Words by Blair Alley
5Boro has upped its game considerably in 2011, from its video production to the people behind the scenes, all its ducks are in a row for the release of its new video Join Or Die coming in February 2012. 5Boro’s hardest working am has got to be Jimmy McDonald. Every time you see footage of him, he’s charging the East Coast streets and his Web videos have been nothing short of full-length parts. We caught up with Jimmy to get the scoop on the current state of 5B, the enigma of Quartersnacks, the legend of Dan Pensyl, and much more.
First off, get us all up to speed with what's going on with the 5Boro video, and have there been any team changes?
The video is coming out in February, we've been working on that for a while now. The team is the same, but we have a few new flow guys that are all super sick in New York. We have Rob Gonyon, Brian Clark, Silvester Eduardo, and Jordan Trahan. Those guys are all gonna have footage in the video and they've been skating really well lately.
Do you still refer to your flow guys as flow trash?
Yeah, flow trash.
That's rad, it's pretty much become 5boro's patented label for flow kids. As a sponsored skater, how do you avoid the trappings of New York City nightlife? It seems like that burns out a lot of dudes that are coming up in New York.
As long as you have a good group of friends that are motivated to skate, you can stay out of it. All the 5Boro guys are down to skate. Half the guys on 5Boro drink now and half of them don't. Joe Tookmanian never drinks anymore and Dan Pensyl hasn't drank in two years. I drink or I don't drink, either way, and then some of the flow guys don't drink so there're always dudes to skate with. There're always guys to party with too.
Sounds like a good mix. Are you going pro when the video comes out?
No, I don't have any plans for going pro. Maybe one day, but I don't know.
What did you think when éS went out of business?
Obviously it sucked. Everybody on the team is super cool, everyone got along really well, it was cool to go on trips with all those dudes. It was pretty shocking to everyone. I just got a call from Scuba one day saying he had some bad news. It was tough, but that's life.
How does it feel when a skater-owned shoe company goes out of business in this day and age?
Things are different now, for better or for worse. When I was growing up, I always wore Accels—everybody was psyched on those, and other companies like etnies and even Airwalk. It's just different now, there's a lot of money involved, and different companies are doing well. It sucks for everyone that was a part of éS.
Do you have any new shoe sponsor prospects.
No, I'm just gonna see what happens. Maybe next year something will happen, but as of now I'm just trying to keep skating and see if anything can happen.
Do you think the internet has leveled the playing field for companies like 5Boro that maybe don't have the budget to advertise in all the mags?
Nowadays if you come out with good content on the internet, as long as it's interesting and something unique that people want to see, even if it's something that nobody has ever heard of, it can get a lot of views. There's a clip of these guys in New York skating inside a subway car. That has like 250,000 views. Those dudes are all sick, but in the grand scheme of things, people don't know who they are, but they came out with this awesome clip and it's being well received. Something like that is a good thing where the internet is leveling everything out.
I saw that on Quartersnacks.
I think Quartersnacks or Slap put it up.
Do the Quartersnacks dudes have a big presence in New York, or is it just a small cult classic thing?
I think everybody goes to the website, it's pretty amazing—hilarious. Anything that happens in New York, they comment on.
I'm a huge fan, but I wonder if it's just because I love New York.
I don't really know any of those dudes personally, but I always look at the website. If there's ever a new spot in New York that just got built, there'll be a photo of it on the website before it's even done being built. If any funny, subtle little thing happens in the city, they comment on it. It's awesome.
It seems like 5Boro has had a big push in the last year or so. You guys have put out really good online videos. Have you seen that help the brand a lot?
Yeah, over the last year we've been doing a lot of stuff. Mark Nardelli quit his full-time job and is just doing 5Boro full-time so that's been helping out a lot. We had Chris Mulhern working with us. He made the Fall and Holiday clips that were HD. Those were sick, he worked really hard and people liked them. We've been just trying to put out as much shit as we can, and I think it's helped, yeah.
Is Dan Pensyl the longest running 5Boro dude?
Yeah, he's been on since day one, a little more than fifteen years.
That's amazing. Does someone like Dan inspire you? He's been gnarly for so long, but he also works these blue-collar jobs in the winter as well as being a pro this whole time.
He's definitely an inspiration. Now he has a kid and he's working full-time in Pennsylvania, and he still has his place in the city. He still comes back and skates. He's been sober for two years, he's in his early thirties and skating better than ever. It's definitely motivating to have a friend like that.
Who's gonna have the best part in the video? Whose parts are you looking forward to the most?
Everybody's part is pretty sick, but Willy Akers and Joe Tookmanian both have super awesome parts. Took has been skating so good in the last year and a half, pushing it real hard, Akers too. They both have their own style and unique ways.
The last thing is I have a trivia question for you: Who was the originator of that Join Or Die snake logo?
Ben Franklin. It was like the thirteen colonies, but it was the early stages of it.
That's right. Nice.