his head out of the van to see if they might be of some assistance. It turned out that the literal translation of his question to the kids was, ''Hey boys, do you know where the park is?’’. This coming from a group of foreign men in a large van seemed a bit strange to say the least. However, the kids didn't seem to pick up on the unintentional connotations of John’s question, and they actually did know where the skate park was, so they pointed us in the right direction. We had a little session at the park, then got rained out and headed back to the city. Back in the city that night, Kevin was starting to feel good again after recovering from an ankle injury in the beginning of the trip. He ended up getting one of the most memorable tricks of the trip that evening, and gave us all a reason to celebrate.

With the commencement of our final session in Madrid, we all went out for one of the biggest meals of our trip. There must have been 30 of us at dinner that night as we somehow ate an Italian meal to celebrate our time spent in Spain, France, England, and Scotland. But no matter the type of meal we ate, with that many people all together at once, Scuba felt it was necessary to give a toast to our journey. So he stood up in front of us all, and tried to make sense of this trip that was about to become another memory. We all looked each other in the eyes, raised our glasses, and said, "Salud!". The trip was now complete, and the next day we all would go our separate ways, back to our respective lives, and search for the next opportunity to do it all over again.


Kingpin Magazine: 5boro in Paris

I spent 10 days in Paris skating with the 5boro crew in In April of 2014. I wrote the following article and conducted interviews with everyone on the trip for issue 127 of Kingpin— A Pan-European skateboard magazine.

Photography: Alex Pires

Scroll down for text. Fully scanned article coming soon.

Kingpin Cover.jpg

Bruno's revenge:
5boro in Paris
.

It’s no secret that New York City is an attractive place for broke, traveling skateboarders. The promise of crusty spots, good food, and a decadent nightlife are all quite a draw. However, because of the closet sized apartments and outrageously priced hotels, a friend’s floor is usually the only available accommodation. As a result, floor space in NYC is a hot commodity any time of the year. We at 5boro have been hosting sightseeing skateboarders on our linoleum, tile, and carpeted surfaces for as long as I can remember. We’ve housed people from Jersey all the way to Japan, but some of our most frequent guests have hailed from the fine nation of France. So this past April we rounded up our crew consisting of Sylvester Eduardo, Jordan Trahan, Rob Gonyon, Joe Tookmanian, Tombo Colabraro, myself, and special guests Andy Bautista and Darren Baskinger and headed to Paris to claim some well-deserved floor space of our own.

Like New York, Paris has a magnetic appeal for skateboarders, and everyone else in the world. Consequently, finding a cheap, direct flight between the two places is no easy task, especially during the warmer months. Half of our crew ended up on flights with hefty layovers in Moscow, but in the end everyone made it to France in one piece. It was the younger guys’ first time in Paris and it had been ages since the rest of us had visited, so spirits were high going into the trip. We were also escaping the tail end of one of the worst winters I’ve experienced in NYC, so Parisian spring weather was exactly what we needed.

Upon our arrival we met up with Luidgi Gaydu, Bram de Cleen, Ben Chadourne and The Blobys, who took on the heroic task of hosting us for the entire trip. For those who don’t know, the Blobys are a Parisian skate crew who roll thick as thieves through the city every day. They’re not your average group of skate rats. They’ve got their own spots, their own tricks you’ve never heard of, and even their own language. Apparently the word “Bloby” means, “pillow-fight” in their made up dialect. They showed us every inch that they could of their fair city, and gave us the honor of gracing their beautiful floors each night.

If this transcontinental journey has taught us anything, it’s that Paris and New York aren’t so different. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a croissant or a bagel, if you’re at The Louvre or The Met, or if you’re skating Le Dome or some crappy cellar door. At the end of the day, pushing down Broadway and cruising through Avenue des Champs Elysees will lead you to the exact same place on a skate holiday: a cozy night’s sleep on the floor next to a bunch of sweaty men. All things considered though, that’s not such a bad place to be. Thanks to Luidgi Gaydu, The Blobys, Alex Pires AKA Bruno, and everyone at Nozbone for making this trip possible.

 

INTERVIEWS WITH THE CREW

 

Sylvester Eduardo:

This was your first trip to Paris. Was the city any different than you expected it would be?

Paris is "Petruki" (a word meaning “chill” in Bloby-speak). I wasn't sure what to expect but by the end I didn't want to leave. The Eiffel tower makes The Empire State Building look like a bag of peanuts.

What’s the biggest difference between Paris and your hometown of Fort Lee, NJ?

Hahaha. A few tons of marble and the Blobys A.K.A The Parisian hot crew.

We rolled pretty deep on this trip. What was it like skating around Paris with a crew of 20+ people?

Skating with a lot of people was one of the best parts. There was no pressure and everyone was killing it. Pure fun.

If you had to let one of the Blobys stay on your floor for a month, who would it be and why?

The best thing would be to house them all. I’ve got a big ass couch. My mom would gladly hook it up with Dominican food daily. MONTREO!

 

Ben Chadourne:

Who was the most stereotypical American on the trip?

There was no really stereotypical American in the crew, but if I had to choose one I would say ROB! He is the real white gangster. The way he talks, the way he walks, and the way he is always rapping and freestylin’. This was the first time I met him. He’s the man, so funny to hang out with.

Does it get annoying skating around Paris with a huge crew of non-French speaking Americans?

Not at all. It depends on who you’re with. The 5boro crew fits in perfectly here. I’ve known them for a long time and hanging out with them allowed me to practice my English. They aren’t lazy, but I can’t imagine how hard it is for them to speak French. At least they came back overseas with a couple of French expressions!

How does life in your hometown of Bordeaux compare to life in Paris?

Bordeaux is another rhythm. Everything is smoother and cleaner. People are less stressed, less angry, and it doesn’t take hours to do things. In Paris you have to wait your turn for everything you do, get in the queue… Bordeaux is like a small Paris. Its architecture and history are amazing. I love this city. You should visit!

If you had to let one of the Blobys stay on your floor for a month, who would it be and why?

Many Blobys have stayed with me, but if I had to choose I would say Roman. He’s thin, he doesn’t snore and he has beautiful womanly hair. What else could you ask for?!

 

Bram De Cleen:

The last 5boro trip you went on was from NYC to Detroit in 2011. How did that trip compare to this one?

2011 was my first time in the states and was a three-week trip so I really felt like I was traveling. This time around I just took a two-hour train ride to Paris and stayed for only four days. So it felt more like going over to pay Tura and Luidgi a visit while you guys were around.

How does life in your hometown of Antwerp compare to life in Paris?

There's a lot more of everything in Paris—more people, more spots, more noise—it's a metropolis. Life in Antwerp is really peaceful and slow compared to Paris. I like going to Paris but I always like leaving as well. I'm originally from Mechelen, Belgium, which is probably as big as a Parisian neighborhood.

Who was the most stereotypical American on the trip?

Probably Took or Darren. Best accents.

If you had to let one of the Blobys stay on your floor for a month, who would it be and why?

Is Luidgi an official Bloby? They're all welcome but not all together.

 

Jordan Trahan:

This was your first trip to Paris. Was the city any different than you expected it would be?

Well when I was younger, I always saw footage of famous spots like Le Dome, or Bercy. That was before I even knew they were in Paris, so it was a trip to be staying just a few blocks from Trocadero.

Who was the most stereotypical French person in the crew?

Maybe Karl. His balcony has the most stereotypical, epic view of the Eiffel Tower I've ever seen

If you could bring one thing home from Paris; the skate spots, pastries, wine or anything in between, what would it be?

The sidewalks. The asphalt they use reminds me of a smooth basketball court. The flat ground sessions in front of Nozbone can go on for hours there.

If you had to let one of the Blobys stay on your floor for a month, who would it be and why?

Certainly Vincent, to repay him for his hospitality during our entire trip. But maybe we'll set up a trip to Louisiana, where all the boys will have room to crash.

 

Rafael Gomes:

You’ve been to Europe a handful of times, but this was your first time in Paris. How did it compare with the other places you’ve visited on the continent?

Yeah last time I went to Europe was a few years ago and I had forgot how good it was to skate. Every country there has its own thing, but Paris was one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. The architecture is really nice with a lot of detail, people eat a lot of baguettes, the sidewalks are smooth, and I feel that people there are cool with skateboarding and don't really kick you out of the spots often.

What was it like being the only Brazilian in a giant crew of American and French guys?

It was a good time skating the city, hanging out with the crew, laughing at all their jokes, and learning some French words.

You had a knack for finding free WiFi at every skate spot we went to. What’s the best WiFi spot in Paris?

That was the way to check what was going on back home and talk to the family. The McDonald's WiFi saved me when I first got there and couldn't find a pay phone to call Luidgi. But after a few days, Ben Chadourne hooked us up with a WiFi password that worked all over the city.

If you had to let one of the Blobys stay on your floor for a month, who would it be and why?

Anyone who would be able to wake up early with my kids. I would say Santiago though, because he speaks Portuguese and would probably feel the most comfortable.

 

Jimmy McDonald:  (Interview by Tombo Colabraro)

Tell me about skating Paris with the Blobys.

Rolling with the Blobys is awesome. They’ve got a great crew and they’re down to skate all the time. It’s always good vibes hanging out with them.

How do people in Paris stay so skinny when they have all these delicious pastries and baguettes at their disposal 24/7? If I lived there I probably wouldn’t be able to see my shoes after a couple weeks.

It must be that they eat much smaller portions than we do in the states. You and I would be eating 12 croissants a day if we lived out there, but the French seem to enjoy their indulgent meals slowly and in moderation.

After years of experience working at NYC's local dive bar/coke den what advice would you give to Roman, who just got a job at a similar establishment in Paris?

I would tell him to get the fuck out of there! Just kidding (sort of). It seems like he’s having fun and he gets to serve beers to his fellow Blobys every night, so I’d say let the good times roll.

1664 or Coors OG Banquet Beer?

1664 all day.

If you had to let one of the Blobys stay on your floor for a month, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Gregoire Cuadrado. He put us up in his apartment, cooked us meals, gave us coffee, and made sure we had a hell of a time in his amazing city.


Jay Maldonado 'zine

In the winter of 2013, photographer, videographer, skateboarder and LES native Jay Maldonado had a photo show at Saatchi NY. I caught up with him for an interview and discussed his work, growing up the LES, and what the old New York was like. The following is a 'zine that Tucker Phillips and I created for the photo show.

Art Direction: Tucker Phillips
Photography: Jay Maldonado

Click through for images. Scroll down for text.

An interview with Jay Maldonado.

Jimmy: When did you start shooting photos and what got you into it?

Jay: So photography came really late for me. I started to shoot photos in ’07 – ’08 because of a close friend of mine named Dee. Shit wasn’t going well for me. I guess he kind of saw that I was in a tough spot in my life so he loaned me his camera and told me to go shoot. He ended up getting me a one-year subscription to Flickr. That’s sort of what kicked it off. So I would say my boy Dee was my motivation and inspiration to shoot. Thanks Dee.

Cool. That was here in New York?

Yeah, that was here in New York. Some time around ’07 – ’08. Basically right after I left Sole-Tech and I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore.

So that was when you came back from living in California, where you worked for eS Footwear under Sole-Technology?

Yea, for the most part. Sometime after— maybe a year after. So I’d say it was probably ’08.

Dee must have had a big influence on you as a photographer then.

Well, yeah he got me going. He helped me to use photography as a tool, and now it’s with me all the time. Photography has now become another form of expression for me. I like the fact that a photo kind of tells its own story. It’s left up to the viewer’s interpretation a bit differently than video.

Do you still work with video as much as photography?

They’re both equally dominant in my life. I definitely prefer photography to video though.

What inspires you to shoot photos?

It’s hard to say. It’s everyone and everything around me. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just one individual person. But I guess living life itself is an inspiration. Sometimes I feel like I’m not playing my part in society, and that gets me out of bed and gets me motivated to go do something. I sort of relate it a lot to skating. Sometimes you’re just like, “Fuck I wanna go get some shit done”. You don’t know what trick you want to get on film, however when you find that one spot you just figure it out. It’s really just the action of going out and trying. Inspiration is everywhere. You never know what you might come across

Yea. When you go out shooting is it a spontaneous thing or is it premeditated? Do you usually go out with a specific plan?

You know it’s interesting— I always try to plan things out when I shoot but they never fucking work for me. When I make plans to go shoot I always get stuff that doesn’t really embody what I like to shoot. But the days that I just walk around with my camera, more or less running errands— those are the days I kind of find stuff more. I think it’s because my mindset is different. When I make plans I guess I’m too focused on one thing instead of just looking around and capturing life. Either way, going out with no plans works best for me

When you don’t have any expectation things sort of just work out huh?

Yeah, I think so man. It’s just always worked that way. Sometimes I’ll just plan to try and get lost in Brooklyn somewhere and just try to find really cool different things in the city. On those days I spend most of the time travelling and not finding anything. It’s weird; it just doesn’t work for me when I plan.

Totally. You grew up on the Lower East Side in the 80’s right?

Yea. In the late 80’s and early 90’s.

And you still live there?

Yeah I still live on the Lower East Side. I come and go of course, but I grew up there and I still live there. My grandmother is down there and I watch over her at times so I like to be close. 

Have you seen a big change in your neighborhood since your childhood or is it pretty much the same?

Nah, I mean it’s changed and it’s the same. It’s really interesting. I guess growing up for some reason I felt a sense of community even though it was a lot more dangerous. People would never go into those neighborhoods unless they were from there or getting drugs. So you felt safer because everyone knew each other like a community. Nowadays you have people who come live here for a couple years because it’s the place to be. Their parents pay their rent and they act like they own the streets.

New York must have been a pretty different place back then.

Yea. It was the best. I think we all felt a bit more alive. Well, I did.

Do you think growing up in the city influenced you as a photographer and filmmaker?

Yea, I think so. I think it has definitely played a part in how I shoot— living in the city.  It’s impossible not to shoot a decent photo here. We have the illest backdrop. I’m blessed to call this place home.

Yea, it’s a photogenic place.

Totally

So you’ve made some pretty influential New York City skateboard videos like La Luz. Has documenting skateboarding influenced your photography? Was the transition from video to photography somewhat of a natural progression?

Yea. I mean it’s totally been a natural progression. Making skate videos definitely helped me with learning to shoot photos in some aspects. Photography is video and video is photography if you think about it.

So video totally crafted my photography. But I think the root of that is skateboarding itself. Without it I probably would have never done video and without video I wouldn’t have gotten into photography. Skateboarding is the core of all that— where you always just look at things in a different manner. And I think that’s why a lot of skaters are creative or do creative things. When you step on a skateboard you kind of automatically start to look at the world in a different way.

When did you start skating?

I started skating in’88 or ’89 I guess.

And you grew up pretty close to the Brooklyn Banks right?

Yea I grew up a couple blocks from The Banks. In my neighborhood we knew it as “The Walls” [laughs].

Because of the wall above the banks?

I guess, but I think it was because of the steepness of the incline [big banks], but I don’t really know.

Oh so it wasn’t even about The Banks’ wall at all?

I don’t even know why these kids called it that [The Walls]. One day these other kids were like, “No, its The Banks” and I was like, “Oh, okay” [laughs]. We just wanted to go fast and ride down some shit, and The Big Banks was the perfect place. I remember seeing a freestyle contest there. It was fucking sick. A lot of bright colors [laughs].

But yeah, I grew up a couple blocks from there and there was this skate shop called Benji’s Ultimate Journey Skate. Benji’s was basically the shop back in the day before Supreme was around and right after a few other shops closed. I spent most of my childhood in and around the shop, and skating around the financial district and the banks. I really miss those days.

That’s awesome. Must have been an interesting time.  Were there skaters from all over the place visiting New York back then or was it mostly locals?

Yea, but it was more sporadic. It wasn’t so consistent like it is now. There were always groups of people rolling through the city though, like crews from the

Tri-State Area. We would all show up at the banks on the weekends and just skate all over the city. 

So it was a bigger deal when skateboarders from other areas came to the city?

It was different. We would have so much energy at a spot like the banks, with all these heads skating together from all over the Tri-State Area. It was awesome. It was a feeling that you couldn’t explain. It was something special. We all wanted to be apart of it. If we didn’t know it, we sure as hell felt it.

So you seem to photograph a lot of people on the street. When you shoot a stranger do you approach them and have a conversation first? Or do you just snap a quick shot and go on your way?

I kind of try to get them in their own natural habitat. I usually shoot first and if they seem interesting enough I’ll talk to them. Most of the time my subjects don’t even know I’m there, which is how I like it.

To you, what links this set of photos together?

Obviously they’re all shot in New York. But the thing that links them together is they all have kids in them.

What is it about kids in the city that interests you?

They just kind of speak to me more than anything else. It could be a reflection of when I was growing up. I’m not sure, but there’s something about the kids in the city. To me, they embody what New York is about.

It’s a youthful place.

Yea, and everything’s still new to ‘em you know what I mean? There’s just so much they’re exposed to in such close quarters. Or maybe it’s their sense of innocence. They don’t know the chaos that exists around them. They just know that moment that they’re in.

Yea for sure. Are there any particular stories behind these photos?

There aren’t any real stories behind them, but I love the kid at the bank checking him self out in the monitor. That’s totally something I might do [laughs]. Also, the kids in front of the projects playing around on the ground— to me, that embodies a summer night in NYC. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

Are there certain areas of the city that you frequent for shooting kids and other people?

No no, not at all. To be honest I hang out around Soho, Lower East Side kind of area. Sometimes I venture out to other places—Brooklyn, Washington Heights. I really just walk the streets for hours with no destination in mind and hope that something will jump out at me and I’ll be ready to shoot it.

Right, so it goes back to you just having a more spontaneous approach to photography.

It’s kind of like skating. You know you want to get something on film, but you just don’t know what it is until you see it.

Yea. You’re looking for that one thing and you don’t even know what it is.

Yea. I don’t even know what I’m looking for. But I’ll know when I see it.

Yeah for sure. Has your photography changed much since you first started shooting a few years ago?

Yea. Fuck yeah. Its changed, it’ll always be changing. It’s always going to constantly evolve because photography is so new to me. There’s still so much to learn about it, so it’ll constantly develop. I couldn’t say how or in what way though.

Cool. So, any plans for the future?

Continue shooting man. That’s it. Whatever comes my way, comes my way. But I just want to be able to go out and shoot more. You know I really, really enjoy it, and I don’t really care about anything else but being able to do that one thing.