Balance rolling magazine #4

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Take a glimpse into the lives of Avichai Wechsler, Jake Cawley, Michael Kraft and Jacob Barnes in the fourth installment of Balance magazine. Israel, Detroit, El Paso and Australia in one issue? Time to refuel the jet and put the keys back before anyone realizes they were gone.



Presented by

vol. 1



Avichai Wechsler

Jake Cawley

Michael Kraft

Jacob Barnes

Interview - Alex Coe • Photos - Zack

k Podell • Layout - Vincent Morretino


Avichai is the best friend that I’ve known for the shortest amount of time. You may grasp, then, that I don’t know him very well. Also, I haven’t spent much time with him. However, his personality is one that leaves a lasting impression, wherever he travels, no matter how long he stays. He is a testament to what friendliness can be and he couples his morality with strong social awareness, which seems to be escaping us all too easily these days. Add to this his excellence on skates and the result is a skater of cool demeanor who is less than concerned with being trendy and more concerned with being a nice guy. I advise all of you to talk with him at the next big contest, chat with him on online, write him out a trick-list, or to invite him to stay at your place. You’ll find he’s a unique person, an optimistic person, and he is easy to get along with. Also, he is a great person to do an interview with.
Let’s start with a joke. People like jokes. I’ve got some good jokes in Hebrew, but they don’t translate well into English! Ok then, let’s talk about you. What are five activities or hobbies that define you? Care to elaborate on them? 1. Aggressive skating - Aggressive skating is dope. 2. Acting crazy/stupid/funny - I like to fool around and I don’t like people who are always serious. I like to have fun with life and joke around a lot with almost every situation (where it’s appropriate of course!) 3. Loving - I am a lover. 4. Sports (rock climbing, basketball, and more) - My brother is a professional rock climber, currently ranked 11th in Europe, and I sometimes go rock climbing with him. It’s really fun. It involves using your upper body a lot and a lot of different techniques. He is fucking cool and so is rock climbing. Other sports I just do because I like them. I like the excitement of basketball and getting my energy out. I have a lot of it. 5. Caring and thinking a lot - You know... everyone has his or her deep side. I do too! I really do care for other people a lot. And thinking is just something we all do. I’ve heard some people say that thinking too 6

much is a bad thing and I had even agreed with them for a while but I am learning that thinking about life can be very beneficial if you have a positive and wishful way of thinking! Who are your current sponsors, and why do you think they picked you to represent them? Grindhouse Skateshop - Well, they saw me skating at Winterclash 2006 at first I believe, and they got me on the team. Then I did very well at the IMYTA ‘06 in Amsterdam, which left a good impression! Now I’m representing them very well all over Europe and also in Israel, of course. Telling everyone about the incredibly great deals they have on skates and stuff. People always look for the cheapest price to buy their skate products, that’s why is perfect for them. Undercover Wheels - I’ve been reppin’ these wheels for so long I can’t even remember. Now with my pro wheel I’ve put up some new edits that got a lot of views and people dig it... my wheel is fresh. Denial Clothing - Adam Killgore first saw me at the IMYTA in Amsterdam I think. He gave me a shirt and said “Hey yo, kid, wear this!” I ended up sending him some nice edits a few weeks later if I’m not mistaken. They were fresh, he was digging them. I got on Denial and I’m reppin’ them hard at every contest I go to. Visiting Philly was also awesome, and I got to film a small part for the Denial video, “Know Rollerblading”. Killgore is the man! Go and get some Denial clothes, they fresh! What does skating do for you? I skate the streets of my city and I know every little stair set and rail that exists in my town, practically. I feel the streets and the streets feel me. There is nothing I love more than the feeling of landing a new hard trick that I’ve been working on. What keeps skating interesting to you after so many years of it? And what is it about skating that keeps your interest rather than other activities? Skating is very different then other sports. Most of the times I go out and skate I find myself trying to get creative with what I skate and how I skate it. It’s kind of like a game, seeing what kind of cool shit you can
(Continued on page 9)

Royale up ol’ rusty white, to Mute 180. Herzliyya, Israel.

Ledge roll to front farv, to drop. Rishon Le-Tziyon, Israel.

come up with that no one else has done before. That’s where the excitement comes from. Do you think of skating as a sport or as an art form? Some people call skating an art form and some call it a sport. To me it really is both, and that’s why it’s the most amazing and fascinating thing in the world. You combine planning out what might be the most creative thing anyone on wheels ever thought of doing with the physical aspect of actually doing it. That just gives me a good sense of achievement. Then is there a mentality to skating as well? Skating has the physical aspect to it, of course, and the more interesting side that is the mental aspect. Fear plays a big role in the skating we do. Nowadays the tricks people (including myself) are going for just get bigger and bigger and we must take the risk into consideration. Of course, as many people have said before, imagining yourself doing the trick before you do it helps. Think about exactly how you’re going to do it and, if you miss it, how you’re going to save yourself from getting hurt. Make it perfect! When you say perfect I assume you’re talking about “style.” It’s almost a taboo word now. Do you worry about your style? My skating style has improved with time. I used to get a lot of criticism and I actually used it to better myself. I think that’s the whole purpose of criticism anyways! Would you say that hardware makes a big difference in the way you skate? I think the skates you skate make some difference to how good you are but not a huge difference. A powerhouse will remain a powerhouse regardless of the skate brand. Tell us about your new Undercover Pro wheel, how do they ride/last compared to the last consistent set of wheels you used prior? My new UC wheel has been on my skates for the past 2 months now. I ride street usually 4-5 days a week, on the worst ground known to man, haha! The ground in Israel is so shitty and my wheels are holding up

strong! I’ve had some good wheels in the past and some bad wheels. I can definitely say my pro wheel goes under the category of good wheels. Try it for yourself! What tricks are you scared of? I’m scared of big drop rails. I’m scared of skating disaster rails. But mainly, I’m not scared of anything if I’m doing the tricks I feel safe on. I won’t try a trick that’s hard for me on something really big because that’s too risky. Who are your favorite skaters? My favorite skaters, as people, are my friends. They are mad fun to skate with and we have tons of laughs. Some overall favorite skaters would be Eisler, Aragon, and Haffey. And I like CJ’s skating a lot lately! Good style. I really enjoy watching someone with good style skating. But I also like seeing big shit and tricks that are pushing the level higher. Combine style big tricks together and you have one steezy ass beast! I’ve also liked Julian Bah ever since he came up a few years back. He was a newcomer with mad steez and had some big tricks. I think I’m about the same age as him. He is also a very nice dude! I got to chill with him and skate some street with him when I was in Atlanta. Too bad I live in Israel though. I’m sure if I lived in the U.S. shit would be going much faster for me as far as skating professionally goes, which is a big shame. I should make a move. Is that why you travel so much? Yes. I travel to see new places and leave my mark. Whenever I’m in a new town I’m always motivated to kill shit there so people will remember me. And yeah, I wish I lived in Cali or Texas, maybe Barcelona. Just some place where the scene is poppin’. Where do you travel to most of the time? Europe, because it’s close to me and there are a lot of contests there. I travel to Texas a lot, too, because I made a lot of friends there and I really dig the place. Seriously, the people are really nice and warm and cool there. I can see myself living there in the future; maybe even near future.
(Continued on next page)


AO Topside Soyale, 360 out. Tel Aviv, Israel.

It seems like you travel for contests a lot. What do you like about contests and is there anything you don’t like about them? What are some upcoming competitions that you are planning to attend? I like skating contests. I’m going to Winterclash in Berlin, Germany, Bitter Cold Showdown in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA and F.I.S.E. at Montepellier, France. I also like just skating with friends for fun but contests are also fun and make you push yourself hard as fuck sometimes. I like how contests are organized usually. I like how you know for sure there is going to be a ton of skaters there because I like having huge sessions like that. I dislike the stress when they call your name out and it’s your turn to skate. I like seeing the people who really did kill shit all day get the prize they deserve and get awarded for their efforts and skills. Where else has skating taken you? I’ve been traveling the world, thanks to my sponsors, for the last 4 years and it’s been the best time of my life. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had are absolutely amazing. I have been lucky enough to see some amazing places and party hard all around the 10

U.S. and most of Europe. I really enjoy skating in a new country or state every time I’m able to. I like the new languages, and I really like getting to know the people I’ve always seen in videos, whether they are pros or not. Getting to know someone that you already had respect for before you even met is a really cool thing! In my travels I have met some incredibly nice and awesome people. I don’t want to name names because then I will feel like I’m leaving someone out but this world is truly amazing and the people in our community of skating are some of the coolest people on the planet. I truly appreciate this life and I really enjoy every day that I’m here. I feel lucky and am honored to be traveling the world so much. And I’m very proud of myself for all the things I’ve done, and am about to do. What is life like back in Israel? This world has a lot of problems in it and a lot of stupid people. Here in Israel we are currently not in a good situation with the countries surrounding us and we’ve had some war lately. It’s very sad to see soldiers that are my age being kidnapped on the news and their families crying and asking to bring them back, especially Gilad

Shalit who is now being kept prisoner on the enemy’s side. He’s been prisoner for such a long time and I really want our country to bring him back already. Stuff like that makes me happy I didn’t join the army and instead followed my skating dreams. What are some common misconceptions about Israel? What you see on TV is not at all what it’s like here. If you go walking around my city of Tel-Aviv you will see it’s exactly like any other city. We’ve had some war going on in other parts of Israel but right now it has clamed down and things are safe again. Israel is a cool country, but I’m not going to lie; I would have preferred to live somewhere else. What issues should people be more sensitive to? The only thing I think people should be more sensitive to is helping each other and working together, not only looking at what they can do for themselves. People should be asking what they can do for the people around them. Do you consider yourself a nice guy? Why be a nice guy? Yeah, I’m a nice guy and I think it’s important to always be a nice guy. I actually don’t see a reason not to be. I’m always friendly to every skater I meet around the world. We’re all one big family and I don’t mind the kids that bug me sometimes. I’m actually quite flattered and I enjoy teaching them stuff they want to learn. I feel like I’m helping kids do stuff and they might be blowing up in a few years. In what large, important ways has skating affected your life? So many... It has gotten me a TON of new friends, not only in Israel, but internationally. It gave me something to do: a sport that keeps me in shape and an art form that expands my mind. Skating has taught me to face my fears every day and conquer them. Skating has given me a lot of respect for my body and has made me realize how lucky we all are to have a healthy body that functions. I now know to treat my body with respect every day, to eat healthy and lead a healthy life style (including a lot of sports!) as much as possible.

Are you in a position to give skating advice to people? What do you think qualifies someone to be an “authority” on skating? Well, I give out skate lessons to kids. It’s a small sidejob for me. I think a lot of people could use a lot of advice as far as skating goes but as for who is in position to give it to them...that can remain up for debate. I don’t know, but clearly the better a skater is means that he knows more about the skating and the technique of doing shit right. Even if you don’t think you’re qualified, I think you’re qualified (perhaps morally obliged) to give your opinions as a special member of society. And I think that’s the purpose of an interview and the reason why people want to read your interview. You’ve got a unique perspective. And with that let’s give you some “last words.” I’m going to ask you to give people advice on skating; thoughtful advice, unique to your situation. Ok. Well, to all the kids out there who really love skating and do it a lot: Keep it up and enjoy what you do. Skating is really fun and if you do it right you can go far with it. You can see a lot of new places and things. If you’re scared of doing a trick it doesn’t mean you’re a “pussy” or a coward, it means your brain is telling you that you’re not fully confident on trying the trick. I think it is always best to listen to your instincts and follow them, and if you’re scared of a new trick then just practice it on a smaller obstacle until you’ve got it down! Appreciate this life and push the things you do to the maximum. Love all the happy people around you and be happy to be here. I know I am. So that’s it. Keep rolling. Wake up every day, wash your face, go out and be a POWERHOUSE for the rest of your day until you go to sleep! Do it all as good and as fast and as big as you can with your life. I feel like I am here to leave a big impression and do big things. I’m about to give it all my energy that I have. And that is A LOT of energy. Do you have any thank you’s? Grindhouse Skatehsop, Undercover Wheels (Conference), Denial Clothing, my family and friends.


Backslide on a thin, flat drop rail. Tel Aviv, Israel.

Ledge roll to Mistrial, to drop. Ledge roll to Mistrial, Rishon Le-Tziyon, Israel. Rishon Le-Tziyon, Israel.

Story - Michael Kraft L
I have a morning ritual these days of listening to the Biggie Smalls/Miley Cyrus mashup with my housemates as we dance around and wish our toilet wasn’t broken. On one particular morning, I decided to play “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt, a song that until just a few days ago I had always assumed was about being cheated on and then walking around in a spider-infested attic for no reason. As I heard the lyrics, I thought about all the time I spent in my high school history class pretending that I wrote that song, even though I apparently only cared for the chorus. It wasn’t about cheating at all, which is fine. Lots of songs aren’t. But I always imagined that I wrote all the songs I listened to, and for some reason they were always about me being a victim of infidelity, even though they weren’t and I didn’t have a girlfriend. I have only met two people more insecure than me. The context of me listening to these songs is even more ridiculous. In high school, I was this weird, short kid with long, greasy hair who smelled like B.O. and powdered soap, wearing XXL cargo sweatpants (thanks, Chris Farmer), a giant tan shirt with the word “GAYXCORE” spraypainted across it in red, listening to a No Doubt song on a 4lb Discman that wasn’t actually about infidelity, while daydreaming scenarios where I’m constantly being cheated on by my imaginary girlfriend. And this was a normal day for me. I didn’t even like No Doubt that much. I think it’s important to note that it wasn’t until after I graduated that I got an iPod. I don’t think I changed CDs more than once or twice a month, which meant I spent weeks of my life listening to the same songs over and over again until they became a vital part of my existence. And because of the influence of skate videos in my life, I was listening to all the cool underground bands like The Faint or Local-H, absorbing their cool and 13 defending their validity to peers. In no particular order, these are skate video songs that had no reason to be in my life outside of rollerblading,but were anyway: “Peaches” by The Stranglers This was a song I don’t think I liked for any reason except that I thought I was supposed to like it because it was in Words - arguably the best rollerblading video of all time - and Mindgame would never use an uncool song. In high school, that music mixed with Aaron Feinberg drinking champagne for breakfast meant two things: High class, and a semi-obscure music taste to feel semi-elitist about. Reading the lyrics now, this song seems to be exclusively about looking at butts from the distance and muttering oral sex requests. There’s also some lyric about ‘escaping the clitoris’ that I’m not sure I entirely understand; I think he just wants to see naked women? Then the singer misses the what seems to be the only way to get home for months (a horse-drawn carriage), and decides that at least he’s not underground being penetrated. This song is ridiculously stupid. I later used it in my Powerpoint presentation on the Holocaust. “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz - What’s more impressive than having memorized a six minute song that you would rap to your uninterested peers at any provocation? Possibly having memorized a six minute song and having almost no idea what it was about. I still don’t think I know what it’s about, aside from taking drugs and feeling prospective. Taken literally, this song seems to be about an immortal prisoner/introspective repair technician with the answer to life, who, with the help of a drummer named Russ, will guide everyone listening through martial law as long as he doesn’t have to hear anyone

Layout - Vincent Morretino
squeal. The only line I really thought I understood was “Rhythm/You have it or you don’t” - a statement I thought I could get behind, seeing as I don’t have any rhythm. But then he immediately decides “that’s a fallacy” and I don’t know what to believe anymore. That song certainly didn’t make me think more highly of drug use, even if it did make Damon Albarn feel glad. A couple times a week, at lunch, I would go with my friends to some burnout guy’s house and everyone would sit in a circle outside and smoke pot and cigarettes while I sat there with my Mindkind shirt covering my nose. I was that guy. Listening to that song as often as I did was kind of like being straightedge with a Sublime tattoo. That’s the real fallacy. “God Send Death” by Slayer I’ve had two interactions with Carlos Pianoswki; both were at Hoedown. The first time we met, he was doing a backflip over me and screaming something about being death. The second time we met, I was walking out of the bathroom as he was walking in. He told me to “move.” It was awesome. In that brief conversation, I was sure he knew how much influence he had in my life... Or at least his Fruitbooter section. shame. Then, after I was done eating the flesh of the Lord and breaking edge, I walked into the gathering hall with the powdered doughnuts, pulled out my “God Hates Us All” CD, and then sang along to those sweet, sweet blasphemes. For maybe a three weeks, I thought I was metal as fuck. Or at least I had decided to be. I listened to music with lyrics like “Death’s design, blood splattered wall/Face melting, one vicious whore/Twisted figures/Drown your mind in pain” and I knew I was really tough. I listened to songs like “Darkness of Christ” after church and they made me want to do disaster frontsides and drop-kink rails. Maybe even grow my hair out. To this day I still not have done a drop-kink rail, and I think that’s because my relationship with drop-kinks are a lot like my relationship with Slayer: The novelty has worn off. Sure, drop kinks seem metal at first, but then you realize people have been doing those tricks for so many years; it’s time to move onto a different rail. They’re unoriginal, predictable, and just make you look like you’re trying hard to impress everyone. Retire them already. You might die and go to Hell if you don’t.

“Erection” by The Faint I will never deny that I love the Faint. Yes, they were ‘played out’ The only thing stranger than 16 year-old, Christian, after being used in three or four Slayer fan is a Slayer fan who isn’t 16. Regardless, major videos, but they were years ahead of their I was pretty devoted to the Lord, our God, as well time. However, I had such a weird relationship with as the edgy jams of washed up, supposed Nazi this particular song (which I believe was used in a sympathizers. On Sunday mornings I would come home from rolling newspapers around 5 a.m., sleep Deshi ad). As I mentioned earlier, I used to be very for four hours, then wake up ready for church. I religious. Being Christian, it only makes sense to shushed people who talked during the sermon and pray for forgiveness immediately after listening to bypassed the wooden kneeling altar when I prayed. a song about boners. On several occasions I considered putting my arms in the air when I sang. I was completely earnest in my desire to feel guilty while sitting in a big room (Continued on next page) with candles and old people and I did it without 17

“Teeth Behind Kisses” by Why? - When I first saw Demode, I had to watch it without sound. I didn’t own a DVD player, so I had to watch all my videos on my computer which was incapable of playing actual movies. For some reason, though, it could play skate videos just as long as it awkward and silent the entire time. Needless to say, watching videos at my house was kind of uncomfortable for everyone. But when I finally did watch it with sound at Javier’s house, I remember crying because it made me so happy to finally hear it in it’s full glory. This was also uncomfortable for everyone. I could relate to this ‘teeth’ song. Or at least I told myself that. I didn’t know what straight-laced tennis shoes were exactly (some sort of laced shoes), but this song defined a summer for me; a summer in which I thought I was going to kill myself because I thought I had impregnanted a fourteen year-old. It remains my roughest June yet. But it was this particular song that made me get a copy of the album, and it was that album that had a song called “Darla.” A song that I listened to upwards of fifteen times a day for a little more than a month. Darla is by and large a song about a chicken in a cage. I’ve read the lyrics over and over, and the only other possible story I could get out of it was that of a girl with a calcium deficiency (or maybe she had been soaked in vinegar) who is locked in a cage and her boyfriend can’t find the key. Also, the boyfriend is a sympathetic cannibal and has been tracking her menstrual cycle. Strangely enough, I was tracking my girlfriend’s menstrual cycle at the time I got this album. I thought I was going to be a father and the only song that made sense to methe only one that could understand what I was going through - was this weird song about a chicken. 18

Was it because I felt the impending claustrophobia of the metaphorical cage of parenthood? No. Did the chicken, born with wings but unable to fly symbolize the tragic irony of unfulfillable potential? No. Was it being able to relate to the helplessness of seeing something terrible unfolding in front of you that you have almost no control over? No. The song just used the word “ovulation” and I found that incredibly relevant. I realize that there are probably very few video editors who consider the social impact of their video’s soundtrack, but now I feel like that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked. If one person wearing giant clothes can cause a nationwide cultural shift and debatably a decrease in proper hydration, imagine what a catchy song and a couple of crossfades could do. Take this to heart, all you video editors out there: Be careful of the songs you choose; lives are at stake.

Mini-portraits provided by Michael Kraft

Interview & photos - Al Dolega Layout - Vincent Morretino


For some reason, recently I’ve been catching myself thinking of Jake as still being about fourteen. That’s how old he was when his skating first made an impression on me, as it continues to do so now, six years later. I could write it off as him still being as short as he was then, but that’s not really it; that’s just fun to tease him about. So then why doesn’t he seem quite like the other 20-year-old skilled bladers I’ve known over the years? It could be as simple as the way that he still has a lot of very obvious fun when skating, and isn’t afraid to show it. Too many bladers today are afraid to let out any of the joy that jumping around on wheels can bring.

Now, you live downriver, which is south of Detroit, and is a slightly separated scene from the rest of Detroit because it’s a little bit more remote... kinda has its own crew, and spots and stuff... Spots, not so much... Yeah. Well how do you think growing up there, and being a little bit set away from the rest of the Detroit scene, how do you think that affected your skating?

It definitely affected it because I mostly stuck to skating parks the first, at least... four years, never set foot onto... street skating. I worked at two different skateparks that were downriver, just always skated park. I had one school down the road that had one curb and rail at it, but the rest was just park skating. But I think At first, Jake didn’t want to be interviewed for this it gave me a little more control, helped me understand how to skate transitions... piece; he claimed he wasn’t interesting enough

to warrant it. I knew better, so I just pretended at first that I agreed, and then at the last second had changed my mind. Sometimes you have to do that with rollerbladers, so my job is to not only to document them but also to sometimes deceive them. Jake’s experience with cancer is compelling by itself, but I also didn’t want this to be a pity piece, because Jake’s skating and attitude are worthy of attention all on their own. Some of you may have seen his profile in Sore Thumb, those who have not, I recommend looking it up on Vimeo. And keep an eye out for more of Jake in the near future.
Ok Jake, give us the basics- age, how long you’ve been skating, et cetera. Skating now about... 10 years, I’m 20 years old.... [My roommate Scott, from the other room]- Rookie!

So how did you transition from park skating to street skating? The kids I looked up to at the parks still always skated street, and finally once I was about 15 or so, old enough to go out with friends, they started taking me out to Ann Arbor, downtown, other more well-known spots. And I found a lot more joy in skating stuff not made to be skated... a quarterpipe or whatever. Some people reading this might know you from Sore Thumb, which is a video that came out a few years ago, put together by Nick and Nate Moore. Tell us about that, how it came together and filming for it and all that. I met Nick and Nate through a couple mutual friends in the downriver crew. I knew them for about twothree years beforehand. I actually don’t remember how having the part came to be, it just sort of all fell together at the time. And it was kinda hectic, because they lived all the way out in Flint [about an hour and a half north of downriver]... I spent a long weekend out there and other than that it was just a few days here and there that we were able to get together. So it was kinda really rushed for my first section. It turned out well though. How was the reception for it? Have you had a lot of people say stuff about it, or did it seem to go more under the radar?

I guess I’m a rookie, haha. I started when a kid down the street got a pair of skates from his older brother, who stopped skating... I went the next day to Play It Again Sports and got some Oxygens, the AR-31’s, so I could skate with him... and never stopped. Never could get myself to stop.


Little quarter, tall box, low ceiling. Squished Fish stall 270 out at my place. Detroit, MI.

From friends I got a lot of support, I actually moved to Texas and the only kid I met there that rollerbladed, he knew me from it somehow... I haven’t heard many negative things about it except that there were too many unity tricks... Yeah, some jackass said that in the review in ONE. You were telling me a funny story earlier today actually, about how you didn’t know it was in the magazine... Yeah, I was randomly at Borders and was really psyched to just find a rollerblading magazine there... flipped through it, saw the picture of the Sore Thumb cover and then the paragraph about me. I had no idea that any of that was going to happen, so I felt like a little kid, running around the store trying to find my friends so I could show them... it was a little bit of a shock. A good shock for sure. So what’s been up with you the last couple of years? It seemed to me like you were around a lot, at Friday Night Skate... just to me it seemed like I’d see you a lot more a few years ago,

and then you weren’t around as much for a couple years, and now in the last year or so I’ve seen you a lot more... Well, after Sore Thumb I stuck to myself a little more, kinda just skating around my scene... not putting all my time into rollerblading, but this past year I’ve put 110% into it, and I feel like I’ve become more wellrounded, not just relying on safety tricks I’ve had for years. I’ve been getting more into learning to skate with both of my feet, and skate different obstacles. What I like now is I’m not just looking for the biggest trick that I can do, I’m looking for... ways the trick is gonna look, how I’m gonna go into it, where I’m gonna go coming off... More of the details. Yes, more of the details. Just actually thinking about my skating and not just hucking myself at something. Really wanting what I do to look like more of an artform. So you can maybe see what I was thinking when I was at the spot, instead of just... everyone looks at something and thinks, ok, 360 soul or whatever...

(Continued on page 24)


Disaster over the grass to back Royale, to Fakie on wet asphalt. Troy, MI.

Bumpy downhill runup, uphill busy-street landing. Three cops for me parking in a private lot, no cops for Jake jumping into rush hour. Stale 180. Detroit, MI.

The obvious choice. Yeah, exactly. I think that’s a big part of pretty much anybody’s skating, as they mature, is that people start when they’re young, teenagers or whatever... it takes them a few years to get some skills, and then they inevitably get to the stage where they just want to do the biggest tricks, and huck themselves... and like we said, they go for the obvious stuff. But if they stick with it past that, most skaters mature and get more well-rounded. It just took time, I always watched Broskow, Haffey, all the big names, doing these big spins off of grinds, into grinds... and I thought that was it, the spin-to-win mentality. I thought that’s how rollerblading was, all the time... Well for a while it was actually like that. Yeah, and that’s when I got into it bigtime, that’s when I got into watching videos and that, it was all about 24

spin to win. Who could do the biggest spin to the best grind on the biggest obstacle. And I’m happy to see rollerblading getting away from just that, diversify a bit. There’s more than just one rollerblading out there now, there’s more personalities... skating nowadays is ten times better than it’s ever been. So what’s been happening more recently for you, contests and stuff? We went to KSPS... Yeah, that was a big competition for me. It was the first time I kinda saw myself in a brighter light... I never thought I’d be getting to finals with people like Julian Bah, someone who I was watching back when I was barely learning tricks, waiting months for videos to come out, like Masters of Delusion... watching that and being amazed by his skating. And then a few years later being at a competition with him and, well, not really keeping up with him, haha, but... Being in the same ballpark. Yeah. It was a nice surprise to have that happen.

So what’s going on for you outside of skating, you know, in the real world? Work and work. You have this weird job where you give out light bulbs. Something like that, that’s part of it. I set people up to save money on their energy bill every month. Every energy company gives out rebates for home improvements people do to save money on their energy bill, and I guide people to be able to receive the rebates from the government, as well as the energy companies. And you just got promoted, you were the door-todoor guy and now you’re more of a supervisor. What are the plans other than that? You were telling me about school. I’d like to stay where I am with work, and save enough so in the spring I can get into school. I’m planning on going for Fire Safety and EMT courses, and hopefully be able to do wild forest fires later on, in a few years. I plan to try to work the fire season in California and then part-time EMT the rest of the year so I can still skate..... and be in California, which will be nice. Good plan. So you rode three different skates while we were shooting this, although we didn’t get anything with the middle pair... you went from Valos, which you skated for the last year or so, and then you tried Carbons for like a day, and now you’re on Nimhs... how’s that transition been, what do you think about all those skates? I loved the Valos but I hurt my ankle and I felt I needed more support, and a faster soulplate. I got the Carbons in a really good trade, too good to pass up, but they weren’t for me at all. Couldn’t skate them so I traded again for a pair of Nimhs, and they feel great, great on my feet, and they’re nice stiff solid skates, everything I was looking for. I needed a nice basic solid skate with support for my ankles and that slides when I need it, and I think Nimhs are it. I got used to them really fast and I’m hoping I don’t have to switch any more. So we did a little bit of traveling this year, went to Ohio a couple times... you said it was a couple years ago that you moved to Texas? What was up with that?

About two years ago... I dunno, I think the whole Michigan... well, anyone, wherever they’re from hates it at some point, wants out, to see the world. I kinda just got fed up with everything that was going on in my personal life so I just decided that in one week I was going to move... packed all my stuff, and moved to Houston. It was good at first, got work, but then my car broke and I got homesick so I came back home. I think it was just a nice vacation, almost... I got to be who I wanted to be and not have pre-set notions about me, I guess. It’s nice to get a chance to have a fresh slate, and you can kind of really learn who you are for yourself, when you’re new and no one knows you. How was the skate scene down there? How do you think it compared to home? The skate scene down there seemed non-existant. I was in the Cypress Spring area, northwest Houston... and like I said I met one rollerblader when I was down there. It was very random, I found some janky little skatepark and he just happened to be there. And it even turned out that he was from Michigan at some point, he had family here. Besides that there were the most amazing spots downtown, everywhere, but I never had anyone to skate with! I got on messageboards, Be-Mag, with no luck. Well maybe it’s better that it worked out that way, that you came back and you got your little break, but you didn’t get held up there too long. Most of the time I was down there I was too busy working or looking for work to skate anyways. Well one of the reasons I wanted to do an interview with you instead of just writing a blurb, one of the things I wanted to ask you about was the whole cancer thing that happened to you a few years ago. That’s kind of a unique thing, give us the story. I was born with a type of skin cancer called cutaneous t-cell lymphoma... good luck spelling that. I’ll Google it. Well altogether it was blood, lymph node and skin cancer. When I was 10, right around the time I started skating actually, I found out and I was given to about the age of 13 to live. It was a hard time, obviously, but 25

I just put all my time into rollerblading, when I could, and it kept my mind off of knowing that I was sick. I always looked forward to the one or two days a week that I got to go to the skatepark, between treatments. Let me specify, I was never a full-on chemo patient, never lost my hair, never bedridden... well, I was bedridden a few times but never for too long. But I really just used skating to keep my mind more focused, off of what was going on with me, and more on seeing myself as just an average kid who was living his life like anyone else that age, not worrying about the real world, just trying to have fun. So you fought it during your childhood, is it gone now, or what’s the deal? Well it’s incurable, I’ll have it the rest of my life. It’s been in remission since I was about 16-17. I go every few months for checkups, nothing’s changed. I try... I myself don’t know very much about it, I’ve always tried to not find out a lot about it... I believe the more I know, the more I’ll worry... I just know it’s bad. The less I know, the better off for me it probably is. So now it’s just something you have to get checked up on once in a while, and hopefully it just stays where it is, and... I have a mindset, a way of thinking, that we can control our body, we’re more powerful than a lot of diseases are. If we really believe that we can beat anything... I’m living proof, I beat this to the point where I am now, with stopping treatments... when I was only getting sicker and got down to about a 3-month time span for my life, when I completely quit treatments; and since then, I’ve just been getting better and better, every time...

So it’s like your prescription. Take 500mg of soul grinds daily. Yeah! I don’t want anyone to ever feel sorry for me. Like when I went for cancer treatments, it was basically me standing in a suntan box. They weren’t bad, I wasn’t getting... I got like needles, getting blood drawn and that, but I wasn’t like constantly getting needles, laying on a bed, puking... The typical cancer horror story. No. Not at all. Which... I’m very thankful for. It was and is a much easier road than most people think it would be when I tell them I have cancer. It was more of a mental bad road than a physical one. I was bedridden maybe four months total, out of the past ten years I’ve known about it... so, most cancer patients would tell you, that’s a blessing, most of them spent months at a time, in bed, can’t move, so... You got lucky. Yeah, I’m very lucky. It didn’t really affect me in that sense [physically], it messed my life up in a lot of other ways, but health-wise, you wouldn’t have known it, even at my worst, you wouldn’t have really been able to tell that I was sick, really. So what about non-cancer injuries? You have a few to tell.

Yeah. I messed my knee all up, trying to misty flip a stair set, way before I should have... smacked the inside and broke my kneecap [note- for you style nazis, this is why the rocket 360 to the right isn’t perfectly rocketedJake can’t straighten his knee all the way]... that was just silliness... but a few years ago, where my skating really changed I guess, where I was out for a few months, So does it affect, like, do you have to worry about is where I broke my shin in half. The final week one of falling and stuff? Or how much time you spend in the parks downriver was open, I just came down on the sun? my skate, sat on my ankle, broke my shin. I was out for about a half a year for that, because I went through Well what’s awesome about it actually is that everybody both bones completely. is supposed to stay out of the sun, the UVB rays are bad for them... I need as much as I can get. I’m supAnd then like seven months after that one of my posed to be walking around, like in Arizona, getting wheels cored as I was dropping into a big quarter and I direct sunlight, 24-7, that’s what they want for me. So fell to flat, onto my shoulder, and popped my shoulder actually being out in the summer skating, I’m getting a out and broke my collarbone really bad. So that was cancer treatment while rollerblading. another two months I was out. It seemed for a while 26
(Continued on page 32)

A pinky out can really class up a trick. Posh Rocket 360 at Modern. Royal Oak, MI.

Tall AO Topside Acid on the doublestack, from bank to bank. Modern Skate Park, Royal Oak, MI.

The runup to this rail is just as dark and scary as it looks. Soul to Mute 180 over the knob and three-set. Detroit, MI.

like it was a bad road I was going down, I was having trouble learning new tricks, I kept being out for so many months with injuries. I tried to give up at that time, because it seemed like all I was doing skating was making myself mad and hurting myself. But I got over it. I’ve had a few minor injuries lately, but nothing... nothing holding me back, at least. My worst injury this year was hitting my tailbone horribly... that was worse maybe than breaking my shin. That killed. You were there, remember? The really tall rails by Science Center... I tried a topacid and pretty much jumped right to my tailbone. And I had just been telling you that I hadn’t nutted a rail in over a year... That’s funny, it’s not even that big of an injury... I mean you didn’t like break anything, or dislocate anything. It sure felt like it. I couldn’t walk for a week. It was a bad injury for me. So barring any future injuries, what are your plans for skating the next couple of years? What are the goals? Um, just to keep having as much fun as I can. I would like to be able to travel and go to more of the events. I would also like to get more into the industry, get to see more of what really goes on in it. Just be more a part of the actual rollerblading scene, I’ve been more on the sidelines for so long now. I’ve been skating for half my life. It’s all I know really, and I’d like to be able to do as much as I can for it, and with it. I would like to be able to meet more rollerbladers, go to more comps, sessions... just get more involved. Well, Bitter Cold is coming up. Who’s your prediction for the winner? I haven’t even thought about that. I’d like to see Montre come back and win a second time. I like Montre... he deserved it last year for sure. Besides even his skating, I don’t think there was a single person in that whole park that he did not talk to, he was just buzzing... He’s very high-energy. He’s here for the right reason, he loves the sport, 32

he wants to see it grow. He could have made some money skateboarding but he’s willing to not make that money and do what he likes instead... it was good to see people like him get rewarded through our biggest competition... has anyone else won it two years in a row? I don’t think so. Well it’ll be Montre for the first time, I’m calling it. Ten bucks. Hey, you’re recorded now. You owe me ten bucks if he doesn’t win. Well I think that’s about it, was there anything else you wanted to cover? Scott - Talk about how he needs to find his own goddamned spots! (laughter) He’s just mad that I got a clip before him on those broken pieces of cement a while ago. A blader interview isn’t over until you do the shoutouts. Of course my family. My dad, even though this wasn’t the sport he wanted me to be part of, he’s still never hesitated to ever support me in it. My mom, for driving me back and forth from the hospital all the time, for the cancer but also for all the injuries I’ve constantly had from skating. All my friends here... Aaron Powers, for always giving me a ride everywhere so I can skate. Chynna for never stopping skating at any session, I always know I can skate with her... Ivan for being the hype man. Any session he’s at, you know it’s getting hyphy. And I want to thank everyone who still skates, who hasn’t given up on it, and especially those who get younger kids into it, because without them, after this generation, we’re done. Kids nowadays don’t have skating on TV to get them into it, like you and I had... Oh and Scott, for giving me all my spots. Scott - Yeah, that’s right!

Guest Comment - Jacob Barnes

I never thought I’d be quoting Justin Eisinger, but he said something brilliant in the latest One I wanna expand on; “Rollerblading tried once before (and many times since, really) to capitalize on the techniques employed by Steve Rocco, but only by throwing out the rules and refusing to make the obvious choices will the magic that happened for World Industries be possible for those with booted wheels on their feet.” This quote is in reference to The Man Who Souled The World, where Steve Rocco says the first rule in his revolution against the old guard in the skateboarding industry was to throw out the rule book. The marketing angles and promotional techniques that worked for George Powell, Brad Dorfman etc. were not necessarily gonna work for him. And yet Justin realises that our so-called revolutionaries have embraced and adopted Steve Rocco’s gameplan play by play, almost word for word. In Hoax II Corey Donahoe said “The future of rollerblading is some kid practising some trick that all his friends tell him ‘There’s no way in hell you’re gonna do that’…but he’s determined, he gets it down and he revolutionizes

skating.” The downside of being an innovator is that you have to be willing to fail again and again if you’re ever gonna succeed. Jon Julio’s rocket fishbrains were a huge success, but we’ve forgotten about the grabbed mono rolls and the sidewalks. My point is that to be an innovator like Jon Julio, don’t practice rocket fishbrains…rather practice new ways of looking at the possibilities of attaching wheels to your feet ESPECIALLY when people are calling you out as an epic failure. In our culture, epic failure usually consists of doing things that don’t fit with skateboarding’s gameplan. Our Industry nurtures the idea that we can usurp skateboarding by imitation, by running their plays better than them…it’s a fantasy. Following the leader will never make us a leader. But if we’re willing to pull out of the slipstream and go it alone, there’s no limit to where we can take this. It’s only after we let go of our obsession with one thing that skating will be free to do anything. Are you ready to let go? - Jacob Barnes

All previous issues of Balance can be found at



Presented by

Chris Haffey

Matt Andrews

Michael Kraft



Presented by

Iain McLeod • Chynna Weierstall Mike Koliner • Matt Lorch



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Tim Helbock • Martin Walchshofer • Stefan Brandow H.S. Knucklehead • Dan Lambert



Presented by

Avichai Wechsler • Jake Cawley Michael Kraft • Jacob Barnes

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