The Rob Mertz Interview in Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine!

                Rob Mertz appeared in Issue #13 of Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine.

Rob you are what we call a “multi-state skater”, where are you originally from?

Originally from Pa., east coast born and bred!  

When did you move to Florida and why?

I left Pa. To live on top of the Clown ramp in Dallas in 85’, then ended up in Florida.
I think I was going to a contest there.

Who was a part of your old out of state skate crew, and who made up your Florida skate crew?

It was Ken Sigafoos and I that manned the van for all those years. Just traveling up and down the coast. The Florida crew was Morris, Pete, Frazier, Matt, Jeff, Dave R., Bret, Ralf, Tony, Chuck, Doug, Leonard…and I’m sorry if I’m forgetting anyone!

                                Rob Mertz inverted during his normal day of "freakin rippin"!

 What ramp was your favorite in the Tampa Bay area?

I like all the ramps. Chuck’s, Carrolwood, Leonard’s, the “No-Vert”Ramp, Astro, Mikes Vert- Spine Ramp, I learned a lot of tricks on those ramps!

You have left a legacy of shredding big ramps here in Florida, people who have witnessed you skate still talk of those days. What pushes you to skate at such a high level?

Thanks for that Cleo! Some guys have that natural talent and some guys have dedication, desire and commitment. I definitely fit in the latter.

How many companies have you skated for?

Not a whole lot..Ah, Indy, Brand X, Skate Rags, Santa Cruz, OJ’s, Airwalk, Zorlac and.. SKATEHELL!

                                     Lofty and bio, fast and gnarly, that's just Rob Mertz. 

How did you come up the idea for the “SHARK” graphic?

I just thought that the shark was the gnarliest thing on the planet..and what would be gnarlier than a shark coming out of a graveyard? NOTHING! Ha..and then having PUSHEAD draw it-Sick! Rocking that graphic today.

I remember you talking me through the motion on backside boneless ones. I made my first one under your watchful eye way back in the day. Are you still teaching others when you skate?

Yeah, I’m always trying to push someone to slam! HA!

                     Rob Mertz demonstrating a backside boneless for those willing to learn.

What are your favorite tricks?

Big smash down tricks! Anything that you will get really hurt on if you slam. I always tried to do unique tricks and make them my own.

Where are you skating at these days and with whom?

Skating a lot at the DC Vert Ramp early mornings before work. Was skating with Borst a bunch, and now it’s Paul Wisnewski..pretty much anyone who’ll session with me at 8am, not too many people down with that. Then skating all the parks out here, Encinitas pool, Culver City pool, new Fontana pools.

Do you get skate often?

When I’m not hurt, I try to skate at least once a day.

Who are your favorite skaters of all-time?

Wow! Early guys would be Duane, Salba, Malba, Olson, Andrecht, Elguera, and then Tom G., Murph, Craig and Tex, Hosoi, Hawk, Gator, ( yeah I said it), Frazier, Sean Miller and all the rest of my east coast bros.

                                Rob Mertz floating a high Indy Air high above a rusty metal lip.

Are you involved in any other aspects of skateboarding?

Business side I own Syndrome Distribution, but I really stay out of the “Industry” side of it. We do our own thing.

Do you have a preference for pools or ramps?

Being from Pa., we only had a few pools to skate, so I’m a Vert Ramp kid but pools are a real close second, I love’em.

How do you feel about street skating, and do you think Vert Skating is dead?

Vert isn’t dead! I was just at the Protec Pool Party and watched some fourteen or fifteen-year-old kid from Brazil, do every kind of eight foot high 540 you can think of! There were a ton of new kids ripping!

What do you like about skateboarding the most?

I really like the challenge of not being able to do a trick. I get on the verge of smashing my board and leaving, and then powering through mental anguish to make it is the best feeling ever. It makes it even better if I slam and then get up and pull it. Although, every slam now seems to put me out for a year.

When are we going to see you back in Florida?

I haven’t been back in forever. After all the years I spent traveling, I’m really content on my one- hour circumference of skate parks right now. So much good stuff, I would like to come back and see everyone one day.

Any shout outs to your old buddies here in Florida?

I already did! The Florida crews and sessions were some of the most fun times I’ve ever had and I hold those years dear to me. Thanks to all those guys for being there.

Any words of wisdom for those young skaters reading this interview?

Keep skating aggro! Look at footage of Frazier and skate like that!

The Morgan "Hollywood" Monroe Interview in Coping Block!

                                                        Morgan "Hollywood" Monroe

When did you start Skateboarding?

I started skateboarding in 1972, 1973ish.

Are you from Florida?

I lived in Indiana initially, and then moved to Florida around 1978 after the change of seasons. Started at Dunedin High School and then skated Clearwater Skate Park, it was my home park. Jimmy Marcus was one of the first Kids I met there; he was like six years old. I then met David Adams, Fish, and Pat Parker. David Adams was always Mr. Smooth and a good guy to hang with.  Clearwater was one of the most innovative skate parks ever. I met Tony Alva and all those guys there. It was an impressive place to learn to skate and to be around a group of people that were way ahead of our time, guys like Mike Folmer that were way ahead of everybody else.

When did you build your first ramp?

  I actually built my first ramp probably around 1980 it’s hard to say, it wasn’t a very good ramp the plywood was sideways. It was a half-pipe full of kinks only one ply thick. We located a piece of Plexiglas behind a store one day that was shaped like coping and we put it on top.
David Adams would come by and do these gnarly front side layback holding the nose grinds! All on the worst ramp ever, and no we never patched it! We’d see where the holes were and then we stayed away from them. I’ve got video of it, it was just Gnar!

                                                                 Hollywood and Hawk

Is this where you skated before the parks closed?

Yeah, Skate Wave in Tampa closed first, and then Clearwater Skate Park, and after that we all went to Rainbow Wave, the Basin and Kona to skate when we could.
Then one day after school my stepfather said get in the car and I was like right on let’s go, and he drove over to Skate Wave and told me that they had just leased the park out so we’d have a place to skate.  My parents knew the importance of Skateboarding and how much it meant to us kids. My stepfather coached little league but we weren’t into little league, he knew we loved Skateboarding. My stepfather opened that door for us.
Skate Wave was not a good park, but if you didn’t have anything to skate, then it was the best. We had that to skate after all the other parks closed. I think we had it for about a year. Mike McGill started skating at that park.

Did you have any additional ramps?

My first good ramp was behind some condos I used to live in, it wasn’t supposed to be there at all.  It was about eight feet high on one side and about ten feet high on the other with eight-foot transitions. It was skated frequently by David Adams, my little brother and I.

                                      Morgan "Hollywood" Monroe at the Grind For Life Booth

What were deck were you riding then and what was your dream set up?

I had just got rid of a Ripper with bonite in it, and I was riding a Block Head deck with double conical wheels. When I first started skating my dream skate deck was a SIMS Taper kick, Tracker Trucks is what I was skating back then, Bones wheels with racing bearings and Pizza Grip!

What was it like riding Clearwater Skate Park back in the day, and did you have any skate Hero’s?

I remember I used to break a lot of boards at Clearwater Skate Park because we used the moguls to launch from. Who was my hero back then? Wow! Great question! I had local hero’s back then, people like Todd Webb “gnarly”, the “I’m going” attitude, people like ALVA. He had a great time and didn’t care what people would think.

Did you compete in any of the Sun n Fun Events?

No I didn’t participate in any of the Sun n Fun events. I had just moved down from Indiana and I was still dealing with culture shock. Back then there was no transition in Indiana. We went from playground riding in Indiana to learning our first kick turns in Clearwater Skate Park’s half-pipe. I stood on top of the half-pipe one day for about two hours as the owner looked at me through the window of the PRO shop. I was getting ready to do my first tail drop and up pops Jimmy Marcus and he just drops right in. So, I dropped in and I was so stoked and then went inside and the owner said maybe next time, and I said, “I did it”! and he said, “I know”. He was messing with me man.

                                                                                    The Maloof Money Cup Van

What do you miss about Clearwater Skate Park the most?

I miss the sound of wheels hitting the Plexiglas extensions the most.

You had quite a few ramps though didn’t you?

My later ramp that was caddy corner of Astro Skate had a huge ramp that was frequented by Mike Frazier, Rob Mertz and others. We had a mini ramp underneath one of the platforms so you could still skate even if it rained.

How did the Hollywood Summit Show come to be?

I moved to Hollywood California and did acting and stunts for fifteen years. Got the buzz working for a production company in Cocoa Beach. Started taking acting classes after that and went to California. Not to become a big star, I just wanted to be seen doing movies and get more knowledge of the business. When I got back here I got right back into my old skate click and they had just finished Stirling Skate Park at the time.
I worked on putting a show together with Tom who I met on-line and with Matt who’s the show’s MC. So far we’ve done Wake Board events, comedy sketches, Skateboarding events with the Ian Tilmann Foundation and most recently the Maloof Money Cup. We are stoked and looking forward to continuing to promote and host Skateboarding events.
We want to be innovative and have fun along the way, and so far we are reaching our goals. We want to showcase skate talents that aren’t getting the exposure that they could get if they lived on the west coast.

                                                                   In your face dudes!

What pushes you to go on?

I get a ton of inspiration from Mike Rogers, he has gone through some difficult times and right now I’m battling with some health related issues that he and I’ve chatted about.
He’s a tremendous motivator and he is still out there killing it on his skateboard and I just want to thank him and give him big props. I told him he is the most gnar person I’ve ever met.

What’s new with the Summit?

Right now were coming out with totally new merchandise. We have a specially designed wax that’s formulated for street skating. It’s available in forty-five countries, and it comes in twelve different colors. Unlike the other waxes on the market, which are basically slow burning candle wax, our wax is designed to provide a gliding surface for board slides and to grab when your wheels start rolling. Plus it has a special smell, so when you throw it into your skate bag, your bags contents are going to smell good too.

What’s it called?

Waxy Wax.

What do you want people to get out of the Hollywood Summit Show?

I want people to see what we’ve filmed, I want them to take a look at the shows we’ve done and the skaters we’ve helped to promote, I don’t want them to look at me the individual but the overall effort of the Summit Show. When you put yourself out in the public eye, you have to expect to get positive and negative from the populous. I met some great people all over this country and they’ve all been cool to me. It’s a great thing to believe in what you are doing and I believe that I’m helping to promote the sport in a positive way. The haters are wasting their time hating.

Who’s that band I’ve seen at your events?

The band at my shows is the Hollywood house band, “ Full Fledge Unit”. They rock!
They also jam with Steve Steadham when he’s in town.

                                                             Morgan and Mike McGill

How has your family feel about your involvement in the sport?

My family has been down with skateboarding and my involvement in the sport from day one. I think they are a bit surprised as to how involve I’ve become, but they support my efforts. My mom has been down since day one; she knows everything about Skateboarding and stays on top of the scene.

You hosted some Ian Tilmann Events in the past, will we see you work with them again anytime soon?

I totally support the Ian Tilmann Foundation and what they’ve done.
They’ve taken a tragedy and embraced it and made it into a positive thing.
I’m going to travel with them some more in the future. Barry and Marcy Tilmann are the best!

You seem to be full of energy what’s the force behind your drive?

The people caught up in the struggle doing what they like to do really push me to do good things. Just like Coping Block, is an underdog but continues to grow and gain market and respect. Things like that inspire me.

Thanks Morgan, any last words?

Stay off your face man!

Coping Block Issue 60 Longboarding!

Coping Block's round table chat with Erik Basil, Mike Dallas and Bruce Walker about Longboarding 

                                                               photo by Melissa Sanchez

 Erik are we going to see a cultural war between Longboarding and Street skating?

No Cleo, although the commercial interests behind street have programmed a lot of angst among the teenybopper/skinny jeans crowd, Longboarding is so inclusive that there's just not enough reason to worry or "compete" with "street".  Longboarders tend to be less about fashion, fitting in or clubiness...more of a "just skate" mentality.   The culture accepts skaters for skating and doesn't have the vibe to support much of a "cultural war", even as it continues to take over.

Erik, what is it about Longboarding that makes it so addictive to it's participants?

It's fun.  It's fast.  It's freedom on a plank of wood.  It's unbounded by fashionistas, and anyone can get into it without concern whether they have to commit to any level from casual to total immersion.  Just skate it.

Erik, Downhill, Free Riding, Freestyle, Parking Garages, and other forms of Longboarding are sprouting up all over the United States, which is growing the fastest?

Cleo,"Freeriding" is a really big term that has sort of swallowed up "all-arounder" longboarding, so that's definitely what's growing the most, since it includes downhill, parking garages, carving, cruising...whatever.  The other area where longboarding is growing huge is in personal transportation:  on high school and college campuses, the longboard is the quiet, fast, smooth, efficient way to have fun while getting to class and then you don't have to let it rust in a bike rack when you get there.

                                            One of many little known hills in Florida, yes, Florida!

One last question Erik, what advice do you have for the upstart Longboarders out there reading this?

Go Skate! Relax, Don't Worry, Ride Your Longboard!

Mike, have you seen in increase in female Longboarders in your area?

Cleo, the NYC  skate scene has had a huge increase of ladies on the longboard scene.  Casual cruisers and full leathered up chicks are mashing the streets and creating a new niche in the skate market.

Mike,  what makes Bustin Boards so cool with the youth?

Cleo, Bustin is a grassroots family owned and operated company that targets first time users.  Bustin Custom Longboards are designed to the specifications of each unique rider depending on individual needs.  New customers are drawn to Bustin by fellow Bustin riders and the cycle keeps turning.

Mike, explain the "Push Culture" and it's scene where you live.

Well Cleo, Push Culture is a term used to describe our general population of riders.  Push Culture is about commuting from Point A to Point B and the adventure in between.  New York City skaters must adapt to fast paced streets and skaters step up their game for survival.  Enough time spent doing the same routine and you’ll get good at it.  Push to work, work to push.

Mike, where are the Bustin Board stores located and what's the fastest way for someone to get one of your decks?

 Bustin Custom Longboards has a production facility at 340 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211.  The BK location is the shipping fulfillment center for online sales and has a small core shop inside open 10am-6pm.

Longboard Loft NYC by Bustin Boards opened April 1st, 2011 – located at 132 Allen St in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  Both locations are a few blocks away from the base of the Williamsburg Bridge on Brooklyn and Manhattan sides, the most notorious longboard hill in NYC.

Thanks for sharing Mike!

Bustin's got your back Cleo!

                                                            Bruce Walker hanging ten!

  Bruce, when did you first ride Longboards and what about them grabbed your attention? 

After having ridden short skateboards for over 12 years, I rode a long skateboard for the first time in 1975 in Pensacola, Florida.  The local surf/skate crew had built a solid hardwood longboard that was maybe 45" long and I tried it and loved it.  The ride was very surf-oriented as we skated a hill with multiple banked driveways on both sides of the road that doubled for waves and each provided an opportunity to carve turns and bert slides.  I enjoyed it so much that I've been primarily riding longboards ever since.  After Pensacola, I went back to our Melbourne Beach factory and immediately started manufacturing and selling 36", 42" and 48" longboards.  

                                                             Early Bruce Walker Quiver.

Why do you think there's a resurgence of Longboards amongst the public?

 Cleo,  the concept of a skateboard as transportation to check the surf is ruling the day and longboards are perfect for that.  Generally, the mass population of people on earth will shy away from high-performance skateboarding because they are intimidated by it and deem themselves to be unqualified to be busting out big moves.  In the past, the easiest path was to not skate at all.  That way a person didn't subject themselves to possible criticism from their peers for not being very good at skateboarding.  That's changed a lot now that it's become cool to just cruise on a skateboard with big, soft wheels, primarily for transportation.  When you're riding a flat pintail longboard with no kicktail, nobody expects you to perform, so that let's everyone off the hook.  Everyone's doing it now because anyone can do it and fit right in. 

                 Paul Schmitt and Bruce Walker at the Florida Skateboarder Hall Of Fame Ceremonies.

                                         Bruce Walker at Stirling Skate Park Dunedin, Florida.

Bruce, is Walker Skateboards producing any fresh Longboards and if so how can people order them?

 Cleo, I closed down my Walker skateboard manufacturing in 1991 and spent the next decade at Ocean Avenue Distribution concentrating instead on the distribution of a variety of skateboard brands to skate shops nationally and internationally.  After more than 33 years, I sold the company to Reggie Barnes in 2005 so he is now the owner of both the Walker and Ocean Avenue labels.  He too, concentrates on distribution and not manufacturing, so there are no new Walker products being produced or sold at this time.  I've been personally sponsored by Sector 9 for many years now and they are releasing the Sector Nine 42" x 8.5" Bruce Walker Pro Model 8-Ply longboard in late 2011.  It will be Sector Nine's second pro model ever, as they currently produce the Joel Tudor Pro Model.  The most important feature of my deck is the 8-Ply hardwood maple construction which provides for a more rigid, snappier flex than the sponge-like flex of the typical 7-Ply longboard.  It will be the only 8-Ply in Sector Nine's 2012 product lineup so ask for it at your local S9 dealer. 

                                              Bruce Walker's signature Longboard by Sector 9.

Cleo, Thanks for including my input in your Longboard issue.

 I had to include the Florida Longboard legend Bruce Walker!  

                                                                      Bruce Walker


                                                                    Proud new owner!