Traffic's "Third Shift" Article
Skateboarding, just like any other industry, has a lot of income disparities and inequalities. You've got your one percenters, but for just about everyone else there is a need to work a more conventional 9–5 outside of skateboarding. To “make it” as a pro skateboarder you have to be willing to accept that it may not be the most financially-stable avenue to pursue. For a lot of us, skateboarding is the “third shift” that happens once you are done with our jobs and side hustles. But at the same time, it’s those other life obligations that make skating so much more meaningful and enjoyable. Here's a little glimpse of what the Traffic crew is doing during their first, second and third shifts.
The long nights, triple shifts and side gigs all paid off in the new Traffic video. Respect the work ethic
What is your 9–5?
I do contracting work with Frankie Brodsky at Twelve Thirty Six Builders.
Do you prefer having Frankie behind the lens or behind the hammer?
Since nothing compares to skating, obviously the answer is taking photos with Frankie. Plus, I was more of the boss in that relationship!
Do you have a favorite photo you’ve shot with Frankie over the years?
Man, I have shot so many photos with Frank and most of them have elements that would contribute to how I feel about the end result. The fact of how much effort it took to get, that I only landed it the one time and the aspect that Frank was running out of film, I have to go with the kickflip wallride sequence on 2nd street. It ran as a two-page spread. I didn’t know at the time about the film running out, which I give props to Frank for not saying anything that would add stress to the situation. On that day we didn’t have a filmer, so I went back again, but couldn’t get it done. So Frank shooting a sequence is that much more sweet.
How is it skating Afro banks again after all these years? Pretty rad to see that spot skatable again.
I personally didn’t really have the desire to skate Afro again. I’ve had years to play. When I first started coming into the city, I came by bus. We would get dropped off on 6th and Arch. So with Afro being at 7th and Arch, it was one of the first spots we would skate in Philly. I have memories for days but it’s a tough spot, especially when you don’t skate that often. One of Sergei’s boys made it happen for everyone, and I’m more stoked for everyone else. My boss Pat told me I had to rock it, so Jake and I were only following orders. Seriously, though, if I gave it more than two times, I could start doing some stuff I used to do. The last time I skated it I was more hyped on Jake’s boy Chris Mathis. Watching him do stuff he hasn’t ever done there. Still to this day, I’d say that Freddy’s back noseblunt was the most beautiful trick done at Afro, even though Matt’s switch front blunt was definitely harder. Tim O’Connor and Jason Dill have epic ollie photos on there as well.
How has it been going out filming with Jake Todd, Josh Feist and some of the other younger guys?
As I keep getting older the media heads that are out there capturing real street skating are mostly young kids. Jake I believe is around 27 years old, but he has a good grasp on the history of the Philly scene while being on point with what’s going on currently. Not only just just with filming, Josh Feist continues the mindset of exploring and finding original spots and still also films the core Muni scene. It’s cool to see, as it reminds me how the scene was for the first half of the '90s, before bullshit resentment crept in. Jake is mellow and understands my struggles on the board. He is only ever encouraging. Since he is so much younger than I am, every time we get done trying to get something, we’ll have a beer and he’ll ask me questions about stories from back in the day. Since I live in the past, it’s a win-win conversation.
What did you think of the premiere of Third Shift in NYC?
The premiere was fantastic. The boys did a great job lining up the show outdoors, projected on a wall next to the skatepark. So many more people were there than I could have expected. I was more in the back, but the whole atmosphere was too fun.
Do you have a favorite part from the video?
I am not going to single out any certain part, but I am stoked that the crew put all their energy into it—sick title, too.
Rick 'n' roll on hallowed Philly ground Photo: Todd
What is your 9–5?
At the moment I am helping build a 200-square-foot modular shed with a deck.
What is it exactly that you are building and how did you get into that?
The design was a studio and deck. Everything comes in parts and shipped out from Colorado for us to assemble. It’s actually pretty amazing how fast it goes up. My friend Boz, who’s an experienced carpenter, called me one day needing help setting this thing up. I had been working for a carpenter before but this was my first time building something like this. We had a lot of fun and were able to learn something new, which was rad.
Kevin can build a deck, but he'll also wreck a rail. Fakie 50-50 Photo: Hartley
Tell us about your new business that is in the works.
Well, my wife makes this amazing vegan “cheez” and has been selling it locally here on Cape Cod. So the idea was to open a shop where she could make and sell her “cheezes,” but also sell other vegan products—things like juices, smoothies and açaí bowls. Initially we had plans to open this summer but now things got put on hold for a little while, so we're aiming for next season.
You were also a yoga instructor in NYC for a while. How did you get into that?
I was teaching yoga in New York a few years back when I lived there. I did a teacher training program at the Bhakti Center on the Lower East Side. At the time I was taking classes there and decided to dive deeper in my practice and learn to teach. It was one of those things where I had just taken a yoga class, then I saw a flyer on the wall for a winter training program and—boom—that was it. I went home that night and signed up. Probably one of the best things I could have done for myself at that time. I was getting a little lost in the New York shuffle and this set me straight back. So After the training I was teaching like three times a week and then a little bit on Cape Cod recently before 2020 hit.
What’s your pre-skate yoga routine?
A few downward dogs, couple forward bends, maybe a headstand or shoulder stand. Depends how my body is feeling.
Has it been difficult getting clips from Cape Cod? Do you feel like it’s given you a unique opportunity to travel the East Coast more for new spots?
I feel like living on Cape Cod has been good because when I do get the opportunity to go to the city like Boston or New York, I am much more excited and focused. I definitely don’t film much here on The Cape, but I skate this skatepark here that’s really fun and it helps me warm up for when I do hit the streets. It’s a perfect balance, otherwise I would get too burnt out on being in the city full time.
Coakley crosses the fire line for a segmented front board Photo: Hartley
What is your 9–5?
Skateboarder. I teach artwork, skate three days a week and I do freelance design work, too. I also opened a skateshop in my neighborhood, where I’ll sell original and souvenir skate products as well.
How’s the new shop going so far?
Going well, I guess. Local skaters and my friends are supporting my shop. Thanks, homies!
Do you plan on showcasing any of your artwork anytime soon?
Actually, I had a show in March 2020, but that show was canceled because of COVID. So I'm just waiting for COVID to be gone, and then I will showcase after that.
Have you been creating more artwork during the pandemic?
Yeah, I planned to make a picture book, so I am working on that now.
Did the pandemic make it more difficult to skate in Japan?
I don’t think so, but all the skateparks are closed, so lots of skaters are street skating and local spots are becoming a bust.
You recently took a skate trip with adidas to Okinawa. How was that?
Okinawa was a beautiful place—super nice weather, good spots, delicious food and calm people. I spent a dreamy time there.
HIroki clocks some time at the bank on his day off. No-comply tail Photo: Pep
What’s your 9–5?
I am an assistant brewer at a local brewery in Baltimore, Maryland.
How was it working at an essential business during a pandemic?
It’s been hectic. I haven’t stopped working, but I am also very grateful to be working for an essential business. There’s a lot of people out of jobs, and a lot of businesses that went under and are going under during this pandemic.
How did you end up making the transition from working the liquor store to the brewery?
I made the switch because my friend worked there and she got me in the door bartending. Bartending at a brewery is the easiest gig in the world. You only pour beers. The liquor store was in the process of being sold, so I was planning on leaving once that was completed anyway.
Do you have any crazy stories from working at the liquor store?
Nothing too crazy. One time we chased this guy that was stealing. He got away with the booze but dropped his phone, so my coworker and I kept it. I think we actually smashed it in the street. He had the nerve to come back an hour or so later asking if we’d seen a cell phone.
How difficult was it working with a broken collarbone?
It wasn’t fun. They just put me on the register for the time being. Even then, bagging stuff sucked. A collarbone is definitely the most annoying bone to break. You can’t put it in a cast; you just have to wear a sling until it heals.
Favorite The Wire spot moment?
I’d probably say watching Brian Tucci skate there in person. He did an insane trick on the bank to wall. I’ve been skating that spot for over ten years and still always have a good time. It’s one of the best spots ever in my opinion.
No barrier's gonna make Chris miss the bus. Ollie Photo: Shuman
What’s your 9–5?
I’m a video editor.
Where do you work? Did skating get you interested in becoming a film editor?
I’m a video editor at CuriosityStream. I make promos for their documentaries and TV shows. Watching skate videos was definitely a big part of what got me interested in editing.
Have you made promos for any documentaries or TV shows that we might know?
The Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations series finale promos on Travel Channel are the best examples I can think of. I didn't edit those but I helped out with the post-production. My boss at the time asked us to pull every walking shot of Anthony from the nine seasons so we could build a sequence where it looked like he was continuously walking throughout the world.
Many people I’ve talked to say that your part has been one of their favorites from the video. How'd you manage to film such a strong part while simultaneously working your regular job and becoming a new father?
I worked at night for a couple years which put me on an opposite schedule. I wasn't going in until 5 PM, so I ended up skating before work more during the week. When I skated after work it was 2 AM. That turned into trying to skate spots that were quick kick outs during the day.
What’s your 9–5?
I’m not in the 9–5 club. I have a shared shop space in Red Hook where I make furniture and other woodwork projects. Between commissions and freelance work, I stay pretty busy.
How did you initially get into woodworking?
High school shop class with Mr. Icken. I took an interest in making things out of wood, followed that interest and will continue to do so.
Do you have a favorite piece of furniture that you’ve created?
It’s always the next piece.
Clackin' slats outside the studio, Luke goes frontside on the oververt Photo: Mullins
Have you been commissioned to make anything that surprised you?
I’ve had some weird requests but nothing that far out of the ordinary. Recently I had a client who may or may not have been involved with the mob. They wanted a hidden drawer inside a jet black chest I designed for them. In the end I used rare-earth magnets to unlock the compartment from the top surface—very sneaky.
How was it being featured in Interior Design Magazine? Did you get a bunch of requests after that one?
Very humbling. It’s a good feeling being acknowledged for my work. They featured a walnut coffee table I made for a friend that was in one of my first shows. I didn’t get a whole lot of commissions, but it definitely helped open up some doors.
Did losing part of your finger to woodworking discourage you from that at all?
Not really; shit happens. It was a bump in the road and set me back while I was recovering, but It’s part of the game. I’m working with machinery that doesn’t have a conscience and it could have been way worse.
I recall you mentioning that a lot of your woodworking knowledge comes from an old-time woodworker that you studied under. Do you keep in contact with him at all?
Remo from Rome, NY. He’s a class-A lunatic and a true artist. I worked under him for about five years and soaked it all in—that’s where I lost my finger. I feel very fortunate to have learned the craft from someone as unique as him. We haven’t spoken in a while. I need to reach out. Thanks, Remo!
How is the first year as a professional skateboarder treating you?
Like anything else, it has ups and downs.
How has it been finishing a part during a pandemic?
Strange. Experiencing the city as a ghost town was wild. You were able to skate certain spots that you would never get time at. Other than that, it was difficult to go on trips. Given the circumstances, you're pretty much stuck.
Rainbow slappy in a ghost town Photo: Hartley
What is your 9–5?
So my 9–5 was art handling for a while with John Baragwanath. He got me in there and out of my previous job which was land surveying out on Long Island. I just started that work again in Manhattan doing new construction.
What was it like working with John?
Working with John was always a blast. He really helped me out. By getting that job I was able to go on so many trips and learn a lot from him. The dudes there were so lenient, too. We would show up for work and be like “Oh, by the way, on Friday we’re goin’ to Europe for two weeks.” And they’d just say, “Cool, have fun, guys.”
Did COVID change your regular work routine?
COVID completely changed my work routine; I got laid off right at the beginning of it. I had just got back from Barcelona and worked maybe four days and I got the call like, That’s it. So I just started chilling and reaping the benefits of unemployment. It gave me a ton of time to work on my part and skate. I would also read and chill with my girlfriend. More recently we’ve been going surfing a lot, which is super fucking hard.
What is land surveying exactly and what’s up with those massive tripods?
So in simplest terms, when I survey I’m essentially making a map or a blueprint of whatever it is I'm surveying. The massive tripods have an instrument on top called a transit which takes precise measurements to the thousandth of a foot. So basically I take measurements of buildings, properties, bridges, tunnels or whatever. Then I draw a rough blueprint of them and bring the file from the transit into an AutoCAD on the computer. From there it becomes the final product which is the survey.
Is there a lot of schooling required with that? It sounds kind of intense.
You can go to school for it but I just learned in the field. I’ve been doing it for almost seven years and learned from an old-timer on Long Island who showed me all the tricks of the trade. In my experience, real-life work experience always comes out on top over schooling when it comes to any type of blue-collar work or trade.
How has your first year on the Traffic team been?
It's been incredible, man. We’ve gone on a bunch of little trips and have been so productive. I’m blown away. Skating and filming has never really felt natural to me, but we’re such a tight crew it never feels like there’s pressure. We just go out and have fun. It’s really sick skating for a company that’s basically just all my friends. I’m hyped on the way the video’s coming out and I hope everyone enjoys it.
Hardflip across the concrete ravine—survey that! Photo: Riera
What's your 9–5?
Masonry. I can’t stand doing the same thing every day, so I enjoy the occasional landscaping job also.
What kind of masonry work do you do? Do you have a specialty or how does that work?
We do so much it’s hard to say exactly what our specialty is—block, brick, stucco, finished concrete, anything stone or cement-related. Veneer stonework is my favorite. There’s only a few guidelines and it’s like you're creating a puzzle.
How does it feel to be one of the newest additions to the Traffic skateboards team?
Traffic has such a rich history and awesome team. It feels great to be a part of it.
What city do you call home?
I grew up an hour outside of the city, but after living here for five years, I consider Philly my home.
Holding it down for Philly and Traffic, you have some pretty big shoes to fill. How was it going on filming sessions with Ricky Oyola?
I always look forward to them. When Rick is sparked he’s on it and when he’s not feeling it he’s down to have a few beers and shoot the shit.
Was the Underground Nocturnal session the first time you went skating with him? Looked like a super fun session. I can never get enough Ricky stories.
Yes, it’s pretty special being at an iconic spot with such a pioneer of skateboarding. We did hit a few spots before Underground and Uncle Rick assured me that I “didn’t get all four on,” when I did a wallride that didn’t make the cut.
I've noticed you are quite the street DIY warrior. What inspired you to start fixing up and creating spots?
Watching so many classic spots get destroyed and stale cookie-cutter architecture taking their place. I try to DIY as little as possible. I think there’s a beauty in the way things naturally occur, but sometimes spots need more love than a little Bondo and a rub brick.
Does the masonry work that you do carry over into your ability to make just about any spot skateable?
Absolutely, but it is different. If I make something look too good or too skateable I feel it takes away from the spot or previous tricks. For me, it’s important to rehabilitate the skate spot and not make it a skatepark.
Nobody handles cracked concrete like a mason. Backside tailslide to fakie Photo: Pep
What’s your 9–5 situation?
I teach graphic design at a public high school. I also own and operate a painting business, doing residential and commercial work. It's called Clean Cut Paint and Design LLC.
Have you ever had to deal with any wild situations at the high school, maybe some issues with unruly students?
One of my first teaching jobs had me working in juvenile corrections. That could get wild at times, but there were guards right there who were just waiting for an opportunity to lump up one of the kids. One class I taught was in the Philadelphia House of Corrections. It is an adult jail, but I worked with the juveniles there, which meant that they were juveniles being charged as adults. Most were never going to get out of jail, ever. They had committed murder, rape and other crimes. Some had multiple life sentences. Only the well-behaved were allowed to come to the class, and that may have been their only opportunity to get out of their cell for the day, so everybody was pretty respectful. They would open up to me and tell me their story sometimes; it got pretty depressing. I am in a suburban public school now, so it's just your typical rumble here and there.
I almost forgot to mention that one of your old students was at the video premiere in NYC! Jaqueline and her boyfriend Evan—who was a Theories of Atlantis Intern—came up to me after the video and she had to confirm it was the same Mr. Wetzel that taught her art design class in high school. Do you often have students recognize you outside of school? Is that weird?
I have had a few students who were into skating and I would end up seeing them around at a spot. I am always sure to powerslide at their ankles. If they are skateboarders, it's cool. A student showed up at Hebrew Hideout one time that didn't skate and was just hanging around. I told him to get out of there or I was gonna call his parents and tell them he was vaping! I would see him in the hallways after that and just point and say, "Never again!"
Do you have a preference between teaching, painting and graphic design?
I prefer graphic design when I get to do the type of work that I enjoy making. If I could pay the bills and provide for my family with art and design work that I enjoyed, I would have stopped doing the others a while ago. I really enjoy working for myself and that is what I like the most about my painting business. I also have figured out how to make good money with this trade. Teaching can be amazing when you have a group of students who enjoy the work. But, in a public high school, this isn't always the case. The benefits are really helping out right now while my wife and I are having kids, but soon that one is gonna go.
Do you have a favorite moment from the Hebrew Hideout DIY?
My favorite Hebrew Hideout moment is all the times that I went there after work, especially when I would show up to the spot being empty—except for maybe one or two of the regulars—challenge myself with a new trick and succeed after a bit of a battle. That feeling will never get old.
What is your 9–5?
I’m essentially an art director for a few different TOA brands. I’m also the team manager, graphic designer, sometimes editor and very rarely a skater for Traffic. I wear many hats, one could say.
How is it finding the time to skate/edit/design/team manage?
Working in the “skateboard industry,” you always feel like you're on the clock, even if you're just out skating with friends. There's always ideas flowing for graphics or something that could be done for social media. It never ends. You just have to stay on top of it. Luckily, I have some guys on the team like Mark Wetzel who help out with graphics as well.
Tell me a little bit about your side hustle as a contest judge? Will we see you at the Olympics?
Well, I grew up in the Skatepark of Tampa, and after I grew out of the local all-ages contests, I started helping judge them. That was pen-and-paper days, which is crazy to think about now. From there I just learned a lot and it eventually evolved into judging the Tampa Pro and Ams. It’s funny 'cause the last week everyone remembers before COVID was Tampa Pro. That was the final contest ‘til who knows how long. As for the Olympics, we gotta see how the first one goes, if it ever happens. I think there are some guys ahead of me on the list, so I gotta bump them off first.
What is Tincan Skatelore and Small Crowd? What do you have in the works for both?
Tincan Skatelore is a skate-trivia night we used to run here in Brooklyn. I do it with my friend Jovi Bathemess. Since we can’t do it in person right now, we just post trivia questions to our Instagram account. Small Crowd is an online radio show I do. They’re just hour-long episodes, maybe some songs you’ve never heard or maybe some movie quotes thrown in. Nothing really in the works yet, it's just fun to create in the free time.
How did it come about that you became a second filmer for this video?
I wouldn’t really consider myself a second filmer; Valenti handled all the heavy lifting. Towards the end of the video, though, when COVID hit, it just became out of necessity. Things were on lockdown and Valenti wasn’t always available, so I grabbed a camera and subbed in a few times.
Do you have a favorite clip that you were behind the camera for?
Yeah, definitely Luke Malaney’s fakie manny fakie flip. That spot is super hard to skate 'cause you usually get kicked out or it’s just overrun with people. It’s basically a homeless encampment. Luke would get so close every time, but could never ride it out properly. It’s also a fountain so every time we came back we were expecting it to be filled with water. There was a lot of pressure because every trip there felt like the last, but on our fourth trip there he finally rode away perfectly.
How has it been editing the video during a pandemic?
At first it was very stressful. It’s kinda hard editing via text and phone calls. We were all locked inside quarantining so there was a lot of back and forth with ideas. It’s just hard to see those ideas in action unless you’re in the editing room together. Eventually, Valenti and I figured out a way to edit through Facetime so we could both see the computer screen and we could try out songs and different cuts.
HD or VX?
I honestly like either one. We’ve used both cameras in the past. I think it’s funny when people assume filming with a VX1000 is a statement. It’s really just a matter of what’s available, and at the moment I just don’t know anyone with an HD camera.
Graphics can wait when Pat puts on his skater hat. Lucky for us, he wore it long enough to get this front shove. Congrats on the vid, Third Shifters!
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