Pete Eldridge Q&A
Words by Oliver Barton
When I first met Pete in London at the turn of the millenium, he was the living embodiment of low maintenance going with the flow—no money, no plane tickets home, no girlfriend, no "program," no car, no bed, no clean clothes, no iPod, and most of all, no worries. He was the ultimate minimalist, a concept preached by so many, practiced by so few. After a couple of Euro summers, we went our different ways and the skatevine went quiet, so when I heard he was installing heating units in Philly with his uncle, the news was pretty hard to believe. I mean, you always want to see things work out for your friends, but this guy is the white Keenan Milton with bad boy tranny skills to boot; he should be lighting spliffs with 100-dollar bills and throwing temper tantrums because the topsheet colors on his board don't match the seats in his Lambo. Fortunately for us, the cream always rises to the top and with one thing leading to another, here we are at the end of 2008 and he's got his name inked on a board again. I can't write enough good about this mug, so I'll let the photos do the talking for now and tell you to keep your eyes peeled wide for his part in the Mystery promo dropping any day now, as well as the return of the best flatground tricks since JB Gillet's nollie frontside flip in Rodney Vs. Daewon 2.
So how did you get into skating? Did you have friends that skated when you were a little kid?
My brother skated a bit and then I took over. I took his board back in the day—he got a board for Christmas and I traded all of my Christmas presents for his skateboard.
What presents did you trade?
I couldn't even tell you! I got a Tony Hawk mini from him though. I took the cheese off the tail—the big plastic thing—and the nose guard, but left the rails on there and then shredded that board.
Your dad used to be in the army and then the police—was he cool with you skating?
Yeah, he was cool. I mean, he always told me to "get a job," but he was cool.
He used to train operatives too, right? Did he ever train you?
What, to get a job?! No, he taught me some moves though. He told me that if I was out in the streets in the city, always run from rookie cops because they always put the rookies on the beat. He'd say, "If you get in trouble with those dudes, just run from them. You can probably outrun them and it's better than getting caught by some dickhead-ass rookie." If they roll up in a car or if they're older-looking cops, they're usually cooler. It's the younger-looking cops who are usually dickheads who want to prove something fresh out of high school.
Your dad told you that?
So what did your dad think about you burning around the neighborhood on a dirt bike?
Well, I was probably about ten or eleven. I started out on a little 50 and moved up. We were far enough out of the city that we had a lot of woods around the house. To get over to my friend's house it was either ride my BMX or ride the dirt bike, so I'd ride the dirt bike. I was a little kid doing jumps and sh-t.
So why would the police be chasing you?
Because we'd f—k with them! We'd always cross this one highway and there would always be cops sitting there just waiting. They weren't really into us crossing there or riding around, so we'd ride up and down the streets or cross the highways right where they'd be sitting and try to get them to chase us. We'd be blazing down the roads and then turn off onto a trail and blaze off down there and they wouldn't be able to catch us. We'd do it all the time.
Did you ever get caught?
Well, no. Because my dad was a cop he knew some of the cops in town, so they would show up at the house, but I would never be there. Sometimes I'd come home and see a cop car in the driveway and just think, "Oh well, I'm not going home yet!" I'd just turn around and go back the other way.
So at what point did Uptown skates come into the equation?
That was probably like when I was fourteen or fifteen. I'd go to Philly all the time, and I had a couple of friends there, a couple of older guys that I would skate with and they had their own little board company out of Philly that they all rode for. I was like, "Hook me up!" So they started to flow me boards here and there every month or two and we'd meet up and skate all over the city. It was different back then—it was around the time that the Sub Zero video came out. I mean, a little after that, but it was all about shredding the whole city, pushing everywhere, skating everything: stairs, ledges, cruising down the sidewalks, and hitting curb cuts and all that sh-t. Go fast and skate through the city. We'd skate through Love, hit as many ledges as we could, then roll over to city hall, ollie down the stairs and hit those ledges, and then keep going skating through the city. You never stopped and skated one spot, you just kept going and going.
Did you skate with Ricky Oyola back then?
Yeah, I used to see Rick all the time, I'd skate with him randomly when I saw him here and there—you'd see him out skating all the time. I still see him all the time, he's always out skating. He'll just show up skating random spots. It was fun back then and he's still Rick today, you know? Just ripping.
How did Stereo occur?
I think that it was after one of the Shred For Lifes that they did out on the East Coast, just before Mike Cardona passed and it became Shred For Mike. I got hooked up on Thunder and Spit by Mic-E Reyes, and then the same day [Chris] Pastras told me he wanted me to ride for Stereo. I was still in high school, but I would go out to S.F. here and there.
Who were you skating with back then?
With JR Neves a lot—he was on Stereo too.
What is he doing now?
He's chilling, just working. I see him once in a while out and about skating. He lays flooring, tiling, I think.
Is that when you first hooked up with the Newell crew?
Yeah, one of the first times that I went out to San Francisco I went over to the Newell house because Dustin [Dollin] was living there and he was on Stereo at the time, so I went out and stayed there and met Frank Gerwer and all those dudes. There was so much funny sh-t happening back then. I remember we were all partying one day—we were staying at Pastras' house, a bunch of us. Pastras was out somewhere, I was seventeen and we were sitting there getting wasted like usual and we were leaving because we were being too loud or something and next thing you know, this, that, and the other happens and the front window of the building gets smashed—Frank just went flying through it!
Did you meet Elissa Steamer back then too?
Yeah, I knew Elissa back then. I started staying at Newell and Shane Heyl was on Stereo too—he lived at the Warner house in Huntington Beach. I knew [Mike] Maldonado from back East, and I came down from S.F. with Shane and stayed at Warner and that's when I met Elissa and Erik [Ellington] and those dudes. There was always a big crew, but I'd mostly skate with Shane and Mike and Plain. I was skating with Kerry Getz the whole time back East too. I used to live at Kerry's house in the city. He helped out a lot.
The Philly scene seems a little quiet at the moment compared with what it was before. Is that true or is it just a minor media hiatus?
I don't know what you're talking about! The East Coast is f—king killing it, are you kidding me? We just aren't Californian, you know. We do it a little bit different. There are people ripping on the East Coast: Kevin Taylor, Kerry Getz, Kyle Nicholson who skates for Nocturnal. Jimmy McDonald, that kid is killing it. That's just in Philly.
What was some of the craziest sh-t you saw go down trick wise at Love?
Everything that Freddy [Gall] did in the Sub Zero video, and Matt Reason—probably the gnarliest shit ever done there, way before its time.
Is it pretty sketchy there? Would you see a lot of random crazy sh-t?
Yeah, I mean, it's a city, so you see all sorts of crazy stuff going on all the time. A couple of months ago, there was a lady without any legs, and she didn't have a wheelchair, she was just dragging herself around. She tried to fight another lady, it was pretty wild. I think that she had a cane or something, they were yelling and screaming at each other. I could believe it, I kept thinking, "Is this really happening right now?"
So, outside of Philly, where was the first ever skate trip that you went on?
It's all a blur. Actually, the summer after I got on Stereo I just jumped in the van. Nate Jones had just got on Real and we drove from Philly to New York and then went to Ohio and kept cruising. It was pretty casual, I just wanted to skate.
That was the start of sleeping on a lot of couches. What are your top tips for couch surfing?
Let's see, first of all, clean up after yourself. Don't be a dick to the people that live in the house, even when they're dicks to you. Keep it cool—you're sleeping on their couch. If you are cleaning up after yourself, clean up after them too—nobody can get mad if the house is clean. Let them smoke your weed, drink your beer, and share your food if you get food, because you aren't paying rent. Hook them up with a meal here and there.
You ducked out of the limelight for a little bit, what were you doing?
Working construction, installing fireplaces. I was working with my homeys, my boy Jesse, he gave me some jobs. Putting holes in roofs, putting shingles up, painting walls, just odd jobs.
Was it hard going from getting paid to skate to that?
I didn't think that it was going to be that hard to get a job, but it really was. I just thought, "Well, I'll just work construction," but it was hard work and it was really hard to find work. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do, but jobs were scarce. Everyone wants to keep their jobs for themselves, so all you can do is freelance and try and get whatever you can get. A lot of the jobs were real sh-tty but you get paid to do it so you just got to do it. It's the middle of the winter, twenty degrees, and it's weird, but you thank God the ground is frozen because you have to haul a fireplace across frozen ground that would normally just be thick mud. It's the only good thing about it being freezing.
Did you totally disconnect from skating at that time? Were you skating, and what brought you back?
I was skating the whole time, but I didn't look at any magazines or watch any videos. I was working construction and I was just thinking, "Dude, I got to get the f—k out of here, I don't want to do this anymore." I mean, it was sick because I was working with my uncle, but it was hard. I remember one time, it was eight in the morning and I had already been up for three hours and I was sitting in the truck freezing thinking, "Sh-t, man, I don't want to do this anymore."
I was still skating every day after work—I'd get a half hour in skating the mini by my house, but all I could get was a half hour because I'd just be so tired. I'd go home, eat something and go straight to sleep, wake up the next day and do it all over again. I heard about this contest from some friends and the jobs were getting real scarce with the fireplaces. You'd have on days and off days—you'd make decent money one day and then nothing the next even though you had worked because you don't get paid hourly—you get paid by the job, so if the job didn't get done, you had nothing. It was really inconsistent. A couple of friends said they were going down to the contest and they told me I should go. I needed to get some money up because I had rent to pay and the fireplaces weren't doing it. They told me there was a seat in the car if I wanted it, so I thought, All right, let me figure it out." I called up one of my homeys and asked him, "Hey man, you got any work? I need something because I need to get the f—k out of here in two days." He told me, "Yeah yeah, show up at 48th Street." I met him the next day, well, I was there at nine, he got there at 10:30, and I just did a bunch of random work for him. My friend Jay is a property manager renting houses, so he had me mowing grass and weeding in the gardens. I don't even know, putting batteries in fire alarms, all kinds of random stuff. He paid me 100 bucks for that day and that was all I had. I woke up the next morning and took the train over to my friend Ron Gordon's house and we drove down south to a contest and I won five grand down there! It was a Masa pro contest—I got third and came up five grand, I was psyched!
So you were entering pro contests and you weren't even sponsored at the time?
Yeah, I guess so. While I was down there some people were saying there was this Dew Tour thing going on in three days in Baltimore, which isn't that far. We were already in North Carolina. I drove back to Philly and then the next day drove two hours to Baltimore to the Dew Tour contest and qualified. I went on a bunch of those using the five grand I won to get to each of the contests I needed to get to. I was wining a grand at each contest. I mean, they'll give you a grand for last place!
When did Jamie Thomas come into the picture?
That actually started when I was back in the freezing truck trying to figure out what I was going to do. I was still talking to Elissa all the time and she's on Zero, so she was telling me to talk to Jamie, so I called him up and he was really cool and started sending me boards. After I had been skating the boards a while, he asked me, "Tell me what you want to do. You want to work blue collar? I'll keep sending you boards for the rest of your life—you can get them for as long as you want. Or do you want to skate?" I told him, I wanted to take it to the next level and get skating again, full-time. Well, try anyway, and try to get on the team.
Did that take a while or was it pretty quick?
Yeah, I was on flow for a while, then I got on the team. It all just blends together now.
Was it easy to get motivated to film having come from the fireplaces?
Yeah, I have always been down to go out and skate no matter what, if I'm sponsored or not. Sometimes it's hard getting tricks, but it's just hard getting tricks sometimes!
You were on Bootleg with Nick Trapasso. Do you ever trip seeing him blowing up right now?
No, I never second-guessed it. I knew the kid had it—he was amazing back then, too, when he was a little-ass kid. I knew he was either going to fall off hard or do it big, and he's doing it big right now. Some of those little kids, they have that little-kid stee and then they hit puberty and they meet a chick or they just blow it pretty hard, but he did it big. There are so many amazing skaters that come up fast, and then poof, they're gone. Maybe some people treat those kids too well when they're young and they start thinking that they deserve something for nothing. Riding for Bootleg, it was like, "Hey man, you gotta earn yours! No golden tickets." We were all in it for the same thing—skating. "You want to eat today, Nick? You better get a trick!" I remember our last trip was 29 demos in 30 days, and we street skated every day. We got mad sh-t up and down the East Coast, it was sick.
You still skate with Maldonado?
Yeah, I still skate with Mike a bunch—he's still shredding. Sometimes I go up to his house—he's got all kinds of animals up there: dogs, a couple of alligators in his pool in the back yard. He hooked me up with my dog, Carlito, an American bulldog. He breeds all sorts of the biggest, beastliest dogs.
Have you got Carlito pretty well trained?
Yeah. Not as good as DMX's dog, Boomer, though. That pit bull that he has tattooed on his back with "One Love Boomer." The story I heard was that was his ace dog—he'd walk around with him and he had him trained so that when he let him off the leash the dog would go and snatch ladies purses and bring them back to him! That is G as f—k!
Is there anything you would change about the path that you've taken?
No regrets, man, I'd do it all again.
Check out Pete’s part in the Mystery promo.