GREG LUTZKA: MILWAUKEE, WISCONSON
By Sean Mortimer
When did you start skating and what was the local scene like?
It was 1995, right when the Toy Machine videos came out like Welcome to Hell. There were only around five people in my middle school who skateboarded and there were no skateparks. In the summertime, we’d skate street and they had these skate jams put on by PUPIL—People Uplifting People In Life. They’d have little contests, nothing too crazy. In the wintertime, we’d stop skating and I’d go snowboarding or play hockey but more and more I just got into skating and by the time I was 16, a skatepark opened called Four Seasons Skatepark and that’s what I skated a lot in the winter.
How did you hook up with your local crew?
I started skating in fifth or sixth grade and we just skated together. All the friends I grew up skating with are out here in California with me. Some of them don’t even skate anymore—they live in Milwaukee and work nine-to-five jobs and party, to be honest with you. Sometimes I’ll go back and call them to go skate and they’ll push around but they don’t skate every day.
Was there a favorite spot where people would hook up?
We didn’t have a car so we’d skate Bay View, the south side of Milwaukee. It’s kind of close to downtown so we’d skate there and the schools. You could just walk outside your door and cruise around, skate five different schools. It was only a five-minute bus ride to downtown. We’d take our boards to school and go skate across the street at the Humble park ledges. We weren’t jumping down nothing crazy, but just goof around stuff. We’d skate a set of a five and a four at a school. But I’d never even dropped in on a quarterpipe until the skatepark opened when I was 16, 17.
Some of my favorite spots were Bay View High School, the five and four set. We’d skate—[asks friend] hey, what would we skate? I’m with my friend Joey right now. We’d skate Little Ceasers ledges, the ledges by the library that are really bad to skate nowadays. I can’t even believe we skated that. Just lots of random things. No crazy spots, just having fun. Bombing hills, kind of just cruising the streets more, you know?
How hard was it move away from Milwaukee?
I moved when I was 18 to Huntington Beach to the Regency Palms right on Warner Avenue with two of my good friends I grew up with skating. I wanted to get out of Milwaukee because of the weather. I’d seen how many spots were out here and the ground is seriously ridiculous at these schools—it’s so smooth. The weather sold me. Winters [in Milwaukee] are tough. The first month, you’re like, all right, but then you get into it and you’re like, “Damn, we have five more months of this?” You have to warm up your car for half an hour just to drive to the store, let alone trying to skate. If you go to the skatepark and throw your board in the trunk, your bushings are frozen by the time you get to the park and you have to take an hour to warm them up. I go back and visit but I couldn’t see myself moving back. I have more friends here than back in Milwaukee.
How did Milwaukee shape your attitude towards skating? It seems that a lot of skaters from harsher climates really appreciate their skate time because it can be limited.
I think some of the guys from Southern California can take it for granted because it’s so nice. Guys like Rowley and Appleyard from other places where the ground is rough and it’s freezing for half the year—they’re out here and stoked to be able to ride a skateboard for a living and able to do it twelve months a year. They don’t take it for granted and that’s why they are where they are.
Can you see yourself moving back to Milwaukee?
I don’t think I could move back. I own a house in Huntington and a house in Mission Viejo. If I were to lose professional skateboarding tomorrow, I’d still have connections to get a job in something that I love to do. If I were back in Milwaukee, I’d be working in a bar or a pizza joint. Here I could just call up Rodney [Mullen] and say, “Give me a job at Dwindle!”
Are you ever going to have a California area code on your cell phone?
No, because I’ve had the same number since I was sixteen. I have—[checks phone] 998 contacts on this phone and I don’t want to have to call every single person to tell them I have a California area code.
So it’s not sentimental, it’s logistical.
I’ll get random calls from people I went to school with and gave them my number when I was sixteen. I don’t think I’ll change my number—just make sure you don’t put it in this article.
More Lutzka! Greglutzka.tv
Mortimer wrote some books with Hawk, Mullen, Daewon, Olson, Vallely, Haslam, etc.
Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder