Just Because We Found Them In His Storage Warehouse Doesn’t Mean These Aren’t Mike’s Prize-est Of Possessions
1. Powell Peralta Elephant Skateboard Chair
The only one of these I’ve ever seen is the one I own. Funny thing is, I didn’t obtain it until 1994, some six years after the elephant deck was originally issued. I was living in New Jersey in my parents’ home at the time, and I had just started skating for Powell again. Powell had recently undergone a restructuring, and the bank owned a good portion of their warehouse. One day Ty Evans, who was working for Powell then, was digging around in restricted areas of the warehouse owned by the bank and found this beauty disassembled and buried under a bunch of other junk. He called me immediately to tell me of his find and wanted to know if I wanted him to essentially steal the chair and ship it to me. Of course I said yes, and a few days later the chair arrived via Federal Express. I put it together, and it traveled back to California with me and has been a prized possession and conversation piece ever since.
2. Electric Scooter
This electric scooter was a gift from Bruce Springsteen. I met him for the first time in Las Vegas at the start of The Rising tour. When I went into his dressing room to meet him, his right-hand man and head of security, Terry McGovern, pulled me aside and asked for a few autographs for some kids in his neighborhood and for Bruce’s kids. I was blown away—here I was going into the room as a fan and being asked to sign autographs. A few nights later, I saw Bruce again in Los Angeles, and to that show I brought several complete boards, helmets, DVDs, and autographed posters for the kids. A lot of the crew was whizzing around on these electric scooters, and Terry asked me if I wanted one. I said yes assuming that the company was just handing them out as a promo to Bruce’s camp. Not the case. I watched Terry sign a credit-card slip for my overpriced scooter and immediately tried to return it. I felt bad and didn’t want them paying for anything for me. They had already hooked me up with great seats for the show—that was more than enough. Terry told me it was a gift, and that was that.
Later, I spoke with Bruce and he thanked me for the boards and everything and said that giving me the scooter was the least they could do. Wow. Not only did I get this scooter from Bruce and company, but they also gave me a laminate for the entire Rising tour that enabled me to get into any venue in any city and stand side-stage for any show—which I used many times.
3. Henry Rollins Photocopied Book
These are Henry’s very first self-published writings. I picked up this book at the Black Flag show on October 19, 1984 in Trenton, New Jersey. I’d just gotten into punk rock and skateboarding, and Black Flag was the very first show I ever saw. I have to say that going to that show was probably the most important night of my life as not only did the intensity of the music impact me, but I also picked up this book that was probably the biggest turning point in my life. I became a Rollins fan that night, but it was his writings that really made the difference. Not what they said or what they were about, but the fact that he actually had the balls to publish them under the unforgiving punk-rock microscope. It was a lesson in true, individual D.I.Y., and it served as the starting point for the rest of my life.
4. Element Tattoo
What can I say? When you’re a 35-year-old “over the hill (at least I climbed it) skater and a company like Element steps up and supports you, backs you, and believes in you, it feels good. I got this tattoo because I believe in the mission of the brand, but, more importantly, in the people behind it. It took me seventeen years of sponsored skateboarding to finally find a company that I could call home. Element for life. Johnny and Kingman, I can’t thank you guys enough.
5. etnies Bronzed Mike Valleely Pro-Model Shoe
This was a gift from etnies. This shoe was on the market for a long time and did really well for me. Having a pro-model shoe was the turning point in my career, where I went from barely paying the rent to buying a house. I spent many good years associated with etnies, and it was a relationship I cherished. I’m sad it came to an end, but I guess things just run their course sometimes. At least I have this to remember those times.
6. Gonz Paint-Pen Bottle
Gonz painted this bottle in ’88 at his home in Huntington Beach, California and gave it to me. My first pro-model board had just come out, and because this jar had an elephant on it, I guess he figured I’d be into it—I was and am. Gonz is and will always be one of my all-time skateboard heroes, and this is a cherished item of mine for sure.