Backside 5.0 grind along the top of a really rough ledge.

Skateboarding has been a HUGE part of my life. Ever since the first time I stepped on one back in 1984 I have been hooked! I got my first skateboard for my 9th birthday in 1985. I got good pretty quick. I was also tall so that helped mingle in with the older skaters even though I was just a little kid. That helped me progress even quicker as the older guys were more serious about skating than the kids my age. I ended up getting sponsored by my local shop after someone told the owner that I was boardsliding this planter curb that was like 25 feet long. Keep in mind I was 10 and it was still the 1980’s. The owner walked from the skate shop, across the entire shopping center and up to the curb I was sliding. He watched me do it a few times. Right then and there I was on the team!

Getting sponsored was such a huge help in my skateboarding progression as I was skating so much and wearing out boards very quickly. It was so cool getting a bunch of shop shirts and gear as well as discounts on decks and sometimes getting decks for free! My upbringing was way out of what is considered the norm. My dad up and left when I was like two or three years old. My mom was a dysfunctional raging alcoholic who would disappear for days at a time. Thankfully my grandparents (on my mom’s side) helped raise me. They were super interesting people to be around. They owned their own business. They designed and built counting and sorting machines for commercial laundry facilities. As early as I can remember I would help my Grandma with mailers, stuffing envelopes with marketing materials, using a word possessor and going to the post office and other business errands. I would also help my Grandpa assemble some of the machinery parts. We would wear these big magnifier goggles so we could assemble the electric eyes and sensors that would get mounted to the big conveyers. As a treat for helping my Grandpa would have a bunch of sweat corn that we would butter up and I would listen to him tell me stories about growing up in Chicago.

My Grandparents traveled a lot for their business. Since I mostly grew up with them I would go on their business trips with them. All done by car. We would go out for a few weeks at a time sometimes. They arranged for me to take the time off from school. I’d get a big old pile of schoolwork to complete from the backseat of the car. I’d work so hard and fast to complete what I thought was nonsense busy work. I really wanted to look out the window and see everything that we were driving by. I wanted to be educated by the real world that we live in. By the age of ten or eleven I had been to every National Park West of the Mississippi! My Grandma would also want me to mention that we saw every Indian ruin as well. She hated those. My Grandpa loved then and so did I! I definitely got the travel bug from my Grandpa.

My Grandparents lived in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Their home was build in the 1800’s and is still there. Even though they moved to Arizona to escape the snow and be closer to the building boom of the 60’s I felt like I grew up in a Chicago house. Somehow we got WGN on TV, the living room was always called the “frontchroom”, my Grandma watched Cubs games on TV…It felt very Chicago. Somewhere around 1988 there was an opportunity to move to Chicago and be near where my Grandpa grew up. I really missed my Grandparents but I want to be where I felt like was going to be home, Chicago Illinois.

Living with my mom was awful. She was a mess. Constantly moving from one apartment to another, disappearing for days at a time and hanging out with a lot of sketchy guys. To get as far away from her life of dysfunction I skated a lot. Like that’s all I did. I skated because I loved it (still do), it got me out of the house, and I wanted to get better so I could enter some contests and get some free gear since we were broke. I was too young to get a job so earning gear by skating seemed like the way to go. I remember my mom thought I was dealing drugs since she couldn’t understand that I won a contest and would come home with skate gear or some money in my pocket.

Skateboarding, to me, was more than just the tricks or what the pro’s were doing. It was about the adventure and exploration that it created. I wanted to find new spots and obstacles to skate. I wanted to go see what was on the next block over, then the next, and the next, and the next neighborhood and then the next town over from there. I wanted to see what was behind every building to see if there was a loading dock to ride off of or some new obstacle to skate. When was the last time you went behind a building and found something interesting? Skateboarding will change what your eyes see to become creative. As I went further and further in search of skate spots I learned how to use the bus and El by myself. No internet back then to learn from either! And while out I would get hungry and explore the local restaurants. I’d scrape up enough change to get a Italian Beef or hot dog while out. I felt such a freedom being out by myself learning adult things like using public transit or figuring out what hot dog joint I like the best or who gave you the most shrimp in the shrimp basket.

It funny how things work. My out of the ordinary upbringing educated me in such a unique way. Living though it was rough on a kid. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise.

During my teen years my home life was awful. I recall coming home from school one day and found a note on the kitchen counter. That note was attached to a twenty dollar bill. The note read “Here’s 20 bucks. Make it last”. I knew then that some serious life altering changes were right around the corner. Literally. As I walked through the kitchen I noticed all of the furniture was gone. Only thing left was my mattress on the floor and the few belongings that I had. This got me in gear to find another sponsor. The short version is that I not only got another shop sponsor but a board sponsor as well. It wasn’t enough. I needed money for food, toiletries and other necessities. I always get asked why I didn’t go to the authorities or let an adult know what was happening. My answer is that I didn’t want my freedom taken away. I wanted to go skate the streets any time I wanted to. I wanted to explore and do things on my terms. I didn’t want to go to a foster home and have a curfew. Staying in and watching TV is the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.

Without going into all of the details (I’ll save that for the book!) lets just say I was “resourceful” enough to have some documents created that allowed me to get an after school job. I worked as much as I could as I knew I needed to make money and save money. It took away from my skating and I soon had to let go of my sponsors as I needed cash now. Not a stack of decks that I had to figure out how to sell have of ’em to scrape up a few dollars. I also needed some health insurance too. Skateboarding is not safe and I liked to jump off of big stuff!

Another (big) fast forward to the present. Skateboarding truly saved my life. It gave me something to look forward to each and every day. I was my vehicle for adventure. When I get asked how I know my way around so well or how I know how to edit video or where to eat my answer is “Skateboarding”. Over the years I have been able to show so many people around Chicago and beyond. Then I’ll see pics on their social media that they went to a place that I showed them on their own. I love being able to show people around the city I call home and give them the confidence to find their own adventure. The history, food and stories need to be told and known.

When you come to Chicago I want you to be confident in exploring this great city. I want you to have fun and learn something along the way. I want you to become an explorer. Find out what’s on the next block over. Take the scenic route. Most importantly, look out the window. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

Thank you skateboarding and everyone that has helped me though this adventure called life.
Pardon My Thrashing – “Summertime Forever”

Pardon My Thrashing, Chicago’s finest skateboard company, based in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. PMT is more than just another skateboard company. We not only represent the ripper, but support the first timer and the every day skater. We get it, not everyone is or even wants to be some famous pro skateboarder. Sometimes you just want to go skate and have some fun with your pals. That’s PMT. 

To learn more about Pardon My Thrashing, check out the video below.