A-Team Tour

When I approached the editors of TransWorld about covering the A-Team’s mini East Coast Tour, they told me they wanted something different than the usual “On day six, we went here and did this” story. Now, how this particular responsibility fell on my shoulders and not those of any other double-load-carrying senior photographer/contributing writer, I have no idea, but the task was mine, so I set my devious mind in motion.

I devised a standard questionnaire, which I gave to each of the riders on the A-Team East Coast Tour¿Marc Johnson, Dave Mayhew, Gershon Mosley, and Rodney Mullen. The questions were based on industry rumors, my observations, and my skateboarding roommates’ concerns. After Marc Johnson answered the questionnaire, he wrote me a personal note, “Here are the answers to your dumb interview. Please tell me you were high on crack when you thought of these questions, and all shall be forgiven.” Oh well, that’s what happens when you rely on your friends to help you with a group interview.

In short, I think you can get a glimpse of each skater’s personality through his answers. I leave it up to you to carry on and weigh the questions yourself, and call or write to complain if they really make your stomach turn. Remember, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And as TransWorld SKATEboarding Photo Editor Grant Brittain once prescribed: “If you think you can do better, prove it. Those who can, will do so; those who can’t, will simply critique them.”

Dave Mayhew

Why did you leave your last sponsor to join the A-Team?

Leaving Maple was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Those guys mean everything to me, I couldn’t be where I am now without them. But on the other hand, to have a chance with the A-Team is the best thing. Also, my style of skating is more enjoyed with the A-Team, and Rodney is the best.

In general, where do you see skating going? The Olympics?

That would be incredible, but also not needed. The only people who care about skating are skaters. Those events and the X-Games are making skateboarding huge, but we still get treated like a bunch of little street rats. Besides vert, real skating came from the streets. If you fall, nobody brings you water and first aid. I think deep down inside, people love that. You can go wherever your board takes you.

Do you think kids will find skating too hard and quit to take up Rollerblading?

I think kids misunderstand skating. Your first trick shouldn’t be a hardflip. What happened to ollies, 180s, and shove-its? Everybody can learn to ollie. If Rollerbladers would just give it a chance, they might be able to understand the beauty.

Ten things you don’t leave for tour without:

Clean gear, MiniDisc player, bathroom supplies, ghetto camera, product, Game Boy, reading materials, and extra money.

Top-ten albums to take on the road:

Now that I have a MiniDisc player, I make mixed CDs, ranging from hip-hop to jazz. But before I’d take some Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Boot Camp Clik, Erykah Badu, Gang Starr, Outkast, and Donger’s “Positive Vibes” mix.

Describe each of your teamates in five words or less.

Marc¿amazing talent.

Rodney¿the all-knowing.

Gershon¿can do any trick, “the one-man demo.”

Chet¿pro.

Closing comments/words of wisdom:

Let your skating do the talking, and don’t let anybody say you can’t accomplish something. Gershon Mosley

Why did you leave your last sponsor to join the A-Team?

Rodney asked me to ride for the team.

What defines the A-Team? What sets the A-Team apart from the other eight-billion board companies out there?

It’s about my friends. What defines the A-Team is the individuals who ride for it. What sets it apart is that everyone’s a skateboarder and we’re all moving forward.

What makes the A-Team better than your pastoard sponsors?

I know everyone, no one is fake, and I know the deal.

What is the criteria for joining the team?

We all have to agree who rides for it.

What or how do you feel about Bill Weiss’ comments on the A-Team in his Big Brother interview?

Who cares? Where is he?

Who were your biggest influences as you grew up skating? Who influences you now?

Rodney, Gonz, Natas, Mike Vallely, Chris Miller, Frankie Hill¿anyone who did their own thing.

In general, where do you see skating going? The Olympics?

Forward.

Do you think kids will find skating too hard and quit to take up Rollerblading?

Yes, because it takes more than just the physical aspect and fruitbooting does not take too much mental.

Explain the importance or unimportance of contests.

I skateboard, I don’t compete.

Do you notice a difference between East and West Coast skating? For that matter, between NorCal and So Cal?

There’re the same types of skateboarding everywhere.

Who won, Rodney or Daewon?

Does it matter? They both did.

Ten things you don’t leave for tour without:

I try to leave with as little as possible.

Closing comments/words of wisdom:

Skate for fun.

Describe a typical day:

Typical.

Describe the A-Team in five words or less.

Rodney¿books, brains, notes, precision, caring.

Marc¿dependable, witty, perfection, collector, artist, hilarious.

Chet¿business, plans, leader, champion, consistent.

Dave¿short, tech, language, Napoleon, average.Marc Johnson

What makes the A-Team better than your past board sponsors?

I can get shoe strings and play golf at our offices.

What is the criteria for joining the team?

We’re no longer taking applications for board members¿ quotas have been met in our department. But three-fifths of the committee are accepting applications based on height, weight, hair and eye color, and bust size, of course. Oh, and we do give second interviews¿in person.

Who were your biggest influences as you grew up skating? Who influences you now?

Seth Rohde, Richardson Tally, Grant Meadows, Thomas Georgoulias, Jason Newman, and Ralph Quitter. And as I got older, I admired Salman Agah, Jason Lee, Brian Lotti, Jovante Turner, and on and on. The smoothies. Now, I look upward for guidance, using my soul as a window to heaven¿sort of like a kaleidoscope.

Do you think kids will find skating too hard and quit to take up Rollerblading?

Everyone finds skating too hard.

Explain the importance or unimportance of contests.

I think contests really build character in a person. We never know what the course will look like, and who will win is always such a big mystery. The anticipation is almost too unbearable for words, seeing how it’s always such a close call.

I remember playing basketball at this kid’s house where I used to live. He would cheat, and I, in turn, would kick his ass right in front of his grandmother. She seemed to really enjoy the whole contest aspect of it. But I really think she lost respect for him, because he got his ass kicked in his own yard time after time. She may have even stopped loving him.

Do you notice a difference between East and West Coast skating? For that matter, between NorCal and So Cal? If so, please describe.

You sweat faster in the East, and you get dustier in So Cal. You can scrape the smog off your arms in L.A., while on the East Coast, you can just scrape the mosquitoes off.

Worst and best tour experiences:

The worst was getting struck by lightning on the golf course in Florida. We called a taxi to go to the hospital, taxis being much cheaper than ambulances, and who showed up driving the cab? My long-lost father. I changed that afternoon.

The best was this summer in New York. We stayed in midtown Manhattan, and partied with two of the funnest girls.

Last five books you read/five favorite books:

Lolita by Nabakov, Collected Short Stories by Huxley, Transformer: The Lou Reed Story by Bockris, The Captian Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship by Charles Bukowski, and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

Closing comments/words of wisdom:

Keep your eyes and ears open, and keep your mouth shut.
Why did you choose the animal you did for your board graphic, and what, if any, significance does it have for you?

Because the panther is a symbol for virility. And as the ladies may or may not know, I can be a kitten behind closed doors.

Rodney Mullen

Why did you leave your last sponsor to join the A-Team?

When you work so hard for that many years on an elite team like Plan B, it’s hard to just walk away¿no matter how obvious it is you should leave. I wanted to be part of a team where there were no weak links¿part of a smaller team where everybody was really hungry, where there’s not just one or two guys carrying the rest. I wanted to be on a team where everybody’s contribution could stand alone.

What is the A-Team all about? What defines the A-Team?

Dedicated skateboarding¿that’s a lot rarer than it sounds. We’ve all been around enough to see past the crap that comes along with the pro lifestyle. No one is carried away with trying to be some kind of flashy star or something they’re not. They’re all true skaters with no attitudes¿it’s about as real as it gets. Plus, there’s a lot more to each guy than his skating.

Is the A-Team complete?

There’s a place for an am when we see the right one.

Who influences you now?

Gershon and Jeremy Wray because their skating comes from such a different perspective than mine. It’s hard to explain, but they make me focus better. Daewon and Marc because we think alike on what we can do with what we have. Kareem because he messes with me so much, that I have to do better stuff to spite him. There’re more, but those are the real day-to-day ones.

Where is skateboarding headed?

More diversity.

Explain the importance or unimportance of contests.

They should have “street contests,” and call the ones they have now “obstacle contests.”

It seems people either loved your video parts and watched the entire thing in slow-mo, or didn’t, and instead pressed fast-forward. In an early Big Brother article, you once compared your ability to being able to ” … juggle ten chainsaws at once, but nobody cared … ” Do you still feel that way? If so, why start a company? If not, why has the public perception shifted back toward technical skating?

Skating is always in flux. The Hegelian thesis/antithesis overcompensation act¿tricks may get ridiculously technical, only to rebound with bigger basic, ad nauseam. Trends jump back and forth, driving the whole sport forward. Where am I in all this? For the last few years I’ve been trying to learn more to adapt to regular street- skating stuff. I’m learning to fly a little and jump on little rails; I learned how to ollie up tables. So I’ve adapted to the stuff the rest of the guys do, and I’m happy because it feels like the first time I’ve been part of skateboarding as a whole.

It skateboarding’s progression forces me, and I react accordingly. In the end, I’ll always be technical. Hopefully I can influence skateboarding a little more. Guys like Jamie Thomas will push it in their direction¿bigger for the most part, because that’s what they do best¿and skating as a whole reaches higher.

What were your worst and best tour experiences?

Worst tour experience, coming back to a hotel filled with water and surrounded by fire engines, knowing that although I wasn’t there, I was responsible. And I was …

Best tour experience, real live ghost in the room that knocked over a lamp, broke a bulb, threw a lampshade, slammed th two of the funnest girls.

Last five books you read/five favorite books:

Lolita by Nabakov, Collected Short Stories by Huxley, Transformer: The Lou Reed Story by Bockris, The Captian Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship by Charles Bukowski, and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

Closing comments/words of wisdom:

Keep your eyes and ears open, and keep your mouth shut.
Why did you choose the animal you did for your board graphic, and what, if any, significance does it have for you?

Because the panther is a symbol for virility. And as the ladies may or may not know, I can be a kitten behind closed doors.

Rodney Mullen

Why did you leave your last sponsor to join the A-Team?

When you work so hard for that many years on an elite team like Plan B, it’s hard to just walk away¿no matter how obvious it is you should leave. I wanted to be part of a team where there were no weak links¿part of a smaller team where everybody was really hungry, where there’s not just one or two guys carrying the rest. I wanted to be on a team where everybody’s contribution could stand alone.

What is the A-Team all about? What defines the A-Team?

Dedicated skateboarding¿that’s a lot rarer than it sounds. We’ve all been around enough to see past the crap that comes along with the pro lifestyle. No one is carried away with trying to be some kind of flashy star or something they’re not. They’re all true skaters with no attitudes¿it’s about as real as it gets. Plus, there’s a lot more to each guy than his skating.

Is the A-Team complete?

There’s a place for an am when we see the right one.

Who influences you now?

Gershon and Jeremy Wray because their skating comes from such a different perspective than mine. It’s hard to explain, but they make me focus better. Daewon and Marc because we think alike on what we can do with what we have. Kareem because he messes with me so much, that I have to do better stuff to spite him. There’re more, but those are the real day-to-day ones.

Where is skateboarding headed?

More diversity.

Explain the importance or unimportance of contests.

They should have “street contests,” and call the ones they have now “obstacle contests.”

It seems people either loved your video parts and watched the entire thing in slow-mo, or didn’t, and instead pressed fast-forward. In an early Big Brother article, you once compared your ability to being able to ” … juggle ten chainsaws at once, but nobody cared … ” Do you still feel that way? If so, why start a company? If not, why has the public perception shifted back toward technical skating?

Skating is always in flux. The Hegelian thesis/antithesis overcompensation act¿tricks may get ridiculously technical, only to rebound with bigger basic, ad nauseam. Trends jump back and forth, driving the whole sport forward. Where am I in all this? For the last few years I’ve been trying to learn more to adapt to regular street- skating stuff. I’m learning to fly a little and jump on little rails; I learned how to ollie up tables. So I’ve adapted to the stuff the rest of the guys do, and I’m happy because it feels like the first time I’ve been part of skateboarding as a whole.

It skateboarding’s progression forces me, and I react accordingly. In the end, I’ll always be technical. Hopefully I can influence skateboarding a little more. Guys like Jamie Thomas will push it in their direction¿bigger for the most part, because that’s what they do best¿and skating as a whole reaches higher.

What were your worst and best tour experiences?

Worst tour experience, coming back to a hotel filled with water and surrounded by fire engines, knowing that although I wasn’t there, I was responsible. And I was …

Best tour experience, real live ghost in the room that knocked over a lamp, broke a bulb, threw a lampshade, slammed a door, and shuffled drawers.

Last five books you read/five favorite books:

Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Tipler and Barrow; Mathematical Methods of Quantum Theory by Byron; More Secrets of Hebrew Words by Bleck; Creator Beyond Space and Time by Missler and Eastman; and Space, Time, Matter by Weyl. Those are all pretty life-changing.

Why did you choose the animal you did for your board graphic, and what, if any, significance does it have for you?

Steve Rocco and Mark McKee knew everybody else would have a predator, so they made me the prey. Sorry as I am to say it, the bunny’s a pretty good match.

Closing comments/words of wisdom:

I may have lots of views and beliefs I’m willing to speak about, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The only reason I’m in the public eye is that I can skate well. I’m not very impressive in any other way¿that may be the only “wisdom” I can give. Just because people are actors, musicians, or athletes doesn’t give them any authority to speak about politics, religion, or anything else.Everywhere you look, there’s some kind of spokesman (TV personalities, models, etc.) trying to persuade you on issues that they have little background or real knowledge about¿deception is what that is. In short, beware of celebrities like me trying to tell you how to live your life.

med a door, and shuffled drawers.

Last five books you read/five favorite books:

Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Tipler and Barrow; Mathematical Methods of Quantum Theory by Byron; More Secrets of Hebrew Words by Bleck; Creator Beyond Space and Time by Missler and Eastman; and Space, Time, Matter by Weyl. Those are all pretty life-changing.

Why did you choose the animal you did for your board graphic, and what, if any, significance does it have for you?

Steve Rocco and Mark McKee knew everybody else would have a predator, so they made me the prey. Sorry as I am to say it, the bunny’s a pretty good match.

Closing comments/words of wisdom:

I may have lots of views and beliefs I’m willing to speak about, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The only reason I’m in the public eye is that I can skate well. I’m not very impressive in any other way¿that may be the only “wisdom” I can give. Just because people are actors, musicians, or athletes doesn’t give them any authority to speak about politics, religion, or anything else.Everywhere you look, there’s some kind of spokesman (TV personalities, models, etc.) trying to persuade you on issues that they have little background or real knowledge about¿deception is what that is. In short, beware of celebrities like me trying to tell you how to live your life.