Make sure to pick up a copy of Nooks and Crannies here or at your local skateshop.
JC: Where are you originally from and what was it like growing up and skateboarding there?
RK: I was born in Collinwood, a neighborhood on the East Side of Cleveland. We lived there for a short period of time and moved around that area quite a bit. When I was about 7 my mom, sister, and myself moved to Euclid, OH and that’s where I got my first taste of skateboarding. My mom rented a house on Abby and E.185th Street, probably the best part of town in Euclid. 185th runs from Lakeshore down to St. Clair, the other side of the tracks, it’s the sketchiest part of town I guess. But 185th was great, lots of activity around that time…CD Game Exchange, Adriatic pet shop, 185th st. Fair, National City curbs, Medic etc. There was always something going on. My first board was a rip off Value City style Variflex, (it just had that little variflex sticker on the tail) with solar system graphics, plastic wheels, plastic trucks, all the good stuff. I remember taking the board apart because it was shrink wrapped in plastic, it was stuck in the hardware and it annoyed me, so that’s when I learned how to disassemble my board and put it back together. That board didn’t last to long, and I eventually did enough yard work to upgrade to another plastic type board, it was red and had a bunch of diamond shape holes in it, I think my mom got it from Dicks sporting goods, either way it had metal trucks, semi soft cruiser type wheels and way better bearings so I was stoked. I rode that thing up and down the street and all over daily. It wasn’t long before a really good friend of mine by the name of Richard Willrich aka Grady saw me across the street from the barber shop he worked at, cruising around my house on my board. Now I can go on and on about how awesome of a dude Grady is, but it would take days and my answer to this first question is already long. The 185th st. Mayor does his name justice, and he’s a chicken wing and skateboard connoisseur, he gave me a nickname as well (lunchmeat) it stuck, there’s still a select few that call me that. Long story short he gave me my first real 7ply maple wood, hand me down, skateboard decks, they were both Elements, can’t remember what series. But I was stoked, I went and changed over to one right away and got rid of that heap of plastic. I skated those boards until they weren’t anymore. From then on I’d pop over to the barbershop sweatin’ Grady for more hand me downs, annoying the hell out of him with questions about skateboarding, and flipping through the Thrashers he had laying around. I couldn’t get enough, skateboarding was ingrained in my mind. Grady introduced me to a few local rippers up at our local Euclid skatepark, Jeff Weisenburg, Jacob Edwards, Matt “skillet” Lonzereda. The park was all metal, a couple quarter pipes, flat bar, box, launch ramp, concrete pyramid you know, the good stuff! I skated there just about every day. They had been talking about taking a trip to Columbus and I wanted in! My Mom wanted me to get a haircut and I took that as a great opportunity to meet Grady, so we went over to the barbershop and they got to meet. I begged her to let me go to Columbus to skate with them and she finally budged, that was my first skate trip, I think I was 9 maybe 10, got to skate my first real concrete parks and it was a blast. From then on I called those guys every day seeing if they wanted to skate.
JC: We are both from the Northeastern Ohio skateboarding scene. What makes skateboarding in Ohio so rad?
RK: Northeast Ohio is different than any place I’ve been, when you think of California, it’s California, or New York and it’s New York. Ohio is kinda unique I guess you can say, the people, the scenery, the culture. I think Ohio has a little bit of everything. When you start doing something/anything here you basically suck the life out of whatever it is because you’ve finally found something to do in this place to keep your mind occupied and busy, but the great thing about Ohio is that the crust and the grit keeps whatever your doing fresh because it’s a little harder and takes a little more work to finesse whatever your goals are with whatever your doing. The skateboard scene here just keeps on pushing! People here are involved, and want to see skateboarding, skateboarders, and the community progress, everyone feeds off that energy. You , Vince Franz, and many others stick out in my head as people that make shit happen here, and it doesn’t go unnoticed, it’s very much appreciated!
JC: What is your earliest memory of skateboarding?
RK: Probably taking off that plastic on my first board, and itching to get it off so I can go push around on that thing
JC: How would you describe skateboarding to someone who has never seen it before?
RK: Well the first words that would probably come out of my mouth is that it’s mega fun and you should try it. It’s kinda hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, but I’d try to explain the many feelings of satisfaction that I get from it and just hope they’d understand enough to get out and step foot on a skateboard.
JC: If you could only skate one spot for the rest of your life what would it be?
RK: Weird, I was actually thinking about this the other day when I was skating the PR Banks on the Eastside of Cleveland. It’s a fun natural bank/pyramid spot, with hips, gritty ground, slide able, not really grind able, but there’s a random parking block someone brought up there to get your slappy on if your feeling that. I hear it’s getting ripped out, hopefully not, but that would probably be it, and I couldn’t ask for more.
JC: Where is the craziest place skateboarding has taken you so far? A place where you said to yourself ” man, I can’t believe I’m here because of skateboarding”
RK: I’d have to say San Francisco. Portland, Oregon was rad too. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to live in both places, Portland was first and I lived there for about 2 years. Right after I graduated high school I left Cleveland and hit the road to Oregon to stay with a couple people from Cleveland that already had a house out there, Josh Moore and Julia Tozser are great people. I got a call from a friend Lenny Henderson, who is from Chicago, but has lived in SF for a bit, and he told me to come out, he had a valet gig for me and a place to crash until I got on my feet so I took him up on it. I got out there and had a job right away, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I stayed on a sleeping mat on the kitchen floor in his studio apartment on the corner of Van Ness and Eddy..right down the street from the library. Lenny, his wife, and daughter were all there and it was crazy packed but everyone was chill with me being there, it was awesome, they had a free babysitter and I had a rad place to stay. A few months went by and a friend had an open spot right down the street in the TL on Polk and Eddy, I jumped on it. Rent out there is hella expensive, and space is tight but it’s totally worth it. Needless to say I rented a walk in closet, packed all my shit along with myself in that little room and I was stoked.
Skateboarding in San Francisco is amazing, it’s like no other place. The hills, the spots, the crazy encounters with crazy people, the skateboard community out there is massive, and everyone is chill. I had a great time out there and I can’t wait to get back, that’s definitely a goal of mine. I still have many years to live, and a lot more places that I’m sure skateboarding will take me, but for now SF is the craziest place skateboarding has taken me so far.
JC: So what’s up with Snack Skateboards?
RK: Snack Skateboards is what’s up! Adam is the big, big homie. I met him while I was living in SF, I’m pretty sure Waylon Bone introduced us, it’s kinda hard to remember, but either way Adam is a rad dude, he’s been helping me out tremendously for a couple years now. Adam is Midwest as well, he’s from Milwaukee, and he reps it. I’m pretty sure he lived in Chicago for a period of time as well, but lives and kills it in SF now. Shit started rolling for Snack in SF, and from the looks of it everyone including myself is hyped on the company. Adam is definitely involved, he’s always doing events, premiers, little pop up high Ollie contests around the city to keep shit rolling, it’s sick.
Last year me, Adam, Mike Baptista, Sean Cullen, Jesus Arellanes, who are all Snack affiliates, got to skate in the Chicago All City Showdown, it was a blast..Adam put us up heavy and held it down for everyone out there and that shit was super fun, hopefully we are going to do it again this year. Regardless Adam is always doing what he can for us, were planning on taking a trip to Japan in October of this year, it’s a great opportunity for everyone including the company to get out and see new shit, it’s going to be rad. I’m super stoked to be a part of Snack, good things are coming.
JC: For those that don’t know about Ohio Surf and Skate can you please explain it a little and tell everyone about the owner Tim Rigby?
RK: Man, Ohio Surf and Skate was awesome. That was the first shop I rode for, and the first legitimate skateboard shop that I ever went to. Tim was a shop owner for over 20 years, he knows skateboarding in and out. Tim is a great man, I owe so much to Tim for the rest of my days. He put me on the team at a Vans Warped tour, I think Grady and Jeff had mentioned this little kid named Lunchmeat to him a couple times, and he had seen my face in the shop a few times as well.
Anyway, I would go to the shop all the time and I had heard about that ramp they set up at the warped tour so I asked Tim about it at the shop one day and he hooked it up with some tickets and a wristband to skate the ramp. I went and we all skated, by the end of the event it started pouring rain, so I squeezed my way into the Surf and Skate tent that they had set up and he pulled me aside. He must have had a few too many beers and decided to put this little kid named Lunchmeat on the Ohio Surf and Skate team, he hooked me up with a Consolidated board, I just tried to look up what board it was but I couldn’t find it…there was a roach getting smashed on it, help me out if you remember, and another board, I think it was an Alien Workshop. But I just remember thinking, “damn this Consolidated board is awesome” and I was stoked.
I gripped the boards under the tent with a pop can because I didn’t have anything else. And from then on I showed up at the shop everyday making Tim regret ever putting me on the team. Eventually I was working there with my best friend Johnny Grogan, it’s the best job I ever had. He taught us a lot, and I speak for both of us because I know we both learned a thing or two from Tim. Best thing he ever told me was when he put me on the team, he looked me dead in the eyes and said don’t be big headed or your fucked, thanks Tim. He helped so many people, and I think he helped to much sometimes, he always put others first before himself and I think it hurt him in the long run. Unfortunately the shop no longer exists and it fucking sucks. But it is what it is, nothing great lasts forever.
JC: What’s your daily motivation?What gets you up and out of bed every morning?
RK: Well I guess at this point in my life the ultimate morning motivation on the weekdays is getting up for work. It keeps me busy, out of trouble, and making money to survive in this wild country. I’m doing my best to save for a trip to Japan, I’ve gotta make it happen. On the Weekends my motivation is to get up in the morning before all the yuppies get to Rising Star so I can grab a cup of coffee in peace and chop it up with Jewlz for a bit before I go skate.
JC: Who are some of your influences in skateboarding?
RK: I’d say big influences to me are the people that I grew up skateboarding with like Grady, Jacob, Dan Byler, Nate Malinsky, Jay Croft*, Marc Scott, Johnny Grogan, Dale Busta, and people that I didn’t grow up with but Definitely look up to are Gabe Peterson, Taylor Nawrocki, Aaron Herrington, Bobby Worrest, Dennis Busenitz. There are so many people and so many more that have been a huge influence to me in skateboarding, I’m just grateful to have that and still be a part of skateboarding and some of these peoples lives, it’s an awesome feeling.
JC: So what else are you into besides skateboarding?
RK: I Definitely enjoy other stuff, I live and breathe skateboarding for the most part, but I love mashin’ my bike around the city, swimming in a nice river is the shit, I don’t do it that often but I enjoy fishing, work definitely takes up a big portion of my time, 40 hours a week. I Definitely like the art of trying to figure out a female or at least where she wants to eat or what the hell she wants to do for the day, but that’s a whole other struggle. There’s endless possibilities, I try to keep an open mind and try new things as much as possible.
JC: Is there anything you have learned from skateboarding besides tricks?
RK: Man, I learn something new from skateboarding every day, just being out in these streets cruising around and seeing shit, searching for new things to skate, running into sketchy or not so sketchy people, I mean a day skating downtown we probably see more shit than a lot of people see in a year or two. A good analogy I heard from my room mate (Cuzins) when I was going thru it in SF was ” you fall on your skateboard and get back up do it again and again, same with life just get back up and do that shit again, you’re all good don’t sweat it “. It really makes you think simpler, and simple is good.
JC: Whats does skateboarding mean to you?
RK: I wouldn’t be anywhere without skateboarding, I’d probably be getting into trouble somewhere. I guess I’d never really know what it was like if I didn’t end up skateboarding, but I feel like I have a good idea. Skateboarding is right up there with family when it comes to meaningful things in my life. To me it’s not just a material piece of wood with wheels that is a lot of fun, I say material because meaningful things to me aren’t material, and skateboarding has brought me nothing but a passion and a shitload of experience..that’s meaningful.
JC: Any words of wisdom or life lessons that you have learned that you would like to share?
RK: I would say to all the young cats out there that are looking for something to do, pick up a skateboard and ride it around. Also, when your homies and basically everyone around you is hinting to you, or straight up telling you something over and over again then you should probably listen. Read books, have fun while your young. Keep an open mind, take responsibility for your shit… Live life, have fun, enjoy yourself.
Shouts to my mom, Mandy and Brian at Westside skates, Adam Egre at Snack, Lenny Henderson, Charlie Rockwood, Tim Rigby, Jesse Braun, Derek Ironwing Matt Brack, John Stashik, James Anderson, Joey Johnson, dude at Fulton foods, Korrie and Jarrod Scholl, Marc Scott, Ryan Poorman, Herald Martin, Dan Byler, Damien Guess, Jacob Edwards, Isaac Edwards, Jeff Weisenburg, Grady Willrich and Sarah Willrich, my sister Eva, Richard Pedder, Christopher Merritt, Lowcard Rob, skatejawn, Waylon Bone, Mike Baptista, Federico Chicago, Drew Connors, Josh Rego, Eddy Hernandez, Yt small axe, Regge Jesse, Richard Blackshaw, Nate Malinsky, Joe Charlton, Taylor Nawrocki, Ryan and Bridgette Dunbar my PO, Jay Croft, damn it’s hard to remember everyone, big John Johns and Karen for keeping it real, Jakprints for holding me down with a job, Dustin Sheesely and Emily, Brian, Aaron Herrington, Brian and Shawn Mowell and Julie, Carlos Canãs, Eric Viccarone, Johnny Grogan, Joe Bressler, lil Joe, lip dawg at work for buying my ps3 so I can pay for a passport, Ryan Webb for buying the TV Adam king, Nick Levi, Rudy, Dylan Dumbrowski, Nick Perry, Julia Tozser, Tristan B in Portland, pupusafool, this list is getting long..my family, and anyone I forgot. Much love.
Street Canoe would like to send out an extra special thanks to Roger, Jeff Weisenburg, Dan Byler, Jesse Braun, Ryan Poorman and Herald Martin.
Now enjoy this Street Canoe exclusive brought to you by Roger and Jesse Braun. Forward Motion forever.