Roll Call – Danny Gonzales

Roll Call

Danny Gonzales

Second At Bat

How many times can you pass Go on the Monopoly board of life? Sometimes you only get one chance and then it’s gone. But if you’re lucky and persistent, you might just get another shot.

The thing about the second time around is that you get the opportunity to retrace a path you’ve already traveled before. With the invariable truths behind the notion of trial and error, you will certainly tread with more lesson-learned wisdom on that second pass.

Danny Gonzales took three years off before queuing up for his second run. Back up on the crest of a wave he’s already ridden, Danny seems to be cutting a slightly different line on this pass around the board. The following is a rundown of his second at bat, and what he learned from the first one.

Can we call it a comeback?

I think Shiloh (Greathouse) already handled that.

When did you fall in love with skateboarding?

At the end of 1987. My brother and his friends were into it, and that’s kind of what got me into it. I started watching Animal Chin and Streets Of Fire and all those videos. My favorite skaters at the time were like Natas (Kaupas), the Gonz, Rodney Mullen, and Tommy Guerrero.

Best trick in Questionable?

Probably Mike Ternasky getting such a diverse group of skateboarders on the same page and coming through with one of the most amazing videos of all time.

How quick did “blowing up” happen for you?

Well, pretty quickly, really. Right around the time I got sponsored, I went out to San Francisco for three weeks, shot some photos, and then went back to San Antonio. My first photo that ever came out was the cover of Thrasher. I went back out to live in San Francisco, and at that point I started getting massive amounts of coverage for Spitfire, Thunder, Freedumb clothing, Lucky’s, and Stereo. It was kind of weird at the time. I mean, I came from nothing, pretty much. I’d been kicked out of my house, I didn’t finish school, I was living at my friend Charlie’s house with my friends Ricky and Ellis, and things were just really complicated at that time. I had broken up with my girlfriend-it was like a real low point for me, and getting sponsored became like my one chance to make it. Based on the situation I was in, I just wanted it so bad. I think my sponsors could feel that, and they did pretty much everything in their power to help me out with that. All the same, I had some mixed emotions about it. Like, getting the cover was great, but to me, I knew it wasn’t a make, so it was kind of strange. A lot of the “blowing up” stuff seemed to be so out of my hands at times.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your first pass through the skateboard industry?

First off, just to be a part of it is a blessing, but I’ve learned a lot of things. I guess this time around I want to have more fun with it, you know?

How did you go from wanting it so bad to almost wanting to quit?

Once I got involved with it and was going on tour and all of that, I just had all these experiences that were very eye-opening. I mean, some of my teammates were just really harsh toward me. I remember one of the riders pinning me down while another dude punched me in the face until I had bruises on my face. Other instances of getting heroin for a stripper and watching her cook it and shoot it or just crazy fights with gutter punks. I don’t know, as a kid getting sponsored, I just had this vision of riding for a company where everybody on the team was really supportive of each other. It just all seemed kind of Mafioso, to be honest. I mean, I remember being told that if I ever left the team I’d get beat up. I laughed at the time, but later on when I left, that’s pretty much what happened. I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore and eventually I had enough.

Run down the day you kickflip meloned the Wallenberg four.

I remember telling Ty (Evans) that I wanted to do it, and I thought thaI could. This was back in 2000 and I was in the middle of filming a part for The Reason. He came down with Danny Montoya, Gershon (Mosley), Moses Itkonen, and Jon Holland, and we had been skating around The City. Eventually, he kind of put it on me a little, like, “No one is really down to do anything today, so we should go to Wallenberg.” I knew that since I had mentioned it, I didn’t really have a choice. We went there-I was kind of scared but ended up getting lucky and made it on the first attempt.

Are you better than Mark Gonzales?

(Laughs) Honestly, I had no idea what was going on when I heard that one. I remember skating the Pier and some guy starts yelling at me like, “Who do you think you are? You think you deserve as much money as Mark Gonzales?” I was completely speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I had never even talked to this guy. I remember going home and just telling my roommate, who didn’t skate, like, “Man, the weirdest thing happened to me today.” Eventually, it started to make sense to me. At the time I quit Stereo, I remembered the team manager saying, “I’m going to do everything in my power to ruin you. I’m going to make sure you never skate for another company again.” And he did, you know? He caused a lot of damage. To this day, a lot of people wonder if that’s who I am. I had come to realize that no one in the industry wanted to touch me-no one. Luckily, I found Chapman Skateboards nine months later.

Who calls the biggest shots in skateboarding?

I’d say company owners in general-they pull all the strings.

Why did you leave?

After my ACL surgery in 2000, I came back, filmed a few parts, and then hurt my knee again. It was hard to live up to my The Reason part. I kind of lost who I was and why I was doing it. Instead of me having fun and being creative, I kind of got caught up watching other skaters and the way they skated. I got distracted. At a certain point, I just decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I called all my sponsors-I called Globe, Ghetto Child, and Split Clothing, and I just told them that I didn’t want to skate professionally anymore. They asked me what I was going to do, and I just told them I needed to live a normal life. I needed to clear my head.

Describe some of the bigger life lessons you retained from the last three years.

Working real jobs sucks-that’s my big life lesson (laughs). No seriously, be thankful for what you have because it could be gone tomorrow.

What jobs did you work?

I worked at Sports Chalet in the golf department. I like golfing a lot, so that was really interesting. It was like working in a skate shop-you got all the videos and all the magazines, and people come in and ask you about certain swings. Then I worked at a skate shop called The Board Gallery for a while.

So what changed in your life that made get you back into it?

After three years, I don’t know, things started to come around. I started to realize why I did it in the first place. I guess I started to miss the things about skateboarding that made it what it is. Aaron Yeager was probably the guy responsible for me even getting back on a board. He was just always trying to get me to go skate, and then when I would, I’d be like, “Oh man, I’m actually still okay at this.” I just started skating more and more, and it started getting good again. I did want to mention (Steve) Berra giving me the key to his park. I skated it every day for nine months. I don’t know too many people that would’ve done that, and I want to give a big thanks to him. Thanks, Steve.

When was the last time you talked to Chris Pastras?

Actually, after I left Stereo we were still really good friends. As time went on, we kind of drifted apart. I hope all that is patched up, though. I kind of saw him as a big brother. I really want to apologize to Chris. At the time that I left Stereo, I never really talked to him about it because a lot of that damage had already been done. But I should have handled it better. He deserved better than that. I’m sorry, Chris.

What has changed in skateboarding since you took your leave of absence?

Right off the bat-all the young kids skating. They’re like robots-nollie flip, nollie heelflip-to this, to that, down a rail, over a gap. It’s like, come on. Where did all the creativity go? Guys like Natas or Mark Gonzales? I will say, though, I was really stoked to see the whole IPath thing do well. I really enjoy watching those guys’ skating. I like seeing Ocean Howell skating again, too.

Where do you feel most at home?

Whenever I’m around good friends.

Do you have any regrets?

I regret how I quit Stereo. I don’t regret quitting per se, but I regret the way that I did it. For all the things that happened between me and Mic-E (Reyes), I sincerely do want to apologize and say I’m sorry. When I came into it, he really did help me out as much as possible. Deluxe as a whole helped me get as much coverage as possible. He looked out for me, and for me to up and leave the way I did was probably like stepping on his heart. He put himself out there for me. There are two sides to the coin, and I want to take responsibility for my actions.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

For right now, all I want to do is skateboard. I want to give to skateboarding. I hope that I can show people new things that can be done on a skateboard. That’s pretty much all I want to do right now. For the next ten years, I have no idea. All I can do is wait and see how people respond to my coverage. Hopefully, I can become a legitimate professional skateboarder again.

Do things appear different this time around?

This time around, it’s not about parties and girls and nonsense. This time around I know what it really comes down to-your abilities on a skateboard and what you want to contribute to skateboarding.

Danny would like to thank these people:

Jozul, Shorty, Mike S., Mike K., Chris K., Gnar Bro, Alex L., Seu T., Willie T., Ever, Alison D. at Bloc, Satva, Jason H., Aaron Y., Romy B., Shiloh G., Stacey L., Joey P., Rochelle a.k.a. Roach, Goodtimes Skate Shop in San Antonio, Projects bolts, Bueno, and TransWorld.

. But I should have handled it better. He deserved better than that. I’m sorry, Chris.

What has changed in skateboarding since you took your leave of absence?

Right off the bat-all the young kids skating. They’re like robots-nollie flip, nollie heelflip-to this, to that, down a rail, over a gap. It’s like, come on. Where did all the creativity go? Guys like Natas or Mark Gonzales? I will say, though, I was really stoked to see the whole IPath thing do well. I really enjoy watching those guys’ skating. I like seeing Ocean Howell skating again, too.

Where do you feel most at home?

Whenever I’m around good friends.

Do you have any regrets?

I regret how I quit Stereo. I don’t regret quitting per se, but I regret the way that I did it. For all the things that happened between me and Mic-E (Reyes), I sincerely do want to apologize and say I’m sorry. When I came into it, he really did help me out as much as possible. Deluxe as a whole helped me get as much coverage as possible. He looked out for me, and for me to up and leave the way I did was probably like stepping on his heart. He put himself out there for me. There are two sides to the coin, and I want to take responsibility for my actions.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

For right now, all I want to do is skateboard. I want to give to skateboarding. I hope that I can show people new things that can be done on a skateboard. That’s pretty much all I want to do right now. For the next ten years, I have no idea. All I can do is wait and see how people respond to my coverage. Hopefully, I can become a legitimate professional skateboarder again.

Do things appear different this time around?

This time around, it’s not about parties and girls and nonsense. This time around I know what it really comes down to-your abilities on a skateboard and what you want to contribute to skateboarding.

Danny would like to thank these people:

Jozul, Shorty, Mike S., Mike K., Chris K., Gnar Bro, Alex L., Seu T., Willie T., Ever, Alison D. at Bloc, Satva, Jason H., Aaron Y., Romy B., Shiloh G., Stacey L., Joey P., Rochelle a.k.a. Roach, Goodtimes Skate Shop in San Antonio, Projects bolts, Bueno, and TransWorld.