Do you ride a “mini” board? It’s a little tug boat, 7.5, but it charges.
And you seem to ride boards for as long as possible. Is a nice, broken-in deck better than a crispy new one? Yeah, it is. I remember as a kid always having a roughed-up board. You just get used to it. That’s like, your ride, and you ride it to the end. I definitely prefer a board that’s a couple of days old. That always seems to be the prime point.
What have you been doing for the last few months? I’ve been staying at Double Rock, skating SF, going back to Florida, travelling with friends, and finally I’ll go back to Massachusetts now that it’s summer time.
"It is definitely a little trife"
Where do you call home? Lowell, Mass. Always. That’s never gonna change.
So you’re here at Double Rock, the Thrasher skatepark, sleeping on the floor. I had an air mattress but it popped. It was nice while it lasted.
Double Rock is pretty deep out here in Hunter’s Point. After the sun sets you don’t want to be hanging out on the streets. There’s not much to do, and there aren’t many stores nearby. It is definitely a little trife. The worst was just going down the street to grab beer, because all the homeless people grill you. It’s the worst thing ever because you don’t know what you’re getting into. You see five homeless people coming at you while you’re carrying a 30-rack.
Switch frontside bluntslide. Photo: Zaslavsky
So you’re not really worried about getting your wallet jacked,you’re just worried about them jacking your beverages for the night? The first time I actually came down here and stayed, I had a broken board. I had to walk all the way from the top of 3rd Street. I put all my money in my sock and walked as fast as I could. I had my laptop with me, too. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything if anyone had come at me because I was so sore from skating that day. That was pretty scary. But all my friends started showing up after the first week, so I wasn’t exactly by myself at all times.
People know you as a simple burger- and-coke kinda guy, but you’ve been a little more adventurous with your palette lately. I’ve gotten into different spices. I’m eating the same stuff—chicken and hot sauce— but between ginger, garlic, onions, and jalapenos, you can make a pretty nice meal that’s very fulfilling.
Aside from the burger, what else might your daily diet consist of? Out here, I’m livin’ cheap. Chocolate donuts, Jimmy Dean sausage—I just found out about that one. It’s delicious with maple syrup. We’ve been keeping it basic. We did cook up some pizza recently. We had jalapenos, habaneros, ham, pineapple on it—the hottest stuff you could find. Onions all over it, which is disgusting, but somehow I still ate it. It wasn’t even like real pizza, it was basically just junk. Pretty damn good though. I’d only eaten cheese and pepperoni pizza my whole life, until about two months ago.
"I don't go to the doctor"
You have a serious bacon habit. Bacon is a must every morning, unless you’re having the Jimmy Dean. Bacon is amazing with eggs and toast, and if you can score an acai bowl after…
I don’t think there’s anybody else in the world who would pair those two together. Well, it’s a good combination. Gives you a little energy.
I’ve seen you eat bacon three times a day, and you’re skinny as a bone. You know that stuff is not healthy for you. Once a week is probably the extent before you go over the line of it actually being bad for your body. You know it clogs your arteries, right? Yeah, but it’s like sugar candy. You can’t stop eating it. It’s just good food that you’re addicted to. You come home: “What do I make? Well, bacon only takes a minute, it’s delicious—I’m gonna cook up some eggs with that. Yeah.” By the end you have a great meal.
Frontside flip. Photo: Zaslavsky. Click image to enlarge.
It soaks up all the booze from the night before. When all the homies came out here, they had just a pocket of change, that’s it. Every day they’d go to the shady supermarket and come back with a steak and chicken dinner, just pocketed. We’d eat steaks every night.
And you haven’t gained weight. I could not gain a pound.
Is there any history of heart disease in your family that you should be concerned about? I think everyone’s relatively healthy in my family.
"What is the search for Animal Chin?"
If you went to the doctor one day and he told you… I don’t go to the doctor. It’s not gonna happen.
Would you consider yourself as someone with OCD? You have really particular habits. I have my own little ways. I have a cleaning problem. Everything has to be in its proper order, organized and looking right. It can’t be crooked.
What about here at the park? I would fold all my shirts here—but back home I’d have them all color-coordinated, too. Little things I need to do to make sure everything’s alright and that it doesn’t bother me. The place has to be clean, it has to be vacuumed, everything has to be in order with the food on the table.
Bigspin heelflip. Sequence: Zaslavsky
Most people, when they think of OCD related to skateboarding, they think of tapping their board on the rail or spinning their wheels. Every time I skate a rail I have to go through a minute’s process of trying it once, looking at it again… I have something with the number four, like if I’m really delusional after trying a trick for so long, I’ll tap my board four times. I feel like I need hope, like, “Come on. You’re so close. Just do it. Get past it.”
You’re about to be a part of the new Think team. What’s going on with this? Are you pretty psyched on it? How does it feel to be on the same team as Manny, who’s been your close homie ever since you started skating back in Lowell? I’m pretty psyched. We’re at a fresh start, so it’s good. I never thought I’d be on the same team as Manny. I obviously wanted that so much as a kid, and then out of the blue, seven years down the road, it happened. That’s pretty amazing. We’re gonna do some awesome trips and get this video out with a well-rounded team. It’s awesome.
What’s your obsession with roof spots? I’m blown away by the consistent pattern of tranny on a roof. It just blows my mind that there are so many spots on roofs that look like you can skate them, but you never get to. You’re always looking around on the streets, but when you see something up on a roof, you think, “That would be so fun and cool.” You get a bird’s-eye view of everything around you while you’re charging on someone’s roof. It’s just wild.
"I haven't even washed my hair in two years"
The factors going against you when you’re trying to skate a roof spot are pretty high. You just gotta charge it sometimes.
What did you ask Phelps when you called him on his cell phone? I grew up on Powell videos, because my uncles had left them at the house. I love Ban This, Public Domain, Animal Chin—I got into ’em. I was always wondering, “What is the search for Animal Chin?” I wanted to know what the meaning was. So I was like, “Fuck it, I’m gonna call Phelps and ask him.” He was like, “What the hell are you doin’?” But at the same time he let me know. It’s the search for great spots and being psyched on skateboarding. The never-ending adventure of the search. There’s always something better out there.
How did that phone call end? “Take care, catch you later.”
Frontside noseslide. Photo: Zaslavsky. Click image to enlarge.
He didn’t hang up on you? Not that time. Actually that’s the only time I’ve ever called him.
Your lady’s been in a Hubba ad or two. Yep. I’m psyched on that. That was at the beginning of our relationship; it was pretty fun.
Do people recognize her from the ad? Dudes trying to get sleazy and hit on her? Naw. Everyone keeps it pretty mellow. There are some people who try to get wicked but I just tell them to chill. I’ve never fought in my life. There’s no reason to.
I see you’re still wearing the old Blueprint camo hat. They’re hard to come by. A friend actually hooked me up for Christmas with a new one. It was one of the best Christmas presents I had, because the old one had a big-ass rip on the top. I was so bummed. I’d tried to get in touch with Blueprint and couldn’t get any. Most of them have a logo on the front, and that’s just not my style. If anyone has one, please give me a shout.
How many have you gone through? I’ve gone through five or six hats.
How long do they last? Two or three years each.
Frontside 360. Sequence: Zaslavsky
Have you ever lost your hat and had to go back for it? I was in Billerica, which is the next town over from Lowell. We’d been drinking a lot of beers and were over there dropping off my friend. I always make fun of his town because it’s in the sticks—there’s nothing but woods. We were driving him home and there were a bunch of people standing on the side of the road, doing something stupid—I can’t remember what. I leaned out the window and yelled, “You Billerica fucks!” And my hat flies off my head! My girlfriend had to turn around so I could pick it up. They didn’t see us come back, but we would have been fucked if they had because there were six of them and just a couple of us.
Do you wash that thing? No. No way. I haven’t even washed my hair in two years.
Last words? “Get busy living or get busy dying.” —Andy Dufresne. Keep charging shit! And find Animal Chin.
In This Issue Classic power meets innovation on the March front as AVE goes over the back to switch 5-0 in NYC. There's 14 more pages of Van Engelen inside, so don't sweat it; Cyril Jackson talks about skating the streets (and sleeping in them), the Naawwsty Crew rolls deep from ATL to FL; Krooked krushes Korea; the Deathwish team spreads some love on the East Coast and Shane O'Neill has a killer ten-page feature. You heard what he did at Wallenberg, right? Add this one to your collection.