Pat Duffy: Actually A Terminator


Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour

“Pat’s actually a Terminator. He came here from the future and then his program malfunctioned. So now he can fall on his face and it won’t hurt him.”-Joel Wrona, Questionable, Plan B (1992)

Well, Pat didn’t fall on his face this time. He fell about 23 feet from high above the quarterpipe at Bob Burnquist’s mega ramp and sustained multiple fractures to his knee. For many, a similar injury could be seen as a certain career ender. But talking to Pat only a couple of months after it happened, you’d think he was nursing an ingrown toenail. Duffy, like Danny Way, is nearly unstoppable. His internal drive to ride and progress on a skateboard, regardless of the terrain or circumstances is downright heroic. And for one of the most influential professionals to step on a skateboard over the past decade and a half, he is also one of the most humble dudes you will ever come across. The following interview is a checkup on Marin County’s favorite son. Ray Simmons notwithstanding.

I think everybody in skateboarding is rooting for you. So first off, how have you been doing since the mega ramp injury?
It’s been good. My leg’s been healing up super quick. I’m walking around now and all of that-off the crutches, so I’m pretty psyched.

What exactly happened? Can you explain what went down?
Oh, well I was skating Bob’s mega ramp and sort of bailed off the quarterpipe and jumped to the flatbottom. I basically broke my knee in a couple different places. But, you know, they put it back together with some screws and some metal, and now it’s all good.

You launched the gap first and then slammed?
Yeah, it’s just like in the X Games, you know? I aired the gap and then bailed an air on the quarterpipe. I had never hit anything that big before, so I guess it kind of threw me off.

It’s huge, right? How tall is that thing?
It’s like 23 feet or something like that. I’m not sure exactly, but it’s pretty big.

When did it happen, and how long do you think you’ll be out for?
It happened on November 26. I don’t know how long I’ll be out. It’s tough to say. It’s going real quick, though. I mean, I’m walking around and stuff. Last month I didn’t know when I was going to start feeling better, but this month it seems to be healing good. I’m mobile and everything now, so I should be skating around in about a month or so. Probably realistically be full force by the end of the summer.

Has Danny Way been coaching you at all on the rehabilitation front?
No, not yet. I’m actually pushing it by being off the crutches already. I’m supposed to start the rehab in a week-go to the full workout deal. I’ve already got just about full range of motion, so I think I’m a little bit ahead of schedule. I just have to build my muscle back up. It’s pretty atrophied right now-small and weak (laughs).

How many serious injuries have you come back from, and where would you rank this one?
Oh, I’ve never had anything this crazy before. I had surgery on my arm a few years back, but that’s like a whole different thing than your legs. With the arm, you throw a cast on there and you’re ready to skate around. This is completely different. But it’s still not the end of the world.

Would you ever go back to Bob’s?
Yeah, I’ll go back, for sure. That thing is so fun. It’s like the funnest thing ever. It’s so scary and rad-I love it. Just rolling in on that thing is a huge rush, man.

Were you padded up?
Yeah, I was in full pads. I just need to skate some vert first. I didn’t even warm up before I tried it. I don’t know what I was thinking. It just seemed so tempting just to go for it. I got up there and just felt like doing it. I got to that other wall and I was trying to do an Indy grab. I was trying to decompress so I wouldn’t go so high and ended up decompressing way too much and then ended up just blasting out to the flat. It was stupid.

Was Bob there?
Ye, he was there. He was cool about it. I just felt bad that I got hurt at his place, you know? But he was cool. Everyone there was cool. I got to the hospital real quick and took care of it.

Okay, enough injury talk. Where do you come down on this whole blank/shop board killing the professional controversy?
Yeah, well, it kind of is killing it. But at the same time, I don’t know. I mean, obviously in an ideal world it would be great if every kid went and bought a board with graphics on it and everything, but at the same time, everybody knows what it’s like to grow up f-kin’ broke. What are you gonna do? There really were no blanks around when I was growing up, so I had to go buy my Hensley King-Size. But for kids today, I can’t really be the guy to tell them what to buy. It sucks. I mean look at World (Industries). They kicked all the pros off because they don’t need them. I mean, that’s scary. In the future, how are we, as pros, gonna deal with it? I don’t know.

What about the idea that you need pros to push progression in skateboarding?
Yeah, again, it’s kind of a catch-22. Because having people take notice of videos and all that and specific pros in skating does help others get ideas to do something gnarlier. But who knows? It’s kind of arrogant at the same time to think as a pro you’re so valuable to all of skateboarding. I can’t really give a definitive answer. It’s a complicated situation.

How has the first year back on Plan B version 2.0 been?
It’s been awesome, man. I love our team. It’s so sick.

Any major differences this time around?
Oh yeah. It’s a whole different vibe obviously. But it’s great. It still stands for the same kind of love for progression and just love for skateboarding in general.

Paul Rodriguez was seven years old when your Questionable (’92) part came out, but he recently named you as the all-time greatest Plan B rider. How does that feel?
Dude, I read that just a couple of days ago. I was reading through it and I was just like, “What?” That was insane. I was surprised to hear that out of Paul, and I was pretty psyched that he would give me such an honor. Paul is the coolest. He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met. When I read that, coming from him, it was just awesome.

Is it crazy skating around with the younger dudes on the team?
Yeah, I skate with PJ (Ladd) a whole lot and the other guys off and on. But it’s just insane how good they are. Like (Ryan) Gallant, I’ve never even seen him skate in person, but every time he comes around, he just has a ton of footage. But skating with PJ, I’m just amazed every time I skate with him. He’s so good it’s retarded.

Does it push you to keep progressing?
Well, you know I don’t really skate the same style as them. I’m not really like a tech ledge dude like PJ, but I just admire him so much because he literally skates more then anybody I’ve ever seen. It’s so f-king rad. He’ll be out skating flatground at like nine in the morning. I’m so impressed with that dude. Not just his skating. He’s just the coolest dude.

Can anybody fill the shoes of Mike Ternasky?
No. It’s hard to compare any one person to what he did, you know? Our guy Tom (Jones) really works his ass off, though. Tom’s basically our brand manager, so he kind of envisions the direction the company should be going and all that. For Plan B, we had Jason Maxwell doing the team management for a while, but I think he was more the team manager for all of Syndrome Distribution. Plan B itself just got a brand-new team manager devoted only to our brand, this guy named Sean Hayes from Canada. We’re pretty psyched on that.

Who handles the Plan B team video editing?
We have a whole editing bay setup at Colin’s (McKay) house, and we all end up pitching in with ideas and whatnot. Jody (Morris) does a lot of the actual work on it. So does Colin.

Have any deadlines been penciled in for the new full-length video?
Well, we just put out the promo, so as of right now, everyone is just trying to film. There haven’t really been any deadlines laid down yet. Everybody is just getting footy, and we’re playing it by ear.

Was that your first triple-kinker in the Live After Death promo?
Yeah, was it triple? I guess it was my first one. I’ve grinded some weird park kinkers, but I guess that one was the first street triple deal. That one was pretty fun. It was scary. You get going real fast by the time you’re at the bottom of it.

Is it true that every member of Plan B is a part owner?
Yeah. Basically everybody is their own boss under Plan B. Everybody is working for themselves. Everybody’s got a piece of it and it’s like… I don’t know, f-k, can we just skip that one (laughs)?

Sure. Without naming names, have there been people proposed for the team that got a no vote?
Well, there’s names that are being thrown around all the time, so yeah. Some names didn’t make it. But it’s just up to the team. It’s more about getting people that all work well together.

After all these years, what kind of inner drive do you need to keep innovating on a skateboard?
I really wouldn’t consider myself an innovator to tell you the truth. But I live for skateboarding. I mean, I love going out every day and doing it. I still sit there when I’m trying to go to sleep and try to think up new tricks. I still dream about it. This is the longest I’ve ever had to take off of my board and it’s literally, literally killing me not to be able to skate. When it comes down to it, I just love skateboarding, period. I’ll keep doing it no matter what. I just try to push myself every day-get out there in the trenches and get dirty, man.

Are you pretty much sober these days?
Yeah, what I do these days is just try to moderate things. It’s really hard to just beat the party out of yourself. You can sit there and say, “I’m not gonna do it,” but then when you really want to, why fight it? I’m a natural-born rager, and I just accept that. But what I do these days is I just pick and choose. I’m not going out every night like I used to years ago, living in San Francisco, going balls to the wall every night like, “F-k it!” But by no means am I sober. I just know that when I go out now that I’m gonna need a day or two to lay around and do nothing. I don’t do it all the time because when I do it, I don’t have the personality type to kind of dabble. I go all out. So now, I do about two big ones a month and then just chill the rest of the time.

What trick are you most proud of from your early Plan B parts?
Ummm (laughs). I don’t really think about it like that. I don’t know. I’m just proud to have been a part of those videos as a whole. Just to have them to look back on is great.

I think kids who weren’t even around back then are going back now and watching those videos for the first time and realizing how gnarly they still are.
Yeah, totally. It’s rad. I mean, it feels good that kids would take the time to actually go back and watch those.

Do you think skateboarding has changed in the sense that something from fifteen years ago can still be completely relevant now, whereas in ’92, only like three years earlier Hosoi was still rocking spandex at Savannah Slammah III (’89) and it was completely incompatible with current skating trends at the time?
But Hosoi in spandex is still cool (laughs). No, I know what you mean, though. I think skating got more stable after some weird transitions. I’m still trying to find Sick Boys (’88) on DVD. I grew up on that video, man. Tommy (Guerrero), Natas, Julien Stranger, Mic-E (Reyes), f-kin’ BK, the voice-over. I loved that thing.

What got your relationship with Autobahn going?
Just through Jason Rogers and me being friends. We’ve known each other for years from back in the Pacific Drive days and then a couple of years ago-actually about five years ago now-I saw him at the bar, and he waput out the promo, so as of right now, everyone is just trying to film. There haven’t really been any deadlines laid down yet. Everybody is just getting footy, and we’re playing it by ear.

Was that your first triple-kinker in the Live After Death promo?
Yeah, was it triple? I guess it was my first one. I’ve grinded some weird park kinkers, but I guess that one was the first street triple deal. That one was pretty fun. It was scary. You get going real fast by the time you’re at the bottom of it.

Is it true that every member of Plan B is a part owner?
Yeah. Basically everybody is their own boss under Plan B. Everybody is working for themselves. Everybody’s got a piece of it and it’s like… I don’t know, f-k, can we just skip that one (laughs)?

Sure. Without naming names, have there been people proposed for the team that got a no vote?
Well, there’s names that are being thrown around all the time, so yeah. Some names didn’t make it. But it’s just up to the team. It’s more about getting people that all work well together.

After all these years, what kind of inner drive do you need to keep innovating on a skateboard?
I really wouldn’t consider myself an innovator to tell you the truth. But I live for skateboarding. I mean, I love going out every day and doing it. I still sit there when I’m trying to go to sleep and try to think up new tricks. I still dream about it. This is the longest I’ve ever had to take off of my board and it’s literally, literally killing me not to be able to skate. When it comes down to it, I just love skateboarding, period. I’ll keep doing it no matter what. I just try to push myself every day-get out there in the trenches and get dirty, man.

Are you pretty much sober these days?
Yeah, what I do these days is just try to moderate things. It’s really hard to just beat the party out of yourself. You can sit there and say, “I’m not gonna do it,” but then when you really want to, why fight it? I’m a natural-born rager, and I just accept that. But what I do these days is I just pick and choose. I’m not going out every night like I used to years ago, living in San Francisco, going balls to the wall every night like, “F-k it!” But by no means am I sober. I just know that when I go out now that I’m gonna need a day or two to lay around and do nothing. I don’t do it all the time because when I do it, I don’t have the personality type to kind of dabble. I go all out. So now, I do about two big ones a month and then just chill the rest of the time.

What trick are you most proud of from your early Plan B parts?
Ummm (laughs). I don’t really think about it like that. I don’t know. I’m just proud to have been a part of those videos as a whole. Just to have them to look back on is great.

I think kids who weren’t even around back then are going back now and watching those videos for the first time and realizing how gnarly they still are.
Yeah, totally. It’s rad. I mean, it feels good that kids would take the time to actually go back and watch those.

Do you think skateboarding has changed in the sense that something from fifteen years ago can still be completely relevant now, whereas in ’92, only like three years earlier Hosoi was still rocking spandex at Savannah Slammah III (’89) and it was completely incompatible with current skating trends at the time?
But Hosoi in spandex is still cool (laughs). No, I know what you mean, though. I think skating got more stable after some weird transitions. I’m still trying to find Sick Boys (’88) on DVD. I grew up on that video, man. Tommy (Guerrero), Natas, Julien Stranger, Mic-E (Reyes), f-kin’ BK, the voice-over. I loved that thing.

What got your relationship with Autobahn going?
Just through Jason Rogers and me being friends. We’ve known each other for years from back in the Pacific Drive days and then a couple of years ago-actually about five years ago now-I saw him at the bar, and he was just like, “Dude, you need to have a wheel on Autobahn.” I told him, “Let’s get it going. Make it orange.” And that’s pretty much how it happened.

Wasn’t your wheel a bestseller for a second?
Yeah, with the clear orange. Doug (Johnson), the owner was telling me that people just loved that wheel for some reason. I dig that company. I’m psyched on being a part of it.

Do you have any idea why Darrell Stanton left?
No. I can’t really say anything about that because I wasn’t involved with it at all.

What’s the gnarliest thing you ever saw D. Way do in person?
Oh god. On or off a skateboard? The G-rated version or the R-rated one? That Bricktown 360 from Virtual Reality (’93) that he did over the whole box was pretty gnarly. Then again, the El Camino he just did in the X Games was pretty damn ridiculous-the rocket backflip. I remember when he wanted to go grind that rail we both have slams on in Virtual Reality. That sketchy kinked rail with the drop thing on it. I couldn’t believe he wanted to do it. It was all him. I was just there and figured I’d skate it to help him out, and we both just got served.

Who were the main dudes from Marin County that you looked up to when you were coming up?
Ray Simmons, Jeff Petit, Joel Wrona, John Minton-those dudes were the best around Marin. I was a little younger than them. After they all finished high school and went off to college or whatever, it was kind of our own little scene after they left.

Who was the first professional skateboarder you saw in person?
Danny Sargent came and skated my mini ramp. That was the first pro I ever saw. I was psyched. A bunch of people from around the Bay used to come skate it.

Was Plan B your first sponsor ever, shop, flow or otherwise?
I rode for Marin Surf Sports before that. Jeff Petit also ended up giving my footage tape to Dave Andrecht at H-Street, and they ended up sending me boards for a couple of months. Ternasky basically knew me through that, and then when he started Plan B he asked me to ride for it.

Is it fair to say you’ve had the most hyped sponsor-me tape of all time, seeing as a lot of it ended up in Questionable?
I don’t know. I still have the tape lying around. It barely plays anymore, though. One of my friends actually put it on DVD just recently. Most of the stuff that ended up in Questionable was that S.F. State rail footage, and then a ton of the other footage was just stuff Ternasky filmed of me trying to get on the team.

What words of wisdom would you like to drop on some younger dudes out there looking to make a career in skateboarding?
Uhhh… (laughs). Skate every day. Don’t slack. I don’t know. I guess just try to have a positive attitude about anything that comes your way. As far as words of wisdom-it’s tough these days. I guess just love skateboarding. Paul (Rodriguez) said something really good about it in his interview. I guess he can explain it better than me.

If you could do one thing over in your life, what would it be?
Well, that’s a tough one. I mean to really answer that I’d have to start from the beginning. I’ve been pretty blessed. I’ll tell you what though, I should have jumped off on that air, man (laughs).

Do you still do it for you-so that you can have the personal satisfaction of doing it?
I definitely am (laughs). Yes. F-k the deadline. I’m doing it for me.