The Mike Carroll Pro Spotlight

In September of 1993, a month after Girl Skateboards opened up shop in X-Large’s L.A. warehouse, I was hired as the team manager-Girl’s first employee. My first day of work, I arrived to find Rick Howard and Spike Jonze packaging orders to ship to international distributors. It looked like the first time they’d ever done that. Spike had a cell phone in each of his back pockets. Francis Ford Coppola called him while he was taping boxes.

I might have made that up. Give me a break, it was more than half a decade ago now.

A week before I took the job at Girl, I got a phone call. It was from an influential and well-known member of the skateboard industry who will remain unnamed here. His call was to warn me of what I was getting into. I remember him saying, “Those guys will drive you crazy.” He was referring to the newly formed Girl team.

Deep Throat went on to inform me about each member of the Girl team. He told me he hadn’t called to badmouth them behind their backs, and in his defense, he spoke of each with what seemed like heartfelt concern. I tried my best to pay attention to his impromptu warning, but I was far more fascinated by the fact that I had become someone worth calling.

I wish I’d made that up.

In hindsight, I should have listened better during the Mike Carroll section. Mike, who was a “silent partner” in Girl, and probably the most recognizable name in skateboarding at the time, became my private nemesis. He quickly proved his ability to antagonize me to the point of complete frustration, and at times even surrender. He knew it, too. To this day, whenever we talk, he asks, “Do you still hate me?” When I answer no, he says, “Would you tell me if you did?”

I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d made that up.

I worked at Girl for about two years before being fired for stealing two decks, being a terribly moody employee with all kinds of attitude problems, and not understanding the job “team manager” as it applied at Girl. Good riddance to bad rubbish-namely me.

I still think back to my time at Girl and all the mistakes I made there, and I often find myself regretting not listening better during the Mike Carroll part of the “warning phone call.” Though I have no actual memory of what was said, it probably went something like this:

“Mike Carroll is probably the most talented and influential member of the group. He’s loved and hated. He’s smarter than most people-certainly you. He’s very introverted, so he comes off as nonjudgmental and unopinionated, but the opposite is usually true. Because he’s had such an impact on skateboarding’s direction since he entered the spotlight, people want to be near him and be like him. You will find yourself to be one of those people. As team manager, he will test your sanity daily. If you can deal with it, you’ll be stronger for surviving it. If you can’t, you won’t last long.”

I couldn’t have made that up if I’d tried.-Joel Patterson

Aaron Meza: Do you want to talk about the bubble? Do you want to expose the bubble behind your ear to the world?

Mike Carroll: It’s a keloid. It’s a scar I got one night after a Motorhead/Exodus concert when I was eight or nine years old. My friend and I were slamming together, and he pushed me into a newspaper stand. I got it cut off once when I was in the seventh grade, but I didn’t go back to the hospital for the medication that would keep it from growing back, and it grew back. So, now I have a keloid once again.

Can you get it cut off again?

I could get it cut off, but it’s strong, and I’m somewhat attached to it.

What did you think when Rick started exposing it?

What, the bubble?

He was the first one to call you “Bubble.” Were you embarrassed?

I was more embarrassed when Jason Lee asked me what that was behind my ear, and I barely knew him.

Was he mean about it?

No. He said, “Is that gum behind your ear?”

I remember when Rick first started calling you “Bubble.” Befe that, it was the thing to never speak about.

Why would no one ever speak about it?

We would never say stuff about it until then. Is Rick good at pointing out your faults?

He’s very good at pointing out my faults. He’s probably one of the best.

How do you think he’s acquired that talent?

Lot’s of studying. Long pause What do you think about the bubble?

I think it’s pretty rad. It’s a good trademark. How come you never let anybody touch it?

They can touch it if they want. I got my ear flicked once, and it burned the whole side of my face.

Are you aware that if you cut off the bubble, your skate powers will disappear?

It would probably help me out.

Are you superstitious?

It depends. If I feel like I need to be, I probably will be. I won’t swear to god. Is that superstitious?

No. What’s with the trick sock?

The trick sock is just for my smaller foot. That’s all it is. It’s no big deal.

Have you ever skated without the trick sock?

Yes, there’ve been times when I have been able to deal without the trick sock. I feel I need it sometimes, and some days I feel I don’t need it. But I usually always wear it.

Have you ever had a shoulda-woulda-coulda, but you didn’t?

Like last night, when I should have gotten Master P’s autograph and a picture with him, and gotten my C-Murder CD signed by him?

Why didn’t you do it?

Because I’m too much of a pussy. Because when it comes to being a people person, I can’t do it.

Where did you see him?

We saw him while we were changing planes at the Houston airport, coming back from the Tampa contest. Kelly Bird and Colin McKay got a photo with him.

What’s wrong with skateboarding, Mike?

Videos.

But you were the main video guy.

There’re just too many, too often. Too much ruins the authenticity of skateboarding and the skateboarder. Is “authenticity” the correct word to use? Was it used properly?

Laughs What are you going to do after skateboarding?

I’m probably going to be dead, because I’m going to skate forever. No, I’m just going to be chillin’. I’m sure I’ll figure it out when I get there.

Who’s got the best pop?

Jeron Wilson.

Who’s got the best nollie?

Paulo Diaz, or Eric Koston … wait … Paul Sharpe.

Who’s got the best kickflip?

Tom Penny.

Who’s the most underrated?

Matt Beach.

Who’s the most overrated?

Me.

Who’s got the best 360 flip?

Jason Lee.

Don’t you like any new skaters?

Who’s not new? Jason Lee? I’m not sayin’ no one else has a good 360 flip, I’m just saying he’s got the best.

Do you think he can still do it?

I’m sure he can. I hope he can.

Who’s the most famous person you ever talked to?

Spike.

Spike Lee?

Spike Jonze. He’s a famous person. Oh, and Jason Lee-he’s famous now.

What did you think about Steve Berra getting hit by a bus on Felicity?

I thought that was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Why? Do you have something against Steve?

No, I’ve just never seen a friend of mine get hit by a bus before.

How did you like The Smashing Pumpkins acoustic Christmas jam?

I thought it was beautiful. Especially to be able to enjoy it with you and to see Depesche Mode at the same time.

Who’s the next skateboarding actor? Could it be Harold Hunter or Spencer Fujimoto? Mike York? What about Mike Ballard?

Mike Ballard. He could be an actor. He’s comin’ up.

What about Mike Blabac?

He’s calmin’ down.

What’s the worst trend in the world?

JNCO. Does that sound right? Would you agree with me?

It doesn’t matter what I think.

I’m asking you. Is my opinion that far beyond?

It’s your opinion.

Is it a trend, though?

Sure.

Am I wrong?

Do you ever not question your answers?

I just want to learn.

What are you interested in learning?

I want to learn everything that’s interesting.

You make this hard, man.

An evil laugh from Mike, then a pause I want to learn how to not have an anxiety attack.

Who do you want to be like?

Master P.

You don’t even know what he’s like.

He’s a funny guy. Everyone around him on the plane was laughing and everything.

You were more thrilled about seeing Master P than we thought. You remained pretty calm about it while it was happening-were you all giddy inside?

I was pretty intrigued. Is that the right word to use?

What are some of the biggest clichés in professional skateboarding, and which ones have you fallen victim to?

Filming for videos.

Why do you feel so comfortable telling someone like me that?

Mike laughs.

Why do you hate filming so much?

I don’t know. I just have so many negative answers that I don’t think the world’s ready for. Sometimes it just takes away the fun. When it’s all new to you, it’s all gravy. Ya smell me?

What would you do without rap lines to communicate your thoughts?

I’d probably only have a fifteen-word vocabulary. I would have half the wit I currently have, which is nil. So, my whole life is hip-hop quotes, even though I hate hip-hop.

Even though you listen to it?

Even though I listen to it. My whole life is contradictory.

Like what?

I hate skateboarding, but I still skate, but I love it at the same time. Actually, I love skateboarding more than I hate it.

Usually when you have a passion about something, it’s like that.

You mean it’s love and hate, just like with women? Love to hate. Hate to love.

Do you think people love to hate you or hate to love you?

I think people love to hate me. Actually, I shouldn’t even take it to the point where someone thinks about me enough to hate me.

Give me some example of Carroll-hating throughout the years.

The Benecia Hating.

Let’s get the Benecia story out, once and for all.

I’m kind of embarrassed about the whole thing, but since I was part of the whole H-Street kook scene …

Being an H-Street kook, you got things written and drawn about you at the Benecia skatepark. Things like, “H-Street sucks Mike Carroll’s small dick.” I’d go skate there, and people would yell, “Slam!” Then, they’d tell me to leave because Mike Schwartz was on his way to kick my ass. I’d be skating around, and I would see dudes with “Mike Carroll sucks” or “I hate Mike Carroll” written on their griptape.

Are you exaggerating?

Not at all. People wrote that on their griptape. And did drawings of me on those banks.

What came of it?

After all those years, I met Mike Schwartz at a party. He said all that stuff was bullshit, and that he never had any of those feelings toward me. That it was all made up.

I also used to have people calling me up, saying they were from the East Coast, telling me how much they hated me and Henry Sanchez. How they were going to come to Embarcadero and kick our asses. One time, a guy called me to tell me he hated Chico’s part in the video after Love Child. He called me to tell me that.

What video part of yours do you like the best?

Going Off.

Yeah right!

What’s the matter with that?

That was like one trick.

Yeah. That was probably the funnest part I ever filmed, and I didn’t even know I was filming it.

Were you stoked when you saw it?

Very stoked.

That’s your first public exposure?

Yep.

You live with Tony Fergusson and Chico Brenes. Who’s the dad of the house?

Chics is the dad, Ton’s the uncle, and I’m just the guy staying there they don’t like.

Who else stays there?

Well, right now we’ve got about twenty guys livin’ here. One of them’s Sam Smythe.

What’s Sam Smythe famous for that nobody knows about?

He invented the noseslide nosegrind, wyou interested in learning?

I want to learn everything that’s interesting.

You make this hard, man.

An evil laugh from Mike, then a pause I want to learn how to not have an anxiety attack.

Who do you want to be like?

Master P.

You don’t even know what he’s like.

He’s a funny guy. Everyone around him on the plane was laughing and everything.

You were more thrilled about seeing Master P than we thought. You remained pretty calm about it while it was happening-were you all giddy inside?

I was pretty intrigued. Is that the right word to use?

What are some of the biggest clichés in professional skateboarding, and which ones have you fallen victim to?

Filming for videos.

Why do you feel so comfortable telling someone like me that?

Mike laughs.

Why do you hate filming so much?

I don’t know. I just have so many negative answers that I don’t think the world’s ready for. Sometimes it just takes away the fun. When it’s all new to you, it’s all gravy. Ya smell me?

What would you do without rap lines to communicate your thoughts?

I’d probably only have a fifteen-word vocabulary. I would have half the wit I currently have, which is nil. So, my whole life is hip-hop quotes, even though I hate hip-hop.

Even though you listen to it?

Even though I listen to it. My whole life is contradictory.

Like what?

I hate skateboarding, but I still skate, but I love it at the same time. Actually, I love skateboarding more than I hate it.

Usually when you have a passion about something, it’s like that.

You mean it’s love and hate, just like with women? Love to hate. Hate to love.

Do you think people love to hate you or hate to love you?

I think people love to hate me. Actually, I shouldn’t even take it to the point where someone thinks about me enough to hate me.

Give me some example of Carroll-hating throughout the years.

The Benecia Hating.

Let’s get the Benecia story out, once and for all.

I’m kind of embarrassed about the whole thing, but since I was part of the whole H-Street kook scene …

Being an H-Street kook, you got things written and drawn about you at the Benecia skatepark. Things like, “H-Street sucks Mike Carroll’s small dick.” I’d go skate there, and people would yell, “Slam!” Then, they’d tell me to leave because Mike Schwartz was on his way to kick my ass. I’d be skating around, and I would see dudes with “Mike Carroll sucks” or “I hate Mike Carroll” written on their griptape.

Are you exaggerating?

Not at all. People wrote that on their griptape. And did drawings of me on those banks.

What came of it?

After all those years, I met Mike Schwartz at a party. He said all that stuff was bullshit, and that he never had any of those feelings toward me. That it was all made up.

I also used to have people calling me up, saying they were from the East Coast, telling me how much they hated me and Henry Sanchez. How they were going to come to Embarcadero and kick our asses. One time, a guy called me to tell me he hated Chico’s part in the video after Love Child. He called me to tell me that.

What video part of yours do you like the best?

Going Off.

Yeah right!

What’s the matter with that?

That was like one trick.

Yeah. That was probably the funnest part I ever filmed, and I didn’t even know I was filming it.

Were you stoked when you saw it?

Very stoked.

That’s your first public exposure?

Yep.

You live with Tony Fergusson and Chico Brenes. Who’s the dad of the house?

Chics is the dad, Ton’s the uncle, and I’m just the guy staying there they don’t like.

Who else stays there?

Well, right now we’ve got about twenty guys livin’ here. One of them’s Sam Smythe.

What’s Sam Smythe famous for that nobody knows about?

He invented the noseslide nosegrind, whether anyone likes that trick or not. He invented it at Embarcadero years and years and years ago.

What do you think about Embarcadero being gone?

Patronizingly I think it’s a travesty. I think it’s a really bad time in skateboarding. It’s the worst thing that’s happened since the Combi.

Do you think one day Vans might build a park with the Embarcadero in it?

I’m actually hoping DC, Girl, and Fourstar will come together and make a park with the Embarcadero, and advertise that “The C-Block is back.”

Who’s idea was it to have the C-Block spell Carroll in the first Plan B video?

I have no idea.

It sounds like one of your ideas for self-promotion.

I probably did want it. I’m not gonna say, because you never know, maybe Jake Rosenburg wanted it.

Who’s harder to deal with, me or Jake?

You.

Why?

Because you make me feel like an idiot, and I made Jake feel like an idiot. No, I’m not saying I made him feel like an idiot, because who knows if he felt like an idiot.

Tony Fergusson comes into the room

Tony, what do you plan on doing for your part in the new Chocolate video?

Tony: Probably some low-to-the-ground tech shit. Lots of flat lines. No rails. No, just kidding. I’m goin’ fat for this video.

Do you think Aaron Meza will be able to film you the way you want to be filmed?

Not really. He just doesn’t really feel where I’m comin’ from.

So you just can’t really work with him?

Not anymore, he’s just kinda weird about stuff. I think he’s just trying to go his own way. I knew he was losing it when he showed up at a spot with a camera attached to his head, skating around on Rollerblades. That’s when I knew he was going his own way. But we still use him. He’s cool, but he’s got the cameras on sticks, and he’s trying to film from the car. Weird shit.

You don’t think he can capture your skating the way you want it captured?

He can, sometimes, but you always have to bicker with him.

What do you guys usually fight about?

Skating. Usually, I’ll show up at a spot to skate and the guy’s like, “Hold on, let me get this first.” And I’ll have to film him.

Mike, why do you always bite your fingernails? Like right now.

Beautiful. Thanks, Aaron.

Are you a nervous person?

Do I make you nervous?

No, you don’t.

I’m not nervous. I’ve got nerves of steel.

All right, Mike, let’s wrap this up. Last words-here’s your last shot.

Tony: If anyone in skateboarding isn’t doing what you think he should be doing, you tell him now. Here’s your chance to tell anyone in the industry what you think about them.

Aaron Meza … laughter … lighten up. Don’t sweat the small stuff, Aaron. I’d like to say thanks to all my sponsors. Thank God. Later.

To read The Other Mike Carroll Pro Spotlight, go to www.skateboarding.com/carroll.html. It’s equally cryptic. You can also read a profile Aaron Meza wrote about Mike that exists on the DC Shoes Web site at www.dcshoes.com/skateteam/MikeCarroll/MCprofile.html.

pull quotes:

“I was more embarrassed when Jason Lee asked me what that was behind my ear, and I barely knew him.”

“I’d be skating around, and I would see dudes with Mike Carroll sucks’ or I hate Mike Carroll’ written on their griptape.”

“I think people love to hate me. Actually, I shouldn’t even take it to the point where someone thinks about me enough to hate me.”

“My whole life is contradictory.”

d, whether anyone likes that trick or not. He invented it at Embarcadero years and years and years ago.

What do you think about Embarcadero being gone?

Patronizingly I think it’s a travesty. I think it’s a really bad time in skateboarding. It’s the worst thing that’s happened since the Combi.

Do you think one day Vans might build a park with the Embarcadero in it?

I’m actually hoping DC, Girl, and Fourstar will come together and make a park with the Embarcadero, and advertise that “The C-Block is back.”

Who”s idea was it to have the C-Block spell Carroll in the first Plan B video?

I have no idea.

It sounds like one of your ideas for self-promotion.

I probably did want it. I’m not gonna say, because you never know, maybe Jake Rosenburg wanted it.

Who’s harder to deal with, me or Jake?

You.

Why?

Because you make me feel like an idiot, and I made Jake feel like an idiot. No, I’m not saying I made him feel like an idiot, because who knows if he felt like an idiot.

Tony Fergusson comes into the room

Tony, what do you plan on doing for your part in the new Chocolate video?

Tony: Probably some low-to-the-ground tech shit. Lots of flat lines. No rails. No, just kidding. I’m goin’ fat for this video.

Do you think Aaron Meza will be able to film you the way you want to be filmed?

Not really. He just doesn’t really feel where I’m comin’ from.

So you just can’t really work with him?

Not anymore, he’s just kinda weird about stuff. I think he’s just trying to go his own way. I knew he was losing it when he showed up at a spot with a camera attached to his head, skating around on Rollerblades. That’s when I knew he was going his own way. But we still use him. He’s cool, but he’s got the cameras on sticks, and he’s trying to film from the car. Weird shit.

You don’t think he can capture your skating the way you want it captured?

He can, sometimes, but you always have to bicker with him.

What do you guys usually fight about?

Skating. Usually, I’ll show up at a spot to skate and the guy’s like, “Hold on, let me get this first.” And I’ll have to film him.

Mike, why do you always bite your fingernails? Like right now.

Beautiful. Thanks, Aaron.

Are you a nervous person?

Do I make you nervous?

No, you don’t.

I’m not nervous. I’ve got nerves of steel.

All right, Mike, let’s wrap this up. Last words-here’s your last shot.

Tony: If anyone in skateboarding isn’t doing what you think he should be doing, you tell him now. Here’s your chance to tell anyone in the industry what you think about them.

Aaron Meza … laughter … lighten up. Don’t sweat the small stuff, Aaron. I’d like to say thanks to all my sponsors. Thank God. Later.

To read The Other Mike Carroll Pro Spotlight, go to www.skateboarding.com/carroll.html. It’s equally cryptic. You can also read a profile Aaron Meza wrote about Mike that exists on the DC Shoes Web site at www.dcshoes.com/skateteam/MikeCarroll/MCprofile.html.

pull quotes:

“I was more embarrassed when Jason Lee asked me what that was behind my ear, and I barely knew him.”

“I’d be skating around, and I would see dudes with Mike Carroll sucks’ or I hate Mike Carroll’ written on their griptape.”

“I think people love to hate me. Actually, I shouldn’t even take it to the point where someone thinks about me enough to hate me.”

“My whole life is contradictory.”