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~"Unfortunately a lot of us where victims like the Dinosaurs when the asteroid hit the earth, just a few miniature animals survived!".
You and i met about a year ago skating at the Chelsea Piers Skatepark together. Great sessions, good vibe when ur around. I know you and me both have roots from Europe and i felt the 'European connection' right away!
- Where are u from, and where have u lived over the years?
- I was born in Higienópolis, São Paulo Brasil in 1964.
- My Childhood in San Juan Puerto Rico 1966-79.
- And from 1979 till 87 in NYC.
- Then to Barcelona Catalunya in 87 till 1999 and then came back to the NYC area 1999 to the present.
- How long have u been Skating, and what got you into it?
From 1974-1980 then took a break and came back 2001 - to the present 2013.
How come u had a brake from skateboarding for more then 20 years? What kept u busy at that time.
Unfortunately a lot of us where victims like the Dinosaurs when the asteroid hit the earth, just a few miniature animals survived!
All of the sudden the parks started to close down due to the liability and no insurance. Skateboarder Magazine and Skateboard World, those were the main mags to keep us updated, changed to Action now in 1981 I believe, and it hardly had good skateboarding articles, and if the articles where good, they where very few.
Music changed also and strange enough that flavor of the counterculture that skateboarding was so identified along with Surfing all through the 70's it vanished!!! It became mainstream by the early 80's. Now a short hair High school goofball Jock could learn how to skate a half pipe and add as many tricks he could, nothing with flow and even worse, style out of the window! It didn't matter anymore.
(By the way, everything I say there's always the exception of the rule) In Venice for example in the mid 80's cats like Eric Dressen, Scott Oster, Pat Ngoho, Tim Jackson/Kelly Jackson, Cesario "Block" Montano, George Wilson, Jesse Martinez, Aaron "Fingers" Murray, Eric Tuma, Bart Saric and of course Natas Kaupas, Christian Hosoi and Jay Adams They kept skateboarding in my opinion, visceral, dirty, audacious, real and Beautiful.
Mondo back in '78
Style for those Venetians Cats was and still is a priority. I really credit those Cats!!! As for myself my surroundings was totally against skateboarding, One of the first legit Half pipes in the Manhattan area that my friends and I built in Fort Lee, Some kids burned it, and then by '81 they cut it in half making it small so this new generation of skater could learn how to Ollie and do tricks. By 1982 the town destroyed the half pipe and that was it.
So in between that and seeing a big pause for the first time from seeing myself active since 1974, Skating the Glorious Cherry Hill(RIP), and then to nothing. Nah I just walked away to something different, Rock Concerts at the Madison Square Garden or the Palladium, A lot of us gravitated to the Sex, Drug's and Rock 'n Roll era in New York City. I put time in my Music, and back into art, and just focused to get into an Art school in the city. Before I knew it ten years went by, or 20, Plus 10 years in Barcelona. Up until I returned to New York and around 2001, I was living with my Girlfriend in the city, And she recommended me to do something active to quit smoking(I was a heavy smoker those days), And I walked into a store that had some skateboards, Stand on one after 22 years and it all came back, in a few seconds standing on a board a lot of memories came by. So I did get back since that day but didn't quit smoking after some years after! These last 12 years have been very intense. For the good reasons!
- How old were u when u started and how old are u now?
First time I stepped on a skateboard , I was 4 or 5 around 1968, then when I turned 10 I bought my first Pro-Line skateboard with Chicago trucks and Stokers at a Surf Boutique shop down by my house in 1974. I'm 49 years old right now!
Mondo back in 1978 doing a backside air
Like u already knew im kind-off a Skateboard geek when it comes to the old school stuff! I found out u got ur name on a Santa Monica Airlines deck and ur on the crew of Flyaway Helmets.
Those are classic brands, how did u get involved with them?
I knew Tony Converse and Skip Engblom from my trips to L.A. So through a lot of friends in common, Bennet Harada from SMA asked me why I wasn't skating SMA boards instead of Bulldog Skates(BDS) wich is Wes Humpston's company, who I was skating for at that time.
I told Bennet that i was very used to the Bulldog model. So not long enough Tony Converse asked me to design a board with my measurements for SMA but i insisted to just make only a few for my personal use and through the process Skip decided to put my name and make a full run.
I was so surprised. The SMA family was super stoked, my friends in L.A. where also Stoked, ..And when I saw some of the people who I admire where Stoked, I realize the honor and the privileged I was in. I Was very STOKED! Enjoy the ride like they said. Specially from a company that represent the same principles of what Skateboarding means to me.
But I have to add, I was very shy when it happened.
Armando and his SMA board
As for the Flyaway helmets , I got to meet the person who is making them now Von Wolf , I purchase a Helmet when he first started making them like 6 years ago. He is very passionate about them. I used to wear them back in the late 70's. Beautiful classic design. Like no other helmet. But again the credit goes to Von Wolf, People like Lance Mountain, Bennet Harada, Pat Ngoho swear by them! My favorite is the Jay Adams Flyaway!
- What was ur most favorite Bowl/Pool that doesn't exist anymore and what would u consider as the best spot right now?
My most favorite was the legendary New Jersey - Cherry Hill skatepark by far!! The selection, the offer was insane, the Peanut Bowl, the Egg Bowl, the Key hole, It was just insane.
Mondo - Double truck carve grind at the Venice Skatepark
- Who from the new generation is inspiring you these days, and what is ur all time favorite skateboarder?
From the new generation? Greyson fletcher, As rad and daring his skate is he knows the roots and you can tell when you see him skate, He Charges a bowl like jaws in waimea.
Pedro Barros is pretty incredible aswel. A lot of talent these days, And then there's this new Super young generation, I believe they are not even in their early teens like Kiko Francisco, Julian Torres, CJ Collins!! Wait and see is all I have to say.
And my all time favorite skateboarder? JAY ADAMS!
I also have to mention Steve Olson, Tony Alva, John Grigley, Pat Ngoho, Bennet Harada, Jim Murphy, Duncan Buck and Papo, not only I consider them my friends but I have a tremendous respect and admiration that I can't find words to describe.
- Is there a Steve Olson story you want to share?
An Olson Story? Yes! A good one and very short one, Von Wolf, the guy who makes the Flyaway Helmets, He drove me to Olson's place to smoke a joint, Von Wolf started to fly Steve's RC Helicopter. and He crashed it right on Melrose ave in West Hollywood, It was very late, and Olson and I saw Von Wolf flying that helicopter, it flew so high, that it disappeared in the sky and then...Bang!!!! It crashed on Melrose. And that's it thats the end of the story. and the end of Olson's Helicopter.
Steve Olson & Mondo
- Any words about Andy Kessler?
Andy Kessler, who sadly passed away. He had a surf style that was rarely seen. I think he was my main local influence, He would call me to skate the Blinde Bowl, have sessions at the Autumn bowl(RIP), he was fluid and as much people today rave about him, rarely he is credited to bring the round walls to NYC, he broke the simply Half pipe or Vert ramp tradition and introduced to the round wall, carving, and surf style to the urban NYC soil. Every time Tony Alva or Olson would come to NYC they would be under Kesslers wing. Along with Jack Fitzgerald, Tony Farmer, Jocko Weiland, Ivory and Shelter Serra all of them Beautiful people who I met through Andy.
Most important thing not only he was an inspiration but what he did out side skateboarding, helping Susan Farmer with teaching little kids to how to surf, Helping at any cost to get his friends or the kids out of drugs 100% , and specially getting them out of the streets. The skate scene was never the same after he left us. Its tragic, But again, as far influences he truly and share a lot with me in his last decade of his life, after not seeing him for 30 plus years.
Autumn Bowl 2007
Mondo - Andy Kessler - Rick - Harry OG Jumonji - Steve Olson
- I consider Skateboarding as an art form and a way to express myself, but i believe u actually make a living out of other kinds of art right?
I do and I try to! I'm a fine art painter. I've been drawing since I learned to grab a pencil. Pretty much all my entire life. I also see Skateboarding as an expression, it is a personal stamp of how an individual express who they are through skateboarding. And most important of all it has to look good.
Mondo: Thanks to you Ben! You have a very positive Old Soul in you! Keep shredding and the torch up of the good taste! It was a pleasure to do this interview.
Bulldog Skates Team
We had a great session with a bunch of locals and older guys, i met Rob Reed who apparently knew 2 of my friends from back in The Netherlands.. wich was a big coincidence.
He shot this picture of me doing a full speed Smith Grind thru the corner trying not to hit the ceiling. Those Pool blocks are loud as fuck, i loved them!
Also checkout the other pics from that same session. Rob is the man!
Robert Reeds Blog
I filmed this clip earlier this year.. Eddie posted on Instagram he was gonna skate at Chelsea Piers, so i showed up that morning.. and we had a great session!