Mike Sinclair: People I've Known
From Cacka to Eastern Vert to Tampa to San Diego and back again 100 times over, Mike Sinclair's met hella fools on his long, strange and ridiculous skateboarding journey. Didn't make the list? As Mike would say, "We'll get there..."
One summer Harold and I spent the entire summer at Woodward skate camp in Pennsylvania. We would go to nearby State College to get away and just walk around and get food. Walking up and down the main street of the college town, Harold would ask everyone he saw if they had seen the movie Kids. Some would ignore him and others would stop and think hard if they’d seen it. Nobody recognized Harold, but before they could even answer Harold would say, “That’s me, yo!” and just start laughing. I miss Harold Hunter.
I was driving somewhere in San Diego with Josh Kalis and he heard a song come on the radio and said to me, “Yo, when I die, I want someone to play this song at my funeral to throw people off and let them know I am diverse in my music tastes.” It was the White Stripes but I forget what song. I was too busy thinking about the fact that I didn’t think I would be attending Josh’s funeral since I’d just met him and now I had this obligation to tell whoever was organizing it about Josh’s playlist request.
One time I saw Shrewgy fall asleep with a piece of pizza in his hand. He got it all over his face and pillow. When he woke up he cried out, “Oh no, not again!” I still wonder how many times that’s happened in his life.
James asked me on a tour if I would take a look at his feet. I didn’t think anything of it but when he took off his socks all I could say was that he was going to need to see a specialist. His toe fungus was so severe it looked like a decomposed mummy foot with dark yellow and brown toe nails. James got real quiet, but he had to know his feet were fucked. I told him to put peroxide on those toes. He came back from CVS, poured it on and it looked like a plate of fajitas from Chili’s—all ten toes were sizzling!
In 1993 at the NSA amateur district contest a young Billy Rohan approached me and said, “You made the cut? How? You suck!” He was absolutely right.
I worked at Black Box in its heyday. Jamie once turned down an offer of 50 million dollars to sell. I couldn’t believe it. Jamie explained, “Mike, I never got into this for the money.” I replied, “Me neither, but I know a good fuckin’ deal when I see one.”
I have seen Bob attack another human being and bite him eight times maliciously in the back. Afterwards, Bob offered to pay the guy’s medical bills.
Kenny used to get mad if people only thought he liked hip-hop. He once said to a friend of ours, “I bet you’d never guess that I actually own an Edie Brickell & New Bohemians CD!”
I saw John Reeves in a convenience store and he was very excited to tell me he had moved to Portland. “No sales tax!” he reported. I asked him what the fuck was he buying up there. He looked confused. I don’t think that we ever spoke to one another again.
The last time I shared a room with Hammeke I heard him hacking, yacking and coughing up phlegm as soon as we checked in. I asked him if he was sick. Joe said, “I’ve never felt so good in the last three years.” After two days I was coughing, too. On the third day I couldn’t get out of bed. In all my years of traveling I’d never been so sick where I couldn’t get out of bed. The only thing that got me up that day was pure anger. I drove myself to Urgent Care and they did a few tests and sent me on my way with some medicine to drink. When I got into the van I looked at the bottle—it said, “Treatment for exposure to anthrax.” I called Burnett to inform him I might die on a trip with Joe. He said, “Don’t worry, it sounds like you just got a case of Hamthrax.”
When Salman worked for the Berrics he came to Tum Yeto to go over advertising numbers, costs and analytics with us. While giving his sales pitch, he kept thumbing through his notes, referring to prices, numbers, web impressions and all the info we would need to start our Berrics success plan. He seemed very prepared. After the meeting I went back into the room to grab a pen and saw Salman had forgotten his special notebook. I picked it up and noticed the entire thing was blank—no info, no data, no notes, not even a doodle.
I’ve never told anyone on any of my teams how to dress, but one time I told Elijah that he would thank me later if he stopped dressing like Corey Duffel.
A girl came over to our hotel room and asked if she could page someone. This was in 1993. We said, “Sure, go for it.” Fifteen minutes later the phone rings. A friend of mine picked up the phone and said, “Who’s this?” The person on the other end said, “Who’s this?!” They went back and forth for a bit, being dicks to each other. Finally my friend gave the phone to the girl and she looked worried while she talked to whoever it was. When she hung up she told us, “Danny Way is coming over to get me and he’s pissed!” We all laughed and didn’t believe her. Finally, Danny Way showed up and texted her 911. She said, “Oh my God! Danny has a gun and he’s coming up to the room!” I locked myself in the Days Inn bathroom for over an hour waiting to get shot by my hero Danny Way.
About ten years ago Kyle Berard asked me, “Who do you think I could ride for?” I told him his best shot was probably 1031. He was so pissed he didn’t speak to me for a year.
Eddie ended up as a judge at a major pro contest in the early 2000s. I was the head judge and had to go over everyone’s picks for the Best Trick event. Eddie’s score sheet looked much different than everyone else’s. He didn’t know anyone’s names so he’d just written “red shirt” and “white shirt.” Even more strangely, the guy he had in first place hadn’t landed a single trick. “But, Eddie,” I explained gently, “he didn’t land anything.” Eddie turned to me stone-faced. “Look, bro, I don’t know tech, but I know gnar. And that guy was gnar!” The skater in question was Dan Pageau.
I lived on Paul Zitzer’s couch when he was going to college. I was an awful roommate. I think my share of the rent was around $75 a month and I had trouble pulling it off every time. Paul used to make $375 a month as a pro skater while he went to college, but I wasn’t as lucky. I had to work a bunch of terrible jobs. One night we were talking and I asked Paul what he thought I could do after skating. What Paul said hurt me so bad that I switched the way I was living and got my shit together as fast as I could. “Well, Mike,” Paul said, with all seriousness, “the only job I could see you doing is toll-booth operator.” No offense to anyone who does that job, but I wasn’t ready to hear that. Zitzer was being brutally honest and it scared the shit out of me. Thank you for changing my life, Paul. I owe you. Anytime we hit a toll booth, I got you.
A new employee at Black Box, most people called him Feathers. Others called him Dan Feathers, which I took to be his full name. Neither was true. After he was fired, I found out Dan stood for “days are numbered” and Feathers was just because he had feathered-back hair. To this day I don’t know Dan’s real name.
Leo wanted to go to a sketchy strip club when we were in North Carolina so I took him to a place called The Foxy Lady that was in a trailer that was also connected to a run-down hotel. As soon as we went inside a girl approached him and asked if he skated for Foundation. Leo and I looked at each other and laughed. He said, “Well, I used to. Why do you ask?” She answered with a smile, “Because I was your board graphic!”
I don’t fly—haven’t stepped foot on a plane in years. Never liked it, but back when I was stupid enough to get into one of those things I went to Brazil with Dave Duncan. We flew to Miami first and when we got to our connection I told Duncan, “I’m a little nervous. I got a bad feeling about this next flight.” Duncan can’t speak softly. His natural speaking voice is the same as when he’s announcing a contest. Everyone in the terminal could hear his words of advice. “If the plane goes down, I’m alright with that! I’ve done everything I wanted to do in my life…twice!” I could feel everyone’s eyeballs on us. Dave was totally fine, smiling in his gigantic DC t-shirt. I remember getting on the plane thinking, Well, at least one of us lived a good life.
Road dog number one, Matt B never complained about anything for the ten years we spent traveling together. Trust me, there was a lot to complain about. Matt never mentioned it, though. Best dude, hands down.
Jesse wanted to move out to California and become a pro skateboarder. He was trying to save up money to make the move, but had nowhere to live. I sent him the biggest box of free skateboard shit I could wrangle for him to sell. I was renting a tiny child’s room at Dan Roger’s and Brian Young’s apartment, but I told him we could split it. I came back from running errands one day and Fritsch had built a sketchy bunk bed right in there. I took the bottom bunk ’cause I had a blown-out knee. It was one of the lowest points in my life. Check the photo below. I look like I’m about to cry.
Mike hits rock bottom (on the bottom bunk.)
I went on one trip with Breana last year and she told me all the dirty secrets of the girls’ skate scene. I love Breana so much. I want her to be on every trip. Great vibes, always laughing and loads of exciting skate gossip. Don’t worry, Breezy, my lips are sealed!
This one night Joey and I drove two hours up to LA to find a box truck so Jamie could wallride it off of a loading dock. Jamie didn’t actually have a spot, he just had us drive him around, hoping we’d find one somewhere. Pure insanity. The first night we never found one. The second night… nope. After a few hours of driving around on the third night, Joey texted me from the back seat, “Nod your head if you want me to call the cops on us at the next spot.” I didn’t nod my head, though. I just wanted to see how far Jamie would go to find that box truck.
Brian and I drove all over the United States in 2001 doing events. About halfway through the tour I was dozing off in the front seat and Brian was sitting behind me. He took off the sock he had been wearing for the past week and decided it would be a good idea to attack me with it from behind. I woke up to his sweat sock stretched across my open mouth, pinning me back to the headrest. Then he started flossing it back and forth. It burned the sides of my mouth off and particles were flying down my throat. I was helpless, so I grabbed a 44-ounce Big Gulp and just threw it up at the ceiling as we drove down the freeway. Brian was covered in Orange Fanta and I was pissed. The van pulled over, I tried to rip the door off the van and I took a full swing at Brian. He laughed because he could have killed me with one punch. I kicked in the grill of the minivan but it was made of plastic so it just bounced back into place and by doing so I almost blew out my good knee. Brian started laughing, then I started laughing at myself and we got back in the van—best homies before the sock strangling and best homies after.
I was sitting on a bench by myself and Milton walks over and sits down beside me. He looked me in my eyes and told me that he was very sorry if he offended me the other night when we were out together having dinner with friends. I had no idea what Milton was talking about, but it’s nice to know that someone who is that gnarly has such a genuine soft side to him.
Nick told me he is going to get rich and when he does he will buy Foundation, fire me and make Foundation dope. I hope it happens.
I get random texts from Nick’s dad all the time. Here’s the last one: “I know Nick is wasting his time out here bullshitting with his jerk off friends in Atlantic City. Sit him down and read him the riot act when he gets back to California!”
Told me that his Mom was really into Eddie Money back in the day. I’ve always cherished this type of information.
J-Lay has said some of the craziest shit I have ever heard. Everyone’s got a good Johnny quote. In his heyday as a top pro he once bought a Lexus SUV, the kind a mom would drive. He then told the entire Toy Machine team, “Fuckin’…this car is gonna get me MORE than laid.” I really miss those days.
Chris Cole wanted to 360 flip Wallenberg. We all hopped in the van and drove eight hours up to San Francisco. We woke up, DLX brought over the roll in and the rest is history. What you don’t know is that after he made the 360 flip we all got back in the van, drove to Arby’s, shared a roast beef sandwich and then none of us spoke for the entire eight-hour drive home. I still don’t know why. I think we were all in shock.
I roomed with Gerwer on a Fallen trip—best decision I ever made. Frank couldn’t sleep so he’d just sit in the dark and smoke cigarettes. I’d wake up with my eyes burning. He’d look over and say, “Oh, does this bother you?” I just laughed and went back to sleep. Jamie took the big van and me and Frank were in a Chevy minivan. It would sputter and the dash lights would go off and on while we drove it. We refused to take it back and get a better one from the rental agency. We liked it and named it the Chevy Sheboygan. We would talk for hours like we were the salesmen trying to get a customer into a new Chevy Sheboygan. We laughed until our faces hurt. I had to pull off the freeway and just started crying from laughing so hard. I offered Frank to come stay with me for a weekend just to make prank phone calls. He’s never showed, but the offer still stands.
Check out these other "People I've Known":
3/26/2021From the Baker van to King of the Road to 20-plus years of shooting photos, Burnett’s done a lot of miles and met a lot of folks working for the Mag. Check out who made an impression on Phelper’s right-hand man. As seen in our March 2021 issue.
1/05/2021Last year was the worst, which means we’ve got an extra-stacked pack of T-Eddys for the skate world’s gaffes and god-awful moments. Plenty of praise in there, too! Don’t get pissed if you made the list.
11/30/2020A stacked caravan of A-listers and homies cruised to the drive-in for a late-night showing of Uncrossed. Scroll through to see the park-and-ride of a lifetime.
4/02/2020Jason Dill, Julien Stranger, Mike Sinclair and many more industry experts discuss what they're looking for in an up-and-coming amateur rider. Is it just about stacking clips? How can you blow it? Heed their advice to stand out in a world where everybody rips.
2/28/2020Tomorrow’s hottest pros and Long Beach’s glitterati packed into Bradford’s for a first look at the hot-off-the-press Am Scramble video. Check the photos to feel like you’re part of the action, watching the scramblers shine, putting back White Claws with the best of ‘em.