With Chops posting his Tod Swank interview recently, he asked for my take on what it was like during the whole 90's company beef thing that I was somehow involved in. I've got a good memory and am pretty unemotional about the whole deal so this should be straightforward as to how events transpired.
I started riding for Santa Cruz in 1990. At the end of ‘92, I got lucky and won my second pro contest at the NSA Finals in Encinitas and was feeling like I was on top of the world. Santa Cruz told me they were going to give me a pro model. I was pumped.
A couple of months pass and they tell me that I’d have to wait because they were going to give Andy Roy a model. No big deal. I was fine with that but they promised that I was next. But when I find out that they were giving Gershon a board next and not me, as an impatient 20-year-old, I felt like I was getting dissed.
Living in Southern California, I didn’t skate with anyone on NHS because they just didn’t have any riders down here at the time. Everyone was up in North California. So I found myself skating with Richard Mulder, Josh Beagle and Ronnie Creager a lot back then. After a while, Josh asked me if I wanted to skate for Foundation. Skating with my friends on the same team? Sign me up! Having only skated for SCS, I literally had never been on a team with homies before so I was all about it. Kendall was bummed when I called to tell him that I was quitting but he understood.
When it came time to make my first Foundation ad, Tod said that we should put in a little dig at Santa Cruz. I suggested that we use the alternate Santa Cruz "FUCK ‘EM" logo. NHS had made stickers with this logo back in the late 80’s… I believe Salba used to have that on his board a lot. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at the time because, after all, it was their own logo we were using.
But it started a shitstorm over at NHS! They were pissed!
The next issue of Big Brother came out and all my friends were like "Oh dude, you're gonna freak out when you see the Santa Cruz ad!" It was embarrassing but super funny as well. They got us good. Tod also took it in stride but wanted to do another ad, so I gave him some letterhead from NHS that I used to get team letters on. You have to remember that this is EARLY computer days and it wasn’t as easy to fake documents or get logos. But Tod wrote up a one fake letter from Novak for the ad about how Santa Cruz was going to focus on mountain bikes or something along those lines. I think that was the last ad between Santa Cruz and Foundation.
But this was also when that Richard Mulder thing happened where he quit Foundation to ride for World and those two ads came out in the same issue of Big Brother. I was in the warehouse the day Tod found out. I know he said that he wasn't pissed in the interview but I remember Tod being SUPER pissed. He called up Big Brother to get the Foundation ad pulled but it was too late (or so they said). I think he paid around $3000 for the ad. I'm guessing that Rocco had World submit their ad the day before the magazine went to print so there was nothing Tod could do about it. So funny.
What added to all this was when Tod had decided to make an ad for Foundation featuring Kris Markovich back when Kris was still on 101. The ad was just a photo of Markovich and said, “Foundation.” That’s all. Not “Welcome to the Team” or anything like that, just the logo and Kris. I remember Tod describing it to Rocco by saying "No, we're just fans of Kris and wanted to support him with an ad. He's not on the team or anything."
So Rocco started making all these fake Foundation boards with our names on them. Totally crazy graphics that said “Foundation Super Co.” on them. I still have them. I remember talking about it with Creager and Beagle at the warehouse and we all started wondering if we could get royalties from Rocco on them. After all, they were using our names on them. Tod gives me Rocco’s number and I call him up:
"Hey, you owe us money for royalties on these boards."
"What are you gonna do about it? I don't owe you shit."
I didn't have a comeback. It was like trying to enter a battle of wits with the guy from the Princess Bride, I wasn't going to win.
So after all this, Foundation went on a road trip up to SF for a contest, skate EMB and film for Super Conductor Super Collider. We bailed on the contest but were all having a good time. Frank Hirata had just got on and this was his first trip with the team. After we got back, I went down there to get a box when Tod brought me into his office to tell me that I was cut from the team. I remember him being bummed that I didn’t skate the 7 at EMB. He kept asking why I didn’t hit handrails and big stairs.
I was pretty pissed at the time. I had quit Santa Cruz only 10 months prior and now I was getting kicked off? I'm also assuming that because this was when Berra was getting on, they needed extra money. I was the odd man out and that was that.
I floated around for a couple of months, filming my 411 profile in 2 weeks almost as a sponsor-me video. It was Kendall who hit me up about riding for a new wheel company through NHS called Direction. When I agreed to ride for them, Kendall says, “Why don't you just come back and skate for Santa Cruz?" Just like that, I was back on again.
I think NHS thought that I was going to be pissed at them laying out the diss ad in the first place but I couldn’t have cared less. I remember my first ad back was a fakie front crooks that said “Double Agent.” People saw that and started asking if the beef between the companies was a joke the whole time, like we had preplanned it.
Oh, the 90’s. Fun times. -Jason Rothmeyer
big thanks to Tod Swank and Jason for coming through once again.