Been There, Done That

Words by Jason Hernandez and Eric Stricker

Okay, first off, you’re probably not reading this. Why? Because kids these days don’t read-we all know that. Your attention span doesn’t go farther than video games, TV, and MySpace. And I won’t lie-I’m the same way. I get a magazine and turn through every page without reading a thing, only to start all over again and analyze every photo: the style of the skater, the quality of the photo, the angle, et cetera. All right, I see I’m losing you already. So Daniel’s not on Bam’s show, he’s not promoting a new pro-model shoe or phone service on a billboard in a metropolitan area, he didn’t make it into Tony Hawk’s new video game, and he certainly isn’t on TransWorld’s Exposure-O-Meter. But I know him and live with him, so of course I’m gonna say some nice stuff about my good friend.
If you have any perception of style and respect for the ease with which a person can execute any given job, then I’m sure you’d agree with me that Daniel is better (and more fun-’cause as you’ll see, Daniel likes to have fun and talk about it) to watch than the cardboard cutouts that skateboarding is producing nowadays. You might even say, “Oh, I remember him. Didn’t he hurricane that rail and back Smith that hubba a ridiculously long time ago? Yeah, that guy is pretty good.” Yes, Daniel did hurricane that rail and back Smith that hubba, but today, skateboarding is more about quality than quantity or keeping a log of every last trick he’s executed. And with that, he’s making it easier for today’s am to go out and nollie front feeble the fifteen-stair in the schoolyard. In fact, Daniel’s at the same school back Smithing the ledge out front. And it looks a hell of a lot better.
Here’s my friend, Daniel Shimizu.-Jason Hernandez




Jason Hernandez: Where have you been for the past few years? What have you been doing?
I’ve been down at the Frolic Room. I’ve been in Hollywood and I’ve just been lagging it. I’ve been all around the world actually, but I just haven’t been getting stuff done. I just feel like I could be doing more and haven’t been, so I feel like I’ve been letting my sponsors down. I skate all the time, but I skate for fun. Skating’s really fun, it’s just hard to do it and (as a professional) get really good stuff all the time.

Eric Stricker: What do you feel like your responsibilities are as a pro skateboarder?
Just getting the photos and interviews and video parts. Just being productive.

Do you think your skating really matters to kids?
Probably, to a small number of them.

You’ve been skating for thirteen years. What does it feel like to see all these random kids who’ve been skating for half that time and they’re driving a Benz and have all this cool silver sh-t on their neck? How does that make you feel?
I’m sure they’re good and they deserve it. It’s not like I feel like some old-timer, but I never felt like I was boosted to stardom. I always felt that my skating and the skating I like has never been mainstream.

Is that a problem with skateboarding right now? There’s too much emphasis on it being mainstream?
It’s fine with me. I always know who to look for when I want to see good skating. And I know where to not look.

Where do you not look?
Just jumping down stuff and grinding those handrails that are real big.

How can you say that being one of the first people to really take hurricanes down big rails? You had a an 8.5-inch board and 60mm wheels and skated a ton of rails six or seven years ago.
Well, it was fun then. My body was more resilient and resistant to injuries. And it’s still fun, but there are ten other sides of skateboarding to learn and get into. You can’t just get stuck on one thing.

But is it clichà‡ now that you’re getting older, and a lot of other former handrail guys are getting older and changing up their skating a bit, and now it seems like everyone hates on handrails in every ierview?
I’m not hating, I’m just tired of looking at the photos. Sure, it’s progressive, but they’re just progressing how big they’re going. People’s tastes progress too, and I just grew to like different kinds of skating.

I watch you flip through a magazine and you flip through it fast. What do you like to see?
I just like looking at photos where people look like they know what they’re doing, with some style.

There are a lot of guys who look a lot better on a skateboard today than they did five years ago. Is style something that can be manufactured?
I think it’s something you’re born with. But even bad style is good sometimes. It’s not so robotic then. Everyone lands sketchy sometimes. I was just thinking about that Natural Koncept video. Those guys got heart. I like a lot of personality in skateboarding, and there isn’t much.

I heard from someone you were considered an established skater. Do you think you are?
What does that mean, an “established skater”?

Like kids know who you are and recognize your board on the wall. Do you think you’re there yet?
No, not really. I always felt that I was sort of the underdog. I’ll always be the underdog. And that’s fine. I don’t mind it, I like it. Like my Sacramento story (laughs).

What’s the Sacramento story?
A kid comes up and goes, “Hey, are you pro?” And I say, “Yeah.” And he goes, “Why?” (Laughs) I was like, “I don’t know, I don’t know why.” So he says, “Well, who do you skate for?” And I said, “Stereo.” And he goes, “Never heard of ’em.” (Laughs) I was like, “Okay, that’s fine.”

That doesn’t bum you out, does it?
No, it doesn’t bum me out. I’m not trying to be a household name.

What are you trying to do?
I’m trying to skate and progress. And have fun while I can still have fun on a skateboard.

If you could change one thing about your skating, what would it be?
It’s funny that you say that ’cause Clint (Peterson) was just talking about how someone has “McGill knee” and I never knew what that was. He was telling me about it and I was like, “Wait a minute, I have one of the harshest McGill knees ever (laughs).” And he’s like, “Yeah, but your McGill knee’s cool.” But it’s still a McGill knee. So I’d change the McGill knee, I guess. If people don’t like it.

What about tricks that you can or can’t do?
I wish that I could air out of tranny. Can’t do it. Just to be able to fly around at a skatepark would be cool.

What’s a good cause to go out at night and drink some fun juice?
Definitely landing a trick, even if it’s something you’ve never done before, but while no one’s looking-even if you did it for free. Or getting a line filmed or a photo shot, just skating, getting sh-t done and having a good skate day. Then you don’t feel like such a pile when you’re drinking.

This interview’s on a different tip with the three-frame partial sequences. Was that your idea or was that from the crazy mind of Seu Trinh?
I think we both thought of it. We were talking about being really sick of seeing a sequence and then watching the video like a month later. You get dejà– vu watching the video like, “Oh, I think I’ve seen this somewhere before.” Plus we were talking about the digital camera and how everyone can get sequences really easy. You’re going to have to wait and see if I land my tricks or not. Maybe I won’t even put some of this sh-t in my video part. You never know.

Are you nervous that your interview is following on the heels of Mariano’s?
I’m just really nervous that I’m having an interview come out at all. I haven’t had one in about four years. I think the last one was in Slap when I was still living in San Diego and it was pretty terrible.

What’s different about Daniel Shimizu now versus your last interview?
The Daniel Shimizu now realizes skateboarding is fun and it’s a fun job.

We all know skating’s great and you love doing it and blah, blah, blah, but what would you see yourself doing if you weren’t skating? If skateboarding ends tomorrow, are you going to work at Home Depot or at the sushi place? Does anyone know you like anything else?
Sure, I like other sh-t. The idea of getting a job after skating scares the sh-t out of me, so I have no plans and no idea what I’m going to do after. Honestly, I just have no idea. Sh-t, I’d love to have something that I like doing, like playing music, but I’m definitely not good enough to play music for a living. I’d like to go to a deserted island and write a book, but I’m not much of a writer (laughs). There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do, but not so many things that are possible or realistic. But I’ve accepted the fact that I could be flipping burgers.

How long do you think it will last?
As long as people care, I guess.

How did skating for Stereo come about and why did you leave Foundation after being there for so many years?
I think it was just time for a change. I really liked skating with Clint, Benny (Fairfax), and Chris (Pastras). I thought they were cool dudes. I’ve always liked Stereo since the beginning, they were always one of my favorite companies since I started skating. And so was Foundation. But I just wanted to try something new, and I thought they were a more creative bunch.

Do you remember making a conscious decision to be a professional skateboarder? Like, “Hey, I’m going to be pro, this is what I’m going to do for a living.”?
Not really, I just loved skateboarding just like everyone else who’s reading this. I got a few sponsors, and I think I took a month of community college when I got asked to go on tour and it was like, “Should I go on tour or should I keep going to school?” I hated going to school, so I pretty much chose skating. From there I got paid a little bit, got free stuff, and just had fun with it. It was never a conscious decision, but something I always wanted to happen and which I’m really psyched it did.

Let’s say the house is on fire and you’ve got time to grab three things. You have a lot of random stuff in here, but what’s really important?
My acoustic guitar, that banjo ’cause it’s not mine, and probably my iPod-or maybe my cell phone. Everything else is pretty replaceable. Maybe I would take my car keys.

What does a day off look like for you?
I work maybe four days a week. I’d say four. But I hang out with my girlfriend Sylvie and we make out. We hang out with her cats Hansel and Gretel and Adolph. We go to the library or go see a movie. We just lounge around the house, sweep, clean… Maybe I’ll play some golf. Whatever Sylvie wants to do. I’m good not doing anything. Seriously.

How did getting on Nike help your career? Did it jump-start your career or push it to the next level?
I wouldn’t say it jump-started anything, but they sure gave me a lot of shoes and have supported my feet. They definitely back me up and saw something in me that everybody else didn’t. Before that, I was on flow for all sorts of people, but I guess they didn’t have faith. But Nike has been there for me. I still remember the moment I was sitting outside of the Tum Yeto trade-show booth at the Children’s Museum right after the best trick contest with the San Dieguito rail. I couldn’t land sh-t, so I went outside to smoke a cigarette and Kevin (Imamura) asked me if I wanted some shoes, and I said “Yeah.” A few months later I told him I liked ’em and he asked me if I wanted to be on. I said, “Yeah, I do.

Earlier in your career it seemed like you were a machine. Why do you feel like it takes you so long, as you say, to handle business now? Is it because you don’t do the same kind of stuff you used to do? Are you too picky about what you let out?
I’ll be honest-I’m lazy. I just have to like the spot and be psyched on the trick. But 90 percent of it is just getting out there every day.

Doesn’t it matter that a random little kid has already done what t would you see yourself doing if you weren’t skating? If skateboarding ends tomorrow, are you going to work at Home Depot or at the sushi place? Does anyone know you like anything else?
Sure, I like other sh-t. The idea of getting a job after skating scares the sh-t out of me, so I have no plans and no idea what I’m going to do after. Honestly, I just have no idea. Sh-t, I’d love to have something that I like doing, like playing music, but I’m definitely not good enough to play music for a living. I’d like to go to a deserted island and write a book, but I’m not much of a writer (laughs). There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do, but not so many things that are possible or realistic. But I’ve accepted the fact that I could be flipping burgers.

How long do you think it will last?
As long as people care, I guess.

How did skating for Stereo come about and why did you leave Foundation after being there for so many years?
I think it was just time for a change. I really liked skating with Clint, Benny (Fairfax), and Chris (Pastras). I thought they were cool dudes. I’ve always liked Stereo since the beginning, they were always one of my favorite companies since I started skating. And so was Foundation. But I just wanted to try something new, and I thought they were a more creative bunch.

Do you remember making a conscious decision to be a professional skateboarder? Like, “Hey, I’m going to be pro, this is what I’m going to do for a living.”?
Not really, I just loved skateboarding just like everyone else who’s reading this. I got a few sponsors, and I think I took a month of community college when I got asked to go on tour and it was like, “Should I go on tour or should I keep going to school?” I hated going to school, so I pretty much chose skating. From there I got paid a little bit, got free stuff, and just had fun with it. It was never a conscious decision, but something I always wanted to happen and which I’m really psyched it did.

Let’s say the house is on fire and you’ve got time to grab three things. You have a lot of random stuff in here, but what’s really important?
My acoustic guitar, that banjo ’cause it’s not mine, and probably my iPod-or maybe my cell phone. Everything else is pretty replaceable. Maybe I would take my car keys.

What does a day off look like for you?
I work maybe four days a week. I’d say four. But I hang out with my girlfriend Sylvie and we make out. We hang out with her cats Hansel and Gretel and Adolph. We go to the library or go see a movie. We just lounge around the house, sweep, clean… Maybe I’ll play some golf. Whatever Sylvie wants to do. I’m good not doing anything. Seriously.

How did getting on Nike help your career? Did it jump-start your career or push it to the next level?
I wouldn’t say it jump-started anything, but they sure gave me a lot of shoes and have supported my feet. They definitely back me up and saw something in me that everybody else didn’t. Before that, I was on flow for all sorts of people, but I guess they didn’t have faith. But Nike has been there for me. I still remember the moment I was sitting outside of the Tum Yeto trade-show booth at the Children’s Museum right after the best trick contest with the San Dieguito rail. I couldn’t land sh-t, so I went outside to smoke a cigarette and Kevin (Imamura) asked me if I wanted some shoes, and I said “Yeah.” A few months later I told him I liked ’em and he asked me if I wanted to be on. I said, “Yeah, I do.

Earlier in your career it seemed like you were a machine. Why do you feel like it takes you so long, as you say, to handle business now? Is it because you don’t do the same kind of stuff you used to do? Are you too picky about what you let out?
I’ll be honest-I’m lazy. I just have to like the spot and be psyched on the trick. But 90 percent of it is just getting out there every day.

Doesn’t it matter that a random little kid has already done what you’re trying to do? That must bum you out.
It does and it doesn’t, man. As long as I didn’t see it, it doesn’t matter to me (laughs).

The other day I filmed you front feeble a long eight-stair rail. I was psyched on it, yeah, but you did it however many years ago. What makes you not want to go out and just hurricane another big rail?
It’s just a re-run. It’s like watching the episode of Gilligan’s Island every summer-for eight years. It’s nice to see and try and do something different. But why don’t I get sh-t done really fast all the time? ‘Cause I’m not that good. It’s really hard for me to get sh-t done. I don’t know why. I’m gonna say I’m not really that good of a skateboarder. I’m not that consistent.

This Nike video is their first offering and supposed to be this high-production thing. Do you feel pressure trying to film for that along with the next Stereo video?
Definitely. I’m sh-tting it. I just told you that’s hard for me to get sh-t done and actually be psyched on what I get. This is Nike’s first skateboarding video, so yes, I am sh-tting my pants. There’s a lot to live up to.

It’s their first video. Who do you have to live up to, Mike Jordan?
It’s Nike and it’s their first skate video. And they want me in it? I don’t know, it’s kind of frightening. But the video is going good. I’m slowly but surely getting footage.

Who would you rather meet: Michael Jackson or Magic Johnson?
Michael Johnson, the runner with the gold shoes, Olympic gold medalist. I did meet Carl Lewis at a mansion in France. It was my first Nike tour. We were hanging out at this mansion in the south of France, in Cannes, for this advertising festival, and we did a demo in a pool that had ramps inside. It was the sketchiest setup ever. Afterward, we partied at this mansion and Carl Lewis and the president of Nike, Phil Knight, flew in in a f-king helicopter. I shook Carl Lewis’ hand and he has huge hands. And he’s really tall.

When skateboarding is said and done, what will you be the most proud to have accomplished? Or is that something you still have yet to achieve?
That I liked skateboarding and decided to stick with it. It’s brought me to a lot of places that a lot of people never get to go to-all on a daily basis-the traveling. Just the randomness of it. And the hours are great.

If you do end up having to get a normal job and end up flipping burgers, will you be happy that at least for this part of your life, you didn’t have to conform to a nine-to-five?
Yeah. I’d have this snooty look on my face that I’ve been there and done that (laughs).


QUOTES

It’s not like I feel like some old-timer, but I never felt like I was boosted to stardom.

I always know who to look for when I want to see good skating. And I know where to not look.

I’ll always be the underdog. And that’s fine.

Maybe I won’t even put some of this sh-t in my video part. You never know.

I have one of the harshest McGill knees ever.

Some kids told me I’m their favorite skater and I go, “Thanks.” I don’t know if they mean it or not.

hat you’re trying to do? That must bum you out.
It does and it doesn’t, man. As long as I didn’t see it, it doesn’t matter to me (laughs).

The other day I filmed you front feeble a long eight-stair rail. I was psyched on it, yeah, but you did it however many years ago. What makes you not want to go out and just hurricane another big rail?
It’s just a re-run. It’s like watching the episode of Gilligan’s Island every summer-for eight years. It’s nice to see and try and do something different. But why don’t I get sh-t done really fast all the time? ‘Cause I’m not that good. It’s really hard for me to get sh-t done. I don’t know why. I’m gonna say I’m not really that good of a skateboarder. I’m not that consistent.

This Nike video is their first offering and supposed to be this high-production thing. Do you feel pressure tryiing to film for that along with the next Stereo video?
Definitely. I’m sh-tting it. I just told you that’s hard for me to get sh-t done and actually be psyched on what I get. This is Nike’s first skateboarding video, so yes, I am sh-tting my pants. There’s a lot to live up to.

It’s their first video. Who do you have to live up to, Mike Jordan?
It’s Nike and it’s their first skate video. And they want me in it? I don’t know, it’s kind of frightening. But the video is going good. I’m slowly but surely getting footage.

Who would you rather meet: Michael Jackson or Magic Johnson?
Michael Johnson, the runner with the gold shoes, Olympic gold medalist. I did meet Carl Lewis at a mansion in France. It was my first Nike tour. We were hanging out at this mansion in the south of France, in Cannes, for this advertising festival, and we did a demo in a pool that had ramps inside. It was the sketchiest setup ever. Afterward, we partied at this mansion and Carl Lewis and the president of Nike, Phil Knight, flew in in a f-king helicopter. I shook Carl Lewis’ hand and he has huge hands. And he’s really tall.

When skateboarding is said and done, what will you be the most proud to have accomplished? Or is that something you still have yet to achieve?
That I liked skateboarding and decided to stick with it. It’s brought me to a lot of places that a lot of people never get to go to-all on a daily basis-the traveling. Just the randomness of it. And the hours are great.

If you do end up having to get a normal job and end up flipping burgers, will you be happy that at least for this part of your life, you didn’t have to conform to a nine-to-five?
Yeah. I’d have this snooty look on my face that I’ve been there and done that (laughs).


QUOTES

It’s not like I feel like some old-timer, but I never felt like I was boosted to stardom.

I always know who to look for when I want to see good skating. And I know where to not look.

I’ll always be the underdog. And that’s fine.

Maybe I won’t even put some of this sh-t in my video part. You never know.

I have one of the harshest McGill knees ever.

Some kids told me I’m their favorite skater and I go, “Thanks.” I don’t know if they mean it or not.