James Craig Roll Call

Roll Call: James Craig
The J.C. Special

The world turns. Even for the best of us. One day you’re red hot, ready to blow up the spot. The next you’re a seasoned vet telling fifteen year olds how to pop hardflips right. James Craig has been around the carnival course a few times. He’s battled a serious knee injury, ridden alongside some of the best of all-time, been written off by some of the worst, and devoted nearly a decade of hard-fought loyalty to Mark Gonzales’ 1990 brainchild, Blind Skateboards. Along the way, James has seen a busload of friends come, burn out their candles, and go. In the cutthroat business of professional skateboarding, perseverance, intelligence, and hard work are about the best buffer you can build between yourself and a job back in the “real world.” James has proven that he possesses all these qualities. The following, in no particular order, is his own take on how he developed them and what a long-term career in skateboarding might mean for you. Read on.

What has kept you loyal to Blind for all these years?
It was always something I wanted to be a part of. I’ve obviously been down for it since it started. I mean, coming up, that was the sh-t, you know? Guy (Mariano), (Mark) Gonzales, Jason Lee, and all those guys just made it something I looked up to. When I got on, it had a lot to do with hanging out with my friends, too. Now that a lot of those dudes are gone, I just want to put in my two cents and get the name back up to where it used to be.

It’s still a huge seller obviously, but do you feel like it carries the same roots?
It kind of became a kiddy company and got really graphic oriented. They definitely cashed in on all of it and milked that for a minute, but eventually you got to go back to the legit route and get it back in the right direction at some point. It’s ironic, because the whole name Blind came out against the corporate hugeness of Vision, and sometimes in life things just go full circle.

What are your memories of the Society days, being teammates with your brother Jeremy, Robbie McKinley, Luis Cruz, and Ryan Kenrich?
That was pretty dope, honestly. It was weird because we were just a couple of kids-The Society Dogs, and they came up with this company for us. It was out of Grind King, and my brother pretty much started doing all the graphics for Society and then a ton of stuff for Grind King itself. The “GK” logo that they still use today, my brother sold them that for, like, 50 bucks. It was sick, though. It was early on in all of our careers, skating C.A.S.L., and we were just down to build something.

Last time you skated with Robbie?
Damn, it’s been a minute. A couple years ago, I skated with him out in the Venice area. I still say what’s up for sure, though. I just saw Chris (Roberts) at the TransWorld premiere, and I knew he lived with Robbie, so I was asking about him. I think with that dude, he was so good, and once he got on Girl, I don’t think he knew where to go from there. But he was a sick skater in his day.

You’ve achieved a certain notoriety for attending strip clubs. Do you care to elaborate?
(Laughs) Oh sh-t. I’m a man, what can I say? I was making some loot coming up and I just tried to enjoy spending it. I starting going with Gershon (Mosely) and he would just get wild in there. I guess that was my introduction to the whole thing. But sometimes I’d be waiting for him and he’d just be back there for hours, man.

Do you feel like all the wealth in skateboarding now has affected you?
Oh yeah, for sure. Plus I’m no spring chicken anymore, and these kids are coming out of nowhere and everywhere these days. They’re just getting younger and younger and skating sets of stairs that are bigger and bigger. I mean, I remember my first Blind ad where I switch hardflipped ten stairs. Nowadays, kids who are fourteen are skating sixteen or twenty stairs. I think the money plays into it, because kids-and even thparents now-are seeing the dollar signs, and now you have the total skate-coach dad or skate-coach mom. These days it’s like, “You’re not eating dinner ’til you back lip the twelve-stair.” It’s certainly a little different these days.

Do you feel like these kids are more well-rounded, too? I mean, you guys have Jake Duncombe and he’s just insane on any terrain.
Yeah, that too. When I was coming up, the closest thing we had to tranny was the Powell Skatezone, and that was two hours north. The first time I skated a ramp was at a C.A.S.L. contest, and I was like, “Oh, can I start at the bottom?” That kid Jake is so gnarly. We were just up in Toronto on some tour and Bill Weiss is from there. All these old guys who grew up skating ramps with Weiss were just watching Jake skate this crazy bowl-crailslides across the extension, like twelve-foot-long back Smiths, sweepers… All these old guys were just tripping on him. Not only was he so good, but he was doing all the tricks that the old guys would usually be doing, and way gnarlier, too. He just murdered that bowl. He’s a serious savage.

Who was responsible for putting you on your first setup?
My older brother John used to skate in front of our house when I was really young-like, I was still playin’ with G.I. Joes and sh-t. Later on, when I was nine or ten, I remember going with my brother Jeremy, and our friend Josh Baker had three boards and was like, “Let’s go skate.” I was like, “All right.” I ended up getting this Schmitt Stix setup and the thing just turned like a f-king boomerang. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not stand up on it. I remember being so bummed-my brother and the other dude were standing up, tick-tacking, and all this cool sh-t, and I was stuck on my knees. Looking back, it almost became an obsession from that day forward.

When was the last time you thought about your knee?
The knee question. I was waiting for that one (laughs). I still think about it all the time, to be honest with you. I’m conscious of it because I don’t ever want it to happen again, but when I’m skating it doesn’t really come into play that much. I stretch and all that, so I do my best to keep from putting myself in a situation where it could happen. But it’s one of those things that you don’t want to obsess on, but I do end up thinking about it, if maybe only for a split second every day.

Who rapped your personalized song for you in What If?
My friend Murs. He’s like a living legend. He’s not doing bad for himself these days-he’s doing some stuff with that dude 9th Wonder. He did some tracks with Kanye and Jay-Z. We ended up meeting those guys randomly after a show, and they were just super independent-down for their fans. We were hella psyched on them already, so I invited them over to Liberty Board Shop and was like, “We’ll hook you up with some shoes and some gear.” Those dudes jumped on it right away, like they were hyped on it. I was getting a lot of stuff from C1RCA at the time, so I just gave it to the shop so they could hook them up. From then on, we were pretty much down with their crew and it never really occurred to me to have him do my video part song. He was super busy at the time, traveling like eight months out of the year, and then one day I was talking to him about what I wanted to do for my video part and he’s like, “Yo, you know if you don’t let me do the song for your part I’m gonna kick your ass” (laughs). I was just like, “Hell yeah, let’s do this.” I knew people were gonna hate on me for having a personalized song, but I’m a fan and he’s my friend, so f-k it. I think it turned out sick.

When did the end-all ban go down for Chaffey?
The reason it basically became completely off limits, because for a while it was like you could skate at certain hours, but the event that really led to the death of Chaffey was when J.P. Jadeed got in some fight with a BMX dude. I think it was just over some random drama. One of these BMX dudes came back later on when no one was there and seriously took an ice pick or a jackhammer to pretty much every ledge in the spot. That’s when the school got super mad. Then it was like a whole vandalizing scandal and the end result was a complete ban for skating. It was weird, because the older bikers and skaters would get along, there was a mutual respect. And then these younger bikers just showed up on some like, “We’re taking over” sh-t, and it all turned into a war. But seriously, pegs and ledges don’t mix, dudes.

What does your daily ritual consist of?
Morning coffee, get on the Internet and check out all the rats talking sh-t on Slap’s message boards laughs , then hit up Liberty Board Shop, maybe set up a board, warm up on some flatground, then sit in traffic and get kicked out of spots. Haven’t been smoking as much lately, but that would have been a big part of the daily ritual. After the session, pick up a twelver of Corona.

What motivates you outside of skateboarding?
Friends, music, the Lakers… the usual stuff. But you do have to go out and find that motivation. Mine lately has been stemming pretty heavily from making sure I handle my business, not falling off, and not getting left behind. I have a pretty competitive edge sometimes, and I’ll just do whatever it takes. Like I was saying, I’ll go on a message board just to see someone hate on me. Like today I got on there and some dude had me down on the “worst style ever” list. That shit just pumps me up to go destroy something. The inspiration to not have a nine-to-five job is also extremely motivational.

You’ve been in the game for a few. What kind of instruction would you offer to someone starting out?
Kids have the advantage today to skate whatever they want, so I would say definitely don’t limit yourself to one side of it. Also, it might sound crazy to kids, but not everybody has to go pro. You can skate your whole life, be happy at another job, and walk away with a smile. Kids these days just want everything right away. You got to just follow your heart, and if someone wants to sponsor you, cool. If it doesn’t happen, have fun anyway. Sometimes it’s actually more fun not to be pro and have all this pressure. I’ll go skate with Gideon (Choi) these days and he’s having the time of his life-just cruising around doing back tails all day. Basically, be careful what you wish for, it’s not always what it seems.

If you wouldn’t have become a pro skater, you would be a…
Well, all those aptitude tests you take in school always came back saying I’d be a chef.

Single hardest trick for you personally?
Frontside flips. I try them every day. I just want to do it right. No folding it. I want it (Mike) Carroll style. I’ll have ‘em for like a week and then they get messed up again. It’s definitely my most frustrating maneuver. But it’s such a sick trick when you get it right that I can’t leave it alone.

Favorite part in Video Days?
It’s hard. But I have to say Jason Lee and Gonz.

All-time-greatest Blind rider?
I got to give that one to Guy.

The world is getting better or the world is getting worse?
Global warming says it’s getting worse. But with age, my life seems to only get better.

Best beer on the planet?
I’m going to stick with Corona.

Words to live by?
Love life. Because you never know when it’s gonna be gone.




e of these BMX dudes came back later on when no one was there and seriously took an ice pick or a jackhammer to pretty much every ledge in the spot. That’s when the school got super mad. Then it was like a whole vandalizing scandal and the end result was a complete ban for skating. It was weird, because the older bikers and skaters would get along, there was a mutual respect. And then these younger bikers just showed up on some like, “We’re taking over” sh-t, and it all turned into a war. But seriously, pegs and ledges don’t mix, dudes.

What does your daily ritual consist of?
Morning coffee, get on the Internet and check out all the rats talking sh-t on Slap’s message boards laughs , then hit up Liberty Board Shop, maybe set up a board, warm up on some flatground, then sit in traffic and get kicked out of spots. Haven’t been smoking as much lately, but that would have been a big part of the daily ritual. After the session, pick up a twelver of Corona.

What motivates you outside of skateboarding?
Friends, music, the Lakers… the usual stuff. But you do have to go out and find that motivation. Mine lately has been stemming pretty heavily from making sure I handle my business, not falling off, and not getting left behind. I have a pretty competitive edge sometimes, and I’ll just do whatever it takes. Like I was saying, I’ll go on a message board just to see someone hate on me. Like today I got on there and some dude had me down on the “worst style ever” list. That shit just pumps me up to go destroy something. The inspiration to not have a nine-to-five job is also extremely motivational.

You’ve been in the game for a few. What kind of instruction would you offer to someone starting out?
Kids have the advantage today to skate whatever they want, so I would say definitely don’t limit yourself to one side of it. Also, it might sound crazy to kids, but not everybody has to go pro. You can skate your whole life, be happy at another job, and walk away with a smile. Kids these days just want everything right away. You got to just follow your heart, and if someone wants to sponsor you, cool. If it doesn’t happen, have fun anyway. Sometimes it’s actually more fun not to be pro and have all this pressure. I’ll go skate with Gideon (Choi) these days and he’s having the time of his life-just cruising around doing back tails all day. Basically, be careful what you wish for, it’s not always what it seems.

If you wouldn’t have become a pro skater, you would be a…
Well, all those aptitude tests you take in school always came back saying I’d be a chef.

Single hardest trick for you personally?
Frontside flips. I try them every day. I just want to do it right. No folding it. I want it (Mike) Carroll style. I’ll have ‘em for like a week and then they get messed up again. It’s definitely my most frustrating maneuver. But it’s such a sick trick when you get it right that I can’t leave it alone.

Favorite part in Video Days?
It’s hard. But I have to say Jason Lee and Gonz.

All-time-greatest Blind rider?
I got to give that one to Guy.

The world is getting better or the world is getting worse?
Global warming says it’s getting worse. But with age, my life seems to only get better.

Best beer on the planet?
I’m going to stick with Corona.

Words to live by?
Love life. Because you never know when it’s gonna be gone.




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