chrome ball interview #89: joey suriel

Sweets and Chops keep it real

So I gotta ask what you know about the new Menace coming back? Were you or anybody else from the old crew contacted about this at all?

I do know a little bit about it. My friend Josh Hill has been wanting to revamp the brand for a while now. None of us original guys are involved with it. This is something that will probably come up a bunch during this interview but we don’t own the name “Menace” and we never did, which is why we had to switch names. “Menace” has been up for grabs for anybody who wanted it. Josh thinks he can do something with it and if that’s what he wants to do, that’s totally cool. He has my blessing.

I will say that it’s good to see the old star graphic with the MNC and the gloves out there again. It brings back memories for me, man. It’s nostalgic.

Why do you think Menace still holds such a place in skaters’ hearts more than 20 years later?

I think that it’s the honesty and the realness of what we were doing that made the impact. That’s what people picked up on. There was much more to it than just skating. It wasn’t about being the best. It was the lifestyle, man. I know nowadays, people call this type of image “swag” but that word didn’t exist back in our time. To us, it was about keeping it real and being who we were.

I’m humbled, bro. I think we were so in the moment that we didn’t realize the impact we were having. We were doing what we loved. I can’t believe people still bring this stuff up and I appreciate all of it. I’ve always felt like we were fortunate because I’ll be the first to say on record that, for me, I wasn’t really doing anything all that cutting edge or beyond extraordinary when it came to skateboarding. But I do feel that whatever I did was done proper. We were more about style and doing things right. But for it to still have an impact all these years later is amazing.

So was Kareem really the “Mastermind” behind Menace? How much of a role did he play in the overall direction?

Yes, Menace was essentially Kareem’s project. His offspring. But once it was all put into action, it became a collective effort between all of us.

How did that work exactly? What did the riders bring to the table in this collective effort?

A lot of the stuff we came up with was more spur of the moment, spawned from all of us hanging out together. Obviously, we were all really big into hip hop culture. We’d see a cool album cover and decide to do something with it or listening to a song, decide to name our wheels “Butter Pecans”. That was our collective thing.

Kareem masterminded the foundation of Menace. He was the one who had the vision and knew what he wanted to do with the company. He was initially approached by Rocco to do something with riders already in mind… riders with big names, actually. Well-established pros who were already set-up in the industry. But that’s not what Kareem wanted to do. He wanted to bring riders to the table who were like-minded with backgrounds similar to his own. I feel that’s what made it work. We all had history together growing up skating the streets of LA.

That’s what initiated the whole process but once it all came together, we took it upon ourselves to bring ideas to the table that we thought were cool. Kareem was always down to give things a try.

For example, I remember all of us going to World Industries one day to check out the operation. What caught our eye was this huge denim-tinting machine they had running. They looked like huge washing machines that were used to do the color of their jeans.

“Hey Reem, what if we made money green Menace denim?”

“Let’s try it! We have all we need right here!”

Just like that, we tried it and they came out amazing! But it was all organic, man. Nothing premeditated. There wasn’t some explicit marketing plan or branding strategy.

Like “Enter the Pu-Tang”, that was Billy and Shiloh’s idea. We were just sitting there, listening to Wu-Tang and looking at the album cover when they both start throwing out this idea!

“How sick would it be to turn the W over to make it a M! Yeah, put Menace in the middle where it says Wu-Tang and instead of the album title, make it say, “Enter the Pu-Tang”!

Obviously, we were down. But it was all so spontaneous… which was pretty typical with concepts throughout the Menace timeframe.

Friends vs BI. How did you get along with Kareem and Rocco from a business point-of-view?

Kareem and I go back years before Menace so stepping into our business relationship was a smooth transition. I respected Kareem as a business associate as much as I did as a friend and brother.

I didn’t really know Rocco much aside from skateboarding but Kareem cosigned for him so he was good in my eyes. I was always on top of what was going on with the business side of things anyway. I think one big thing about my relationship with Kareem is that we both knew how to separate our business relationship from our friendship. I think that’s a big reason why we remain close to this day.

Do you think the rest of the crew was able to maintain this mindset? Was the overall direction of Menace unanimously decided upon by the riders?

Yeah we had an original plan from the beginning that was carried out. As a matter of fact, I remember getting our first checks and deciding to sacrifice a little more of our earnings back into the company in order to do more things. I mean, we had a full denim line, an accessory line and a cut-and-sew line… that doesn’t come cheap. But these were all things that were talked about collectively and agreed upon.

For me, this wasn’t an issue. I knew that I wanted to do something more long-term and I always tried to look at things that way.

You gotta remember, there wasn’t much money in skateboarding back then. If you were making 2g’s a month, bro… you were the man! You were doing big things! You had your little apartment, your Honda Civic with your little rims… you were good! Like, back when Girl first started, the biggest thing was how much they were getting paid!

“What!?! You guys are getting 2k a month to start!?!”

They hadn’t even started the company yet and were getting paid like that! That was huge.

But I will forever be indebted to Reemo for the opportunities he has presented to me. I’m not only talking about providing me the platform to showcase my skateboarding but also allowing me to step in and gain a better understanding of business, in general. He was always looking out for me.

I remember the first thing he did as he handed me my first Menace check was take me to the bank. He basically made me open up a bank account that day. Things like always reminding me to pay my taxes and taking the time to make me understand what it meant for me to be an independent contractor for a company. Real life stuff that I didn’t really know but had to prepare for.

Going back a bit… and on the complete opposite side of the Menace spectrum, I had no idea you were on Powell back in the day! Was that through Paulo? Were you one of Paulo’s kids?

I was just always in the mix, man. Fabian, Juan, Gabriel, Rudy, Paulo and Guy… we all grew up skating together. You can actually see me in the background of their part in Ban This. There were a lot of us but I’m in there.

How it happened was after those guys had all left, Paulo was still on Powell and had to film for Propaganda. My friends and I were all out there skating with Paulo and Stacy took notice. Paulo put in the good word and got me in the door.

Were you one of those kids with tricks in Paulo’s Propaganda part?

Yeah, Billy and I are both in there. On the last day of filming, I did a fakie airwalk down the stairs and Stacy decided to throw it in.  

But yeah, Stacy came up that day and asked me to one of those all-night sessions they used to have at the Powell park. He wanted me to skate in front of the team manager, Todd Hastings, to make it legit. Billy and I both went up to Santa Barbara with our friend Ruben and skated around. We must’ve made a good impression because they put us on right there and then.

It was a short stint but it was fun. 

How did SMA enter the picture? I remember that period being when you first started to get some shine.

After Stacy left Powell, they began to restructure the team and I knew I wasn’t going to last long there. I was on the team because of Stacy and once he was gone, I wasn’t that hyped about it anymore so I quit.

A week later, I was skating Transitions in East LA and ran into a friend of mine, Victor Franco. He was riding for SMA at the time. Victor asked me what was up with Powell and after I told him I’d quit, he basically put the call in right there on the spot. It was that easy.

How was your time on Santa Monica Airlines? Looking back, it does seem like a pretty weird fit.

What was that video they had? Debunker? I actually had footage for that one but I don’t know whatever happened to it. I don’t know if the Team Manager at the time was totally convinced on me or what, but I was shocked that I didn’t make it in there. I honestly thought it was pretty decent footage! (laughs)

We’re all our own worst critics but I thought there was some pretty good stuff there! So when it finally came out and I wasn’t in it, I was kinda shocked. Oh wow!?! Okay.

But it was all good once Russ Pope came into the picture. That’s the homie for life. I actually thought SMA was a good fit for me. I felt I brought something different to the company. Even my ad with “The D.O.C. in LA”, I thought I brought something more left field to the brand.

So did ATM Click come out of the LA X-Large scene that was going off around that time?

Yeah, that ATM collaboration was basically born out of those X-Large connections.  X-Large was huge back then and really provided a platform for us… I remember doing a photo spread through them for URB Magazine with a young group called TLC before anyone knew who they were.

We always looked up to Mark and Ron growing up because they represented who we were. The fact that Mark was a Latino kid from South Gate who made it, he set the standard for what we would strive to accomplish. He gave us hope. If he could make it, so could we. It was amazing because before I knew it, there I was skating with him. It was almost like a dream and also served to give me even stronger motivation to keep it going.

I feel like skating for ATM put the stamp on my skateboard career. Regardless of what could possibly happen afterwards, the fact that Gonz turned me pro could never be taken away from me.

Were you at all expecting to go pro when you did?

I say this in a very humble way but we all reach a point when you basically know you’re at your pinnacle. Where you think to yourself, “Man, I’m hot right now!” (laughs)

You don’t say it out loud but you do start feeling a certain way and then people say things that confirm what you’re already thinking. For us, it wasn’t necessarily about riding for the best brand or making x-amount of money but more about gaining respect from our peers. If I can go to Embarcadero and make those dudes acknowledge what I was doing, that was everything. That was our mentality. If Henry Sanchez can come to Los Feliz and give me props, that was the epitome of “making it” to me.

I’d reached a point where even though I didn’t have a board out, I considered myself pro. I could tell it was coming… and I remember skating one evening with Mark when he just came out and asked me out of the blue.

“Hey Joey, I think we’re going to turn you pro but we’re gonna wait with it because I’m going to leave Falahee and ATM to start something new.”

Being asked to go pro was awesome but at the same time, we wanted ATM Click to stay! We thought that company was so dope! I felt it was perfect. In fact, I remember Jeff Klindt calling X-Large one day right when ATM was just getting started to see if I’d ride for Real. This is right after he’d put Billy on Real, too. I was flattered for Jeff to offer but I thought ATM sounded so amazing that I had to see it through.

So yeah, Mark wanted to turn me pro but wanted to wait on putting my first board out until 60/40 was up and running. I had one board out for that company but I just didn’t feel the same passion for that brand. I know it sounds cliché but at the end of the day, you gotta love what you do. Thomas Edison once said, “Find your passion in life and you’ll never have to work a single day.”

That’s so true. And at that point, I just wasn’t feeling 60/40. I was pretty much mentally gone. Luckily, I had already spent the summer with Kareem in New York and the seed for Menace had been planted.

What did you see as the big differences between ATM and 60/40?

Even the name “ATM Click” was cool. “Click” is a hood term so right away, it made sense. We were already a click, man. And I liked the image that Mark was bringing because it was artsy but still had some street to it, too.

No disrespect to Mark or Ron but ATM just seemed so much better. Mark’s graphics for ATM seemed so much fresher than what they ended up being on 60/40.  I’d look at some of those graphics by that point and know that it wasn’t really Mark. I could tell. They just had some weird stuff on there… like I remember seeing shirts with this demonic looking clown or something. It was weird.

ATM had that Steven Cales Puerto Rico tee, Patty Hearst and the Snot Remover guy with a straw up his nose. Those shirts were dope! Shirts with Mark’s characters all over the front… I think ATM seemed more “Mark” in comparison, which I felt was something missing from 60/40.

What did you think of the name “Menace” and the overall art direction of the company?

I thought the name was perfect because it represented who we were. We were Menace not because we were dysfunctional and violent but because we symbolized what skateboarding was from our point of view, which to a lot of people was menacing. The truth is that we represented skateboarding from a point of view the skateboarding world had never seen or experienced yet.

How would you describe this point of view?  

It was the perspective through the eyes of a young urban kid who didn’t really come up in the suburbs. From someone more inclined to go the gang route as opposed to doing something positive. It’s like Biggie said, “You’re either slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jumpshot.”

That’s how we saw it. You either get caught up in dealing drugs and gangbanging or seeing what you could do with this skateboard.  That was our way out. In this form of art that is skateboarding, we were able to escape being caught up in that negative environment. It gave us the platform to show kids from the suburbs or out in the Midwest what it was like to see skateboarding from our point of view. Skateboarding from kids who are really in the hip hop culture.

We brought this real grungy street music to skateboarding. It was almost like Nirvana! They came with this straight out the gutter-type rock that really got people’s attention. It was kinda the same thing for us with skateboarding. Menace was the Nirvana of skateboarding! The NWA of skateboarding! It was our collective effort. It wasn’t Sal from Plan B, it was the entire Menace crew. An entire group of kids from the same background… bro, from the same neighborhood!

Eric was from Rhode Island but he applied that same style and point of view we did. In our minds, because of how he carried himself, Eric was pretty much from the hood. From the first couple of times we met him up at Embarcadero in SF, I’d always think to myself, “Man, this white boy is down!”

You mentioned something earlier about Rocco already having pros in place for MNC before coming to Kareem… any idea who they were?

It wasn’t even called Menace yet at that point. It was more of an idea that Rocco had presented to Reem with riders loosely attached. It wasn’t like those guys were ready to go, these were names Rocco felt like Kareem should approach.

But if I recall correctly, I want to say Chris Senn. He was huge back then, cleaning house in contests. And I also want to say Willy Santos was another option. I think there were a few more but those are the two that come to mind.

Talk about the heads who almost got on Menace. I’ve always heard Rick Ibaseta and Ivan Perez almost got on. And what about Shiloh?

This has been brought up in interviews by a few of the other guys. I know Billy brought up Rick Ibaseta. But honestly, the only person I remember Kareem showing us a tape of and seriously asking what we thought as a potential rider was some vert guy.

I can’t even remember his name but I just remember us being like, “Nah…”

Ivan would hang out with us for months at a time when he’d come out from New York. We’d chill and skate but him getting on Menace was never a topic of conversation that I remember. I don’t remember Rick Ibaseta either but that might’ve been Billy bringing that up to Kareem one-on-one. He was never brought up to the group though. It was always a collective thing.

How come Kareem never skated for Menace?

I always wanted him on! Who wouldn’t want Kareem Campbell on their team!?! Shiloh, too! Shiloh would’ve been dope on Menace.

I know it was talked about at the beginning that once everything was established, Kareem and Shiloh were going to join us. That was the move and to be honest, I don’t know why that never happened.

In retrospect, I think the biggest hurdle with that and a lot of the other issues we faced was the trademark stuff. It’s one thing to start over once but twice? First with All-City and then again with City Stars!?! That threw a huge monkey wrench into all of those initial plans. We were always having to restructure and figure everything out again.  Having to start all over after gaining all that momentum is the worst possible scenario. I think that’s really what held us back with so many things.

What would you say is your all-time favorite Menace ad? So many classics there.

If I have to pick one, it’s gotta be that Jody Morris wide-angle spread where we’re all sitting together and I’m throwing up the LA sign. I think that one best described us. Right when it was all in its infancy, in its purest form.

We didn’t even have any Menace product at that point yet. That’s why we’re all wearing different stuff. Billy’s wearing that Illinois tee, Eric’s got a collared tee on and I’m wearing a Polo tee. There wasn’t a single item anywhere in there that represented the company other than it saying Menace at the bottom… but look at how that worked out! That had an impact! All of a sudden, you started seeing kids wearing designer gear and all different kinds of tees. If we would’ve had Menace gear, I think we probably would’ve all been wearing it but we didn’t. We just happened to be with Jody and we knew we were going to be doing this company in a few months. We got an idea for an ad, let’s shoot it.

Were you nervous with how little skating there was in those first few ads?

Not at all. It was something that hadn’t been done before. You said it yourself: those ads are classics! I think that’s what made those ads special.

“What? These guys are just hanging out? Wait a minute! Can these guys even skate? Why are we so attracted to this whole thing going on here?”

That was the impact. As a matter of fact, we originally didn’t want to have any skate ads at all! We didn’t want our ads to become “just another skate ad” like everybody else’s. We wanted to present us first. Show us for who we are, not what we do. Because I feel like once 20 Shot came out and did what it did, our plan worked. I still get people today telling me how hyped that video part got them.

Talk a little about 20 Shot Sequence. How it came about, how long you guys filmed and all of that… because there was a lot riding on that for you guys. Like you said, you guys really had to show and prove.

20 Shot was filmed over the course of 4 months and I still remember Kareem bringing the final cut over to a friend of ours house and watching it with everybody. It was such a good feeling to see the final result of something we put our heart and soul into.

We were blessed. Eric, Fabian and Billy all did some amazing stuff in that video. Those lines on the picnic tables were so good and I don’t want to take anything away from that but like I said before, I do think the impact of that part had more to do with our style and how we did our tricks. A switch heelflip over a bench wasn’t that big of a deal, especially by today’s standards, but the way it was done was so clean. It made skaters realize that you didn’t have to do the hardest trick in the world, just make it look dope. That’s worth something.

Gotta ask about that opening fight in 20 Shot? I always heard that was jokes but a broken collarbone ain’t funny.

We were always so hard on Matt but we loved him to death. He just tried so hard to be something he wasn’t and you gotta remember that we were just kids back then...

So we’re all out filming at Lockwood one day for the video and the thing with that spot is that it’s all black asphalt. One fall on that, you’re black. We’re out there getting filthy and here Matt pulls up looking like he just got back from the mall! He’s got on a new Polo hat with his cream Polo tee and some brand new kicks…

“Dude, you better get outta here with that stuff right now. We’re over here getting grimy and you’re looking like you’re trying to go to the club!”

But he didn’t heed to what we were saying! So Billy set it off.

“You know what, man? No, forget that! If you come to Lockwood, you’re getting dirty.”

And that’s what happened. We weren’t hitting him for real. It was all fun and games. Somehow he really did end up hurting himself but that wasn’t our intention. We were just giving him a hard time. He was alright. Of course, you don’t see the footage afterwards where we pick him up and give him a pound. That stuff was left out.

What went down between you and Mike V at Slam City that year? I remember you two almost getting into it on the course.

That’s a good question. I was honestly just out there skating and really don’t know what happened. All I know is, all of a sudden, Mike’s in my face.

“Hey man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just skating like everybody else.”

It was crowded so everybody was getting in everybody’s way. It wasn’t anything personal. But for whatever reason, he wanted to pinpoint me. Maybe the moment got the best of him? I’m not sure but I do think that neither of us really wanted things to escalate. As caught up in the moment as we were, I didn’t want to make matters worse because I knew what could happen. I even remember telling him, “Let’s just leave it. Leave it alone.”

In the end, we shook hands. Moments after all that, it was done and we were good. People don’t remember that. We’ve been cool ever since.

I know the Menace Epicly Later’d opened up with Fabian almost coming to blows with some kid while out skating. Was it a constant thing for people to challenge the Menace crew because of the brand’s image?

Yes, I feel like that did happen a lot. I think people wanted to test and see if we really were what they thought we were portraying. Some drunk kid at a house party while on tour getting belligerent in front of his friends. Coming up to me like, “Man, you ain’t gangster.”

I had to show him what was up. Those types of things did happen but I was never the live wire. I was always really vocal and animated but I was never the dude who would go set something off. I was usually the peacemaker, trying to break things up.

That’s something I don’t think too many people realize is that we were all pretty cool on tour. We were the type of dudes who’d come into town and try to interact with the kids. We were respectful. I don’t think we were ever stand-offish or refusing to give autographs, which I think a lot people seemed to think was shocking. It’s like they were expecting something else. They’d want to see the act. Kids were always trying to come up and smoke with us or whatever but we’d always try to keep it professional.

Who came up with the Mission Impossible-style break-in for Trilogy? And why was Menace kinda crowbarred into the video like that? Were you bummed about doing another montage instead of individual parts?

That whole thing was Reem’s idea. Reemo and Socrates came up with all that. That was a lot of fun just filming all around Kareem’s house one day.

As far as how Menace fit into Trilogy, we could’ve put out video parts but there was so much stuff going on under the World umbrella and basically, we only had Socrates! He was doing everything, man! It was crazy! That dude was putting in work. That’s honestly why they had to do the 20 Shot, Trilogy and Daewon vs Rodney-type of videos. That’s just what made sense.

You have to understand that with World, they couldn’t just focus on Menace. That’s not their only bread and butter. They’re looking at it from a panoramic-perspective. They had all these other brands, too. It would’ve taken too much effort to focus on one project with everything else that was going on… and even if that was the case, why not just put out a World video instead? World was their baby!

I was kinda neutral about the whole thing. I know some of the other guys felt differently but I could’ve gone either way. I did think that it was a little strange but I knew the reasons why. I kept myself informed enough to know why. I’ve never tried to let myself get too caught up in something if I knew the reasoning behind it. Why am I gonna kill myself over something I have no control over? You gotta go with the flow and do what you gotta do.

But at the same time, there was still the idea of a potential Menace video…

One of skateboarding’s greatest what-if’s, how serious was the full-length Menace project? Was it ever really coming out?

It was deadly serious, man. The Menace video was detrimentally serous. We were hook, line and sinker all about it. And I hate to keep bringing it up but I do think that trademark scenario turned out to be a huge obstacle with this project as well. Not only would it knock the wind right out of us, it was also demotivating and distracting. Instead of focusing on what we needed to do, like a video, we had to basically re-do everything on the business side that we’d already worked so hard on to get to by that point. We really liked that Menace name. That was who we were.

But yes, the video was super serious, bro. There was no joking around about that one. We were really trying to make that happen.

Is it true that the video was done and Reem deaded it?

No, that’s not true. We had got to a point where the video was just about there, where it was almost done but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. I can’t even explain why. Honestly, I can’t. The copyright stuff started going on and that video kinda got lost in the mix. I guess some things aren’t meant to happen. But to answer your question: Kareem never deaded any of that.

What was your attitude towards filming and coverage? Socrates said the crew was generally pretty lax about it.

I don’t want to speak for the other guys but I personally loved filming with Soc and I think he’d tell you the same. I used to call him up and we’d go out all the time, just me and him. Go out to Chaffey and spend the whole day out there.

It’s just like with anything else where you can get caught up in the lifestyle and image of it but I always tried to keep a straight and open-minded perspective on what I needed to do. I can honestly say I gave 100%.

For the record, and I’ve never told anybody this, I was actually skating with a bad shoulder for years. I never even told Kareem this. From right around 20 Shot up until around 1998 or so when Kareem got us all insurance, my shoulder was really messed up, bro. I’d wake up screaming in the middle of the night with my shoulder out of joint. I kept it on the low because I didn’t want it to seem like a crutch but it definitely played a large part in my career. The guys would ask me what was wrong but I always felt embarrassed about it. Luckily, after a while, I got it mastered to where I could pop it back in myself Lethal Weapon-style.

I’m so thankful Reem got us that insurance though. That was cutting edge! Skateboarders never got insurance back then and it ended up paying for both of my shoulder surgeries. I didn’t have to pay a penny. And because of that injury and those surgeries, I was introduced to resistance training through my physical therapy. Believe it or not, I now have a personal training business on top of doing real estate. If it wasn’t for skateboarding, I wouldn’t have been led into any of this. As my Orthopedic Surgeon once said to me, “Adversity is the motor of unimagined opportunity.”

You brought up the D.O.C. earlier, who were the Doped Out Children and how'd that whole thing come about? Who was all in it? How serious were you guys when it came to graf and which skaters of the crew had some of your favorite styles? 

My friend Juan and Fabian started it back in ‘88 or so. It consisted of a few of us who frequented the Belmont tunnels where a lot of the original LA graffiti writers got up. Later on Reemo, Gabriel, Guy, Rudy, Shiloh, and Billy also joined the crew. Graffiti was part of the culture that came hand-in-hand with hip hop, breakdancing and skateboarding. It just came with the territory. 

Shiloh and Billy were really good, in my opinion. It was just like riding our skateboards in that we each had our own distinct style of doing it but I do think those two guys stood out the most. 

It did seem like that original crew got pushed back a little over the years but why did Billy leave the Menace/City Stars mix entirely?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I think maybe after a certain point, let’s be honest here, it just got a little difficult for us. That’s why with the point of view I always maintained, it was easy for me to transition. I never had a problem with knowing when it was time and bowing out gracefully. I was always clear about what my plans were in skateboarding, beyond the physical responsibilities of being a pro. I felt the calling from behind the scenes and allowed myself to evolve accordingly.

That’s what helped me through when the time came. Maybe it was different for others.

Would kids like Spanky and Mikey Taylor ever been have considered for Menace? Was it weird seeing what Menace ended up as with City Stars?

It was a different era, man. Things had changed and we had to evolve. What we brought to skateboarding with Menace wasn’t new anymore. By that point, you had your DGKs in full swing so we had to bring another perspective. Keeping it on that same level but bringing in some new blood.

In retrospect, becoming City Stars allowed for a broader marketing strategy. Bringing kids into the mix who weren’t necessarily from the hood but possibly related to famous actors instead. We knew their talent could still let us showcase what we were about. It was about being genuine. This is why when we introduced this new breed of kids under City Stars, we named them “The Terror Squad”. It wasn’t about being afraid of what we were portraying with the image anymore, now you gotta sweat us with what we’re doing on our boards! These kids were killing it! It was their time and City Stars was their platform. Paul, Mike, Spanky, Devine and Justin were forces to be reckoned with.

City Stars was a lot of fun for me because I was able to focus all my energy towards helping Reemo reestablish the brand. I liked working to bring up this new breed. It was therapeutic and helped me cope with how the times were changing.

So you knew going into that Street Cinema part that it would be your swan song?

I’d been knowing that. I actually wanted that part to be more of a subtle retirement-type of thing. I didn’t even want it to be in the main video at all but more like an extra part on the DVD version we were trying to come out with.

I’d had my second shoulder surgery the year before the video came out. I was ready to let it go but Reemo wanted to wait until the next tradeshow because my board was still selling pretty good. I was thankful for that but I was honestly pretty much done a year or so before it was official.

What about that intro with you rapping in the car? So good!

(laughs) Yeah, my brother was heavily into music and I really enjoyed working with him on stuff. I’ve always enjoyed listening to early hip-hop and there was a certain part of me that enjoyed rapping but it was never too serious. I never wanted to be a rapper or anything. I thought it was fun and something cool to put in my part. There were definitely some people like, “Come on, man!” after they saw it but I didn’t get too much grief for it. I think some people thought it was cool, too. To this day, I’ll still have random people come up to me and quote different parts of my rap to me… like, “I rise. I rise.” (laughs)

It was just fun, man.

So what are you doing now, Joey? I know you were at Diamond for a minute, now you said you have a physical training business as well as being deep in the real estate game? Are you still skating at all?

I’ve been in real estate for the past 5 years and now have my own real estate company, City Stars Realty. And yes, I also have my City Stars Personal Training business. My heart will always be in skateboarding so it only seemed right for me to name my brands to coincide with it. I am a skateboarder and I have skateboarding to thank for making me into who I am today. Even though I did really well in school, I didn’t go to college. I made the decision at age 16 to follow my dreams. Skateboarding was my college and I feel like I do have a degree, not through any sort of certification but through experience. I’m grateful to have been so successful.

I’m married now with 3 beautiful boys and I’m also an Assistant Pastor at Truth Tabernacle Church in Hollywood. I definitely have a full plate but I still try to skate every once in a while. Rudy Johnson sends me boxes every so often and my boys like to skate but at 42-years-old, it’s a little harder to get going. It’s funny because I can still do things in my mind but physically, some things just don’t happen anymore. My mind writes checks that my body can’t cash.

Looking back on everything over the years, is there part of you that feels your inner-city backgrounds might have been glamorized to a fault or potentially exploited? Watching some of the gangster posturing and “Yeah Nigga!” hypeman antics, does any of that stuff make you cringe now?

Not at all, man. We are who we are. I don’t think it was exploitation, it was the people accepting us for who we were and this translating into the phenomenon we chose to portray. I’m not ashamed of who I was. That was me in my purest form. I acted the way I did and spoke the way I spoke because that’s whom I was.

Know that I am a different person now. I’m a husband, a father and a man of God. This makes the message of the Gospel that much more powerful because it’s the power to transform, to renew. I often say that skateboarding saved my life; Jesus saved my soul.

Do you still have your Menace and City Star necklaces?

(laughs) I do! I still have my necklaces! Those chains are very dear to me for what they meant and are another example of something that Kareem did for us to show he cared. One time he made us all these leather jackets, too. Expensive leather with the City Stars Abilist logo sewn-on the back. I still have that as well. It’s not that material items should put any meaning on a relationship but the fact that he did what he did out of his own pocket meant a lot.

But yes, I’ll always have my chains. I’m a City Star for life.

Can’t thank you enough for doing this, Joey. Anything you’d like to add? Shout-outs or words of wisdom?

First and foremost, I thank God Almighty, for without him coming into my life 8 years ago, I don’t think I’d be where I am right now. I'm thankful for everyone who has helped and inspired me to become the man I am today: my Mom, my wife Claudia, my 3 boys: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Josiah; Kareem Campbell, Nick Tershay, Greg Carroll, Stacy Peralta, Mark Gonzales, Russ Pope, my LA family: Fabian Alomar, Juan Haro, Gabriel Rodriguez, Rudy Johnson, Guy Mariano, Billy Valdes, Shiloh Greathouse and Paulo Diaz; my Pastor Joe Silva and my friend Chuck Messmer.

Watch the company you keep. Those whom you choose to surround yourself with will in turn be the influence that shapes your life.

I love skateboarding because I am skateboarding. Thank you for the opportunity, Eric. God bless!


chrome ball interview #88: lennie kirk

The Book of Lennie

The following is the result of my last year of correspondence with Lennie Kirk through very long letters and very short phone calls. The interview was conducted via a list of questions submitted through the US Postal Service to Lennie’s address in an outsourced California State Correctional Facility somewhere in Arizona.

In accordance to Mr. Kirk’s steadfast and stern requests following the already quite difficult process of obtaining these answers, I was only able to make the bare minimum of edits within. While the posted interview is almost 3 times longer than my typical pieces, I believe the uniqueness of the subject and the rarity of such an opportunity are reasons enough for special considerations.

What was originally intended to be another retrospective-style interview has slowly morphed into something more of an autobiography. It should be known that this is the second, shorter draft of a much longer version (40k words) that Lennie had originally sent. After some considerable back-and-forth which led to an unfortunate stalemate for many months where the project seemed lost entirely, he obliged me by shortening the piece himself to its current, more digestible form (albeit, still much longer than our target of 12k words). It was only then that I was able to go through and make just the slightest of revisions for the sake of clarity and structure.

After everything that has transpired up to this point, even though the piece is not entirely perfect, I am pleased that it is finally able to be posted and read by the general public.

All views and opinions expressed within this interview belong solely to Mr. Kirk and do not reflect those of myself or the Chrome Ball Incident.

Special thanks to Dennis McGrath for making this happen (buy Heaven), Josh Kalis, Aesop Rock, Tara Montgomery (Peel) and most of all, Lennie for taking the time.

Merry Christmas. 


So let’s start this out by asking what the circumstances are surrounding your present incarceration? Isn't it some sort of kidnap offense? What are your current whereabouts and do you expect to be out anytime soon?

I'll get right to the point. I pray God gives you understanding. Incarceration is of the devil, it’s satanic. It’s not “cool” and not the way God intends for man to live. The reality that I'm in prison is weird. It hurts and doesn't make sense. I did not kidnap my girlfriend. They’ve twisted the whole story.

I’ll tell you what really happened. I don't like to talk about it but it needs to be explained to see the falsity of these charges. Basically, I picked up my jealous girlfriend in my car and as I’m driving, she starts to ask where I was the night before. I told her that I went out to a club with some friends when, all of a sudden, she gets super angry and starts hitting me. She begins demanding to know if I danced or had sex with another girl last night.

I turn the car around so I could take her back home because she won’t let me drive. But when we finally get back to her house, she wouldn’t get out of my car. So I get out of the car and she starts chasing me down the street. I ended up running back in my car, locking the doors and start to leave when she lays down on the hood and then on the roof of my car, yelling “I got your motorcycle keys!”

After that, she jumps down and starts running away, screaming at me. These people driving by from Sacramento see her, stop their car and start the whole “call the cops” thing.

I tell my girl, “Let’s go!” and she gets back in my car. But the Dad of this family wants to be a hero. He grabs me and I throw him off but as that’s happening, his wife is pulling my girl out of the car against her will. At this point, I just smash the gas and was out of there… but my girl was still with them. You can imagine how that went. They pushed her into a corner. She’s all emotional and weak and feeling stupid that she started all this crap. She had bruised herself climbing out of my car, which she said to the cops, but they still charged me with domestic violence and kidnapping.

The truth is that I was trying to get away from her! That family overreacted to the situation. This wasn’t in San Francisco. It was in Daly City, right at the border of Frisco. San Mateo County. If I was in SF, it would’ve been dropped and I would not be in prison right now.

San Mateo County has these young women district attorneys fresh out of college that just want a conviction to move up the ranks and female judges that are false in their judgements, ignoring facts just because of a domestic violence charge. They charged me with a 207(a): simple kidnapping, the least of kidnap offenses but still a felony. It’s all lies they created. I did not kidnap my girl.

I had it all. My kids, friends, money, lots of cars, motorcycles and houses… but that jealous-ass bitch ruined it.

I don’t follow women. I don’t put anyone nor anything before God. I follow God, Jesus Christ first, number one. I wish I’d listened to God and acted sooner in getting that girl out of my life… now I’m in a California outsourced prison in Arizona. I pray to God that He’ll release me immediately. I've appealed it. Pray to God for me to be released, that I get out of prison. Pray God answers all our prayers and undoes the injustices that were done to me.

…even hackers could get me out.

Just to help better understand your current situation, what were the nature of your previous offenses? I know you got super into speed bikes, didn't you lead the police on some high-speed pursuit at some point? And wasn’t there some robbery charges that someone turned informant on you?
The other time I was in prison was because of another lost person: a snitch bitch named Jimmy. He snitched about something that had absolutely nothing to do with him or anyone he knew. He’s one of those types who thinks he’s “a macho-man”… like he’s righteous and wants to appear as a do-gooder but he’s fake. He smokes weed, does drugs, lies and steals. He’s a punk bitch. He moved to Colorado before I got out… his wife left him for a black guy and took his kids. What a fool! What was he thinking? Another jealous hater. Why else would he call the cops on me when it had nothing to do with him? And after all the wrong he does? Haters. Knowing all the fame I have in my skateboarding career, for him to even think about ruining all that. It was none of his business, regardless of what I did.
Some people are so stupid. They don't realize the drastic problems they cause when they call the cops. Charges and accusations ruin people’s lives. Ruining all the good they’ve already established in society. A hater calls the cops for what? What do they gain? Put a butter knife in the hand of a snitch and those same cops will shoot him dead. But he’s the snitch, a friend to the cops! No. Cops don’t care about them. They’ll shoot the snitch just as if he wasn’t.
Today, it’s easy to do a background check. If they see something they don’t like on your Facebook, they won’t give you a job. Some places won’t give you a job if you support straight marriage so imagine the damage a person does to another by calling the cops. Don't get me wrong, some situations are deadly serious and need intervention but people need to wake up and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There are absolute rights and absolute wrongs.
Now about the police: police are just men. There are different ways to look at them but the majority are evil. Crooks and thieves. They come in your house, kidnap you, put you in jail and hold you for ransom, telling your family that if they pay 100,000 dollars, you'll be home for dinner. And for what? Because you punched some guy? Cops harm people every day and get away with it because of a badge! Nonsense! I encourage all people to take out their cell phone cameras and film all cops. Film any arrest and bring it to the media. Put it on TV and the internet to get the world’s attention. Show the true colors of cops who beat up, shoot and kill people when it clearly was not needed.
Going back to the motorcycle question: yes, I've ran from cops many times on my street bikes, a lot of times with my girl Esmeralda on the back (a different girl than earlier). I love to race motorcycles. I grew up riding motorcycles with my family. l enjoy going fast, the thrill and perfection. But to clear up these stories, we never got caught by the cops on my bikes, ever.

I’ll boast a little here… Many times with Jesus' guidance, Him, I and my girl, Ez, took the bike to 177mph at night on the 101 freeway. All out throttle to the max. Alone, I topped the bike out at 184mph, wide open for more than 10 miles. Just me and God. It’s a surreal spiritual experience. God's glory in it all. Other drivers seeing a bike fly by them at 184mph in the night! It’s deeply personal, eternal and unique. A oneness with God, my girl and my bike… flowing and free, not worried about cops.
I hate the pride that cops have against people. They're just men. Some think they're untouchable but God proves them wrong. I don't want to be harassed by cops, who does? If you need to run and get away from them, do it.
I trust in God with my life. God made me a professional motorcycle stunt-rider. If you're a professional, you know how to drive, maneuver, control and escape on motorcycles. I just see it as men competing: a race, a contest, a show of manhood. Jesus is the professional, perfect in everything. He drives through me so I relax, I don't panic. Sometimes I drive fast, sometimes slow… why do they want to chase me?
I only ride 1000s and they’ve got a ton of power and torque. The majority of cops know they can't catch street bikes, even on their police bikes. But what right do police have to speed? A badge? Who’s to say they're professional drivers? Cops speed and go through red lights… they endanger other people in their cars.
The news is filled with videos of cops murdering people. Ferguson, the NYC choking, South Carolina, Baltimore… and those are just the ones caught on video. Cops do that crap every day.
An internal war will happen in America. The government uses a catastrophe to bring about political change that takes away your freedom. I'm a hacker and real hackers know to run malware through numerous computers in another country before hacking your target computer to make it seem like the hack came from Siberia, China or North Korea... Propaganda. The government wants you to believe it’s North Korea or China to get you scared and then go along with new internet laws that will restrict our freedom and create new biometric identification GPS password laws because you might be a terrorist. Look at Obamacare, a government controlled healthcare controlling your lifeline. In all the Obamacare docs, it says a healthcare computer implant chip will be mandatory for all citizens. The majority of citizens will be deceived into taking this chip.
A lot of Americans don't know these things. They're too caught up with fake tits and butts, plastic surgery, gay sex, drugs, and how to get God out of America. Obsessed with themselves. The flesh. Perverted, influenced by bimbo hoes with twisted minds and famous because of pornos. America is heading to Hell yet they don't think so. Some try to make it as if homosexuals are normal people but it’s a lie, a deception. You’re not born that way! Men move from viewing pornography to homosexuality, to rape, to incest and to pedophilia… from one glass of wine to abusive alcoholism and from smoking marijuana to crack cocaine.
Homos are twisted and demented people. I will never support homosexuality nor gay marriage. I don't have to bake a cake nor take any photos of a gay marriage and neither should anyone else. When the righteous are violently mistreated or threatened by perverse men and women, the game changes. God stands up and defends those that are obeying Him. I'm not living on the edge, I'm perfectly protected in Jesus. If I die, I'll be with Jesus in Heaven, so much of a better place than this world. God has taught me things about cops, guns and life that some may not agree with but only God is the judge and only God can judge me.
Believe me, I love God. I love everybody. I seek love, peace and safety, not violence. I don't agree with robbing, hurting or killing people. I hate the evil that people do. It’s sad. But some people are deceived. They do wrong and think they're cool but they're fools. The good news is that Jesus never lies nor deceives you. I want to obey Jesus and do what he says to do.

How does your belief in God and Jesus Christ play into these offenses, which typically could be seen as being a conflict of ideals? Is there some kind of understanding there due to desperate times? Have you prayed on it? Did you just make mistakes? What about charges of domestic abuse?
I don't agree with domestic violence but there is a catch-22 in all of this: men and women are not equal and never will be. Some feminists want women to be equal with men but that's not the way God created us. God made man first, then the woman from man. God is the head of man and man is the head over women and household. Man was not deceived first, woman was. Adam’s mistake was that he listened to Eve.
Women were created to help men, not ruin our lives. Some act like women can do no wrong, but if that were the case, there would be no women in prison. And to the feminist, if man and woman are equal then it’s ok for a man to punch a girl in the face... right?
Feminists are the abusers. They twist the Bible. What if your girl takes a knife and threatens you with it, saying you're not going to work? What will you do? What if you take the knife from her and it leaves a bruise on her arm? Is that domestic violence? No! Yet some say it is even though she had a knife! Or what if she grabs the steering wheel while you're driving? How will you stop her from causing a wreck? What was I to do? Walk away? I did… but she chased me and got on my car roof. She said all of this but the woman district attorney misjudged the case based on wrong beliefs.
Women cannot be in any leadership role. They can't act nor react correctly like men. Think of the U.S. military. If I'm in a Stealth Bomber flying squad, I don't want a woman flying with us or making our decisions. And all of the testosterone problems it will cause with other guys flirting with her, trying to be her man? What a distraction! We're in a war, not a club! Same thing with women judges and district attorneys. Some judges need to be thrown into prison to experience first-hand the isolation and the separation from family members and loved ones. They'd change deeply and become more merciful in their judgments to those accused of wrongdoing.
Some judges make wrong decisions influenced by the deceptions of the devil. Living lies, ignoring the truth and plunging themselves deeper into darkness and Hell. Judges who die in their sins have a horrific future in eternity waiting for them.

How would you describe life in prison? What's the biggest misconception the general public has and what would you say is the gnarliest thing you've seen in there?
Ernest Benn said "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy." That's exactly what politics are in prison, the "inmate rules" of the yards.
For some guys, it’s their life. It’s all they think and talk about. They have no life of peace. It’s just constant negativity, drugs, debts and violence. It’s horrible. The majority of these people are really lost. Not Christian, they’re just dead men walking.
As a Christian, I stay out of it all and focus on Jesus. I don't participate in any of it. I'll only talk about it to help motivate people to stay out of prison, to love and cherish their freedom, their family, friends and others on the streets while they have the opportunity.
I love my freedom and being around skateboarders and good people that aren't involved in the lost life of violence, racism and gangs. All that garbage leads people straight to Hell.
So here's the negative garbage: Southsiders and whites roll together, blacks and Northerners roll together. If there’s a big riot, Southsiders and whites will team up to fight the blacks and Northerners. Sometimes it’s just Southsiders against Northerners or just whites against blacks, it depends on who and what the beef is about. It’s a lot of racism and petty crap. The problems are with debts, drugs and disrespect along with the stupidest rules that inmates have created… it’s so stupid that someone will want to stab another person because they used a Northerner toilet or because they owe them 5 dollars or maybe just because they don't like the person!
Imagine you're minding your own business and someone of your race comes to you and says, "Yo, you gotta go stab this person. The homies chose you to do it."
What you gonna do? For whatever reason, they want you to stab this person who has nothing to do with you at all. Whether it’s a drug debt or some other type of "rule violation". You have to wonder why you would hurt a person over something so stupid. It’s so sad. Talk about peer pressure!
I will say that one of the worst things a person could be in prison is a snitch. Nobody likes a snitch. There is a g-code in prison. You don't snitch. It doesn't matter if it happened right in front of you, you didn't see it. Snitches get beat up, stabbed and killed. I've seen it happen. You can't even talk to a correctional officer without another person by your side or someone will think you're snitching. If the snitch Jimmy was in prison and paperwork was shown that he’s a snitch, only God knows what would happen to him.
I thank God I'm not in any of that. I'm a Christian, I don't roll with any of them. I got peace. Jesus is my Protector and Savior.

I have to imagine there being a strong religious segment in the prison population... is that primarily who you roll with in there? What do you think of homosexual conduct that can take place within those walls, be it sexual orientation or as a dominance/power display? Has that been blown out of proportion?
In California, prison is not how some in society think it is. It’s not a bunch of gays or rapists. There are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Indians, etc. who practice their religion. I am a Christian and can talk to anybody.
As soon as a person arrives in prison, the race will ask him who he runs with? Are you white, black, Southsider, Northerner, Paisa, Muslim or Christian? And they’ll also want to see your paperwork with your charges. If someone is a rapist or a child molester, that person will get jumped, beat up, stabbed or possibly killed and removed from the yard. The majority of the California prison population is into respect, honor, working out, and garbage politics. All that gay crap isn't allowed on the main line.

I know you grew up in North Carolina, did you have a religious upbringing? How did you start skating down there? I have to imagine skateboarders were quite the outcasts back then in such a rural setting, right?
Yeah, I was born in North Carolina. My whole family is Pentecostal Christian and my parents always went to church. I would go and see people baptized in the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues and running through the aisles, praising Jesus. It was amazing, I was young so some of it scared me or maybe I didn't fully understand it all but I always liked being with my parents.
I was the only son with 4 sisters and very athletic. I rode all types of motorcycles, played video games, did backflip competitions, karate and fishing. I loved playing football a lot. I was always the blood, sweat and tears-type of player.
My parents bought me a scoot skateboard when I was 10-years-old, that’s a skateboard with a pole attached to the front truck bolts on the grip-tape side. My Mom's house was out in the country, about an hour away from Greenville, NC. There was only an 8ft slab of cement in the backyard but I skated there. I started by pulling on the scoot skate pole and jumping, learning first in the dirt and then on the cement. After that I started putting a pvc pipe off the end of the slab into the dirt and trying to slide that, using the pole to ollie. Eventually the pole broke off and voila, I had a skateboard.
My cousins ended up building a wooden deck in their backyard that ran the whole length of their house that was such a blessing! My cousin Timmy and I skated on that every day after school. I liked doing bomb drops off tables. I didn’t have any videos and didn’t even know pros existed. My skateboard was from K-Mart.
Then one day, the quarterback of our team came over and he had a Transworld, the first skateboard magazine I ever saw. It had a Matt Hensley Pro Spotlight in it. Dave, the quarterback, ended up giving it to me and I read that interview over and over again.
I liked everything about Matt: his chain wallet, the A-1 Meats wheels he rode, the four arrows H-Street X logo. I remember Matt talked about how he'd been in group homes and how skating had helped him. I felt I could relate to him. It was awesome!
One day, my Mom brought me to the Bicycle Post in Greenville, NC because they had tons of boards. I wanted a Matt Hensley but the worker searched and couldn’t find it. He had the Tracker Trucks and the A-1 Meats wheels that I wanted, but no Hensley deck. I was about to get a Mike McGill deck instead. I remember the worker leaving to go get some griptape and I said, “Mom, I want the Matt Hensley board!”

“He already searched for it!” she said.
“But he didn’t look in that pile over there!”
So I did and lo and behold, there it was! The H-Street Matt Hensley Pole Swinger deck! I was so excited. Suited and ready to roll.

My Dad built a quarterpipe with 21-feet of flat attached at our house that I used to push on and I got better. I put plywood off the end with a wooden bench and started learning ollies and railslides. After that, my cousin got a 4-foot mini-ramp at their house and it was on. We started banging tricks and competing.
My Mom started taking me to the Greenville skatepark to skate the 6ft mini-ramp and street course. I met a whole crew of area skaters there who were all extremely good. They were older than me and drove cars; I looked up to every one of them. They had all the new rap, all the new videos and boards. And they really knew skateboarding. They motivated me so much.
I loved skating. I kept getting better and better on my mini-ramp as well as street skating in downtown Greenville. My Dad built me an 8ft-tall, 16ft-wide halfpipe with an extension in our front yard for me to skate at home. The photo of the ramp is in the “Heaven” book. I had all the videos: New Deal Useless Wooden Toys and Plan B Questionable. I looked up to Colin McKay. He was a kid like me, doing all these tricks on halfpipes! Yeah!  
Now I was whiling out. The thing was, I wanted to be in Greenville where the action is… but I still had to go to school! So, when I was 12-years-old, my Mom let me move to Greenville and live with other skaters to skate and attend school there.
But I could feel the calling… the California calling.

I know you’d come out to California a couple times before moving out for good later on, but in regards to this “California calling”, how did you manage to get out to San Diego for this first trip at age 12?
The Endless Grind shop in Raleigh always gave pro demos. I met Bill Weiss there, who was a mutual friend of my friend, Canton Patel. Bill and Canton wanted to drive to Cali and being a youngster, I was down to go. We went in Canton’s car. It was an exciting trip and a new beginning for me. At that time, San Diego was poppin’ for skating… spots, photographers, trade shows, pros and hoes. It was live everyday. Seeing and skating with all the pros I’d seen in videos. It was Heaven for me!
Bill and Canton would go partying a lot with Dyrdek, Kelly Bird and the whole Alien Crew. I was 12 so I couldn’t go all the places they went but I met some other skaters as well, Eli and Hector Soto, two Puerto Rican kids who were a little older than me. They were staying at this hotel downtown and using the tape dollar trick to get food and rent money from vending machines. I stayed with them and we’d skate everyday.

Is that how Change entered the picture, just by meeting Weiss? Was that your first board sponsor? They definitely gave you some shine with some ads during their brief stint. But how long were you out there before returning to North Carolina?
Bill told me about his company, Change, and wanted me to ride for it. That was my first board sponsor. The team was me, Bill, Justin Bokma and another kid, Jesse from Toronto. Bill asked Sam at Pacific Drive to be team manager.
They didn’t have any boards or anything. They starting making wheels first and then eventually boards, all of which was sold at Pacific Drive. I remember going to PD and tell the TM to get me some wheels cause I’d have flatspots from bluntslides.. which is ironic because I was skating with Eli who later on in life would start Gold Wheels. But I was excited to be getting stuff. It was good.
Eventually, I went home to my Mom’s to get some stuff. But I still felt the calling. I ended up talking to Scott Bourne about going back to California in his van and he ended up stealing gas the whole way to San Francisco!
This was my first time in Frisco. I remember going to EMB, the skate mecca, early in the morning on a bright and sunny day. I was shy. These were the big timers. The guys I’d see in videos. I loved the bricks… the 7-stair and the Gonz gap. Back then, you were the man if you did a sick trick over the Gonz, just like the Hubba. Scott Bourne might remember that I switch frontside 180’d the Gonz that day. No one had done that! I was 13-years old!
I stayed in SF a few weeks before telling Scott that I was going to Oceanside to skate with friends I’d met earlier on the Planet Earth team. I took the Greyhound with a cardboard box full of clothes. I was so scared. I was just a kid but I felt God with me.
When I got to Oceanside, it was all new to me. I got off the bus, put the cardboard box on top of my skateboard and pushed it for 3 miles over to Jon McGrath and David Mills’ apartment complex. I was so glad to be there. The majority of the Planet Earth team was from Houston and I’d skate with them and locals Ocean Howell and Mark Wyndham. This was back when Eric Koston and Steve Berra lived in Oceanside and we’d skate with them, too. Koston was one of my favorite skaters. I always liked his switchstance tricks… and now I’m skating with him. Wow, what a blessing. Koston, Henry Sanchez and Salman Agah all really motivated me to learn switch and I soon became a switchstance master.

Change was now making boards and wanted to do an ad with me. So in Encinitas, I did a switch kickflip 5-0 on a ledge off some steps. Praise God, it was amazing. It was my first ad ever and in the hugely popular Big Brother. I’m glad it was in that mag as Big Brother was just starting out, uncensored and had all the good riders off World Industries doing amazing tricks never before seen.
My first photo in a magazine was actually in Transworld before that ad, though. Shot by Skin Phillips at the San Diego Zoo water fountain, I did some kind of nollie backside 180 switch manual from the inside of the fountain out. If anyone finds that photo, put it on the internet.
I’m thankful to Bill Weiss for believing in me and helping me out in skating. He was in San Diego and I was in Oceanside with the PE and 101 crews, eventually going down to Houston for the first time. The skateboard scene was huge there and it was live everyday. Motivating each other through watching and gathering footage. I filmed with Jon McGrath’s crew and R.B. Umali a lot while I was down there. By this time, I was 15 years old and I was starting to feel like it was time to go back to North Carolina and see my Moms.

You came back from Houston to North Carolina but I know you didn’t really stay all that long. Didn’t you basically just drive around the country in a Geo Metro for a while? What was that like and where all did you go?
When I went home, I was about to turn 16 and just wanted to skateboard everywhere. I was planning on heading back to Houston and California and I was looking at getting my first car. Since I knew I’d be driving a lot, the only car at the time with extreme gas mileage was the Geo Metro. My parents got it for me. I put an amp, 12-inch speakers and a box in my trunk. I had my crown air freshener stuck to the dash and my pine tree ones hanging from the rear view. I had my rap tapes, my clothes and my skateboard... I was ready to roll.
This time my skater friend Eric Bradley went out with me to Houston then on to San Diego. Once in San Diego, I met up with Eli and Hector Soto, who were still living in that hotel downtown. They kept wanting me to take them to El Cajon to hit the vending machines. It was sort of scary, Hector didn't speak good English and in his accent, he'd be like, "Lennie, El Cajon, we need go, food… money".
I couldn’t do it because I didn't want to get in trouble with my car. After that my friend Eric ended up getting homesick after 3 days in San Diego so I put him on a Greyhound and went to find Weiss.
Change Skateboards wasn't doing so well with production. Bill wanted to go home and he wanted me to drive him there.
“Ok, let’s go… but where is it?”
“Wait... Toronto, Canada? That's on the other side of the United States!”
But, like a good soldier, we went. It was snowing and cold. I met the Toronto crew: Justin Bokma, Thomas Morgan, and that teamrider for Change named Jesse.
People who know Bill, know that he's a savage. Crazy stuff happened all the time. I remember this one time with piles of empty beer cans on his balcony, the craziness began. Bill had bet someone about a video game and had lost so he told me to grab the video camera as we went outside on the balcony. I didn't know what was going on but started filming. Bill took his shirt off and laid down. Bill’s friend who won the game went to stand over top of him, pulled his pants down and started crapping on Bill's chest! I was laughing so hard I couldn't film straight! The bet was his friend craps on Bill's chest if Bill lost the game.

So good. But something I always heard stories about regarding you on the road during this period were those rumors of you throwing molotov cocktails at people’s houses as a way of retribution? Pretty nuts, man.
There's some truth to that but I gotta keep it low key. Not talk about it…
“Lennie, did you do that?"
“I don't know what you're talking about, I ain't done nothing like that."
God forgive us all.

So how did you end up getting back to San Diego and on Alien? Did Change just eventually run its course? Was Weiss bummed?
Well, after Toronto, I drive by myself back home to North Carolina and then onto Houston. I got news that Bill was in San Diego with Dyrdek and that he wanted me there for the Change team so Jon McGrath and I headed back to SD. Bill was living in someone else’s apartment at the time with these 2 other guys. One was a tattoo artist and the other was a college student partier. I started staying there and also at the Alien House since Bill was there a lot partying all night.
We were filming everyday at this point. I didn’t know the situation with Change but Bill was always optimistic about it succeeding. He was in charge, I just wanted the boards and wheels to keep flowing.
As the footage started to pile up, I didn’t know about this but Dyrdek and crew ended up seeing the footage. One day, Bill just says to me, “Dyrdek and the team wants you to ride for Alien.”
Wow, I was amazed. Excited and honored. In the end, he let me decide. I didn’t really know what to say because I knew he still wanted Change to prosper but I think he knew in his heart that the company wasn’t going forward and me getting on Alien was meant to happen. Chosen by God to be on the best team.

What was hanging out at the Alien House like? Was it just a party house? Dice games and 40s? With Jamie and Kalis across the street? Must’ve been fun.
Yes, it was fun but keep in mind that I was only 16. A kid. They were all older than me and savage partiers.
Duane Pitre and John Drake lived in a room downstairs. Dyrdek, Scott Conklin, Bo Turner and Kelly Bird all lived upstairs where all the main parts of the house were… the living room, kitchen, etc.
But yeah, these guys were ruthless at partying and I saw it all. Those that passed out got googly-eyed where someone would put their balls on the person’s eyes. That or they’d rub their buttcrack on the nose of whoever passed out. Pour beer on them or down their pants… I thank God that none of that ever happened to me. It was crazy.
I stayed downstairs with John Drake and Danny Mayer a lot, smoking tobacco and weed-mixed joints, listening to underground rap and drinking 40s. Drake and Danny had all the new and underground rap tapes that no one else had. I’d record them all and bump it in the Geo Metro with Bill. Duane Pitre usually just chilled and played his instruments. He wasn’t skating that much. The crew started calling him “Sweatloaf”, referring to his laziness and how he sweated so much just to do a trick. Dyrdek was ballin’. He had his supped-up black Honda Civic with a monster sound system. He was always busy… getting photo shoots, filming, kicking it with Sal Barbier, Ronnie Bertino and Kelly Bird. Living large with DC Shoes just beginning with Ken Block.

Any good Bo Turner or Scott Conklin stories from back in the day? What were your thoughts on those dudes? Super nice but definitely not ones to mess around with, right? You ever try to test them at all? Didn’t you once tell Bo he was going to Hell for getting an erection?
I got mad respect for Bo Turner and Scott Conklin. Before I even met Scott, I had a few of his brother Lance's pro boards so to meet Lance's brother was a surprise, indeed.
I was just a kid and I would never test them. Basically, I was in their house and it was a privilege to be a part of their crew. And yes, they were wild. They were always the life of the party. I just laid low and focused on skating.
One story was when Scott cracked Bill in the face for something Bill did while Scott was drunk. It put a small slice on the side of Bill's cheek. Seeing that made me stay out of it all even more. I'd kick it upstairs and party with them for a while but when they started to get really drunk, l was outta there to go chill downstairs with Drake and Pitre.
The one about Bo: I think it was this one time we were in Dyrdek’s car. Bo was screaming about some girl who was so hot that she gave him an immediate boner.
“Bo, that’s gonna lead you to Hell if you don’t repent. Lusting is adultery.”
I feel that it took a lot of guts to say that to him. Bo was like Andrew "Dice" Clay, you never knew what to expect.

Describe your relationship with Josh Kalis over the years. You two always seemed like best friends. Did you guys just bond over being the new guys on the team in addition to sharing similar interests?
Josh is my homie, for sure.
He was skating for Toy Machine and living with Jamie Thomas on the same street as Dyrdek back then. We both got on Alien at the same time together. Josh and I were the new breed on Alien and just clicked together like a piece in a puzzle. We each had East Coast connections, liked rap music and were on a roll with the switchstance revolution. We were always competitive with our tricks and filming and about getting into magazines and videos.
Josh ended up moving out of SD and got a place in the Fillmore ghetto district of San Francisco. Eventually, I went to go live with him, too. I remember being so worried about my car in that area. There were always crackheads hiding in the bushes, looking for stuff to steal and sell so I’d always park it in Josh’s garage complex.
One time as we pulled into the garage, there was this car parked at the door in front of us, a gold-colored 5.0 Mustang with some gold wire rims just sitting there. I was waiting for this fool to go in and he’s taking a minute so I honk the horn for him to move but he jumps out the car with his hand under his shirt instead. I jump out, too. I was ready for whatever but Josh starts yelling, “Wait! Wait! We live here, too!”
It was all good but little did I know that the guy was actually Bay Area rapper JT the Bigga Figga! That was crazy!
As Josh has stated, he was sometimes the voice of reason for me. I love Josh as a brother and a true friend. He has done a lot for me and I have all respect for him and his family 100%.
I remember we were both on DC Shoes in its beginning. He got his pro-model shoe and I was excited and happy for him but it still hurt that I didn’t get mine because of the trouble I got in.
Yet God is faithful. God knows my hurt so God still blessed me with a DC shoe as part of the book Dennis McGrath did about me. I’m thankful to God, DC, Dennis, Jeff Taylor and whoever else was involved in that.

What’s the story behind that photo of the two of you ollieing that picnic table together, giving double thumbs up?
That was a school spot outside of Frisco that we went to skate one day. It was a downhill run with picnic tables and benches. I got a sick line there that I think was in my 411 Checkout… the switch frontside lipslide on the picnic table line? Yeah, it was a blessing. We went back again with a photographer to get the sequence and I nollie backside 180’d the table, too.
The reason we ollied it was to show how high the table was… and that’s what ended up coming out in the magazine. We just thought we’d give thumbs up, too. I don’t know what happened to the sequence that we actually went back for. 

You and Josh definitely put yourselves out there as the hardest dudes back in the day. Cornrows, Tek 9 earrings. spiked bats and Wyno tags. Coming from NC, how'd you get into all that stuff? I know you weren't afraid to throw down if necessary, did you feel like you personally had something to prove back then or did it have more do with your age at the time? How do you look back on all that stuff now?
Deep thoughts, wisdom and gangster rap. Ice Cube, Too Short, EPMD, Geto Boys, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo… living in da hood, slangin’ dope, packin’, jackin’, makin’ it happen. A natural born gangster… aha!
Well, sort of like that… But it’s supposed to be that way, right? You want to be a gangster, right? Well, in my life, in North Carolina, it was basically whites and blacks. I liked rap music and hip hop styles. I learned a lot listening to the music. About the world, about girls… even at school, we’d play around smacking the black girls’ butts but we were all friends, haha.  
At home, I took lessons at a Karate Academy. I liked ninjas so I always had lots of throwing stars, grappling hooks, swords, blowguns and ninja suits. I also shot some guns back then.
When I started skating and going to bigger cities, I had to deal with the rednecks and drunks on the streets and there was always that skaters vs. jocks kinda war going on. I started to pack weapons because I never knew when a gang of them would show up at a spot we were skating at and want to fight. This is usually the way it happens, even in LA: other gangs or mobs coming into a neighborhood to fight others. They drove cars, got drunk and wanted to fight. I was young 10 to 12 years old. So I made up my mind to protect us and when it’s on, it’s on. Go all out, live or die. What would you do? We didn’t know these people nor what they’d try. 
When I started to travel a lot, I had to look out for dangerous people: drunks at parties, thieves on the streets. Late nights outside, these things toughened me up at a young age, made me stronger and wiser. If a person threatens my life, my family or friends, then it’s on. One way or another for us to be safe.
I keep my family’s life private but you know the trolls and rumors on the internet. Just so you know, my kids have always lived in a stable environment. The rumors are false and it’s none of their business.
You want me to appear out of nowhere like Jesus? Yeah...
But about that other stuff, what is a gangster? What makes one? Selling drugs? Listening to rap or punk rock music? Packin’ guns? It’s more about your environment. A way of survival, more natural, not some wannabe gangster. I mean, if you’re placed in a den with hostile lions, you gotta fight to live and to escape. There’s many meanings of what a gangster is. What’s yours? It doesn’t mean to pick up a gun and shoot someone? Don’t be a fool. Some pursuing that lifestyle have made foolish and fatal mistakes. There are others ways to deal with threats. Switch up and change. Be a gangster for Jesus.

Let’s get into your classic TimeCode part. How long did you film for that and were you consciously filming for a new Alien video or did the project just kinda come up?
Yes, the whole team was filming for the video. Josh and I had got some footage in Dallas that I liked. I always looked for something to skate that others wouldn’t. The ollie off the high ledge to the bench below and the ride the ledge and slide off the sign to 8ft drop. Ollie ups to quick set tricks. If you watch my part closely, you’ll see this pattern. It’s what made my skating unique.
So I know that your religious rebirth happened around this time. How did that all transpire? Was that possibly a result of your head injury while trying to grind that dumpster in the intro?
There are many reasons that drove me to search for the true answers to life. The dumpster slam was just one of them. But more than that, I kept seeing the same old thing: drinking, smoking, hoes… it was getting boring. It felt empty and useless. Add in all the times where I almost died… the slam, when I got ran over… numerous other near-death events.

Talk about that slam. How did it happen? Didn’t you end up escaping from the hospital during your stay following that injury? Why did you flee?
I smoked weed before that slam and that slam is the only time I’ve ever been knocked out. Jon McGrath and I were skating the old military area of the Presidio in SF. At night in the cuts.  Jon was filming. The dumpster was slanted from the back to its front edge so to come off the edge, I had to lift my wheels up over the slants. My wheels ended up getting caught, my feet went half into the dumpster and then it flipped me nearly vertical out to the pavement. I landed so hard on my head that it knocked me out.
When I watch the video, if the angle would’ve been more vertical, my neck could’ve broke. That spoke to me, the mercy of God’s salvation and grace. We were in the middle of nowhere. Abandoned houses and empty streets. Cell phones weren’t around yet but Jon got hold of 911.
I woke up in the hospital with needles in me. I was alone and I didn’t know why I was there so I freaked out. I had to get out of there! I took the needles out, got up in my hospital gown and was on my way out the door. Nurses were trying to stop me, telling me I couldn’t leave but who are they?
I got on the bus and the police actually stopped it. They got on the front so I busted out the backdoor. I ran, jumped a fence by the freeway and hid for hours, wondering what happened. After a while, I jumped back over and started to walk around the corner. My head hurt and I didn’t know why. I sat down and someone walking their dog called the cops.
When the police came, they just asked me if I was ready to go back to the hospital. I asked if I was in any trouble and he said I wasn’t so I went back. That’s when my Mom and Jon arrived and showed me the footage. When I saw it, I was shocked. Like I said before, if it was a more severe angle, it would’ve broken my neck. It was definitely God’s angels who kept that from happening. It made me check myself about smoking weed and skating.

Wasn't it during this same week that you were bombing a hill and got ran over length-wise by a Pacific Bell van and escaped unscathed? What's your side of the story?
Definitely not the same week. There was probably a 6-month difference in time.
Kalis, Stevie Williams, Karl Watson, me and a gang of other skaters were skating from FTC all the way to Pier 7 one day. When we got downtown to the Blackrock building, I was bombing the hill on the sidewalk. The Pacific Bell van was going parallel on the street with me. At the crosswalk on the corner, I had the right of way but the PB van turned right as I was crossing at high speed. My board went under the front tire of the van and it lifted me up in line with the front tire. The tire ran up my right leg and up onto my chest. I saw it coming so I moved my head and it went over my right shoulder instead. I quickly rolled out to avoid the back tires. Insane.
I got up breathing all hard, it had knocked the breath out of me. It was around noontime so all these business people on lunch came running around, yelling at me to lay down. I laid there for a minute and caught my breath but I didn’t feel any pain in my body.
“I think I can get up.”
People started tripping out. Some said that I was going into shock, others started telling me how I could make some money off of this. The cops came and told everyone to let me get up and I did. Nothing was wrong. I walked away from that unscathed.
I remember that I was riding a 101 Natas Kaupas board with a winking black cat graphic on the bottom… the board was broken in-half yet I was ok. Natas’ name spelled backwards is Satan. I wasn’t a Christian at that time but that was God revealing to me that he’s broken the power of Satan in my life. My board was broken but I came out unhurt. The superstitious black cat, the name “Natas”… it was all true. Strange and direct. I was tripping out.

Kalis has said in an interview that after all these events, you rushed a red light and a passing driver asked you "if you saw the light?" and that's what spurred your religious rebirth? Is that what really happened?
Yeah, it was leading to that.
One day, I was walking across the crosswalk, again with the right of way in front of a SUV, yet this idiot starts to run the light. The momentum of his SUV forced me to put my hands on the passenger side of his hood and somersault across the rest of it to avoid getting ran over. He had his window down and I was about to punch him in the face. I started yelling at him, “Did you see the red light?! Did you see the light?!”
He was scared but calmly looked at me and said, “I seen the light. I seen the light.”
It completely calmed me down. God’s presence came over me. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone. I went home amazed, wondering about all of these things happening to me.
“I seen the light.”
Why’d he say that to me? But honestly, that still didn’t totally change me. I was still rolling weed with tobacco. I had a girlfriend and I told her that I was gonna quit smoking. I quit for 2 days. All of these life or death things were running through my thoughts. My girl came over the 3rd day and I told her that I couldn’t quit smoking, so I rolled another spliff and took 2 hits. I immediately zoned out. Something took hold of me.
I got up, went to my room and prayed, “Jesus, I know you are real. Heaven and Hell are real. Save me and take this confusion away.”
Immediately after that, I felt completely different. I walked out of my room and my girl asked if everything was ok. I said yes but asked if I could meet her later. I was changed. I didn’t want to smoke weed anymore at all. God had taken the desire out of me.
The next day, I had to go to court. I rode my bicycle over, saying to myself, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.”
I felt weird. Asking myself why I kept saying this? But once I got to the courthouse with my court paper in hand, I found out that they had lost it. I asked the clerk to check the computer and she said I wasn’t anywhere on there for a court appearance. I was completely cleared. When I walked out of the courthouse, Jesus spoke to me.
“See, I have forgiven you. See what I have done, can do and will do.”
“Thank you, Jesus.”
I started saying “God bless you” to everybody and everytime I said it, I started to feel a power coming into my hands and feet. By about 2pm that afternoon, I was zoning out… changed, transformed, born-again. Seeing people the way God sees people, in truth, not in the opinions of men. I was high in the Spirit of God.

I had gone downtown to Union Square by Blondie’s pizza when Karl Watson, Shamil Randle, Geez, Pat Washington and a few other came up to me.
“Leeennniiiieee, what it be? What you doing? We got a blunt right here ready to go.”
I told them that I don’t smoke anymore and that I’m a Christian. They all laughed and didn’t believe but at that time, all I knew is that Jesus had changed me. So I just start yelling, “Jesus is real. Heaven is real. Hell is real. Jesus saved me.”
So we’re there yelling at each other, but really, that’s the beginning of my street preaching. I started preaching on the street to everyone after that. I got a small pocket Bible. I’d open it up and wherever the page would fall, I’d read it and whenever I did this, I felt more and more the power of God moving into my body. I was getting stronger, smarter, more intelligent, more powerful. It was on. I was fully Christian. No more cussing. No more alcohol or weed. No more fornication. I broke up with my girl. No more lusting. I had about 400 rap tapes, I broke them all. I was born-again. Knowing God, knowing the truth, full-speed ahead. Bold for Jesus against the foolishness and sins of the wicked.

When during the process of filming for TimeCode did you have your religious awakening? Was the part mostly filmed already? How did it affect your filming from then on? Didn't you start reading Bible verses prior to trying tricks?
It was about mid-filming when it all happened.

I started carrying my Bible around in my pocket everywhere that I skated and from what I’ve told you already about God's power, I did start reading my Bible before tricks. It strengthened me tremendously.

There's even a scripture in the Bible that I like, Hebrews 4:12 that says, "For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

God's word was empowering me with endless strength. All my tricks were done in Jesus' power.

What was Alien Workshop's reaction to your finding religion? Did it take any convincing to include the religious references into your video part or were they into it from the start?

The two men in charge of Alien Workshop, Chris "Sarge" Carter and Mike Hill, both knew me very well. They knew the ups-and-downs of my life. So when this major change happened, they embraced it as a positive change. I know they didn't expect me to be so extreme with it but the reality of Jesus, Heaven and Hell and the uncertainty of when a man will die… in addition to the love I had for everyone of all races and the drug and alcohol culture that was enveloping us skaters… I had to preach. Be bold, be real, not a hypocrite.

It's the love of God in me for the lost. I was there once. I was smoking, drinking, fighting and using groupies... the change was real and true. It could not be stopped nor held back from being preached.

I went to Ohio, to Alien. It was cold and snowing. Sarge was sick. He let me pray for him and he was healed immediately. He knows it, he told Dyrdek. I was sincere. The Lord healed Sarge. I was amazed myself but I believed God and acted according to His word.

After that, I started praying for skaters with hurt ankles and they were healed. People once sick were now healed. It’s no lie. People saw it right before their eyes. It’s like what some said about Jesus in the Bible, "These are not the words of one who has a demon, a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind or heal the sick." (John 8:21)

This was all at the beginning of my conversion so when time came for the video, Sarge, Mike Hill and Dyrdek all understood my desire to put Christian music, references and graphics in the video… especially based on the signs, skating and miracles being done.

Where did you find the song you used? Were you listening to a lot of gospel at the time? And is it true that out of the song options you had, 5 of which were gospel and the 6th one was Pete Rock?

The song was a difficult issue. I wanted to use Christian rap but there was not a lot of hardcore ghetto or gangster Christian rap at the time.

I remembered in the first Alien video that Scott Conklin’s part mixed preaching with a guitar song. I liked that style so I tried mixing the preaching of David Wilkerson of the Times Square Church in New York with a jazz solo from John Coltrane. It sounded good but it wasn’t long enough for the part. The Pete Rock and CL Smooth song "They Reminisce Over You" was another choice but I felt unsure about using a non-Christian song.

Knowing the majority of skaters used gangster/secular songs of violence, I wanted to switch it up to something that would soften the hearts of skaters. I had a tape of the kids song, “It’s a Highway to Heaven” that I felt could bring skaters back to the innocence of being kids just starting out skating. It preached the message of purity and the One Way, Jesus.

It was different from the rest of the video and caught the attention of many. One way I saw it was if a skater died and went to Hell, there would be suffering. What song do you think he’d want to hear? The love and song of Lennie Kirk’s video to comfort him! Some people wake up and see their own wickedness on Earth. Some not until it’s too late, when they’re dead and in Hell.

Who's idea was it to start out your part with the sermon? Didn't you write that yourself? And why is it shot out of focus? Something I’ve learned recently, #5 in the sermon that wasn’t in the video is "Call Lennie". What did you mean by that?

It was my idea for the sermon and I wrote it myself. The reason I shot myself out of focus was to get the whole Alien feeling into it, as an Alien being from Heaven surrounded by light, speaking into the hearts, minds, and souls of humans.

Yes, "Call Lennie" was #5 but since this was directed to all, all couldn’t call me. I just cared so much for people that I was ready to answer any questions about Jesus and explain how to be saved, day or night.

Dyrdek handled a lot of the editing and references to crosses, billboards, etc. And one thing some people probably don’t know about the part is that for almost all of my tricks, I filmed them both ways, goofy and regular. I wanted to put both versions in my part because I felt it demonstrated the thoroughness and versatility of my skating but Dyrdek thought just switch was enough. That bummed me out. Yes, it would’ve made the part longer but also better. I skated both ways! It was so people couldn’t say, “He did it switch but couldn’t do it regular.”

I wanted to show them all that I could do it any which way I wanted. 

That classic frontside 50-50 down the kinked ledge by the gas station. l know you had a gnarly slam on that one, do you still feel that God was punishing you on that slam? Kalis claims that you said you could see the hand of God pushing your head down in the footage, is that true?

That ledge was fun to grind from the top at full-speed.

I heard what Kalis said on his Epicly Later'd and I was upset that he said that. I don't do those sinful things, that was a misunderstanding. But at the same time, God has His ways of straightening a person up to keep him from sinning. It’s not that I saw the hand of God, I saw the control of God in His judgments.

Do I agree with the slam? No, those things checked me but didn't phase me. I shook it off, straightened up and lived even more strict for the Lord. God has a greater purpose of salvation for skaters and people everywhere, and was using me to proclaim His message through tours all over the world. I couldn't be a hypocrite, I had to keep it real.

Starting with the switch backside 5-0 in your 411 Wheels ofFortune and continuing on with your last 5 tricks in TimeCode, you really made Hubba Hideout your own early on. What was it about that spot for you? That wasn't an easy spot to skate but was it just fun for you? Did its infamous rep inspire you to really throw down?

Ahh yes, Hubba Hideout… our hideout, our secret spot.

When I heard someone was at Hubba, I'd rush over to see exactly what they were getting done. It was a challengeable spot to all. I had fun there… the height of the ledge, the slight feeling of fear skating it, the brick landing, hearing that ‘so-and-so did this down Hubba today’.

It was a culture in of itself. We'd go there to smoke blunts. Some people would play cee-lo with dice, others drank 40s, all away from the business people at EMB. But you’d go over there to get high and just stare at the ledge. It would start taunting you, saying that you couldn’t handle it. You’d have to prove yourself not only to the ledge but to the skaters, filmers, magazines and videos. That’s what Hubba was.

One of my favorite tricks I did a lot was a switch backside tailslide. I remember wanting to do it on Hubba but Kalis had already filmed it. I think I was on tour when he did it. As you know, some don’t want to one-up nor do the same trick someone else already did down Hubba, so I chose not to film it. I got respect for Kalis so I let him glory in that while I gloried in mines.

My favorite trick was the switch backside 180 5-0 I did. No one had ever done that down Hubba nor down anything else that big. There were a lot of skaters there that day and they didn’t think I could even come close to doing it. But I did and although I could’ve done it again and filmed it better, I left it at that one in the spirit of being the first time against all the naysayers!

Yeah, in your face!

How were your relationships with fellow Alien team members after finding God? I know you were preaching a lot at this point and trying to enlighten those around you. How much of this started to come into play with board graphics? Did you view any strained relationships resulting from your calling as a sacrifice for the Lord?

Well, it was a dramatic change. The bosses respected it since they knew how I was before. The change fit into the Alien Workshop culture with each of us being a character, the modus operandi. I'm thankful they worked with me on the graphics. Others were bold for the devil, putting satanic graphics, nudity and other dumb crap on their boards, I figured I'II be bold for Jesus and represent God 110%.

One of my favorites is the first one with the Angel Harvest. Sarge and Mike Hill chose that graphic and presented it to me, asking if I wanted it to be my first graphic. It was awesome! It had a deep meaning behind it, the harvest of skaters worldwide to bring them to Jesus.

My other favorite is the slick bottom photo graphic of the devil Catholic priest being burned on a stake. I invented that one because Catholic priests are the real heretics. In times past, they’ve burned a lot of Christians at the stake. The priest figure was an arts and crafts creation, a real clay figure that Mike Hill made with his hands. We made the platform, took a photo of it and screened it to the deck for a slick bottom. All of these graphics were made with joy and agreement.

You asked if, at times, it put a strain on relationships? Yes, I know it did. Sometimes Alien wanted to do "theme" boards, like the chipmunk deck with all the animals from our TimeCode parts. Since it’s such a great opportunity to have a pro board that all of the world will see, I just felt that I needed something of Jesus on there: a scripture, his name... something to change someone.

Being on tour was awkward. I didn’t smoke weed or cigarettes nor did I drink anymore but the rest of the team did. So I’d have my own room while others were partying in the other room. I’d often have an after-demo audience, preaching to over 20 people about Jesus in my room. Jesus and his salvation are so real, I couldn’t stop preaching. His love for people was flowing out of me. He gave me power, strength, boldness and understanding of it all. Why would I even care to live for Jesus if I didn’t feel or see the changes he instantly made in my life? Jesus chose me, changed me and saved me. I didn’t want to ever let Jesus down. It’s not religion, it’s a relationship with God, our Creator. To know Him is beyond words and explanations. You’re one with God, you know the One who created you.

Alien even experienced a rebirth and resurrection like Jesus. Alien got bought and sold a few times, then went out of business for a moment like Jesus in the grave, but lo and behold, the resurrection! Back alive. Back in business. Back walking the planets and the cosmos!

You turned pro around this time but honestly, did it even matter much to you by this point? Were you kinda over skating by then with so much of your attention focused on God? Were you skating much after TimeCode?

Yes, it did/does matter to me a lot! I love skateboarding and I’ll always be a skateboarder!

I was always skating after TimeCode but what happened is a long story. This happened 4 years into being a Christian. I was still on Alien Workshop at the time. Like I said earlier, I have always been Pentecostal. Believing in miracles, speaking in tongues and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. That’s where I get my power from in skateboarding and in life. But, at a church in SF, I was introduced to a different doctrine and belief system called Calvinism. It stated that “God predestined everyone to Heaven or Hell and man has no choice in the matter” along with “Jesus only died for a few, not everybody.”

There is more to it but I don’t want to confuse people. I was an evangelist. I’d preach to anyone, anywhere at anytime. The Holy Ghost told me not to go to this Calvinist church. This Calvinist doctrine was contrary to what I believed in and what I was doing. Calvinism basically says that man has no free will to choose God. I was for this free will but I was also dating a girl in the Calvinist church. I liked the fellowship, the group meetings and the food so I immersed myself deeply into Calvinism and that's where I went wronq. I believed those lies.

It’s like I traded my true born-again spiritual life for carnal fleshly wants and desires. I stopped preaching in the streets because I didn't know if Jesus had really died for them or not. I didn't know if Jesus had predestined them to Hell or Heaven. It was a fatalistic view of God, as if God had predestined evil. I became so confused, as if the devil had twisted scriptures in the Bible. I couldn't listen to any preachers...

l wanted to marry my girlfriend of the church but the pastor opposed this because he knew I opposed Calvinism. It was all the devil’s plan to make me backslide and fall. It has lead to broken relationships, mistakes, hurt and prison.

So what ended up happening with you and Alien?

I didn't quit but I was not fired either. I just sort of fell away... the whole Calvinism false doctrine did it. The devil deceived me and confused me. I didn't know where to turn.

I married my girlfriend of that church outside of the church/pastor’s permission. It didn’t go too well with her parents, so she’d be with me and then back to her family who wanted her to keep going to that church. We had a son yet her family didn’t understand my situation. They didn’t know the real Christian me nor understand my life of pro skateboarding.

My life was disrupted by personal issues. I wasn’t motivated to skate. So when I talked to Sarge about the team, I just didn’t care anymore…

Does part of you feel partially exploited by your sponsors? That you may not have been of totally sound mind back then but were marketed and profited off of anyway? Did any of your sponsors ever try to get you any type of help or support?

Exploited: no.

Alien treated us with respect, we were all key players on the team. Alien was never like other companies that would sponsor someone, use them to make money, get ‘em drunk and high only to kick them off and move on to the next skateboarder ho. Alien was solid. When they sponsored you, they'd already thought about the long-term investment in you before even asking you. If Sarge, Hill, and Dyrdek wanted you on, you were on. One with the team, in deep respect and established. It was the same with DC when they started. You hire the best and forget the rest.

It wasn't about money with me, it was the feeling I got from representing Alien. It was like the CIA or the Army, they chose you and you represent to the fullest. We all did. Sarge and Hill were always respectful to me. They were wise in their thoughts and actions concerning the team.

So what started happening after that? Rumors abound with reports of you walking around Pier 7 with a sawed-off shotgun, robbing people? Why?

Well, after I fell away from God and skating through Calvinism and its confusion, I was trying to get straight. My girl and my son were still going back and forth with her family… eventually I couldn’t take it anymore. I got mad at the world. I didn’t know who to turn to for help. I had all the fame and popularity… then the fall.

It made me ashamed to ask for help from other people. I became lost again, a backslider. I wish I never did those things. It’s not cool and I don’t condone any of it… but I also don’t agree with snitches. Whatever I did or didn’t do had nothing to do with Jimmy. He was just a hater, not a friend. A lot of people hate that guy for being a snitch. What if he had just spoken with me to help? To ask what’s wrong? That’s what a true friend does and that’s what he should’ve done, not call the cops. I know that I would’ve got my life right. I didn’t need jail, I needed my family, my son and my friends back into my life. I needed direction from God again, not jail. Not prison.

Didn’t you go on some kind of missionary trip down to Central America at some point? But it didn’t work out and you found your own way back to California, learning Spanish in 2 weeks?!

I went to Managua, Nicaragua by myself ... and with Jesus, of course. I’ve seen firsthand the poverty of many in that country. I helped a bunch of kids and their families with food while preaching Jesus but I didn’t plan to stay there.

I’ve been to a lot of places… all over Germany, Australia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Canada and the United States. I’m used to going all over the world traveling and trusting in Jesus. It’s exciting to see but it takes real wisdom from Jesus to make the right choices when abroad.

Spanish is a great language but I must make clear and stress the truthfulness of this: Jesus says, “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). God’s Spirit is truth. God is my teacher and the teacher of us all! He taught me Spanish because I asked him to.

For example, say I want to learn more about Calculus Math. I pray "Jesus, teach me more about calculus. What are the angles? Help me understand it. Make it simple for me. Make me an expert mathematician. Make me know it all."

…and He does!

That’s just one example of me constantly asking Jesus to teach me what I want to know. Jesus teaches me Computer Science, Skateboarding, Car Mechanics, Painting Houses, Motorcycles Stunts, Racing, MMA, BMX, Spanish, Hebrew and countless other things daily! That’s just one of the benefits we have of knowing our Creator. You want to know how it all functions and works? Speak with the one who made and created it all! Jesus will never lead you astray nor lie to you. The thing is, we have to listen and obey Him.  He says it right there in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and you will receive, Seek and you will find, Knock and it will be opened to you.” A.S.K: Ask, Seek, Knock.

You brought up MMA, how did your interest in that come about and what’s the nature of your involvement in the sport? You told me that you got a sponsorship deal with a company “Fairtex” through FTC to train and fight for free? What’s that all about?

First and foremost, Jesus is my trainer and as I spoke about earlier, I’ve always trained in martial arts… ninja, karate, etc. It was God who chose me, preparing me to fight in MMA.

But yes, I’m a MMA fanatic. On the streets, I collected every UFC event and had endless MMA videos. I’d have them playing on my TV non-stop. I loved studying and analyzing the fighters… this one has his hands too low, this one should’ve blocked or kicked, ground and pounded. I collected and studied so many MMA training manuals, my favorites being Bas Ruttens’s "Big Books of Combat", Royler Gracie’s "Ultimate Grappling Book" and Anderson Silva’s books.

I studied non-stop and eventually found the MMA training gym, Fairtex. It’s a Muy Thai gym from Thailand and very popular in the MMA world… sort of like a 24hr Fitness. I started going there in SF and at the beginning, they were negotiating to find someone who was an X-Games athlete to sponsor. I came into the picture at just the right time. The managers there at Fairtex in SF sponsored me and gave me free training, gear and access.

On any given day at Fairtex, one side of the gym would be Muy Thai training and the other side MMA. At the time, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields were the two MMA trainers. Gil used to call me “Cholo” but I took MMA fighting very seriously. I was in it to win it. A lot of the guys I sparred with in Jiu-Jitsu or stand-up would run out of breath, give up or say that I was hitting too hard. To me, I wasn’t even hitting that hard at all, we were just sparring, but they said I was. So just imagine when I want to hit hard! That’s all Jesus’ power through me.

Eventually Fairtex-SF had some problems with the owner doing some shady banking stuff so it closed temporarily. They’ve reopened now but Gilbert and Jake opened their own gym in SF on Third Street called “El Nino MMA Training Center”. Gil and Jake are also now in the UFC and doing very well! Yeah, Ninja!

I know you’re very passionate about technology these days, getting heavily involved in computer hacking over the last few years. Discuss your views on technology, both pros and cons, and where you fear all of this ultimately heading? I realize this is very important to you.

Yes, I’m a fanatical computer scientist, programmer and hacker. Technology is such a marvel, the mathematics in it all… the binary programming language of 1s and 0s that hardware, transistors and diodes are able to understand and translate for humans on your computer screen.

There are billions and trillions of dollars in computer science and technology. The two founders of Instagram became billionaires overnight when Facebook bought them. Millions of dollars are made and paid to software developers of all the iPhone and Android apps. Even Rodney Mullen is involved in the tech scene, doing numerous events, “Ted Talks” and being featured in Wired Magazine not long ago as an outstanding entrepreneur. He speaks of how skateboarding is like the algorithms and mathematics in computer programming. Right on Rodney! I’m happy to see him involved in Silicon Valley technology.

I tell everyone to learn computer programming, hacking and computer science. It is now and the future. But it is like a double-edged sword. On MySpace, a lot of users used fake names and profiles but on Facebook, from the beginning, they wanted users to be truthful with their real information. These things are good in their simplicity, being honest, expressing yourself and telling the truth about who you are… but the other side of the sword is that it makes it much simpler for the government to spy on you. They can now collect all the data on you and your friends’ lives, internet searches and habits, and likes/dislikes to use however they feel fit.

The minds and doctrines of spying, espionage and military strategy have been taught by militaries like the CIA, NSA and FBI since the beginning of time. The NSA views social media and Google searches as goldmines for criminal profiling and data mining. It’s called “Big Data”: data-gathering on you, all of you.

“Cloud Computing” is an avenue which governments and companies can collect data, secret and otherwise, on people. You’re storing your information on another person’s computers. Google, Apple, Dropbox and Amazon all offer free cloud storage but it’s your decision and risk that you must take into consideration.

Regardless, above all the drawbacks, I love technology. It’s awesome for creativity, in learning and helping. I like to see the good side of it all but I also want to know the dark side so I won’t be deceived. Like the saying goes, “You are who the computer says you are now.”

Let’s talk about hacking. When some people hear the word “hacker”, they cringe, thinking that all hackers are criminals. This is not true. The word “hack” began as a way to describe college pranks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1950s and 60s. It was these MIT students, by experimenting and hacking IBM’s computer at the college that quickly advanced computer technology, all the way to Silicon Valley.

The hacker ethic is to access computers and anything else that might teach you something about the way the world works. This should be unlimited and total and to always yield to the hands-on imperative.

Hackers believe essential lessons can be learned about systems and about the world from taking things apart and seeing how they work. You can then use this knowledge to create new and more interesting things. They resent any barrier that tries to keep them from doing this. All information should be free. If you don’t have access to the information needed to improve things, how can you fix them? Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not by some bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race or position.

The founders of Apple were hackers. Steve Jobs hacked the corporate side, Steve Wozniak hacked the hardware/software side. Woz once said, “Every problem has a better solution when you start thinking about it differently than the normal way.”

If it weren’t for hackers, the world and technology wouldn’t be as great as it is today. Haters won’t ever be able to stop hackers as hacking is necessary to know. In this day and age, it pays big money to be a nerd/geek/square. I research all technology and operating systems. My favorite is Linux. I use the command line, which is not a Graphical User Interface but more like Windows DOS, only more advanced and takes advantage of the whole 7-layer OSI stack.  The majority of hackers use Linux, with the best hacker OS right now being Kali Linux (Kali.org).

Bill Gates and Microsoft are awesome in a lot of ways, in what they’ve done for computer technology as well as for one of their greatest inventions, the Xbox. The Xbox One has been out for a while now but here in prison, I have an Xbox 360 with an HDMI cable connected to a 15inch RCA flatscreen. I love the Xbox. The games and graphics are insane with an HDMI cable. I play everyday.

One of my favorite games is Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s so realistic and really puts you in its environment. The city in the game, Los Santos, is modeled exactly after Los Angeles, even down to the famous triple set of stairs down at the beach! It captures the true culture of how some people really are and behave. The vanity of carnal minds with plastic surgery, yoga, deception, adultery, fornication… all that I have seen in real life. I love just cruising on the Los Santos freeway on my Peggassi 801 RR streetbike with the throttle wide-open, listening to the Flylo FM radio station.

The magnitude of live online playing is amazing today. Just being able to chat and compete with anybody in the world in incredible. Gaming has rocketed to levels of awesome beyond words. You really have to experience it yourself.

I love encryption, cryptology and coding. I really get into cracking passwords and puzzles. On the streets, I’ve used Nvidia and AMD GPUs at full-blast, hearing the whir as they crack passwords, cipher texts, all the wireless security standards and hash dictionary databases…

My point is that there will always be hackers and hacking, period.

So what does all this mean? One of the new key transformations is from IPV4 to IPV6 and expanding the Internet IP address, which means more devices and people can be connected online, monitored and manipulated. This is leading to the New World Order, a One World Government and the Antichrist. Understand, Satan has always wanted to be God but cannot, nor does he possess the all-knowing power God has. So, Satan is trying to follow/know everything about people through computers and electronics. The Antichrist is a human that will be possessed by Satan himself and try to rule the world as the Messiah, the President and the Leader of the One World Government. They will know where everyone is through mandatory implanted computer chips in humans. A lot of people will accept this chip because they will not be able to buy or sell without it.

This Satanic movement is already happening. As I stated earlier about the subtle deception taking place that makes it fun for you to trace and track your friends with GPS and pay for items with NFC chips in your phones, a lot of people are not caring about their privacy anymore and are becoming more accustomed to being monitored. They are subtly being tricked into accepting the mark of the beast-implanted computer chip… basically selling your soul to the devil for carnal indulgences, pledging your allegiance to Satan and his corrupt worldly system.

This is going on right now as government surveillance drones fly over America, Google Maps tracks phones, NFC payment chips, “Wearables” that monitor your health, global street camera networks…. All American passports have RFID chips in them. I did a test once and hooked my wi-fi antenna up to a RFID reader down at Pier 39 in SF and all the tourists’ passport info showed up on my computer screen. It’s a little more involved than that but you get the picture of how easy it is.

Another example is facial recognition. Facebook uses it to suggest whom you tag in a photo, Google groups together pictures of you, Microsoft's Xbox Kinect signs you in when it recognizes you… your face could serve to verify your identity before you make a purchase or access your bank account. We already see people accepting this. Companies and advertisers are making it the "in" thing to do. They'll have so-called “good” excuses for you to accept an implanted chip, wanting everything connected to your network: your keys, your coffee pot, your cars, your license, your bank accounts, your medical and criminal history… your soul. It’s heading this way regardless if people want to believe it. Accept it or not.

All of this big-data gathering is happening everyday. It’s happening on social media as well as with companies and employers installing spyware to watch your internet habits, record your calls, and track what you like or dislike. Sound familiar?

Who’s really behind it all? Who wanted to be god more than God himself? No one but the devil. It’s more serious than you think. Wake up and look around you. It’s happening right now before your eyes, proving again and again that the Bible is true. The only way you’ll escape all of this is to be saved by Jesus and live for Jesus, fully surrendered to Him. Only Jesus can lead and guide you in the correct ways to go. Follow and obey Jesus!

What are your thoughts on the Rob Dyrdek media empire that has really exploded over recent years? Are you a fan of his shows or perhaps the Street League contest series? Are you surprised at all by his big success in the entertainment field?

In 2006, Dyrdek invited me to LA to be on the “Rob and Big” show. I was in SF and wanting to move down there but I was on parole at the time which hindered that good plan.

Words are not enough to explain what Dyrdek, Spike Jonze and Sean Cliver have done for skateboarding and the entire X-Games/stunt culture. Street League is truly in a league of its own. It has the highest payouts in the history of skateboarding. The skaters in SLS are the best of the best and the contests are shown on primetime television stations, gathering attention from major sponsors.

The vibe of skating used to be that you stick only with skate sponsors. You would be called a sell-out by some if you got a mainstream sponsor such as Nike or Converse. I never looked at it that way. I always recognized that God blessed me with many talents so I was eager to excel in them all, which meant getting sponsors outside of skate brands.

The popularity of skateboarding exploded with the Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game series. Kids that didn’t skate would play those games, learn the lingo and tricks and one day say “I got to get a skateboard. I want to try this trick. I want to skate!”

Mainstream sponsors started to notice and began investing a lot of money in skateboarding. So did other video game developers, with the game “Skate”, for example. And then Dyrdek landed his show on MTV, a major music station of the day, setting trends and beloved by all! YouTube and social media also helped, linking everyone together via networking. It’s like that saying, “The new world is flat” meaning that there are no more barriers. People are working together and sponsoring people with all kinds of different talents.

Where am I in all of this? I’m on DC shoes with my own shoe. I was on Dyrdek’s “Ridiculousness” show. I’d be alongside Dyrdek, Kalis and Cole in the “Skate 3” video game. I’d be a millionaire by now. I got some houses in LA, lots of sponsors in skateboarding, MMA and motorcycles. I have stunt-riding and car-racing videos all over the internet. I’ve won X-Games gold medals and a Street League Championship. I’ve got my Carolina blue Lamborghini with black rims. I’ve got a good girl and two awesome kids. We go to church and love and obey Jesus. I skate with Dyrdek, Kalis, Rodney Mullen, Mike Carroll, Nyjah Huston and Justin Bieber. I’m an entrepreneur after having started numerous companies. I’ve got great Angel investors from Silicon Valley and all over the world…

Yes, that’s where I’m supposed to be. To this day, I know that all of that would have happened. It was all there, all for me.

I’m happy for Dyrdek. He’s living the good life, the life of freedom and prosperity. The American Dream. He’s influencing and motivating millions of kids and adults in the right direction. He’s doing stunts, he’s doing tricks and filming it all. Making millions and sharing it, too….

Dyrdek, ya hear me?... about that sharing?

I even saw Dyrdek talking with UFC president Dana White at the LA Street League event on TV. I know that Rob would love to have me on his “Ridiculousness” show to hear some crazy thing I’ll say or how I’d react to the videos.

I miss all that. All the love, all the friendship, all the sponsors… all the camaraderie and brotherhood amongst us. Every moment of our lives is precious. We are to cherish our lives and respect the goodness flowing from God to us and through us.

Yeah, Dyrdek is above and beyond. Blessed by God in all things and I’m happy for him.

So how did the "Heaven" project with Dennis McGrath come about? Are you hyped on the final product? How do you view yourself back in the day with everything that’s happened and do you feel you've mellowed at all 20 years later?

First and foremost, I want to thank God for all His love and faithfulness to me, despite my situations. I see all of this… the book, the shoes and these interviews as all coming from Jesus. It’s all from his love and mercy for me.

I’m very thankful to Dennis for making “Heaven”. Yes, I love the book. It’s awesome and so amazing that he and DC shoes made it happen. It’s great to see all these people who helped Dennis and I, such as Keith Hufnagel, Jeff Taylor, Ed Templeton, Jeff Pang, Jason Jessee, graffiti artists DG-Celo and !See, Kent Uyehara, all the photographers and many others… I’m grateful to them all. To still be down for me, I’m speechless in my expressions of thankfulness. Skateboarding is a brotherhood, just like the recent release of We Are Blood. I love skateboarding. It’s in our blood, chosen by God. All of us are always brothers in skateboarding. Connected, down for each other, my hurt is your hurt and your blood is my blood.

I hope that people appreciate the words spoken in those photos. Don’t forget about me. What happened to me hurts but I want people to be positive, think pure thoughts and have faith in God that they’ll see me again free on the streets.

Am I different now? Yes, of course. I’m more like Jesus now. Preaching is always important. Some people will never know Christ before they die and I don’t want it to be too late for them to accept Jesus in their life.

I want to speak on numerous examples of this. I spoke about Jesus with a lot of skateboarders before they died. It’s true and it’s scary. Justin Pierce, Mike Cardona… Kit Ericson was an acquaintance and friend of mine who I’d go skate with when Theo Hand was out taking photos for Thrasher and Slap Magazines. I always remember watching Kit in Hocus Pocus with the quote from Sal Barbier: “One of my all-time favorites…”

I always spoke to Kit about Jesus and the dangers of drinking and partying. Then one day I received a call from someone saying, “Lennie, did you hear about Kit? He fell down some stairs and went into a coma.”

I couldn’t believe it. I was just talking to him about Jesus. I told my friend Rich Jefferson about it and we both immediately went to the hospital. I hurt to see Kit that way. I felt so sorry for him. There were some other friends in the hallway outside his room with Phil Shao and Dan Drehobl. Rich and I went into Kit’s room and for over 30 minutes, praying out loud to Jesus for him. We asked Jesus to forgive him, telling Kit that if he could hear us to repent and accept Jesus. The doctors took him off life support not too long after we were done.

After he passed, Theo called me up to go skate. I went to his house to meet up and he says, “Lennie, wait here. I got something for you.”

He goes back into his room, comes out and hands me a large poster… of Kit Ericson! I was Kit’s friend but I only skated and saw him when Theo wanted to take photos. When Theo handed me the poster, I thought it was strange. At first, I didn’t know why he handed me that poster of Kit. But then The Lord showed me why. I believe Kit went to Heaven, through me and Rich’s prayers. By giving me the poster, Jesus and Kit were saying to me, “Thanks, Lennie. Job well done.”

The poster was a token of appreciation and confirmation of Kit’s salvation from Jesus himself.

There were many others: Keenan Milton, Harold Hunter, Trevor Prescott, Phil Shao…

When I was in jail in Redwood City, I had a cellie for 3 days that was an older “Hell’s Angel” biker-type. He told me that he had just had a baby son. This man idolized this boy, so proud to have his first son. I told him that Christ can give a good life for him and his son but I saw that my speaking about Jesus bothered him. After 3 days, he moved out to be with his “homeboy” and he got out of jail a month later. 3 days after he got out, someone came to me and asked if I’d heard what happened? The biker had gone home and died in his sleep of a heroin overdose. 3 days to move, 3 days to die.

Next is the story of a pastor at my friend Rich’s Church. Rich and I always preached holiness yet we felt this pastor didn’t. This pastor drank a lot of coffee and I often felt he was filled with caffeine, not the Holy Spirit. I felt he was hindering himself and his congregation from moving forward. When I told him this, the pastor got really upset with me and didn’t want me coming to his services anymore.

In 2010, I was in jail in San Francisco and was praying when Jesus began to speak to me. He said, “Remember Pastor Stewart?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Do you forgive him?

“Yes, Lord, I forgive him.”

3 days later, I called my friend Rich and he immediately asks me if I had heard what happened? Pastor Stewart had died 2 days ago. Strange, indeed. God came to me first to make it right between Pastor Stewart and I before he died.

I swear, God as my witness, all of this is true.

Even concerning my Mom and Dad in that my Mom passed away to be with Jesus in the same month that my younger sister was born. A day before my sister’s birthday. My Dad passed away to be with Jesus the same month that I was born. Strange, yet amazing, God’s grace, love and mercy.

Experiencing when I got ran over and the near-fatal slam… God is real and active in my life. There are more stories like these, God knows. His mercy endures forever. People need to be more appreciative of their lives, of their friends, family and others. Love one another in purity and truth. Only God knows when your day will be… here today, gone tomorrow… with photos and memories left but not forgotten.

Have you ever tried reaching out to other skaters out there who are preaching the word? Have you seen Hosoi, Shawn Mandoli and Aaron Murray's Church? Any interest in joining them?

My friend Rich, who I mentioned earlier, moved to Huntington Beach years ago and he started going to the church that Hosoi pastors. I speak with Rich often and one time on the phone, Hosoi and others prayed for me. I like a Hosoi a lot. I’m glad he changed his life and keeps it real for Jesus. I see him on the Christian TV Station JUCE… I even saw Rich on there once giving testimony about Jesus. That station is cool, it has a show called G-Rock that has skateboarders skating while Christian bands play. Hosoi was doing live preaching to kids at demos on there and they played a Christian skater movie they’d made…

I’ve always liked Huntington Beach and I’d love to go to Hosoi’s Church, I just haven’t been able to make it yet. I want to be there right now, praising God with all my brothers in Christ Jesus. I need that kind of fellowship.

I can’t thank you enough for doing all of this, Lennie. At the end of all this, is there anything you’d like to add? Any words of wisdom or people to thank?

I thank everyone who’s on my side. Everyone who is down for me and has stuck with me through thick and thin. My kids, my family, my girlfriend Esmeralda and all of my friends. Eric Swisher for this interview. Kent Uyehara of FTC. Jon, Dennis and Matt McGrath, Josh Kalis, Rob Dyrdek, Chris “Sarge” Carter, Mike Hill, DC Shoes and Jeff Taylor, Keith Hufnagel, Jeff Pang, Ed Templeton, Seb Carayol, Jamie Thomas, Kelly Bird, James Kelch, the whole EMB crew, the Girl team O.G.s, Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Eric Koston, Chico Brenes, Steve Berra, the whole crew at Transworld, Mackenzie Eisenhour, Jamie Owens, Skin Phillips, the whole crew at Thrasher, Jake Phelps and Michael Burnett. There are so many others, I can go on and on. I love you all and am thankful for the love, patience and help you’ve given me.

There's a lot to say… the world is quickly changing but we always have to look to God and His Word for answers. I only care what God thinks of me. I believe in God and I believe the Bible is God's word that must be obeyed. I believe in miracles, signs and wonders, and the baptism plus gifts of the Holy Spirit. If you're not on God's side, then you're on the devil’s. If you don't repent and change, you'll be with the devil in Hell and the lake of fire forever. An eternal prison that you never escape.  

Some laugh. Some think it’s a joke but those people are blinded by their lusts and sins and by the devil himself. It’s all real. You only have one life to live. Everyone will answer to God and He gave us only one way to be forgiven and saved, His Son: the one and only savior, Lord Jesus Christ.

I invite all of you to write me. Please show love and also, if you can, help me with some money. I'm very thankful for any help. I'll help anyone with anything I can, even with learning how to hack. You can send me stamps (l always need these), books, letters, photos, articles and anything from the internet.

Maybe you can hack me out of prison...

Thank you.

Lennie Kirk
5501 La Palma Rd.
Eloy, AZ 85131

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