The Upcoming Project

While the media obsesses on Donald Trump and the horse race that is the 2016 presidential primary season, real serious stuff is happening in the world which, too often, goes unreported.

Beyond this veil of mainstream media distraction is a global elite who, behind the scenes, pull the strings of puppets that are our world leaders, and, in doing so, determine the state of international affairs.

An inside view of how the world really runs requires identifying who its true rulers are. To that end, I will be blogging – in collaboration with Robert Lindsay – about these players, and what they do. For two to three months, Lindsay and I will feature a different world ruler each week on his website, “Beyond Highbrow”. It is a series we hope our readers will benefit from.

Bernie Sanders Leads 1963 Sit-in

Bleak Beauty Blog

In 1962 and the spring of 1963 I was the student photographer at the University of Chicago, making pictures for the yearbook, the Alumni Magazine and the student paper, The Maroon. By the summer of 1962 I had taken my camera  into the deep South, and become the first photographer for SNCC.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 6.49.15 PM

That winter at the University of Chicago, there was a sit-in inside the administration building protesting discrimination against blacks in university owned housing. I went to it with a CORE activist and friend. The sit in was in a crowded hallway, blocking the entrance to the office of Dr. George Beadle, the chancellor.

I took the photograph of Bernie Sanders speaking to his fellow CORE members at that sit-in. Bob McNamara, a close friend and CORE activist, is in the very corner next to me in the picture. Across the room from me is another campus photographer named Wexler, who taught…

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Follow Up On Freestyle:

Connor Burke – Young Legend

Connor Burke, portrait. November 22, 2015

What can be said about standout, professional, freestyle skateboarder, Connor Burke? Well, first, it is a fact that he’s amazing. Testimonials from a sample of the world’s most legit freestylers confirm this.

His lauded peer, Mike Osterman, says of him:

“Connor Burke is amazing. He’s always had a really smooth, streetish style to his skating. He skates fast and he seems to flip his 8.25″ deck with more ease than most people flip their 7.25″ freestyle twigs.”

Burke’s original inspiration, Keith Renna, says:

“Connor skates with the power of a street skater mixed with the fluidity of a freestyler. He’s amazingly solid.”

Another early inspiration of Connor’s, Tommy Harward, says:

“Yeah, he is awesome. Such a great style and plenty of hammers in his bag. Every once in a while you won’t hear or see much from him. Then I get to thinking “I hope he is still skating.” Then, next thing I know…a new clip will drop and BOOM! He is definitely breathing new life into freestyle, and I love seeing it.”

Most freestylers bring a uniqueness to their skating through their tricks and personal style. With Connor, this is exaggerated. There’s more speed, more movement, and, most glaring perhaps is his overall approach of blurring the boundaries between freestyle and street to where they are obliterated. Although a majority of his favorite skaters skate strictly freestyle, Connor, in his own skating, shows no respect for staying within the confines of separate genres. It’s refreshing to watch, and can leave one with the feeling of, “Why should there be an absolute rule that freestyle not have any obstacles, and only be flatland?” There have been others who mix up street with freestyle, but there’s something about Connor’s skating that has shifted my perception of freestyle. Now, I wonder when obstacles will be allowed in freestyle contests, and included in freestyle demonstrations. And will more freestylers lengthen their boards, and take a break from the flat here and there to pull a trick on an obstacle or two? Here, Connor makes his case for expanding freestyle.

But first, I brought up how he began uploading his skate videos to youtube in 2005, before most skaters even knew about the website.

Connor:  That’s right. I realized on October 21st (which is also my birthday) that my YouTube channel turned ten years old. That blows me away because that now means ten years of my life that are publicly documented through video. I think that most people are ashamed of their old videos and remove them at some point. For some reason I never seemed to care about that, so literally everything I’ve ever done in the last ten years is still there.

Nominay:  How did you find out about youtube, and how long had you been skating at that point?

C:  I don’t specifically remember how I discovered YouTube, I think I just sort of stumbled upon the website somehow. Besides hosting videos on your own personal website, Putfile was really the only option for uploading videos to the internet at that time but they had this really shitty interface. So, there was a serious need for a good video-sharing website at that time. So, once I found YouTube, I ended up signing up for an account immediately, and posted my first video the next day. At that point, I think I had been skating for about 5 years.

I actually have some skate videos that precede YouTube as well, maybe someday I’ll share them. One of the videos includes a really bad “sponsor me” video with a Michael Jackson song in it that I sent to a company that I won’t name.

N:  I have to follow that up with what Michael Jackson song? I’m a somewhat-closeted Michael Jackson fan myself (just of his music and dancing, mind you) … but I find it curious that a little kid in the 21st century opts to skate to a MJ song.

C:  Oh man, that’s awesome. I hate to break it to you but I’m actually not a big Michael Jackson fan, I like a few of his songs but I enjoy Prince much more. I’ve always liked 80’s music in general though, especially right when I was really falling in love with freestyle skating. And, believe me when I say that my love for 80’s music has no correlation to why I got into freestyle skateboarding – I am totally conscious of pop culture’s glorification of whatever decade happens to be twenty years old – for example, the 90’s are really “in” right now – I’ve always tried my best not to participate in that.

N:  Did you skate street first, freestyle first, or did you always do both?

C:  I skated street first, starting in 2000. I never really was exposed to anything outside of street until I had been skating for about two years. I saw some old footage of Rodney Mullen in one of the Tony Hawk games and I was blown away by Mullen’s pink cutoff t-shirts and oversized knee pads. Oh yeah, I thought that his skating was interesting too. God, that’s so uninteresting – everyone around my age has the same story about how they discovered freestyle skating.

Sometime in 2005, I had discovered the F-Forum, as well as the existence of Outlook and Reverse Skateboards who were both making freestyle shapes at the time. I was really interested in freestyle because there was virtually nothing for me to skate in Virginia Beach at that point – there was only one skatepark at the time (which I didn’t go to very much, I couldn’t drive yet) and a lack of “spots” to skate as Virginia Beach is very flat. So, that year I got a Keith Renna Outlook Complete for my birthday and the rest is history.

Shine on: Truckstand – November, 2013

N:  So Rodney was your freestyle initiation obviously, and a big influence on you as he is to everyone. Did you buy Keith Renna’s board because of his skating?

C:  Yes.

N:  Who else did you look to that shaped your interpretation of freestyle?

C:  It was Renna, Synnott, Harward, and Grogan that were the only guys I cared about for a while. All four of them had a big impact on my skating right off the bat; they were like the gods of the freestyle to me.

I think that my first few years of freestyle I was just interested in landing the basics and coming up with whatever excruciatingly long rail combos I could, so my skating was shaped by a little bit of everybody. However, I think that once I had been freestyling it for four or five years, people like Daryl Grogan, Don Brown, and Steve Rocco ultimately shaped my interpretation of freestyle. That was when I started to really try to polish my style, take advantage of whatever street tricks I could incorporate into freestyle, discover what tricks I felt were worthy of exploring, and what tricks I no longer had interest in doing. It’s tough getting there because there’s so much potential in every facet of freestyle, but not every type of trick was/is for me, and I’m okay with that.

Freestyle in style:
Connor gets cross-footed with a stationary 360 fingerflip.

N: What skaters are you relating to these days?

C: Well, Mike Osterman has definitely become one of my favorites for the past few years. We have very different styles and we do different tricks for the most part but there is something about his style and the fluidity of his tricks that makes his skating so appealing. Some other favorites of mine are Sean Burke, Jesse Whalen, Stefan Albert, Albert Kuncz, and Derek Elliot. I’m also really influenced by street skaters too, all of the riders on Magenta and Polar are great. I really like watching anyone do weird no comply variations, shove-its, reverts, and linking tricks back to back.

N: I can tell that you’d be a natural at skating vert. Will Connor Burke ever skate vert or bowls? What tricks do you imagine you’d like doing on ramps like that? Danny Way once said that every skater should experience doing an air.

C: Whenever I was younger, I always wanted to get into vert skating but couldn’t because there weren’t very many ramps (or even skateparks for that matter) available to me at the time. I can skate bowls and smaller 5 – 8 ft ramps perfectly fine though. Nothing feels better than a frontside air, or catching air for that matter. I sort of come from the tail end of this generation of skaters that go their start by skating shitty homemade launch ramps. And I still love skating launch ramps, there is no other feeling like it. If I go to a skatepark and they have a roll-in with a launch ramp, I’ll spend most of my time skating that and nothing else, even if I look like an idiot.

N: 80’s music is a part time trademark of your video parts. The Smiths and New Order come to mind. How were you exposed to that whole post-punk, alternative rock sub-genre?

C: Well, I was exposed to The Smiths by a friend whenever I was about 15 years old. I’m lucky in that I discovered them at just the right age and time in my life – I literally went months were I would only listen to The Smiths. From there, I got really into Joy Division, New Order, Siouxsie, and Echo & The Bunnymen. And then eventually, I got really into shoegaze music – Galaxie 500, My Blood Valentine, and Spacemen 3. Besides The Smiths, I discovered most of this music myself, on the internet.

I never identified with punk music, I guess I liked the idea of it whenever I was younger, but hated the music on a very basic and superficial level. So, once I discovered post-punk music (it filled both of those needs I just mentioned) and became my go-to genre of music for many years. I think that there is something about post-punk that really compliments skateboarding physically and aesthetically; the reverb, tempo, rhythm, and the overall structure of most post-punk songs act as perfect ingredients for a catchy video part. On top of that, I think that the lyrics really tended to resonate with me whenever I was younger.

N: Let’s talk about contests. Do you show up to them just wanting to see your friends and have fun skating with no expectations, or do you get concerned about skating your best and wanting to place high?

C: I’m never concerned about placing high – I really try not to think about that at all. Contests in the freestyle world also serve as reunions, so I get the most enjoyment out of seeing and talking to others. I always come prepared though, I practice my runs before hand and give it my best. I figure that if I’m going to travel and skate in a contest, I might as well try, as well as come up with a run that I feel is currently representative of my skating.

N: You won two contests recently. What were they?

C: I won the U.S. Championships last year and this year.

Both contests were very rewarding for me. I went four years (between the World champs in 2010, and the U.S. Champs in 2014) without competing because I wasn’t skating regularly while I was in college. I also think that going from placing in 16th in 2010 to placing 1st in 2014 somewhat lifted my spirits.

In all reality, I don’t really pride myself as being a contest skater. I’d much rather pour energy into making a video part than practicing the same tricks over and over again for a contest.

N: Have you only competed in the 3 contests you mentioned?

C: No, I’ve competed in 5 freestyle contests – the 2007 U.S. Championships, 2008 U.S. Championships and then the other three I’ve mentioned. I’ve won a street contest before too, with the aid of incorporating freestyle tricks into my street skating. You get HUGGEEE bonus points for it, haha!

N: I was at 2010 Philly too. I talked with you at one point and you seemed subdued to me… like maybe you weren’t having that good a time. Or maybe you were shy I thought.

C: Yeah, I probably was subdued in 2010 at the World Champs – I was kind of pissed off because I had broken my board accidentally right before the contest and I wasn’t skating as well as I wanted too. Also, I was really shy back then. I’ve grown up a lot since then, at least I think so… Haha.

N: What you said about videos vs contests reminds me of some conversations I had with Renna in 2000, about how were we going to make freestyle have a comeback. I believed promoting it through contests was the way to go. He said contests don’t matter anymore, that this is not the 80’s, and that making videos was where it was at. He turned out to be completely right of course.

C: I’d agree that video parts are more important. I don’t think that freestyle contests are an accurate portrayal of one’s abilities anymore. Contests seem to limit freestylers to doing fairly basic tricks because consistency is so vital to one’s performance – and In my honest opinion, consistency is uninteresting in freestyle. I think that video parts have more potential because they allow you to portray your style and the chance to document whatever tricks you could possibly imagine.

Impossible 2014
Taking it to the streets:
Connor shows no respect for gravity with this sidewalk scorching impossible.

N: As a freestyler, old school has obviously had a major influence on you as a skater. What about as a street skater? For example, Keith Renna loves 1990’s “Useless Wooden Toys” because of how the street skating in it is freestyle-oriented. Are you a fan of things like the early Plan B stuff or the latter Powell Peralta vids?

C: Yes, definitely. I really like Matt Hensley, Jeremy Klein, Ed Templeton, Gonz, and Natas. I used to watch all of the H-Street videos all of the time and the early Birdhouse videos. That probably shows in my street skating a little bit.

I’m definitely a fan of the Powell Peralta videos, those will always be classics. As for Plan B, I can’t stand watching that stuff, it bores me to death. It’s technical in a gross way that ultimately doesn’t feel right. In my opinion, skateboarding got a little boring somewhere in the mid-90’s. Is that too honest? It just seemed like there was too much of an emphasis on progression and switch skating and not enough on creativity or style.

I really like where street skating is at now though, there’s just so much interesting stuff going on. It’s probably because everything is constantly in my face on instagram.

N: At a time when all freestylers seemed to be skating boards around 7.5 wide, you switched to an 8.25. How did that change come about?

C: My first five years of freestyle skating, I would ride any shape and any size board. I figured out that both double kicks and single kicks both have their advantages and disadvantages over one another. At some point that grew tiresome though, and I was looking for some sort of consistency with what size/shape board I was riding.

I was riding for 17th Street Surf Shop and they were giving me (popsicle) boards every month, on top of the freestyle shapes that I was getting from Jeremy at Small School. So, slowly over the next three years, my street setups started going up in size – I went from a 7.5″ board all the way up to an 8.75″. I realized that was too big, and went back down to 8.5″ – which is still the same street sized board that I’ve been riding since then.

Post-Small School, in 2010 sometime, I started shaping my own freestyle boards. I eventually figured out that I liked an 8.25″ popsicle board for freestyle because it wasn’t too much smaller than the 8.5″ street setup that I had grown really used to. I’m happy I made that decision at some point and stuck with it because it really allowed me to learn new tricks and I finally felt comfortable on my board.

The biggest complaint that I’ve heard about freestylers riding bigger boards is that you have to “work harder” to land certain freestyle tricks. I’m going to call bullshit on that. I believe that You SHOULD bend your knees whenever you do a trick and you SHOULD strive to jump a half an inch higher when flipping your board. Nobody should look like a straight-legged puppet whenever they skate. Currently, most street skaters are riding boards sized anywhere from 8″ to 8.5″. I just don’t understand how freestylers can collectively demand any kind of legitimacy or growth whenever the riders are doing their technical tricks on boards that are the same size as a street “mini” – boards that are marketed towards children in the skate industry. I’m not trying to preach conformity or hate on smaller boards altogether, I’m trying to advocate against purists that fetishize 30 year old skateboard shapes/sizes, and I’m trying to say “give bigger boards a chance,” particularly to my generation and future generations of freestylers. Although it may seem superficial, I believe that it is a crucial step towards modernizing the discipline.

N: Darren Dyk use to freestyle on a boat of a longboard, tech stuff no problem. Whalen skates a wide board. I think Grogan does. Probably others. Wide is coming around. Freestyle has to evolve, get more aggressive, and incorporate some obstacles into its regiment. Not that there are any rules of course, but when things don’t change, they die. Skateboarding always changes, sooner or later.

C: Dude, that’s badass! Yeah, it’s something I feel very passionate about. People like to bitch and moan about progression while riding a board shape that was engineered in 1985. There are so many contradictions in freestyle. I’m a relatively quiet guy and I try to the best of my ability to stay out of the nonsensical arguing.

N: Where is the Connor Burke pro model? Are your preferred specifications not deemed marketable? At 8.25 by 31.75 it’s pretty much the same specs as most boards, right?

C: My pro model is coming sometime in 2016. I’ve been waiting a really long time for the wood shop to send me a prototype. The dimensions are similar to what you mentioned and it’s definitely marketable. I don’t really want to say much more about it, though.

N: In the year and a half since your graduation from Virginia Commonwealth, what have you been doing career-wise, and where do you see that taking you? What do you hope to accomplish with your filmmaking degree, or has it already provided you with the inroads you were looking for?

C: I now work as a full-time videographer and video editor in the marketing department for a great little company called VibrAlign. They distribute shaft alignment and condition monitoring tools. Some machinery is so important that if it fails, it could cost the company thousands or even millions of dollars in lost production or repairs. So, these tools that they sell help to make sure that their machinery is up to par and operating healthily. My job entitles creating educational content about how to use these tools as well as commercial advertisements.

From about April to October, as soon as I get off from work at 4, I will skate as much as I can until it gets dark outside. Some days I’m so tired and the last thing that I feel like doing is skating, but I still force myself to do it anyway. In the winter, since it’s dark by 4:30 some days, I don’t have a place to skate right when I get out of work, so my skating is usually limited to the weekends. I really want to find an indoor space to skate in this winter though.

N: How did snow skating come about, and do you plan to do more of it, come winter?

C: My family is from Michigan, so every year around Christmas time, we would go there for Christmas break. So, one year before going to Michigan I decided to buy a snowskate mainly because I thought it looked more similar to skating than snowboarding did).

In Richmond, we get snow that accumulates maybe three or four times a year, so, it’s totally something I do for fun – I’ve never taken it seriously.

N: What’re the most progressive snow skate tricks you’ve done?

C: I’d say the most “progressive” trick I’ve done on a snowskate is an impossible, maybe..?

N: How far can the possibilities with it go?

Snowskating has grown a lot since I’ve dabbled in it, thanks mainly to Ambition Snowskates, as well as Icon Snowskates. I think that in ten years time, it’s going to be very popular – maybe even just as popular as snowboarding.

N: Any plans on getting married soon? Do the state of world affairs give you any pause on starting a family?

C: I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost two years now and we both want to get married eventually. Right now, we are living in a small one bedroom apartment, so we both want to move out of there within the next year and start renting a small house or duplex that we can call a “home”. I think that we both want to be very comfortable financially and have a place that feels like a home before we make that step. I love her to death though, and she couldn’t be more supportive with my skating.

N: Any final thoughts on freestyle?

C:  Since, I’ve been involved in freestyle skateboarding, I’ve witnessed a constant state of collective restlessness from those that would like to see the discipline become swallowed up by the mainstream skate industry.  Ultimately, freestyle is, in my opinion, the most personal form of skateboarding.  I’d rather take solace in the “personal” aspect of skateboarding than worry about the big picture, or whatever it is that realistically lies outside of my control.  If freestyle skateboarding isn’t making you happy the way that it already is, then maybe you should try NASCAR racing, extreme scootering, or golf.

I know what you did last summer:
Connor Burke – Fakie FS M80 to BigSpin Revert BigSpinOut – June, 2015

Setting the Record Straight:

An Interview With Nathan Wiley

Nathan Wiley is the artist of lore who captured on video the bizarre spectacle of an unidentified creature, on Prince Edward Island, darting across a clearing on all fours, before reaching the woods where it then walked off like a man.

Wiley privately shared (or so he thought) his story and video with a paranormal website, only to be outed online, whereupon he was dismissed by some as the perpetrator of a hoax.

Of course there was not nearly enough detail to prove that this was a hoax, or to provide a logical explanation for how such a hoax was pulled off. In fact, the more detail you bring out of the video, the harder it is to explain away what you’re looking at. Some people think it’s just a guy running across dressed in black, flopping his arms in outsized shirt sleeves. One guy thinks it’s someone in a wheelchair used for olympic racing. One lady thinks it’s someone’s escaped, giant chimpanzee. All these theories are fraught with folly as more detail is brought out.

Whether it’s UFOs, Bigfoot, or other cryptids, many people just cannot accept the fact that there are some things in this world which defy conventional explanations. Mysterious, bizarre things that conflict with our limited logic do exist and happen. Case in point: Upon examining enhanced close ups of the face of this “PEI bigfoot”, I spent a period of time in disbelief that it was not a Bigfoot at all, but a Dogman. I never believed in Dogmen. They didn’t fit into what seemed possible in my mind. Additional detail will have to prove or disprove my assertion that the subject is actually a dogman, but one thing that is sure from these close ups is that they show something other than the face of a man. Frankly, I think what details can be made out are inconsistent with Bigfoot too. You be the Judge!

Nathan Wiley Interview – November 1st, 2015

Tell us about Prince Edward Island. What was it like growing up there?

PEI is a small province with lots going on. It was a great spot to grow up.

Did you have an interest in music at an early age? How has it been pursuing music as a career?

I’ve always had an interest in music and have been writing/composing since I was a little kid. The career part can be tough for sure, but the writing comes easy.

Tell us about the day you filmed something unexpected run from the woods. What were the circumstances surrounding it? You were filming a music video for a song of yours.

The video in question had nothing to do with music. Me and friends used to shoot lots of little movies and skits, and this was just one of them (this one never got finished). It was basically a scene where the character had escaped from the “bad guys” and was running through the woods. The reason that he looks back is because he was supposed to, because he’s trying to figure out if he’s being followed.

Take us directly into your experience of what happened on the video shoot. What was your mind processing when you saw something run across the clearing?

The only one there that got any kind of a real look at it was the camera guy. The rest of us had to wait to check out the footage.

Why did you run after it? The thing looks huge and powerful.

Prince Edward Island Cryptid

We just weren’t thinking and were trying to get more footage. All most of us knew at the time was the camera guy saw something that made him excited, so we kind of followed along.


Tell us about the wildlife and ecosystem on Prince Edward Island. What’s the extent of it? It’s been mysterious for us believers how such a large, unusual creature could be there of all places.

There are no large animals here, so we were (and still are) pretty confused as to what it is.

Do you regret coming forth with the video? You probably did not anticipate the widespread accusations of hoaxing that are flung towards those behind Bigfoot videos.

I originally posted to Art Bell’s website. I didn’t know my name (and the story) would be posted along with the video, so I do regret that part, yes.

What became of the original video? It is not in your possession.

It’s not in my possession, no. As far as I know, the camera guy still has the master. He’s expressed no interest in doing anything with it, and doesn’t want to be contacted.

What do you think of the new enhancement?

Looks great!

What did you think about the subject of Bigfoot prior to your video shoot?

I’ve always been interested in Bigfoot since I was a kid. I’m not entirely sold on what we caught on tape being a bigfoot. I couldn’t really tell you what it was.

So you have not ruled out the PEI cryptid as a hoax? Seems very difficult and impractical to pull off for a person.

I never rule anything out as a hoax. There are a lot of things that we don’t understand; I just don’t get too hung up on naming them.

Have you taken more of an interest in Sasquatch since that day by the woods?

Not really, no.

When was the video filmed/what year?

I was trying to figure that out myself…I’m going to guess sometime around 2000?

For some reason the word that traveled online was 2005, but I’ve since come to believe it was 2001, or 2000 as you say.

Yeah, it was definitely before 2005. I can remember where I was living; that’s kind of what I’m going by.

What have you been up to, and what’s next for Nathan Wiley?

I just released a six song EP called Bandits in July of this year.

Do you ever tour outside of Canada?

I have toured a little bit in the US.

How did you decide on Havana, Cuba as the shooting location for your music video, North American Dream? For US citizens like myself who can’t go to Cuba, what can you say about Havana as a place to visit?

The director of the video was actually the one that came up with the idea to go to Havana. I love Cuba, been there a few times and I always look forward to going back.

Is there a website where people can check out and purchase your music?

Nathan Wiley | ‘Bandits’ EP available now! View on

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Nathan.


Interview With the Freestyler

Mike Osterman is a professional, freestyle skateboarder. He’s also a recent college graduate with a degree in biology who has now entered the work force. He maintains strong friendships and, in general, uses his time wisely. Given his popularity and respect within the freestyle skateboard community, Mike was due for a little explaining about himself, which brings him here.

In going over some background with him for this interview, I tried to get a more accurate picture of his status in the freestyle skateboard world. He casually mentioned to me winning last year’s World Cup. I had to remind him that he was voted runner up for best freestyler of 2014 . He had forgotten and didn’t remember who won. Mike did, however, recall encouraging others who wanted to vote for him to instead vote for the eventual winner.

He views what he does through a modest lens that is incompatible with the competitive ego often associated with excelling at one’s sport. He’s never lost the sense of fun that skating is meant to be about, and isn’t the type of skater to get pissed off over missing tricks. That’s just the kind of guy Mike is. He keeps things in perspective, and, in doing so, reminds me of how it is the simple things in life that make it work.

September 25/26, 2015
Mike Osterman Interview

Nominay: When did you start skating, and why?

Mike: I started skating regularly in the fall of 2005. I had received a skateboard 3 or 4 years before then, but that’s when I really got hooked. At the time, my friend Kenny and I were playing the Tony Hawk Under Ground video games a lot. One day I beat one of the games and decided to grab my board and skate for real.

I think I was drawn to skating because everything else seemed boring or overly competitive in comparison. I was an indoor kid for the longest time and skateboarding was something that all of my friends were suddenly discovering. We all found it at once and were equally terrible at it. There was never a sense of competition. It was all relaxed and fun.

N: How did you first learn about Rodney Mullen?

M: I always played as him in the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games because he started his run with a rail flip. I associated the name with “weird tricks”.

That same friend from the last question, Kenny, had Mullen’s autobiography and lent it to me when he was done reading it. That was my first exposure to him as an actual person. Reading the book also introduced me to freestyle. It put a label on the weird tricks that I liked doing and gave me a keyword to search on Youtube and Google.

N: I first noticed you on youtube in the pre-facebook days. How important was yt for you in terms of skating back then?

M: Youtube was HUGE before the Facebook days. I think most of the guys in my generation used YouTube to figure out what freestyle really was. There was (and still is) so much footage from 1980’s contests on there. That was the starting point for me when it came to learning tricks and emulating people’s styles.

There were forums and random other web pages that existed back then which also played a HUGE role in developing the freestyle community. Bob Loftin had a trick tips page that contained step-by-step instructions for every trick that I wanted to learn. The WFSA forum and F!forum were good places to read about new freestyle products and talk shit to other ex-indoor kids. Witter Cheng had “the crypt” which was the largest online collection of freestyle skateboards that I’d ever seen.

I could go on and on about the 2005-2010 era.

N: Who were your influences in skating then? What experiences inspired you?

M: Back then I watched a ton of Tommy Harward’s footage. There was a site where he hosted a ton of his clips. … not sure if that still exists.

The Casper Video was a big deal. Tommy, Terry Synnott, and Darryl Grogan had phenomenal parts in that video and they were major influences on my style. Also Masahiro and Toshiaki Fujii. As for “old school” guys, I was obviously into Rodney. As time went on I started watching Kevin Harris and Don Brown a lot too. Those two just looked more casual on their boards. I’d love to watch Rodney skate in person but I think I’d be more stoked to session WITH Kevin and Don.

Going to Tommy’s park in 2008 was a really big deal to me. I was there for the U.S. championships and met Gunter, Tommy, Connor, Sean, and Jeremy Elder for the first time. I got to see how small the community was and how important those DIY events were to maintaining a scene.

Speaking of DIY, Jeremy Elder’s brand — the small school cooperation — had a HUGE influence on my skating and attitude back then. These stories go on and on.

N: Who comes to mind as your peers in freestyle right now, and what can you say about their skating?

M: Ohhhh man, I’m gonna forget someone…

Connor Burke is amazing. He’s always had a really smooth, streetish style to his skating. He skates fast and he seems to flip his 8.25″ deck with more ease than most people flip their 7.25″ freestyle twigs.

Jesse Whalen trips me out. He skates an 8.5″ as well and has this neat bouncy style when he skates. I feel like he’s always developing in a new direction and it’s always so exciting to hear the new trick ideas that he’s coming up with.

Sean Burke is a brute on his board. He has an uber technical approach to skating and focuses a lot on truck transfers. I’ll get a text from him describing a new idea for a pogo trick and then 30 minutes later I’ll see a video of the exact trick. Sean gets it done.

Two other guys are Pete Betti and Derek Elliot. Those two are annoyingly good.

N: Have you ever had an interest in skating street or vert?

M: I get the itch to skate street almost every summer. I’ll set up a board, go skate a curb for 20 minutes, and then head back to the tennis courts. I’m not very good and it takes too much patience for me to get in line, wait, skate an obstacle, get back in line, wait, etc.

There isn’t much vert around me either. Some parks in my state have transition or maybe a bowl with some vert, but even that’s rare.

N: While attending college full time you also skated full time. Now, while working full time you still skate full time. How do you prioritize skating with the type of schedule you maintain?

M: Haha I probably sacrifice my social life to some degree to do that.

N: Tell us a little about staying with Kevin Harris for a month. For those still reading who don’t know much about skateboarding, Kevin Harris is one of our top, all time, freestyle legends.

M: Yeah! Kevin’s the man. He and Audrey were really nice to let me stay at their place. I helped out around the house wherever I could, weeded a little, etc. Rene Shigetto and I actually built a horse stable while we were there too. That was fun.

BC is awesome. People are friendly, there’s so much to do out in nature, and there’s really good Asian food everywhere. Plus, they have coffee crisp! It’s this coffee flavored wafer bar that I ate every day for a month. Audrey was nice enough to send me home with a Costco box full of them. 😀

Should I go on? haha

N: What are your future plans?

M: I’m gonna try to visit more freestyle events, film more, get tattoos, try to be an adult. What are adults supposed to do? I’m still not sure. I’ve always wanted to skate in the Paderborn event. That’s my next big goal.


Prince Edward Island Bigfoot Revisited

Wanted: 9 foot tall person that weighs several hundred pounds who runs really fast on all fours through waist high grass, in a big, bulky, gorilla costume. Subject’s arms are longer than his legs. This hoaxer was first and last seen on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 2005, and this video definitively proves that he’s guilty of hoaxing! Reward for apprehension of this giant, deformed individual will be negotiated.  

Is Bernie Sanders’s

Life In Danger?


American politicians who make waves against the political establishment as proponents for actual change have a poor history of surviving to implement their noble ideas.

In the case of Henry Wallace, powerful party insiders ended his political life by sabotaging his Vice Presidency in the nick of time before Franklin Roosevelt died.

Years later, John F. Kennedy sought to make Henry Wallace’s liberal vision a reality, but just as his efforts were catching fire, he was slaughtered on a street in broad daylight, before horrified spectators.

Not long after that, Robert F. Kennedy (a hero to the downtrodden) became a serious competitor for the Democratic nomination, after ending Eugene McCarthy’s chances to win the nomination the night of the California Primary. Robert Kennedy of course sought to reclaim the presidency that his brother lost and to expand upon that legacy.

The minutes before he died were a defining moment in his political life. For the first time Kennedy felt that he had stepped out of his brother’s shadow with his hard fought win in California. He spoke with his liaison to McCarthy, Richard Goodwin. He had a message for McCarthy. “Tell him that if he gets out now I’ll make him Secretary of State.” If Kennedy could win over McCarthy and his delegates, he could become a formidable foe for Hubert Humphrey at the Democratic National Convention, now less than three months away. After Kennedy was gunned down, Humphrey won the nomination handily.

A few years later, the Democratic party was in a strange state of disarray, and a populist, semi-disavowed racist named George Wallace was in the lead to win the presidential nomination. He too was gunned down. Unlike Kennedy, he survived, but paralysis ended his presidential aspirations all the same.

It’s been 43 years now since a presidential candidate has been shot at. In a degenerate age where paranoids perpetuate mass shootings, what are the chances that a Socialist calling for revolution like Bernie Sanders will face gunfire in the coming months? There is an anger in this country. An anger that liberalism is destroying America, or will destroy America, or would destroy America if given the chance. Some of these angry, white men with an old school mentality have lost a lot in life, and could feel that they have little to lose in taking out a presidential candidate that is (in their minds) practically a Communist.

Or is Bernie Sanders life in danger because of a threat he could face to a corrupt system? Would the intelligence agencies and militant elites that do whatever it takes to maintain their power, allow him to really get elected President? It is an issue worth evaluating as his ascent continues.

Please sign the petition.

Provide Bernie Sanders Secret Service protection immediately as a leading Democratic presidential candidate and Senator.
Bernie Sanders is a sitting U. S. Senator and a leading candidate in the presidential campaign of 2016. Recent disturbances at Bernie Sanders campaign events have shown his vulnerability with regard to potentially violent confrontations with disturbed people. In 2007, at a similar stage in that campaign, Barack Obama was given Secret Service protection by George W. Bush for exactly this reason, and he had not even experienced such disturbances yet, nor was Obama attracting crowds of over 25,000 regularly, as Senator Sanders is. This situation must not be allowed to continue a moment longer. Bernie Sanders must have immediate Secret Service protection, just as the other leading candidate does.

Published Date: Aug 12, 2015
Issues: Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement, Firearms, Homeland Security and Disaster Relief