The Follow Up: Chris "Cookie" Colbourn

Olivia Chris Colbourn Portrait DZ 750pxPhoto: Zorah

Chris is a unique person. He’s the type of man who walks through the forest rather than following the clearly-marked path. Some might say he’s lost. And maybe he is. But I think he would say he’s right where he needs to be. His recent WAR and PEACE Element part was beyond impressive, gaining him praise from all corners of the skateboarding world. His spontaneous and somewhat reckless style reminds me of time long passed, and his selfless attitude towards every person he meets makes him a good human and a great friend. Cookies are sweet. This one is no exception. —Cole Mathews

Cookie Smith Gap Out DZ 750pxGet your head out of the clouds and get your feet into a Smith grind! Done deal     Photo: Gaberman

Happy Belated Birthday! What did you do?
Thank you. I just had some friends over the night of my actual birthday, which was a weekday, so I was a little skeptical if people would come but it was a good turn out. I felt bad—I wanted to invite my neighbors because I've been hanging out with them a little bit here and there. They’re just cool people and I ran into one of them the other day and he was, like, “Yo! I heard you guys having a party the other night. What the hell was that all about?” Not the end of the world. But I did get some rad gifts from the people that did come.

That's cool to get gifts as an adult. What did you get?
I really didn’t expect anything and when I saw people show up holding gifts I was blown away. I got pretty meaningful stuff, like notebooks, art supplies and photos.

Not your typical eighth of weed and a Kit Kat.
Nah, but that would be cool too. I appreciated all of it.

So do you feel at home now in LA? How long have you been out here?
I've been here going on seven years now; it's crazy. I do feel at home to be honest, although I still don’t know my way around. For example, I took the train in the wrong direction for five stops last night into East LA. Turns out I live in Northeast LA.

Well, you live and you learn, right?
That's true! I guess I had to learn that one the hard way. It's been awhile since I’ve been on the train in general, but I'm finding more spots every day.

Boardslide by Acosta DZ 750pxWith as much time as he spends riding the rails, you think he’d have figured out the train lines by now—boardslide through the bend and down the drop     Photo: Acosta

What was your first impression when you got here from Vermont?
I had butterflies in my stomach for at least a week after moving here. I couldn’t comprehend what I’d done. It was weird to attempt to come to terms with my new life. I had some money saved up so I didn’t go out looking for a job immediately but as I began to realize how much it costs to live in California on your own, it was obvious I was gonna drain my savings sooner than I had hoped for. So I started looking for work. I had saved money in Vermont by baking bagels, so I started looking for a baking job out here. That led to me getting a job at Casbah Cafe in Silverlake and, luckily, I worked there for a couple of years. It helped me stay afloat, you know?

Did any skaters ever come in there as customers?
Yeah, it was really cool to be working at a coffee shop in Silverlake and to be seeing people that you just wouldn’t see back in Vermont or any other smaller town. I’d always see this one dude come in with a board and he’d sit in the middle of the cafe and start watercolor painting. Or sometimes he’d sit out front with his wife and drink tea. But anyway, it was this dude Chris Johanson. He had done a bunch of stuff for Antihero and was even in that art book Beautiful Losers.

Was he a good customer?
Yeah, he was. He was beyond nice to me. I talked to him because he had a board all the time, but yeah, you never know who works in skateboarding. Who else? I would see Gilbert Crockett come through when he lived over here. I’d give him free double espressos. His money was no good. It was funny: I ran into him at a skatepark and he’s all, “You’re the guy from the coffee shop.” I said, “Yeah! that's me. I also skate.”

 

bs nosepick by ATIBA DZ 750px

It's bad form to pick your nose at the café but in Middle Earth, anything goes.   Photo: Atiba

At this point, do you miss Vermont?
Yeah, I do. A lot to be honest. I miss my family. I didn’t know how much I would miss them until I couldn’t see them whenever I wanted. It's really special to be able to spend time with your family. But I do have some great friends here in California; they make it easier. I guess I'm pretty comfortable now. It still trips me out to see so many skaters around though because, dude, I was like one of seven skaters in my high school. It wasn’t the cool thing to do ever. I mean, there's only like five solid months of good weather and for sure seven months of shit. But every now and then during the winter there would be a break where the streets would dry up and there would be a 40-degree day that would get us all outside in t-shirts to skate. Those days mean the world to me now. You spend months cooped up in your house, or garage, or skatepark—if you have an indoor one—so it makes you really appreciate street skating when you can walk out your door and push down the street.

I bet! You got any wacky Vermont sponsors, maple syrup, cheese, anything?
Nah, but if I go to the Olympics I'm gonna knock on Ben and Jerry’s door for a flavor. They hooked up this snowboarder from Vermont with a flavor when she went. Her flavor is called Blondie Brownie. I was always really jealous of that. Well, not jealous, but I am intrigued, though.

What would your flavor be?
Something cookie related—New York Super Fudge Chunk and Half Baked come to mind, so maybe a hybrid of the two? It’s a no-brainer to try and do something with a cookie crumble in there, right? No Cookie Doe. I burnt that out with my Instagram name.

Are you afraid your nickname isn’t tough enough for professional skateboarding?
Far from it! It could be so worse.

180 nosegrind NYC by Furkay DZ 750pxBackside Brickle 180 Nutty Nosegrind on the way to Ben and Jerry’s     Photo: Furkay

Switching gears here—geez, man, you skate a lot of houses.
Yeah, but more so just in the moment. I've heard so many scary stories about people getting arrested or getting trespassing tickets. Sorry, Ryan Lee! I'm glad we didn’t get in any trouble, though. I heard Jerry Hsu had to kick some people out from skating his house the other day. Maybe I’ll ask for permission in the future?

Seems like your last video part had a lot of unconventional and let's say shitty skate spots—the landing sucks, the cops are literally at the spot, you land into traffic, stuff like that. So why?
Ah yeah, well, I think skating in Los Angeles gets me so jaded on what I see in videos that it’s forced me to step out of my comfort zone and basically skate peoples houses, go look for spots, take my time and walk somewhere. It’s like that in-between time where we get kicked out and don’t have a place to go, you know? I think of these things and basically kill time trying something rather than doing nothing. Dude, honestly there's so much crime in LA, I feel safe skating people’s houses way more than skating in a big city.

Damn, never heard that before.
Cops have way better things to do than bother us for skating. We get kicked out, sometimes we come back like four or five times. I guess it depends.

I watched your timeline of footage about a year ago and I wanna say it was only 30 percent of what I saw in that new Element part. Was that footage lost? Where was it, dude?
I realized I had footage with over 15 different filmers in LA and a lot of it for sure got lost or not turned in during the editing process for PEACE. Given that Miner was focused on what he thought he had, and not just guessing about what maybe I had, I got left out of being a priority.

ChrisColbourn backlip highres by Bobby Bils DZ 750pxThe curb may have crumbled but the rail stood strong—back lip on private property (as usual)     Photo: Bils

You mean like wrangling the missing clips?
Yeah, wrangling the clips is a great way to say it, because like I said there was a lot of filmers involved and it must have taken a lot of time. What's strange is, most things I enjoy, or projects I like, are the ones that are all filmed by one person. So to go out and do things I'm incredibly proud of with numerous people has been quite the challenge for me. And I'm beating myself up over it, that's for sure. But I don’t want to regret anything. Had I not gone out on those random days that no one was meeting up and just tried something, a lot of my part wouldn’t have happened. And I think that's natural. It might not be good for deadlines, but I'm glad I got those tricks with my friends. The way I enjoy skating is little more sporadic than some. I enjoy driving by and finding something and trying my absolute hardest immediately rather than seeing it and thinking about it for weeks on end and then going back at a certain time with a certain filmer and a certain photographer.

It's almost like you’re on tour all the time. “Dude! Spot! pull over!”
For sure! I kinda feel that way having not grown up in LA. This is like a permanent skate trip for me.

portrait by Bogdan DZ 750pxPhoto: Bogdan

By the way, congrats on the video part. I'm sure you're happy with the response.
Dude, thank you. I'm still getting comments. It trips me out. I'm actually having a hard time thinking of a non-cheesy way to thank everybody. But seriously, I'm really, really grateful that Jon took his time to cut up all my footage because it definitely had to have been a challenge. And the fact that he could add his two cents to it, with a Ray Barbee song, or get to do what he thought was best for me without having filmed the majority of it means a lot to me. Because straight up—he didn’t have to do that. He’s made some of the best videos ever.

Dude’s a legend.
He hit me up while he was close to being done with PEACE and he told me he was so underwater with editing and he apologized for kinda being distant because of it. He explained the plan to have a solo part once he could sort out my footage, and watching my part now, I'm just now realizing what he was talking about. The long lines, the weird interactions with people and stuff. I get it now.

PEACE was like three-to-four years in the making but Miner came in the last year, right?
Yeah, I think you’re right. I like to think I have a good memory, at least when it comes to skating. It kinda made me feel old, like, holy fuck this has been a long project when you forget clips you filmed that you were really proud of. Like that line I filmed with Mark Stewart with the Cab back lip, it was so cool to see that clip. I remember Julian was there and he definitely inspired me to do that trick.

SF Manuel Manuel 750pxSwitch flip manual to manual before stocking the pool bar. Work hard, skate harder   Sequence: Papke

So what's next, bud? Obviously you’re not gonna stop skating, but you just got a job, right?
I did! I just finished my fourth day at my new job. I work in a warehouse helping them organize things—no customer service or anything. No kissing people’s feet, which is nice. I'm just organizing liquor, soft drinks, helping out at the pool bar, basically trying to be versatile so I can maintain a consistent work schedule but continue to skate full time. It's good. It seems realistic because they have so many employees that they’re not gonna miss me if I say I wanna leave for a couple weeks. I just need to let them know enough in advance.

That's cool.
I'm gonna go to Wintercount next month and then stop at Bust or Bail in Phoenix and they were, like, “Yeah that totally fine; just let us know.” It makes me happy to work and having some extra money coming in never hurts, because I've kinda just been breaking even with skating and having just turned 28 that's not the best feeling.

No, I imagine not.
Being that there's probably millions of people in my position, but I just know I can do better and I’m on that path. More or less I gotta keep my savings up, I gotta pay taxes soon with April approaching and hopefully build on it. I missed that balance of work and skating like I had when I was working at the coffee shop. It makes you really appreciate your days off. I'm almost done with school too. I've been balancing skating and school mostly and not working, which has been great. I have time to do both but I have two classes left before I finish my associates degree, so I’d like to find a job before that ends rather than have to look for one after.

ChrisColbourn Kickflip Mehring 0541 DZ 750pxWe don’t know about his GPA but his kickflips are at the head of the class     Photo: Mehring

So what about skating? You’re not banking on any of these things to work out?
As far as skating goes I couldn’t be happier to still be doing it almost every day. I mean, I do skate every day, but to be filming and trying something I go out like five days a week. I get two days of rest, mentally and psychically, and I've been skating with a lot of inspiring people like the New Balance guys. It's for sure the little things in my life, like spending time with people before and after a session. Because when you're skating a spot you don’t always have the time to catch up with them, you just get to see them try something. But as far as projects, I'm working on an Independent part. Rhino asked me a little while ago to work on something and I think he’s the best and I'm honored to have a part come out with Indy. That's the best thing I can give them, I think.

Hell yeah. That's a big gift, man.
I know, but just to have him ask was seriously motivating. Just to get little shoutouts from them means the world ’cause I've been riding those trucks forever. I mean, Rhino and Gavin fucking rule. I was on a trip to the Northwest with them and they would seriously do whatever it took to make a spot skateable—from torching the ground for hours to going and getting kitty litter to building steps for a roll up. I had never been on a trip like that where it was by any means necessary. I actually have nightmares about all the footage from the trip getting deleted.

I've done that; its sucks, I’ll never forget it. Sorry, guys.
That happened with Dave Hoang while filming for the Element part. I’d say I filmed with Dave the most out of anyone for this part. I love Dave. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have half of that part or even half the memories. He put it in weeks on a few tricks and he never complained once or bailed or said he was hungry or anything.

He’s never hungry, bro.
That's true.

You wanna say anything to the Thrasher readers?
Less negativity, more skating.
switch tre shot by Rafael Bustamonte DZ 750pxMore switch trés and palm trees—Vermont’s favorite son is living the CA dream. Can’t wait to see that Indy part, Cookie!     Photo: Bustamante

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